Friday, December 11, 2009

On Tiger

Typically, I do not concern myself with celebrity scandals.  But, Tiger Woods is simply too interesting a scandal to not comment on.  Tiger's infidelity got me to thinking about the true nature of marriage.  Tiger is just the latest example of the fact that a marriage that removes God from its center is no marriage at all.

After all, without God as the center of a marriage, your vows really mean nothing.  All you are doing is making a promise to another human being.  And what is a promise anyway?  Another human being has no authority over you.  Another human being can not make you do anything that you do not want to do.  Another human being imposing his morality on you is just a meddler.  Bring God into the picture, however, and you have a different story.  God does have authority over you.  He can impose morality over you, because he is the law giver.  Further, you are accountable to God for everything you do, in the end.

I totally understand Tiger's actions.  He is a man who has not accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior, and as such there is no good reason why he should not have done what he did.  His oath meant nothing.  Morality means nothing.  All that matters is whether or not you can get what you want.  And he got it, because he is wealthy and powerful.  Everything he wanted was within his grasp.  Except for the fact that there is a God.  And Tiger's conscience is telling him that right now.  What Tiger really wants is God.  He just has not come to that realization yet.  Here's praying that he finds what he wants, the only thing that can ever satisfy him.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Science and Morality

In the debate over embryonic stem cell research, frequently heard was the claim from the left that policy shouldn't get in the way of "science".  First, this relies on a faulty understanding of science.  Science is not a floating body of knowledge.  Science is not an entity.  Science is a method used by scientists.  As such, science should not have some ethereal, platonic, godlike existence that cannot be touched, something like the third rail on the subway train.  Science is man's tool, not his master.

Further, scientists are bound by God's laws every bit as much as other people, regardless of whether or not they are engaging in science.  A scientist who destroys a human embryo in order to extract stem cells is as guilty as the man who kills his 4 year old child.  The mere fact that a scientist is engaging in science does not excuse his behavior.  Also, man's laws must mirror God's objective truth to be just.  Science is no excuse to engage in barbarism.  For instance, capturing all of the homeless people (contributing nothing to society) and using them to test new drugs and treatments on is immoral.  It would be scientifically helpful, and perhaps a net utilitarian gain to society, but still immoral.  Purging society of all mentally challenged people would give a utilitarian gain to society, but it would be immoral.  As such, scientists are not authorized to do so.  Why is embryonic stem cell research any different?

The fact is, that as with abortion, the question of embryonic stem cell research comes down to 2 questions.  1: At what point does a baby become a human being?  2:  In what instances is it right to kill a human being?  Society has roughly come up with good answers for question 2.  It's not acceptable to kill an innocent human being.  So, the question rides on 1.  Therefore, embryonic stem cell research is not primarily a scientific question, it is a moral question.  I believe that public policy should reflect this morality.  If an embryo is a human, it's not moral to kill him and use his raw materials to help others any more than what the Nazis did was moral, or ordinary murder is moral.  A dogmatic adherence to "science" detached from morality will result in the reductions of human to slaves to a method, without regard to right and wrong. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Covetousness and Poverty

The way we define poverty is inherently sinful.  A Heritage Foundation study recently found the following statistics regarding those under the "poverty" line:
  • Forty-six percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • Seventy-six percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
  • Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • Seventy-eight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • Seventy-three percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher. 
This cannot be considered poverty.  Poverty is an lack of things that you need.  People who have cable television do not really need anything.  America is a nation in which poor people suffer higher obesity than rich people.  WHAT?  This is the most unique "problem" in human history.  A nation so wildly wealthy that our poor people are fat.  And yet we continually cry for more aid to the poor.

No doubt there are some real poor people in America.  Poverty has many sources.  People are taken advantage of.  People don't plan well for their future.  People are lazy.  People are mentally ill.  People just suffer through a tough time in their lives. But our definition of poverty relies on a sinful desire of humanity; covetousness.  Our very definition is covetous.  We do not ask how much a man needs to survive.  This would be a good question to ask regarding poverty.  We ask, how much does our neighbor have?  What percentage of the average income will it take to declare someone poor?  How can one use random, shifting, determinations to determine poverty?  The "definition" of poverty is determined in money rather than in food, shelter, and clothing.  This cannot be a Biblical definition.  Further, the definition goes up every year.  How can poverty change?

Let's worry about some real poverty abroad, and export the greatest destroyer of poverty in human history, capitalism.  And let's get closer to capitalism at home.  An increasingly centrally planned economy will destroy the very thing that makes our poor people fat.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Peyton Manning Deserves to Make More Money than a School Teacher

Occasionally you will hear proponents of public schools whining about how little money teachers make, and sometimes they will mention that professional athletes make 100 times (for argument's sake) more money than a school teacher.  This is apparently unfair in the mind of the union hack, as a school teacher clearly provides more to society than Peyton Manning.

This argument relies on flawed economic reasoning.  Prices and wages are not derived from societal benefit.  If this was true, parents should make the most money.  But they typically work pro bono.  Also, Congressmen should make negative money, based on how they typically leach the lifeblood out of society.  The fact of the matter is that wages are determined entirely apart from any consideration of the value a job presents to society.

