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Archive for March, 2006

I hope George Mason wins it all.

Posted by Chance on March 31, 2006

George Mason University, Much More Than Basketball by Radley Balko at the Cato Institute.

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Am I a libertarian?

Posted by Chance on March 30, 2006

The truth is, I just do not know. I don’t think I would be a big ‘L’ libertarian, and I don’t think I fit the requirements as put forth by David Nolan, the founder of the Libertarian Party. Many of the libertarian ideals I have… it is not so much an issue of “the government doesn’t have the right to tell me what to do”, or, “I own my own body” as my libertarians say. Some of the philosophical elements of the Libertarian Part could be incompatible with Christianity, as they insist self-ownership, ideas that the Bible directly refutes.

However, I have many ideas that are shared by libertarians, simply because I believe in a limited government. I try not to make it an issue of my rights, but simply an issue of avoiding centralized power. As Lord Acton said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” which may not be a verbatim quote. Man is inherently sinful, therefore, I believe in giving Man less power over another Man. Power corrupts. I am not completely pleased with how the Republican Party has been conducting themselves. They said for years they wanted small government, while, of course, the Democrats were in control. Now they are in power, and the size of government is increasing at an alarming rate. Many people want a large government to help the poor, but a large bureaucracy is not the friend of the poor. Many Christians want to feed the government more and more power, but government is not the friend of Christianity in many cases.

Basically, my libertarian ideas are these: Allow citizens the right to defend themselves, allow for freedom of speech, but limit it in the public domain (i.e. no pornographic billboards, limit content on public airwaves), minimal regulations for businesses on every government level to make it easier for people to make a living, abolish minimum wage and social security (God expects the ants to store up for winter, why not us?), reduced taxes, among many others.

While I am more conservative than many libertarians when it comes to social issues, I am against using taxation to produce “beneficial behaviors.” What I am referring to is: I am against tax on fast foods, cigarettes, or beer. If beer is legal on weekdays, it should be legal on Sundays too. If legislating morality, at least be consistent, having different laws on different days is just hypocritical. Allow tattoo parlors. Even Christians do not have agreement on this issue, so just let the individual decide.

Also, I am against any corporate welfare. Do not fund stadiums through taxes. Multi-millionaires can make their additional millions without help from the taxpayers. Do not subsidize farmers. Both groups can make money like the rest of us: produce a product that we are willing to pay for in the free market.

I am against using taxation to encourage economic incentives. I got a tax break for moving 1000 miles for a different job. I made the decision because it was financially viable for me. I do not need the IRS prodding me to make favorable financial decisions. If it was not financially favorable, I would not have moved. I have no issues with getting a tax deduction because of moving expenses, but to get a type of credit simply for moving to a different job is a little absurd. Let individuals make financial decisions that is best for them.

I am for a simpler tax code. I have no idea what, but less and fewer taxes would be a good start, and without a huge bureaucracy, this would be much easier.

I could be off on this…but I believe the free market is a sufficient means to conserve natural resources. Society wants people to cut back on gas and drive less, or drive more fuel efficient cars, yet they complain when gas prices go up. Hello? Won’t hire prices cause people to cut back and drive less? When supply goes down for oil, prices go up. When prices go up, people will be motivated to carpool, have more fuel efficient cars, avoid casual trips to the supermarket, etc… People seem to have no problem with higher gas taxes, but if the company raises prices, oh no! The government makes more on gas than oil companies do on profit. As far as when the oil runs out, again, this will happen slower, I believe, if the free market is allowed to raise prices with decreasing supply. I would hope oil companies would be smart enough to research alternatives fuels, and I think the fact that they do not want to go bankrupt is enough to motivate them.

I believe the best way to help the poor is through what the Democrats snidely call “trickle-down economics.” Yes, that’s right. I prefer job creation and investments spurred by tax cuts to help the poor, rather than simply giving the money to them. I believe in making it easier for businesses to function, without red-tape, so that there are more jobs.

Most libertarians would disagree with me on this, but I have no issues with a temporary welfare system for those who cannot make it on their own. Concerning welfare and the poor as a whole…I believe strongly in private charity. Here is why:
1) private charity is much more efficient than government bureaucracy, and private charity coupled with only minimal gov’t programs, I believe, is sufficient to help the poor.
2) government is inherently secular, the church is not. I believe that when government becomes more powerful, and becomes the agent of change in our society, that muscles out the church. Jesus focused very strongly on people’s physical needs, but when government takes over as a caregiver to the poor and needy, the church loses its power. I believe government programs rob the church of its purpose. Also, government simply dishes out money. The church can minister to people’s spiritual needs while providing for the physical. Now, many may say that with the government, there is a guarantee of welfare, with private charity, there is not. I personally believe that charity given voluntarily, out of love and compassion, can make much more difference than a government program.

