A Just Wage–Flourishing in the Balance

 

Without a doubt, this past year you’ve heard the Bernie Sander’s mantra “a just wage”. When Bernie wasn’t chanting, Bernie railed against the 1 %, Wall St., corporations and just about anyone who made money (except those on the Left making money (i.e. George Soros, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett)).

And, as you know, Bernie’s answer to income differences was the penumbra of socialism’s cloud by day and a minimum wage increase to provide a home fire at night.

Yet, nothing happens in isolation, Bernie. Griping about unfairness may get you ten thousand followers but it doesn’t feed those followers in a desert economy. A kingdom understanding can and does. So, for starters, ….

Below is an excellent brief discussion about the minimum wage. Samuel Gregg, of the Acton Institute, speaks of a need for awareness on the part of both employers and employees about economic conditions and for each not to be myopic in their concerns.

 

Nothing happens in isolation.

 

A License to…Look Out For Number One

Living in a Material World, Part Two

Atlas Shrugged and Went About his Own Business

Atlas Shrugged and Went About his Own Business

Not long ago, while riding the commuter train 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 what interested her in Rand’s lengthy novel.

***

As you know there has been much in the media-the politically biased-media-about corporate greed, fairness and income inequality. The “social justice “rhetoric is ubiquitous, whether here in the U.S. or in re-salvaged unrepentant Greece.

In op-eds and news commentaries we are lectured to with the by-products of the liberal elites (e.g., Paul Krugman (see my previous post about economist Krugman’s $225K payday in return for his thoughts on Income Inequality!), by Progressive politicians (e.g., Hillary Clinton and Liz Warren) and by their media puppets (e.g., MSNBC), all of whom feign a disdain for money, that “filthy lucre”, while quietly reaping enormous capital gains of their own (See also Vanity Fair’s glossy wealth-guilt sympathy card dated August 2015, the article “The Charlie War”, regarding the French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo coming into mega-Euros.) Looking out for number one has never been so savoir faire.

Then not long ago we were accosted by the “commoners” – the OWS protesters. Though largely unfocused and self-trivializing we were told by our ‘betters’ that these poor folk just wanted to generate a discussion about what is ethically the “right thing to do” in the world of money and specifically money as a power or a force to use for “good” and not for selfish materialistic pleasure (ahem, Vanity Fair). The Wall Street bulls and bears became the effigies they wanted to burn or, rather, smoke to get their solvency high.

The OWS’ trashy 60’s bohemian style protest became a mixed message diatribe against a ‘rigged” system, a system that didn’t appear (in their cloud computing at least) to offer them a break into the big leagues of the adult material world. Apparently, the OWS protestors ‘just’ wanted to “survive” materially, debt-free, well-off and on their own terms-no pain, all gain, Greek style.

OWS! May Day!

OWS! May Day!

It was noted though by those standing head and shoulders (a stock chart term) above the “Leaning Forward” genuflectors that the protestors was certainly compromised in their messaging. Their signage/texting revealed the protesters demands.

Their demands included gaining “justly” (a word replacement for “freely”) the same materialistic “well-being” that someone else had achieved under the rubrics “income equality” and “free tuition” and “social justice”. Their socialist mantras were remarkably self-centered, covetous and Marxist.

Is the OWS’ ‘just’ quest for materialism-looking out for number one-any different from the Wall Street gang “running with the bulls” down Wall Street in hopes of not being gored by unleashed regulators? And, rigged or not rigged, Materialism, in the light of day, wears the same “envy green” scrubs.

***

Unions are all about looking out for Number One.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) a federal union, is fighting against reforms of the badly run VA administration. You won’t see AFGE publicly decrying a measure that would mean that their union members may be held responsible and they may be fired or their bonus withheld. AFGE is currently working in Congress to stop VA reform. From a Daily Caller Article:

A union representing government employees on Tuesday condemned a bill meant to reform how bonuses are awarded at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It’s time to turn the page on morale-busting measures like Rep. Miller’s proposal and focus on the mission of delivering top-quality care to America’s veterans,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. declared in a statement.

Yeah, it’s about time to focus on others…

Here is why AFGE’s is against VA reform:

A Koch Brothers-funded front group called the Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has been making waves on Capitol Hill lately, promoting a long list of anti-VA, anti-worker proposals that would break this sacred promise and leave veterans out to dry. Led by former Wall Street bank employee and failed Senate candidate Pete Hegseth, CVA has been the driving force behind efforts to dismantle the VA health care system and trim service members’ hard-earned disability and other benefits.

Yeah, those evil Koch Brothers trying to help veterans by removing bad employees-not Number One on AFGE’s list.

Why make the VA better for our wounded veterans when union members are more G_d-Damn important?

Looking out for Number One leaves the robbed and wounded man left for dead alongside the road…until the Good Samaritan comes along to care for him.

 

***

Going Number One Onto Others:

The recent abominable SCOTUS decision made it possible for homosexual couples to look out for their Number One mission-use their new-found legal licentiousness to bash Christians and to seek material gain via law suits against Christian wedding cake bakers who refuse their demands. All done under the guise of ‘true love’ and “equality” (actually, unabated unnatural desires).

