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Monday, May 30, 2011

Newt Gingrich's "To Renew America"

Picked up a dog-eared copy of Newt Gingrich's "To Renew America", a book written some 16 year ago, which in the political world may as well have been before electricity. It is interesting to see in black and white how Republicans are still chasing after the same old problems, only now, in 2011, the problems are much more acute. Welfare, the national debt, the Fed, social security, imperial overreach; all are there.

Briefly, the book is split into three parts: a summary of former Speaker Gingrich's childhood, an apologetic for the Contract With America (where, for a brief time measured in months, it was cool to be a Republican) and the 1994-era Republican Party platform, and a play-by-play of the first 100 days of the 104th Congress where the Republican party drove to implement as many steps of the Contract With America as it could.

As this book was/is mostly an advert for the the establishment Republican party, circa 1995, only bound in hardcover form, I will dispense with the usual book review treatment and focus on a few areas which caught my attention.

The first of these is Gingrich's call to "reassert the values of American civilization". Here, he writes:
When I spoke in March 1995 to the National League of Cities, I cited [Gertrude] Himmelfarb's book [The Demoralization of Society] and asserted that the time had come to re-establish shame as a means of enforcing proper behavior. It is shameful, I said, to be a publi drunk at three in the afternoon and we ought to say so. People began applauding. It is shameful, I said, for males to have children the cannot support and we ought to say so...[it] is shameful for radio stations to play songs that advocate mutilating and raping women.

Cultural signals are a powerful and legitimate means of enforcing proper behavior. One of the responsibilities of public leaders is to encourage the kind of public environment we want. Our culture should be sending over and over the message that young people should abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage, that work is a part of life, and that any male who does not take care of his children is a bum and deserves no respect.

Healthy societies send healthy signals to their children and to those who have become temporarily confused at any age. Look at the sick signals we are now sending through the entertainment industry and popular culture. Is it any wonder that society is so confused if not downright degenerate?
Reading this with the benefit of 16 years of hindsight, it is clear that the values of the previous generation, the Baby Boomers and their parents, the Silents, drove the text of the legislation of this period.* In this legislation was embedded the values of this generation, namely, that men are the actors in society, women the bystanders. Fatherlessness and divorce the product of bad men, a function of male caprice; women were stuck with courageously cleaning up the mess. The equivalent, maybe even majority contribution to the surging divorce rate of women or government itself never registered.

* The 1996 welfare reform act is a case in point. This legislation shifted the burden for children living without a father in the home significantly over to the father themselves, conveniently forgetting that (a) the State itself incentivized out of wedlock childbirth, and (b) the State quite often colluded with mothers to remove the father from the family home without his consent. But as previous generations considered father absence to be a function of abandonment, not a deliberate parendectomy, despite a torrent of data to the contrary, such a bill seemed right and proper.

As a personal anecdote, I have noticed this generational schism in how men and women are viewed. Both sexes of the older generations have difficulty recognizing feminism, indeed Marxism of all stripes, for the scourge that it is, probably because they didn't have to live through it. Easy divorce? Rather than being a vehicle to undermine the bedrock of society, the family, and where (mostly) women and (sometimes) men are incentivized to break their supposedly insoluble unions, it (divorce) is the just desserts paid to men's poor marital behavior. Otherwise, why would heroic women want to leave? Sexual harassment? Rather than being a vector that transforms the workplace from one of merit to...well, I don't know what, certainly not merit and productivity, clearly unbalanced sex harassment law is the fault of men behaving badly and their immature, locker-room behavior. Otherwise, why would long-suffering women complain so much? Domestic violence and rape laws? Well, rather than being a tool by which the Constitutional and common-law rights of men are obliterated in an effort to implement feminist DV / rape culture, such laws are instead the right and proper response to millenia of patriarchal violence and oppression. Otherwise, why would women come forward? We know women would never lie about something so terrible as a rape, or being abused by their husband, right? And abortion? Rather than being the craven murder of helpless innocents, it was instead necessary to dispose of all those pregnancies created by men who impregnated hapless women. Otherwise, why would a woman want to do something so terrible as abort a fetus, were it not for a man raping a woman, committing incest with a woman/girl, or his unwillingness to marry the mother?

Thus it is through the lens of our particular generations that issues are viewed; for Boomers and Silents, men are fundamentally evil and women are pure and good unless made otherwise by the mistakes/failures/crimes of a man. For Xers and Millenials, however, the calculus is much different. We Xers and Millenials grew up in the wasteland left behind when the Boomers nuked the culture, and it is heartening to see a great many Millenials, even more so than my fellow Xers, take a much more realist approach to both the strengths and weaknesses of each sex and proceeding from that point of departure, rather than reflexively condemning one while pedestalizing the other.

Moving on to another topic, I did appreciate the truth to the power of the bankster that Gingrich spoke when he wrote:
...inflation played a huge role in destroying the Weimar Republic. Nothing can lead to dictatorship faster...than when the middle class loses its savings through hyperinflation. The Weimar notes...ran from one hundred marks at the beginning to an overprinted bill stamped "one billion marks". In the last days of the Weimar inflation, it was not uncommon for people to bring wheelbarrows of money just to pay for groceries
I can't add to this substantively, because Mr. Gingrich is right on the money here. As soon as the rest of the world un-pegs their currencies to the dollar, and when oil and other international commodities are not priced in dollars, look out below.

I also thought he was prescient in his attack on deficit spending:
Baby Boomers need to realize that the federal government must balance its operating budget if they are ever going to be able to collect their Social Security. Those who think the situation is still too distant to worry about need look no further than Medicare to understand that America is on the precipice of substantial fiscal problems.
Whodathunkit that we, 16 years later, would have made no progress whatsoever in closing deficits and fixing Medicare / Social Security. Indeed, Gingrich's own Republican party passed the largest expansion of Medicare ever through the budget-busting Medicare prescription drug benefit. So much for fiscal conservatism; via "compassionate conservatism", fiscal prudence it was quickly discarded in an obvious yet failed attempt to buy the votes of seniors with the paychecks of the young.

