Socialism: The Opposite of Success

Since the elections are days away from taking place I thought it important to post information to help inform your decision.  Our nation is at the tipping point of being destroyed. A second Obama Term will make that happen. Vote wisely and not with feelings that do not pay the bills.

Socialism does not work in Europe.  It will not work in America either, no matter the label on the snake oil bottle:  Progressivism or Social Justice or Redistribution of Wealth.  It’s bad bad medicine.

Looking Out for Number One and Finding Zero

 This past week, while riding the commuter home I sat down on an upper row seat not far from a young Indian woman. Her head was covered so I believed her to be a devoutly religious person. On her lap was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I wondered about her interest in Rand’s lengthy novel.

As you know much has been said in the media recently about corporate greed and fairness. OWS protests, though largely unfocused and self-trivializing, seem to want to generate a discussion about what is ethically the “right thing to do” in the world of money and specifically money as power or a force to use for “good” and not for selfish pleasure. It should be noted, though, that the message of the OWS protestors is certainly compromised by their own envy and greed. Their desire (and demand) to have the same things that someone else has stands as witness to their hypocrisy. But, let’s get back to the woman reading Atlas Shrugged.  Briefly, let’s look at the philosophy behind the book.

Ayn Rand’s (1905-1982) novels portray the philosophy of Objectivism. The (paper) weighty Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead clearly identify the key tenets of Objectivism: objective reality, reason, self-interest, capitalism.

Ayn Rand’s Objectivism:

Objective reality: a tree falls in the forest. The sound of the falling tree occurs whether you are there to hear it or not. There is no spiritual realm. When you are dead you are dead.

Reason: direct stimuli from nature; there is no God, no soul, no intuition, nothing beyond what we determine though reason.

Self-interest: your own self-interest and happiness is what life is all about. You take care of number one.

Capitalism: Objectivism’s ideal political expression. Capitalism for the Objectivist is all about individual rights and private property; self-reliance, free trade, entrepreneurship and initiative all operate freely and without coercion within capitalism and the free market system.

Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is atheistic, rejecting faith and religion. It believes only in reason and what the self can determine. This viewpoint is born out of a godless evolutionary view of life, the Enlightenment era and philosophical naturalism. Objectivism is blind faith in your self.

Rugged individualism, for Rand, was a force like other forces of nature and something to be reckoned with. As you might imagine this type of thinking would certainly feed the ego and especially if the person who embraces Objectivism is successful in life. For these people pride of place means you’ve made it to the top of the heap. Your self-esteem is rewarded. You are recognized by your peers as having objectively “made it.” (BTW: OWS protestors want to make it, too.)

Ayn Rand’s extreme philosophy is most likely a reaction to her early life in Russia during the Communist Revolution. As a child she learned to despise coercion, government intrusion and totalitarianism. She came to oppose statism and collectivism while she promoted social systems which protected individual rights and personal initiatives. As a romantic realist she hated the dystopian effects created by those seeking to create a man-made utopia. Though a polemic, Rand never insisted that others be made to accept her philosophy. She was “laissez faire” with respect to others.

Before Rand another voice of philosophical naturalism and the evolutionary world view had chosen a different atheistic force with which to respond to “the law of life.: Jack London (1876 – 1916).

London, the author of The Call of The Wild wrote about the rugged individualist in a Darwinian world where and at a time when man was being considered as just another evolved animal. London wrote about animal instincts (the dog Buck) including survival of the species. For the philosophical naturalist life was essentially a matter of staying alive. This meant a primordial existence: eating, having sex, avoiding pain, etc. There was no higher purpose.

Over time, though, London drifted into materialism as most atheistic evolutionists do. He became a member of the Socialist Party of America. He embraced materialist thinkers such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. It may be that because London, as depicted in his writings, saw humans at the mercy of nature’s massive forces that he decided that the best thing to do was to fight back by joining forces with other human animals via collectivism.

It could be said that both philosophical novelists, London and Rand, saw life as a Darwinian atheist did: having no divine purpose; first matter emerges then mind and then will-supplying force. And force, per Jack London and Karl Marx (and even these days, Obama) may be pooled into a collective. Or, force in the hands of Ayn Rand’s character Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, can be the individual who does it “My Way.” Either way, force is the means to an end: the “survival of the fittest,” a now-common phrase given to us by Herbert Spencer, nineteenth-century British philosopher who was huge proponent of evolution (and a significant influence on Jack London and it seems also of the OWS protestors).

