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.