Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Tipping Point

"In matters of fashion, swim with the current.
In matters of conscience, stand like a rock."

Thomas Jefferson

Important lessons and a glimmer of hope for liberty activists can be found in the conclusions of research conducted at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as in the work of Malcolm Gladwell.
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion.

To reach their conclusion, the scientists developed computer models of various types of social networks. The initial state of each of the models was a sea of traditional-view holders. Each of these individuals held a view, but were also, importantly, open minded to other views.

Once the networks were built, the scientists then “sprinkled” in some true believers throughout each of the networks. These people were completely set in their views and unflappable in modifying those beliefs. As those true believers began to converse with those who held the traditional belief system, the tides gradually and then very abruptly began to shift.
It's important to note that these results are based on a core of "true believers," completely set in their views, but that the traditional-view holders were open-minded to other views. Those assumptions hold two important lessons for liberty activists.

The first: As Thomas Jefferson argued, "In matters of fashion, swim with the current. In matters of conscience, stand like a rock." Know your principles, stand firmly in support of those principles, and don't get distracted by secondary issues.

The second: Remember the assumption that "traditional-view holders were open-minded to other views." Don't waste your efforts on other "true believers" who are as committed to the growth of the state and the curtailment of liberty as you are to freedom. Leave that fringe to their own devices; the only power they have over you is the power to distract you from the education of the open-minded.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Connecting the Dots: Obama's Value

What Makes Obama Worth a Billion Bucks?

First Dot: President Obama just became the first politician to ever collect over a billion dollars in career political contributions.
His total take reached $1,017,892,305 in April, some nine years after he began his 2004 race for the Senate. Obama is widely expected to raise at least $300 million more before November.
Second Dot: The Washington Post reports White House visitor logs provide window into lobbying activity.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Is Directive 10-289 in Our Future?

I'm currently rereading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, thanks to an ongoing discussion of the book with a first-time reader-friend from the previously mentioned Absolute Write Politics & Current Events forum.

For those not familiar with the novel, it tells the story of an America choking on special favors and regulation, where each attempt to "fix" things leads only to more problems, where legislation promoted for the "common good" instead serves to line the pockets of the politically-connected, where regulations claimed to promote stability instead institutionalize stagnation. An America where "too big to fail" applies not only to banks, but to the steel mills, copper mines, and railroads of those who curry favor with the administration.

An America, in short, not too far distant from the one we inhabit today.