Thursday, August 13, 2009

What is Your Political Alignment?

Facebook Readers can read this on my blog here.

You won't get any argument from me as to whether or not Socialism is better than Capitalism. In my opinion, Socialism is far better than Capitalism. But, it is also my opinion that it suffers a fatal flaw. Socialism requires a mediator. Regular Socialism requires a man, governing a sub group of men, to regulate the Socialistic system. It is a system Obama is putting in place with all his "Czars". He is establishing a "rungs on a ladder" hierarchy of authority. The issue with Socialism is that authority corrupts. There is no one I trust with such a role in society. I would not even trust myself. It is for that reason that I do not consider Socialism a viable option for our society.

Capitalism also has many flaws, but in the end, none of the flaws are fatal, and the Capitalistic system is self-regulating. That makes Capitalism, as imperfect as it is, the only viable option in our society.

But in the end, I am an American, and believe in the U.S. Constitution one-hundred percent. So with any and all the supposed good points of Socialism, there is no provision for Socialism in the Constitution. The 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Nowhere in the Constitution is there a provision for such dynamic government interference into our domestic lives, or into any private industry, whether it be banking, autos, or healthcare.

But if you will notice, not too many Republicans are citing the Constitution as a means of slapping Obama's healthcare down. That is because the Republicans willingly infringe the Constitution just as readily as the Democrats to push their agendas through. The Patriot Act is proof-positive of this.

In fact, the Libertarians are the only voice the Constitution currently has in our government. But most are looked upon as eccentric. Glenn Beck, Neil Boortz, Andrew Napolitano, and Ron Paul are the most notable Libertarians in the eye of the public today, and they are all generally viewed as fringe eccentrics. The only areas where I cannot abide the Libertarians is their view of the military. What little I have heard is that they are adamantly anti-war, isolationists, would practically dismantle our military were they in power. I don't understand this, because the Constitution plainly provides for the Federal Government's involvement into foreign affairs, and even to declare war.

So Socialism simply means government control. So even if the Federal Government was competent (which they are not), I still do not want them to possess that kind of power. Socialism also forces me to contribute to the prosperity of my fellow man. That is something that I think should be one's prerogative, not a mandate, and especially not a government mandate.

On a tangent, this reminds me of a theology/politics/eschatology debate I am had with another friend who is quite Libertarian. You probably know that, in Christian prophecy, it is commonly held that Christ will return to earth to set up a kingdom for one-thousand years. My friend and I constantly debate whether such a rule will be Socialistic or Capitalistic. I firmly believe that the rule under Christ will be Socialism. He believes it will still be a minimal government system, and we'll maintain a "free market" even then.

As I previously stated, I believe the fatal flaw in Socialism is the age-old principle that authority and power corrupts. Christ is immune to such corruption. My argument is that we see a glimpse of the Socialism enacted by Christ in Acts 2:42-47. But that type of Socialism can only work if the Christian principle of "esteeming you brother higher than yourself" has a one-hundred percent participation rate, which can only occur during the rule of absolute Goodness. During Christ's reign, all his citizens will esteem their brethren higher than themselves, making Socialism, or the redistribution of wealth, viable.

Back to politics, there are even some Socialists who acknowledge its flaws. Orwell, who was a Democratic Socialist, believed that a Democratic Body mediating Socialism was the answer. He eloquently defined the issues with the typical mediation of Socialism with his book Animal Farm. With Socialism, it will not be long before the pigs governing us will be behaving just like the supposed tyrants of Capitalism. So, with Socialism, instead of the owner of a corporation gaining power through the accumulation of wealth by enticing Americans to buy their products, politicians will gain power by exploiting citizens with offers of more governmental perks (like a cheap public option in healthcare), making citizens more and more dependent upon government, and creating more and more government oversight agencies and regulatory entities, justifying the imposition of more and more taxes on the people to fund these institutions After all, expansion of government requires the expansion of their ways and means.

How much power are you willing to delegate to the Federal Government before you start having reservations about their intentions? And how do you justify giving the Federal Government any power that isn't delegated to it already by the Constitution?

