Monday, November 15, 2010

Yearning for Freedom

I am thankful to live in the freest country in the world. I'm glad that in this place I am free to work for freedom. However, being told this is the freest country in the world is a little like parents telling their only child who just lost a beauty contest that they're the most beautiful child in the house.

For example, if one wanted to take this pledge:

I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

In this country, one could not, without going to jail.

If I agree with another person to exchange my labor for any goods, monetary or otherwise, the government lays claim to 50% or more of the agreed upon exchange -- upon my labor (income tax). If instead, I wish to produce something that others in society desire, and exchange that item with individuals, government lays claim to that same 50% or more of my labor, and a percentage of the exchange, forcing me to raise the price of the item to more than it's true value (sales tax).

Finally, if I decide to not participate -- if I head off on my own and attempt to raise my own food and be completely self-sufficient -- neither creating goods for others or working for others, government still lays claim to a portion of what I own (property tax). If I simply mind my own business, not using any "government" services at all, and do not pay my yearly "rent" -- as determined by said government -- they will come at gunpoint and forcibly remove me and place me in prison.

George Washington's Proclamation

Oct. 3, 1789:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

"Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the twenty-six of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that Great and Glorious Being, who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country, previous to their becoming a nation; for the single manifold mercies, and the favorable interposition's of His providence, in the courage and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish Constitutions of Government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

"And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the Great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private institutions, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us) and to bless them with good governments, peace and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science, among them and us; and generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best."

Separation of Church and State my big old butt.

Good vs. Evil?

Patrick commented,

The more we discuss this it seems to me that you have it locked in your head that certain things are bad and that no level of discussion will change your mind

I have to admit, he's got me nailed here. I believe in right vs. wrong. There are things that are bad and evil in this world, and yes, no matter who says otherwise, there still will be. I know this idea makes some uncomfortable. You see, this destroys any theories of moral relativism. If there is right and wrong, then any excuses given for a certain behavior or action may be invalid, for that action may be wrong and evil.

However, if there is no final arbiter over what is right and wrong, then any behavior or action can be argued to be good. If there is no absolute right or wrong, then I can argue away murdering innocent children as my own good. If there is no abosolute right or wrong, then who are you to tell me that I cannot murder innocents or children?

There is an absolute right and wrong. There is bad and evil in this world. Everyone knows the difference, deep down inside, and anyone who argues for moral relativism is simply wrong.

Learn to Hate

It appears to be a slow week in the blogosphere, all you people who are out of work, taking a week vacation, etc., must not be posting. Perhaps some are out reading. If you are, take a couple minutes to read this article by Rabbi Shmuley Botech entitled, "Moral people must learn how to hate."

It is quite powerful, and I cannot do it justice in quoting parts, but I will point out some significant areas:

I have heard all the arguments repudiating hate. Hatred is evil. It is the cause of all wars. It consumes the soul of he or she who hates. Silly arguments all. Hatred is only evil when it is directed at the good and at the innocent. It is positively Godly when it is directed at cold-blooded killers, motivating us to fight and eradicate them before more people die.

How about that one line: Hatred is only evil when it is directed at the good and at the innocent. Jesus said love your neighbor, but he never said that no one should ever hate.

Hatred does not cause wars, it ends them. Because Churchill truly hated Hitler, he inspired a nation to put an end to his blitzkrieg conquests. The French, who did not hate Hitler, collaborated with him, instead. It is indifference to evil, rather than its hatred, that sends a message to the tyrants that they pick on anyone they like for the world will be silent.

Hatred of evil implies both the right to make judgments, as well as a belief in absolutes, both of which are anathema to liberalism. While it has some redeeming qualities, my foremost argument against liberalism is that it harbors no abhorrence or detestation of evil.

Jesus advocated turning the other check to petty slights and affronts to our honor, not to mass graves and torture chambers. Likewise, while Jesus taught that we ought to love our own enemies, this did not apply to God's enemies. Our enemies are people who are our rivals for a promotion at work. God's enemies are those who slaughter his children.

Very powerful stuff.

Revisionist Anti-God History

Ah, it's time for the annual purging of all references to God from schools and history. I guess when they teach about the Pigrims and Thanksgiving now, it goes something like this:

There were some people living in England who, on a lark, decided to embark on a voyage across the dangerous ocean, just because they had nothing better to do, and XBox hadn't been invented yet. So they climbed aboard these leaking, dangerous ships and sailed across the ocean. They played shuffleboard and dined in luxury, but they didn't hit any iceburgs.

When they arrived in America, there were no ports, so they simply climbed into rowboats and landed. They built houses (from trees, there were no Lowe's stores). After they landed, they encountered REAL Americans, the most honorable and non-violent species of man ever to exist, Native Americans, who had been living peacefully, growing corn, for tens of millions of years.

The Pilgrims had three days that they celebrated -- the weekly Sabbath, the Day of Humiliation and Fasting, and the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. The last two were only held during special occasions. The colonists had had a very bad year for the harvest one year (1621 or so), and they were worried they would all die. When news came that another shipload of supplies and people was soon to arrive, they had a party. They invited their new friends, the Native Americans (at least those they hadn't killed with the smallpox). They all worshipped and gave thanks to the great Rocks and the Ship of Plenty that had carried them to the new land. They wore funny hats. That was the first Thanksgiving.

Division in America

The Homespun Bloggers have a weekly symposium where members respond to a question of other members. Here's the question (and my answer) for this week:

Is the division in America important to you? What will be necessary to heal it? What part do you see Bloggers playing in that discussion and how will you personally contribute to it?