Looking out for number one has never been so “User friendly” for lawyers and bullies.

***

A well-known looking out for Number One persona:

Objectivism is my Game.

Objectivism is my Game.

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, individualism over group-think, self-interest and ego-ism.

Ayn Rand’s Objectivism:

There are four pillars to Rand’s objectivism: objective reality, reason, self-interest and capitalism.

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

For Rand Man is all there is. There is no spiritual reality of angels, demons and God. The heroism of man was to be worshipped, as did the Greek stoic philosophers and the food-and-wine-friendly Epicureans who avoided God and enjoyed the ‘heroics’ of pleasure.

Early Greek philosophers taught that man was mortal, corporal, and that sensory inputs were the only reality available to mankind. God was described as elsewhere and angry so therefore the true God was not of any material benefit to mankind. Avoid pain, seek pleasure. Be your own hero. Be Number One.

Rand’s Self-interest: your own self-interest and happiness is what life is all about. You take care of Number One.

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. I have no issues with Rand’s objective definition of capitalism. As a Christian in the Kingdom of God I do have a problem with Rand’s use of capitalism as a means to flee from God and from responsibility towards others and to use it as self-promotion, as a prosperity gospel.

Ayn Rand’s described herself as a romantic-realist. Her Objectivism is atheistic, rejecting faith and religion. It believes only in reason and what the self can determine. For her it was every man for himself, the survival of the fittest. This viewpoint is born out of a godless Darwinian materialist view of life, the Enlightenment era and philosophical naturalism. Objectivism is blind faith in Number One-Yourself.

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.”

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.

A Christian Perspective:

The Kingdom of God’s answer to Looking Out for Number One: kenosis- a ‘self-emptying’ of one’s own will and becoming entirely receptive to God’s divine will.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” The Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, II Corinthians 8:9

A Christian’s response to Ayn Rand

***

The call of "Number One"

The call of “Number One”

Before Ayn Rand another voice of philosophical naturalism had chosen the similar atheistic force with which to respond to “the law of life”: Jack London (1876 – 1916).

Remember Buck and the rugged ‘individual’s’ response to “The Call of the Wild”? It’s a tale of primitive and bestial survival, of self-interest, of the strong seeking to overcome nature. It’s a tale of reversion to innate instincts and characteristics of our evolutionary heritage-a looking out for Number One and a dog eat dog meal ticket.

Humanity Thrives on Moral-Guided Free Market Economics and Acts of Creation

In response to the collectivist ideologies of Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren and their proposed free market epitaph “You didn’t build that…” I offer two videos that provide insights about our humanity, creation, transcendence and economics. Epicurus, by the way (see previous posts regarding Epicurus), knew about humanity at a base level. Epicurus withdrew from transcendent.
The first video includes an interview with Rev. Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute. I first heard this interview while watching Fox Business’ Varney & Company. It contains a surprise ending.

In the second video Rev. Robert A. Sirico speaks at Creighton University about his conversion from Marxism and socialism and his reckoning of justice with a God-given humanity and transcendence. He speaks of going on to embrace a morals-directed free market economics which in the act of creation produces a bigger pie for all to share in.
Transcendence takes acknowledgement and submission to the Sublime. It takes one to be faithful in small things. .And, what you create-“build”-transcends all the output of man-made ideologies and political jingoisms. Grab some coffee first before you sit back and enjoy truth.

There is No Gravy Train So Don’t Buy Tickets

Chciago 6-5-2013 027 - R1

Income inequality” is a false flag waved by socialist-redistributionists. They want your attention.  They want to sell you tickets for a ride on their gravy train. Don’t buy it!!

 Just as with the global warming hoax, income inequality as a universal ‘social justice’ mantra makes everyone in the world a victim.

 Politicians, ‘social agenda’ oligarchs and the international ‘do-gooders’ employ others to create fear mongering ~ much like the under-the-table paid/tenured insured/grant-awarded global warming ‘scientists’ who ‘cooked the books’ to create global warming.

 The above socialist’s cabal needs willing low information victims to join their crusade. With lemmings in tow a power grab is easy. Then, those in power can simply coerce money from wallets everywhere. Yet, in doing so, THEY create disproportionate income inequality.

 That is, in fact, the main purpose of a union these days: gather ‘victims’ into the fold so as to “fight the ‘man’.” “Hand us your money and we will do battle against the ‘injustice’ of the ‘rigged’ system.” The deceit is compounded with the likes of Elizabeth Warren the poster child of a Grapes-of-Wrath-animus-driven-low-information class warfare.

 In a growing and dynamic world economy income inequality can and should be expected. It means among other things that good things are happening. People are thriving, moving forward, the tide is rising. People everywhere on earth want to reap plentiful harvests and make profits. Is it “income inequality” to want to succeed rather than to fail? Is that “trickle down” economics or rising tide economics? Rising tide economics, of course! Except when government gets involved.

 In stagnant low information Paul Krugman type economies Stagnation and its bedfellows Socialism, Egalitarianism and Going-Nowhere-Nihilism dusts off Keynesian policies to try and stir up ‘things’. But again, these policies lead to disproportionate income inequality, e.g, our current U.S. economy and the gap between the very poor and the very rich; the middleclass suffers the most.

