Thursday, April 30, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 3rd May: Essay links for the meeting

 
 
Dear Friends,
 
I am sending the links to the essays for the meeting this Sunday.  
 
Essay by Ruel
"Work Doesn't Pay (Off)"
https://ruelfpepa.wordpress.com/2020/04/29/work-doesnt-pay-off/
 
Essay by Lawrence
Work Does Not Pay
We are the result of our actions!
https://www.philomadrid.com/2020/04/work-does-notpay-by-ruel-we-are-result.html
 
 
The Skype Meeting on Sunday 3rd May is at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 3rd May: Essay links for the meeting
 
 
 
 






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Work Does Not Pay
We are the result of our actions!



 When we consider the facts, not everyone on Earth came near a Coronavirs or infected by the virus. And in the context of national populations more people were not affected by the COVID-19 than those who were with or without the syndromes. And much more than those who were taken ill or hospitalized. Indeed the major issues with the Coronavirus are its contagiousness and by inundating the healthcare system when serious infections in people are rising exponentially. 



But everyone and everything on Earth has been economically affected by the pandemic.  The most important effect of all is the loss of jobs and employment by millions of people. And this is the connection between our two topics.  



“Work does not pay” or “not always pays” for many reasons but chief amongst them is being exploited and human rights abused. Being cheated from one’s labour rights and remuneration rights is of course a dastardly thing to do to people. Unfortunately no one is exempt from this cursed fate even though some are better off than the rest of the world. In other words it does not matter what political ideology one subscribes to the present lot of “isms” cannot have or do not have the right mindset to fight against labour exploitation. This does not mean that all ideologies are evil, only some are evil, while other “isms” mean well but do not solve the problem maybe because they try to solve the wrong problem.



A second reason why work does not pay is when those whose duty it is to manage work decide to exploit others somewhere else because the return on investment would be higher. Besides the new people being exploited, they have have no sense of labour rights and they have no voice to argue their case for reasonable remuneration. And when some try they are swiftly put in prison. For every person who lost their job because their job is now being done by someone else with fewer rights and remuneration, implies that two people are now being exploited and not just one: there are now two people whose work does not pay. 



Today there is a very sophisticated third form that makes work not worth the effort. The consumer society means that we cannot just give up any work we have because it does not pay. Sure many people get into excessive debt because they buy frivolous things, but my concern is not with buying frivolous things. I mean a consumer society where whatever we need for life involves debt and banking services. Banking charges, including credit card charges, are an additional cost of living. 



I totally agree that credit creates wealth and innovation and most important off all employment, but this is not the issue; and I’m not even going to discuss tax havens. The issue about credit and debt is when our remuneration is not on par with the cost of survival and living and we are forced to borrow money beyond our means. Today the average worker does not earn enough to buy a house from their pay without borrowing money. The second issue is that  many companies are motivated to increase profits, maybe because of the false doctrine of Quarterly profits, and have no choice but to move to countries with cheaper labour costs and even more lax regulations. 



When work does not pay it is not always because we are being exploited but because someone else is being exploited more than us. This brings me to the second question.



The main issue with statements like “we are the result of our actions” is that firstly we ask the question in hindsight and secondly we don’t always have full access on how the future will turn out. It is statements like “we are responsible for our actions” that should give us the foresight or at least the rational prudence of what to do or how we act. “We are the result of our actions” is not a universal or empirical law for the very reasons that we couldn’t and cannot have access to all the relevant information at the time of action. There are many factors that influence who we are today that have nothing to do with how we acted in the past: one of them is, of course, being born, but let’s not split hairs. 



We must also separate legal actions based on intention and action or omission to act and moral or ration action. The statements “we are the result of our action” or “we are responsible for our action” cannot be moral or rational universal statements if we acted in good faith. An example will illustrate this point: if I order an ice cream and I’m sick because the cream had been contaminated with something I can hardly be accused of being the product of my action for ordering the ice cream. However, if I order an ice cream knowing that I am intolerant to dairy products then this wouldn’t be acting in good faith.



In the context of work above, we can make some mistakes but not all mistakes determine how we are today. There is always the matter that the way we act might lead to a situation really better than what we imagined or things turned out badly when we had good reasons to believe that things will be better for us. How many people have lost a fortune because of the pandemic or a promotion or pay rise? Some people might limit their actions and play safe and conservative, whilst others might take more risks in their life. It would be inappropriate and ridiculous to condemn Galileo for his house arrest simply because he stuck to his observational and empirical knowledge about astronomical bodies. 



David Hume and more recently Nassim Taleb have warned us about the big issues of induction. I would argue that when we act we act on pure inductive reasoning for the simple reason that inductive reasoning is based on facts whereas the future is just an idea. Of course, today we are better equipped to act successfully for certain types of future. The French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace was one of the first to develop the Bayesian interpretation of probability, Newton and Leibniz developed the calculus, the masters of Quantum Mechanics, and more recently, Data mining. Even still the future for most people is very limited. Hence, judging our past bona fide actions by our present is certainly unfair. And although many experts did indeed predict a pandemic during this period I am convinced that none were able to predict how the Coronavirus pandemic would develop and evolve. 