As a Christian I believe that there is a lot about the basic wording of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism that rings true while at the same time Rand’s self-directed fleshing out of the philosophy has nothing in common with Christianity.

To be sure there is objective reality but for the Christian it is the True Reality of the Kingdom of God. And those who have “ears to hear and eyes to see” can detect this Kingdom. It is spiritual and at the same time more real than this present world. Christians have wide-eyed belief in God.

Being created in the image of God a Christian also understands that reason is not an end in itself but a means to be in relationship with God and to work together with God to bring about His kingdom on earth.

Christian self-interest is the model for how we are to take care of others: “Love your neighbor as yourself”; “Husbands love your wives as yourself.” Our self-interest is not an end in itself. It is not bent inward. Remember, the Good Samaritan cared for the wounded man as he would have wanted to be cared for in the same situation. He wasn’t the rugged individualist who walked on by. Instead, he was the rugged individualist who cared for others.

Christian capitalism, man’s free, voluntary and individual exchange with others, is to be guided and tempered by a Christian’s self-governing virtue of justice – giving every man his due, of temperance, of prudence and of charity and not by government fiat. Remember, we are told in Scripture to “Pray for those in authority over you.” We pray for those in authority so that we can live in peace – a peace which means no government authority interfering in our lives. This allows for the free exchange of God’s goodness.

Collectivism, on the other hand, finds no place in Scripture apart from a brief mention of the early New Testament church. Yet, there are social engineers and social gospel advocates who build vast socialist ideologies around snippets of this New Testament history.  The U.S. Government is not the church of Jesus Christ. The world and the church are two separate entities. Governments are impersonal and do not have virtues. Governments are coercive and make demands.  In a democratic republic like the U.S. we must not elect leaders who create ever more egregious and imposing laws in hopes of creating the virtues we want to have around us. Be the virtue instead.

The Indian woman on the train woman reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged may find that “the survival of the fittest” individual means that she cuts herself off from God and others to obtain it all. And, those with a humanistic-collective bent may find that they will lose themselves and God in the mix.

Jesus – The Way, The Truth and The Life.  Let The Way Occupy you.

****

Shakespeare had it right when Hamlet says. ‘And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

Here are some related posts:

Wrestling With God

Just Say No

What’s Left. To Be Decided.

tête-à-tête

How Shall I Then Live?

Runaway Slave – C.L. Bryant, Tea Party Member

The previous post showed a Wisconsin Democrat and union boss who has been cyber stalking a Wisconsin State Senator.  He called her “a pig”, in fact.

This post reveals an African-American Tea Party member who ran away from the Democrat’s Party’s Plantation politics:  C.L. Bryant.

Keep in mind that the main stream media (practically every TV/cable media outlet other than Fox news) will depict and propagandize Tea Party members as being racist.

Herman Cain Endorses Newt Gingrich; The Beginning of the End for The Dem’s Plantation Politics

We must de-centralize government and return the power to the states and more importantly to the individual. Obama, his czars and the entrenched government bureaucracies do NOT know what is best for you and me or for our “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The video below is Herman Cain endorsing Newt Gingrich to be the Republican nominee for President.

Newt, after noting the differences between himself other nominee candidates and Barack Hussein Obama and after speaking about his first week’s agenda in the White House, speaks about “the spirit of Pioneering…the New Age of Exploration…big people and dreams…our problems are not the people, they are…

Where Do You Start?

A Tale of Two Foot Races

Race Number One:

Eight men enter a race.  They are roughly about the same height and weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men enter the race knowing that there will only be one winner.  It was for this outcome that they had prepared themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years.

Months prior to the track meet the eight men are told of the rules:  A runner must run in qualifying heats. If the runner is successful in those heats the runner will then be allowed to compete in the final race with the other qualifying runners;  a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will be disqualified as having a “false start”;  the commands “Ready”, “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly;  each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified;  runners will be timed and the first runner to cross the finish line will be the winner of the race.

The runners all agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race, after running in the heats, the eight qualifying runners come to the starting line.  They know that they must run straight ahead in their own lane to reach the one-hundred meter line. They know that if they jump the gun twice they will be disqualified from running. They know that they must sprint as hard as they can to cross the finish line first. They are knowingly competing for first place. The race before them has now become the culmination of years of exhausting training and dedication to finishing the race and receiving first prize.

When the race is announced the runners shed their sweats and come to the starting line. They will then position their legs into the starting blocks and place their hands stretched just hugging the starting line.  Seeing the runners in place behind the line the track official then says, “Ready”.  Then after a moment he says “Set”.  The runners then come up to a set position waiting for the starting pistol to go off.  When it does the eight men jolt from their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their feet will carry them.

