Monday, June 21, 2010

The Fallacy of Christian Socialism

The idea that production can be solely owned and run by the public apparatus, i.e Socialism, has been refuted time and time again both by its numerous historical failures and its inherent logical contradictions. There is, however, another fall-back position that many desperate Socialists have retreated to, the idea that Socialism is a moral imperative under the precepts of Christianity. It is claimed that because Jesus commanded us to care for the poor, programs such as welfare are mandated under the Judeo-Christian ethic.

There are several problems with this. First, legality is not morality; issuing a moral command is not tantamount to advocating a legal demand for it. For example, saying that it is wrong to smoke is not synonymous with urging a legal ban on ciggaretes. In a similar manner, exhorting one to help like the good Samaritan is not the same thing as demanding that everyone do so lest they be arrested by the police.

But even if we grant this intellectual cri de coeur the benefit of veracity, the problem still remains because Socialism demonstrably does not help the poor better than its antithesis: Capitalism. The poor enjoy a tremendously higher standard in Capitalist societies than those in Centrally planned ones. Moreover, because under the Judeo-Christian ethic Man is also obliged to work hard to give glory to God. And there is no other system that fosters such a work ethic than Capitalism.

Christian Socialism is an absurdity, its emphasis over moral imperatives instead of reason and logic is the only way that it stands, however infirmly, on its feet. But even from a moral standpoint it is a monstrosity. If a Christian truly desires to fulfill his ethical duties to his Lord and Savior, then I suggest he use his God-given intelligence by rejecting that one train-wreck of an idea that is Socialism.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Relevance of George Orwell

George Orwell, known for his anti-totalitarian novels 1984 and Animal Farm, has been deservedly regarded as a prophet of our times for describing with striking realism the horrors that an overly expansive government can be responsible for. His reputation as a prophet is not ill-founded. The twentieth century totalitarian regimes demonstrated that his conjectures are not simply a fictitious figment of the imagination, but an empirical reality. This is incontrovertible. But because words such as fascism and totalitarianism are often confused with just murderous governments of the past, and not its fundamental nature, most people fail to understand why Totalitarianism holds such an appeal. So appealing is the Totalitarian temptation that even in the predominantly capitalist West we see unmistakable signs of it.
To give an example, George Orwell described the world in which 1984 took place in as a global struggle between 3 superpowers, Eurasia, Oceania, and Eastasia. They warred with each other with the cryptic purpose of keeping each other in a permanent slump, where they produce the machine without raising the standard of living. This allowed the State to keep its citizens in an everlasting state of slavery and serfdom, keeping them dependent. There was no military purpose for the war; the only effect it had was to keep the people in an ever-patriotic state and gave the State and excuse to control them.
Fortunately, such a despicable idea has not pervaded the thoughts of our elected officials, but there is something that is almost as contemptible which runs rampart within our intellectual circles: that war is an inherent stimulant to the economy because employment is synonymous with wealth. This is typical Keynesian -- which is the model that guides most mainstream economists. Another similarity between Orwell's fiction and the West can be seen with the application of omnipresent monitor technology. In 1984, Orwell posited telegrams everywhere in the land that censored people for thought crimes and any suspicious behavior. But now not only are many hate crimes against the government banned, but in England there are actually cameras being placed almost everywhere, just like in 1984.
Orwell also talks about the concept of double speak or double think, where one can say something out of one side of his mouth and something contradictory out of the other. This sort of behavior is reminiscent of the relativism movement, where objective truth is abandoned in favor of subjective feelings.
And if one still harbors any doubts about Orwell's relevance, then his depiction of the revolutionary movement in Animal Farm should kill it off for good.
After the farm animals took over the farm from their human owner they set up 7 specific rules of abidance:

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes up four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal
All animals are equal.

Over the course the story these commandments eventually mutated into:

No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others.

One only has to know about the constant revisions that the U.S Constitution has undergone and the various pleas for further revision to realize how much of a parody this is.
But what is a more brilliant theme, however, is how Orwell depicts the revolutionary process. The animals overthrow a seemingly brutal dictator - the human. And then a leader of the revolution takes over and establishes an even crueler tyranny, a theme taken straight out of the historic horrors of the French Revolution to be sure.

So finely did Orwell depict the totalitarian tendencies of human nature, and so cruel have they been manifested, that it is unfortunate in how we have continually neglected to learn the lessons explicated by this great author.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dale Carnegie on public speaking part 1

Dale Carnegie is best known for his mega-selling book How to win friends and influence people, but that was not the only book he has written worthy of note. Over the past few weeks I have been perusing through his How to develop self-confidence and influence people by public speaking, and I have decided that it was worth blogging about. In the first chapter, he enumerates four things in helping one speak in public:

First, Start with a strong and persistent desire to get better.
Second, Know thoroughly what you are going to talk about.
Third, Act confident.
Fourth, Practice! Practice! Practice!

