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Why I’m not a liberal

Posted by Chance on August 2, 2015

I plan on doing a series of posts, why I’m not a liberal, why I’m not a moderate, and why I’m not 100% conservative, and finally, why I’m a libertarian.  I just don’t want people to think I’m picking on the liberals.

There are many reasons I’m not liberal, but I wanted to focus on two.  Liberals, when it comes to social issues, really aren’t that liberal.  When it comes to economic issues, liberal philosophy is either based on, or at the very least encourages, envy.

Concerning social issues, in many ways, liberals are like the Puritans of early America or, in some ways, the confederacy.  Many argue that the Puritans did not really want freedom of religion for everyone, they really just wanted it for themselves.  Similarly, some argue that the southern states pre-Civil War didn’t really want states rights, they wanted rights for themselves to own slaves.  They thought every state should have slavery.

I see the same thing today with liberal philosophy.  What turned me off of liberalism in college was the idea of politically correct speech.  The liberal attitude toward speech was protecting people from being offended rather than supporting people’s right to offend.  Today, many of the liberal persuasion are as judgmental of those believing or behaving differently than how they think people should live, for example, family size (the Duggars) and health lifestyle choices (trans-fat bans).  The idea that self-righteousness and judgmentalism are exclusive to the “religious right” is flat out wrong.

Also, liberals beliefs in positive rights come into conflict with negative rights.  They support abortion rights, and they think others should be forced to accommodate that, via workplace insurance or simply forcing doctors to perform abortions.  They support gay marriage and they believe others should be forced to celebrate that.  In my view, forcing others to do things against their conscience is the opposite of liberal.  This isn’t to rail against liberal philosophy (although I am staunchly pro-life), it’s that modern liberal philosophy is not that liberal to begin with.

My other, main issue, is the philosophy that impacts primarily economics, but other areas as well.  It’s the idea of comparison and the idea that wealth is a fixed pie.  If I hear liberal politicians and talking heads, I’m supposed to be concerned with how much money the CEO of my company is making, and how big my neighbors house is.  Here we are, in the richest nation of the world, of all time, and we are supposed to be concerned with what someone wealthier than us has.  I’ve blogged about this before.  We are concerned with the “top 1%” of America in wealth, when really, anyone making $35,000 annually is the top 1% of the world.  Look, this doesn’t automatically negate the point that liberals make, but I do have problems with envying or hating on the wealthy when most of us are wealthy in a global sense as well.

Part of this belief comes from the idea of wealth as a fixed pie, that if my CEO makes millions of dollars that’s less money for me.  But the whole reason I have a job is him or people like him starting companies. And, whenever I make a transaction, the person I made the transaction with and myself are better off, otherwise we wouldn’t make the transaction.  Yes, we live in a more advanced version of the trade and bartering system, but at it’s core, that’s what we are doing.  A couple of centuries ago, many of us were planting crops and hunting for food.  Now, most of us have smartphones.

So, liberal social philosophy is, in some ways, not liberal enough for me.  And, I refuse to arbitrarily set moral standards on wealth that makes me look good and everyone above me look bad.

 

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Posted in Philosophy, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Credit cards and alcohol

Posted by Chance on August 23, 2011

Dave Ramsey has a lot of good financial advise.  However, he does not believe in credit card usage whatsoever.  Now, looking at his article he makes a lot of good points, and I can’t disagree with most of them them. I do believe it is possible to use a credit card, reap the benefits, and pay the balance off.  That being said, I do agree with his point about “When you pay cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards.”

However, my pastor said something yesterday that was quite wise.  Christianity is about principles, not rules.  When you focus on following rules and not principles, you can miss out on following the voice of God. I feel that by saying “credit cards are prohibited”, it amounts to legalism.

Also, the arguments I’ve heard against credit cards seem familiar.  “Credit cards destroy people and families.  So many people use them irresponsibly.  People can’t handle credit cards”.  These sound very similar to arguments against alcohol.  Some Christian denominations believe in abstinence altogether.

I do believe abstinence from both can be a very wise decision for many people.  Unfortunately many people cannot handle either and end up harming their lives.  But I believe a key principle in the Christian walk is that of discernment and hearing God’s voice.  My pastor said it well.  “People want rules, they don’t want to listen for God’s voice.”

