Riots Are Society’s Auto-immune Diseases

Thinking people are confused by the outbreak of lawlessness in cities like Portland Oregon. Most are amazed by the idea of defunding the police. Some others are in favour of both and have their own ideas why it would make sense.

I think the police, while not perfect, are an advatage to society as a whole. As to the Portland situation, it seems to prove that lawlessness is an advantage to no one.

Where it begins

The other side of the argument is that society is and has been organized in ways that deny some of the people the ability to flourish. In particular the African American population, although you could make a good argument for Hispanics, Appalachian white foks and some Asians. The Irish were there 100 years ago. . These people feel the societal structure must be transformed to something else. What exactly that might be is obscure, but I think the image they would imagine is not unlike a socieity where law and order prevail, people with ability have the opportunity to learn and express that ability, and those who are unable to use their ability by reason of illness, injury, age, or other limiting condition are provided with a reasonable life. I think people would have the right to think and say what they want without interference but would not have the right to have anyone take them seriously. People would have the right to defend temselves from criminal charges and could expect the courts to consistent and non-arbitrary. People should expect prosecution is never contrived. People would have the right, even duty, to vote and elect people who would govern in the interests of the people.

In simple terms a society not so fundamentally different from what the theroetical version is now.

The problem

The problem is the theoretical version is seldom practiced. Over the years politicians and their bureaucracies have bent it and shaped it to fit partiuclar circumstances. Some of those to benefit their friends and offend their enemies. That is not objective government and should have died out decades ago. It has instead gotten worse.

If we think of society as a living thing with methods and structures to carry out certain necessary taks, we can see it as similar to our own body. It has sensors like eyes and ears, defense sytems like T-cells, energy systems, like how we digest food and use oxygen, and a central command and control center that decides and communcates.

But even our exquisitely designed system fails sometimes. It is not always from external factors like inury or disease, but sometimes it is from internal factors. Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Mutliple Sclerosis, lupus and others result when the body has a trigger that causes the immune system to over-react. Suffering and even death can result. Most of the conditions are only a little understood and the best treatment available is usually to minimize, not cure.

Is it reasonable to see the various protests and violence as a societal auto-immuse disease? The expression is an over-reaction to some trigger. The over-reaction eventually causes a problem and usually does nothing to solve the trigger. In society, that is more likely than in our body, because society has competing interests and unbalanced power. Some of the system people are acting in their own interest and not in the interest of the people in general.

Add to that the extreme difficulty in getting factual information and knowledge to connect it to. Social media in general is afflicted with people who have no ability to deal with complex information structures and derive faulty, albeit often humourous, conclusions.

The rise of common sense

  1. People do not provide equal inputs to society and so should not expect equal outcomes. If someone with a good education, a good attitude, and a sound work ethic does better financailly than someone who skips school to do drugs and refuses to work, should we be surprised? A just sytem is balanced. You get out pretty much what you can contribute. If some get more, it isusually because they contributed more.
  2. People are competitive. That some would try to take advantage of others is not astounding. That society as a whole should prevent unreasonable exploitation seems a good goal. That’s where the police fit.
  3. People should be able to develop to be their best possible. No one can make all the mistakes in one lifetime and thus learn from experience, but they can share the experience of others by education. Education of people, especially those who have not had complete respect and attention in society, should be paramount. That won’t happen so long as public education and its various interest groups refuse to allow competition of any kind. Education reform must be an early step.
  4. People should expect to be more personally responsible for what happens to them. If you don’t go to school or to work, it is unreasonable to assume you will become educated or well paid.

Big governments are a problem. The idea that govrnments can help is delusional. Many of the systemic problems we face were caused by the government. It is seldom good policy to ask for solutions from those who caused the problem. Transition to the attitude of personal responsibility will be a long time taking hold. Many government actions in the past have had the unstated intent, or perhaps the unlucky effect, of creating dependents. It is easier to get elected if some of the people depend on you. That’s cynical but If someone from Mars arrived and knew nothing of our history, just what they could see in the present, they would be unlikely to reach any conclusion than that governments create dependents.

Where to from here?

  1. A good idea that cannot be implemented is worth nothing. Good ideas are worth about 39 cents a dozen. Implementation is what matters and nothing we hope for will be implemented by those who benefit from the system as it is. We should try to find people who are interested in preserving what is good, right, and just and disposing of the rest. The rest gets in the way of our flourishing. Things that don’t work should not last because they consume resources better used elsewhere.
  2. We must learn to notice common sense and avoid the narrative some wish to describe. Most poltiical narratives, while a little true, are incomplete and hide the fact that all decisions must include what you want to do and by default what cannot be done because you chose this course of action. That’s where real debate would occur. So long as governments see themselves as omnipotent and infinitely wealthy the discussion about allocating resources to choice A over all others never occurs.
  3. As with everything, begin with ourselves. Never mind the obstacles, do your best within what is available. As you become more capable and expect less, you will gain a measure of control and that will lead you further.
  4. The system we have, evolved over the last 100+ years. It will not fix because someone broke a window  in Chicago. It will not fix because we assume all police are bad. Police must learn to govern themselves better and that is a solvable problem. Someone commented recently that if you have 120 good officers and 12 bad ones, you can solve the probelm with simple reforms. But if the 120 good officers support the 12 bad ones, you have 132 bad ones.
  5. If something is bad, be sure to notice and act to excise it. That applies to more than the police. Be sure your family is safe from delusions.
  6. So long as there are triggers, there will be auto-immune disease. We can act to minimize the triggers. In society we can notice where interest groups are creating or fanning a trigger. We can refuse to fuel their anger. we canrefuse to allow them the power or wealth they seek.
  7. We can act to resolve problems. The hard part is many of the problems have been sold as solutions. The narrative will be there to change and those who benefitted from it will be reluctant to change. We can keep it from getting worse.

It will not be easy but it is  and will be necessary.

I help people understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve and exceed their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages. The result: more security, more efficient income, larger and more liquid estates.

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