Sunday, July 29, 2012

8 Questions About "You Didn't Build That"

Not to take the President's remarks out of context—an extended excerpt:
Barack Obama's infamous Roanoke speech.
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

— Campaign speech in Roanoke, VA, July 13, 2012

1. What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "give something back"... taxes? Or charitable giving?

2. Where do we stop with the tautology "you didn't get there on your own"? Our parents? Grandparents? Roman road-builders? Hebrew teachers of the law? The God of heaven and earth?

3. Given how obvious the President's statements are, what argument is he trying to make? Have Republicans proposed banning schools and fire departments? Aren't those functions the responsibility of State and local governments?

4. Is the President aware that 71% of U.S. firefighters are volunteers? 

5. The President's speech was aimed at raising tax rates on people earning over $250k. So how long would those extra revenues fund the U.S. government: A) 9 months? B) 9 weeks? C) 9 days?

6. How does it help the country when the President disparages individual achievement? 

7. The President complained his speech was taken out of context. If so, what was his context—that America would be better off if the government took more money out of the economy and redistributed it to favored groups (ie: unionized gov't workers)? Something else?

8. Given that 40¢ of every dollar the U.S. government spends is borrowed, what of the argument that the government is spending 40% too much?

Friday, July 27, 2012

What Is Liberalism? Why Oppose It?

Being conservative is hard work. If you're not vigilant and consciously resistant to the cultural flow, liberalism will sweep you away from your common sense.  
"Against The Flow"
Acrylic by Terry Fontaine ©2003
I grew up breathing liberalism without realizing it. During the 1960s-70s in Canada, socialized medicine came in with big-government liberals going on a tear. While the Yanks were all worked up about Vietnam, Canada was swept up in Trudeau-mania: electing as Prime Minister a radical liberal professor who presaged Obama-mania 40 years later. Only when I was at home or at church would I hear anything even remotely counter-cultural. As early as 7th grade in "Social Studies" (not "History"), I was assaulted with anti-Western propaganda, starting with The Body Rituals of the Nacirema, designed to deconstruct our Civilization as being worse—or at least no better than—any primitive tribe on earth. 

By the time I graduated high-school I'd turned my attention from politics toward the Jesus Movement, running off to California to join in the fun. I wasn't at all political while in America from '75 to '85, though I wasn't blind to Watergate's shame, Carter's malaise and Reagan's sunny morning. Returning to Canada—Vancouver—in 1986, I found some of my fellow Canucks starting to push back against liberalism. It was mostly a regional phenomenon, but it resonated with me. By 2012 conservatism is ascendant in Canada, and their economy is miles—oops, kilometers—ahead of the USA. Really. You can look it up. 

Anyway, in Vancouver in the late 80s I remembered having read about Wittgenstein's "Linguistic Analysis" (I often went on curious jags even before the internet). He described modern intellectual language "like being on frictionless ice". Writing after WWII, he saw the chattering classes cutting themselves off from the real-world ramifications of their ideas. If ever anything described modern liberalism, it's that. Liberal politicians airily describe their goals for society without a thought about how many, or which, eggs they'll need to break in making their omelette.

In contrast to conservatism, which has sought to 
rigorously define itself since a young Edmund Burke burst on the scene in 1756, liberalism is an ever-morphing mish-mash of ideas with one common theme: change everything

Whatever ills may affect a society at any given moment, liberals will come up with a plan to re-shape the whole endeavor. All they ask is to be given enough power to, say, criminalize thoughts. Or control prices. Or stop using oil. Or force all citizens to purchase certain goods or services. Christians know something is always wrong in the world, but the cures proposed by liberals are usually worse than the disease. Obamacare is the prime example: 15% of Americans didn't have health insurance, so liberals insisted 100% of Americans be forced into a completely new, untested, command-and-control scheme. Wha—?

Conservatism seeks to retain what's best, change as little as possible with what's not working, and draw bright lines that governments must not cross (mostly concerning property rights and individual freedom). If it's true that power corrupts, then granting ever more power to a central government guarantees deeper and broader corruption—and now those corrupt politicians hold the power of life-or-death over us through Obamacare. 