According to our Constitution, the purpose of the Federal Government, outside of foreign affairs, is to maintain national infrastructure. Of course, that idea has been twisted and perverted until that has come to mean almost anything. During Colonial times, it simply meant maintaining a federal highway system to accommodate the exportation of goods between states.

A few Constitutional experts I have read suggest the founders knew that American society was going to be based on a free market, which is Capitalism with a twist. With raw Capitalism, the fear some folks have is quite correct. There can potentially be companies that can rise to a monopoly, and then on to power where they essentially become a aristocracy, a ruling class of economic elites. But the structure of the American system is one where that scenario is quite impossible, or at least very unlikely. Yes, companies can become large, but there is nothing wrong with that. Anyone providing a product or service that is in demand should not be restricted from success.

Take Microsoft for example. It is a huge company because it offers products in demand. But they cannot shut down any other company through a mere assertion of authority. They cannot stop Apple Computer, or any of the other computer company from competing with them, and Microsoft cannot stop us from buying their competitors' products instead of their own.

Also, as big as a company gets, there success is still wholly dependent upon their patrons. And when you combine a free-market with a free-press who can put their finger on any corruption or shady business practices within a company; alert and decisive patrons can, and will, pull their patronage away from that company, and take their business elsewhere.

For example, should the free-press investigate and find corruption within Microsoft, it can relay that to the people, and the people will essentially boycott them by migrating to the Operating Systems and software offered by other companies. That is why I was against the auto bailout. If the American Auto companies were guilty of half the indictments leveled against them by the press, then they should have just reported it, and let their patrons render judgment. The government should have never been involved. If GM is involved in business that I deem inappropriate, then let me render judgment by not buying their products. When enough people start this, it will affect their bottom line, and they will either change their policies to accommodate their customers, or go out of business. To accommodate demand (of both jobs and products) should they go out of business, new auto companies will arise, and existing one's will expand, and absorb any job loss or product inventory reduction produced by GM's failure. That is how our markets are supposed to regulate itself, and would regulate itself if the government would stay out of it.

Anyway, back to the founders, what they were trying to do was tell the Federal Government, "You're job, domestically, is to essentially grease the path for free trade, without actually interfering with it."

In other words, don't ignore it, but don't interfere either. It is a theme that pervades the cult phenomenon television series, Firefly. The main character, Malcolm Reynolds, says, "That is what governments are for. They ignore, or interfere, equally." And at the beginning of the series' subsequent movie, Serenity, River Tam tells her teacher that the issue with government is that they "meddle". That is precisely what I fear. A government that meddles where it ought not be meddling. But for a reason I cannot grasp, liberals tend to believe the Federal Government has every right to meddle, when according to our Constitution, they do not. They are not supposed to do anything not explicitly outlined in the Constitution.

I understand about being political neutrality. But still, one must have an underlying philosophy. I suggest you go to and take the test.

Here are my results...

It seems to be fairly accurate, I am a slightly right leaning Libertarian. I am far right on fiscal issues and center right on social issues. That makes me a solid Libertarian fiscally, and a Libertarian flirting with the Republican Party on social issues.

I am guessing you, my reader, prefers to look at every issue individually. That is fine. I do too. But there has to be a standard upon which you base your judgments. A plum line that remains static, and your judgments are in relation to that. My plum line in making political decisions in the Constitution, as I believe the founders had the absolute correct ideas toward the establishment of our country. The expansion of the Federal Government beyond its Constitutionally defined parameters is absolutely against the ideas of the founders. That is my underlying philosophy.

Here are the underlying philosophies to all four general political alignments. If you think the word "interference" is too invasive of a term, you may substitute the word "involvement" in its place. Having such a strong Libertarian slant in my philosophies, I think the word "interference" is precisely the right word.

1. Libertarian - Minimal government interference with both social and fiscal issues.

2. Liberal (Democrats) - Minimal to moderate government interference with social issue, but moderate to maximum government interference with fiscal issues.

3. Conservative (Republicans) - Minimal to moderate government interference with fiscal issues, but moderate to maximum interference with social issues.

4. Statist - Maximum government interference with both social and fiscal issues.

I have a hard time believing there is any such thing as a honest Centrist. A centrist will essentially believe that the government is doing everything exactly right, and that it has achieved a balance in political ideology. Do you know anyone who believes that?