Wages are determined by supply and demand.  That's it.  And the fact of the matter is that hundreds of thousands of people are "qualified" to be school teachers, regardless of the benefit teachers present to society.  Only one person is qualified to play quarterback like Peyton Manning can.  And that's why he makes stacks and stacks of cash.  Because he's the only person in the world that can play like he can.  Further, Manning's employer makes tons and tons of money off of his services, through increased jersey sales, ticket sales, and increased television revenues.  As such, someone is demanding the services of a top-tier quarterback, and an employer stands to make a lot of money by getting this quarterback to play for him.  Supply is small (only 1 person) and demand is fairly high (32 teams who stand to gain a great deal from his services) and as such he is paid a high wage.

In fact, Peyton Manning deserves to make more money than he does.  If a salary cap didn't exist in the NFL, he would probably make more money than he does now.  And school teachers deserve to make less than they do.  If the teachers' unions didn't have a vicegrip on public policy in most states, and if spineless schools actually had to spend their own money rather than the taxpayers' money, school teachers would almost certainly get less than they do.  Plus, they only work full time for 9 months of the year, and get paid a very generous full year salary.  

This is why Peyton Manning is far more deserving of an extremely large salary than a school teacher.  Because voluntary participants in an exchange economy don't have to care about societal benefit.  They care about the supply of the things they need for a living.  This is how society allocates resources, and complaining about it really does no good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Language and Politics

I was recently at the American Enterprise Institute for an event in which the economic advantages and disadvantages of the "estate tax" (many of you will know this better as the death tax) were debated.  This got me to thinking about language and politics.  At this event, it was stated that when asked essentially identical questions (something like "do you support an estate/death tax on estates worth mover than 3 million dollars after death?), when the word estate was chosen over death, the tax was a full 10% more popular. People aren't so much in opposition to a tax on estates after death as they are to some ethereal concept known as a death tax.  Even though the estate and death tax are the same thing, people are more likely to support an estate tax, even when given a description of what the tax is. 

Are we really so illogical that labeling changes our opinion of something?  Absolutely.  End of life counseling v. death panels.  Cap and trade v. cap and tax.  Government takeover v. health care reform.  Social security.  Medicare.  Temporary aid for needy families.  Food stamps v. electronic benefits transfer program.

If it didn't work, politicians wouldn't do it.  But the incredible power of rhetoric can be used to stir up the people.  Would it be likely that Social Security ever would have been passed had it been called the massive government ponzi retirement scheme?  But who opposes society?  Or security?

Frankly, I have no idea of what to do about this.  But it's very interesting to see the power that nice and nasty words have over people.

Monday, November 9, 2009

End of Tyranny

As most of you know, I usually do not speak very glowingly of our government.  But on this day I will.  Twenty years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell, signaling the beginning of the death throes of communism.  This day represented the liberation of millions of people from true unadulterated tyranny.  Our government is taking steps in the wrong direction, but we still enjoy an incredible amount of freedom here.

The freedom we have to speak our minds, the freedom to practice our religions, the right to a trial, the rule of law, and a host of other freedoms are things which we enjoy every day and usually don't even think about.  To paraphrase JFK, democracy is deeply flawed.  But at least we have never had to build a wall to keep our people from leaving.

On this day, be grateful for the great country that we live in.  It certainly has its flaws, but it is the greatest country in the history of the world.  Freeedom is a great thing, and we have an incredible amount of it here.  We have been greatly blessed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Too Many Republicans

I and thousands of other protesters attended the health care rally in DC yesterday.  The protesters were great.  The speakers, not so much.

At about 12:05, all of the House Republicans came running down from the Capitol building.  One legislator tried in vain to pump up the crowd.  I kept expecting to hear Queen blasting from the speakers.  The speakers all co-opted tea party terms like liberty into their speeches.  Many spoke about the need to defend the Constitution.  But where was this principle during the Bush years?  Where was this principle when they authorized a monstrous new entitlement program costing us billions (Medicare part D)?  Or expanded education spending exponentially (No Child Left Behind)?  Or passed out "stimulus checks"?  Or bailed out banks from their "troubled assets"?

I am glad that our reps railed against health care.  I will take any help I can get to kill the bill.  But don't insult me by waving your Constitution around when you have clearly ignored it for the last 8 years.  And longer.  Really, the last 100 years.

Republicans and Democrats are plagued by a similar character flaw; arrogance.  They all think that they know what's best for your life better than you do.  Republicans are liberals with a clearer sense of human nature.  That's why they try to interject market forces into (Medicare Part D's "donut hole") or "reform" entitlements (welfare reform in the 1990's) rather than just doing away with it all and letting you decide what's best for the life of you and your family.  They don't want you to be able to use your money the way that you want to.  They are wiser than you, and they will use your money better than you will.

