Sunday, August 12, 2018

Discussion: Sam Harris, the IDW and the left

The last minute and a half of this video makes Jordan Peterson sound bat shit crazy.  At least he does not clarify what he means in a way that people can understand and relate to.

He was pretty interesting up to that point, although he has a certain vagueness about his core beliefs that seem less rooted in concrete reality and more rooted in mythology.

He does his best work when he sticks to science, which in his field he is a very interesting speaker.  He became famous by trying to defend free speech against certain laws in his country of Canada.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

If There Is No God, Murder Isn't Wrong

In response to:

I wrote:

Religious morality is also an opinion.  People accept one faith over another.  The morality of certain religions, if not most religions, justify murder on a mass scale.  How is it that the Bible has "Do no kill" and then the supposed God commands people to commit genocide multiple times, and even describes the supposed God as a mass murderer himself?  Hypocrisy is not a sound moral system.

I prefer morality based upon the reason that says that we respect of the rights of others because we want our own rights respected.  This is a morality that is inherent to human nature because we understand it naturally.  There are going to be those who violate it, because that is also human nature, so we need institutions that protect rights.

Friday, July 27, 2018

​Nietzsche on Democracy, Christianity and Decay (Prof. Stanley Rosen)

Some regard
Nietzsche as kind of crazy.  For others he has
an intellectual appeal. 
I think that Nietzsche wanted to tear down all the old institutions and morals.  He is kind of the opposite of Jordan Peterson who says that we need some sort of moral base to function as a society.  Jordan Peterson seems less concerned about whether or not religion is actually true than he is about what religion means to us as a society.

One thing I found interesting in the video is the notion that all structures are eventually replaced by something completely different.  This is kind of scary thought.  This is what the Marxists want.  We don't know what will eventually replace Western values, but it seems likely whatever it ends up being could be much more authoritarian.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Jordan Peterson - The Problem With Atheism


The argument that I have heard is that people who don't know the difference between right and wrong aren't lacking religion, but empathy.  Although correct, there are always going to be some who do lack empathy.  This also assumes that your society values empathy, which I suspect was deficient in the Nazis, the Roman Empire and the Soviet Union.  Therefore, I see no guarantee that a society would value anything beyond individual or national self interest.  Many would, but some would not.  You can make a convoluted argument for morality, but some would find these arguments too deep and discard them.

Of course, the atrocities committed under slavery in this country, and others, showed a complete lack of empathy, and religion was often used as the justification.  Sam Harris claims that good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things, but if you want a good person to do bad things then you need religion.

I am not taking sides here.  I just think that the ideas are interesting.

The World Is Better Than Ever. Why Are We Miserable?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Youtube censorship

Re: Learned a new word


Seems to me that there is a continuum, from a very oppressive society that tries to regiment all behavior, to an anarchist or nihilistic one where people lack any sense of purpose.

In my view, society should regulate and encourage behavior that is respectful to the rights of others.   By this, I mean we should teach children about civil liberties and respecting freedom.

As a logical extension of this, I also believe in courtesy.  

Since we do not share the same religious beliefs, I assume that we would disagree on what is moral and what is not.  I draw the line at respecting the rights of others.

​One of the many reasons I do not believe in anarchy is that there has to be some standard way of defining, for example, what is property ownership and what rights are.​


On Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 9:36 AM, utahtrout  wrote:


From this article describing social anomie...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fwd: Core Values

FYI, this is an email I wrote to someone I know.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Coffey <>
Date: Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 5:15 PM
Subject: Core Values


There are a great many varied positions that people hold, but all those positions should be traceable to some sort of belief that is in effect the cause of all causes.  I have a friend in Salt Lake City, who around 2001 was trying to pin me down on what my core values were, because I was refusing to take absolute positions.  I told him that I didn't believe in absolutes, but judged individual issues on their merits.  However, he pressed me further saying that even if so, there must be some value or values that I hold dear in order to make those judgements?  I responded that I wanted to do the most good, while doing the least amount of harm.

