Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas and anti-Christmas religious scrooges…

Christmas is rightfully criticized for the commercialism, materialistic frenzies and general greed the season promotes.

But there is another form of criticism that is promoted by both religious purists and by Jehovah’s Witnesses.  It is the understanding that Christmas has been founded on pagan celebrations from before Christ (winter solstice), it has been infiltrated by pagan symbols and rituals (Santa and every imaginable bangle), and isn’t even celebrated on the authentic time of year of Christ’s birth (springtime).

To these I say, bah, humbug!  Live with it.  Celebrate or don’t celebrate this holiday any way you like.  For the rest of us Christmas is a sacred time of remembering, honoring, and celebrating the birth of our Savior.  What difference does it really make what time of year this is done?  Maybe even once a month would be better.  Celebrate and honor the birth in remembrance of what the Savior’s birth is all about. 

Look upon as many traditions as you can for their sometimes forgotten sacred meanings, whether it is shopping and gift giving (Christ was born to give the ultimate gift), the joy of celebration (Christians have a lot to celebrate), the bright and colorful lights and decorations (Christ brought light to a dark and unforgiving world), and any other symbol of Christmas that receives the glare of criticism. 

As the early church has done, why not turn pagan-centered corruption into sacred, Christ honoring celebration?  The pagans and secularists criticize and debase sacred tradition all the time.  There is nothing wrong with turning the tables and using the pagan’s traditions to promote the real truth of what God came to earth to do.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fiscal and Social Conservatism: What do these terms REALLY mean?

The terms “fiscal conservative” and “social conservative” are often thrown around loosely when we discuss our opinions or those of others.  Without context, these terms result in circular and fruitless argument.  To have any real meaning and to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, several parameters and scenarios need to be applied to these terms.  Some essentials include:

To whom or what are the terms applied?

  • To our own lives and personal behavior?
  • To how we select candidates to vote for?
  • To the types of public policy and laws we wish our government to adopt and enforce?

The specific topic under discussion:

  • How  much debt, if any, is desirable or tolerable.
  • Whether other people’s money should be spent on the needs of others, and if so, how much?
  • How pervasive should government be in regulating the lives of individuals or businesses?

By what standard?

  • What is the basis of our own standard?
  • Is the standard universal (objective) applicable to all, or is it personal (subjective) only applicable to those who agree with it?
  • What is the strength of conviction of belief in the standard?

Applied to yourself only:

Concerning who the terms apply to, it is pretty straight forward if you define these terms only in regard to how you personally live your own life and don’t intend to exert your influence beyond your own personal behaviors, or perhaps those of your own family.  If you don’t believe in any personal debt and don’t like high risk investments you are a fiscal conservative.  If you avoid watching anything worse than a PG-13 movie, or you teach your daughter that abortion is wrong, you are a social conservative. 

As applied to others:

Things get a little dicier when we start to apply these terms in ways that impact others.  First of all, why would anyone want to either suggest or impose their personal values on another person or group of people to begin with?  Short answer:  If you believe your values are universally true, benefit others, and you care. 

Unfortunately, today, probably more than in recent memory, personal values are highly subjective and not held as universally true.  Our new standard is “what is true for you may not be true for  me (or anyone else).”  This was a rare belief just 50 years ago.  Fiscal prudence, faithfulness in marriage, heterosexuality, effective child discipline, and live births were almost universally respected norms in our culture.  Not any more.

If we do not believe our values are universally true (any more) we will not believe they will benefit anyone else.  Consequently, we will not really care (anymore).

The person who is NOT a social conservative believes that his values are neither universally true nor objective.  Consequently, he believes they should not attempt to impose their personal values on anyone else, as in (to be snarky) “he might have had a very good reason to murder his neighbor.”

The social conservative believes that at least some of his personal values are universally true and objective.  Consequently he believes he should make a sincere attempt to influence others (family, friends, community, nation) in the wisdom of his personal values.