At the finish line the winner is the one who breaks the tape. There is also a second, a third and fourth place finisher. The runners-up congratulate the winner for his speed and, implicitly, for his fidelity to the rules and his commitment to the sport of racing.

The first three finishers receive medals, adulation and wreaths of honor from the thousands who have come to watch a fair race between those who have so vigorously prepared themselves. The experience of the race has bolstered each runner’s self-esteem. The cheering crowd is also moved by each runner’s self-sacrifice, dedication and self-discipline. This spectacle has confirmed the crowd’s understanding of playing by the rules and aspiring to excel within those rules. Everyone who witnessed the race that day is stirred to motion – a motion to go home and try harder.

All eight men later return home.  They are now more dedicated than ever to prepare for another day of racing and to receiving the crown of victory.

Race Number Two:

Eight men enter a race.  They are roughly about the same height, weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men entered the race knowing that everyone will be a winner.  It was for this outcome that they saw no need to prepare themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years. They just had to show up.

Months prior to the race the eight men are told the rules.  They are told the rules are subject to change at the time of the race based on the current ad hoc articulated reasoning of one superior intellectual with unquestionable virtue.  A runner must run in qualifying heats but this will not be a constraint. Whether or not a runner is successful in those heats he will also be allowed to compete in the final race with other qualifying runners; a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will not be disqualified from running. Instead he will be given another chance; the commands “Ready” and “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly, though any sincere attempt to cooperate with the official will be accepted; each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified unless, of course, their background is such that they have never stayed within the lines; runners will not be timed because such keeping of minutes would be discrimination against slower runners.  The first runner to cross the finish line will wait at the finish line so that everyone will be considered a winner of the race. This must be done at any personal cost to the first one crossing the finish line.

The runners agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race all of the runners come to the starting line.  They know that they should sincerely try running down to the finish line. There will be prizes and the appreciation of well-wishers to look forward to. They are knowingly going to try for this reason. This race is now the culmination of years of knowing that the battle is just showing up.

When all the runners are in their starting blocks and their hands are behind the starting line the track official then says, “Ready”.  After a long moment of reasoned judgment the official says “Set”.  The runners come up to set position.  When the race official shoots the starting gun the eight men come out of their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their preparation has trained them.

At the finish line everyone becomes a finisher, even those who left the race due to being out of breath. There are congratulations all around for having showed up to such an event.

At the awards ceremony all the runners receive medals and kudos from the thousands who have come to watch a race between people who have showed up for a race where the outcome was predetermined to be fair – fair as defined by a few judges of superior intellect and of unquestioned virtue.

Later, all the runners returned home and rested from another day of showing up.

*****

A Tale of Two Foot Races:  Equal Opportunities vs. Equal Outcomes by Sally Paradise © Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

It’s Time to Cut the Crap

Get your shovels ready. 

Until we get a president in the White House and while BO is out playing with himself and passing the buck here is what I think should happen to kick-start the economy and downsize the national debt:

 1.  Stop government funding of public TV and radio immediately. I am not renouncing TV or radio.  Instead, I am saying that these communication vehicles can be funded via commercials or donations from viewers/listeners who want what they put out.

 2.  Stop government funding of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities immediately. I am an ardent fan of all the arts (except ballet, “Twinkles Down” *on that).  Art, in all its forms, should be subsidized by those who want it.  e.g., I support my local artists by buying their original art work.

 3.  Abolish all public education within the next five years.  All schools should be privately owned and operated. Remove the NEA teacher’s unions from the classroom. The government can provide vouchers for the very poor. Aspirations are what people need to go forward and not the never-ending government hand outs.

 4.  Abolish all minimum wage laws and all other unfunded mandates immediately so people can go back to work.

 5.  Put a five-year moratorium on all EPA regulations. Then, dispose of the EPA altogether in the sixth year.

 6.  Create a personal income flat tax of across the board on two income levels. Below a yearly income of $40,000.00 (this is an arbitrary number up for discussion) the flat tax rate would be 5% (e.g., $2000.00 for a $40,000. income).  For incomes of $40, 000.00 and above the tax rate is 15% (e.g., $6000.00 for a $40000.00 income).

Simplify the tax code to one or two sentences:  “You shall pay 15 % of your income for the year XXXX” if you made $40,000.00 or more in that year.

 State Sales taxes would be tied to the previous year’s income tax paid as one-ten thousandth of what you paid in income taxes the previous year. (e.g., you made $40,000 last year.  You paid $6000.00 in taxes. You next year’s sales tax on any item is $0.60.) A card would be mailed by the government to show what your maximum sales tax would be on any item. (This amount is given that the state should no longer fund education or social programs).

 (BTW:  These are just some ideas about taxation. The tax code must be simplified.  How many tax bureaucrats does the taxpayer pay for by using the current tax code nightmare? We have to think outside the box.)

 7. Cut corporate taxes in half for three years and then abolish all corporation taxes. Corporations provide jobs and benefits for people.

 8.  Abolish all tariffs

 9.  Immediately repeal the onerous Obamacare and Dodd-Frank Acts and all over-reaching Federal and State regulations so that the economic engine of America can fire properly. Currently, Obamacare is an unfunded mandate.

 10.  Give each Congressman a six-year term and one term only.  Doing this will make the Congressman concentrate on his job and not on creating populist programs that will win him re-election while costing the taxpayer mega-dollars. Term limits would also be devastating to any lobbyist trying to buy the Congressman’s power via re-election campaign monies.

(BTW:  The only expertise that long-term Congressmen and Congresswomen receive is how to craft a re-election. Let’s not give power-hungry people more power.)

 11.  Did it say it already?  Abolish the EPA.

 12.  Privatize the mail delivery system.

 13.  End social security in five years for those under fifty.  Those people can use IRAs or 401k plans instead (These people will make more money and more secure retirement money with these financial vehicles).

 14.  Limit the use of FEMA to national security emergencies such as 9/11. People living in hazardous locations can buy flood insurance, hurricane insurance, etc or they can move to a safer location.

15. Illinois house cleaning:  remove Pat Quinn (D-governor), Dick Durbin (D-senator, his wife is a lobbyist for Government Affairs Specialists, Inc.,in Springfield!), Mike Madigan (D-speaker of the house) and Rahm Emmanuel (D-Chicago mayor) from office ASAP.Illinois has the worst credit rating in the union thanks to the tax and spend Democrats. (And, the most felonious governors)

 16. Drill our own natural resources for natural gas and oil.

17.  Leave Afghanistan immediately and rebuild our own national fence.

18.  Never send another dollar to Pakistan or to the UN, for that matter.

19.  Get government out of the housing market.  Tear down those Fannie and Freddie walls. (and, remove Democrat Senators Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi  from office)

20.  Tie government spending to 1.1 % of GDP or better, pass a balanced budget amendment.

 21.  Eliminate all Social/Economic Tinkering:  all of the laws passed (using Stage One thinking*) in order to help Americans (e.g., Dick Durbin’s debit card price controls & the $5 BofA debit card charge) do not operate in isolation. These laws, in the aggregate, affect us negatively and hurt Americans more than they help. You will have to pay more for the use of your debit card in other ways. What goes around comes around, ipso facto.

 (* as Thomas Sowell, economist, defines thinking that does look at all of the possible ramifications of a proposed law.  Laws do not operate in a vacuum.  I highly recommend his latest book, The Thomas Sowell Reader, copyright 2011.)

 22.  We need free trade agreements passed now.

23.  Breakup the monopoly of the US government and Federal Reserve Bank. Better, get rid of most of government and shut down the Federal Reserve Bank.

24.  Because lobbyists are voters with lots of campaign money attached and because we have a representative government we must make congress accountable to the people and not solely to lobbyists and special interests. I propose a full disclosure statement be written and posted online every time a representative interacts with a lobbyist. This statement would disclose the date and time of contact, the means of contact, the purpose of contact, the information exchanged and our representative’s disposition to said matter. This statement must be signed by both parties and posted online.  This disclosure statement must be done every time – pre, post and during office, night and day, during working hours and during their free time.  To not disclose interaction with a lobbyist (I will need legal language here to define lobbyists and special interests.) whether via phone, email, texting, in person or via a third-party would be considered a felony and would be punishable by a minimum of 30 years in prison. This law would affect aides and family, as well.

 25.  Elect Presidents with business savvy, leadership and management experience –  “Twinkles Up”.  Do not elect “buff” spoiled brats who spend most of their time looking in the mirror, blaming Bush and playing golf. That would be “Twinkles Down”.**

(**For everyone who is working and NOT a OWS protestor, “Twinkles Down” means “bad” in protestor speak.)

Coat Check

Social justice.  The very words conjure up radical emotions towards the inequality of means.  The response by those guided by such vacuous and subjective words is almost always “We have to do something to make things right, to make things fair.” So off they go in the direction of collectivism and socialism seeking fairness.  To them these sociopolitical ideologies offer fairness and a fairness which must be won at any cost. But as the bumper sticker says, “Social Justice is neither.” And, it certainly is not fair.  If it is anything it is manifested envy, pure and simple.

 The story of Fairness and his brothers Envy, Ungrateful and Solipsism is four thousand years old. It is the story of Joseph being given a coat.

 Recapping the Old Testament story from Genesis:  Jacob and Rachel had a son named Joseph. Joseph was the youngest of Jacob’s eleven sons born in the service of Laban. The twelfth son, Benjamin, was born later in Canaan. Joseph’s father Jacob favored Joseph and gave him a special coat as a gift; as a result, he was envied by his brothers, who saw the special coat as an indication that Joseph would assume family leadership. His brothers’ suspicion grew when Joseph told them of his two dreams (Genesis 37:11) in which all the brothers bowed down to him. The envy of the brothers may also have stemmed from the fact that Joseph was the son of Rachel, Jacob’s first love.

The narrative tells that his brothers plotted against Joseph when he was 17, and would have killed him had not the eldest brother Reuben, who, even though had the most to lose if Joseph ascended to a family leadership role, interposed. He persuaded them instead to throw Joseph into a pit and secretly planned to rescue him later. However, while Reuben was absent, the others planned to sell him to a company of Ismaelite merchants. When the passing Midianites arrived, the brothers dragged Joseph up and sold him to the merchants for 20 pieces of silver. The brothers then dipped Joseph’s coat in goat blood and showed it to their father, saying that Joseph had been torn apart by wild beasts…

Popular social psychology suggests that a father figure should give a fair share to his children in order to not hurt the child’s id or ego or self-esteem, what have you. The same thinking would blame the parent for discriminating with his favor. This thinking would continue to say that Jacob was unfair to Joseph’s brothers and that the family was dysfunctional at best. Popular psychology would not hold Joseph’s brothers accountable for their actions.  Popular psychology would blame the father and the dysfunction around the brothers.

 The brother’s, of course, looked at what they didn’t get from their father and became obsessed with Joseph’s position of favor in their father’s eyes. And though each of them knew the largesse of their father for many more years than the youngest sibling Joseph they didn’t regard this of any value.  Instead they collectively chose to obsess about what they viewed as Joseph’s privileged life. Well, you know where that led – to the slavery of Joseph, the loss of fellowship with their brother and the father’s loss of a son – all for the bottom line of greed and envy, the progenitors of social justice and fairness. Their “self-righteous” ends justified their means.  This is moral relativism. 

 The Bible clearly records the brother’s envy and doesn’t paint it over with popular psychology. Sadly, populist social envy or class warfare with its “picking winners and losers” rhetoric (e.g., in terms of wealth, hedge fund manager-bad, Oprah Winfrey-good) has even infiltrated the church with its social gospel sermons.

 What should have happened:  Joseph’s brothers should have rejoiced with their brother over his recent gift.  They should have been happy for him and congratulated him. Instead, they saw what they didn’t have and became ‘coated’ with envy green. This brings me full circle back to the terms “social justice” and “fairness”. Both of these terms are full of themselves and nothing else except to be further defined as “a loss to someone else”.  “Fairness” in the hands of the envious is a deadly business.  And, wolfish human nature doesn’t change under the sheepskin cloak of wishful altruism.

 BTW:  The Hebrew origin of the name Joseph means “God will add” or “May Yahweh add”.

 *****

 Joseph was later able to feed and house his brothers during a seven-year famine.  You will have to read the rest of the story (basically the second half of the book of Genesis) to find out how God used Joseph in spite of the social engineers who sought to rid their lives of unfairness and a brother with it.

tête-à-tête

Though I am a political and social conservative with a strong libertarian streak I often read the opposition’s pabulum in order to discern whether I am holding on to what is good.  This deliberate questioning of my conservatism has helped me to further understand my own ideology and has helped put into contrast the false thinking that is prevalent today, most notably found in liberalism, progressivism and atheism.

 It should be noted here that I came to my understanding of my conservatism/libertarianism through my own reading (early on, Milton and Rose Friedman’s book Free to Choose) and by listening to programs such as Firing Line with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr..  My conservative ideology, as I told my attorney recently, is not the result of my viewership of FOX news. FOX News only highlights what I already know to be true and false.

