Independence Day Musings: What makes America special?

America Best Damn Country EverThis seems like it should be an easy question. But then again answering who America broke away from should be an easy question…and yet 26% of the country seems to have problem with that…Still while this should be an easy question, I feel it is one that should be asked and answered. I feel this because some of the really stupid news reports I saw on Sunday nobody seemed to give a reason exactly why this should be an important day for people…other than it’s our independence day, not because there is something actually different about America–and that should be the reason why the 4th of July is special because there is something special about America. But what makes America so special?

Well it sure as hell isn’t our culture…or lack thereof. I don’t think any country is particularly smarter, but in reality no country has so well marketed our lazy, low class, and uneducated into a popular forum as well as America (well, maybe Ancient Rome). Granted the US created jazz, rock’n’roll, turned film from a simple curiosity into an art, has a smattering of great poets and writers, but hey it’s year 234, what did England have on it’s 234th birthday (1300 CE)…they had Beowulf, that’s it, (Chaucer was still 60 years away from publishing anything). So I’ll give America a break that we haven’t yet produced a Shakespeare or Beethoven or Michelangelo. But still our culture of McDonald’s, Reality TV, Britney Spears, Twilight and Twitter is nothing to be really impressed about.

Our politics perhaps. We weren’t the first republic or democracy, but we’ve managed to last longer than most. And we’re certainly more fair than most in history…but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that our politics are beyond screwed up. Yes we are free society where anyone from any class can be successful (but nowadays lots of countries get to claim that). Yes we’re better than everybody else (if you exclude the fact the the Heritage Foundation and the Wallstreet Journal says Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and Austria are more free–and The Economist lists 17 countries as more democratic ) but we’ll just forget that for the moment…actually no we won’t forget that. If we were to pride ourselves on our government and freedom we would do everything we could to make it to the front of lists like this–and yet we elected a man who is making sure our rating is going down, down, down. Also the corruption, the inefficiency and just general waste is also nothing to brag about. And the insane way we go about trying to find candidates in primaries is beyond insanity.

Our history. Okay so we’re the first country to successfully break away from the mother-country and form a successful republic…to which I would suggest you read the above paragraph. You could argue we’re the only country to free another people and then leave…but then again we haven’t done that in a while and given the way we’ve backstabbed the the Koreans and Vietnamese (who we went to war for and then left them to communist tyrannies), Tibetans and Hungarians (who asked for our help which never came) and coming up soon the Iraqi’s, Afghani’s and Israeli’s (who we are about to betray), our history is not always something to say we are great nation.

Lots of stupid people used to claim that our economic prowess was proof that we are a great nation. First this is stupid; Germany in the 30′s was an economic powerhouse, yet certainly not a great nation. But more relevant our economy isn’t great. And I don’t mean because it’s falling like a rock, I mean because our economic philosophy sucks. And while I believe we will eventually pull out of this, nothing short of a massive and hard hitting pandemic will end our economic woes in the short run. We have a president who believes in Keynesian economics, long since disproved by common sense and history…but what did you expect when you have a country where 36% of people believe socialism is a good thing (of course my favorite part of this poll is that among those who identify themselves as liberals, 60% have a positive view of capitalism and 61% have a positive view of socialism…means that at least 21% clearly don’t understand that the systems are so diametrically opposed you can’t be in favor of both of them…and what is with the 20% of conservatives who have a positive view of socialism, those people clearly don’t understand what conservative means).

So what does make this country special? And make no doubt it is special.It is our ideals. It is always the ideals of a country that make it good or bad, superior or inferior. Now some countries change their ideals over time with the changing mood of the era, but America is different. This is probably because we etched them down on paper and kept that document around and untouched and open to the public once it was adopted. So what are those ideals? Well we all know the words,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

And what makes these so special? How about the idea that life is actually about achieving Happiness…not seeking to appease a god or monarch, or sacrificing your existence to this or that religion, but that life is to be lived for the purpose of achieving Happiness. And that it is only through liberty that these can be achieved. And even though this is so obvious a fact, people still delude themselves with ridiculous beliefs duties to the preposterous belief that life is only to have duty to others, and no other country I know of has adopted this ideal.

Further, while our present administration doesn’t quite get this (probably because I doubt The One’s ability to read anything but a teleprompter) government is formed only to protect these rights, not to give anything. As it says later in that blessed document : “we do in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies”–that is “of the people, and by the people”–it would take a man who had absolutely no respect for the Constitution and saw America only as land to add such evil and illogical shit as the concept that government is “for the people.” The government isn’t there for the people, only to protect their rights from being infringed upon by others…the Founders knew that, and while many have forgotten it, it is still an ideal of this country and always will be.

And the nice thing about ideals is that they have a very long shelf life. Just as the ideals of Athenian democracy (for all of it’s flaws) now rules much of the world, and will likely continue to spread even though Athens itself is no longer the center of the world; just as Roman republican values of law and infrastructure continue to essentially be a guiding light despite a rather well publicized fall of the Roman Empire; just as while the sun now sets daily on the British Empire, Britain still has left a permanent and wonderful mark on the world through the genius of British common law—so shall the United State forever be in charge. The ideals that formed the U.S. in an ungodly hot Philadelphia room in the summer of 1776 and were then refined over the course of the next two hundred years are not likely to die from the world. And that is only part of America that must be preserved at all costs. Whether the United States of America itself is top dog is unimportant, so long as the idea of it remains in charge the world over. Because it is that part that makes America great, not the economic power or the military might, not history, culture or even our process–those are only effects of that great idea, and as long as the idea remains powerful so shall America live forever.

And that is what makes America so special.

Seems a shame we only celebrate that once a year.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Exceptionalism

What do you do with a problem like ISIS?

 

 

What do you do with a problem like ISIS? You kill them. Every last one of them. Quickly swiftly, with as little collateral damage as is possible, but with the knowledge that collateral damage is still less than what they would have been killed.   And then you go back in and rebuild the bombed out areas and keep them under control until the people are ready to rule themselves, no matter how much time, money, and lives that takes.

 

ISIS in Iraq

This could have been prevented…and long term there are solutions, but we need a leader willing to do something and intelligent enough to think long-term.

However to do this you would need a commander-in-chief who was capable of accurately judging a situation and had the spine necessary to see the plan through. You would need advisers who could see long term, project the numerous problems that would occur, plan to deal with them, and have back up plans to those plans. You would need a legislature that would be willing to also see long term and put the good of humanity above petty gain and if necessary put their political futures in jeopardy to do what is right. And allied nations that believe the same would also be nice.

 

I don’t think we’ve had that in a very, very long time. We might have had a good C-in-C around occasionally, even a few with good advisers…but I can’t think of the last time we had everything you would actually need working all together.

 

Now we could assign blame…Carter for allowing the Westernization of Iran and Afghanistan to stop and both nations to fall to religious lunatics and communist butchers respectively (really this is all Carter’s fault, had he had anything resembling a spine or a brain none of this would ever have happened). One could blame Reagan for keeping the psychos in Iran busy with another enemy and repeatedly bloodying the nose of Soviets in Afghanistan…were mistakes made, but unlike everyone else on this list he made significant strides in pushing the forces of evil back (strides that could have been kept if the next four idiots had half a brain between them, sadly they don’t). If Bush the elder had a foreign policy I’d be surprised—there was some lingering Reagan in his understanding of needing to get Saddam out of Kuwait, but his isolationist tendencies predominated over his complete inability to think that something might need to be done after pushing him back to the border. Clinton did his best to ignore everything. W. wanted to be an isolationist like daddy, however 12 years of morons finally came to a head, and isolationism wasn’t exactly a sound policy on 9/12 (it isn’t ever a sound policy, but even idiot isolationists have a problem maintaining that when there are that many dead). The problem is that while he seemed to understand you need to face evil and kill it, he didn’t understand the second part of neo-conservatism—that you have to rebuild the nation that you’re going into and maintain control until they can continue on their own in the correct direction.

 

iraq-execution

Even if you are the dumbest president ever…how do you just sit there when this is going on?

So let’s boil this down to 4 sets of problems: being busy somewhere else with bigger problems (Reagan), not dealing with anything (Carter, Bush 41, Clinton), and doing something but doing it badly. The 4th would of course be called full on retreat and arming the bad guys…I can’t think of who might have committed that sin—cough—Obama—cough—

 

So while I blame Carter most of all for not doing anything and preventing decades (possibly a century) let’s focus on where W. went wrong as he was the only one who directly acted on these problems.   More importantly it’s what he didn’t do, and what we should still do (as anyone who thinks we can avoid ever going back there is crazy).*

 

1. The first thing we should have done was we should not try to keep people together who don’t want to be together. The borders of Iraq are so arbitrary and haphazard I just can’t imagine what the hell was going through the mind of British politicians after WWI when they broke up the region. Iraq should be at least three nations: Kurdistan in the north, what is traditionally called the Sunni Triangle, we could give it the name Babylon, and a Shia nation in the south let’s still call it Iraq. If you want it might be a good idea to have a 4th nation, let’s call it Mesopotamia, for all the areas in there that aren’t majority, Shia, Sunni, or Kurd.

 

Now some would say that creating Kurdistan would have angered Iran and Turkey (and a few others). Is this really an argument? As if those nations love us so much. Who cares about them? Kurdistan would actually provide a large buffer state (with some mild loyalty to the US) in between a lot of other nations.

 

The goal should be to create nations that can be self-sufficient and seek to actually keep themselves together, not just to keep the maps the same. Breaking Iraq in to 3 or 4 nations would have made each nation more stable, less likely to breed internal strife and hatred and with each nation first and foremost seeking to keep its own autonomy rather than looking for outside help to swing control away from parts of the nation they didn’t agree with.

 

We should all remember that before we were a nation we were 13 states, and those states only came together under a single constitution when they saw it was in their own best interest. Forcing different nations together into one government doesn’t work unless they want to join together (notice the failure of the EU—it should have made Europe stronger as a whole, but their inept behavior and the arm-twisting methods of trying to force their rule on Europe is just backfiring).

 

2. Build walls.

I think we have learned the hard way in this country that you need walls on a border. When it comes to nations good fences make for good neighbors. If we put up a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, just watch how fast Mexico would get their act together as they would no longer have a release valve for all their disgruntled citizens. And it is even more so the case in Iraq.
If we had built walls—and I do mean walls, not fences, something big enough to stop both people and large military movements—between Iraq and all its neighbors (especially Iran and Syria) we first off would not have been dealing with years of Iran sending terrorists across the border to destabilize the nation. And had we built a real wall at the Syrian border we would not have seen ISIS move in to Iraq so easily. Even more so if we had broken the nation up and built walls between the other nations.

