The Ultimate End of the United States

14 04 2011

At the front of the chamber of the House of Representatives, on either side of the national flag, are two symbols of power, known as fasces.  These are relief sculptures of the image of an axe embedded in a bundle of sticks and tied together with a strap.  For those who know history, this comes as an obvious reference to the old Roman Empire.  Wherever Caesar went, the fasces were carried before him as a symbol of power.  In the image, here, is also another symbol of power derived from the Roman legacy.  Just to the left and in front of the fasces is a mace with the image of an eagle atop it.  Hitler was in love with this symbolism and used it often, but what he did with it is not relevant, here.  These may be fascist symbols, or they may not be, depending on what meaning we ascribe to them, but one thing they do reference is Rome.

The United States is currently the oldest existing democracy in the world.  This representative democracy was, in fact, modeled after the old Roman design, and for good reason.  The Romans were the first to successfully establish a government that actually served the people.  The ancient Greeks tried democracy, but their efforts were short-lived.  Prior to the Romans, every government had existed for itself.  The citizenry existed to serve the government, and not the other way around.  A king was, essentially, the most successful thief and the most powerful warlord.  He took from the people, and then he took the people.  The people had their property, but the king owned both the people and their property.  Rome turned the entire system on its head.  One can read in the First Book of the Maccabees how the Jews were amazed that a city-state across the sea was managed by consent of the people.  Such a thing was stunning in its uniqueness.  The people of Rome were actually quite content with their way of life, especially compared with nearly all previous civilizations.  Therefore, the Roman model had to be the best possible choice for the creation of a new and happy nation that was to be called the United States of America.

France followed closely after.  Nation after nation followed in the footsteps of the United States.  This experiment has proved successful, at least thus far.  It is still a young nation, and we would like to keep it that way, but all people are mortals, and everything they make is destined to die.  We do well to know our weaknesses.  Democracy may have many moral weaknesses, but only two of them are truly mortal.

The first and greatest weakness of democracy is the tendency for the strongest political leaders to become stronger, while the weakest leaders become even weaker.  In the case of Rome, as with us, the strongest person in government is always the head of the executive branch.  We know him as the president.  They knew him as Caesar.  Our founders attempted to counter this by giving most of the powers of governance to the legislative branch.  It was a nice gesture, at best.  Congress makes a preferable seat of power, because it divides that power among many people.  No single person has enough of it to dominate the whole country.  The most powerful branch, in this case, is also the weakest.  It’s a delicate balance.  Everyone in power has that power because they strove for it.  We can guarantee that they will continue to fight for more power.  Therefore, the people with the most power will continue to take it from people with less of that power.  The legislature, as a whole, may be more powerful than the presidency, at least initially, but the president has far more power than any member of Congress.  The same was true for Caesar.  Consequently, both Caesar and the president naturally tend toward acquiring more power.  Responsibilities originally assigned to the legislature gradually migrate over to the executive.  For example, the act of declaring war, once a legislative function, has given way to “police action,” otherwise known as the president sending troops anywhere to fight for any reason he wants.  Eventually, the president could become powerful enough to remain in power indefinitely, and he might find that he can do exactly as he chooses with his nation.  Rome turned this course over hundreds of years.  Nazi Germany did it in a matter of a few years.  Most Middle-Eastern “democracies” started out this way.  When it happens, whether it changes over the course of several terms, or only one, we will find ourselves as Rome, engaged in expansion, foreign wars, and pretty much all manner of insanity associated with self-aggrandizement, the symptom of someone’s bloated ego.  The nation may not be a kingdom, but it will behave as one.

The second weakness of democracy, the one that actually might make the nation cease to exist, is the tendency to spend itself into oblivion.  Rome fell to the tyranny of the imperial Caesar, but it continued to exist for several years before ultimately crumbling under the weight of its own debt.  That is the hallmark of democracy, unfortunately.  We can see it everywhere we look.  Some nations rushed into it.  Others took their time.  All of them are headed in the same direction, and all of them have the same destination.  Rome died the slow death of depleting funds.  Government suffered from what might be called the grab-bag mentality.  It’s our own hand, even now.  Everyone wants as much as they can get.  No one wants to give more than they must.  Cutting taxes looks good.  Creating programs looks good.  No democracy ever seems to shrink its role, and no democracy ever does naught but slide further into debt.  The third-party payer weakness can be seen in the insurance industry, driving up the cost of health care, and it can be seen in the loan industry, driving up the cost of homes.  Wherever people are detached from their own expenditures, costs are sure to soar.

Even beyond the money issue, we have the problem of diminishing priorities.  Every priority that we have, even our highest priorities, are hurt by every new priority we add.  Each time we add an objective, all previous objectives become a little more neglected as a result.  Hence, even if the national defense is still our highest priority, the addition of environmentalism takes away from our ability to defend ourselves.  On a personal scale, we might consider the automobile: if we want it fast and relatively safe, then we run on gasoline.  If we want it to burn cleanly, then we run it on methane, but then it is less safe and less strong.  Occasionally, people kill themselves while pumping natural gas, while gasoline rarely causes injury during fueling.  We could make the car more efficient by making it smaller and lighter, but then, again, it has a weaker engine, and it gets deadly in a collision.  Each new priority added weakens all preexisting priorities.  As a nation gets older, it continues to add priorities.  Each priority costs something, whether money, human resources, natural resources, or just attention.