 There are several factors which contribute to “income inequality”. One is geo/political. Do you live in a resource rich area or a desert? Is there a rule of law where you live where contract laws are upheld?

 Another factor is how you use what you have. For example: squandering money on Solyndra type money laundering projects, on bailouts, on $44 BN POTUS trips, etc. or perhaps buying lottery tickets, dope and malt liquor instead of investing in your future. (FYI! Charity can only happen if you haven’t squandered your money.)

 More important than capital transfers is the transfer of knowledge.

 Warren Buffet, as an example, and other successful investors know the companies they invest in before diving in with their capital. Being knowledgeable and using that knowledge to grow your pie also allows one to be pie-charitable.

 Obama, on the other hand, doesn’t want knowledge transferred to you. He, without you knowing, will dive in with taxpayer money to gain political leverage for himself. ‘And, speaking of the importance of the transfer of knowledge, please don’t read the ACA law before you pass it!

 Obama, as will Elizabeth Warren if she is elected to be POTUS, offers to us, the proles (see Orwell’s 1984) trickle down economics: Obamacare/food stamps/minimum wages/tuition reimbursement/throw-them-a-bone-to-keep-them-distracted fiscal polices. But then you already knew this.

 What you need to know:  Capitalism is knowledge based. You must know what the other person’s needs are before you try to sell them something. You think about others first. Is this inequitable?

 If anything we have “knowledge inequality:” ~ a “love your neighbor as yourself” type inequality. That is something we can ask God for help with and he will answer our prayers.

There is no gravy train or free lunch. A focus on materialism feeds envy. Envy feeds materialism which feeds envy which feeds materialsm and so on.   There is no train, only an insane carousel that never stops.  You just have to get off. Don’t buy the tickets being offered.

There is no gravy train or free lunch. There is only faith, hope and charity ~ and knowldege:

 “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Proverbs 4:7

‘Tis the Season…to be a Capitalist

Yes, I know, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the greatest Gift of all and the advent of God’s Kingdom here on earth.  But at this time of the year especially, giving reminds us of what capitalism gets right all year long.

  donation fund

Here some quotes from George Gilder’s book “Knowledge and Power:  The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing Our World:”

“Capitalism begins with giving.  Free markets and exchanges are characteristic of capitalism, but they are a result of entrepreneurship ~ not a cause of it….

The anthropological evidence, detailed in the original Wealth and Poverty, suggests that capitalism begins with the gift and continues with competitions in giving.

A gift will elicit a greater response only if is based on an understanding of the recipient’s needs.  As any baffled beneficiary of a costly but unwanted Christmas present can attest, giving is difficult and requires close attention to the lives and longings, tastes and talents of others.  In the most successful and catalytic gifts, the giver fulfills an unknown, unexpressed, or even unconscious desire in a surprising way.

A successful gift startles and gratifies the recipient with the unexpected sympathy of the giver. In order to repay him, however, the receiver must come to understand the giver. The contest of gifts leads to an expansion of human sympathies…  

In deciding what new goods to assemble or create, therefore, the givers and investors must be willing to focus on others’ needs more than their own…

 Profit is thus an index of the altruism of an investment….

 The conventional wisdom, whether liberal or conservative regards charity or generosity as essentially simple ~ just giving things away without calculation or continuing concern with their true use.  The hero of this narrative is the anonymous donor, while the investor is seen as a Shylock, extorting usurious gains from lending money, or a Scrooge, extracting his profits from the exploitation of workers.  A welfare system of direct money grants financed by anonymous taxpayers through the choices of their elected representatives is, in this view, the ultimate expression of compassion and charity.

 Dumb money, however, does more harm than good.  It is extremely difficult to transfer value to people in a way that actually helps them.  Excess welfare hurts its recipients, demoralizing them or reducing them to an addictive dependency that can ruin their lives.  The anonymous private donation may be a good thing in itself.  It may foster an outgoing and generous spirit.  But society as a whole is more likely to become charitable and compassionate if the givers are given unto, if the givers seek some form of voluntary reciprocation.  Then the spirit of giving spreads, and wealth gravitates toward those who are most likely to give back, who are most capable of using it for the benefit of others, who are most knowledgeable and best informed, whose gifts evoke the greatest returns.  Even the most indigent families will do better under a system of free enterprise and investment than under a supposedly “compassionate” welfare system that asks no return.  The law of reciprocity ~ that one must supply in order to demand, save in order to invest, considers others in order to serve oneself ~ is essential for a humane society.

 At the heart of capitalist growth, however, is not the mechanistic homo economicus but conscious, willful, often altruistic, inventive man.  Although a marketplace may work mechanically, an economy is no sense a great machine.  The market provides only the perfunctory dénouement of a tempestuous drama, dominated by the incalculable creativity of entrepreneurs, making purposeful gifts without predetermined returns, launching enterprise into the always unknown future.  The market is the conduit, not the content; the low-entropy carrier, not the high entropy message.

Capitalism begins not with exchange but with giving, not with determinist rationality but with creation and surprisal.