Unfortunately politicians and big business are not as innocent as scientists because of the limits in predicting the future. At the very least the scientists failed on the details but were spot on the magnitude and timing of the pandemic. Politicians and business, especially big business, are not so lucky because as the French mathematician, Didier Sornette, successfully demonstrated through his  Dragon King Theory (check Wikipedia and may other documents and videos) that “…events are generated by distinct mechanisms that intermittently amplify extreme events, leading to the generation of runaway disasters….or extraordinary opportunities….” (Wikipedia: Didier Sornette). An interpretation of the theory is that systems or organisations have in-built failure points by virtue of the design of the organisation. For example, the way the economy to set up today we know that at some point in the future there will be an economic collapse: companies cannot base their objectives on quarterly profits ad infinitum.  All of a sudden the Coronavirus has destroyed billion Euro businesses and created massive opportunities with matching profits for humble businesses like high quality face masks or gloves. The issue now is how can those who did not prepare for the big event act in a prudent way for the future.



It seems to me that work does not pay when others are motivated by profits rather than equitable and fair employment conditions. And our bona fide actions are many times thwarted by the bad judgement of others. 



Best and take care
Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com







  

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 3rd May: Work Does Not Pay + We are the result of our actions!

Dear friends,
 
This Sunday we are discussing two subjects:
Work Does Not Pay by Ruel
We are the result of our actions! By James
 
 Hopefully with these subjects we come to an end with the theme of the Coronavirus pandemic although this does not mean we stop talking about it. If all be told the really scary part of the pandemic is the economic effects it has on each country and each person.
 
As usual please check the website from Thursday evening for the essays: http://www.philomadrid.com . If you want to write an essay or comments please send me your link or essay preferably before Sunday. In the meantime I will try to send a reminder email on Thursday or Friday.
 
The Skype Meeting on Sunday 3rd May is at 6:30pm: if you don't have the link already please send me a message.
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com
 
 
PhiloMadrid on Skype 6:30pm Sunday 3rd May: Work Does Not Pay + We are the result of our actions!
 






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Thursday, April 23, 2020

Is this an era of changes or a change of era? - essays


Is this an era of changes or a change of era?

Essays

Skype Meeting Date 26th April 2020 – 18:30pm
(contact me for Skype link – 606081813 or philomadrid@gmail.com)


Essay by Ruel:
QUO VADIS?

Ruel also sent a link to an essay by Zak Stein:
Relevant to the topic at hand, is a provocative essay by Zak Stein that challenges us to read "the signs of the times" more seriously as it prepares this generation to face the "new unknown" in the context of a totally different paradigm.  The essay's title is " Covid-19: A War Broke Out in Heaven". Here's the link:


Essay by Lawrence:
Is this an era of changes or a change of era?




 telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
http://www.philomadrid.com

Is this an era of changes or a change of era?


Is this an era of changes or a change of era?

In keeping with the general theme of the coronavirus pandemic, this Sunday we are discussing: Is this an era of changes or a change of era? The difference between our topic now and the question we discussed recently “The good things that come from bad situations” is mainly two fold.

Any “good things” that are the result of a bad situation are opportunities that benefit some people but this is not sufficient to imply that everyone will benefit. And secondly any good things might not be beneficial or remain beneficial in the medium or long term.

An era is a period of time usually within a chronology: for example we find geological eras, political eras such as the Roman era or the Victorian era, and of course calendar eras, the 1950s American dream, the The Beatles era the Vietnam War era and so on. Eras encompass everything (within a context) of the period of the era: the good, the bad and the ugly. For example, the Victorian era in the UK spans the calendar period between Jun 20, 1837 – Jan 22, 1901 and although this is a long time the changes that took place affected everyone.

In the context of our topic we are at a disadvantage because the pandemic is still in full swing, and no scientific breakthrough is in sight to develop a vaccine or to understand the virus especially its origin. We don’t even know whether those who recovered from the disease are really immune and if they are to what extent and for how long? But this should not stop us from analysing the consequences of the situation we are in now and argue the moral and ethical issues of the future.

For the purpose of our topic I would argue that we are considering the political era given the ethics involved with the pandemic, especially because of the politicization of the pandemic and that politicians are making most of the decisions.