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About the saddest thing I have ever heard: Yale considering admitting a former Taliban member.

Posted by Chance on March 30, 2006

Link to article Here.

I have nothing to say, really.

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Persecution Complex, Perhaps?

Posted by Chance on March 28, 2006

Sometimes, when we are critical of a certain person, administration, or belief system, we tend to attack not that particular thing, but rather, a caricature of it. We, at times, have a tendency to demonize someone or something we disagree with, and ascribe to it characteristics that are not actually there.

My first example has to do with the American liberals attack of the Bush administration. Now, I am not saying no one can disagree with the Bush administration, there are things I disagree with, though these are typically different issues than those raised by liberals.

Some liberals, especially those in the entertainment industry, characterize the Bush administration as an evil empire crushing all those who dissent. They have this idea that the Bush administration punishes those who disagree with its policies.

Case in point, from the lyrics of the Green Day song, Holiday,
“Zieg Heil to the president gasman
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel towers
Who criticize your government
Bang bang goes the broken glass and
Kill all the fags that don’t agree
Trials by fire, setting fire
Is not a way that’s meant for me
Just cause, just cause, because we’re outlaws yeah!”

Now, I was not aware that the U.S. was planning to take military action against any nation simply for disagreeing with it. Now, sure, I understand many disagree with the Iraq war. Many countries, including France, do not support the U.S. operation in Iraq, and these countries have been criticized by our government officials. But since when has this criticism turned into military action? I realize the song is meant to be an exaggeration, but its supposed to be an exaggeration of an idea that is already there. There is always the guy driving around with the bumper sticker “Invade France”, but this is hardly representative of the feelings of the current administration. Our leaders have had hard feelings towards countries like France, but I have had no indication that these feelings are hostile.

Another case in point is an episode of the Simpsons called the Bart-Mangled Banner Episode #FABF17 in which “the Simpson family becomes portrayed as unpatriotic and un-American, getting them thrown into “re-education” therapy, where they escape and migrate to France.” (quoted from snpp.com) In this episode, the Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore get thrown in jail for disagreeing with America. Since when did these celebrities get in trouble with the law for their viewpoints?

Now, part of the problem seems to lie in that people confuse government sanctions with social sanctions. Radio stations stopped playing Dixie Chicks songs, people protested their comments about Bush, etc… but these were individuals or groups speaking their disagreement, not government sanctions. The Dixie Chicks were not censored by the FCC, at least not to my knowledge, it was radio stations exercising their right to play the music they want to play. Half of America hated Michael Moore for his “Farenheit 911” movie, but these were citizens expressing their own dissent, not the government taking action against his movie. Sure, some politicians lambasted the film, but a politician saying that they disagree with the movie, or even that it is unpatriotic, does not equal the “crushing of opposing viewpoints.” How did popular disagreement with these celebrities equal the government throwing people in jail? I thought the Simpsons writers were smarter than this.

During the Iraqi War, I heard so many columnists talk about how they are being “silenced.” Hollywood celebrities would talk about how there was this fear among their circles of speaking out against the war. How so? Now, citizens and politicians may have deemed opponents to the Iraq War as “unpatriotic”, which is, I admit, unfair, but this does not equal the silencing of their viewpoints. When I say I disagree with the minimum wage, people may call me a heartless <>, and while I disagree with name calling based on opinions, I do not think such critics are trying to silence me.

My point is, people are ascribing characteristics to the Bush administration that I do not believe are there. Liberals in the entertainment industry are always talking about how they are being silenced, but they are confusing social sanctions with government sanctions, and they are attacking a characterization of the administration. Maybe I am just naive, but I am not aware of this country taking a large-scale police action or military action against those who disagree.

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Why the minimum wage may not be such a good idea

Posted by Chance on March 28, 2006

A friend of mine is trying to get a job with the company I work for. My friend has an advantage, because he is asking for a lower wage than some of the other guys. The other guys are more experienced, more senior, but they demand a higher wage, but because my friend can set his wage, he has a chance against people that are more experienced.

