Category Archives: Death

Top Ten Films of Halloween #8 Alien

“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. […] I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”

This is a movie best watched at night with the lights off…yeah it has a lot of sci-fi elements…but in the end it’s a monster movie, with possibly the most horrifying monster the silver screen ever dreamed up.

The first thing that I find a little odd about this is that in the opening scene you hear the engines working as you look at the ship from the outside. I thought that in space no one can hear you scream…oh well, we would have to wait for Joss Whedon to understand you don’t need sound effects when in space. But then again while there is the hum of the engines or the sound of the wind there are very long and uncomfortable silences in this film. Very uncomfortable. Because this movie is about the uncomfortable nature of fear. Long, silent, drawn out, pricks up the back of your spine fear.

And the only thing more uncomfortable is the intentional repetition of violent sexual imagery. It starts with a forced impregnation that leads to a thing that bursts out of man’s gut in possibly the most horrific pregnancy on film to give birth to a creature that is a disturbing amalgamation of phallic shapes . Or as the screen writer put it “This is a movie about alien interspecies rape,”… I have a hard time thinking of a more disturbing 8 word sentence. Add to the fact the initial thing that attached itself to the guy’s face looked kind of like a spider, which is even more creepy, there’s just nothing comforting about this movie. Oh and a disembodied Ian Holm also added to the creepiness.

In fact re-watching this film made me ask myself…why am I watching all these horror films right before I go to bed…this is kind of stupid…

Actually there is one thing that’s comforting about this film: Ripley. You can’t help but love her. Granted she’s even more the hero in the sequel, but she has just about every quality that is imaginable in a hero. Smart, grace under pressure but not eternally cold and when need be the ability to throw off one liners.

It’s almost impossible to think that Weaver did not get first billing…we have come to think of her as the face of these movies. It’s her versus the big ugly thing. That’s the nature of these movies. (Which makes me a little worried at how good Prometheus will be)…but that of course lead me to have a word on the sequels. Aliens was a very different film, it was a James Cameron action spectacular and it was a great one. Aliens 3 I don’t know what the hell they were thinking. And of course Alien Resurrection which is also a piece of crap…but it does have one saving grace: screenwriter Joss Whedon added to the cast a ragtag bunch of space smugglers (which included a morally ambiguous captain with a sense of honor, a quirky pilot and a big thug who had good one liners…I wonder if Whedon ever got around to reusing the good parts of that idea?).

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The Best Films of Halloween #21 Scream

scream1Rule Number one: you can never have sex. Sex equals death, okay? Number two: you can never drink or do drugs. the sin factor! It’s a sin. It’s an extension of number one. And number three: never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back.” Because you won’t be back.

The last of this set of three homage films. This movie has all the (few) good qualities of your every day slasher, and mercilessly ridicules the flaws.

There are all the self deprecating little insults. There is nothing more hilarious than the scene where Jamie Kennedy is screaming at the movie he is watching to turn around when he himself has a murderer right behind him.

The movie makes it clear that slasher films have always been trite morality plays without falling prey to the same rules (the four survivors are our heroes, but they’re far from saints…well maybe Dewey).  That the behavior of most people in slasher films in beyond stupid, “What’s the point? They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.”… of course running out the door doesn’t seem to work too well in Scream, but you get the point.    And instead of being the terrible cardboard cutouts of most slasher film characters, there was actually some depth and characterization, not volumes mind you, but some (which mysteriously disappeared in all the sequels…although for a lot of these actors this was the acting highlight of their careers, sad as that might be).

The other advantage to this movie is that it didn’t go overboard. Yes there was a lot of blood. But where other slasher films try to gross you out with the amount of gore, this one used it only to heighten the tension.

Clearly we see the fear of death throughout this movie, motivating pretty much all of our characters.  But it’s nice to see that it is not so traumatizing that it incapacitates them.  Most of the victims do put up a valiant fight and of course our hero gets the great one liner “Not in my movie” at the very end.  Certainly not giving into the fear of death.

The problem is, of course, that while this film was witty and somewhat original in it’s willingness to critique its own genre so brutally, the sequels were all disappointments.  Each one worse than the last.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the first one still remains an entertaining Halloween view.

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Halloween Movies #23 Little Shop of Horrors

Seymour: No! I don’t know anybody who deserves to get chopped up and fed to a hungry plant!

Audrey II: Mmmmmm, sure you do!

Little Shop of HorrosWhen I started this list I said I wasn’t going to include any of the really old horror films, because, and no offense to Lugosi, Karloff, and Chaney, but those movies are too cheesy. If it wasn’t for the fame of these movies they would have been first round picks at Mystery Science Theater 3000. Yes they were groundbreaking in their genre…but ground breaking and great are not necessarily the same thing. However there are a couple of films that not only do a good job of recognizing the camp of the early works in the genre and doing a good job of using that same camp for clever parody. Today and tomorrow’s pick do that quite well.

Little Shop of Horrors is based on an older and much campier movie of the same name. It’s the story of a giant flesh eating, smartass, plant from outer space hell bent on world domination. And it’s a musical. I can only image how the pitch session went and what the writer actually said to get the thing green lit.

It also makes fun of the late 50’s/early 60’s culture that gave us so so many terrible monster movies that would eventually conquer the world. Yeah I find the critique of crass consumerism a little heavy handed but just because I’m a capitalist doesn’t mean I will defend what businesses do to the death.

Why is this a horror movie? Well it’s not only the blood sucking mean green mother from outer space that constantly demands “Feed me!” It’s a horror movie because it has something far, far more horrifying. Something we have all encountered in our lives. The thing of nightmares. A demon straight from the bowels of Hell itself. A dentist who enjoys causing pain (as if there is any other kind of dentist).

And it stars Rick Moranis. Yes him, he was never a great actor but we miss him all the same. Moranis plays awkward down and out nerd Seymour who is offered a Faustian bargain to gain wealth, fame, and the woman he loves all for the low price of killing people. Admittedly he gives in a little quickly to be a true hero, but hey, as the movie says “A lot of people deserve to die.”*


All the bad stereotypes of a movie you see the three commentators from Mystery Science Theater making fun of are here…but since the movie is already making fun of them, there was no need to put it on that show.

*Not really, but I’m going with the line. I wouldn’t usually need to point out that this was sarcasm but I’ve had some problems with people not being able to sense sarcasm in writing lately.

Up next a movie that directly makes fun of all the classic horror movies.

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Best Things to watch for Halloween #24 The X-files

This was kind of a no brainer that it would make it on the list.  You have such a wide range of horrific monsters to choose from.  Flukeman, Cigarette Smoking Man, Tombs, the fat sucking guy from “2shy”, Donnie Pfaster, the black oil, the entire cast of “Bad Blood”. (Okay that last one wasn’t that scary…although Mulder singing “Shaft” was disturbing on many levels).    The list can go on for some time.  For 9 years they creeped us out, not every week, but consistently they had the hairs on the back of our neck standing up.

So let’s take a look at the most horrifying episodes in no particular order.

Eve. There is just something about sociopathic children that is frightening.  When they’re in stereo it’s even worse.

Psychopaths now come in pairs…how the complete opposite of cute.

Die Hand Die Verletzt.  Satanists.  Ritual murder.  The evil substitute is really a demon out to kill just about everyone.  What’s not to get a creep factor from?

Irresistible.  There was nothing supernatural or mystical about this episode.  Just a serial killer who takes a liking to Scully.  (Yes it’s implied he might be something more demonic and less human, but that is never really delved into…besides it’s human behavior that frightens us the most.)  This was more frightening because for so much of the episode we don’t have any X-file to blame, any supernatural cause to have as an excuse for the evil and the terror…just a man who likes to hurt people.

War of the Coprophages.   With the exception of spiders there is probably no bug creepier than cockroaches…and a whole episode of them, even if it’s humorous, just leaves you feeling uncomfortable.  Especially in that part where the cockroaches crawl across the screen.

Chinga.  Yeah we’ve seen the evil doll theme before.  But this one was written by Stephen King.  And it was bloody.

And you thought your coworkers were bad…

Folie a Deux.  Bug like monsters creating zombies no one can see.  Do I need to explain why that’s creepy?

Scary Monster.  It had the feel of that Twilight Zone episode where the kid might send you out to the cornfield…only far more horrifying tortures.

And finally Roadrunners.  Most people missed this episode because it was after Duchovny left the show…but that’s part of why it’s terrifying.  If Mulder isn’t there to save Scully, then who will? (Not to suggest that Scully didn’t save Mulder’s ass a lot).  And the idea of a giant worm that burrows into you and takes you over in “Puppet Master” fashion equally disturbing.  But what was worse was that we spent half the episode watching it burrow into Scully.  I don’t get frightened by movies or TV often, I’m usually too busy analyzing how everything works and probably working on something else at the same time…but I remember this episode had me actually worried about what would happen the first time it aired.

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Best movies for Halloween #25 Flatliners

Flatliners“Philosophy failed. Religion failed. Now it’s up to the physical sciences.”

Like most scientists in horror films the characters of Flatliners think that science can reveal everything, damn the consequences…
…and be it a sci fi or horror movie that always works really well.

The movie posters had the rather cheesy catch phrase “Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.” (Terrible pun). But this goes to the heart of an the issue of should science have boundaries. And as so many horror stories came out of the Romantic era it will always be tied to the Romantic’s distrust of the arrogance of science to find all answers. And they’re not entirely wrong. The history of science, while a great story of the progress and advancement of the human race, has these dark side notes of human experimentation and only considering the consequence of one’s actions only after the fact (Oppenheimer…”I am become death…”). We see it in Frankenstein. We saw it in The Island of Dr. Moreau. We saw it throughout the X-files, Fringe, Outer Limits, Fringe, and the Twilight Zone and a dozen other stories, movies and TV shows. They’re cautionary tales to remind people that science has always been and always will be a double edged sword that when misused or misunderstood can do far more damage than good. And the idea of killing yourself to scientifically see what’s on the other side of death does seem to be one of those lines science shouldn’t be so eager to go past.

In this case how would you like all of your worst sins and things your regret come back not just as memories but as tangible, physical things to torment and torture. I assume for many of us this would be a nightmare…more so for the highly flawed characters of this movie.

Now, somewhere between being a cool vampire and being the most deadly force in the history of counter-terrorism, Kieffer Sutherland played the rather arrogant and guilt-ridden character of Nelson. This character was the driving force behind these experiments of Flatliners, Nelson, is also the one most tied to death. He claims he has no fear of what is on the other side and it is just pure curiosity on his part, but he is also suffering from the buried guilt of having killed someone in his youth. In fact you find that the only other character so interested in the experiments is Julia Robert’s character, who also lost someone to death, shows that their desire to know about death isn’t curiosity, it is very much the fear of not knowing what death it.

The fear of death is often tied to the fear of being judged for your actions (it’s sad people have such a limited view of God they think he is so willing to damn you). And that is what ties each of the characters of Flatliners together. Whether what happened was their fault or not, whether it was major or minor, they felt guilty about it and in this film their guilt became a physical manifestation. Now I don’t know if the writers were intentionally going for this or it’s just an interesting parallel, but this does partially match up to the idea that when you die you review your life and you the parts that you review in most detail are the ones that you are most emotionally tied to…and there are few emotions stronger than guilt. It also seems to parallel the Buddhist idea that in the afterlife one of the things you will face is the karmic consequences of your actions and if you can’t move past these (move past the guilt) then you will be forced to live through the karmic consequences of those actions in your next life (but this may be reading too much into the screenwriter’s intent).

