Monday, November 25, 2013

Dirty Word


Here is an interesting little debate found recently USA Today:

A defense lawyer in Tennessee earned the ire of the prosecuting attorney for referring to the prosecution as “the Government” during trials. Here is what she said:

"The State has noticed in the past few years that it has become commonplace during trials for attorneys for defendants, and especially Mr. Justice, to refer to State's attorneys as 'the Government,' " she wrote in her motion. "The State believes that such a reference is used in a derogatory way and is meant to make the State's attorney seem oppressive and to inflame the jury."

This brought a response from the defense attorney. He filed a motion requiring the prosecution to refer to him as “Defender of the Innocent” or perhaps “Guardian of the Realm.” The whole thing was dismissed because the judge said the word “government” isn’t derogatory.

Of course, no judge could be impartial in such a matter, every judge works for the government.

I try to stay out of the way of “government” in general. To be fair, I have had some experiences with “government” that I would call neutral. But even the neutral experiences are often what I would term “annoyingly neutral.” Most of my direct experiences with governments have been negative. Try as I might, I cannot remember even one positive experience when dealing directly with “government.”

So I must overrule the ruling of the judge in this case. With me, at least, the very term “government” is quite derogatory. I wish it were not so. I can imagine arrangements of government that would make it less so, perhaps. Making “government” smaller would make it better. Does that imply that none at all, at least in the versions we are accustomed to, would be best? We can debate that one.

But for now, given all the governments with which I must deal, calling something “the Government” is about the most derogatory handle I can imagine.  It’s along the lines of “scum-suckin’, low-down, double-dealing, no good, no account, two-faced, liar.”  Doesn’t that sound like a recent list of “Government” policies and activities?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Don’t Replace–Eliminate


Yesterday I heard a very interesting interview on radio. The host of the morning talk show interviewed a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from southern Indiana. The topic was “Obamacare.”

The House member seemed to be a rather “conservative” (vague, I know, but I will use it for now) Republican. The talk show host seems to be, at least when I have heard him, something of a dissenter from the usual “center-leftist” political orthodoxy we find frequently in power and in the media today.

I was a bit shocked by what I heard. What follows is not exact, but close enough to convey the thoughts accurately:

Interviewer: Do the Republicans have a proposal to replace Obamacare?

Rep: Yes. A few parts of it are good. For example, people like that fact that it requires health insurance policies to be portable. And that feature is very inexpensive. We think there are a few things like that which are worth keeping. But much of Obamacare needs to be changed.

If this is what conservative Republicans think, then we are doomed to Obamacare and many other things even worse.

Perhaps some people do like portability in health insurance. If enough people like that feature, someone will eventually sell it. If the government requires it in all policies, that is just a cost that must be added, even for those who don’t care about portability.

But the worst of the matter is this: once you concede that it is appropriate for governments to demand that you buy health insurance that is portable, you have conceded the very principle that makes Obamacare appropriate. If it is appropriate for government to demand portability, it is appropriate for government to demand anything at all related to health insurance.

Many so-called “conservative” Republicans don’t seem to understand that individual liberty ends wherever any government requirement begins. Things like Obamacare do not need “replacement” – not if you are interested in freedom. Such things need to be eliminated.

Those who wish to offer a true alternative to the present course of government cannot consistently do so by advocating some “toning down” or “tweaking” of laws that defy the free economic choices of people. Liberty requires that such laws, programs, and policies be completely and forever eliminated.

Cincinnati Bell and the Problem of Monopoly


I pause today to sing the anti-praises of Cincinnati Bell.  The company would be more aptly named if the “B” were to become an “H.”  (Yes, I just had yet another bad experience with them.)

It’s not that there are not nice people there when calling for service is required.  True, most of them seem to have English as a second language.  But unless the accent is so extreme that I can’t understand, that does not really bother me.

What does bother me is the fact that the “customer experience” when calling Cincinnati Bell seems designed to make it difficult to impossible to solve problems when problems arise.  Layers of menus insulate callers from anything beyond cookie-cutter help.  Representatives who don’t understand various problems greet you with polite, but mostly very unhelpful “help.”

Why is it that when I call other, even larger, companies with vast customer service divisions, problems are solved quickly, pleasantly, and usually relatively easily?  Consider just two examples:  Charles Schwab and T.D. Ameritrade.  Both are very large companies which are required to work within all sorts of (often unnecessary) government regulations.  Yet I almost enjoy needing to call them when I have a problem.  They are not just polite – they are downright neighborly-sounding – but they fix problems quickly, efficiently, and with very little effort on my part.

Why this difference?  One thing comes to mind.  Schwab and Ameritrade are thinking about Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, and many other choices I have for their financial services.

Cincinnati Bell, at least for those of us who need a land line in my area, has been granted a monopoly by the government.  For that kind of service, they have no competitors, and competition is not even allowed.

Monopoly is, contrary to propaganda otherwise, something only governments can grant.  Governments either claim monopolies for themselves in certain areas, or grant monopolies to favored providers in other cases.  Governments love monopolies because a monopoly granted by government is always controlled by government, and governments crave control.

Does this suggest anything to anyone about things like “ObamaCare”?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Genesis Three


Reading a rather interesting article in Christianity Today recently (well, today, in fact – but I hated to juxtapose “today” with itself in that way) I ran across this:

He was almost correct. The Christian story arguably claims that fear is the second oldest emotion. Love is the first emotion, the love of a newly conscious mankind, freshly stamped in the image of God, living, really living, in balance and the "very good" order of our beginning.

“A monster, you'll remember, breaks that order. A speaking serpent, twined around the forbidden tree hisses its venom into the ears of Eve and Adam, prompting selfishness, guilt, blame, bloodshed, and of course, fear. Fear of God, fear of death, fear of the thousand gradients of pain, of loss, of being preyed upon.”

