We celebrated a birthday in the office today. During the cake-eating, someone brought up Friday’s shooting (it wasn’t me). Everyone was talking about banning this and regulating that, and I said, in a joking manner, that the government will have to take my guns from my cold dead hands. People laughed, because I’m funny. One of my co-workers said something along the lines of “Nash, you don’t have any assault rifles though.” While he is correct, I don’t have one, I thought it would be fun to say that I did. So I said, “Sure I do.” Silence. Awkward silence. Later my secretary, a gun-owning conservative herself, asked me why I needed such an item.
Make no mistake: the government is coming for assault rifles. And since they’re now bringing the majority of Americans with them, it’s unlikely that many of you out there care. I’ll say one thing about Americans: We’re quick to give up freedom for perceived safety. After all, we were all ok with letting the feds do whatever they wanted after 9/11. Many had a problem with pouring water on a terrorist’s face, but tapping our phones without a warrant? No problem. And don’t forget about the whole shooting a missile at an American citizen without due process thing. But hey, it’s all in the name of safety.
Now, I could drop a line from Benjamin Franklin about those who give up liberty for security have neither, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll just say that banning assault rifles won’t result in less crime, or fewer shooting sprees, or safer schools. Kids are being killed in Chicago everyday, and it’s not happening with expensive assault rifles obtained legally. It’s happening with semi-automatic pistols obtained illegally.
When I mentioned Americans giving up their freedom earlier in this post, I wasn’t necessarily referring to a Constitutional Right. We certainly have a right to bear arms. Included are semi-automatic handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Supreme Court hasn’t had a case dealing specifically with assault weapons though, so I don’t know if we have a Constitutional Right to them (but I think we’ll be finding out). That doesn’t mean we’re not giving up our freedom though.
Everybody is understandably sad and angry over what happened. But before we go banning something, shouldn’t we at least figure out if it will make a difference? For example, would the shootings on Friday have happened if the shooter didn’t have the assault rifle? Probably. He brought two handguns as well, and being that there was no one available to stop him until the police arrived several minutes later, it’s unlikely he would have been held up in any meaningful way. Also, let’s not forget that assault weapons were banned two decades ago, and there was no appreciable decline in shootings. Moreover, when the assault weapons ban expired, there was no appreciable upswing in gun violence.
There are two groups of people who are pushing the ban. First, there are the politicians, consisting almost entirely of libs from California and the Northeast who have likely never been friends with someone who owned a gun, let alone owned one themselves. Dianne Feinstein of California, pictured above, is such an example. Then there is the large group of people who are so angry over what happened, and a little scared to oppose the conventional wisdom, that they are willing to simply go along with it.
Newsflash: the aforementioned politicians don’t care about those killed with assault rifles, by the way. They have an agenda, and are taking advantage of everyone’s fear and sorrow to push that agenda. Don’t believe me? Then, while we’re at it, why don’t we ban tobacco, cars, and alcohol? How about rationing ground beef and bacon because of their cholesterol and fat content? Maybe we should have a government mandate whereby every single person who ever enters the water needs to have at least twenty hours of swimming lessons to lessen the likelihood of them drowning? Or limiting the number of television channels that someone can have or the amount of t.v. that they can watch because being a couch potato is dangerous to one’s health? You’re far more likely to die from any of the aforementioned than from someone killing you with a gun. Oh, and we don’t “need” any of them.
I said it yesterday, and I’m saying it again today: freedom costs. And regardless of whether you own a gun or are scared to death of them, banning a product or activity that is perfectly safe when used responsibly is an affront to our freedom. It also conveniently avoids the more obvious issues of why the ACLU found it appropriate to help strike down a Connecticut bill that would allow for involuntary institutionalization of adults, like the shooter? Or why the government is utterly failing to enforce the gun laws we already have on the books? It also avoids the issue of the cultural dumpster fire that we’ve created in this country.
Hey, if you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s an article written by the smartest man in the world, Thomas Sowell. It’s so simple, even a progressive from San Francisco can understand it.