 (emphasis mine)

***

Some interesting thoughts about poverty from the British doctor Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Life at the Bottom”:

What do we mean by poverty?  Not what Dickens or Blake or Mayhew meant.  Today no one seriously expects to be hungry in England or to live without running water or medical care or even TV.  Poverty has been redefined in industrial countries, so that anyone at the lower end of the income distribution is poor ex offico, as it were ~ poor by virtue of having less than the rich.  And of course by this logic, the only way of eliminating poverty is by egalitarian redistribution of wealth ~ even if the society as a whole were to become poorer as a result.

Such redistribution was the goal of the welfare state.  But it has not eliminated poverty, despite the vast sums expended, and despite the fact that the poor are now substantially richer ~~ indeed are not by traditional standards, poor at all. As long as the rich exist, so must the poor, as we now define them.

Capitalism Has Got the Goods (and Services) – So Quit Complaining

 

The Good News and Capitalism All Under One Tent

tent-making

Over the past several months I have been reading several of the Apostle Paul’s letters. He wrote to churches he had planted and to those he intended to visit such as the one in Rome. 

 His two letters to the Christians in Thessalonica struck me, especially in light of the terms “social justice” and “fair share” being pandered today by so~called Christian groups (Sojourners & Jim Wallis, etc.) under the guise of helping others.

 What struck me within these particular letters is that Paul, without healthcare, without government subsidies, without insurance of any kind went about the business of the Kingdom of God, working with his own hands, as he states, making tents, paying his own way. 

 Paul said that he could have “entitled” himself to share in their “wealth” because he was a hard-working minister of the good news.  Instead, he chose to not become a burden to the people he was talking to and therefore not a burden or an impedance to the freely offered Good News of the Kingdom of God.

 “Here is a command we have for you, my dear family, in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.  Keep away from any member of the family who is stepping out of line, and not behaving according to the tradition that you received from us.

You yourselves know, after all, how you should copy us. We didn’t step out of line, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it.  We worked night and day, with labor and struggle, so as to not place a burden on any of you.  It wasn’t that we don’t have a right; it was so that we could give you an example, for you to copy us. And indeed, when we were with you, we gave you this command:  those who won’t work shouldn’t eat!”  II Thess. 3:6-10

  

From a provocative post by R.J. Moeller:  “Hayek on Socialism,”  American Spectator

 “For my fellow Christians who are skeptical of free-market capitalism, I’m all in favor of having those internal discussions about the most God-honoring, effective ways to help the least among us. But if you’re a believer who takes the Bible seriously and you actively (or even passively) endorse government~enforced and funded “social justice,” you’re wrong. You may mean well, but you’re wrong.”

Today I see many young people wanting to help others “socially.” Social media impacts and drives a lot of this desire and also a lot of misinformation about Capitalism and the Free-market. One only has to look at the Occupy Wall Street “movement” to see that there are some who have angst and anger about Capitalism, angst and anger revved up by the main stream media pushing Progressivism’s socialist agenda.

But we need Capitalism more than ever to restore human flourishing to our country.  More importantly, we need Capitalism to help us Christians increase the Kingdom of God here on planet earth. Think fishermen, disciples, non-union community and fellowship, image-of-God creativity, Jerusalem~Christian-like charity, sparrow~like dependence on God ~ agape love feasts and more.

 Capitalism combined with a knowledge of God and the freedom to act, can enable an individual to freely share the Kingdom of God with others and to do this without the middleman of government and apart from the propaganda of the main stream media. Why else would the Evil One so push for a centralized government where he can consolidate his power?

 Here are some authoritative thoughts about capitalism’s creativity and information sharing that could have a positive impact on the Kingdom of God: 

In a recent book by George Gilder “Knowledge and Power:  Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World,”  he writes, 

 “In order for the entrepreneur to succeed, he must know that, if his creation generates an upside surprise, the related profits will not be confiscated or taxed away.  If they may be confiscated, his entire project will not be able to attract the necessary resources to bring it to market.” 

 “The successful entrepreneur has found a creative way to serve his fellow-man, and his profits are the measure of the extent to which he has been of service.  He needs to be able to keep those profits in order to be able to use what he has learned to bring other creative ideas to market to further serve his fellow-man.  When a government takes away the entrepreneur’s profits, it essentially takes away his creative lifeblood.”

 Also,

 “A leftward administration can destroy the value of the 1 percent’s property, but cannot seize it or pass it on….Under capitalism, wealth is less a stock of goods than a flow of ideas and entropy….Capitalism is a system that begins not with taking but with giving to others.”

 And,

 “All economic growth ultimately stems from innovations. …Innovation is always a product of individual innovators, a rare and dynamic breed not always appealing to the millions who depend on their creativity for their own comfort, health, and security.”

“In capitalism, “the givers or investors must be willing to focus on others’ needs more than on their own.  The difference between the value of an item to the giver and its value to the recipient is the profit.  Profit is thus an index of the altruism of an investment.”