I also liked what Mr. Gingrich had to say about the state of the educational system. In this area, he was a bit of a Cassandra, sounding the alarm about an educational model that had long outlived its usefulness, and proposing a new way to educate Americans that captured the new way Americans will educate themselves: distance learning, outside of brick-and-mortar institutions. He contrasted what he called "third wave" education against the "second wave" industrialized educational model that we currently employ. To wit:

1. Lifetime learning versus a segmented system (in which learning only happens at "school")
2. Learner-focused versus teacher focused education
3. Achievement versus process as a measure of success (core classes that waste students' time)
4. Society-oriented versus isolated systems
5. Technology-embracing versus technology averse learning

But the one thing that resonated with me the most about Gingrich's book was his brave call to establish English as the American language. Nowadays, such a call would be condemned as hopelessly racist by left-illiberals (I'm sure it was condemned then too, but on a lesser scale). Here is what Gingrich had to say:
Sometime in the 1960s, we were told that since all people and cultures were equal, it was inappropriate for middle-class America to impose the English language on poor people and people from other cultures. The imposition of this racist, colonial way of speaking on young people of other ethnic groups would deprive them of their cultural roots. There are two problems with this argument. First, at a personal level, it is difficult for a poor person or an immigrant to get anywhere in this country without learning English.** There are nearly two hundred different languages spoken in America. Yet nearly all our business, politics, education, and commerce is conducted in English. It's just plain easier to have one standard language than a dozen. It is liberating when people can understand each other.

** While somewhat true in 1995, the linguistic Balkanization of America has proceeded afoot, to the extent that it is quite possible to eke out a subsistence in some areas in this country while lacking the ability to speak standard English. And I'm talking both the urban ghettoes of Philadelphia and Atlanta to the farmland of Mexifornia.

The new multiculturalism takes a much more radical approach. Bilingualism keeps people actively tied to their old language and habits and maximizes the cost of the transition to becoming an American...[y]et the personal problems caused by bilingualism are overshadowed by the ultimate challenge they pose to American society. America can absorb an amazing number of people from an astonishing range of backgrounds if our goal is assimilation. If people are being encouraged to resist assimilation, the very fabric of American society with eventually break down.

Every generation has two waves of immigrants. One is geographic--we call them "immigrants". The other is temporal--we call them "children". A civilization is only one civilization deep and can be lost in a very short time. Insisting that each new generation be assimilated is the sine qua non of our survival. Without English as a common language, there is no such civilization.
These lessons are reinforced by history. Presently, I am reading another book, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. One of the lessons presented in the book is just how critical language is to the smooth operation of the realm. When one language predominates, government is smoother, commerce more efficient and, most importantly, culture is not only preserved but reinforced and propagated. The Romans thought language was so important to the smooth operation of their empire that they required Latin as the official language in every land they conquered, with few exceptions. They recognized that through language is culture transmitted, and through language are thoughts expressed and given form. Control the language, and to a degree the direction of the culture is guided.

All told, this book, a walk through the mind of the not-quite-Left, not-quite-Right establishment Republican party, circa 1994-1995, was quick and easy. The generational attitudes toward the relative culpability of men and women for their individual decisions was readily apparent, and the victory of the religious Left and the corporatist Right in the culture wars (especially in regard to immigration and language) is readily apparent. It was also interesting to see how we as a country have been living one collective Groundhog Day when it comes to budgetary and fiscal matters, where the issues that confronted us then are largely the ones that afflict us now.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quote o The Day

From cracked.com, a comment about motorcycling that, while gross, was funny:
I was hit once by a large wood hornet at about seventy. It felt like Maria Sharapova practiced her backhand on my face with a tennis ball filled with rancid semen.
I can relate. I've been hit by huge bugs that sometimes leave bruises. That is, if they don't fly under your chin bar and zot you right in the eyes.

And I ride all jocked up too. Go figure.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review: Conquer the Crash

Robert R. Prechter's 2002 book Conquer the Crash ties Elliot Wave theory, Kondratieff Cycle theory, and Austrian economics together to make the case that (a) a big stock market crash is coming, (b) it is completely predictable and unavoidable, and (c) one can not only avoid getting hurt in the inevitable deflationary depression.  While the book is dated...it is 9 years old, after all...the theories, principles, and advice dispensed inside is as applicable to 2011 as it was to the days immediately following 9-11.

The Gist: Using Elliot Wave theory, Prechter contends that business cycles are not driven by monetary policy, fiscal policy, or political twiddling with the country's economy, but by irrational psychological forces driven by the mentality of the human herd. This mentality does all the wrong things at the wrong time, for instance, buying high and selling low, for reasons attributable to popular sentiment, such as Greenspan's famed "irrational exuberance". It (the irrational herd mentality) also manifests itself via market valuations resembling a  regular, repeating pattern that consists of five waves: a slow build (wave 1), a slight contraction (wave 2), a much stronger and economically robust climb (wave three), a moderate contraction (wave 4), and terminating with an apparently strong but fundamentally weak climb (wave 5). These five waves are followed by a three down waves a, b, and c, in which a represents the sharp drop characteristic of a depression, wave b is a moderate "dead cat bounce" climb, and wave c is weaker downward trend. These waves can "nest" inside each other, depending upon the span of time in which one looks at the data; Prechter claimed (in 2002, remember) that we were set up for a "grand supercycle" depression of a wave 5 peaking just as a grand wave III was peaking, meaning that we are headed into a wave 4 downwave. See images of Elliott Waves here.

Translation: America's best times for the next century or so are behind her, as she rides out Grand Supercycle Wave IV, waiting for the bottom and the rush up to Wave V.

The following quote conveniently sums up the first half of the first half of the book:
The fact that price changes are patterned proves that the collective's net valuations are not reasoned, but it also shows that they are not random, either. The remaining option is that they are unconsciously determined. Indeed, shared mood trends and collective behavior appear to derive from a herding impulse governed by the phylogenetically ancient, pre-reasoning portions of the brain. This emotionally charged mental drive developed through evolution to help animals survive, but it is maladaptive to forming successful expectations concerning future valuation. The only way for an individual to temper the consequences of the herding impulse and to gain independence from it is to understand that it exists.

Stocks are not registering a Supercycle top like that of 1929, but a Grand Supercycle top...the entirety of Grand Supercycle wave IV should last a century and comprise two or three major bear markets with one or two intervening bull markets


The second part of the first half of the book explains what deflation is and makes the case for long-term deflation following a Wave 5 peak. He touches on the theory of banking and credit, discusses (in a head nod to the Austrians) how fractional reserve banking contributes to the inflationary booms of waves three and five, and introduces the Kondratieff Cycle, which theorizes that monetary contractions are regularly occurring and predictable over time, and are marked by "several years of declining commodity prices, a few years of newly declining wholesale and retail prices, and a sharp decline in industrial production". It is also in this section where he absolutely pops the conceit that the central bank or any other centralized entity can control the economy, since, according to Prechter, said economy is governed more by the invisible hand of popular psychology than it is by the relatively meager machinations and interventions of a central banker or politician.

