Thursday, October 25, 2012

Video Response to Dan Carlin's Common Sense "Second Guessing the Navigator" podcast

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

My thoughts on Dan Carlin's Common Sense podcast on the faith our leaders have in their ideologies.  Dan discusses how the US isn't a true democracy but a republic (and that's a good thing). He also discusses how we need to find a way to balance between equality and freedom. Often the more freedom the less equality but the more equality the lesser the freedom.

I struggle to determine what camp but end up deciding I don't belong in any camp? There will always be an unintended consequences to our laws and policies so maybe we should just err on the side of freedom. I conclude there are no bad systems, just bad people. So then how do we change people? Some say education but what happens when education is absent of absolute truth or is based on relativistic morals? 
Fun fact, we had the highest top marginal tax rate (90%) under a Republican president (Eisenhower). Often it seems Capitalism results in exploitation of the workers whereas Socialism results in exploitation of the masses to get the "freebies". This is the great battle between the Reds and Blues. But the question I often wonder about is do our government programs harden peoples hearts?
I like the fair tax or Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan due to its simplicity and "fairness" but struggle with the effective tax rate it creates on the lower income.
"The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to the individuals of a great nation is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observation or neglect of this maxim consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation." -Adam Smith (Father of Capitalism)
Where's the pragmatic party calling for the best of the ideologies? And more importantly, how do we get to it? My answer; lets talk more and expose ourselves to alternatives. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Propaganda or Truth?

"The more things change the more they stay the same."

-Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

I had such high hopes at the beginning of reading Ray Comfort's article entitled "How would Paul vote?" on AFA. I should have known those hopes would quickly be dashed since AFA is just another Republican arm. I had a conversation with my wife today regarding how I feel so many people speak what they believe as truth but it really is just propaganda. What I mean by that is they repeat the clichés they hear from the talking heads on the radio, Fox News, and what their friends say (who are often just repeating the same sources). So, why is what the talking heads say propaganda and not what I speak or write? Well, an easy way to point out propaganda is when you don't hear any counter arguments. The opposing view is often suppressed or intentionally crippled on the common right wing media. The right isn't the only one who utilizes this tactic but since I live in the South I'm surrounded by people of common beliefs. I realize this and choose this life and location to raise my family. It's a great place to raise a family. It has a lot of charming and appealing things and the people are certainly one of them but group think is a common issue.  

I digress. So, what is my problem with Ray Comfort's article? He seems to start off with a non-biased approach and acknowledges that he doesn't know how Paul would vote. He goes even further and states that Paul had no desire to create a Theocracy (which is amazing because that seems as if it is AFA's mission). Comfort goes on and steers the conversation towards the gospel. I was ready to post a big AMEN at the bottom in the comments section but then the article seems to derail when abortion is brought into the argument. The conclusion is Romney should be the next President. I'm completely sympathetic to the pro-life cause and many would consider me a strong pro-lifer with some unexpected exceptions. I call the Republican message propaganda because they use emotionally driven issues that they do nothing on to influence voters. (Read my previous link for details). 

The stroking of the heart strings is in poor taste but what angers me more is the double speak. The inconsistency of Republican logic on abortion is understandable (I didn't say forgivable). Many people don't really think through all their beliefs and can easily change their minds if challenged. Republicans cast a big net in order to try to catch as many voters so they say they are against abortion but then make exceptions that contradict the very reasons why they say they are against it in the first place. Most people won't find any fault in their logic. But the double speak that infuriates me the most is the expansion of war in the name of "freedom", "democracy", and "protection". Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost over 100,000 lives and we have more soldiers who kill themselves by their own hands from the horrors of war than from the wars themselves. What's even worse than the loss of all these lives is the motivations for war. As misdirected and weak the arguments are for "freedom" and "protection" the unspoken motivation for profit has to be the most devastating. The idea that our best solution to end our "great recession" is for another great war is deeply sickening. This is the evil we shall not speak of but many (including myself) were espoused in our early years regarding the great rewards of wars and how it was World War 2 that got us out of the great depression.

In the next Presidential debate on foreign policy both candidates will try to win the hearts of many by promising "protection". Both sides are in an agreement that the best defense is a good offense so we won't be hearing "how to win a war on terrorism" but we will get much on who will be "tougher" on it. The war drums are already beating. The blood lust for "jobs" blinds us of the means in which we are willing to get them. We force ourselves to play by the rules and say "we must elect the lesser of two evils". I wonder though, at what point do we realize the lesser of two evils is still evil?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Video Response to TEDTalk by Niall Ferguson on The 6 Killer Apps of Prosperity

To listen and view the talk I'm discussing you can view it here.


The 6 killer apps are: 
1.) Competition
2.) Technological Innovation
3.) Property Rights
4.) Modern Medicine 
5.) Consumerism
6.) Work Ethic
Niall compares East and West nations and their implementation of these values or "apps" and the results that follow. 

I appreciate the thought behind this but end up ranting about social injustices these often create. Does the use of these 6 killer apps result in a zero sum game? i.e. The success of one nation means the determent of another. If a nation becomes wealthy, does that mean the individuals are wealthy? So what is wealth? Adam Smith said its not money but the exchange of goods and services to meet the needs and wants of the people. 

If all of our needs are met then what is left? Our wants. Marketing fuels our wants and turns them into "needs" which helps drive economic growth through the exchange of more products and services. Is this necessary though for society to function? And, more importantly is this a good idea? Scarcity drives prices and we aren't short of people or wants but natural resources are scarce. 

Are patent laws and intellectual property rights limiting economic growth? If innovation and the creation of spreading ideas, goods and services fuels true wealth creation how do our laws assist in this?  Is there a point in which our need for jobs to supply exchanging of goods and services is greater than our ability to create new ideas? Are great nations of wealth built on the backs of the poor. Does it have to be this way? Are we focusing more on building wealth by just creating jobs or are we pushing forward to a better tomorrow? As great as these values may be could they truly be "killers" in the long run? 

Video Response to Freakonomics podcast on "Misadventures in Baby Making"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

Part 1 - Podcast Discussion                                                               Part 2 - Clarification on Roe v. Wade on follow-up to previous post


Part 3 - These are sensitive topics so forgive me if I don't handle them with the care they deserve.


Part 1

Did the ultrasound machine result in higher rates of abortion? If so, does that mean we should ban it? What about if we knew people were selectively aborting certain children e.g. children with disabilities or based solely on their sex? What if we had a test that could tell you more such as hair or eye color, intelligence, or physical capabilities? Should we ban certain abortions based on motives? Who then defines which "motives" are appropriate or inappropriate? As we move further into the future with advancement in technology these questions are becoming much more important.

In the show they discuss how Steven Quick created a blood test to determine several genetic factors. His purpose for creating the test was to reduce the stress of not knowing, reduce the chances of harming the baby, and allow parents who choose to not abort their children to begin preparations in the event they find out the child will have disabilities. These arguments are good reason to not blame the technology for peoples actions. 

Another difficult question to answer is "When is it ok to kill a child in the womb?". In my opinion the only two reasons would be 1. If it jeopardized the life of my wife 2. If the child would face short term terminal death and only live a short life of suffering. Although, in my context I'm suggesting taking the child early rather than doing a D&C. I share a personal account regarding this very question. 

What if we had the ability to modify or engineer children at conception? Could one of the consequences of eliminating handicaps be the reduction of the drive or human spirit to over come adversity? Even so, who are we to not allow parents to make the tough choices which they see as best for their children? Life is difficult enough, removing any other obstacles seems a given.
Part 2
In part 2 I try to explain my understanding of Roe v. Wade. That it was more about the right to doctor/patient confidentiality or privacy rather than the "reproductive rights of women" (do men have any rights?)  or a women's "right to her body" (does the child have no rights to theirs?). They deferred to common law to avoid dealing with the question "when is a child a person". The Republicans use this hot button issue to keep a strong voter base realizing they really don't have to do anything about it. Roe v. Wade could have been overturned at Planned Parenthood v. Casey but nothing changed even with a strong Republican majority. Ironically, the question of "when is an unborn child a person" is defined and coded into law under 18 U.S.C. § 1841: US Code- Section 1841
I also attempt to clarify my thoughts on the scenario of the terminally ill suffering child or adult. 
Part 3
 I felt the need to add a Public Service Announcement regarding the difficult topics of abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. 
So here it is: Don't give up. Don't take the "easy" way out. Don't insult the Creator by destroying his creation. Instead, turn to Him and reflect on the suffering of His Son Jesus to assist you through it and may He carry you to the end and welcome you into His presence. May your suffering not go in vain.