Whatever the actual purpose the writer and director were attempting to bring out about the nature of the afterlife, they do have a fairly clear point that the way out is not death but forgiveness.

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Best Halloween Cinema #30: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So begins the list of the #30 best things to watch for Halloween (I by no means claim this is a definitive list and the ordering is rather arbitrary).

We start this month of horror films off with a TV show. But not just any TV show, the single greatest TV show in the history of human civilization (at least up to this point…Whedon could easily come out with something new that would surpass it in a few years). That show is of course Buffy The Vampire Slayer. High tragedy, high comedy, deep understanding of the human condition, skill in writing, acting and directing, and of course a hopeful view of humanity that forgiveness is possible and that people can grow and improve themselves. There is simply no show in the history of television that has dealt such profound philosophical themes without being heavy handed and with characters who were human and never just two dimensional cutouts who were allowed to followed a predictable pattern.

The reason such a great work of art gets put last in this list is that it’s really not a horror story. Yes there are vampires and werewolves and monsters of all stripes. But even though it has all the tropes of horror, it is not focused on death as any good horror story is, rather Buffy is focused on life, specifically the growing up part of life. And in this respect it works as a good counterbalance to everything that’s going to come after, but that does not mean it does not have its horrifying moments.

So let’s do a quick rundown of some of the more terrifying episodes.

The Gentlemen from “Hush”

“Hush”: Possibly the most horrifying episode of Buffy. Corpse like emaciated men dressed in 1920’s style suits come to town, steal everyone’s voice and rip out their hearts. It’s frightening for several reasons. The first is the villains, The Gentlemen. The scariest monsters are always the ones that look human but are just a slight bit off, the fact that they were so concerned with manners and courtesy in their actions toward one another just adds to the horror because it is so out of place when you’re about to cut out a live and awake person’s heart. The other reason that it’s such a terrifying episode is that it takes away from the characters something they take for granted: their voice. The idea of not having something we have been so dependent on that we take it for granted, like our ability to communicate brings up the simple question in our minds: “what would I do in that situation?” It’s not a pleasant question. We use our voice for so many things and the idea that we should have to live without it–not a pleasant thought. And of course there is the fear of death. Few episodes have shown people so helpless as this episode when being killed, they’re restrained almost immediately so they can’t run away; they have no voice so they can’t scream for help and then they feel everything as their heart is cut out. One of the things that frighten people so much about death is that they think it is something out of their control, that it will come in the night without warning or rhyme or reason and there is nothing they can do about it, and they are utterly powerless in the face of the unknown. It’s powerlessness against it that frightens them (it’s why waiting for the diagnosis of cancer is worse than the diagnosis itself, when you know what it is, you have a name, an MRI, an idea you can fight against or give into, it’s your choice—but when you’re waiting you still have no choice about anything). It is this powerlessness that the scenes of death in this episode capture so well, and remind most of us of our own fears of death.
Helpless: People run a lot in Buffy. But either they’re one episode’s extras whom we’re not really all that invested in, or they’re main characters and we know Buffy will save them. But when it’s Buffy who is doing the running because she has had all her powers taken away, that adds a lot more terror. The safety net of “Buffy will save the day” is gone, and being Joss Whedon, we never had any reassurance that he isn’t willing to kill main characters, so there’s not that usual safety net either.

“Restless”: There is something terrifying about the unknown and the bizarre to most people. If they can’t understand and make sense of it, it frightens them. So putting our four main characters in a rather symbolic and random dreamscape with an unknown assailant killing them, is quite terrifying. Oh and there’s cheese (if you’ve seen the episode you’ll get that).

“Fear Itself”: Finally my favorite Halloween episode in Buffy. The Scooby Gang faces off against a demon who makes them live out their worst fears and then face the fear demon itself. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This episode shows how foolish that is. Why? Because the fear demon is three inches tall, which is possibly the most insightful and genius representation of fear I have ever seen in of all of literature. Fear is something small, something insignificant, and something if you use reason isn’t worth worrying about…yet we let it control us because we refuse to look at it. If we did confront it head on we would probably find that most of our fears are so small and so insignificant that they can just easily be squashed and ignored.

Xander: Who’s the little fear demon? Come on, who’s the little fear demon? Giles: Don’t taunt the fear demon.Xander: Why? Can he hurt me?Giles: No, it’s just… tacky

Honorable Mentions:

None these are exactly great films (not that the top 30 are all Oscar Winners) but they get trotted out every Halloween and I would say they do meet my criteria of an unhealthy obsession with death.

Constantine: An epic battle between good and evil with a poorly executed story of redemption.  Fun but ultimately pointless.

Stigmata: It’s not exactly a horror film, (and I’ll probably deal with it later in my blogs about movies for New Agers) but with all the blood and suffering it has many of the tropes of a horror film.

Bless the Child: Certainly not as dense and preachy as the novel it’s based on, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still just a little preachy.  And then there is just the rather low quality direction.

The Shinning (TV movie 1997): You know the Nicholson/Kubric version of the film is actually well done, the problem is that it seems to completely ignore that there is actually a great book that it’s supposed to be based on. The TV movie, while not without its flaws was more true to theme and characters of the book and thus I prefer it to the older version.

Fringe: Again it’s not really about the fear of death, but there are some truly horrifying moments.  Like in the first episode where everyone’s skin is melting off, that’s frightening at levels I can’t begin to describe.  And that 3rd season episode where they guy is playing with a corpse and through levers and pulleys make it dance ballet, that’s disturbing at a level I seldom see.

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Movies that show the rich as good #2: Meet Joe Black

“Should I be afraid?”
“Not a man like you.”

Meet Joe Black is a great movie for several reasons. A powerful love story. An insightful look at what life is about. And oddly enough a story about a businessman making sure his life work remains great. (Also the only time in history the IRS was even tangentially heroic…and not, you know, worthy of the treatment at the end of Braveheart).

Meet Joe BlackNow some might think that the story about the businessman trying to keep hold of his business when he knows for certain he will die in the immediate future is really a secondary plot line—that the love story of Death (Joe Black) and Susan is far more important than Anthony Hopkins business tales. And people who edit movies for TV and in-flight movies would agree with those people. However the director Martin Brest thought that it so ruined the movie that he got the Director’s Guild to agree that his name could be removed from the cut without the business story line—the Director’s Guild receives hundreds, some years, thousands of requests to have directors names removed because the director was unhappy with the result…virtually all of them are denied.* So that this was granted tells you that this plot line involving Hopkins’ character of Bill Parish is absolutely important.

Why? Or as Death puts it:

Joe Black: Bill, why at this juncture are you letting yourself be so concerned by business matters?
William Parrish: I don’t want anybody buying up my life’s work! Turning it into something it wasn’t meant to be. A man wants to leave something behind. And he wants it left behind the way he made it. He wants it to be run the way he ran it, with a sense of honor, of dedication, of truth. Okay?

Because this film shows us that life isn’t just about love. It is about life. The big and the small things (like peanut butter). And this movie shows the depth of love, not just romantic love, but the love of parents and children, of friendship, of siblings, and of life itself. Love is one of those massively important things…but so is accomplishment. In fact, if you look at the needs of people’s accomplishments, achievements, the attainment of goals is, according to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, is the next thing we need to achieve in our quest for Happiness.

Now the liberals out there are probably rolling their eyes when they hear attainment of goals or achievement, as theyMeet Joe Black Dance think that you attain goals you must do so by taking from others. They see a world of static wealth and prosperity, where if I am to be successful another must fail, where if I am to be wealthy another must be poor, where if I am to be happy another must be miserable. Which is why they must tear down the strong, the successful, the happy, because in their warped mind those people are taking strength, success and happiness from others. Reality tends to be quite different. Whereas historically most economic and political systems have done the liberal thing and only shifted money and resources around, or at best created wealth at an astoundingly slow rate…capitalism literally creates wealth where it did not exist before. It takes work, ideas, creativity, individual and cooperation, risk, and planning to create wealth…but capitalism is the only system that can sustain long term innovation to create wealth out of what was previously worthless. Wealth thus has no limit, so long as there is liberty and drive to keep creating it. It parallels the other thing we seek for constantly in life: love. Just because I love my spouse doesn’t mean I have to love my parents, my siblings, or my children, or my friends less…they may all be different kinds of love, but an increase in one does not diminish the others. And the movie is quite clear; we need love in our lives:

Bill Parish: Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I’m not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there’s no sense living your life without this.

To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven’t lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven’t tried, you haven’t lived.

But again back to the Maslow’s hierarchy, life isn’t complete with just love, we also need accomplishment. And the character of Bill Parish certainly has accomplished as the founder and chairman and CEO of a multinational media empire. As he discusses his business he states:

Meet Joe Black ConfrontationSee, I started in this business because this is what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t going to write the great American novel, but I also knew there was more to life than buying something for a dollar and selling it for two. I’d hoped to create something, something which could be held to the highest standards. And what I realized was I wanted to give the news to the world, and I wanted to give it unvarnished. The more we all know about each other, the greater the chance we will survive.

Sure, I want to make a profit. You can’t exist without one. But John Bontecou is all profit. Now if we give him license to absorb Parrish Communications, and he has his eye on a few others after us, in order to reach the world you will have to go through John Bontecou. And not only will you have to pay him to do this, far more important, you’ll have to agree with him.

He veers almost into the territory of an Atlas Shrugged hero there…Yes I love making money, but I love making my creation more and you could offer me all the money in the world to scrap what I have built and I would throw it in your face. He is a man of morals which are more important than just money. Which is something else that correct philosophers from Aristotle to Maslow understood, while there are charlatans that can make money, they often can’t keep it going and can’t create. Yeah there are terrible businessmen out there, but the majority of the rich, from the so called Robber Barons to Mitt Romney the rich who come to their money through work and achievement are among the most generous people in the world (Please see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks for further proof).

And it is this mixture of accomplishment and love and morality that makes the character of Bill Parish so admirable that even Death views him as someone to learn from.

The man from whose lips fall “rapture” and “passion” and “obsession”? All those admonitions about being “deliriously happy, that there is no sense in living your life without” all the sparks and energy you give off, the rosy advice you dispense in round pear shaped tones. […]It requires competence wisdom and experience, all those things they say about you in testimonials. And you’re the one.

And as we see through the course of the movie as he cares for his family and their happiness more than his business, and the achievements he has made more than just buying another day or two of his life, why when right before Death takes him he asks, “Should I be afraid?” The obvious reply to someone who has built and accomplished and loved the only answer can be, “Not a man like you.” Bill Parish stands out as a man who has excelled in every aspect of his life…and it’s amazing that Hollywood would show such a character as being.

Meet Joe Black Death

*If you ever see a movie directed by Alan Smithee, there is no Alan Smithee. That’s the name the Director’s Guild puts on films they allow the real director to distance themselves from. Producers or a studio have to ruin beyond the telling of it a director’s film before this is ever granted.

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Atheists try and portray themselves as the religion of peace…when they are anything but

So I saw this mind-numbingly stupid statement on Facebook today.

“Militant Muslims blow up car bombs and commit acts of terrorism. Militant Christians blow up abortion clinics and gun down abortion doctors. Militant atheists might just hurt your feelings.”

Now as I’ve said before, atheists are idiots, because they are also a religion–they have a belief system based on an unprovable tenet of faith.  The difference being is every other religion knows it is using faith, whereas atheists mistake faith for reason and get hysterical when someone points this out to them.  Why was Socrates smarter than the rest of the Athens, because while he didn’t know more than they did, he knew he didn’t know.

There are a few ways to deal with this.  Let’s run through most of them.

Militant atheists who killed lots of people.  Tim McVeigh of Oklahoma city bombing fame who said “science was his religion” and indentified himself as an agnostic , Jared Lee Loughner the Arizona shooter didn’t believe in God, and Anders Behring Breivik that crazy guy in Norway last year (whose manifesto included “I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment” and called himself a “Christian-atheist.”  I seem to remember these non-religious schmucks killing some people.  Hell when you consider percentage wise the number of Christian in the world (about 35% of the world) versus the number of these “Christian militants” (maybe 1 or 2 every couple of years) compared to the total number of Atheists in the world (about 10% of the world) versus a relatively comparable number of atheistic psychos (maybe 1 or 2 every couple of years), on a per capita basis atheists seem to be a far more dangerous group of people.  But even that would be unfair because in both cases that is taking a few psychos and trying to blame whichever group name you want to apply to them.  Let me be clear, there is not a group, organization, religion, profession, ethnicity, or whatever designation you want to pick that doesn’t have a few crazies…because these groups consists of human beings and the human nature and statistics means that every so often you get a lunatic in the mix.

No, a more fair comparison would be to look at what happens when a religion gets in complete power and enforces their beliefs as law.  Now, without question a secular government which does not give preference to one religion over another is always preferable…but secularism is not enforced atheism.  A secular government does not forbid the display of religion or the acknowledgement of widely held religious beliefs; it merely does not impede others from practicing their own religion.  Banning all examples of religion in government would be an atheistic state religion, just as banning all other religions to the support of only one would be a religious government.

Now you’d have to be an idiot to apply all wars where one side (or both) sides were religious, because no matter how religious the propaganda the wars were really fought over other purposes (nearly all wars in the medieval and early modern era were fought not over God but over land and power, the war in the Balkans is more about ethnicity and nationalism than religious differences).  Now there are a few cases in the East of religious intolerance, but for argument’s sake let’s say 500,000 have been killed in the name of religion in the East.  Now religious wars that we should include are the Thirty Years War, the French Wars of Religion, the 2nd Sudanese Civil War, the Crusades, and the Lebanese Civil war (the last three being wars of Christianity vs. Islam) because these wars were fought almost solely to extend one religion and destroy another (I realize even that statement has flaws, but I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to those who want to say religion is evil…trust me you’ll love that I’m inflating numbers).  The high end estimate for these 20.75 million (plus our half million from before which gives us 21.25 million so far).    The Inquisition killed maybe 500,000 (a high end estimate), total 21.75 million.  The religious persecution in England during the Tudor and Stuart monarchies killed maybe a hundred thousand (a very high end estimate).  Let’s multiply that by 10 for the whole of Europe for an even million in deaths from religious persecution in Christian Europe, total 22.75. Now inevitably someone is going to want me to put in the conquest of the Americas (even though A. Greed and gold were more the motivating factor, B. Someone would have eventually crossed the sea even if there wasn’t religion and with it the diseases that did most of the killing would have happened anyway) but let’s put that in there.  Now Schweikart and Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States lists the number likely being around 800,000…but let’s give the benefit of the doubt to those who hate religion and give them 5 Million.  So our total for religion stands at 27.75 million.  Let’s add another 10 million for the European slave trade (again another high end estimate).  So our total stands at 37.75 million.  And let’s add another 10 million for all the death at the hands of priest ripping out hearts in the Americas and other religious motivated murders in the New World.  47.75 million. These are pretty much the deaths caused by religion in the last 2,000 years.   You know what, let’s double that number just to be on the safe side.  Let’s say 95.5 Million people have been killed by the repression of religion in the world (I’m also going to ignore other forms of torture, persecution and denial of rights as I think they are probably all in proportion to death tolls).

(I’m going to leave out Islam from this calculation because unlike just about every other religion on Earth, Islam denies the divinity or divine quality of the human soul, for instance you won’t find any statement that man was created in God’s image in the Koran or Haddith, and in this way it makes it philosophically more in line with atheism)…(If you think this is unfair, just look at the pro-atheist quote that started this rant; even they differentiate.)

Now let’s look at the nine nations that have actually implemented atheism in

  1. The French Revolution under the Reign of Terror
  2. Soviet Russia
  3. Communist China
  4. N. Korea
  5. Khmer Rogue Cambodia
  6. Mexico in the 1920’s
  7. Cuba
  8. Various other communist states in the 20th Century.
  9. Nazi Germany (right now some atheist are screaming that it’s wrong to claim Nazi Germany was atheist…shut up and sit down, I will prove this point)

As far as I can find (and this is the result of a month’s worth of research…they were all on the Wikipedia page, but I couldn’t find any others) these are the only countries to ever institute state enforced atheism.  Now anyone with even a modicum of knowledge knows that this death toll is easily going to top my previous one.  But let’s go over it anyway.

  1. The French Revolution with its Reign of Terror and “Cult of Reason.”  Catholicism and other versions of Christianity were outlawed.  Churches burned, relics desecrated, clergy persecuted and of course the guillotine.  Low end estimates for these 2 years of madness are around 15,000 dead.
  2. In Mexico’s 1917 Constitution nationalized all church property and outlawed all religious orders.  This resulted in a small civil war known as the Cristero War (1926-1929) between atheist President Calle’s forces and the pro-Catholic Cristeros.  Low end estimates put the death toll at 5,000
  3. Soviet Russia, Communist China and all other incarnations of communism

If the mere 20,000 deaths I racked up from 5 years of combined terror, let’s take at the death toll of government that brought us gulag, killing fields, the resurgence of crucifixion (yes, the Chinese crucified Tibetan monks and dissidents).  Forced labor, controlled famines, repression…the death toll is, according the obscenely well researched book The Black Book of Communism: Crime, Terror, and Repression edited by Stepane Courtois puts the number of all Communist/Marxist (where religion is always persecuted and outlawed) at 94 million dead. Now you could say it’s unfair that I just use the number the book lists and not say some Marxist tripe historian who probably put the number under 10 million…well I deal in reality and the fact that some historians have called the 94 Million estimate “too conservative,” I think I’m safe with sticking with that number.  But please go on, tell me that Communists have not killed millions.

    4. And of course Nazism.

Now the immediate cry/propaganda is that Nazism was Christian in nature and not atheistic.  And of course we call any nation that goes as far as outlawing miracles very Christian.

So let’s turn to some real sources…I’m going to quote large passages here instead of just sending you to the book because I don’t want to have to deal with the BS that is going to come from atheists farcical denial that their religion was behind a movement that is synonymous with evil.

From The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William S. Shirer, from the section “The Persecution of Christian Churches” (And right before the section “The Nazification of Culture”), page 240,

“What the Hitler government envisioned for Germany was clearly set out in a thirty point program for the ‘National Reich Church’ […] A few of its thirty articles convey the essentials:

“1. The National Reich Church of Germany categorically claims the exclusive right and the exclusive power to control all churches within the borders of the Reich: it declares these to be the national churches of the German Reich.

“5. The National Church is determined to exterminate irrevocably….the strange and foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany in the ill-omened year 800.

“7. The National Church has no scribes, pastors, chaplains, or priests, but National Reich orators are to speak in them.

“13. The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany

“14. The National Church declares that to it, and therefore to the German nation, it has been decided that the Fuehrer’s Mein Kampf is the greatest of all documents. It….not only contains the greatest but it embodies the purest and truest ethics for the present and future life of our nation.

“18. The National Church will clear away from its altars all crucifixes, Bibles, and pictures of saints.

“19. On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf (to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book) and to the left of the altar a sword.

“30. On the day of its foundation, the Christian Cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals, and chapels…and it must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol, the swastika.” [Emphasis added]

You know, just because you have the trapping of religious organization, when you deny God and all his works and put in the raving of a single psychopath, I’d call that atheism.

Maybe it’s just that one book.
Let’s switch to The Third Reich: A New History by Michael Burleigh, page 196:

“Nazism represented a sustained assault on fundamental Christian values, regardless of any tactical obeisance to the purchase it had on most Germans. […] The mission here and now, for utopian ends on earth, became a substitute for the futility of earthly existence and the majesty of God.” [The whole passage is quoted here.]

If you read the whole passage it will say that they didn’t want the name atheism applied to their beliefs either…but when you replace God and Heaven with the state and the race, you may not want to call it atheism, but it is atheism.

But, please, perhaps you can find for me a historian who says that Nazi’s weren’t at war with Christianity.  Yes early on they allied themselves with Christianity, and even spouted some of the rhetoric of it, but taking a look at the whole of Nazi history shows that their goal was to destroy ALL religion and replace God with the party and the race.  I suggest you look right next to the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or roughly in that area to find bullshit that says that they weren’t atheists.

It if walks like an atheist, talks like an atheist, acts like an atheist; it sure as hell ain’t a duck.  Germany paid lip service to religion as it slowly replaced every single aspect of religion with the atheistic state.  Communism at first claimed to welcome all religions in the early days and officially banned discrimination based on religion…the difference being that Nazism didn’t last 2 decades, Communism is still going in some parts of the world.  Had Nazism lived longer they would have embraced a full atheistic state.  And to claim anything else is at best naïve and at worst hideously disingenuous.

So now that we’ve cleared up the atheistic nature of Nazi Germany…I believe the number is 6 million (not counting all the deaths caused by their war to try and spread their evil over the globe).  Which I believe brings our total to 100,020,000.  All in little over 200 years.

So let’s see here 2,000 years an absurdly liberal estimate puts the death caused by religion at 95.5 Million meanwhile in a tenth of that time atheistic governments, by a very conservative estimate, have killed over 100 Million.  I’d hate to see the world after 2,000 years of atheism, the population of mankind would be around zero.

Now, my favorite objection is that these aren’t real atheists because atheists are people who follow reason (a claim I’ve never seen in practice, but let’s go with their objection), and these governments were very unreasonable.  Okay, let’s go with that objection and not count any of those deaths that the religion of atheism brought us, but then you have to play fair and admit that all of these supposedly religious governments are equally falling short of their religion’s call for compassion.  If you give the benefit of the doubt to one side you have to give it to the other…or will atheists fess up and admit not only to their atrocious reasoning skills (after all the preponderance of the evidence is on the side that there is a God ) but also their deep-seated hypocrisy.  I doubt they will.  And you wonder why I find them a bitter and violent bunch.  Religion shouldn’t take all of the blame for the death toll above, and atheism isn’t the sole cause of the death I attributed to them.  And it is wildly poor logic to attribute the acts of one lunatic who claims to be part of a group when they are acting against what most of the members of that group believe (when polls show that a majority of a group is fine with suicide bombing…that’s a different story, and you might want to look at what that belief system is preaching).

In the end there is a simple fact, as bad as religious government can be, and as much as we should always strive for pluralistic and secular government, religious government could go years, even decades without harming those who practiced other religions.  For atheistic governments, it would be hard to find a day where an atrocity was not committed.  Now the vast majority of atheists are not butchers as the vast majority of the religious aren’t, so again please explain to me how atheists feel they have such a right to their sense of superiority.  Perhaps it’s their recorded efficiency.

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Atheism, Death, Evils of Liberalism, Faith, Fear, God, Government is corrupt, liberal arrogance, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics, Religion, Spirituality, Tyranny

Ayatollah Rick Santorum’s war against filthy non-Christians

“And then you may turn Catholic against Protestant, and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the mind of man. If you can do one, you can do the other. Because fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding. And soon, your Honor, with banners flying and with drums beating we’ll be marching backward, BACKWARD, through the glorious ages of that Sixteenth Century when bigots burned the man who dared bring enlightenment and intelligence to the human mind!” –Henry Drummond Inherit the Wind

Okay the title is intentionally hyperbolic…but I had to get your attention somehow.

