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Senate filibuster reflects larger issue of Who We Are.

June 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Give ’em some credit here because this one took guts.  Senate Republicans filibustered a bill (for the third time) that would have extended unemployment benefits beyond 99 weeks.  Their reasoning is that at some point, the government faucet must be shut off.  Although a little late, they’re absolutely right.  The debt and deficits being run up by Democrats must stop before this country enters the death spiral that is making its way through Europe.  As the Democrats continue to cry about “hurting those most in need,” someone needed to be the adult, and the Republicans (finally) took the reins.

The unemployment benefits reflect a larger issue that, I believe, is coming to a head: Who are we?  People can legitimately argue about things like whether this nation was founded on Christian principles or whether the writers of the Constitution would consider internet porn to be “protected speech.”  What cannot be legitimately argued, however, is the fact that this nation was founded on the principle of individual self-determination.  That is, the idea that we, as individuals, have the right to make our own breaks.  Self-determination does not mean we each have the right to have a car, or a house, or health insurance.  It simply means, at least in America, that we all get the inherently equal opportunity to seek those things, if we so choose.  If you win, great; if you lose, you can try again.  The government’s job is to set the boundaries and get out of the way.

At some point, largely due to the influence of liberalism, that all changed.  Now, we don’t argue about whether the government should be providing unemployment benefits, but how much and for how long.  We no longer discuss whether anyone actually “deserves” a house, but instead, how much government aid they should receive to get/stay in one.  Many of this nation’s citizens not only believe they’re entitled to food, clothing, and shelter, but also the latest cell phone, plasma t.v., and shiny car.  And if they can’t afford them, then the government should provide them (or take from those who have them).  After all, that’s “fair.”

There are entire classes of people in this country who are supported by the federal government from the cradle to the grave.  And I’m not talking about those who are disabled and literally can’t work.  I’m talking about able-bodied persons who can work, but don’t.  This is drastically different than only a few decades ago.  My grandparents, for example, realized that, if they didn’t work, they didn’t eat.  That wasn’t an opinion, it was a fact of life.  Today, working for food is closer to an option.

Barack Obama’s policies aren’t just childish, they’re drastically accelerating a change in what America fundamentally is.  Everyone now has a right to healthcare, whether they can afford it or not.  Executives who make too much money should have their salaries cut.  Those who got in over their head with the house they bought will be bailed out with what amounts to subsidies.  What used to be America has become a nanny state; and while this used to simply be annoying, it’s now becoming disastrous.

While many argue about the cause of the economic collapse, there is no questioning the fact that the liberal ideal of a house for every person who wants one started it.  Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act, and its various amendments, which compelled banks to give loans to those who couldn’t afford to pay them back certainly had a hand in it.  Who gets the blame though?  Irresponsible home owners?  Of course not.  100% of the guilt was heaped upon Wall Street.

How about the cost of illegal immigration?  There is no question that one of the largest contributors to rising health care costs are the illegal immigrants who use emergency rooms as their primary care providers.  Should we hold them accountable for being here illegally?  Liberals don’t think so.  Instead they simply blame the greedy insurance companies for high costs, or farmers for employing the illegals.

Our economy is stuck, with unemployment remaining just south of 10%.  What does Obama do about it?  He “stimulates” the economy by spending money we don’t have, and sends the overwhelming majority of it to other government employees.  Does he cut taxes, which have a much better track record of stimulating growth?  Of course not.  To make matters worse, his spending will only lead to the eventual raising of taxes on practically everyone that pays them (which, as it turns out, isn’t all that many).

I’ve never been part of the “love it or leave it” crowd.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  But at some point, we need to make a choice.  America is one thing, and it is not another.  Despite its current appearance, this country has never been about taking money from person A and giving it to person B in the name of fairness.  It isn’t about bailing anyone or anything out as a result of bad choices.  And it isn’t about punishing success because some have only experienced failure.  If we, as a people, want to keep it that way, then a certain percentage of the population should be shown the door.

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Teach a man to fish…

June 13, 2010 Leave a comment

...or give a man a fish?

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?

Wallis asks “W.W.J.D.?” about Libertarianism.

May 30, 2010 2 comments

How Christian Is Tea Party Libertarianism?

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.

Awlaki creates an interesting issue.

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

U.S. Decision to Approve Killing of Cleric Causes Unease

American citizen, and radical Yemeni cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki has been put on the C.I.A’s hit list.  In other words, he’s been “designated for death.”  The article lays out the on-going debate with respect to Awlaki; namely, should our government be able to mark a citizen for death without due process?  An anonymous counter-terrorism official says absolutely:

“American citizenship doesn’t give you carte blanche to wage war against your own country,” said a counterterrorism official who discussed the classified program on condition of anonymity. “If you cast your lot with its enemies, you may well share their fate.”

That’s a great statement, if you’re Rambo and it’s a movie.  This is the real world, though, and the clear answer to the question posed by the article is no.  An American citizen must have due process.  That’s simply how it works.

Now, the whole issue of citizenship is really just a red herring, right?  The Supreme Court ruled long ago that one’s citizenship could be rescinded by the federal government under certain circumstances (See Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, for example).  One of those circumstances is treason.  Awlaki’s call to kill Americans, and his alleged involvement in planning the Christmas day airline bombing, certainly constitute treason.  Rescinding his citizenship would be easy (and should be done).

The article indirectly brings up a larger question, though.  How far are we willing to go to kill terrorists?  Following 9/11, President Bush said we would kill terrorists (not just Al Qaeda) where they were found, and would deal forcefully with any country that harbored them.  Irregardless of the WMD issue, the war against Iraq was in keeping with Bush’s warning.  Iraq harbored terrorists, and so they were dealt with forcefully.

It’s dicey to argue that everyone on the C.I.A.’s hit list is an actual terrorist (humans are fallible after all).  That being said, what would we have our government do?  I find very few things to be legitimate functions of government, but the defense of its people is certainly one of them.  And what’s the point of living under government if not for self-preservation?

The answer is simple: If we can’t detain him, we should kill him where he stands.  If we are unwilling to do so, the fight will increasingly come back to our shores.

Why Nashville?

May 8, 2010 Leave a comment

If I hadn’t actually known people in Nashville, I may have never heard about the high water.  I found this to be odd, since natural disasters are very popular these days, especially when they’re used to support the existence of alleged conditions.  What’s more, I still hear about Katrina every other day.  Of course, back when it was actually happening, I heard about Katrina every thirty seconds to two minutes, depending upon my proximity to a television.  Why New Orleans and not Nashville?

Our commander in chief notwithstanding, the over-arching reason is ideas.  More specifically, the ideas of “fairness” and “social justice,” and the perception that some have been provided less of both.  This perception has resulted in several things, not the least of which are “victims.”  In other words, some events spawn human interest stories, telethons, and Brad Pitt appearances, while others do not.

This blog is about ideas.  More specifically, political and philosophical ideas that result in the creation of policy.  This country is based upon certain unambiguous ideas.  These ideas are grounded in centuries of idea experimentation.  “Fairness,” an ideal trumpeted by progressives, however, was not among them.  Modern liberalism is the antithesis of this nation’s founding principles because it is the antithesis of freedom.  There can be no question that this nation is under assault by those who identify themselves as liberals and progressives, and that they are winning.  Examples are everywhere, and Nashville is such an example.

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