Monday, September 29, 2008

Dead men do tell tales...maybe we ought to heed them

'If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.'
-Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress . . . But then I repeat myself.
-Mark Twain

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
-Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
- George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

-G Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
-James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
-Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-P. J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
-Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
-Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
-Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!
-P. J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
-Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!
-Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
-Mark Twain (1866 )

Talk is cheap . . . except when Congress does it.

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
-Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.
-Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
-Mark Twain

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

There is no distinctly Native American criminal class . . . save Congress.
-Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
-Edward Langley, Artist (1928 - 1995)

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
-Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Oooh, The economy

I have always asked the question, whenever the economy started into a downturn, "It won't actually affect me, will it?" That changed today. I am looking at the U.S. economy on the brink of a collapse that has potential to be worse than 1929. This will affect me, I have no choice but to live through it. Pending a $700 billion bailout, the market is almost certain to collapse, leaving me begging for food and bare necessities of life. Perhaps. Perhaps, though, there is a very great value in the situation that the American public is staring into.

Prosperity in a healthy market:
Nicer cars
Nicer houses
More "stuff"
More money
More work
Easier work
More affordable "luxuries"
More expensive (yet affordable) recreation

Prosperity in a depression:
More dependence on a greater being
More dependence on family and friends
Less work
Harder work
Less "stuff"
Fewer luxuries
More reasonable recreation

I have always been told to work hard. In a good economy it is not enough to work hard, you have to work longer, and more. This draws me away from my family and my friends. In a strong economy, I am concerned about getting, and having. In a depression, I am concerned about surviving. We all know from recent studies that a huge part of survival is family and friends. In an economy where I am unconcerned about survival and I have moved on to luxury, I don't have to depend on family and friends and because I don't have to, I don't. Don't get me wrong, I spend lots of time with them, but not as a necessity. If a depression can grow the family unit and friendly relationships, then perhaps there is more value in these economic times then we think.

I own a lot of recreational equipment. I really am hoping that this stuff made for recreation does not become my primary residence. If it does, will I have lost everything? I can honestly say that I will still have the basic necessities of life, and perhaps without a house to care for, I might actually spend more time with my wife. Is that all that bad?

Finally, I believe that it is hard times that reveals a man's character. I can live through good times, but can I hack when times get tough. I have these visions of guys trying to get just a day on the job during the depression. Will that be me? Those times that my grandfather lived through, am I going to go through? When it is all said and done, when the depression is over, will I be the man that I am destined to become? I certainly hope so, but the only way to purify gold is through fire. This is my time in the fire, will I fight it, or will I allow it to grow my character and be the hero that I know I can become.

Maybe this economic crisis is not a crisis at all, but an opportunity to wake up and live according to who we are created to be, rather than living according to what we get. In the end, can we really say that that is living? I don't think so. Will you grab the rope with me, jump into the fire, forsaking all you have and hold onto the faith that says that we will see the other side and it will be better for us having gone through it with grit, than having sat off on the sideline and bemoaned our trials. Carpe diem. Carpe periculum. Carpe vitam. (Sieze the day, sieze the danger, sieze life)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The following story is floating around the internet/email world and I thought I would comment.

DELTONA, Fla. (AP) -- An angry Deltona father whacked his teenage daughter's boyfriend with a metal pipe after finding the boy naked in his daughter's room. Authorities say the father, 45, didn't even know his daughter had a boyfriend or that the youngster had been sneaking into the home for more than a year.

When he heard noises coming from his daughter's bedroom Thursday morning and saw a stranger standing naked on the girl's bed, he swung a metal pipe. He then chased the teen out the front door and called police.

The boy was taken to the hospital where doctors closed a head wound with staples.

The father was charged with aggravated battery on a child and bonded out on $10,000.

--My response--

I really enjoy getting my ire up over a good scandal. However, thinking it over, is this the appropriate response to the story, or is there more for me to learn. Here is my take for those who wish to read on. If you do not, then don't, I won't be hurt.
"Naked on his daughter's bed," Perhaps the kid deserved a pipe to his head. Apparently though, this father has some severe communication issues with his daughter. This guy had been sneaking in and out for more than a year and the father didn't even know it?! I would say that the greater evil hear was done by the father to his daughter, there was an apparent relationship breakdown at some point, either 1) This father was an absentee, more sold to his work than his family, or 2) This father was a severe disciplinarian, to the extent that his daughter didn't even feel comfortable telling him about this boyfriend, or 3) both. I have faced the fact that I am a product of what has happened in my life, both good and bad, this daughter was also the product of what happened in her life, largely what was learned behavior from her parents. It seems obvious that, though her actions were wrong and must be acknowledged as such, she learned in her family to hide and withhold information (read: lie, deceive). I will blame her parents for this, likely her father.
Taking the look at the father, he seems to have a rage issue, maybe this is the very reason that his daughter kept it from him. He's lucky for his sake he wasn't carrying a gun because instead of a $10,000 fine, he would be doing time for murder (granted, 2nd degree). I can only hope that this father learned from this experience and that he can acknowledge his own problems. It will not do him, or anyone else, any good if he blames his action on this boy sneaking into his house. The fact of the matter is that he swung the pipe in rage. Justifiable? When I allow my personal emotion to turn into rage and I allow that rage to control my actions, am I ever justified in doing so? The Bible says "In your anger do not sin." I suggest that allowing ANYTHING, but the Spirit to control us is wrong. One may say that this is a Spirit-controlled rage, yet even under old testament law this type of action was not punishable corporately (that is, with injury to the body). Yes this is mentioned in O.T. law, as I recall the action is that the father is supposed to either allow the man to marry his daughter, or not and a sacrifice is needed. The daughter also requires a sacrifice for her part in it. Those who are parents understand that there is a difference between discipline and injury, this was not discipline. If it is not discipline then it is an undisciplined action. God does not will that I should take part in any action that is void of discipline. I suggest that this man was acting in a manner completely out of character from what God has created for us to live in, his action was wrong and his punishment is appropriate.
The daughter in this case is most definitely in need of corrective action. She ought to have a punishment for behaving as a prostitute. It may not have been for money, but she was definitely rewarding her dear boyfriend's behavior. At very least, she is in desperate need of discipline from an adult whom she respects (I feel that her father has totally lost that respect for a time, at least in her mind). Yes, she did dishonor her parents. Yet, I am left to wonder exactly what her home life was like, how she was taught to behave. For all we know, her father sexually, physically, or verbally abused her. If this is the case that I cannot say that her actions are totally without reason. I do think however that it is obvious that she knew there was an element of "wrong" that was tied with what she was doing, I say this because she went behind her parents back. Though she may have done this for other reasons. Let's face it, in our world today this is not uncommon behavior for a teen. I am taking a stab that where she came from this was a largely accepted behavior. I can try and convince myself that people still know right from wrong. Kids today, though, grow up watching their parents shoot up drugs, pass out from alcohol abuse, beat their parents and them, (I even know a girl who saw a person get stabbed to death in her living room when she was 10). I know there is a lot wrong with those things, but I am probably going to practice them anyway if that is how I grow up. I do notice that there is nothing mentioned in the article about how this whole situation came about, or the home life. It is left open to speculation which leaves us open to get indignant. I suggest that this girl needs to own her mistake, acknowledge the error in her behavior and work on living her life in a manner that is more or less socially acceptable.
Now to the boy. I have to be honest here, I might have done the same thing for sex given a different set of variables growing up. I am bombarded with images and messages about sex every day, I am left feeling that sex is really the best high out there. I can only imagine that this is even greater felt by a hormone-crazed teenager. I also feel as though this young man is the least to blame in this situation. His girl was obviously very consenting and this is how the relationship went. I don't blame him for any more than I blame any other teenage boy for wanting (and getting) sex. I do not think it makes it right, I just think that the wrong being done is no greater than getting it on in a car somewhere. Back to the control issue though, this young man was not letting the Spirit control him, OBVIOUSLY! If he is not a Believer can I blame him. What he seems to need is a mentor, or leader in his life that can teach him, coach him, guide him in self-control and Godly behavior. Again, I feel that the father has temporarily lost all credibility in the eyes of these two young adults. I feel that it will be difficult for this young man put any sort of faith in an adult male figure after this experience.
I will face this fact, "I am guilty of sin unto death." Without the grace of God, I haven't got a chance, period. The same is true here with all the people involved. Am I any less guilty than any of them are? And thus for me to say that any one of them to have a right to their action is a judgement, is it not? Judgement is not my job, it is God's job. Are any of their action inexcusable as far as God is concerned? I guess it depends on whether they have put their faith in Him. If they have then I am left only to consider the judgement of the court based on human law. I think that the ruling was fair, I think that it would have been more fair had the father been judged for poor parenting. I truly feel that poor-parenting was the greatest misdeed in this whole situation, and that to follow that up with rage taken out with a pipe on a young man was only a minor misdeed, unfortunatly the only one really punishable by law.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Enough Political Crap Already

