29 September 2008

Grand Theft Taxpayer

Mr. Peters gets a great analogy going in his little article. You can read it by clicking the link in the posting title above.

27 September 2008

Symphony of Destruction

The slow motion train wreck that has been going on in Washington D.C. this past week has made my stomach sick.  What are the powers doing to "our" country?  The soundtrack is – Symphony of Destruction (Megadeth).

26 September 2008

A Manmade Disaster

When discussing the problem of evil, philosophers of religion bifurcate evil into two types: natural evil and moral evil.

Natural evil, as the descriptor signifies, is that type of evil that seems to be, as a part of the natural (fallen) world, amoral. Horrible examples of natural evil abound, things like hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, cancer, and so on.

Moral evil, as the descriptor signifies, is that type of evil which (as opposed to natural evil) has a distinctively moral (or immoral) tinge. Horrendous examples of moral evil are things like, theft, rape, murder and torture.

The current “credit crisis” is not a natural evil. The current credit crisis is a moral evil perpetrated against all users of the US dollar.

The proposed solution – the so called “bailout” is another moral evil which will further injure the many while benefiting only a few.

Contrary to the pitiful assertions by Comrade Bush that the free market is “not working,” the Militant Pacifist asserts that the exact opposite is true. The free market is working perfectly. I hesitate to brand “ignorance” as a “lie” (I must remain charitable). The invisible hand of the free market is working just fine!

The free market has made a statement. It has said, I have evaluated the mortgage backed securities and derivative products offered for sale by several major investment banks and I have determined their value to be approximately $0. Hence, I, the free market, offer the princely sum of $0 in exchange for this worthless commercial crap paper.

The proposed “bailout” would come and “re-value” these worthless securities at $700B, or whatever the current number happens to be.

Comrades Paulson and Bernanke would purchase these securities, which the free market has said are worthless ($0) for $700B. The purpose of the purchase would be to “remove this toxic paper from the market.”

But look at what would really happen. Something that the free market values at $0 will be purchased (by force – NOT by an arms-length, free market transaction) for $700B.

In other words $0 worth of value will be removed from the economy, and $700B will be “injected” into the economy.

In a few short months, the money supply will be dramatically increased. The resulting inflation should be obvious. The dramatic increase in the number of dollars circulating in the economy makes each dollar worth less than it was before.

The shirt that used to cost $50, now costs $75. The shirt didn’t actually rise in value – the dollar that’s being used to purchase the shirt actually fell in value – the price of the shirt became “inflated.”

For anyone who has read my ramblings, it should be obvious that I’m a strong proponent of the Austrian School (of economic theory) – but the analysis above doesn’t require that you subscribe to Austrian Economics – it just requires some very basic economic reasoning.

Raising taxes to pay for the “bailout” is not feasible. What will happen is that Comrade Paulson will ask Comrade Bernanke to “authorize” the currency to fund the transaction. The resulting “fiat money” will be “legal tender” for all debts, public or private (i.e., the government will require it to be accepted as payment).

The resulting inflation will effectively tax anyone and everyone who uses the US dollar.

The debasement of a people’s currency is a moral evil which harms people indiscriminately.

Those who commit and support such moral evil are worthy of judgment, and unless they repent, they will certainly be judged.

Alaska paratrooper to get conscientious objector status, discharge

Thank you Holy Father. Thank you!

23 September 2008

The virtue of doing nothing

The recent whining from Comrades Paulson and Bernanke about the necessity of “acting urgently” to bail out irresponsible banks has reminded me of a position that I have come to embrace. I will explain it, and it is controversial, but I don’t think I can be talked out of it.

The position is that there can sometimes be great virtue in doing nothing.

Just because Paulson and Bernanke say something doesn’t really mean that anybody has to do anything.

You see, we could just stand by and “let it crater.” Just because a bunch of folks are screaming, “do something, do something, it’s gonna crater,” doesn’t mean that we have to do anything.

And, “it” might crater, or “it” might not.

But away with Paulson and Bernanke, they merely present a contemporary example of the person who says – “you must act.”