Capitalism is the most effective way of expanding wealth, not because it offers the most powerful incentives…but because it links knowledge with power.  It gives control over resources and over the future flow of investment not to political bureaucracies of certified experts or to the most avidly self-loving pursuers of leisure and luxury, but to the particular entrepreneurs who manage successful experiments of enterprise.  It grants riches to those very individuals who have proved their ability to forgo immediate gratification in pursuit of larger goals, and who refuse to waste or to hedonistically consume their incomes.  …Under capitalism, economic power flows not to the intellectual, who manipulates ideas and basks in their light, but to the man who gives himself to his ideas and tests them with his own wealth and workThe greatest damage inflicted by state systems of redistribution and industrial policy is not the ‘distortion of markets,’ the ‘misallocation of resources’, or the ‘discoordination’ of producer and consumers, but the deflation of capitalist energy, the repression of new entrepreneurial ideas, and the stultification of wealth.” (emphasis mine)

  

And remember, there are those who seek to profit by selling the Kingdom of God message in exchange for “social justice:” 

 Judas held the disciples’ money bag. The other disciples suspected that Judas stole coins from the purse.  Judas likely decided that his “fair share” should come out of the donations received.  And then, horrifically, Judas decides that he would sell out the Kingdom of God for the “good” of his nation ~ for his take on “social justice.” 

 Judas received thirty pieces of silver for his socially “conscientious” efforts.  He then hanged himself (because you can’t invest blood money in good conscience).  And finally like all revolutionaries, a public site ~ Akeldama ~ was named after Judas to memorialize his “social work.” Now that is “social justice.”

********

Recommended reading for those who need help understanding capitalism and the free- market:

 Defending The Free Market:  The Moral Case For a Free Economy

 Books by George Gilder:

 Knowledge and Power:  Information Theory of Capitalism and How It Is Revolutionizing Our World, copyright 2013 (see above reference)

 Wealth and Poverty, 21st century edition

Recommended website:

The Acton Institute

*****

“Play is the exultation of the possible.” theologian Martin Buber

 

The Faith Based-Materialist Myth & Baron Muchausen

Baron M pulling hair

At this point in time I do not know enough about what George Gilder believes about Intelligent Design (ID).  I don’t know his works well enough.

Who is George Gilder?  He is a Senior Fellow and Program Advisor of Technology and Democracy at the Discovery Institute.

I recently finished reading his Knowledge & Power:  The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World.  I am currently reading his best-selling book Wealth And Poverty (21st century edition).  I highly recommend both of these books just for the wealth of Gilder’s insights into Information Theory and its application (or not) to economics. Both books are very accessible to the reader.

Does Gilder believe that an Intelligent Designer shows up with ID blueprints in hand to tweak as ‘needed’ the evolutionary process?  Or, does he believe that ID sprang from the God’s spoken Big Bang without further manipulation required, as I do.  When I find out I will let you know.  In the mean time…

In the article below Gilder dismisses the faith-based materialist myth that all we are is material (and mind) …”that…bubbled up from a prebiotic brew.”  Intelligent design was involved from start to finish. Here, I know he and I agree.

The Materialist Superstition
George Gilder

Math and science teaching in US high schools, the richest in the world and worst performing per dollar, is a scandal, and part of the problem is biology. In all too many high schools biology classes rule the roost and dispense anti-industrial propaganda about global warming and the impact of DDT on the egg shells of eagles and tell materialist just-so stories about the eventual random emergence, after an agonizing wait of four billion years, of Britney Spears from primordial soup. But they fail to report the central testimony of twentieth century science: the paramount role of rigorous mathematical information in the universe.

About to upend the materialist evolutionary scheme in textbook biology is the same catastrophe that befell Newtonian physics at the beginning of the Twentieth Century when physicists discovered that the atom is not an “opaque massy particle” as Isaac Newton believed but a baffling domain of quantum effects. Overthrowing the Darwinian materialist paradigm is the similar discovery that the biological cell is not a “simple lump of protoplasm” as Charles Darwin believed but a complex information processing machine comprising some 50 thousand proteins in fabulously intricate algorithms of communication and synthesis. Each one of the some 60 trillion constantly changing cells in every human body stores information in DNA codes, processes and replicates it in three forms of RNA and thousands of supporting enzymes, exquisitely supplies the system with energy and seals it in conditionally permeable phospholipid membranes. As Hubert Yockey has shown in his Information Theory and Molecular Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and Stephen Meyer recounts in a recent article in the Smithsonian’s peer-reviewed Proceedings, material evolution alone cannot come close to explaining this panoply of effects. Even mutations occurring in cells at the gigahertz pace of a Pentium 4 and selected at the rate of a Google search could not accumulate the intricate interwoven fabric of information, structure and function of a human being in the allotted time. Schools should continue to teach Darwinian evolution as a powerful force in intra-species adaptation. However, a successful theory of the origins of new species—new biological forms and information—still eludes biologists.

This failure is no scandal. Science still falls far short of developing satisfactory explanations of many crucial phenomena, such as human consciousness, the big bang, the superluminal quantum entanglement of photons across huge distances, even the bioenergetics of the brain of a fly in eluding the swatter. The more we learn about the universe the more widely open the horizons of mystery. The pretence that Darwinian evolution is a complete theory of life is a huge distraction from the limits and language, the rigor and grandeur, of real scientific discovery.