But, frighteningly, it’s only mildly hyperbolic.

So over the weekend, after making us all wish we could burn out our eyes with images of his flabby form, Rick attended a rally and was introduced by pastor Dennis Terry in, what has to be the most surreal speech I have ever seen given to introduce a Presidential candidate.

“I don’t care what the liberals say, I don’t care what the naysayers say, this country was founded as a Christian nation, The god of Abraham, the god of Isaac. There’s only one god, there’s only one god and his name is Jesus.”

“I’m, listen to me, if you don’t believe as I say you don’t love America and you don’t like the way we tell you to do things, I’ve got one thing to say. GET OUT.

“We don’t worship Buddha. I said we don’t worship Buddha. We don’t worship Mohammed. We don’t worship Allah. We worship god. We worship god’s son Jesus Christ. “[emphasis added]

I’m just really shocked to hear Rick Santorum, a man who implied that all Protestants are in league with the devil, endorsing something like this. Now in his defense, Rick, possibly my least favorite bigot in the nation right now, has said he is not responsible for what other people say but (1) you are responsible when they’re introducing you, and (2) you are clearly clapping in the video and not hanging your head, shaking it thinking “dear god what have I gotten myself into”…you know as any sane human would be doing at that point. So your defense, Ricky, is nothing but the usual bunch of lies…which is really all you have. I really don’t know which I hate more your bleeding heart liberal economics or your psychotic religious beliefs, Rick, but you are clearly the worst of all possible combinations of positions.

So let’s start with the words that Rick Santorum clearly agrees with, the words that clearly advocate for a single minded intolerant theocracy. The words that are bigoted, close-minded, and let’s not forget vaguely anti-Semitic (which means Romney might not have Ron Paul as his VP, but Rick might).

“I’m, listen to me, if you don’t believe as I say you don’t love America and you don’t like the way we tell you to do things, I’ve got one thing to say. GET OUT.”

You know if this had been followed by a statement of we do things here by civil and uncivil discourse…debate, discourse, and screaming our bloody heads off with insults…but not with violence and not with mob behavior then the call to get out might have been okay. If that statement had been followed by a condemnation of terrorism and violence and if you embrace those things you have no business in this country, that might have been appropriately hyperbolic. But what was it followed by “We don’t worship Buddha.” That’s right because the eightfold path is just such a Satanic way…and let’s just ignore the fact that Buddhist don’t actually worship Buddha, it’s more of the relationship between Catholics and saints in their relationship, calling on for help and guidance but not actually worshipping. No let’s just say that all other religions are not welcomed in the U.S. Yes because a nation which has a Constitutional law guaranteeing the freedom of religion is going to ban all religions other than Christianity. As a pagan I feel so comfortable about a Rick Santorum presidency. Because I remember all those sermons Jesus preached against Roman gods (you remember how he told the pagan Roman guard to go fuck himself when the guard pleaded for his servant, don’t you?), and the Jewish god, and all those sermons where he told the Jews that they must worship him and him alone. I clearly remember them in the Book of…the book of…chapter….oh well I’m sure they’re in there. After all Santorum and pastor Terry wouldn’t be basing their beliefs on only their small-minded ignorant prejudices, there must be scriptural backing for it. Just poor pagan me who has read the Bible several times must be forgetting those passages where Jesus told you to hate all who had different religious opinions…like that time when he told his followers to despise the group the ancient Jews had the most theological disagreements with, the Samaritans. There certainly must be a story in the Bible where he tells his followers to treat Samaritans as outsiders and others who deserve nothing but hatred. I’m sure of it.

But let’s move on.

“I don’t care what the naysayers say, this country was founded as a Christian nation.”

Really? Let’s look at the Founding. You know the Declaration of Independence. Written by Deist Thomas Jefferson, you know the guy who thought so highly of the Bible he felt it could use a little editing (down to about 20 pages) to get rid of all the useless stuff. But I’m sure a semi-educated response would respond that in reality the Declaration, while penned by Jefferson was the result of heavy discussion and editing by a committee of five people. Roger Sherman, Philip Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. Now Livingston, a Presbyterian, and Sheramn, a Congregationalist were clearly Christians…but Franklin, a Deist, and Adams, a Unitarian, the two who probably had the most influence on the document, both doubted the divinity of Christ (Adams even signing a treaty stating “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” that the Senate confirmed, that would be the 6th Senate still filled with many Founders…the same treaty Tripoli later broke and was used as the justification for Jefferson’s preemptive strike against the Barbary Pirates). Now while they may have doubted the divinity of Christ they did not doubt the necessity of both religion and spirituality but were not so close minded as to believe only one version of religion was all that should be allowed.

But it was only these three guys right? Well no. President of the Continental Congress (and first president under the Articles of Confederation) John Hancock and General and First President George Washington were both Freemasons…which means that while they may have been Episcopalians they would also not be restricted by any close-minded view that only their religion counted. If such a view was abhorrent to the Founding Fathers, one wonders why twice they would put their first president under two constitutions as a man who believed in the truth of all religions. (Oh, Chief Justice John Marshall, whose influence in creating a capitalistic system of laws cannot be overstated, was also a Freemason, but I’m sure the Senate, filled with Founding Fathers was opposed to such open minded beliefs when they confirmed him).

Were the majority of them Christian? Certainly. But none of them were the close-minded bigots that pastor Dennis Terry and Rick Santorum (D) have shown themselves to be. They believed in God back in those days, and weren’t all that particular about the name or the form of worship you had back then.

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”—Thomas Jefferson…I’m sure Jefferson was advocating for only a Christian nation where there is only one God with that line.

But I’m sure they would have all supported the small minded nature of demanding all non-Christians leave America because, clearly, they have no place here. And I’m sure after pagans and Jews and non-believers are either deported or solved through some other kind of solution with a certain finality to it, that Mormons and Catholics and Episcopalians are next. Then I’m sure other Protestant denominations need to go. I’m sure that is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the First Amendment and state bills guaranteeing freedom of religion. Well I’m not sure of it, but I think Rick Santorum is.

We could go over the rest of this lunatic’s speech. I could tear every single phrase apart and show him to beyond the shadow of a doubt a psychopathic, vicious, evil and ignorant man whose vile knows no conscience, humanity or intelligence until you would be convinced that clearly Sherman didn’t go far enough on his march to the sea if it lead to even a minority in the South that behaved like this. I could, but what’s the point.

…..

Oh, and if you don’t believe that Rick is guided a little too heavily by religion, then listen to this little quote where he basically claims that God himself speaks to Rick Santorum.

“I don’t believe life begins at conception, I know life begins at conception.”

 

Whenever anyone claims to know something that can only be known to God…they’re either a prophet or a psychopath. Let’s guess which one Rick Santorum is.

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Filed under Death, Election 2012, Faith, Fear, Founding, Free Will, God, GOP, Government is corrupt, People Are Stupid, philosophy, politics, Problems with the GOP, Religion, Rick Santorum, Spirituality, Stupid liberal quote of the day

Movies for New Agers–Groundhog Day

“This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat. What a hype. Groundhog Day used to mean something in this town. They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!”

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing you did mattered?”–Bill Murray, Groundhog Day.

So today of all days, February 2nd, is the only day to discuss one of the greatest films of all time, Groundhog Day. I think by now we all know the film and the concept…although just in case you don’t know let me quickly recap the movie (I have to do this because I found some people just live in caves and don’t know movies at all). Phil Connors (Bill Murray in his last enjoyable role) an unhappy, misanthropic TV weatherman gets sent to Punxsutawney, PA to cover the annual Groundhog festival to see if famed weatherman and groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. Then a snowstorm hits and he can’t get out of the small town he loathes. But what’s worst of all is that when he wakes up the next morning, it’s still Groundhog day. It’s always Groundhog day. Every day he wakes up and it’s Groundhog day. The universe seems to reset itself every time he falls asleep and only he seems to remember what happened. And after having all the fun you could think of having when there are no lasting consequences, a funny thing happens, the meaningless pleasures become, well meaningless, and he starts to actually improve himself and become a better human.

Ever since it came out this film has been popular with spiritual people of all faiths because it shows progression of self-improvement and placing value on things that actually matter as just about all religions actually call for. For New Agers it works as an allegory for a very abbreviated form of reincarnation and movement toward enlightenment. Bill Murray as Phil Connors works his way both through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (First food, then sex, then money, followed by thrills and the fun stuff we’d always like to try but never have the guts to) soon, he, like all of us, become both fixated on something of value and something which is just out of his reach (in this case Andie MacDowell’s love). As these lower pleasures give no lasting pleasure he tries to find something that lasts for more than a single day. But as he cannot find it by being his shallow petty self he becomes depressed.
In spiritual discussions of a lot of religions there is always a point where a person has progressed far enough to understand that the world isn’t enough to bring Happiness, but, in spite of deeply held faith (and oddly usually because of it) a person will hit a point where both the material world they have left and the spiritual world they have yet to fully enter both become meaningless and bereft of hope. “You want a prediction about the weather, you’re asking the wrong Phil. I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.” In Christianity this period is called the dark night of the soul. It’s a necessary spiritual point, but also a dangerous one as the soul hits rock bottom and feels it has nothing to lose. In the case of Groundhog Day this manifests in repeated suicide attempts.

“I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned. […] and every morning I wake up without a scratch on me, not a dent in the fender… I am an immortal.”

Luckily, like most people, he arises from the dark night with the help of a higher power believing in him which allows him to again continuing through the levels of Maslow’s hierarchy to work on issues of personal improvement, achievement and self actualization. After passing through the dark night he ceases to be fully fixated on only himself which actually allows him to better himself (which harkens back to my constant point that there is an extreme difference between narcissism and rational self-interest, between materialism and finding joy in the material world). And by becoming a better person he actually becomes a much happier one.

“Whatever happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I’m happy now… because I love you.”

This movie works as a good movie for New Agers because, more or less this is what we believe happens to us through reincarnation. We get sent back life after life after life, confronted with the same problems over and over and over again until, like Phil, we learn how to deal with them. There is no limit to how much time we can take to learn, there is no force other than our own desire for happiness that forces you to learn. But if we wish to escape the particular cycle we are in, we must learn.

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Filed under Death, Faith, Free Will, God, Happiness, Humor, Love, New Age, New Age Movies, Purpose of Life, Reincarnation, Religion, Spirituality

Some people are like slinkies…

…not good for anything… …but they provide a pointless distraction.

So over the last couple of days liberals of all stripes have called me and friends of mine cold, lacking in empathy, privileged (because apparently using reason to judge a statement makes you a privileged member of the upper class…this does not speak well of the intelligence of the 99% if this statement were true) and heartless for critiquing the numerous, pointless, pathologically riddled  with lies and half truths, and nothing but  worthless whines of all the schmucks who claim to be “the 99%”  (who strangely tend to endlessly piss off the 47% who actually pay taxes).

So let me give a blanket critique of the “99% whiners”  because I can guarantee you that each and every one will fall somewhere in this critique.  Why do I feel that these people need a complete, total dressing down?  Well first because I remember reading in the Bhagavad Gita:

“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

And I find giving to people who whine and choose to not improve themselves, but demand others pay for them to be quite literally the “unworthy persons” warned about in this point.  Intelligent religions over all of history have made a distinction between giving for the sake of helping people improve themselves and just giving because they want (or does no one remember that you’re not supposed to give a man a fish) .  But still they feel you should give them anything they want because I have and they don’t…because they think they are entitled to my empathy and compassion because they were born, because I am under some order to love my neighbor…well guess what, because I can actually read I know I am advised to “love my neighbor as I would love myself” and let me tell you I am very critical of myself when I succumb to my worst habits, my worst inclinations, and my worst faults.  People who don’t love themselves, but ask me to feel compassion for them are the most rank hypocrites.  But why do I say they don’t love themselves…well generally rational self-interest, the love of yourself that this guy 2,000 year ago advocated (I’m sure he was a disgusting egotist for such a suggestion) tends to mean people take care of themselves, to better themselves, to have some concern for their well being…or at least to work in their best interests.

So let me ask about all the people who claim to be in “the other 99%”, have they acted always in their best interests?  (Now I will admit I do not meet all of the points I’m about to go over…but I’m not asking for sympathy.  You can be a good person and not do these things…you cannot be a sympathetic one and not meet all of these requirements).

 

Let me ask, did you graduate high school?

Cause the other 99% percent seems to suffer from a rather bizarre level of unemployment.  Now the people who have the highest levels of unemployment.  I hate to say this but a lot of these 99%’s are not exactly singing the virtues of their education while they’re complaining about unemployment (not all but a lot) which makes me ask if they’re unemployed because no employer would legitimately be insane enough to hire them if they had a choice.  Which is made all the sadder because, as a high school teacher, I know how unspeakably easy it is to get a high school diploma.  Really.  With schools, charter schools, alternative schools, online schools and GED you have to try to NOT get a diploma.  It takes work–Lots of work—to not pass high school.  Yet around 16% of this country manages to do it.  Oh, yes some of you might argue about the quality of the diploma (I have no argument there, only to say that given how low that quality is, it’s kind of sad when you can’t reach that bar) or the schools are not set up to teach students…to the latter point I would say that I would bet that even in the worst school in America there is one teacher there who actually does give a shit and if you went to them with an honest desire to learn, a drive to do whatever they asked, and willingness to be helped they would help anyone who came to them.  THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR NOT HAVING A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OR THE EQUIVALENT.  And before I could even possibly feel sorry for someone I need to see that they have the brains and self respect for even the most bare bones level of education.  Yet I don’t see a lot of 99%’s talking about their education…

Which brings me to my second question, did you go to community college, a trade school, or state school?

This is tied to the first.  If you don’t have the desire for self improvement, why should my money or the money of the 1% go to you?  Getting an AA at a community college is possible, even on a minimum wage salary.  Same is true of a trade school.  It will take time, but it is possible.  So when I see all these people who say, “I worked for 30 years”  I always have to wonder what were they doing those 30 years.  The signs are designed to elicit sympathy, so if they were doing something like nursing, or teaching, or getting an education they would include that.  But they almost never include what they were doing.  Would full disclosure of what you were doing not elicit sympathy?  But back to schooling, anyone if they scrimp, save and work for it can get an AA or trade school degree which would make it far more unlikely that they would ever be fired and make it far more likely that you will get a new job easily if you were fired. Anyone can do it and anyone with a half functioning brain knows that education provides a safety net.

Do you like your job and don’t need anymore education.  Fine.  Commendable.  You did what we recommended to find something you like and do that.  But you knew that staying in that one position, not constantly improving yourself, not making yourself more skilled, not seeking a better job or position came with a risk and that risk was that when the shit hit the fan you were the most expendable person around.  There is nothing wrong with not seeking more education than the job you enjoy needs…but don’t come crying to me.  You took that risk.  I take lots of risks, I don’t ask anyone to be held responsible for them but myself.

Why do I put state college there?  Because a lot of these people on these 99% pictures list their tuition debts at levels far exceeding what a state college could cost to a state resident (even with room and board).  This means they chose a private school or an out of state school knowing what the cost would be.  Yet, somehow, as implicit in their whining is they think their debt is too high.  Well if it was too high, go to a state school.  I went to a private school, but I was under no illusion that I would be tying an albatross around my neck for the next 30 years—and I’d do it again in a heart beat.  It was worth it.  But don’t complain to someone else because you don’t want the bill for the services you used.  Don’t want high college debt?  Go to a cheap community college, get your AA then go to a state school for the BA.  If you’re working fulltime you won’t be more than a high car loan worth in debt.

Let me ask did you get a degree in a practical skill or a hard science?

And a lot of these whiners who complain about their college debt also bitch about not having a job.  Which is odd because the unemployment rate for college graduates is around 4.4%.  So I have to ask, what did you get your degree in?  Was it sociology?  Women’s studies in relation to Enlightenment culture?  A Master’s degree in Music theory?  What possible degree did you get that makes a high school graduate a more appealing hire?  I got a B.A. in English with a minor in Education, I knew that this qualified me to teach English and not much else, good thing I wanted to be an English teacher…but I got a degree in a field I wanted to go into and I knew there was a reasonable need for the profession.  What worthless liberal arts degree did you think it was a good idea to drop 60K on…because I can promise you if we split that 4.4% into hard science degrees and Liberal arts, the hard science ones would be much lower than 4.4%.  You wanted to study what you wanted to study.  Fine, it’ s your right.  But when you have given yourself a skill set that makes you unemployable you should learn to live with the consequences of your actions and not whine to me about it.

Did you refrain from having children until you were married?

Oh, here is a big one for the people whining about their lives in “the other 99%”  they bitch about child costs but very often I do not see reference to a spouse.  I know some wonderful women who had children before they got married and who are doing well in life (strangely they don’t whine a lot about things being other people’s fault), but I get the feeling they’re going to not only tell their own children, but society in general, having children before marriage is really, really dumb.   I would even go as far to say that having children before you’re relatively financially stable is a questionable move, but let’s deal with the more egregious problems.  Having children, married or not, employed or not, makes your life infinitely more complicated and difficult.  More rewarding, certainly, but infinitely more complicated.

And I’m sorry but I can’t feel sorry for people who have children when they’re not ready.  It’s not like it just randomly happens without any personal choice (okay yes there are two exceptions, one involves rape and then you have my instant compassion and desire to help you, and the second way usually also comes with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh…but these are the exceptions, not the general rule) on your part being involved.  Yes, are the deadbeat dad’s also to blame, hell yes, and I will instantly support a law that says that dead beat dads who don’t pay should have the very organs that got them into this mess surgically removed…but I don’t see many 99% people arguing for more personal responsibility, so that’s neither here nor there.  You made your bed, you sleep in it, don’t ask me to subsidize your bad choices and I won’t ask you to subsidize mine.

Let me ask did you work hard at your job before you were fired?

Oh so many of these people who say, “I am the other 99%”  seem to have lost their jobs.  Oh boo-hoo.  I know some people have lost their jobs because their companies went under, but if they were competent I think a good many of them got new jobs.  And other people are fired because they refuse to go along with the incompetence/unethical behavior of their superiors, and again if they were competent they probably got a new job relatively quickly.  But you know what, most people who get fired get fired because they’re the worst person on the job.  Businesses that need to fire 1,000 people don’t fire their 1,000 best employees—no they tend to try to fire their 1,000 worst employees. (Unless it is a union job and then they are required to go by seniority.  But I don’t see many people identify themselves as “the other 99%” being against such corrupt union practices, in fact if anything I’ve see n nothing but support for unions.  And well it’s a little hard to feel compassion for someone who loves their destroyer.)  So I really have to ask, every jackass who complains about A. losing a job and B. not being able to get a new one, did your prior work ethic and skill set have anything to do with those things?  Because even in this economy I have a really hard time thinking that someone with a good education, a strong work ethic (which breeds strong recommendations from your coworkers), and dedication can’t find a job.  Yes it may not be as good a paying job or even one they really want, but it’s a job, and people with good work ethics tend to find those jobs.  So really, can you tell me straight faced you were the best employee the company had and that despite your skills and work ethic you lost your job.  Or is it that these whiners who worked for 20 years and were then laid off were laid off because they just sat in that one job for 20 years, becoming complacent and letting their skill rust, seeking only to meet the bare minimum of work…a minimum which during economic hardships gets reset at a level higher than they’ve ever given.

Let me ask do you have friends?  Real friends?

I am the world’s biggest asshole.  There are days I make Greg House look like a cuddly puppy.  And I know without a doubt that if I were to lose my job or my apartment or come down sick that in addition to my family I have at least a dozen friends who would take me in and do whatever was in their means to help me get back on my feet if I needed it…as I would do for them without even thinking.

How few real friends must these people have to have no one to fall back on.  How bad are all of these people that they have to whine that the rich should have their wealth stolen from them.  I’ve always noticed that when I complain about these people on their blogs that so many of the friends of these self reported “other 99%” are quick to call me heartless and unempathic for not wanting to share my money for someone I don’t have any respect for…well where were you when your friend was in need?  You’re quick to chastise me for not wanting to share my hard earned money with someone I dislike, did you so graciously share every dime you could with your friends?  Did you stop going to the movies to help pay for that extra $20 for your friend’s chemo?  Did you cut back on dining out?  Did you make up the spare room for them so they wouldn’t have to pay rent?  There are friends in my life who I will put myself in debt for to help them, because they are worth it.  Where were you for your friends?  Or is beating up on people who use logic instead of blind unquestioning corrupted empathy the extent to which you will go?  With friends like you…

 

Let me ask, do you have character? 

Obviously the mere act of whining states no.  But let’s ignore this for a moment. The fact of the matter is that many of these people shade facts, use half truths or out right lies to drum up sympathy.  All of it is ethically equivalent to lying.  And anyone who engages in it is totally without character.  Let’s use the most recent picture I’ve seen to make the rounds as an example.  (And I’m using screen shots from his blog instead of just links…because I’ll be honest, he strikes me as the kind of guy who would go back, edit the facts, and then call me a liar).

He uses the phrase “part time” to get sympathy because we all think of part time as less than 40 hours of work…a technical definition is 30 hours or less.

He says here in his picture that the insurance he was getting wouldn’t cover his treatment of cancer.

Yet on his blog he states:


He was not “part time” in any conventional sense until after his diagnosis.  So that’s a half truth at best.  And at 60 hours he must have been making more than the limit that Arizona aid requires.  So let me ask you what is a fair limit?  How many people should be allowed on state and federal aid.  Give me a dollar figure of where the line should be?

He outright lies when he says churches won’t help.

So they did  help up to a point.  Yes could they get the money in time, no, but this guy says he has stage IV cancer…it takes time for churches to raise money for charity, they can do it, but just because you can’t have it now does not mean churches can’t and aren’t willing to help, they’re bound by the same laws of economics everyone is.  (Laws that state it would be much easier to raise money for charity if it weren’t for the fact that Americans are being beaten down with massive government regulation and taxes, you know what the 99% is demanding).

But my personal favorite is his implication that his minimum wage insurance wouldn’t cover his treatment.  Why do I love this one…well…this one from his blog announcing that he has cancer…

It’s so hard being a pathological liar when you don’t have the entire DNC there to help keep your lies straight.  So which is it?…is it that the insurance wouldn’t cover it (which in reality, I have my doubts, most plans, even crappy, will always cover the removal of a tumor…they just won’t cover the chemo and radiation because those treatments actually have an obscenely low success rate…especially on Stage IV cancer…but who knows it could be a really, really crappy insurance plan) or is it that you stopped paying for insurance of your own free will (he looks to be in his 40’s which would makes this an incredibly dumb move, given how after 40 your chances of major disease jumps, no matter how little he’s getting paid).  It’s one or the other, it can’t be both.  Either you had crappy insurance or you stopped paying for it.  Being a liar is so difficult when you have to keep all your lies straight.

(I could do a whole blog on how he seems to be saying he hated the pay cut that saved the business from bankruptcy and by extension everyone else’s job…but let’s ignore his gross lack of economic understanding for the moment).

Did you maintain a healthy community life?

This one is actually part of the friendship question. As Aristotle observed no one can live completely out of society and be considered a good person unless they are a beast or a god.  And there are remarkably few who can live with only a few close friends as their primary contact.  Most people need human connection to be considered a good person…so if you shunned society for so long, why is it society’s responsibility to take care of you.  Seems rather selfish and self-serving….but I forget I’m the egotistical and unempathetic one.

Did you start saving from an early age?

Really there is no excuse for this one.  If you didn’t save you’re either an idiot or knowing taking a risk hoping that whatever you are putting your money into will pay off.  If it’s the latter you wouldn’t bitch because you knew it was your fault and your fault alone.  If you’re an idiot, well, as you can guess, I’m not inclined to sympathize with you.

Oh and a lot of these people have a lot of medical problems.  Cancer seems to the biggest one.  Strangely, unlike every cancer patient I’ve ever seen they’re awfully vague about what they have…they describe having cancer and then describe symptoms that sound like benign cysts.  They say they have cancer….but if you can track down their blog they use the technical term for a throat doctor…which makes me ask how much did you smoke?

So before you want me to feel sorry for your disease let me ask some other things:

Do you ever habitually smoke or drink?

Lung cancer is one of the 3rd most common types of cancer up there (when you add in all the other cancer that smoking can increase the odds on the whole smoking related thing because it’s the number one killer).  Now if you smoke or drink I do not look down on you.  I understand it’s a wonderful feeling.  Hell, if I could afford the habit, I would look like a sixth member of the Rat Pack with the amount of alcohol and nicotine I would be putting in my body.  But guess what, I would blame only myself when I got diagnosed with a disease caused by my habits.

Do you over-eat?  Do you exercise?  Did you not lead a sedentary life style?

I’m sorry but a lot of diseases are heavily related to lifestyle and asking me to pay for medical treatment that was the direct result of the fact you did not care for your body…I’m having a hard time caring.

Now if you have a disease or condition that is no fault of your own, of course I feel for you.  I mean I wouldn’t expect someone who from childhood was deaf and blind to be able to write books and take care of herself…oh wait.  Or someone who had their neck broken to be expected to learn to breath on their own again without the help of a machine and make it a goal of walking again…oh wait.  Or someone with a degenerative neurological disease to make major contributions to science and beat all odds by living to 70…oh wait.  Damn, is it just me, or are there enough cases of people with a debilitating disease overcoming the challenges that disease brought and showing us the best of humanity not by whining others should take care of them, but by doing what no one thought they could, that it makes it hard to take the major whiners seriously.  My heart goes tends to go with one group and not the other.

Did you abuse drugs?

Kind of a no brainer.  But given the amount of crack pipes they found at Zuccati Park, I feel the need to mention this one.  I do believe that people can recreationally use certain drugs and not have it damage their life…but most of the time that is not the case, and if you feel the need to engage in this kind of activity don’t expect me to feel sorry for you. (And of course there’s that little hypocrisy about the money spent on drugs that could have gone to savings or self betterment). 

And finally do you learn and grow…or do you whine?

I believe that all of life is a giant classroom from which we are supposed to learn from.  And the best lessons are the hardships, the crucibles that show us what we are made of, and what, if we choose to, is the best within us.  Choosing to whine about it on the internet.  Not exactly what I would call learning.   Frankly, even ignoring this point I doubt anyone who claims that they are “the other 99%” could claim that they have not made the mistake I have detailed.

I know some of the people who whine and bitch and moan about their problems when they read this will wish I got to experience their hardships.   They’ll wish I lose my job.  They’ll wish I get cancer or some other debilitating disease.  Bring it on.  I’ve dealt with unemployment before with grace and honor.  I can do it again.  As for disease…well I had to die of something, I accepted that decades ago, and because it will not come as a shock I guarantee you I will not whine or say that it is unfair or that others should help me because they have more than I do. I promise you that in my death I will have more honor, courage, and virtue than those who claim to be in “the other 99%” have in their entire lives.

Now will all of these apply to everyone, no…but you show me someone who over time earned a college level education when times were good in a practical field, who always gave their best and excelled at work, who lived a healthy lifestyle and didn’t engage in behavior that was utterly lacking in common sense who is in on hard times but still trying to support themselves, looking for any job, because no job is below them, or has come down with a debilitating disease, I have and will help them in any way I can.  I have not seen one person like that claim “I am the other 99%.”

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Misconceptions about New Agers and Pagans: That we’re all liberals

One of the main reasons for this blog and my book Republicans and Reincarnation is to kill this persistent myth that that all Pagans and New Agers are liberals (usually the common beliefs paints us as the hippie progressive type).  And I’ve had a few blogs about various misconceptions about New Agers but I felt I should once again deal with this major one.

Why?  Well because as the GOP race gets closer to the end (and especially since that dimwit Santorum has been given press time far exceeding what his lacking intellect would justify) I get to once again hear the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” bantered around and around in debates, speeches, on blogs, in news stories, on Facebook and Twitter.  Judeo-Christian values.

I have asked in various different forums and in person what that phrase “Judeo-Christian values” means.  Each time I have asked I have gotten nothing for answer.  I mean if it’s supposed to be a catchall phrase for a long list of values and principles shouldn’t someone be able to list it?  And it seems to be usually argued that these values dictate that you should be a conservative, but I’ve heard it argued the other way around.  I think part of the problem is that nobody really knows what that list means.  Yes the Founding Fathers followed Judeo-Christian values, but if you corned Washington, Adams or Madison and got them to delineate even 5 of those values I doubt it would be even remotely be close the list Santorum, Huckabee, or Perry would come up with.  And if we don’t know what that list is, then how can we even use the phrase.

One the other hand I can tell you exactly what some of the values of New Agers and Pagans are.  Is this a complete list?  I doubt it.  But it is a list I think any person who calls themselves a Pagan or New Ager (I’m just going to use New Ager as a catchall from here on in) can agree to…and I think they clearly lean to one political philosophy over another.

God is a being of love and reason.

Unlike some religions New Agers do not load down God with very human flaws like anger and jealously (or in some truly insane cases genocidal rage and say He is not bound by such things as reason).  We accept that old Platonic formula that God is Good, which means that God is Reason and Just and Beautiful and True (and adding the logical extension that Plato forgot but the Christians didn’t, God is Love).  This doesn’t translate into any political form by itself, but it does offer us the idea that reason and compassion should be a guidepost in all things.

The Divinity of Life

Every New Ager I think would agree that life, all life, has a spark of the divine in it and as such has value.  Now there might be a wide variety of debate over the equality of the value of a turnip and a human, I would be more firmly planted in the field that human life is unique and given special predominance, but I think we’ll all agree that we are not slaves or servants of God, but a part of him, his children (and if we can get rid of our fears and delusions) his equal.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on A Course in Miracles [Italics added]

What does this translate into politically?  It wipes away any political system that denies that “all men are created equal.” This doesn’t have a lot of value in most modern American political discussions, because I would hope we all agree on this, but it is a place to start.

Intellect, Free Will and Liberty

The next thing I think we all agree on is that our greatest gift from God is our intellect and our free will.  We have the ability to look at our life and not just analyze but choose the course we are to take.  This is what makes us the equals of God; beside God no other being in the universe has both the intellect to judge the world around them and free will to act upon those choices.  Some religions decry reason, others consider our free will a sin and think we should slavishly reject our will and submit to another’s.  We however revel in ours because we know that when we use both perfectly our will and God’s are not opposed, but the same.  We take comfort in the fact that while free will can allow us to make mistakes it also allows us to learn from those mistakes and grow.

“He tells you but YOUR will; He speaks for YOU. In HIS Divinity is but your own. And all He knows is but YOUR knowledge, saved for YOU, that you may do YOUR will through Him. God ASKS you do your will. He joins with YOU. He did not set His kingdom up alone. And Heaven itself but represents your will, where everything created is for you. No spark of life but was created with your glad consent, as you would have it be. And not one Thought that God has ever had but waited for your blessing to be born. God is no enemy to you. He asks no more than that He hear you call Him Friend.”—A Course In Miracles Chapter 30, Section 3

What does this one mean politically…well quite obviously the political extension of free will is liberty, the right to exert your free will.  And as it is a gift from God the freest use of our liberty should be allowed to the greatest extent that it does not harm anyone else’s right to life and liberty.  Thus it is the government that governs least that governs best.  Further since everyone is equal this pretty much dictates a classically liberal democratic-republic.  It also means that any drive to control society through government should be curbed, government is not there to tell people how to live their lives, only to protect their right to life and liberty (oh and a few other things, but we’ll get to that).

The Point of Life is Happiness and Learning

 

See there is a reason I ordered the first three this way.  New Agers view life in two ways, as an individual life, and as a series of lives in a long chain of reincarnated existences.  From the individual life perspective the highest goal is Happiness  (capital H), Happiness in the Aristotelian sense as a fulfillment not just of our needs but of our aspirations and highest virtues and greatest gifts shared with friends.    Meanwhile the goal of the multi-life existence is Enlightenment (a return to God) which is more of an eternal Happiness.  Happiness is in each individual life is a requirement for meeting this goal, but you also need learning, self-reflection and growth.

“If you possess happiness you possess everything:  to be happy is to be in tune with God.”–Paramahansa Yogananda

In a political sense this translates into two very important points.  The first point, when considered in light of our first three values, leads to an acceptance that rational self-interest (if Happiness is a goal rational self-interest is the only way to get there) and rational self-interest leads to capitalism when taken to a grand scheme.  Capitalism is the only system of economics that allows for the expression of free will where people are allowed to treat each other as equals and deal with each other through reason (or if they choose through compassion).

Quality over Quantity in Life

Having that view to Happiness and leads to a natural preference for quality of life over the quantity of life.  What does that mean?  It means we New Agers should find more beauty in a single act of compassion of one person helping another than in a million welfare checks handed out.  It means that a short life lived well is more important than a long life merely survived.  It means that life should be judged by the quality of our choices, the number of true friends we make, and the amount of learning we achieve…not the years lived, the diseases survived, or the amount of things collected.

“Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.”—A. Sachs

What does this mean in a political sense?  It means we should reject calls for social welfare programs because they only care about quantity of life not quality…but it does reaffirm our need to be generous and charitable in our personal lives.  But just because some choose to make the wrong choice and not show the amount of charity that will bring them the most happiness, it is the previous points about free will and Happiness destroy any argument that these individual’s foolish choices of irrational self interest means we have to provide for those who do not have.

The Long Term Solution is the Best One

When you live with a belief that you’ll be reincarnated, as most New Agers do, long term planning is kind of important.  The karmic payment plan “Buy now, pay forever.”  So not just in your personal life, but in the political sphere, short term fixes are usually to be shunned as you will always have to deal with their effects…even if those effects are over a generation off.  So government plans that won’t work for the next 50 years, hell even a hundred years are not popular when in the New Age mind set.  Programs that will never be able to pay for themselves and never yield real long term progress should not be popular with New Agers, and this leads to a fairly conservative view point (note I’m saying conservative not Republican, those idiots can be some of the most short term thinkers around).

***

Classically Liberal democratic-republics coupled with near laissez-faire capitalism and thedesire to keep government small, efficient, and protecting your rights is the logical out- growth of Pagan and New Age principles.  One wonders why so many Pagans and New Agers are liberal.

 

 

And you know what?   Forgetting that these are values of one spiritual outlook or another…I would bet you the Founding Fathers would agree with this list more than any list Rick Santorum or Barrack Obama would come up with as their guiding values.

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The idiocy of praise for ObamaCare….

 

Any physician worth their degree will tell you that it is better to prevent disease than to treat disease. Better to treat the cause rather than the symptoms. You only do the latter when you have no other choice. And any doctor not looking to get their license revoked would never argue that you should have more of what is causing your problems.

ObamaCare however is the exact opposite of all this sound medical advice.

For instance this photo has made it to my facebook pages several times in the last few days via several of my friends.

 

Here is the thinking. She had a major medical problem (although tumors is actually a very wide medical term ranging from benign growth to stage 4 terminal cancer…I can assume this was somewhere in between as it appeared she had time to wait for the passage of ObamaCare) and the solution to that was medical care. The problem with medical care was that it cost too much out of pocket. Her solution, pass a massive government intrusion into multiple private industries to help her pay for costs. This was treating the symptom: The cost is too high, someone pay for the cost.

Did anyone bother to ask what caused those high prices? Well first she couldn’t afford medical insurance (so we assume…her house/apartment looks nice, her glasses look newish and her clothes also appear to have not been bought at Goodwill. These are assumptions I will admit…but I wonder could she have scrimped somewhere and bought private insurance? In which case why do I have to pay through my tax dollars because she didn’t want to sacrifice any of her creature comforts…but let’s assume she was living month to month and honestly couldn’t afford insurance. So what caused insurance costs to be high? First that would be because the federal government passed laws that says insurance companies can’t cross state lines. If you removed those barriers overhead for insurance companies would drop right away since they would not need 50 different corporate offices in 50 different states. Second their prices would continue to drop as they would have massive new amounts of competition from each other. (Remember how Freakanomics detailed how life insurance costs dropped just when people had information to compare costs, think about how much those costs would drop when you add competition into the mix). Of course, Democrats wouldn’t even consider this cost cutting measure…why? Oh that’s right they’re in the pocket of insurance lobbyists. (I can’t blame the insurance companies playing the game politicians set up, I can blame the politicians for playing this game where they unconstitutionally interfere with the economy and prevent competition).

So the high costs are partly caused by government interference. But I’m sure this was a one time thing, more government interference will make things better.

Why else are the costs high?

Well partly, it costs a lot to pay surgeons. They have years and years of training where they’re earning next to nothing and gaining more and more school and personal debt, they have to get paid enough to make that worthwhile. So why do they have high debt? Well because the government artificially inflated the cost of their college tuition through college loans and artificially inflated the cost of their house through their idiocy in messing around with loans and Freddie and Fannie and they artificially inflated the prices of most of the things you buy through tariffs and subsidies and whatnot. Yeah sure, if the government got out of the economy and the housing market and the school loan business prices across the board would drop and doctors would be able to maintain their standard of living with much lower costs. (Now I want a liberal to come back and say that doctors should just charge less and get used to a lower standard of living…yeah, I’m sure everyone gives up 4 years of college, 4 years of grad school, 4 years of residency, and another couple of years in training to be a specialist—pretty much giving up their 20’s and most of their 30’s to live at only a lower middle class standard of living…I’m sure you’re going to find lots of people rushing to be doctors then. And if you have fewer doctors then the law of supply and demand tells me prices are going to go up again). Oh hey and if the government got out of the economy, housing, and college, then doctors wouldn’t have to charge insurance companies so much, so insurance would be cheaper. But that’s only two ways government helped drive up the cost medical procedures, I’m sure those are the ONLY two ways; more government is clearly the answer.

So why else are costs of medical care so high? Well partly because the doctors, the anesthesiologists, the pharmacists, the nurses, and the hospitals are all paying astronomical costs to their own insurance companies in case some one sues them. Why do they need to pay such high premiums? Because people are sue happy and people sue their doctors not just for legitimate malpractice (oh by the way most states don’t have legitimate ways of reviewing doctors who have numerous claims of malpractice because they’re in the pockets of medical associations…if states did a better job making sure the people who hold medical licenses are not quacks, you know an actual legitimate function of government, medical costs would go down). Now if we had federal tort reform, it would stop a lot of the frivolous cases, drop doctor’s insurance premiums and thus drop doctor’s costs, which makes them drop their bills which makes it cheaper to get medical treatment (oh and the insurance companies will have to pay less so they can then charge less). But the Democrats stop tort reform at every chance they get because only the SEIU, AFLCIO and NEA have a stronger grip on the collective gonads of the DNC.

But only those three, it has to only be those three ways government drives up costs of medical care and medical insurance. Surely it’s only those three ways and those are the exceptions…more government will solve the problem.

A lot of costs for hospitals, medical suppliers and doctors comes from Medicaid and Medicare insurance. Like stores that need to raise their prices to account for what is lost through shoplifting, the medical industry needs to raise theirs. Medicare fraud is $60 Billion a year.  Medicaid is about the same. So over $100 Billion A YEAR! We could put in higher levels of fraud control, pray that government could be more efficient, and lower it…but the fact is that these programs waste more money than they do good (because that’s just fraud, let’s not even talk about wasted government overhead). So again government drives the costs up. Do you know why a lot of doctors don’t take Medicaid or Medicare? Because those two wonderful programs refuse to pay full price. So if something costs $50 and those programs only pay $40…where is that doctor going to make up the difference? By charging insurance companies and paying customers that $10. That’s right, you pay for Medicaid and Medicare and what they don’t pay for…and your own bill. You think if we scraped these worthless programs, letting states come up with a leaner version (or heaven forbid telling people that they are actually responsible for their own lives and health) that costs might go down. Yes, yes.   .  (Oh, and while were on the subject of government paid for healthcare…do you remember every month or so hearing about the hospitals that have to close down because they’re broke from treating so many illegal immigrants who never pay…gee I wonder if the government could institute some kind of sane border control and immigration policy).

Okay that’s another way that government interference drove the cost up. But that has to be the last one. Right? Clearly after that more government interference will certainly help.

Oh wait, another reason that costs are so high is because of agencies like the FDA. Which calls for endless upon endless trials of drugs and procedures. Why is it that new drugs and procedures come to Europe and Canada before they come to the U.S.? Because even these socialist nations understand that, hey, pharmacology to some degree is a bit of a crap shoot. You can test for years and years and years and never find out that if you mix drug A with drug B for a person with condition C then it causes D (for death). Yes we need testing, but not the near decades long insanity. A near decades long process that can drive the costs of R&D up higher than it should be and limit the amount of time a company has the patent for that drug, thus they have to recoup not just the R&D for that drug in a few years, but the R&D for all the failed drugs, being sued by class action ambulance chasers because the drug had an unforeseeable side effect (but there is that tort reform thing again) plus enough profit to attract new investors. Yes don’t forget that if there isn’t profit there aren’t investors—and if there aren’t investors then there are no new drugs, no new cures, no treatments, no progress. If the government reduced regulation and bureaucracy to put our testing on par with the rest of the industrialized world thus reducing costs across the board. Since this would cut a few years off testing just to be safe let’s just put the following on every single prescription bottle “(warning just about any drug can KILL you given the right circumstances. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor and pharmacist and tell them what conditions you have and what you’re taking. It’s a crap shoot, but you wouldn’t be taking it if the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks.” Of course my favorite thing is when the FDA forbids terminal patients from willingly trying experimental drugs or treatments because there could be unforeseen risks….um….they’re terminal, what’s a bigger risk than death? Learning what does and doesn’t work? Yes, yes, we understand that you want to do this, you know the risks, and quite frankly there is no way this can harm you since you’re already effectively dead…but you can’t do it because we’re the government and know more about what’s good for you than you do.

But that’s the last way that government drives up the costs of medical care…right?

Um…well there is the fact that a lot of those hospital costs come from corrupt unionization of nurses and other hospitals staff. Unions like the SEIU come in, bully, harass and threaten employees to vote to join a union and they are never, ever, ever given a choice to take another vote to disband the union. EVER. Because unlike any other contract, going union isn’t joining an organization it’s selling your soul apparently. And this is all done under the auspiciousness of the federal government. And then you will immediately find that employee costs go up and productivity goes down (which means you have to hire more people to pick up the slack). And those costs are passed onto you the person who needs medical attention or to insurance companies who then have to up their premiums.

But that’s the last one right?

Well…if you don’t count that Americans are the most generous people on Earth. In fact there are numerous charitable organizations that give money to people who can’t afford surgeries (in fact a lot of doctors lower or waive their fees when a patient can’t afford to pay)…I wonder if she tried looking to private charities before she looked to Obama to help her? But what would get more people to donate more money to charities? Well having more money. Basic common sense is that people give to charity when they have more money (in fact percentage wise the richer you are the more likely you are to give to charity and the more likely you are to give a higher percentage of your income, as shown in Arthur Brooks’ book Who Really Cares) so what hurts people having money? Well, first taxes (income, water, property, sales, phone, electricity, gas, I could go on) there are dozens upon dozens of ways the government is bilking you. Then of course there is their constant economic interference (like ObamaCare) which retards recovery or growth.

Okay, but just because the government drives up the costs of medical care through trade barriers, interference with the housing and college market, the lack of tort reform, insane FDA regulation, being beholden to unions, messing with the economy and having high taxes…that doesn’t mean that more government won’t help us get out of the problem government created. After all it works so well in Canada  (no, really watch this one…it’s 20 minutes but it’s worth it) and Britain.

Or maybe, just maybe, if the government got out of the economy, passed tort reform, removed the barriers and let the free market work, costs for both paying out of pocket and your insurance costs would be at a level that everyone could afford.

So let’s see, government causes medical and insurance costs to be so high in at least 7 ways…but the solution is more government? That’s like going to a doctor and being diagnosed with arsenic poisoning and being prescribed a massive quantity of arsenic. Huh? I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the House try something that crazy…but that’s exactly the solution that Obama, the Democrats and their supporters want. More of the disease will cure the disease. Of course.

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Day of the Dead Extra Movie: The Fountain

“Will you deliver Spain from bondage?”
“I’m trying…I don’t know how”
“You do…you will.”

After a month of movies that wallow in the fear of death I thought it best to close this out with:

“Let us finish it” are the first words of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” possibly one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. (Although Aronofsky is himself an idiot and rather despicable person.)

Spoilers Ahead. Actually forget about Spoilers. Go watch the movie. You will have no clue what I’m talking about if you don’t see the movie. Some of you might not understand the movie either, but you should have a chance to form your own opinions before reading mine.

In case you didn’t take my advice…For those not familiar with the move there are three intertwining story lines throughout the movie. The first is of a Spanish Conquistador named Tomas on a mission for Queen Isabel to find a mythical Tree of Life in the jungles of the New World around the year 1500. The 2nd story is of Tommy, a doctor desperate to find a cure for the brain cancer killing his wife, Isabel, in the modern world, and nearly succeeds by taking a clipping from an old growth tree found in South America. The final is the story of Thomas, a man travelling in a spaceship with a tree whose bark extends his life, perhaps providing immortality, toward a star that is about to go nova in the hopes that the nova will provide the energy necessary to keep the tree alive. The three stories are intertwined. Thomas is clearly Tommy hundreds of years later, having found the secret of immortality, but not in time to save his wife. The relationship between these two stories and that of the conquistador is a little more murky, this story is either the book that Isabel was writing in 2000 or it is their past lives, living out the same cycle of lessons until they finally get it (I prefer this latter interpretation).

If that sounded convoluted, it gets far, far worse and I would really suggest that you go and rent the movie before continuing. Really, I mean it.

The movie’s central theme is the fear of death and how it is a paralyzing fear tied to the fear of life. Tomas’ fear of death causes him to be killed because he could not see a way out of the attack that kills him. Tommy’s fear of his wife’s death prevents him from enjoying the time he has with her. Queen Isabel’s fear of death leads to her own downfall and the death of Tomas. In a dozen small ways the fear of death is constantly shown to be antithetical to living one’s life.

But the movie also does something that you seldom see. It makes it clear that while one thing isn’t true the opposite isn’t necessarily true either. In this case the fear of death isn’t appropriate but neither is the embrace of death, best shown in the speech of the self-flagellating inquisitor:

“Our bodies are prisons for our souls. Our skin and blood, the iron bars of confinement. But fear not. All flesh decays. Death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul. You the condemned, you have confessed, you admit to protecting a queen who twists the word of God and drowns all Spain in sin. Your Queen seeks immortality on earth–a false paradise. This is heresy. She leads you towards vanity…away from the spirit but this is foolishness. For death exists. The Day of Judgment is irrefutable. All life must be judged. “

Clearly we’re not meant to sympathize with this amor fati as it is spoken by a sociopathic monster. But this is put in to make sure that in not fearing death we don’t assume the opposite, the headlong embrace of death, is true either. They’re both very, very wrong.

So if we’re not to embrace death but not fear it…what is left? Don’t worry I’m not about to quote “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” (although that is one of about a dozen poems I would say every human being should have memorized).

The simple answer out of the false dichotomy is to not worry about death and rather live life. Death is merely a stage, “the road to awe” to neither be rushed toward or feared.

We see this best in Isabel from the 2000 storyline. She is dying of inoperable brain tumor (I know it’s a terribly overused trope, but only because it works). She is not afraid of death which translates to her living her life to its fullest. Stargazing, making love to her husband, writing, going to learn at a museum all within the last day of her life. Every moment seems to be lived in her life and thus she accepts her death without fear or regret when it comes. Paradoxically living allows one to accept death.

This is also shown in a very subtle way to anyone who is really looking (this movie is just chock full of subtle little hints and allusions, more than I could really go into in one blog, but this would be the most important one). One of the characters in the 1500 storyline is a monk, specifically a Franciscan monk. While the character is given a name, he is almost exclusively and repeatedly referred to as simply “Franciscan.” It’s an odd way to refer to a character, even a monk, unless there is a point of doing it. I would say that point is to bring up the poem the “Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.” (Yes, I know St. Francis in all likelihood did not actually write this, however that does not mean the name recognition still isn’t there).

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

One of the other reasons I think that this poem is being referenced is the last line: “and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life” which is a good way to sum up the entire theme of this movie (although the poem is referencing heaven while the movie is focusing more on the idea that a full life leads to not fearing death, the general premise to live one’s life on Earth to the fullest is the same in both). And with this reference in mind, you can begin to see the character of Thomas (in all his incarnations) in the first half of each line of the first stanza and the enlightened Isabel of the 2000 storyline in the second half of the line (reversed in the 2nd stanza). They are almost perfect representations of each set of ideas…thus showing us the obvious superiority of the life suggested by this poem.


(I could spend hours dissecting all the little points of this scene and enjoy doing it…but admittedly I’m a little odd).

And of course the most important scene in the whole movie, after Tomas/Tommy/Thomas realizes that he is going to die, a realization that gives him the first peace he has ever known, he is able to relive the last full day of his wife’s life and make a different choice and live that day instead of fight death (I could deal with what this suggests about the fluid nature of time, but this blog is getting just a tad long, just accept that to a New Ager effect can precede cause). It doesn’t change the outcome. Whether he decides to embrace life or fear death, his wife dies…but he has a much more fulfilling experience one way over the other.

I’ve ignored a lot in this movie, and will probably come back at some later point, but at this moment it makes the perfect antithesis to this last month’s obsession with the fear of death.

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Filed under Death, Faith, Movies, New Age, Purpose of Life, Reincarnation, Religion, Spirituality, The Fountain

The dangers and evils of debt relief

China is bailing out Europe and Obama wants to forgive student debt. I don’t know which is worse but they’re both terrible calls.

All of these Other 99% and Occupy Wall Street, in between blaming the Jews for every problem in their lives (and probably fantasizing about furnaces), they’re complaining about bank bailouts and their college loan debt. It’s an odd combination. The Tea Party complained about bank bailouts because they were in support of to good old fashioned Hayek/Friedman capitalism policy. They complained about the size of government because it was against capitalism. They complained about health care because the idea of positive rights is against capitalism. They complained about taxes, regulation, too big to fail all because of one basic reason–all of it’s against capitalism.

The Occupy Wall Street people however are complaining about banks getting bailouts (even though I remember these were the very people who supported Obama…you will recall the right started grumbling during that bullshit that was TARP) because they hate capitalism. So why are they complaining about having debt…oh because they hate capitalism because they didn’t get a bailout themselves. It’s not that they’re opposed on principle to people having money…they’re just opposed to people who aren’t, you know…them, having money. And you wonder why I constantly refer to them as a bunch of whiners.

But let’s deal with their claim that their debt is a problem, a problem the government should fix. Well, technically, they might have a point there if they took the line of argument I made that the government CAUSED the problem by offering loans, grants, and subsidies in the first place. The government caused a bubble in college tuition. It’s their fault. Now if they wanted to end ALL government grants, loans, subsidies and scholarships which would burst the bubble on the cost of college tuition and after and only after ending all the BS forgive all outstanding debt over say $10,000 (because THEY ARE THE ONES WHO CAUSED IT TO BE THAT HIGH) as a mea culpa for truly f!@#ing the system up, I could understand and be in favor of that. However that’s not what Obama is proposing. He’s proposing just forgiving some of that debt. Do you know what that will do? It will make colleges think they can bilk even more in tuition because, hey, it’s not like the kids will ever have to pay it back. Just forgiving debt will drive costs higher, will cause more debt in the long run, and it will even further ruin the educational opportunities of students looking to go to college and put future graduates even more behind.

Everything this administration does boggles the mind. They’re either idiots or evil geniuses. There is no in between. Either they know absolutely nothing about economics, because EVERYTHING they do is the wrong thing (bailouts, corporate takeovers, more regulation, health care, backing unions, everything) or he sincerely wants to destroy this economy . I personally believe Obama and his team to just be the dumbest idiots in the world, but who knows I may be proven wrong. 

But let’s not just focus on forgiving debts and bailouts of losers in this country, because this form of insanity is becoming an international pastime.

Greece is once again about to default on its debt so let’s bail them out again. But this time it’s not just the EU and the IMF (read U.S. money) now we’re adding China. You know how in crime movies they always describe that one loan shark you do not want to owe even a single nickel to because if you do you will never pay it off and you will always be in their pocket. Yeah, China. But more importantly is the simple fact that this is never going to work. Never. Greece is a total entitlement state that spends more than it can possibly take in. And they have shown no inclination to make the massive cuts required (you know kind of like how this country should have started making massive cuts right around the time Enron and Arthur Anderson went under…but Bush knowing nothing about economics, yet still more than Obama, didn’t). But let’s be honest here, Greece is beyond help. They’re going to default. Even if they went for true austerity measures, stopped all socialist policy and instituted Hong Kong style capitalism the economy will not grow fast enough to stop them from going into default. This is just a fact. They passed the point of no return a long time ago. All we can do now is choose whether that default is going to be big, as it is now (we could have made it much smaller had we let them default years ago, but that time is past) or we can choose for that default to be unbelievably massive as another round of bailout after bailout will make it. Greece will default. That is a fact, the only question is now how big do we want to make that disaster and how many of us should go down with her.

But no. Like a the crazy idiot who can’t pay their bills Greece is just going to take out another credit card and put all their new debt on that one. I’m sure that plan will work.

The unfortunate fact is that people, whether it’s the EU or the Occupy Wall Street idiots, don’t want to deal with the facts of debt. Debt is an agreement to pay back what you have borrowed. To socialists who don’t hold property and contract law as sacrosanct this may come as a bit of a perplexing issue, but for the rest of us we understand. In any loan agreement there are two parties. The loaner who agrees to take a risk and loan you money which you will pay back with interest as payment for having the money up front when you needed it but didn’t have it. This person knows they are taking a risk and if they’re smart will not loan out more than they can afford to lose (banks and governments should take a hint). And there is the loanee who thinks that they will do better by taking out the loan and buying something now rather than waiting to have the money and buy it later. It’s a capitalistic act. Both parties make out better. The loaner gets interest on their loan, the loanee gets the benefit of buying something that will benefit them. Each party is supposed to be better off than before (remember capitalism is a win-win system). Now the loaner takes a risk, and they should know it’s a risk, and with any risk you should not throw good money after bad, you should not loan out more money just to get your original investment back. It never works. For the loanee you take on an ethical requirement to pay that money back (and for college students out there, it’s a good investment because you will make more money with a college degree and spend less time unemployed…unless you study Sociology or Modernist Literature, in which case you will rightfully be unemployed and have all day to just sit around and bitch about how life is unfair with other idiots at Occupy Wall Street). If you can’t pay the money back (i.e. Greece, idiots who buy houses they can never afford, U.S. Congress) DON’T TAKE THE MONEY. You’re an idiot to loan money when you can’t afford to, and you’re an idiot to take money when you can’t pay it back. And you’re an idiot and an unethical bastard to say someone else should pay back the loans you should never have taken. But more than just that it ignores that while capitalism is a win-win system where everyone does better on every capitalist transaction, it is also a system about profit and loss. You may do better off of every transaction because you always get what you want; however, what you want may not be in your best long term interest, and if you’re an idiot and make stupid choices based on immediate wants that will lead to your own failure with no one to blame but yourself.

If we bailout people who took out loans on houses they couldn’t afford you encourage more bad home loans. If you bail out people who can’t get a job with their stupid liberal arts degree you encourage more useless degrees. If you bailout banks with bad loan programs you encourage more bad loans. If you bailout businesses with bad growth policies you encourage more bad business decisions. If you bailout countries with unsustainable socialist policies you encourage more socialist policies. Stop bailing out and supporting losers. Every dollar spent on bad policies form the individual to country level is a dollar not going to policies that work, a dollar that encourages more bad choices and less good ones. Stop the bailout and loans by governments which seem to always encourage the worst. Get out of the loaning system, leave it up to the banks, which, as they are convened with profit will only subsidize good choices, and thus subsidize economic growth, and which will be better for everyone. Stop doing encouraging all the things that ruin people’s lives and let them live their lives…not everyone will make it to the top, but it will because of their own choices, not because a government got in the way.

Worrying about people’s debts, especially people who have made bad choices and can’t pay off those debts, worries only helps those about people who have made bad choices allowing them to make more bad choices..and it hurts everyone else. The government seems to have no ability to look at people suffering and subsidize their bad choices…so it needs to leave because all it is doing is encouraging more bad choices. Will this have consequences? Yes. Lots of loans from the personal level to the international level will have to be defaulted on. But the effects of this will be lower prices in numerous fields and capital will be freed up to be given to people who will repay their loans, to people who will invest in education that will lead to a job, to businesses that will grow an economy.

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