When I question people about their core values, I almost always get the negative instead of the positive.  People are more likely to tell you what they are against instead of what they are for, and therefore it seems to me that people get excited about politics because they are against something.  For example, truly happy people have little need for politics.  When it comes to being against something, I think that there is the concept of "the oppressor" where people blame some specific thing for the misery in the world or their personal misery.  The oppressor for Republicans and Libertarians is government, and I'm pretty sure that the oppressor for the left is the wealthy.  This kind of thing gets people quite agitated about politics, but in reality there is very little that politics can do to improve a person's life, because people improve their life through personal responsibility, good judgement, hard work and perseverance.  For this reason, politics can be a waste of time, because it is unlikely that public policy will change one iota because of an individual's efforts.

It is my observation that the further people are on the political left, the more likely they are to are to tell you what they are against instead of what they are for.  This is because true socialism is untenable to the majority of the Americans, so those on the extreme left tend to hide what they really believe in, and instead choose to attack enemies or bad things that are easier targets.  I don't think that Bernie Sanders is electable as President in the United States because he is pretty much honest about what he believes in.  However, someone like Barack Obama, who was the considered the most liberal person in the United States Senate, could get elected because he spoke in more general and less specific terms.

People who mostly talk about what they are against tend to confuse the political argument, because it is less clear what they stand for.

When it comes to my political positions, I hold two core values which I will elaborate on, one of which is generally Republican, and the other is generally Libertarian.

I take it as a given that as the amount of government increases, the level of economic growth declines.  Even the most casual of observation shows that places like Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, China and even India have suffered because of their socialist policies.  The places with the least amount of government, like Lichtenstein, Hong Kong, and Luxembourg, have prospered, sometimes even more than the United States.  Even though I take this principle as a given that should require very little proof, I have seen studies that put all the countries in the world on a graph, and there is a pretty clear inverse and almost linear relationship between prosperity and the amount of government.  Logic gives further support to this position, because we can see the effects of government.  It becomes pretty clear that excessive government burdens the economy, and wastes resources, both capital and labor.  Bigger governments tend to be more corrupt and more easily manipulated, causing further waste.

So the economy works best when people are free to pursue their goals with minimal government interference.  Freedom works.

However, this assertion is usually met with arguments about the Scandinavian countries, where people claim that these countries prove that Socialism can work.  I find this interesting, because the leader of one of the countries denied that they were a Socialist country, but instead claimed that they were a free market economy.  I think that the argument that the Scandinavian countries are proof that socialism can work is flawed for many reasons:  Most of their prosperity came before they adopted socialist policies, they still try to maintain a healthy free market, and when their economy stagnated, they had to lower their tax rates to give it a boost.  In fact, at least one country for awhile had a lower top tax rate than the United States.

My favorite Milton Friedman quote is:   "The enduring lesson of the 20th century is that socialism is a failure, and free markets are a success. But the politicians keep advocating just a little more socialism."  Governments Keep Turning to Socialism, Even Though It Always Fails.

The non-aggression principle, which I think is sometimes referred to as The Libertarian Principle, says that people have the right to do whatever they want so long as they don't interfere with the same right of others.  There is an expression that says, "My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins."  I agree with this in principle, but there are practical considerations where I might differ.  Pure Libertarians see all taxes as theft, and almost all regulation as an infringement on people's freedom.  Most government actions use theft, force, or the threat of force to achieve its aims, so these government actions are a form of tyranny. 

I think that if you take this principle to its logical extreme then you can't have any government at all, and a small percentage of Libertarians are anarchists who see Libertarianism as a path to anarchy.  However, I think that anarchy is completely unworkable.  Although some people might think that Rights are self evident, I think that there could be widespread disagreement over what is a right and what is not.  You need government to define what the rules are to prevent people from aggressing against each other.  Property can only be defined in a legal context, otherwise you could have two or more people laying claim to the same property without a clear and just resolution.  In anarchy, not everybody is going to agree to the same rules.  Finally, it should be self evident that we need government to protect us from foreign enemies.  Without government, we would be taken over by people who are far less considerate about our well being.