The second half of Prechter's book focused on what can be done to protect one's wealth and even enlarge it, in what he saw as a sustained bear market for the next few decades. To wit:

1. Bonds: Buy bonds. Safety is your goal. Stay with a short-term bond ladder. Do not rely on "downgrading" via credit rating agencies to signal when to get out; rating agencies lag market forces, so when a bond is downgraded, it is usually too late to get out.

2. Real estate: avoid purchasing or owning real estate until the market bottoms. Real estate is illiquid, and will fall hard when the stock market falls hard. Avoid REITs. Rent if you can, and get out from underneath huge mortgage payments.

3. Collectibles and Numismatic Coins: Do not invest in collectibles or art, since the value of said articles goes through cycles too and are usually subject to fads. In particular, get out of rock and roll and other Boomer memorabilia, as the demand for this niche market is set to fall when the Boomers retire. In addition, Prechter recommends that investors not pay price premiums for the numismatic value of rare coins, since in a depression, the value of a coin will be its melt weight, not its rarity.  Moreover, there is no guarantee that the government will exempt numismatic coins from future confiscation attempts as they did some 80 years ago during GDI.

4. Cash: Prechter claims that the watchword of investing...diversification...is a trap in a deflationary depression because everything goes down (as opposed to bonds and stocks moving in opposite directions, as is the typical behavior of these instruments). He advocates that investors have at least some currency on hand, held in certain specific "cash equivalents" that are safe and held in a safe facility. Next to bullion-type gold and silver coins, Prechter recommends holding short-term US treasury debt directly or investing in money markets that themselves invest exclusively in short-term US treasury obligations.  For those investors who can and are inclined to invest outside the USA, Prechter recommends opening an account at a stable bank in countries such as Switzerland and/or Singapore, countries who had/have very good fiscal/monetary fundamentals, whose people are financially conservative, and who are unlikely to inflate their currencies.

5. Find a "Safe" Bank: According to Prechter, in a deflationary crash, a relatively safe US bank has a good shot at survival or even prosperity.  He also recommends, if the investor has the means and inclination, banks in countries that are unlikely to impose exchange controls, wealth transfer restrictions and the banks themselves have a low overall debt-to-deposits ratio.  Once again, such banks reside in Switzerland and Singapore.  Prechter takes care to warn the reader that not all banks in Switzerland or Singapore are safe; some are laden with the same derivatives and leveraged investments that US banks are, and that investors must do their homework before selecting a safe harbor for their money.

6. Stocks:  Prechter recommends that you do not invest "long" in stocks, stock mutual funds, stock index futures, stock options, or other equity-based investments.  He also discusses investment in bear funds at length.

7. Commodities: Unless you are a player in commodities and know what you are doing, Prechter recommends investors stay away from this game.

8. Precious metals: Despite the poor performance of precious metals as a "deflation hedge", "war hedge", and "depression hedge", and despite the staggering losses of those invested in precious metals in the two decades prior to the publishing of the book in 2002, Prechter recommended acquiring silver and gold since both were cheap in relative terms and that people could have it in their physical possession, something they may find difficult when the mad scramble begins.  Prechter recommended against buying gold and silver in paper form, as well as gold and silver stocks.  Physical metal in the investor's possession and stored somewhere safe (i.e., not a bank deposit box) is the way to go.

9. Your Retirement Account: The track record of countries around the world suggests that countries facing a deflationary depression are likely to seize privately held retirement monies to help balance the books in its public entitlement systems, and Prechter outlined a method by which the USG could do the same without a direct seizure: rule that IRA, 401(k), and Keogh investors could no longer have any portion of their retirement monies in stocks, require that they be invested instead in T-bills, and raise the penalty for early withdrawal to 100%.  Bingo...a seizure without a seizure.  His advice, get out if you can.

10. Insurance and Annuities. Prechter warns that many insurance and annuity companies are invested in junk-grade debt as a way of maximizing their returns, and recommends that investors move their whole life insurance policies to a sound insurer as soon as possible.

11. Reliable Sources for Financial Warnings.  Prechter takes a jaundiced view of the ability of rating agencies to sound any kind of warning with sufficient time to act; often these agencies lag the initial indicators and waiting for their downgrade to move your money is a bad idea.

12. Physical Safety.
The main social influence of a bear market is to cause society to polarize in countless ways.....social, religious, political, racial, corporate, by class and otherwise.  In a bear market, people in whatever way are impelled to identify themselves as belonging to a small ersocial unit than they did before and to belong more passionately.

There is always some social unrest, even in the late stages of a bull market, but conflict always escalates in a bear market.  One reason that conflicts gain such scope in depressions is that much of the middle class gets wiped out by the financial debacle, increasing the number of people with little or nothing to lose and anger to spare.
Regarding ensuring physical safety in a bear market, Prechter recommends preparing for one's chosen course of action intelligently, asking questions such as "is there a more sensible alternative?" or "is this course of action really necessary?". In other words, preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse may not be the wisest thing to do with one's money.  The aim is toward preparing for more likely scenarios over less-likely scenarios, such as the imposition of currency controls in your country or military attack from without.

Preparing for a Change in Politics.  Bear markets generate a "throw the bums out" sort of mentality when it comes to politicians.  Third parties, outsiders, and radicals do well in elections during bear markets.  Moreover, national and international moods that is are more radicalized than during bull markets.  International politics will become increasingly dangerous, while debt, fiat money, inflation, and liquidity turn monetary risk into political risk.  If one has political aspirations, one will want to run for office at the market bottom.  This way, political hopefuls will reap the benefits of the cyclical upswing in market valuation.   This mentality is not fair, as it is the public that controls the social mood, not elected pols, but it is what it is.

Identify a Safe Haven. Ensure that your passport is current.  Prechter recommends Anglophone countries, as well as Ireland and Switzerland, all for their mild politics and political traditions.  If you can, move to your safe have country now, rather than wait until after the scrambling starts and the doors close.

Call in Loans and Pay Off Debt.  Ensure that you do not lend your money to a weak debtor, and if at all possible, become debt-free.  Governments, particularly municipalities, will probably default on their debt. If you can afford it, the best mortgage is no mortgage at all.  Also, dopossible, become debt-free.  Governments, particularly municipalities, will probably default on their debt. If you can afford it, the best mortgage is no mortgage at all.  Also, do not rely on government programs to feed you or your family, especially in old age.

Businesses.  Locate your business in a state with "at will" employment laws, reduce large business inventories, offer a discount for cash up front if a supplier, and unwind your derivatives if a financial institution.


A Short List of Dos and Don'ts: Prechter recommends taking the following below actions, which sum up the advice given in the second half of his book:

Don't:
Own stocks, own anything but the most pristine bonds, invest in real estate, buy commodities, invest in collectibles, or trust rating services to give you sufficient advanced warning.

