Information and Education

I have recently received an email from someone who has complained that I republished one of their articles, in its entirety, without their consent.

Receiving this email really made me frustrated with people's mentalities regarding information and education. First of all, before I can dive into this subject, I should explain the background.

On “The Cradle to Cradle Portal” I post articles that I find all over the internet, in their entirety, while also mentioning the author and original source. The person who wrote the email is correct to point out that I did not ask for permission. I never ask.

Having said that, the reason why I am frustrated is because of this person's position on information and education which I think is a morally weak one. This person only believes in spreading his information through his website. I disagree with this notion. Education should be spread freely.

Here is a portion of the email:

“We appreciate the sharing of information, but the method you use does still amount to copyright infringement as you copied the entire post. By copying the entire article you take any benefit we receive from creating, and paying for, this original content.”

If you notice carefully, the argument he uses is a legal one and not a moral one. Copyright infringement is a legal issue. Plagiarism, however, is a moral issue, but one this person could not mention because I gave credit to the original author.

If you look at the second sentence, it talks about the benefits that they do not receive from writing the article. This point is correct. Some people will not click on the “original article” link because they have read the entire article on my site. The problem I have with this position is that, again, they do not want to freely spread information. Their main goal is not to inform and educate the public because if it were, they would love for people to re-post their articles. However, it is not, they want their BENEFITS. Therefore, they believe in sharing their information so long it is through their website. This is a morally weak position that does great injustice to the field of education.

Book and Grad School

My internships are supposed to end this month, but I do not have concrete plans on what to do afterwards. The two obvious possibilities that present themselves are finding another job here in DC or going back home.

Ideally, I would find a paying job in the environmental field in DC so I would not have to relocate.  Actually, I have recently applied to a job here with the National League of Cities which is a non-profit that represents the municipalities of America. The position would require me to research and write about best sustainability practices that different cities have implemented. The position is paid and includes reimbursement of basic health care coverage. For me in my current state, I do not believe that I could possibly find a better opportunity as this which, of course, makes me doubt that I will actually attain this position.

If that opportunity falls through, then I have the option of going back to LA and finding some mundane job so that I could save up money. This is not entirely negative however;  being at home has a couple of  advantages. For example, I would have home cooked meals every day which would free up my time to maybe start a new project.

Speaking of a new project, recently, I have been entertaining the idea of writing a book about how to be a tyrant. I have always been fascinated by this topic and I thought that it would be beneficial to develop my study of it. To be clear, the purpose of this book is not to create modern day tyrants, on the contrary, it is to enlighten the common man of the rules of oppression so that he is more readily prepared to fight against them. I think this book would provide an interesting perspective into the discourse of power and control. Instead of writing about how people can be freed, I will write about how they can be enslaved.

Another idea that I am entertaining right now is going back to school to attain my Masters degree. There are two schools in Germany that I would apply to next year if I decide to follow through. Not very many, I am aware, but it is better to study something you enjoy than not. The reason why I choose Germany over America is because one, I like the country, and two, the cost of education is significantly lower. I find the tuition fees here in America to be utterly ridiculous and unacceptable. There would be no way for me to pay for the costs without accumulating debt and I REFUSE to accumulate debt! There is not much worse than having one's limbs bounded by the shackles of monetary necessity. I have already decided to dedicate my life to the improvement of mankind and seeing how difficult it is to be wealthy while undertaking this cause makes me believe that I would live forever in debt if I were to study here.

Governments and War

In this excerpt from Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, Paine speaks out in favor of republics and against monarchies and aristocracies.

It is attributed to Henry IV of France, a man of an enlarged and benevolent heart, that he proposed about the year 1620 a plan for abolishing war in Europe. The plan consisted in constituting a European congress or, as the French authors style it, a pacific republic, by appointing delegates from the several nations, who were to act as a court of arbitration in any disputes that might arise between nation and nation.

Had such a plan been adopted at the time it was proposed, the taxes of England and France, as two of the parties, would have been at least ten millions sterling annually, to each nation, less than they were at the commencement of the French revolution.

To conceive a cause why such a plan has not been adopted (and that instead of a congress for the purpose of preventing war, it has been called only to terminate a war after a fruitless expense of several years) it will be necessary to consider the interest of governments as a distinct interest to that of nations.

Whatever is the cause of taxes to a nation becomes also the means of revenue to a government. Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretense of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes the principal part of the system of old governments; and to establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to nations, would be to take from such government the most lucrative of its branches. The frivolous matter upon which war is made show the disposition and avidity of governments to uphold the system of war, and betray the motives upon which they act.

Why are not republics plunged into war, but because the nature of their government does not admit of an interest distinct from that of the nation? Even Holland, though an ill-constructed republic, and with a commerce extending over the world, existed nearly a century without war; and the instant the form of government was changed in France, the republican principles of peace and domestic prosperity and economy arose with the new government; and the same consequences would follow the same causes in other nations.

As war is the system of government on the old construction, the animosity which nations reciprocally entertain, is nothing more than what the policy of their government excite to keep up the spirit of the system. Each government accuses the other of perfidy, intrigue, and ambition as a means of heating the imagination of their respective nations, and incensing them to hostilities. Man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of government. Instead therefore of exclaiming against the ambition of kings, the exclamation should be directed against the principle of such governments; and instead of seeking to reform the individual, the wisdom of a nation should apply itself to reform the system.

How interesting that what Paine says for monarchies and aristocracies could be a fitting description for our current “democratic” system!