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Reconstructing Equilibrium

I

n America efficiency is king and the elite speak the language of utility.  But to many of us economics is Thanksgiving and Black Friday; and these two days in November seem to serve as a fruitful analogy for trying to break through the bipolar psyche of American political economics. Thanksgiving Thursday families in Southern Colorado and around the country come together to share a meal, to break bread, and to take care of one another.  Communities sponsor food drives and soup kitchens provide food and shelter for less fortunate families.  This is the intrinsic welfare function in our community, the deeply held American value for equitable distribution of resources among free people.

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In America efficiency is king and the elite speak the language of utility.  But to many of us economics is Thanksgiving and Black Friday; and these two days in November seem to serve as a fruitful analogy for trying to break through the bipolar psyche of American political economics. Thanksgiving Thursday families in Southern Colorado and around the country come tog…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

In America efficiency is king and the elite speak the language of utility.  But to many of us economics is Thanksgiving and Black Friday; and these two days in November seem to serve as a fruitful analogy for trying to break through the bipolar psyche of American political economics.
Thanksgiving Thursday families in Southern Colorado and around the country come together to share a meal, to break bread, and to take care of one another.  Communities sponsor food drives and soup kitchens provide food and shelter for less fortunate families.  This is the intrinsic welfare function in our community, the deeply held American value for equitable distribution of resources among free people.

Yet when the wee hours of Friday come around the entire consciousness changes and the same people volunteering at the soup kitchen become frenzied consumers, hedonistic utilitarians, unafraid to trample over the same people who the day before they selflessly donated their time to help, all for the chance at a cheap commodity.  This is the intrinsic American will to efficiency and competition, the microeconomic utility function being constructed in front of our eyes.

But when the transition from welfare to efficiency is made in such an unconscious manner with respect to the assumptions and implications of our ideologies, it’s no wonder why we find ourselves so violently entangled in a political discourse where one side paints the other as viral and contagious, or worse as a socialist.

But the reality of the situation is that the cure to an economic breakdown lies in a reconciliation of the sides and a consciousness that while the sides may seem separate, even alien to one another, that they are one, connected, and codependent.  Like a therapist should treat a patient with a split personality, the cure lies in unifying the separate characters in the individual by bringing to conscious the common thread.  Like it about ourselves or not, welfare and efficiency are permanent characters imprinted into the American conscience.

So how do we deal with this structural and ideological complex as bricks in the foundation?  Well, serious economist’s will tell us it is naïve to reduce the economic debate of our time to a battle between capitalism and socialism; and a pragmatic question is – How do we feel about the benefits of redistribution or allocation of resources and opportunity, between the rich and the poor, as well as the strengthening of welfare versus losses in terms of efficiency?

October 15, 2012, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to award a Nobel Prize in Economics to Alvin E. Roth of Harvard University and Lloyd S. Shapley of University of California, Los Angeles for “The Theory of Stable Allocations and The Practice of Market Design”.

Roth and Shapley’s work in market design and matching theory focuses on finding the most efficient way to match parties in transactions.

In the words of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science’s “Information for the Public”, or in other words, language for the rest of us without PhD’s in economics:

“Economists study how societies allocate res…

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Ask Dr. Scott December

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Q: Dr. Scott, how can I get through Christmas this year without gaining weight?A: Plan your holiday eating list and check it twice! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail — this adage applies to many walks of life, but especially to maintaining the proper diet during the Christmas holidays. In addition to dedicating yourself to eatin…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Q: Dr. Scott, how can I get through Christmas this year without gaining weight?A: Plan your holiday eating list and check it twice! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail — this adage applies to many walks of life, but especially to maintaining the proper diet during the Christmas holidays. In addition to dedicating yourself to eating properly this Christmas, successful weight loss boils down to good planning; more than any other time of the year, planning is paramount during the holiday season.

Before heading to that Christmas party you should plan exactly what you are going to do and say when you are offered food (and drink) that you should not eat. Grandma and Auntie and the kids may say, “Oh, come on, it’s the holidays, just this one time…” But as you know by now, it only takes that one time. You need to plan what you will eat instead, and in what quantity. The more concrete the plan is to you, the more likely you are to stick to it.

Whenever possible, without becoming a Scrooge, plan holiday activities that are not centered on consuming food. There are many old traditions that work well, such as caroling or ice-skating, and certainly many more activities around Pueblo that could become your new traditions.

Be like Santa’s reindeer and graze. Instead of three big meals per day, you should eat smaller portions of something healthy about every two hours, ideally consuming six mini-meals per day. This gives your body a better ability to digest and will leave you feeling satisfied, not hungry, throughout the entire day.

Especially during the holidays, it is important to focus on the desired outcome of your diet when confronted with triple-fudge pie or negative emotions such as “I’m meant to be fat and unhealthy.” Picture yourself thin. Imagine yourself wit…

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Arts + Culture

Self-Reliance: The four exercises of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius. The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the essay Self-Reliance, is not the philosophy of rugged individualism, nor is it the ideological doctrine of strict libertarianism.  Self-reliance is always a method or an instrument, presenting itself in different masks depending on the era and circumstance.  It is a cookbook for making lucid universal objective truth through the act of finding the totality of a universe in oneself, seeing oneself as a creator.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius. The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idealism remains an intrinsically baffling strain of thought to for readers interpret even today.  Yet Emerson’s intellectual stock has never been valued higher. Emersonian thought has become the model of the independent American mind heroically transcending personal and social limitations to liberate its genius.
The concept of self-reliance, perhaps Emerson’s most potent and misunderstood concept, constructed in the essay Self-Reliance, is not the philosophy of rugged individualism, nor is it the ideological doctrine of strict libertarianism.  Self-reliance is always a method or an instrument, presenting itself in different masks depending on the era and circumstance.  It is a cookbook for making lucid universal objective truth through the act of finding the totality of a universe in oneself, seeing oneself as a creator.

Self-reliant individuals accept that personality grows from the root of society and relation to others; however, in the same actualization resolves personality must be extinguished to grasp universality and their full human potential.  The essential aspect of the person is found in solitude, devoid of personality.  In his essay, Self-Reliance, Emerson outlines four exercises for achieving self-reliance.  

First, an individual may reach ultimate reality through nonconformity.  Nonconformity is the exercise of devotion to individuality.  The nonconformist exercise taps into an individual’s passionate capacity, sublimating the rich spectrum of emotions into self-compassion and self-reliance, bringing her and him closer to a fundamental inner-centeredness.  Nonconformity appeals to an emotional temperament.

Nonconformity and Compassion

Ralph Waldo Emerson makes it explicit from the start of Self-Reliance that “Whoso be a man, must be a nonconformist.  He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness.”  In other words, even the concept of goodness cannot be taken for granted and should be subject to scrutiny.  And if what the normative culture calls ‘good’ shows itself as not corresponding with the individual’s internal impression of good, measured emotionally in terms of whether it promotes self-compassion, then the status quo should be rejected.  This principle is played out in Self-Reliance when Emerson recounts, “I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued advisor who was wont with opportune me with the dear old doctrines of the Church.  On my saying, ‘What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?’ my friend suggested – ‘But these impulses may be from below, not from above.’  I replied, ‘They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.’” This is to say the motto of Emersonian nonconformity reads ‘When in America, Kill the King.  Follow what is Deep’.  And in concrete language Emerson concludes, “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature… The only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it.”  The exercise of nonconformity maximizes self-reliance by cultivating a sense of self-love in the individual that transcends normative culture.

Second, an individual becomes universal through the exercise of selfless action and cutting ties with materialistic habits.  The institutions of society, as well as those of family and friendship become problematic for the will to self-reliance in that these entanglements create the relative mirrors by which individuals see themselves and construct identity that obscures what is essentially individual, namely, our duty carried out in solitude.  The exercise of ‘letting go’ appeals to a pragmatic temperament.