 

3. We learned from the aftermath of WWI that you can’t just leave a nation after you defeat them, you have to rebuild them (Obama being functionally retarded seems to have never learned this). And from our successes post-WWII we learned that this is not a quick fix project. It takes time to rebuild a nation. I have said this numerous times on this blog, but it bears repeating. You can’t have a nation under the rule of tyranny for decades; then have a war to remove that tyranny and then just expect everything to be all well and good within a year.

 

It takes time. It takes time to rebuild infrastructure. Roads. Water systems. Electricity. Communications. Hospitals and schools.   Court systems and police. And it takes years of supervision to make sure they know what they’re doing and to instill into a people the traditions of a democratic republic. You can’t just hand it off in a year. It just doesn’t magically appear…and to think that is crazy. And to all the racists out there who like to say well Arabs aren’t fit for democracy (usually they use the phrase “that part of the world” but it’s the same racism). Bullshit. Anyone who says that conveniently forgets that with generations of experience with democratic institutions it took over a decade of failure and near constant threat of failure and revolt before we got a Constitution and government that actually worked. It was complete mess between the signing of the Declaration and the ratification of the Constitution…I know everyone forgets this little point, but it can’t be forgotten. We also didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing at first. It takes time, and between Bush and Obama rushing out with over eagerness and turning the place over to the Iraqi’s (and Afghani’s) far to quickly. And that is entirely unforgivable for both of them.

 

4. You can’t deal with bad people by being nice to them. You can’t just let them go and expect them suddenly not to be vicious psychopaths. Bush let all of the captured Iraqi army go without properly vetting them, and Obama will trade major terrorists for treasonous scum at the drop of a hat. We should have kept the entire Iraqi army under lock and key until we had the chance to vet each and every one of them, and the terrorists in Guantanamo should rot there until they’re dead. If you have a problem with that you clearly have no ability to see that long term terrorists are going to present you with three options, they kill you or other innocent people, you kill them or you imprison them.

 

5. We have to admit that this childish attitude of “It’s not our problem” is suicidal. It will always become our problem. Tyranny never stops growing until it is stopped by an outside force. The idiots who now want to let Iran handle this are absolutely clueless. In an Iran vs. ISIS battle the result is the same, the winner winds up with Iran’s nuclear technology and the sense that God is on their side. That danger far outweighs whatever short-term benefits might be gained by having these two groups kill each other.   And whatever is left after that battle will have no opposition to stop them from spreading out of the Middle East…and no matter who wins it will be bad news for Israel and the U.S. The intelligent move is to deal with this long before it gets to us.

 

6. We can’t do anything right now. Because to do what needs to be done will require a leader with brains, ethics, and a spine. Obama has none of those. What it requires is a leader who can look at the bodies of 10,000 soldiers coming home and not see his falling poll numbers but rather how the 10,000 now prevented it from being 10,000,000 innocents later (Bush failed miserably at that). And right now at most I can only expect Obama to root for ISIS or Iran to win and then conquer America because he sure as hell does not have the interest of this nation at heart. So until we can get a real leader (and a Congress that can back them up) this is only a theoretical discussion. The other issue is the cost to a nation tremendously in debt with no real sight of turning that around in the near future – this also requires a leader who understand economics so that we can push forward for ourselves and then do the we can stand for what is right.

 

But that theoretical discussion has to be made and it has to always end with the U.S. and its allies always pushing back on tyranny, always making sure to take the time and effort to build functioning democracies, and always looking toward the long-term…because if you think Iraq or Afghanistan was expensive this time, just remember that until we solve this, these will be problems that keep drawing us back again and again and again, and it isn’t even naïve to think otherwise, it’s pathetic and below the level of thought you should feel comfortable demonstrating in public.

 

 

 

*Not to mention the fact that most of this is a good answer in dealing with any dictator in any part of the world.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Conservative, Evils of Liberalism, Foreign Policy, politics

Conservative Values versus a myriad of extremists

A government professor of mine once stated that all governments were a balance between three different values: Equality, Order, and Liberty. No one value can be pursued without cost to the other two. The ideal society would actually be the one that keeps these three points in balance. However, as we look around modern parties and political movements, the logic of balance seems nowhere to be found.

Four Cardinal Virtues

Individual have the 4 cardinal virtues: Temperance, Moderation, Justice, Fortitude…but these are the basis for the three political virtues: liberty, equality, order. They all have to work together or not at all.

 

 

 

Liberals, socialists and progressives seek equality at the cost of order and liberty finally reaching their ideal society, a Communistic state where everyone is equal but in the end utterly worthless as equality requires none be higher than others, thus all talent, all incentives, and all goals have been destroyed leaving society to collapse before the equally unimpressive slaves that it has created. In a state where all are equal there can be no order because power cannot be vested (even through law) in another thus nothing can keep law and civil society together thus at best everything is merely slave to the whim of the herd (law by the same methods created reality TV)…and there can be no liberty, as liberty leads to exceptionalism, and no one can be better than anyone else

 

The growing fascist movements of Greece, the tyranny of Vladimir Putin, and the vile wretchedness of Islamofascism value order above all else. But for there to be complete order there can be no liberty because if people can choose for themselves, they will sometimes choose wrong and this inevitably leads to some level of chaos, some crime, some disorder. And in the ordered state there can be no equality, as equality requires that all are subject to rules, and for the ordered state to work no one can watch the watchers because they are the final authority, otherwise there is no way to control and maintain order.

 

Libertarians and anarchists view liberty as the end all be all of all politics. But where there is perfect freedom there can be no equality, even before the law, because there can be no law if there is nothing but license to do whatever you want. And there can be no order in the fully liberated state as the law who would hold back those who do not recognize the rights of others cannot exist.

 

And finally populists don’t particularly view any of these as all that important. Yes populists want equality when someone is doing better than them, which is why businesses and businessmen are evil and need to be reined in…but they strangely don’t care about equality when they’re doing better, which is why even Ron Paul brought back millions in pork to his district. They care about liberty, for themselves…but for anyone else, eh, it’s not that important. And order is important, so long as it’s in my general vicinity, enforced by me, and I don’t care if it’s not in my line of sight. (And please understand why I have been hitting the populists posing as conservatives a lot lately, your average Democratic voter has always been a populist. Their activists and politicians maybe progressives, but the voters are populists who just care about their entitlements and what will be given to them).

 

Meanwhile there is the real conservative viewpoint. That these three virtues of a society must be held in careful balance. That the extreme of any one of these because a dystopian nightmare (Liberty, Order, Equality…Lord of the Flies, 1984, Harrison Bergeron…or for the less well read, Mad Max, Hunger Games, Divergent…or if you prefer history, Somalia, Nazi Germany, Revolutionary France). That a society without these three to guide them is just as bad as one where only one is followed (I’d give an example but modern politics seems to be it and the last few years of Rome seem to be the only places dumb enough to try such an abhorrent idea in practice). Only the society that balances these forces is a prosperous one.

 

So what is the guiding star of conservatism that makes it so different from these other ideologies? Well, not to sound like a dozen other blogs on this site but the answer is once again, Aristotle.

 

Aristotle, for all his flawed understanding of politics (give the man a break, there wasn’t much reliable history to work with in the 4th century B.C. and you can’t expect him to have ) understood that in politics, as with ethics, it is not a question of ends or means, but a question of ends and means. Those who value equality or order only value an end of making everyone equal or making everything peaceful. Those who value liberty only value the means of liberty not the result of what such anarchy brings. Only balancing both ends and means work.

 

And Aristotle saw the correct end to focus on. The end to all human life is Happiness. And society, family, education must all be structured to ensure Happiness for the greatest number of people. Now because Happiness requires freedom of choice and personal growth, not everyone will reach happiness no matter what a government/family/society does, but it requires liberty and the ability to exercise free will. But because Happiness requires some ability to plan and control your own life, it requires order to some degree. And because the point is to provide Happiness (or the opportunity to pursue Happiness) for the most people as all are equally human and equally deserving at birth of achieving Happiness. None of these on their own can lead to Happiness, and all must work together.

 

And this is why other belief systems don’t work; they’re not aimed at Happiness.

 

For instance look at misnamed “social conservatives” (Progressives for Jesus might be a better way to put it). They keep saying that the point of marriage is to have children. As if having children is an end in itself.   And they keep bringing this up as a reason why they opposed gay marriage. Now there are good reasons to get rid of marriage as a legal concept (and replace it with legal civil unions and let religion handle marriage without government interference) but it is not just the Progressive mentality here to have the government take control of everything. It is the missed sense of what the end of things are. They view the family as a means to creating another family. The family, society, everything in the view has no purpose but to serve itself. You have to have marriage to create children. You have to raise children so they lead lives where they get married. They get married to have children…over and over again. There is no point to the individual life (unless you want to get into some bizarre servitude to God, which views God as a master and the individual the slave…but no serious reading of any sane religion even comes close to that.) This is why social conservatives tend to be not only bad at politics but their own religion. Social conservatives should go back and read their Aquinas who makes it clear that “the principal end of matrimony, namely the good of the offspring” and that “the secondary end of matrimony, which is the mutual services which married persons render one another in household matters.” Notice how in the second point it is the betterment of each other (i.e. the individual’s happiness) that is the point of marriage. Just as every social institution is supposed to place the Happiness of the individual as a goal. Parents should be concerned with teaching their children the knowledge, ethics, and character that will allow them to be happy adults. Schools and other societal organizations should be focused on encouraging people to be the best they can be with the goal being individual Happiness. Social conservatives’ problem, like all progressives, is they think society is the end goal, it is not; the good of individual is the goal.

Then you have Libertarians who don’t even consider ends and just, like good Kantian idiots, look at means. And liberty is the only mean they care about. Oh they may say that freedom leads to individual Happiness, but they ignore that just because the exercise of free will is necessary it is not sufficient. (Just as Milton Friedman said that “History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”) Let’s take a look at what sometimes appears to be the only thing that libertarians think about: The War on Drugs. Okay, I will concede that the War on Drugs has been handled idiotically. I will concede that if a person should be able to use drugs in the privacy of their own home if they’re not hurting anyone. I concede that the power to prosecute the War on Drugs has led to massive costs and an intolerable level of corruption in the name of the War on Drugs. But in all this the libertarians fail to admit some very simple things. They act like the people who take drugs are all just innocent little lambs who are the victims of an unjust police power. prison violent

nonviolent

Oh, look it would appear that as incarceration went up crime went down…shocker.

Let me set the record straight: They’re criminals (whether they get caught and convicted or not, they’re criminals). They have the mentality that the rules of society, their long term well-being, and how their actions may hurt others are of absolutely no concern to them so long as they get a moment of pleasure. At best that is vilely hedonistic, at worst it has a bit of a sociopath in it. Libertarians like to pretend that you have otherwise innocent drug uses in one group, and in another you have real criminals. And that the fact that we have a massive prison population proves that this War on Drugs needs to end. The problem is that you don’t have two different groups; you have a Venn diagram where criminals and drug users are often one in the same. Libertarians like to point to the increasing prison population, but they always conveniently forget that as prison populations go up violent and non-violent crime go down. They ignore that often drugs are used to put dangerous criminals away when other more serious charges don’t have as much admissible evidence. So there are benefits to the War on Drugs. But not willing to admit that drops in the murder, rape, theft rates is a good thing, libertarians only care about the liberty to do drugs.   They don’t advocate that we should focus more on the cartels, the gang distributors, and legalize personal home use (all things which would still probably round up the worst real criminals while not hurt the people who can actually handle personal use)…no they have to argue that we should just legalize all drugs. No concern for order, just liberty…and no Happiness for anyone.

 

The other difference between libertarians, Progressive for Jesus**, and real conservatives. Unlike Libertarians, conservatives understand that laws do need to be structured not just to protect rights but to encourage habits that will typically lead to a healthy society and Happiness in individuals (for instance unless we switch to a flat tax having tax credit for charity; the fact that we can’t just get rid of civil union side of marriage, and that we do need a safety net of some kind***; providing minimum standards for education to make sure all students receive a basic minimum of education) but unlike the Progressive for Jesus we must do so in a way that limits (or at least poses as few limits as possible) to the good that liberty provides (deciding what counts as a marriage and what doesn’t, when gay marriage provides the same benefits; spending money and resources checking on what people do in private that hurts no one; dictating what to include content wise in education; etc.).

 

Being consistently conservative is difficult. It requires balancing numerous issues of the needs of individuals, the long term good of society, Liberty, Order, Equality. And it’s a constantly shifting point because what creates that balance in one era may be totally unbalanced in another. Proper government needs to be directed toward the Happiness of individuals. It needs to balance our needs for liberty, order, and equality. When it does not do these things it creates bad laws. And it is so easy to get lost in caring only about your own want (populists) or one of the political virtues at the expense of the others. Right now we need a lot more liberty, but we cannot forget that it is the balance and the good of society and the individual that is our true goal—not just liberty for the sake of liberty.

Of course none of this is really new…the people who real conservatives look toward as a guide post made it quite clear that liberty, or order (tranquility, defense), or equality (justice, general welfare) were all equal political virtues that had to be held in balance of each other…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

 

 

*Now I know that I have heard some people have claimed that the FBI is merely shading the numbers—that they’re not counting things the same way to make things look better than they are. I’ve heard that claim from LOTS of people. But you know what I find interesting, I can’t find that claim on any think tank. None. Liberal. Conservative. Libertarian. Nobody. You would think that conservatives would have hit Clinton or Obama for skewing the data, or liberals would have hit Bush. But nobody seems to questions the FBI’s stats…nor is there any jump that you would see if you changed the criteria, it’s a slow progression. So either everybody and I mean everybody, is on a massive conspiracy to slowly skew the crime numbers, or crime really has been dropping.

**You thought I wasn’t serious, but I am. I am using that from now on.

***Libertarians, before you yell at me that we need to get rid of welfare entirely, please remember that Friedman and Hayek both said we need a safety net because having people in real poverty (the kind you see in the third world) creates people who seriously have the choice of steal or die, at which point it becomes a need for them to steal and as we all know from the example of Jean Valjean, utterly unjust to punish them.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Aristotle, Capitalism, Conservative, Constitution, Happiness, Long Term Thinking, philosophy, politics

Weekly Meditation: The Peace of God

For this week I would like to propose the following from the opening of spiritual text A Course In Miracles.

This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way:


Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.
Herein lies the peace of God.

It’s simple. Clear. Direct. And possibly the only summary of a spiritual text I know of within the text itself. Yet despite the simplicity of these two lines there is a lot to consider.

If you haven't read it, you should.

If you haven’t read it, you should.

Nothing real can be threatened. Which means if you’re worried about something either you’re wrong that it can be harmed, and if it can’t be harmed then why worry about it. After all you are your soul, and your soul is immortal and perfect…what’s to worry about? Or if you’re right and it can be harmed then it must not be real…and well, nothing unreal exists. So why worry about it?
Most of our lives are spent worrying about things. Health? Wealth? Success? Worth? But if you assume you were created perfect by God, then how could you ever be flawed or ever have need or want or lack…which leaves so many things in this world as little more than an illusion, a dream (maybe a nightmare) and it will end as if it never existed.

And that’s only one aspect of meditation up these lines. I would recommend if you do any meditation during the day you bring these lines up this week. Anytime anything upsets you. Anytime you have a moment to think about it. And see if you find your life is more peaceful and happy…

…herein lies the peace of God.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, God, Meditation, Religion, Spirituality

Republicans, stop shooting yourselves in the foot!

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

Between the Texas GOP coming up with a truly idiotic party platform to GOProud having to close shop for a while, people in the Republican Party seem to be out to sabotage real conservative values in favor of this mentally deficient red-headed-step-child of real conservatism called “social conservatism.” Really this needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

So let’s first deal first with the pragmatic issues.

goproudThe first is that as conservatives we love eating our own. Look at GOProud. GOProud was actually the conservative alternative to the Log Cabin Republicans which have really just become a bastion of liberalism. Now, GOProud early on made headlines by taking on social conservatives head-on. This was probably a great idea. But regrettably the founders of GOProud forgot that their purpose was to advocate for conservative principles, and got bogged down in the personal failures of not reaching social conservatives. The…

View original 1,651 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ways to win in an election year #7 Volunteer, or, Don’t Let the Zealots Have Complete Control

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

Now before I go and start attacking anyone, let me admit a few things. People who know me very well and people who are familiar with my writing knowing that I’m very passionate…some might even say zealous…my closest friends know that I have three basic settings (0) off (1) polite conversation and (10+) flaming sword of Truth in my hand ready to decapitate all who oppose me. There is very little in between. And yes I know this about myself. Which is why when I’m in public I tend to stick around those first two levels because I know my passion will often drive away people rather than bring them in.

That said; let me tell you why I sometimes loathe going in to donate time helping any candidate for any office. The people there tend to fit into one of two categories, they’re either very old or so zealous…

View original 822 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly Meditation: How you look at Money

Our perception of things affects our actions. You don’t need be a New Ager to believe this; you just need to take Psych 101. So let’s go with that most important of tools in this physical world you live in: Money.

Beautiful, beautiful sweet wonderful money!

sign of the dollarWere you shocked by that statement? Did you think it was incorrect? Did you find it somehow sinful or greedy? Why? Money is a tool. It lets you do stuff. Money is an expression of what we have done and earned in physical form. It is an expression of the best within us and a tool to allow us to do things that make us happy. However I feel that you don’t have that feeling towards money.

Its okay, in our modern culture we don’t often look at money as a tool in helping us reach happiness and an expression of the purity of our work. But even from a psych 101 point of view if you don’t view money as a good thing, you’re going to do things that push you away from money. It’s even worse if you’re a New Ager and believe that thoughts create reality—if you don’t have positive thoughts about money in that case you will literally push money away from you.
So how do we change our perceptions of money? Mediation is good, but actions in this case are far more powerful. Now I could say every time you pay a bill don’t think about the money you’re losing, but rather the thing you bought with your money that made you happy and maybe to go out of your way everyday to buy something small for yourself and think about how money helped you buy something that made you happy. That would be good, except modern culture has probably loaded you down with a lot of preconceived ideas about selfishness and greed and guilt. So let’s start small.


Your meditation for this week is to spend a dollar a day on someone else and think about how that one dollar makes you happy. Tip the barista at Starbucks. Donate a single dollar to charity. Buy a coworker an unasked for snack when the day seems to be getting too long. Just a dollar a day. The only thing is it has to be spent in a different place on a different person each day. And with each dollar you spend think about how doing that small act allowed money to make you happy. You can’t donate a service or an object, this needs to be money, you need to see how money can be a tool to make you happy.


If you can spend more, spend more if you want to. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t feel you can spare $7, dear God you need to do this as you clearly are worried about lack of money and have negative beliefs about money. You need to change your perception of money.


If you do this and focus on the joy that using money can bring, I can promise you will find that there will be more money in your life.

 

The verdict which you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life.–Francisco D’Anconia

Leave a comment

Filed under Charity, Faith, God, Meditation, Spirituality

Books for Conservatives: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

Ella Minnow Pea

As we continue going over books that conservatives should read either to better understand their own beliefs or to give to friends to help them understand conservatism we come to one of my favorites Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Ella Minnow Pea takes place on a strange and fictitious island of Nollop that all but worships an author from the island’s history who supposedly wrote the shortest sentence to include all the letters English language:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

No other real claim to fame but that. And if this wasn’t strange enough they even have a statue dedicated to him in the center of the island with the sentence emblazoned on tiles for all to see.   Bizarre enough, but according to the book this has made the island’s resident book lovers and avid readers. (Stop rolling your eyes and just go with the…

View original 514 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Why is idiotic theology all the rage on the internet?

It constantly strikes me as odd how, despite the fact that the human race makes major jumps in technology, politics, economics, our spiritual growth seems to be very slow…and in some cases it appears to be making giant leaps backwards.

 

For instance over two thousand years ago in works of the Greek philosophers makes a clear point that has been the basis of correct* theology ever since. This point is that God is pinnacle of all virtues. That might seem overly obvious so let me expand on what the argument was. In a dialogue of Plato’s named Euthyphro the question is

A lot of the basis for this government is in this picture...not a lot of these people are from the Judeo-Christian background.

asked: are things just because the gods say they are just, or do the gods say they are just because they are just. If things are just only because the gods say they are just then what is just is merely the dictate of a tyrant, a universally powerful tyrant, but a tyrant nonetheless. It is to say that might makes right and the gods as the mightiest of all clearly are right because of their power. To accept the second option, that the gods say things are just because they are just, is to say that there is something called Justice higher than the gods to which even the gods have to bow down to…but then why worship the gods and not just skip to that higher thing. This can quickly fall into a series of does that higher thing say what it does because of some even higher law or just because it says so. Now no answer is reached in Euthyphro, an early work of Plato’s, but he eventually gets to the answer over the course of his works. The answer is a third option. God isn’t dependent on some higher concept of Justice, nor is Justice dependent on God, because God is Justice and Justice is God. God is Beautiful, and Beauty is God. God is Truth, and Truth is God. God is Good, and the Good is God. God is Reason and Reason is God.   God is the pinnacle of virtue in and of himself, it is not his power that dictates justice, it is his quality of justice; it is not his might that makes something good or right, it is the fact that he is good and right. And eventually this idea became so prevalent within Platonic philosophy that they gave it a single title to encompass the entire concept of a God that is the pinnacle of all virtues. And to distinguish it from the myriad of other gods wandering around the numerous pantheons of the ancient gods they didn’t give it a name like Zeus** or Apollo, but rather the title the Logos from the same Greek word that we derive the word logic from. They chose this word because this conception of God was that he was the logic, the reason, the purpose, the driving force behind the universe. And this idea of the Logos is the only logical way out of this paradox (or at least the only one I have seen proposed in over 2,000 years of philosophy and theology). Anything other than this way out leaves you with either having to search for a higher power or admission that God is God only because might makes right (in which case he is no better than any dictator).

 

And while Aristotle may have proven there is a God, his logic does not conclusively prove what that God is like, it is here that Plato shows that your only options for God are that God is the Logos or that he is a petty tyrant not worthy of worship because his only claim to power is that might makes right. And while I’m not going to unravel the problem of evil here, experience and common sense show that the petty tyrant is not a viable option in reality…but it is absolutely not something you should be arguing for. God is God not because he is subject to Reason, Good, Truth, and Justice, but because he IS Reason, Good, Truth, and Justice.

 

And for any logical person that should be the end of it.

 

But then I saw this drivel on Tumblr getting reblogged.

 

idiot theology 1idiot theology 2  idiot theology 3 idiot theology 4 idiot theology 5

 

 

So let’s break this down. You have the title card that God is Love but love is not God. Let’s leave this stupid thesis for a second.

 

The next two slides deal with the issue of the problem of evil. In a very inarticulate way these cards are showing the basic problem of people saying, “How can a loving God allow suffering to happen?” Again if I were to get into a severe deconstruction of the problem of evil (which at very least would make this post ramble on for another 10 pages…and nobody wants that) you can come to two conclusions. The first is the one first proposed by St. Augustine and has been the center of intelligent Christian theology (the person who made this little slide show is clearly not in this camp) that God allows evil because he has a plan that will bring an even greater good out of the world than would be possible without evil. It is the logic that we punish our children and sometimes force them to do things that they find terrible because it is good for them and will make them better people in the end. Or you can take the Eastern version that this world is merely an illusion and that evil doesn’t really exist, once we wake up and reach Enlightenment the evil of this world will be nothing more than the suffering of a nightmare, no real harm so no real foul, and it will be quickly forgotten. Both of these answers allow for evil to exist in the world without violating the nature of God being the Logos. And the shortest way of dealing with the objections of the first two slides is “If you could see the full plan of the universe, as God can, you would see that what you describe as something terrible is in the grand scheme of things nothing more than the cosmic version of a parent forcing their child to eat their Brussels sprouts.”***

 

But this slide then goes onto to say:

idiot theology 6 idiot theology 7

Okay the first line is fair enough. Using the problem of evil to attack the idea of God is a bad line of thought, and it can lead to some terrible theology.

 

But it’s the next paragraph where things start going off the rails into the very same bad theology that the idiot who made this complained about just a sentence ago. So the problem here is with the argument is “How dare you say God has to conform to an idea of Love” or Reason, or Justice, or Truth. Not the more rational, you need to admit that your idea of Love (or any of the others) may not be perfect because at this point you’re a human being capable of error. No we went with God cannot be judged by anything because God is beyond Love, Reason, Justice. God may have given you reason and told you repeatedly to use it but apparently it is no way a guiding light back to God. Any serious theologian would say that if that your conception of God and the facts don’t match, then we must defer to reason that either our conception of God is wrong or that you don’t have an accurate understanding of situation.

 

Or as a famous atheist who never applied her own logic to her bad understanding of theology, “Contradictions cannot exist. If you think you’ve found a contradiction go back and check your premises. One of them is wrong.”

If your idea of God doesn’t match up with your idea of love, according to reason, one of these ideas is wrong.

 

Except that this little slide show, that again I kept seeing several times so it’s not like this is just one idiot reblogging this is that your reasoning is not wrong, it doesn’t matter that there is a contradiction, but God is not subject to Reason, or Love, or Justice, or Truth. God is somehow above these things and cannot be limited by them.

 

This is terrible theology. No serious theologian of any faith remotely associated with God would make a claim this stupid.

 

But, you say, you’re blowing this out of proportion. So what if this idea is catching on, it’s not like it’s going to destroy civilization or anything. Which seems like a fair point…except that history actually demonstrates what happens when this idea is prevalent. You see this philosophical battle actually happened before around 1100 in the Islamic Empire. You had two main factions at the time the Mu’tazilite Sunni’s who believed, like Plato, that God was bound by concepts as Reason and Justice, because God was those things; and opposing them you had Ash’arites Sunni’s who believe that God was all powerful and thus could not be bound by concepts of Reason and Justice, because God was beyond those things (just like the idiot who made these slides). Long story short, had the Mu’tazilites won, Islam would have become a civilization of reason, scientific development, capitalism likely eventually…but regrettably the Ash’arites won. And it’s a strange thing when God is not bound by Reason or Justice or Truth, because if he is not those things, those things cease to be relevant to a society. A society that is run by a God whose only claim to rule is might makes right strangely tends to create governments where laws are unimportant and might makes right. A society that worships a God that is not bound by Reason doesn’t value Reason as it serves no purpose in reaching the ultimate goal of life…thus society stagnates as science, medicine, technology all become vain pursuits with no purpose. The idea proposed by these slides is actually the bane of all civilization….don’t believe me, then look at what it did to the Islamic world which is still in many ways stuck in the 6th century.

 

But then comes my favorite part of trying to justify this bullshit.

idiot theology 6

Okay let me pick up a Bible. If they’re correct there should be some very clear passages in the Bible that God cannot be bound by anything and cannot be compared to anything (thus making reason about God impossible) as you see several times in the Koran. There isn’t. But you know what there is in the Bible. The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, which actually says that the idea of the ? , which states that God is Reason/Love/Justice/Truth and that Reason/Love/Justice/Truth in a very subtle way when it begins with

 

“In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.”–John Chapter 1, Verse 1

John1_1-5

Okay yeah, really bad translators have badly translated the Logos as “the Word,” which while literally correct, misses the philosophic idea packed into that particular word. But even if you want to try and say “well they didn’t mean Logos in that sense” your case falls apart because of the clearly self-reflexive nature of the line which goes to prove that this is the self-reflexive Platonic ideal of the Logos.

 

So whoever put this together might want to actually read the Bible, not just in translation, but go back and find out what it meant in the original language. I know that’s so hard, small minded bigoted theology that requires me not to use reason is so much easier…and it will eventually lead to a justification for blowing up people in the name of my God, so win-win for idiots…lose-lose for actual civilization.

 

Please Christians, you don’t have to accept my particular New Age version of God if reason doesn’t lead you to those conclusion…but don’t think idiocy like this is in any way a legitimate understanding of God.

 

 

*Don’t get me wrong, Plato made a lot of mistakes, but this isn’t one of them.

**You really can’t because the word for God and Zeus is sometimes the exact same word in Ancient Greek.

***I’ll fully admit that I have no way of justifying any of this without the idea of Reincarnation—if there was just one life, you would have a hard time making this as a serious argument. Lucky for me science is beginning to show reincarnation is a fact.

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Fear, God, Love, New Age, Religion, Spirituality

Why Harry Reid’s attacks on the First Amendment are wrong and vile

So while liberals have been throwing hissy fits for years about the Citizen’s United they seem to have come back to this idea with their impending doom in 2014 coming. (Really the creation of Super PACS owes a lot to various relegation and legislative changes and to just Citizens United v. the Federal Election Committee, but Democrats know their base doesn’t do well with complex ideas, so they just pick on Citizens United, and I always try and play in the opposition’s ballpark, so we’ll just refer to Citizens United). But now their hatred for free speech has found a new target, in Harry Reid’s unhinged attack on the Koch brothers and his statement that he will seek a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen’s United (and the First Amendment) with a Constitutional amendment.

You know personally my first inclination is to slap the little loser Harry Reid and tell him that it will be a cold day in hell that his stupid fascist amendment even gets out of his Senate let alone meeting the requirements in the House and three-quarters of the states. But that would do no good. Harry Reid is simply too stupid to benefit from any attempt of slapping sense into him (although perhaps every member of the Senate should get a baseball bat and try knocking some intelligence into him just to see if it might work…I mean what’s the worst that could happen?)

Now we could get into the minutia of how Democrats are still outspending Republicans, or how the Democrats the biggest beneficiaries of group donations (mainly from unions) but let’s ignore that for just a moment. But let’s ignore the minutia and get to the heart of the matter.

 

SCOTUS

Every so often they get something right as they did in Citizen’s United…now to overturn Kelo and S.D. v Dole

The central liberal argument is that Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee was wrong—that money is not speech and therefore cannot be protected under the First Amendment—that whoever has the most money always wins. The first point is just obviously stupid, but this is an argument from people who don’t get why we have to have the legal fiction of corporate personhood. They also don’t understand that your property rights are sacrosanct and under the theory of natural rights (which is kind of the basis of our entire legal system); that your property, including money, and what you do with it is an extension of your person legally, ergo spending money is speech if you choose it to be. And the minute you separate what you do with your money from free speech there is a very dangerous slippery slope. If you money can be regulated, then so can your time and limits can be placed on how much time you can donate to a campaign. And then you could limit how many organizations you can donate time. And then all the government would have to do is declare this charity or that church function a political issue and soon think about how much of you public life is being regulated.   And if your statement through money can be regulated because its of a political nature can you only make a certain number of Facebook, tumblr, and Twitter posts about a candidate or issue? A government with the spying power of the NSA*, the bullying ethics of the IRS and a free hand to limit political speech can do some very frightening things.

 

But let’s ignore the unspeakable idiocy of the argument that money isn’t speech. Let’s focus on what they’re saying about democracy in a democratic-republic like the US, because that is even more laughable (or frightening).

 

The argument against Citizens United is based on the argument that who has the most money wins.

Let’s look at this argument.

 

Certainly if I have half a trillion dollars and my opposition has $10 I will probably win. But seldom in American politics are things so lopsided. And do you really think that if the Klan or the American Nazi Party had a trillion dollars they could actually get any real power in this nation? Logic tells us that at a certain point you can spend all the money you want and if the people hate you, you’re screwed. You just have to look at advertising…Hollywood occasionally spends the GNP of third world nations hyping some piece of crap that almost no one goes to see…if the logic of Citizen’s United opponents were applied then everyone should just follow the hype.