I am so very far from pure Libertarianism, which I also think is not practical.  I think that we need some minimal regulations to prevent people from harming each other, just like we need traffic signals to prevent people from harming each other.  I see examples around me of extreme poverty, and therefore conclude that we need some social programs, at least for the moment.  However, I think that in an ideal world we could phase out social programs as the free market increased prosperity.  

It seems to me that the left never wants social programs to end, nor decrease, but only to increase them, which raises the question in my mind of how much is enough?  In an ideal world you would need less social programs over time.  If you take the position that you always need more social programs, then isn't that admitting some kind of failure, because the social programs aren't solving the problem of poverty, but possibly making the problem worse?


Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Only Reason Why an Atheist Doesn't Believe in the Bible

I commented ...

I have philosophical reasons to think that there might be a god, but I think that the presenter misunderstands the atheist position. Most atheists that I am aware of simply say that there is no credible evidence of a god. They aren't willing to accept something without evidence, and neither am I. The Bible is not evidence of anything, except that ancient people committed atrocities in the name of religion, if we can assume that some of the accounts are true. These atrocities disprove the Bible, and the Bible loses further credibility when you realize that many stories are recycled from other religions worshiping other gods thousands of years before Judaism existed. (The flood from The Epic of Gilgamesh, Adam and Eve from The Tree of Jiva and Atman, and Jesus from the demigod Horus.) I don't expect to expect to convince many people reading this, but the point I am trying to make is that accepting ideas without evidence is not the way to think rationally. Religion puts much emphasis on faith, but that is because they can't prove their bogus claims. However, if religion gives most people's meaningless lives meaning, then I say more power to them, because why not? But a few of us prefer to believe in a rational universe with rules where cause and effect govern. Rational thinking in such a universe is based upon credible evidence.


Friday, October 28, 2016

I was appalled by some of the responses I got here. (See bold text.)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: John Coffey <>
Date: Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 11:48 AM
Subject: I was appalled by some of the responses I got here. (See bold text.)

I understand why people on the left feel the way they do. Web page after web page makes it clear that the number one issue on the left is income inequality and disparity of wealth. This is an issue that has rising to the forefront for years, fueled mostly by left leaning politicians, not to mention a suffering economy. This issue has been a concern of mine as well.

I see countless articles claiming that disparity of wealth is a threat to democracy. The theory is that the rich and powerful control the political system, which is probably a half truth. As Michael Moore said, a millionaire gets no more votes than a poor person, and there are far fewer millionaires than there are the rest of us. Despite big income inequality in 2008 and 2012, the American people elected a left leaning socialist who promised to raise taxes on the rich.

Hillary and Bill Clinton have benefited from rich donors and foreign donors, and have been paid exorbitant fees to give speeches to Wall Street bankers and foreign leaders. If you don't want a politician in the pocket of the wealthy, then don't vote for Hillary.

Some disparity of wealth is healthy because it shows that you have a vibrant growing economy. It used to be that if you wanted to get rich, or richer, you would compete in the marketplace. However, today, the way people get rich is they use government to shut down their competitors or use government to grant them special favors.

If you plan on voting for Hillary, I want to tell you why conservatives feel the way they do. It is the birthright of every Unites States citizen to live in a free country. Economic freedom is an essential part of living in a free country, because without economic freedom then you have very little freedom at all. Economic freedom is essential for economic growth and prosperity. Conservatives feel that their birthright is being stolen from them. The country was founded on the principle of limited government to protect freedom, but for several decades there has been a concerted effort to turn the United States into a European style socialism, and it mostly has succeeded.