I’m not saying that is why Dave Ramsey is saying to not use credit cards, or that he is suffering from legalism, or anything like that.  And after reading the article I want to evaluate how I use credit cards.  But the philosophy of  “never use them, never ever” is not one I agree with, and doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

Posted in Christianity, Philosophy | 4 Comments »

The most elitest quote I have ever heard

Posted by Chance on November 11, 2006

This quote was on my personalized Google Home Page today.

“To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level. – Bertrand Russell”

This quote bothers me for several reasons.

For one, Bertrand Russell was a philosopher and mathematician, who happened to be an atheist (not really anything to do with my comments here). No doubt Russell thinks he is one of the fortunate few who had attained the level of intellectual pursuits, thereby saving civilization.

Secondly, judging what other people do in their pastime is one of the most common, yet most excused forms of snobbery. It is the person attending the opera wondering how the poor brute can pass his Saturdays watching football. (By the way, my brother-in-law is a fan of opera, this is no remark against him; he is one of the most down to earth people I know). It is the person who quotes a few lines of Frost and just assumes everyone knows what he is talking about.

Do not get me wrong, more intellectual pursuits in one’s pastime is valuable. It is important to have a hobby in which gratification is not immediate, in which you have to work a little for it. One’s life will be truly richer if they read an occasional book instead of watching TV all the time.

I was just annoyed with the way Russell worded his comment. One should pursue certain things to enrich their lives and quit worrying about how others spend their time.

Posted in Philosophy | Leave a Comment »

Some basic philosophies in a nutshell…

Posted by Chance on October 20, 2006

I’ve spoken plenty on political topics throughout this blog. I have actually not been that involved recently in politics – not that I am actively involved, but I mean involved as in reading on political topics or actively thinking through various problems of a political nature. I wouldn’t say I have lost a passion for political issues, but they haven’t been the main thoughts of the day. I think to some degree, this has allowed me to step back and look at things in a gut level sort of way. I feel the desire to express some of my basic philosophies, not so much in political or philosophical terms, but more in a down-to-the-roots manner.

1. In general, people should have to pay for stuff. I don’t think things should be free. I’m not entitled to anything, whether it is the song I download, the software I use, the books I read, the food I eat, etc… Most everything I have is something somebody else provided. I’m not saying to abolish welfare, but welfare should be temporary for those who can feed themselves.

2. Government is not the answer to people’s problems. I believe the government should have as minimal a role in our lives as possible. Government is not some agent of God to make our lives better in any way. The more room government has, the less room for family and church. The transformation of a society can only be done through voluntary actions. We have learned this lesson with religion, you cannot force people to have a certain faith. In the same way, actions done through force cannot accomplish great change in our society.

3. Freedom is accomplished through negative rights, not positive. Positive rights will always come into conflict. The right to certain goods or services will conflict with the rights of the person providing it. The right to a microphone will conflict with the rights of the person providing that microphone. Freedom of speech means the government cannot interfere with my right to speak, it does not guarantee that someone provides the resources for me to be heard; doing so conflicts with the right of someone else not to support speech they do not like. Radio stations refusing to play the Dixie Chicks is not censorship. I touched on this before, but drug stores not carrying birth control is not an infringement on my freedom. Me demanding that they provide birth control is an infringement on theirs. A society truly respectful of others’ rights will not have people insist that others accomodate their lifestyle.

That’s about it for now. I’m sure there’s more.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics | 5 Comments »

Capitalism, Hooray!!! Materialism, Boo!!!

Posted by Chance on August 14, 2006

On a previous post, Michael stated this about the tyranny of the market.