All of these are good tips. I would place special emphasis on preparation myself. I remember my Grandad telling me that if you want to speak well, learn the subject of your talk better than anyone else in the room. This will also will be a tremendous confidence enhancer; regardless of how well you can speak extemporaneously, if you don't know the first thing about the subject your are speaking about then your speech is going to look like Obama's sans his teleprompter.
How should one prepare? Carnegie has this to say:

Does the preparation of a speech mean the getting together of some faultless phrases written down or memorized? No. Does it mean the assembling of a few casual thoughts that really convey very little to you personally? Not at all. It means the assembling of your thoughts, your ideas, your convictions, your urges....Do not sit down and try to manufacture a speech in thirty minutes. A speech can't be cooked to order like a steak. A speech must grow. Select you topic early in the week, think over it during odd moments, brood over it, sleep over it, dream over it, discuss it with your friends. Make it a topic of conversation. Ask yourself all possible questions concerning it.

This is precisely the opposite of what novel speakers do; they sit down, write up a speech, rehearse it, and either memorize the speech or read out loud from a script when delivering it. NEVER do that. Don't even have notes. It is an absolute nightmare to sit and listen to a speech that is read out loud, or even memorized and recited word for word.
I suggest you prepare your speech by writing the main points on a piece of paper, then pontificate your speech in your head or out loud throughout the day while you are doing whatever it is you are doing. You'll be surprise how effective this is.

More economic claptrap

Benanke is talking nonsense, again:

The U.S. economy should continue to grow this year and next, but the pace won't be strong enough to fix the job market and cut a huge budget deficit, the Federal Reserve chief said Wednesday.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told the House Budget Committee on Wednesday that a continued increase in consumer spending and business investment should make up for a fading government stimulus in lifting the economy....

He said the U.S. budget deficit should narrow over the next few years as the economy and financial markets continue to recover. But without further policy actions that won't be enough, Mr. Bernanke warned, because the economy's recovery is expected to remain moderate.

The Fed chairman said the recovery won't be fast enough to put 8 million people back to work in a short period. He also cautioned the housing market remains soft

This is hilarious. First, in the years preceding the 2008 crises, he insisted that the fundamentals of the economy were "strong." Then, ever since 2009 he has repeatedly said that worst of the current crises was over and 2010 will mark a year of remarkable recovery. Now that 2010 has obviously not been a year of recovery, he is saying that it will undoubtedly grow but just slowly. What is the most telling, however, is how he insists this despite the fact that the U.S is in an unprecedented debt crises.

I contend that not only is Bernanke wrong this time, but wildly incorrect, the rest of 2010 and 2011 will not be a period of recovery. It will instead be a period of severe hardship. I suspect that the contraction that we will witness will be of similar proportions as the Great Depression in 1929-1933.

I would be remiss, however, if I neglected to commend him for at least coming to the obvious conclusion that the U.S. budget deficits aren't sustainable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Right, the Left, and Economics

From the Wall Street Journal. In which I am not surprised:

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.....In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly

One of the things that I realized when I began studying sound economics was how useful it was when refuting left-wing ideology. Because the reality is, left-liberalism is not based on reason or evidence, but mere emotional plea. The reason why so many leftists are willfully ignorant of economics is because if they had a reasonable knowledge of the subject, they wouldn't be leftists in the first place. And as the current recession that started in 2008 has demonstrated in real time, even leftists with seemingly impressive academic credentials in economics were confounded by the events that unfolded simply because they were inexplicable within their left economic framework known as Neo-Keynesianism.
But I think there is another element to this as well. And that is that Leftists-liberals simply cannot think logically. It is a rarity indeed when one hears a left-liberal politician actually present a coherent argument - and whenever one does it is usually based on a demonstrably incorrect fact or assumption. Also, if one looks at the questions of the survey, most of them are completely logical and could be answered answered correctly by someone who has never even cracked Econ 101. Either way, this study is an absolute darning piece of evidence against the leftist dogma that the democratic party is the party of intellect and sophistication.

