Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/04/2011 (11:03 am)

The Assumption of Governmental Holiness

A Christian friend on an Internet-based public discussion board made the following statement in passing. It illustrates a very common, modern mindset that needs very badly to be addressed.

The history since Christ’s first advent shows that many nations of the world have moved closer to what seems to be a Christian ethic while others still remain behind and the world, represented by the UN, judges the nations accordingly.

The partial truth of this masks a less obvious but far more dangerous error. I’ll call the error the “Assumption of Governmental Holiness.” Modern thought is trending in the direction of this error, and it may be the death of many of us.

I saw the same error in a different form on a blog by a very effective writer named Seth Godin. His blog article discussed the unethical representation of sunblock in modern advertising, observing that 95% of the harmful solar rays are not affected at all by the SPF level of these products. (They do, however, prevent painful sunburn, for which reason they’re still useful products.) After explaining, he piously declared this:

How can consumers look at this example and not believe that the regulation of marketing claims is the only way to insulate consumers from short-term selfish marketers in search of market share, marketers who will shade the truth, even if it kills some customers?

Meet the Assumption of Governmental Holiness. Seth somehow misses the fact, discussed openly in his own blog post, that both sunblock and advertising are already regulated. Worse: he actually states the reason, unwittingly, why regulation cannot work:

New regulations were recently announced, though it’s not surprising that many think the regs were watered down as a result of lobbying.

The truth is, millions, and possibly billions, of dollars have been wasted on regulation that had no impact, and millions more have been wasted on lobbying to ensure that that’s the case. But lobbying only works when the government is involved. Lobbying did not prevent me from learning about the scam. I learned about it by reading Seth’s blog. Seth’s freely-provided blog did more to protect me from being scammed than any regulation, or a billion regulations, ever could.

That, Seth Godin, is how a consumer can look at this example and not believe that regulation is the only answer.

How did Seth miss the answer? Somewhere in his unexamined assumptions is this one, utterly false notion:

The government represents pure good, or at the very least represents the best we have to offer.

No other presupposition could lead logically from “false advertising happens” to “regulation is the only answer.” But the error is obvious when we drag it out into the open. The government does not represent our best; it represents political power brokers, people who want control. We’re closer to the truth if we presuppose their corruption. They can only represent our best if they are tightly, closely monitored by ourselves, and if their power to control is severely limited. The less we count on government to enforce decency, and the more we count on ourselves directly to do it, the better.

Moreover, Seth’s blog demonstrates that while regulation does not work, there is something that does. The proper corrective to “false advertising happens” is “somebody needs to broadcast the truth.”

With that in mind, let’s revisit the quotation that introduced this thread, and see where the Assumption of Governmental Holiness leads us wrong.

Separate the statement into two parts. Part I:

…many nations of the world have moved close to … a Christian ethic while others remain behind…

This is partly true. The historically Christian nations of the West have had an enormous influence on both conduct and productivity throughout the world, and some of that influence comes from a godly source. There was no notion of individual rights, for example, before the Christian West produced it. The notion that one human being ought not to traffic in the flesh of another is another example. The near-universal disapproval of child labor is a third.

Do not make the mistake, however, of assuming that because a notion has its origin in Christ, that every modern mention of that notion is equally Christian. Take individual rights, for example. In ordinary, human, pendulum fashion, many wicked humans abandoned the old way of domination based on heredity or station, and swung way past Christ’s standard into a sort of egalitarian hell in which every evil thing is allowed and no moral absolutes are acknowledged. They’ve even gone farther than that, using individual rights to ennoble and venerate women leaving their families to pursue “dreams,” and women murdering their children to protect “their rights.” These are just two of a myriad of ways that the godly idea of individual rights has been made extremely unholy. The other godly notions that Christ introduced to the world have not fared better, and have been likewise distorted and overshot.

Wherein lies the error of the Part II of the sentence we’re analyzing:

…the world, represented by the UN, judges the nations accordingly.

Even if it were the case that the UN actually represents the world — it does not — the real, egregious error here is the unstated but controlling supposition that the UN represents the Christian ethic he mentioned in the first part of the sentence, and not the backwardness. He makes the Assumption of Governmental Holiness. The UN has no Christian sanction. Even if the current enactment of the UN were the ideal, it would represent only the current position of the error pendulum.

Worse, the current UN does not come within 3 light years of enacting that ideal, nor can it. It does not represent good; it does not even represent the best of humanity. The UN represents the interests of the corrupt power-brokers who have usurped the power of leadership in their nations.

As such, the UN represents, not the Christ-influenced progress of the world, but the fulfillment of the rebellion Nimrod began way back at Babel, and which the Psalmist describes in opposition to God’s Messiah:

1 “Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.