Here is some of what I have in mind about the tyranny of the market: 1)How often do successful businesspeople have to uproot families and move in order to get ahead in a company? This is probably less thanks to telecommuting, but it is still huge. 2) The role of advertising, something not forseen by Adam Smith. (I insist that all supposed free market folk actually READ the Wealth of Nations. Why is it that, I, a democratic socialist, seem to know the foundational text of modern capitalism better than most capitalists?) Advertising creates “needs” for things that no one needs. In fact, people who use propaganda for political or war purposes, study advertising. 3)Unfettered market forces can never appreciate anything for itself, just for its market value–thus any virgin forest is a potential tree farm. Any mountain valued only for whatever minerals can be mined from its depths–even at the cost of the mountain itself. Any work of art is only valued for its sales value. 4) Unfettered market forces are acidic to relationships. After teaching us all day every day that humans are no more than “rational self-interested consumers” (Friedman), we come even to view spouse and children this way. (E.g., the trophy wife) When they are no longer useful to our individual advancement, we leave for other market-driven relationships. Even supporters of capitalism often admit that it is the biggest macro cause of family disintegration. (Although about more than just laissez fair capitalism, Marshall Berman’s _All That is Solid Melts Into Air_ speaks strongly to this.)

Then there is the way the market replaces wisdom with mere technical knowledge, so that if something CAN be built, it suddenly must be built, mass produced, and sold–no matter how unwise this would be. Conservatives rail against things like in vitro fertilzation (with some justification), but its rationale comes from the free market ideology’s affect on science: Conception, pregnancy, and birth are now marketable items. Surrogate motherhood is the same thing.

I could keep multiplying examples. We have to have markets. They are efficient distributors of necessary goods and services. Command economies such as in the old USSR don’t work and take great tyranny to even come close. But market forces by themselves are equally tyrannical. We must govern markets rather than let them govern us.

That may take individual wisdom, counter-consumerist education and values in churches, etc.–individual morality, as you say. But it will also collective curbs on the power of the markets.

The alliance of social conservatives, including most conservative Christians, with free market fundamentalists, is ironic–because NOTHING destroys the values that social conservatives love faster than unfettered market forces.

Wow, very concise and thoughtful statement on negative aspects of the market. His comment led me to make the post. Now, by doing this, I am not saying “You’re wrong and here’s why!” It is just that comments inspire posts, and by addressing them, my purpose is not to point out what’s wrong with their comments, but it is thoughts inspired by their comments.

Michael is right on many things here. Our society is individualistic (my words, not necessarily his). The idea of mutual exchanges and benefits are great when it comes to the markets. It is a bad way to approach life. The whole goal of Christianity is not to get tit for tat, but to give of ourselves unselfishly. We can start to see everything in selfish terms; what value is it to us? Whether it be our wife, children, friends…

Furthermore, capitalism can destroy relationships. How many men (and some women) work so hard to provide for their families, and in the process, neglect their families? How many people neglect their relationship with God to pursue the almighty dollar?

The comment about destroying mountains or forests for its economical value is a valid point as well. Some people believe that capitalism, while exploiting nature for resources, still favors the preservation of some nature. Whether or not that is true is the topic for another day. If this is not the case, then I think government has a valid role in preserving land, such as mountains or certain forests.

Michael did rightly call me on not reading the The Wealth of Nations, even though I don’t think he was addressing me directly. I have not read it, but I will put it on my list. I typically don’t use him as a source, since I don’t like the way he phrases things (“each pursuing our own rational self-interests”), for reasons beyond the scope here.

Advertising does produce an atmosphere of commercialism. Heck, it taints one of the most important holiday of the year (I would say Easter is on par with Christmas in terms of significance). Yes, we would probably be inclined to buy less stuff if people weren’t showing us shiny new things on TV. While some early capitalists may have not foreseen advertising, I think they would have seen it as an extension of salesmanship.

In a previous post, I expressed my concerns about capitalism, for some of the reasons mentioned above, and what Michael mentioned. After all, the idea behind capitalism is that if everyone pursues their own self-interests, the world will run smoothly.

I like to look at it a different way. To me, capitalism is essentially economic liberty. In a sense, a free market allows us to be greedy or to be charitable. Michael refers to the market as tyrannical, but I see it as people being tyrannical under a freer system. Under our economic system, we have seen much greed. At the same time though, our economic system produces a large amount of wealth. This wealth allows those who happen to be generous and wealthy to do a large amount of good. During the tsunami around the 2003/2004 crossover, the individual giving from the U.S. outweighed the U.S. government giving.