The Morality of Music

I was reflecting on the morality of music while I vacillated over what genre of music I should listen to; I was thinking either in-your-face-punk metal or soothing country.
I felt like getting mad so I was naturally tempted to listen to the metal. But I knew that getting mad would not be good for me at the moment, so I finally decided to go for the country.
It was at this moment that I finally realized what was the key aspect that determined the morality, or immorality, of music. It seems that music is in itself an amoral dynamic, but it nonetheless influences the thoughts, feelings, and even actions of the individual listening to it. So the answer seems to be that of edification, how does the music affect the listener? But because the morality of a certain piece of music cannot be objectively measured since it is dependent upon the listener, it is an entirely subjective matter, because what might influence one person positively might influence another negatively. What follows then, is that the music which edifies is good, and the music that negatively influences is wrong.
But I am afraid this is a tragic oversimplification. It was one of Bach's most cherished convictions that every type of music, even secular, gives glory to God, because it is a way that the musician expresses the talents that God has given him.
I do not pretend to have all the answers, and my conjectures are tentative and liable to any sort of correction. But I am most certain that music, of almost every type, can have a positive impact on your mental health. It seems to be one of the two known universal languages, mathematics being the other.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The War in Heaven: A Review

I finished The War in Heaven by Theodore Beale yesterday. I was intrigued into reading the novel not only because it was written by one of my favorite authors, but also because it was inspired by the spiritual warfare theology popularized by Gregory Boyd, the pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Minnesota. Boyd's warfare theology is based on the biblical passages that make the implication of Satan's significant influence in this world, and that the fight between Good and Evil occurs both on the natural and the supernatural levels. And that there are many supernatural beings, good and evil, that influence many of our moral decisions.
I was intrigued by this theology, which was why I wanted to get my hands on Theodore Beale's book.
The books starts off with the forces of evil planning on storming the gates of heaven, but they need one more thing: the immortal powers hidden within a teenage boy Christopher. The evil forces gain control of Christopher by appealing to his vanity and he becomes a great power of evil that is critical to Lucifer's plan to take over heaven. Simultaneously, Christopher's two sisters, Holli and Jami, go in the opposite direction, fighting alongside the angels and archons of God.
What follows is all-out spiritual warfare, which made for an extremely entertaining read. Beale also fills the book with illuminating facts about the nature of evil and temptation.
The War in Heaven is an overtly Christian novel with a Christian worldview. Its Christian theme is far more evident to the reader than either Narnia or Lord of the Rings.
But I must warn you, however, that, especially at the beginning, the novel is pretty dark, as it could quite reasonably be categorized as "dark fantasy." But amidst all the despair, there is some light in the story, as God's sovereignty is amply demonstrated by the way that Kherev Elohai, or Jesus Christ, effortlessly destroys even the most powerful of evil beings.
I found it interesting how Beale depicts Lucifer as an extremely handsome and beautiful character instead of an ugly and despicable one. In the author's note, Beale explains how evil can be attractive, even beautiful; and it is because of that that sin is always tempting and seductive.
Overall Beale should be commended for combining an eminently readable story with keen insights into the nature of good and evil. 8.5/10

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Why I am against the Welfare State

I will be making my case against socialism proper in a later post, but for the time being, I will rest content in concentrating on a single aspect of socialist economics: Redistribution, otherwise known as spreading the wealth around.
While it is still promoted by the politicians who wish to rack up as many votes as possible, the idea of the welfare state is no longer a tenable position in the eyes of rational economists. And for a good reason; slowly but inexorably, the economic and technological sciences have rendered the entire foundation of redistributive economics outdated and intrinsically flawed.
It is has long been known that the process of expropriating wealth from one group and giving it another is strikingly inefficient. It has been said that as high as 50 percent of the money being distributed falls into the hands of bureaucrats - and thus being sucked out of the private sector. What this has lead many to conclude, unfortunately, is not that welfare is a program with numerous structural flaws inherent in the system and thus should be abolished, but rather that its current form simply needs revising.
All revisions that improve the efficiency of the redistributive process should be lauded, but there is a limit to how efficient one can make it. And there is no evidence that welfare can be a viable and efficient program and plenty of evidence to the contrary.
With that being said, the fact that welfare programs allocate wealth from the private-capital-creating sector to the public-parasitical sector is not the only reason to doubt the efficacy of redistributionism. The core problem with it and the reason why economists find it to be so untenable is that it diverts wealth from the rich, who demonstrably know how to manage and invest their money, to the poor, who demonstrably do not. This is not an argument from unfairness, but rather it is simply an extrapolation inferred from an observation as well as an economic fact that it is savings and investment - which create capital - that are the hallmark of a strong economy. By diverting wealth from the people who know how to invest in capital wisely to those who don't is a severe hindrance to the economy.
It is one of the most profoundly ignorant myths that the poor are hurt by the rich. In fact, in a capitalist society where one has to appeal to the consumer's interest to be successful, it is precisely the opposite. It is because Bill Gates founded Microsoft that poor people can enjoy the software he created; it is because a large company is lucrative and isn't taxed to death that it is able to pay its workers better.
But the biggest crime of the Welfare State is that it completely redefines the scope and purpose of the government. Once the government is committed to ensure the financial well-being of every citizen it is no longer a small and limited entity, but a Nanny state.
Conclusion: Welfare is not viable from an economic perspective, its primary appeal, that it helps the poor, is based on a demonstrably false understanding of economics and is the result of ignoring the undeniable fact that the poor in this country are far better off than even the relatively well-do-to in other countries where capitalism not been tested. Capitalism and the work ethic that it fosters has done far more for the poor than any welfare program ever has, it always will.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The illogic of Feminism

