Tag Archives: freedom

The Fallacy of Composition

Last block, I took ‘managerial economics’, which was my last core class.  Even though I was an econ major for my undergrad, it was still pretty challenging.  One of the topics my professor briefly mentioned was called ‘the fallacy of composition’, which means that a solution for one individual does not necessarily work for a whole group.  Though he didn’t go into a lot of detail, I found this idea really interesting.

This logical fallacy applies to a lot of things.  For example, some might claim that we need to pay down the national debt at the same time, while others might worry that this effort would depress the economy and cause inflation.  Others might say that Obama’s proposal to provide free community college education to all Americans might increase opportunities in some areas, but create a higher unemployment rate due to a lack of high-skill jobs in another.  In one case, it might make sense to localize control of the public school curriculum, and in another, a school could fall behind due to a lack of standards to guide a child’s development.

I am really lucky to be in a field where I am literally paid to ponder the pros and cons to every decision.  Finding solutions to problems in data is my passion, and I have always been a numbers person.  But the kind of mental processing to which most people are accustomed is merely linear thinking.  By this, I mean assuming a direct connection between one thing and another.  When we are faced with a problem we don’t understand, we tend to take a mechanistic view to identifying a solution, breaking the problem down to its individual parts and assuming that every effect has a single cause.  I think this type of rationale is valid, but not complete.

In order to truly facilitate a better world, I think it will be necessary for more people to adopt a synthetic, non-linear way of thinking.  Before any course of action, more considerations need to be made about external effects.  This is bigger than conventional game theory.  It’s definitely not easy to understand that affecting one part could actually affect the system as a whole.  This goes against everything that dictates how I do my work: you must think hard about the potential effects that can come out of a decision, even when you don’t have the data to support it.  This capacity to predict effects beyond what you are directly affecting is difficult to master, but I think will likely be the key to addressing challenges over time.  Unilateral decisions are not going to fix global warming, poverty, income disparity, or public health issues.

Systemic change is not going to happen overnight, but I hope I live to see some kind of progress in my lifetime.  Relying on numbers and statistics is important, but not as important as deeply considering the chain of events that can occur from making one choice compared to another.  When making a decision about the best remedy for the most pressing social ills, be sure to take a step back and effectively consider how others will be affected.  We need to come up with structures for thought instead of building thoughtless structures.  We need to let go of our experiences that turned us into conditioned humans instead of letting ourselves represent the human condition we once were as children.  When we were small, we found joy in bringing others happiness, and as we ‘matured’ and were burned a few times, we became more selfish and defensive.  The more people who come to master this difficult way of thinking, the better off this world will be.  We have become less alive.

I am not at all saying that I have never taken stances on issues that were self-serving.  I know I have hurt people and made mistakes.  But I think that creating a better future starts with me, hopefully inspiring others to share the same attitude.  The more we look out for each other, and the less afraid we become about making changes in our lives in order to benefit others, the more better off we all will become.  Individuals can make a difference everyday by letting go of judgment, hatred, and anger – things that all prevent us from living a full life.  Don’t get caught up in the fallacy of composition or in the numbers.  They’re a great place to start, but what’s truly important will be justified by something more.

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A brighter future for immigrants

People come to the U.S. in search of a better life, bringing their children with them in hopes that they may enjoy the same level of opportunity and freedom as do all Americans. We truly need a system that allows children who were raised in the U.S., in spite of their undocumented status to easily transition into the system without fear of deportation.  The United States should be a country that can be viewed as a sanctuary, not one that requires people to jump through arbitrary hoops in search of a better life.

“I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat,” Mr. Vargas said by telephone shortly after his release. “I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either.”

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A Conservative Says…

A couple of days ago, I read an article where a man who calls himself, “Joe the Plumber”, claimed that the recent deaths of victims in the UC Santa Barbara shooting “don’t trump” his right to own a firearm.

In a letter to the parents of the 7 victims, he wrote:

“I am sorry you lost your child.  I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through right now.  But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.”

This just blows my mind.  How anyone can say such a thing, and believe so strongly in it, is beyond me.

There’s a saying that goes, “A conservative says, ‘If it hasn’t happened to me, I don’t care.’  A liberal says, ‘This should never happen to anyone, and that’s why I care.’”  And at the Davis County Convention, I recall Utah Representative Brian King saying something along the lines of, “There are a lot of things that Republicans and Democrats have in common.  There are also a lot of things that set them apart.  But I think the one thing that makes Democrats stand out the most is genuine concern for their neighbor.”  Joe the Plumber is a perfect example of what the quote and Rep. Brian King meant.

