Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two Golden Rules, One Epic Struggle

There are two versions of the golden rule that I know of. The first, and perhaps the most well known, is you should treat others as you would have them treat you, or some such thing. This philosophy has been paraphrased often and adapted in some form by all the major religions that I know of. It basically means, to paraphrase, so to speak, be nice to each other. The other golden rule is not as well known, or so I believe, though it is widely disseminated. It says, he who has the gold makes the rules.

These two rules both ring true, though when you think about it they are nearly the opposite of each other. The first golden rule, the one about being nice, is really just a suggestion that has a tendency to work out. If you're nice to someone, they're more than likely going to be nice to you. Of course it doesn't always work that way, nothing's perfect, but I think it works that way a high percentage of the time and when one acts like an ass toward others, others have a tendency to avoid them. The second golden rule, the one about the gold, basically says that if you have money you can be as much of an ass to people as you want. While many people will avoid someone being an ass, if that someone is wealthy enough people will tolerate the abuse in the hopes that they will receive some of that wealth in exchange.

The freedom philosophy has a tendency to follow the first golden rule. One of the first things one must realize in order practice a philosophy of true freedom is that if you want freedom you must allow others to be free. To put it another way, you must honor your neighbor's choices. That sounds very similar to treat others as you would want to be treated. You would want to be left alone to pursue your happiness, you would want others to honor the choices you make in your life, so why would you want to horn in on your neighbor's life unless he has invited you to?

Some people get a little confused when first exposed to the freedom philosophy. The first thing they may ask is "what if?" or "what about this?" or "what about that?" They will then go on to explain a situation where they feel one has the "right" to intrude upon another's life. Let's make this clear. The freedom philosophy, at least to my understanding of it, does not allow people to simply do as they please as some seem to think. If one harms another, or damages another's property, or steals from another, or defrauds another, then they will be expected to make restitution for the wrong they've done. They will be held accountable. How that would happen is up for debate and there are many possibilities. A freedom oriented society, as I understand it, is not a utopian society. On the contrary, it admits that human society is imperfect and creating a Utopia is next to impossible. The big government schemes that follow the "he who has the gold makes the rules" philosophy, on the other hand, try to sell a utopian dream to the masses to propel themselves into power. They will be happy to answer the above "what if?" questions to the inquisitor's satisfaction in the hopes of capturing another mind.

Another aspect of the "do unto others" golden rule is individualism. This is where the concept of natural rights came from, the concept that rights are inherent to individuals due to their humanity. Rights are not given by governments. In fact, governments can only choose whether or not they will honor or violate those rights. This ties into the philosophy that one owns one's self. One is not owned by the state or by any other entity simply because of his place of birth. Because one owns one's self, one also owns the product of his labor. That product is the wealth he has created in the world. It is his wealth and belongs to no one else. You don't want your wealth taken from you, why should you want someone else's wealth taken from them. He is the sole arbiter of what will be done with the product of his labor. Any effort to obtain his wealth or any portion thereof is a form of wealth redistribution and a collectivist scheme.

Collectivist schemes follow the he who has the gold makes the rules philosophy. They have a tendency to create societies where money is funneled to a small ruling oligarchy. They will do what they can to acquire as much of the common folks money as they can. That's why communist revolutions have been financed by central banks. Socialist schemes are centralized and those who make the plans are going to give themselves and their friends the bulk of the real wealth. Those at the bottom doing the hard work will only get the crumbs, even though they are doing most of the production, and there's not much they can do about it. The central planners have the gold, they are making the rules, and they don't care about being nice to you since they believe you're going to be nice to them as long as they hold the purse strings.

At the risk of sounding a bit conspiratorial, I would say that the struggle to see which of these golden rules will dominate mankind's reality has been going on for millennia. Most people are happy to follow the first golden rule. They find joy in each other's company. They work hard, are honest, mind their own business, take care of their families and are satisfied doing the best they can. Some are wealthier than others, but as long as opportunity is there and they have control over the course their lives can take, they can live comfortably and be satisfied with their lot in life. Then there are the super wealthy, the elite who control the central banks and the multi national corporations. Many of these folks are descendants of power elite bloodlines that go back into antiquity. They are not satisfied with their lot in life even though they enjoy luxuries most of us can't even begin to imagine. It seems to me that they won't be satisfied with anything less than total domination and they couldn't care less how much human suffering is caused by their attempts to achieve their goal.

This is a spiritual struggle. The first golden rule has its roots in spirituality while the second has its roots in the material world. I don't think there's anything inherently evil about money, it's just a tool, a token to be used for trade and barter. Money can be used for good or for evil. When money is used to build a more voluntary society where interactions between people take place on a voluntary basis instead of through force and coercion, that's a good thing. When the money is used to apply government force on people to guide their lives in directions they don't want to take, that is not good. When the money is used to pay for politicians so that the agenda of the extremely wealthy can be carried out, that is not good. Yet the common folk must endeavor to follow the first golden rule with one another and seek peaceful resolution against those practicing the second golden rule.

Our founding fathers had an answer to the "he who has the gold" rule. Money in our nation was supposed to be only gold and silver. Neither the states nor the federal government was supposed to be able to issue paper money. They got around this little law by giving monopoly rights to a privately owned organization called the Federal Reserve to issue paper money printed from thin air and based on debt. Our federal government then borrows that money and contracts to pay it back with interest. Had this not happened, the common folk would have had the gold and they would now have much more say in making the rules. As it now stands, the Federal Reserve owns all the money, much of the real wealth and most of the gold and silver. They have acquired that wealth fraudulently, in my opinion, and by making promises they could not keep.

The world seems to be moving toward a dark place. There may come a time when we will have to help each other. Those who have the gold and make the rules are going to try to put the blame for what's happening on someone else. We would do well to remember the first golden rule and recognize when some group or another has no real power and is being scapegoated. We would do well to focus on those who own the central banks, remember that they are to blame for our financial woes, make certain they don't obtain even more power, and take our monetary system back by demanding use of constitutional money instead of fiat, fractional reserve notes.

It might also be prudent to remember that the first golden rule has its limits. It's good to treat people nicely, but if they don't treat you nicely in return it's okay to avoid them. If you can't avoid them, however, and they keep ignoring the first golden rule, then it becomes a test on how much one can take. Humans can only stand so much before something snaps inside them. Events taking place in the world today show the consequences that occur when people are fed up and snap. The common folk across the globe want to be free. They want more control in their personal lives. They want opportunity. They want to be treated with dignity. When their will continues to be ignored, anything is possible and nobody should be surprised no matter the methods used in uprisings.

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