To assert, without stating it or even really thinking it clearly, that the UN represents the Christianized ethics of the world, is as wrong as wrong can be, and arguably endorses antichrist.

We need also to understand that the Assumption of Governmental Holiness, itself, arises from an even more insidious assumption: the Assumption of Personal Godhood. Ultimately, those who assert the holiness of the government invariably do so by assuming that the government represents ME. The deeper, more evil assertion is that the individual knows what is good for others so well that he or she has earned the right to control their decisions.

We may make ourselves unwelcome, but the Assumption of Governmental Holiness is the central error of the current era, and we need to confront it and dispute it whenever we hear it. But beware the even deeper Assumption of Personal Godhood that is always lurking nearby. And that one actually has a formal name: meet the sin of Pride.

05/10/2010 (4:26 pm)

Why Greece Matters To You

Greece is broke. So is the United Kingdom, which will be hitting up the EU for loans next.

Greece is facing the same sort of problem we’re facing here in the US, but more advanced. The government is paying too much to too many people, promising easy and early retirements, hiring everybody in sight and paying above-market wages… and borrowing money to do it all.

Take a gander:

Vasia Veremi may be only 28, but as a hairdresser in Athens, she is keenly aware that, under a current law that treats her job as hazardous to her health, she has the right to retire with a full pension at age 50.

“I use a hundred different chemicals every day — dyes, ammonia, you name it,” she said. “You think there’s no risk in that?”

“People should be able to retire at a decent age,” Ms. Veremi added. “We are not made to live 150 years.”

Perhaps not, but it is still difficult to explain to outsiders why the Greek government has identified at least 580 job categories deemed to be hazardous enough to merit retiring early — at age 50 for women and 55 for men.

Greece’s patchwork system of early retirement has contributed to the out-of-control state spending that has led to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Its pension promises will grow sharply in coming years, and investors can see the country has not set aside enough to cover those costs, making it harder for Greece to borrow at a reasonable rate.

As a consequence of decades of bargains struck between strong unions and weak governments, Greece has promised early retirement to about 700,000 employees, or 14 percent of its work force, giving it an average retirement age of 61, one of the lowest in Europe.

The law includes dangerous jobs like coal mining and bomb disposal. But it also covers radio and television presenters, who are thought to be at risk from the bacteria on their microphones, and musicians playing wind instruments, who must contend with gastric reflux as they puff and blow.

At the linked article there’s an in-line graphic showing what percentage of each European Union country’s Gross Domestic Product is demanded by government pension promises. In Greece, that number is over 800%.

In the United States, it’s about 460%. That’s just as unsustainable, only it will take longer for the bankruptcy to occur.

Recall a couple of months ago when I posted a remarkable speech by New Jersey’s new governor, Chris Christie? It was remarkable in its candor; Christie outlined in clear terms what the state had to do in order to survive fiscally. Salary cuts down to market-standard wages. Restructuring of pension promises. Cuts in programs.

In short, Christie had to undo decades of Democratic party largess. It’s the same all over Europe: the left has been promising easy retirement, unlimited medical care, higher wages, all of it with absolutely zero understanding of where the money comes from. Leftists assume that the wealth of the nation is a fixed sum that springs up from the ground fully-formed, and need only be apportioned fairly. They buy votes by promising to use that wealth for the “poor,” like Robin Hood (“poor” meaning anybody not earning in the top 5% of incomes). The promises they make are empty, because nobody can afford them. Nobody can. All of Europe is broke. Here in America, every city, every state run by Democrats is likewise broke.

Socialism is bankrupt. Progressivism is too expensive for everybody, including God.

We saw it when the Democrats took office in 2009. Within a month, the annual deficit for the national government rose a trillion dollars. One trillion dollars. That’s per year, on into the future, no end in sight. That trillion dollars is almost entirely new spending on social programs that Democrats consider “human rights” — college scholarships, business bailouts, unemployment benefits, health care subsidies, targeted energy tax cuts, federal aid to local school districts, free Internet access, smart electrical grids, and on and on.

Democrats dream dreams of what they would do if they were God, and then they do it, because they actually believe they are God. And then, they wonder why the nation can’t sustain the spending. “Just raise taxes. That will cover it.” Sure thing. And they wonder why the economy goes sour. It must be because of criminal Republicans not doing their share, or robbing the public through profit motive. Punish them. Oh, gee, why is gross domestic product dropping? We meant so well, we’re doing so much…

AthensViolenceGreece has announced austerity programs as a condition of receiving loans from other EU nations. The public is rioting in response; the public employee unions are leading the demonstrations.