There comes a time about every four years when I get severely disturbed and tired of political mudslinging. It just so happens that this cycle coincides with election year. A connection? Perhaps. Anyway, with the conventions in full swing I have taken a few moments to look seriously at the issues and at the people. What I found? There is not a single person in this country fit to run it, not even me (not that I'm all that, but usually I have a better opinion of myself than others). Having said that, and thus having eliminated any potential candidate, what are we really left to hope for. Since there is no possible way that an absolute ideal can be met, due to an innate problem with humanity, how do we begin the search? I would like to suggest a starting point about 6000 years ago, a time when known modern humanity was just arriving on the scene according to recorded history.

There are many who would like to tell us that this time in history was much less absorbed with trouble than other times. That men were less destructive and that freedom was pretty easily practiced by anybody and everybody. I suggest that this is not the case. I suggest given the quantity of human reproduction that we know of from the time, that there were considerably greater numbers of people than most want to claim. I suggest that given this great number of people, problems, quarrels, fights, and even wars, abounded. Was I there? No, this is just my opinion, it is based on many years of ancient studies in history and language record. Whether you wish to deny it or not, the Bible remains our most complete ancient record. Even if I manage to debunk the time frames and apparent prophecies, I cannot deny the validity of its ancient record, it has been proven historical. (If thou believest not, do some serious, open-minded study. Consider the best academics in the field today, Biblical and Secular, and I think that you will see that as an historical document the Bible is accurate). But we won't start with the Bible, I will start with the oldest known written documents, shards of pottery sent as a proof of transaction from a seller to a buyer.

In ancient times, before the advent of modern written communication, farmers learned that sometimes when they sent sheep to a buyer, not all of them would arrive. This often was unknown to the buyer, or he assumed that the seller had cheated him. To counter this issue, sellers at first began putting small pieces of pottery, marked with the item(s) sent, in a sealed jar along with the delivery person (a slave, or farmhand of sorts). So when the slave arrived with the goods, the buyer would break the jar, remove the pieces and count the goods. He would then send a sealed jar back with the amount that he received as a receiptThis worked well until they needed to transport mass quantities, at which point they began to develop symbols that look oddly similar to both Hebrew and early Eastern (Chinese) written languages. I do not tell you this so that you can understand language, I tell you this to point out the problem: greed. The surmised reason that receipts were developed in this manner was due to theft. If a slave wanted to steel and there was no communication (however primitive) he could easily sell 1 or 2 or 10 of whatever (depending on initial quantity), make a profit for himself and deliver the rest, it would then be a matter of word-against-word. Once the pottery receipt system was invented it was much more difficult.

We live in an information age;  in our age receipts, paper trails, databases, and other various systems for preventing theft, abound. Did you realize that the cash register was not invented for the consumer, but as a theft prevention device? A bartender calculated that he had been sustaining heavy losses and figured if he could calculate everyones tab quickly and easily he could prevent the loss. I find it terribly disturbing that the origins of written language, so far as we can tell, were an attempt to stop greedy people from being greedy. Does this say something about human nature? Perhaps greed is a facet of human nature that will never be overcome (Hey, we've been here 6000+ years and haven't gotten very far) . If I say then that greed is a natural part of human nature and that all people are greedy in one way or another, perhaps I can begin to entertain the idea of a human being a leader. I no longer feel that the candidate has to be completely free of greed, simply that they have acknowleged their greed and have shown some success in curbing it. I say, that the issue is still not over though; Greed is not the only way in which humanity fails.

