Category Archives: Charity

The Virtue of Charity

Reagan charityIt’s Christmas Season and for me this seems to be a good time to discuss the virtue of charity (also because I’m trying to head off some objections to the last blog on the evils of liberalism even before they’re made).

In my previous blogs I have made the point that claiming we have a responsibility to help “those in need” is evil because it denigrates those supposedly in need because it says that they are not responsible for their situation, that their need is not a result of their actions, that they do not have free will, and reduces them to something less than human…and I still stand by all of this.

Now some may claim, incorrectly that this excludes the virtue of charity.But it does not.

So the easiest way I can start here is to begin with what is charity, and more importantly, what it is not.

Charity, as defined by Merriam-Webster is:

1: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
  2 a: generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also: aid given to those in need b: an institution engaged in relief of the poor c: public provision for the relief of the needy  
3 a: a gift for public benevolent purposes b: an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift

Now in common usage we’re probably more concerned with definitions 2 and 3, but in reality these are your usual corruptions of language that we see in a bastard language like English.I want to focus primarily on definition 1 for the moment.

Benevolence–goodwill–love.

Where do we find this in human relations?

Well, for a minute I want you to think about the ways you can deal with another person.There are only three ways you can deal with anyone: force, reason and love.You can deal with them through force either because you are a brute or they are a brute and incapable of being dealt with in either of the other ways; in either case you are assuming the person you are dealing with is inferior to you (usually because they are incapable or unwilling to use reason, which does make them less than human and more like an animal). Obviously this would seemingly have nothing to do with charity, but sadly this is the way most people view charity, especially the evil that is modern liberalism. Liberals, and government in general, say “you are incapable of raising yourself out of whatever problems ails you without our help, you are inferior to us, and no amount of education or good luck will ever get you out of your problems on your own.You NEED our help, and will die without it.You are less than human.”As such, liberal charity given without regard to who receives it, and welfare especially, is quite like violence, although probably not as honest as bloodshed.

Then as suggested by the previous statement you can deal with people through reason. Reason is a faculty of being human and to use reason suggests that the person you are dealing with is reasonable, thus human, and thus reason is an expression of ‘I view you as an equal.’Now a reasonable person can be foolish and not recognize that the person they are dealing with is incapable of reason (for instance Neville Chamberlain or U.S. foreign policy of wanting to “talk” to Iran) and a reasonable person can also act through violence when confronting someone who is unreasonable because that is the only logical answer (for instance there was no way to deal with the Nazi’s or Iran in a reasonable way that doesn’t involve a massive tonnage of high explosives). Just because someone is reasonable does not mean they are always logical, it just means that more often or not they are willing to listen to reason.But the main point I want to make sure you get here is that reason is a meeting between equals, between two humans who are capable of reason.This area too has no true place for charity, because we have a word for dealing with people who use reason: capitalism. Every one gives and receives in terms of equal value and the true beauty of capitalism is that everyone comes out a winner (so long as the government enforces rules and doesn’t encourage theft and fraud like it’s now doing).

So where is charity?

Now if you were Ayn Rand you would say that these two ways (force and reason) are the only ways to deal with people. But there is actually a third way to deal with people: through, getting back to that first definition of charity, benevolence, goodwill, friendship and love. Love and friendship are neither violent nor are they completely reasonable. Another way to look at it is that if reason is a function of the mind, then love is the function of the soul.But isn’t it also between equals, just like with reason?It may seem odd but it isn’t quite a recognition of equality…and no it isn’t saying that the person you feel love to is superior to you either.So what is it?Well, there is this great word in Sanskrit “Namaste” it means “the spark of the divine (Christians may feel free to use “piece of the Holy Spirit”) within me recognizes the spark of the divine within you.”Love is the recognition that there is something superior to just your human nature in both you and the person you love, it means you are willing to honor that better part of both of you and see only that perfection.

As such true charity is not about helping the “needy” as the incorrect 2nd definition above claims.Rather it is giving to help to those who may be suffering at the present, but to whom you recognize have not need but potential and divinity.

Think about it this way.Giving to that bum on the corner everyday isn’t charity. It’s done to boost your own rather insecure ego. Giving welfare checks to someone who would rather sit on their ass all day and do nothing isn’t charity because it is given on the belief that they can’t do better than that kind of life and would fail without your help. It’s more arrogance on the part of the giver and is closer philosophically to violence than it is to love and charity.Charity is giving to someone to help them get over the temporary problems in life: to provide education, to give money to a friend who has fallen on hard times and just needs a little to get through the next month but will be fine in the long run, to give advice, to show basic kindness, giving to an organization that promotes the best not helps the worst. This is true charity and this is the basis for the Christmas season, giving to those whom we recognize something better in, and whom we want to honor that better part. And this is what individuals need to strive to achieve in their lives, for it is only this kind of charity that betters the lives of the giver and receiver.

But notice that this is a virtue that any organization (and especially government) is incapable of reaching, because organizations do not have the spark of the divine within them (again especially government), thus they cannot recognize it in others. Charity should be individual. Short of that it should be an organization that is voluntary and freely given. But the enforced nature of government falls short on every level.

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In the season of giving a quick word on charity (both old and new)…

Charity.jpg

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. “

Proverbs 11:24-25

“Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.“

Matthew 6:1-4

“Give up kindness, renounce morality,
 And men will rediscover piety and love.”

Tao Te Ching 19

“Charity given for the sake of righteousness, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness. But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood, is said to be charity in the mode of passion. And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance.”

Bhagavad-Gita  Ch17. 20-22

“The teacher of God is generous out of Self interest.”

A Course in Miracles Manual For Teachers Chapter 4 Part VII

Give till it hurts?: The Great Recession, tax policy, and the future of charity in America

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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

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BiWeekly Meditation–Looking for the Win-Win Solution

“[Adam] Smith noted that in all transactions, both parties come out better for it.”–Republicans And Reincarnation 

Weekly Meditation: The Sixth Chakra.


Okay, first let me say that I’m switching to bi weekly mediations.  I’ve been doing this for two year and (taking the few weeks I skipped) that’s about 100 meditations, (That’s a lot of meditations) if you need something to focus on to center your mind, it’s not like they have a shelf life and go bad after two weeks.  So rather than keep coming up with stuff every week, I’m going to switch to doing these every other week.

And I think that works out best for everyone, it allows me to take more time to plan these, and you more time to get something out of every meditations.

It’s a win-win.  Which happens to be the theme of this meditation.

As many of my more loyal readers know, I am a huge fan of capitalism.  And besides the fact that it’s the only system that works and is sustainable, there are all the ethical reasons I support capitalism.  One of them is that capitalism is the only system that allows for a win-win scenario. Every honest transaction in capitalism benefits both the seller and the buyer–you both get something you want and you both make your lives better for it.  It’s why this system is the only one that creates prosperity, creates wealth, creates ideas and innovation, and creates a better society.  It’s a system where no one has to lose.  Every other system there HAS TO BE a loser, with liberty and true capitalism the only losers are the ones who don’t engage in the system of free exchange and try to be the most virtuous person they can.  It is the system that models the growth of our souls to enlightenment, everyone can get there, but it is only by choice, work and will power they will.*

But one of the reasons I think so many people are opposed to it is because they are stuck in a win-lose mind set.  They think that every situation has to have a winner and a loser.  If you’re doing better I’m doing worse.  In reality this isn’t so.  With the exception of the artificial nature of sports, life doesn’t have to be about winners and losers.  If one company does well it doesn’t mean its competition must fail, it only means that its competition must adapt, possibly by improving their product, possibly by going in a new direction…and the consumer benefits from both (Microsoft AND Apple seem to be doing well, as well as they myriad of companies that benefit because they do well and the chain of thought goes on and on). Just because you get a promotion doesn’t mean I lost, I now have further opportunities to shine, and I don’t have to feel pressured by the comparison (or a thousand other ways to look at it…a lot of situations come down to how we choose to interpret them and react to them.  If you look at most situations as opportunities, you will seldom find a loss).

But let’s be honest, since there are people with the win-lose attitude instead of the win-win attitude, it does spill into our lives whether we want it or not.  So we have to show people that there are win-win solutions where we can find them.  We have to look for them, we have to propose them to those around us, and we have to convince people.  But the first part of this is that we have to look for them.  So I would recommend either in the evening to spend ten to twenty minutes reviewing all the situations you had during the day that devolved into win-lose situations (or the morning to look back on the previous day).  Look for the ways that they could have been win-win solutions for all involved.  Run it through your mind for to see if there were multiple ways it could have been a win-win.  And do this not with guilt or self-recrimination.  You’re looking at this to get you mind in the habit of looking for win-win opportunities, not to chide yourself for not seeing them at the time they occurred.  The only way you’re going to be being to see them as they occur is if your review previous encounters and see what other possibilities were open that you did not see at the time. And, like so many of these meditations, isn’t something you’re not going to pick up immediately.  It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured, refined, and practiced before you get really good at it.

Now, I do need to point out that just because you can see the win-win solution it does not mean you can convince others.  I remember a time I tried to help someone with a project at work and they incredibly behind on.  This person at first attacked me because they saw my attempt to help them get through the project faster as an insult and responded rather angrily with comments like “I said I’ll get it done and I’ll get it done” (even though they were past the deadline) and then told me “if you want to do this all, fine, I would rather be doing something else.”  This person saw only the win-lose, either they did all the work, or I did all the work, only one person gets free time (yes this had bled into working on the weekend).  It became clear that the win-win of if we both do this we’d both get out of here quickly wasn’t open to this person.  So I shut down my computer, went home, and finished the project later that night when the portion I was waiting on was finished.  If it’s going to be win-lose, I have no intention of being the loser.  And it is at this point that you need to understand if someone makes it clear that there is only a win-lose situation, you should not act like a martyr and think that you should be the one to lose.  Like the Constitution, spiritual enlightenment, is not a suicide pact.  If it’s going to be win-lose, and you’re tried to make an attempt to show any win-win opportunities you can think of, if it is the other person choosing the losing philosophy don’t let yourself be harmed by it.

 

So for the next two weeks look for the win-win opportunities and see you can reduce the stress and increase the moments of peace (and maybe even enlightenment) in your life.

*Okay there might be divine grace in there too, but that has no parallel in any economic system…unless we want to get into voluntary charity, which again is a liberty/capitalism thing.

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Movies for Conservatives: Les Miserables

Les Miserables Posters

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men.  It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Les Mis a movie for conservatives?

Yeah.

But let’s first talk about the qualities of the movie apart from political or philosophical points.

The High Points

This is the play in all its glory.  And the play is a truncated version of one of the most moving books ever written.  All the passion, all the empathy there.  You will cry for Fantine.  For Eponine.  For Gavrouche.  For the revolutionary Friends of the ABC.  For Javert. And of course for Valjean.  Bring tissues this is movie that you will cry at, a lot.

And this movie has a few truly wonderful scenes that supply motivation that was missing in the play.  For instance it has Javert arrive on the same day that Fantine is dismissed from her job, which gives a reason for Valjean not taking a more serious interest in her case.

The movie also supplies little moments from the book that were never in the play, like Grantaire standing by Enjolras at the moment of execution.

I think director Tom Hooper created something truly genius with the live singing way this movie was made…however it appears in the early scenes that there was certainly a learning curve involved in using this technique (I wish this wasn’t the first movie to do it so Hooper could have had something to reference).  But for any inconsistency it brings up at some moments, it adds deeply to the rest of the film and emotional impact of the songs.

Les Mis HathawayAnne Hathaway deserves an Oscar.

And Russell Crowe’s singing was a pleasant surprise.  He added more humanity to Javert than any actor I have previously seen.

The Low Points.

I feel there was a lot that got left on the editing room floor. At 2 hours and 37 minutes this was pushing it for most movies nowadays and I’m pretty sure if all the little things that were taken out were put back in it would be well over 3 hours.  And since Hollywood has no intention of returning to the idea of an intermission (to me this makes no sense as most of the money comes from concessions and if there is a break at an hour and a half we would be more willing to buy soda since we wouldn’t have to worry about running out to the rest room and we would buy food at the halfway mark as we would be hungrier by that point…but at least it seems that way, real data I’m not privy to might show otherwise) they were probably forced to make some heavy cuts to the movie.  This creates some odd pacing issues, where certain parts feel a little rushed.

Also, and it may be a personal issue that others may not have a problem with, I was not overly impressed by Jackman’s singing. It wasn’t bad, but I’m used to a deeper more sonorous voice for Valjean.

On the technical points, the movie is one of the best of the year, the acting and visual work was spectacular. The editing needs work (or at least a director’s cut DVD…please.) and the directing while exceptional still could have been just a little better (I think the high cost of production may have prevented doing reshoots that other films might have done)…Hooper gets an A not A+.

The Political/Philosophical Points

Did you know this was Ayn Rand’s favorite book?  It was.  Kind of puts any thoughts that Les Mis is liberal out of the “obviously” category doesn’t it.

Okay let’s look at some of the points. On their own merits.

“I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me.  Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free. I speak I am condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.”

Jean Valjean is a convict, yes. But while that’s all that Javert sees, we’re supposed to see more.  We’re supposed to see the successful businessman who not only created a whole industry in a town, bringing it out of poverty and into an economic renaissance, but who also out of Christian charity (not guilt, it should be noted that if you read the book Valjean is motivated by a desire to be a better person, not by guilt about his prior actions) creates hospitals and schools for the poor.  In a day and age when lesser writers like Dickens would just recycle the terrible image of the robber baron, Hugo gave us a noble businessman as an example of what others should be. It should also be noted that in a very Atlas Shrugged kind of way, Hugo has no illusions that once Valjean is forced to run the industry and the town is not able to survive in its thriving state without Valjean’s leadership. The book to a great degree, with touches still in the movie, shows that prosperity is driven by captains of industry.

“Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Further it should be noted what a deeply religious story this story is.  It is God and the Bishop of Digne, not government that redeems Valjean.  God and faith permeate all levels of this story.  Faith ironically is what drives both Valjean and Javert.  And it never condemns any form of faith, showing that all those fallen (except sadly Javert, whom I’m sure Hugo would have placed there) together in heaven.

The novel, the play, and now the movie praise faith.  It’s a rarity these days in serious well produced films.  And given the desperate need for spirituality in our modern world, something like this must be embraced.

“Let us die facing our foe […] Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREE!”

And dare we forget that much of the second half of the story is taken up by an uprising by Republican revolutionaries, seeking a return to law and not the capricious whims of a king.

“But, but, but” some liberals will complain.  The book is about helping the poor, and how unjust the criminal justice system is.  Those are liberal issues. And what they fail to realize is that these are different times and different issues.  The poor in 19th century France were starving (a problem with accuracy is that even the slums of France look too pretty in this movie…honestly we wouldn’t have felt comfortable actually watching what the “The Miserable” of 19th century France looked like…it wasn’t quite Nazi Concentration Camp, but certainly not as pretty as this film depicts it), the poor in 21st century America are suffering an obesity epidemic.  Hugo critiqued those who were lazy and those who felt entitled.  Poverty of the kind Hugo witnessed in France was what he wanted us to feel empathy for, modern poverty would not likely bring as much empathy from Victor.  And he would be horrified by the lack of the churches and religion in the government welfare that modern liberals champion.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can’t compare the legal system that punished Valjean for 20 years and hounded him for life for stealing a loaf of bread to our modern system…yes we have problems, but we have the kind of problems Hugo would have only dreamed of.

“Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.”

Of course for me one of the most revealing passages in Les Miserable is when Hugo takes a moment to critique communism.

(It should be noted the terms Socialism and Communism at the time do not have the same meaning now…what he calls Communism would be more in line with modern European Socialism…the term Capitalism was first used in 1854, 8 years before Hugo published Les Miserables—it took him nearly 20 years to write—and its usage as a economic system did not begin until Marx used it in 1867, 5 years after Les Miserables was published.  So he could never expect to hear him use the term capitalism even thought that seems to be what he’s calling for.   He certainly did not have the term cronyism which describes the economics of 19th century France better than anything.  So pay attention to the systems and practices he is referring to, not the titles, as he had no access to the title we currently use.)

“The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.  The highest equality is equity.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the manhappy, the citizen free, the nation great.

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor.

It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides.

It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.

[…]

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.”

[Emphasis added]

You will notice he is proposing such things as universal education, due process of law, and property rights.  He condemns any attempt for everyone to have their fair and equal share and envying the wealthy.  He proposes that people be paid just wages for their work (which was an issue then, not so much now). He proposes to make every man his own master, that everyone may earn wealth.  I can’t speak with certainty what political path Hugo would take in the modern world, but I can be fairly certain that if a modern day liberal went back to see him, Hugo would try to slap the stupid out of the Occupy trash.  I can also be mildly sure that Hugo might encourage the building of a few barricades against some of the government overreaches of the modern world.

All in all, the story is one of the value of liberty, of the individual, of redemption through works and of God.  Those are conservative themes if I ever heard them.

“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the Earth there is a flame that never dies,

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

We will live again in Freedom in the garden of the Lord.

We will walk behind the plowshares.  We will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?  Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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Movies that show the rich as good #4 Batman Begins

“And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Oh come on you knew he would be in here. Super rich guy who uses his money to battle crime and evil. Of course he’s going to be in this list.

So I chose this one film over the whole spectrum of Batman films for two reasons. The first is that I find the Bale/Nolan interpretation of the character to be far more human and realistic than any other version of the character. The second is that because this version of the film includes not one person to admire, but two.

The first is of course Bruce Wayne. Yeah a little off in the early parts of the movie, but once he finds his calling for his life—“I’m gonna show the people of Gotham their city doesn’t belong to the criminals and the corrupt.” It’s a very conservative/libertarian idea—I’m going to show people that they can stand up for themselves, I’m going to show them their problems aren’t so big that individuals can’t face them, and, as he says in a later film, “A hero can be anyone.” And this is what makes him better than the other visions of Batman which at their best seem to only be driven by revenge or guilt at their core (or campiness) and have merely sublimated it into something more productive…but rather someone who has moved beyond his need for revenge and self-pity to actually do something productive with his life.

Honestly, the argument for Bruce Wayne kind of gets made on its own…or you’ve really been living in a cave.

But there is another nice thing about Batman Begins: Thomas Wayne.
This film gives us a look at the virtues of the Wayne family that are often ignored just a little in the whole of films.

“In the depression, your father nearly bankrupted Wayne Enterprises combating poverty. He believed that his example could inspire the wealthy of Gotham to save their city.”

Thomas Wayne shows all the virtues of all those robber barons of the 19th century who used their earned wealth to build infrastructure, charities, fund churches and reform movements, who brought cheaper goods at greater quantities. Those evil bastards. They understood the call of the now overly forgotten virtue of noblesse oblige*–that with the wealth you have earned and inherited one of the most rewarding and fulfilling things you can do with that wealth is help others fulfill their potential as well. Wayne especially in his building a transportation system rather than just giving out the dole understands that it is systems and tools that help people more than just handouts.

“Gotham’s been good to our family, but the city’s been suffering. People less fortunate than us have been enduring very hard times. So we built a new, cheap, public transportation system to unite the city.”

Of course also this is the kind of man who through his superior actions as a parent also shows himself to be worthy of complete admiration. Even his dying words, “Don’t be afraid,” are concerned with the not just the physical well being of his son, but the mental and spiritual well being as well (yeah, it took Bruce awhile to internalize them, but he’s only human).

The Nolan series of Dark Knight movies as a whole is a wonderful depiction of human virtue and the good that people are capable of, but this movie also doesn’t give into the knee jerk ability to just portray the rich as vapid and pointless. (Notice also how offended even the rich are when Bruce starts to pretend acting like most Hollywood writers think the rich actually are).

*Yes I realize that the term has numerous definitions from the derogatory to the chivalrous, I’m going to use it here to more or less mean: To whom much is given, much is expected… or, if you prefer I keep in the comic book parlance for the blog, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” You might also look to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics Book 4 Chapter 2 for a further discussion on this virtue.

Honorable Mentions in Film
I would be remiss to not mention two other rich people in film in conjunction with the Dark Knight films.

The first is Zorro. And I will say the best version of Zorro is still the The Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power. Like Wayne, and in most versions of the Batman story the inspiration for Batman, Don Diego de la Vega is rich but cannot turn aside from the injustice he sees. So he dons a mask and becomes the Fox, Zorro. Now granted the wealth of a Spanish noble in Spanish California is probably not as ethically gotten as a modern industrialist, but it’s not as relevant to the story.

And of course, since most of Marvel’s stable of heroes are merely rip offs of DC characters we have to mention, Tony Stark. Robert Downey Jr.’s Ironman starts off as a bit more immature than Bruce Wayne, but over the last three films (and soon Iron Man 3) we have certainly come to love Tony, if not still finding him a bit egocentric.

These are highly entertaining films, albeit maybe not as deep as the Dark Knight films.

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Filed under Capitalism, character, Charity, Movies

Movies that show rich as good #9 Castle

There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers. I’m the kind that pays better.

Before anyone thinks that this is only going to be a list of movies made before 1970 where everyone in almost every film is wealthy and sporting more liquor than I would possibly know what to do with (don’t believe me, watch a Thin Man movie, fish drink less). But have no fear, this is not just a list of classics…

Take our number #9 pick: Castle and its eponymous character Richard Castle. Is Castle rich? Oh yeah, this bestselling author can buy a bar just because he feels like it or put out 100K just to help get a killer. The man certainly qualifies as rich enough to quit working and still have enough to live comfortably. (Which is arguably what he’s done since he’s now only averaging a book a year).

Richard Castle: Oh, I’ve been kicked out of all of New York’s finer educational institutions at least once. The irony is, now that I’m rich and famous, they all claim me as alum and want money.
Kate Beckett: It is just so rough being you.
Richard Castle: My cross to bear.

And what makes him so great?

Well there is one thing, his clear sense of justice…not just in catching the bad guys but in the sense of that this is a man who digs through old case files to see that the true love of a man who breaks his girlfriend out of jail for a crime

And let us not forget that Kate comes from money as well…not Castle money, but certainly from that line between upper middle class and lower upper class…and she is also shown as a hero without equal.

they didn’t commit ends with them being released not both thrown into prison. This is a man who puts his life on the line for friends and never does anything he even remotely considers wrong. (Immature to the nth degree yes, wrong no, and when he has screwed up he is remarkably willing to apologize).

Further, Castle while obscenely generous at times, he also understands the real purpose of money: to use it in furthering happiness. Yes Castle seems like he is irresponsible and devil-may-care…but that’s not because he can’t be mature (he has too many moving scenes with Alexis, Martha and Beckett for it to be that) it’s just that he has earned his second childhood through the hard work of writing over two dozen best sellers. He earned it and he’s going to enjoy it, and that’s more or less exactly what money is for.

Like most good people with or without money, Castle is a good child even to a mother of sometimes questionable skills (while we all love Martha at this point in her life, we all have to admit she was a terrible parent from some of the stories she and Castle tell). But like a good son Castle loves his mother, and for all of his annoyance is always there for her with a shoulder to cry on or a rent free apartment if she needs it.

And of course, forget Beckett and Martha, forget his generosity and devil-may-care attitude, the single most important thing is that Castle is admirable and that he is perhaps the single greatest father in the history of television. The character has raised a mature, self-reflective, high-achieving, self-sufficient daughter who is also well adjusted socially. And it’s just not writers shoehorning these characters in, the writing of the character of Castle is at all times supporting, caring, loving, and encouraging of his daughter and acts in exactly the way you would need to raise and encourage such a young woman. For whatever flaws of ego or clownishness the character comes with, his parenting skills and infinite love for his daughter more than wipe them out.

That is not to say money is a necessity of good parenting (although I think you’re rather selfish to bring a child into the world if you don’t have the money to support it) but the writers of Castle have gone out of their way to show a character who has more virtues than vices (and rather superficial ones as they disappear the second they are inappropriate), and they have made this character very rich without a moment of or scintilla of remorse over his well earned riches.

Like father like daughter?

Honorable Mention

Simon Tam from Firefly.  Yeah, Simon was uncomfortable and out of place.  But he gave us his whole extensive fortune for the love of his sister.  Have to appreciate that.

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Filed under Art, Capitalism, character, Charity, Evils of Liberalism, Individualism, Movies, Movies for Conservatives, politics, virtue

Romney: The Man of Near Infinite Empathy and Compassion

Mitt does not like to talk about how he has helped others because he sees it as a privilege, not a political talking point.–Ann Romney

So the continuing attacks on Romney are just getting more and more egregious.

In the last few days I’ve seen Romney called a fanatic and shameful for actually saying America should be defended and respected…and I’m apparently a fanatic for defending this belief as well. But then again apparently any defense of Romney is my “salivating” over him without using any intelligent thought. (This while the left ignores all of Obama’s flaws and slobbers over him.)

But apparently to some of those who support government any defense of the free market or American Exceptionalism is fanaticism and a call for genocide. Back here in reality it’s a defense of virtue, facts, and what works.

So just to annoy them, and I would recommend all my readers do the same in their personal lives (just for fun), let’s point out the numerous qualities that make Romney the kind of person I want to vote for.

Now I prefer intelligence and common sense in my candidates, but there seems to be a large call for a candidate with empathy. Now everyone but a sociopath* has empathy but some exude and act on it better than others***. Mitt Romney is apparently not one of these people who exudes a “I feel your pain” feeling on camera (I can however tell you from personal experience that he’s very charismatic and likable when you’re ten feet from him, but again that shouldn’t necessarily be a reason to vote for him). However, since liberals are hitting him as being a cold and vicious heathen for not exuding this empathetic claptrap on TV let’s look at his actual behavior to determine if this is a man who acts with charity and compassion to others.

This is the man who would give a struggling family $250,000 because he heard they needed help. 

This is the man who has saved a drowning family.

This is the man who shut down his company, possibly loosing thousands if not millions in the process, so that he could direct his company’s full attention on finding and saving the daughter of a friend

This is a man who gives millions in charity, giving more than what is tax deductible

A man who is so uninterested in money he gives up his salary as governor (about half a million over 4 years) and who took no salary for the work he did to save the Olympics.

A man who takes time to comfort the sick and needy, to care for those who feel they are in darkness and who need help.


And there are EVEN MORE STORIES HERE…
You know what, you can say a lot about Romney? You can say that, “Oh he has money, he can afford to be that generous”…true…but what about the people the left defends endlessly like tax evader Warren Buffett***. The fact is that he has earned his money and then does what few of us ever have the chance to do, and what few of those who have the chance ever actually do, use it to gain happiness by helping others. I guess you could claim that ALL these people are lying, but that would be fairly petty. You can claim that compassion and empathy and charity aren’t everything…I would agree, but do you really want to have an argument about intelligence and policy when your candidate is Obama?

But you can’t claim that Romney is not a man of extreme empathy, extreme compassion, and extreme charity.

Any attack on this man’s character is just silly.

*I could name some politicians, but I’ll be polite.
**I believe the word for exuding empathy is charlatan.
***If you bring up Romney’s tax returns, you’re an idiot. There is not a single iota of evidence to suggest Romney has cheated on his taxes or hid money. It is a fact on the other hand that Buffet and half the cabinet are avoiding paying their taxes.

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Filed under character, Charity, Election 2012, Faith, Free Will, God, Individualism, Love, Mitt Romney

The Conservative New Ager and The Snark Who Hunts Back Review The Dark Knight Rises: A Tale of Heroes, Politics and Death

This last week we (The Snark Who Hunts Back and The Conservative New Ager) went to go see The Dark Knight Rises together for the second time (the first being a trilogy marathon on opening night). We delayed writing a blog then because it became obvious there was so much we would have to see it again to fully appreciate the depth…and even on a second viewing we realized there is more than a single blog here.

But let’s get the overture out of the way. The final piece of this spectacular trilogy, like almost all of director Christopher Nolan’s recent work is thematically based off a work of literature…A Tale of Two Cities, in the case of The Dark Knight Rises. And while it might be hard to find the undercurrents of Othello in The Dark Knight, Faust in The Prestige, or Zorro in Batman Begins (which for symmetry should be renamed The Dark Knight Begins).

But it’s not just literary, it’s political…or at least it appears to be. The Dark Knight seemed pretty obviously a defense of the War on Terror, and The Dark Knight Rises seems a pretty striking assault on the morals of leftist economics. Now Nolan claims that his works aren’t political (a common defense by those who want to survive in a hostile political environment) and Occupy Wall Street thugs think they’re really smart in pointing out that the movie was written before OWS so it can’t be about them (this poor argument ignores that their rhetoric of evil has been spouted by the left quite vehemently in the last few years and also they clearly are so ignorant of the history of their own ideas that they don’t know their filth was spouted by demagogues in ancient Athens, and shown to be stupid then…so just because Nolan didn’t know about OWS doesn’t mean he wasn’t responding to the evil)…and even if Nolan is telling the truth that he didn’t intend it to a political statement (which I doubt) it works too well as one not to make some comments about the philosophy of the work.

Now ignoring the message of the trilogy taken as a whole (that’s another blog for another time) we think there are three main philosophical statements to this film: The nature of heroism, the politics of progressivism, envy and “social justice”, and the fear of death.

The Nature of the Hero

“A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat over a little boy’s shoulder to let him know the world hadn’t ended.”

One of the more unbelievable complaints I’ve heard about The Dark Knight Rises was that it made it look like the common man can’t do anything for themselves, that they need the rich to save them. Never mind the fact that, by the end, Bruce Wayne barely had a cent to his name or that his money certainly didn’t help him climb out of the pit. We would just want to know if the person who made the complaint was even watching the same movie that we saw with our friends.

Not long after Bruce Wayne loses all his money, due to Bane’s attack on the stock exchange, he has a conversation with John Blake, a police officer who knows Wayne’s identity as Batman. Wayne tells Blake that the whole point of Batman was that he could be anyone, Batman was meant to be an inspiration to the people of Gotham, something that is repeated in both of the previous movies.

In Batman Begins Bruce Wayne tell Alfred:

“People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy. And I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man I’m just flesh and blood, I can be ignored, destroyed. But a symbol….as a symbol I can be incorruptible, everlasting…..”

In The Dark Knight, the Joker asks the fake Batman, Brian what batman means to him. Brian answers “He’s a symbol … that we don’t have to be afraid of scum like you”. And the whole point of Batman, as we see come to fruition at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises, was not to create a legion of caped crusaders, but an army of men like Harvey Dent (before his psychotic break) and Jim Gordon—a group of people willing to stand up for what is right.

But we digress. The point is what made the average person a hero in The Dark Knight Rises.

At no point did John Blake, Commissioner Gordon, or the other members of the resistance, sit down and go ‘well, I’m just a common person, I’m just going to wait for the government or Batman to come save us’ (except for the character of Foley, who was rightly called out for being a coward). They worked tirelessly to find a way out on their own, they realized they were on their own the moment Bane took over the city and began to look for ways to free the city’s police force from the sewers.

When Batman did come back, in an a miraculous 11th hour miracle, they didn’t wait for him to clean up the mess. The police banded together and marched on Bane’s army, many of them dying in the fighting to save their city.

Selina Kyle, despite telling Batman that she was leaving the city as soon as she destroyed the debris blocking the tunnel, turned around and risked her life to fight for the city and to save Batman’s life.

Lucius Fox risked death and drowning , trying to find a way to stop the nuclear bomb from detonating.

Even Ra’s al Ghul (don’t you hate it when you agree with the words, if not the actions, of a villain?) says, during Bruce’s training, “The training is nothing! The will is everything! The will to act.”

The heroes who kept Gotham alive while Batman fought his way out of the pit

Every one of these people, training or no, had the will to act. They were all willing to give everything for their city, for their freedom. What could possibly be more heroic than that?

Fancy toys, nice cars, and a cool suit will only get you so far if you don’t have the will to do what is necessary, even when what is necessary may end your life.

Heroism isn’t about money, toys, or good looks; it’s a state of mind and living life, not with no fear of death, but with a willingness to die to defend others and defend your beliefs.

You may not be a superhero, but anyone can be a hero. That’s what The Dark Knight Rises shows us about heroism.

Politics, Socialism and evils of envy

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend, will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof shuts out the sky.'”—A Tale of Two Cities*

You would have to have been pretty dense not to get that this movie was thematically inspired by A Tale of Two Cities. Even Dickens, for all of his sickeningly naïve progressive rhetoric, had an inkling of the evil of the French Revolution. A quick review of history if it’s been too long since that high school history class. Louis XVI in response to economic woes and civil unrest had given the public everything they wanted: an assembly, power of due process of law, and abdicated much of the absolute power of the monarchy. And while many where happy with these changes, the ignorant rabble who were open to the rhetoric of the most extreme thought it wasn’t enough. They stormed the Bastille, arrested Louis and his wife (who if you actually study history was not the vapid slut a layman’s understand of history tries to depict her as), and placed power in the hands of radicals like Robespierre and Marat. The Terror, Madam Guillotine, rivers of blood, atrocities on a scale that wouldn’t be seen again in France until the Nazi’s allowed the French to revel in their anti-Semitism. (A similar pattern would be seen when the Russians replaced the Tsar with a democratic government…but soon got rid of that in favor of a psychotically evil government).

She learned to hate her “ideal” world quickly enough.

This history lesson is important because this is the same pattern Nolan shows in Gotham. For all of it’s corruption in the first two films, Gotham at the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises was a city that had everything it wanted: Clean streets, an efficient police force (a city of 12 million with only 3,000 uniformed officers means an obscenely low crime rate), a healthy economy (the city could afford multiple simultaneous construction projects by Dagget, that means an incredibly good tax base, ergo strong economy…and football stadiums aren’t packed to the brim with every last seat filled during hard times), a mayor who has survived for over 8 years in office (usually a sign of prosperity) Even Selina Kyle’s words of decrying inequality ring hollow, he “old town” (suggestive of the gutter) apartment is hardly a shabby SRO or the slum heap of “the narrows” from the first film—and while in Batman Begins criminals could carry on with their nefarious dealings out in the open, or hide them in the vast slums, this is a Gotham where there are so few places to hide your activities you literally have skulk in the sewers (everywhere else is too bright and too well off to hide such activities)…Like the French they had everything they had asked for. And, like France, it took only a little fear and few mad men to stir the lowest rungs of society and bring about anarchy.
There are of course differences between A Tale of Two Cities and the Revolution it describes and the events of The Dark Knight Rises. The Bastille was stormed not to free prisoners (there were hardly any left in the Bastille by the time of the Revolution) but to gain weapons to take over the city. And even if you buy the myth of the Storming of the Bastille, the prisoners released from the Bastille were primarily political prisoners…not hardened thugs of organized crime. The fact that the Dent Law in The Dark Knight Rises was passed because there was a martyr to push through the law, does not change the fact that it, like all three-strikes laws and mandatory sentencing laws, are a particular point of hatred for the progressive who think it’s unfair that people who do evil and horrific things should, heaven forbid, be locked up where they can’t do any harm. But be it the Bastille and the release of a mere seven political prisoners or the opening of Blackgate Prison and letting a host of violent criminals go free, the result was ironically the same: The Terror.

The terror: a system where justice and trials are a mockery and the innocent are held as guilty for crimes they never committed…and where there is only one punishment: death. The terror, a system that provides so much that it makes everyone so equal that they are all starving and tearing at each other for daily sustenance (or like the Soviet Union or Gotham you could have food imported from the capitalistic society because you can’t produce any on your own). The terror: the utopia every half brained progressive idealist praises, only to lead to their own downfall.

In the real French Revolution the villain was Robespierre who used high rhetoric to justify rank thugery as a progressive march to fraternity and equality. In A Tale of Two Cities the villain was Madame De Farge, a woman so hell bent on avenging her family’s murders that she will see the whole world burn to get her pound of flesh. Nolan gives us both villains in the form of Bane and Talia al Ghul. Which of course leads us into the villainy of their perverse understanding of economics.

Let me spout the politics of envy and class warfare knowing it will only lead to your eventual destruction!

Before we get into showing how Nolan destroys the ideals of progressivism by showing what it brings, let’s dismiss one semi-intelligent objection: Bane and Talia don’t believe in progressivism, they’re trying to show how it is a failed system and how people must reject it. That’s not entirely an incorrect point…but what you need to also realize is that just because the villains may be a tool they don’t really believe in doesn’t mean that it isn’t showing the flaws of progressivism…and that just because they don’t believe in progressivism doesn’t mean they’re capitalist. Point in fact, the entire League of Shadows from Ra’s Al Ghul’s first words to Talia’s last is a world view based on feudalism and cronyism. The League believes it should be the one who decides who shall be successful and who shall fail. Bane says as much when he tells Wayne, “I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to “stay in the sun.” You can watch me torture an entire city and when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny… We will destroy Gotham and then, when it is done and Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.” As we stated above they rule through terror, not reason, not ethics, not law, justice—they dress their words up in the clothes of these higher ideals but their actions show them to be as hollow and lacking in substance on the inside as any scarecrow (especially if said Scarecrow sets himself up as the instrument of justice).

Politically speaking, there is much that is applicable to our current political situation in our country. Now, to be fair, I don’t believe that Christopher Nolan’s intent was to create a modern political allegory. This movie was written and being filmed long before the Occupy Wall Street movement, which shares many of the villains sentiments, began.

During the first few weeks of the Occupy movement we both remember having many conversations about the similarities between that movement and the early days of the French Revolution. Which is why the connection between The Dark Knight Rises and OWS comes so easily.

The views of Occupy Wall Street were shown almost perfectly in Bane’s and Catwoman’s words, as well as the actions of the people who jump at the chance to drag the rich out and punish them for their success.

Bane’s entire speech outside of Black Gate Prison is so reminiscent of something from a ‘mic check’ at Occupy Wall Street

“We take power from the corrupt, who, for generations, have kept you down with myths of…opportunity and we give it back to you, the people. Gotham is yours, none shall interfere, do as you please. We’ll start by storming Black Gate and freeing the oppressed…an army will be raised, the powerful will be ripped from their decadence and cast out into the cold where we all have endured, courts will be convened, spoils will be enjoyed…”

-Bane (apologies for mistakes, I was working from a VERY scratchy audio clip)

and for those of you who remember the scenes that accompanied the final lines of that speech, the violence is so similar to the rioting at Occupy Oakland that is was almost frightening, especially when you realize that this movie was written months before any of that every happened.

Selina Kyle (Catwoman) starts out with the same exact rhetoric as many an Occupy Wall Street supporter. In a conversation with Bruce Wayne she says “You think this is gonna last? There’s a storm coming Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. ‘Cause when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us.”

Though after her betrayal of Batman she appears to change her tone in a way that OWS never did. Upon entering a home that had been ransacked after Bane’s Black Gate speech she comments on the fact that ‘this used to be someone’s home’ when she looks at a smashed family photo. Her friend says ‘now it’s everyone’s home.’ Kyle, unlike just about everyone in OWS who only has to look to the failure of the Soviet Union, the collapse of Greece or the repression of China and North Korea to know what a failed system socialism, when she saw what her ideals brought about very quickly had no problem seeing their evil and abandoning them.

The Dark Knight Rises shows what happens when give us capitalisms for anarchy or socialism. You have perversion of justice. You have to survive on the handouts and scraps provided to you. There is no growth. No prosperity. No civilization. Only blood and the terror.

Now on to a slightly more hilarious turn of events.

Shortly before the movie came out the Obama campaign (and liberals in general) noticed something they thought they could use as a brilliant attack against Romney.

Did you know that Romney had a business named Bain Capital?

Bain/Bane…get it?**

One of these guys is someone rich who could easily leave others to fend for themselves but doesn’t…the other is named Bane. Which one reminds you the most of the presidential challengert?

“It has been observed that movies can reflect the national mood,” said Democratic advisor and former Clinton aide Christopher Lehane. “Whether it is spelled Bain and being put out by the Obama campaign or Bane and being out by Hollywood, the narratives are similar: a highly intelligent villain with offshore interests and a past both are seeking to cover up who had a powerful father and is set on pillaging society,” he added.

As the Friday release date has neared, liberal blogs were the first to connect Batman’s toughest foe with Romney’s firm.

– Christopher Lehane (via Washington Examiner)

Yeah, they actually did that.

Hilariously, when Rush Limbaugh dared to point out the name similarities, liberal bloggers thought he was being insane and completely ignored that their side was the one who made the comparison first.

Luckily conservatives had a fellow conservative Chuck Dixon, comic book creator, and coincidentally, the co-creator of the villain Bane, to smack some sense into liberals.

In an interview with ComicBook.com Dixon had this to say.

“The idea that there’s some kind of liberal agenda behind the use of Bane in the new movie is silly…I refuted this within hours of the article in the Washington Examiner suggesting that Bane would be tied to Bain Capital and Mitt Romney appearing. Bane was created by me and Graham Nolan and we are lifelong conservatives and as far from left-wing mouthpieces as you are likely to find in comics…As for his appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is a force for evil and the destruction of the status quo. He’s far more akin to an Occupy Wall Street type if you’re looking to cast him politically. And if there ever was a Bruce Wayne running for the White House it would have to be Romney.”

-Chuck Dixon (Via ComicBook.com)

Romney is Bruce Wayne? That’s the best pseudo-endorsement I’ve heard all year. If I wasn’t voting for Romney before, I sure am now.

The Fear of Death

Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.
Bruce Wayne: Why?
Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death.
Bruce Wayne: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there’s no one there to save it.
Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb.
Bruce Wayne: How?
Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.

Now on the Conservative New Ager we have a fairly low opinion of the fear of death. In numerous blogs it has been ridiculed as the foolish, childish, ignorant paralytic it is. However, it must be admitted, that in the rush of these blogs to point out that “Wise men at their end know [death] is right” and that it is nothing to be feared but merely a natural part of life, that the wise also “do not go gentle into that good night.”

Bruce Wayne doesn’t fear death for the first half of the movie, that is true. He is not hindered by the fears that he once was. The problem is that in this attempt to rid himself of fear he went too far and rid himself of the desire for life as well. While the movie only uses the phrase “fear death” it might seem that it is encouraging people to embrace fear. But from context the movie is not telling people to embrace the paralyzing fear of death because it is this fear that encourages the federal government and the people of Gotham to stand ideally by, and the fear that causes Modine’s Foley to hide, while a terrorist takes over the city. Rather, the movie is encouraging a balance—that the proper way is to rid one’s self of the paralyzing fear of death of Wayne did in the first film, but to maintain the love of live, and the appreciation of death and knowledge that each moment could be your last and must be fought for, that comes with this love of life. It is only this appreciation of death, that pushes Wayne to make a jump that he could not otherwise make, because he knows that if he is to live he must push himself—and he cannot push himself without both the knowledge that there is no turning back or without the desire to do something other than seek his own end.

And then of course, as a final thought we can’t forget how wonderfully patriotic this film is. Okay maybe not so much in it showing the President to be a sniveling coward who gives into terrorist demands (patriotic or not that might be an accurate assessment)…or in how cowardly the bureaucracy is when they blow the bridge condemning many to die (again might be an accurate conservative message). But you will notice that the people of Gotham (not the scum the who follow Bain mind you, but the people who are terrorized by them) stand for “The Star Spangled Banner” and the only person shown to not have his hand over his heart is the scummy mayor (who apparently is close to an even scummier Congressmen…again perhaps an accurate assessment of current events). And along with the police it is these people who fight against Bain. And you’ll notice that on the day of the battle even a British director like Nolan knows to show the tattered remains of the flag still flying, still offering hope, and as a symbol that on that day evil will fall. Finally the last words about Gotham, which they say is America’s greatest city, is that it will rise from the ashes of this act of terrorism…you would have to be pretty dense not to see this as a reference to New York, and a testament to how quickly America did pick itself up.

You don’t owe these people anymore. You’ve given them everything.

Not everything. Not Yet.

And the sad fact is that we’ve only scratched the surface of this film…

*On a side note, it should be said that, for all of Dickens’ flaws, A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens’ best work…too bad he stole half the plot from Victor Hugo’s Ninety-Three.

** Oh and if you want to to play the silly let’s compare political figures to fictional ones…I see your Bane/Bain…and raise you…
(Romney Ryan photos thanks to Heather Parsons)
 

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Tax Returns, Rich Liberals, Stupidity and Hypocrisy

This thing about Romney’s tax returns is stupid, and I’m just tired of it. 

You have to consider a couple of things to start out with.  (1) It’s not like Obama’s White House and IRS don’t have access to those returns and (2) the IRS under Obama has been more than willing to harass Romney supporter as shown here and here (3) if there was anything damning in them don’t you think Obama would have already leaked that (after all if highest level classified national security information can be leaked to the New York Times to get reelected do you really think Obama draws the moral line at leaking his opponent’s tax information?).  Also given that people are upset about things like offshore accounts (which are actually good for growing and American economic growth) and the fact that Romney only pays about 15% on his income (because it’s pretty much all capital gains income which is taxed at a much lower rate than other income because if it wasn’t you would see the collapse of what is left of the American economy) it is clear that ignorant people are very agitated by the intricacies of finance when they have no understanding of what is going on…thus releasing even more financial information will allow liberals to make ethical, legal, and smart financial choices sound like unethical, illegal and stupid financial moves (like giving money to your cronies at Solyndra…oh wait that wasn’t Mitt). 

This then of course brings up a discussion of how the rich need to pay their “fair share.”  Let’s just ignore that 47% of the nation isn’t paying anything (is that fair?) or that the top 10% earn about 45% of the income but pay 70% of the taxes (yeah that sounds fair).  And Mitt only pays 15% of his income to the government, that’s not fair (of course he already paid taxes on when Bain earned the money and paid a corporate tax on it, then Romney paid taxes on the money Bain paid him, which he then invested in companies who paid their own taxes on the money they earned, and then Mitt paid his 15% on the income he earned from that investment.  Oh, and the US has the highest corporate tax rate of any nation (http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/corporate-tax-rate) …so it’s not like he hasn’t paid and paid and paid taxes on that income.  Yep he hasn’t paid his fair share.  Now there are other reasons that Mitt hasn’t paid income taxes in a while…like the fact that he didn’t take a salary as head of the Olympics or as Governor of Massachusetts–when you don’t earn anything you don’t pay taxes.  And of course this all ignores the fact that this is a man who gave away his entire inheritance to charity and gives about 15% every year to charity (some bigots will decry the fact that a large portion of that goes to the Mormon church, but even if you had theological issues with the church , you’d be a damn fool to say they are not in the business of numerous aid programs).

But liberals just dismiss this because (A) “he’s not paying his fair share” (still waiting to hear what percentage that is) and (B) it’s not to the charities they like. 

And this leads to an odd habit I’ve noticed among rich liberals.  They bitch and moan and whine about how we don’t support Planned Parenthood, or NPR, or PBS, or the arts or this or that project or organization enough.

Now as far as I know, and I haven’t verified every picture on this, but except for Mitt I think everyone in this picture is liberal…and as far as I know only a 4 or 5 give significant sums to charity (only a couple do it without seeking public praise for thier charity)…so the question is that if most of the these liberals feel that more money should be spent on the poor and thier pet projects, why don’t they put thier money where their mouth is?

Oddly enough these are often the same rich liberals who say that they aren’t being taxed enough.  (Let’s ignore for the moment you can just not take deductions and pay the full rate or you can give more than the minimum to government…and yet they’re taking deductions and not just giving money by the bushel load to the feds  (follow the link, it goes straight to where you can just give money to the Treasury Dept…I’m going to wager right now no one is going to give a dime).   That the rich should be taxed at much higher rate (one assumes to pay for all these pet projects they want funded).

Hmmm….rich people say the government is taking enough of their money AND they’re saying the government should give more to their pet projects…hmmmmm….

 

Am I the only one who thinks that they could just cut out the middle man and give more to all these things they say needs funding.  Just cut a check, and don’t worry about the government.

But, some whiny liberal will say, there are more rich Republicans.  But that’s not really true, it’s a bit more divided fairly evenly and statistics suggests it may be slightly biased to the left (performers are statistically more liberal and entertainment makes people very rich very quickly).  Also it might be helpful to take into account that Obama has raised 181 Million from large contributors and Romney has raised only 121 Million from large contributors (a 3:2 advantage for the left ) so while not a perfect way to calculate it (if nothing else Romney had months of fundraising that he had to share with Ricky and Newt that Obama could just rake in the dough) but there is still the fact is that there are still a lot of rich liberals .

Then of course the rich liberals will complain that it’s not enough if they do it, they need the money of ALL the rich to make an effort…apparently these people are forgetting what the overhead of the government is between numerous departments, lost interest on the money, corruption, waste, idiocy, Michelle’s vacations, trust me giving straight to the charity is far, far more efficient (or did we forget how much money the GSA is spending?) .

Now if liberals don’t want to spend their money that’s their right and I support it.  I believe in the virtue of charity, but I also believe that different people have different things to learn in different life times and the virtue of charity, while admirable in most cases (it’s not as if it’s done merely for good press…like, say, you say you’re going to give all your money away when you die, but you spend your days trying to avoid paying back taxes…Warren Buffet I mean you), but it is not the only virtue and I can see some spiritual lessons may require for not giving out money…and I’m not going to judge who is in what category.  But I will judge hypocrisy.  And if you claim more of your money should be taken for the public good, but don’t spend it on the public good when it is fully in your power to do so, you are a gutless, virtueless, hypocritical piece of filth.  I believe it also goes by the title DNC donor. 

The fact of the matter is that liberals don’t care about Romney’s tax records.  The bright ones know there is nothing untoward in there, they want a piece of propaganda to rile the more ignorant in their base.*  They don’t care about fair share or helping others because if they did they would put their money where their mouths are with or without the government’s help. 

*I’m not claiming there aren’t ignorant people on the right, there are, they were known as Santorum supporters…but his loss shows they’re not in the majority.

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From Republicans and Reincarnation: Part of the Ethical Argument for Capitalism

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul vs. Peter giving to Paul

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” —Winston Churchill

            Let’s look at two hypothetical systems.

System 1:

Peter is rich.  Very rich.  The government takes what it considers a reasonable amount of money (which has nothing to do with what a reasonable person would consider a reasonable amount).  Let’s say 31 cents on the dollar.  The government then takes that money and spends about 18 cents, of every dollar Peter makes, on Paul.  So what is the point of this system?  Supposedly it’s to help Paul improve his station in life.  We take money from Peter because Peter can afford it.  So now let’s looks at this.  Through the questions we established earlier.

  1. Is the action leading to a positive, neutral, or negative end?
  2. Is the action unethical or ethical?
  3. Is the benefit this action is providing removing a material or spiritual obstacle, or both?
  4. Is this a long-term benefit or short-term benefit?
  5. Is the action benefiting a large number of people or a small number?

I’m going to take these in reverse order, so bear with me.  This is hurting at least on face value a smaller portion of the population (not really, Peter as representative of “the rich”[1] is actually a fairly large portion of the population) to help a larger portion of the population (again not really, Paul as representative of those on the dole is a relatively small portion of the population[2]…but we’re going to play in the opposition ballpark for the moment).  So at least the argument (no matter how flimsy it is) is that few people are hurt and lots of people are helped.

But how are they helped?  Is this a long-term benefit or a short-term benefit?  When we talk about this we have to think about what Paul will do with that welfare check.  Now I couldn’t find figures on how many welfare checks are spent on capital investment or college tuitions, but given the fact that until the 1990’s welfare reform the number of people leaving the dole could not be described as a mass exodus, I think it’s a safe assumption that not much of that money was being used to better Paul.  Quite frankly it’s human nature.  People value things by what they sacrifice to get it, by the amount of work that goes into it, by what had to be done to earn it—thus money just thrown at you without strings has little value.  As such it will be spent on things of no lasting value.  Yes there are numerous examples of people who climbed their way out of welfare, and I applaud these people for the strength of character to fight human nature’s more lazy and apathetic tendencies, but no one can be foolish enough to say that these few examples are indicative of the whole—nor ignore the fact that many of these people who have gotten themselves out of the cycle of poverty are some of welfare’s harshest and most vocal critics.  Thus welfare in general is at best a short-term fix; it by no means attacks the root of the problem.[3]

So it helps lots of people, but is only a short-term solution.  Now obviously this has material benefit (at least for Paul, to hell if it actually depresses the economy as a whole) but does it actually have any spiritual benefits?  Sadly, and rather obviously, the answer is no.  Peter gets none of the spiritual benefits described in the previous chapter that come from giving, because he did not give by choice, the money was taken from him against his will.  Nor is Peter also likely to give to charity now, or at least not as much, because human nature is that once that money has been taken, then that person feels that they’ve already given, when they haven’t.  In fact if anything this leaves Peter more negative and bitter toward humanity as he now sees money stolen from him and given to people who are less than deserving and not using said money to better themselves.  This is likely to make Peter more bitter toward humanity around him, more cynical, and overall a worse human being.  So it’s actually a spiritual negative.  How about for Paul?  The answer is again in the negative.  Paul feels no need to earn this act of charity; it was given to him by an unfeeling, cold, heartless institution, not another human being.  The insult to self-esteem alone comes as a spiritual negative.  More often than not the psychological effects of such a handout will make Paul feel even in less control of his life than before because now that he must depend on the government for his existence—this increases his feelings of powerlessness, increases fear that he is not in control of his existence and rather a mere victim of fate and circumstance.  In short another spiritual negative.

Finally is it ethical?  No!  The phrase is “to rob Peter to pay Paul” for a reason.  It’s stealing money from a human being by force.  I know I don’t pay my taxes out of the goodness of my heart; I do it because I don’t wish to go to jail or have a standoff with the FBI and ATF.  I’m pretty sure that’s the same reason you pay your taxes.  They have jails and guns, a lot of them—certainly more than I would like to make a standoff against.  So in the end it’s theft.  A clear violation of “Thou shalt not steal” or its numerous variations in every religion on earth, and New Agers are no different on this point.  Stealing is stealing; it’s a complete and total violation of any conception of ethics I can think of.   Now we do honor the myth of Robin Hood, but not because he was a thief, as someone once tried to disprove my point that we never believe theft to be a good thing.  Notice that if you actually look at all the legends, it wasn’t that he robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (a more modern socialist reinterpretation) but rather robbed from the robbing tax collector and gave back to the people who had actually earned the money.  His heroism isn’t in the theft, it’s in putting his life on the line to get back for people what was stolen from them, what was originally theirs (which is what we would like to think the police do when they put their life on the line for us).

But don’t the ends justify the means you ask—to which I respond: did you read the previous paragraphs?  Even if there were cases where the ends justify the means, I can’t see how stealing hard-earned money from people is justified by short-term material benefits and long-term spiritual and economic harm.  The welfare system in all its myriad forms is actually harming the spiritual growth of everyone it touches.  Unless you were an atheist you couldn’t possibly support it, and even then to believe that this system pragmatically worked you’d need to be an atheist and a moron to… (Or am I being redundant there?)

System 2:

            So let’s say that starting today we started reducing all welfare entitlements.  Making them harder to get, requiring more oversight of the people who get them, and requiring even further time constraints in regards to how long you can be on the program.  In terms of social security this would be cutting benefits, raising retirement ages and begin to either privatize or simply eliminate[4] through a phased out process.  Now you might be wondering why I’m not suggesting this second system as being one of completely wiping welfare, social security, Medicaid, and Medicare simply off the face of the earth.  The answer would be that for better or much much worse, these programs have unfortunately become part of the country’s society and while they do eventually need to die, just cutting them with a machete, while greatly satisfying, will cause short-term chaos, and long term societal scars.  Welfare, like heroin, is not an addiction that one just quits cold turkey.[5]  There does need to be a large initial cut to show we mean business of somewhere in the ballpark of 10% cuts right off the top—but this needs to be followed by a 10 to 20 year plan of phasing these programs out of existence.

So assuming we do the right thing, and cutting these programs back with the intention of eventually leaving them only as significantly smaller local programs or just out and out killing them.  What are the benefits and losses?

First, how many people are helped?  While I’m sure we all agree that supply-side economics doesn’t work quite as well or as quickly as everyone thought it did back in the ‘80’s, but it does work, albeit its effects take time to work through.  When the economy improves everyone benefits, and when you cut government intrusion the economy improves…eventually.  But the fact of the matter is that more money in the hands of the people is still more money circulating through the economy and not being lost in some bureaucratic nightmare land that creates nothing but red tape and paperwork and thus doesn’t really add anything to the flow of the economy.  More money, more things being bought.  More things being bought, more profit.  More profit, more investment.  More investment, more jobs…you know how this goes.  So certainly this will take time, but then again that’s what we conservatives like—long-term fixes, not short term band-aids.  Further if we do this properly as a long term rollback of funds people receiving these handouts should have time to plan and adjust to the changing environment (like doing things of such a radical nature as getting an education, getting a job, or actually saving for retirement…I know it’s radical thinking, but I believe it just might work for most people).  So there is no harm to this group either.  So everyone makes out with the status quo if not better.

As I already said these are long-term benefits.  Long term the economy does better, more people have jobs, more people have control of their lives, and if we don’t fall in the trap of socialism again, this is a self-perpetuating system.  Yes, long term we will have recessions, can’t do anything about that, but they will work themselves out, and if people begin to learn how to save properly and educate themselves properly to be able to move from career to career if needed they will not need to worry.

But more than these advantages, this puts the control of a person’s life back in their own hands.  A major spiritual benefit.  For both Peter and Paul, the government is no longer butting into their lives more than it needs to.   This will reduce the likelihood of fear in their lives.  It will also increase the feelings of security since for Paul survival depends on himself now, and for Peter there is less worry about how much the Brownshirts at the IRS will be taking this year.  Further, as I pointed out previously, more money in Peter’s hands will increase the odds and amounts that Peter will give to charity, and this charity will come from living human beings who care about people not the cold, mechanical system of welfare.  With this charity to Paul comes the emotional and ethical ties that will force Paul to in some way to be worthy of the gift he has been given and improve himself.

So materially, psychologically, spiritually this provides long-term benefits to the majority of people.  But is it ethical?  Well we’re not stealing from anyone, so there it’s ethical.  And as I stipulated this program has to be carried out slowly, so were not just uprooting people from the system they have become accustomed to…But I hear one last objection about it being ethical coming from the far left: That people have a right to health care or a livable wage, or a right to care from the government in old age and that to deny them that right is unethical.

The crux of this argument is that everyone has a right to these things.  If you believe this you A) have not the foggiest conception of what a right is and B) are just as confused about ethics.  No one has a right to health care or a livable wage or even happiness.  What you have a right to is that the government will not overtly deny you the chance to achieve, to earn, or to buy these things.  But neither the government, society, your neighbor, nor your brother owes you these things.  You have rights to what you come into this world with: Life, Liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness (emphasis on the pursue).  Nor is anyone ethically required to provide these things to you just because you exist (except for your parents as long as you can’t provide these things for yourself).  First and foremost a person is ethically bound to seek their own happiness, not yours.  Now we are ethically bound to help those in immediate need; the Parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind, but notice that in that case the story revolves around people who are not victims of their own laziness but literally victims to the violence of others or circumstance completely out of their control.  Yes we are ethically bound to help those people.  We are even ethically called for to be generous and charitable, but keep in mind the entire concept of generosity and charity are dependant on the idea we are not bound to help people out of duty, law, or right…if we were it wouldn’t be generosity now would it?  Further generosity does not call for us to help everyone who would come and demand our help—that would bankrupt anyone and certainly lead to personal unhappiness, a very unethical end.  Charity, to have true meaning and worth, must be to those who will use it for their own long term benefit and betterment, not merely short term waste, and anyone who demands the work and property of others as their own isn’t someone who cares about personal betterment because this is indicative of a character that believes in not doing anything for themselves.  Anyone with this sort of entitlement and need for instant gratification can never better themselves, because they cannot even conceive of what is required to better themselves[6].  Hence they are not worthy of the generosity or charity you would give.

Charity is ethical.  But its generosity must be coupled with a desire to improve one’s self, otherwise whatever work or money that is given is merely wasted.  The claim that one has a right to other people’s works is an affront to that belief and merely helps to instill a feeling of helplessness and that is irresponsible.


[1] Of course this isn’t accurate as it is more like the top 50% of wage earners that liberals like to define as “the rich”…so ask yourself do you personally make more than $45,000…if you do, then many in Congress define you as “the rich”.

[2] Unless you count all those elderly people who were somehow too stupid to have any understanding of saving for retirement, and rather chose to live like leaches off people who actually have jobs and know what the stock market is for, but one has trouble feeling sympathy for someone who had over forty years to plan for the inevitable and didn’t do anything about it.  And if you tell me they expected the government to be there for them…well that makes me lose even more respect for them. Even the Sheriff of Nottingham wasn’t dumb enough to think Robin was going to give the money back to him when he retired.

[3] I’m actually going to exclude all job training and education problems from this critique as those do actually attack the root of the problem and do exhibit long-term thinking.  I have no problem in theory spending money on those…although I’m sure the money itself could be spent more wisely.

[4] Even privatizing the system is the government still saying you’re too incompetent to handle your own money…which I’ll grant you, a good portion of America does fit into that description, but it’s still the government calling you stupid…this from an organization currently run by some of the biggest buffoons the world has to offer.  A statement about pots and kettles comes to mind.

[5] Interestingly enough, welfare also shares the quality of heroin of leaving its users emaciated, soulless shells of their former selves.

[6] I would like to point out that this critique is not aimed necessarily at those who are poor, but rather at the demagogues and activists that propose such a system of entitlement and character flaws, who in effect create a system that encourages the poor to stay victims and not seek a better life.

To read more Republicans and Reincarnation: The Conscience of a New Age Conservative is available at AuthorHouse, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble 

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The Best Patriotic Films #12 Cinderella Man

“I have to believe that when things are bad I can change them.”

If you’re a consistent reader of this blog, you’ll probably know that I am not the biggest fan of sports the universe has ever known.  But while most sports bore me, movies about sports can still be great. And Cinderella Man is one of those films.  (Also despite the very patriotic undertones of Far And Away and Apollo 13 I felt those were more centered on the characters than the nation that gave rise to those characters, but I really thought a great director like Ron Howard did deserve to be on this list somewhere).
For those who don’t remember this film, it is the story of Jim Broddock, a boxer who lost everything in the early days of the Great Depression, including his promising boxing career…only to make a miraculous comeback after being called on to fill in last minute for a fighter who had to bow out.

It is an American story for many reasons.  The least of which is that it is the story of an underdog.  Americans for all their strength in economics, military, this or that field, love an underdog, because that’s what we are.  We are band of misfits who created a great economic power.  We are a band of untrained militia who beat the most powerful military in the world.  We are the place where someone can through willpower and skill change their life for the better.  We are the place that gets knocked down time and time and time again, and always comes back stronger than before.  And we love to root for underdogs like ourselves.

But like any great underdog story, this is the story of a man who survives and excels because of willpower and drive.  The America Dream is not the American Dream because lots of people here can win the lottery or just find success by dumb luck—it is the American Dream because we have control of our own lives, power over our destiny—we don’t live as the victims of our circumstances but as the master of them (or at least that’s what we preach…but at least we preach this bit of truth, rather than some froggish countries that preach dependency.)

And it is again the simplicity of the American Dream that makes this movie stand out.  The final title cards show that Braddock did not just blow his money (it should be noted that according to the movie he didn’t squander the money he earned early in his career…he just invested it right before the crash), but rather lived the modest American Dream most of us have in mind for ourselves and one day for our children:

“Two years later Jim Braddock put his title on the line against Joe Louis. Jim knocked him down in the first round though Louis went on to win the bout. Joe Louis would always call Jim Braddock the most courageous man he ever fought.  Jim served honorably in World War II. He later owned and operated heavy equipment on the same docks where he labored during the Great Depression. In the early 1960’s he helped build the Verrazano Bridge. Jim and Mae bought a house in New Jersey with the winnings from the Baer fight. They raised their children in that house and lived there for the rest of their lives.”

Of course what really makes this movie stand out is Braddock’s behavior to the relief money (today we would call it welfare).  Yes he needed to take relief money to keep the power on so that his kids could stay with him and his wife.  There is nothing wrong with welfare when people are desperate and no one in this country would begrudge legitimate need (as opposed to making no effort to get on your own feet, to control your own life, to educate yourself, or to get a job…those lazy couch potatoes we have a real problem with).  But what makes Braddock’s story interesting is what he did when he was back on his feet:

Reporter: Bob Johnson, Boston Globe. Two days ago, we ran a story about you giving your relief money back. Can you tell our readers why?

Jim Braddock: I believe we live in a great country, a country that’s great enough to help a man financially when he’s in trouble. But lately, I’ve had some good fortune, and I’m back in the black. And I just thought I should return it.

While there may be cases like this elsewhere, it is only the most charitable nation in the world that you will see this as not being an act of insanity, but rather an example of the best that this nation has to offer.  We don’t glorify need, but we do glorify those who are able to pick themselves up to a point where they can help themselves and those around them.

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Facts vs. Emotion in Campaign Season

It’s interesting to watch how both campaigns are beginning to work. And as usual, the old battle lines are being drawn. Democrats are playing to lies, half truths, and emotion and Republicans are more or less playing to facts and patriotism.

Let’s take a look at what I mean by taking a look at 4 ads that came out this weekend. Obama and his team came out with this ad hitting Romney for closing a steel plant in

It starts with a former steelworker saying that his company GST Steel, which is kind of odd because if you had a great reputation for quality I don’t think the company would ever have been in a position where Bain Capital could have bought it out. But there I am using logic, silly me all that matters is that picture of the old guy putting on the hard hat. I should really feel sorry for him. Then we have David Foster, Lead Negotiator for workers at GST Steel, saying that it was Romney’s fault. Okay let’s deal with that point piece by piece. First GST Steel closed in 2001 two years after Romney left Bain. Second, the reason GST Steel was closed because Bain kept trying to make the plant work but as the union refused to compromise on ANYTHING there was no way to make the company profitable.  Also let’s not forget that Bain offered to buy employees out and offered to give them new jobs, albeit non-union jobs at the profitable steel company…more on that later.  So in reality it was the union’s refusal to negotiate that killed GST…hmm who was the chief union guy?…oh, that would be the “Lead Negotiator for workers at GST Steel” David Foster. So Foster’s claim that Romney was to blame comes off a little hollow as it was really Foster’s inability to put the well being of employees ahead of the well being of the union. “They closed it down without any concern for the families or the community”…after you know, years of trying to make it profitable. And they “made as much money off it as they could”! Dear God! What monsters! They actually tried to make a profit. Sick, sick people.

They terminated health and life insurance…strangely that’s what happens when you go out of business.

“It was like watching an old friend bleed to death.” And given that it was the employees and their union that refused to bargain which was what really killed this company, the image of standing there, watching your friend bleed to death, and not just doing nothing, but continuing to stab him repeatedly is a very fit image. If anyone is to blame it’s not Romney.

My union refused to negotiate. I refused to take a non-union job. It’s all Romney’s fault.

I love the “Those guys are all rich” complaint. Not only is Obama still playing to the most base and uneducated class warfare, but it shows how dumb some people are. You can have millions. Hell you might even have billions…but that money doesn’t last to just give out, if you’re not making a profit, then that money won’t last forever. The implication from that line is that Romney and all the other Bain executives should have gone bankrupt to keep funding a plant that wasn’t making money.

“We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer” and I view you as someone who doesn’t do math very well. Why? Well, 750 employees (you have to love how they claim he destroyed thousands…the typical Democratic propensity for lack of accuracy in numbers ) lost their jobs because of what Bain did…now last time I checked 750 was less than 6,000…8 times less if my math is correct. Also fun fact, the GST Steel plant was reopened in 2004 with somewhat fewer workers…thus proving Mitt Romney’s point that sometimes you need to let industries go bankrupt so things can be reset, reorganized, and redone and come back stronger than ever…it’s a term in capitalism known as creative destruction. Although from the Obama ad you would never know the plant reopened.  And also what’s with all the pictures of houses collapsing like it’s a post-Apocalyptic landscape?

“How could you care for the average working person if you felt that way?” Well jackass, you care because you want to actually build something that will last, that will make a profit and that will not need the constant handout that this ad was asking for. And then this loser looks like he’s about to cry. This, I can only guess, is supposed to make us feel for him. I will admit it does make me feel something—it makes me feel like slapping this loser so hard he grows up. For god sakes, you lost a job, it happens to the best of us, man-the-fuck-up and go get another job, don’t cry like a baby and bitch about the mean businessman who didn’t want to bankrupt himself to keep your losing company alive.

Strangely there are no facts quoted, no numbers given, no quotes used (other than comment by Romney which have no bearing on this issue). Hell, GST Steel pensions were underfunded by $44 million when it went bankrupt…that would have been a fact to use…of course I think all of that came after Romney left Bain and they were already stretching it as it was.

Meanwhile over on the Romney side, we have 6,000 jobs created…and again I think 6,000 is more than 750. You know if for every 750 fired we get 6,000 new jobs, bring on the massive firings (start with OSHA, TSA and the Post Office)! We’ll be at 3% unemployment in no time.

Now granted there aren’t a lot of facts in this one either (of course it’s not even half as long), but what facts there are are accurate (go back and watch the Obama ad again and see how many different numbers they use for how many people lost their jobs). And there is the fact that this is one of the companies that Bain helped out when Romney was in charge (as opposed to GST closing two years after Romney left).

The American Dream brought to you by Romney, Bain, and capitalism.

Also, instead of treating people as helpless who need Obama’s teat to survive, rather it shows hope and prosperity and that people can actually live on their own. The American Dream, which for most of us is to provide for ourselves through our work…for Obama it appears the American Dream means living high on the hog off of the rich and entitlement programs…just look at Julia.

Are they playing for emotion as well? Yeah, but you’ll notice it’s not hate and pity and vitriol, it’s hope for tangible things like a job and prosperity (rather than some ephemeral undefined “hope and change” that means nothing) and the best in us…

Also you have to love how Romney got this out less than 24 hours after Obama’s crappy ad…and Obama’s looks more professional. His campaign has clearly anticipated objections made by Obama and has the rebuttals already in the hopper. This is like watching a novice try and play Deep Blue.

But let’s look at how the groups that are not part of the official campaigns are working…

Please give me the quote where Romney threatened to end contraceptives…that would have been Santorum.
And insurance charges you more because the actuarial tables say you cost more…so to have equality it would just be that men would pay more (thanks)…I assume you want to make sure that car and home insurance companies stop it when they charge women less than men…because that would be unfair.

And he hasn’t threatened to get rid of Planned Parenthood …just public funding of it. If it’s so great a place, then I’m sure your rich liberal friends who want to be taxed more, will donate by the bucket load when Romney lowers their taxes.

And throwing women under the bus isn’t Romney’s style, MoveOn.org…it’s yours. Because let’s remember that MoveOn was formed to tell Republicans to Move On past Clinton’s numerous infidelities, because it was “just sex” (and sexual harassment lawsuit, accusation of rape, exploitation of a 20 year old woman who was incredibly naïve, perjury, suborning perjury, adultery…yeah it’s Republicans throwing women under a bus and waging a war on women).

Not one fact, not one reference, not one piece of truth. Everything I’ve come to expect from MoveOn.

Every one of Obama’s quotes are in context. Every fact is shown for quite a bit of time, and can be easily searched for. It’s interesting how, when the facts are on your side, you tend to use them.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. Republicans are not saints, they are human, they come up with crappy misleading ads as well. But right now the GOP has the facts on their side and appears to be using them.

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10 reasons why libertarians have become a joke…

The ever so poorly named “Reason Magazine” has put out an article preposterously titled “5 Reasons Why

Libertarians have this really bad tendency to follow leaders blindly. Hayek, Von Misses, Rand and now this lunatic. All of them had good ideas, but none of them were divine prophets to never be questioned...

Conservatives Should Root For a Romney Defeat.”    Lately Libertarians have been getting more and more annoying with their embrace of full blown isolationism (which given how it has NEVER worked, means they’re either very, very stupid or in favor of tyrannies being free to do whatever evil they wish) and their recent and exceedingly naïve push for the gold standard as a cure all for all economic woes.  This is not the libertarian party I once knew of sound economic restraint and social liberalism…this is now a libertarian party of cowards and cranks.  So let me refute their 5 reasons to not vote for Romney.

1.  Reason claims because the Supreme Court will only overturn the individual mandate but leave the rest of Obamacare…because Romney and the Republicans don’t have the guts now to overturn the rest of the law we should let Obama stay in office and let a real reformer get in office in 2016 who will then overturn the law.  Common sense states that you would give some reasons to back this up but Reason’s article seemed quite lacking, in well, reason.

This is stupid for three reasons.  The first being that if the Supreme Court overturns one part, they’re probably taking it all out (Scalia’s comment about “you don’t expect us to go through this line by line do you”)…further it would require you to believe that the justices who are voting to overturn the mandate would leave all the economically disastrous parts that a mandate was a necessity to pay for.  The second is that Romney has promised to overturn the law in toto and will send that law on the first day in office to Congress, which if passed in the first week of his administration it has the most chance of getting through Congress with little disagreement.  The third being that, while the economically stupid issue of covering preexisting conditions needs to go, after another four years of Obama it will NEVER be overturned as no Congressmen, no matter how conservative, will have the guts to take away something that has been around for so long.

2.  Reason’s second claim is in two parts , first that you just can’t trust that evil flip-flopper Romney.  This is a claim that is without basis.  Romney’s changed his position on abortion…everything else is liberal lies.  Thank you libertarians for being dumb enough to believe liberal lies and immoral enough to repeat them…not to mention demonstrating liberal tendencies by not doing the research!

The second part of their reasons to not vote for Romney is that he will make our military second to none.  Oh, how terrible.  When did libertarianism become the philosophy of cowards and complicity in tyranny via our isolation.

3.  They don’t trust Romney to do away with Crony Capitalism as he says he will do (and as he did as much as he could with limited power in Massachusetts).  Why doesn’t Reason believe him…because he supported the financial bailout.  Which is kind of dumb.  Yes TARP was a horribly conceived and horribly executed program…but to do nothing as libertarians seem to suggest would have been equally stupid.  For years government conspired to force the financial sector to give out all those crappy loans (and yes they did force and threaten them with criminal and civil lawsuits if they didn’t give them out) so while the financial sector is not exactly saintly and has more than enough blame to go around on its own, the government is equally at fault.  But the libertarians argue that after you’ve stabbed someone in the kidney it’s their responsibility to heal themselves.  Huh?  Yes TARP should have been drastically smaller and shorter, it should have been more targeted and not an industry wide panacea, it should have probably been designed to cure the shock waver after one of the major banks went belly up to prevent a panic not preventing them all from failing, but you know what, not doing anything would have been as bad if not worse.  And yes Bush, Congress and the Fed deserve a lot of blame for not doing a more limited plan, but that does not mean an outsider who had no say at any level of the decision making process should take the blame for supporting what may be the lesser of two evils.  So I can’t fully hit Romney for being pragmatic and saying, yes we need TARP.

Reason also claims that calling China on its economic corruption is a bad thing.  I’m confused by their stance, probably again because Reason failed to state any reason for their belief and rather preferred to make an uninformed hitpiece.

4.  Oh and if we elect Romney then no “real conservative” will be able to run in 2016.  True, I look forward to Romney’s second term.  However, since Reason’s definition of true conservative is a person who holds to the insane dogma of Austrian economics and who is a complete coward in foreign policy.  You know a “real conservative” unlike that filthy Monetarist, strong foreign policy, fake conservative Ronald Reagan.  Somehow I’m not being swayed by Reason’s arguments.

5.  And their fifth argument, losing will allow the GOP to collapse…and theoretically realign itself…despite the fact that, realignment actually usually occurs when a party wins the White House (Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, McKinley, FDR…and I can’t think of a realignment that occurred when the party lost…but these are libertarians, the people who ignored all the economic panics, recessions and depressions caused by the gold standard and who completely failed to notice the utter failure of isolationism throughout all of history…no shock they don’t understand how realignments work historically).

So let me now respond with 5 reasons why libertarians should back Romney.

  1. He has a history of actually doing what libertarians like: cutting government and not raising taxes.
  2. Romney is actually endorsing the plan of reformers like Paul Ryan.  He also is backed by a whole team of some the best minds in every field…just check his website…unlike Reason which apparently is working off of innuendo and media lies. And again go to his website, no candidate in my life time has ever had so much data to review as Romney has provided…and it’s all great
  3. For supposed economic conservatives I don’t understand why libertarians would be so hostile to someone who is actually from the private sector.  This is the kind of guy who actually knows what he is doing.  He is not a career politician (he’s only ever held one other elected office for one term), thus he is not beholden to the bureaucracy or the party, he has no favors to fulfill which will actually help to end cronyism. Also cronyism occurs when you have something to gain…remind me how you actually bribe a man who is both rich and not avaricious (as judged by his overly generous charitable contributions).
  4. This country cannot survive another 4 years of Obama.  4 more years of over regulation, taxation, government abuse of power, extreme deficit spending, and insane union support will gut this country and if it doesn’t result in a global depression to make the Great Depression look like a walk in the park, the only reason that we won’t become a 2nd   rate power is because everyone else will fall faster than we do.
  5. Do you remember how reviled the Greens were in the Democratic party after handing the election to Bush (yes I’ll admit if Nader hadn’t run then Gore would have won)…well if you jackasses were to hand the election to Obama then you would be even more reviled and will guarantee the death of the libertarian strain in the Republican party (i.e. you’ll be handing the party to the social conservatives).

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