The sincere fiscal and social conservative will be motivated to promote and vote for candidates who promise to promote their views in Congress.  They will be motivated to promote public policy and legislation that implements their views, just as those who have opposing views will certainly do.   If the fiscal and social conservative refrains from voting for candidates and promoting public policy and laws that reflect their values, what will dominate the culture and laws?  Only those values with which they do not agree.

Which of the following issues are worthy of our influence on candidates, public policy and laws?

  • Abortion?
  • Gay Marriage?
  • Immigration policy:  Who stays?  Who goes?  Who is kept out?
  • Government involvement in health care?
  • Where we send foreign aid?
  • How much public debt we approve?
  • How much wealth redistribution should government mandate?

My answer:  All of them. 

But what happens if the dog catches the car?  What happens if unpopular legislation or public policy is actually implemented?  If the predominant culture does not accept the values behind public policy or legislation, what will happen?  There will be confusion, dismay, resentment, anger, resistance, legislators will be voted out of office, and the policies will be reversed.  That is the theory.  And at least the first several reactions have occurred so far concerning the “Affordable” Healthcare Act, aka “ObamaCare.”  ObamaCare is the consequence of fiscal and social liberals forcing unpopular legislation through lies and deceit.  The same will occur with the implementation of unpopular conservative values.

Here are the lessons to be learned:

  • Conservatives must transform the culture before expecting conservative legislation.  (Liberals have done a more effective job.)
  • The groundwork of engaging, prepping, and convincing the culture of particular values needs to precede political/legislative action.
  • Legislation (government coercion) follows cultural values; it cannot precede them.

Which comes easier?

Among conservatives, it is easier to be a fiscal conservative than a social conservative.  Fiscal matters are measurable and  have measurable consequences, thus are more objective.  They generally have more immediate, visible consequences and hit people in their wallets which grabs our immediate attention.  Social matters are less tangible, more difficult to measure, and often take longer to manifest themselves in visible consequences.  So it is easier to consider social matters much more subjectively.  Biblical morality attempts to provide a level of objectivity to behaviors that are all too easy to dismiss as “subjective”, as in “that person deserved to be murdered.”  Unfortunately, Biblical literacy is scant among most of us, and we succumb to errors that are promoted more by vested selfish interest than in historically accurate truth. 

One example is the widespread belief that that are many ways to heaven.  A survey of Lutherans (the majority likely from a liberal synod) indicated that 75% claimed that trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation was the only way to heaven.  When asked if there were other ways to heaven, 75% of the same sample claimed there were many ways to heaven.  That is subjectivity carried to a very confused level.  Such contradictory beliefs are “doublethink” for some and “cognitive dissonance” for others.

Chickens and Eggs:  Which comes first, fiscal or cultural conservatism?

Some believe that fiscal conservatism enables cultural conservatism, not the other way around.  The most obvious reaction to that is asking why they even attempt that connection if they dismiss cultural conservatism to begin with?  The next most obvious reaction is to recognize that without the values of social conservatism (honesty, thrift, prudence, morality, law-abiding, among dozens of other [formerly] esteemed human qualities), there can be no fiscal conservatism.  Fiscal conservatism does not enable these qualities.  These qualities will enable fiscal conservatism.   Fiscal conservatives who do not admit to being social conservatives are in fact private social conservatives who don’t believe their privately held social values are worthy of promoting to anyone else.  They believe their values are subjective and not universally true.

The role of churches

The majority of mainline churches have adopted the values of the culture instead of promoting the values of the historic orthodox church.  The consequence is what we have become as a nation.  Preaching the gospel was not the only role of the church.  Teaching Biblical values was a significant part of sermons and Sunday schools, a task shared by our public schools until a generation or two ago.  The consequence is what we have become as a nation.

