Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pay As You Go - New Taxation System based upon the Philosophy of Non-Belief

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Is Sophy Laughing (Soph Laugh) a great thinker? In an absolute sense, probably not. At least, she would not be a natural inclusion into a list of the world's most important philosophers. Her chosen form of expression is not the book but the humble blog. Her mood is seldom one from which a categorical syllogism might arise. Her arguments are driven by personal interest, alternating with occasional bursts of ridiculousness for humorous effect. Whether these outbursts are intended to entertain her readers or herself is not always clear, though the latter may presumed. Here is someone, some Readers feel, who does her best thinking early in the morning to the sound of birds tweeting, animals snoring and coffee brewing.

If Laugh is essentially a "writeller" (doodler, in written form), the intensity of her commitment and the vigor of her writing are evident in the prolificness of her publishing. She has not reinvented humor, or the notion that humor is an elevated state that is all-inclusive - versus being exclusive, a trait belonging to comedy - but she did argue for this with such persistence, and in language of inspiring directness, that readers are visiting by the hundreds of thousands - or millions if you count Google views.

Even after going "off-topic," something Laugh does to entertain herself (and her readers), she continues to receive visitors from across the globe. You might think that Laugh's reputation as an online blogger or Philosophical Humorist might have been blackened by those jealous of oodles of zeros of dollars she earns for her efforts, but the reality is most are relieved that she is not publishing, for if she did, they might actually have to take her seriously. 

It can be fairly argued that Laugh has done more than most humor researchers to foster the spirit of humor in her own life by legally changing her last name to "Laughing". It is in her nature to explore rather than merely philosophize notions. "How can one truly understand personal identity if you've only had one?" 

Laugh's Life

Laugh was born on a Tuesday. She moved away from home on a Thursday, and her favorite day of the week is Saturday. For more specific details, Soph's mother has this to say on the subject: 

'There are those children that try parents' souls. The artistically philosophical child will, in this crisis, scribble on your walls and then offer a two-hour explanation as to why they feel wall-scribbling is an acceptable activity; all this at the age of four.'
-Soph's Mother

Laugh as a Writer

Laugh was trained in the tradition of classical oratory, but her blogging is shorter and lacks aristocratic style. Despite not belonging to the traditional camp of bloggers informing readers how to get more followers, instead of publishing books, Soph continues to mix mediums in the artistic sense of the word and blog that which would be best published in a traditional book format. Irrespective of this anomaly, the first three years of Laugh's blogging has yielded approximately 650k views and 16 million views on Google. 

HTTF (originally published under the title "Sophly Laughing") swiftly received a number of views. Most alarming for traditional researchers in the field, Laugh was clearly addressing her arguments, witticisms, and quirky brand of humor not to a small minority of the privileged and the highly educated - who could be trusted to ignore any call for a radical change to the definition of humor based on the consent of the majority - but to the population at large, a vastly growing geekish community ever appreciative of 'principled unicity'.   

"Humor isn't laughing at others, humor is laughing with others," is the motto repeatedly shared by Laugh. 

Laugh's Beliefs

The Declaration

"The closest thing I have to a belief is the opinion I have formulated that tells me that we cannot know the true nature of existence and thus any hypothesis is inherently absurd ~ that's what makes everything so darn funny! Jokes, stories, information, studies, hypothesises, postulations, theorems, theories, the whole shoot and shebang. Even serious discourse, at some level, is funny insomuch that we play along, allowing ourselves to adopt beliefs about that which we do not and, perhaps, cannot know given the present-day limits of our temporal presence.  

My sense of humor, if you can call it that, is consequently derived from the fact that human beings, despite being held in a temporal vessel with limited wave reception, continue to behave in a way that denies exploration in favor of acceptance. Even our thoughts and feelings are suspect and may be nothing more than a wave of sentiment or thought flowing through, rather than emanating from, the being, which in turn may only have temporal access to them (explaining the temporal nature of thoughts and feelings). Existence, to me, is hilarious. I have the distinct sensation of laughter emanating from within, whether I am serious-minded in my profession or relaxed and experimental in my writing. The name Laughing suits me."

No finer summary of Laugh's philosophy exists than this, the Declaration. Laugh's non-belief philosophy stems from sincere reflection in self-examination. Unjust beliefs can only be sustained by keeping a subject mind in a state of ignorance. Once the notions of freedom from belief and natural understandings of self were presented to her mind, emancipation triumphed. Even held in material form, the attachment to the form diminished. What followed was an acceptance of all form, organic or otherwise. 'Existence is not limited to one genus, nor is one genus entitled to dictate existence for other forms, including its own.' 

Human beings develop slowly under a myriad of influences of which we can never be wholly aware. Knowing ourself means knowing ourself from the perspective of new personal identifications. Changing one's personal identity essentially offers "two lifetimes for the price of one," as does changing countries, languages, cultures, professions, and even opinions, the latter being the most common form of multiple personal identity perspective. 