I do not play games with the fact that Egypt was an ancient civilization. I recognize them as having accomplished things that no civilization has since accomplished. I also recognize that much of their greatness, like many nations before and since, was borne on the backs of slave labor. Largely, that of the nation Israel. Granted, Israel was in a position for this to happen, having received for a number of years the fruit Egypt, being kept from starvation solely by their wealth. Here is where the question of justice pops in. Regardless of having fed the Israelites, was Egypt just in their slavery of them? I use this as just one example, though there are many. What exactly defines justice? As we look throughout history we undoubtedly see the occurance of what we feel is injustice. As I see it, what is justice largely depends on your perspective. Egypt could have said that the injustice was for them to harbor a nation that gave nothing in return. Israel could counter with the question of whether 480 years of slavery is compensatory or usury and torment. Regardless of who I am, I have an idea of what justice is, or ought to be. My view of justice differs from that of a Muslim, a Chinaman, an Israelite, a Palastinian, an Englishman; we are all products of our past, no matter how ugly or beautiful we think they are. Man has an innate justice problem.

Having this justice problem, perhaps I can accept a candidate for a leader who doesn't have a perfect record of justice, but who has acknowledged his just failures and has a history of conquering it.

"O tempores. O mores," Thus Cicero said. "O times. O morals." I lament the same many times. To what have I now fallen. Where is the character that at times seems to poke its head more than at others. I realize, rather than note the lack therof, I should take the truth that mankind in general has a character problem. Scholars and philosophers have wept for ages over the loss of the soul of man. I am no different. Can I accept less than perfect morals? I will concede that a leader may have less than perfect morals (we all do), so long as that leader has acknowledged their failures and has a history of improvement.

I am empty. Where is my heart in this? Should not I want the greatest ideal in a leader? Where do I find myself, willing to overlook immorality, greed, justice, just so that I can ACCEPT a leader. I make no apology, my heart is in this. I talk as if the decision for who will lead this great country is one of issues, of saying the right things, of voting the right way. We could sit an discuss the day long every issue that plagues my soul around the world and we could match up what candidate better assuages the trouble I feel, yet I do not fill up.

I will face the truth, who I vote for is who speaks to my heart. The person who brings to me the humanity of his soul. Issues, pollsters, media, speeches, debates, tax-cuts, veto-strength, against-the-grainism all be damned. If I do not have the strength to know who I am then I am not fit for office and neither is anyone else. If a candidate's heart is not highly visible, then he is unfit for office. No candidate running fits the bill! THIS IS THE REALITY! All I ask is a very simple request, cut out all of your speeches about what your going to do, or at least follow through on every count. Media, stop trying to make up my mind for me Barack Hussein Obama is no better than any other candidate when weighed on my scale, leave me alone. Give a speech that has some substance to it, that makes my heart want to trust you. I don't want to hear about all of the ways in which you are a hero. I want to know whether you are 100% comfortable with who you are and whether who you believe that you are is a person of Character, Justice, and Humility. If you are reaching for these characteristics, and not just playing political games then perhaps I will find you fit, but I will tell you that I can spot a game a mile away. So far as I can see, all of my options are playing games with their lives. If they play games with their lives, imagine the destruction that they can wreak on an entire country.

Is there a conclusion to this issue? Perhaps, if we have recognized that man is human, woman is human, human is corrupt, corruption is rampant, honesty is elusive, and there is little hope in the political situation in America. The worst part: I am no better than any one of them on any side. I play the same games. I tell the same lies. I desire the same power. I am human, humani a me nihil alienum puto.

So what is all the political crap and speech really besides just an extension of myself. Ah there's the rub. My leaders will not change who I am. They cannot make me better, hence they cannot change the country I live in. I am not their responsibility, I am my responsibility. My morals are the morals of my country. My character is the character of my country. My justice is the justice of my country. Who I am is who my country is. Here's the big one: He who I make myself to be is he who my country makes itself to be. If I make myself a robber, my country follows suit. But if I make myself honest, just, humble, of high character, so does my country. In the end, I do not have to worry about everyone else. Who I am leads my country, my world, to success or to failure; it is my choice.