Another shooting. This one consisting of 6 and 7 year olds. Everyone is rightfully horrified. Questions that have been asked before are being asked again. Why did it happen? How can we stop it from happening again? Who’s to blame? Guns and mental illness have been the most common “causes” that I’ve run across, oftentimes being made part of a snarky Facebook comment or agenda-driven political commentary. The actual cause, of course, is evil. Sin. I’ve heard only one person offer that answer and it was a preacher in a church in Newtown, Connecticut. That I’ve only heard this explanation once is telling, I think. A related cause, this one a little more “earthly,” is freedom.
Many of you will read that last sentence and roll your eyes. “Owning an assault rifle isn’t about freedom,” you say. Well you’re right. It isn’t. I’m both a gun-owner and a NRA member, but I agree that owning an assault rifle isn’t a Constitutional Right, and I’m guessing neither would the Supreme Court. The freedom I’m talking about doesn’t directly pertain to the Second Amendment, however. One’s culture is a derivative of one’s freedom. For example, some have blamed Friday’s shootings on video games. I own Modern Warfare II, and there’s an infamous level where your character kills hundreds of civilians at a Moscow airport, for no apparent reason. The game was banned in some countries, including Russia, until the developer offered to basically delete the aforementioned level in those countries. The author of the linked article had this to say regarding Russia’s decision:
This is seriously quite pathetic. I am sure Russians would have had no problem if it was another country involved in the game’s plot, like Germany, which has of course been the antagonist in most Call of Duty games. Anybody who pays attention to MW2‘s plot will understand why Russia is at war with the US, and know that the Russians aren’t being depicted solely as bad guys.
But still, these are videogames, right? No need to actually research and contextualize those at all, not when there are kneejerk reactions to be had.
As I stated earlier, I’ve played the game, and I’m confident the developer could have come up with a different way to get Russia to attack the U.S. The developer put the level in for one reason, and that was to shock the audience. In other words, it was completely unnecessary. But the thought of censoring/banning speech in America is viciously attacked, and rightfully so. Other games have been banned in various countries, for various reasons. A nice summary is contained here.
The target of scorn when I was a kid was “gangsta’ rap.” It’s too violent. It disrespects authority. It advocates killing cops (which is bad). All of these things were true, by the way. While certain words were half-heartily bleeped out on the radio, the albums themselves weren’t banned in American stores, nor should they have been.
What’s the point about all of this? Do I blame video games? Or violent music? Or everything else that bombards us on a daily basis? No. But it all has an impact. Culture matters and freedom costs. Everyone has seen the bumper-sticker that says “Freedom Isn’t Free,” and understand that it is referring to those who died to defend our freedoms. For anyone who has had to quickly change the radio station because their kid is in the car, or has to explain why the girl on the cover of the magazine at the checkout line is half-naked with “SEX” written in big letters, understands that we’re all victims of our freedoms…especially our kids.
So what’s the answer? Should we turn all authority over to Barry, or a select group of Philosopher Kings, to determine what we should or shouldn’t have access to? Should we have a police state, like in the old USSR? Of course not. But we all need to take ownership and acknowledge that our freedoms have allowed for a culture of violence and death to take root in America. Or more specifically, we have allowed our freedoms to be used to justify our moral relativism. And it isn’t just multimedia. While the country rightfully mourns the twenty children that were murdered on Friday, no one takes much notice of the 3,700 kids that were aborted that day, and every day. It’s hypocritical for anyone to attempt to blame Friday on just one thing.
You can ban assault rifles, but history indicates it won’t reduce firearm violence. You can spend more money on mental health, but you’ll still have the people with no history of issues. You can take some of the trillions we throw down the black hole of the public education system and use it to put an armed guard in every school, but you’ll always have the problem with some guard negligently handling his weapon and either accidentally shooting a student or allowing someone else to get his hands on it.
Freedom requires that each citizen act responsibly and be held accountable for his or her actions. If you want to reduce the number of bad things that happen, then you have to get involved. Guard your children from the world’s influences. Pay attention and help your neighbors. Simple acts like these will be far more effective in reducing events like Friday than will the government deciding to ban something.