It is a similar situation with any other freedoms. I could go on countless hours talking about the things permissible under freedom of speech. There are things produced that directly blaspheme God, and blaspheme his creation. The beauty that is a Woman is being prostituted everyday, for one. I could go into countless other things.

Also, I believe that other economic systems have problems as well. I realize that critics of “unfettered market forces” do not believe in an outright rejection of capitalism, but I am just showing how different systems each have their own problems.

Capitalism can lead to reliance on self, other than God. Socialism can lead to reliance on government, rather than God. Abuse of capitalism leads to disintegration of the family structure. So does the European way. Dr. Morse of the Acton Institute notes

In addition to the high tax rates necessary to fund the social benefits, the labor regulations impose heavy costs on the young. Most European countries regulate wages and hours, requiring relatively high wages and mandating relatively low working hours. The European social model also requires employers to provide generous benefits such as health care, paid vacations, paid parental leave and the like.

These regulations and mandates have a negative impact on young workers by increasing the employers’ cost of hiring workers. The productivity of a skilled, experienced worker can justify this generous compensation package. But a young person, just starting out, may not produce enough to pay for the minimum required wage, much less the entire compensation package including health care, and paid time off. The result is that the young and the unskilled are less employable.

The high unemployment rate contributes to the delaying of marriage and child-bearing.
[…]
The system excludes those who are not skilled enough to be economically productive. But everyone begins their lives being not very economically productive. In practice, this means that the young are kept out of the labor market precisely at the time they are most biologically suited to begin forming families. It also means that those who are intrinsically poor, due to disability or low intelligence, are also excluded from participation in the labor market.

The welfare state has also contributed to the marginalization of marriage. Living with parents is not conducive to starting a family.
[…]

But this is not the only impact of the social assistance state on fertility and marriage. The life-time assistance of the state displaces the economic function of the family. The elderly don’t need adult children to support them in their old age. Women don’t need a husband to support them if they do have a child. Husbands become a nuisance, because the government will provide financial benefits without the inevitable difficulties of dealing with a flawed human being as a partner. In this environment, children become consumption goods, an optional life-style appendage to acquire only if one happens to enjoys children.

These economic subsidies to child-bearing have failed because they are attempting to replace the father. But economic security offered by taxpayers cannot replace the deeper support that a lifelong marriage can provide a woman and her children.

[…]
The social model has failed even in the cultural and social arena. For marriage is now considered optional for childbearing. Couples have a child first, see whether their relationship works, and then, perhaps, get married after the birth of their second child. High levels of social assistance make this casual attitude toward marriage possible.
[…]
Needless to say, a genuinely Christian social model would not have allowed itself to become so muddled about the meaning of something so basic as marriage. The combination of secularism, which discourages people from seeking meanings deeper than the material, and socialism, which attempts to satisfy the merely material needs, has led to this wide-spread social confusion.

This piece is not intended to convince anyone of anything, it is just primarily for myself. I’m sure anyone could blow holes on things that I say. I do not believe in materialism or commercialism, and I do not thing that idea of a “mutual exchange” is something that should be carried into other areas of life. Essentially, I believe in freedom, and I believe that capitalism is economic freedom. At the foundation of the free market are free exchanges. Is this post the best defense of such a system? I doubt it. For right now, I believe in freedom. I may come to find out that I am placing much to emphasis on freedom, that there should be more of a balance between security and freedom. Who said freedom is the highest goal? Right now, I do not know any better.

Now, that is not to say that capitalism should be completely laissez-faire. But I do believe in the idea of a mutual agreement between two parties to exchange goods or services. Should this be regulated somewhat to avoid potential abuses? Yes, to some extent. Just like freedom of speech is regulated to some extent. After all, you cannot yell “Fire!” in a crowded building.

Finally, as a compromise, I believe we can have a free market and still have a basic welfare system. If someone cannot afford a loaf of bread, I think it is better to have a welfare system that provides the money for the loaf of bread, rather than regulate the price of bread.