The violence in Greece is following a pattern that has begun here in the US. In Arizona, a violent demonstration broke out in opposition to the state enforcing federal immigration standards. In Berkeley, CA, this February, protests against tuition hikes and budget cuts erupted into violence.

These outbreaks of violence have a couple of things in common. They arise from complaints by people who expect something for nothing from the government, and they’re fomented by hard leftists, folks we used to call “communists.” Hard leftists use violence as a strategy, hoping to produce revolutionary overthrow of non-Marxist governments. In terms of actual violence, most of what we’re seeing this year comes from the left, and it’s coming on the heels of governments cutting back their giveaways.

News outlets responsive to the overtures of the Obama administration have been attempting to paint the Tea Party demonstrations, which have been proceeding peacefully for a full year, as a potential source of violence. This is bunk, and has little basis in fact. The major sources of domestic violence in the US over the past 40 years have been animal rights and environmental rights groups, hard-left anarchist groups, Puerto Rican separatists, and fringe religious-racial superiority groups, with the largest number of such incidents by far coming from the eco-terrorists. A recent study on domestic terrorism by the Council on Foreign Relations notes that virtually all the domestic terror attacks between 2002 – 2005 were carried out by environmental extremists; the claim in that report that right-wing terrorists are potentially more dangerous appears to be the opinion of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a organization of leftist ideologues that raises a great deal of money by perpetuating the myth of violent racial bigotry in the United States. Their bias against the right is suspect.

There may be some threat of violence if the leftist-controlled government of the United States under President Obama appears to threaten individual liberty in a way that political activism can no longer address; I certainly hope that citizens resist a leftist coup here, if one such occurs. A much more likely scenario for violence, though, appears to be that the political activism of conservatives succeeds in the next year or two, and Congress begins to roll back socialist policies from which large groups of citizens have benefited. I have little doubt that the rolling back of favorite New Deal programs by the right will be met by violence from the left, leftists carrying out the acts they have projected onto Tea Party protesters. The left in the US appears to be much more amenable to violent protest than does the right.

03/23/2010 (2:45 pm)

Repeal Health Care Reform, Day 1

In order to keep the socialist health care disaster front and center through November and past, in order to repeal it at the earliest possible moment, I propose to continue to write posts regarding health care and the appropriate way to reform it. Believe me, the monstrosity passed Sunday night was not it, and was not intended to be.

For today’s reminder, I recommend Rich Trzupek’s article over at Big Government, noting a remarkable editorial in the Chicago Tribune. Take a look:

The irony would be amusing, were the stakes not so serious. The very day that the United States Congress passed sweeping legislation that will undermine the economy, increase debt and send tax rates soaring, a leading liberal media outlet criticized the elected officials who have been in charge of the president’s home state for repeatedly passing legislation that has: undermined Illinois’ economy, increased Illinois’ debt and sent Illinois tax rates soaring, thus poisoning the business environment and employment prospects in the state. It appears that government’s mission isn’t to tax and spend. Who knew?

It will be hard to believe, but when Illinois Democrats passed all of the legislation that got Illinois into this cesspool of a fiscal crisis, both they and the MSM assured voters that the there was nothing to worry about. These great new programs, they said, will actually make the state more prosperous and, if you disagreed with that proposition, then you were obviously a crabby conservative trying make political hay at the expense of what was obviously the best thing for the people of the state of Illinois. Sound familiar?

Having seen the light, the Chicago Tribune urged readers to clean house in Springfield in a May 21 editorial, because the current bunch of Illinois legislators have created an untenable financial crisis and refuse to fix it. No kidding.

Might the Tribune have seen this crisis coming before it reached these epic proportions? It might have, had the paper been listening to conservative Illinois Republicans who predicted this was going to happen as far back as 2002. That was when then Illinois state senator Steve Rauschenberger, a strong fiscal conservative and a Republican, outlined in horrifying detail exactly how the state’s economy was going to crash and burn if Blagojevich and the Democrats went forward with their plans. And, at that point, all Blago and the Dems were doing was robbing state pension funds to pay for other government goodies.

It got worse, much worse, after they implemented the Illinois version of universal healthcare. Today, the situation is so bad that health-care providers have had to wait nine months to a year or more for Medicaid reimbursements from the state, with the predictable reductions in access to care. Thus, “improving” health care in Illinois has only made it worse.

Sounds like the model that Barack Obama, who helped create this mess as a state senator by the way, is going to emulate on a national scale, doesn’t it?

The most shameful part of this entire socialist mess is how easy it is to predict the outcome, based on the performance of prior attempts to do precisely the same thing. No health care measure in the modern world has succeeded in coming in under budget, with the exception of Medicare Part D — and that one relied on actual market forces to keep drug costs down. The Medicare program itself is more than 9 times its predicted size. The current plan will be no different; only, the dollar will not last the next ten years for us to find out.