In my experience, debates about abortion are mostly littered with the same, ineffectual arguments about whether a 1 pound "fetus" is a human being or not, and whether God considers that fetus to be sacred. One can see how these arguments are ineffective by observing the simple fact that the two sides simply do not share the same assumptions -- it is not exactly the best way to hone your debating skills by basing your entire argument on what your opponent considers to be the equivalent of the collective wit and wisdom of the tooth fairy. What most feminists do not realize, however, is that it is not what one side believes about the theological doctrines about a soul or the sacredness of human life that will eventually demolish their hypothesis, but the logical absurdity of their position: that it is a women's inalienable right to abort a pre-mature baby.
As recent scientific studies in the area of genetics have shown, it will soon become a reality that one can actually customize the genetic material of a pre-born fetus. But if it is an absolute right for a woman to kill a fetus, then they should similarly embrace the idea of a women being able to customize the fetus in any way, be it for good or evil, because we are reliably informed that it is a women's right to do whatever she would like with her body.
But it is readily apparent that feminists will find this to be repulsive, for we are already seeing them frifle at the mouth whenever a Chinese or an Indian aborts a child simply because it is a girl -- which is why there are millions of excess males in China and India. But if it is a sacred right to abort, then it why should it matter what the reasons are for the specific abortion?
There are no arguments for the pro-choice position that stand up to science and reason, they are all specious in one way or another. Feminism is a complete failure, and anyone who seriously wishes to entertain the idea of a free society has a moral and civic duty to dismiss it for the terrible idea that it is.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Should everybody have equal opportunity?

Should everybody have equal opportunity?

I found myself contemplating this question after inadvertently stumbling across the apparent dichotomy between the two senses of equality: equality in opportunity and equality in success. The former is a belief that no one should be born with an unfair advantage, the latter is a dogmatic creed that holds that everybody's success should be put in parity with each other.
But before we move on, it must be noted that it is eminently clear to anyone sufficiently grounded in reality that equality does not, will not, and cannot exist in any material sense; everyone is different, no human being is equal in ability and action than anyone else. Mind you, this does not mean that anyone is intrinsically superior to another, but simply that no two individuals are equal.
Going back to the question of whether people should have equal opportunity or not, it seems to me that individuals manifestly do not have the same opportunities as each other, a poor kid will most likely have less opportunities than a rich kid, for example. The problem arises whenever an intervening entity, such as the government, elects to disrupt the natural tendencies of reality by directly eliminating the inequality of opportunity that necessarily exists as a part of the human condition. This usually involves programs such as welfare, the progressive tax, affirmative action, and anti-discrimination laws. But because it is based on a manifestly nonexistent concept, state-imposed equality is a failure that is doomed from the start. And in the process, it systematically eradicates all of human liberty.
So the answer is no, people should not have equal opportunity because it is an empirical absurdity, the only way it could conceivably exist is through the actions of an unlimited State that controls every human action. Equality of opportunity should only exist in the sense that the State should have no right to violate the individual's right to life, liberty, and property.

What is so special about Christianity?

1340Jacob asks a humble question:

Could you do a video validating christianity over every other religion, only using peer-reviewed material or at least papers and books with a reference page (so the bible is out)? I am just curious if you can come up with a logical and compelling argument, no need to be a 100% persuasive, just don't sound like a complete fool.

I will present my case for Christianity in bits and pieces all throughout the summer as it is a subject that demands much more consideration than a single youtube video. I will make that video, but I will be blogging about it much more substantively.
It is my contention that Christianity provides the best explanation for the observable world and that it is the most accurate historical and predictive model that Man currently possesses. My case will be far more than a simple re-hash of Christian Apologetics, as the people who know me have come to understand, my arguments are seldom the expected ones, which is probably why they are so effective in debate with people who are only equipped to deal with cliched ones in a perfunctory way.