Everywhere we encounter it, information comes from mind. Whether in biology or in technology, it moves from the general to the specific, from the concept to the concrete, from architecture to circuitry to device physics, in top-down, hierarchical patterns. Recognizing this phenomenon, some scholars uphold a view called Intelligent Design, which attempts to pry open agnostically the issue of whether ideas and information precede or follow their material embodiment. On this central point in the philosophy of science, however, I am not an agnostic. I believethatthe notion that the intricate biological structures of the world bubbled up from a prebiotic brew and that ideas are an after-effect of a meaningless random material flux is the most sterile and stultifying notion in the history of human thought.It inspired all the reductionist futilities of the twentieth century, from the obtuse materialism of Marx to the pagan worship of a static material environment, from the Freudian view of the brain as a thermodynamic machine to the zero-sum Malthusian panic over population, treating people more as mouths than as minds.

Intellectuals should know better. In the insight of Nobel Laureate biophysicist Max Delbruck, the spectacle of scientists attempting to reduce the mind to material brain suggests nothing so much as Baron Muchausen’s effort to extract himself from a swamp by pulling on his own hair. Claude Shannon’s information theory gives biologists a powerful new mathematical tool to use in analyzing biological structures and information systems. They should use it and teach it. To focus on random chemical mutations rather than on the majestic underlying and overarching logic of the universe reduces the presentation of biology to a confectionary zoo story, replete with cute pandas and Disney dinosaurs and free of the rigors of mathematics. This approach is less 21st century science than a retrograde retreat to 19th century materialist superstitions, which delude our students that they are learning the facts of science when instead they are imbibing the consolations of a faith-driven materialist myth. In their schools and lives, they deserve some intelligent design.

(emphasis mine)

 

 

The Hand That Feeds You

Photo added, H/T LegalInsurrection

“You didn’t build that.” We’ve all heard those dismissive words in the news recently.

 Luckily, for all I involved, when I heard those words I didn’t jump up run out and burn an effigy of BHO or stampede my local DMV.  I guess that’s because I didn’t inherit the Islamist strain of thin-skinned believer DNA that makes one go berserk at the mere thought of someone trivializing what they hold to be true.  I did yell at the TV, though: “You’re full of yourself BHO.”

 I am an ardent believer in the constrained view (see below), the view that incentives, individual hard work and prudent trade-offs builds houses on stone foundations.   The unconstrained view of good intentions, big government and “divined” solutions builds houses on sand.  And we all know what happens to each house when torrential rain comes.   And, we all know what Liz Warren’s government built road to hell is paved with.

 There is a reason why BHO diminishes the individual effort.  BHO, of the central planning view, wants joy-stick control of the “invisible hand.”  And I am not talking about “Thing” from the Addams Family comic or the other-worldly operator of the Ouija board.

 The “invisible hand” of the market is a metaphor used by the father of modern economics and capitalism Adam Smith.    Simply put, the metaphor describes the self-regulating behavior of the market place.  Individuals seek to maximize their own gain in a free market society where goods and services are traded in a free exchange between both parties.  For Smith the” invisible hand” guides individuals into mutually beneficial exchanges.  Moral and socially beneficial behavior is evoked through the process. Fairness is part and parcel of market practices.  Obeying the rules (i.e., standard weights and measures) is the order of the day in the market place.  Contract laws were developed to help enforce agreements. If an agreement was broken a resolution in a court of law would be required. This is just and fair to everyone involved, because everyone is involved in protecting their own interests. Free market capitalism offers “The possibility of cooperation without coercion” as Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winner in economics once said. Regarding one-on-one resolution Jesus did say, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.

 Adam Smith theorized that the self-interest of individuals acting independently will lead to a socially optimal outcome.  From Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Book IV, Chapter 2:

“As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. [emphasis added].”

Free market exchange encourages a man to, let’s say, go fishing.  The man may eat the fish he caught or he may trade for something that will benefit himself.  The fisherman is not coerced into doing either.  He is free to do as he pleases with his fish. And another is free to trade with the fisherman – say, bread for fresh fish and both parties therefore benefit from the trade-off.    The second party is also free to simply say “No, I don’t want your fish. I want to make tacos al pastor today.”

 Again Adam Smith,

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

 On the other very visible hand, the well-intentioned-solutions hand, the government confiscatory and coercive hand taxpayer money is simply thrown at problems.  Data abounds showing that well-intentioned-solutions (i.e., food stamp programs, Obamacare, minimum wages laws, etc.) never ever ever fix problems they were intended to solve. The “solution” is never a mutually beneficial exchange.  Rather the solution is a one-way, one-time meal ticket that will always end up requiring more taxation, more regulation and less of your liberty.  The only fishing taking place is in the mail box for the food stamps. BTW: The hand that provides the food stamps is an iron fist – “Do as I say or you will end up hungry,” “Buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.”

Now, Adam Smith, and later Noam Chomsky invoking Adam Smith, warned of an unrestrained free market society where the “vile maxim of the masters can be pursued without undue interference.”  In other words they thought government regulation (Smith much less, Chomsky much more) would hold the free market in check.  One example:  the fisher folk would not be allowed to restrict the wee folk from fishing, thereby preventing a monopoly on the fish market.

