Monday, September 29, 2008

Exploration of Self

My quote today is from T.S. Elliot, a poet during the early 1900's Elliot's best known poems include The Waste Land, The Hollow Man, and Ash Wednesday.

"We must never cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time."

I think one of the biggest failings of evangelicals today is their fear of philosophers and a refusal to study them. Evaluating our beliefs and gleaning truth and wisdom from philosopher does not, as is commonly believed by most evangelicals, weaken our beliefs but strengthen them. By questioning our beliefs and searching for the truth we arrive back at our foundational beliefs and know what we truly believe for the first time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Legal Plunder

My quote today comes again from Bastiat, normally I will not repeat an author so soon but because of the current financial disaster being hoisted upon the American public in the form of a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street I felt that the words of Bastiat would be appropriate for the situation.

"It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.

What are the consequences of such a perversion? It would require volumes to describe them all. Thus we must content ourselves with pointing out the most striking.

In the first place, it erases from everyone's conscience the distinction between justice and injustice."

When the government talks about a bail out they are talking about plunder, stealing my money and giving it to a company I would not choose to invest in normally. This is redistribution of wealth and has no place in a lawful society. During the Cold War America stood against Communism yet less that thirty years after the fall of Communism we are adopting many of their economic positions.

Many of these bailouts the government is doing are in the form of buyouts meaning that the government is nationalizing these companies and running them. This is of course what started the whole problem; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were quasi government agencies who started the practice of risking loans and mortgages because the government wanted more low income and minority families to own homes. Because these companies were subsidized by the government they controlled a large part of the industry and could preform risky business procedures, however everyone else in the industry had to start preforming similar risky business procedures or risk being put out of business by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When their risky business procedures caught up with Fannie Maw and Freddie Mac they started the collapse of large parts of the industry; what is not needed at this point is more government intervention but less; government intervention is what started this mess.

Unfortunately neither of the Presidential candidates realize this and talk of more government regulation and intervention. I recently got a call from the Obama campaign asking me if I was supporting Obama and whether I had any questions about the issues. I asked what was going to be done about the economic crises and the Obama person said that they were going to be taking money from CEO's of oil companies because of all the money they make that we the consumer have to pay them when we need relief because of high oil prices. At this point I said "No thank you I don't believe in theft." And I hung up the phone. Unfortunately McCain is no better he also believes that the "crooks" on Wall Street can't be trusted and that Wall Street needs more oversight from Washington.

There is no Hope, there will be no Change in our future if most American's can no longer tell the difference between Justice and Injustice. If CEO's of oil companies can have their money stolen is our money any safer?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Democracy and Totalitarianisms

This years debate topic is about India so today's quote comes from Gandhi the leader of the Indian revolution. Gandhi left his mark on both Indian culture and politics that remains in effect to this day.

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?"

In today's so called war on "terror" we must consider very carefully the destruction that is wrought in the name of democracy. Consider the half a million children in Iraq who died of starvation during the food for oil program. Did it matter that the embargo was about spreading democracy? No children still died, the ends never justify the means.

Friday, September 19, 2008

American Inclinations

My quote today comes from another Frenchman but is actually a real person. Frederic Bastiat was a philosopher in the 1800s who wrote about the purpose of government.

"They [Socialist writer] assume that if the legislators left persons free to follow their own inclinations, they would arrive at atheism instead of religion, ignorance instead of knowledge, poverty instead of production and exchange. According to these writers, it is indeed fortunate that Heaven has bestowed upon certain men — governors and legislators — the exact opposite inclinations, not only for their own sake but also for the sake of the rest of the world! While mankind tends toward evil, the legislators yearn for good; while mankind advances toward darkness, the legislators aspire for enlightenment; while mankind is drawn toward vice, the legislators are attracted toward virtue. Since they have decided that this is the true state of affairs, they then demand the use of force in order to substitute their own inclinations for those of the human race"

Now I assume that we can agree that certain humans don't have better inclinations than all other humans and that the government shouldn't tell us what to believe or tell us we need to be enlightened. So I would ask why do so many people believe that America has better inclinations than other countries? If legislators don't need to tell us to yearn for good, to be enlightened, or to be virtuous why does America need to tell countries to like freedom, to hate despots, or to be enlightened?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Freedom and Chains

Today's quote comes from a very different author, he was born in La Barre, France in 2305. He went on to become a galactic explorer, diplomat and the captain of the USS Enterprise. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is the person I'm quoting today.

"With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably."

Captain Picard is talking to an internal investigator who is attempting to charge Picard with treason because of his defense of a suspected saboteur.

Picard is spot on though, if a speech or a thought or a freedom become unnecessary, if in the name of country, security or morality why is the next speech, thought or freedom any more important? Why should it be respected more than the first one? Every speech, every thought and every freedom should be held dear and protected at all cost.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Post

I've decided to start a new blog; the purpose of this blog will be to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday post a new quote that I find, write a bit about what I think and then, hopefully, hear what you all think about the quote. Our first quote today is from one of my favorite philosophers; Ayn Rand. The founder of Objectivism Ayn Rand first started writing during the 1950's eventually writing one of the most influential books today; Atlas Shrugged.

"The hidebound traditionalist and the modern college activist are two sides of the same psych-epistemological coin. The first seeks to escape the terror of an unknowable future by seeking safety in the alleged wisdom of the past. ("What was good for my father, it's good enough for me!") The second seeks to escape the terror of an unintelligible past by screaming his way into an indefinable future. ("If it's not good for my father, it's good enough for me!) And, paradoxically enough, neither of them is able to live in the present."

I think this quote could work just as well if you substituted Conservative for hidebound traditionalist and Liberal for modern college activist.

Conservatives often talk about returning to the past and how great it was and often pass over some of the darker things from the past. They blame anything bad in the present on Liberals and activist who don't hold to "traditional" values.

Meanwhile Liberals can not stand the present because Conservatives are holding everyone back in their antiquated views of the world. Anything bad in the present is blamed on Conservatives who if they would just get out of the way we could all go into the future much more "enlightened".

The truth of the matter is that blindly following past tradition or charging into a indeterminate future doesn't work; we need to live in the present and engage in honest discussion of the big questions like why we do what we do, or what is the purpose of what we do? The gone past and the uncertain future are not the places to look for them and if we keep trying to live in the past or rush to the future we will not have the discussion of what for and why?