Here are words of pastor Charles Finney in the 1870’s that should be taken to heart by every Christian denomination, seminary, pastor and layman:

“Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits.  If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.  If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it.  If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it.  If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it.  If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.  If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it.  If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.  Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obamacare: An inherently flawed concept…

A major problem of ObamaCare, aside from its incompetent rollout and overreaching federal paternalism,  lies in its core assumptions.  It’s assumptions are so flawed and unrealistic that it is amazing the legislation made it past the desk of the na├»ve Pollyanna intern who wrote the first draft, never mind past the President and Congress.

Here are the plan’s assumptions:

  1. For the Plan to be self-sufficient it absolutely needs millions of younger, healthy subscribers who don’t require health care benefits to subscribe to it and pay into it every month.
  2. The plan allows those with preexisting conditions to subscribe at any time.

Those are the provisions of the plan that make it unworkable unless heavily subsidized by taxpayers not only in its startup years, but forever. 

Here is why:

The American people are not as dumb as the legislation presumes.  The young and healthy see no reason to subscribe.  Why pay $250 to over $500 a month for something they don’t need – especially when they can buy it later when you DO need it?

Conversely, and here is the killer, only people who need the coverage for imminent expensive medical treatment will sign up, whether they are young or old.

The young (under 40’s, mostly) will say, “hey, I’m healthy.  If and when I get sick or a disease, cancer, whatever, I can always sign up and start paying out.  No problem.  I might even get the Cadillac plan then.”

The 40, 50 and 60 somethings are more likely to sign up because they realize they may need coverage and expensive treatment sooner rather than later.  However, even the more affluent and healthy among this group may defer until Medicare kicks in.

The consequences are painfully obvious – so painfully obvious that even I might need to sign up to relieve the pain.

The people who don’t need health care RIGHT NOW will NOT sign up.  They will not pay into the Plan.  The people that believe they need health care RIGHT NOW WILL sign up – and they will suck out hundreds of times the amount they paid into the Plan.  Translated for the benefit of any progressives reading this:  The Plan’s expenses will greatly exceed the plan’s revenues and it will FAIL.  It will fail either because of a cataclysmic revenue shortfall, or because premiums and deductibles and out of pockets will have to be raised to astronomic levels.  It is as if the Pollyanna interns who wrote this had no idea why insurance professionals had actuarial tables for centuries. 

Oh darn, I forgot a detail about the ultimate goal of this legislative fiasco.  Progressives want the taxpayers, the REST of us, subscriber or not, to SUBSIDIZE Obamacare, the “Affordable” Health Care Act. 

The whole thing is a crock, all the way down to its lying, deceitful name.  Everyone who is associated with promoting, adopting and defending this deeply flawed piece of deception needs to be thrown out of office if not also convicted of  conspiracy to deceive the American public.  If stupidity were a crime, they would serve life.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why “progressive” programs fail…

A view from a retired government bureaucrat.

Having been in public administration for 35 years I have both been and managed eager, wild-eyed, inexperienced, college-trained Pollyannas.  That experience gives me a valuable perspective of “governments gone wild”, also known as failed public programs.  Fortunately in my younger career years, I was significantly influenced by private sector reason and practicality.  I learned that government programs and mandates have consequences. 

At the federal level most bureaucrats and politicians are insulated from the immediate impact of consequences – it may take years for repercussions of their actions to appear.

ObamaCare will be a notorious case study in failed public policy and programs for the next 50 years.  It will also be a case study in dishonest public communications.