From what I can tell, both BHO and Chomsky see big corporations and Capitalism in general as behemoth American Devils who suck the air out of the world leaving societal corpses in their path. In each their own measure they see the free market, left on its own, turning into unconstrained selfishness. Yet, they see themselves as altruistic.  And as a result of such myopic views of the free market and of themselves they are eager to throttle the life out of the free market with very visible “hands”, the hands of government regulation, taxation and confiscation – the hands of coercion.  They truly believe that an unrestrained socialist statist (central planning) government under the guise of a (small “d”) democracy would be superior to an unrestrained free market within a big “D” democracy.  But government, if you haven’t already noticed, is a monopoly.  It is an all-powerful, ready-to-inflict pain monopoly. Who is holding the tyranny of government back?  Not good intentions.  Not nebulous open-ended “social justice” solutions. Not the voters.  Take a look at congress – there are a lot of visible hands in the pie, grabbing at taxpayer money. They’ve want their clutches on your property because controlling redistribution is a means of staying in power.

 The so-called “unrestrained super-national corporations” are in reality restricted to what the markets will accept.  Countries all around this world invite corporations into their realms because they see the benefits. These corporations are not coercive like government is. And don’t think for a moment that your vote will restrain government.  Those in power like to stay in power and to wield that power.  They pass laws to keep themselves in power as State CEOs.  Good intentions and redistribution solutions are simply “goodies” thrown out during the campaign parade. The public is left with the big mess after the parade.

 My answer:  Laissez-faire – a “hands-off” economic environment made possible by a majority vote for smaller government (big D, small g), less regulation and fewer hands in the pie.  Vote for the person and party that will let you keep your money and control your life.  You know what I am saying– restore LIBERTY. The end result will help generate the dynamic green energy needed for human flourishing.  Human flourishing will then enable people to not have to think so hard about scrapping together an existence or worry about whether the hands of government will snatch away your property.  Human flourishing will also allow more time for the sublime.

So, put your hand in the hand, the “invisible hand,” and let conscience be your guide, not the government.

 “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (A free will-free market exchange moved by the Invisible Hand of love.)

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.”  Proverbs 10:4 (A statement of fact from the wisest man who ever lived – Solomon.)

Sally Paradise:  “I built it with my own two hands.” Invisible hand:  “And I helped.”

Definitions:

 Laissez-faire (i/ˌlɛsˈfɛər/, French: [lɛsefɛʁ] (listen)) is an economic environment in which transactions between private parties are free from tariffs, government subsidies, and enforced monopolies, with only enough government regulations sufficient to protect property rights against theft and aggression. The phrase laissez-faire is French and literally means “let [them] do”, but it broadly implies “let it be,” “let them do as they will,” or “leave it alone.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laissez-faire

 Constrained view:  The constrained vision sees man as he really is:  self-motivated. This realistic vision sees man as selfish and greedy but also willing to respect tradition and rules and certainly able to make prudent trade-offs based on knowledge gained from centuries of accumulated knowledge and wisdom, knowledge and wisdom not confined to an omnipotent Decider. One with a constrained vision doesn’t have all the answers. He or she must operate with humility, tolerance and cooperation in order to support the freedom and liberty within which they seek to live.

Unconstrained view:  The unconstrained vision relies heavily on surrogate decision makers, men or women of “superior” intelligence and virtue, to make our decisions for us.  The implication of this vision is that the common man does not know what is good for himself and for those around him.  But those with super-rational intelligence and sincerity do.  And because of our lack of “fair and just” decision making, we the people need an over-arching Decider – someone to rein in society.  (Recall Obama’s statement:  “You didn’t build that.”  He’s trying to rein in economic activity and attribute a man’s own blood, sweat and tears to government largesse!)

See my post What’s Left?  To Be Decided for more information on the Constrained and Unconstrained Views, terms derived from Thomas Sowell’s book Conflict of Visions.

Statism/centralized government: Course Correction Needed 2012

Things to ponder:

Michael Boskin: Obama and ‘The Wealth of Nations’

Thomas Sowell:  The Fallacy of Redistribution

Obama “Goodies:”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio&feature=player_embedded

“You didn’t build that.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Par For My Course

For fifteen years I was one of three partners in a manufacturing business, a business that I helped start from scratch, a business that when I left had sales revenues close to twenty million dollars. 

 Before starting the company I met with two friends.  Each of them wanted to leave the company we were all working for.  The three of us knew that the company we were at would soon fold.  The owner had mismanaged the company into the ground, causing many to be fired.  Soon the owner would take the assets out of this failed company and go start another business.  We saw what was coming and so we decided it was time for us to set our sights higher and take care of our futures.

 In the failed company the three of us soon-to-be partners were the three people who knew how to make the equipment being sold.  And, though only one of us had a BS degree there were plenty years of experience between the other two partners. Each of us had met with customers and we knew manufacturing.  We didn’t know all there was to know about running a business but we did want to find out for ourselves. 