But they are all human beings.  Some of them are wiser than us, but that does not give them the right to dictate to ordinary Americans what's best for our lives.  Hayek commented on the basic problem with this mindset.  He said that information is the primary problem.  No bureaucrat or politician can have the detailed knowledge of the lives of all Americans in order to make informed, rational decisions on all of our behalf.  If he had that knowledge, and he was wise enough, he could make great decisions for all of us.  But each one of us knows what's best for ourselves better than any politician.  A little humility and acknowledgment of human limitations would be greatly refreshing from our leaders.  Policy cannot solve every problem.  It can't even solve most of them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dumb Question #2

Why do we just let illegal immigrants stay here, lowering our wages, using our schools, getting free health care and welfare benefits?  This is a dumb question for anyone with any substantial knowledge of economics.  To paraphrase Milton Friedman, open borders and a welfare state are incompatible.  People simply respond to incentives.  People know that they can come to America and have a chance to work and make a living, or have the social safety net of our extensive welfare system catch them.  And many are caught in the safety net.  Providing an incentive for failure in the form of welfare is just asking for trouble.

The dumb question is asking, how do immigrants leach off of society?  The good question to ask is, why does a profit and loss system create a circumstance in which immigrants are capable of leaching off society?  The answer to that is that we do not have a profit and loss system.  The immigrants of the 19th century, when America essentially operated under open borders policy, knew that they came here facing the same odds as anyone in a capitalist society.  They could either succeed or fail.  We, however, have created a system in which one can neither fail nor succeed, and therefore there is less incentive to succeed at all.  I am in favor of open borders, but only if the welfare state is eliminated.

What about lower wages, you may ask.  I would argue that lower wages serve a great benefit to society.  First, lower wage jobs allow low skill workers to be employed, and develop skills and experience which they can parlay into new, better paying jobs.  Second, lower wages mean lower costs of production, which means lower prices for consumers.  Low paid labor available overseas explains why we choose to import just about everything we buy.  And all of us benefit from this low paid labor.  Finally, lower labor costs and lower prices for consumers leave everyone with more money to invest into the creation of new wealth.  The employer who has access to low cost labor is able to invest in new capital to produce newer, better, cheaper goods.  A newer, better market with more employment opportunities for everyone is created thanks to the low cost labor.

A welfare state is incompatible with open borders.  But if it was taken away (and minimum wage laws and other barriers to hiring were eliminated) open borders would be the best policy for everyone.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dumb Question #1

Should teacher led bible reading or prayer in public school be allowed?

Well, if we are being totally honest about this, no.  No student should be exposed to religious propaganda while at a state run function.  Just think about what would happen if Mormons, Muslims, or Zoroastrians were in the majority?  Would you want your children to have to sit through the reading of their sacred scriptures?  Further, how many of you really want your children to receive religious instruction from public school teachers?  I didn't think so.

But, this is the wrong question.  The real question is, should there be such a thing as public schools?  My answer to this question is no.  I can't imagine a more socialist institution than an all day state run indoctrination camp.  Not only is it state run, and all day long, but it's mandatory.  What people need to understand is that education cannot be value free.  It's merely a question of which values schools promote.  Parents ought to be in charge of the values being given to their children, not a ubiquitous state.  Further, public schools are not free.  They are just supported through tax money. 

If we didn't have mandatory public schools, would some students not get a good education?  Yes.  But some students don't get a good education now.  Would some families choose not to send their children to school?  Yes.  But some students don't go to school now, even with compulsory education laws.  Overall, it's a matter of freedom.  Parents ought to be free to send their children to whatever school they want to send them to.  And they ought to be free from the burden of forced philanthropy, being taxed to provide education to other people's children.

I know that this will be quite controversial, even among the limited circle of people who read this blog.  All I would ask is that you read it carefully, and think about it.  If you disagree, let me know.  I won't be angry.  Honest debate is a great way for Christians to think carefully about things which they have never thought about before. I welcome your comments.

Dumb Questions

My father always says that there is such a thing as a dumb question.  The dumb question is the question to which you already know the answer.  People who ask questions to prove how smart they are are dumb.  Not only are there dumb questions, there are also wrong questions.  These are questions which people ask which are, or should be, totally irrelevant, and typically result in engaging in pointless, counterproductive arguments.  In the next few blog posts, I will be examining some of the irrelevant questions that conservative Christians argue about that totally miss the point and make us look really stupid.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Great Sports Week

This has officially been a great sports week, and the first great sports week in a long time for me.  The Brownies finally won a game, fairly unimpressively, but they won.  The Cornhuskers beat their first ranked opponent in a very long time.  And, most satisfying of all, the Cardinals got swept out of the playoffs.  The Cardinals losing is very close to as spiritually fulfilling as the Cubbies winning.

Fight on Brownies and Huskers, and R.I.P. Cards.  Actually, scratch the peace.  I hope the self proclaimed genius Tony Larussa is tormented day and night by the thought of this total failure.  That would make me happy. 

The Pax Obama

During the 2008 presidential election, my roommate in college satirically predicted the coming of a Pax Obama if Senator Obama became President Obama.  Apparently other people less satirically anticipate the coming of peace due to President Obama, as displayed by the fact that he won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.  Now, you usually have to do something to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and I suppose Obama has done something.  He has talked.  That's about it. 