Do:
Talk to parents who may be planning to pass assets to you--help them get safe and liquid, keep cash on hand,  open accounts at two or three of the safest banks in the world, invest in short-term money-market instruments issued by the most sound governments, own some precious metals, buy insurance only through the safest companies and the safest banks, sell collectibles, and sell your business(es).

Bottom Line: In all, I found the beginning part of this book the most interesting, as I had previously heard of Elliott Waves but did not know much about them. The second half of his book contains quite a few specific steps and companies to contact to execute Prechter's recommendations; readers may access these recommendations by finding a copy of the book and viewing the companies listed.   In the hindsight of the last nine years, Prechter's predictions have been more or less right on, whether he continues to be correct about the course of the next century remains to be seen.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Roundup - 20 May 11 Edition

From the False Rape Society, how our servicemen are typecast as rapists in sexual assault prevention training.

From Grerp, about a year ago, a (relative) oldie but a goodie: Reinforce the authority of your childrens' father. Key quote:
I realize there is a certain practicality in reinforcing male authority. It really doesn't matter to me who sits at the head of the table. Half the time I'm in and out of the kitchen getting stuff, so I sit on the side and that works fine. But it does matter to my son, who has shown a vaguely covetous attitude about that head chair, and it matters to my husband who actually said to me the other night, "It's so nice to come home to dinner and to eat it as the head of the table. It's such a good way to end the day."

From FB, a post about a high school boy arrested for doing something similar to what Karen Owens did.

Teaching elementary math at home, by Alte.

Chuck at GLP writes anecdotally about the racial experiences of the average white Joe Sixpack.

From Athol Kay, advice to men (but really can be applied to both sexes) that those who aren't wife (husband) material are a waste of your dating time.

This woman comes to realize that the desire to be protected and cared for is innate, hardwired:
Many women today never get the protection they deserve, period. If they have some inchoate longing for “the seductions of dependence,” it’s not because they’re petty or immature, but because they’ve been robbed.
I note also this article, which appeared in the National Catholic Register, was laced with some pretty heavy feminist overtones. I found that both disappointing and unsurprising, given the inroads feminism has made in the Church, both Protestant and RCC. I also find it to be not a little bit ironic, because the agent that "robbed" women of the "seduction of [inter]dependence" was feminism itself. HT: Oz Conservative.

British scientists think they've found a blood test that will predict how long one will live.

How our present strategy of democratically targeting aid and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan is counterproductive, by Phi at Delenda est Cathargo.

White school teachers in Philly sue for racial discrimination.

Affirmative action in education for illegal migrants? Low-income native whites discriminated against so the children of illegal aliens can enjoy race-based advantages? Apparently so.

Who's objectifying whom here? 1/3 of university students approve of hooking to pay for college tuition.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Service Interruption

Folks, I've been on the road the last couple of days, will be on the road for a couple more, and as such have only intermittent email connectivity.

Moreover, seems the ISP that I have available to me at present blocks all 'blogspot' pages, but I can get to Blogger, thus this post.

Posting and especially commenting will hopefully be back to normal soon.

An Example of Not-So-Subtle Feminist Propaganda

...in the Virginia public school system.

The below question was administered to S1 by a 5th-grade Virginia public school teacher in an American History quiz recently:
Women who were fighting to end slavery recognized their own bondage and formed the ____

A. Temperance movement
B. Education movement
C. Employment movement
D. Women's rights movement

[Bolded text my emphasis]
Of course, (d) was the correct answer. To equate the condition of women in the mid 1800s, single or married, with the bondage of plantation chattel slavery is about as clearly written Big Lie feminist revisionist propaganda as one can get.

I find it interesting that the temperance movement is mentioned here in this question, for such a movement demonstrated clearly, early on, the hostility of the nascent women's movement in the United States toward individual rights if the exercise of those rights resulted in an end that the self-appointed social nannies in the women's movement disapproved. In other words, the temperance movement demonstrated the women's movement's inclination toward totalitarianism and Big-Sisterism. Of course, this level of analysis doesn't quite make it into a modern 5th grade PS textbook, but there you are.

Adding insult to injury, from this same test, the following analogies were also made:
Suffragist is to the rights of _____
as
Abolition is to freedom from slavery

A. Women
B. Minorities
C. Immigrants
D. Farmers

Frederick Douglas is to Abolition
as
_____ is to Women's Suffrage

A. Susan B. Anthony
B. Harriet Tubman
C. Harriet Beecher Stowe
D. Phillis Wheatley

((a) is the correct answer)
And just in case the student hasn't quite grokked the link between Abolitionism and feminism, the following question was also posed
Which Abolitionist wrote the North Star newspaper and worked for rights that would better the lives of African Americans and women?

A. Harriet Tubman
B. Frederick Douglass
C. William Lloyd Garrison
D. Susan B. Anthony

(Frederick Douglass was the correct answer).
In all these examples, we repeatedly we see the state of women lacking the vote in 19th century America being equated with slavery, suggesting that this false historical account was not only taught to S1, but was heavily reinforced in through testing. While I'll grant that there was probably a lot of overlap between the Abolitionist movement and the feminist first wave, I think it is farcical to link the condition of unsuffraged free white women to that of blacks of either sex in chattel slavery.

This folks is the sort of "education" that your children receive when you hand them over to government agents for 8 hours per day. No schooling or education is value-free, and without a doubt, the above questions sampled for this post evinces the sort of values they are to imbibe. This quiz also serves as support for my contention that nothing short of your children's attitude toward freedom and traditional pre-Marxist Western culture hangs in the balance when parents give their children over as a sacrifice to the State.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Logically Challenged Slutwalkers

One doesn't have to go far around the blogosphere to read about the raft of slutwalking going on of late. For those out there like me who have been more or less disconnected from the news, here's what's going on:
When a police officer from Toronto went on a routine visit to Osgoode Hall Law School to advise the students on personal safety, little did he know that he would unwittingly inspire a movement that has caught fire across Canada and the US.

"You know, I think we're beating around the bush here," Michael Sanguinetti began, blandly enough, as he addressed the 10 students who turned up for the pep talk. Then he said: "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised."

Some 2,351 people have signed up via Facebook to attend a SlutWalk through Boston on Saturday, when they will chant "Yes means yes, no means no," and "Hey hey, ho ho, patriarchy has to go."