Posted in Philosophy | 2 Comments »

The motivation behind limited government

Posted by Chance on August 2, 2006

I believe that politics and public policy has a certain duality to it. I like to call this a philosophical/empirical duality. That is, the validity of a philosophy of a certain political action will determine how effective that policy is. In other words, policies that are philosophically good, or sound, or whatever word you want to use, will also be very effective. Policies based on bad philosophies will end up being a disaster.

This could work two different ways. Look for programs, or lack thereof, that have worked in the past, and base other programs on them. At the same time, make sure that policies are ethical, that have moral means as well as ends. The morality of certain policies has been questionable, but they have been implemented anyway because they have been seen as a quick fix to a problem, but end up being disastrous later.

In an earlier post, I stated that libertarians and small gov’t conservatives should focus not on the morality of redistributing money, but on whether doing so is even effective. One thing that I believe the Cato Institute does effectively is argue small government ideals from a practical perspective, arguing that more government programs do more harm than good.

When I first delved into limited government ideals, I was, at the same time, reading the book Atlas Shrugged. This book is in a way, a thesis for the philosophy of objectivism, which argues that each man should work for their own highest good. Man should not harm other man, but at the same time, they should feel no obligation to help their fellow man. Of course, being a Christian, part of this philosophy is appalling, but I did agree with some of the ramifications in the political sphere, in that it led to a freer economy and elimination of huge entitlement programs, and it still influences some of my beliefs in supply-side economics (I never heard a formal definition of that term, but I think it means that the supplier of the goods sets the terms of production). It also, at the time, made me abhor the philosophy of redistribution. Although I didn’t reject the welfare state altogether, I did focus on the morality of people demanding money from other people through force.

However, this way of looking at things left me unsatisfied. I didn’t want to look at it as an issue of “my rights” or “you have no right to my money.” Not to say that there is anything wrong with that, but at the same time, I think a central point of Christianity is not to focus on our rights, or what is really “ours”, but to freely give what we have. Not that we shouldn’t stand up for the rights we believe in, but focusing on this as my main driving philosophy, as I said, left me unsatisfied. Then I approached it from a different angle. What form of government does, in fact, generally help people? What system is most advantageous for the underprivileged? Strangely enough, this took me back to limited government ideals. I had backed off my libertarian ideals for a while, but then I ran into sites such as the Christian Acton Institute and the far-libertarian Dr. Mary Ruwart (who is a bit extreme, but I like the way she presents her ideas on libertarianism and poverty) who argues limited government ideals from a different perspective. Their view is that a strong central government often gets in the way and makes things worse for the poor. Acton, especially, argues for the increased role of private charity in addressing problems facing the lower classes.

This is where I began to believe that a reduced government allows more room for an institution that can truly minister to people’s needs, the church. Really, any voluntary association, but the church especially, can minister to someone’s needs. I do not believe we should look to a secular government to solve society’s ills, and a huge government can get in the way of instititutions such as the church.

So, I began to look again to libertarian/limited government ideals, but this time, from a different angle. Not that I am the standard of altrustism or that that I have purely unselfish motives for a limited government, but I have ideals to which I can aspire. I believe in limited government simply because I do not think large-scale programs actually work in addressing problems of poverty, but that they make things worse. I believe the best way to address the problems of charity and welfare are through a free society, in which voluntary, and more powerful, institutions have more room to work, and in which it is easier for someone to make a living for himself or herself.

Edited about one hour after original post, I didn’t like direction last paragraph was originally taking, and wanted to bring the point home more.

Posted in Philosophy, Politics | 3 Comments »

Is government the friend of the Christian?

Posted by Chance on July 27, 2006

Focus on the Family’s Guiding Principles are:

We believe that God has ordained three basic institutions — the church, the family and the government — for the benefit of all humankind. The family exists to propagate the human race and to provide a safe haven in which to nurture, teach and love the younger generation. The church exists to minister to individuals and families by sharing the love of God and the message of repentance and salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ. The government exists to maintain cultural equilibrium and to provide a framework for social order.

I think these are good guiding principles, and I like the work Focus does. They have an Institute that college students can take for credit, they do pro-life work, and they have good books on marriage, family, and development. I understand many people don’t like Dobson, and many do like him, right now for his work concerning the Federal Marriage Amendment, or whatever it’s called.