With today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, I have yet another reason to be thankful for leaving California. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ordered the release of 33,000 inmates in California, due to continued violations of “inmates’ rights to adequate care for their mental and physical health.” In other words, the prisons are overcrowded.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to analyze the decision, or give my opinion on whether the Court made the correct ruling. I’m not going to go into the ideological breakdown of the judges, or the nitty-gritty details of the law at issue. Finally, I’m not going to respond to the pot-heads who will inevitably argue that there wouldn’t be overcrowding if drugs were legalized. Instead, I’m going to address this:
California Gov. Jerry Brown said he ‘will take all necessary steps to protect public safety.’
(…Except build a new prison so we aren’t forced to release 33,000 felons). It goes without saying that “public safety” is certainly a purpose of any government. In fact, I would imagine everyone would agree that it’s a primary purpose of government. Unfortunately, this purpose has been diluted in many states because public safety has to increasingly compete with unnecessary human interest projects that are forced down our collective throats by do-gooders and/or liberals. In other words, California can’t pay to house its criminals because it spends too much friggin’ money on crap.
Gigantic example of the crap: public education. California is $15.4 billion in debt, and an astonishing one out of every four dollars spent goes to the education system. Who can forget the $578 million Robert F. Kennedy Community School in Los Angeles? The Los Angeles Unified School District spends $11,357.00 per pupil! Keep this cost in your head as you read this statement made by Doug Nielson, a government and economics teacher at Coalinga High School:
‘If we stick to our ideologies, our children are going to suffer. When somebody says well, extending these taxes is a tax increase, you’ve got a mindset there that says the dollars are more important than the kids. And they can’t be. We can’t afford to do that. You can’t have first-class teaching on a Third World budget.’
This is the complete lunacy that we face with the public education system. “Third World budget?” The United States spends more per pupil than any other nation in the world. And for what? Is there any question that private schools can do a better job, at less cost? While saving money for the government to keep felons off the streets?
It’s in this way that liberals have won. People no longer seriously question why the government is spending $11,000.00 per student. Heck, most of the people complaining about the 33,000 inmates being released won’t even remember that $578 million of tax-payer money was used to build a school.
At some point, every community needs to answer a basic question: What is the role of government? Do you want more cops on the the street and criminals in prison…or do you want your government to spend $11,000.00 per pupil at the public schools? The government can’t afford to do everything, and if you don’t decide on what our taxes are paying for, somebody else will. Today in California, the Supreme Court made the decision.
99 weeks. That’s the length of time people in Illinois, and other states, can be out of work and still receive unemployment benefits. That’s just shy of two years. Before the recession, the max was 26 weeks. Now, with the House passing yet another extension, jobless benefits are going to move beyond 99 weeks. Many in Congress are fighting the continued extension of these benefits, but let’s face it, it’s not easy to “attack” those most affected by the recession.
The obvious problem, as you’ve all heard by now, is that our duly elected representatives spend like Elton John at a bejeweled store. Not only that, unemployment benefits, while “humane,” are a giant black hole of suck as far as job creation goes. I would guess, although I don’t have any stats to back it up, that people receiving unemployment don’t spend it on a plasma. They instead pay bills with it. So, unemployment benefits aren’t churning our consumer economy. They’re also not helping the recipient find a job. The government’s focus has got to change.
Actual job creation must be the goal, and by now, Obama has to realize that his “deficit spending to stimulate the economy” theory is failing miserably. Of course, in doing so, he has to admit he’s been wrong since he took office and jettison the Keynesian economists in his administration. So, instead of spending $50 billion more that we don’t have, which is mostly going to pay for government jobs anyway, the White House needs to simply admit it’s been wrong and cut taxes. And it’s not just the federal government that needs to cut taxes; it’s the state and local governments as well.
Continuing to give unemployment benefits will, no question, help a lot of people right now. It will never help them get a job however, and shouldn’t that be the goal?