How does such a fiasco come about?  Here are the ingredients:

  • Progressives believe government is the only entity capable of solving all personal and social problems.
  • Progressives in Federal Government believe the Federal Government is the only entity capable of solving all personal and social problems.
  • Progressives have a disdain for the private sector and business, believing that only government can provide the “social justice” they seek.
  • Progressives are smitten with and influenced by eager, wild-eyed, inexperienced, academically-trained Pollyannas.
  • Progressives look to academia much more than to the private sector for guidance in solving problems and implementing solutions.
  • Progressives in government, both elected and administrative, tend to hire staffers from the ranks of academia more than from the private sector.
  • Consultants and employees from the ranks of academia most often have little or no private sector real world experience.  Their experience is primarily theoretical and ideological.
  • Consequently, they have more interest in initiating programs than actually knowing they will work in the real world.
  • The world is a test tube for progressive government programs, thus Nancy Pelosi’s statement that we need to adopt it to know what’s in it.
  • Progressives do not care about testing their theories and programs before they are implemented.  They are impatient to implement them. 
  • Failure is acceptable because the whole thing is a social engineering experiment.
  • Progressives are not concerned with the inefficiencies and financial costs of their experiments because they are dictating the use of other peoples time and money.
  • We are academia’s and progressive’s lab rats.

The world view of the progressive is that government is the highest good and the individual and business are selfish animals that are not to be trusted and must be controlled.

The world view of those who seek smaller government and greater individual responsibility and liberty (conservatives, generally) is that either God (for the theist) or the individual (for the atheist) represents the highest good and therefore the less government there is, the more room there is for individual responsibility, motivation, innovation, productivity and liberty. 

Conservatives believe 1) The government is involved in numerous areas it has no business in, and 2) Those areas the government MUST bre involved in must be managed by individuals who have real world experience in the areas they are charged with administering.  Their programs must be proven to work as intended before they are inflicted on the American people.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Abuse of liberty destroys liberty…

The latest social trend – actually going on for a few decades now – is an anything goes mentality, a new amoral standard that there is no right and wrong, we are at liberty to do just about anything we damned well please.

Faith is mocked, churches are mocked, Christianity is mocked.  Morality is old fashioned and those who promote it are called old fashioned, bigots, or intolerant.  In fact, “tolerate everything” is the new highest value.

Our several million morally challenged citizens fail to realize that their abuse of liberty destroys their liberty and ours, as if they care.  How is our liberty being abused?  By the absence of personal responsibility.  Personal liberty without personal responsibility results in chaos and anarchy – unless government comes to the rescue.  This explains the unbridled growth of government to do the things that the irresponsible citizens refuse to do.  Everything from educating our children, to babysitting, to feeding, to health care, to protecting us from ourselves in a thousand ways is the new found role of our federal government.

The relationship between the level of our personal responsibility, the resulting demand for more government (to do or control the things that the irresponsible fail to do or control)  and the resulting loss of liberty is illustrated in the graphic below.

image

Here are the relationships that our population refuses to grasp:

  • The greater we exercise our self discipline and personal responsibility as individuals, the LESS government is needed to provide for or to control us.
  • The less we exercise our self discipline and personal responsibility, the MORE government is needed to provide for or to control us.

***

  • The MORE we allow or demand government to provide for or control us, the fewer liberties we retain.  They are subject to the arbitrary and universal requirements of the government.
  • The LESS we allow or demand government to provide for or control us, the MORE liberties we retain.   We retain our own autonomy to do what we believe is best for ourselves.

These are facts of life which are basic Biblical principles.  Namely, the more we trust Christ, the more we will desire to obey his moral commandments and the less we will need external coercive means (like oppressive, depersonalized government) to control our behavior or to make up for our irresponsibility.

The remaing problem is which level of governance if most appropriate for what type of activity or human need.

The main levels of governance are, from smallest to largest are:

  • The individual
  • The family
  • The neighborhood
  • The city
  • The county
  • The region
  • The state
  • The nation
  • Multi-national institutions (League of Nations; United Nations)

Each level has an appropriate set of duties and responsibilities.  Unfortunately, too many duties and responsibilities have been pushed to higher and higher levels primarily because of the failure of exercising responsible behavior at the individual and local government levels.