I am guessing that if you are a part of Generation Y, or any subsequent generation, you will pass on taking the quiz. I have noticed that Generation-Y, and all subsequent generations, do not want a title. It is the earmark of their entire generation to resist being labeled. It makes me wonder what they check on the "race" section of applications. Do they check "other", and then write in, "Depends on the situation"? It is sometimes quite funny to watch them vehemently resist being labeled. I sometimes wonder if they even dare call themselves "human".

I think that generation believes that once labeled, they must adhere and are no longer permitted to think outside the boundaries of that label. That is wrong. I am a Christian, but there are times where its paradoxes and apparent catch-22's makes Christianity seem very fallacious in its ideas. But, when I wasn't a practicing believer, there were times when Christianity seemed very sensible, and contained relevant and the objective truth in matters. Having a title doesn't mean one cannot have an opinion outside the box. It just indicative of what their general underlying philosophy is. Can one have a political alignment without a title to suit it? And will they abandon that philosophy once someone invents a title for them?

In fairness, I will link you to an article called A Statist View of the Constitution, where the opposite idea presents itself that the Constitution is fluid, , not static, and should change. That idea is nonsensical, in my estimation. A Constitution that can be engineered and reconfigured to match current head of state's political views is exactly the same as not having a Constitution at all.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thank God for Judge Andrew Napolitano

Facebook readers can read this original blog post here

If ever there was any political commentator who matched my own political philosophies, it is Judge Andrew Napolitano. Here is a speech he gave at a tea party in Ohio on August 1.

Notice the flag, which represents the second U. S. Revolution.

American Revolution 2

Part 1

Part 2

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Relation of Tolkien's Writings and Christianity

Facebook friends, click here to read this on my blog.

Yesterday, I visited a local used bookstore. While browsing, I happened across their fantasy section. It was very diverse. The books were arranged alphabetically by their authors. There were a few exceptions. Among these were entire shelves completely devoted to C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Now it is no secret that The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book. I absolutely love it. It is spiced with the flavors of every literary genre, and contains depth of plot not typical in the fantasy genre.

Looking at those shelves, I was amazed at the fantasy literature I haven't read. I have always fancied myself a fan of fantasy. But, in truth, I suppose I am not. I have read more contemporary fantasy in the past, and I think it lacks something that is, in my estimation, a required component in within fantasy. It lacks what I call, "integration". Let me explain what I mean.

Most of today's fantasy books contain simple plots. There is an antagonist and a protagonist, all at odds with each other. The antagonist is usually someone who has turned malevolent from some abuse or neglect of society, and obviously has the stronger influence, making the protagonist the underdog in the conflict. In the end, the protagonist fends off the antagonist through more subtle tactics that involve virtue and strength of character. Such scenarios, thrown into a gothic of medieval environment filled with otherworldly entities, constitutes the status quo of fantasy literature today. The plot is one that can be easily adapted, without much deviation in the actual components or individuals, to primitive society, modern society, or even to the more advanced societies of science fiction.

Tolkien's story is certainly distinct from this. His story does have the proper "integration". His story would be hard to adapt to another genre. His antagonist is a force wholly otherworldly. Reading his book is both entertaining, informative, and a study in sociology. From the organic and primitive hobbits, to Rohan, a culture seemingly stuck at an intermediate stage of social advancement. The elves, who are both powerful and graceful, skilled in all manner of crafts, warriors, and so effeminate in appearance that their males often resemble their females, stand in stark contrast to the dwarfs, who are encumbered by physical limitations, though very strong, and so masculine their females resemble their males. Dwarfs and elves are also at different ends of the spectrum in regards their materialistic ambitions. Dwarfs are greedy, and elves desire only knowledge.

The people of Gondor stand as a neutrality of sorts. Certainly the military force of Middle-Earth, it represents a beacon of light. Their culture is a civilized one, who embraces every technological advance offered to them. Unlike Rohan, Gondor's buildings and society is an advanced one where the primitive is often supplanted by the modern. But it is also the historical center of Middle-Earth, and serves as the culmination of all the culture in Arda.

