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A STORY OF SACRIFICE FOR MEMORIAL DAY

US Navy TBD-1 Torpedo Squadron Six (VT-6), from USS Enterprise (CV-6), in about 1938 (from here)

We have studied the night before a test. Some of us have awaited the hour before an important interview. About half of us have stood beside our ladies as they suffered, giving birth to our children. We have all waited for the arrival of a crisis, when an important matter would be resolved. Few of us, however, have contemplated our options as the minutes ticked away before the onset of a great battle.

Imagine going into battle knowing you could be a sacrificial pawn. Imagine flying over a vast ocean to battle an enemy fleet in an obsolete war plane. Consider Victor Davis Hanson’s words from Lessons from the Battle of Midway. Continue reading “A STORY OF SACRIFICE FOR MEMORIAL DAY”

INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 2B

The post continues where INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 2A left off. Please refer to INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1 for links to the other posts.

Here we will consider the last three of four questions.

When does it become immoral for the government to tax us? That is, where do you draw the line and say no more?

When does it become immoral for the government to tax us? That is, where do you draw the line and say no more? Well, consider what we established as the justification for taxation in INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 2A.

Therefore, because some agency has to exercise the force required to maintain order and protect everyone’s rights, forcing everyone to pay taxes to maintain a good government is one of those cases where the means is in accord with the end and therefore justified.

That is, we can justify forcing people to pay taxes because government has an indispensable purpose which requires all of us to pay for it. However, what if government starts doing other things with our tax funds? Then what justification do we have for raising taxes to pay for those additional things?

Consider what we have added. In this country we have various health, education, and welfare programs. Supposedly, because you have a right to:

  • Life = government has to provide our healthcare.
  • An education = government has to educate us.
  • Food, clothing, shelter, a job, and so forth = government has to give whatever it is we can get enough people to vote for.

Does the Constitution authorize Congress to spend our money on health, education, and welfare programs? No. So why does Congress do it? Why do some people rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. Congressmen rob the Federal treasury because that’s where the money is that they can use to buy our votes.

The purpose of government is to keep us from infringing upon each others rights, not to give us our neighbor’s property. When government starts taking some people’s property and giving it to other people, we have too much government. The answer to the next question explains why that is a problem.

How do we ensure that a government that runs our lives will exercise its power for our benefit and not someone else’s benefit?

How do we ensure that a government that runs our lives will exercise its power for our benefit and not someone else’s benefit? Well, if the government is running our lives, we already have a big problem. Consider the issue.  Government is supposed to protect the rights of All the People, not skew things to the benefit of special interest groups (We are all members of some special interest group.). Therefore, we have to keep politicians focused on protecting the rights of the People. That is, to make certain our politicians are not tempted to skew things to the benefit of some special interest group, we have to make certain they don’t have a conflict of interest.

The Conflict Of Interest

What usually causes politicians to have a conflict of interest? Instead of just expecting politicians to protect our Rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, we start expecting them to give us so-called “rights” like “free” healthcare, schooling, food, clothing, shelter, job benefits and so forth. Unfortunately, no politician can give us anything unless he starts taking what he gives us from our neighbors, and there lies the conflict of interest. When politicians start giving us stuff for “free”, we make the same people responsible protecting everyone’s Rights also responsible for taking away some people’s Rights. That’s how politicians get the stuff they use to give “other people” their “rights”. Such a system is not charity; it is just thievery on a mass scale that seems okay because everyone is doing it.

So How Should We Help The Needy?

So how should we help the needy? In an old post, THE RIGHT OF FREE ASSOCIATION, I cite what Alexis De Tocqueville observed about 1830’s America in his classic work, Democracy in America. Here is a sample. I suggest reading the entire post.

Wherever, at the head of some new undertaking, you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association. I met with several kinds of associations in America, of which I confess I had no previous notion; and I have often admired the extreme skill with which the inhabitants of the United States succeed in proposing a common object to the exertions of a great many men, and in getting them voluntarily to pursue it.

What De Tocqueville observed is that when Americans saw a need, they voluntarily banded together and did something about it. If you love your neighbor, that is what you do.

How big and powerful does the government have to be before the people have lost the ability to refuse it anything it wants?

In a constitutional republic the People instill their values into their government. In an authoritarian or totalitarian regime, government seeks to indoctrinate the People in politically correct values. What is the distinction? In a society that operates as a constitutional republic, a limited government, the People disperse control of the educational system and mass media infrastructure among many people who operate independently of each other. An authoritarian or totalitarian regime, however, seeks survival by indoctrinating the People. To that end authoritarian or totalitarian governments monopolize the educational system and the mass media infrastructure.

The Education Problem

We want our children to have a good education, one that helps us as parents to instill the right values, right? What makes us think we can depend upon politicians to help us? Who trusts politicians? Yet that is what we have done. We have put government in charge of our educational system and turned what should be a blessing into a predicament.  Instead parents being in charge of what the children they love learn, children learn whatever the dominant political party thinks important.

The Problem Of A Free Press

We want to find out what is going on in the world, right? Ideally, we would choose from a variety of independent mass media outlets. Then we would compare notes with our family, friends and neighbors and decide which outlets are the most credible and informative. But what if the mass media is dominated by the government or a relatively small number powerful men and women interested in influencing the political system (see section on Crony Capitalism)? What if much of the mass media seems more interested in dispensing propaganda than in being trusted?

An Observation From The Past

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.– Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (6 January 1816) ME 14:384.

For the time being control of our educational system and mass media infrastructure is still somewhat dispersed. If we want to remain a free people — if we do not want government lackeys corrupting our children and feeding us falsehoods — we need to support school choice for parents and fight any effort to concentrate the mass media into the hands of a few wealthy men or government official officials.

What Is To Come?

Please refer to INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1 for links to the other posts.

May 23 – Learning To Lead

Many in America believe we have a leadership crisis, but what we have is a followership crisis. We have forgotten how to be good followers. We have forgotten how to choose good leaders.

What makes a good follower? A good follower is a good seeker of the Truth. A good follower tests what those who would lead him say and do. If a potential leader’s words are not in accord with his or her deeds, a good follower continues his search.

Here in Beejai’s post we have an explanation of Christian leadership, an explanation given with example of Christ. If we want to learn how to follow the example of Christ, then we must choose leaders from among us who are worthy of imitation, men and women who lead by serving others.

THE RIVER WALK

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:3-5)

Read: 2 Samuel 2:12-3:39, John 13:1-30, Psalm 119:1-16, Proverbs 15:29-30

Relate: “Who is the leader there?” One of my mentors asked me that question when I was being a bit stupid early on in my days out of college. I had recently moved down from Rochester to Binghamton NY. In part it was to kick start a college ministry group that in the past year had “grown” from over sixty down to about five. I had known and been friends with quite a few of…

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the Russians are coming…

Why is the news media and the Democratic Party fixated on the Trump campaign’s supposed collusion with the Russians? Where is the evidence that created the need for a special prosecutor? If a special prosecutor actually found some evidence of collusion, what would be the charge? What did the Russians do to affect our elections that any two-bit hacker could not have done?

And still, the people most responsible for skewing our elections (From out the blue, to make certain the Republican nominee was beatable, the news media gave Trump disproportionate news coverage.) are still all a twitter about Russian meddling.

cookiecrumbstoliveby

Russia is a riddle
wrapped in a mystery
inside an enigma.

Winston Churchill

The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming….
is the title of a 1966 comedic spoof based on the accidental beaching of a Russian sub
off the coast of a small fictional New England island town during the midst
of the Cold War.
The film stared Alan Arkin and Carl Reiner so you can only imagine the off the chain humor.

Fast forwarding all these many years later and history oddly seems to be repeating itself,
but this time it’s not over a comedic movie yet we can still hear that familiar war cry…
that the Russians are coming…

I’ve really tried, really really I have tried, to ignore the latest brouhaha concerning
Mother Russia and all things Russian…
all the latest “did they, didn’t they” sort of mumbo jumbo that is currently consuming all
things political…

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INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 2A

The post continues where INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1 left off. Please refer to PART 1 for links to the other posts.

Here we will consider the first of four questions.

Why is it moral for the government to tax us?

Why is it moral for the government to tax us? This is, oddly enough, not a question most of us give much thought. Our biggest expense is taxes, but most of us just accept that fact, pay our taxes, and try to get on with our lives. Some of us even make a virtue of paying taxes, holding it up as our contribution to a great society. Since we don’t have any choice in the matter, that is an odd sort of pride. However, there are more pragmatic views. Here is something Lysander Spooner wrote just after the Civil War.

For this reason, whoever desires liberty, should understand these vital facts, viz.:

  1. That every man who puts money into the hands of a “government” (so called), puts into its hands a sword which will be used against himself, to extort more money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its arbitrary will.
  2. That those who will take his money, without his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their demands in the future.
  3. That it is a perfect absurdity to suppose that any body of men would ever take a man’s money without his consent, for any such object as they profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to do so?  To suppose that they would do so, is just as absurd as it would be to suppose that they would take his money without his consent, for the purpose of buying food or clothing for him, when he did not want it.
  4. If a man wants “protection,” he is competent to make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion to rob him, in order to “protect” him against his will.
  5. That the only security men can have for their political liberty, consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for their benefit, and not for their injury.
  6. That no government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon voluntary support.

(from here)

Spooner obviously had a cynical view of government, and some classified him as an anarchist.  Since the man is long dead and not well-known, I won’t debate whether Spooner was an anarchist. The point here is that taxation does not require the consent of those taxed by the government, and not paying can have severe consequences. If we don’t pay, the authorities will come after us.

So about that question? Why is it moral for the government to tax us? What is the crucial issue? Let’s refer to an old post, PHILOSOPHICAL CONFUSION OVER ENDS AND MEANS. Here we considered the wisdom of that old proverb:

The end justifies the means. (see here and here)

As that old post explained, morality requires that the means be in accord with the end. Taxation looks an awful like stealing. How can such stealing be justified?

Here is an example of doing something wrong for an apparently high and noble purpose. Does it make sense to teach a child to tell the truth by lying about your own truthfulness?  No one should lie, right? And we don’t want to set a bad example. Yet if we lied to our children to hide our own dishonesty and then expected our children to be truthful, would it even work? No. We would eventually be found out, and our children would probably follow our bad example. Hopefully, the prospect of such a horror encourages us to be honest. That is, the proper way to teach others to honor the truth is to honor it with ones own conduct.

Lying to our children about our own dishonesty would in fact just compound the sinfulness of our lies. We would be telling our children two lies. We would be trying to deceive them into believing that we could be trusted to tell the truth and that we believed that honesty is actually important.

Still, when it serves its proper purpose, good government achieves an end which justifies the use of force to make everyone help pay for it.  What is that purpose? The founders explained the purpose of government in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, (from here)

We can debate what the Rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness might be. Nevertheless, it is clear that the founders wanted a government that would protect the People from being deprived of their Rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Why a government? For thousands of years men have created governments. Those government have done good things and bad things.  The good things governments have done include the maintenance of order, that is, the protection of life and property. The bad things include enforcing the stratification of societies with “elites” at the top and slave classes at the bottom.

For better or worse, government is something we know how to do, and the absence of government, anarchy leading to famine and disease, is worse than a bad government. Therefore, because some agency has to exercise the force required to maintain order and protect everyone’s rights, forcing everyone to pay taxes to maintain a good government is one of those cases where the means is in accord with the end and therefore justified.

That is, we simply do not know a better way.

What Is To Come?

Answering the first of those four questions took a bit more effort than I had hoped. So this became PART 2A, and I will try to answer the other three questions in PART2B.

Please refer to PART 1 for links to the other posts.