Starting with the individual, he is either a believer and follower of God (the one True God) or he is not.  To the extent he is a believer/follower, he will be governed by the laws of God (God’s moral principles).  He will do this willingly out of love for and sense of awe toward his Creator.  This is different from the compulsion felt from ideologies like Islam, where fear and intimidation through human actions force compliance.

Without such faith in God, the individual is left to his own devices, more like a pack of animals.   The pack animal behavior in the US is growing, but is still constrained by the remnants of Christian morality left over from past decades.  As Christian faith and  morality recede, the pack animal instincts will increase.  A stark example of this is the behavior of people in predominantly Islamic countries of the Middle East.  If it isn’t Islam that controls the population, it will be some form of oppressive dictatorship that is required to control the population that otherwise lacks a sense of self-discipline and personal responsibility.

The higher the levels of government, such as the nation or multi-national institutions, the more they should be limited to research, voluntary coordination, or advisory roles and the less they should impose mandates on the lower levels of government.  Unfortunately that has not been the case.  The exception, and the primary legitimate purpose of the federal government is the national defense and facilitation of trade between nations.  This role has been exceeded a thousand-fold.

As progressives insist, we are “progressing” toward less and less personal responsibility, more and more oppressive government, and less and less personal liberty. 

That is the price of jettisoning our centuries of Christian faith and moral compass.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Obama: Lying and Lying World Views…

Conservatives are generally of two types: There are fiscal conservatives and social conservatives.

Fiscal conservatives are those who live by and promote the practice of living within our financial means, both personally and governmentally.

Social conservatives are those who live by and promote the practice of living by means of Godly standards set forth in Judeo-Christian scriptures, both personally and governmentally, whether or not they actually go to synagogue or church.

Some of us are both. Most social conservatives are also fiscal conservatives. But fewer fiscal conservatives are also social conservatives.

Does it matter if you or our elected leaders are social conservatives or not?  Yes, it DOES matter.

Example: To lie or not to lie.

The major world views (predisposition to believe and act certain ways) that promote or indulge lying are these:
  • Communism: The end justifies the means, including lying
  • Liberalism: Bigger government justifies the means, including lying
  • Islamism: The promotion of Islam justifies the means; Taqiyya (a significant Islamic doctrine) is lying or deception to defend Muslims or to promote Islam.
  • Narcissism:  Personal happiness or reputation justifies the means, including lying.

Judeo-Christianity explicitly condemns lying, e.g. “thou shalt not bear false witness”; “the Lord strongly dislikes a lying tongue” and many others.  Sure, some Jews and Christians, in human weakness, lie, but their faith condemns it. To the contrary, many other world views either officially promote or live with the practice to achieve the purposes of their world view.

Now enter President Obama, the narcissistic Communist/Islam-inspired liberal. Does he lie? Absolutely! His most recent lies are his infamous statements about Obama Care and keeping our own health plans and doctors when many cannot. And then saying he didn’t say it when he DID say it - over 29 times, explicitly, as in “period.” And the liberal, narcissistic  legislators calling it the “Affordable Health Care Act” when it is anything but. Obama lies so much that there is a website devoted to his lies:


Congress could use their own lying website.
 
Obama and his administration provide a stark example of our Judeo-Christian-inspired nation living off the receding light of Biblical morality.

Does social conservatism matter? If we want less lying it does.  And our experience with Obama should tell us it most certainly does matter.

One more tidbit about "social conservatism."  Social conservatism has as its foundation the concept of morality, mostly rooted in Biblical morality.  Our nation's monetary system is based on the full faith and credit of the US government.  Our leaders represent our government.  If our leaders are corrupt, so is our government.  What happens to our "fiat" currency which is dependent on faith in a government that is perceived as being corrupt?  Answer:  Faith is lost in our monetary system, our monetary system is seen as corrupted and worthless and ultimately collapses.  Wishful thinking only survives so much corruption.

HERE is a concise article explaining the connection between a moral society and a sound monetary system.  This is based on the following principle:

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  John Adams.

This applies equally to our monetary system.