Monday, February 24, 2020

The squirrel and the driver


In the 107 years since the automobile began being mass produced, the specific animal death ratios haven't changed. You still see more road kill in the form of deer, raccoon, possum, dogs and cats than you see squirrels.

One may casually assume this is due to the faster reflexes and movement of the squirrel, but who knows? Perhaps the squirrel has a slight advantage over the other animals in terms of intellectual ability to obviate. It does seem odd the way the squirrel will sometimes pause in the middle of the road, and then jet toward the curb just in time to avoid being squashed. It almost seems defiant.

Regardless, has anyone given any thought to what would happen if squirrels were suddenly given an intellectual capacity similar or equal to the drivers of the cars on the road?

To the squirrel, a car isn't a vehicle with a human driving. It's a large, noisy, smelly thing that will kill you with extreme prejudice if you linger too long in front of it. The squirrel has no conception of how and why the human drives the car, or that the human is even controlling it.

There are several layers of obfuscation between the squirrel's awareness and the driver's awareness. Although the squirrel and the driver are both occupying the same physical dimension, they might as well be in completely different universes.

The squirrel is thinking about nuts, nests, mates and survival in the most basic ways observed on our planet.

The driver of the car is also concerned about his or her own versions of those subjects, but along with those, there are thoughts about repairs needed for the car, an overdue project at work, a chemistry exam later in the week, programming algorithms that will most efficiently solve a seemingly intractable problem, dreams of a better (or worse) future, the Internet, a favorite book or TV show, the price of gas, the complexities of a personal relationship, the nostalgia being experienced by the song currently playing on the radio, etc.

The squirrel has absolutely zero conception of any of that.

So, back to my question: what would happen if squirrels suddenly had the ability to think as we do?

Everything from a complete absence of squirrel sightings on the road to unexpected giant pothole traps that catch drivers unaware and deposit them suddenly deep in a hole face first, with no way to get out of the car and back up on the road, as the hole was crafted with just the right distance to keep the doors closed.

I could certainly be wrong, but this is how I see it:

We're the squirrels, God is the driver of the car.

As long as we don't tempt fate, we're pretty much left to the parameters of our recognizable and mostly pleasant existence. We can enjoy our finite lives in our current form as much as we are willing to live within the parameters given to us. It's when we pause on the road, so to speak, that the possibility for misfortune increases way past its natural frequency.

It's when we start to imagine we're the driver in the car that things go awry. We may look at the car and think we'd love to be able to control that powerful thing, but once behind the wheel, we have no idea what we're doing.

The car is performing a function for the human that the squirrel lacks the ability to comprehend. That specific inability to comprehend is a gift to both the human and the squirrel, despite the potential danger to the squirrel via its ignorance.

Expressing the point of this essay in a different way:

Is life a chessboard and humans mere pawns to the whims of a capricious chess player?

At times, life appears to be moving us along, but if we think we're the ones choosing the squares, what's the pragmatic difference?

That may be arguable, but more importantly, when the game is over, what happens to the pieces?

Well, to the best of my limited knowledge, no chess player I know who loves chess would ever toss his or her chess set in the garbage.

Anyone who has actually read  the entire Bible understands this.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

They just want to share

A good friend of mine said something in an email recently that at first I thought was amusing, and I initially assumed he was making a joke.

Through time, I gave it more thought and realized that he was not only correct in his observation, but the tragedy was that the people he was referring to are actually being sold a skewed view of life.

The list of reasons for why this can happen to an intelligent, thoughtful person in 2020 is a long one, and a bit complex, but I can deliver the main concept for consideration.

The people being spoken of here are younger people in the United States, a group comprised mostly of Millennials and Generation Z. It has become way too common to single them out for criticism, but that's not the focus of this essay.

My friend's full statement on the matter was:

"They just want to share. Capitalists don't share."

So, what's the skewed view of life I'm referring to?

It's a set of ideas that congregate into a disturbing ball of gloom, principally populated with the following mantra:

The rich and the Right only care about money, and they don't care about helping the poor nor the environment.

Although I could, I'm not going to digress at this time into comparing the real-world data supplied by the NOAA to the habitually overstated dangers of our collective future on this planet, as indicated by the conveniently tweaked algorithms of sea-level and climate predictive models.

Instead, I'm only going to talk about one thing.

Charities.

