Anarcho-Sartorialism

Farewell

While running this blog I have encountered many different obstacles. Some self-perpetuated: my very limiting initial blog topic, my limited time and access to interesting news. And others caused from external factors: I can’t write about what Congress is doing if they never get anything done.

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The tools I have used have all seemed, to me, convoluted and gimmicky. If it weren’t for the restrictions and requirements of the course assignment I wouldn’t force a slideshow or a featured tweet section into a blog that doesn’t necessarily benefit from either. But I do understand why these requirements exist.

In the future the experience of running this blog will benefit me; that I am sure of. I have learned that twitter for self-promotion can get ultra annoying/desperate very quickly. Facebook on the other hand lends itself to a more personal method of outreach. I’ve learned that absolutely no one reads the “About” page and it is always easier to write your opinion first and find sources to back it up after.

 

Very soon I will begin writing for a new similar blog with a couple friends. It should be good so stick around.

Remembering Nelson Mandela

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I’ve compiled a few excerpts sourced from some prominent voices to speak about the many perceptions individuals have had of Mandela during and after his life. My favorite (oddly enough) is the yahoo news article. Who knew the all-knowing infallible U.S. government could ever make such a mistake?

False Advertising

Political ads are awful. Even the good ones would never sell the product they advertise. I am not alone in this opinion. In highschool I was given an assignment to create a political ad by a teacher who sought to prove this point to the class. This is the product of that assignment:

Enough Dignity to go Around

Sometime between when my father was my age and the modern day, someone made the decision to take away the working man’s dignity. Perhaps, in a world thriving on automation the idea of a person doing a job that a machine could potentially do better became shameful.

Delivery people, custodians, and degreeless blue collar workers became the subject of the political parties’ appeal to victims. These individuals, regardless of how they felt about their career and lifestyle, were told that they had been dealt a bad hand. That, surely in the land of equal opportunity, they should have risen to higher positions in society. Anyone given a public education and a 40 hour work week ought to be able to reach a dignified position.

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The barber who has cut hair under 7 presidents, 3 wars, and endless technological change is told that the craft to which he has dedicated his life is of little importance because he does not make a certain amount of money. He does not meet the criteria of success specified by a government that equates a lack  of formal education to a lack of intelligence. He is a victim to be considered in need because a 4-year degree is not required in his field. The way he has lived his life defies the understanding of politicians passing legislation so that no one will have to live as he has –on such small pay, such little education, and maintain such a modest lifestyle. His shop employs a single mother, a teenager who aspires to do hair for the movies, and a veteran. He has raised 3 children, all of whom have attended college and started families of their own, and yet he has led a life not worth mentioning as an example of success.

Restore dignity to those who are content with their lives, regardless of superficial metrics, and individuals will create careers and occupations never considered worthwhile instead of committing their life to careers they will not excel at due to their lack of innate passion for it. Refuse to homogenize the notion of an ideal life and allow the individual to expose those who are actually in need. Dismiss the projection of your own views as to what is best for others and identify their goals and how you can help them reach those goals. Listen to all of those who need help and find the individuals that you have the ability to help.

The world has enough victims. Do not create more out of ignorance.

What I’m reading about today: The Power of Love

It’s Complicated…

Interventionism is a very dirty word for some. Whether it be in the market or overseas, intervening in conflict or creating conflict seems to be what governments are best at. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Before WW1, the U.S. government’s involvement in both the market and foreign affairs was looked down upon by the American people. The war changed everything.

FDR New Deal

First came the war boards, responsible for setting prices and rates of production, and eventually the precedent of government intervention in the economy was created. First Hoover, running partially due to his popularity as head of the U.S. food administration during the war, created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation as a means of easing the effects of the Great Depression, then came the game-changing New Deal from FDR.

Hoover and King Tut

Regardless of whether you believe these measures were beneficial or not, they ultimately created a more complicated situation in both foreign relations and the economy. No longer was it a matter of intervening in foreign politics only when American interests were at stake. A crusade had launched, driven mostly by FDR’s rhetoric, to establish a global policy of “self-determination” which loosely translated to America determining that all new countries would be “democratic” and their leaders would be hand chosen by U.S. politicians or “elected”. The economy transformed and grew in complication as well. The SEC was established, ensuring infinite prosperity so long as a firm obeyed their policies. Though I have been half-hearted in my explanations, these new interventionist policies that were now being embraced by the state led to complications. Complications can lead to things becoming both better or worse, but usually both.

