Monthly Archives: May 2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

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…

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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.

 

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Books for Conservatives: The Sword of Truth–Wizard’s First Rule

Elementary Politics

So I thought it might be best to switch to some popular fiction for a little while. After all, conservatives already keep up with current events better than liberals so while this title or that might have been missed, in terms of non-fiction, conservatives (at least in my experience) seem to be more well-read in terms of non-fiction historical or current events texts. But fiction is another issue entirely. Keeping up with Brown or Patterson or Sparks or Myers or whoever else has become popular to a level exceeding their skill is never a problem for most Americans. I have no problem with that. I read fluff and I write it. It serves an important psychological function, like sorbet between courses, and as long as it isn’t your only form of reading there is nothing wrong with reading even the worst trash piece of pulp. But this week (and a…

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AI, The Singularity, and other BS that ranks up with the Zombie Apocalypse

“It’s a machine[.] It doesn’t get pissed off. It doesn’t get happy, it doesn’t get sad, it doesn’t laugh at your jokes. It just runs programs.”

Like many overly specialized people, he knows his field very well, and knows little about anything else (even though he thinks he knows everything).

I tend to follow science news. I find it very interesting even though it’s not my particular forte primarily because any understanding of the free market can’t exist without an understanding of scientific and technological developments. For instance the increase of MERS, MRSA, the return of disease we thought we left generations ago and the end to the age of antibiotics may very well solve the problems of Social Security insolvency in exactly the way we wouldn’t want it to be solved. The rapid advances in 3D printing are likely going to end manufacturing as a major industry in a generation or two meaning that anyone making plans for the US to once again be a manufacturing superpower is just unspeakably clueless. The problem with this is that recently in the wake of movies like Her and Transcendence and Stephen Hawking’s recent laughably preposterous article about how thinking machines will kill us all there has been a slew of other articles warning of the coming singularity and the end of mankind.

This has sadly led me to the conclusion that scientists, for an awfully well educated and knowledgeable bunch, are surprising stupid. I mean I get why Hawking has led his current charge against God in trying to prove that God doesn’t exist…I think we all understand why Hawking would hate God so much he would have to lead a crusade against the idea of God. It’s not a rational crusade, but we all understand the motivations behind it.

So let’s lay out their case. Computers are getting faster and more complex all the time. They will continue to do so. They will continue to do so until we reach the point that a computer program reaches the point where it isn’t just a very well written program, but actual sentient artificial intelligence. At which point this self aware intelligence will have the ability to (A) improve itself faster than we could make improvement on it (B) replicate other AI’s like itself and (C) have a desire for self preservation…this pretty much means that Skynet here will kills us all. (It tells you a lot about the attitude of these scientists where they feel the jump from sentience to genocidal rampage is a logical progression).

Seriously, that’s the argument they’re making. In the last three months I have seen at least 2 articles a week in various usually respectable scientific forum.

But while the chicken littles fear the coming Matrix by our Terminator and Cylon overlords…I sit here and yawn knowing this is just as preposterous as Zombie Apocalypse, and as scientifically based as the delusion of global warming.

How do I know this?

If you’re afraid of this being a real issue ever you need to come back to reality.

Because, unlike a lot of these scientists (who seem to deal in fiction more than science) I’ve actually bothered to look at the evidence. You know like the numerous scientific studies on near death experiences or the 2,000+ tome  “Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects”which details 225 cases on evidence of reincarnation based on the scars, birthmarks, and medical problems found in young children who accurately remember a past life (when you can get that detailed in your research, think about how much actual evidence there must be). Or the fact that while science has dissected and parsed the brain very well, they still can’t seem to find consciousness. And why can’t they find it? Because as the previous evidence suggest, consciousness, the thing they want to try and create in AI, isn’t in the mass of synapses in your head, but in your soul. The divine part of you that is may be using this sack of meat you call a body, is what gives you intelligence, a sense of self and identity. And that cannot be replicated in a CPU or lines of code. Ever.
It’s as simple as that. I don’t have to get into the complexities of the Chinese Room or the Frame Problem or the other such reasons why philosophers have already pointed out you’ll never have AI…without a soul it doesn’t matter how complex the computer system and code because consciousness does not reside in human being in a physical form, thus it cannot reside in a machine. You could recreate the entire human brain with each cell being represented by a functional quantum processor and connected in with all the synapses in exactly the same order as a functioning brain with the most brilliant code in the world…but even then it the computer, while amazing, will not be sentienet, as a famous movie put, “It doesn’t get pissed off. It doesn’t get happy, it doesn’t get sad, it doesn’t laugh at your jokes. It just runs programs.” And unless for some reason the Heavens decide to breath a soul into a machine (which I can’t even fathom such a reason) AI will remain a convenient tool of science fiction in helping us define exactly what it is to be human and nothing more.

But you know what, let’s take them at their own game, ignore that consciousness is a creation of the soul and not the synapse, for just a minute to show why this is preposterous. Let’s for the sake of argument say there is no soul and that the mind just a complex computer that can be replicated. Then by the same argument there must be thousands of planets out there with intelligent life (since life on Earth is nothing special and the odds of self replicating DNA become very likely—they have to be likely because if they’re unlikely we shouldn’t be here)—and certainly at least some of those races should have reached the technological singularity before we did (if we assume there numerous planet with intelligent life, it becomes statistically preposterous that we would be the first to reach this level). At which point the AI intelligence would have either destroyed the biological being which created it or come to some kind of coexistence. Either way, if you have AI, space travel becomes a given as the AI would have a greater propensity for long term thinking and would expand out to other planets in their own solar system and from there to any inhabitable planets in other spaces systems (the time and resources needed for interstellar travel which prevents humans from traveling to other stars would be irrelevant to thinking machines, you could easily launch thinking machines to other star systems with the machines needed to mine and build new machines and they could reach other planets in a 100 years which wouldn’t mean much to a machine). They would expand and expand and expand. And the entire galaxy would be filled with the radio signals of these computer AI’s communicating with each other (as the desire of any self conscious being is to learn)…and we certainly would have picked that up. Oh wait, there is nothing there, no sign of intelligent life anywhere be it biological or computer based. Which either means that we’re the first race in the galaxy that would get this close (unlikely if life on Earth is nothing special) or that these AI’s are so far from us that we haven’t picked up their signals (again unlikely in a galaxy of 400 billion stars that is only 120,000 light years across). If Hawking and the rest of the chicken littles are right about the nature of life and the singularity, the galaxy (hell the universe) should be filled with AI colonized worlds, each communicating with others to share knowledge. But there’s not even a trace of this. That seems statistically unlikely. I mean you have the argument that we might not pick up biological signals as it’s unlikely you have the mass colonies spreading across the galaxy with biological life—but all those argument go out the window with AI intelligence. But there is nothing there, and if the singularity is possible there should be. But reaching that point of deduction would require actual thought and not just hysterics.

I don’t about you but maybe the silence of the universe is because life is not so cheap and sentience so easy to create.

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Walking with the Enemy: A Powerful Tale of Courage

Elementary Politics

walking with the enemy poster

Based on a true story a Hungarian Jew kills an S.S. officer and takes his uniform so that he can infiltrate and save others from the Holocaust.

Let’s be honest here, as long as the writers, director, and actors don’t completely botch it (as has been the case with some Holocaust movies, I won’t deny that), the story alone you know will be compelling and unspeakably moving. As was the case of Walking with the Enemy. The movie is not without its minor flaws, especially in an exposition heavy first act, but those are easily ignored by a powerful tale of heroism and virtue.

The story follows Elek Cohen in WWII Hungary. Hungary was spared the worst of the war and the Holocaust until the last year of the war, when Eichmann himself was sent to clear the Jews out of Hungary. Elek is first sent to a work…

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Oh god, Ricky Santorum is back. Why?

Rick Santorum is like something to walk out of a Richard Condon novel. He claims to be a conservative, but then never misses a chance to praise his Marxist family members for people of principle. He claims to want to revitalize the economy, but advocates for trade barriers and economic models that are now a century out of date. He claims to be moral and horseeye santorumclearly cares only for himself and his own accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of others.   He is a walking version of liberal lies about conservatives. So when this man who views America as only a vessel for propagating religious extremism and collectivism came back into the lime light you can imagine the groan of exasperation I made.
Then I heard some of the unspeakably imbecilic things that Ricky actually started saying.

 

Let’s start with what is not his most egregious argument, but at least the one that hits the closest to home. This idiot is so delusional he claims that if he had won the nomination he would have won. So let’s just ignore the fact that Romney got the largest portion of general public of any Republican in the last few decades , let’s ignore that if Romney, a man who doesn’t have a racist or sexist bone in his body could fall victim to false claims of a bullying and a war on women that a lunatic who almost used the N word on film and who views women in such high regard that he said he would not allow his adult daughter have an abortion (because, in Ricky’s mind women are just property) would have been a very easy target. Let’s ignore that he with only 2 exceptions, the only states he won in the primary were open primary states where Democrats voted en masse to get the weakest candidate in. Let’s ignore that moderates loathed this man (and rightfully so).  No, Ricky says that Obama’s minions told him they were afraid of him and Rick is just dumb enough to have believed them…no Rick they loved you, they loved that you had no class, were willing to repeat any lie, smear any Republican, and drag your party down if you couldn’t get the White House.   You’re a Democrat’s dream. Ricky they wanted you as the candidate so badly I can only conclude they have something on you that would make you the easiest person in the universe to defeat…now my imagination goes to compromising photos of you and someone else, maybe in some way related to Ricky’s fashion sense, his constant flamboyant hand gestures, his clear overcompensation in the number of children he has, and the rampant homophobia (you know the kind that only comes from someone who has trouble admitting something)…but I don’t know for sure. That or they’ve spent five minutes looking at you put your foot in your mouth more than a drunken Joe Biden…either way, you are a liberal’s dream candidate. Completely un-electable, a stain on the Republican party with moderates, and even if by some act of Satan you actually got in then they would still have all their big government plans put into place by you.

 

 

But he continues to declare things like “Republicans needed to connect with Americans who did not like President Barack Obama during the 2012 election but could not bring themselves to vote for Mitt Romney.” Really Ricky? Who was that? I have never seen any statistical proof of all the voters that idiots like Levin claim to have stayed home…and of the people who voted for Obama even though if they were dissatisfied with his job, ignoring the fact that there are always people who give contradictory answers (when talking about Rick Santorum logic, you have to ignore a lot of facts), that would have switched the vote by only about 2%…and Obama still would have won. If you’re going to comment on things, Rick learn to read at any level because your gross ignorance of, well, everything under the sun is getting really old.

 

The fact of the matter is that only one thing exceeds Rick Santorum’s complete uselessness as a human being when it comes to understanding elections…and that would be his understanding of economics…which we’ll deal with over on Elementary Politics

 

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Books for Conservatives: Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy

Elementary Politics

Clancy's Red Storm Rising

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy is a book that just a few years ago would be thought very dated. Unlike Clancy’s more recognizable Jack Ryan books where you can ignore the dated references to the Cold War and Soviet Russia because you’re focusing on the adventures of our favorite CIA analyst turned President of the United States, Red Storm Rising is not so focused on a single character.

Rather the story takes place in a world where the Soviet Union, due to economic problems caused by terrorism in Muslim heavy areas (Azerbaijan in the book…but you can read it as Crimea if you like) feels that its only option for survival is to start World War III with an invasion of Europe and the Middle East for resources. Obviously written in the days before the end of the Cold War, this book is still disturbingly relevant.

In Clancy’s usual…

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