Further SlutWalks are planned in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. And that's before you get to Argentina, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK.
I view the whole thing with a certain sort of frustrated bemusement. Looking over the plethora of posts in my immediate blogging circle regarding the Slutwalk, I think Mark Richardson over at Oz Conservative was onto something when he said that he feels less "connected to them as part of the society I inhabit" due to their loud-and-proud annoucement to the world that yes, they aspire to be sluts. Do these women really want to be known to all as promiscuous slatterns who spam the social ecology with their sex? Are they really so proud of their socially destructive behavior that they are willing to poke the (fading) mores of wider society in the eye? Why would I want to associate with these jerks? I'd rather just walk away and let them crash and burn on their own.

The blogmistress over at Equal But Different, Kim, had a good take on the whole brouhaha when she wondered why feminists were trying to "take back slut", something she "wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole", wondering why the slutwalkers weren't trying to take back something a bit more constructive, like motherhood or femininity. Indeed.

Then there was the ever-excellent Dalrock who just happened to note the surprising nexus between the feminist-inspired slutwalks in the DFW area and area Reds who share Marxist ideology with the feminist groups who put the Slutwalker Revolt together.

But of all the blog post that I read on this topic, I thought Bonald at Riding With The King said it best, when he opined about the social violence inherent in all this slut-strutting:
It’s not to protect them from rapists that we demand that women adhere to our culture’s standard of modesty. The point of the law is to protect society, to preserve a public, visible moral consensus. Deliberately flouting a culture’s standards of modesty is an assault on the community’s moral consensus. It is an aggressive act, and the community has the right to protect itself through the law. One might worry that the affront isn’t always intended. Perhaps a woman is just trying to catch a man’s eyes, or–even more innocently–she has just been careless. Thanks to SlutWalk, we now know that for many women–all the ones attending these marches–their indecent dress and behavior is deliberate malice. They proudly embrace the title, not only of shameless dressers, but of indiscriminate fornicators. Their explicit goal is to exempt female sexual behavior entirely from the community’s moral sense. In public at least, we are to be forced to embrace every form of reckless and selfish behavior, so long as the perpetrator is a woman and sex is involved. This is an attack on our civilization. These shameless loose women are not silly, misguided girls who we’re trying to protect from their own imprudence. They are nihilist revolutionaries bent on our culture’s destruction.
I think Bonald's analysis drives at why quite a few men find sluts repellent and slut-walking offensive, because we instinctively react negatively to the pollution of the social ecology wrought by such immodestly dressed and raunchily behaved women. We know poison when we see it. But the protestations of a fraction of the male population (while, unfortunately, another larger fraction of men is undoubtedly cheering it) doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of things because the burblings of a bunch of reactionary men are easily neutralized in our contemporary culture when it comes to issues of women's sexuality, viz how easily the debate was shifted to the easily defeated strawman "slutty dress is somehow linked to sexual assault rates". I'll dissect this false connection in a moment, but first, I'd like to discuss the slut-shaming of a demo that can't be so easily dismissed: women themselves.

It is chaste/modest women whose opprobrium is the sort of condemnation that the slutwalkers would be more or less unable to counter with accusations of "rape apologist" and "misogynist". For it is the relationships of upright women to their men that are most harmed by the rude and reckless behavior of the Slutwalkers. And no less a feminist than Naomi Wolf herself recognizes that a man need only walk down a street to be bombarded with pornographic and near-pornographic sexual imagery...women in relationships with men should be very indignant about the continued commodification (and as a consequence, cheapening) of female sexuality by other women. Sluts don't threaten men--they may offend us, or tempt us, amuse us, or irritate us--but sluts very much threaten non-slutty women, the security of all women's relationships with the men around them, and the very fabric of our communities.

And this is where the protection issue comes in, and where the slut-walkers miss the point in this whole issue with all their beating up of the strawmen they've erected. The biggest protection issue comes not from hordes of women donning whore's uniforms; rather, the protection issue comes from the behavior of the slut herself and the effect of her slutty behavior on the social fabric around her.

First, the behavior. I don't think slutdress has a significant measurable effect on rapes per se. But I do think that women who dress provocatively are likely to also engage in behavior that increases their risk for sexual assault, such as hanging out in less-safe places, being intoxicated, sex with multiple partners, hooking up, being around men of lesser moral character, etc. All these behaviors put the woman at increased risk of a sexual assault. Thus while the direct causal relationship between slutdress and sexual assault is dubious, I suspect there is a correlative effect, brought on by behaviors that combine together to manifest themselves in elevated sexual assault rates. Which is why the slutwalkers' denial that their actions have any impact on what happens to them later is so dangerous; by twisting the police officers' words into "slutdressers deserve to be raped", they miss the opportunity to re-evaluate their risky behaviors and make better choices.

Let me put this another way. Saying that a woman's behavior was a contributing factor to what happened to her later in the evening is a long way from saying that a woman deserved to be raped or that her bawdy dress caused her to be sexually assaulted. Contribution != causation. And as much as the slutwalkers wish to believe that they are not responsible for their behavior, they do indeed have choices and those choices have consequences that can and do have very dire physical security implications for themselves and others.

Second, slutty behavior does result in decreased physical security for women, but not in the way that this discussion has been framed thus far. Rather than slutdress causing rape, or upright men consciously refusing to protect slutty women (the claim of Laura Wood over at The Thinking Housewife), I think that men are socially marginalized in communities in which slutty behaviors--immodest dress, sexual promiscuity, and serial polyandry--are permitted. In such communities, women enjoy few durable relationships with men. The men come and go, that is, if they are around at all. The predictable result of this instability is that the men who are present do not have significant investment in the well being of the women resident in that community, indeed of the community as a whole. Moreover, such a climate attracts those of lower moral character, such men may even harbor criminal tendencies. These populations are less likely to respect women and/or not treat women very well, especially when compared to the men in a community where men and women and children are securely tied together through durable marriage.

That's how women get hurt by their sluttish dress and promiscuous conduct...not by getting raped that same night that they took a stroll while scantily dressed (although that may very well happen because of the risky behaviors they are engaging in), but by marginalizing upright, well-behaved men. These men are the same population who, by their very presence and investment in a community, shape the social climate to ensure the physical security of the women therein. They (the men) don't necessarily have to physically intervene to prevent rapes, because they ensure the conditions conducive to sexual assault aren't allowed to take root in the first place.

So, by slutwalking, these women continue to pick at the very social fabric upon which they depend for their own safety. Slutshaming does indeed boost women's security, and is most effectively employed by more upright women whose objections keep their wayward sisters from polluting the air which we all breathe.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Paying Blogger Dues

Author's note: with the Big Blogger Hiccup, posts that went up after Wednesday, May 11th were "un-posted". Thus this post that originally posted midday on the 11th is being re-posted today.

Blogging would be a lot less enjoyable were it not for the links of others. For not only are we able to read the thoughts of others through these connections, but we ourselves are able to throw our two cents into the ring based on our interests, inclinations, and fields of expertise. Reading blogs and having a blog myself has helped me pick up where my formal schooling left off, and in a way has educated me far more than I could ever have been had I spent an equivalent amount of time in a brick-and-mortar institution.

Thus I take this time to recognize some additions that I've made to the blogroll in the last few months. There are some long-time regulars in here too. If you haven't already, swing by and take a look. I've sorted each blog under category headings; note that the blog listed there is certainly not restricted to that category. For instance, this blog is probably deemed a sex and gender issues blog, yet I opine on economics, religion, and public policy issues here all the time. Same goes for the blogs you'll find below.

Also, if you are a blogger and wish to be linked on my blogroll, please let me know in the comments.

Last, the links below are not provided in any sort of precedent and, as it should go without saying but often needs to be said anyways, the opinions of others are their own and do not necessarily jive with mine.

The Big Dogs, who drive a lotta traffic my way. Go Visit These Blogs Now!!
Vox Day
Steve Sailer
The Spearhead
Dalrock
Hawaiian Libertarian
Grerp
Whiskey
Marky Mark
Laura Grace Robbins
Alte
OneSTDV

Race / Ethnic Politics
Unamusement Park
The Truth Shall Set You Free

Religion
Dark Brightness
Veritas Aculeus
Breathing Grace, Life In A Bloom
Eyes of an Angel

Sex and Gender
In Mala Fide
Oz Conservative
Alcuin
Athol Kay
Gucci Little Piggy
P.M.A.F.T.
The Badger Hut
Throne And Altar
The False Rape Society
Hooking Up Smart
Men Factor
TDOM
Trigger Alert!
ChristianJ
Desperate Houseboy
Omega Virgin Revolt
Forgetful Muse
Modern Pharisee
Rex Patriarch
Conan The Cimmerian
Rob Fedders
The Double-Minded Man
FWO
Equal But Different
Jamila Akil
Wonder Woman
Stepmom's Say
Equal Parenting

Public Policy
Le Cygne Gris
First Feline Battalion
Hidden Leaves
Captain Capitalism
Delenda Est Cathargo
Discerning Citizen
Codemonkey Ramblings
Samson's Jawbone
Professor Hale
Flyover Libertarian
Giraffe
Riding With The King
Amateur Strategist
The National Scene
Something Feral
Difster
The View from 1776

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Roundup - Friday the 13th Edition

Simon Grey on how government regulations are "hidden taxes". I add that regulations also suppress business starts, something that should be questioned in this era of high un- and under-employment.

Furious Moslems (redundant, I know) vow to take revenge against the West for killing UBL. The West collectively yawns: yeah, noted. Anyone else get the sense that patience for antagonistic foreign cultures in the West is wearing thin?

NPR hires private firm to protect its funding stream.

Alte with a great post: "The Parts of a Speech"

PMAFT: The Truth About How Child Support Works. A must read on the huge after-tax impact of this stealth wealth transfer.

The Discerning Citizen comments on the abundance of red at the LA May Day rally. One would think this appropriately so, given May Day's commie roots, but what should get everyone's attention is the grab-bag of left-wing groups also in attendance, such as SEIU (the #1 contributor to our present Administration), homosexuals (marching for pride of course), and various semi-uniformed Chicano groups vowing to re-conquer the American Southwest.

Bonald reviews a book entitled The Myth of Religious Violence. Yep, the myth is still false.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

From de Tocqueville, a warning on how the soft tyranny of a busybody government leads to an inevitable decline:
After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
Source

Monday, May 9, 2011

Some Mexican Narcoterrorist Weapons Come From USG Itself

Remember Project Gunrunner (aka "Project Gunwalker"), where the BATF set up strawman buying stings and then permitted the illegally purchased weapons to be smuggled south across the border (thereby inflating their own "guns purchased in USA used in Mexican drug war" statistics)? It was in this context that the Administration in 2009 claimed that "more than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border", leading to a short-lived left-wing media blitz on American mom-and-pop gun stores and the legendary "gun show loopohole" epitomized by this NYT editorial.

While it is true that some of the firearms used in the narco-wars south of the border were purchased in the United States, either from private owners or licensed dealers, the true size of this fraction, according to this Stratfor analysis, is around 12 percent. Moreover, according to that same Stratfor article, the sorts of firearms purchased in the US and smuggled south are not the big clubs, but small-caliber handguns that are difficult to obtain in Mexico. So where do these heavy, military-grade weapons come from? Fox News' William LaJeunesse, leveraging State Department cables obtained by Wikileaks, writes:
[M]any of these weapons are getting to Mexico via the U.S. government. Tens of thousands of firearms and explosives are sold legally through the U.S. State Department to the Mexican government. According to State Department documents, in 2009 Mexico bought nearly $177 million worth of American-made weapons, exceeding sales to Iraq and Afghanistan. That number includes $20 million in semi- and fully automatic weapons. These weapons are then funneled to the traffickers and cartels by corrupt officials within the Mexico Ministry of Defense and local and state police departments.

One [State Department] cable from November 2009 reads "U.S. law enforcement has fair reason to worry a number of weapons simply disappear... " Another from June 2009 says, "Rogue elements of the Guatemalan military are selling weapons to narcos."

“These are weapons that have been stockpiled either through U.S. aid programs or currently being shipped there under the guise of military support," said a confidential informant in Arizona who has worked for federal agencies such as the FBI, ATF and DEA. "The governments and military in those countries realize that the economy is such that they are far better off to push these weapons north and sell them than they are to keep them in their own arsenals and reserves," he said.
Scott Stewart at Stratfor reinforces the claim that very little of the military-grade weaponry used in Mexico comes from the US private market, but rather from USG-authorized sales or sources outside the US:
In recent years the cartels, especially their enforcer groups such as Los Zetas, Gente Nueva and La Linea, have been increasingly using military weaponry instead of sporting arms. A close examination of the arms seized from the enforcer groups and their training camps clearly demonstrates this trend toward military ordnance, including many weapons not readily available in the United States [civilian market]. Some of these seizures have included M60 machine guns and hundreds of 40 mm grenades obtained from the military arsenals of countries like Guatemala.

But Guatemala is not the only source of such weapons. Latin America is awash in weapons that were shipped there over the past several decades to supply the various insurgencies and counterinsurgencies in the region. When these military-grade weapons are combined with the rampant corruption in the region, they quickly find their way into the black arms market. The Mexican cartels have supply-chain contacts that help move narcotics to Mexico from South America, and they are able to use this same network to obtain guns from the black market in South and Central America and then smuggle them into Mexico. While there are many weapons in this category that were manufactured in the United States, the overwhelming majority of the U.S.-manufactured weapons of this third type encountered in Mexico — like LAW rockets and M60 machine guns — come into Mexico from third countries and not directly from the United States.

