Thursday, October 22, 2009

Query Sixteen: Human Corruption in Government

Human Corruption in Government

One of the major points that is subconsciously accepted by all people who live under a government is that the people in the government are not perfect. The thing that varies is the extent of their human corruption. While they have an oath of honor and dedication to the people, they also have other human desires that may override their oaths and promises. I'm going to discuss some of the manners in which the political figures in the U.S.A. are mainly corrupted, how it happens, and why it is allowed.

The free market allows for huge profits to be gained and maintained through less than wholesome means. This shadiness can occur in many forms, from outsourcing labor to other countries to minimize expense and maximize profit, rigorous and possibly deceitful advertising campaigns, and buying out local politicians in order to protect their profit margin. The outsourcing and cheap labor is hidden by the extravagant advertising campaigns which try to get the public's mind off of HOW it is made and more focused on how it looks and how your social status may increase if you purchase it. This sort of focus on materialism drives capitalist society and helps it thrive. The advertising campaigns also serve to appeal to the demographic that most purchases the product and to garner new demographics. Therefore they try to appeal more and more to their core demographic while trying not to alienate their other demographics. But all this is meaningless if their profits are hampered by taxes which lowers their already large profit margins. This is where human corruption comes into play.

Congressman and women can easily be bought by companies to vote for bills that would tax or prevent profiteering from less than moral means. While one would expect that some of these officials would have a backup argument in order to cover for their accepting of company money to protect company interests as opposed to their job of protecting the interests of the American people, many times these politicians use hollow vague arguments or just stay silent. Why isn't this sort of thing noticed? The fact is that much of society doesn't focus onto politics. The media focuses the youth more onto indulgence (as stated in previous articles). In a recent example, a woman was raped in her occupation working for a defense contractor, the men who gang-raped her were put in arbitration by the company, but she when returned to the US had no legal right to sue for the rape that she endured. When attempting to sue, the contractors noted that there had been an "anti-rape" clause in her contract. This spurred a piece of legislation to make companies unable to put this sort of clause in their contracts as it prevents justice from being exacted. While one would again assume this would be a unanimous yes, many of these kindhearted politicians have decided that the government should not be involved in private company contracts and disagreed to the clause, referring to the rape as an "incident" in an attempt to downplay it.

Why does this happen? Human greed. Not even the pope could escape the vices that plague mankind. But what can we do to combat human err in our government? Focus on the vices and try to eliminate them. When we notice that politicians are receiving exorbitant amounts of money from corporations, it should be fully printed in the paper of that district, and publicized so that they allegiances of these elected officials are well known. Then it is the responsibility of the informed public to vote out the corrupt and try to elect those who would be unwavered by such offers and have a genuine desire to represent their district. So who to blame who to blame? Corporations for protecting their profit margin and taking advantage of weak minded congressman and the American public. The weak-minded politicians who fall to their vices as opposed to their duty. Maybe the American Public for allowing these people to be elected.

Its a whodunit on the death of Honor in Politics. When it died? Probably when it began, but what should we be doing as a people? Allow it to continue its death throes, or try to revive it in clean manner and perfect our government so it could be the envy of the world. As of now, each corporation can pick and choose their politician by the price-tag dangling from their neck. I'll do my part to wheedle out the corruption by voting for people who I believe to be devoted, but the question is, will others follow suit?


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Query Fifteen: Perception and Actuality

Perception and Actuality

In this article I'm going to discuss my analysis of human perception and how it relates to the actuality of a situation, object, or person. The information will come simply from my observations and I implore readers to put their interpretations of this topic at hand into the comment area. First I will speak about personal views and actuality in relation to events.

If there is anything that I've learned from the massive wave of CSI, and Law and Order type shows is that witnesses, although helpful, are often unreliable. The actual situation could be a white male of average height stabbed a woman in the park while wearing a red coat. In three witness statements the suspect could change from a white man to a spanish man, a red coat to a purple coat, into a tall man or short man. A number of factors could go into the discrepencies in witness testimony such as lighting, the height of the witness in relation to the suspect and their distance. So environmental factors affect human perception of an event, but in addition it can also be mental factors. Maybe the person who saw the suspect as a spanish person learned since they were a child certain racial prejudices and thusly subconsciously brought forth the notion that the suspect was certainly spanish. This combination of environmental and mental discrepencies become far worse if the witnesses are put together to find what happened. Although they might agree on some things, some facts may be lost simply because a majority of the witnesses might convince the minority that their fact should be rethought. So human perception can taint human perception. So how can human perception be reliable? Well, when we evaluate the mentality of the person speaking we can clearly unravel the fact that the man was not spanish, but she assumed he was. In addition we can see that the old female witness is very short, so the man was tall to her but average to everyone else. In events like this, the investigators involved always take statements with a grain of salt and for good reason, because we as humans distort facts subconsciously.

Objects are static things and most would assume all people would have a definitive perception on it in relation to its actuality. In many cases this is true, but abstract art or abstract objects can quickly prove to dispel this. Things such as inkblots are used to see the thought proccess of the interpreter because in actuality its simply an inkblot, but what the interpreter distorts it into is very important to analyzing their mentality. Likewise abstract art is something different to any person who views it, which is why its beautiful. I learned that from my boyfriend, which brings us into the next point. If you can genuinely see what another person sees in the abstract portrait it means you can empathize well or you know how their thought process works (possibly without even consciously knowing how it works, mind trip huh?) In most or all cases, the abstract object or art piece is chaotic in form and in actuality and has no distinct intended form therefore ruling out a realistic view of it and automatically going into ones imagination to draw conclusions about the shapes and forms.

