Nov 25

John Locke over there at ‘Strike the Root – a journal for liberty’ was so friendly and allowed me to re-publish his great article about ‘Ten lies we believe’; that means LIES, which society puts on us. LIES, we hear, inhale and suck down with our ‘mother’s milk’ in the societies we live in. LIES that tie us in and make us less and less flexible, mobile and free in our thinking.

We are conditioned to buy a lot of useless crap, just to keep the economy going. If we can afford it, that doesn’t matter. Why have so many people bad debt and keep still spending? Is that understandable? They just can’t do different, because spending, buying and getting new crap and new gadgets is all they were conditioned to do. What money is left is ripped off by taxes.

We are told, that our enemies are somewhere out there: be it Muslims, Arabs, Communists, Africans, Eskimos, Marsians, Klingons, Asians, Chinese, Europeans or whatever are the ‘axes of evil of the day’. Have you been there and met them? They are all people like you and me – why shouldn’t they be? Okay, I haven’t met Marsians and Klingons yet…

We are blindfolded by the media – newspapers, TV and Hollywood, we have to work our a**es off and trust in government, state and military – who can basically do whatever they want, in the name of god, their grandmothers, WMD or because they are permanently drugged, drunk or senile. If we don’t go with the flow: Guantanamo is waiting! I wasn’t so sure that Hitler really taught us something ‘useful’, which still applies today. Oha!

But let John put it in his own words:

The System is not maintained by reason and facts, because these do not support any system based on power and fear. It keeps going by perpetuating myths. These are never really questioned, and become as immutable as the laws of physics. We can break free from the control of the system when we see the lies for what they are. Here are 10 of the best lies:

1) That we are free, not slaves of the government

Big BrotherA free person can come and go as they wish, they can use their money and wealth as they see fit, and they are not monitored and can live a private life and choose to think what they will. A slave is told when and where they will go, what they will do, how they will think, what they can say, and everything they produce is taken off them and given directly to the Master.

We all agree that slavery is an abomination, and that everyone has certain “inalienable rights,” but we appear to be less and less free. A substantial amount of what we earn is taken from us; if we freely express ourselves, we may be regarded as a “terrorist”; movement is restricted and our private lives, our emails and telephone conversations are intrusively monitored and recorded, perhaps for later use.

So where are you on the continuum between free person and slave? I expect now closer to the slave end.

2) That tax is a way of “paying our way” and our moral obligation and safety net

Tax DeadlineLook at the 2006 US Federal Budget, and try to find the expenditure categories that will help you. You probably won’t be able to see a connection, and that is because there isn’t one. If you are working, “welfare” certainly doesn’t help. “Defence” doesn’t really seem to make your life safer. “Health” doesn’t mean that you don’t need private medical insurance to get any semblance of acceptable health care. “Education” won’t get your children over the line, either.

Roads – well they aren’t as well maintained as you would think for the amount you are paying, and check out the deteriorating infrastructure. By any measure, it is not really a good deal. Do you seriously think that you get anywhere near the amount you pay in taxes in the form of “government services”?

Also, if times become bad, don’t think there is any safety net for you if you are a middle class person who has been productive. If you are out of work, the State will tax your severance pay, but there’s nothing there for you.

In terms of “moral obligation,” isn’t your obligation to provide as well as possible for your own family, rather than someone else’s? And how does having a lot of your income taken away do that?

I’m not saying to evade your taxes, just don’t believe the lies that justify confiscation of earnings.

3) That people from different cultures are our enemies

In World War II, American citizens of Japanese descent were incarcerated in prison camps. With 20/20 hindsight, we see that was unjust. However, the current vilification is of Muslims and those of Middle Eastern descent. The media is quick to apply stereotypes, so the average person on the street doesn’t see a Muslim as a person of different beliefs who loves his family and peacefully goes about his business, but as a rabid potential terrorist.

Different CulturesAt present, this view appears to be encouraged by governments in several Western countries. It is often convenient to create a scapegoat. If they can make us believe that everyone in a particular group is our enemy, then it makes it seem perfectly justified to invade their country, flatten their hospitals and schools and kill their young men.

The word “prejudice” means judging before knowing the facts. The antidote to prejudice is evidence-based reasoning, which means getting the facts. One way of getting facts is by reaching out to those of different backgrounds and building bridges rather than walls. When we spend time with people of other backgrounds, we appreciate their differences, and the reason for those differences, but also the similarities. When they are victimised, we understand that but by an accident of birth, it could as easily be us.

4) That individual expression and creativity are available only to a few “talented” persons

The purpose of this myth is to disempower people and make them good consumers rather than self-sufficient producers. So we get bland, regurgitated music and mind-numbing reality television, and prepackaged software that is broken and buggy.

In traditional cultures, most people have a form of creative expression. This was the case in western countries until recently – check out reprinted 1910 issues of “Boy Mechanic” to see some creativity in action.

I’m reassured to see many people pushing back against this – they write their own music, work on their own cars and write open source software. But the masses only know how to keep buying the same old stuff.

5) That news is information rather than propaganda and entertainment

The Governement Lies“News” is mainly entertainment. It is supplied so that you watch paying advertisements. That’s why they have “human interest” stories. The trick is that people think it is information. If it was just another sitcom, they might turn off the TV and talk to their families or something equally undesirable.

Since a lot of news is supplied by the government, it also contains a subtle, sometimes not so subtle twist. It presents what “They” want you to think, and over time this moulds people’s perceptions. We do owe a debt to those journalists who diligently uncover truth, but most news is only of entertainment value. To counteract this, get your own sources of news, and don’t accept anything at face value.

6) That we have no right to privacy

The system is interested in prying into the lives of individuals in order to perpetuate its control. Systems based on power structures are inherently brittle, and those in power know that.

The flawed argument that they put out is that if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide. Therefore, you have no right to privacy.

This assumes that those monitoring are able to use discretion with personal information – so it just is used on “the bad guys” rather than against anyone who those in power don’t like.

History has shown that this is never the case. Just one example is how Martin Luther King was monitored by the FBI, and they attempted to use personal information gathered to undermine him publicly. When you take away the right to privacy, it is all too tempting to misuse the information. Who watches the watchers? Usually no one.

7) That the end justifies the means

True LiesWhen a criminal acts with an end in mind without being concerned about the consequences, or feeling any empathy for those hurt along the way, we call that person a psychopath, or sociopath. When this occurs in business, government or foreign policy, we call it “strong leadership.”

In intelligence terminology, an action that is taken with the view that the end justifies the means generally results in “blowback.” This means that it causes unexpected consequences, sooner or later. Let’s recall some examples of ends: backing the Shah of Iran, invading Iraq , supplying Osama bin Laden. Think of the resultant “blowback.” What you sow is what you reap.

The consequences of these actions are decoupled from the original ends by the spin masters. Put them together, and you’ll see that the answer is to consider both the means and the ends – be guided by morality rather than expediency.

8) That education helps us to think clearly and be successful

The purpose of education is two-fold: to inculcate government-approved core values and provide children with the basic skills needed to become malleable corporate drones and consumers.

The education system does not appear to promote clear thinking. Discussion of the lyrics of rap songs in English classes doesn’t help that, or build literacy. A large number of young people finish their education without the ability to critically analyse an issue, or think for themselves. Fresh young minds with potential to do amazing things, well trained performing monkeys out the other end of the process.

9) That a good job is the answer to prosperity

Job SlaveThat you have a good job is important to the government in the same way that a house full of valuables is important to a burglar. It sets you up as a nice fat cash cow. They will be able to skim off your money before you even see it, and you have extremely limited tax deductions.

Prosperity comes from sources outside of a job, such as investments or business. Not many people get rich on their salary, unless they are corporate officers who loot shareholder funds.

10) That we can trust those in power, in government and large corporations, and they have the answers

Most people in power are not evil, and most governments in first world countries are generally somewhat less despotic than those found elsewhere due to safeguards that are in place.

Corporate PropertyNevertheless, power means imposing the will of one person on another. This is generally to the benefit of one person, and the detriment of another. In financial terminology, this is called a conflict of interest. There is a mismatch in the interests of those in power and the ruled. Generally, mainstream political parties have a vested interest in maintaining this system. In the same way, corporations actively maintain the status quo to their own benefit.

Competence is different from position. Generally the two don’t fit too well together. Think about where you work – is the smartest, most capable person in charge? No, you have the Pointy Haired Boss instead.

In summary, don’t assume that anyone in power will act in your interests. Think for yourself, and don’t accept answers at face value.

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written by Chris

11 Responses to “Ten Lies We Believe”

  1. SteveNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    A few of these are inarguable, a few are just plain wrong, I’d say.

    My biggest objection is probably with 2, arguing that taxes are not fairly paying your way. Now, it’s probably possible to argue this by pointing to many things that we pay for that benefit us, in ways obvious and not. In the obvious category I’d put police, fire, roads. In the less obvious are a multitude of things that ou never think about but rely on strongly, e.g. USDA meat inspection.
    Theres also a moral argument here. You could argue that debt service (interest on the national debt) doesn’t benefit us, but it is an obligation we’ve taken on (or at least those who voted for the supply-siders responsible for the vast majority of it, but that’s another argument).

    The other problem with this is that it validates exactly the SOB’s who’ve been merrily destroying the government since 1980. Argue the government is a mess, slash usefull stuff out of the government and use that to support your assertion that , er, who was the famous actor who kept saying that “government is the problem”? You know, the one who borrowed trillions and slashed government services at the same time? As a current example, look at Bush’s attempt to slash social security and turn something that millions of people literally rely on to live into a wall-street profit machine? Ads many people pointed out at the time, one of the possible motives at the time for those pushing this scheme was to destroy support for the idea that government could really do things that were usefull to most people.

    5 – news is propaganda – well, no, it’s not, unless you get your “news” from fox or the today show. There are plenty of intelligent and hard-working reporters writing serious journalism. Since you’re on the web, I’m sure you can find them. Also alrternative, foreign news sources, (a few) good newspapers, etc, etc.

    8- education helps us think clearly – well, it’s true, lots of it is very, very bad, even if you try to step in to your child’s education and school. Guess that’s another one of those government functions. I do think it’s a bit of propaganda that we can’t afford to pay for real education, whenever it’s a question of, say, military equipment we say that no amount is too great to spend” but when it comes to education, we’re always trying gimmicks like NCLB. Shows you where our real priorities are.

    I do agree with this:In summary, don’t assume that anyone in power will act in your interests. Think for yourself, and don’t accept answers at face value., but I don’t think this means that government is impossible (although useful government is probably impossible until Bush is out of office).

  2. supersnailNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Ok… i’ll bite…

    8 – That education helps us think clearly and be successful.

    Ok, There’s two types of education: Schooling and life.

    I’m not sure where you had your schooling but when I was at school (i’m 25 now) I learnt to read, write, do arithmetic, algebra and trigonometry alongside a multitude of other things. Granted the education system in your country might be substandard but it’s not the same everywhere. I studied computer programming and that education gave me a sound logical basis for everything in my life. If i’ve got a problem I can come up with an algorithm to solve it. If I didn’t have that education I wouldn’t have travelled the world and have a much improved standard of life over what I had three years ago.

    As for life education, a traveller such as yourself should realise that getting out and seeing different cultures and their values makes you grow as a person and think more clearly about what you want, and what really matters in life.

    Ask yourself this:

    Would you have managed to build this website without education? Would you have managed to discover your libertarian stance without being able to think clearly and make educated decisions about what you want from life?

    No, I didn’t think so either.

  3. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    I’m happy that this post led to so much controversy so far. That’s what it’s supposed to do, right?

    While the original post contains a lot of generalization, especially about taxes, educations and maybe the news part, I’m amazed about the different interpretations.

    A lot of people see taxes as a painful duty and try to avoid it as much as they can, independently from their wealth. Even moving to different countries and trying to get another citizenship. Is there anything wrong with that? Hm…

    Education doesn’t lead people out of the rat race; the opposite is usually true. I had lots of high-skilled colleagues once, many working their a**e* off, some dying of heart attacks in their 50s or even 40s. Never happy, never enough money. What did education make them? Skilled monkeys? One-way expert idiots?

    On the opposite, since I’m traveling; I met many ‘so-called’ uneducated people, living a happy life, full of joy, meaningful and lively. Living more with less.
    Idiocation anyone???

    (Okay, as a German I won’t even start explaining about news, we practically invented propaganda…)


  4. supersnailNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Hi Chris,

    I still disagree with the education issue not being important. I do agree that people who might be called ‘un-educated’ live full and happy lives, but is that not part of the education that comes from travelling? Seeing just how little you actually need in life.

    From a personal point of view, I think that those who work themselves to the bone and die of heart attacks are missing that vital piece of education I just wrote about above… ie, lifes lessons in frugality.

    Perhaps a piece of personal info can help clarify my stance. I’m living in the UK after growing up in NZ, i’m saving a lot of money in the UK that i’m using to fund my semi-retirement. By this I mean, being able to work part time in a few years (i’m 25 now) and having more time for myself. If I hadn’t gotten my formal education then I wouldn’t be able to afford to do it. Likewise, if I hadn’t gotten some life education, then I wouldn’t realise that such a thing was possible or that there were other options than working and accruing more wealth in the rat race.

    Without my education/s my life would not nearly be as rich and full as it is now.

  5. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Supersnail – you won! ;-)

    Education is really-really important. And it can open you doors, which otherwise wouldn’t even be there.

    The original chapter said, that our education systems (you called it ‘schooling’) don’t necessarily promote ‘free handed thinking’ or ensure, that you’ll know in the end, what counts in life, if you follow the system closely. It can turn you into a system’s idiot, if you follow it like a one-way road.

    I definitely agree with you, that when your 2nd part of education (life itself) kicks in, it should help, to open your eyes.


  6. zenkingNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    One has to look at the history of why education systems began to understand why in some ways they do not work. During the heydays of the industrial revolution most people were uneducated and lacked the basics to work machines.
    The first public type schools were all attached to factories and this was not done as a total philanthropic effort. It was established so that people could learn basic skills, and more importantly get into a regimented routine, thus the factories were more efficient and the machines were able to be serviced better. Thus public education always has that bell going off and a set time etc…
    An example of education at its best is served by the chemistry classes one takes at the beginning level. Did anyone ever bother to tell you why chemistry works a certain way or were we told to memorize certain tables, calculations etc…
    History again was mainly memorizing dates etc…not much was told to us of why certain things happened.
    At higher and usually private levels they do get people to think and to be more aware of connections and reasons but the average person is not in these places. So in a sense a real education with critical thinking is more or less absent for most people. In a sense they believe what they believe as they were told to believe. For me I call it memorization without thinking….
    As far as taxes go, here in Canada anyways it is a strange situation. back in the 1950-1960 period the taxes were set as about 80% was corporate taxes and about 20% was from private individuals. Today that is reversed and corporations pay about 20% and individuals about 80%. A strange thing when you think that corporations make such huge money and the middle class is disappearing here…
    Don’t forget also that income tax was brought in as a “temporary emergency tax” during WW1 and it never went away after that. Also coupled with sliding scales with income it makes sure that the more you earn, the more you lose…
    We are told many lies and these 10 are good. the problem is that there are many more lies we believe in society!

  7. John LockeNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    As the author of the article, I would like to comment on some of the responses that this has generated.

    Firstly, I hope that everyone understands that it is necessary to generalise to an extent. Hopefully those reading the article understand that there are exceptions which don’t negate the main argument.

    Secondly, about formal education. My assertion is that it does not generally help someone think clearly or be successful. It doesn’t say that ignorance is desirable, or formal education is a complete waste of time – obviously it can impart some skills. But if you rely on it for your success, or think that it will somehow teach you how to think, you will be disappointed.

    Clear thinking is the ability to understand an argument and critically evaluate it in the light of other information ( Studies do indicate that a large number of graduates are incapable of critical thinking (, – or basic literacy either. I’m not sure why this would be any surprise, since this is de-emphasised in the curriculum.

    It is axiomatic that education does not result in success. If that was the case, those with the highest qualifications would automatically be the most successful people in our society, while those with less education would be in the gutter. Instead, in my country, many graduates never earn enough to go over a basic living and repay their student loans, and everyone knows someone with very basic formal educations, who are self educated who go on to be successful in society. Yes, education is useful to get employment as a corporate drone, but that doesn’t make you successful either.

    Thirdly, news is propaganda and entertainment. It is true that there are alternative sources of news. Does the mainstream person go to them? No. Does the majority of people get their news from News Corp or similar sources, or daily newspapers? Yes. Are these designed to entertain and put forward a slant on “news”. Yes. Is society largely influenced by mainstream news media. Yes. So I think the point remains valid.

    Lastly, I stated that taxation is not of personal benefit. I would ask anyone who thinks that it is to look at what comes out of your paypacket in tax, then compare it to other categories of expenditure.

    Do you get benefit from buying food. Yes. Do you get benefit from rent or mortgage payments. Yes. How about the tax (which exceeds for most people the combined cost of food, shelter, retirement savings, holidays etc)? With all that money gone, it should provide you with some huge benefit, right? But all anyone can point to is police (if they actually turn up when you are attacked), roads and public schools (which only applies to those with children of school age). Not much benefit in proportion to the large amount you pay, is it?

    Even politicians don’t try to say that taxes are of personal benefit. They try to use altruistic arguments – “you are helping others” or “we need to build a more just society”. Where does most of the tax take go? In transfer payments from one sector of society to another. Look at the budget breakdown of any western country and you will see that.

    Governments get their claws into a range of areas. Then they set up committees plus an incredible overhead of extra public sector regulators, clerks and incur other costs. Why not, the taxpayer foots the bill, there’s a state monopoly and the more people employed, the more important the public sector administrator becomes.

    This work can be done more efficiently, better and cheaper by the private sector which tries to keep costs low to make a profit. And instead of EVERYONE having to pay for them, only the end users who actually want the service would have to. Worried about monopoly pricing? Allow competition.

    In conclusion, if there was no tax, people would still find ways of paying for things that were important. Governments are an undesirable and inefficient solution for providing services. And theft of income through taxes in order to fund someone at the expense of someone else is the nature of their racket.

  8. nomad4ever » Blog Archive » Living an Independent Life UNITED STATES Says:

    […] Comments on Living an Independent LifeJohn Locke on Ten Lies We BelieveChatalaine on Moving to Bali: Difference in expectations andrealityMichele on 50 Life LessonsChris on Retire young, retire rich… […]

  9. Aidan PrydeNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    Hi Guys!

    I just wanted to point out one of the Best books about “public scholing” that i have ever read…especially for americans this is a must read!

    Here is the free Versioon (but there is no PDF ..if anyone ver gets his hands on a pdf PLEASE SEND ME )

    the Title on amazon is “dumbing us down”… this is the site where i am at (reading it the 3rd time)..and belive me..this is written by an very very inteligent man who must now whats schooling about ..##

    about the author:

    Have fun!

  10. Debbie DeguiaNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    When it comes to the economy, all people have the right to tell their opinions. There are some lies that are good and there are lies that are bad.

  11. Vanessa RimpleNo Gravatar UNITED KINGDOM Says:

    Some people will not believe in the ten lies because they have their own opinion about the different lies that are stated.

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