The Constitution of the United States was worded to limit the power of the federal government. The 10nth amendment to the Constitution specifically states that those powers not assigned by the Constitution to the Federal Government belong to the States or the people. Yet, liberal judges have pretty much nullified any Constitutional limit on federal power. Conservatives feel that this is one of the most important elections in our lifetime, because if Hillary is elected then she will appoint more liberal judges, especially to the Supreme Court, who will render any Constitutional limit on government power meaningless.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

P.S. Be sure to share.

Geneva Coffey Belding I'm telling all people that our constitutional rights are being taken away a little at a time and our government will be telling us all what to do. It's coming faster than u think. Help trump win please
Geneva Coffey Belding
Alan E Woodbury
Alan E Woodbury Obama is not a Socialist.
John Coffey
John Coffey I think that it depends upon where you are standing.
John Coffey
Write a reply...

Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda All men are not created equal.
John Coffey Meaning what? According to the Declaration of Independence they are. I think that it means that they have equal rights.
Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda No. Even when it was written we had slaves.
John Coffey
John Coffey Nick Paleveda what does that have to do with my topic? We are the only nation on earth that went to war to end slavery. The abolitionists were Republicans. The point is that we all should have the right to live in a free country.
Norm Jenson
Norm Jenson Lol and the British ended it without a war
John Coffey
John Coffey What does this have to do with my topic?
Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda Yes. The Brits ended slavery prior to the revolution by the states in a court decision. We revolted perhaps to keep slavery. Today we allow debts such as student loans not to be discharged in bankruptcies creating a class of indentured servants. Hmmm.
Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda The British ended slavery in 1772 by court decision. The colonies revolted in 1776 and wanted to keep jot down all men are created equal on your way out the door..
John Coffey
John Coffey The 1772 decision left in place slavery in the colonies "the power of a master over his servant is different in all countries, more or less limited or extensive; the exercise of it therefore must always be regulated by the laws of the place where exercised."
John Coffey
John Coffey The British didn't fully abolish slavery in the British empire in 1833.
John Coffey
John Coffey Does this tangential discussion give you the right to take away my freedom? Does it give you the right to take away Constitutional limits on government power?

John Coffey
John Coffey This seems like a typical liberal ploy to go on the attack. You are attacking the founding fathers, making the clearly false claim that the American Revolution was done to preserve slavery. What a way to obfuscate the issue. Your point seems to be that this somehow invalidates the Constitution or our Constitutional protection of freedom.

Norm Jenson
Norm Jenson i consider it a rather silly discussion. You don't have total freedom. There are dozens of laws that restrict freedom. I'm sure you agree with many of them. I think as long as it is democratically decided it's fine. We can do whatever we want even amend the constitution if necessary. There is nothing wrong with socialism as long as it's a democratic socialism.

You don't now and never have had any absolute freedom. You've always been subject to laws.

The aside was simply setting the record straight. This country is great but far from perfect and there is nothing wrong in acknowledging when others got it right before us.

John Coffey
John Coffey Norm Jenson You might as well throw away the Constitution.
Norm Jenson
Norm Jenson we have a Supreme Court that interprets it. I know you think they get it wrong sometimes I do as well. But if we don't like the interpretation we can amend it. I hate the right wing holier than thou attitude that their reading is the only correct one. What incredible arrogance.
Norm Jenson
Norm Jenson I think the Supreme Court got it wrong on citizens united for example and a string of decisions giving personhood to corporations. Here is a discussion of that issue that informs my view
Contents Introduction to Corporate Personhood Controversies Relating to Corporate…
John Coffey
John Coffey Norm Jenson How convenient that the left can appoint liberal judges who interpret the constitution in a liberal way, but then you call people like me who think that this is wrong holier than thou and incredibly arrogant.
Norm Jenson
Norm Jenson Fair enough there is plenty of arrogance to go around
Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda By the way it is not a false claim that Slavery was abolished in England in 1772. You correctly pointed out it was not abolished in other parts of the empire . It was a concern of the founding fathers that the abolition would take place in the colonies as they all owned slaves. In 1772 slavery eliminated in England. In 1776 we leave..but on the way out we make a brilliant statement "all men are created equal".
John Coffey
Write a reply...

Steve Kusaba
Steve Kusaba Your OP leaves out the most pertinent factor. The gap between rich and poor is a direct result of monetary policy. The policy of both parties. I could write a book on the supporting information to this idea.

Emergency interest rates are a complete disaster for the lower classes as well as the Central bank claim that inflation is good for people. These newer generations are about as brainwashed as could be, no person in first half of the 20th century would think inflation was a good thing. It lowers wages in purchasing power, erodes the value of savings while funneling the wealth to the people who control it. Inflation helps people who own most of the assets as well as politicians, insiders and parasites.

The poor and middle class are ignorant to these realities and continue to vote for the two parties and tacitly, a continuation of the very policy which impoverishes them.

They are their own worst enemies.
Like · Reply · 1 · 17 hrs · Edited
John Coffey
John Coffey I didn't want to get into specifics, but I feel that our monetary system is one of the things that enslaves us.
Like · Reply · 2 · 10 hrs
Steve Kusaba
Steve Kusaba The thing is, it is 99% of what enslaves us. Do you know that the bank of Japan is in the top five holders of 88 of the 220 stocks on the Nikkei? They are the number one holder of 50 of them. Many people might say "Well at least I make money in the stocks while the central bank purchases them." but its not true. The companies just issue more and more shares so that they are the ones who benefit from this artificial inflation where the public's money is stolen and give to insiders.

The Central banks of the world own nearly all of the bonds, much of the stocks and so much more since they have been given (taken really) unconstitutional powers to meddle in all markets. The net affect is that our economy has been hollowed out by all of this. If you forced central banks (better still, got rid of them all together) to stop these criminal practices, things would fix themselves naturally. Without fiat they could not steal by the trillions from the public to line their own pockets. Over taxation and over regulation along with the currency con has impoverished the private sector at the benefit of the public sector. The private sector creates productivity while the public sector destroys it.

This is why America makes nothing and runs 500 billion dollar trade deficits for decades. This is where your good jobs disappeared to. The public has always had it in their power to make themselves well off but they vote Democrat and Republican and get what they deserve. People who should know better vote for these two parties as well. The Lemming like habit of giving in to practices which are ingrained by training must be hard to overcome.

If you measure it properly (no double book accounting for the bonds of the entitlements) we have more debt than GDP. We have went over the edge and will face an increase in the disaster we have been participating in.

Simple, stop doing what doesn't work. I guess this is too hard for the public to grasp.
Like · Reply · 1 · 10 hrs · Edited
John Coffey
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Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda Agree with Steve.
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs
Nick Paleveda
Nick Paleveda John all the rhetoric about equality is tossed out the door in a capitalist society when 1 % owns 99% of all assets. Think about it.
John Coffey
John Coffey The top 1% doesn't own 99% of all assets. That is just liberal propaganda. I see news articles saying that if current trends continue, then top 1% will own 50% of all assets. But that can also be deceiving. I have heard that many of those are people like me who saved all their life and retired. I worked hard for almost 30 years, saved and invested my money until I had a comfortable nest egg, and then retired at age 54. I might possibly be in the top 1%, or close to it, but I need my investments to live on.

I think that having some inequality is the natural result of a free market and is healthy. It shows that people can get ahead if they work and invest their money. As long as it doesn't get too extreme, I don't think that it's anybody's business. Healthy economies grow wealth. The alternative is government coercion to correct the situation. That is a path to dictatorship. You would have an all controlling state dictating how much people are allowed to have.

If you want to look for the real reason why there is so much inequality, then look at how the wealthy take advantage of government, and how our monetary system and central banks benefit the banking industry and the rich. When all money in the economy starts as a loan, then it enslaves us all to debt.

Think about it.  :-)