One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that often when someone tells me I have to “do something,” they’re wrong. When they tell me, “you have to decide,” or “you’ve got to choose,” it may not be so. It may be the informal fallacy called “false dilemma.” The fallacy taps into our natural bias for action, but it seems that our natural bias for action is often rooted in emotion rather than wisdom, or rational deliberation.

Now, not all options are good options. When I was a boy and my papa told me to do some certain thing – I had options. I could do what he told me, or I could suffer (my hind-end could suffer).

Christians (as did Christ), learn obedience by the things that they suffer (Hebrews 5:8). So, the idea of obeying God’s commands, or the idea of a child obeying his/her parents is really not what I’m talking about here.

What I’m talking about is most other cases.

In the rock band Rush’s philosophical anthem “Freewill,” Geddy Lee screams, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Though I understand his point, another perspective warrants consideration.

Not choosing is “not choosing.” It is refusing to make a choice. Not choosing is choosing to be passive rather than active. Not choosing is deciding to relinquish the prerogative of choice – with the understanding that something not chosen (something unchosen) may happen.

While such a prospect may be a cause of fear for some, I have come to believe that “not choosing” is often a viable and righteous posture for a Christian.

Imagine that a Christian comes under a violent attack. Many would say that s/he must decide immediately how to respond. This is usually taken to mean that s/he must decide whether to offer resistance (to fight), or to be non-resistant (and maybe to die).

But really…does such a choice have to be made. There seems to be no rational requirement that would force a choice in the moment.

The objector might quote Geddy Lee and say, “well, in such a case, not deciding is the same as deciding.” But such a response is certainly not informed by the Christian worldview. Christianity offers a third way.

In such a situation, might not indecision be the occasion to “stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD (2 Chronicles 20:17)?” In such a situation, might it not be virtuous to “do nothing?”

Contrast this with a naturalistic perspective which would suggest that declining to choose one course of action over another is relinquishing of the human will to power, and when one does such s/he deserves whatever happens to him/her.

Naturalism would suggest that due to the perpetual passage of time, not deciding on a certain course of action may result in something coming about which was not actively chosen – something “random.”

But if one rejects the idea of randomness, is this necessarily a bad thing?

Folks say things like, “you have to do this,” or “you have to do that,” but after many years I have come to realize that I really don’t. Just because someone says that I have to “take action” doesn’t mean that I really do (have to take action).

If the truth be told, all that I have to decide in this moment is - do I take my next breath – or do I pass out.

Realizing this – that I don’t really have to do what it is that someone else says (assuming I’m willing to accept the consequences of inaction) - can be extremely “freeing.”

As I mentioned above, when Comrades Paulson and Bernanke whine about the necessity for quick action to bail out irresponsible banks – that doesn’t really mean that anybody has to do anything. This is not to say that there might be consequences from inaction.

I think I can almost hear the rugged American objection from the “man of action.” “We MUST do something,” he says. But, just because there is an objection, just because you are rugged, or just because you are an individualist, or just because you are an American doesn’t mean you have to do anything

Λόγος can rule Πάθος.

The American business magnate Martha Stewart spent five months in an American gulag because she thought she had to “take action.” Mrs. Stewart was found guilty of “making false statements to federal investigators.” In other words, because she acted (and surely she must have felt that she “had” to act), she ended up being persecuted (i.e., prosecuted).

I’ll bet if she had it to do over again, she wouldn’t say a word to a “federal investigator.” Much better to have a “federal investigator” think you a dumb (speechless) idiot, than to give him the very ammunition he will use against you. Martha’s best course of action would have been to “do nothing.”

Surely, it requires wisdom to know when it is best to “do nothing,” but we often don’t even entertain the idea of “doing nothing.” Maybe we’ve forgotten that it’s an option.

The Militant Pacifist advocates “doing nothing” (i.e., not taking action) only when “doing nothing” has been chosen. This may not require active “choice,” but certainly it requires thought.

Theologians bifurcate sins into, “sins of omission,” and “sins of commission.” To really see “doing nothing” as a live option, a Christian must have thought through the possibility that sometimes – to do nothing would be sinful.

Realizing this highlights the truth that it requires wisdom and discernment to decide to act, or to do nothing.