Before we begin what is always a contentious issue (combining both religion and politics), let’s get a few things out of the way. Yes, I do read the Huffington Post, sometimes. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I do believe every Christian should bring their Christianity into every segment of their life. No, I don’t know who Jim Wallis is. Yes, I think Mr. Wallis is doing a disservice to Christianity with his article.
With all of that being said, let’s get started.
Mr. Wallis posted an opinion piece on the Huffington Post website a few days ago. The topic was whether libertarianism is consistent with Christianity. When I first examined the piece, I said to myself, “self, libertarianism is obviously not consistent with Christianity. But then again, neither are any of the other political philosophies.” At this point, I wasn’t going to write this post, but then I realized that Mr. Wallis wasn’t just arguing against libertarianism being considered “Christian,” but was advocating that liberalism was a decidedly more Christian perspective. When I read something this stupid, I feel compelled to respond.
Mr. Wallis examines five “points” of libertarian thought, and tries to analyze them in a sort of “What Would Jesus Do?” fashion. Two thoughts immediately came to mind. First, I haven’t heard anybody actually advocate that libertarianism was consistent with Christianity, so what’s the point of his post? Second, I have never been a fan of the W.W.J.D. fad, because I consider it to be unnecessarily manufactured religion. Also, since we are all imperfect beings, no one can actually answer the question with any amount of certainty.
I’m not going to examine Mr. Wallis’ five points in the manner that he presents them, i.e. is libertarianism consistent with Christianity. Instead, I’m going to address a liberal assertion he makes in each of his points, and compare it to Christian principles.
1. Loving your neighbor is a better Christian response than telling your neighbor to leave you alone. Both compassion and social justice are fundamental Christian commitments, and while the Christian community is responsible for living out both, government is also held accountable to the requirements of justice and mercy.
An important point to be made about government: it is not, and I would argue cannot, be “Christian.” Why? First of all, the United States government is secular. Second, it is a man-made construct whose goal is to keep people from stepping on each other; not dispense “social justice,” whatever that liberal phrase means.
Now, Wallis’ point about loving one’s neighbor being “better” than telling one’s neighbor to leave them alone may be a more Christian position. It’s true that, as Christians, we are called to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We are not called, however, to “love our neighbor” at gun point. Government cannot compel me to love my neighbor. Instead, government simply keeps me from killing my neighbor, or vice versa. One should certainly not be filing their taxes with the warm and fuzzy feeling that they “helped their neighbor (although Joe Biden might).”
2. In Romans 13, the apostle Paul (not the Kentucky Senate candidate) describes the role and vocation of government; in addition to the church, government also plays a role in God’s plan and purposes. Preserving the social order, punishing evil and rewarding good, and protecting the common good are all prescribed; we are even instructed to pay taxes for those purposes!
Wallis is correct when he says God commands Christians to respect the authority of political leaders because their authority was given them by God. Wallis’ assertion that we pay taxes to protect the common good, however, is a fiction, at least as set forth in Romans 13. Paul did state, at Romans 13:6, that we are to pay taxes to the governing authority. However, the only purpose taxes serve, at least as set forth in Romans 13, is to pay politician salaries, as they “give their full time to governing.” There is no mention of public welfare. Also, the article he links to doesn’t even mention the Bible.
As an aside, Wallis uses this opportunity to incorrectly associate libertarians with a belief they don’t actually hold. It’s the same belief I hear associated with conservatives in general, from time to time.
To disparage government per se — to see government as the central problem in society — is simply not a biblical position.
When did small government advocates suddenly become anarchists? Neither libertarians, nor those slightly less conservative, “disparage government per se.” Instead, they/we disparage an unnecessarily large and intrusive government, which consists not of leaders whose interests are the people, but of leaders whose only interests are establishing and maintaining their power over the people.
3. Libertarians seem to believe in the myth of the sinless market and that the self-interest of business owners or corporations will serve the interests of society; and if they don’t, it’s not government’s role to correct it.