The article is one of those seasonal things, this one about monsters, as you can see.  But that is not my main point.  I want to discuss Genesis chapter three.

There, you recall, is where something tempts Eve.  The usual idea is that this is a snake of some sort that Satan entered into to speak to Eve.  Long ago, in a seminar on Genesis taught by Dr. Jim Smith of what was then Florida Christian College, I was introduced to the suggestion that in Genesis three “serpent” is a proper name – thus “Serpent” as we style proper names in English.

His suggestion, which is also made in his Old Testament commentaries, is quite compelling, once you are able to get past the “what everybody always says” mindset.  “Serpent” is a name used for Satan elsewhere in the Bible.  Satan is, of course, much more clever that “the beasts of the field” and the text does not necessarily imply he is one of them.  His eventual punishment of “crawling and eating dirt” (my words) is a figure of speech used elsewhere in the Old Testament of those who are “put in their place.”  So it is something along the lines of our still-used “eat dirt, scumbag” of some such.  (You will need to consult his works to learn more about this.  This one in particular.)

One thing is clear:  Dr. Smith’s suggestion is in many ways a very simple explanation, much simpler than the complexities that arise from usual “possessed reptile” explanation.  And when it comes to the logic of explanations, simpler is better.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Just the Facts, Ma’am, Just the Facts


In the consideration of many matters, especially controversial ones, objectivity is a difficult goal.  Perhaps it is not even possible.  If all of that is anywhere near the mark, perhaps pretended objectivity is something that some hide behind to try to convince people of their favorite cause.

I read a periodic e-newsletter from Kim Komando.  I would describe it as geeky stuff watered down a bit for the non-geeks who have to deal with digital matters - as most of us do these days.  Kim’s last name really is “Komando.”  She has a syndicated radio show about matters digital, an extensive website devoted to the topic, and she half-jokingly refers to herself as “The Digital Goddess.”

That is all just a bit of background so I can tell you about an e-newsletter I recently received from the Komando empire.  It read:

“Do you have a question about Obamacare?  How about some of those statements made by congressmen and senators?  When you need a hot-button issue checked out, where do you go?  Some sites have a political bias and might skew the facts.  But FactCheck is a neutral site that only gives you the facts behind the rumors circulating around the Internet. Find out what the hot stories are and get the scoop on the facts behind the rumors.”

The point this much is not so much the whole matter of “Obamacare” as it is facts.  Facts, as it turns out, are very interesting things, at least to some.

Kim Komando is very apolitical, at least on her radio show and website.  She hands out lower-end digital advice designed to help non-geeks negotiate their way around the digital world.  When she recommended “FactCheck.org” I was interested enough to take a look.  When I looked, on October 12, 2013, the lead story was “Defining Default.”

Remember that, according to Kim, FactCheck.org will give us “the scoop on the facts behind the rumors.”  So when I read “Defining Default” I was a bit surprised.  The story opens with this:

“President Obama says failing to raise the debt limit on Oct. 17 will ‘force the United States to default on its obligations.’  Sen. Rand Paul contends ‘there’s no reason for us to default,’ because the government collects enough revenue to meet its interest payments on the debt.”

So who is correct?  The answer, from FactCheck, was, in summary, “It depends on the definition of ‘default’.”  The article then goes on to quote various people, selected by FactCheck of course, who claim in one way or another that unless our national government can continue to borrow more money, “new federal obligation will exceed incoming revenue.”  Yes, but what does that tell us about the “facts” of default?

The contention of many, like Rand Paul who is quoted in the article, is that the Treasury has more than enough money coming in to service its debt.  But to everyone else selected by FactCheck to give an opinion on the matter, this did not matter.  As one of these said, unless you pay for everything the government now pays for “you’re defaulting toward someone.”

The article went on to quote various “money people” who were all very worried about the credit rating of the United States is the debt ceiling were not raised.  The only source that was not worried about this was Moody’s.  The only fact in view here is that as of this morning, the credit limit of the U.S. was raised.  So for now, it is a moot point.

But notice what is assumed by most of those in this article.  First, that a government that continues to borrow and “print money” will be viewed as more credit-worthy than one that does not.  Also, no one mentioned another real fact: the government owns assets, many of which could be sold to raise money to pay bills.  The national government owns nearly a third of the land in this country, just to mention one little item.

But finally, nearly all those quoted in this article simply assumed that unless the government spends at least as much as it is spending now, everything would come grinding to a halt - or at the very least not get on very well.  Does this imply that it is simply impossible for the national government to spend less?  It is difficult to come to any other conclusion.  And if that is a fact, we are really in trouble.

So in regard to Kim Commando and her recommendation of “FactCheck” as a place to cut through the opinions to the facts, in this case, it’s a very significant “FAIL.”

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Redskins, Whities, Bob Costas, and Other Offensive Terms


Redskins
from http://patriotpost.us/humor/20895

I just wanted to watch some football – something I don’t often have time to do. Suddenly, there is Bob Costas editorializing about the horrors of the name “Redskins.” Frankly, my dear Bobby boy, I don’t give a skin. I just wanted to watch football. Apparently, even football is now political and politically correct.

At least, Bob wants it to be. I suppose when you are a sportscaster you begin to long to be a “real” journalist, or some such.

Since Bob insisted on sticking his face in the middle of my screen and complaining about “Redskins” I decided to listen. Bob told me that some team names that involved terms related to “native Americans” (they’re not really, but never mind about that for now) are not so bad. For example, “Chiefs” isn’t bad because, said Bob, it’s not so bad being a chief and no one would be offended by that. He said the same about “Warriors” – but isn’t it a little presumptuous to think that only “red men” (sorry) can be “warriors”?

He wasn’t quite happy with “Indians” but he didn’t have much to say about that one. He reminded us that those nitwits at Miami University (of Ohio) decided a few years ago to give up “Redskins” for “Red Hawks.” (Don’t they still worry about the “red” part?) St. John’s used to be the “Redmen” Bob reminded us, but they switched to “Red Storm.” Still, the “red” problem remains.

So here is Bob’s big conclusion to his rambling rant of regret about that horrible name, “Washington Redskins” –

Redskins” can't possibly honor a heritage, or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent. It is fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But, if you take a step back, isn't it clear to see how offense “might” legitimately be taken?

So let’s take Bob seriously for a moment and see what comes of it. He claims that “serious offense might legitimately be taken” at the name “Redskins.” Of course, offense is a purely subjective matter in itself. But what might make it “legitimate”?

Let’s try the shoe on the other foot. Should I be offended by being called a “white skin” – or perhaps more accurately, a pink skin? I’m not sure why I should be offended by that. In 2002 at the University of Northern Colorado a basketball team named itself the “Fighting Whities.” It was supposed to be a bit of a joke and comment. I am not at all offended by that, but if I were, would be offense be “legitimate”?

What really offends me is Bob Costas turning my football watching time into an amateur editorializing session.

By the way, Bob, I heard a good joke the other day. It seems the Washington Redskins management has decided to drop the offensive part of their name in response to your insightful editorial. They are going to call themselves simply, “Redskins.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Parks and Recreation–Government Style


Many people think it rather extreme to say, as I do, that governments owning parks is a bad idea. It was one of many bad ideas from so-called “Progressives” back when that was a new, hot idea. But there are many good reasons why governments owning parks is a bad idea.

Progressives did and do worry, or so they say, that if governments didn’t own parks, we ordinary peons would never be able to enjoy nature. Rather, they say, the rich and the powerful would control all the good places, and they would selfishly keep them for themselves, or charge us outrageous prices to visit the wonder-filled places.

So we have many grand parks owned by the national government, and many owned by state governments. There is this fiction propagated by agents of governments that parks belong to us all, collectively, in some way. I’ve always wondered why, if this is the case, I can’t sell my part. But leave that for now.

This most recent government shutdown has caused the progressive statists to reveal their hand in this matter, and it is not a pretty picture. Suddenly, the trails, sights, and statues are closed. We can’t go near them, we can’t view them. But clearly, looking at something, or walking down a trail, does not incur any immediate cost. Even supporters of progressive statism seem willing to admit that this is being done for political purposes, just to make “the public” uncomfortable and upset with political opponents of the current administration.

You might like to think that this is just an example of bad government. But it is much more than that. It is a public illustration of why governments should do as little as possible. Governments don’t need to own parks. We have unfortunately become accustomed to that arrangement, but that does not make it a good idea.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather some rich, greedy guy owning a place I would like to visit, simply because his greed will cause him to want to charge people to us his place. If he is greedy, he won’t charge exorbitantly or people won’t take him up on the deal. But you won’t have to worry about him letting you in. Pay your $s if and when you want to visit, and everyone will be happy.

On the other hand, as we now clearly see, when governments own parks they can and will hold those parks hostage for political purposes. Even though you have already paid for the park via taxes to government, you can’t use it because the President is angry with the House of Representatives.  Nice, isn’t it?

So if you even entertained the thought that things like parks, libraries, museums, and such are good things for governments to own and control, maybe the current display of capriciousness and idiocy by our glorious government will help you rethink your view.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pro ‘Gun Safety’


There is a very amusing (to me at least) recent article in The Atlantic (hat-tip to Jeremy Orndorff for the article) with the following headline and subtitle:

- - - -

The Death of Gun Control
Why the recall of two Colorado legislators is a major setback for gun-safety advocates nationally

It is a complaint that the recent Colorado recall elections that removed two “gun control” politicians can’t be whitewashed into anything more than the scare-away-gun-control-votes episode that it really is.

- - - -

I especially enjoyed the phrase in the subtitle “gun-safety advocates.”  If the criminalization of gun ownership (a more accurate name for “gun control”) advocates were truly interested in gun safety, they would advocate things like gun safety classes at government schools.  I am not in favor of anything like that, for one thing because I don’t even like the idea of governments owning schools.

If you want people to be “safe” around guns, you should want to teach them how to use guns in a safe manner.  You really need both aspects – the use of guns, and the use of guns in a safe manner.

If you are around guns, it is usually for one of two reasons.  One possibility is that you like to use guns to target shoot, hunt, or other recreational purposes.  If that is the case, you want to use them safely, in much the same way that you want to use things like automobiles safely.

The other (and very unpleasant) possibility is that some very bad person has brought a gun near you to threaten you with it.  If that is the case, you want to know how to use your gun safely to ward off the attack.  In either case, gun safety is very important.  But it has nothing to do with what the people at The Atlantic are talking about – nothing whatsoever.

To those at The Atlantic “gun safety” means passing laws that criminalize the possession of guns.  It almost does not bear repeating (because it is such an obvious point that “gun safety” people just ignore) that really bad people do not care about such laws, do not follow them, and constantly shoot people anyway.  In fact, locations like Chicago, Illinois, where there are enough gun laws to make (perhaps) even the people at The Atlantic happy, has many, many more killings with guns than other locales without such laws.

The fellow who brought several guns into the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. yesterday broke all sorts of laws in the process.  For some reason, those laws kept none of his now-dead victims alive.  The same is true of every recent high-profile multiple murder using guns we have seen.  So clearly, gun-criminalization laws do not make anyone safe in regard to guns.

Points like this make no impact on most “gun safety” advocates, of course.  Some religions see reason as something opposed to faith.  To adherents of such religions, faith is necessarily logic-less.  Many advocates of “gun safety” seem to hold their views in a way similar to this.  To their minds, laws criminalizing gun possession will end gun murders and other crimes committed with the use of a gun.  The evidence does not support that view, but to them evidence really has nothing to do with it.  It is their illogical religion, and that’s all there is to it.

The Atlantic article tries to cast this whole matter in terms of political re-election strategies.  As they said of politicians, “All they'll see is a fight between Bloomberg's lofty promises and the creaky old tactics of the NRA, and the NRA won.”  As they point out, all politicians want to be re-elected.

That component can never be taken out of the equation, of course.  But perhaps more of what is going on here is that more people are beginning to understand that “gun safety” in the style of The Atlantic simply does not make sense.

Monday, September 16, 2013

No “trust and confidence” in Government


(CNSNews.com) - The “trust and confidence” the American people have in the federal government’s handling of both domestic and international problems is now at a lower level than it was even during the height of the Watergate scandal in 1974, according to Gallup polling data released last week.  (Read the whole story here.)

Kent comments:

It does not surprise me that people generally do not have “trust and confidence” in government.  I think the explanation for this is fairly simple.

I would generally not trust my dentist to repair my automobile.  I would not trust my mechanic to care for my teeth.  This does not necessarily reflect negatively on my dentist or my mechanic.  It’s just that it generally does not make sense to trust anyone, or any entity, to do something for which it was not designed.

People generally expect governments to do far too much.  When I say “too much” I mean in particular “things for which it is not competent.”  You can wish your mechanic could also fix your teeth, but that wish is irrational.

It is irrational to expect governments to do almost everything.  This tendency, in fact, is something of a theological issue.  We tend to expect governments to be omnicompetent.  But that is really not very competent of us.  In fact, it is not just stupid.  It is also a bit idolatrous.  Yet we often exhibit this weird tendency to wishfully think governments can everything for us, all the while (at least in more sober moments) realizing that this is a false hope.

Think of all the things most of us want governments to do.  No, wait – that would take too long.  Instead, try to think of something we don’t want governments to do.  Slim list, isn’t it?

I know many think this is related to Barack Obama’s somewhat fading hyper-popularity.  That could be part of it.

But most of this attitude stems from the fact that asking governments to take care of all our problems is something like asking your auto mechanic to clean your teeth.  No matter how nice a guy he might be, you are going to be disappointed.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bankrupt In So Many Ways


There was a rather striking article today in Christianity Today.  The general tenor of the article is this:  the city of Detroit is a horribly messed up “Fallen Empire” BUT some Christians are going to bravely stick it out there “hoping better days are coming.”  It is the kind of pathetic and na├»ve thing you hear far too often from certain segments of Christendom.

The article seems to have been written before the announcement that Detroit had declared bankruptcy – at least I could detect not even a mention of that ironic fact in the article.

The author, reflecting the attitudes of the many “hang in there” types trying to “renew” Detroit interviewed in the article, does something now found in a whole genre of Christian periodical writing.  The horrible conditions of Detroit are recounted, but the ultimate reasons behind those conditions are carefully avoided.

Living in Detroit is surely now a most unpleasant experience:  rampant crime, poverty, and social and economic decay are the current norm.  As the article points out, many thousands of Detroit residents have fled those conditions, as any sane person who could would.

But no mention is made of the policies of governments at many levels that made the current condition of Detroit nearly inevitable.  Policy makers who were either very stupid or morally bankrupt both inside Michigan and Detroit and in our imperial D.C. insisted on all sorts of bad policies that funneled Detroit down the path to its current condition.  That condition was both predictable and predicted by many.

Christians can sit around Detroit rehabbing old houses and trying to attract new, small businesses with “sustainability” as long as they wish.  It is perhaps noble effort, and will no doubt help a few people in the short term.  But Detroit will remain a relative ghost town as long as the ideology that insists on policies that lead to social and economic decay remains the rule in Detroit.

Hope all you want, but that hope will be in vain as long as the bad ideas that make Detroit what it is live on there.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Capitalism?


In the right circles you will find a running debate about using the word “capitalism.”  Here is a good example, but there are many more.  This debate is almost always among those who favor the idea economic freedom.

Those who would rather abandon the term have a somewhat standard list of worries.  The list usually begins with the fact that “capitalism” began as a term of derision applied to economic liberty by Marxists.

I sympathize with the “give up the term ‘capitalism’” crowd.  The term does have a lot of negative connections.  It probably is much easier to talk to people about economic freedom without this now very loaded term.  And yet, I wish we could find something that would convey one aspect of matters economic contained in this word in whatever name we might use.

As I was mowing the yard the other day and thinking about this, that, and the other thing (the mind must do something while pushing a lawn mower back and forth) I began to think how little-valued economic capital is today.  Capital is, to simplify matters, economic wealth that is not consumed, but is rather used to create means of production, or tools.  Realize that “tools” here does not just refer to wrenches and such, but included anything used to create other goods and services.

People producing, consuming, saving and exchanging where economic freedom is the rule might not have a bias toward the capital aspect of things economic.  But the thing that is made possible by economic freedom that tends to produce economic prosperity is the accumulation of capital.

Life is relatively easy for us here and now because our ancestors did not consume everything they produced.  Rather, they invested significant portions of their production in things they could not immediately consume, but which would be used to make even more of the things the did want to consume.

I think we tend to forget, or underestimate, the wonder and value of capital.  Unlike our ancestors, we tend to save very little these days – and remember, capital comes from “savings.”  This is not just a personal financial failing on the part of many.  Because we tend to want everything, want it NOW, and usually borrow money to buy it, there is often nothing left for savings and the capital that can result from savings.

We seem to think that the vast array of things that are used to make the things we want just appear magically, from someone else, maybe from “the government.”  That is not the case and cannot be the case.  One of the greatest contributions to economic well-being that anyone can make is not consuming everything he has and investing that in things that make things.  If the things that make the things we want were even to begin to be not replaced, we would soon be very unhappy indeed.

So, while I do not have a good answer to the debate about using the term “capitalism” I do very much appreciate the thing denoted by the term “capital.”  The possibility of its existence and use is one of the greatest material gifts God has given us.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thugs Anonymous


Yesterday I was washing our car and listening to a small, pocket-sized “transistor” radio, as they used to be called.  On came the local news.  One item dealt with the Cincinnati Zoo.  There is a proposal to put a tax levy on the ballot soon for the zoo.  In the typical and now a bit annoying “sound bite from someone to make the story more personal” style, some voice popped on for a few seconds to say something like, “I think the zoo makes a contribution to our city and deserves our support.”

I like the Cincinnati Zoo.  I have visited it occasionally throughout my now not so short life.  It is enjoyable.  It is even historic.  I think having a zoo is a good idea.  But I wouldn’t want my grandmother to be evicted from her house by the sheriff to have a zoo, or anything else, for that matter.

The tax levy for the zoo will be a property tax levy.  Every year such a levy is in effect, if you don’t pay your “zoo tax” your property will be confiscated and sold.  News reports about such property tax levies almost always imply that they are not very much.  But the size of such a tax is not the problem.  The many problems with such taxes is that they harbor all sorts of unseen negatives.

For example, takes the size of the levy.  No matter how small, for someone, somewhere, the smallest extra tax can be the one that put things over the edge for someone of limited means.  Then many of the same people who want to tax you for a zoo want to tax you to help the homeless.

But even for those who can easily afford such a tax, there are many unseen consequences.

When we tax our neighbors for a zoo, we are telling them, under threat of taking away their houses and property, that they must like what we like.  This is arrogance at its worst.  There is simply no justifiable way to claim that spending money for a zoo is better than spending money on, say, a family vacation, a book, an electronic device, all the imaginable other possibilities, or even saving it for retirement.

As sane, socially acceptable, and sanitized as it might seem, forcing people via tax levies to buy what you want with their money is the worst possible use of democracy and little more than legalized thuggery.  And yet we do it so often, so glibly, and often so smugly.

A zoo is nice, and so are many other things.  But treating your neighbor like your slave is not.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let’s Embrace True Religious Marriage Equality


WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The National Cathedral is pealing its church bells, along with some other Washington churches, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage.

Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said the bells rang at noon Wednesday for 45 minutes to an hour. Bells also rang at other Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and other Christian churches.

The cathedral scheduled a prayer service for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families Wednesday at 7 p.m. to celebrate the ruling.

In a statement, the cathedral’s dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, says the church is ringing its bells “to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants.”

Hall says the ruling should serve as a call for Christians to embrace religious marriage equality.

Kent comments:

I will consider Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg’s call for Christians to embrace “religious marriage equality” just after he issues a call for true “religious marriage equality” which must include such equality for human beings who wish to marry animals.  Unless, that is, Mr. Weinberg and his ilk have some kind of species-centric view of marriage that does not allow for human-animal couples who “model God’s love in lifelong covenants.”

But perhaps these “Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and other Christian churches” mentioned here harbor animal-phobic persons who stubbornly refuse to recognize the right of people to marry animals.

(Sneering contempt aside for the moment:  I fear that those “Christian churches” probably DO have people who would advocate human-animal marriages.  And I expect to live long enough to hear some of them say so in public.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Yes, but . . .


"I believe that gendered writing . . . will one day be immediately recognized as archaic and ludicrous." Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, A Brief for Gender-Neutral Brief-Writing, N.Y.L.J., 21 Mar. 1991, at 2.

Kent comments:

It is, of course, considered such today, a “mere” twenty-some years later.  But the attempt to remove any gender from writing still often leads to idiotic results.

For example, yesterday in the scripture reading at church, the translation being read coordinated “anyone” with “they.”  This is now done routinely both in writing and in speech.   For example, “If anyone lost a cell phone, they may pick it up at the lost-and-found.”  The problem with this is that “anyone” is singular, while “they” is plural.

We still sense this because almost never do we read or here something like, “Almost anyone are able to solve that problem.”  It sounds wrong because it is wrong.  It should be “Almost anyone is . . .” because the singular “is” goes with the singular “anyone.”

The problem is that in the original example, to make the singular “anyone” match the next singular pronoun, we can choose only from this list:  he, she, it.  The “it” is ruled out because the owner of a cell phone will (usually?!?) be a person.  The convention used to be the use of “he” when the person was unknown.  It was not an attack on women.  It really had nothing to do whether the sex of the person in question was male for female.  It was just a convention.

But it offended the idiotic sensibilities of most feminists, and those idiotic sensibilities have been slowly, carefully, and deliberately foisted on all of us in the last thirty years or so.

After trying to accommodate these idiotic sensibilities with things like “he/she” or “s/he” – or even randomly picking “he” or “she” for no apparent reason – we seem to have landed on the even more ridiculous coordination of the singular “anyone” with the plural “they.”

I was a little surprised to see that in a Bible translation.  There are all sorts of work-arounds that are used to avoid “gendered language” in certain situations.  After all, one doesn’t want to sound “archaic and ludicrous” does one?

But this particular and often-used construction has no clever work-around.  It stands as a kind of monument to the idiocy of certain kinds of feminist sensibilities in our culture.

So pay attention when you read or hear these singular words:  anyone, someone, anybody, somebody, everyone, everybody – and maybe some others that don’t come to mind just now.  Think to yourself, “I would never say, ‘Someone are’ would I?”  Then see if it is matched up with the plural “they.”

Then say to yourself, “Thank you, feminist culture, for this little monument to your own stupidity.”  The feminists won the culture war, no doubt about that.  But we can at least be thankful for this little reminder of the idiocy of it all.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Self-Congratulations

This morning I listened to the live press conference from Boston regarding the tragic bombing of yesterday.  I usually don’t listen to such things, but I needed to give myself a manicure (so to speak, or just ‘cut the nails’ to be more accurate).  What I heard was revealing.

First up was a string politicians.  Each of them, in his own way, congratulated himself for being “on top of” this tragedy.  None of them spoke for a long time, but there were enough to make this parade of self-congratulations fairly long.

Eventually, when the politicians had released sufficient hot air, the various law enforcement officials involved finally had a turn.  They assured the listeners that they were busy doing everything that could be done to catch the bad guys.  A couple of them were honest enough to say that people should expect to see more uniformed people around Boston, but that the main purpose for at least some of this was simply to make people feel better.  Some were also honest enough to at least suggest that they were present before the bombing, but they were not able to stop it, nor could they be expected to make this impossible in the future.

Then came questions and answers.  As you might expect, no specific questions about the course of the investigation could be answered.  So there was nothing really to be learned from the questions posed by the press.

So from the great press conference, I learned that politicians tend to love themselves and think they are indispensible to our well-being.  I learned that law enforcement officials can’t be expected to stop these things in the future – though they might sometimes.  Finally, I learned nothing about the investigation.

This is why I don’t pay much attention to press conferences after these kinds of tragic events.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Our Friend, the Collective?


(CNSNews.com) -- In a 30-second promo for MSNBC’s Lean Forwardcampaign, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry advocates that society end the “private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families,” and instead institute a “collective notion” that kids “are our children,” they belong to the community.

In the MSNBC advertisement, Perry says, “We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children: your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.”

“So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities,” said Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and host of the Melissa Harris-Perry show on Saturday and Sunday mornings on MSNBC.

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments,” Harris-Perry added.

Kent comments:

Statists have a completely different view of life and the world than do those of us who do not subscribe to the (irrational) religion of statism.  Statists have their own set of commandments for their religion.  While these were never carved into stone anywhere, they exist nonetheless.  Notice some of these in the words of the statist priestess quoted above:

Anything “private” is bad.  Families are not important, but ‘communities’ are.  Children “belong” to the community, that is, the state.  Governments spending money is “investing.”  One converts to statism by “breaking through” rival religions.  And most importantly, the world is a bad place outside the reign of statism, and it will be a better world once statism is the ruling religious view.  (I summarized these in the order in which they appear.  See if you can find others I missed.)

The cult of statism is curious, but it is much more than that.  It is dangerous.  Our society has tried to flirt with it by allowing “a little bit of it” and then trying to contain it.  That was foolish, and it is failing.  Statism never retreats.  It is on a campaign to “save” the world by conquering it.  And it is in a unique position to do so because it, by its very nature, glorifies the state, the ultimate agency of force on earth.

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry worships at the alter of the state.  So do many others.  Remember that compromise with them is impossible.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Self-Defense for Teenagers

There is a nice article by Rand Paul today stating his position on so-called “gun control.”  (Which is really a “people control” which amounts to “rights infringement.”)  In the course of his argument, Paul presents this:

For every national tragedy that happens, there are hundreds if not thousands of examples of Americans preventing similar killings from happening, thanks to the use of personal firearms. Last June, for example, a 14-year-old Phoenix boy shot an armed intruder who broke into his home while he was baby-sitting his three younger siblings. The children were home alone on a Saturday afternoon when an unrecognized woman rang their doorbell. After the 14-year-old boy refused to open the door, he heard a loud bang, which indicated that someone was trying to break into the house. The boy hurried his younger siblings upstairs and collected a handgun from his parents’ room. When the boy rounded the top of the stairs, there was a man standing in the doorway with a gun pointed at him. The boy shot at the intruder and saved the lives of his three younger siblings.

I hate to say this, but my impression of many who want to “control guns” is that they would react to this with:  “Fourteen-year-olds should not be allowed to touch a gun under any circumstances.”  I could be wrong, and I hope I am wrong, but I doubt that I am.

As Rand Paul points out in the article, and as many, many others have pointed out recently, the evidence says, “More guns mean less crime.”  But the “gun control” people simply do not seem to care about that.  Paul does not cite a source for the story above (and I didn’t expect that in an op-ed piece like this), but assuming it is true, my best guess is that in many locales, the parents of the boy would be charged with something-or-other for allowing the teenagers to touch a gun.

This is one of the current bandwagons driving around our culture.  Bandwagons usually carry a load that contains a heavy dose of insanity.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What Next?

There is an interesting little point-and-counterpoint over at Christianity Today.  It is titled “If the Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, What Next?”  The three authors make various points, the first one being worried that churches will “exclude and ostracize”, the second who says, “We must offer—even mandate—robust premarital counseling for church members” and the last who “would be honored to spend time in dialogue with gay couples.”

There is nothing horribly wrong with what is said by any of the authors of this article.  It is a little annoying to hear the constant whining from “pastor” types today that we must be ever-so-careful not to ruffle anyone’s feathers when we talk about sin.  But that is not the point here.

My guess is that some editor at CT dreamed up this trendy title and theme, and then asked these three to write something (quickly) about it to ‘catch the wave’ of interest on this topic with the current Supreme Court hearings on the matter.  The problem is that very little of what is said has any direct connection to legalizing same-sex marriage.

If the Supreme Court ‘legalizes’ same-sex marriage, the ‘what next’ for Christians and the church ought to be . . . nothing different than before.  That wouldn’t make much of a trendy article, but that’s the nature of reality often.

Consider the (very related) matter of sodomy:  before it was legalized it was contrary to the revealed will of God and thus immoral, and Christians and churches should have said so whenever the matter came up.  After it was legalized, nothing changed in regard to the church and Christians.  Before it was legal, it was not the only sin, though it was one with some serious consequences.  After it was legal, it was still not the only sin, but will remain one with serious consequences.

The case is exactly the same with same-sex “marriage” – which is not marriage at all.  But even now many people have deluded themselves into think it is.  Even now the church and Christians need to be explaining to people the truth that same-sex whatever-that-is is not marriage, and pretending that it is does not make it so.  What civil law says bears no direct connection to the reality of such matters.

Should the Supreme Court ‘legalize’ same-sex “marriage” none of that will change, just as marriage will not change.  If that should happen, what then?  Well then, Christians should continue to do what they always should have been doing about marriage:  confessing the truth about it.  Our culture, including and especially the Supreme Court, cannot affect the mission of Christians and the church.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The ‘Environmental Crisis’ and the Christian Faith

A recent article in Christianity Today contains a theme that is becoming a bit over-worked in establishment evangelical circles.  The article is about the broader implications of the Christian doctrine of creation.  It is not bad, but the author seemingly cannot resist the urge to load Christianity onto the bandwagon of “environmentalism” when at one point he says:

All of this adds a further dimension to our thinking about the present environmental crisis. If being made in God's image involves stewarding the natural world, we need to steward in a Christlike way, as servants rather than as dictators. As Christians, we can share with all humanity a concern for preserving the environment for future generations. And we can share with other faith communities a sense of preserving the Earth as a divine gift. But we should want to go further, and proclaim environmental responsibility as a consequence of living under the lordship of Christ.

It is striking that Genesis 1 ends not in the creation of Adam and Eve, but in the Sabbath day on which, as Scottish theologian David Fergusson says, "the whole creation glorifies its maker." That is, resting in, rejoicing in, and living out the Sabbath praise of God is regarded in Scripture as the very summit of earthly existence—the purpose for which it was breathed into being. Viewed this way, we humans are called not just to "use" material reality for our own ends, but to hallow it, to reverence it as God's gift, to work for its flourishing, and, in this manner, to be viceroys of the world over which he graciously superintends.

First of all, what, exactly is “the present environmental crisis”?  People have been using this terminology for decades now, and yet, when I take a walk “the environment” is still there.  The ever-present “crisis” language is clearly not just wrong, but deceptive.  Here is a Christ-like quality for Christianity Today to consider:  truthfulness.

Also along the lines of deception is language about “servants rather than as dictators” of the creation and that we should “not just ‘use’ material reality for our own ends.”  God told human kind to “subdue” the earth, which necessarily involves using it and thereby changing it.  All the theological mumbo-gumbo talk incorporating environmentalists lingo you can muster does not change that.

God made the earth for our use, and He made it in an amazing way such that, even when we make mistakes with the earth, it is very difficult for us to destroy it.  (Isn’t God tricky that way?)

This never-ending attempt by evangelicals to kowtow to environmentalism is yet another manifestation of the triumph of culture over Christianity.  It is not helpful, it is not “prophetic” and it amounts to a betrayal of the Christian faith.

Monday, March 18, 2013

All the News That’s Fit to Print (or Speak, or Digitalize)

The other day I listened and considered the Fox (at least on the radio) News slogan:  “We report, you decide.”  Since the “yellow journalism” days of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, news outlets have professed, and inconsistently worked toward, the ideal of being factual and unbiased.

It is, of course, impossible to be completely unbiased.  But making those biases open and recognized, and trying to get the facts straight, is an admirable set of goals.  The problem is that even these noble ideals in some ways hide what goes on in today’s “news reporting.”  What I am about to mention is especially the case with radio news, TV news, and any format that tries to condense the news into the smallest space possible.  It is also the case that this happens with all networks, wire services, and news outlets.

We can understand this problem by thinking about the slogan, “We report, you decide.”  Even if everything reported is completely accurate and unbiased, there is something important hidden here.  You can see this if you think about the unstated corollary of the slogan.  Consider what would the slogan would have to say IF the intention was to be completely open:

“We report, you decide, BUT we decide what to report.”

Fox News is supposed to be somehow different from other major networks.  But at least when comparing the daily radio reports, Fox News tends to report on almost exactly the same things reported on by all the other news services.

It’s not that there is nothing else that could be reported.  There are a few little outlets you find here and there that do decided to report different things from the mainline news services.  When you listen to these and are accustomed to the usual mainline reports, it is striking the wildly different perspective one gets when listening to “the news.”

One final note:  mainline news, including Fox News, tends to report political news in terms of what some politician says about the matter at hand, and very little else.  This is just another example of “we decided what to report.”

This whole system seems to be ingrained beyond reform.  But it’s not fair, and it’s not balanced.  It’s not even close.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Should the Government Tell You Who You Can Marry?


I am not one to want the government to tell us (especially if that really means “force us”) to do very much.  Just exactly how much is morally appropriate, and where that boundary lies, and most importantly how it is correctly defined, is something I am still pondering.

The question of the government dictating things is bound to come up in the current debate raging across society regarding what some call “homosexual marriage.”  Our whole social context seems designed to urge the question, “Who are you to tell me who I can marry?”

Like so many other questions asked in our social context, this one is the wrong question, and is almost designed to lead us away from the more important issue.  A better and more to-the-point question is: “Why Can’t I Define Marriage Any Way I Wish?”

This question is much more insightful because it points to an assumption behind this whole debate: the assumption that marriage is correctly defined only by those who participate in it.  This assumption deserves to be examined.

Our culture is driven by the idea that almost everything can be reconstructed however we want to make us happy.  Is this the case with marriage?

We can’t limit this question to the matter of “homosexual marriage.”  In recent history, marriage in our culture was defined as something between one man and one woman for life, apart from a few extreme circumstances.  (Mormons in the 19th century attempted a redefinition which did not catch on.)  This definition came from the descriptions of marriage found in the New Testament.  Such constraints were cast off fairly recently.  But having cast them off, we are left with some logic many do not wish to follow to its conclusion.

If marriage can be redefined in any way we wish, then, of course, it could be between one man and one woman, one man and one man, or one woman and one woman.  That has become acceptable to many in our culture because homosexual advocates have portrayed homosexuals as victims of societal prejudice.  The definition of marriage was portrayed as a majority persecuting a homosexual minority.  But that is not the real issue, just a diversion.

For exactly the same reasons that marriage could be redefined as just mentioned, it could just as easily be redefined as between one man and one child, one woman and one child, one man and a group of women, one woman and a group of men, or even one man or woman and one animal.

Many advocates of redefining marriage balk some or all of these, but there is no good reason for that, once we concede that marriage can be redefined at will.  I predict that, given the popularity of pets today, that the advocates of human-animal marriages will soon demand their redefinition of marriage.

So the answer to the question, “Should the government tell you who you can marry?” is a definite “no.”  Marriage is ‘definitionally’ possible only between one man and one woman.  So the government should not tell you who you can marry.  Ladies, pick your man.  Gentlemen, pick your lady.  But, by definition, a man can’t marry a man any more than a man can “marry” his large-screen TV.  Men can engage in all sorts of relationships with other men, and women with other women. In few if any of these does the government currently even attempt to interfere.  But, by definition, this is not marriage, because we don’t define marriage.  It comes to us as what it is, and is not created by us.

Marriage is what it is, whether we like it or not.  Calling something “marriage” no more makes it so than calling a triangle a circle makes them the same thing.  So taking notice of the fact that it is simple impossible for a man to marry a man is not oppression or a sign of hate any more than noticing that trees are not persons.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

We Really Are Slaves


An Oregon baker is under investigation by the state for notifying a lesbian woman that he did not make cakes for same-sex ceremonies, the Christian News Network reports. Last month, Aaron Klein, owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery he operates with his wife, was approached by a mother and her daughter interested in a cake for the daughter's upcoming wedding to her lesbian partner. After Klein informed the women that the bakery did not make cakes for same-sex marriages, they filed a complaint with the state. "[I] didn't mean to make anybody upset," Klein said. "[It's] just something I believe in very strongly. ... I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God." At this time, the office of the Attorney General of Oregon is investigating the matter, and Klein has two weeks to respond to the complaint filed by the women. In Oregon, nondiscrimination laws prevent public accommodations from being denied to any individual on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex [or] sexual orientation." Klein, who says he regularly serves homosexuals but cannot in good conscience accommodate their request for a wedding cake, stated: "If I have to be penalized for my beliefs ... that'll be what it is." He affirmed that he would rather close than compromise his faith. "My First Amendment rights allow me to practice my religion as I see it," he said. (story link)

As a follow-up to the last entry here, we find yet another example of how ‘anti-discrimination’ makes slaves of everyone.  Whatever you might think of homosexuals, marriage, religion, or anything along those lines, what moral right does anyone have to compel this Oregon baker to work for someone else against his will?  Is that not the essence of slavery?

The invention of some abstraction called “public accommodations” does not change this at all.  If business owners who want to sell things can be forced to sell things to people to whom they do not wish to sell them, those business owners are slaves.

We accept this whole idiotic culture of ‘non-discrimination’ far too complacently.  No matter how nasty some people have made this, the attempt to make nasty people nice by ‘non-discrimination’ laws comes with the price tag of making slaves of us all.  And as has been observed many times before, most people are slaves only because they are willing to be.

Nice culture we live in, isn’t it?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

You Have Been Assimilated!


Here is a nice bit of insight into the Boy Scouts recent decision regarding homosexuals in their organization:  Whither the Boy Scouts?  The author points out that homosexual advocacy groups and atheist groups are already dissatisfied with this decision because is allows local BSA groups to decide their policy on the admission of atheists and homosexuals.

According to these advocates, that simply will not do.  The BSA must not permit any “discrimination” in their groups at all, or the attacks will continue.  In other words, this ‘retreat’ did not end the war over this.  Apart from the details of this case, it illustrates the fact that behind most of the “anti-discrimination” advocacy groups, there is a collectivist mindset.

We live in a collectivist world, as anyone who pays attention knows.  You are not ultimately allowed to control anything as an individual – not even with the classic proviso that subjects such control to the equal enjoyment by others of the same right.  Once on this road, it was inevitable that no small groups of people would be allowed control of the affairs of their groups.

So private clubs, organizations, churches, businesses (fill in your favorite category here) are all subject to the will of the collective, at least as the will is expressed in the political system, including the courts.  The President’s recent “you didn’t make that” speech was nothing new.  We have lived in a collectivist society long, long before he came on the scene.

When you think carefully about this, you discover that it was one of the negative eventual consequences of slavery in this country.  Some of the Founders worried about what would come of slavery, and they were justified in doing so.  It led to a horrible war within our country, to the radical reconstruction punishment of the loosing area in that war, to the anti-negro (that’s what they would have said then, at least) discrimination society of the south (which was just as intense in most of the ‘north’ for that matter) to the “civil rights movement” of the mid-20th century.

That movement, which rightly insisted that government-owned entities be open to everyone, pushed that same idea into every part of society, even the private parts like clubs, businesses, and other private organizations.  In the end, the effect was to say that nothing is private.  As reprehensible as I find the idea, if the Elk’s Club can’t exclude anyone it wants from its group, the group has been collectivized – taken control of by the collective.  If the owner of the corner pub can’t decide who will and will not be served in his establishment, it has been collectivized – taken control of by the collective.  And, please note, so have the club members and the pub owner.

Now, extend this idea from blacks to any conceivable category of discriminated-against’ people and you have . . . our world.

Consider the irony of all this.  Slavery was the forced control of one person by another.  The effort to do away with that practice, and even that idea, led to our current situation in which no one is permitted to control himself.  In other words, the efforts to rid our society of slavery led to our current society in which everyone is ultimately controlled by the collective and is thus a slave.

I know that has been pointed out before, but I think that, now and then, it is worth remembering again.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

First Off in 2013


This is from, of all things, a newspaper is Asheville, NC.  The fellow who wrote it, Mike Scruggs, must be my brain twin!  I will comment no more and simply link to it:

http://www.thetribunepapers.com/2013/01/03/the-principles-of-evanjellyfish-christianity/

Happy New Year to all,

Kent B. True