Society and Selfless Action

Society is self-serving; and Emerson asserts “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood [and womanhood] of every one of its members.” Society urges individuals to act in preservation of self to conserve traditions, and these structures inhibit an individual’s ability to be self-reliant.  To act selflessly is not to act without regard to one’s well being; selfless action is to act and behave toward others and the environment as you would if there was no egotistic-self relative to them and it, to normal, to consistent.  Even the institution of family must be repainted before the individual can become self-reliant in society.  Emerson instructs, for this exercise, let go of all ties to society and tell friends and family “I cannot break myself any longer for you.  If you can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier.  If you cannot, I will seek to deserve that you should.  I will not hide my tastes or aversions… If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you or myself… I do this not selfishly but humbly and truly… Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no laws less than the eternal law.  I will have no covenants but proximities.”  The individual has let go of social entanglement, narrowed awareness to immediate relations and duties, interacts with other individuals in various contexts, but now exercises self-reliance through selfles…

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What is Next for Amendment 64?

Weed is legal, but what exactly does that mean for you and me as we move forward?

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More Coloradoans used their vote in November’s election to legalize marijuana than were cast to reelect the President of the United States.  Amendment 64 received 1,291,771 votes in favor and President Obama received 1,238,490 votes from Colorado citizens – according to Politico.com.  

In the language of Amendment 64:

In the interest of the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenues for publ…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

More Coloradoans used their vote in November’s election to legalize marijuana than were cast to reelect the President of the United States.  Amendment 64 received 1,291,771 votes in favor and President Obama received 1,238,490 votes from Colorado citizens – according to Politico.com.
 

In the language of Amendment 64:

In the interest of the efficient use of law enforcement resources, enhancing revenues for public purposes, and individual freedom, the people of the state of Colorado find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons twenty-one years of age or older and taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.

What is unique about this bill is the extent to which it transcends political party lines, and brings together constituencies for practical purposes, which are many times on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to political positions.  Fiscal progressives like the idea of legalizing marijuana if it will raise revenue in the state to put toward public schools and community projects. Libertarians support legalization of marijuana on the grounds that it promotes individual liberty.  However, what likely pushed support beyond the tipping point of passage is that legalizing marijuana is compatible with fiscal conservatism by means of millions of projected dollars in savings for the criminal justice system by allowing resources to be allocated away from pursuing and punishing marijuana users and toward more productive endeavors, like minimizing violent crimes.

This analysis is supported by a budgetary study done by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy that concluded Amendment 64 “could generate as much as a total of $60 million in savings and revenue” as well as create several hundred new jobs, mostly in the construction sector.  Broken down new revenue and savings will come from the following areas:

    • $12 million dollars of annual savings in criminal justice costs
    • $24 million in excise tax revenue
    • $8.7 million in state sales tax revenue
    • $14.5 million in local tax revenue

So, weed is legal, but what exactly does that mean for you and me as we move forward?

Under the new law the following activities will be lawful under the Colorado Constitution, after the bill takes full effect, for individuals twenty-one years or older: 

  • a. Possessing, using, and displaying, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories or one ounce or less of marijuana.
  • b. Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown, provided that the growing takes place in an enclosed, locked space, is not conducted openly or publically, and is not made available for sale.
  • c. Transfers of one ounce or less of marijuana without remuneration [without payment] to a person who is twenty-one years of age or older. 
  • d. Consumption of marijuana, provided that nothing in this section shall permit consumption that is conducted openly or publically in a manner that endangers others.
  • e. Assisting another person who is twenty-one years of age or older in any of the acts described in paragraphs a-d of this subsection.

And in regard to what is next for local law enforcement in light of the passage of Amendment 64, Pueblo Chief of Police Luis Velez tells PULP that for the moment there will be no change in the policy of handling marijuana infractions in Pueblo and that the “Chiefs [of police in Colorado] Association is still awaiting direction from the Attorney General to be handed down.”  And although the final policies are not due to be in place until well into next year, Chief Velez further explained that some policies might begin to be enacted as early as this December or January of 2013.

One of the first regulations likely to be introduced, according to Chief Velez, will be one that sets a standard for measuring the legal limit of THC that can be in a driver’s system and policies for police officers who will have to handle a breadth of marijuana…

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What is Next for Amendment 64?
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One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
Continue Reading

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

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