I remember making this point to a socialist acquaintance, who replied glibly something along the lines of “Past failure is no predictor of future success.” Of course, he did not even give a single thought to how results could be made different this time around; he was just looking for a rhetorical foil to avoid having to defend charges of repeating past failures. That’s a guarantee that past failures will be repeated.

By the way, repeal or no repeal, insurance companies are going to start making plans to leave the business based on what is expected in the first year of ObamaCare’s implementation. Just out of the blocks, insurance companies may not refuse insurance to children with pre-existing medical conditions, may not cap lifetime medical expenditures, and may not drop their insured once they’ve become ill. If one understands anything about risk underwriting, one understands that restrictions like these on insurers make it impossible for them to control risk exposure. Rates will shoot upward, or insurance companies will start losing money. Either way, health care “reform” will begin its intended work: with rates rising and insurers leaving the business, progressives will seize the opportunity to declare private insurance a complete failure (neglecting to mention that they, the progressives, deliberately caused the failure) and implement completely-government-controlled health care.

Does anybody here need the explanation regarding why these three restrictions on insurers will drive them out of business? You should read Paul Hsieh’s explanation regarding insurability at The Objective Standard, and David Catron’s discusson of insurance mandates at The American Spectator. I will add that by preventing insurers from dropping their insured when they get sick, insurers have lost any serious protection against fraud by enrollees. Insurers, like any other American, should be free to contract whatever they choose, with whomever they choose, and they are entitled to the sorts of legal protection to which all free citizens are entitled.

10/16/2009 (9:10 am)

Life Under "D"

I was bemused this morning while scanning the Drudge Report at the number of headlines that remind us all what life is like when the Democrats rule the roost. It ain’t pretty.

U.S. troop funds diverted to pet projects
Study finds $2.6 billion taken from guns and ammunition

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

This reminds us of two important facts about Democrats: 1) They hate the military. They’ve expanded every aspect of American government so far except the Defense Department. Here, they’re using Defense as a piggy bank for pet projects. 2) You can’t pay attention to what they say, only to what they do. To listen to them, Afghanistan was the Right war, the Must-Win war, and they were the True Patriots who loved our soldiers. All lies. There exists no necessary relationship, in the minds of Democrats, between what they say and what they intend; they’ll say whatever they think you want to hear, then do whatever they feel like doing. They are liars.

Harry Reid Suggests Health Care to Cost $2 Trillion

Oops. I guess saving half a trillion reining in fraud and inefficiency in Medicare won’t pay for the national health care proposal after all, will it? (And, let’s face it, if they actually knew how to save that money by improving Medicare, they’d have done it already, wouldn’t they?) Seriously, what reason does any sane person have to believe the cost projections produced by Congressional Democrats, ever? When have they ever been anything but grossly wrong on the low side? Ever?

Elect Democrats, inflate the deficit. Works every time. Only, this time, it will demolish the currency, too. Not to mention turning our medical care system into Cuba’s. Wheee!

Deal may return Zelaya to power in Hondouras… Developing…

The one instance in the Western Hemisphere where a liberal republic executed its laws properly and defended themselves against a lawless neo-Marxist coup, and we backed the wrong side. Whatever they say, Democrats feel stronger sympathy toward World Socialism than they do toward American liberty. Seriously.

Foreclosures: ‘Worst three months of all time’
Despite signs of broader economic recovery, number of foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter – a sign the plague is still spreading.

The President told us it was necessary, unavoidable, that we had to swell the deficit to unheard-of size in order to stimulate the economy and stop the wave of foreclosures. He told us it was so urgent that we had to pass it in the middle of the night, before anybody had even read the bill. And then, he told us that his recovery package was “… a major step in the fulfillment of his election promise of helping millions of Americans troubled by foreclosure.”

It didn’t work. Democrats’ economic plans never work — because they do not understand economics, and they think government spending is good for an economy. Even though Japan tried exactly this strategy in a similar situation in the 90s, and it did nothing. Even though the US tried this strategy in a similar situation in the 30s, and it did nothing. Even though the currency is on the brink of collapse. Government spending, to Democrats, is like bleeding to an 18th-century physician. The patient died the last 30 times, but it’s still the right thing to do. Real experience doesn’t count, we have to do what is consistent with Democratic theory because Democrats are the Smart Ones™.

Plus, this…

Obama says he’s looking at any way to create jobs

Didn’t he insist that he was the only candidate who knew how to do that? Why doesn’t the fact that he’s still using the same language a year later, all his attempts so far having failed, surprise me?

And just out of curiosity… has he considered getting the government the hell out of the economy’s way and letting free markets stimulate innovation, while looking at “any way to create jobs?” Why do I think that hasn’t come up?

How about this one:

Limbaugh dropped from group seeking to buy Rams…
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh blames others for dropping his Rams ownership bid

So Rush Limbaugh won’t get to buy into the St. Louis Rams after all. Big deal, right? Except, in order to accomplish this, Democrats politicized sports and assassinated the character of a private citizen, inventing racist quotes out of thin air in an irruption of vitriol and gibbering rage, like demons reacting to holy water, simply because they don’t like the man. Character assassination is just about the only thing Democrats do well. They do it well because they have lots of practice. Just ask Rush. And Clarence Thomas. And Sarah Palin. And George W. Bush. And Carrie Prejean. And Robert Bork. And Newt Gingrich. And Linda Tripp. And Katherine Harris. And the list goes on, and on, and on…

Meanwhile, Democrats caution us how mean-spirited conservatives are. Pardon me while I spit.

By the way, notice the subheading, which was written by Yahoo News. It’s a lovely little demonstration of how Democrats take responsibility for the filth they launch at others. Notice how it’s implied that somehow, it’s only Limbaugh’s deficient personal character that leads him to “blame others” for his being removed from the group buying the Rams. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the flood of lies produced by Democratic media hounds. No. It’s Limbaugh’s own fault, but he lacks the character to admit it. Find it in the dictionary under “projection.”

And then there’s this, the creepiest part of all:


Wow. The entertainment and news industry in league with the White House. What happened to “the watchdog of liberty” and “speaking truth to power?” Suddenly, instead of a free, independent press, we have Brave New World, or 1984 and the Ministry of Truth. And we are not free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness; we have a moral obligation to serve Obama. This is how Democrats interpret the American experiment in government. Did you like “War is Peace?” How about “Liberty is Serving Obama?”

There’s more, but I’ve depressed myself enough. Even this last headline is not sufficient to lift my spirits:

Fox News Poll: 43 Percent Would Vote To Re-Elect President Obama
If the election were held today, 43 percent of American voters would back Barack Obama for president, according to a new Fox News poll.

It’s taken less than a year for voters to remember why they handed the government to Republicans ‘way back in 1994. Give Democrats control, and it’s like you’ve turned a valve on a fireplug leading from hell, and you’re pouring raw evil into the streets. Nothing good comes from it; they promise that everything will get better, and everything gets worse. But because they control, they get to direct what wealth hasn’t been sapped out of the system yet into the hands of their crony buddies, while they remove your liberties, smear their opponents, and turn the Land of the Free into a Socialist Worker’s Paradise.

Those numbers will continue to drop, but what of it? Will the wave of Republican, Libertarian, and Unaffiliated legislators that replace the Democrats in the coming elections have the courage to reverse this flood? Will they systematically list, then systematically repeal, every step of this full-tilt flight into Stalinism? Do they have the guts to do it while the wholly-owned subsidiary of World Socialism, the American Press, screeches in our ears how they’re making war on the poor and needy and re-instituting Hitler’s Third Reich?

We are SO screwed…

10/06/2009 (5:32 pm)

Socialism is Better — Because We Say So

It was about 10 months ago that I took on Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz over his common-for-the-left-but-intellectually-laughable notion that deregulation had led to the meltdown that occurred last fall. I can’t say whether time has proved I was correct or not, but a recent announcement in France has proved that Stiglitz is both socialist-friendly and, so far as intellectual probity goes, nuts. Well, not nuts, exactly. More like devious and dishonest.

France announced, based on work by Dr. Stiglitz, that they are going to count “well-being” in their measurements of Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) By well-being, they mean things that everybody recognizes as beneficial: you know, things like government-sponsored health care, a short work week, and an expensive welfare system. [/sarc] These count as economic “output,” according to Stiglitz and French President Sarkozy.

France’s president on Monday urged other countries to adopt proposed new measures of economic output unveiled by a panel of international economists led by Joseph Stiglitz, the US Nobel Prize winner.

Mr Sarkozy, who set up the Stiglitz-led commission last year, said the world had become trapped in a “cult of figures”.

Insee, the French statistics agency, would set about incorporating the new indicators in its accounting, Mr Sarkozy said.

One consequence of the commission’s proposed enhancements to gross domestic product data would be to improve instantly France’s economic performance by taking into account its high-quality health service, expensive welfare system and long holidays. At the same time, the commission’s changes would downgrade US economic output.

