Why The Social Contract isn’t Actually a Contract

Everyone who is anyone knows John Locke’s Social Contract Theory. (Here you go, if you don’t) Locke mused that when an individual enters into a society they agree to an imaginary contract in which they are okay to give up some of their rights in order to have certain rights protected by the government. In his own interpretation, for example; you would give up your right to kill or enslave another person in exchange for the government’s promise to protect your life, liberty and property through laws.

Locke’s views were integral in the foundation of the ideology behind the Declaration of Independence and the thoughts of our founding fathers. The social contract is the basis for American governmental society and it just so happens that it is a contradiction within itself.

The Social Contract isn’t a contract.

The definition of a contract has not changed much in the last few thousand years. The general requirements to make a contract are consistent through history and have been more or less accepted all across the world. In America it is dictated in the Uniform Commercial Code.

Firstly, a contract requires mutual assent on the part of both parties. This requires an offer from one party and an acceptance by the other. In the case of the Social Contract Theory, an individual would be a party, and society would be another party. In the theory, the individual leaves a state of nature voluntarily and voluntarily agrees to the contract by joining the society. In that hypothetical, the theory stands, but in situations when a person is born into society they are not voluntarily agreeing to the social contract, they are forced into it. Since there is no actual acceptance, the Social Contract Theory fails the contract test.

But there’s more. A contract also requires consideration on the parts of both parties, without which an agreement could not be formed and a contract would not be valid. In the specific circumstance of being born into a society, no consideration has been made by the infant prior to entering the society. The Social Contract Theory fails this contract test as well.

But there’s even more. When an offer is made from one party to another, the second party can accept the offer or counter-offer/reject the offer. In a democracy, individuals throughout the nation have different ideas about what sorts of laws should be in place. From the day we are born and start to learn about civics we start to ponder how we could make the nation better with better laws. We have not accepted the society exactly as-is and have essentially made a kind of counter-offer. Anyone who wants to make a new law has rejected the social contract. And the contract fails again.

But there is still more. The base ideas of John Locke may be good: “Government should protect the life, liberty, and property of the people,” but that does not mean that the phraseology of his widely-accepted theory is accurate. If we were to hold the Social Contract theory up to the accepted ideas of what a contract is, we would find that it isn’t actually a contract at all and there is nothing legally-binding about it.

It may be a good philosophy, but it is no contract.

I wonder if I could weasel out of a speeding ticket with that argument…



“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream” -American Minstrelsy (cir. 1850’s)

CNU has a rowing team. Whilst I was in the midst of my daily breakfast run to Commons yesterday I heard a credible rumor that a rowing team was being formed for the first time ever at CNU. Of course I was very excited because I’ve been a canoeing/kayaking fan since I was barely old enough to hold a significant conversation (8th grade)

2006 was a hairy year…

I recognize, of course, that rowing in college is very much different than rowing across a lake in Maine. The traditional sport of rowing requires strength and grace and an internalized rhythm.

…All things that I do not possess.

I can imagine my first day out on the water now…

Me: “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream!”

Coach: “Shut up Asalone! You’re throwing off the team’s rhythm!”

Teammate 1: “Too late!”

Teammate 2: “We’re headed straight for that iceburg!”

Coach: “Full reverse and hard to starboard!”

Ryan: “But this ship can’t sink!”


My main draw to rowing is the idea of getting up bright and early and working out my upper body until I’m more sore than the pride of a Detroit Lions fan. Imagine working in rhythm with a bunch of other people, in perfect synchronization as the sun comes up over the horizon of James River…

Tomorrow I’ve got to get up at 5 to start. I’m pumped (which is really something considering the hour.) and I have a vision of myself bulking up like the Hulk with more manageable pectoral muscles.

Above: Expectation.

Distance Complete

At the end of my fingertips
Where you’re just beyond my reach
Memories have been reduced to clips
With nothing to beseech.

With a smile that could change a life
And love shining in your eyes
You can’t see that I’m in strife
Ever since our sad goodbyes

Pretend like we were nothing
Try to cover the tear stain
We knew that we were something
And now we share the pain

I could let you slip away,
Think about you now and then,
You will realize some day,
You won’t have me again.


There’s nothing more hated by a politician than a fact-checker. Recently, Paul Ryan (Republican VP candidate and discoverer of the Fountain of Youth) made a speech in Tampa at the Republican National Convention. One of the first bits of commentary came from CNN’s Erin Burnett who said:

“We were jotting down points. There will be issues with some of the facts. But it motivated people.”