I never used to get angry about the Obama hero worship that some people seem to suffer from.  He is a true change in American politics, and it is expected that the far left wing would be ecstatic about having a true liberal in office for the first time since LBJ.  But this Nobel thing just got me angry.  You should have to do more than talk a good game to get a Nobel Prize.  If talking a good game actually promotes world peace, then I don't have a problem with the prize.  But as far as I can see, world peace is about as far away as it was when Obama came into office.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Greatest Movie Scenes of All Time

This will be a fairly self-indulgent blog post.  I always see "lists" of various types, and thought I would make one of one of my favorite topics of discussions, films.  There's no methodology here, and no particular order to the scenes.

The Godfather-Purge Scene

At Michael's baby's baptism, he takes his oaths while his goons mow down his enemies in the streets.  I love when the priest says, "Do you renounce the Devil and all his works?" and Michael says, "I do renounce them."  All the while people are getting killed by Michael's henchmen.  Brilliant filmmaking.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail-Socialist Peasant

King Arthur is lectured by a peasant about the proper role of government.  The peasant claims that he was unaware that he even had a king.  He thought he lived in an autonomous collective.  "Do you see the violence inherent in the system?"

Seven-Final Scene

Kevin Spacey plays a very creepy serial killer killing based on the seven deadly sins.  At the end, well, if you haven't seen the movie, you should watch it.  But he and Brad Pitt have a memorable scene together, to put it mildly.

Casablanca-Final Scene

Rick tells Ilsa to go with Laszlo, confirming your sneaking suspicion that he is after all concerned about more than himself.  Then Rick shoots the Major, but Louis refuses to turn Rick in.  This prompts the line, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," as they walk away.  I do it poor justice, but it's a pretty awesome end to a pretty awesome movie.

To Kill a Mockingbird-Courtroom Speech

Atticus' amazing speech followed by the reverence given him by the blacks segregated in the crowd is one of the most amazingly powerful things I've ever seen.  The line the preacher gives, "Stand up Jean Louise; Your father's passing," is just incredible.

Honorable Mentions:
Casablanca-Crowd singing "La Marseillaise" over top of the Nazis
Fight Club-"His name is Robert Paulson"
Reservoir Dogs-Ear Amputation Scene
Dr. Strangelove-Major Kong Riding the Bomb

Feel free to draft your own list and post it in the comments, or criticize mine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Madden Curse

On the lighter side of blogs, I now turn to the critical question, "does the Madden Curse really exist?"  The answer to this is an unequivocal "yes".  For those who are not familiar with the curse, here is a brief explanation.  The player to be featured on the cover of Madden will suffer a drop in performance the year of the cover.  His career will usually never be the same.  To prove that it exists, let's go through the numbers of all of the Madden cover players since 2001, the first year the game featured a player rather than John Madden.

2001-Eddie George

George had his best season in terms of yards and touchdowns, but bobbled a pass in the Divisional playoffs that was then intercepted, run back for a td, and the Titans lost.  His next season began the downfall of George.

2002-Dante Culpepper

Following a good rookie season, Culpepper struggled, and suffered a knee injury, missing the last 5 games of the season.

2003-Marshall Faulk

Faulk dropped his rushing total under 1000 following four straight 1300 yard seasons.  He was plagued by an ankle injury.

2004-Michael Vick

Vick breaks his leg in the preseason, missing almost the entire season.

2005-Ray Lewis

Lewis failed to get a single interception following a season with 6.  He missed the last game with an injury, and then missed much of the rest of the next season with a hamstring injury.

2006-Donovan McNabb

McNabb said he didn't believe in the curse at the start of the season.  He suffered a sports hernia in the first game of the season, and missed the final 7 games.

2007-Shaun Alexander

Alexander broke his foot and missed 6 weeks.  He has never been the same.

2008-Vince Young

Young mostly escaped unscathed, but in the next year had a spiritual crisis that kept him from playing in 13 games.  He has not played in a regular season game since.

2009-Brett Favre

Favre retired.  The curse was so powerful that it brought him back from retirement.  Twice.  He only had a subaverage year, not the worst of his career, but not good.


Polamalu has only played in one game so far after injuring his knee.
Fitzgerald seems to be having a decent year so far, but just wait.

So, in recap, 6 out of the 11 had atrocious years, 3 had subaverage years, and 2 have the verdict still out as their season is not over.  It's real.

Source-,, and my brain.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Islamic Protest

A friend alerted me to the "Day of Islamic Unity" taking place on Capitol Hill today, so I thought I would give my two cents worth about the event. My initial reaction was to think that free exercise of religion and free speech are guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution. As such, I think that they ought to have a right to assemble peaceably.

Some Christians (primarily) and those fearful of Islam are offended by some of the statements and actions undertaken bythe organizers of the event. Hassen Abdellah is one of the organizers. Mr. Abdellah is an attorney and has defended such men as Mahmoud Abouhalima, who is charged in the bombings of the World Trade Center. This I have no problem with. Every man deserves the best legal counsel he can find, and accused terrorists (I believe) are no exception. More troubling is the statement the planners of the event released regarding the purpose of the event and their motto, "our time has come". "Democracy is not revelation, and democracy does not equal freedom, for in democracy you have apartheid, you have slavery, you have homosexuality, you have lesbianism, you have gambling, you have all of the voices that are against the spirit of truth; so no we don’t want to democratize Islam, we want to Islamize democracy. That’s what we want."