 My own experience developed from many years of electrical engineering and design in the manufacturing sector. Over time I managed groups of designers and electricians.  There were also many times when I was a welder, a fabricator, an electrician.  I taught myself how to use AutoCAD and Microstation CAD design software.  I taught myself how to program PLCs and computers.  I went to night school to learn accounting, economics and business.  I took math course, physics and welding. In order to commission equipment I traveled thousands of miles to customer sites across America, Mexico, Canada, and as far as Korea, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Brazil. I learned by applying myself to the task, by learning what I needed and simply by doing.

 After several after-hours discussions at a local bar the three of us decided which day we would leave the troubled company to start our own business.  Being integral to the functioning of the business our concurrent departures would mean that the company would rapidly fold. The company did close within a year.  We went off on our own with no nets beneath us and just our own will to make things happen.

 We began our business in a basement. We invested $3000.00 in start-up capital. We each claimed a share of equity in the new firm, incorporated as a Delaware corporation.

 Now I have to tell you, starting a business with nothing but sheer determination is not easy.  The risk of no immediate sales and therefore no paychecks for weeks and months is ever before you. With this in mind we began to solicit business by sending out business letters telling a broad spectrum of customers about our new venture. We even begged for business, often drastically discounting the sale just to get our foot in the door and to keep it there.

 While we advertised I also set up the computers and the accounting system using what I learned at night school.  I set up the accounts:  Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Assets, Revenue,  W-4s, etc.   

 Over time (almost a year after starting) we received our first purchase order.  I had developed a small position indicating device that could be readily used in the plastics industry to control plastic sheet gauge – a necessary requirement for thermoforming companies. We sold one and then two. I was then sent to California to install the later-to-be patented device. I had to make sure that our product did what we promised it would.  Once it was proven we invoiced our first receivable.

 We slowly gained sales momentum from customers who knew our reputations and knew of our capabilities.  We sometimes over sold ourselves just to get in the door.  There were many quiet anxious days along the way waiting for something bigger to break.  When things did start happening we rented a small industrial building and set up what little we had. As orders came in and invoices went out we were then able to buy computers, software, drafting tables, welders, paint equipment, hand tools and a truck with our company name.

We soon hired staff:  a fabricator. As business continued to grow over a time , a seeming eternity for us with our shoe string budget, we added more and more people.  When I left the company there was over fifty employees on the payroll.  This company, currently housed in a 325,000 sq. ft. building with large overhead cranes, is now doubling it size, building an expansion on the same site.

 The reason I left the business and cashed out was simply the fact that the work of starting a new business is a 24/7 job.  This intensive venture took a toll on me and my family.  There were many nights away from my family.  There were many intensive phone calls with clients.  As the Vice president of Engineering I spent many hours trouble shooting customer problems in person or over the phone from home.  I spent a lot of time interviewing people and then hiring and firing as needed.  I supervised design work and managed over a dozen people, all engineers. I was on call constantly.

 In the early days of our company I multitasked.  There were only three of us and one of us had to go on the road to do the cold calling.  I stayed with my other partner and we did what was needed.  As an order came in I would create the electrical schematics on a drafting board, I would then order the parts. I would receive the parts, sort out the paper work, input accounts payable, print out checks on a line printer and then send out the checks to vendors. I would assemble the large-scale equipment by hand:  I welded half-inch plates of carbon steel to create structural frames; I assembled control panels and wired the instrumentation.  I also spray painted the finished products.  Before that I would power up and test the equipment.  I was front office, plant, truck driver, assembler, engineer and tired but excited.  I was working for myself and creating growing equity.  My piece of the pie was growing.

 Until you’ve done something like start a business from scratch you would have no idea how intense, exhausting, scary and pleasurable it is to make your way in this world with just the work of your own hands.  But the excitement doesn’t stop there.

 As the company grows you hire people.  But it is a scary proposition.  You know you need more help but you don’t know where or when the next order is coming from.  You bite your nails and finally say “OK, we need someone. Place the ad.”

 When you hire someone and train them you’ve given them hope.  At the same time your own stomach is wrenching with the fear that someday you may have to lay that person off if business drops off.  It is all risk, calculated risk and that is what entrepreneurs do best:  find a venture and put themselves and their money at risk in order to create something successful and to gain a return on their investment – an investment of dollars and tons of sweat equity.  Obama knows nothing about what I talking about.

 Obama risks nothing.  He finds safety in numbers, in government. He is the child of safety nets. His absent father gave him no guidance whatsoever about business. It is apparent from Obama’s biographies that Obama learned to hate anything which might smack of colonialism.  And Obama has wrongly conflated capitalism with colonialism.   Obama’s only claim to success is his community organizing.  We can see now that his organizing is nothing more than organizing taxpayer money to the benefit of his political gain.

 No government built our business.  Government with its ever-present paper work and regulations was ever the impedance to growing our business and hiring more people.  Government now, in effect, hinders human flourishing. And I don’t have to tell you that Barrack Obama wants more government and less independent success.  You’ll have to ask him why he hates business and demonizes success.

 Sweat equity built our successful business not government.  And it was not Obama, not Elizabeth Warren, not roads and bridges, not the IRS, not organized labor and not the three thousand dollars of start-up capital back in 1988. We built it with our own hands while paying corporate taxes up to 30%! Obama can kiss my sweaty ass!

 Listen Obama (I know I am speaking to deaf ears) – There is no sweat equity in golfing.”

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