 

But let’s look at some extremes. On the one side did we forget that a felon in West Virginia and a challenger in Arkansas, both with no money to speak of, gave a sitting president a run for his money in the last presidential election cycle? Or on the other side let’s look at a man like George Soros. Now I don’t have to believe that Soros is some evil mastermind on the level of Lex Luthor or Ernst Stavro Blofeld to admit that (A) his politics are somewhere to left of the current French president’s and (B) through direct contributions and contributions to PACs like Moveon the man has dumped an obscene amount of money into U.S. elections. I don’t buy the conspiracy theories, but the fact is the man is very progressive and very giving of money to causes he believes in. As is his right. But here’s the funny thing…if the people who oppose Citizen’s United were right, then all the money he has spent combined with all the money unions have spent over the years then it should never have even been close in 2000 or 2004, and the country should already be so far left that Obama would look like Reagan right now. Strangely I failed to see the retirement age lowered to 50 or minimum wage raised to $20 an hour, universal public health care, or a 70% tax on income above $100,000 here in Sorosandia.

 

Money helps. No doubt about that. If you can get your message out it certainly is more effective. However in a day and age of twitter, blogs, and YouTube, it’s not just money that matters. It’s having a message that resonates with people…even if that message is the mentally retarded statements of “Yes we can” and “we are the ones we have been waiting for.”

 

But there’s a deeper problem than the common sense issue that money can’t buy everything in politics. It’s the implications of human nature.

 

Notice what is implicit in the argument that money is all that matters to democracy. Notice what is says if you believe that the person with the most money, not the better argument, always wins. It means that all people don’t have stupid and shortsighted moments, as I believe it means that people are incapable of rational thought. That they will follow the shiniest piece of polished metal provided by the person with the most money—that there is no rational thought, that no matter how extreme an idea, if it has money backing it, it will win. Ummm…if people are actually that dumb, then why do we have any democratic elements in our government? Democracy is based on the idea that the majority of the people, when put together will more often than not make the right choice, not because they believe the shiniest lie, but because reason will win the day with the majority of people more often than not. It is a premise based on the idea that a human being and human reason has value. If your argument is that money drives everything, then you must state you believe that humans on a whole have no ability to reason. Now is human reason perfect? Hell, no. That’s why we have always been a republic that limits the momentary whims of the masses and forces compromise and slow deliberation.

Now I will admit that human reason is not perfect, but taking money out of the equation will not solve the problem of imperfect reason being a driving force in our elections.

 

Now if you actually wanted a functioning democratic election, as the critics of Citizen United claim they want, what should they be arguing for?

 

Well, how about Voter ID check or clearing the voter rolls in every state every two years and making everyone re-register. You know to prevent fraud, and felons, and illegal immigrants from voting in mass numbers and making sure that the democratic principle of one man, one vote was actually allowed. As for making everyone re-register, if going down to the post office or going to a web site to pick up a form and sending it in is too much work for you, then dear God, you are not qualified to be deciding the future of this nation.

 

Or how about this one I know would never pass, but you would have to admit would get rid of the majority of influence of money in elections…require people to earn a high school diploma before they can vote. Okay liberals, get all the insults out now…I’m a racist, I’m a bigot, I’m closed minded, I don’t know anything about democracy, blah, blah, blah…I teach high school, I have been working in schools for nearly 16 years, and have been working consistently in alternative education with at risk youth for the last nine…do you have any idea how easy it is to get a high school diploma? Or a GED? I’m sorry but you seriously have to try to not pass high school. And I’m sorry given how much the income difference is between a high school diploma and having nothing, you’re an idiot’s idiot to not get a high school diploma. And when you put those two sentences together you realize that high school dropouts are actively trying to be an idiot’s idiot. I can’t imagine why I would want these losers voting. Ever. Under any circustances. I mean who do you think falls most easily for flashy ads, the person with a bare bones education or the person who actively tried to remain ignorant. And if voting is really that important to you, getting a GED is not that difficult—really it’s not. If we were to institute this, you would find pandering by politicians drop quite a bit, and low and behold you might see better legislation.

 

Or you might go back to what the Founders correctly envisioned for the Senate: State legislatures and governors working together to nominate and elect the most qualified in the state (as opposed to the most popular) to the upper house of Congress. It would completely eliminate money’s influence on Senators themselves…and if people are so worried about SuperPAC money influencing federal elections…right now to influence the Senate you have to influence maybe 40 statewide elections (I figure about 60 seats are safe Republican or safe Democratic seats) going back to pre 17th Amendment republican ideals you would have to influence the same 40 state wide elections but this time for governors, plus influencing one to two houses of the state legislature. Even the most well funded SuperPacs would go bust before being able to make a dent in the long term. But to do that you would actually want to try and take out the influence of money…instead of say, hypocritically just wanting your traditional sources of money to be the only ones that counted.

Or how about this one: Get the government out of the economy. If you placed legitimate restrictions on how far the government can get into the economy, then guess what, all those businesses and business people wouldn’t care about elections. As long as the government has the power to pick winners and losers, you’d be a bit of an idiot to not do everything in your power to make sure you’re not the loser…but if you got the government out of the economy you get rid of the incentive to be so involved in elections…at which point why would business waste their hard earned profits on silly things like elections.

But the people who bitch about Citizens United don’t care about any of that…they’re just unhappy that now other people have a chance to fight their endless union coffers.

***
One last note on a pragmatic side issue. I’ve heard that nearly a trillion dollars will be spent on the 2012 election (when you count all the elections at all levels). Given how crappy the Obama economy is (and yes it is his fault, if it wasn’t for him we’d be in a full recovery by now) I want you to think how bad it would be if you took out a trillion dollars. Yes that trillion is going to a limited sector in the advertising business…but those people who get the money then spend it on other things and it moves through the economy…I want you to imagine what the economy would look like if you took yet another trillion out of GDP. Just a pragmatic consideration to keep in mind.

 

 

*I would like to note that I know of no instances where the NSA has actually used their information against a private citizen, and of all the branches of government I’m actually less worried about them…but only so long as we have the First Amendment in place and the IRS stripped of all it’s powers…so long as those others restrictions are kept in place I have little to fear from the NSA…it is only if the other restrictions are removed that a government becomes fascist.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil Liberties, Election 2014, Elections, First Amendment, Government is corrupt, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, People Are Stupid

Raising the minimum wage is always stupid and always a bad idea…and here’s why

One of the issues that Obama (and the left in general) has been hitting a lot recently is raising the minimum wage. This is a profoundly stupid idea (even though Republicans I like* and don’t like have suggested it as well). Despite the left’s insistence on banging this drum (because it sounds really nice, pay poor people more money…but only if basic-math-for-liberalsyou ignore anything beyond the shortest of short term consequence) it is an idea that has its origins in racism and today only hurts the people it claims to help (you know, like most liberal policies). Now in reality the only reason liberals love this is that they love to play up the class-warfare that they rely on (they don’t have any real ideas to run on), but they get repetitive and feel if they say the same thing in numerous ways that makes it true…as such this blog will get a little repetitive knocking down the arguments over and over again.

 

Now before we get into too much detail there are 7 points I would like to make.

 

1. Raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment.

2. Raising the minimum wage will increase inflation. 

3. Raising the minimum wage will hurt people with the least amount of skills, the very people liberals claim it will help.

4.  The opposite of all of this is also true (lowering the minimum wage will reverse all of these; less inflation, more employment, more people in all brackets having jobs).

5. If you want to whine about the poor people not having enough, go sell your computer and give the money to the poor.  But liberals won’t as they are less generous than conservatives.

6.  There is no short term fix that can wave a magic wand and give people more money without causing long term harm.

7. The free market is the only long-term solution.

 

These are all facts and they are not disputed by people who actually know something about economics.

 

So let’s start dealing with these in greater detail.

 

  1. Raising the minimum wage will increase unemployment.

This is the most obvious. There are no cases where raising the minimum wage did not lower employment.**

 

None. You raise the minimum wage, and you will see fewer people employed.

 

Especially with small businesses, if you can only afford to pay so much for employees then raising the cost of employing people would mean they’re just going to lay off employees and expect more from the employees who are left. And with large businesses that employ lots of minimum wage employees…well I would get used to ordering your fast food from a kiosk and checking yourself out at Walmart and the supermarket. Technology gets cheaper every year and what keeps big businesses from switching over to automation right now is that it’s simply cheaper to keep using the minimum wage labor…but hey, go ahead, raise the minimum wage and make it even more attractive to convert right now.

If you raise it then you make workers less attractive…businesses are not there to provide jobs, they are there to tumblr_mx5otbWwGS1s4tkgno1_500make a profit while providing a service to the public, if you have a problem with this simple fact of reality you are too stupid for words…and when you make it impossible for businesses to make a profit at their current staffing levels they will ALWAYS choose to fire people rather than go bankrupt (which also tends to result in firing everyone).

 

 

Raising the minimum wage hurts the middle class – they get no raises but have increased costs both from raised prices in the economy and the potential of tax increases because long term it never works for the lower class. Regardless what people are told/think the middle class does not receive comparable raises to match minimum wage increase.

2. Raising the minimum wage will increase inflation. 

 

Now liberals like to claim things like: “If you raise minimum wage then large companies will only have to raise their prices a little to defer the costs and there won’t be any real increase in inflation.”

 

Even if the math were accurate in this statement, which it isn’t even remotely (but let’s play in the left’s delusional ballpark for just a second) the left apparently don’t understand little things like supply and demand.  Even a small increase in price will result in a large drop in sales which means that not only have prices gone up (inflation) but people will have to be laid off, because far fewer hamburgers are being sold, to maintain profits (which have been dropping if you haven’t heard) or even just breaking even, lots of employees would have to be laid off due to reduced sales.  So once again, due to a lack of understanding in economics your desire to help people without doing anything yourself has resulted in inflation and, again, higher unemployment.  Typical liberal tripe.

 

And the worse yet, there are idiots who suggest we tie the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

 

So a minimum wage increase will cause inflation and inflation will cause a minimum wage increase and a minimum wage increase will cause inflation and inflation will cause a minimum wage increase and a minimum wage increase will cause inflation and inflation will cause a minimum wage increase and a minimum wage increase will cause inflation and inflation will cause a minimum wage increase and a minimum wage increase will cause inflation and inflation will cause a minimum wage increase and…

…well, the next thing you know it’s looking a lot like Zimbabwe or Germany in the 1920’s where a couple trillion dollars will get you something off what used to be called the dollar menu…but it certainly won’t buy a whole loaf of bread.

69008283615-1

 

It would be a lose-lose for everyone.  For the people trying to live off minimum wage they would not see a real increase in wages but they would also have an even higher unemployment rate (which will also hurt everyone due to more welfare applicants being funded by money we don’t have). (do we want to comment on the actual number or type of person that is actually trying to live on a minimum wage job, which is REALLY low)   For the lower middle class the inflation caused by the minimum wage hike will hurt them drastically as they were probably already having problems paying bills. For the upper middle class the inflation increase will probably only result in less money for nonessentials (dinners out, movies, vacations, etc.) but this in turn will have dire consequence for the industries and the people that they employ that see lower revenue.  I would say that unless you’re in the top 2% you’re going to see some kind of belt tightening with the inflation another minimum wage increase would cause, and even then you’ll see major hits to investments (unless you’re in that top 2% because you own a small business in which case you will be more likely to have to close down).

 

 

3. Raising the minimum wage will hurt people with the least amount of skills, the very people liberals claim it will help.

 

Raising the minimum wage will hurt people with the least amount of skills as businesses will only hire people who have someone who can vouch for them (thus it becomes more of a game of who you know).  This means minority unemployment will go up and upper middle class take-home pay (but not in real pay, due to the inflation) will also increase as in the children in these families with the connections to get hired.  Not exactly the egalitarian push liberals were hoping for.

 

Due to the fact that liberals have engineered an education system that systematically hurts minorities to ensure they don’t have stable homes or quality education (yes it’s liberal plans like the New Deal and the Great Society that are responsible for this) this makes them the groups that will most be hurt by a minimum wage increase as they are statistically the groups with the least education and work experience.

 

The current US unemployment rate is 7.5% the unemployment rate for those with a BA is only 4.5% (so sayeth the Dept. of Labor).  We all know that college graduates are underemployed (though maybe not to the degree that liberals would like to suggest) but even if all the minimum wage jobs aren’t going to people with Bachelor’s as the left likes to portray the fact is that a raise in the minimum wage will only increase this disparity. After all who would you fire from a job the guy with the B.A. who might make a manager one day or the single mom who is often a little late because of her kids? Yes the example takes two extremes, but it points out that the raise in minimum wage will hurt the very people that liberals think they’re going to help with this idiotic law.

 

 

But then again we knew this as the original point of minimum wage wasn’t to help improve the quality of life for workers but to help keep lower skilled minority workers from competing with union employees. By forcing people to pay a minimum wage they wouldn’t take the risk of lower skilled labor which ensured that minorities never had the capital to invest in their own education or their children’s. But let’s keep this policy of liberal discrimination in place.

 

 

4.  The opposite of all of this is also true (lowering the minimum wage will reverse all of these; less75068181143 inflation, more employment, more people in all brackets having jobs).

 

And if you really care about those people you should push for LOWERING the minimum wage, thus making it MORE attractive for employers to hire people.

 

If you were to lower or eliminate the minimum wage you will reduce the risks of hiring new employees (and thus make employers more willing to hire inexperienced employees). This will mean more low skilled people looking for jobs will have an opportunity to get a job and thus get the job experience and skill necessary for them to get out of minimum wage jobs.   This in turn means that not only will more people be earning more than minimum wage (and likely keep moving up the payment ladder) but turn over in minimum wage jobs will be faster (as people get promoted) and that there will be more job openings.

 

Now the obvious argument against this is that “minimum wage is supposed to supply a living wage.” First that has never been true.

 

Well, the first Federal Minimum wage was $0.25 an hour.  For 40 hours a week that’s only $10 (after adjusting for inflation that’s $166, hardly what I would call enough to support a family). Also economist Walter Williams often points out that the real reason originally for minimum wage was to hurt black workers and push them out of the market.

But in the final evaluation it doesn’t matter what the intention was, intentions don’t matter.  What matters are the effects/results.

Minimum wage laws lower employment rates so fewer people are able to support themselves and/or their families.

Minimum wage laws increase inflation thus making it harder for everyone to support their families on whatever wage they have.

People can raise minimum wage all they want, the effect of any increase, of any size will only be more people unable to support themselves and those dependent on them.

 

Second, you think people should be able to live off the absolute minimum skills you should have to get hired.  Minimum wage is a statement that “If I could pay you less, I would because you have no skills worth paying you more.”  And if you didn’t keep raising it then teenagers could get minimum wage jobs when they don’t have to live off it, and have the skills necessary to earn livable wages when they’re older.  But you know that’s only a thought that deals in reality.

 

 

5. If you want to whine about the poor people not having enough, go sell your computer and give the money to the poor.  But liberals won’t as they are less generous than conservatives.

 

Charity is at it highest when economic freedom is high and that conservatives have ALWAYS been more charitable than liberals (please see the book Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks for endless proof on this point).

 

Capitalism is the only system that has been shown to raise people out of poverty. It is the only system that benefits the rich, the middle class, and the poor. It is the only system that can bring a nation out of destitution. It is the only system that works long term. It is the only system compatible with human nature. It is the only system of economics that is ethical. It is the only system of economics that is sustainable because only capitalism creates and encourages the innovation and imagination needs to deal with the constant slew of problems that life brings.

 

In conjunction with everything I’ve already pointed out, if you raise the minimum wage you will be hurting everyone and more people will be out of work, people will be earning less in terms of real dollars, business will be expanding less and less and that will result in far less charity.

tumblr_my8kiyLiAA1rzv6rko1_500

Don’t claim to care about people needing to make a living wage when you are doing everything in your power to hurt them and nothing to help them.

Trying to destroy the free market through rules like minimum wage will only further hurt people. If you’re so concerned for them either advocate policies that will really help people in the long run, and do your bit in helping people. Don’t demand that other people pay for things that you don’t want to pay for.

 

 

6.  There is no short term fix that can wave a magic wand and give people more money without causing long term harm.

But some liberals will claim that this or that person will be hurt if we dropped the minimum wage or that someone can’t pay their bills right now. Because to liberals that’s the only thing that matters right now.

 

And to those liberals whose childish demand for immediate solutions shows your intellect and those like you are below contempt.

 

You cannot solve long term problems that were created over decades by one inane and ludicrous short-term solution with another short term solution.

There is no solution to the problem RIGHT NOW.  Why?  Because the problem RIGHT NOW was created by the shortsighted looking to solve the problem RIGHT NOW with no concern whatsoever for the long term consequences.

If $10 is good this should be great.

If $10 is good this should be great.

Only the most brainless of idiots (you and the loons in Washington) look for solutions to the problem RIGHT NOW.

Does that mean some people will suffer RIGHT NOW, yes, yes it does.  Life can suck, and can be grossly unfair.  It’s a damn shame that you never learned this…it’s probably more of a tragedy that people did try to teach you this but you didn’t learn it.  But it’s more of a tragedy when you cause more people to suffer in the long run because you fail to admit this point and try and prevent things with shortsighted solutions.

Any solution to fix the problem right now in the immediate present will cause even more grievous problems for the future…just as all the short term fixes have caused the current problem.  Now you can look for an immediate solution and hope that it won’t cause more problems in the long term (doing something the exact same way and expecting a different outcome is the common definition of insanity)…or like an adult you could admit that short term fixes don’t work, that they will only cause more long term suffering, and look for a solution that will fix the problem long term and ensure this situation does not happen.

So the question is that will a few suffer now or will generation upon generation suffer in a shortsighted attempt to stem the problem in the short term (which won’t work).

I, like an adult, choose the long-term solution. And that solution is, has always been and will always be the free market.

I suggest we actually let the free market do what it does best: create wealth.

If we lower or eliminate the minimum wage businesses will be more willing to hire people, yes it will be for lower wages, but people who are good at their jobs will have more opportunities to shine and get promoted to jobs that pay more (employers actually do appreciate good employees and will give them raises to try and keep them).

Since more people will be employed (even at lower wages) you’ll find that overall there is more money flowing through the system, thus the velocity of money will increase, investment will increase, more high paying jobs will be available and those people who shined in lower level jobs will be able to use that as references for better jobs (which will also open up their old positions letting more people shine).

As more people earn more, more services will be needed more products will be sold and this whole thing becomes cyclical.

If we let the free market rule and don’t drown it in a million and one ways through centralized control.

Time and time and time again if you study history or economics you will see that freer the market, the lower the povertythe lower the corruption, increase in social mobility,  and a whole host of other things.  Fact and reality dictate that the more of a free market you have the more of things you want (for the poor, the middle class, and the rich) occur and less of the things you don’t want.  Facts also dictate that government intrusions like minimum wage ALWAYS WITHOUT EXCEPTION lead to less of the things you want (like prosperity for all) and more of everything you don’t want (like the starving children you complain about).

Caring about these people and acting out of best intentions as you do is one thing. But if you really want to help them learn that throughout all of history more economic freedom has prevented the things you complain about.  Stop advocating for the very things that cause the suffering you complain about.

But liberals claim that without a raise in the minimum wage people will be stuck in poverty through no fault of their own. This is wrong for two reasons. The first is that time and time again, despite liberal efforts to hurt economic mobility through their asinine policies, economic mobility still exists and most people born into poverty do not stay there through their entire life.

tumblr_n08he9ckY11syt975o1_500

But perhaps you mean the people who are chronically in poverty and who don’t escape.  Well first let’s look at what causes those things, because chronic poverty isn’t a cause of suffering it’s symptom of other things.  (Even though that’s not really ‘poor’ as obesity is a real problem among America’s poor…if you can afford more than what you need to survive you’re not really poor…or would you like to tell people who live under the kind of control economies you seem to be touting where starvation is a real problem not just a conceptional one as it is here in America that people living on minimum wage aren’t making enough?)

Now the liberal Brookings Institute found three things that lead to chronic poverty, none of them had to do with minimum wage.  I could go into detail but I think it’s summed up best by a Democrat:

“You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty – finish high school, marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.”

– William Galston, advisor to Bill Clinton.

Hmmm…which of those will raising the minimum wage solve?  Ummm…none of them.

But perhaps you’ll claim I’m blaming the victim, your stupid shaming, or something, to which I respond:

But, just for fun, let’s play in your delusional ballpark for just a second.

Let’s say you raise the minimum wage.

This will of course cause inflation.  So not only would the real wage of minimum wage works not go up, but you would hurt everyone else who isn’t making minimum wage and will now actually have less money.  So the question isn’t why do I hate the poor, it’s why do you hate the middle class and want to hurt them so much?

Of course minimum wage also dries up potential jobs. This disproportionately affects minorities leaving fewer and fewer jobs for them.  So the question isn’t why do I hate poor people, it’s why do you hate black people?

And of course since there are fewer jobs all around it will of course leave fewer jobs for the poor.  So the question isn’t why do I hate the poor, it’s why do you hate the poor.

Your policy will also hurt people on fixed incomes (mainly the elderly) and those without skills in search of an tumblr_msik9ea2Hh1rxlva7o1_500entry level job (the young)…Jesus, is there anyone but middle age rich white guys you don’t hate?

I would love to help the poor have more money. I could do that by dropping tariffs which would either lead to lower prices at stores or higher profits which could be invested back into the company or in banks and from there other companies which will lead to more jobs somewhere. Same goes for sales taxes. I would love to help the poor by ending subsidies for colleges which would cause the hyper inflating bubble of tuition to burst which would thus make higher education much more affordable to the poor (added bonus it would leave the middle class without huge debt which again would stimulate spending and thus the economy).  I would love to help the poor by making better schools through disbanding the teachers unions, getting rid of foolish credential requirements for teachers and putting sane common standards for all schools thus attracting better teachers and thus helping ensure more students will stay in school thus breaking cycles of chronic poverty.

I would like to do a thousand things to help the poor.  But the problem with all these solutions is that it will take time to fully work, and they all will work, but they take time.

For you however, you would rather say you want to help the poor and do something you can see right now, with all the self control of a two year old, because you to have it right now.  To hell if it hurt the poor in the short and the long term.  Why should that matter, you feel you have to do something NOW, even if doesn’t actually work, so you can feel good about yourself…why is this?

 

7.The free market is the only long-term solution.

But again let’s get back to real long term solutions.

 

How about this? Go to a flat income tax, that will give everyone more money…add to that a reverse income tax then we can make sure everyone has a “living wage” without taking away the incentive to work (and get rid of a massive portion of the federal budget in the process).

 

Or perhaps get rid of regulations that required to enter into numerous fields and let employers decide if they want to pay your or not (instead of the government). (This does not read properly) (I think it reads ok – maybe you could give an example for people that do not understand – easy one is beautician/cosmetologist – some people are talented without school and it goes up from there.)

 

Tort reform thus reducing everyone’s overhead.

 

States should try cutting sales taxes to give everyone’s buying dollar more power.

 

Or perhaps you could get rid of the massive amounts of red tape you have in every business in every level freeing up money in business which will lower the risk on return for taking a chance. (removal of government unions /prevailing rates, etc. would trickle down to providing a better economy all the way around)

 

Or the most important thing you can do if you want people to have jobs: get rid of the minimum wage and get rid of all the idiots at all levels of government who advocate for it.

 

*If you watch the news you know who I’m talking about. I am really hoping he meant in his usual inarticulate way of “I would offer a raise in minimum wage for a concession of less regulations or lower taxes or this or that tit for tat” as I know his thinking tends to work. And maybe in that case I would be willing to offer a minimum wage if I were to get something I wanted more…but I’ll admit the statement that was getting passed around the internet was either not well phrased or just stupid.

**Now there are cases where the minimum wage is higher in one place than another but has a lower unemployment (such as when liberals like to point to Australia having a higher minimum wage but lower unemployment)…but in every one of these cases you will find it’s not even remotely an apples to apples comparison. All things being equal raising the minimum wage will always lower employment, but seldom are all things equal. There are numerous issues like tax policy, regulation, tort law, power of unions and government intrusion on business, to name just a few, that affect unemployment. In the case of Australia, ranked as the 5th most economically free nation (even with their higher minimum wage) on Earth it should come as no shock they have lower unemployment rates than the US which is ranked 18th. Now if liberals would like to change policy and law at the federal, state, and local level to make the US regain its rightful place as the most economically free nation on Earth, I would be more than willing to concede a $10.10 minimum wage. The minimum wage increase would still be stupid, but one stupid thing to get a thousand others that will counter it, that would be a fair deal. Strangely I’m not seeing any such willingness to even compromise on even a few of those issues coming from the left…as usual they want everything they want and to not give them everything is to be against compromise…and to be against anyone who isn’t rich is their usual claim.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics

Another look at “Heaven is for Real”, Calvinism, and Reality

 

 

Okay so this is going to be even more ranty than usual posts…but the ideas I’m about to deal with are so abhorrent that they do not even deserve treatment as valid points that need to be refuted by logic…but they seem to be held by far too many. This is going to get a little disjointed compared my usual posts, but the work I am commenting on wasn’t particularly well ordered to begin with.

 

So if you may recall my review of Heaven is For Real. I complained that the movie wasn’t very good as a movie or as a defense of near-death experiences (NDE). Now ignoring the flaws as a movie, the problems with the film as a representation of an NDE were numerous. The first was despite there being thousands of examples of NDE this film seemed to have none of the typical trademarks.

 

Some of these trademarks include the tunnel of light. Being often, but not always met by a being of light as a guide through the tunnel. A review of your life. And being given a choice whether or not to go back. (As I said in the previous review, I did not read the book and this film and what I have seen on TV from interviews makes me doubt this story in general).

 

Further, another problem I had was how Christian Heaven appeared in this film. What was depicted with a disturbingly pale Jesus (no Jew from the first century who walked everywhere by foot in the Israeli desert would look anywhere near as pale as they showed him in this film), clouds, gates and other various tropes of a children’s Bible depiction of Heaven.

 

God

And the evidence of NDE’s back me up on this opinion.

From the wealth of NDE’s out there Heaven is more intellectual and less physical than a place of pearly gates and clouds.   Also while the occasional saint, angel and ascended master does occasionally pop up the reality is that most people are not greeted by Jesus. Oh, and most importantly, this typical story is told by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus,
Buddhists, Taoists, Atheists, and any and all other groups you can think of. God doesn’t care about what name you call him by as much as most religions would like you to think. There are lots of books that prove this point, if want to see the evidence for yourself I would start with Evidence of the Afterlife and Life After Life.

 

But you know, the movie and the book were out to make money so skewing the story to their intended Christian audience can maybe be forgiven in the name of rational capitalism.

 

But then I see an article that makes the following brain dead statement:

 

“The book [Heaven is for Real] places the accounts of heaven in a firm Biblical context, with frequent references to scriptural passages. The film does not follow this practice. In addition to quite fanciful descriptions of heaven, there is the suggestion that everyone is going to end up there. There is no mention anywhere of hell or the last judgment.”

 

So the problems with the movie are the parts that actually match up to known facts about NDEs.

 

Any longtime reader of this blog knows I take a particular glee in pointing out what idiots Atheists are. And Atheists are idiots. They hold an article of faith to the point of absolute nihilistic insanity despite the fact that logic, experience and evidence points to a simple undeniable fact that there is a God. The problem however is that this does not seem to be a flaw limited to atheists.

 

So in the light of facts about NDEs:

That people from all religions seem to go to Heaven.

 

That there is a consistency in these stories across culture, generation, and religion (which suggests it’s not just people making up stories).

 

The fact that the people who report these stories have often been brain dead, i.e., their brain was incapable of encoding new memories during this time; ergo it couldn’t have been a hallucination.

 

That the incredibly rare stories of punishment or torment are virtually always included by points like ‘well they flat lined but they weren’t brain dead for more than a second’ or heavy use of drugs were involved in their being near death in the first place (or other things that a legitimate skeptic could use to throw the case out).

 

That no one has ever felt judged during their NDE, even people who lived terrible lives beforehand (most in this category have felt transformed by the love they felt and lived better lives since).

 

So these are facts about NDEs. And what do religious people complain about…it didn’t conform to my interpretation of the Bible!

 

You know I could at least respect the religious people taking the data head on and trying to prove that all these NDE’s are faulty, but they don’t do that, they would rather just shove up their Bible and act like the cast of Inherit the Wind* ignoring all evidence and simply saying they “do not think about things they do not think about” and defer to only the Bible for answers (conveniently missing the numerous times reason and logic are praised in both the Old and New Testaments).

 

But you know, if that the only stupid thing said in this article, “Popular ReligionHeaven For Everyone?”. I might have just ignored it…but not only does the article getworse, much worse, but while attempting to portray itself as an impartial reporting of the debate about the afterlife (strangely the only sides in this debate appear to be the ones who only want to use very limited interpretations of the Bible) but it frighteningly seemed to be a synthesis of numerous articles I’ve been seeing on issues such as heaven, sin, Calvinism and God. All in one place I found most of the incorrect beliefs about faith, God, the soul, and life I’ve been seeing pop up here and there with more and more regularity as this abomination of New Calvinism seems to gain force…to see them in one place was such a gift it had to be taken up and refuted.

 

“There is now a considerable controversy about the film in the Evangelical world. Grossman quotes another pastor, Tim Challies, who criticizes the film ‘that celebrates the heaven we want, not the Jesus we’ve really got who is worthy of worship and won’t allow ungodliness in heaven’”

 

Oh wow. Again I love how no one wants to actually turn to what real evidence there is, only to argue points of theology based on one badly translated book. I also love how they make no bones about the fact that mankind and any non-Christian beliefs are unholy (but let’s be honest here, it’s even more narrow than that, because this vision of God caring deeply about your denomination and if you’re in the wrong one, to Hell with you). But that’s right because we all have original sin. A guy a few thousand years ago broke a rule, ate an apple and we all have to suffer. If you went and shot the great-grandson of a Nazi because the sins of the father carry to the son so forth and so on, you would be called crazy and immoral…but apparently when God does it for all generations to the end of time, that’s a God “who is worthy of worship.” I fail to see why the worst and most immoral aspects of humanity coupled with tyrannical power is worthy of worship.

 

“Other critics have accused the film of failing to emphasize that there is no way to heaven except through faith in Jesus.”

 

Actually the film is quite biased towards Christianity…it’s the facts of NDEs that show that God doesn’t care what religion you follow. These are facts. I’m sorry if you are more comforted by believing you’re sinful and need to be redeemed. But the FACTS say otherwise.

 

 

“The debate over this film reflects a broader split among Evangelicals, which pits the vision of four-year old Colton over that of proto-Evangelical Jonathan Edwards[…]Most contemporary Evangelicals are very much in the middle between these two extremes”

 

This is the point that the article stops being just a bad discussion and becomes more of a trip through evil. But I would like to point out that the two “extremes” this author believes in are on the one hand you have Protestant Christianity and on the other hand you have Protestant Christianity and in the middle you have Protestant Christianity. I fully realize that the site I found this on probably only writes for that audience, and I realize it’s my own damn fault for trying to read other opinions and should just recognize that this is a preaching to the choir moment. But I’m not going to. I may believe that capitalism is the only system that works, and that the only rational argument is between mixed-economy conservatives (like current Republican leadership) and libertarians (like Rand Paul or John Stossel) with capitalists (like Hayek and Friedman) in the middle…but just because I believe these are the only rational options I’m not anywhere stupid enough to think that these are the extremes. There is socialism and communism and fascism on one side and there is monarchism and anarchy on the other. Those are extremes. And to call the extremes all set within a Protestant framework suggests such a limited way of looking at the world that it has challenged and shown to be the bullshit it is, even if no one who read that article ever reads this one. Ideas have power, and dangerous ones like the author of this one must be confronted.