Is the division in America important to you?
Is the division important to me? I guess I would say it's moderately important. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, but it does concern me that as time appears to move forward, people are moving further and further apart. Based on maps and discussions I've seen, it seems to be more and more a division of city vs. country, and more specifically, those who live off government (and other people's taxes) and those who do not. It concerns me most that as one of the producers, I'm worried that we have already reached the point where those who take from government already exceed 50% of the voting population, which will mean I and my children will always work for others who do not work.
What will be necessary to heal it?
Something very, very drastic. Apparently 9/11 wasn't enough to unite America, except for a couple days. Are we more divided than ever in history? That I do not know, since I wasn't alive in the 1800s. It certainly appears it to me, but everyone only has their own lifetime with which to compare. History certainly seems to indicate that we were much more untied when facing perhaps a less evil and bloodthirsty enemy in the Nazis.
What part do you see Bloggers playing in that discussion and how will you personally contribute to it?
I don't know that Bloggers will be all that important. There are millions of blogs out there, and just like with the rest of the internet, you get the best of the best, but you also get the worst of the worst. It's so easy for rumors to get repeated and anything reported as fact that anything read on any blog, bar none, requires checking. Today, even things in the mainstream media have to be checked for accuracy, so who could assume blogs are more accurate?
I will do my best to convince any of the readers of my blog that capitalism and freedom are more beneficial to the individual and the country. Socialism, whether in medicine, social security, or other ideas, allows a certain few to prosper, but only at the expense and demise of many others.

Is there any way to control government?

I don't think so. How does a bill get passed by the US House that allows members of Congress to snoop into anyone's tax records, for any reason they want? Simple -- just tack it on as an amendment to the 1,000-page bill that no one will read. John McCain (silly party) said, "How many other provisions didn't we find in that 1,000-page bill?" Chuckie Schumer (insane party) wants a "full and complete" investigation followed by "appropriate punishment." Wow, is he really that clueless? Yes, you people in New York have a Senator that doesn't know how bills get passed in the legislature. And he wants to punish anyone who actually follows those rules that he doesn't understand.

Oh, but it's OK, you see, "The two lawmakers who would have gained that power – Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Rep. Bill Young, a Florida Republican – both said they wouldn't use it." And if you believe that, I've got some oceanfront property in Nevada I'd like to sell you.

This is one reason why I would cause so many problems were I ever elected to a public legislative office -- I would vote NO on any bill that I didn't have time to read, or that I didn't feel that everyone else didn't have time to read as well. I can't understand how so many people CAN vote for bills without reading them. I guess that's just politics as usual, and it will continue to be.

Miami Dolphins Hold on to #1

Early Sunday afternoon, the 49ers did their best to maintain the hunt for #1. They only managed to put up 3 points while generously allowing Tampa Bay 35 points. This put the pressure on for the Dolphins in the late game, meeting in Seattle. In that game, the Dolphins started out in good form, allowing the Seahawks to take a 7-0 lead. However, the Fins then scored a touchdown, putting their status as #1 in jeopardy. At halftime, the Fins were down 17-7, and it seemed safe that they would continue their attempt at #1.

However, in the second half, the Dolphins scored 10 unanswered points, tying the game. Late in the game, the Dolphins were driving for a potentially winning score that would take them out of first place. However, Feely, after being much injured and pounded throughout the game (knocked down over 20 times), managed to save the Dolphin's #1 by first throwing a touchdown pass -- to Boulware of the Seahawks -- and then fumbling on the next play from scrimmage, securing the Dolphin's #1 spot.

Of course, this #1 spot is the #1 draft pick for next year. And they are currently tied with the 49ers. Next week's game? The real game for #1: Dolphins vs. 49ers (both teams are the worst in the league at 1-9).

Class Size vs. Performance

One of govn'r Easley's primary claims to fame -- the first words out of his mouth when he mentions government education -- is making class sizes smaller. He knows that a vast majority of people hear that and think a) he cares about children and b) smaller class sizes result in better educated students. I've often wondered from where this idea came, so I've tried to find out (for now I'm ignoring 'a' because he only really cares about being elected).

I found a study from the Education Commission of the States (2002) that examined CA and reductions in class sizes. This pro-government education group found that there was no link between smaller class sizes and student achievment, and that when implemented, it's primary effect was to increase the number of unqualified teachers in the districts. When actual measurable results are compared, it can be found there is NO relationship between academic performance and class size -- one study by the Heritage Foundation found no difference in reading scores for students in classes of 20 or less as compared to classes of 31 and more.

In looking for more research supporting smaller class sizes, some benefits of smaller class size seems to be: "it helps teachers in getting to know the kids," "more personalized attention to students, higher teacher morale," and "The extra time got me inspired to try new things." One study on the TN "STAR" study is quoted in dozens of sources -- some claming smaller classes are absolutely, 100% effective in increasing student scores, while others claim they had no effect on test scores.

How about a longer term, wider-based study: "Hanushek discovered that between 1950 and 1994, student-teacher ratios in U.S. elementary and secondary schools fell by 35 percent. Nonetheless, math, science and reading scores among American 17-year-olds have remained the same throughout most of the time period." Doesn't sound so good, especially when reducing class size costs very, very large amounts of money. Oh yeah, it's for the children, so we can take that money from the producers and spend at will. I'm glad I homeschool.

Money is not the root of all evil.

"So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for money. Money is not the tool of moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor -- your claim upon the energy of men who produce. You wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?

"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of the man who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made -- before it can be looted or mooched -- made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his own ability. An honest man is one who knows that he cannot consume more than he has produced."