Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama is Bad for America

So he made his announcement today. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to scream or cry...?

Once and for all, I'd like to put the fascination with Sen. Obama behind us. The MSM loves this guy. And his shameless, outrageous, and inappropriate "branding" as a modern day Lincoln is an insult of the highest order. I'm sure that our 16th President would just love a pretender like Obama invoking his name for political gain. Obama is to Lincoln as Saddam Hussein is to Ghandi; the comparison makes no sense. Obama isn't even close to "great" Democrats in history like FDR or Truman. He's a groomed and polished Jimmy Carter with better communication skills.

Here's what I'd like to do. Given that people have so little understanding of where the Senator stands on the issues, as a public service, I'll spell his positions out for you. I'll use his website as a source, so you can check for yourself and share this with others. I'm going to use the man's words, folks, so please let people know who and what they're going to be supporting when they support this candidate. If I hear one more person say that he's a fresh new leader I think I'm going to be sick. Anyway, here goes.

On Taxation: The Senator thinks the tax code has become too complex and "unfair" and is need of reform. So far, this follows his modus operandi - speak in platitudes so absurdly generalized that they can't be criticized. You almost expect him to follow a statement like this with something really controversial, like, I don't know, "Women are people too." The Senator thinks that "Reform options should focus on creating a system that is simple, progressive, easy to comply with and devoid of abusive shelters." Translation: the redistribution of wealth as it currently is designed should remain ("progressive") and there are too many means of avoiding taxes as the system stands. On taxation, the Senator's position is in line with the majority of his party, which is out of touch with most Americans. Shall we continue?

On Energy: The Senator supports alternative fuels, raising automobile fuel efficiency standards, investing in new technologies, and taxing oil companies so they don't make as much money (somehow, beyond comprehension, he calls this "Working to Lower High Gas Prices."). If indeed we are too dependent on foreign oil, we could open up increased offshore drilling right by these United States, if the environmental lobbies/interests would allow it (they won't). Last I checked, no new nuclear reactors are being built in the United States, for that matter. I'll give you three guesses why that isn't happening, and the first two don't count.

On Iraq: The Senator actually makes the effort to separate Iraq and National Defense; the sheer stupidity of this isn't worth the time to address. On his inability to discern the critical role of our presence in Iraq alone he should be disqualified from seeking the Presidency (and if I had my way, removed from the Senate). However, for the record, the Senator wants US forces out of Iraq by March 31, 2008 - about 13 and a half months from now. You know who thinks that's a good idea? Registered Democrats, everyone who works at either ABC News, CBS News, CNN or MSNBC, most Europeans, the Chinese and the Russians. Oh yeah, and the Terrorists.

On the Environment, On Immigration, On Education, On Health Care... oh Dear Lord, this could take a week! I suppose that if indeed Obama is the fraud that I think he is, he'll either be exposed in the Primaries or in the General Election. Forgive me for not being confident in the citizenry's ability to recognize a fool when he presents himself. Nor in the GOP's ability to just pound a lightweight like Obama.

I'm sure I'll have just as many objections to the eventual nominees from both parties, and since we've got a long way to go, I'll give it a rest for now. ;)


michael hargis said...

There's always the possibility that the identification with Lincoln will backfire on him. It's risky business to compare oneself with a giant like that.

"Obama is to Lincoln as Saddam Hussein is to Ghandi."

I know what you mean, but I think a better comparison would be: Obama is to Lincoln as Hargis is to Aristotle. The critical issue there is the immense difference in depth.

It's interesting how the MSM will treat a guy like Obama as if he's something fresh and brand new. As you pointed out, AH, his modus operandi - speaking in absurdly generalized platitudes - is in fact more of an honored tradition in politics than a new approach. Really, the only differences I see are that a) he's black, and b) he seems likable, unlike many other blacks on the Left (Jack$on, $harpton,etc). The camera likes him, too.

Someone once told me that the most important thing a person needs to win the presidency is an unwavering belief that your ideas are absolutely necessary for the well-being of the nation. In other words, you must be able to stand on your own and not simply be a front man, so to speak. No question in my mind Hillary has that quality. Time will tell about Obama.

Mom: I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment, but I must point out that I've met a few very imaginative cussers in my time. ;)

JWales said...

A.H. said:

"the mainstreet media(MSM) loves this guy".

That's a major red flag right off the bat. I still say he's a decoy for Billary, there's more behind this than meets the eye. The Dems have had several years to plan this assault.

Could be another Illinois flash in the pan, like the Bears!!!! Sorry, couldnt resist A.H..

Call Me Mom said...

Mr. Hargis,
Imaginative cussing is a whole different kettle of fish from using foul language. ;)

Call Me Mom said...

"However, for the record, the Senator wants US forces out of Iraq by March 31, 2008..."

Well of course he does, then he can claim credit for it. Ms. Clinton wants the whole thing over before she would(God forbid)take office so there's no chance she would have to deal with any of it.

michael hargis said...

So, limiting profits for oil companies will lower gas prices. Perhaps the senator was absent the day they taught economics in economics class.

If lowering profits for big corporations is good, is it good for small businesses, too? How about for individuals? If I can consider the money I manage to put back over the course of a year as profit, in other words money I don't need in order to pay expenses, then would forcibly lessening that amount be a good thing for the economy? For me?

Where does he think that money will go, I wonder. I have trouble ascribing evil motives to people, generally speaking. I think most people whom I would otherwise describe as evil are actually poorly educated, or lack understanding of those things that they are taught, or were simply taught wrong. Therefore, it's tough for me to believe that Obama wants a centralized economy (I DO think Hillary believes such a thing is feasible), yet these feel-good, pseudophilanthropist policies will lead, I am convinced, to such an end. Readers of this blog are well aware of the horrors perpetrated in the 20th century by centralized economies.

Of course, two reasonable people can look at the same evidence and arrive at two different conclusions. But let's face it, dictating to oil companies what they can earn is precisely how we could arrive at REAL oil shortages. Lower profits = fewer investors. Fewer investors = less capital. Less capital = less equipment, fewer employees, less exploration, etc. Bottom line...less gas.

Daniel Webster said...

"If lowering profits for big corporations is good, is it good for small businesses, too? How about for individuals? If I can consider the money I manage to put back over the course of a year as profit, in other words money I don't need in order to pay expenses, then would forcibly lessening that amount be a good thing for the economy? For me?"

Dude, you're on fire! Nice job of getting it down to the individual level, and in short order too!

Speaking of morons...

It's been a while back now, but I was watching one of these economics shows on Fox News fairly recently. Generally these kinds of programs bore me to tears, but one segment of this one got my attention because they were discussing in it this idea of forcing Wal-Mart to pay their employees better wages. One of the guests (Lord knows where they find these goofy people!) stated something to this effect: "...look, when you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a gallon of pickles for $3.00 then you know they aren't paying their employees enough." She did get one thing right, inadvertenly perhaps - that it isn't Wal-Mart corporation that determines the wages of its employees, it's the consumer(s). Come to think of it, haven't you stated that same thing, Hargis (much more eloquently of course), innumerable times in the past?

On another note, and seeing as how I can't seem to find a good way to make this flow together, I think I'd like to play purely for the mental exercise...

Question for Mr. Hargis: Is it possible, to your mind, to satisfy the dictates of the law while respecting morality when the two collide? In other words, can one knowingly contribute to an immoral system while using every legal means at his/her disposal to resist short of the illegality of absolute disobedience, thereby respecting both the law and morality? Not to mention keeping oneself out of jail. ;)

michael hargis said...

I've been searching through Smith, Hayek, Bastiat, Friedman, etc., trying to find that pickle/wages formula but so far I haven't had any luck. Maybe that moron you mentioned has discovered a new economic law. She should immediately contact the Nobel Prize committee.

You pose a good question, Webster. In fact I have pondered that very thing ever since I wrote that earlier post. Our system forces us to participate to some degree in legal plunder, no question about it. I can refuse to accept SS payments, but I can't refuse to "contribute." For the time being I'll say "Render unto Caesar...," although that isn't a very satisfying answer, at least not to me. Help me get rolling here.

The Monarchist said...

Well, an absolutist would say that unjust laws should be broken; that where law and morality collide, the moral conviction should be followed.

Of course, and conveniently enough for the absolutist, he usually doesn't have kids and a family to feed. But maybe that's the point: we'd all end up in jail for not participating in Socialist Security, which is pretty morally irresponsible with respect to our duties as providers for our families. It's when the offense is great enough that to submit to it robs us of our humanity (or some lesser defined point, acknowledging that as people are different, so will this point be) that to fail to act for pecuniary reasons becomes the immoral act.

"...mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable..."


Daniel Webster said...

Help YOU get rolling?? I was counting on your helping me get rolling. Remember when you said: "the critical issue here is the immense difference in depth."? **scratches head, look of deep thought on face** Ummm, er, uh...well, uh, ahem...thank God for Hamilton's post! I'll comment on it in hopes that that will help us out...

Okay, Hamilton, I'm with you so far, and I far. I ain't real sure how many true absolutists there exist out there, but there can't be enough of 'em to make any difference, or any effective difference...'cause they're all either locked away in the hoosegow, or they're running from the law. But I guess at least their consciences are clear. I'm pretty sure I've yet to meet one -an absolute absolutist (a little word play there)- that's probably because, as I said, they're all either locked away, or they're too afraid to practice what they preach, or perhaps they now reside in Canada. lol But your point is well made that it's awful convenient to be an absolutist (if there really is such an animal not yet on the extinct list) when you merely have to concern yourself with, well, yourself. Perhaps if our government was a little less intrusive, then we could all profess to be absolutists. ;)

Anyway, you provided an opportunity for the stakes to be raised here. Social Security is just the example Hargis chose to use in his original post, but we all know that it goes far beyond the injustice of Social Security. In answer to one of your statements, I would simply ask: what of when the offense is great enough that it robs someone else of their humanity, yet it has no direct -and I emphasize the word "direct," here- negative impact on us and our respective families? What is our moral duty then, if there's a law on the books forcing us to fund it? Can we then satisfy the law AND moral duty in obedience to the former and to the latter through every legal channel? Do you see where I'm going here, or should I be more specific?

Hargis, you are indeed correct that our system, as it currently exists, forces many of us to engage in legal plunder...or face the consequences for refusing to do so. Perhaps even more grave than that is the fact that it effectively sears the consciences of otherwise decent folk to the point that they're convinced that legal plunder by government coercion is morally right; that to resist it (in word or deed) is morally reprehensible. I mean, when you implicate Grandma and Grandpa (among others) as being willing participants in the legal plunder of their fellow citizens, then people tend to get real excitable. From my seat here, I would say that is the point at which we are now arrived...with respect to the vast majority of our citizens on the idea of social security. And I fear that it is the point to which we are ultimately headed...with respect to the same majority, and other forms of legal plunder - "legal plunder" being a fairly broad term.

One wonders how the idea, or the actual practice of "Balanced Government" might work to resolve the issue.

michael hargis said...

How many folks do you know who are members of AARP? I know several. I have nothing against AARP for the most part; nothing against senior citizen discounts on travel, lodging, ect., and I'm all for free association, but what about when they encourage members to vote themselves money out of other peoples' pockets?

Membership in AARP is voluntary, and I doubt that any of them think that they are doing anything immoral, but doesn't the very "voluntary-ness" of membership make the act all the more immoral? Giving financial support to an organization amounts to tacit consent, doesn't it?

Therefore, I'd say that whether the thing in question is voluntary is at least a mitigating circumstance. As AH said, if one has a family to support then the absolutist, no compromise attitude tends to fly out the window.

I imagine that we all agree with the principle of charity. It isn't difficult to imagine circumstances in which it would be nearly impossible to pull oneself up by one's own bootstraps. Of course, government charity isn't charity at all, but if we can grant that the spirit in which it was first conceived was at least charitable (I'll debate that with you if you like), then that might possibly provide some balm for our consciences, thin and greasy though the balm might be.

Balanced government? On balance, it should leave people alone. ;)

Call Me Mom said...

Mr. Webster,
I'm going to step very carefully here as I am not quite sure where this is taking me.
I think, in the example of Social security, you are saying we are indirectly negatively affected. I tend to think that it is a directly negative effect when we deny our responsibility to our fellow man by the claim of participation in a government program that is "supposed" to take care of them for us.

The compulsory "giving" forced upon us, takes away our choice in the matter. By removing that choice, it makes us less generous, less tolerant and less"noble" than we could be. Worse, as an involuntary "donation" is forced from us, we become less in our own eyes, as we know in our hearts, that given the choice, we might not have helped those folks. We then become convinced of our own stinginess, tending to ignore that the opposite may also be true. As we become more convinced of our own meanness and paucity of character, we tend to resist participating in other good works, believing that those are only for those more perfect, giving and generous than we. That surely God has no use for someone as stingy and mean hearted as we have become. That, were we to be included in the spotlight of attention given to those who perform good works, surely all of our blemishes would also be revealed and we would crawl back to our homes worse off than we were before.

We also lose the human contact that comes from direct giving. You don't get to see the direct results of your choice to give to someone. All you may see is someone who appears to be better off than you perceive yourself to be. This, along with the sour knowledge that they are so well off partly because of your involuntary "donation" also leads directly to a bitterness of spirit whereby one may feel that, given the choice, surely one's own family deserves to live just as well as that person and maybe if you still had that money they could. The individual receiving the money from social security (or Medicare or Medicaid) feels no need to thank you for it, because it's not you that gave it. The money came from the government, in the case of social security, from their own contributions, or so they believe even when they may be receiving more than they put in.

In the case of Medicare and Medicaid, we may be even more damaged, for surely everyone must believe that it is a good thing for those who need it but cannot afford it to be able to access health care. How poor in spirit must we be to even suggest that such a thing is not necessarily true.

How unfortunate it is then, that someone who works hard just to keep a roof over their heads and the heads of their family, who cannot afford to get the health care they need because their income is one dollar too high for them to qualify for these programs has to see folks benefiting from them who don't work at all. How damaging this must be to their character. To know that they could get their child or themselves to a dentist or a doctor if they had the money that is taken from their checks to support others. And to be made to feel selfish and unfeeling for it.

Then, of course, there is the fact that social security, Medicare and Medicaid take away many uncomfortable aspects of our own lives. 100 years ago, it would be unthinkable to leave grandma (or grandpa or both)to the care of strangers, when she is ailing and forgetful. Now it is the norm, because they're "professionals" and know what's "best" or once again our selfishness is revealed to ourselves,"if she has nowhere else to go, she'll have to stay with us." Truly, convenience is a sure pathway to destruction.

This outsourcing of family care is directly damaging to our children. Instead of learning from a magnificent example of love and care, they learn that the inconvenient is to be avoided and the unknown should be feared and left in the hands of professionals. There is no need to learn basic first aid, because that's the professional's job. They are deprived of the ability to learn by example or recognize that even the best addition to a household will add to the stress level but the family can pull together and handle it.

Sure, there are cases where mental illness or severe health problems may make it impossible, or at least inadvisable to have a needy relative live with you, but I bet they are a lot fewer than we are led to believe. Our children lose so much and we wonder that they may not be as caring as we think we were as children. Why should they be? What they are learning from our example is that grandma and grandpa and crazy uncle or aunt so and so aren't their problem, the government will take care of them.

I guess I should wrap this up before it turns into a book. I believe that our current state of moral bankruptcy and our loss of character as a nation are, in part, a direct effect of entitlement programs. These programs were created by the efforts of those who used the charitable leanings of the Christian underpinnings of our nation to push their own vision of a socialist utopia upon us in denial of common sense. It is exacerbated by a school system which cannot teach basic logic skills effectively, because to do so would reveal the lies that have been taught in support of that socialist agenda for the last 50 or so years.

Or have I missed your point entirely Mr. Webster?

Mr. Hargis, I hadn't thought of memberships in politically active organizations in quite that way before.

michael hargis said...


You are all over it. Flat out all over it. With this exception: Some people, after a lifetime of supporting government "charity," become so convinced of their own moral superiority that they become impossible to live with, similar to the way I behave after I've shot a semi-honest 95 in golf.

Other than that, you nailed it. When the government takes over responsibilities that rightfully belong to us, we become less attentive to those responsibilities. Or, if you wish, less responsible.

There is no more wrong with being associated with a politically active organization than there is with being politically active as an individual. Both are good. Nothing wrong with saying to a hotel owner "Give our (club, whatever) members a discount and we will encourage them to stay at your hotel." It's all voluntary, and no one gets hurt. On the other hand, saying (to a member of Congress) "Pass a law that takes money from non-members and gives it to members and we'll encourage our members to vote for you" is encouraging legalized theft by way of government.

Ask yourself this: Does the law in question do for an individual what that individual could not do for himself without committing a crime? If so, then...

Daniel Webster said...

"Ask yourself this: Does the law in question do for an individual what that individual could not do for himself without committing a crime? If so, then..."

...then it's a criminal law, or a crime via the law...or...a lawful crime?

Lottsa criminals running around out there. While the absolutist/non-compromiser is thereby put in a position of fearing for his/her liberty, these folks suffer from no such fear. Indeed, they are left perfectly free to further wreak havoc on their fellow citizens. Isn't there something, ummm, bassackwards about that?? One of the fundamental principles that this nation was founded upon -a nation Noah Webster denominated: "...the first example in modern times of a government founded on its legitimate principles"- is the principle that conscience is the most sacred of all property. If you rob a man of his conscience, then what of real value has he left?

Mom, I'm with Hargis - you are all over this! However, you did misinterpret what I was saying. But that's mostly my fault because I didn't express it very well. Perhaps I should have used the word "immediate," rather than "direct." My statement wasn't necessarily directed at Social Security, but other forms of government coerced thievery/robbing someone of their humanity that I don't have to directly involve myself in on a personal level, yet I'm forced to contribute to it via the law. Anyway, I think your post should be required reading for anyone who thinks organized resistance against socialist security is morally reprehensible.

How many people do I know who are also members of AARP? Well, let's say I know dozens of 'em, some of which I know intimately. AARP is one of my least favorite politically active organizations, and has been for a long time for the exact reasons you offer, Mr. Hargis. For all the good their membership derives from being members, to my mind it's all overthrown by the very act of lobbying Congress to steal from others on their behalf. But that's the way many of these organizations are - they clothe themselves in sheeps clothing, but inward they are ravening wolves. Please don't get me started on the AARP, every time I see one of their commercials on tv, I wanna throw something at it.

Here's something to consider...

Does it amount to tacit consent for an individual businessman to provide a product or service to members of AARP in exchange for money? Lemme implicate myself here...I've worked for countless numbers of folks who I know to be members of AARP, who receive social security payments, and etc. I know this because they proudly display their membership on their vehicles and stuff. Generally speaking, these people are, almost without exception, pretty dang good folks. However, as you said, Hargis, they're at least involving themselves in the tacit consent to steal from their fellow man through their contributions to AARP. But back to the question -does my trading my labor for their money (ill gotten as it is) amount to the same thing as receiving stolen goods?

Mom, I almost forgot...

I do admit an inward spirit of bitterness toward certain folks, particularly whenever I drive by one of our local Indian gambling Casinos and see the parking lot perpetually filled to overflowing, or when I find myself waiting in line at a local convenience store, behind five others waiting in line behind one individual who can't resist playing the Oklahoma that it exists. It doesn't take much of an imagination to conclude that a great many of these people are indeed dropping my coin (to the direct hurt of my children) down the throat of a machine without the slightest assault of conscience.

Okay, I better go cool off now. ;)

michael hargis said...

"But back to the question -does my trading my labor for their money (ill gotten as it is) amount to the same thing as receiving stolen goods?"

I don't think so. If you built a deck or room addition for a public schoolteacher that wouldn't mean you endorse the public school system. Plus, in the case of the AARP member you can't be sure that the money he gives you isn't money he saved up himself.

When it comes to trade, the parties involved need not agree on anything except the terms of the trade.

As you know, Webster, but others may not, I earn my daily bread by running an adhesive binder for a local printing company. One of the magazines that comes my way every few months is a kind of cheesecake mag. B and C list starlets in bikinis and so forth. Pretty harmless compared to some stuff out there, and the only mag we do that could be called risque. I used to have a crew member who was a devout Christian and didn't want to be associated with that particular book. Because he was a good worker, and I respected that he stood up for himself, I went to bat for him with my manager, who finally agreed to switch him to another machine whenever that book came around. His problem was that the cover, which showed nothing you wouldn't see at the local swimming pool, gave him impure thoughts, and he was engaged to be married. He didn't feel that he was endorsing the book by working there, however.

The Monarchist said...

Convictions are a funny thing, aren't they?

DW, you said something that got me thinking.

"In answer to one of your statements, I would simply ask: what of when the offense is great enough that it robs someone else of their humanity, yet it has no direct -and I emphasize the word "direct," here- negative impact on us and our respective families? What is our moral duty then, if there's a law on the books forcing us to fund it?"

Like, say, for example, federal funding of stem cell research or federal funds for abortions? What's out moral duty in that case? Stop paying taxes? And risk going to jail? What do you think the abolitionists would have done had federal taxes been used to advance slavery?

I don't have a good answer, and I'm troubled by this. I have to give this some thought. The possibility isn't far-fetched. Give us a Demo President in 2008 (or a liberal RINO) and you might just see federal funds used for either disgusting practice. The time to think about this is now, I suppose.


Call Me Mom said...

There are some who refuse to pay taxes through various devious and open means because they don't want their taxes to support the war efforts. While I don't agree with their particular cause or some of their reasoning, some of their methods are interesting. You can find one site here:

Daniel Webster said...

"He didn't feel that he was endorsing the book by working there, however."

Well, by retaining citizenship I don't feel like I'm endorsing the new deal either, so I see what you mean. Maybe it's not really a question of my endorsing/not endorsing this and that?...

In the same way, perhaps, that "render unto Caesar..." doesn't quite satisfy your conscience (mine neither, btw), that I "can't be sure that the money he gives me isn't money he saved up himself," falls a little short of satisfying mine. I'll attempt to explain why.

My view of a person's, organization's, government's, whatever's monetary resources (call it income, revenues, whatever's suitable), is that regardless of from how many sources and from whence it is derived, it all goes into one big pot, and is redistributed therefrom. Many people have legitimate jobs, yet part and parcel of their income is derived from illegitimate means. If for instance I'm approached by a known thief who offers to sell me a brand new, brand-name $300.00 item (still in the box) for $50.00, am I stll simply bound by the terms of the trade? Shouldn't one of my terms be that the item in question came into his possession legitimately, and shouldn't my strong suspicion that it didn't govern my terms?...even though I can't know for sure whether the item is stolen or not?

Let's say that I make 60K a year just for the sake of arguing the point. With all the government entitlement programs out there (State and Federal), with the size of my family and this and that, let's say I qualify for certain kinds of state and federal aid. If I lower myself to taking that aid (simply because it's available to me, and I'm willing to do just about anything to make life easier for myself), and it amounts to, say, 15K over the period of a year, have I not stolen from my fellow citizens in the amount of $15,000 dollars? That's 15K that I can put toward buying a jet ski, a four wheeler, or a boat, or a deck, or whatever. Here I am perfectly capable of managing my resources, or even working more hours whenever necessity dictates, but why should I do that when I can have my cake and eat it too? If I hire someone to do a job for me, am I not paying them from means illegitimately gained?

Anyway, I seem to be getting a little off base here so I better end it with this question:

If I know for a fact that others are engaging in this kind of behavior (not necessarily AARP members), then shoudn't I resist the temptation to trade with them based on those known facts? Acknowledging of course that it's a lot easier for someone with a business like mine to exercise that kind of discrimination than it might be for someone else in another kind of business, less established, or what have you.