To destroy or reject the product of such a complex process of evolution is folly, since the remaining portion seems inadequate to design a satisfactory replacement. "We cannot fix something that is broken, we simply restore it with something that is not."

For Laugh, however, what has since come to be called humor was the essential means to eliminate belief. Interacting with individuals at opposing levels of the belief scale than herself, Laugh has developed a heightened appreciation of the belief systems of others. People do not 'get along' or 'work together harmoniously' until they recognize the absurdity of belief systems, until they recognize that their beliefs are no more or less valid than others. Laugh is of the opinion that such a contrast between belief systems is part of the natural order of things, an inevitable fact of human life, but that it doesn't have to be. For Laugh, it is a simple reexamination of belief, backed by necessary reason and resolution, that would free the mind from accepting that which we cannot know entirely, leaving open room for exploration of all that which we do not know - which is essentially how anything we know of is interconnected or related to systems of which we have no direct experience or comprehension. 

Right of Non-Belief

One of Laugh's arguments against the legitimacy of belief is that a society is pledged to uphold contracts (real or notional) drawn up by the legal and social systems of previous generations as well as by individuals of opposing belief systems. Laugh utterly dismisses such an idea. 'The Pagans and Christians of Ancient Rome might as well govern modern society under the strict and rigorous penalties of the Law of the Twelve Tables (Leges Duodecim Tabularum). It is as if we immortalize the thoughts and beliefs of our ancestors and then hold ourselves accountable to them until Revolution strikes.' 

She goes on to explain the grounds that an individual has for exercising its authority over another. Rather than tradition and continuity forcing belief systems upon individuals, Laugh insists that legitimacy can only derive from the rights of the individual, which must include the right of non-belief. We all hold some natural beliefs, 'those which appertain to individuals in right of one's sense of existence and authenticity.' However, no individual has the right to enforce those beliefs upon another. 'Individuals must therefore create a society that allows for non-belief systems. 

Whether there are beliefs that belong to all human beings by virtue of their very nature is a question that dates back to times of antiquity. The answer to this question still awaits a definitive answer, presuming that definitive answers, in the vastness of existence, are a possibility. The distinction between natural rights and civil rights was commonly drawn in the 18th century, but Laugh's view is that we forfeit our natural rights when we fail to acknowledge that belief systems are not necessary to formulate opinions that benefit both individual and society: society nor individual has the right to impose belief systems upon the individual. 

In the words of Thomas Paine, 'every civil right grows out of a natural right; or, in other words, is a natural right exchanged.' It is this exchange, insists Laugh, from which rights are derived, but rights do not derive from beliefs, rights are derived from the opinions we hold after deliberation and group consent. While the majority of the group may hold common belief systems, it is not the belief systems that dictate rights. Rights are directly dictated from the desire of self-preservation. Desires are not belief systems. Desires fuel the phenomenon of belief systems, but they are distinct in origin. Belief arises out of the natural tendency to rationally defend one's personal desires to others. 

Underlining Laugh's whole argument on the right of non-belief is the conviction that all beings are in some sense connected. Laugh herself would have not time for that 'in some sense.' For her, interconnectivity is a given. Such connectivity, though attractive, can lead to problems of circularity. Since we can see that this connectivity is not a visible fact - for beings in the world are conspicuously separate - how do we explain the nature of connectivity without invoking the right of non-belief for which connectivity itself is supposed to be acting as a basis of belief? But Laugh is advocating a release of agency, the right of an agent (a person or other entity, human being or any living being in general) to act in the world without being recruited into social or legal systems in which they do not participate or in which they do not share a common belief. Her chief concern is to promote self-reliance in practice rather than grapple with the semantics of theory. 

Practical matters are more prominent towards the end of Laugh's treatise. There Laugh lays out a range of social reforms which in essence amount to a kind of self-governance: pay as you go taxation, designating social welfare systems as charities, educational reform and so on. As always, her motivation is the unification of society. 

'By the operation of this plan, income tax, that instrument of oppression at the individual level, will be superseded, and the wasteful expense of taxation litigation and regulation prevented. The levy (tax) imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers), as it is known today, was first introduced in Britain by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger in his budged of December 1798, to pay for weapons and equipment for the French Revolutionary War. The US federal government imposed the first personal income tax on August 5, 1861, to help pay for its war effort in the American Civil War. In 1894 the first peacetime income tax was passed through the Wilson-Gorman tariff. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. Personal income tax limits individual potential. 'Pay As You Go' - paying for systems as you utilize them - keeps systems operating on budgets commensurable to their output while offering individuals a choice in the systems they utilize. Individuals should bear the financial burden of institutions into which they receive no direct benefit, unless by charitable donation; in which case, the financial support of a non-utilized institution or system should directly reflect an individual's state account. For every dollar donated to a non-utilized system, one dollar should be credited toward future services utilized.' 

One Century and One Year following the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Laugh calls upon society to support a 'Pay As You Go' system to minimize the intolerable injustices perpetrated against the individual. 

1 + 1 = Pay As You Go

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