Next time the pressure is on you to take action, realize that you may just be suffering from your own bias to action, and consider that there is at least a possibility that “doing nothing” might be virtuous.

Take a chill pill, and consider.

22 September 2008

Text of Draft Proposal for Bailout Plan

You can check this out by clicking the link in the posting title above. Of special interest is section 8 regarding review. Section 8 states:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Wow! That sure sounds imperial. No review of your actions. What would that make you? A god?

Your highness(es) Bernanke and Paulson...

Letter to my Congressman and Senators

Following is the letter (e-mail) I sent to my senators and congressman.

Dear __________,

I'm writing to encourage you to oppose the federal "bail out" of several irresponsible investment houses, banks and insurance companies.

It is shocking to me that I'm writing you because the proposed intervention sounds more like something that would happen in the former Soviet Union than in the American republic.

Please oppose this governmental power grab which would interfere with our precious free enterprise system.

Americans have seen the failure of authoritarian centralized decision-making and control in the former Soviet Union, and we want none of that over here.

Thank you,

19 September 2008

King George Demonstrates his Dementia

Strange days indeed...most peculiar mama!

What strange days, what very, very strange days.

King George has lost it, and he's burning the city - pretty music though - Bernanke's on fiddle.

You can read about it by clicking the link in the posting title above.

The king says, "Our system of free enterprise rests on the conviction that the federal government should interfere in the marketplace only when necessary. Given the precarious state of today's financial markets and their vital importance to the daily lives of the American people, government intervention is not only warranted, it is essential."

Well, there you have it. The king says it's necessary. Oh well. The illusion was nice while it lasted. It's not quite the way they told me it was supposed to work back in high school, but I'm sure the king knows what's best.

I sure am glad I serve a real King. If I didn't, it might be distressing to see these barbarians torching the city.

People Lead (Ben Harper)

15 September 2008

B.A.T. (Base Attitude Theory)

The Militant Pacifist thinks that he might have coined a new phrase (maybe not).

The phrase is “base attitude theory,” and the idea came to me [The Militant Pacifist] as I pondered the variety of basic attitudes that people hold towards their governments.

Yesterday, I heard a Chinese Christian describe the current situation for Christians in the People’s Republic of China. He presented a modern history of Christianity in China – a history including rampant suppression and persecution by the Communist government.

During a follow-on discussion, an American Christian interviewer asked the Chinese Christian “do you trust your government?” The Chinese Christian immediately responded, “No!”

The American interviewer followed-up this question with, “well, do you think I should trust my government?” The Chinese Christian seemed perplexed by the question, but after a moment of thought he responded affirmatively, citing the many liberties that American citizens enjoy as ample reason why the American interviewer should trust his government.

I cite the incident above as an example of B.A.T. (base attitude theory). My theory is that the Chinese Christian’s base attitude towards his country’s government was one of distrust (even fear) because of the life experiences that he or others have had with his government. These experiences have shaped his attitude so that his base response to his government is fear and distrust. If you have read anything about Chinese communism’s treatment of Christians – you will appreciate that his base attitude is justified.

Most Americans I encounter have a much more favorable attitude towards their government than does the Chinese Christian. Maybe their more favorable attitude is justified, or maybe they have been more “slickly propagandized” and less intimidated than the Chinese Christian. In any case, it seems that most Americans feel more threatened by Iraqis and Iranians than they do by their own government.

I have never had an “unpleasant” experience with either an Iraqi or an Iranian – but most experiences I have had with my government have been unpleasant [granted, I have never discharged a firearm in the direction of an Iraqi or an Iranian].

I’m trying to live a righteous life, but every time I see a letter in my mailbox with “IRS” on the envelope – my mouth gets dry and my pulse increases. When I see my local militarized police, with their Marine Corps haircuts, “terminator” sunglasses, and combat boots, my stomach jumps and I think, “am I doing anything wrong?”

My base attitude towards my government is distrust, fear and ambivalence. It is the Militant Pacifist’s opinion that this attitude would have been advised, encouraged and commended by the great scientists who started the American political experiment (men like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin).

Christians are not to be rebellious (1 Samuel 15:23). They are even commanded to be subject to certain powers (Romans 13:1-7).