Hamilton, that's exactly what I was getting at. I think, as well, that when ya boil it all down, it becomes very difficult to separate the sanctioning of certain things which deprive a person of his humanity, and the monetary support of the actual practice. For instance, the United Way of America claims to merely advise women on their option to abort their babies, while not actually funding the practice. I admit having a real hard time making the distinction...particularly for women deriving their daily livings from government programs. Perhaps this is the dilemma the abolutionists ultimately found themselves wrestling with?

michael hargis said...

I doubt that any of us could find ten people who don't benefit, to some degree, from federal, state, or local spending. If you owned a business with, say, twenty employees, and scrupulously tried to deal only with people who did not get their money from some level of government, how long would it be before you started laying people off? In that case, I would say my obligation to my employees outweighs, by a considerable margin, my desire not to contribute to the climate of legalized theft. Society will be better served if I am successful in business, generally speaking. If I hire people and then go about pursuing policies that guarantee I won't make a nickle those people will be quickly looking for other work.

In the spirit of raising more questions than answers, try this one on: Politicians often justify tarriffs on imported steel by claiming that foreign steel is inferior to domestic steel, or some such gibberish. Now there is no way a politician knows more about steel quality than the companies that actually use steel (auto manufacturers, etc.), so does buying an American car amount to tacit approval of import tarriffs? More to the point, does it amount to approval of the practice of demanding and receiving favors from Congress at the expense of other people?

I once read a sci-fi story about a man who had a creature attached to him, and which wove its tentacles throughout his organs, nerves and muscles. At the end of the story the parasite is removed and the man set free, but his pain and sense of loss drive him to beg for the thing to be reattached. He finally dies. Parallels?

Daniel Webster said...

The original question was something to the effect of whether one can satisfy the dictates of the law while respecting morality at the same moment, when the two stand in opposition to one another. I think I know the answer, and I think it lies perhaps in the Christian method of correcting a known wrong. Basically it boils down to never attempting to overthrow, by violent and sudden means, a system the people have become accustomed to. Rather, the Christian approach is to replace it with something better over the long haul. Whether it can be done that way is perhaps another question. But I think our moral obligation is to put forth the effort to do so insofar as we're capable of it. That would include our business dealings, family affairs, the raising of our children, and so on and so forth. In essence, exerting a positive influence within our circle of influence.

I'm having a little trouble with that aspect of your last post dealing with ones obligations to his employees. Would you please elaborate on that a bit?

michael hargis said...

"If I know for a fact that others are engaging in this kind of behavior (not necessarily AARP members), then shoudn't I resist the temptation to trade with them based on those known facts?"

That was from one of your earlier posts, Webster, and it is the basis of what I meant by one's obligations to one's employees.

If you hire someone, you have at least one obligation to him: Pay him the agreed amount on the agreed schedule. If you then pursue a business plan that excludes a large percentage of what would otherwise be your legitimate market, you jeopardize your ability to fulfill that obligation, at least to some degree. Under such a circumstance, the bigger the payroll the greater the risk of not being able to meet it.

An example...hmmm...try this: You own a cab company, but refuse calls from people going to or from bars, restaurants that serve liquor, and other establishments that you have a moral problem with. Unless your cabbies have agreed to this beforehand, you are unfairly cutting them out of a lot of potential income.

A strict-constructionist construction company in Washington, DC, that refused to do business with employees of the myriad federal beaurocracies because the company owner didn't want to be paid with what he considered to be stolen money would run into the same ethical dilemma.

I'm right with you on the rest of your post, the law VS morality part. It's an entirely ethical approach, but really no more Christian than Hindu. One needn't be a Christian to recognize that there's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things.

The Monarchist said...

Well, now. Here's a couple of things for me to think on.

First... "In that case, I would say my obligation to my employees outweighs, by a considerable margin, my desire not to contribute to the climate of legalized theft. Society will be better served if I am successful in business, generally speaking."

Couldn't one say that using the standard that employing people is performing the greater good than sticking to one's values is similar to US companies doing business with China, on a few levels? First, since American workers have many more opportunities for employment, can we say that the proper thing to do is to outsource as many jobs as possible so that the poor of the world can have an improved standard of living? And although my commercial relations with China are supporting a dictatorship, isn't it better that the standard of living of the Chinese is improved (not to mention cheap goods for hard-working American families)?

And second... "It's an entirely ethical approach, but really no more Christian than Hindu. One needn't be a Christian to recognize that there's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things."

I might beg to differ with you there. The quality called *reason* is such a part of Christianity in the same way that reason is devoid from other faiths; such faiths that rely on mysticism in a large degree and one in particular that relies on the word of its prophet.

I am reading Rodney Stark's The Victory of Reason right now, and it's opening my eyes to other religions.


Daniel Webster said...

"One needn't be a Christian to recognize that there's a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things."

That's true to an extent, but it seems to me to be getting real close to asserting that the founding generation's religious convictions played no significant role in their identifying the wrongs perpetrated against them at the hands of their British brethren, and of the ultimate measures they took to "secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity."

There is a difference between "general" and "special" revelation.

I could say, on the other hand, that one can be a Christian and still not recognize the difference between the correct way of doing things and the incorrect way of doing things. I'd be right in asserting that, but it doesn't mean that Christianity is a false religion; that the God of Christianity is the author of confusion, or that either is on an equal plane with other belief any way, shape, or form.

You're not trying to lead me into a religious discussion here are you?...take up, perhaps, where we left off once before? ;) Nah, I'm the one who made the statement, so I own my responsibility to defend it...

michael hargis said...

For me, this line of thought began with the notion of not doing business with people who would be paying for services with ill-gotten gains, however one wishes to define them. What about public school teachers? They certainly earn their money, but where does it come from? Does doing business with a public school teacher amount to propping up the public school system, or endorsing it?

The beauty of free trade is, as I said before, that the parties involved need not agree on anything except the terms of the trade. You don't want to trade with China on the grounds that it supports and maintains a dictatorship? Fine. If your goal is toppling the dictatorship, as opposed to feeling morally superior, then I'd ask you to examine the record of trade embargoes with that in mind. There may be scores of victories there, but I'm unaware of them. Embargoes didn't seem to hurt Castro any, nor did it help Americans. An embargo amounts to little more than posturing. Free trade might be an effective weapon against oppression. I say "might" because it's never been tried, not because I'm not sure it would work.

Reason existed long before Christianity came into the picture. The Greeks developed the art of reasoning to a high degree, and they honored gods who were jealous, vengeful, etc. Hmmm, tht reminds me of someone...

If reliance upon mysticism and prophesy is unreasonable, then it seems to me you just shot yourself in the foot.

The Monarchist said...

Well, that's not the point I was getting at.

Christianity is special because of the unique characteristic of resoning about God. According to Chinese philosophers the universe simply is and always was. They never supposed it functioned according to rational laws or that it could be comprehended in physical terms. The Tao is impersonal and remote and definitely not a being. It is a belief system based upon enlightenment and not explanations. That's mysticism.

And Islam is the word of the Prophet - not to be interpreted or reasoned. It is as he said it was: end of story. Interestingly, Islam also proposes that allah is a very active God - not one who sets down rules that can be discovered and understood.

JWales said...

" Reason existed long before Christianity came into the picture."

Technically, I would disagree with that. "Christian" or "Christianity" means "of Christ". A thorough study of the scriptures (old and new testaments) clearly reveals Christ starting in the book of Genesis all the way thru Revelation. Christ is the theme from the very beginning, He is the reason.

Now I realize this comes from a biblical world view Mr.Hargis, but all of us base our world view on someone or something.

Daniel Webster said...

Well, I think Hargis's main point was that one needn't be a Christian to be reasonable, and as one example to solidify the point he offers us the Greeks who developed the art of reason to a high degree, yet knew nothing of Christ or his religion. Which is true...

That in contemplating the characteristics attributed to the impudent gods of the Greeks, he asserts that he is reminded of someone bothers me a little more I must admit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not offended by the statement, Hargis. It does concern me though. It concerns me that we're not doing our jobs as Christians to defend "the Reasonableness of Christianity," to borrow a title from Locke; to study, learn, and share the apologetic value of the scriptures with our non-Christian brethren (not that you are one of them - I know how you are, you like playing devil's advocate from time to time.), who make the same comparison when truly there is a stark contrast between them. And I must be as guilty as the next guy, if not certainly more so.

Might I ask a couple (or three questions of you, Sir?...

1. In your experience, which would include your knowledge of history and so forth, which peoples are the most reasonable; which peoples exhibit a more reasonable approach to individual life, family, business, government, and etc.? - Muslims, Buddhists, Christians.

2. You're not asserting that reason predates the Almighty are you?

3. Do you believe there are such things as "righteous anger;" as "necessary vengeance?" And is there something unreasonable about an all knowing, all seeing, Almighty being possessing the characteristic or emotion of jealousy (the pure kind) as it pertains to his Creation and his creatures?

Allow me one last question, if I may...

Are Hamilton's only choices a) toppling a dictatorship, or b) feeling morally superior? Don't you think there might be more to it than that? I'll discuss it further if you like.


michael hargis said...

1. I don't think any religion confers any great degree of reason upon anyone. Therefore, who is the more reasonable depends on who's doing the examining. The unreasonableness of Islam is obvious to a Christian, and vice versa. There is a point in every religion at which reason takes a back seat to faith; a point where what we see around us takes a back seat to what we don't see.

2. According to the story, nothing can possibly predate the Almighty. I'm not sure, however, that an omniscient being even possesses the quality of reason.

3. When our spouses exhibit a little jealousy we think it's long as it doesn't become the defining element of their characters. I can scarcely imagine a supreme being preening over our petty little flatteries, and becoming jealous when they don't come in the quantity and quality He demands.

In humans, jealousy is a weakness, and one that few admit to having and fewer still seek out in others. Why we attribute it to a being capable of creating the universe and everything in it is a mystery. Well, maybe not a complete mystery. If one desires to conquer a people and dominate them, a good first step would be to exterminate the local deities.

As far as "the pure kind" of jealousy, I need you to explain what that is.

Regarding the dilemma (false?) I presented to AH, let me say that I'm not in the habit of accusing those I like and respect of desiring to feel morally superior. That sounded a lot more snippy than I intended. Plus, free trade being a pet obsession of mine, I seem to insert it into discussions where it doesn't necessarily belong. Let me re-examine those posts and get back to you.

The Monarchist said...

Well, shucks, I'll let you boys duke it out.

My point, I guess, was this: there's only one faith that embraces reason (and always has) as a means of gaining deeper understanding of God and His creation. Buddhism doesn't. Islam doesn't. Even Judiasm doesn't.

But that was my tangent, and re-reading the posts has me sufficiently convinced that the conversation is headed in another direction altogether. Enjoying the conversation, for sure.


Daniel Webster said...

First, what I meant to say was "impotent," not "impudent." I dunno.

As to your answers...

1. You seem to be getting real close to contradicting an earlier statement here. People are either capable of reasoning aside from their religions or they're not, right; they're either capable of recognizing the right way of doing things in exclusion of their religious convictions or not? I'm willing to grant that they are...capable of examining the peoples of the world, their histories and so forth, and forming a conclusion on the tendencies of certain groups to reason correctly/incorrectly. Reason being one of those universally applicable things which applies to all peoples, everywhere, all the time, right? The question still stands if you care to answer it.

2. It's impossible for God not to possess the quality of reason...that is if he exists. Certain things are impossible for God to do, one of which is conferring upon others a quality which he does not possess himself. He can't confer upon us evil, as a broad example.

The question you raise, though, is a great one: Can an omniscient being know all there is to know about something, yet not possess the characteristic himself? The short answer is yes He can. We can get into the longer version if you like. ;)

3. In defining "pure jealousy," we first need to drop the negative connotations usually attributed to the word. I'll offer you something of an odd comparison here, acknowledging of course that my humanity necessarily limits the extent to which the comparison can be said to be a good one...

In His Word, God pronounces himself to be the Father of all humanity. I can identify with that on a human level because I'm a father to my children. He also pronounces himself to be a jealous God. Here again, I can identify because I, as a father to my children, am a jealous father - I'm jealous of my paternity, and of preserving the life, liberty and happiness of the family. It's not that I'm preening over my children all the time trying to catch them violating one of my commands. It's more to the idea that I'm very carefully observing what they're doing in the interest of preserving, as I said, the life, liberty, and happiness of the whole family. If I allow them to indiscriminately violate my direct commands, then I'm effectively contributing to their self-destructive practices, which ultimately will lead to the destruction of the family. Every good father knows that he just can't let that happen; that there has to be certain rules established, and punishments meted out for the violation of them. To me, that is an appropriate kind of jealousy. It's not pure in the sense that God's is pure, or perfect, but you get the point.

As to the dilemma, yes, I would say it is a false one if you intended to exhaust the options in those you offered. I'm not ready to attribute that intent to you though. Taken in context the statement seems to be more of a question than a dogmatic assertion. To bring this down more to a personal and individual level, in the small town nearest me there are two (and only two) convenience stores. One is owned and operated by a family of absolutely great people. The other by a family of, well, people lacking in character we'll say. I do all my trading with the former in purposeful exclusion of the latter. I ain't trying to put the latter out of business, or to destroy the family, however. And I sure ain't attempting to feel morally superior to them by any means. I have my terms, they have theirs, and that's where we part ways. Doesn't that meet with the very simple rules you've laid down for free trade?

Call Me Mom said...

Boy, ya have a cold for a few days and look at what you miss!

Mr. Hargis said: "What about public school teachers? They certainly earn their money, but where does it come from? Does doing business with a public school teacher amount to propping up the public school system, or endorsing it?"
I had my child out of the public school system for 5 years, but I still had to pay taxes. Now that he's in the system and I am entirely dissatisfied with the work they have done, can I get my money back? The public school system does not have to respond to loss of students that same way a business would.
I think that illustrates exactly why making a stand on principle to not support the "legal theft" of our current government is the right thing to do, when one can figure out how to do so, even if it is inconvenient.

On another matter, having failed with The DaVinci Code, look at what the MSM is up to now.
How interesting that they chose to debut this book with it's attendant upcoming Discovery Channel upcoming movie on The Today Show of all places. Another perky morning anchor looking for a serious news job, or just really stupid editors? I'm sure these guys will reap their financial rewards for yet another attempt to make all Christianity look like a fraud. I'm just as sure that I don't want to be standing anywhere near them in a thunderstorm.

michael hargis said...

OK, I see what you're saying. What I meant to say was that adopting a religion didn't automatically reinforce or add to one's reasoning faculties. Nor would it automatically subtract from them either.

Other than that I can only say that given the same set of circumstances, two people who held profoundly different religious views could come to two wildly different conclusions about what was the most reasonable thing to do. Remember, Webster, your argument about how all laws were morally based in the sense that they were all based on someone's idea of right and wrong? I think there's a parallel here.

It seems to me that reason is a mental tool. Reason enables us to observe the present and make limited predictions for the future. An omniscient being already knows everything. You might argue that perfect reason, belonging to God, would allow him to know everything. In that case, it wouldn't really be the thing we call reason, which is for us a learning aid.

I think your analogy regarding jealosy is weak in only one regard: Jealosy is a response to a threat, either real or merely perceived. What could possibly pose a threat to The Almighty?

I would say that your example of the competing convenience stores perfectly fits my idea of free trade.

AH: Please elaborate on Christianity's superior claim on reason.

The Monarchist said...

First, a disclaimer. I'm reading Rodney Stark's The Victory of Reason, which has inspired this line of thinking. His position is a good one, I think. I'll try to do it justice.

The history of Christianity - unlike the history of other religions - is replete with examples of changes in doctrine. One obvious example is the Reformation, of which no parallel exists in other religions.

An example he cites with great detail is why the West embraced what we call "capitalism" which is really free enterprise or the opposite of a command economy. It is because Christian thinkers in the "Dark Ages" (quoted because he takes great care to disprove the common impressions of what most people call the Dark Ages) used reason to discern that prior doctrine wasn't consistent. Prior doctrine wasn't much different from other faiths (and he uses Islam as a contrast) which objected to and had rules against practices such as charging interest.

It was Christian thinkers who reasoned that the heavens were not beings (as the Greeks thought) but parts of God's creation that could be figured out.

His point - and I'm not yet done with the book - is that certain formative aspects of other faiths prohibit the use of reason in discerning truths about God and His creation.

And that's how Christianity has a superior claim on reason. It's not to say that people who practice other faiths are more unreasonable, only that reason has played a greater part in the growth of Christianity (and consequently the advantage in virtually every measure to the West and the free world).


michael hargis said...

OK, that makes sense. You are using "christianity" in a broad, cultural sense, whereas I understood you to mean that the social and economic advances you spoke of came from the church.

I must agree, AH, Christianity has reason on its side.

The Monarchist said...

Sorry I fumbled that and it required so much explanation!

You'd like the book, I strongly recommend it.

I'm a bit under the weather, so I'm off to an early bedtime...


Daniel Webster said...

"In that case, it wouldn't really be the thing we call reason, which is for us a learning aid."

Well, perhaps my second paragraph under that topic will exonerate me a bit? ;) That's an excellent point, I thank you for bringing it to my attention, and I acknowledge the mistake. Reason itself then wouldn't properly be called a direct gift from God then would it. It is the result, or effect of some other gift (rationality?), no?

Regarding my analogy on jealousy, I was trying to convey the message that God's jealousy is not like our jealousy in that it is not, for Him, a response to a threat, real or perceived. For him it is not a "response to" at all, seeing as how he knows everything in advance of it ever happening. I guess it would be for him more of a predetermination.

The answer to the question raised is very naturally what you imply in the way you phrase the question -nothing could possibly pose a threat to the Almighty. His sovereignty can never be threatened anymore than my paternity as to my biological children (to stick to the analogy), can ever be threatened. I am their natural father, and that is all, nothing can ever change that. My paternal authority can, however, be them or by someone else. If that authority is challenged (illegitimately), there is, is there not, the real potential for destroying the family unit -not my paternity, mind you? If God is a perfect, singular, and omniscient being, he would know with perfect assurance, would he not, that He cannot violate his own nature, which is to say, that he cannot not be jealous of his creation; of his own relationship to his creation? Otherwise, when ya use the analogous tool to compare the infinite with the finite, it gets a little tricky, as you well know.

As for the example I used to illustrate the practice of free trade on a very small scale...

Where am I going wrong in transposing the example to a larger scale, and concluding that the United States engages in "free trade" with virtually every nation on the globe? All nations, including the U.S., have their terms. We just can't seem to come to terms with some of 'em. A "free trade agreement" is what, the freeing ourselves of our own terms?

Finally, could you please elaborate on what you mean by the parallels between my argument for the moral basis of laws, and persons with differing religious convictions coming to wildly different conclusions as to what is the reasonable thing to do under a given set of circumstances? And why do you call it my argument? Isn't it a perfectly reasonable argument/a universally applicable truth?

michael hargis said...

The difference is that the government doesn't tell you which stores you can buy from, nor does it try to discourage you from buying from certain stores by artificially raising the prices on their goods with tarriffs and trade restrictions. You are free to buy from whom you please, and for your own reasons.

Archer Daniels Midland wants people to use corn sweetener, so they bribe Congress into passing tarriffs on foreign sugar, making the sugar more expensive than it otherwise would be. It is my position that the government has no business interfering with peaceful voluntary transactions, whether between me and my local Kroger, or between me and a Cuban cigar manufacturer.

Ask yourself two questions. First, does the law benefit one person at the expense of another? ADM benefits through increased sales at the expense of companies who are forced to pay higher prices for corn sweetener than they would have paid for sugar. Second, does the law do for a person that which he could not do for himself without committing a crime? If ADM employees staked out grocery stores all over the nation and physically prevented people from buying sugar, they'd go to jail.

If the answer to either question is yes, then you have an immoral law.

The parallel I spoke of is this: Two people, A and B, both devoutly religious though of differing religions, respond to a perceived instance of oppression. A examines his conscience and becomes politically active in the hopes of effecting peaceable change. B examines his conscience and straps on some dynamite and goes off to murder a dozen school children. We would all consider B to be a monster, but if we grant that he's striving to adhere as best he can to the tenets of his religion, then we also have to grant that he's behaving morally according to the way he views morality.

You argued that all laws are morally based in that they are based on someone's concept of morality. To make the parallel clearer, I would add - "...regardless of how accurate that concept is." In the above example, B believes that he is acting right. He believes he is doing that which his god wants him to do. He believes he is acting morally. The fact that his notions of right and wrong are deranged is irrelevant.

Finally, the statement "God is a jealous god" is meaningless if by "jealous" we don't mean jealous. Truly, that applies to nearly every quality we attribute to the Biblical God. His mercy/compassion/love/jealosy/whatever isn't really what we mean by those terms. It seems to me to be more honest to say "I haven't the foggiest notion what He's like." He's given us a universe that appears to obey certain laws, and mental faculties that enable us to discover those laws and contrive useful ways to improve our lives by that knowledge, so I think it reasonable to say that He is fair and not capricious. Beyond that, who can really say?

michael hargis said...

Allow me to elaborate on an earlier post. I said that Christianity, in its broadest concept, has reason on its side, and I don't now deny that, but I will point out that this rationality was imposed by freethinkers and resisted by orthodox Christianity at every turn.

JWales said...

Quite the discussion here people.

Regarding God being "jealous", this is one of the many translation snafu's in the bible. The bible speaks of God being a "jealous" God in Exodus, Joshua and Nahum I believe. The word translated "jealous" in english is the Hebrew word 'Qanna' or 'Qinah'.

It does not mean "jealous" in the sense our english would mean like resentment, or envious wanting something we cant have.

It does mean zeal, vigilant, intolerant or determined.

Should read more like "God is zealous, God is determined, etc. etc.

The english language does no justice to the scriptures at times.

Regarding Archer Daniels Midland that Mr. Hargis refers to, which he's right on the money with. A once governor of Wisconsin named Tommy Thompson (who is now schmoozing in D.C.) signed into law a mandate for 'reformulated' gas in southeast Wisconsin, "too protect the environment", of course. Well, the only company able to supply Wisconsin with the required fuel was Archer Daniels Midland (imagine that). So, shortly thereafter the governor leaves office and where does he end up?? On the BOARD OF DIRECTORS, for ARCHER DANIELS MIDLAND!!!! What a coincidence!!!!

This is an immoral law.

michael hargis said...

Human language is a poor vehicle for transmitting God's word. Much better to observe what he hath wrought. Only then can His gift of reason be brought to bear.

J., the Bible says that God is a jealous God, and shall have no other gods before Him. That speaks of jealosy as we know it. Your definition of jealousy, in part anyway, as "determined" seems to me to be the antithesis of an omnipotent being. If I am determined to accomplish something, then that implies resistance or defiance. If God is omnipotent, whence resistence or defiance?

Again, what we mean by "determined" doesn't really mean determined, so the claim is meaningless.

JWales said...

Actually Mr.Hargis, it's not the "jealously" as we know it, check the translation from the Hebrew text. (last post).

The Hebrew and Greek are excellent vehicles for transmitting God's Word, they're very precise, unlike english.

Daniel Webster said...

"Human language is a poor vehicle for transmitting God's word."

Huh? As opposed to what, Godly language?, Heavenly language?, Angelic language? If human language is such a poor vehicle for transmitting God's Word, then why is the Bible written in human language? ;) I know, I know...

Hargis, doesn't it seem to you that you're using self-defeating argumentation in the above quote? What I mean to say is that you're implying in the statement that you know enough about God's Word to know that human language is an insufficient vehicle for transmitting it to us. If that's the case, how did you come to this knowledge? In fact, it seems like you're flirting with the idea that you know more about the capabilities of human language than the vehicle itself is able to convey.

Why do you insist that human terms, when applied to God, must have the exact meanings that they have when applied to human beings? It seems to me that the exact opposite is the case; that terms as they apply to finite being must necessarily undergo certain alterations to meaning when the same terms also apply to infinite being. I would suggest that in direct opposition to your assertion, this makes the terms all the more meaningful; that these terms are not as meaningful when we arbitrarily place unnecessary restrictions on them.