This is troubling, and a fairly telling summary of the troubles which Europe has been facing lately. I personally have no fear that Islamists will use force (i.e. terrorist attacks) to Islamize the west. What I find troubling is that Islamists have already figured out how to use the West's democratic measures against itself in places like France and Great Britain. This more subtle threat is graver threat to the West than Islamist terrorism. Any Muslim living in America or the West who is willing to live by the rule of law is welcome to enjoy all of the privileges that come with that. Any Muslim is naturally allowed to speak his mind. But the moment that Muslims begin actively trying through the democratic process to "islamize" democracy is the moment that America needs to turn its political attention to the problem. This has already happened abroad and it can happen in America if we are not vigilant.

World Carfree Day

Did you know that Tuesday September 22nd was World Carfree Day? I had seen the posters up at the Metro station (it seemed like a bit of a shameless plug to get business on their part, but I suppose I can't criticize them for it) but had no intention of giving up the car for the day. Riding your bike 20 miles to the Metro is not my idea of a good time.

I did have high expectations for the day however. After all, fewer cars means less traffic for me. Unfortunately, everyone else took the same "think-for-yourselfer" attitude that I did. I found it more than a little ironic that I got stuck in the worst traffic of my life Tuesday.

As detailed here my sneaking suspicion is that environmentalism is the great religion that we as a society genuflect towards when called upon, and yet when it comes to making personal sacrifices and living the green life, we flee as fast as we can. We are squirming in the pews of the church of environmentalism on Sunday and living our wicked lives in the consuming world the rest of the week. Why don't we just be honest with ourselves and admit that we don't care?

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The most frequent questions I get about the Moorenado are:

1) How do you pronounce Moorenado?


2) What does it mean?


1) It is pronounced like tornado, only with Moore substituted for "tor".
2) It means that the Moorenado, like a tornado, touches down randomly, tearing up everything in its path. There is really no rhyme or reason to where it goes, but wherever it goes, it is sure to cause havoc. Of course, I am mostly joking, but every time you pull up the Moorenado, you never can tell what I'm going to write about.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Does Jesus Like Welfare?

Jesus is quite clear about his concern for the poor in the Gospels. He even goes so far as to assert that what you do for the least of mankind is what you do for him. Proponents of the Social Gospel take Christ's concern for the poor and attack conservative Christians who reject social programs for the poor. This seems like a fair attack. But is it?

I would assert that it is not. First, there is a question to ask about the nature and role of government. Is government's role to force altruism on its citizens? I would say no. Christ clearly commands people to help the poor. What he does not command is for us to take the money of others and give it to the poor. If I came with a gun, and demanded that you give me all of the money in your wallet for a wonderful charity such as the Salvation Army or Convoy of Hope, would I be in the wrong? Absolutely. Why is it any different to send an IRS agent to your house on behalf of the poor? Further, does government have the right to force a non-Christian to conform to the morality of a Christian? Does an atheist need to feel any compulsion to give to the poor? Should we force him to? No. He is wrong not to give, but he has the right to dispense his property as he sees fit.

Second, I would assert that welfare is actually harmful to the poor. A basic principle of economics is that anytime you make the cost of an action more beneficial (0r less harmful) to the individual, more people will choose to take that action. So, when government pressures lending houses to make low interest loans to poor people to buy a house they cannot afford at any interest rate, and offers massive tax deductions for homeownership, it is understandable that many poor people decide to buy homes. Or when a store puts an item on sale, they sell more of those items. The same principle applies to welfare. Subsidizing the act of not working makes it more likely that people will engage in that action. This is not to say that everyone who is on welfare is a lazy bum. But some of them are. And all of them are enjoying the fruits of another man's labor. Government should not encourage unemployment, whether voluntary or involuntary.

I think that the two biggest causes of poverty are absentee fatherhood and working few hours. This Heritage Foundation shows data which supports this conclusion:
People are poor for any number of reasons. But many poor people just happen to share the two conditions of a single parent home, where the parent works low hours. Why enact a system which encourages people to work lower hours by subsidizing idleness?


Today I had the distinct pleasure of joining over 1 million people (according to ABC news, the number may have been 2 million) march down Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill. The march was dedicated to the cause of limited government, lower taxes, and greater individual liberty. The attendance figure which I had heard mentioned on 9/11 by people decidedly in the know was over 100,000 people, which was impressive. However, when I read after returning from the march that the police estimate of attendance was 1.2 million, with estimates ranging up to 2 million people, I was astounded. As someone who was actually there, I can say that there were people literally farther than the eye can see.

It was a truly humbling experience to be a small part of the events today. I know that many organizations, including Freedomworks, the Heritage Foundation, and countless others, played a huge role in organizing it. But most of the credit has to go to the people who came from the farthest reaches of America (including Hawaii and Alaska) to protest the behavior in Washington.

It makes no sense to blame the politicians for the mess which we are in (trillions of dollars in debt, high taxes, onerous regulations, and out of control spending). The responsibility lies with us. As I have blogged before, the Constitution which limits the Congress to its enumerated powers does not actually limit the Congress in any way. Laws are binding because they have enforcement measures attached to them. Imagine if a state legislature said that going over 55 miles per hour was a crime, but there would be no punishment for violating this law. Why would anyone obey it?

Who exists to enforce the Constitution? We do. There are no formal powers given to any body to limit Congress to its enumerated powers. Our only recourse is to "vote the bums out" and give our votes to real, principled individuals who are willing to follow the Constitution.

I suppose if they want to, States can enact little Europeanized social democracies. Anyone who really wants to live with Big Brother constantly in your wallet and looking over your shoulder should be free to move into one of these states. But the Feds should definitely not be involved in turning all of America into a Europeanized country. And apparently at least 1 million people believe that passionately enough to come to D.C. from all over the country to let their voices be heard. Bravo.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What is a Human?

I recently read a disturbing statistic in National Review. In the United States, 90% of unborn children with Down syndrome are aborted in America.

I work with several people who have mental disabilities of some kind or another. There is no doubt that people who are disabled are greatly challenging. They are distinctly different than "normal" people and present their own unique difficulties to their coworkers and families. But I have found that they are some of the hardest working, most delightful people in the world.

To say that people who are disabled would be better off not to have lived at all is never to have seriously dealt with disabled people. They love, suffer, laugh, and live just as any of us do. I have personally never met the disabled person who would rather be dead than alive in a somewhat restricted state.

Choosing to abort a child on discovering that they are disabled may seem like the compassionate, enlightened thing to do. In reality, it is nothing more than paternalistic, hubris ladened eugenics. As National Review noted, what happens if they discover a gene for homosexuality? What if parents would simply choose not to "deal" with the unique challenge that a son or daughter with same sex attraction presents? Parents ought to make the truly compassionate, courageous decision to deal with the difficulties and joys that are inevitable with any child. We are all created in God's image and deserve a chance to live.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care Fireball

I'm quite happy to say that it appears that the recent health care battle has been a victory for conservatives. Our fearless leader invested much of his political capital in this battle, and I am all too glad to see that he is losing. Seeing passionate people show up in droves to the health care town hall meetings has encouraged me greatly.

The town hall attendees see the problems with government run health care well. No matter how our fearless leader champions his war against the evil insurance companies, the people (or at least enough of them) have learned their lessons from the British and the Canadians. The fact of the matter is that the presence of a subsidized government-run option will cause many companies to choose to cover their workers under the public option, forcing these workers out of plans which they are at least satisfied. The public option will naturally set the prices which they will pay to doctors, which will be low in order to cut costs. All the while the government will be passing regulations on private health care companies, further reducing their ability to compete against the subsidized public option. The low prices they set will cause doctors to choose not to provide certain services (or at least provide them less frequently) at those low prices. The low prices will result in lower doctor salaries (along with endless rolls of red tape for them to deal with) and will decrease the number of students entering medical school, reducing the number of doctors, and further reducing the amount of care available to individuals. Abortions will become funded through our tax dollars. After all, what is an abortion but a simple medical procedure to cure a medical condition in a woman's body? Abortion has been declared a Constitutionally protected right under some vaguely defined "penumbra" of the fourteenth amendment, and it no doubt will be covered by the public option. And of course, all this will be funded by trillions of dollars. Our dollars.

The choice is clear. Higher taxes, fewer doctors, care rationing, and the murder of thousands of children. Let's choose something else. Anything else.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gay Marriage

Many questions are asked regarding gay marriage. "Should gay marriage be legal?" "Why shouldn't two adults who love each other be allowed to be married?" Unfortunately these are the wrong questions to ask when considering the merits of each side of the argument.

I believe that engaging in homosexual sex is a sin. However, it is no greater than the sin that a heterosexual couple commit when they have sex outside of marriage. God's ethic of sex is that it ought to be reserved within the bounds of a monogamous life partnership between a man and his wife. Any other sexual desire pursued outside of these bounds are perversions of God's perfect design for our sexual lives.

Marriage has been perverted beyond belief. Advocates for traditional marriage frequently make claims that preventing homosexuals from marrying each other would be an action in defense of marriage. These well-meaning people unfortunately are attacking the symptoms of a disease rather than assaulting its cause. Far more damage has been done to marriage by heterosexuals than homosexuals could ever do. Marriage has become about "love", in the "feeling" sense of the word. Indeed, good marriages are typically full of good feelings. Feelings, however, are about all of the significance a non-Christian could derive from marriage. Christian marriage, however, is quite different. To give a rough, extremely basic, but workable, definition, Christian marriage is "a life-long covenantal imitation of Christ's relationship to his church entered into by a man and a woman, in which the husband provides servile, loving, leadership while his wife submits herself to that leadership." I am willing to add to that definition, but am convinced that the elements of the definition are biblically accurate and will at least serve as a roughly usable definition for the purposes of this essay.

I do not have any problem with saying that the state should not recognize homosexual marriages. However, I also do not think that the state ought to recognize any marriages. The state has no business requiring citizens to report their marital status or to pay for marriage licenses, or any other absurd marital restrictions which they place on us, most likely for the reason that it allows them to have yet more control over the most intimate details of our lives. Further, these licenses and requirements are likely an assault on first amendment guaranteed protection of free exercise of religion. The Church is responsible to recognize marriages. Whether they are Christian marriages or not is between the couple and God. Homosexuals ought to be legally allowed to live with one another in a cruel mockery of marriage in which many heterosexual couples now find themselves. I suppose they may feel free to call this arrangement anything they want, excepting Christian marriage, for which they cannot qualify. Any marriage which does not place God at the center of it cannot qualify as a Christian marriage. And the state ought to stay out of all of our business.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Legislating Morality

Proponents of less stringent restrictions on abortion will typically say that they are personally opposed to abortion, but do not want to impose their morality on others. This position is invalid on two counts.

Firstly, legislation of any kind involves imposing the legislators view of morality on others. Try to think of any legislation that doesn't involve either encouraging actions that are perceived as good or discouraging things that are bad. Murder is perceived as wrong, and is outlawed. Entitlement programs are enacted on the moral principle that the poor need assistance, and that the more well off ought to provide for them. Even with the most amoral legislation, the act of legislating says that our elected officials have a moral right to pass legislation regulating the lives of others. People have no problems legislating their morality on others. It is our legislators' job. We elect them to do precisely what, in the case of abortion, they say that they have no right to do.

Secondly, particularly in the case of abortion, the position that a person opposes an issue personally and yet does not want to impose his morality on others makes little sense. The position begs the question, "why do you oppose abortion personally?" If the answer is that he believes that a fetus is a human being and terminating a pregnancy is thus murder, then he really has to impose his morality on others, just as he feels free to do with ordinary murder. If he does not believe that a fetus is a human being, there is literally no reason to oppose destroying one. You may as well oppose destroying cancerous tumors, or amputating legs, or any other sort of tissue killing activity.

The fact of the matter is that the abortion question revolves around one critical question, "at what point does a fetus become a human being?" The proverbial "everyone" agrees that killing human beings is wrong. Therefore, whether your answer is at conception, or at any other time than conception, you must provide legal protection for those human beings. The only reason to be personally opposed to abortion is if you feel that a fetus is a human being. So let's stop letting our gutless legislators get away with sophistry like Hillary Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare" and hold them accountable to being our enforcers of morality. Because that is precisely what they are every time they pass a law.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Strange Bedfellows

I imagine that some people find the notion of government and big business being in collusion to be sort of strange. Indeed, it is decidedly out of the realm of some peoples' paradigms to consider that big business actually likes government regulation. Sometimes it is true that government regulation harms big business. The primary effect of government intervention into the economy is, however, to make it easier for big business to gain a competitive advantage over smaller businesses. Many times, government regulations grant big businesses a virtual monopoly in the market.

Take for instance, the recent legislation to switch all television signals from analog to digital, which my father calls "No Couch Potato Left Behind". It is a little difficult to come up with a rational justification for this law. After all, why can't I watch analog TV if I want to, and some TV station wants to provide it to me? And yet, government does it. In response to this legislation, my family, long-time viewers of analog TV, switched over to cable. We figured that rather than go through the hassle of picking up and installing our converter box, we should just go get cable (and it was probably about time to get cable anyway). I'm certain that other families made similar decisions. Thanks to government intervention, the cable companies benefit, the people get better TV, and virtually everyone is happy. And yet, someone has to pay. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Those people like my family paid for cable. And everyone paid the taxes to produce those converter boxes that were being given out, the television advertising for the converter box (some on digital cable stations, ironically), the bureaucrat salaries to administer everything, and who knows what else. Also in the category of those government actions which promote monopolies are the so-called "economic development strategies" carried out by all of the states. States give money to companies to relocate their businesses to the state. Keep in mind that this money is not free. This is money that is taken from the pockets of all of the tax-payers to give to businesses that can compete on their own. These actions are theft of our hard-earned tax dollars and punish businesses who are already in the state by giving new businesses subsidies. How can an existing store compete against a Wal-Mart if the Wal-Mart has low prices subsidized by the tax-payers? If Wal-Mart wants to come to a town to compete fairly without dipping into the tax-payers pockets, they should be allowed to do so. But giving them a competitive advantage at the expense of everyone is an outrage to capitalism and a free society.

Not only can government regulations grant increased market shares for certain companies at the expense of everyone, they also make it very difficult for small businesses to start up. I am certain that many excellent entrepreneurs have been squashed by the heavily imprecise hand of government. Large companies have the capital to ensure that the seemingly endless checklist of tasks to obtain government's ok can be completed. Often, small businesses do not. Without these onerous regulations, we would certainly have a more diverse and fair economy, as well as one with lower prices for consumers.

In the end, individual government interventions into the economy do not directly harm us to a large extent. But when considered together, they hurt us a great deal. They limit our economic options, reward incompetence (think bailouts), and destroy a competitive economy. Why do these things happen, then? Remember the lesson that Friedman taught us in Free to Choose. When a greatly interested minority with much to gain stands opposed to a largely disinterested majority with only a little to lose, the minority will win. That disinterested majority needs to understand the things that are at stake when government intervenes in the market. The disinterested majority needs to become an interested and passionate majority.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Problem With Capitalism

Capitalism is built on the very simple premise that left alone, individuals will engage in mutually beneficial exchange. For instance, when a man buys a box of golf balls at a store for fifteen dollars, he values the box more than the fifteen dollars. Because the store was willing to part with one of its boxes for fifteen dollars, the owner of that store values the fifteen dollars more than the box. As such, their preferences are arranged so that both parties are willing to make the exchange. Capitalism is, therefore, built on the satisfaction of individual preferences. Entrepreneurs predict consumer demand for certain goods, produce those goods, and consumers trade their money in exchange for those goods. Capitalism has proven to be marvelously effective at satisfying the needs and desires of people. The areas of the world in which individual economic action are less encumbered by government regulations and taxes are the areas in which people enjoy the most luxurious standard of living. If you doubt it, check out the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom at

Human beings, however, have shown themselves over the course of history to be a particularly wicked lot. Perhaps a system in which the preferences of individuals are satisfied is not as glorious a success as some conservatives claim that it is. Truly free market Capitalism would open the door for goods and services which many people desire such as narcotics and prostitution. These things are rightly illegal in (most parts of) the U.S., because left to their own devices, people would contract to obtain these goods. However, even the level of freedom which we enjoy in this country has resulted in what some cultural observers have called the "me generation". The "me generation" (now having been replicated in future generations) is understandably narcissistic, having grown up in an economic system which tells them that their desires are vastly important, and that many businesses and institutions exist to satisfy their every desire. As a consumer, they are literally the center of the economic universe.

A wise man once said that "The problem with Capitalism is capitalists, the problem with Socialism is Socialism." I could not agree more. Capitalism is an economic system best suited for angels, but it is frankly the best thing we have. Having the freedom to make good or poor choices strikes me as far superior to starvation. Proponents of Capitalism need to be aware, however, of the shortcomings of the capitalists that make up a Capitalist system. Any good system of government will rightly protect the freedom of individuals to engage in business and consumption as they choose. Yet remember that a virtuous people is necessary for a free market to be a truly excellent system.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Take America Back

I had the unusual experience of being able to attend a conservative political rally, called "Take America Back", on the Fourth of July. It was estimated that about 1,100 individuals came to the rally. It was rife with comical episodes, as would be expected at a rally promoting any sort of political views. The best of these episodes were the recurring Thoreau-esque Biblical parodies, including my favorite, "As for me and my house, we will fight for Liberty". The organizers of the event intended the event as a call for a return to Constitutionally limited government.

This event got me to thinking about the Constitution and the astounding ability of the American government to ignore it. This is not a new phenomenon. Almost as soon as the Constitution was ratified, the Federal Government passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which gave the Federalists sweeping power to censor political protests. This seems decidedly opposed to the First Amendment to the Constitution. And now our elected officials run amok, doing whatever they feel is best, with no regard for the enumerated powers of Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution.

The big problem with Constitutions is that they can not enforce themselves. They must be enforced by elected representatives, who have very little incentive to limit their own power. Anyone who has observed children knows that limits without enforcement are no limits at all. Only presidential veto and judicial review (despite the latter's questionable Constitutionality) serve to enforce Constitutional limits on the Legislature. These, it can safely be said, are rarely used for this purpose.

Therefore, Constitutionally limited government appears to be in a bad state. There exists no reason to abide by it (other than principle) and no punishment for ignoring it. It is, however, incredibly important. The rally, despite its flaws and comical moments, was heartening because it showed that some people still care about their liberty and are willing to fight for it. The people themselves can be a check on the powers of government, by being willing to punish legislators who fail to follow their oath to defend the Constitution by voting them out of office. As Samuel Adams once said, "It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." Hopefully "Take America Back" set some brushfires of freedom.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Using Reusable Bags:The Great American Virtuous Activity?

As some of you know, I work in a grocery store. Those of you who visit grocery stores know that bringing your own reusable bags is all the rage. The other day, I had a customer come through my line tell me that she had forgotten her reusable bags. Nothing unusual there. However, she then went on to tell me that she didn't really care about using reusable bags, she merely wanted other people to think that she cared about using reusable bags.
People, in general, care about what people think about them. Everyone has their facade that they erect to impress people. People erect facades based on what they think other people will care about. A man's worth can be seen in that which he loves. This principle also applies to a society.
It used to be that people would go to church regardless of whether or not they personally cared about it. Not going to church had a negative societal stigma attached to it. All remnants of this stigma to be seen in general American society have disappeared.
Regardless of the merits of the reusable bag (perhaps another blog topic) I can safely say that going to church does a lot more for people than does using reusable bags. The fact that using reusable bags has (along with other negligibly important activities) now supplanted church as the Great American Virtuous Activity is something that should be troubling to those of us who still believe that a man's eternal soul is more important than the size of his carbon footprint.

The Moorenado

Welcome to the Moorenado. This blog will touch on many of my favorite topics, namely theology, politics, sports, and the arts. I hope that others enjoy reading The Moorenado as much as I will enjoy writing it.