We need to be aware of our weakness as a democracy, and we need to vote accordingly.  This means we need to keep our debt in check.  We absolutely need to curb our innate tendency to always add new programs.  We’ve got to focus on the fundamentals, the things that government must provide.  Lastly, we need to vigilantly reign-in the presidency.  This great experiment will eventually come to an end, if only because it was made by humans, but it doesn’t have to end today, or tomorrow, next year or next century.  It doesn’t have to, but it will if we don’t learn from history.

Famine in the Land of Plenty

25 11 2010

Let’s imagine a hypothetical situation for a moment.  We’ll take a pre-Industrial Revolution town, just some plaster houses with a small business district and surrounding farms, and we’ll give it a combine and a tractor and all of the necessary mechanized implements.  In this way, one man can  manage enough farmland to feed the entire community and have plenty left over for export.  This is an incredible boon for the town, because they now have all the food they need, provided for minimal cost.  Now the farm workers are out of a job.  Because the town was mostly agrarian, that means that most of the inhabitants are now unemployed.  Those merchants with a non-agriculture occupation are also forced out of business, because the majority of their customers are now unemployed.  The whole town slides into economic depression, because, although the food is plenty and cheap, no one has money to buy it, because no one has a job.  The man on the combine must find new customers in a hurry, because the town can’t buy his goods.  In this case, the community has more resources than ever before, but they slip into poverty anyway.  All of their basic needs are filled.  They don’t know what a television is, or a cell phone, or a computer.  They only needed a roof, clothes and food.  They could make their own clothes from the sheep in the backyard.  The roof is a done deal, and the food is plentiful and provided by one man.  With the work of a single individual, the entire town could take a more or less permanent vacation.  This is, of course, an exaggeration to make a point.  But the entire town has done nothing to deserve the food.  Only that one man earned anything.  Therefore, the entire town cannot get the food, because they have done nothing to earn it, even though it is there and ready for the taking.

The real paradox of a depression is that, while the society has all of the machinery necessary to produce everything it needs, which are all of the things it was producing prior to the depression, no one can afford those things.  Through the law of supply and demand, one would expect the products to become cheaper as demand decreases, offsetting the problem, but if the people are unemployed, then the luxuries could never be cheap enough to be purchased, yet expensive enough to be produced.  If the people have no income, then they can’t afford anything at any price, and if they are unemployed, then they have no income.  If people don’t buy their goods and services, then they will be unemployed, but people cannot buy their goods and services because they have no income, either.  So there’s the paradox.  Everyone is willing and able to produce all of the things that everyone else wants to buy, but can’t, because no one is able to buy their goods and services, either.

Getting back to the problem of the man on the combine.  At first glance, we would fault the farmer for buying the combine and putting others out of a job.  That would be foolish, though.  He should not be faulted for providing an abundance of food to the community, or for finding a much more efficient way of doing it.  We should say, rather, that the farm hands have been freed to provide other services to the community.  Unfortunately, these services can not be afforded by anyone, because too many people are unemployed.  Everyone wants to sell something, but nobody can, because nobody can buy anything because they can’t sell anything either.  The problem is not that the town had too much food.  That could never be a problem for anyone.  The problem was that the food industry was too big of an industry for the town.  When it changed, the economy could not absorb the change.  A few unemployed people might eventually find a new niche to fill.  An entire town full of unemployed people would be hard pressed to find any means of income.

A single industry can have a sudden shift.  A market for cars or widgets can saturate overnight.  Suddenly, nobody needs another car or widget.  Everyone who wants one has one, so the industry must downsize, and people are left looking for new employment.  Sometimes, as with the combine, new technology displaces the old.  People who made a living making and selling the slide rule were driven out of business by those who make and sell the electronic calculator.  We cannot fault people for inventing a marvelous new device.  We cannot fault people for finding a better way of producing things.  The problem is not that an industry shifts.  All industries shift.  That’s how progress is possible.  The problem is when an industry shift is so huge that it takes the entire economy down with it.

Those communities in the Midwestern United States area are often plagued by single-industry towns, like a town built around a paper mill, or a town built around a pencil factory.  When that one major factory fails, when the pencil business drops in response to the use of computers, for example, the entire town, all the way from the mechanic to the jeweler collapses.  In terms of basic needs, they still had available everything that they needed to live, same as before, but no one could pay for those things, because too many people were out of a job.  The supply was untouched.  The demand would be untouched if people could find a way to earn their right to the supply.  The economy for the country at large is not entirely different.  When any one industry becomes so huge that it cannot hiccup without taking down all other industries, it has the potential to, sooner or later, start a chain reaction that ultimately has us all waiting in a food distribution line.  On the large scale, these industries are big things like automobiles, fuel and housing, the things that we dump the greatest portion of our income into.  The greatest of these is housing.

At the moment of this writing, foreclosures are extremely high.  The country is full of empty homes and people badly in need of them.  Society has everything it needs to be prosperous.  There are enough homes to go around.  No one need be without one.  In this case, the combine has been replaced with the housing market.  Everyone needs that industry badly, and that industry has ample supply, but no one can afford it at any price, because people are becoming highly unemployed.  There’s no shortage in supply.  There’s not really even any surplus of demand.  There’s just a shortage of jobs.

Now, in any economic crisis, the focus is always on the jobs.  Everyone wants to be employed.  In fact, they’re more concerned about having a job than they are about getting the newest gadget.  Yet, if they don’t buy the newest gadget, then someone else will be out of a job, and other gadgets will not be purchased.  In the past, the government has responded to this one-sided predicament by emphasizing its opposite, by encouraging people to spend their money.  The government is always anxious to have us spend more money, not only because it generates tax revenue, but also because it helps to balance the supply versus demand.  It takes the focus off of getting more money, that we might spend more money, to ultimately help us get more money.  This has two problems to it.  First, it puts the cart before the horse.  No one should be expected to buy anything that they did not already want to buy.  The burden is on the seller to provide something worth buying.  Second, this approach has never once succeeded.  That, alone, should be reason enough to abandon this method.

The real solution goes back to the man on the combine.  His single industry is huge for an agrarian culture.  Any change in his one industry, even a positive change, can cause the economy to collapse.  The people have more food, but fewer people actually get any food, because nearly everyone is now unemployed.  The problem was not that he ruined the industry.  In fact, he improved it greatly.  The problem was that his industry was too important to the over-all economy.  Had he been in the business of selling widgets, he could rise and fall without affecting anyone else.  Likewise, the housing industry is not to be faulted for creating too many houses or too few, but for being too big a part of our expenses.  Home loans, coupled with the rush on the housing market, caused prices to soar.  People could spend more if they could borrow more, and if they were suddenly motivated to buy a bigger house on the same income, then they had less money left each month to spend on other things.  This would not be such a problem, except that those other things happened to be other people’s livelihoods.  When those other things were no longer being bought, then those people lost their jobs.  When they lost their jobs, they could no longer afford to buy other things, and those people lost their jobs.  Eventually, the chain reaction worked its way around to the housing industry, itself, because the people who got the bigger loans could no longer pay for them, because they were largely unemployed.  So the housing industry collapsed.  We have a lot of people in need of homes and a lot of homes in need of people, with no way to bring the two together.  It’s like the town full of people starving to death, because the man with the combine is producing too much food.

In the end, the economy pulls itself together.  The government is always useless in this effort.  If they could have done anything, then they probably would have found a solution to these things by now.  Despite great odds, people must strive to find a way to produce goods so worthwhile that they can squeeze a profit in a dry economy.  The unemployed farm hands must invent other services to provide the world.  Avoiding a recession is quite a different thing than getting out of one, though.  A recession happens not only when something big goes wrong, but it even happens when something big goes right.  The problem is that something big happened.  The problem is that any one industry should be too big a portion of our economy.  If a business cannot shrink and grow, change and develop without toppling the economy, then we have the makings of economic instability.  It would be tempting to suggest government-legislated price limits, but this only forces the problem out in other directions.  The real problem lies in the mentality of the people in our society.  It’s a problem that no single individual can do anything about.  I can do my best to live within my means, thusly creating a stable personal economy, but if the rest of the world does not do this, then my finances will always be at risk.  I can diversify my portfolio, but the whole thing can still plummet entirely if the rest of society crashes.  The best thing I can do is buy a smaller, more affordable home, drive less, and drive an economy car.  In this way, the biggest industries can have less impact in my life.  Still, the economics of one person is not enough.

The fact is that we all love to have the biggest, nicest home, drive the flashiest car, and travel the world.  So long as this country remains addicted to this limited sort of materialism, it will not have the economy to pursue these very things.  It’s almost like trying too hard to sleep, or trying too hard to be happy.  The effort is self-defeating.  In the meantime, the best that the government can do is to avoid making any big changes in spending and taxation, unless necessary.  Sometimes the last thing we need during times of trouble is someone’s idea of a solution.  The government, after all, is possibly the biggest industry of them all.

The story of the town with the combine is not entirely fictional, though.  Just prior to the Great Depression, farmers were complaining to their government that food was too plentiful, and they were not generating enough revenue from their farming.  The government’s solution was to pay the farmers to destroy food.  The economic collapse that followed left people standing on the riverbanks watching trucks dump potatoes into a river, with police guarding the load to keep people from jumping in to save the food.  A man could earn a wage to dig a ditch, so that pigs could be herded into it and shot, then buried.  By destroying enough food to feed an entire town, he could earn enough to buy his family a meal.  The masses were starving in the land of plenty, and the government was using their money to make the land less plentiful.  Clearly, they were solving the wrong problem.  But then, the government always did have a way with money.

A Thumb to the Wind; awaiting a coming storm

6 11 2010

Is the government watching you?  Is there a camera installed in your television?  Are people monitoring your every move with GPS tracking?  Perhaps the government has built concentration camps for dissidents?  Are you worried that rail cars are being equipped with guillotines and shackles for the event of social unrest and martial law?  Are the elections rigged?  Are we on the verge of totalitarian tyranny?  Periodically, someone starts a story to scare the country, a conspiracy theory that the government is making plans to overthrow our basic liberties and kill its opponents.  The prophecy watchers usually manage to link it to apocalyptic scripture.  Other tremulous individuals chalk it up as the beginning of some Orwellian dystopia.  Still others, sitting in the sidelines, make a great deal of fun out of the matter, mocking the conspiracy theorists while patting themselves on the back for their own reasonableness and raw intelligence.  While the last group might be right that the conspiracy theorists are frightened of their own shadows, the one thing that they seem to overlook is that this sort of thing happened before, and, likely, all of this will sooner or later happen again.  We hold our thumbs to the wind and judge for ourselves of the coming storm.  It will come.  It always comes.

