Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Object ...

One person told me that Robin Hood is just one lens through which to see the world. Another lens would be to do what is necessary to do to support a community.

Another said that one type of fairness would be to distribute wealth evenly. The other would be to provide better education so everyone could create wealth for themselves.

There seems to be two issues here: coercion and what works.

To what extent do we want to be coerced to pay taxes, invest for the future through Uncle Sam (Social Security/Medicare), and all the other sundries that are required to live in the United States?

What really works to create community? Is it a matter of distribution? Is it a matter of equal access to good resources (quality education, housing, healthcare).

Can community be created with the free-market? Can the government create community? If so, at what cost to our freedom?

Is there one solution?



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Leica M9 Photos

I recently took a Leica workshop. The highlight was having a M9 for the day. This is way beyond the finest camera I have ever used. The sharpness is terrific. You can click on the images to see them a little larger.










Sunday, April 22, 2012

Unfair advantages

I heard recently about a few instances which people claimed gave "unfair advantages" to some. We expend a lot of effort to make things fair ... or to complain when they aren't fair.

There is a runner who had his legs amputated to the knees. He uses some springy devices that enable him to compete favorably with full-bodied runners. It is claimed he has an unfair advantage because he doesn't have any feet. The runners commission recently ruled that he could compete. I'm not sure that they used the argument that anyone could have their feet cut off if they wanted to run faster.


Then there are the complaints that corporations shouldn't be able to contribute to political candidates. But efforts to make it fairer might cause more problems than they solve. And it is an easy law to bypass. Corporations simply have to increase salaries with the expectation that their employees contribute.

And it isn't fair that Romney paid only 18 million in income tax, a mere 15% of his income, where someone who makes far less pays a higher percentage.

Some say insider trading should be allowed. It actually could benefit everyone, because we'd see what the insiders were doing and could trade based on that information. Others, of course, say it ain't fair.

We love to demonize. One way of doing that is to complain about what we don't have. "Fair" seems to be one means to get what we want. We deserve it, we say, because we don't have it. When my kids would pull the fairness argument I would just say that life is not fair. They didn't think of coming up with the retort, "well, it should be, and so let's take the first step."

What do you think? Should life be fair? At what cost to our freedom?





Friday, April 6, 2012

There is a God

Click on image to enlarge.

I think that is what people say when something good happens to them. I found a hearing aid that fell off my ear. I would have been upset to spend $500 to replace it (that's the cost with insurance!).

Job still believed in God even when things weren't going so well for him. Maybe he just wanted to give the devil a hard time. I do not know.

I recently reread the story of Adam and Eve. So Eve takes the first bite after the serpent tells her that God doesn't know what he is talking about ... and that she will not die if she eats the apple. I will no longer take advice from a serpent. And I'll continue drinking one or two apples a day in my live forever smoothy.

I've been thinking about regulation lately. It is likely that the serpent did not really speak to Eve. Rather, Eve was tempted to eat the beautiful fruit and did so. Perhaps if she had more self-control, or what I'm calling regulation, she would have left the apple alone.

Most of us believe that we know what other people should do. We can make judgments faster that a speeding bullet. We see a plump woman wearing horizontal stripes and we wish that we could have dressed her.

So I figured out the other day, since everyone knows what I should do, that I would just do what someone tells me. So I tried to put my wife in that role. I vowed to do anything she told me to do. This lasted about ten seconds. We were at a restaurant and I asked her if I should eat 5 tortilla chips. She said "sure." I knew she was wrong... that 5 would lead to 500. So I fired her as my regulator.

In art school, teachers tell you what is wrong with your art and then they tell you what kind of art you should make. I think they are good at the first task, and terrible at the second task. Fortunately some of us had a teacher who said, "listen to everyone and believe no one." I did.

But I'm still stuck on this idea that regulation is the key toward accomplishing one's goals. Jack London wrote 50000 words a day, even when he was sick (I might be off on the number). Others get up at ungodly hours. On the other hand, some don't self-regulate.

Imagine if you knew nothing but how to fulfill your intentions. What a habit that would be! What a great line for job applicant, "I do what I say I will do."

So next time a serpent tells you something, take it with a grain of salt.