It is absolutely important to look out for yourself, and for your family.  That’s natural.  Everyone is looking out for their best interest, and it makes rational sense to do so.  But imagine how different the world would be if people were less selfish, and actually made a conscious effort to ease the lives of others, both friends and complete strangers – not necessarily to the extent that they do for their own family, but just a bit more than they do now.  I feel that the world would be a much better place.

We all have things we value, and to many, freedoms and rights are among those highly prized possessions.  But to be so insensitive to say that the death of a family member – an invaluable and irreplaceable part of any person’s life – comes before your rights?  To be clear, your right to own a gun is not being taken away at all.  New laws are being considered that are designed to make our communities safer and to protect others as well as allow those [responsible enough and] who want to own a gun to do so.  In this way, we cover all our bases, and everyone is happy.  I don’t understand how anyone wouldn’t want that – everybody wins.  Joe the Plumber may place the same or even more value on his ‘constitutional rights’ as the UC Santa Barbara shooting victims’ families place on the lives on their loved ones, but neither should be devalued just the same.

We live in a world where compromises are necessary to move forward.  One person’s disagreement with another person’s is not the be-all and end-all – instead, we all need to be tolerant of each others’ opinions.  In order to live in harmony, we need to accept each others’ differences, even though we may not approve of them ourselves.  We need to see things from our opponents’ points of view and be understanding of where our enemies are coming from.  Understanding will make all the difference: The world does not revolve around you; others have wants and needs, experience the same joy and pain, and are doing what they can to make the most out of their existence just as you are.  Be respectful, be kind, and make the world a better place by thinking about ways in which you can improve the lives of others.

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Let Freedom Ring.

As our break from complaining about America to celebrate America comes to a close, I just wanted to reflect on what the meaning of Independence Day is to me.

We are so lucky to live in this country. While we are definitely not without our conflicting views regarding different issues, I’m just thankful we are even able to have that freedom to disagree with each other and to even disagree with our government. And I’m thankful that [IN THEORY] we have a system in which out of every contention and dispute, we are able to reach a consensus that makes sense for the majority of Americans and get one step closer to a more perfect union. Relative to the other political systems out there, ours definitely serves as a model for other countries.

But freedom isn’t free. There were (and still are) many heroes who fought to protect our liberty so that we could live our comfortable lives here at home. Many didn’t return home, and many of the ones who did were deeply impacted by the unimaginable and were never the same again. I am so grateful for every person who has served in the United States military and sacrificed so much for their country, their families, and people like me who they’ll never even meet.

To all you service men and women: While Independence Day is the most appropriate day to show appreciation for all you’ve sacrificed for our country, please know that we always feel thankful. Though we will never be able to completely understand what you went through, please know we will never forget the invaluable contributions you made to the well-being of our country as well as our own personal prosperity.

Well, back on the grind tomorrow – Let freedom ring. 🙂

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Politics & Catholicism

I consider myself a born and raised, die-hard Catholic. I’m so committed to my faith that I keep a rosary in every purse I own, I drag my hungover body to church every Sunday, and I am forcing my boyfriend to take complete RCIA before he is allowed to propose to me.

With both vice-presidential candidates being Catholic, I think it’s so interesting to see competing views that are so different from one another. As Americans, we are so fortunate to live in a country where we are free to practice any religion we choose, and where we can openly express our religious views without being harassed for it. However, I feel that religion becomes a problem when it infringes on other people’s rights. As a Catholic, I PERSONALLY have made the choice not to use birth control. God forbid if I ever have too many martinis, wild out, and get pregnant, abortion would not even be an option for me.

But I don’t want to force my super conservative Catholic views on others. Ultimately, I believe it’s between the person and God if one decides to make those kinds of choices. Regardless of what I think, God is going to have the final say in any decisions any of us make. It isn’t right for me or for anyone else other than the Lord himself to determine what is right and what is wrong.

I wish it was this clear-cut in the law. I respect every religion, but I also think it’s important to keep it out of politics. In a world where people’s hearts and opinions are constantly changing, it is important to grow more tolerant and see each issue from different perspectives. Imagine if people never accepted interracial marriage, or what it would be like if women still couldn’t vote. Those two things were seen as BFD’s back then, and so many people fought for those rights, yet today they’re accepted and it’s hard to believe that it took so much effort by so many courageous people to convince people that this was the right thing to do.

I really admire how VP Joe Biden adheres to Catholic principles, yet he takes the same stance I do. He doesn’t believe it’s right to force people of other faiths to stick to the same principles he believes in as a Catholic. This is how it should be. These are tough, sensitive issues – gay marriage, abortion, and the individual mandate which forces employers to pay for birth control. But ultimately, people should have the right to make whatever decisions they choose, and we should let these decisions be between them and God.

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