Saturday, November 30, 2013

Government Based Upon Natural Law - (Part 1) - Philosophy of Government



This is the first part of a series of posts dealing with government based upon Natural Law.

“No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated.  Neither may a government determine the aesthetic values of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literary or artistic expression.  Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious or philosophical doctrines.  Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain their freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.”


Richard P. Feynman, Nobel Prize winning physicist

Introduction

The purpose of this series of documents is to present how I believe a government should function so that it is consistent with what is called Natural Law, sometimes called Universal or Divine Law. Natural Law is here defined as those laws determined by our Creator, that when followed in universally consistent ways, facilitate the spiritual and moral evolution of mankind.

The policies advocated here are consistent with my core beliefs, which can be found here. I then state my philosophy of government, which I believe to be consistent with these core beliefs. This is followed by a list of the particular topics that will be covered in the series on good government. 

My intention is to present a philosophy of government that, if adopted, will lead to peace and prosperity for all people of good will as well as to provide an environment conducive to spiritual growth, for those who so desire. If done properly, a government following these principles could be the first sustainable government.

Philosophy of Government 

A philosophy of government concerns the role of government in the affairs of its citizens. One’s governmental philosophy must be consistent with one’s core philosophical beliefs.

As freedom and peace are so important to our material, physical and spiritual growth, the core tenant of my philosophy of government is that the main purpose of government is to help to protect each individual’s right to live and grow in peace.

Because the philosophy of government presented here contends that the primary purpose of government is to keep the peace, many atheists and agnostics will find that they substantially agree with this governmental philosophy, even though they might disagree with some of my core philosophical beliefs. 

In a country such as the United States, which properly operates by the rule of law, the manner in which government protects our rights is through our laws. Hence, our laws should be centered upon the protection of the people’s right to live life as they see fit, as long as this is done in peace.

Thus a good law is one which says that if a person is convicted of violating the life, liberty, or property of another, then a penalty may be imposed, which penalty itself will remove either the life, liberty or property of the violator.

The most common such laws prohibit murder, rape, child abuse, theft, assault, fraud, and coercion. In addition, since pollution can have a detrimental effect on a person’s life or property, laws that regulate harmful pollution in a rational way are also good laws.

Conversely, bad laws are those that prohibit a belief, or that prohibit any action or behavior that does not interfere with the right of others to their life, liberty or property. For example, the world’s great religions and great civilizations all have prohibitions against such acts as adultery, homosexual sex, greed, and even gluttony. However, legislation making these illegal would be inappropriate, because these acts do not interfere with the rights of others.  Similarly, laws against adults privately using the various forms of drugs would not be appropriate laws.

Another way to look at this is to realize that if a person is convicted of violating a law, the penalty always entails the loss of life, liberty and/or property of that person. Hence, the only good laws are those that penalize only persons who violate the life, liberty and/or property of another.

Christ said that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, and even to love our enemies. If each of us did this, the world would be immediately transformed. Yet, it is not the place of government to require us to obey these commandments; the government ought not to legislate what beliefs we should follow, or even how we are to lead our lives, as long as our actions do not cause harm to another.

This governmental platform therefore contains only legislation that I believe is in alignment with these criteria; it is not a list of all good things that we should do, nor is it list of prohibitions of all the bad things we ought not to do. Rather, it only deals with legislation that prohibits a person or group of persons from causing harm to another.

Additionally, because the natural resources belong to the people as a whole, legislation with respect to our natural resources is also a responsibility of government.

Jefferson said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Therefore, I believe it important to limit the role of government so as to protect our liberties. In this vein, the US Constitution specifically enumerates what may be legislated by Congress (called the ‘enumerated powers’). Furthermore, the 10th Amendment stipulates that the powers not delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution be reserved to the States or to the people. Accordingly, another criterion for being a good federal law is that the law can be justified under one of its Constitutionally-enumerated powers. Furthermore, any current federal laws or programs or expenditures that cannot be justified under one of the enumerated powers should be phased out, or, alternatively, the Constitution could be amended to add such a program to one of its enumerated powers.

The intention therefore, is to provide a governmental platform that protects each person’s right to live in peace, as well as to prevent the encroachment of government on those rights. To say this in a different way, we believe that government serves us best when it protects all free markets – meaning those interactions that are voluntary and informed - free markets to trade goods and services; free markets of ideas, science, art, and music; free markets of religion, education, association, and friendship. Good government ought to protect all of these freedoms, and more.


The type of government described in the following series is the only one that is sustainable - one the could last indefinitely.  And that is because it not only allows its citizens to lead their lives as they see fit, but protects the right to do so.

Government Based on Natural Law Topics

For the convenience of the reader, below is an alphabetical list of the government-related items discussed in detail in the remaining parts of this series.

Appointment of Justices
Abortion
Businesses and Prosperity
Border and Port Security
Children
Defense and Military Policy
Drug Policy
Economic Policy
Educational Benefit Subsidy
Energy Policy and Nuclear Power
English as the official language of the United States
Environmental Policy
Foreign Aid
Foreign Trade
Global Warming
Government Control of Private Organizations
Government Sponsored Gambling
Hate-Crime Laws
Immigration Policy
Marriage and Society
Medical Benefit Subsidy
Monetary Policy
Natural Resource Tax Subsidy
Protection from Criminals
Social Security and Retirement
Taxes and Spending
The Right to Own and Bear Arms
Women in Combat
Voting System Reform

______________________________________

Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Adviser in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of the author.  You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.

______________________________________

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Black Holes

How about a bit of science?

Everyone's heard about Black Holes, but what the heck are they?

First, a little background.  If you throw a ball up from the Earth, it will slow down and eventually fall back to the Earth.  No matter how fast you throw it up, it will always come back down.  Suppose you used a nice, fancy machine to throw it up faster than you can.  Will it always come back down?

Happily, the answer is no.  If you have a very powerful machine, (and we don't have one yet that can do this), that can throw the ball so that when it leaves the machine it is traveling at around 7 miles per second, the ball will go up and never come back down.  It will indeed slow down continuously, but not enough to head back toward Earth.  This speed that an object needs to leave a planet or any other mass, is called its escape velocity.  For instance the Moon has an escape velocity of about 1.5 miles per second.

You can probably guess that the more massive and dense the object, the higher its escape velocity is.

But can an object be so massive and dense so that nothing can escape from it, not even light?  Once again, we are happy, because the answer is yes, and such an object is called, not surprisingly, a Black Hole.

And that's why they are black. Not even light can escape from one.  Do we know for sure that such objects exist?  Not quite.  There is some pretty good evidence for Black Holes, and most astronomers believe they exist.

Black Holes were first predicted as a result of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, which is actually mostly a theory of gravity. And they are a bit more complicated that they seem.

The outer 'surface' of a Black Hole is called the event horizon.  From the outside, anyone looking toward a Black Hole would see only black within the event horizon.

What would happen if Jill unwisely decided to take a trip in a rocket ship into a Black Hole.  Well, it somewhat depends on the size of the Black Hole.  Right now, our best evidence in that most galaxies have huge Black Holes at their centers.  So she travels toward the center of our galaxy (which would take millions or years at the current speeds of our rockets, so Jill will get very bored and hungry). She could actually travel right through the event horizon and wouldn't even know it.  Sadly, if she tried to get back out, it ain't going to happen.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride, Jill.  Because she will inexorably be pulled toward the center of the Black Hole, a mysterious place called the Singularity. This Singularity contains all the mass of the Black Hole.  Einstein's equations predict that this is a point of infinite density, and no size.  Try not to think about that.

Once she gets close enough to this Singularity, she and her rocket will begin to be stretched toward the Singularity. This is because gravity will be stronger at the tip of the spacecraft than it is at its end. This stretching is actually called spaghettification.  It would not be a pleasant experience, even though it sounds delicious. Once she reaches the Singularity, she will be completely crushed into it, and have no volume.  Do not be concerned about this, as she will be dead long before this happens.

Here's a very interesting phenomena associated with Black Holes.

Let's switch the frame of reference to an observer, Jack, quite a distance from the Black Hole. Jack would see Jill fly toward the large black hole in her spaceship. But Jack would see her ship slow down as it got closer to its event horizon – which is the point of no return.  As time went by for Jack, he would see her ship going slower and slower, and the light he would see coming from her ship would get shifted to the red part of the spectrum, and eventually to shorter and shorter radio waves, so that Jack will never see her ship cross the event horizon- ever!

Who is right, Jack or Jill? That's the thing about relativity - they are both right, from their own frames of reference.  How can that be?  Either Jill flies through the event horizon into the Singularity or she never makes it to the Singularity.

Take about 5 university-level physics courses, and it will be almost make sense.

Almost.

______________________________________

Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at tfarage@hotmail.com.

______________________________________