We Disagree, Now What?

Everybody thinks something different about the world. Some tend towards starry eyed optimism (me). Others naturally imagine the worst. There is nothing wrong with this. It is what it is.

We all have brains and sensory organs. We absorb the information presented to us by the environment, we run it through a filter of pre-existing knowledge, and we form opinions and perspectives about reality.

Very often different individuals, while being subject to the same input from their surroundings, will reach very different conclusions. This can happen for a number reasons. Usually, each individual has a unique set of pre-existing circumstances that determine how they view the world.

The way their parents raised them has a huge impact. The books that they’ve read, the way they’ve been treated, the friends they’ve associated with, the country they grew up in. All of these factors play a role.

It should be obvious that the combinations of factors that determine beliefs are infinite. It is virtually impossible for any two people to agree on everything. The degree of impossibility increases exponentially as more people get involved.

Yet, we all live together on this planet. The population keeps increasing. The standard of living is not too bad for most people, all things considered. If the standard of living was generally in decline the world population would be decreasing not increasing.

This happens despite the fact that everybody disagrees with each other about a lot of important things. How can this happen?

It can only happen when people are tolerant. They may not agree with a position, but they see no other choice but to live with it. The only other alternative would be to violently suppress opposing beliefs. Most people are not willing to go to this extreme, in their personal life at least.

Being tolerant of a person doesn’t mean that you agree with them. It doesn’t mean that you like them as a person. It doesn’t mean that you might not try to convince them that they’re wrong. It just means that at the end of the day, if you can’t talk them into accepting your stance, you’ll let them be.

Tolerance is of the utmost importance. It is conducive of peace. It  permits a kaleidoscopic of ideas and perspectives to float around in the ether. It gives us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of others. We’re able to grasp concepts that we couldn’t comprehend on our own; concepts that we never would have even imagined.

There is only one rule for tolerance. When all is said and done, after all of the arguments are made, and after all of the pleas have been heard, each must be allowed to make their own decision. Each must be allowed to have their own beliefs. The corollary of this rule is that nobody can force their system on others.

Do you agree with the forgoing? Do you believe that tolerance is a beautiful thing?

Allow me, then, to share with you one of my unorthodox views. I think that the world would be better off without government. Yes, I’ll concede that the government does some good. But on net, the harm caused by government far outweighs the benefit.

I’m an accountant. My parents are entrepreneurs. I’ve been trained to automatically calculate cost benefit analyses in my head. When I buy a coffee at a coffee stand, I always ask the cashier how many coffees they sell in an hour. I ask the average price of the sale. I extrapolate that out over the entire day. Then I calculate monthly revenue, then annual. I estimate the rent and labor costs and I try to figure out how profitable the business is. Its my background. Its one of those predispositions that I mentioned earlier.

When I put on my green, plastic, accounting visor and I sharpen my pencil and take a look at government, all I see is red ink. The war, the waste, the corruption, the stifling of human energy, the dept, the money printing, the economic dislocations. These costs far outweigh the gains to be had from government, such as roads, police services, etc.

As an accountant, I would recommend that my clients avoid this organization like the plague. Don’t put money in it. Don’t associate with it. Do whatever you can to stay out of its orbit. It sucks up money and resources. Its a bad investment.

Yet, as a tolerant individual, if people choose disagree with my assessment, I must allow them to. If they’d like to send money to Uncle Sam, I can do nothing to stop them.

However, on this particular matter, I’m not given the same consideration that I happily give to everybody else. If given the opportunity, I’d certainly opt out of government. I’d be much happier subscribing to private police and road services. Or if a particular town wants to charge me an annual fee for living within their borders, that’s fine. I can always move. In fact, I don’t mind paying a sales tax for road and police services in the little town that I currently live in.

What I do find objectionable, though, is being forced to pay for state and federal services that I don’t want and in fact, lower my quality of life. For example, if I want to higher a person in India to design a website for me, I have to fill out a complicated government form and withhold taxes from the designer’s pay on behalf of the IRS. Give me a break. Where is the unsubscribe box? I’d like to check it.

You likely think that we need compulsory government services. We need a safety net. Social democracy is the way to go. Public education and a big, strong military are essential.

I disagree. Now what?

I’m willing to be tolerant. If you want all of those things, you’re welcome to them. Send in your tax money. Go out and vote. I wish you the best.

What about me? Should I be allowed to follow my own beliefs? Or should I be forced to participate? Should I be put in jail if I don’t pay up?

I just want to live a simple life, in peace, with my family, only using my hard earned resources to make the world a better place. I have an opinion about how best to do that.

Doesn’t tolerance require that I be allowed to live as I please?

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2 Responses to We Disagree, Now What?

  1. Alex Jones says:

    I opt for the middle of the road position: that nation states are too large and should be broken up into city states that are all self governing and produce everything they need themselves. Tax and law is still required, but is localised based on the needs of the population.

  2. I agree that your solution would be an improvement, but how could you bring it about without forcing your vision on others? The only consistent thing to do is to let each choose their own path. I’d probably choose to live in a government free city. You could live in a city state. Then, we’d both be happy.

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