There are also some cases of overlap between classes of weapons. For example, the FN Five-Seven pistol is available for commercial purchase in the United States, but the 5.7x28 armor-piercing ammunition for the pistol favored by the cartels is not — it is a restricted item. However, some of the special operations forces units in the Mexican military are issued the Five-Seven as well as the FN P90 personal defense weapon, which also shoots the 5.7x28 round, and the cartels are obtaining some of these weapons and the armor-piercing ammunition from them and not from the United States. Conversely, we see bulk 5.56 mm and 7.62 mm ammunition bought in the United States and smuggled into Mexico, where it is used in fully automatic AK-47s and M16s purchased elsewhere.
And then we have leaked diplomatic cables confirming that, yes, US DoS and Latin American officials are aware that US hardware obtained via FMS and DCS by Central and South American governments are being used for drug-related violence south of the US border (click here to Narcosphere to read about a pair of Wikileaked cables confirming the source of arms used in these terror attacks).

So what are we to conclude from all this? First, that calls for more gun control based on this faulty 90% claim are not supported by the data, for the proportion of cartel arms sourced from the US civilian firearms market is barely double-digits. (But let's be real here, since when does the data matter to the gun-banners anyway?)

Second, that it is the USG and USG policy itself that directly (through entrapment schemes such as Project Gunrunner) or indirectly supplies the cartels and narco-gangs with a goodly portion of their weapons. Arms sold through the foreign military sales and direct commercial sales programs to Central and South American countries readily make their way to the cartels, either through theft, graft, or defection of Latin American military and law enforcement members to the cartels and/or arms traffickers. As Bill Conroy at Narcosphere put it:
[T]he State Department cables recently made public by WikiLeaks do seem to confirm that the U.S. government is very aware that much of the heavy firepower now in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations isn’t linked to mom-and-pop gun stores, but rather the result of blowback from U.S. arms-trading policies (both current and dating back to the Iran/Contra era) that put billions of dollars of deadly munitions into global trade stream annually.

Third, just as the demand for illicit drugs here in the United States drives the supply of drugs into the US through Mexico and Canada, so too does the demand for illicit firearms in Mexico and other Latin American countries drives the supply of firearms through the USA and other major arms-exporting countries, such as China and Russia. It bears noting here that the US is the number one arms exporting nation, by far. When considering the prevalence of US-manufactured arms in the Drug Wars, one must consider just how the arms US companies produce end up in the hands of those who do ill.

Thus, it seems to me that, rather than encroaching individual Americans' Second Amendment rights in a cross-purposed effort to tamp down US-sourced arms in Mexico, perhaps our elected representatives would do well to reconsider the consequences of US counter-drug and foreign internal defense policy (such as the Merida Initiative) on border violence. FMS, DCS, and US national drug policy, a latter-day Prohibition, foster both the supply and the demand for arms south of the border and the needless violence forthwith.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

From a Fox News feature article, some funny questions that children have asked of their mothers:

Here are actual quotes from our kids that my friends and I have heard recently. I guarantee they will make you smile...no matter how you feel about your mother.

1.) “Mom, why do you have those lines on your face?”
2.) “If you have a baby growing in your tummy, what’s growing in your bottom?”
3.) “Mom, you have zero imagination.”
4.) “Wow, mom, you used to be so pretty!”
5.) “If daddy’s job is to go to work, and my job is to go to school, then what’s your job?”
6.) “Mommy, your hair looks brown. You need to put some yellow in it.”
7.) “I love daddy waaaay more than you!”
8.) “Mommy, why do you have so many more shoes than I do?”
9.) “Dad and I were talking and we think you need to be more athletic.”
10.) “Mommy, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Obviously, questions 2, 4, 5, and 9 are not recommended.

In all seriousness, here's to all you mothers out there (more than a few of the gals who visit here from time to time are moms themselves) who have borne the next generation of the human species. Your efforts are a vote of confidence in the future. Thank you all for everything that you have done, are doing, and will do. A special thanks also to my mother--Mom, may your soul rest in peace--and to Mrs. Wapiti for bringing men and S3 respectively into this world.

Here's to your day. Enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Roundup - 6 May 11 Edition

Obesity is contagious. No, really. HT: Vox.

TDOM on the pervasive and not very subtle misandry of a Hollywood TV show.

Remember Lara Logan? The one who said she was raped in Cairo? Turns out it's not true. She joins Lindsey Addario in the club of reporterettes who vault to fame by whipping up hysteria over being groped in public but suggesting something...more. These two incidents merely add to the trend that rape is rapidly becoming the causus belli of our modern times, bait for both the human rights imperialist and the white knight wings of the war party. HT: Ferdinand Bardamu.

VDH writes about how the USA's decline need not be so, that we can choose to be exceptional once again. But I agree with VD: for some reason, our culture has chosen the path of mediocrity and does not appear to want to waver. The great American experiment, one that brought uncommon freedoms to a common but virtuous people, is on a glidepath to failure for want of wisdom, virtue, and piety.

Simon Grey writes about the pretense of knowledge and the contribution of such hubris to warfare.

Human Stupidity over at Ferdinand Bardamu's IMF writes about the stupidity of how it is legal to have sex with a young woman of 16 or 17, but is illegal to possess nude photographs of her, and how law enforcement is apparently uninterested in the person who produced such "child pornography" when they are the "child" themselves. This 34 yo fellow is the case in point: he was bedding a 16 yo and a 17 yo girl got himself 15 years in the slammer for having naughty pictures on his computer of his 16 yo sex partner, pictures that she (with the help of a third-party photographer) produced herself.

Another by Human Stupidity: 6 yo boy in Wisconsin charged with sexual assault on a 5 yo girl. Lots of problems with this case, notably that the 5 yo girl consented to the act in a game of "butt doctor", the mother of the girl was the only witness, and that sexual intercourse has been re-defined in Wisconsin as "“Intrusion, however slight, of any part of a person’s body.” I must be getting old, for I thought that a penis had to enter a vagina for sexual intercourse to have occurred. Now apparently wet willies (fingers into ear canals) count as "sexual intercourse" by the letter of Wisconsin law. Or the doctor probing for colon polyps. Not that I would have personal knowledge of that, mind you, just offering an example.

And finally, your yak shaving razor for today: How to configure Facebook to use SSL encryption.