This is when it gets tricky, when we look at human perceptions on other humans. We've already brought the point that we subconsciously inject our views, opinions and distortions into something perceived, and when we do that to people that is what we base our views on them. We base it on ourselves, how they relate to our morals, beliefs, physical attributes and mental attributes. Another tricky part is that unlike the abstract art, we humans are a definite form, but at the same time we aren't as definitive as a stabbing or something that has happened. We are always changing our substance but our species is not abstract in the physical sense. This makes it a very big grey area between what is definitive and what is abstract and makes us as "subjects" extremely difficult to comprehend to other humans. The natural reaction is to simplify, hence generalizations and stereotypes are born. The brain automatically desires to put things into nice neat little groups which is why we are taught via the media and others stereotypes and generalizations, and also why some people accept them as fact. Of course like all things in the mind this can be combated through education and evading ignorance but it can never be fully eliminated seeing as it is a basic human coping mechanism.

The most interesting part of human perception is how it relates to the actuality of ourselves. Seeing something and repeating it with all of our filters can give away a lot about a person without them thinking twice about it. It's a fascinating, beautiful, and sometimes scary phenomena. It can mean life or death in some cases, a political rift, or a disagreement in a relationship, but with a little compassion we humans can overcome it and reach across the gaps in our dividing perceptions.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Query Fourteen: Monster or Man?

Monster or Man?

As I was reading the book "Came a Cavalier" by Frances Parkinson Keyes, it reignited a topic me and my boyfriend had mulled over in the past. The specific topic was whether the Nazi soldiers themselves were Monsters or Men? I will try to explain my point of view on this touchy subject and use context not only from this book, but from scientific evidence as to their mentalities and their context for their actions.

Before I begin with my explanations and conveyances, I would like to state that absolutely nothing these men did were acceptable and I am not sympathizing in any shape or form. This debate doesn't only touch on Nazi's but any person society would view as a "monster". What the armies did was wholly inexcusable and on that my opinion does not change. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way we can break this down. Nazi's were recruited as young men indoctrinated into a corrupt belief system. In most armies, they try to break down recruits so that they are little more than men who follow orders and do not question and in this case this is certainly true. Many can regard them as tyrants, tools of an evil power, or as even inhuman but when we take into account that they were in fact human and that if one human can be driven to do such inhumanities, any human can. Including you.

Evidence for such lies in the Milgram Experiment. The Milgram Experiment, even as unethical as it was, showed that average human beings could be instructed to do inhumane or even violent acts if ordered to by a person in perceived authority. The experiment was done as follows. There were two rolls the "teacher" and the "learner" the one being truly studied was the "teacher" which is the person who administers the painful electric shocks. The "learner" was the perceived victim and was in fact an actor. A series of question is asked to the learner and each time the learner got a question wrong, the teacher would be told to shock the victim. Each time the voltage would be increased and when and if the teacher objected to shocking the learner, the instructor would say "Please continue.", "The experiment requires that you continue", "It is absolutely essential that you continue" "You have no other choice, you must go on". If these had to be said more than four times the experiment would cease. Likewise if the shocks went to 450 volts over three times the experiment would cease. Sixty-five percent of people who did this ended the test via the 450 voltage ending. All the while the "learner" would scream in pain and near the higher voltages stop moving or speaking altogether when "shocked" indicating the person possibly was dead. Even though the person might be dying or dead, 65 percent continued because they were prompted to by an authority figure. The Milgram Experiment although controversial in its ethics proved an important point that half the time a persons personal conscience can be overrode by demands from an authority figure.

How does this fit in with Nazis? Nazis who were brainwashed since birth and although probably knew wrong from right, still did what they did because they were prompted to by a figure in authority. Of course to give all of the Nazis this sort of scape goat would be ridiculous because many of them were genuine believers in the hateful doctrine they swore to but we have to understand when we are speaking of ANY mass of people, whether a whole country, army, or continent, not everyone can be purely evil. In "Came a Cavalier", the Nazi leaders are portrayed as men who are cold and calculating and who are purely in tune with the doctrine. But when the main character Constance Galt refers to the soldiers, she doubts they even know what they are doing and notes that they have a degree of respect and care for her when ordered to protect her homestead. This of course brought my mind into the Milgram Experiment and human nature.

What about the Leaders? The leaders are the orchestrator the ones who "order the person to be shocked". I'm speaking of the countless dictators and leaders of terrorist cells that are so enthralled in their seemingly monstrous missions that they themselves truly believe that the cause they fight for is good and all who oppose are evil. Its scary and sad what harmful ideologies people can drive themselves to adopt. If we look into America, we have a bit of a history of harmful cults which ended in mass suicides. The leaders of these cults at first know its bullshit but it seems that near the middle to the end they truly believe their doctrine.

A big part of understanding human nature is understanding the vast range of human nature, from the saints to the sinners, from the humane to the inhumane, we can't gain any insight by simply blocking people and events from our mind simply because they were horrible in nature. What we should be doing is taking all of these horrid events into account as lessons and prepare ourselves because human nature dictates that we can be both tender and cruel creatures.