During the Spanish flu or, better, the 1918 Flu Pandemic the era did not change much maybe because of the war. Incidentally it is called the Spanish Flu because the countries involved in WW1 imposed a complete censorship on reporting and writing about the Flu pandemic. Spain, however, was not involved in WW1 and thus Spanish scientists were the first to report on the flu pandemic. In effect despite the passing of many micro eras in the 20th century, today in the 21st century, a hundred years later we still don’t know the real causes of the coronavirus pandemic: how many people have been really affected or died. Basically, in my opinion we cannot trust any numbers related to the coronavirus pandemic, even if some numbers are more realistic than others.

In effect I am more inclined to think that we are approaching an era of changes than a change of an era. One of my main arguments is that the failings we are experiencing during this pandemic and any changes that need doing should have already been done many years ago even back to 1918.

What voters and politicians don’t want to accept is the reality that the more society becomes based on science and technology the more political ideology and dogma become irrelevant and dangerous. Compare the present situation regarding the pandemic in say Germany or Taiwan and the situation in Britain and the USA. The Prime Minister of the UK and the President of the USA are handling the pandemic on ideological principles with the expected negative consequences. Some countries give their medical experts more freedom to act in the medical interests of the population (maybe Germany) and other countries act on medical advice without delay (maybe Taiwan). In the case of Taiwan they also happen to be more informed about events in China thus they took early measure against the virus.

The question is not who is right and who is wrong, science vs politics, but whose methodology is more robust to fight such serious events as a pandemic. Political decisions based on ideology are neither transparent nor relevant: how can ideology based on beliefs deal with nature and biology? The advantage of science is that the methodology is based on empirical data, the human reasoning involved in science can be verified/falsified, and the more the conclusions are replicated by others the more solid those conclusions would be. The negative side of science is that science is as good as the data, sometimes the government have to do the data collection and finance has to come from the government or from commercial interests. Thus science, and by definition including medicine, might not be an independent neutral discipline.

One of the changes that needs to happen is for institutions like the WHO to be completely independent of politics and political influence. Maybe an organisation very similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency model. Thus countries like Taiwan will be included as a member of the WHO or future equivalent. This does not mean that the IACA or WHO do not make mistakes but as models for international monitoring they are quite robust: as always the problem is that these institutions are easily politicized and they are.

If the world medical institutions need policing like nuclear power installations, it also follows that health care services must also be available to those who need medical care. The bottom line is that medical care also has to be available to everyone independent of cost. After all we don’t have to pay directly to the manager of our local nuclear power station to operate it safely. And we certainly don’t have to take out a bank loan to pay for the missiles fired by our fighter bombers.

This means that high on the wish list for change would be political accountability. What is obvious, and has been obvious for a number of years, is that politicians seem to have lost their sense of duty and loyalty to the electorate. When politicians push for policies that sell off lifelong healthcare institutions that give free healthcare at the point of need to companies based in off shore domains to avoid taxes, one gets a feeling that priorities have been lost.

In reality what needs changing is the use of ideology and dogma to indoctrinate the electorate and consequently misuse their national assets and national stability. Ideologies such as capitalism, socialism, neoliberalism, communism, theocracy, nationalism, and fascism have no place in today’s era of fast moving pandemics and science/technology foundations. And false gods such as Marx, Milton Friedman, Hitler, Mao, Margaret Thatcher, Lenin, and many more have no relevance in the thinking and arguments of 21st Century politics and society. We have to move away from today’s nationalism (racism/fascism) that excludes other people to a form of nationalism that works to include everyone, cooperate with everyone and looks after the well being of everyone.

By definition any changes in the political system will affects changes in other aspects of society. For example, changes on how we conduct business, how to manage the economy, how to manage money, and how the facts and news are reported. In reality applying the myriad of charters of human rights won’t go amiss.

We are still limited by the fact that we are not privy to the future, but planning for the future is something we can do if we know how. What we know for sure is that through the scientific and philosophical methods we can know more about reality and people in authority to have the evidence to hold people to account. What the pandemic has demonstrated is that we cannot stop the movement towards the reliance on science and technology. As I have already said, the issue is not one of who is right or who is wrong or who makes mistakes or who don’t makes mistakes but rather: whose methodology is more robust to model the real world and nature?

Best Lawrence

telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
http://www.philomadrid.com

Monday, April 20, 2020

PhiloMadrid meetings by Skype 6:30pm Sunday 26th: Is this an era of changes or a change of era?

 
Dear friends,
 
Since we haven't discussed the topic "Is this an era of changes or a change of era? (Felipe)" maybe we should do so this Sunday 26th 6:30pm. This topic is the last of the themes regarding the Pandemic crisis.
 
If you wish to write an essay or comments please send me your text as soon as you have it ready or link to your blog/Google Doc so I can put them on the PhiloMadrid blog.
 
If this is your first time joining the meeting please let me know to send you the Skype link.  
 
Best and take care
Lawrence
 
Telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813
Email: philomadrid@gmail.com
 
PhiloMadrid meetings by Skype 6:30pm Sunday 26th: Is this an era of changes or a change of era?
 
 
 
 
 






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