The Guiding Principles mention the government. I agree that the government is established by God, because it does provide some order. At the same time though, I think Christians can be too trustful of government.

Now, there are some areas where government has to be involved. Should abortion be outlawed? should gay marriage be allowed? etc… At the same time, however, I believe many of the problems we have in the first place is simply too much government. One of my favorite articles in the blogosphere is by Glen Dean. One key paragraph that I’ve quoted before states

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.

Glen mentions two examples that I bring up often, even in my last post. Education and Charity are two areas in which the church, in the past, has been heavily involved. Through the history of the U.S. however, government has become more involved in these areas, pushing the church out. For instance, Christians often complain about anti-Christian values being taught in schools. I don’t think the way to fight this is simply try to modify what is being taught in schools, but to reform the entire school system itself, so that people are not forced to learn the values of others.

In my view, going through the channels of government is often not the way to fight the culture wars. Now, there are areas where government should get involved. I am pro-life because I believe the chief function of government is to protect innocent human life. Concerning gay marriage, I don’t believe in laws outlawing homosexuality, but I don’t want a government stamp of approval on it either. And this is not an endorsement for libertarianism, and I am not a full-blown libertarian saying the government should abolish all welfare and any laws that don’t directly protect people. But I think people from all political persuasions can appreciate the idea that government should only be grown when necessary (it’s just that we all disagree on when its necessary). I am just saying that we should be weary of government power, and that it should not be our first resort. Government power is a double-edged sword. It may swing in our favor today, but maybe not tomorrow. The government schools that were teaching our kids Christian values a few years ago are teaching opposite things now. Freedom can be a double-edged sword as well, but I believe virtue best flourishes in an atmosphere of freedom.

Posted in Philosophy | 8 Comments »

A kinder, gentler libertarianism

Posted by Chance on July 7, 2006

Now, I am not a full-blown libertarian, but I often take a libertarian approach when it comes to government programs and the economy. As mentioned in a previous post I echoed agreement with Arnold Kling from Cato that “If I had to give up a little bit of freedom in order to see a meaningful reduction in poverty, I would do so. My problem with government is that I see it doing harm on both counts”, so I would say I do not believe in the abolition of welfare.

But the point of this post is not to discuss politics themselves, but the arguments that libertarians often use when arguing their point of view when it comes to welfare and the free market, especially when their target of persuasion is political liberals. I support most of these ideas that libertarians argue when it comes to the market and welfare, although maybe not to the same extent.

Libertarians often use the argument that it is wrong for the government to use force to redistribute money from some people to the other. Some even argue that all taxation is theft. They typically focus on the morality of one person being “robbed” so that the money goes towards someone else. Libertarians often use Randian terms such as “the barrel of a gun” to describe how government redistributes money.

Whether this viewpoint is right or wrong is not the point. I simply don’t believe this is an effective argument against the welfare state. Liberals, for instance, are well aware that government uses force, but sees helping the poor as a justification for doing so. Also, when making any argument, I don’t think the most effective means is talking about my rights, or that I shouldn’t have to do this or that. Some may even see this argument as selfish argument, which some libertarians may even agree, unapologetically. Liberals (or even conservatives or centrists for that matter), simply believe that the good caused by a government involved in economic affairs is better than the libertarian ideal of self-ownership.

These are what I think are better arguments in favor of a more libertarian ideal when it comes to welfare and economics. I won’t go too in depth of each argument, my purpose here is not to persuade, simply point out what I think are effective arguments.

1. An extensive welfare state hurts the poor more than it helps them.
Some libertarians argue that welfare produces a state of perpetual dependence on the government. Government welfare can produce perverse incentives, in which people are better off not working. Many claim that this dependence passes on through several generations. Good Source: Dr. Mary Ruwart

2. Private charity does the job better than government welfare.
The Acton Institute is a good source for these types of arguments. Acton and other similar institutions argue that voluntary help is much more powerful than welfare. Organizations such as Red Cross and the Salvation Army can help someone face to face and help with needs beyond money, rather than simply writing a check. The church is an institution that can minister to people’s spiritual needs while helping their physical ones. Voluntary charity is better for the recipient and the giver. On the recipients side, they are less likely to see the help as an entitlement. On the givers side, they give out of willingness and compassion, rather than something they have to do.