An aside:  My attorney who is a Democrat once told me how he picks jurors for his accident injury trials:  The attorney asks perspective jurors if they watch FOX News or listen to Rush Limbaugh to determine if they are Republicans or Democrats. He pejoratively calls such Republicans “Rush Limbaugh Republicans”. The reason for his disdain of these Republicans:   he said that most Republicans believe in torte reform and ridding the courts of frivolous lawsuits.  My attorney won’t pick them to be a juror. They would likely vote against a substantial injury award. Ergo, my attorney wouldn’t win enough money for his client or himself (usually 40% take of the award compensation)

My attorney didn’t describe the Democrat jurors. He left me to believe that they were the opposite of Republicans with regard to willingness to make someone pay out.  Many attorneys are liberal Democrats (including their well-known lobbyists Obama, Eric Holder, Rahm Emmanuel, etc.). Many of these attorneys use frivolous lawsuits to make a living.  They are called the “ambulance chasers” (or, in Obama’s and Emmanuel’s case, the “crisis chasers”).

I let my attorney know that I did watch Fox News but that I didn’t listen to Rush Limbaugh, Jon Stewart or to Bill Maher. I told him I was my own conservative:   I related to him that I was a William F. Buckley Jr.-Milton Friedman-Neal Cavuto-Christian conservative. I wasn’t bought by what money I could weasel out of someone’s pocket. (BTW, as a Conservative I am not against accident lawsuits, only injustice.)

That aside, beyond my own research into political ideology, economics and morality, in school I also studied economics, finances, accounting and business among other related courses. These studies helped me see that free market enterprise and capitalism creates the most opportunities and the most wealth for everyone. And, that charity is both what you have to give (maybe a widow’s mite) and the desire to give.

 My belief in God came through my reading of the Bible and, specifically, the eyewitness accounts recorded therein. The historically factual account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as recorded in the Gospels was sufficient proof for me.

 I am currently reading two books:  essays by Christopher Hitchens in a book titled Arguably, copyright 2011, and The Thomas Sowell Reader, copyright 2011.

 Christopher Hitchens is a well-known left-winger and atheist, born in England and living in America.  He became an American citizen in 2007.  He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate and The Atlantic. His books include, among many, Thomas Jefferson: Author of America and God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

 I am reading Hitchens’ book even though I do not agree with his positions on most issues and most decidedly his atheism. His pronouncements against the fascism of Islam I do agree with.  I do like his breadth of knowledge in literature and his love of the English language. I enjoy his way of writing and his way of stating things. And, as I read I do make marginal notes wherever I disagree with his thinking. As a writer I continue to learn a lot about the art of essay writing from Hitchens.

 Here is a blurb about Hitchens’ book, ARGUABLY, from the Richard Dawkins Foundation website:

 The first new book of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, ARGUABLY offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for the enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, ARGUABLY burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.” (emphasis mine)

 Regarding this blurb, while I would certainly disagree with the relevance of Karl Marx as an answer to anything I would agree with what is said about Hitchens’ art. It is a product of one of the greatest living essayists in the English language.

 About Christopher Hitchen’s athesim, I believe that those who are most adamantly opposed to knowledge of God are often those who are the closest to the Truth, as was the case of another profound English writer and apologist, C.S. Lewis.  Lewis was an atheist turned agnostic turned believer.   Lewis’s writings are characterized by a lightly carried erudition, critical thinking, psychological insight, humor and sympathy. 

It is my prayer that Christopher Hitchens will someday soon come “kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of God” just as Lewis, a reluctant convert. (Update:  Hitchens died recently.)

 Christopher Hitchens currently has throat cancer. He has difficulty speaking and certainly cannot lecture.  From a lover of the  English language perspective, this throat business must give him great pain and a deep sense of loss. Pray for him.

 Turning to Thomas Sowell’s The Thomas Sowell Reader I find a treasure trove of wonderful essays and articles written by a well read economist, social theorist, political philosopher and conservative Black American. Sowell uses easy to understand commonsense language in his writings. Most would find this book accessible and informative. It is this simplicity which more than anything defines truth and true conservatism. Liberalism, much like in Hitchens’ writing, seeks to overwhelm the reader with its own great knowledge and pompous profundity. Not so with Thomas Sowell. His plain spoken and humble writing speaks louder than any hubris.

