Saturday, 4 April 2015

On Bottom Up and Top Down Thinking - Parts 8/9

8. Moral equality and faux equality

Hearing much talk of “equality,” the bottom up thinker asks himself: In what sense are all human beings equal? Pondering this question, he comes to understand that human beings are all morally equal. What is right for one to do, he deduces, is right for another to do in a similar situation, and vice versa. This, he sees, is the essential idea of the so called rule of law.

Thus, the bottom up thinker prizes the rule of law. And he rejects claims by some individuals or groups of moral or legal privileges over others.

In contrast, the top down thinker favours some loosely defined “equality,” like social equality, economic equality or equality of opportunity. And he wants to enforce his faux ideal of “equality,” even when that creates far worse inequalities. For example, in the name of economic “equality,” he wants some to have the political power to heavily tax others.

9. Law and legislation

The bottom up thinker recognizes that a system of law and justice is valuable to all good people. As long, of course, as that system is entirely honest, and includes strong safeguards against harming the innocent.

He understands that no-one is perfect. For all of us do, on occasions, cause damage to others. And it’s to the long term benefit of all good people to have a system of objective justice (civil law). Such a system will enable individuals or groups to claim restitution, if they need to, from those who have unjustly harmed them.

Furthermore, he understands that certain acts, fuelled by greed, malice, recklessness or other states of “guilty mind” (mens rea), are criminal. That is, those that perpetrate such acts have gone beyond the bounds of civilization. And thus a system of criminal law, which can punish those that do such acts, is a long term benefit to all civilized people. First, because individuals genuinely dangerous to others can be locked away where they can’t do any more damage. And second, because punishment can discourage both the criminal and others from repeating the crime.

But the bottom up thinker also agrees with John Locke when he says: “The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.” He understands Friedrich Hayek’s vital distinction between law and legislation. He sees that, while an honest system of law is valuable to good people, legislation made by politicians is often a huge negative to them. And he is well aware of Edmund Burke’s famous truism: “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”

In contrast, the top down thinker sees law as a tool, to be used by those in power to achieve their ends. So, legislation made by politicians is to be enforced, whether or not it’s right or just. And it doesn’t matter whether the motives behind legislation are good or bad, or whether it has bad consequences for innocent people.

So, the top down thinker finds it OK to subject people to political agendas hostile to them. Or to enrich or otherwise favour certain groups at the expense of others. Or to expand bureaucracy. Or to create perverse incentives to encourage people to support a Cause. Or to hurt people they don’t like, or who refuse to follow the latest politically correct fad. Or to victimize those who have earned success through their own efforts. Or merely for the sake of ordering people around.

And he often wants to make lots of tough new regulations, to bind people in an ever tightening noose. He will use any excuse to levy fines or penalties, or worse. He wants to subject people to close surveillance, too. He watches people like a hawk. And “zero tolerance” is his watchword. He wants to single out, and to punish, anyone who deviates from his faux ideal of behaviour in any way, however small.

Thus, the top down thinker likes to promote, lobby for or enforce bad, tyrannical legislation. And he is happy to allow legal or moral privileges to those in positions of power. For example, when police kill an innocent person like Jean Charles de Menezes, he doesn’t want to see them prosecuted for their acts.

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