1/08/2008

01-08-08 - 2

Moral sacrifice comes from giving up personal good for the benefit of others. The highest level comes from giving to those who are very unlike yourself, very far away, and very needy, because helping them provides very little reward to you, but provides a huge cost-benefit approach. The very lowest level comes from giving to your own direct family; while it is slightly more admirable than just being 100% selfish, it is not really a big sacrifice because anything you give to your family is still very much benefiting you, even if it's only in terms of love, grandchildren, etc. To admire someone for being a "good family man" is very thin admiration indeed. It's a classic stereotype that even some of the great immoral or psychopathic people can still be very good "family men".

There are various ways to acheive long term happiness (as opposed to short-term acts of "fun" which can't really be strung together to create happiness). The easiest way is probably through having a goal, something to "live for". Whether or not that goal is actually important, if you believe it is and it motivates you, the constant pursuit and minor successes along the way provide a sense of purpose and a way to occupy your time which equals "happiness". For some people this goal is the pursuit of money (money itself doesn't help happiness that much, but the successful pursuit of money can make you happy), for others it's some more rarified goal such as a research discovery or trying to benefit the world. Probably the most common goal which people use to occupy themselves, however, is their family. They will say they "did it all for their family". It lets them go to a horrible job they would hate, if they believe it is a sacrifice to get money for their kids. It gives them an overall purpose, raising these kids, which gives them an overall long term happiness. Again, this is not particularly admirable, in fact it means they are rather weak and unambitious. Everyone needs some goal to live for. More dynamic people choose difficult and interesting goals. People who have no abilities or are afraid or lazy still need some goal to pretend that they live for, and these people generally choose "family".

I've been thinking about why Mike Huckabee gives me the creeps. Obviously some part of it is prejudice on my part against people like him, but I've been trying to force that out of my head to see what else is in there.

One problem with Huckabee obviously is his complete lack of political thought. He doesn't seem to have any policies whatsoever. Certainly he didn't when he started running, but he has cooked a few up. One of the few unique things he pushes is this "fair tax", a national sales tax proposal, which is just one of the most insane things any major candidate has supported in recent memory. Not only is it insane in the sense that it's a political non-starter, it has no chance of going anywhere, but it would also be a huge disaster for the economy. To support the government with no income tax, the sales tax would have to be absolutely huge, prices would shoot through the roof, spending would go way down, there would be a huge black market of people avoiding taxes, and it would be very very regressive.

Okay, aside from the lack of policies, I'm really bothered by someone running a campaign primarily on the basis that he's a good Christian and a nice guy and a family man. For one thing, none of those are really related to the skills you need to run the US. But even more than that, the idea that you would tout your homey Christianity as something to admire is something that I find deplorable. Now, I have no problem with someone being a Christian, or whatever, obviously most of our presidents have been very religious and that's fine, but to be a man who is a Christian running for president is different than being a Christian running for president. It implies an exclusiveness, that we should vote for people of our own type, and it's us against them in the world (combined with all the rhetoric from various candidates about the evil of Islam, the message certainly is being sent that it's our faith against theirs). To me running with your Christianity as a selling point is not that different than running with your Caucasian-ness as a selling point.

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