I suppose it may seem like a great idea for us to vote a candidate into office who believes heavy taxation for the massive redistribution of private liquid assets is the answer to all our problems. Who can argue with the altruistic concept of everyone being somewhat economically equal, and forcing selfish humans to share with the less fortunate?

I can, actually.

First of all, it's a basic aspect of human nature that many are called but few are chosen. In this case, I'm referring to the harsh reality that pretty much every rational, tax-paying adult understands: there are people in the world who don't have much, and many of them need assistance, at least for some period of time.

But does the government truly need to become a source of more relief than it already is?

Let's start by looking at the WGI, or World Giving Index. The most recent data is from 2015, as the results are gathered over multiple years and are not published every year. They poll 1000 people from each of 140 countries, and in some cases they  poll 2000, as with large countries like China.

Out of 140 countries, the United States is at number 2. The criteria for measurement include the following three questions:
1) In the past month, have you helped a stranger?
2) In the past month, have you donated money to a charity?
3) In the past month, have you volunteered your time to an organization?

That's an anomaly, you might say. You might still want to insist that Western Civilization is fraught with selfish capitalism, so of course the United States could somehow impossibly be an exception due to the way the poll was conducted.

Wrong.

Of the top 10 countries, 60 percent are English speaking and considered a part of Western Civilization.

So what, you might say. Just because people in the United States answer poll questions doesn't mean they actually help anyone.

Wrong again.

The top 100 largest charities in the United States alone, according to Forbes, received a total of approximately $156,303,000,000 in donations in 2019. That's 156 billion. However, that's not even scratching the surface.

In 2018, according to Giving USA, Americans gave a total of $427.71 billion dollars to charities. Since there are approximately 329 million people in the United States, and 18.62% of them are ages 0-14, that leaves approximately 268 million.

Now divide that 427.71 billion dollars by 268 million people, and you arrive at the follow average dollar amount given per person:

$1,595.00.

Think about that for a moment.

No one's forcing any of those people to give that money. They're not compelled by the government through taxes, nor coerced by a representative from a crime syndicate. The monies donated are personal liquid assets that private individuals elected to part with, to help others.

Subtract out the persons who don't have spare money to give, and you have even less people to spread that 427 billion between. The Center for Poverty Research reports that the 2017 Census indicates approximately  39.7 million people live in poverty in the United States. 18.5 million people live in what's referred to as "deep poverty," which means they are barely getting by with a household income that's less than 50% of the 2017 poverty threshold.

Correctly assuming that poor people often still give some amount to charity, subtract the 18.5 million from the 268 potential givers mentioned earlier. You arrive at 249.5 million people who donated $427 billion dollars, or approximately

$1,714.00.

There appear to be two different ways to view the situation.

VIEW #1:
One may observe that divided by twelve, it only amounts to $142 each month. Barely a dent in the debt that beleaguers many of the poor. The government needs to get involved, because it's stingy to only devote $142 of your own money every month to help the poor.

That view focuses on how much each individual is giving, based on the national average.


VIEW #2:
This view prefers to focus on how much the poor are currently receiving as a result of existing charitable contributions from adults in the United States.

One may observe that the donated money, after taking care of the overhead necessary in non-profit organizations (around 10%), still amounts to approximately $384,939,000,000 available for distribution as food, goods and services to the poor.

Only poor people actually need assistance, so including not only the portion of the population suffering from deep poverty, but also the entire demographic (even working poor), you arrive back at the 39.7 million number of people living in some form of what's considered poverty in the United States.

Take that 384.939 billion dollars and divide it by the 39.7 million people who need it.

You arrive at this figure per person (including children and babies):

$9,696.19 per person.

Multiply that number by the average amount of people per family in the United States in 2019 (3.14), and you arrive at this average dollar amount per poor household:

$30,446.03.

That's $2,537.17 per month.

In View number Two, the rest of the logic goes like this:

Why in the heck would I want to pay more in taxes to help the poor when they have access to a potential 30K of assistance per year via the money I'm already donating to various charities?

While of course the $384 billion dollars of donations in 2018 didn't translate to handy awards of cash presented to every poor person in the country, they did manifest themselves in a very real and practical way, as food and goods and services available to anyone who needed them. The United States still offers the most opportunity for those who aspire to abandon their participation in the poverty cycle.

Don't kid yourself. All that money that's being donated to charities in this country isn't coming only from the poor, the middle class and democrats. A lot of rich people and republicans and conservative independents are giving their substantial share as well.

The final point I'd like to make is this:

If you ever feel the urge to embrace the insidious envy-based Marxist ethic of blaming the wealth of the rich for the poverty of the poorest members of society, you might want to pause and consider that the real world is not that binary.

Even in this allegedly racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and greedy capitalistic country, thanks to the generosity of elective giving by people across all classes, this is still the best place on Earth to be poor.





Thursday, February 13, 2020

Communism versus Socialism

It occurred to me that some who read the previous post might object because I'm conflating socialism with communism. Fair enough. But the comparisons between the two are too often used as a means to promote socialism.

Let me explain.

It's true that all the unattractive directives I listed are historically part of every Marxist-Leninist communist regime so far, and the textbook differences between communism and socialism make socialism look much better. In fact, socialism as an ideology doesn't sound too bad, once you remove the emotional appeal to hate the rich; it appears to leave no one behind in its opposition to capitalism.

With textbook socialism, individuals can own property, and if observed to the letter, a socialist society will retain freedom of religion. But that's the ideal, not the reality, as demonstrated by the behavior of countries around the world.

Right now, there are fourteen countries in the world that are considered full socialist states, with only four of them classified as Marxist. That sounds promising, yes?

There are twenty-two countries that consist of socialist or communist parties running the show, but they can't be truly classified as either exclusively because they have multiple parties vying for power.

Substantial amount, yes? Perhaps not.

There are eighty-two countries that were formerly socialist, but abandoned it, in many cases to pursue some form of free market democracy. Of those countries, forty-seven were short lived socialist states.

The point, however tenuous you may believe it to be, is that socialism and communism are so intertwined that on a scale between a purely socialist state and a purely communist state, you'll find, with very few exceptions, that they all are (and were) somewhere on the scale in between.

There have been no purely textbook socialist states. For any socialist government to succeed, it must have some form of private ownership and a form of capitalism. When the socialist state begins to fail, often the needle on the scale begins to point more and more toward a communist state in a desperate plight to succeed through force.

Despite many attempts to exceed the successes of a capitalist democracy such as the United States, all these countries greatly failed to achieve that lofty goal. Some fail much worse than others. The ones that fail the least feature some manifestation of a free market.

The whole focus of the supporter of socialism is helping the little guy. But one good, hard look at the effects of capitalism in countries around the world, as opposed to socialist/communist states, completely contradicts that conception.

Here are a handful of articles that you can use to come to your own conclusions:

Four Ways Capitalism Has Helped Alleviate Poverty

Extreme Poverty Rates Plummet Under Capitalism

Capitalism is the greatest anti-poverty program the world has ever known

Global Poverty’s Defeat Is Capitalism’s Triumph

Free Markets Make the World a Better Place

Capitalism In No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It

It's Not Capitalism That Causes Poverty, It's The Lack Of It

Capitalism’s Triumph


Sure, capitalism has its faults. But a country that has prospered from a free market is not the best example of the "evils" of capitalism when its citizens enjoy some of the best living conditions in the world.



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How soon we forget...

The 1960's were a time of great social upheaval in the United States. We were involved in a war overseas that caused many to question what our true moral obligations were, and to whom.

To some degree, those born 30 to 50 years after the Vietnam war and its protests can be forgiven for being ignorant of what was going on back then. But the desire to reawaken the scourge of socialism, under the altruistic intention of championing the working man, is unacceptable and quite frankly, unforgivable if allowed to continue to any sort of real foothold on American politics.

Back in the 1960's, as now, the loudest voices seem to be coming from our college campuses. Not such a coincidence when you consider the leftist agendas of the greatest percentage of academia haven't changed much since then. Some might argue that the intelligentsia are better equipped to judge the proper political dispensation of our country. An interesting idea that merits consideration, until you realize it was the same academia that encouraged college-aged protesters to line up at airports where troops were arriving home.

Were those Vietnam veterans greeted with welcoming arms for their sometimes devastating personal sacrifices and told "Thank you for your service?"

No. They were greeted with signs saying things like "Baby Killer" and they were literally spit on by many of the protesters. From the very people these soldiers risked their lives to defend.

These days, thanks to the occasional victory of common sense, the politically correct way to treat a soldier is to say "Thank you for your service." But really, as compared to the other radical ideas being shouted on campuses and in downtown Portland for example, isn't that expression of gratitude from the mouths of leftist protesters nothing more than meaningless lip service? Just one more way for them to virtue signal while they internally machinate all sorts of vilification for anyone who disagrees with their opinions, such as Andy Ngo?

One of the odd ironies of our current time is the Internet. Specifically, we are now able to instantly look up just about any information we want, including historical events. Yet for some inexplicable reason, many persons in younger generations are again falling prey to the totalitarian ideas espoused by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, because more knowledge of important information is being lost than gained.

The irony resides in the fact that Marx's and Engels's "Manifesto of the Communist Party" (now known simply as "The Communist Manifesto") has long been freely available to read on the Internet, yet most young people who support socialism have clearly not read it, or they've been exposed to crib notes that gloss over the evil contained in it.

Here is one link to the Manifesto.

In an Internet search for the Manifesto, it seems there are many links to summaries that contain various degrees of subjective apologetic, which is a shame, because if you strip all the needless prefaces and afterwords that many full copies include, you're left with only 20 pages of text, and you don't have to try that hard to find many of the objectionable directives included, such as:

1) The working class forcibly taking away all capital (assets) from the rich. But this isn't quite as 'good' as it sounds, as you continue on this list.

2) Taking away all private land ownership and transferring it to the government.

3) Heavy taxes to cover all the necessary public works in a socialist government.

4) Taking away all rights of inheritance (your assets go to the government when you die, instead of to family members or other loved ones).

5) Confiscation of all property. The Manifesto actually specifies emigrants and rebels in one place, but number two above pretty much covered this issue elsewhere in the document.

6) Centralization of all credit in the hands of the State, which basically means all money and assets of any monetary worth belong to the government, not to citizens. You have what the State allows you to have.

7) The State takes over and controls all means of communication, which means even the biased mainstream media we have now would be more balanced than a single media that says only what the government allows. Say goodbye to any independent journalism or private news networks with their own opinions.

8) The State takes over and controls all means of public transportation. No independently owned (private) means of public transportation. Transportation would be limited to that which the government feels is necessary, therefore actual freedom of movement itself becomes restricted.

9) All industry, including and especially agriculture, becomes the property of the State, so no more entrepreneurs. All means of production are controlled by the government, and if you don't like the way they do it, too bad.

10) All have to work. No freeloaders. You'll have to be able to prove to the government that you can't work, and historically speaking, all who are not productive are eventually eliminated to ease the burden on society. All get paid the same, unless they are a part of the government, which in effect becomes the new ruling class. Being paid the same isn't as egalitarian as you may first consider, because this means no matter how good or lousy of a job you do, you get paid the same. Imagine the effect that has on the average worker, or more importantly, on those who are personally motivated to give a greater than average effort in a free market.

11) The "gradual" destruction of the distinctions between town and country, so that every person, regardless of place of birth and nationality, is cast in one mold, with one voice.

12) Free education for all children (which is what we already have in public schools now, except for sports fees, etc.) in schools that teach what the government wants to teach them, regardless of what each family would prefer. Personal ethics and beliefs must take a back seat to whatever the State dictates is acceptable. And historically, communist governments (running on socialist principles) are secular and enforced as such. Which means your dear old grandma who loves Jesus is out of luck.



The Manifesto is basically a drawn out diatribe that facilitates envy and encourages violent revolution by painting the rich as evil, selfish taskmasters, and the working class as honorable, poor, destitute masses who deserve to take all the earned assets of the rich and give them to the State, so everyone can live at the same modest level, regardless of ideas, ambition or drive to succeed.

The tenets of the Manifesto are what gave Stalin in Russia, Mao in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, all three Kims in North Korea, Castro in Cuba and Chavez in Venezuela the framework with which to create monstrous regimes that slaughtered millions of people collectively. Approximately one hundred million, in fact. There are many today who will simply dismiss the 20th century by saying, "Oh, they just didn't do socialism the way it was intended to be done."

Wrong. They did it exactly as prescribed by Marx and Engels, which is why you hear so many conservatives squawking about the turn toward socialism by some of our current voters, and why the results in each of those countries were all some horrific version of the same.

Those who point at Sweden and say, "See? They're socialists and doing very well!" should be reminded that Sweden isn't actually a socialist country, where the State owns and controls all means of production. Sweden still maintains private ownership of lands, assets and businesses. It's a democracy that uses heavy taxation to increase the scope of public safety net programs, but under the framework of a capitalist economy. Don't believe everything I or Bernie tell you. Look it up.

If you can manage to resist the lazy TLDR ethic that's so popular these days, and you make it to the end of the Manifesto, you'll find these words, which are not subtle nor open to fanciful interpretation:

"The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains."

Chains indeed.

In America in 2020, apparently chains are identified by the freedom to go where you want, earn what you want if you strive hard enough, think what you want, say what you want, own what you want to work hard enough for, and of course the freedom to complain about all the evils that the "ruling class" are allegedly imposing on you while you live freely in the most prosperous country on Earth.




Monday, February 3, 2020

The Lake of Fire

So after publishing the previous post, I realized that the dumbing down of our population in the U.S. has caused many otherwise intelligent people to become completely ignorant of many aspects of the Bible.

In 1919, students in school in this country still read from the Bible daily, and it was used to both teach history and instruct on character. This resulted in adults who were appropriately civil and reverent toward each other as a rule, despite the ever-present exception that makes headlines.

In 2019, after decades of controversial Neo-Darwinist publications that were all some form of "God does not exist," not only do students not read the Bible as a part of the school's curriculum, they are completely ignorant of its contents unless they are Christians or Jews. They rely on entertainment media and pop culture to tell them what is in the Bible, and those sources are the most unreliable available.

Because of their ignorance, they don't even realize they're walking in darkness. They think that "free" means free to do whatever you want, even if it hurts who they would refer to as an 'invisible sky daddy.'

They think that 'religion' is an outmoded idea, right up there with cavemen grunting and raping nearby villages.

They think that the separation of church and state means that one's religious beliefs must remain private.

They think that there is no consequence for being promiscuous, other than a day after pill or a regimen of antibiotics.

They think that marriage is nothing special and just a piece of paper, and that if a human wants to marry an animal, such as a dog, that's perfectly okay.

They think that having lots of sex with all sorts of people is the healthy and wise way to live, because orgasm with multiple partners is their right as humans, and nobody better try to take it away.

They think that money and power are the most important things in life, and sacrificing one's integrity for those things is the smart way to live.

They think that the world owes them happiness and peace of mind, and no one better prevent that from happening or they'll file a lawsuit or cancel them in social media.

This list could go on quite a while, but I can sum it up with one more:

They think that God doesn't exist, and therefore, no one's minding the store.

Here's what it says in the last book of the Bible:

"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

That was Revelation 20:12-15 KJV

If that wasn't clear enough, Revelation 21:3-8 says:

"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." 

So now you know. If before this you thought that the Bible was just some bronze age nonsense from sheep herders who wanted to control their fellow sheep herders, and it was merely about some tyrant god who played with us like chess pieces, you now realize that the very deepest instinct you possess as a human is verified in holy scripture. The little voice that always tries to remind you that there are consequences for actions, good and bad, is not wrong.

It was put there by God.



Val Demings needs to repent

I understand that the lure of power and benefits of that power have caused many human beings through the ages to lie and deceive in order to attain their goals, however there is a line that should never be crossed in terms of slander and accusation.

Val Demings, Democrat respresentative in Florida and House Impeachment manager, today delivered a non-stop invective masquerading as a bullet point list of Trump's alleged 'crimes.' All so there can be a public record that haters of Trump can re-watch and say, "See! Trump is Hitler and those evil Republicans kept him in office! America sucks! The world is going to end!"

It doesn't matter if she wrote her closing words, or if they were written for her, or if it was a collaboration. The unacceptable level of deception being presented directly to the American people, in the form of groundless speculation sold as indisputable fact, has branded her with permanent disgrace in the eyes of those who know that facts speak louder than her pernicious fabrications.

False witness is not just one of the 'shalt nots' of the Ten Commandments. It's also one of the absolute worst evils a human can commit against another.

Although she will forever be known as a purveyor of lies in regard to the reputation of Donald J. Trump, she may find forgiveness if she immediately bends the knee in private to the Lord and Creator of us all, and begs forgiveness for her despicable actions. If she doesn't do that, she will end up in the Lake of Fire for her campaign to ruin the president, as will the rest of the nefarious interlopers in the Democratic Party who eagerly participated in the needless smearing of Trump's reputation, simply because Trump refuses to pay the political piper.

She knows what she's done, and why she did it. I don't need to belabor the point.