Liberalism isn't going away, because power-loving politicians will lie and bribe to get it. But we're onto them: they are Statist Authoritarians first, last and always. If we the people are indifferent or venal, we will soon become Serfs to new Lords. Go against the flow, my friend.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Some "Isms" Are Better Than Others

Do you yearn for a world dominated by Islamism? Do you get all misty-eyed at the decline of communism?  Has feminism fueled your life since the sixties? I can't imagine you're a proponent of racism, like those smug founders of progressivism.
L-to-R: Islamist, Communist icon, Rosie-Riveter/Feminist,
Al Sharpton/Racist, Margaret Sanger/Progressive
TV commentator Bill O'Reilly boasts that he is non-ideological, proclaiming himself to be simply "for the folks". Which, of course, is an ideology called populism. Unless you are totally clueless in this world, you do adhere to one or more of the -isms. Me? I'm hip-deep in conservatism and evangelicalism.

My conservatism flows from my Christian faith; deepening my convictions in the realm of governance and society. And conservatism is something I came to as an adult. I was raised in Canada, the birthplace of Socialized Medicine, where the conservative political party had to add the word "progressive" in front of their official name. But our deepest-held values will inevitably shape our social/political views. " he thinketh in his heart, so is he."

Very few Christians in the West would desire to live in a Theocracy. There's a theological reason for this—having to do with the fact that our "Kingdom is not of this world." We want the least amount of government restraint on our freedom—both religious and civil—but realize governments need enough power to maintain order and punish wrongdoing. I find no higher expression of these conservative principles than in the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Until 9/11, Muslims in the West lived free of intrusion from the state...and being an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion helped them find connection points in our civilization. That all changed in the aftermath of 9/11, as the radicalization of Islam blew the cover off their 7th century movement. Islam isn't really a "faith" at all, but a power structure dressed up as a religion. I recommend the excellent book Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law by Nonie Darwish. I hope and pray Islamism will never gain a foothold in America, as it has in Europe.

Europe's surrender to Muslims resulted precisely from its loss of a Christian consensus—including their refusal to "be fruitful and multiply." The Brits abandoned the robust, clear-eyed Christianity of C.S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge to settle for the lukewarm embrace of the state, despite the warning in Friedrich Hayek's in The Road To Serfdom. The outcome has been what Melanie Phillips calls Londonistan

America is, at least nominally, a Christian nation, unlikely to yield much ground to Islam. And yet we have on our soil—in our White House—those who would follow Europe's failing liberal policies straight off a cliff. Ann Coulter, this generation's Solzhenitsyn, has painstakingly exposed liberalism to be both Godless and Demonic. This is not a description of every liberal person, of course, but every Christian with liberal politics ought to examine both the roots and the fruits of the political philosophy. All of us who follow Jesus confront the tension between being "in" the world but not "of" it. So the Christian citizen is obliged to think through her political views—and submit them to the test of Scripture. How not to do that: 

Liberalism's favorite Jesus quote is from Matthew 25, about those "hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison." Did you notice the absence of the word "poor" in this passage? Jesus didn't forget to mention them, as we'll see shortly. And isn't it ironic that in this passage Jesus is talking about the final judgment and who will go to hell—a place liberals don't even believe in?

Liberalism asks us to believe that in Matthew 25 Jesus is instructing governments on how to spend tax money taken by force from individuals. Nonsense: he's talking to those individuals about the kind of behavior marking people who will inherit the Kingdom of God. How can there be any Christian merit in paying taxes—which isn't even a choice? Taxes are extracted under penalty of imprisonment. Jesus' mandate is for Christians to personally feed, clothe and visit those in need. The "withholding" line on my paycheck doesn't accrue to my eternal benefit. Let's not think that because we empower a Democrat to increase somebody else's taxes that we have fulfilled the law of Christ. 

Liberalism prefers to stop reading after Matthew 25—but the next passage in chapter 26 continues in the same vein. Jesus' disciples complained: This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus said, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.So, apart from the fact that LBJ's costly War-on-Poverty hasn't worked, liberalism took money from people who should minister to the hungry and thirsty, on the pretense of ending poverty. Which Jesus said will never end. seriously does liberalism take the words of Christ?

There are a few other oft-quoted scriptures echoing within liberalism, which will be the subject of a future post. I leave today, however, with today's headlines...demonstrating yet another tragic outcome from liberalism's Political Correctness, which costs American lives.