 Here are some excerpts from a chapter titled The Survival of the Left, from The Thomas Sowell Reader:

 Biologists explain how organisms adapt to their physical environment, but ideologues also adapt to their social environment.  The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

The academic world is the natural habitat of half-baked ideas, except for those fields I which there are decisive tests, such as science, mathematics, engineering, medicine—and athletics. In all these fields, in their differing ways, there comes a time when you must either put up or shut up.  It should not be surprising that all other fields are notable exceptions to the complete domination of the left on campuses across the country

 You might think that the collapse of communism throughout Eastern Europe would be considered a decisive failure for Marxism, but academic Marxists in America are utterly undaunted.  Their paychecks and their tenure are unaffected.  Their theories continue to flourish in the classrooms and their journals continue to litter the library shelves.

 Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it..

 Nor is economic failure the worst of it.  The millions slaughtered by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot for political reasons are an even grimmer reality…

 Academia is only one of the places where totally subjective criteria rule—and where leftists dominate.

 Sowell goes on to list these “places”:  foundations, museums, cultural institutions such as the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities and taxpayer supported “public” TV and radio.

 These endowed and insulated institutions, often full of contempt for the values of American society and Western civilization, are not the only bastions of the left counter-culture. So are Hollywood and Broadway.  Although show biz faces the financial need to get an audience, the truth of what they portray is hardly crucial.  If they can make it punchy and sexy, then those who complain about historical inaccuracies and ideological bias can be dismissed as irrelevant pedants.

 Why are leftists able to crowd out other kinds of people from these places?  Because those who are willing to subject themselves to the test of reality, whether as a businessman in the marketplace or as surgeon in an operating room, have many other places to work and live.They do not need special sheltered niches in which to hide and to cherish their precious notions.

 Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. Just as you don’t find eagles living in the ocean or fish living on mountain tops, so you don’t find leftists concentrated where ideas have to stand the test of performance. (emphasis mine)

I have to get back to my reading… Here’s Christopher Hitchens and William F. Buckley Jr. in conversation.

The Lord Hears The Cry Of The Poor, All Others Listen Up

The answer to poverty in our lifetime is not government.  It is not voting for someone who will make us feel better about the situation. It is not the vicarious experience of giving offered by paying a little more taxes. This type of arm’s length indifference is much like the behaviors of the priest and the Levite who had each passed a man lying on the road. 

This man, a Samaritan, had been accosted by robbers, leaving him penniless.  Both priest and Levite were well versed in the rules and regulations that governed their lives.  They both acted out of those rules and regulations and not out of love. They both gave at the office.

Progressives like to think of themselves as Good Samaritans and yet they vote like how the priest and Levite responded – this problem is beyond me, the system should fix this.

Giving is meant to be a one-on-one intimacy – the poor are to be helped directly.  The answer is personal involvement. In doing so, both parties benefit and, more importantly, God, not government, is honored.

We are told in Scripture that we are to do our giving in secret. The right hand should not know what the left hand is doing.  Yet, we have politicians on the Left (hand) and social gospel gurus who publicly demand that government be the arbiter of who is poor and the benefactor to the poor.  They take great pride in their social justice message.  It is their platform.

 It is common among progressive voters to look for deep pockets and then to vote in politicians who will enact laws and regulations which will divest those pockets of wealth in order to provide for the poor (basically, everyone not rich).  This is wealth redistribution and it is at the heart of ‘been-there-done-that’ socialism.

 Many college kids (taking worthless courses) and liberal college professors (those unable to find real jobs) voted for Obama because of his campaign rhetoric calling for wealth redistribution.  Class warfare has become a war cry of the progressive voter – pitting one group against another.  This is not Christ.  This is not being a Good Samaritan. This behavior is more akin to Pharisee-ism than anything else. Pretense veils the eyes of many in this group of voters.

 Common sense should tell you that with less government there is less need for tax money.  And, with less tax money being taken out of your pocket there is more money left for you to give to the poor. But, undoubtedly, it is human nature to submit to the group thinking of socialism rather than to act individually. It is also human nature to want someone else to be responsible for a problem and for us to look good applying ourselves to that end.  In other words, we, like the Levite in the Good Samaritan story, tend to be Pharisaic by staying away from the problem, letting others become involved directly.

 If you want to help the poor then look around you.  Get involved with your neighbors.  Get off your ass (see the Good Samaritan parable for more detail),  stop texting ‘socialisms’ to your buddies and do the best thing for the poor – give of yourself.

*****

Liberalism is a parlor game, where one, for a small stipend, is allowed to think he is aiding starving children in X or exploited workers in Y, when he is merely, in the capitalist tradition, paying a premium, tacked on to his goods, or subtracted from his income, for the illusion that he is behaving laudably (cf. bottled water).

