THE ETHICS OF SOCIETY
Alexander Hamilton wrote (1775): “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature…and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
continued from a previous post, as promised: In addition to any powers granted the individual by civil law, he retains certain powers granted by virtue of his humanity and natural law. When there’s a conflict, the individual must look beyond his privileges (granted by the group) to his rights (granted by his very being), and he is not only empowered but obligated to resolve the conflict in the interest of mankind, not the State. If the conflict involves ethics, there is no contest. Ethics is the only choice.
The ‘global community’ aspired to by many is a worthy goal, but only by way of first principles and natural law. It is, in fact, the way things should be, but it is not possible under the aegis of a government (or governments) that takes liberties with truth (anyone needing examples of this either has not been paying attention or is in moral denial). Only an ethical government can achieve this goal. Such a government is possible, but not under the current conditions resulting from servile deference to special interests. It is possible using a truly conservative approach.
This is not a call to political action. Conservative simply means a return to the original premises of our nation and of humanity generally. This process begins with truth and the primacy of the individual freedom guaranteed by our Constitution and implicit in natural law.
Conservatism, by definition, champions the Constitution and rights of the individual rather than the power of government. Should someone favor governmental power over the primacy of the individual, that someone would be in political opposition to conservatism. However, so long as he demanded truth in politics and compliance with natural law, we would be in essential agreement ethically. Any political differences would be his choice alone.
Note: I am in favor of individual freedom and people helping each other. I do not and never have relied on government for help to run my life—I alone am responsible for it. I also am a professional, one who speaks for himself without an intermediary. That puts me in opposition to unions, and especially public unions, which are made up of those who delegate to others the power to speak for them (and therefore are not professionals). As an individual, which like it or not we all are, I accept the responsibilities of my actions and will sink or swim with my decisions. Parenthetically, I’ve done both.
ETHICS ISSUES: CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate Change is a fact.
The planet is warming because of Earth’s being in an interglacial phase, recovering naturally from a glacial phase (about 10,000 years ago) when cooler temperatures prevailed. In other words, global warming is a perfectly natural phenomenon, and everyone knows this. The alarmists also know that the natural interglacial warming trend is responsible for some part of Earth’s rising surface temperatures (less than 1 degree C since 1850). Nevertheless, their arguments about ‘global warming’ never mention this (factual) natural phenomenon.
The current controversy revolves around the contribution of burning fossil fuels to warming—some believe increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to be a factor. A valid question: how much? CO2 is a minor atmospheric gas (0.04%), while water vapor makes up roughly 75% of atmospheric gases. Certainly water vapor (clouds, etc.) also contributes to Earth’s warming. But how much?
Carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen by flora and back to CO2 by fauna; nature compensates for changes in earth conditions as a matter of course to encourage life on earth. Another question: can nature compensate for unnatural increases in CO2? Answer: We do not know, but it apparently has over the past millions of years. Perhaps more flora (terrestrial and marine) will be produced to use more CO2 and produce more oxygen; after all, warmer temperatures should encourage plant growth…
Mathematical models have been constructed to predict warming by increased atmospheric CO2. However there is considerable evidence that presumed sensitivity to CO2 is too high. Nor do these models consider all of the factors which could contribute to global warming. Only one example:
Water covers more than 70% of Earth’s surface to an average depth of 2-1/2 miles; some 345 MILLION CUBIC MILES of water are kept in constant motion by little-understood variables like convection, temperature, pressure, chemistry, evaporation, gravity and the effect of Earth’s rotation. This massive, active and poorly-understood heat sink has great impact on moderating temperatures on Earth and in its atmosphere (and therefore biosphere) as well. There is constant exchange of energy between oceans and atmosphere that helps maintain Earth’s life-encouraging balance.
Scientists believe that ocean currents are responsible for 40% of global heat transport. More than 17 major currents, some warm, others cold, are known to affect climate worldwide. All move vast amounts of seawater over huge areas in all three dimensions to depths up to 1000 meters. However, little is known of deep oceans’ effect on global temperatures.
The conflict cannot be settled until models include significant variables affecting them. Rushing into solutions to problems that may not exist is political, not scientific. Let’s get real…
THE ETHICS OF SOCIETY
Any society needs a system of rules within which its members can operate to the general benefit. These rules are founded in its values and articulated in its privileges. The rules of all successful societies including our own begin in ethics and are adapted to the society’s needs and wishes.
Our own rules trace their origin to a need for freedom. Our laws are founded in a Declaration of Independence and empowered by a Constitution written by individuals with a strong ethical and moral base “in order to form a more perfect union.”
Drawing upon the experience of past cultures and societies so as to weave the strongest, most equitable and serviceable fabric possible at the time, a document creating a republic representing the best the world had to offer was codified in a few short pages. Its first ten amendments, the Bill Of Rights, clearly maintains the primacy of the individual
Any group—our nation included—has limits even within itself beyond which it may not dictate what its members may or may not do. Ethics—truth—is one of these. No government, however well-founded or well-intended, may tamper with truth or define it in any way other than the absolute. So, in addition to any powers granted the individual by civil law, the individual retains certain powers granted by virtue of his humanity and natural law. When there is a conflict, the individual must look beyond his privileges (granted by the group) to his rights (granted by his very being), and he is not only empowered but obligated to resolve the conflict in the interest of mankind, not the State. If the conflict involves ethics, there is no contest. Ethics is the only choice.
But we have, over the course of time, effectively subverted the natural process in the name of the way we think (or are led to believe) that things are. The rapid growth of knowledge and technology has persuaded us to delegate the responsibility for progress to groups. In the process we have drawn further from the principle, the reason for it all—to be, to live, to create, to become all that we can be—what humanity and life itself is all about. We forget that the vital connection includes more than shared interests and abilities. It includes, in fact, everything that makes us human, and it begins in truth.
As we developed stronger and stronger group connections we developed as well a system of laws that has tended to mask our vital link with humanity. We tended to forget that, even if the high-water mark of mankind, our society is still a group, and as a group it’s disposable. We tended to forget that humankind remains the vital and overarching entity to which each of us is vitally connected. We tended to forget that groups, however large and pervasive, remain groups that do not and cannot replace the individual, family, community or humanity, no matter what they tell us or what we have come to believe.
And when we permit group relationships to displace the vital one in importance, we permit groups (including society itself) to appropriate greater authority than they are due. In this process, group rules corrupt the basic ethical precepts of mankind. Groups have written their own rules in order to accomplish their own ends, and these rules have found their way into law that may (and often does) misrepresent the relationship between the group and the individual. We have allowed, even encouraged, this to happen, and in the process we’ve subverted ethics in favor of law (group think) by assigning our own ethical responsibilities to groups that by definition cannot handle them. The effect has been devastating on both levels that really matter: the individual and the whole of mankind.
To be continued…
ETHICS in GOVERNMENT: A CRISIS
The Constitution is the basis of our government. We live by ‘the rule of law’ when we live according to our Constitution. It is a form of government that has enabled the United States to become the foremost nation in the world. It is currently losing that distinction. One reason is a general lack of ethics in our government.
Is the United States governed ‘by the people’? It was so conceived and so practiced for 200-years. However, we are governed now by a professional elite, mostly lawyers and all highly-paid, firmly ensconced in a city and environs the average income of which is the highest of any metropolitan area in the country. We have elected these people in good faith, expecting them to govern in accordance with the Constitution, but they have increasingly let us down, being re-elected for many terms, enabling them to reform government in their favor, even exempting themselves from the very laws they pass applying to the general populace. It has become virtually impossible for the individual to be heard.
And it has gotten worse. Our President has vowed to govern by fiat as he pleases, bypassing the Congress that is the Legislative Branch of our government constitutionally empowered to pass laws. Whereas the nation slowly but surely had been moving toward full integration, it has become divisive not only between individuals but between political parties. The Legislative Branch has become hamstrung, making it even easier for the President to do as he wishes.
This might not be so bad if the President were indeed working for the good of the nation, but he is not. It might not be so bad if the President were dealing honestly with the country and its government, but that is not the case. He lies, and he lies openly, and is not brought to task for it. One of the reasons is that he is our first Black president, and nobody wants to be labeled racist, as it has been so easy to do because of the divisiveness spread by his appointed administration.