Lest this ramble seem uncharitable (or un-Christian) - the Militant Pacifist often has to remind himself that God commands prayer for government officials - specifically, prayer that they (government officials, principalities and powers) will leave us alone (1 Timothy 2:1-2); And he does ([I do] pray for them).

Sometimes, this seems difficult for me. I doubt it is difficult at all for a Chinese Christian.

But True!

09 September 2008

Thrownness and Faith

Ever since reading Martin Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought in 2003 (required reading for a Critical Theory class), the intersection of psychology and philosophy has remained particularly fascinating to The Militant Pacifist.

One of the Heideggerian concepts that I return to over and over is the idea of thrown-ness (or thrownness). You can research the definition yourself (Heidegger is very difficult to read and understand, and I'm told that he is just as difficult to understand in Deutsch), but my recollection of Heideggerian thrownness comprehends the idea of being “thrown” into existence, or “thrown” into the world (more specifically being thrown into being in the world).

It’s like this. Wherever we are, at this very moment in our lives, with no exceptions, is where we have been thrown. For Heidegger, it is really not necessary to figure out who threw us, or why we have been thrown, or towards what or where we are being thrown. Most of us (if we think) spend an inordinate amount of intellectual energy on those distractions. The key to thrownness is not really about that; it is that we have been thrown, and that we can attend to (focus on) our thrownness. We can be conscious of it and contemplate it.

Think of it like this (this is the way I think of it). On a certain day in the 1960’s, I enter the realm of the born; I am “thrown” into existence. Because of a series of historico-political events, with which I had nothing to do, I enter the realm of the born in a certain socio-political entity (a nation-state) that calls itself the United States of America.

Stop here for a minute.

Does any of this seem right so far? It does to me. Does it seem to make the idea of “free will” in any ultimate sense – an archaic idea? I mean, if you are “thrown” into existence in a place that you certainly did not choose – and your parents send you to a school that you certainly did not choose – and things happen to you frequently over which you (seemingly) exercise no control – does this not make the idea of free will loose its desirability as a topic for extended discussion.

It certainly does to me. Currently, I consider myself a compatibilist (but then, maybe I haven’t understood all the arguments).

With the idea of thrownness in mind, one of the great things about being a Christian, and stopping to think now and then, is understanding (by the understanding of faith, Hebrews 11:3) that I know my “thrower” and He is good.

Though I’m thrown, I’m not randomly falling (though it may feel like it). My trajectory has been planned and is currently being executed with extreme precision – in fact, at this very moment – I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

And so, as funny as it sounds, to some degree – I become comfortable with the feeling of falling.

What sheer terror it must be, not to know the thrower.

07 September 2008

Pirates and Emperors

I've added this to the "Links" sidebar, but if you haven't seen it, click on the link in the posting title above.

Satire, and "reductio ad absurdum" argumentation are some of the best ways to "attack" statists (those who subscribe to the idea of the "necessity of a state").

Bad ideas are never ending - but what is amazing is that so many refuse to reject bad ideas.

05 September 2008

Patience - the Key to Obedience

"The key to the obedience of God’s people is not their effectiveness but their patience. The triumph of the right is assured not by the might that comes to the aid of the right, which is of course the justification of the use of violence and the other kinds of power in every human conflict; the triumph of the right, although it is assured, is sure because of the power of the resurrection and not because of any calculation of causes and effects, nor because of the inherently greater strength of the good guys. The relationship between the obedience of God’s people and the triumph of God’s cause is not a relationship of cause and effect but one of cross and resurrection." The Politics of Jesus, John Howard Yoder

03 September 2008

What Belongs to Caesar?

You can read a very interesting book review/critique by clicking the link in the posting title above.

01 September 2008

Labor of Love

Labor day (in the USA) is a national holiday which is "a day off for the worker," and symbolically, the end of summer. It is also a great time to share some love (barbeque) with friends.

You definitely need some:

As you can see, the Militant Pacifist makes his own!

After "dry basting" the pork spareribs over night, in they go:

Yep, those are some jalapenos. Since I'm making smoke, I might as well make chipotle! Then, 4 or 5 hours of this...

It's best to be a "spiritual" Israelite, cause pig is GOOD!