The first cut at restating French GDP managed to erase half the difference between French per capita output and US per capita output. I’m shocked. [/sarc²]

In case you’re not comfortable with macroeconomics, what’s happening here is that with the cooperation of an American academic leading a team of international economists, France has decided that a given unit of French output counts for more than the same unit of American output — because the French are “happier.” How do we know they are happier? Well, because the government does things liberals want it to do for people. That’s how we know.

So, socialist government policies boost a country’s output, not because it actually produces output, but because Joseph Stiglitz says socialist policies make them count more. Because it makes everybody happy, you see. That’s how economics works. This is science, don’t you know.

A friend sent me this via email as an example of things so stupid they’re funny. This is not funny to me, though; it’s chilling. Basically, what is happening is that an international team of economists has decided to market socialism using “science” as an advertising tool, by arbitrarily making socialist countries appear richer than they are. They do this by declaring the illusory well-being of people living under socialism as “production” — illusory because the only evidence of it is their enlightened leftist opinion that people are happier under socialism. France is going along with this, and urging other nations to do so as well.

Keep this in mind when leftists start touting the economic benefits of socialism, and insisting that this “happiness” is a human right. They’re lying, and they’re getting help in constructing their lies from Nobel-laureate economists.

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain…”
Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Psalm 2, New American Standard Version

09/12/2009 (4:24 pm)

Can You Hear Me NOW?

Politico says they expected between 20,000 and 200,000 people in Washington DC today to protest the expansion of government. A friend who was there says it was more like 2 million. Expect the government propaganda channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, TBS, and so forth) to downplay the numbers, but the people there in Washington saw what they saw.

Mr. President: can you hear us now?




The first photo is from Politico, and was taken by AP. The next two photos are from the New York Times web site. Click on the photos to visit the sites.

09/03/2009 (5:54 am)

"Bring Out Your Dead!"

bringoutyourdeadYou thought Monty Python’s “Bring Out Your Dead” skit was funny? You may not think so after you read this. A bizarre instance of life imitating comedy highlights the dangerous course being traveled by putting health care decisions in the hands of bureaucrats obsessed with cutting costs.

A group of experts wrote to the UK Telegraph warning of a growing number of cases in the UK in which patients judged to be close to death have all medications and fluids removed and are placed on sedation until they die. These experts claim that the practice masks indications that the patient may be recovering, and that the diagnosis that death is imminent becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The practice, recommended by the UK’s comparative effectiveness board (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or “NICE”) to minimize over-medicating terminal patients, has been gradually accepted nationwide in the UK since 2004. The UK now has more than 16% of deaths come about after continuous deep sedation, more than twice the rate that occurs in Belgium or the Netherlands. Hospice workers in the US think this treatment is rarely necessary, according to Wesley Smith of First Things.

The experts writing to the Telegraph note a wave of discontent from patients and families observing the treatment throughout the nation.

From the Telegraph article:

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.

The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), was designed to reduce patient suffering in their final hours.

Comparative effectiveness recommendations are already part of the Obama administration’s plans for health care, having been introduced in the Stimulus Bill. This is not just something that needs to be defeated in Congress today, it is something that needs to be rolled back from legislation already passed and in force (see my blog article from Aug 20).

The Obama administration defends a number of its practices by observing that they are voluntary rather than mandatory. However, the UK initiative was not mandatory, either; it was a recommendation from NICE, but it took only 5 years to become standard procedure in the nation’s medical facilities.

When do you suppose Sarah Palin will receive the apology she is due on this topic? I’m sure that will happen just after Dan Quayle receives his apology for the derision he suffered for observing that Murphy Brown set a bad example.

Leftists can scoff as much as they like, but the coincidence of socialism and mass deaths is too common an occurrence to be mere coincidence.

08/04/2009 (3:09 pm)

Requires No Comment (Updated)

objVia Richard Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ. Creepy, ain’t it?

Viguerie is among those who recommends use of Saul Alinsky’s tactics against the left, which has used those same tactics to demolish American liberty. I personally have a problem with doing this if it involves falsehood and character assassination. However, I don’t think this particular image misses the mark by much; in fact, I believe the true source of socialism is something a great deal more ominous than that which the image suggests.

UPDATE, 8/5: Ok, so it does need commentary.

I told somebody this morning, a little embarrassed, that this is the first time I’ve ever posted any truly offensive graphic image on my blog. That turns out to be untrue. I posted a montage of Bush/chimpanzee comparisons back in February, illustrating my response to the left’s outrage that a cartoonist might have represented the President as a chimp (he hadn’t, but that was beside the point.) What’s ironic here is that the Bush/chimp motif was so common during the Bush years that though I thought it was in extremely bad taste, it did not strike me as something too controversial to post on my rather mild blog.

It is so unusual for conservatives to treat a President in the manner that Obama/Joker treats this one, though, that I felt moved to post it just to stir the pot.

It turns out that the motif is not even original; Vanity Fair did a version of President Bush as Joker in July 2008, as recalled by The Smallest Minority yesterday. And Mark Hemingway at The Corner at the National Review reminds us of 8 years of anti-Bush art praised by the left, including dozens of instances of Bush as Hitler or the devil, and one of a lynched mannekin dressed as Sarah Palin. So, offensive as it is, Obama/Joker will stay here, if for no other reason than for leftists to feel just a small twinge of what they inflicted on the rest of us for the past 8 years.

Hat tip goes to walkercolt, who provided the link to Smallest Majority in the comments section, below.

07/16/2009 (12:14 pm)

Distrust of Private Medicine

Noted ethicist Peter Singer, who is widely and famously considered an advocate for hell’s most ghoulish positions, writes today in the New York Times regarding why rationing health care is necessary. I will address him later today, or tomorrow, when I’ve had a chance to digest the article; consider this paragraph my preliminary shot at poisoning the well. 🙂

In the meantime, though, it’s crucial to address the far-too-common fallacious thinking of the masses regarding universal health care, before we all get saddled with it.

I came across the following typical diatribe on an Amazon.com book review thread. I’m going to post it anonymously and without the link (after minor grammar and spelling corrections), in order to protect the person who wrote it. I don’t think anybody sane will consider this blog a “for-profit” enterprise, so I’m hoping that including it is permitted under “fair use” law. I will grant that the argument offered here is not the best possible argument for national health care, just a very, very common one; by demolishing it, I am not refuting the best my opponents have to offer, and thus not settling the issue. My goal here is simply to equip the average person with the ammunition to handle the ordinary nonsense they’re likely to encounter.

OK, here goes:

National health care is in the best interest of the country. The independent companies are only in business for themselves, for they are businesses. They exist solely for profit, not to help their customers. I don’t know that the govt could do a better job, but considering how awful private companies are, I can’t imagine it would be worse. After all, are we not entitled as Americans to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Not wanting to do something different and hopefully better than our current health care system is crazy, delusional, selfish, greedy, or some combination of the four. At least if it was government-operated then it would be answerable to the people instead of to boards of investors. While this may seem naive, if regular Americans got more involved it would definitely be better.

Note, first of all, the central role played by a sense of entitlement, appearing in that bizarre misuse of the phrase, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” When first penned, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” referred to a right, endowed by God to every individual, to pursue on their own, without government interference, the best possible life. In this fellow’s thinking, though, it confers onto government the duty to provide for every individual’s health. Thus are Thomas Jefferson’s fine words turned on their head, and his thoughts discarded entirely. At his core, then, the fellow who wrote that diatribe wants somebody with the power of Mom to take care of him.

Note, second, that he asserts that what he’s been experiencing all along is free-market medicine. It’s not. There has been nothing remotely resembling free market medicine in this country since the 1970s at least; medicine and medical insurance are two of the most tightly regulated enterprises in the nation. Insurers face limits and requirements on whom they insure, how much they can pay for certain procedures, and which procedures they must cover. Employers face limits and requirements on what sorts of insurance they may offer as benefits. Medical practitioners face limits and requirements about how much they may charge for particular procedures, and about which procedures are necessary and which are superfluous. Patients’ provider choices are frequently limited by networks beyond their control. Even beyond all that, the elephant in the room is Medicare/Medicaid, paying for roughly 50% of all medicine practiced in the US, establishing hard-and-fast (and often unrealistically low) prices on particular procedures, and forcing doctors and hospitals to make up their profits on non-government-subsidized patients. Ultimately, we’re just comparing a piecemeal government-run health care system with a planned one.

Now, with what reasons does our anonymous man-in-the-Internet-superhighway mask his plea to be cared for? His main excuse is his distrust of private enterprise. And it is this combination — an infantile need for someone, anyone, to rescue him from the difficulties of ordinary life, coupled with a basic distrust of ordinary business — that permits President Obama to able to get away with nationalizing everything.

His distrust is largely irrational. This fellow supposes that economic self-interest is something morally evil, even though it’s the basis of nearly every decision each of us make on a daily basis. Why does he go to work every day, if not for “profit?” Does that make his own labor untrustworthy? Of course, it does not; but he apparently thinks himself a saint where every other human being is a sinner.

Reread that last sentence, because it’s crucial to his argument; nationalizers always assume that “big corporations” are staffed by people who are simply not as decent as they are — but that government-managed agencies are staffed by decent folks, like himself. Why does this fellow imagine businesses exist “solely” for profit? Aren’t they human beings like he is? Don’t some folks do their jobs because they’re actually good at what they do, and enjoy doing it? Don’t they take pride in having done well? Don’t some choose their profession on the basis of what they’re best suited to do, or what they love? Don’t any of them ever consider the impact of the work they do? Don’t they care at all for the human being they’re serving, just because they’re a fellow human? The fellow who wrote that argument does all those things as much as he can; why does he assume others don’t? Where will this guy find a corporation with the mission statement, “To get filthy rich, and screw everybody while doing it?” Such organizations exist only in grade-C movies, and in the heads of those duped by socialists.

And where does the notion come from, that a government bureaucracy employs people who do care about their customers? Are they a different sort of human being who go to work for government, than those who go to work for private enterprise? Or are they the same people?

No, the same human beings run both private and public systems. However, those systems do not produce the same results, because the incentives are different. But the fellow asserts, without basis, that the incentives of government deserve a chance, since the incentives of business are “solely for profit.”

This, too, is irrational. Even if corporations did exist “solely” for profit and were staffed by slavering demons rather than ordinary human beings, don’t they profit best if they serve best? Businesses in general do not make profit if they do not help their customers; they go out of business. If the author of that opinion visited a restaurant and got treated like dirt, he would never return to that restaurant; he’d go instead to one where he’s treated acceptably. Same with everybody else. Businesses pay for ignoring their customers’ needs, usually with their existence. So do medical care providers — when they’re permitted to run their own businesses (which is generally not the case in America.)

By contrast to that, he asserts we should give government a chance, as though we have no prior experience with government agencies from which to draw expectations. Who is he kidding? We have lots of experience with government-run entities. Are bureaucracies here in America — or anywhere, for that matter — known for honest, well-meaning labor entirely for the public good? or is it the case, instead, that “bureaucracy” is a synonym for “callous incompetence?” The question answers itself. And if that’s so, why, tell me, why is this fellow supposing that a bureaucracy would do a better job than a business where the proprietor actually benefits from having served him well?

Notice that I said that his distrust of business is “largely” irrational. Distrust of business is not completely irrational; consumers have self-interest, too, and that’s why we protect ourselves from charlatans and frauds. Our distrust is part of what makes a free economy work. Distrust of business is only irrational when it produces a conclusion that private business cannot produce anything of value — while living in the middle of a system that has produced more wealth and better services than the world considered possible. That’s irrational; and it’s irrational to replace the current system, however dysfunctional it has become thanks to government tinkering, with a system that has uniformly produced misery wherever and whenever it has been tried.

The argument at the top of this column is unfortunately common. A huge percentage of our population, like that fellow, has been sold a lie about private business — which is why America today is pursuing an irrational course toward socialism. It doesn’t occur to them that what they’re going to get in the place of economically self-interested profit-makers is politically self-interested bureaucrats, and that those are always far worse.

I’ll finish by re-asserting this video from 1979 which I first posted back in March, in which Milton Friedman makes mincemeat of that incredibly coiffed loon, Phil Donahue, when asked if he has any qualms at all over advocating a system run by greeeeeeeeeeed (cue ghoulish laughter):

07/15/2009 (3:42 pm)

And While We're Talking Palin…

David Kahane, pseudonymous Hollywood writer, today has an explanation on NRO from the point of view of the Democratic Party regarding why they took (past tense, in his mind) Sarah Palin down. Mind you, I don’t think “Kahane” is really a Democrat; he just writes for one on TV. He’s telling it pretty directly, though. Listen:

I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but maybe now you’re beginning to understand the high-stakes game we’re playing here. This ain’t John McCain’s logrolling senatorial club any more. This is a deadly serious attempt to realize the vision of the 1960s and to fundamentally transform the United States of America. This is the fusion of Communist dogma, high ideals, gangster tactics, and a stunning amount of self-loathing. For the first time in history, the patrician class is deliberately selling its own country down the river just to prove a point: that, yes, we can! This country stinks and we won’t be happy until we’ve forced you to admit it.

In other words, stop thinking of the Democratic Party as merely a political party, because it’s much more than that. We’re not just the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition. Not just the party of Aaron Burr, Boss Tweed, Richard J. Croker, Bull Connor, Chris Dodd, Richard Daley, Bill Ayers, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Emperor Barack Hussein Obama II. Not just the party of Kendall “Agent 202” Myers, the State Department official recruited as a Cuban spy along with his wife during the Carter administration. Rather, think of the Democratic Party as what it really is: a criminal organization masquerading as a political party.

There’s a lot more, and it’s very satisfying. He ends up where I won’t go, though; recommending a Rules For Radicals retaliation strategy.

Read the whole thing. It’ll get your juices flowing.

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