There are other finer points of interest. Elves, who tend to be intelligent and cultured, also tend to be in tune with their environment. They are friends to trees, and other living things. Orcs, by perplexing relief, are less intelligent and less cultured. Their society tends to be one of industry and competition. This type of society is, by nature, exploitative of the environment. Living primarily in industrialized areas all my life, I can see from whence Tolkien was drawing inspiration when he designed the Orcs as technologically advanced in the implementation of industry. Tolkien disliked the uprooting of the natural landscape to accommodate our industrial needs. Orcs also completely lack finesse, in favor of raw power. And the environment fuels this raw power. It should be noted that Orcs were once elves, corrupted by Melkor, the fallen Ainur who is the original otherworldly antagonist to the entire landscape of Middle Earth.

It is with great interest that almost every Christian book I read today will reference either Lewis' or Tolkien's myth to make a point. Is it because both Lewis and Tolkien were Christian? Is it because of the Christian undertones (which are profoundly more subtly embedded in Tolkien) that lay in both stories.

Living in the Bible Belt, it was generally taught during my adolescence, in my circle of Christians that fantasy literature was off limits to a sincere Christian. Supposedly because it references to many elements expressly forbidden to the ancient Hebrews, and consequently, Christians. Things like wizards, witchcraft, mythological creatures, and the unbridled use of one's imagination. Tolkien steers around many of these reservations by making subtle differences in our definitions and his definitions. For example, wizards, and their "magic", are as integrated into the landscape as humans. Magic isn't some otherwordly, and expressly forbidden, art used to manipulate our reality. In Tolkien's world, magic is just as much part of the landscape as water and soil. In his world, a wizard isn't a human who decides to study magical arts, but a whole race of beings delivered to Middle Earth by its primary deity (Iluvatar), and are known as the Istari. In other words, wizards aren't human, though they share many of the human frailties as well as human in appearance. Regular humans, generally speaking, do not possess magical attributes in Tolkien's world.

I think it is a shame. The cultural and sociological aspects within The Lord of the Rings is one that could benefit Christians if studied. Understanding the diversities within the various societies brings the genius of Tolkien into full light.

How does the elves' synergy with the environment provide a stark contrast to the Orcs who exploit their environment to progress and expand their industrial demands?

How does the primitive society of hobbits continue to flourish in spite of their deliberate naivety and apathy to the troubles beyond their own borders, and in spite of remaining true to the most primordial means of existence?

Does it surprise you that Rohan, who has its own unique culture, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the society of Norse mythology, maintains a strained relationship with their culturally diverse and socially elite neighbor, Gondor?

The idea of good vs. evil in Tolkien's myth is closer to Christianity than most contemporary works of fantasy, in my opinion. The source of evil is otherworldly. It cannot exist on its own, but subsists on perversions of things that were originally good by design. The strategy for overcoming this evil lies in a amalgamation of unity, faith, and the honest efforts of all who hate the evil. It requires believing for the impossible, and placing the outcome into the sovereign will of a divine power believed to be benevolent. It is the story of a king who chose a life of humility and exile in service to his people instead of just asserting power and authority, assuming his throne, and serving transparently from lofty heights.

The character conflicts are too numerous to list here. To name just a few, Boromir's patriotism urges him to assume a power he knows can only destroy, to preserve his nation. Frodo, who refuses to forsake the evil he is sworn to destroy must have the body part the evil is attached to severed before the evil can be completely abandoned. And Gollum, whose natural life is prolonged by assuming possession of the evil, but the prolongation of life only prolongs his misery the evil has produced.

There is much a Christian can learn from these stories, and it is my sincere desire that Christians will acquaint themselves to it more zealously. It is a worthy read. Lewis' Narnia is as well, but it was written for children. Tolkien writes for adults in his myth. You will be surprised at the level of depth into the human condition he explores. Those who really know Jesus Christ, who know what it is like to have your life intrinsically embedded in His, who knows what it is like to have Him wake you in the middle of the night with whisperings in your ear, you will see things in this myth that will amaze you. So, if you are a Christian, after your Bible studies, clear your mind with Tolkien's myth. Start with The Hobbit for necessary backstory.

Engage your mind, and happy reading!