Monthly Archives: January 2015

“Exploiting” the Third World

This is actually very close to a conversation that flipped a friend of mine.

Saw this posted on the innerwebs:

skilled workersNo.  Jobs are being sent overseas because skilled workers in other countries demand less for their labor, and they can because WE subsidize American unemployment too generously.

Let’s follow the “logic” of the poster.  It would, apparently, be better for the poor “exploited” non-unionized, third-world worker who now has an income he can feed his family on and maybe fix his roof … if we didn’t export that job and instead paid the flat panel TV, iPhone totin’, lavish retirement plan givin’, unemployment guaranteein’  wage to the guy here in America instead. It would also make his iPhone more expensive.

No, that third world guy would be MUCH better off doing seasonal work in a rice paddy somewhere exposed to malaria-ridden mosquitoes and foot fungus trying to scratch out a basic living for his family and maybe afford a used 1970’s transistor radio.  Because YOU deserve a higher wage.

Provide more value to the world than you are paid, and the work will come to you.  That is how wealth is generated, making the pie bigger for everyone.

Thatisall.

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A Very Moldy Chestnut Troll

I saw a “questionnaire” posted to Chicks on the Right‘s wall … very likely by a troll who was doing the whistling “but I’m a moderate” schtick.  By the time I finished my reply to the comment, the post had been deleted.

Still, I thought … idiotic as these questions seem if you know your stuff… they still need to be answered.  They are echoes that need to be stopped.  And we all need to be very comfortable answering them with rational answers.

  1. Why shouldn’t education and health care be free? when the US spends an abhorrent amount of money on the military and defence, & isn’t making a world a better place, and would appear to be on the brink of imperialism with its foreign policy.

Because nothing’s free.  Somebody pays for everything, or somebody is forced to do it without due compensation.  One is robbery, the other is slavery. There are lots more good reasons, but that’s the bottom line.  There’s also the problem of market distortions.  Artificially low price drives up demand, which drives up real price.  Which, again, somebody has to pay.

National Defense is in the enumerated powers of the Federal Government in the Constitution.  “Free” Health Care is not.  We can argue the finer points of how our defenses are deployed and projected, but at least does fall under the official list of things the Federal Government is tasked with.  And it’s a mighty odd imperialist that hands countries it has “conquered” back to its people and helps reconstruct them.

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” ― Thomas Jefferson

  1. I am a keen target shooter, I don’t push for bans on rifles like the AR-15 etc but I can’t help but notice that 10’000 + homicides are committed with firearms and the current system doesn’t work, why is a mild form of gun control off the cards?

And before firearms they were committed with knives and poison and bare hands.  People murder.  Always have.  They use what’s available to them.   There is something to the saying “God made man, but Sam Colt made them equal.”  A revolver removes the difference between a 260 lb man and a 130 lb woman.  We have a right to protect ourselves, whether the criminals are in an alley or oppressing us within the government.  And the gun isn’t going to get un-invented.

There are lots of forms of gun control right now, mild and otherwise.  Thousands of gun control laws.  What we don’t want is de-facto removal of our right to keep and bear them, or de-facto gun registration so that when the statists finally get their way (call it “the stupidity of the American voter”), government officials know exactly whose houses to go to and what they need to confiscate.  Except the only people who will register are those with a strong aversion toward breaking the law.  Which will leave all of the remaining firearms in the hands of those who do NOT have an aversion toward breaking the law.

60% of those “homicides” are suicides, and again, a gun is a very effective and quick tool for the job.  If it weren’t there, they’d kill themselves with something else.  And a huge chunk of the rest of them is gang violence.  How about we address the problems and not the symptoms?

The second amendment isn’t about target shooting, or even hunting — though it does cover both.

Don’t just read the Constitution, read the Federalist Papers and the discussions that went into the Constitution.  It’s all documented.

  1. Why should the right put people like Ted Cruz in a position to be overseeing NASA and Science in the US when he is anti science? Doesn’t that seem counter intuitive for a nation that hopes to lead the world in innovation and research, all held back by a man who believes genesis?

What makes you think Ted Cruz is “anti-science” outside of left-wing talking points?  Because he’s Christian?  Do you realize how many great scientists were and are Christian?  Somehow we managed to get to the moon before we made being Christian suspect.  Lots of Christians in that program, and others.

Why does the right support creationism ? The overwhelming number of scientists (the people who’s job it is to find fact rather that just take an old books word for it) have a perfectly sound scientific theory which contradicts the unsound view of creationism.

Creationists are generally on the right, but being on the right does not necessarily mean you are a creationist … it doesn’t even mean you are a Christian.  We have Atheists on the right.  We have agnostics, Jews …. even some Muslims.

Why does the right push a Christian agenda (claiming america is founded on Christian values) yet the the only time religion is mentioned in the constitution is for separation of church and state? (not to mention the beliefs of atheism, deism, agnosticism amongst the founders)

Because America was founded on Christian values.  Western Culture is deeply rooted in Christianity.  Oh, there’s been a rebellion against it, but the values are still there.

“Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams

Have you read the Preamble to the Constitution?  “all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator certain inalienable rights” … Again, read the documents surrounding the creation of the Constitution.  There is lots of talk about God.  They put a chapel in the freakin’ Capitol, fer Chrissakes.  Pretty much the rest of the Constitution deals with what the structure of the Federal government, how it is to do things, and what it is NOT allowed to do.

There is no mention of “separation of Church and State” in the Constitution.  In the first amendment to the Constitution (which is part of the Constitution, as all amendments are) the part that mentions religion says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  That’s it.

An “establishment of religion” isn’t the same thing as religion in general. It basically means establishments like “The Methodist Church” or “The Catholic Church” or “The Lutheran Church”.  Not generic Christianity or generic “religion”, where there are no church officials to dictate things.  The purpose of this language was to avoid a Church of England type situation where unelected Church officials had official government positions of authority, so that the government would not be allowed to suppress other Churches.  This has been misinterpreted and bastardized to the point where it is used to do exactly that, the opposite of its intent.  In any culture of free people, laws will necessarily reflect the values of the people. It was most certainly not to keep the values of We the People from being reflected in law. If the peoples’ values are generally Christian, those are the values they’re going to reflect.  This is not the same as having some Bishop make law by fiat.

There were deists among the founders, and the Christians of the time were very tolerant of that, as were the deists of Christianity – even deferential to it.  Deism was informed by a Christian culture and carries forward, albeit in a very generic form, those values.

A rose, cut from the vine, still has the qualities of a rose though it is put in a jar.  The longer it remains cut and separate from the vine, though … it withers and dies and produces no fruit.

Surely is would be absurd to say every political decision ever made by Obama (and I am not a fan of him) is wrong ?

It wouldn’t be absurd to say, if it were true.  Still, it’s not quite true.  A stopped clock is right twice a day.   But as a rule of thumb the values that guide him tend to guide him to make decisions contrary to our founding principles.  And I don’t think it’s an accident.

Why push Faith as being a central part of the political right ? (Faith is an insertion of absolute conviction that is assumed without reason and defended against all reason)

Again, people of faith are a part of the political right, they do not define the political right.  You are going to find a lot of people of faith on the political right, certainly — as their values lead to our founding values — that is where they are going to be most at home.  And on top of that, every belief system is based, ultimately, on faith in something.  Even yours.

Here is a big difference.  The political right can hold the two opposing concepts in its head … that something can be wrong but not against the law, and that something can be right but the law should not compel it.  This allows some latitudinal variations in the details of disparate peoples’ beliefs.  But there must be some homogeneity in a culture for it to be cohesive and have meaningful law.  If any belief is admissible, the logical end is that any behavior is justifiable, and every behavior is also unjust.  Sounds great in Philosophy class, but it’s no way to run a nation.

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Stand Up for Rights, but Also for Decency

Ok, I may piss some people off here, but here goes.

First let me say that it is, and should be, illegal to kill people for exercising free speech. Or to throw them in jail. Or to fine them. That’s pretty much what freedom of speech is. Any time you are tempted to say I’m saying something different than this, please refer back to this and revisit your assessment.  Remember that one of the marks of intelligence is the ability to hold two conflicting concepts in your mind without your head exploding.

Catholic League’s Bill Donohue wrote a piece titled “Muslims are right to be angry” and in it suggested that Charlie Hebro editor Stephane Charbonnier “didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death”.

First (and here’s where people will get pissed at me) … he’s right. Wherever else I may disagree with Donohue, he’s right on this. I saw some of the cartoons. Decent people shouldn’t have published several of those. They were at least as bad “P*ss Christ”.  As much as I agree that Islam is the common denominator in the overwhelming majority of world terrorism and there is probably a cause-effect relationship here – there are nonetheless at least tens of millions of decent people on the planet who profess to be Muslims whether the Islamist hardliners agree or not.

Second, (Donohue is wrong on this) I have no doubt that Stephane Charbonnier, at the moment of his death, understood exactly the role he played in his own tragic death.

Did it take balls to publish the cartoons? Absolutely. Taking balls to do it doesn’t mean it’s cool, though.  Should he have been killed for it? Absolutely not.

Did he do anything wrong?

Well if by wrong you mean “against the law”, obviously — no. But what Donohue was saying is actually something we need to talk about more in this country in the wider context of what are our cultural standards (which are not the same as legal standards). In other words, was there a violation of standards of decency for which we can legitimately criticize them? Sure there are. Though maybe we should wait until the bodies are cold, at least.

There are things that are wrong that are not against the law.  That is a necessary fact in a free society.  That’s because we don’t all agree on everything that is right or wrong.  But we do form a general consensus on some things, and we make laws accordingly, presumably subject to Constitutional constraints.

Charlie Hebro has a proud reputation for pretty much eschewing any decency at all toward any group. To the extent that they don’t appear to avoid offending any one group, in a backhanded way, is certainly more commendable than playing favorites. But I wouldn’t hold the magazine up as any example of how I want people to view Western Civilization. They certainly don’t represent me or my views, and if I don’t lodge my criticism (also my free speech right, and perhaps duty in cases like this), I’m saying “I’m cool with it”. I’m not.  I find that general brand of satire low and disgusting.

Should he have avoided publishing the more offensive cartoons in order to avoid being killed?  No.  He should have avoided it because it was in extremely poor taste.

As I recall, the point of publishing cartoons depicting Allah was in response to the Sharia prohibition against representing Allah in any graphic form. Defiance of this demand would have been served by any graphic depicting Allah from sitting there being quiet to wielding a sword or even depicting him engaging in something consistent with Islam but inconsistent with well accepted standards of Western civilization.

Several of the cartoons went well beyond any of this.

Now … had the magazine stuck to the less outrageous cartoons, would the editors and cartoonists be alive today? Maybe, maybe not. But regardless, if you really wanted to underscore how ridiculous that particular Islamic law/belief is – it would have done a much better job.

So a TV host who I like and respect, but who I think ultimately got Donohue wrong — asked Donohue, “where do you draw the line”?

The answer depends on the context. Since everyone’s lines are somewhat different, we don’t draw a legal line. If we do draw a legal line, it establishes a precedent by which people can use the coercive force of government to suppress ideas it doesn’t like by declaring them obscene.

On the other hand, Donohue’s counterpoint was missed by my TV host friend — and he didn’t seem to be able to articulate it quite well enough to cut through the fog of duality (what should be allowed by government and what we think decent people should or shouldn’t do). They are two different things. It’s really the whole point of the entire First Amendment.

The answer, if you’re looking for one rooted in Christianity, is The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

“Well they have no respect for our sensibilities!”

That’s not a valid excuse to abandon our standards of decency. If you don’t want P*ss Christ, don’t do An*al Allah. It’s not edgy or cool (I’m sure that Charlie Hebro had no issues with P*ss Christ, either, but if you did, you should also have a problem with An*l Allah). Now of course we defend your RIGHT to publish what you want to – which means we won’t use the coercive force of government to admonish you for it. But it doesn’t put you above criticism from the rest of us, and we are perfectly free to apply whatever (legal) social pressure we like to marginalize you if we don’t like it.

No, you should not be legally required to self-censor. Yes, you should self-censor according to your standards of decency, and you should be prepared to take your verbal and social lumps if they aren’t up to the standards of your community.

Were Christians right to be outraged over P*ss Christ? Absolutely. Are Muslims right to be outraged over An*l Allah? Of course. And for the same reasons.

Would Christians be justified in killing over it? No. Are Muslims justified in killing over it? No there, as well.

That being said, it is perfectly legitimate to criticize religions. Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins put it very succinctly a couple of days ago:

“No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn’t.”

That’s the way to do it. An*l Allah is not. As my wife would say, it’s rude, crude, and socially unacceptable.

And much as I’m not generally a fan of Bill Maher, we do agree on this:

“Condemning attack is not enuf: unless U strongly endorse the right of anyone to make fun of any religion/prophet, U r not a moderate Muslim”

But endorsing your right to do something and criticizing what you did are not mutually exclusive.

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Socialism vs Christian Charity (or any other kind for that matter)

“Forced charity isn’t.” – me

This actually comes up a lot.  Somebody picks out a philosophical quote meant to apply on a macro scale and then uses the unaddressed exceptions to pick it and its larger argument apart.

Ran across a post where someone took issue with one of a quote from Dr. Thomas Sowell:

“No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off of those who produce” – Dr. Thomas Sowell

Which this person posted with this as [the beginning of his] commentary:

For me the tone of this message is very much a Eugenics one??….One fundamental question…Just who should we consider to be these parasitic elements within society??..The impoverished??…The disabled???…the handicapped??….the elderly??….And for the sake of argument…What solution or remedy dose our dear Mr. Sowell, offer to address the issue at hand I wonder?/…perhaps he favors the re-implementing of the old concept..The final solution???…I ask…How can a society claim to be a free and just one, and advocate the cause of man kind….If in such a society  the value and worth of its citizens are determined solely based upon their monetary worth??….Rather then  the sacred principle that all life rich or poor, disabled or elderly etc. is unquestionably sacred and precious??….

None of which was intended, I am certain (I’ve read a lot of Sowell) by Dr. Sowell.  It’s just a simple statement of fact.  And nowhere in it does Dr. Sowell say anything about the disabled, the elderly, or the “poor”.  Because he’s not really talking about them here.  *(actually Dr. Sowell talks a lot about the poor in his works and points out, using actual data, that most of the poor are only poor temporarily.  This is not to say that there are not some people who are incapable of making their own way – but the fact is, that is a small percentage of the poor)

I pointed this out, along with encouraging him to pick up and read one of Dr. Sowell’s books from start to finish so that his questions might be answered — and they’re not the answers presumed by this guy’s leading questions.

Here’s the kicker… I don’t think this guy is a leftist.  He is apparently a staunch right-to-lifer.  And maybe he’s struggling with these questions and being led astray by idiots like the guy at Young Turks who had the very same take on Sowell’s quote.  He took the quote to mean that anybody who wasn’t in the 1% was a parasite (which … I mean, where does one find that in the quote?  He’s putting words into Sowell’s mouth).

So with that in mind, and the fact that he does seem to be concerned as we should all be about the less fortunate – those who truly cannot pull their own weight, and the fact that he was conflating Sowell’s worldview (based on one single sentence) with (and I kid you not) Bernard Shaw’s and Karl Marx’s worldviews (Sowell would spit his coffee out all over his computer screen), I set about trying to address his followup question:

Only if I may ask one question??…How would you defy a Socialist??..Or should I ask..How would you recognise if a individual is a Socialist or not??…Just curious.

Ahem ….

A socialist endorses something that I don’t believe Christ ever endorsed. Yes, he endorsed caring for those in need, but he never endorsed taking something from someone else to give to the poor. Charity happens when one gives freely of himself to another — not when some gives freely of someone else to another. It is incumbent on us as individuals, voluntarily — whether we do it individually or by forming voluntary groups to pool resources.

In fact, I have no problem with a group of people getting together voluntarily and creating a socialist community, or even a full-blown communist one – as long as nobody is forced to join or coerced into staying.

Of course, when this is done, all the problems of socialism’s incompatibility with human nature come out. When you get what you need without having to lift a finger even though you are perfectly capable of contributing to the community, your incentive to contribute is diminished. Now perhaps some extremely noble people will actually work harder to contribute more, but the more they contribute, the easier it makes it on those who don’t contribute. Eventually you end up with a group of people carrying a vastly disproportionate burden of productivity in such an environment. Unless they’re exceedingly altruistic, they will eventually resent those who are taking it easy and living a life of relative leisure, while those on the net receiving end develop a sense of entitlement — of being owed something they have done nothing to earn. And due to those expectations and the fact that everybody wants a better life — the expectation is that they are also owed that better life and they will likewise resent the ones carrying the bulk of the water.

Now – it is true, and Dr. Sowell would be at the front of the line to agree, that we as human beings have obligations to our fellow man, starting at the family level — our first line of defense, and working up through extended family, community, and on up. Here’s the deal.

Charity begins at home – and the wider the separation in relationship between the givers of charity and the recipients, the less prevalent it should be. The higher up you go in societal structure, the more you should be focusing your efforts on those who have fallen through the cracks at the lower levels. I could argue that in a free society, government has ZERO role in this.

Even if it does, the formula should be the same. The higher up you go, the more narrowly focused the program should be.

This is for a couple of reasons, and one of them is to avoid encouraging the mechanism I described above, by which you have an institutionalized force that rewards sloth and punishes the industrious. The other is that the closer the giver is to the recipient, the better position the giver is in to decide whether the recipient is gaming the system or is actually deserving or in need due to circumstances beyond their control.

Churches, and the accompanying religious — traditionally had a great role in this. Our system was designed for a moral and religious people, as John Adams observed. As America abandons God, it is attempting to create a central government to replace Him.

And it will lead to no good end.

Update:

Ok, he’s a trolling leftist:

With all do respect sir…Do you honestly believe for one moment that Socialism is taking from the wealthy and giving it to the poor sir?

‘Nother update:

Dude is completely off his rocker.  In his view, socialism isn’t wealth redistribution.  Because WallStreetNewWorldOrderBankingSystemFundedtheBolsheviks and …. yeah, he completely lost me at that point.

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