He has chosen to rule rather than govern, and he rules poorly. He rules poorly because he does not know how to do the job he was hired to do. He won the Presidency largely on the strength of lies and his criticism of the former administration*, and now is forced to follow many of its policies (because they worked).
The present situation is not wholly the fault of the President—it has been developing over the past fifty or so years to the point that government has expanded beyond the point of efficiency, and now exists for itself. We have enabled this situation, trusting in our elected officials to work for the good of the country. Instead we have stood by while government has gone its own way for its own purposes. The tail has come to wag the dog, so to speak.
The situation must change or our constitutional form of government is doomed. One of the ways to effect change is to enact term limits so as to keep professional politicians from becoming just that. The Presidency is limited to two terms to guard against exactly what is going on at this time. There is no reason why the legislature cannot abide by those same limits. Enacting limits would prevent the building of the governmental dynasties that exist today.
Another manner of effecting change is to pay more attention to what’s happening in Washington. This is not an easy matter because to press has changed from reporting the news to making it, or at least supporting those who make it.
We’re in a bad situation that can only get worse if we allow it. A Constitutional Amendment to limit terms does not require the federal government to approve it (they would not, because why rock the boat?). Amendment can be effected by the States—that’s in accordance with the Constitution—and state government is closer to the individual than is the federal bureaucracy.
But the first thing to do is demand ethical government. This means telling the truth—being honest with the governed. Only then can respect for (and trust in) government be restored.
It starts with the individual—that means YOU. Insist on being told the truth, and act upon truth.
How can we help you?
* “I know some in Washington would like us to start leaving Iraq now. To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we’re ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States. It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to al-Qaida. It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale. It would mean we allowed the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan. It would mean increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.” (George W Bush, 2007)
CLIMATE CHANGE: an UPDATE
This website has insisted that Climate Change is a natural phenomenon that has taken place since Earth had climate. Of course, man has had an effect (by virtue of his waste CO2 and other actions), but that effect tends to be minor when compared with other sources (gas and natural ‘pollutants’ contributed by such as volcanic activity).
On the other hand, politically-motivated science claims that man will shortly tip the balance toward his own extinction by contributing excessive amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, and that extreme (and expensive) steps need to be taken NOW to avoid catastrophe. We disagree.
It continues to be our position that Nature has a stake in maintaining Earth’s natural balance, and will compensate naturally for aberrations to that balance as it always has in the past. Models predicting disaster cannot and do not consider all forces that determine climate, in particular hydrological factors including the oceans which cover more than 70% of our planet to an average depth of 2-1/2 miles with ever-moving currents and changing chemical composition; the presence, change and movement of water vapor in the atmosphere; and the ability of water to change phases easily (and instantaneously) in response to changing conditions imposed on it (these are covered in considerable detail in numerous earlier posts).
There is no doubt that natural compensation (evaporation, condensation, currents, etc.) is imperfectly understood and impossible to model with any confidence. Neither is there scientific consensus on the effect of mankind on that balance, in spite of claims to the contrary (but see below). And it is notable that sea-level rise remains consistent at about one foot per year and that as Arctic ice decreases, Antarctic ice increases.
And there is no doubt that, while Earth temperatures rose (by less than a degree) during the past 50-years (less than 1.5 degrees during the entire 20th Century), they have increased significantly more slowly in the past 16-17 years despite man’s increased impact during that time (the same time that mankind’s contribution to carbon dioxide levels have increased by about 25-percent). To quote Dr. Steven Koonin’s article in the Wall Street Journal of September 20-21 (2014):
“This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity,” essentially corroborating our own position as presented (for years) in previous posts.
The politically-motivated ‘climate lobby’ counters that warming is continuing at the earlier rate, but has somehow taken place in the oceans. However, there is absolutely no evidence for this conclusion. Additionally, they have predicted that the ‘heat sink’ effect of the oceans will not last beyond 2030, but neither is there scientific support for this theory. In fact, considering the vast quantities of water contained in Earth’s oceans, this theory would appear to have no basis in fact at all.
Careful examination of ALL the evidence will confirm that we need not panic. While the current climate change issue is unsettled, it remains imperfectly understood. We should take pains to understand it before making binding policy, while realizing that changing it would be at best a difficult (if not impossible) task.