So we got UBL, and allegedly had to violate sovereign Pakistan airspace to do it. Can't say that 44 didn't live up to this campaign pledge, though, 'cuz he done told us he'd do it just like he did.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fight of the Century: Keynes vs Hayek

Via a relative, I stumbled across this vid:



It does a pretty good job of not only lightly touching on the essential elements of Keynesian and Austrian economics. The video also gently pokes fun at the pass that the establishment gives to Keynes and the socialism and soft totalitarianism that often accompanies Keynesiansim, what with Keynes being waved through security even after setting off the metal detector, Hayek having to "show his passport papers" before getting the TSA-approved cavity search after making a "high explosives" joke, and with Keynes being declared the winner even after getting knocked flat by Hayek. Even Keynes didn't know why he won, only that the crowd showers him with adulation, while Hayek is bewildered by the clearly premature declaration of victory for Keynes.

I also liked how Malthus and John Hicks were in Keynes' corner, while Mises and Jean-Baptise Say were in Hayek's corner. A nice nod to the philosophical progenitors and co-travellers of these two economists.

And the depiction of a Helicopter Ben look-alike in cigar smoke-filled room chuckling with bankster cronies and other high-rollers is priceless.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Er Ist Tot

UBL that is. Read about it here.

While I do not celebrate the death of another of God's creations, I do not mourn UBL's passing. I am reminded of Ezekiel 33:11:
11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Welfare: Not In My Bible, Dude

Alte had an interesting post up the other day, entitled The Realities of Austerity.  The thrust of the post was that the coming cuts in discretionary spending would adversely impact alms to the poor while the political powers that be continue to bankroll the banksters.

When I pointed out that I thought taking money by force from taxpayers so that pols could redistribute to their political favs was tantamount to theft run by a protection racket, Alte disagreed, noting that the RCC (Pope Leo XII) decreed some time ago that the State had a role to play in ameliorating human suffering with other peoples' money:
The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth. In like manner, if within the precincts of the household there occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, public authority should intervene to force each party to yield to the other its proper due; for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly and properly to safeguard and strengthen them. But the rulers of the commonwealth must go no further; here, nature bids them stop....The socialists, therefore, in setting aside the parent and setting up a State supervision, act against natural justice, and destroy the structure of the home. [Bolded text my emphasis]
The Roman Catholic Church has historically had difficulty separating Church from Caesar, and this quote above merely provides evidence of that continuing difficulty. I suppose I should be glad for this, however, since it was this difficulty that led directly to the Reformation and the birth of both Protestantism (yay!) and the Enlightenment (boo!). Now to be fair, however, Protestants have had their own difficulties keeping the temporal and ecclesiastical separated, most recently with the rise of "right hand of God" Progressivism that was so in vogue at the turn of the twentieth century and the effects of which we all still suffer under today. Needless to say, I'm far less sanguine than Leo XII about the ability or willingness of the State to go "this far and no further" when it comes to the rights or property of its subjects; seems the natural progression of government is to go "that far" and take it even further if given half a chance.  Better I think to declare completely off limits to government the property of other men, other than taxing citizens to provide goods that may only be obtained publicly (like national defense), rather than allow the proverbial camel's nose under the tent (and we end up with immoral monstrosities like welfare and Kelo).

But my issue isn't with 300 year old Romish papal decrees or mainline Protestant misbehavior, but how both human failings fail to properly grasp the black and white and red text of the Bible.

First, we are instructed to help the poor, first in Deuteronomy 15, Leviticus 19, Leviticus 25, Proverbs 14, and Matthew 25.  This is without dispute. But who is to receive this help? Marvin Olasky writes:
Liberal use of the Matthew 25 quotation (and many others) raises severe questions of biblical interpretation. The Old Testament emphasizes not alms but opportunities to glean, and not subsidies for sitting but exhortations to be industrious. If we use Matthew 25 to baptize the welfare state, even though its result has been two generations that never learned about the importance of work, what do we do with dozens of verses from Proverbs? Some example: "Lazy hands make a man poor... Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.... The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.”

Second, if we liberally play with Matthew 25, are we placing in opposition the teachings of Jesus and those of Paul? The apostle provided to the Thessalonians and us not a suggestion but a rule: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle… We gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat."
Clearly, the modern welfare state that hands out cash payments with no litmus testing involved runs contrary to the Biblical prescription regarding to whom alms should be targeted. Indeed, as opposed to the welfare state which seems to have no end to the spiritual injuries it wishes to inflict on those it supposedly "helps", we see in Deuteronomy 14:28-29 that the tithes shall be given to the poor only every third year. Meaning that it is not meant to be a long-term lifestyle, and certainly not across generations.  Moreover, the burden of caring for the poor and indigent falls first to the person themselves (1 Thess 6:3-12), then to their family (1 Tim 5:3-16), and only then to other third parties such as the Church or government.

Such are the Biblical instructions for how the poor are to be cared for and who is to be doing the caring.  But what of my earlier point about the welfare statement being little more than an immoral theft executed by a protection racket?  There are two supporting elements for my claim: first, social contract theory, and the second, the Bible itself.

Social contract theory postulates that we men give up a portion of our rights, voluntarily, in exchange for the delivery of certain goods from the collective, such as security, laws, courts, roads, et cetera.  These goods are of course paid for with taxes. The key word here is voluntary; if a member disagrees with how these taxes are spent, he can agitate for change. If the disagreement is intractable, he votes with his feet and leaves for other districts with governing practices more to his liking.  However, if the citizen is unable to leave, either by condition or by State coercion, or is otherwise prevented from withdrawing his consent (as is the case of the USG taxing the incomes of former US citizens who have emigrated  to other countries), then the contract is broken.  In this case, such taxation is truly theft, theft carried out at the point of a gun.

Second, the Bible itself, in my interpretation,* states quite clearly that our giving is to be voluntary, from our hearts as evidence of salvation, and not appropriated for the aggrandizement of others. First, I give you  Matthew 6:1-6, which instructs Believers to give in anonymity:
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Public charity does not count as giving in anonymity, and politicians using the money confiscated from others by force to be charitable in their own name is nigh upon blasphemous.

Second, from James 2:14-24 and Ephesians 2:8-9, we see that faith without works is dead, but works without faith is also fruitless:
James:
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good [1] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Ephesians:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
So we see that, in addition to being immoral (welfare leads to objectively poorer outcomes), welfare is also unBiblical.  And in some ways, welfare is an offense to God himself, for it impedes the willingness of the people to carry out His commandments with the correct state of mind and heart.


* As I do not subscribe to the Marian religion, I am blessed with the ability to read and interpret Scripture for  myself and am not confined to accepting the interpretation of another mere man as Gospel.