Well, it turns out that Erin was absolutely right. Since the speech was delivered, America’s apparent army of fact-checkers tore the speech apart. It turns out, despite repeated assertions by the Romney campaign that they can “win based on facts”, “stretching the truth” is easier to rely on.

In his speech Paul Ryan asserted that a GM factory in his home town was shut down as a direct result of President Obama’s policies. He neglects to mention that the factory closed while George W. Bush was still in office and, ironically, his running mate encouraged letting the American auto-industry go bankrupt. But we can probably forgive Paul Ryan for that one, he was just off by a year and a presidential administration. Semantics.

Above: Not one person.

Ryan asserted that President Obama has said that private industries and their successes are all thanks to the federal government. His basis for his assertion was the president’s statement that government “Invested in roads and bridges, if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” Ryan just left out the first part so that everyone could hear, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” But we can probably forgive Ryan for that one, it’s a political campaign, he’s got to take his opponent’s words out of context.

But what about Ryan’s assertion that America’s AAA rating drop was because of President Obama? Last year the credit rating of the United States was dropped a level. Paul Ryan said that it was the president’s fault, but Standard & Poor wrote, in detail, why they dropped the credit rating (report). It turns out it had very little to do with Presidential policy, and everything to do with political rhetoric from Paul Ryan’s party about intentionally defaulting on loans.

“Another official with Standard & Poor’s, director Joydeep Mukherji, told POLITICO that the stability of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default.” He didn’t mention who those people were. “That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”” -Politifact.com

Sound familiar?

Paul Ryan even had FOXNews pundits wagging a finger at him, with Sally Kohn stating:

“to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was  Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.”

As a Republican Vice Presidential candidate, the last thing you want is FOXNews looking at you funny. If Mitt and Paul have as much to work with as they claim in regards to attack the President, then they better actually use it instead of making stuff up.

Because the truth has a way of biting you in the back.

Music Videos That Make Very Little Sense

Have you ever found yourself pumping your fist in the car because a really cool song just came on the radio? You step on the gas, feel pumped up and when the song is over you feel like something beautiful just died…

Fortunatly, you can floor it home and pull up the song on Youtube. …Which is exactly what you do. You’ll soon find yourself scratching your head over a music video that just doesn’t do the song justice, or just doesn’t make any sense at all.

The first time I noticed this trend was in 8th grade. I had heard “I Want to Break Free” by Queen on the radio when I was on my way back from play practice so I decided to pull it up on Youtube that evening. This is what I found…

At :12 you get confused, at :24 you are more confused, and by 2:09 you just close your eyes and try to forget.

In 8th grade I didn’t know that much about music, and I can honestly admit that I was shocked that Freddie Mercury, a man with such a manly mustache, would act so feminine in a music video. Upon Google-searching Freddie Mercury I was informed that he was, in fact, gay. In doing so, my perception of the world changed, I became far more accepting, and despite these things, I’m still kind of weird-ed out by that music video.

What about a song by one of the most talented musicians of an era? Billy Joel.

If you think this song is catchy but the music video is ridiculous, you are not alone. If the slap-in-the-face fifties theme doesn’t rattle you, then maybe Billy’s not-so-subtley-flamboyant, back-up-singing car mechanics will.

This is why car labor is so expensive.

The King of Pop himself was no stranger to questionably disturbing visuals to go along with his music. If Thriller is any example, MJ loved himself some weird stuff (go ahead, comment). But even as recently as 1997 Jackson was up to his frightening self in a clip that might possibly make sense in some context I’m not going to explain.

If you like the sound of ripping flesh, then you are a proper MJ fan.

Some of you may like your modern music a bit more. You can judge me and say, “Well, most music videos today are cool and make sense, they were just crazy back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s”. I would point you in the direction of Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga, and Lady Gaga.

But even when we put her aside we have others. Look at a normal-sounding song by a normal sounding artist.

How about “Lights” by Ellie Goulding?

I think we can call this: “Blonde girl dances by herself and sometimes drums out of synchronization with the music”

It’s like Ellie threw this video together by herself and her theater-lighting engineer cousin as if to say, “Hey, check out all the lights. Also, I’m important.”

Finally, I’ll leave you with the result of a collaboration between weird people and an even weirder individual: