On this day in 1776 Virginia’s colonial legislature becomes 1st to adopt a Bill of Rights. If it seems familiar, much of the same language made itself into the U.S. Constitution. This may sound familiar, “the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety”. Than it obviously meant that some people; African-Americans, some Native Americans, women, poor people of any ethnicity could be kept as slaves or in near slavery, their full rights deprived because they were thought of as property and made the owners ‘happy’. Section 13 flies in the face of modern views on a standing military which takes up about 20% of current federal spending: “That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” Considering that in 1776 a cannon ball fired from North Korea could not reach the U.S. some reasonable concessions to changing technology and threats is not completely out-of-bounds. It is a little disconcerting that the public trusts the military to the degree that they blur civilian control of the military. Why should government be instituted at all and to what should it concern itself: Section 3. That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration. “Common benefit”? Sounds pretty radical, even statist, Marxist , a kind of anti-Ayn Rand passage written into some founding documents. Even at the time many people lived according to personal rules. If they could justify some behavior as being moral – some handy quotes or passages from an authoritative text helping with the justification of course, than proceed. A Religious Justification Used for Slavery
“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have – you may acquire male and female slaves from pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.” –Leviticus 25:44-46
1670 depiction of the Maluku Islands. The Maluku Islands are present day Indonesia.
The English historian and priest Charles Kingsley once wrote, “We have used the Bible as if it were a mere special constable’s hand book, an opium dose for keeping beasts of burden patient while they were being overloaded, a mere book to keep the poor in order.” We have come to find that opiates and religion are not the only thing on which humans get high. The Biology of Bubble and Crash
Normally, the body of a risk-taker purrs along efficiently — after all, our bodies have been crafted for the quick reactions and gut feelings we need to survive in a brutal world. But not always. Under circumstances of outrageous success or terrifying failure, our biology can overreact; and when this happens to traders and investors, they suffer an irrational exuberance or pessimism that can destabilize financial markets and wreak havoc on the wider economy.
To get an inkling of how this physiology works, consider the following scenario, in which a trader grapples with a rumor that the Fed may raise rates later that afternoon:
As 2:15 — the time of the announcement — approaches, trading on the screens dwindles. The floor goes quiet. The trader feels intellectually prepared. But the challenge he faces requires more than cognitive skill. He needs fast reactions, and energy for the hours ahead.
Consequently, his metabolism speeds up, ready to break down energy stores in liver, muscle and fat cells. Breathing accelerates, drawing in more oxygen, and his heart rate speeds up. Cells of the immune system take up position at vulnerable points of the body, ready to deal with injury and infection. And his nervous system, extending from the brain down into the abdomen, redistributes blood — constricting flow to the gut, giving him butterflies, and to the reproductive organs, since this is no time for sex — shunting it to major muscle groups in the arms and thighs as well as to the lungs, heart and brain.
The announcement will bring volatility, and a chance to make money. The trader feels a surge of energy as steroid hormones are synthesized by their respective glands and injected into his bloodstream. Steroids are powerful, dangerous chemicals — they change almost every detail of body and brain: his growth rate, lean-muscle mass, mood, even the memories he recalls — and for that reason their use is tightly regulated by the International Olympic Committee and the hypothalamus, the brain’s drug enforcement agency.
It is not as though the people here or in banks around the world will be using the biology made me do it defense. Only a few of the very worse offenders have suffered any legal consequences. A systematic failure that has lost trillions of income, thus home and health in many cases, has brought misery to many, but those that caused it are pouring money into elections to get less regulation, more tax cuts, more elected officials that look out for the happiness and good of the few at the expense of the many. Let’s not defer to people who owned slaves and thought the idea of women voting a ridiculous idea. Though with the historic struggle for liberty and equality in mind, one might ponder the benefits of de facto rule by gambling addicts. Addicts by definition will do or say whatever they need to in order to get their fix.
Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice