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Deus in machina – a construct of self determination

By Tom Glendinning
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - I truly appreciate the thought process of Randy Voller in his latest post. Drawing criticism, as he does, and support form his father, he employs a broad philosophical analysis to frame political discussion. I love references to classics and the founding democratic governments. I will not criticize the point of providing services, but rather the use of the terms “deus in machina” and the “ghost in the machine.”

Usual references to the Greek phrase use “deus ex machina,” the resolution of an inextricable situation by intervention of a god. Small “G” god comes from a society which worshiped several gods. But the word “theos” means god, maybe loosely translated as ghost.

A bastardization of logic describes the mechanical appearance on ancient Greek stage of an actor representing a god by means of a machine, whether a crane or a trap door. The machine, being man made, is thus the creator of the god and, therefore, man has created god by his own devices. (Logically, this train of thought may be reversed such that man created god, thus the machine for his/her/its appearance.)

Without entertaining the arguments of Aristotle and Euripides or discussing the merits of Sophocles plays, I am sure that most people here can relate a story in which some outside influence, some higher power, seemed to influence an event in their lives. I certainly can. Without such divine intervention several times, I would not be alive. The physics of some of those instances would have me dead.

To sum up this portion of the response, I say that god or God is definitely outside the machine of human construct or logic. Were we to see all things and know all things, our lives would be vastly different, science withstanding.

Profit from business enterprises pay for government taxes on all levels

The second part of Mr. Voller’s argument is that the delivery of services is not part of the economy which pays for it. The services should be delivered if we cared for the “people.” The preface to that statement is that

1. Net profit does not matter in delivery of government services

2. Roosevelt inherited a poorly run government from three Republicans who preceded him, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

3. “Streamlining” government is a PR tactic which will produce no useful result.

No private sector profit, no government taxes. No jobs, no taxes.

To answer, in short without creating a doctoral thesis, profit from business enterprises pay for government taxes on all levels. No private sector profit, no government taxes. No jobs, no taxes. Reduce private sector profit and jobs, lower government expenses. The principle is rather elementary. Have nothing, do without.

Roosevelt inherited an economy which was ruined by “irrational exuberance.” Banks loaned progressively more money for stock market speculation on a bubble that was not acknowledged. Real estate was sold at such high prices that recovery was not possible. Sales of Florida swampland earned a reputation in this period. Stock rose to unjustifiable prices. Derivatives drove stock prices by geometric proportions. Underlying economic basis for the pricing during the buying frenzy was abandoned.

Charles Mitchell, Fed chair, ignored the signs of a crisis and federal law denying loans for speculation, while his own bank, National City continued to loan to speculators. It was the perfect storm and no president could have stopped it. Sound familiar. It should. There are strong similarities between the 1920′s and the 1990′s. Voller blames Republicans for the 1930′s. I beg you to study the Depression in depth before making that comparison again.

Streamlining government is only a strategy to match reduced tax revenue with government expenditures. No one can deny that the world is in a recession, very close to a depression with just a few more events. Some will argue that money supply and basics of the economy are sound, but if the industrial and business sectors do not start to invest again, the middle class will wither to unproductivity. The rich have always had money, but money supply means nothing if it is not used to stimulate the economy.

There is a gateway after which normal investment and employment will be restored. But the current lack of government direction and economic health are not opening the gate. Cutting expenses is a necessary, short term strategy to building a healthy economy. It does not mean that government has abandoned the people.

Ask any household if it has had to cut expenses. Government is no different. In my opinion, the four percent cut in Chatham does not equal to 25 – 100 percent loss of income for some of the residents and businesses. More cuts are necessary if the economy does not recover. There are no signs of it doing so, regardless of Washington PR. We need Zorro as tax administrator, not an Earl Nightingale to paint a lovely picture.

 
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Deus in machina – a construct of self determination
 
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