David Mamet from his book The Secret Knowledge: On Dismantiling of American Culture

Outsourcing

 The radio message came at 22:01:44.9 Martian time:  “The Community-Organizer-in-Chief has left the Washington DC Bureau of Breadlines and has fled to his Martha’s Vineyard compound.”

 It was to be expected. The People’s Economy had turned on him. Unfed jobless (and tattooed) masses were walking the streets looting, robbing and killing for food. Washington, the center for The People’s Economy was no longer safe.  But, we felt safe in our star-ship Gorforit. That is, Friedrich and I felt safe.  My name is Milton.

 You should know that there were many Capitalists in The People’s America when the Hope and Change Desolation began ten years ago. But, since that time, there is now only a small remnant left.

 Back then we were called the “Free-Market-eers.”  As such, we were constantly booed and jeered by The People’s Media.  Flash mobs of union workers, guided by The People’s Media, attacked us. And though we were peace-keeping people, many of us were battered and some lost their lives.  At one point it became so bad that corporate jet owners were being hung openly on the Mall, right in front of Lincoln Memorial.

 How did this all begin? A Progressive candidate (The Candidate) won the presidential election in 2008. This newly elected president began to stir up class warfare among the people.  He incited people to turn against each other, neighbor against neighbor, because of money. The People’s Media joined in.

 In 2011 a “Lean Forward” campaign was launched by the People’s Media.  Soon, the slothful, the dimwitted and the envious began to call themselves “The Forward Thinkers” or the “Lean-Forward Thinkers” – commonly known as the “LFT”. Their numbers, mostly union workers and unemployed college graduates with useless degrees, grew rapidly.

 The People’s Media which had once campaigned for The Candidate in 2008, now campaigned for the Lean-Forward group.  The campaign encouraged these marauders to take from the rich (those who had a job and some income) and to give to the “under-privileged” – those who saw what others had and wanted the same things.

From the Oval office the president, via regular People’s Media broadcasts, told the citizens that government was the best mechanism to handle society’s problems.  So, with the help ‘elected’ representatives he began to take away the people’s money through taxation. People were no longer able to donate to charities or to directly help their neighbor.  Every dollar was excised from the people for the people in The People’s Economy.

 The People’s Media, rousing the animal passions of the LFT members, encouraged demonstrations to take place against Free-Marketeer businesses.  Soon, though, the demonstrations were replaced with random looting and pillaging of stores.  Strife increased between merchant and customer, neighbors and friends.

 Our nations’ economy, once strong and vibrant because of free-market exchange, was now subject to the whims of recalcitrant, angry mobs and inept tyrannical leadership.  It quickly deteriorated until our present time.

 So, a plan was decided at our last Capitalist conclave held in a secret hiding place near Mount Rushmore.  Two of us would go to Mars and begin a free market economy on a new planet. Both Friedrich and I volunteered to go.  We were the oldest in the group.  If something happened we were both prepared to die.

 We had the star-ship Goforit but not the fuel.  The People’s Economy rationed both fuel and food. So, we had to put our heads together to find a solution. Now, we had done similar things like this before so we were not overly concerned but time was running out.

There was no IPO for this venture, no influx of cash.  The US dollar had folded.  Instead, we had to learn to create fuel out of gold bullion.  And, as it turned out, a small amount of this fuel would take us all the way to Mars. Once there we could also use it to barter with the Martians.  They have no gold on Mars but they do have good underground living quarters for the two of us. We could set up shop very quickly. In fact, it was the Martians who had offered to help us.  They would benefit from us. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship, something no longer found in The People’s America.

 We all believed, the Free-Market-eers, that is, that there would be defectors from the People’s Economy but we didn’t know when. Things were getting nasty in The People’s America.  So we decided to plan ahead and get ready for the influx of homeless and hungry. We had to start somewhere new.  Somewhere that wouldn’t be affected by The People’s Media. 

It seemed to us that Mars was the best option since there was a significant time delay for any radio signal to reach that planet. And better yet, The People’s Media Broadcasts would easily get lost within the noise of space radiation and our own Sun’s solar flares. “Bingo,” I said when I heard this.

*****

 “Milton”, Friedrich spoke glancing out Goforit’s small window at the silent Martian orb, “soon you and I will be able to start our booming life again, but this time, on the Red Planet!”

Milton replied, “A laissez-faire world at last. To Mars or bust, my friend, to Mars or bust.”

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved