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Archive for May, 2006

Sabbatical

Posted by Chance on May 23, 2006

I will be pretty busy the next couple of week with work, so I probably will not be posting a whole lot…if any. Expect to see some postings the first week of June or so.

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Some clarification

Posted by Chance on May 23, 2006

Just to clarify, I do not think Democrats are evil people or anything, and like Josh commented on my last post, ” I think that the majority of both parties means well. They just have different philosophies and methods to their approach. ” I think he is right.

Back to what I was talking about, I am just a little frustrated with the Democratic leadership concerning the Social Security issue. I feel that they have been obstructive when it comes to Bush’s plan, without offering any alternative plan of their own, so when Dan mentioned a lack of definitive voice, it gave me something to jump on. Concerning the issue of school choice, while teacher’s unions undoubtedly play a factor, the conflict with the issue is probably primarily due to differing philosophies.

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The Definitive Voice of the Democrats

Posted by Chance on May 23, 2006

You’ll have to forgive me. I woke up in a cranky mood this morning, and I am just looking to start a fight.

Dan has a post referring to the lead in polls that Democrats currently have, and how he thinks eventually they will squander it. I think he is right. He states

But knowing the Democrats, they’ll mumble and bumble around, fail to come up with a definitive voice that sets them apart from the Republicans, and the races this fall will be closer than they ought to be.

However, I disagree with the statement that the Democrats have no “definitive voice”. Sure they do. It’s called faith in government. Just say no to Social Security Reform. Just say no to School Choice. Democrats say that Republicans do not care about the poor, about helping people out. Sure they do, they just believe in helping out in a way that reforms broken government systems. Bush’s Social Security plan is far from the privatization that libertarians dream of, and it is hardly that revolutionary. Yet the thought of privatization and the free market scares the crap out of Democrats. And to be fair, rightly so, because Democrats believe that such reforms change what Social Security is meant to be. But maybe what Social Security is meant to be is a bad idea. Democrats put their faith in the current system of public schools, Republicans believe in having the money follow the parents. They believe in school choice. Democrats believe in government knows best. Ironically though, the Democrats believe so heavily in the government being involved in so many aspects of our lives, but when it comes to the most important job of government, protecting innocent life, that is when the Dems say the government should step away (“my body, my choice”). Well, not actually step away. They want to ensure that government forces me to pay for an abortion (so much for the idea of not imposing morality on others).

I am not referring to every single person who votes Democrat, or Republican. I am speaking to the overall trend within the parties, with Democrats placing more faith in government, and Republicans putting more faith in people (social security privatization and school choice). Republicans are kind of a compromise between Democrats and libertarians when it comes to government programs. However, in my view, Republicans still put too much faith in government and even betray their principles at times (i.e. regulation of gas prices).

I know this post sounds harsh, and my whole point is not to go Democrat-bashing, because I respect the Democratic Parties concern for the environment and respect for civil liberties. My whole point of the post is to illustrate that Repubs are not all heartless gray-haired white men that care only about keeping more of their money (as opposed to getting more of other people’s money, now there is a noble ideal, just ask your local class warfare type). Republicans and libertarians care about helping people, they just believe in doing so outside of/by reforming existing government systems.

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Ronald Reagan’s opinion on immigration.

Posted by Chance on May 22, 2006

The Opinion Journal takes a look at Ronald Reagan’s quotes concerning immigration.

I don’t have time for any in-depth analysis. However, I tend to agree with President Bush and the late former President Reagan. While I believe in the rule of law, ultimately, I believe in making it easier for those who want to come to America and work.

I admit that I do not know a lot about what’s involved in this immigration issue, and I do not like the idea of people coming here illegally and mooching off government welfare, but I think making it easier to become a citizen, or at least work here, could fix part of that. I don’t know many factors in this issue, and I need to become more educated, but I just want to say right now that Reagan’s vision of America as a “city on a hill” really captures me.

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To see or not to see The Da Vinci Code?

Posted by Chance on May 19, 2006

I don’t know what my plans are concerning this movie. But James Emery White thinks Christians should watch it.

I would also be interested if anyone has an opinion on why Christians should not watch it.

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The Problem with Inequality

Posted by Chance on May 18, 2006

Many on the economic left often mention the increasing financial inequality between the rich and the poor when arguing against certain aspects of capitalism or arguing for higher taxes on the rich. However, I do not believe the difference in income inequality should matter, for several reasons.

Before I list them, however, I want to mention that I believe it is the government’s role to ensure that everyone is equal before the law. Inequality matters when it comes to how people are protected by the law. State employers and state educational institutions should not be able to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, etc… (I am uncertain about the role of the government when it comes to private employers) I do not believe it is the government’s role to ensure some sort of equality when it comes to what people have, and what their resources are.

Here is why I believe the difference between the rich and poor do not matter.

1) Social classes are not stagnant groups. People can move from the poor category to the rich category. When one looks at how the differential between the rich and poor change over time, they are not looking at all the same people in each category.

As Walter Williams states:

Only five percent of families in the bottom income quintile (lowest 20 percent) in 1975 were still there in 1991. Three-quarters of these families had moved into the three highest income quintiles. During the same period, 70 percent of those in the second lowest income quintile moved to a higher quintile, with 25 percent of them moving to the top income quintile. When the Bureau of Census reports, for example, that the poverty rate in 1980 was 15 percent and a decade later still 15 percent, for the most part they are referring to different people. Cox and Alm’s findings were supported by a U.S. Treasury Department study that used an entirely different data base, income tax returns…

So, the question should not be, what’s the difference between a rich and poor person at any given point in time, but how likely is a poor person going to become rich in their lifetime, or even, how likely are their children going to be better off?

2) Wealth is not a zero-sum game in which one person’s gain automatically means another person’s loss. At worst, a person getting richer does not harm the poor (Note: I do not consider selling an item or not paying someone exactly what they want as hurting the poor), and at best, some people gain their wealth by helping the poor. Sam Walton is an example of someone who became wealthy by selling products cheaper. The people who invested in computer companies are becoming wealthier while their products become cheaper, making it easier for the poor to have access to a wealth of information.

3) Ultimately, inequality should not matter. Not that I agree, but better arguments against capitalism and for higher taxes on the rich should focus on people receiving their basic needs. If I was playing devil’s advocate, I would argue for higher taxes or more government control because of the cost of education and health care. Instead of using the argument “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer”, why not say “the poor get poorer”, who cares about the rich? I would argue that government control should ensure that people’s basic needs are met, not that everyone has the same amount of money.

If someone has their basic needs met, it should not matter what other people have. If I have a shack over my head, why does it matter that my neighbor has a palace? If I have a Yugo that runs, why do I care that my neighbor has a Mercedes and a yacht? Why would I care about his house? Why would I care about his wife? Or his manservant or maidservant? Or his ox or donkey? Or, for that matter, anything that belongs to my neighbor?

I am not dismissing all arguments against the conservative/libertarian ideal of capitalism and tax rates. I think arguments concerning the poor themselves should be considered, and the fact that they have basic needs that must be met. Personally, I think the quality of life for all is improved with a more conservative/libertarian ideal, but we that is another topic. The fact that capitalism produces rich people that have their basic needs met, plus some, is unimportant.

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The personhood of the fetus

Posted by Chance on May 18, 2006

I don’t know if I will say anything new in this post, it is just stuff on my mind.

I said in my last post that being pro-life is consistent with believing in freedom. The whole point of bringing in libertarian ideas was to counter the ideas that being pro-life was being anti-freedom. I am not saying one has to support libertarian ideals, I am just saying that even someone who is for the maximum possible amount of freedom (in my view the libertarians), can consistently be a pro-life person.

The argument really hinges on whether someone believes in the personhood of the fetus. The whole idea of freedom is that mine ends where yours begins. So, does someone’s so-called freedom to have an abortion interfere with anyone else’s rights? Of course it does. It interferes with the right of the fetus to exist. But, does the fetus have a right to exist? I believe it does. The Bible supports the personhood of the fetus, namely in Psalm 139:13. However, we as Christians, should we use the Bible as our chief weapon in advancing the pro-life movement, or should we resort to philosophical and scientific arguments? One group, Libertarians for Life, focus on the latter. The group contains some atheists, but has some Christian members as well. However, I belief abortion is a moral issue, and therefore, a spiritual one. I’m a little hesitant to rely on secular arguments. Concerning politics, I think Christians should do what they can to outlaw abortion, while still showing love to those who are considering or have had abortions. But concerning the area of persuasion, should Christians simply focus on showing Christ to other people, and hope God will deal with their hearts concerning the abortion matter, or should we focus on philosophical arguments?

Anyway, I’m about done posting about abortion for now(but will gladly discuss in the comments section). I think my next posts need to be less serious. I could change my mind though.

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More on the pro-life position

Posted by Chance on May 16, 2006

I wrote this in a stream-of-consciousness manner, but I think it still properly spells out my thoughts….

Let me discuss my last posting a little bit. As you can guess, I am adamantly pro-life. I understand that not everyone is. However, some pro-choicers annoy me more than others.

First of all, why am I pro-life? Because, quite simply, I believe a fetus deserves the right to live. Many liberals and libertarians talk about a woman’s right to choose. What is ironic about this is that many times they supposedly use libertarian principles to support their right to choose. However, a libertarian argument is more convincing when an action only directly affects the person engaging in the action. Examples of this would be drug use or the act of prostitution. I am not saying I support the legaliziation of these things, I am saying that when someone states that it is “my body, my choice”, it makes a lot more sense when discussing these types of things. When it comes to abortion, this argument does not really work, because the abortion action ends the life of another being, other than the woman.

But this is where the crux of the argument is. It is not an issue of “civil liberties”. It is an issue of whether or not the fetus deserves the right to live. Either you are pro-life, believing that the fetus has a right to life that should be protected by the government, or you are pro-choice, believing that the fetus should not be protected. It is as simple as that.

I understand that some people do not believe the fetus is a human being. I have more compassion for those people’s arguments than someone who says abortion is especially heinous, yet supports abortion rights anyway. Jimmy Carter says that he does not think Jesus would support abortion, yet still supports the law of the land. I understand that some people simply do not think the fetus deserves the right to live, even though I hate that opinion and adamantly disagree. I hate even more those who go on and on about the horrors of abortion, yet, support it anyway.

I can’t quite get out what I am trying to say. I have many libertarian ideals, but I am not a Libertarian. I am limited government due to my belief in the corrupting nature of power, that the evil things people do when they are free is a better alternative than the evil committed by those in power. I will come out and say it. I think when it comes to debating abortion in the political arena, I think it must be done so on the stage of libertarian politics. Why do I think this? Because abortion is one of the few issues where a liberal will wax libertarian, talking about the right to control one’s own body, and the right to make a decision for themselves on whether abortion is okay or not. Conservatives do not meet this argument head on. I don’t think they really address the liberal’s argument. To a conservative, abortion is wrong, so, quite simply, it should be outlawed. A conservative thinks abortion should be outlawed, but they state the argument in the same manner that they think tattooing should be wrong. I am not saying conservatives see these as the same, but that they use the same argument. They need to say “look, we respect individual liberties of the woman, but we respect even more the right of a fetus to live”, and some do this to some extent.

Here is what I am trying to say. The liberals think that laws against abortion limit personal freedom, and that conservatives are trying to limit personal freedom by passing laws against abortion. I think we need to show that outlawing abortion is still consistent (in reality, a prerequisite for) a society of maximum individual liberty. One must show that individual liberty can still be respected while respecting the life of the fetus, and in fact, that respecting the life of the fetus is necessary in respecting individual liberty for all.

Let me say this again. Pro-lifers need to demonstrate that laws against abortion are compatible with a completely free society (in reality, they must go together, but we must crawl before walking).

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The Law of the Land

Posted by Chance on May 11, 2006

“This was an issue that I had to face when I was campaigning 25 years ago. I have always been against abortion; it’s not possible for me in my own concept of Christ to believe that Jesus would favor abortion. But at the same time, I have supported the Supreme Court ruling of our country as the law of the land. And the present arrangement, whereby a woman is authorized to have an abortion in the first trimester of the pregnancy, or when the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest — these are the things that moderates who have beliefs like mine can accept as the present circumstances in our country. The liberality of abortion is anointed by the laws of our country, including the ultimate ruling of the Supreme Court. ” Jimmy Carter

Other people have said the same thing. Many people claiming to be “against” abortion also argue for the respect of the law of the land. I was watching an interview with Representative Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tennessee) on Hardball with Chris Matthews, and he said something similar to what Carter said above.

This is what I have to say…It’s about time! Its time that we finally respect what the established law of the land is. For too long, we have simply been changing the established law for our own moral reasons, with devastating consequences. I am glad we are finally learning from our mistakes.

Slavery was the law of the land for over 100 years. Ever since the formation of the union, many states affirmed the right of a person to own slaves. The Supreme Court affirmed that a black man was nothing but property. Many people let their Christian convictions get in the way of their respect for the law of the land, what the Supreme Court had decided on in several instances. If only they could have been more moderate in their beliefs, but they had to stick their nose in the rights of other people to own a slave! Then, Lincoln decided to totally disregard the law of the land through the Emancipation Proclamation!

There are other horrendous instances where the law of the land has been completely disregarded when it comes to how one person treats another person. Women’s suffrage totally turned the Constitution upside down! The Civil Rights Act in the 1960s totally disregarded the law of the land.

I’m so glad that people today are more sensible, respecting what the Supreme Court has already decided and putting their Christian convictions on how one person should treat another on a lower tier than the law of the land.

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Is Pride what separates us from God?

Posted by Chance on May 11, 2006

I’ll preface this by saying that I am far from a theological expert; these are just thoughts I have after watching a video.

In our church small group we were watching a video from Abiding Life Ministries. The director, Mike Wells, says many interesting things, and I don’t completely agree with them all, but I think many good things can be extracted from his messages.

He said something of note: “Pride is what sends us to hell…not sin.”

Is this a correct statement? Yes and No. Technically, it is sin (and pride is a sin) that separates us from God. We break one letter of the law, we are deserving of damnation. However, God created a way out for us, and it’s not like a loophole, it’s that the punishment for breaking the law is satisfied through Christ’s death. Mike argued that it is pride that prevents us from accepting Christ. So, I guess it depends how you look at it. It is sin that got us in the mess in the first place, but it is pride that keeps us from accepting the way out. A guy in my small group stated. “It is as if you had a deadly sickness, and you had the pill that would cure you in your pocket, but you refuse to take it. Is it the sickness that kills you, or your refusal to take the pill?” I suppose you could argue either way.

Another thing to note is that pride played a role in original sin, or the fall of man. The typical interpretation of Satan’s rebellion states that it was the pride of Satan that caused the rebellion in heaven, and it was the desire to be like God that caused Adam and Eve to eat the apple in the garden. Now, in the garden, there was also the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh, so pride may not be the source of all of man’s sin.

The point was, that a threat in our spiritual life is not only sin, but our pride. Even if we are “holy” by some standard, we can still give the glory to ourselves, and not to God, which Mike argued was just as bad as sin.

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