 

Okay let’s get back to this article.

 

god's wrath

The Calvinist vision of God only belongs in Far Side cartoon…in reality it’s too preposterous to be taken seriously.

“But then there still are those who hold on to the old-time religion of fire and brimstone—and those, who having lost it, want to go back to it. The so-called New Calvinists are an interesting case in point; not suprisingly, they have made Jonathan Edwards one of their mentors.”

 

Some people have wondered why I have serious problems with Calvinism and new and vile incarnation…it’s statements like this. Why?

 

Well keep reading:

 

“He was a highly educated theologian and a stern Calvinist—the entire Calvinist package—“total depravity” (all of humanity sunk in sin), “double predestination” (God has decided from the beginning of time who will be saved and who damned), “selective salvation” (Jesus did not die for all men, only for the pre-determined elect). He preached against the Arminians, who modified Calvinism by, among other things, insisting that those who go to hell should have done something to deserve that fate.”

 

The fact that anyone can speak of Jonathan Edwards in even remotely positive terms defies reason…the fact that this author could later go as far to say that “Edwards was an intellectual” is simply preposterous. Unstable sociopath I can buy–intellectual, not so much. But this article is quite sympathetic to Edwards and his beliefs—as it seems he is to most of New Calvinism. Does it only bother me that the belief that all people are sunk in depravity because of someone a few thousand years ago breaking a rule that reason would put up there with “don’t walk on the grass,” that there is no free will and no ability to change our fate, making us not only depraved but mere automatons of a lunatic tyrant. Worse the article is very insulting to what it calls “Vanilla Evangelicals” who might have a problem with this image of God as a raving lunatic. (But then again this article also seems dismissive in one part of Thomas Aquinas for believing that babies who had not been baptized would not suffer in hell, quoting a theologian who makes it clear if you’re not baptized you burn for all eternity.) Of course one my favorite parts has to be the line “there can be no doubt that both Testaments proposed a day of judgment that would segregate the blessed from the damned”—which I’m sure comes as a shock to most Jewish philosophers for the last 2,000 years who take no opinion on the afterlife, let alone a day of Judgment; I guess the Jews just don’t know how to read the Old Testaments in this author’s mind.

 

The article even tries to portray the following piece of Edward’s philosophy as valid:

“Edwards proposes that the latter, looking down from heaven to the torments of hell, will not only do so with equanimity but with joy at the working of God’s justice. To leave no room for any misplaced sympathy, he insists that the righteous will not be moved even if among the sufferers in hell are individuals that once were loved—parents, children, spouses.”

 

There are no words of condemnation for this in the article and that is horrifying. The idea that in Heaven everyone has become a sadistic psychopath who revels in suffering of others (often for crimes such as not calling God by the right name despite living an otherwise moral life) is beyond any rational interpretation of God. If this is what Heaven is and how God behaves, then I will enjoy Hell because this sick, perverted God is no better than some of the more disturbing ancient Pagan deities. In fact, morally this vision of God is on par with Ba’al, the ancient Phoenician God whose worshippers sacrificed live infants to.

 

Thankfully I do not have a God that is this disturbed. God is not like this. Facts of NDEs and miracles and life show that God is not, and cannot be this evil; life is full of signs that are evident for anyone who would like to put to the test of reason (which the Bible actually praises)—and it tells that these that are shallowly called faith have no basis. But let’s return to one of the article’s original lines that complained about Heaven is for Real because it “celebrates the heaven we want, not the Jesus we’ve really got who is worthy of worship and won’t allow unholiness in heaven.” A God who punishes for no legitimate reason, and trust me original sin is not a legitimate reason, is not worthy of worship. Only a rational loving God is worthy of worship. What Calvinism, in all its forms, shows is not a God of reason and not a God of love. It is a sick butcher who revels in the suffering of others. And that thing which is passed off as an image of God is certainly not worthy of worship.

 

Now I’m sure someone could point out that this article which I have taken to task, only brings up the two sides and never actually says which side the author comes down on, thus I’m being overly critical, and unjustifiably so. But, that’s not a valid argument. The article is always positive, even if subtly so, of the Calvinist side and dismissive or insulting of every other viewpoint. This author may have wanted to appear neutral, but he is in no way neutral. You can’t discuss ideas this vile dispassionately because they are not worthy of even a prima facie treatment as valid ideas. And if you find them more comforting than a God that actually does love all his children, then you have issues.

 

One final point. The article closes with:

 

“But I had no intention of diverting attention from the fact that questions about heaven and hell raise serious issues for religious faith, especially for any version of monotheism. The presence of evil in the world created by God is intolerable unless there is an ultimate judgment against it. In the words of the Quran, there will be that day of judgment when every man will stand alone before God.”

 

Ignoring that there are answers to the problem of evil other than damnation, the fact that this Calvinist author sees no problem in finding comparisons between his beliefs and the Koran is abhorrent. If there is one book in all of existence that God had nothing to do with in its writing, it’s the Koran, a book of hate and violence, and the most perverted view of God around…and that Calvinism so easily finds a parallel between their view and the God of hate in the Koran, should give everyone pause given that it does appear to be on the rise.

Now, again, you could claim that this author and his bias is not symptomatic of a larger growing movement.  That would certainly be an argument against me getting this upset, but, at least personally I am seeing these terrible ideas of Calvinism begin to spread ever so slightly, and this is something I would rather over react to than be silent and let it progress unchallenged.

 

 

 

*It should be noticed that the play/movie Inherit the Wind which shows Scopes Trial to take place in a town of backward hicks and prosecuted by a zealot who knew nothing about anything and differs greatly from the real Scopes Trial where the town was somewhere between indifferent and supportive of Scopes, and the real prosecutor was against evolution not because he didn’t understand science but because at the time, the 1920’s, evolution and eugenics went hand in hand in all teachings…and he, strangely enough, had a real moral problem with eugenics—can’t imagine why.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Fear, Free Will, God, Religion, Spirituality

Godzilla or I have seen the future of films and I don’t like it

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

“So far as we are human, what we do must be either evil or good; so far as we do evil or good, we are human: and it is better, in a paradoxical way, to do evil than to do nothing: at least we exist.” –T.S. Eliot

Godzilla-new-poster

So I went to see Godzilla.

Big mistake. I knew it was going to be a big mistake. The film was clearly written by people who either flunked every science course they ever took or cheated as it understood even less than most movies understand on the topics of nuclear weapons, radiation, evolution, electromagnetic pulses (EMP), geology, or nature in general. And then there is the fact that Ken Watanabe has this look on his face throughout the entire film that screams, “there is no way they are seriously paying me money to read lines this stupid? They are? I just can’t believe…

View original 837 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ways to win in an election year #6 Put up or Shut up

Originally posted on Elementary Politics:

Some of the major primaries for the year are winding down. Whether they read my posts or not it seems, thankfully that conservatives are heeding the advice of the Buckley Rule, and the fringe lunatics (who really have nothing to do with the ideals that started the Tea Party but have the nasty habit of calling themselves such) are losing and real conservatives are winning.

I am happy about this for the most part. Undoubtedly some of you aren’t. And here is where you make the choice where you determine whether you are a Tea Party/Republican or an American. What do I mean by that? Well if your Tea Party candidate lost and the person you think is merely an “establishment” Republican won (or vice versa) you have two options: You can support the winner of the primary or can keep your mouth shut. Now you might be saying no…

View original 902 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Weekly Meditation: Miracles

positive energy

I’ll be the first to admit, complain too much. I like to think of myself as pragmatist with a bend toward optimism, but too often I use this blog to complain about the way things are, and at most point out ways that could theoretically be better but seldom do I actually talk about more practical ways to make things better—and it could be argued that this is quite foolish of me.

 

Which is why meditation is so important to help focus us toward doing what it right, because it is right now because we win, and to help up see the small victories in our daily struggles and focus on those. To help in our goal to push us further to what I would call the New Age (you almost certainly have a different term).

 

I have to help to create more of the positive that is in the world and not just try to reduce the negative, even if it’s only in small ways. As such I think I will once again try to once week propose a meditation, thought experiment or action to perform that I will help me focus in my work to make the world a better place and I can all but guarantee, if you follow my suggestion, will not only make your own life happier and more positive, but because positive emotions and ideas are more contagious than the flu, will make the lives of everyone around you better. I promise.
I’m almost convinced one of the most important meditations I would suggest for anyone to think about for the coming week comes from the great spiritual text A Course in Miracles. A Course in Miracles is broken into three parts, the first the text which describes the true nature of the world, the relationship between God and his children, and the simple truth that there is only love in the universe, all else is illusion. The third part is a more in depth description of several deeper questions brought up in the text. But the relevant part of today’s discussion comes from the second part.

The second part of the Course is a selection of 365 daily meditations (you can guess how long it should take you to get through the whole sequence). And while they all are uplifting and peaceful when meditated upon (I personally find if I go over the whole sequence while doing a very long set of yoga exercises will eventually leave me crying tears of joy). But of all the lessons in the second part of the course, I often find Lesson 77 most comforting and uplifting.

Lesson 77

I am entitled to miracles.

 

I know your first reaction to this is “no I’m not”. I would refer you back to a quote I’m think I use a little too much, but only because it’s blatantly relevant.

 

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. “–Marianne Williamson

I am entitled to miracles.

No, really you are. The very nature of the universe is actually a place where you should get everything you want. Think about it. Can you actually imagine a God who doesn’t want you to be happy? At every level of reason the idea that God wants you to suffer is either illogical or requires a really perverse vision of God. The problem isn’t that the universe isn’t set to give you miracles–and I don’t mean trite waking up every day, a sunrise, friends kind of miracles, I mean full blown call out the Catholic Church to just try and disprove this kind—it’s that all too often we’re not looking for and expecting those miracles. Sure, when we expect to wake up in the morning and see friends that day as a miracle that we’re entitled to, we get it. But we don’t often feel that we are deserving of the love of our life, the new job, the dream home, the spiritual revelation…and low and behold we don’t get it.
Now I’m not going to say that meditating on this idea for 5 minutes a day is going to turn you into a millionaire by next week—your ego has built up centuries worth of walls to try and make you deny this fact, and it will likely take time to tear down those walls (but kudos to you if you can to it in a week)—but it will help stem the tide against your ego’s defenses and begin to put you, your life, and hopefully the world around you on a more upward path to spiritual enlightenment.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under God, Meditation, New Age, Spirituality