This is an example of why I don’t like “W.W.J.D.?” I have no idea what Jesus would think about the free market. I’m guessing he wouldn’t like it, since its motivating factor is greed, but what do I know? Sensing the same difficulty, Wallis quickly dumps the religious analysis, and moves on to analyze the free market vs. “practical issues that the public sector has to solve.” As a practical issue, there is no question the free market is a significant improvement over a more socialized economy. One need only look at history to figure that out. Some government regulation is obviously necessary, but how much? Obviously a balance must be struck, but I fail to see a “this much regulation is more biblically-based than that much” answer.
4. “Leave me alone to make my own choices and spend my own money” is a political philosophy that puts those who need help at a real disadvantage. And those who need help are central to any Christian evaluation of political philosophy.
This is my most-despised liberal argument made to Christians because it seeks to take advantage of our beliefs. The “aren’t you called to help the poor” nonsense. This line of reasoning actually works on a lot of Christians, and the “social justice” argument has caught hold in some denominations. The argument is incorrect though, because it misses a huge point. Christians are called to help the poor, or those in need generally, freely. In other words, we do it voluntarily, for the express purpose of helping someone. I said this earlier, but it bears repeating. Paying your taxes does not constitute charitable giving. Why? Because it’s forced. I’ve always found it ironic to hear liberals, or Europeans, criticize this country for its lack of compassion, when this country is the most charitable nation in the world.
It is incorrect to argue that “those who need help are central to any Christian evaluation of political philosophy.” As indicated earlier, the central issue to a “Christian evaluation of political philosophy” is whether the leaders are acting with justice and mercy; not whether the elderly receive medicare.
5. Finally, I am just going to say it. There is something wrong with a political movement like the Tea Party which is almost all white.’
In my humble opinion, Wallis ruins any sort of credibility that he may have had prior to this point. It’s the liberal meme of “the Tea Partiers hate Obama because he’s black, and so they’re all racists, and they marry their cousins, etc.” Wallis takes it a step further though, by arguing that, because they’re all racists, their political positions must be non-biblical. There are so many half-assed assumptions and simple untruths in this point that it’s difficult to even focus a response. I guess I’ll leave it simply at this: racism is non-biblical, and not all of the Tea Partiers, or libertarians, or conservatives, are racist. Plus, “racism” isn’t a political party or ideology, so I’m not sure why it reared its ugly head here.
Conclusion: None of the political parties are biblically based. They are, instead, human constructs formed for the practical purpose of running a government. Nothing more, nothing less. I would caution Wallis on one thing, however. The minute you start throwing stones about biblically based political ideologies, be prepared to absorb them yourself. Life starting at any time other than the moment of conception is not biblically based. A woman’s right to choose an abortion is not biblically based. The right to cheat on your spouse is not biblically based. Finally, the right to gay marriage is not bibically based. Therefore, if our government is biblically based, all of the foregoing should be made illegal. I won’t hold my breath.
By total coincidence, I read Peggy Noonan’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today while working on this post. It’s coincidence because the topic of this post is similar to hers. Her piece is great, as usual. You should read it, and it’s linked above. That being said, on with my post.
President Obama’s current approval rating is currently sitting at 47% according to Gallup, and according to Rasmussen, his Presidential Approval Index is at -12. In other words, he’s not doing well. Is he guaranteed to lose in the next presidential election? By no means. But his popularity has dropped significantly since he was elected. Now, his popularity was guaranteed to drop to a certain extent, simply because all presidents’ popularity drops. However, his approval rating dropped unusually fast. Why? Since becoming President, Mr. Obama has regularly shifted between two positions: blaming others for this country’s problems and ignoring the problems altogether. Neither of these is very becoming of a commander in chief, and it’s showing in the polls.
Blaming others has been President Obama’s most common form of avoiding responsibility. The regular target of that blame has been President Bush. Blaming Bush made some sense two months into his presidency. We’re now almost sixteen months in, and the “blame Bush” routine isn’t working anymore. Why? While blaming Bush for the initial economic collapse may get you by, blaming him for the fact that unemployment is still sitting just shy of 10% while you tripled the national deficit is a bit much.