Now, here is the thing. I think most would agree that private charity is better than welfare, but they see a need for much of both. I think there are valid arguments that the more welfare there is, the more harm to private charity. For one, welfare is less efficient when it comes to actual dollars sent to those who need it. So, when one has to spend more money on welfare, it leaves less money to charity, which would be more productive.

3. America as the land of opportunity.
I think many Americans admire their country because it is a land of opportunity. There exists the idea here that one can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a good living for themselves. An extensive welfare state can harm this, in which one exchanges economic freedom for supposed economic security.

Again, I am not against all welfare as many libertarians are, just a large welfare state. However, I think the same arguments can work for either.

Posted in Philosophy | 3 Comments »

Thoughts on Freedom

Posted by Chance on July 3, 2006

Jesus said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ” This verse obviously has applications in the spiritual realm. Those who hold on to their earthly life will end up losing it, and those who give it up for the sake of Christ will find abundant and eternal life.

I think this verse has applications in the physical realm as well, as a counselor I had seen in the past pointed this out to me. Our goal in life cannot simply be the avoidance of death or pain. God wants us to live life more abundantly, most definitely in the spiritual sense, but I believe also in the physical sense as well. And I think many times these two realms overlap.

My counselor also pointed out the idea that much of sin comes from the avoidance of pain. Now, I am no expert hamartiologist (someone who studies sin, I just looked that up), and many things can attribute to someone choosing to sin, but I think in many cases, this is correct. Matthew 13:22 says “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” We spend our lives worrying about the bills, grades, our car, etc… Many of these are valid concerns, but they soon become our focus. I spend so much of my time worrying about the physical world, that it takes my focus off the spiritual.

So where does the idea of freedom come in? This world is full of pain and misery, but that is a result of God giving us free will. Yes, this world is in terrible shape, but the alternative would be a world in which we are zombies. A world in which we cannot love. Some may say God took a big chance when God gave us free will; some of the angels may have thought “what are you doing, God?” He gave us the ability to turn our back on Him, but it was the only way we could gladly turn to Him out of love.

Many philosophies and world religions try to deal with the problem of pain. For instance, Buddhism tries to eliminate pain by eliminating desire. But again, this is no way to approach life. Our goal should not be to avoid pain; God wants us to live life to the fullest. Should I avoid love because I am afraid of getting hurt? Should I avoid having children because they may turn their back on me? What about the man who has been married for 35 years waiting by the bedside of his wife dying of cancer? Do you think for a second that, despite all his pain and sorrow, he would take back those 35 years with his wife?

God never promises an easy life, nor does He want one for us. He does not want us to live our lives in a way that avoids inconvenience or hurt. Sometimes He has some painful things in store for us, but He promises that He will be there with us. Part of living a life of freedom, is experiencing hurts and pains. Such a life allows us to depend completely on God, not on our circumstances.

Our founding fathers believed in freedom. On many occasions, they exchanged absolute safety for a free society. They could have had a society in which the police randomly searched people’s houses for no reason. Such a society may be ultimately safer, but it would have been less free. The founding fathers realized that a free life was ultimately better than a completely safe life. The founding fathers did not attempt some utopic society where everyone was guaranteed wealth and prosperity, they simply wanted a land of opportunity. They established freedom of speech and of the press, even though it meant people say vicious things about the government. They established freedom of religion, taking a chance that people may worship the living God in some unfamiliar way or even rejecting the living God, but I believe they did so because they thought that someone can only choose God if they did so freely.

Many of these early Americans (well, not as early as the native Americans) staked their life to build this free society. They could have had it easy, living back in England where some of them had established lives. Instead, they braved the harsh winters and fought an empire to establish the free society we have today. Many of them paid with their lives.

Many Americans make the same sacrifice today, giving their lives for our freedom. As we celebrate this Independence Day, we should be thankful for their sacrifice, not only for our security, but also because of our freedom. I think we can honor them by remembering the sacrifice they make and by remembering the ideals of freedom for which they fight.

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