Our classic example is usually the Nazi regime, which can be described by the dual horrors of the Holocaust and the Second World War.  To adequately gauge our proximity to its repeat, we would, then, need to understand the underlying cause of these atrocities.  As is usually the case, the popular ideas, the ones they fed us in school, are only superficially true.  In this case, the cause is said to be the Versailles Treaty, which is assumed to have oppressed the Germans into economic ruin.  However, Hitler overthrew this burden prior to the war, and no war was evidently necessary to prevent its return.  Anti-Semitism could have explained the Holocaust, but if this sentiment had been the cause, then it was manifest for many centuries without incident.  Something else would be necessary to initiate the act.  Additionally, the death camps consumed quite a number of individuals other than Jews.  The act of purging society of unwanted people through mass murder is a problem in itself, regardless of who happens to be its target.  The real travesty was not that the Jews were targeted for slaughter, but that any civilization would target any group for slaughter.  The real problem lay in the fact that a society perceived that the world ought to be conquered by the Germans and that the world ought to be purged of inferior people.  Politicians may go to war for petty causes, but nations die for noble ones.  The people of Germany threw themselves into the meat grinder for what they thought to be a worthy purpose.

Technology and genetics were the litmus test for the Nazi regime.  If a person showed Arian (Germanic) characteristics, then that person was of a superior race.  Why would that race be superior?  It was deemed superior because the Germans had proven their superiority through superior technology.  The most advanced civilization was supposed to have been that way as the result of superior genetics.  Translation: they were more highly evolved.  Racism against Africans and native Americans has been often justified by these peoples’ inferior technological development.  Because a farmer in the Congo, who plows his field with a sharp stick and an ass, doesn’t know how to rapidly propel balls of lead at an enemy, he is assumed to be mentally inferior.  The arrogance of Nazism rested in the belief that all Nazi technology came from Nazi ingenuity, as though acquired understanding were passed from parents to their children through their genes.  In truth, no single civilization has had a monopoly on innovation.  The real story is that the nations that best communicate with, trade with and share ideas with other nations around the globe are the nations that collect the greatest store of technology.  Europe had this cutting edge through its imperialism.  They imported resources from around the world and assimilated it for themselves.  In our time, it is the United States that has mastered multinational relations.  Whatever we needed, we imported from without, whether it be chai tea or the atomic bomb.  If anyone is at risk for falling for the same delusion, it is we.

But, what is this delusion?  Digging beneath the superficial element of mere economics, we find the dogma of Darwinism, though that isn’t really even the ultimate underlying cause, either.  The Nazis dared to conquer the world in order to displace all other people to the point of extinction.  What is not often known is that the First World War was fought for the very same reason.  The textbooks give credence to the idea that Europe killed itself because a very angry Serb shot in the head some fat Austrian in a funny outfit.  The chain of alliances and mutual defense pacts then caused a chain reaction of entanglements that drew all of Europe into war.  This, of course, is only superficially true.  People don’t mass for a common cause to fight and die over a contractual technicality.  Germany, formerly known as Prussia, had for a long time been seizing its surrounding Germanic neighbors in a quest for power.  The Teutonic mission was to unite all Germans under a single banner, and then to overcome the rest of the world.  The assassination that started it all was merely the excuse to let it all begin.  That war was not fought because an Austrian was killed.  It was fought because the people of Germany believed that it ought to be fought, that France ought to be conquered, that the world ought to be overcome.  Professors in Germany, even then, were teaching that the Germans were a more highly evolved people, and that they would eventually drive the lesser peoples to extinction.  Britain could, possibly, have prevented the second war by bombing more German universities and shooting more German professors while they were at it.  The underlying dogma did not die between the two wars, and so the horror was repeated.  Therefore, we must ask ourselves how close we are to repeating it, ourselves.

If the Second World War was a better-organized and more enthusiastic version of the first, then we can set it aside and look more closely the first one to understand them both.  In the couple of decades leading up to the First World War, Europe saw the emergence of new trends that it had not seen in several centuries by any other name.  Eugenics, Futurism, Socialism, Social Darwinism, institutionalized Darwinism, and the abortion epidemic all took root in this tumultuous period.  Eugenics was the belief that inferior people, poorer and less fit, should be discouraged from breeding, that this most sacred act of reproduction should be controlled by an authority to produce a better society.  We see it today in China’s one-child rule.  Futurism was a belief that humanity was evolving toward greater and greater heights, technologically, genetically and socially.  Socialism was the belief that society should act as a single unit to promote its over-all betterment, rather than be left to individuals.  Social Darwinism was a practical application of Darwinism in the social realm, a matter of taking evolution seriously, making it really just another form of eugenics.  Darwinism, itself, was the promotion of the best race against and to the utter deletion of all others.  Abortion was promoted, happily, as a useful means for enacting eugenic theory, because a child was better-off murdered than allowed to live as an inferior and impoverished being.  Over all, the first two decades of the twentieth century were a time of hope, change and unabashed unrestrained arrogance.  In all of this, Darwinism was the underlying theme, the religion of the new age.  But the underlying cause of Darwinism was modernism, the complete reliance on technology and the exclusive faith in nothing beyond or behind the physical universe.  We were gods.  We were evolving.  Change was good.  We put our faith in mortal men, sacrificing our culture, our liberties and even our children to the all-consuming juggernaut.

Modernism, but especially atheistic modernism, has been the terror of our time.  Christian modernism is represented in the Northern Baptists and  Christian evolutionists, those who flatly reject the miraculous simply because it is miraculous.  Whether they are correct in their theology or not, they do lend a morsel to the monster.  The real threat has always been secular, modernist and Darwinist.  A physical universe indicates no moral code, and if the physical universe is all we accept, then we are free to do anything.  Additionally, if we are Darwinist, then the nearest we can come to something we might call “good” is through competition, subversion and the complete elimination of all peoples not resembling us.  It might be the duty of the strongest race to kill all others, if this were the case.  Moreover, if there were no God, then the primary arbiter and engineer of human destiny would be humanity, itself, which cannot achieve a unified purpose without clear leadership and rigid organization.

So, how close are we to seeing another horror?  Our schools are still teaching Darwinism.  We still control the most advanced civilizations.  Society is still overwhelmingly dominated by the modernist mindset.  To top this off, our government has been growing steadily since its inception, centralizing power and taking on more of the socialist responsibilities formerly assigned to the individual.  Atheism and secularism have a stronger hold than ever before.  The travesty of abortion goes without saying.  A man can earn a jail sentence for causing the death of an ocotillo, but he can also receive a jail sentence for preventing the death of an unborn child.  We have all of the necessary elements that we had then, and we have it in spades.  So, what, then, is keeping the next evil from rearing its ugly head?  Our unlikely allies in this case include a vocal and militant conservative, and mostly Christian, bloc in the United States, paired with a growing postmodern movement in Europe.  The very same religious fanatics that see conspiracies and persecution under every rock are the very roadblocks to those horrors.  Enough of them exist within the United States to cause a political overthrow of the presiding power at first scent of tyranny.  The government knows this.  Consequently, while these conspiracy theories continue to be only theories, they act to prevent their own fulfillment.  Such people were not a force in Germany prior to the wars.  The self-proclaimed intellectuals may continue to ridicule the paranoid conservatives for every false fear, but this is only possible because the paranoid actively keep the fears false.  So long as enough people worry and chatter about their conspiracy theories, there will never actually be any conspiracies.  At least, there will not be any successful ones.

On the European side of the equation we have postmodernism holding down the fort, where Christianity and real conservatism have almost breathed their last.  Ironically, postmodernism is also a mortal enemy to the faith.  It just conveniently happens to be a considerable enemy to a more dangerous enemy.  At least, modernism is a more physically dangerous enemy.  As for the destiny of the soul, they are both a threat.  Postmodernism did exist prior to the First World War, though it was not strong enough to prevent it.  In fact, one might figure that it came about as a reaction against the meaninglessness and meanness of modernism and Darwinism.  When faith in evolution reached its prime, that’s when postmodernism gave its natal cry.  Not strong enough to deny modernism, yet not willing to accept it, postmodernists lulled themselves into an agnostic slumber.  They can accept evolution, but they cannot accept its implications.  They can swallow the bait of adaptation, but they cannot stomach the mechanism of change.  They want to be the top of the food chain, but they won’t eat meat.  They want to evolve to a higher level, but they won’t suffer natural, or in this case artificial, selection.  Consequently, today’s Europe still wants to dominate and change the world, but they’ve pulled out all of the necessary teeth and claws for performing this task.  They are the rabbit that would devour the wolf.  Problem is, the wolf is Muslim, and it has teeth.

So we wet our thumbs and hold them to the air to determine which way the wind blows.  Does a chill wind blow from the east, or does it hearken from the west?  The west would riddle us, but it is checked, for now.  The east would devastate us, but it is weak, for now.

At the moment, we are safe.

At the moment, so far, we are so good.

God bless this moment.

Feeding the Meat Grinder

3 04 2010

The apostle, John, wrote about a time to come when people would not be able to buy or sell without the mark of the Beast.  At the time that he wrote this, people were far less dependent upon currency than they are today.  In a worst case scenario, one could always drop a line and catch a fish for dinner.  One could still do this today, but even the simple act of fishing is regulated through permits that require money to purchase.

Once, I had the remains of a neighbor.  Rather, it was the remains of his home, along with all of the telltale evidences of his former life.  His crumbling abode sat between two hills, surrounded in brush and overlooking a valley some distance below.  One of the walls had fallen to the ground, giving the home an ample view of the scenery.  Some exploration yielded an old dirt road leading up to his place, though it had become hopelessly hidden beneath foliage by the time we found it.  The more we explored the place, the more relics we found, testifying to the life of one who had come before.  He had dug himself a well and lined it with rocks.  Nearby, he constructed something resembling a barbecue pit.  Up the hill from his place, we found a pile of quartzite, which he had apparently smashed to pieces in his search for gold.

We presumed that the man was only a gold miner, until a fire swept over the property and eliminated what was left of his house.  Underneath all of that scrub we discovered that the land had been plowed into rows for farming.  Because of the fire, we also found what was left of his car, as well as a small flowerbed in front of his home, lined with rocks.  We know it was a flowerbed, because the daffodils sprouted after that fire, a living remnant of the lost legacy.  We had not seen the flowers before, but they sprouted through the ash, still growing right where they had been placed.

Public records told the rest of the story.  Our government had taken the man’s home for failing to pay his property taxes.  Rather than leave it in the hands of its owner, they took it from him and gave it to the forces of erosion in the 1940s.  Our mystery man had built a life with the intention of living off of the land.  One might easily doubt that he succeeded.  One might even propose that he had abandoned the property by the time the government took it.  This may all be true, or it may not.  Nevertheless, our man illustrates a problem that he may have failed to consider.  No matter how hard one works, or how successful a man is in providing for himself, unless he does something to actually generate cash, he cannot pay his taxes, here, and if he cannot do that, then the government will take his land.  If that happens, then he can no longer provide for himself.  Property tax is the infinite tax.  It is the tax that keeps on taking, over and over for the same thing.  It is the mortgage that can never be paid off.  Minding one’s own business and being completely independent is not an option, here.  Somehow, I do not think that this is what our founding fathers intended.

So much depends upon cash.  The government makes the stuff and gives it to us that we might add value to it and give it back.  We are the providers, giving up the meat to the civil meat grinder.  Our masters want only two kinds of citizens.  They want, most of all, the providers, providing the necessary cash value and services to feed the machine.  They also want the dependents, nursing from the great teats of the government like a newborn calf.  What they don’t want are a bunch of free spirits living off of their own land, minding their own business and doing their very best to be left alone.  The country has become more than just a territory.  It has become a machine.  Those not actively participating in the function of that machine are without any real purpose in the mind of our government.

Never mind that purpose is endowed by our creator and has no bearing on human masters.  The American government has been exempted from a national religion, for which it has substituted a public education.  The effect is still the same, but it gets around the problem of separation of church and state.  First, it came as an act of benevolence, providing education to those who could not pay for it.  Then education became mandatory.  Now, in Germany homeschooling becomes illegal.  This religious/educational institution provides all of the functions of a church, indoctrinating us as to our purpose and origins.  Without a creator, we have no innate purpose, which serves our government well.  What’s more is that it is exempted from the same rule that suppresses the competition.  The hierarchy of public educators increases in stature and influence, while the hierarchy of the church declines.  Education used to be a function of the church, and it is the very force that pulled the world out of the Dark Ages.  It is still a function of a church, but this is not the church of our forebears.  This church is the meat grinder, and we feed our children to it daily.  We give the government our offspring, and they force them into the mold.

A coworker of mine frequents the deep southern territories of Mexico, where money is a foreign and unused thing.  When he needs a place to stay, he knocks on the door of a house and they let him in and feed him.  If he were to offer them money, they would not take it.  They do not want it.  They do not need public education.  They do not need money.  They do not waste their lives away in fruitless ambition.  They live far from the meat grinder.  They neither provide the meat nor eat its hamburgers.  I cannot help but think that this is what our founding fathers envisioned.

But we are an ambitious superpower.  The pride has gone to our heads, and more so to those in power over us.  We are no longer content to sit by and merely be happy.  We must dominate, and, in so doing, we have become dominated by the greatest among us.  Non-participation is no longer an option.  We must get an education.  We must have a job that pays cash.  We must have health care.  A person who cannot pay taxes has no value.

Get into a single-file line.  Walk slowly into the grinder.  Don’t complain.  Take your number.  Take your turn.  We’ve got our society all nicely gift-wrapped for the Antichrist.  Satan would be proud.

Peace of Mind

15 02 2010

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (New International Version)

Politics makes excellent fodder for a heated discussion.  Living in a representative government gives us the feeling of empowerment, that our leaders are our servants.  We take personal responsibility for the fate of our nation.  When our elected officials make a mess of things we get angry, because we feel responsible for having given them that authority.  Much of what we see in the news is about politics.  Friendships are forged and broken over political affiliation.  Yet, we give ourselves too much credit.  A person gets one vote.  That one vote among many gets two choices.  Will it be Republican or Democrat?  Anything else, and the vote is wasted.  People judge us by whom we would vote for, but we really have so little choice in the matter of our governance.  Both parties are corrupt.  One wants to take over our lives quickly, and the other wants to take over our lives slowly.  Both are faithless, immoral aristocracies, bent on gaining power.  They gain power by getting elected, and then they gain more power by ascribing more authority to themselves.

One can easily become frustrated over politics.  I can clean my house.  I can order my own little world.  I only think I can order my country.  In truth, I have almost as much say in the workings of my representative government as I would under a monarchy.  It’s like playing the lottery: an expired lottery ticket is only less likely to win by one in ninety-four million.  The difference between an old ticket and a new one is almost inconsequential.  My one vote among millions is not significantly better than the opinion of a man living under an unelected king.  Granted, the mass effect of an entire nation of votes is significant, and I should continue to vote, but I would not benefit from taking myself too seriously.  I, personally, have little say in the matter.

People pull their hair out over politics.  Yet, they are almost entirely helpless to do anything about it.  A key to happiness is to avoid dwelling too heavily on that which a person cannot change.  You were handed a life with certain conditions that you had no hand in making.  You can make yourself miserable by worrying over the evils that were handed to you, or you can find those things which are in your power to affect, and then affect them for the better.  You get one vote.  You only get that one vote.  Don’t treat it as something more than it is.  The governance of your country is likely not in your hands.

You can put your faith in God.  No one can take that from you.  You can put your mind at ease by ordering the little piece of the universe that God has placed in your hand.  Take charge of what is really yours.  Let go of what is not.  If you can’t kill the rats of angst that gnaw at your mind, then remove yourself to a peaceful place.  While it lasts, there are still places of beauty in this world.  There are still decent people among us.  There is still a way to live at peace.  Thank God for what you do have.

In the end, life is not what you make it, in an absolute sense.  It is what you do with what you’re given.  Some people are given more and some less, and different people are sure to have different outcomes and accomplishments.  Sure, under better circumstances you could have made more of yourself, but that isn’t really the point, is it?  Anyone could do better under better circumstances.  The issue is what you did with whatever circumstances life threw your way.  If unfairness comes your way, then the matter is not whether things should be fair, but what matters is what you did with what you had.

In a sense, life is unfair.  People start out with all kinds of advantages and disadvantages.  Down the road, more are added to the mix.  In a sense, life is perfectly fair, because initially everyone had an equal chance of being born in anyone else’s shoes.  Whether chance or divine providence chose your origins, the only question you have left to ask is, “Where do I go from here?”

Somewhere out there is a beautiful place, and you can find it.  Somewhere out there are nice people, and you can be one.  Somehow, there can always be meaning in your life.  You can always live to serve the God who made you.

Managing the Forced Dilemma

23 01 2010

They want to kill us, and we want to live.  This is the problem at hand, that Muslim fanatics in this world aim to destroy as many of us as possible.  The question is how we are to stop them.

Every person has a list of priorities.  When we let someone take something from us that we value highly, this is only for the sake of something that we value more highly than what we lost.  A man in Beirut was assigned to guard Bathist headquarters.  He was not disloyal, nor was he willingly derelict in his duties when he let PLO terrorists inside to steal paperwork and set explosives.  He did it for a note and a lock of hair.  He did it to save his kidnapped wife.  A forced dilemma was set before him.  He could sacrifice his job and his employer’s property, or he could sacrifice his wife.  It was the essence of any effective diplomacy.  If you want a thing that someone values highly, then you offer him something that he values more highly, or else you threaten to take it away.

There are those who value our destruction highly.  We must bribe or threaten something that they value even more if we wish to have diplomatic leverage.

Eve was not generally a disobedient woman when she took the forbidden fruit.  If she had been, then she would already have been fallen.  Therefore, it stands to reason that she was not without loyalty to her God, and she did not disobey for disobedience’s sake.  When the matter came down to the fire, she valued her vanity higher than her loyalty to God.  The snake appealed to the higher priority, and the lesser one was sacrificed in the process.

A man may value his job, may wish to be appreciated for his work and may wish to be esteemed by his coworkers.  However, he may also wish to relax, and this priority may be higher on his list.  Everyone has a list of priorities, and no two things are of equal value.  When put to the test, when forced to choose between two things, a person’s prioritization determines the outcome.  The homeless bum does not wish to be homeless, but, very often, his desire to avoid strenuous work is a higher priority.  A homosexual does not necessarily want to be a sinner or face possible wrath in the afterlife, but his desire to live the homosexual life is a higher priority.

Life is all about priorities.  We can all say that we want to be good people.  We can all say that we want to do the right thing.  Even the common criminal could say it, but the will to do the right thing is a lower priority than the desire to indulge in someone else’s property, some defiled lifestyle or some manner of vengeance.  One might easily say “I can’t help it.  That’s just the way I am,” when we want to do the right thing but never actually do it.  Of course we want to do the right thing, but we value something else even more.

Of course we don’t want to die in a nuclear inferno.  We must find that thing that the enemy wants more than our destruction if we are to survive.

Iran is working on making nuclear weaponry.  This is not for energy.  They have enough crude oil to provide them with plenty of energy.  This is not for defense.  They don’t need provocation.  The people in charge over there just want us dead.  We make fools of ourselves when we threaten sanctions.  We could starve their economy into oblivion, but it wouldn’t touch their nuclear ambitions.  We in the West put such a high priority on the almighty dollar that we can’t imagine other people not shaking in fear when money is at stake.  If they don’t stop their uranium enrichment, then we’ll stop buying their stuff.  Money, for the terrorist, is just a means to an end.  The bad guys in this case aren’t looking for prosperity this side of the grave.  Some of them are, but the martyrs aren’t.  When a man is willing to blow his own flesh to a thousand bacon bits just to kill you, one might wonder what a person could possibly offer or threaten to convince him to stop.  If Iran gets nukes, then Iran will use nukes, and unless we can find something more important to the Ayatollah than paradise, then this is the unavoidable end.

How did we come to the point where a weak nation with one bomb could cow a superpower with many bombs?

It’s all in the priorities.  We wish for prosperity.  We wish to live normal lives.  We wish to think well of ourselves.  We want people to like us.  We want to avoid conflict.  We want to close our eyes and make it all go away.  A few nukes from submarines and the Iranian threat could be gone by tomorrow.  It could be gone forever, but we have a higher priority, which is the preservation of human life.  Much as the crazies want to kill us, we don’t want to actually lash out and hurt their people.  But, even if we did, the question to ask is whether those madmen value their own peace and security above our demise.  To this, the answer is a resounding no.  If they wanted to live in peace, then we would not be in this situation to begin with.

They want paradise.  Can we take paradise away from them?

Much as people whined about the war in Iraq, it had the worthy effect of casting doubt as to whose side Allah is on.  If I’m going to blow myself to bits for God, then I’d better be absolutely certain that I’m really on his side.  There’s no sense in losing Paradise with a misdirected waste of life.  Then, the Muslim must be in a bit of a bind in that department.  Allah doesn’t make his intentions very clear on the specifics.  When the Muslims lose war after war, the favor of their god is in doubt.  When that happens, the dynamite belt might just be a blast-off to nowhere.

But the defeat of a Sunni regime is no deterrent to a Shiite.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  We know that.  They know that.  At least, people are conscious of their own evil.  Show a man his shame, crush a woman’s pride, reveal that sin and do what you like, you only illustrate something that nags universally at the back of the human mind.  We are a bunch of sinners.  Promise a man his get-out-of-Hell-free card, and he’ll do anything for you.  We are all aware of our shortcomings.  The suicide bomber doesn’t don that belt because he’s a faithful Muslim.  He does it because he knows he’s screwed up, big time.  Death by jihad is to him an automatic win, despite his failures.  Overcoming sin is a higher priority than life, itself.  Losing life means losing everything.  When you kill yourself, you give up on friendships, family, prosperity and everything else.  It means you don’t get that promotion, that sunny weather, that cup of coffee, or anything else.  What does the terrorist want?!  He wants to be absolved of his sins when his own efforts are clearly in vain.  He wants to be forgiven by God for all of the wickedness that stains his soul like grease on a new white dress shirt.  Every other thing is a lesser priority.  Nothing trumps it.  There is no higher priority to use for diplomatic leverage.

That man needs Jesus.

Once, so long ago, there was a martyr who gave his life in a battle to absolve all sin, but the sin that he absolved was not his own.  It was yours.  He died the martyr’s death so that we, who could not get into Heaven by merit, could still get into Heaven.  That martyr was Jesus.  He is that automatic pass to Paradise.  It is only through him that we are saved.

Because an exploded sinner is just a sinful mess.

Hang on to Your Gold

19 01 2010

Money…it started out as an attraction to pretty things, namely gold and silver.  It became a means of efficient bartering.  It was coined and standardized.  Then it was replaced with paper as a substitute.  Then the paper was not a substitute but the thing itself.  Then the paper was represented by an abstract number.  Soon, the number will be the thing itself.  But the number will not be strictly under control of the people who use it, but, instead, it will need to be managed by a central industry, a governing authority.  The people will not own it.  The government will be in complete charge of it.

In 1933, our dear late president Franklin D. Roosevelt banned the ownership of gold.  The penalty was up to ten years in prison or ten thousand dollars’ fine for those who failed to comply.  Contracts that were insured against inflation by using the gold standard for adjustment could not longer use the gold standard.  The purpose was to make people rely entirely on the toilet paper being produced by our benevolent government for use as money.  It would be worth whatever they told us it was worth, and when they needed more, they would simply print more.  The New Deal (raw deal) was an artificial economy, giving great boatloads of people some manner of employment, where there was none.  The catch was that these jobs did nothing to actually promote the economy.  The government is not a participant in the law of supply and demand.  The economy must be powered by the private industry.  An all-public economy is a cannibalistic system that keeps recycling the same value over and over, until it diminishes into nothing.

So how did the New Deal survive?  It lived off of the backs of what was left of the private industry, not through taxation, but through inflation.  When the government produces money like a wild drunken counterfeiter, it has plenty to spend, but the value of everyone else’s money drops like a rock.  The dollar amount in the bank is an arbitrary number that means nothing.  The real value is an abstract concept wrapped up in that dollar, and the government can take it straight from our accounts without a single tax or fee.  We cannot easily track it.  We hardly notice its absence, until the price of everything at the store increases.

Until 1933, gold was that bastion of wealth that retained its value in the face of inflation.  When a square foot of dollars was worth less than a square foot of toilet paper, people might buy gold and abandon faith in “money,” because money isn’t really money.  The government stole everyone’s gold in exchange for fewer dollars than it was worth.  Then it cranked up the presses.  Had World War II not spurred on private contracts and actual manufacturing in the private sector, we might have ended up like post World War I Germany.  In the years since the war, government has striven, to our great relief, to stabilize our monetary system.  Under Allan Greenspan, the dollar was probably at its most stable point in recent history.

All of that is about to change.

Advertisement for your gold is at an all-time high.  The government is buying it up as fast as it can.  Fortunately, the acquisition is currently voluntary.  Whether it will always be so remains to be seen.  Hang on to your gold.  When the government is in a frenzy to buy gold, it intends to pay its debts through inflation.  The less gold you have, the less recourse you have.  For FDR, it was an attempt to force people to put their trust in paper.  But then and now it was also the government’s insurance against getting hurt by its own inflation.

So what happens to all of this gold?  Foreign investors, like China, don’t like putting their money into American interests, when they know that the return will be worth less, even though they get more dollars back.  They won’t want dollars.  They’ll want gold when the dollar is no longer a global standard.  When you sell your “unwanted” gold to some of these private firms out there, it goes to the federal reserve, and from there it makes its way out of the country.  If you plan to buy a wedding ring, then you’d better buy it now.

So who gets hurt worst?  Anyone who holds ownership of cash gets bit.  Money under the mattress evaporates.  Money in the bank leaks away.  All lenders of any kind get hurt.  The good news is that you’ll be able to pay off your fixed-rate mortgage easier.  The bad news is that the rate on your adjustable rate mortgage is going to go way up.  Interest rates of all kinds are going up.

As it is, every penny costs two and a half cents to produce.  Congress hates to make the stuff.  Nickles are also worth less than they cost.  Inflation is coming, and it’s coming hard.  Government buy-out of gold is the canary in the mine, telling us to grab our stuff and get out.  This could be the move that makes pocket change unfeasible.  If the coins go, then it will be one step closer to a monetary system without substance.

I don’t know when electronic money will hit the system, but when it does and wealth becomes nothing more than a number in the government’s ledger, then everything we do could ultimately be subject to our lord President’s dictates.  Who buys and who sells, what they buy and what they sell will all be subject to government control.  This, in light of some environmental policies seeking to outlaw the incandescent light bulb, black cars and the internal combustion engine.  We already know that the government is to the point of controlling things that it has no business meddling with.  I mention electronic money because the last time our dear Big Brother took that nasty dangerous yellow ore from us, it intended to permanently change the way we do business.

You will be hurt if:

  • you have much money in the bank or under the mattress, in CDs or bonds or loaned out to anyone.
  • you borrowed loans on a variable interest rate.
  • you need to get a loan in the future.
  • you sell your gold (or they take it from you).
  • you need to buy gold in the future (even now it is already more expensive).

Further, you will be hurt simply by living in the United States, because our economy will be drained to pay the whims of our government.  Look out, China, because we’ll be the cheap labor, now.  Learn to make a home from mud and sticks (I jest, I hope).

And if the government takes the notion to force your gold from you, I advise civil disobedience…but be careful.