My friend has some experience, and a bachelor’s degree, so if he does not get this job, he will be able to find something else. Less skilled workers do not have quite the same advantage. Consider the jobs low on the totem-pole, the ones receiving at or near minimum wage. I believe that by setting a minimum wage, it makes it harder for lower skilled workers to get a job, because they cannot negotiate for a lower wage, like my friend can. Glen Dean says this: “Let me ask you all a simple question. Do you know anybody, other than a teenager or college kid, that works for minimum wage? And if the Dairy Queen is able to hire four of these kids at $5.15 an hour, how many do you think they will be able to employ at $6.15?”

The point is, companies that hire workers with little or no skills will try to keep things at the same cost. If the minimum wage goes up, they will hire fewer workers, or they will try to go another route, maybe something along the lines of the self-checkout at grocery stores.

It’s not that I want the working poor to receive less money, I just think those with fewer skills are disadvantaged even more when they have less power to negotiate their wages. If a law was passed that people with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering had to make at least 80K a year, companies would be far less willing to hire a starting engineer, making it harder for the new engineer to get a job, and for them to even develop job skills.

I personally believe that transactions, including an employment transaction, should be based on a mutual agreement between two parties. The unskilled worker has few bargaining chips as it is, why take the salary bargaining chip away?

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Never have enough time…Thoughts for the day

Posted by Chance on March 24, 2006

I never have enough time to post all the things that I want to. I was thinking, for today…What is the best strategy for those who are pro-life? There is no question that I believe that we should vote for pro-life politicians and pro-life related issues, but what about when it comes to persuasion. For us Christians, should we focus on the Christian aspect, trying to be good witnesses to other people. Should we hope that by spreading the gospel and through Christian teaching, that we will change the hearts of those who are pro-choice?

Or should we meet the pro-choice liberals where they are at? Should we focus on logical arguments to win the war against abortion? Should we focus on concepts such as biology, philosophy, and freedom, and argue against the so-called “right” to an abortion.

Part of me thinks that the only way to change minds is through changed hearts. This is what happened to Norma McCorvey, who was Jane Roe in the monumental Roe vs. Wade. She accepted Christ and is now a campaigner for the lives of unborn babies. Another part of me thinks the only way is through logic, you have to meet them where they are at. They don’t want to listen to Christianity, but maybe they will listen to reason. Maybe its a little bit of both.

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Government funding of Faith Based Initiatives: Why I am against it

Posted by Chance on March 22, 2006

When it comes to church and state, I do not fall back on the “separation of church and state” clause that does not exist in the Constitution, I typically like to go back to the 1st amendment itself, which argues against laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion, as well as establishing a religion. Does Government Funding of Faith Based Initiatives violate this? To me, that question is irrelevant.

Gov’t funding of faith based initiatives is a bad idea. Not to protect government from religion, but the other way around. I respect President Bush as a person and a leader, but I think he is wrong on this one. He has argued in the past that he has found that faith-based initiatives typically get the job done better than government programs, which I believe is true. However, by turning faith-based initiatives into government programs, isn’t that defeating the whole value of faith-based initiatives in the first place. Besides being inspired by charitable values, many times Christian, perhaps these initiatives are effective because they are not, in fact, government programs.

Michael Tanner, a scholar of the Cato Institute argues in Corrupting Charity: Why Government Should Not Fund Faith-Based Charities that “Government dollars come with strings attached and raise serious questions about the separation of church and state. Charities that accept government funds could find themselves overwhelmed with paperwork and subject to a host of federal regulations. The potential for government meddling is tremendous, and, even if regulatory authority is not abused, regulation will require a redirection of scarce resources from charitable activities to administrative functions. Officials of faith-based charities may end up spending more time reading the Federal Register than the Bible.”

One example of this is in the hiring and firing of employees. Typically, a private charity, to my knowledge, can hire people based on their religious affiliation, which makes sense. A Christian charity would not want to hire someone who disagrees with their mission. However, once government funds are directed to this charity, people have argued that hiring should not be discriminatory on the basis of religious beliefs. A case was brought against the Salvation Army, which the Salvation Army won, but it will not likely be the last lawsuit of this kind.

Glen Dean, when arguing why Christians should be libertarians, has this to say:
“Most people do not realize why the framers sought to separate government from religion. It wasn’t because they feared that religion would harm government, as most modern liberals seem to think. The founders actually wanted to protect religion from government. Government is not the friend of religion.”

I think he is right. Christians on both sides of the spectrum think that government is their best friend. But one does not necessarily have to be a Christian libertarian to view the government with a certain suspicion. The government that is imbued with the power to enforce Christian ideals can also do just the opposite. While I would not mind that some of my dollars go to Christian charities, I do not want them going to organizations that promote anti-Christian ideals either.

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