Complication often leads to misunderstanding. Misunderstanding often leads to mistakes and undoubtedly mistakes result in unhappiness. But Rome wasn’t built in a day! (Very loose reference) Just because something is hard does not mean it isn’t worth doing. But then again, something isn’t worth doing just because it’s hard.

The importance lies in the goal that the intervention and subsequent complication is supposed to achieve. If the goal is to end war, there is more than one way to suggest reaching that goal. Some goals are easier to meet due to their relation to mathematics and science. If I want to save 100$ and I get a job that pays 10$ per hour, in 10 hours I will have met my goal.

Other goals are much more difficult due to their abstract nature. I want people in my community to eat healthier. Though there are a multitude of ways to  meet this goal, some are more complicated than others. When I commit to achieving this goal on an individual basis, that is without the use of the state, I have far less power to reach my entire community, but the individuals that I do reach can be assisted according to their specific needs. Some may not know what foods are healthiest for their specific body chemistry, others may be trying to eat healthy and just need an accountability partner. Some people may not want to eat healthy at all. I can either choose to be persistent in trying to make them eat healthy or let them face the consequences of their choice. Possibly the most effective attribute of this method versus a state run method is my ability as an individual to recognize who in my community needs my help the most. In my community, I may have individuals in perfect fitness as well as individuals who need to improve their health. I can prioritize my efforts so that the individuals who need the most help receive the most help.

On the other hand I can use possibly more effective, in regard to population, but definitely more complicated measures in my attempt to intervene via the state. I can create a tax on all foods containing ingredient x. The tax will affect everyone in the community equally, regardless of whether it achieves its goal equally among all individuals. Some may benefit from this tax due to their decreased intake of ingredient x. Others may not benefit at all, as their health is unaffected by ingredient x. And still, some will continue to buy the same amount of products containing ingredient x despite the tax. Even still, there is a possibility that some individuals, dependent on products containing ingredient x, will not be able to afford these products after the tax increase and will subsequently become less healthy due directly to the tax. The complications, or unintended consequences, make evaluating the effectiveness of the tax extremely difficult. The tax sets a precedent of inequality of benefits or results, unless, of course, you reimbursed those who benefited least from the tax by giving them the tax money of those who benefited most from the tax. But in that scenario it may seem more beneficial to an individual who received the health benefits to have the monetary benefit of the tax instead creating unhappiness. Furthermore, the presence or absence of ingredient x in one’s diet is a single factor among many that contribute to one’s overall health. Rather than having a smaller amount of willing individuals, voluntarily trying to better their health, the tax marginally affects, much less improves, the over all health of the community.

While both set out to achieve the same goal, some methods result in more complication than others. The variables associated with complication and, by association, state endorsed methods often result in less quantifiable outcomes. The question becomes: On whom should the emphasis be –the individual of definite need and willingness, or the collective of varying degrees of need and willingness?

What I’m reading about today: Paternal Legislation

Ladies First

I’d like to start out by saying this post should not be considered a piece on social justice or equality. It is pure rationality.

Before women gained the right to vote in 1920, the title of First Lady was arguably the most politically powerful position a female could achieve. While some first ladies established a more influential legacy than others, the pretense of being a representative for their husband , the President, was an expectation.

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Women like Eleanor Roosevelt greatly expanded the role of First Lady by traveling the country and abroad on behalf of her husband as well as writing a syndicated column, raising the bar for those who followed her. Most recently, through her health and education initiatives, Michelle Obama has reinforced the notion of the First Lady’s traditional responsibility of serving as the national conscience.

But in today’s diverse and enlightened society there is an impending question gnawing at the moral fiber of the fundamentally conservative and planting a seed of hope in the socially progessive: What happens when we have a First Gentleman? 

A Gentleman, being the opposite of a lady, would have no historical context from which to draw responsibility or expectation. The fundamentalist American public, provided they have gotten over the initial terror of having a female President, would have no way to scrutinize their new victim. Surely the people cannot expect a man to act as his female predecessors had! Or on the contrary would progressives stick by their vision of a government where gender is eliminated and refuse to refer to her as the first female President, never admonishing her for being a woman, but rather commending her for her individual efforts?

Possibly, despite demographic data, biological differences, and pretense, it could work. Perhaps even…better than before. Not because a man would be holding the position but because there would be no expectation –none to live up to and none to surpass. Instead of saying there would be absolutely no difference between how a man and woman would hold the position or saying a man and woman would handle the position in a completely different manner, why not put the responsibility on the individual?

Nothing good would come of blaming men for a First Gentleman’s failure in the same way that blaming all women in a society for the success/failure of the first female president would result in irrational consequences.It matters little whether you believe there should be a political distinction between the sexes or not in the given situation. The emphasis should be on the individual.

Though this is a severely micro approach to gender’s role in the political process, the message only grows more poignant when applied to a larger population. When responsibility is determined on an individual basis, prejudice and collectivist pretense is eliminated. The implications quickly outgrow the political setting and take root in the foundation of societal norms. It becomes less about arguments of women being too emotional to hold office or men having made a mess of politics from the beginning, and more of a discussion about how one individual’s actions affect an immeasurable amount of other individuals –even beyond their constituents.

Ultimately discourse becomes humanitarian; a conversation not about how to reach certain demographics or shifting your platform to conforms to a group’s agenda, but how to make your actions positively influence the lives of others. It is very difficult to love and care for an entire diverse population with a single unifying characteristic, but it is easy to love and care for an individual, regardless of any characteristic.

What I’m reading about today: How war affects civilization

Changes

Expect a few changes in the coming weeks. I have teamed up with two other amateur writers to produce content for a new project focused on non-partisan politics. Invigorating stuff!

But, as it stands, I must continue to write here to fulfill requirements for my university course. So in the mean time I will still be posting here. I’m currently working on a post about first-ladies, as my girlfriend pointed out that I have neglected the most important demographic.

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What I’m reading about today: Halloween Politics

Inefficient Ideas

The concept of inefficiency is nothing new to the American government –or the American people. Congress’s track record speaks volumes to that point. Why, then, is congress, despite its inefficiency, so necessary? …Is it necessary?

To explore this idea, one must take off the traditional/collectivist/nationalist hat and replace it with the hat of an unbiased individual interested only in the truth. In allowing yourself to wear a new hat you may find that it suits you much better than the old one.

I will focus primarily on the ways in which members of congress are voted in to office since that is where the power of the individual (who doesn’t hold a political office) is strongest (through voting). In America, every state except for Nebraska and Maine employ a winner-take-all system. This means that a candidate needs only a plurality of votes in order to win. It is for this reason, and the electoral college, that a candidate can become president despite losing the popular vote.

There are obvious problems with this system as portrayed in this Pre-Windows 98 info-graphic:

Two_party_system_diagram

 

Though this may seem contradictory according to my last post about Political Monopolies, the winner take all system creates an objectively less democratic political atmosphere through the misrepresentation of the majority through the minority’s vote by a plurality. What I mean by the misrepresentation of the majority is that, in most elections, the majority of voters eligible to vote in said election don’t. The plurality that is responsible for electing a candidate into office, then, is not representative of even the majority of eligible voters, much less the majority of the governed. The contradiction becomes a paradox when you understand that the dilemma is not between two equally inefficient options: Winner-take-all and Proportional Representation.

The European response to winner-take-all is proportional representation which is self-explanatory: Congressional seats are divided according to the proportion of voters they are to numerically represent. This, too, has its own shortfalls. Some critics say that, as opposed to our current system of polarized parties, proportional representation would gridlock politics in semantics (too late) and fragment parties into, you guessed it, factions (too late, again).

But all in the name of increased representation/democracy, right?

The truth  is that the presence of factions lead to a more accurate representation of the electorate, but only by magnifying the political differences between citizens who are supposed to share a national identity. The absence of factions in Congress, however, leads to a false sense of compulsion to vote for on of two parties but a more stable and homogenized public atmosphere. Pick your poison.

The truly discerning reader will scroll to the top and find that one of my initial questions is whether congress is necessary to begin with. When this country was founded, its framers sought to fix a system they considered broken. There aren’t many who will argue that Congress is a well-oiled legislation creation machine, or that it operates remotely well. I doubt the founders would expect a nation of 300 million to remain complacent with such blatant inefficiency. To revolutionize the existing system or create an entirely new one would be a historically accurate continuation of our founders’  radical legacy. To completely reject the notion of government’s limiting constraints of both the individual and the collective, however, may be the most accurate continuation.

 

What I’m reading about today: The Senate’s Interpretation of The Constitution

Fashion App

Have you ever encountered the problem of wanting clothing that doesn’t meet the demands of your budget? Me too. That’s why I have devised an app that could potentially solve this issue (that and the fact that my professor requires it).

Say hello to Copy Catch, the app that identifies the low-priced doppelganger counterpart to high-end clothing items and accessories. Say you find a shirt at Barney’s that costs 350$, using Copy Catch you would post a picture of it, the price, and a link to where it can be purchased online. Once posted in the “Hunt” section of your Copy Catch profile,  a community of bargain hunters would hunt down a look-alike and post a picture of the shirt, it’s price, and a link to where you can purchase it.

The app depends on the power of crowd-sourcing, nothing new to social media driven retail (Groupon, Living social, Woot).

Here are some mock-up screen shots:

Home ScreenA user’s home screen would display a feed where they can browse the finds of those they follow.  Two pictures would be included in every post: one of the high priced item with the price and a link to where it can be bought online and one of the bargain priced item with the same information.

A user will probably follow individuals with a similar style so they may find articles they would be interested in. The feed is also where they can post new hunts; however, it is not where they would check the status of existing hunts. Hunts aren’t limited to expensive clothing in a store, a user may post a piece they see someone wearing on the street, at work, or at a political fundraiser…still a political blog.

Hunt

On the Hunts screen, a user can sort through their unmatched pieces by different categories: brand, price, date, color, shirts, pants, etc. Listed in each category are two pictures: one of the expensive piece with the price and a link to where it can be found online and another with a searching icon and the desired or “Goal” price of the bargain piece. Once the bargain piece is found, the search icon will be replaced with the picture of the new item as well as it’s price and a link to where it can be bought online.

What I’m reading about today: Monetary Policy

 

Political Monopolies

The Kennedys, the Bushs, the Clintons, and the Daleys: only a few of the existing political dynasties in U.S. politics. The ubiquity of these names in the modern political arena is enough to have the founding fathers rolling in their graves, however, the millions of voters who have kept these names in power certainly don’t seem to mind their legacy. The arguably aristocratic presence political dynasties have in American politics was to be explicitly avoided when men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote this country’s founding documents. The Federalist Papers continuously defend the constitution’s ability to destroy an oligarchy through factions. Federalist #57 argues specifically that term limits are designed for the very purpose of abating an oligarch’s influence.

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In the same way that the U.S. government has decided to vilify monopolies in the “free” market, individuals considered “career-politicians” are accused of creating a false dilemma of choice for voters. The government, itself, has restricted the continuous practice of it’s most tenured employees. To a certain extent, one’s experience in politics works against them in getting elected. In no other profession would one worry about having too much experience when applying for a job.

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If politics were a business, e.g., a clothing brand,  these legacies would represent the fortune 500 companies of their market –consistently providing an in-demand product at a lucrative value. After reaching a 90% market share, however, their contribution to the economy would suddenly/magically/without reason become destructive and limiting to the market. The millions who chose to bring this company to prominence would be accessory to crime.

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At the end of the day, regardless of how effective a leader may be, the best politicians are given the same opportunity to lead as the worst, as far as term limits are concerned. This is something American voters have come to consider fair. At America’s outset, the founders’ fear of political domination by the few urged them toward the ideological glorification of the minority/individual (in the form of The Bill of Rights) and somehow simultaneously led to the concentration of power being held by congress –the collective/majority (in the form of the separation of powers). Seeing as how it was the infringement of the rights of the minority that led to the American revolution, it is not difficult to see their interest in protecting minority rights.

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This is not an argument in favor of political dynasties. It is a statement about the complete incompetence of government and its collective efforts to do good anything in the form of a bureaucracy. It is the government telling the individual that they do not know what is best for themselves.It is the very restriction in freedom of the minority that the founders sought to end.

What I’m reading about today: The Legalization of Marijuana

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