Then you have the oil spill. Blaming BP is certainly fair. But blaming Bush? This type of environmental catastrophe never happened on his watch. Blaming him for the poor oversight of the MMS? Maybe to support a “history of corruption” theory, but you’ve been in office for almost a year and a half and didn’t change anything, and the MMS Chief you just fired was appointed by you in the first place. Also, let’s not forget about the 19 environmental impact waivers that were issued for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico since the BP platform exploded.
Please note, I don’t blame the federal government at all for its response to the oil spill, any more than I do for its response to Katrina. Efficiently and effectively dealing with these sorts of disasters is certainly not in its wheelhouse. However, the Dems are reaping what they sowed when they criticized the Katrina response.
When Obama’s not blaming Bush, he’s completely lost touch with issues the American people want dealt with. As Ms. Noonan stated in her piece, the President has avoided the immigration issue as much as possible. Instead, he’s spending time on issues very few people care about, like “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Even when he addresses an issue on people’s minds, he goes too far. See: healthcare. Nobody was denying the necessity of tweaking our healthcare system. But the overhaul he passed was overkill, being that 80% of the American people were happy with their healthcare. The next “jump the shark” moment: cap and trade.
It’s sometimes difficult to determine where the President is coming from. I oftentimes view him as a radical ideologue, who surrounds himself with other radical ideologues. Other times, though, I wonder if he has any idea what he’s doing. He’ll go one direction one minute, and then reverse course the next. For example, I still don’t know where we’re going to try KSM. He truly seems like a deer in the headlights much of the time, and that, more than anything, may result in him being a one-term president.
To summarize Drudge’s headline this morning: it’s working. Obama’s wealth redistribution that is.
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.
Many liberal talking heads like to criticize the “tea-baggers” for spouting off about socialism without knowing what it is. Well, here you go. Simply put, socialism is taking property from individual A and spreading it out amongst many individuals. That’s what happens whenever the government takes taxes from individual A, and gives them to others by way of Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, etc. (I would argue public education falls into this same category). The more that is taken from individual A and given to everyone else, the more socialist a country becomes. If the government takes everything for public use, then socialism becomes communism. Sometimes socialism can be made to work, as long as the people are content with the high tax rate, and the taxes taken are sufficient to pay for the entitlements. With respect to this country, however, the former (high taxes for entitlements) has never been true philosophically, and now it seems the latter (sufficient taxes to pay for entitlements) is no longer true either.
As University of Michigan economist David Grimes states in the linked article, the current path is not sustainable. The reason is simple: there aren’t enough taxes coming in from private incomes to pay for all the entitlements. Of course, only an advocate of socialism could argue with a straight face that this shift in income — from private income to govt. subsidies — is a laudable result of Obama’s stimulus.
The shift in income shows that the federal government’s stimulus efforts have been effective, says Paul Van de Water, an economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“It’s the system working as it should,” Van de Water says. Government is stimulating growth and helping people in need, he says. As the economy recovers, private wages will rebound, he says.
Regardless of one’s position on the propriety of government entitlements, there is simply no credible argument for government spending equating to growth. In fact, the stimulus proves the argument to be wrong. The government spent billions trying to stimulate the economy into creating jobs, and it has been an abject failure.
The reason government spending doesn’t stimulate the economy is very simple, and has been repeated by this blog countless times: the government doesn’t have any of its own money. Any money it uses to “stimulate” industry must be taken from the industrious. Any money taken from the industrious is money that doesn’t go to job creation. Van de Water’s contention that once the economy improves, private wages will rebound is true, assuming the economy improves. If the government keeps spending money it doesn’t have however, it will need to take more from the people. Taking ever increasing amounts from the people that work, and giving it to people that don’t, won’t stimulate anything. Instead, it will simply make those that work stop, and those that don’t work depend on the government for their sustenance. But then, maybe that’s the whole point.