Economic Freedom and Power

I don't think people understand how closely political economics is tied to freedom.

When taxes are raised and government is allowed to expand, individual Americans effectively cede a portion of their liberty. In certain situations, this is vital and unavoidable. A good example is our nationalized police force; no one wants public order to be maintained solely by private corporations.

Unfortunately, history has taught us that government constantly abuses and increases its power when given the chance. This trend is painfully obvious in the United States, where the national government now controls a great many things it was never originally intended to control.

In the past hundred years, the ideologies of socialism, communism, and fascism have advocated governmental dominion over the economy. Modern power does not exist in military might, but in economic strength; therefore, socialist, communist, and fascist governments who controlled their nations' economies have almost always been totalitarian. The great atrocities of modern times have been perpetrated by governments such as these. There are too many examples to list.

Conversely, in a true capitalist society, private individuals would have more power than they have ever had. (Note that an economy controlled by corporate conglomerates and monopolies is not at all capitalistic. It is oligarchic.) In a capitalist society, government cannot control the people; it can only defend and protect them. Power is diffused, rather than concentrated; it truly belongs to individuals. A capitalist society is not only stronger, but freer.

Americans are (understandably) wary of "Big Brother" when it comes to wiretaps and surveillance, but the much more real peril to our freedom lies in Uncle Sam's increasing control over the economy. We prostitute our economic power and freedom for governmental promises of comfort and welfare. The promises are rarely kept, and the power is rarely returned to the people. Does our government deserve the increasing power with which we are entrusting it?

Recently, Democrats in Congress advocated nationalizing the oil industry. (It'd be funny if it weren't true. And what does Maxine Waters, a former teacher, know about the economy?) Apparently, they haven't heard of Hugo Chávez.

Barack Obama, of course, is no different (and neither is McCain, essentially). According to the Wall Street Journal, "Sen. Obama cited new economic forces to explain what appears like a return to an older-style big-government Democratic platform skeptical of market forces. 'Globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers,' he said, and a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably. He spoke aboard his campaign bus, where a big-screen TV was tuned to the final holes of the U.S. Open golf tournament." (For the record, a strong government hand is not needed to "assure that wealth is distributed more equally." I think there are much better ways to do that.)

Consider this: any power given to the government is not only given to the "good" politicians, but also to the "bad" ones. Liberals, do you really want men like George Bush to run the economy? Conservatives, do you really want the Bill Clintons of the world in control of your economy? Wouldn't it make more sense to let the people control the economy?

Only 47% of Americans oppose nationalizing the oil industry. In my opinion, that Democrats (and some Republicans) would even suggest policies such as these under the guise of capitalism is completely duplicitous.

America, meet Socialism.


Sartre on God

Interesting quote from Sartre (of all people):
"I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God."
Obviously, he didn't convert on his deathbed or anything...but still, for him to say this is kind of a big deal.



In a recent discussion about apologetics with a (non-Christian) friend of mine, I referenced a few Christian books written about the history of Christianity. His response to me was that the authors were irreparably biased, because they were themselves Christian.

My friend does have a point; Christian writers will display a bias toward Christianity.

But is that not also true of atheists, or deists, or Muslims, or Hindus, or...anyone? Capitalists, communists, Republicans, Democrats? Who isn't biased? No one. Can anyone find books written in support of certain positions whose authors do not themselves support those positions?

Of course, the solution is not to discard all human knowledge as ideologically tainted, but to seek the truth honestly and from multiple sources.

The problem, however, is not that my friend sought to discard all human knowledge, but that he saw only "religious" knowledge as tainted. In other words, those opposed to Christianity could be objective, but those supporting it could not.

This seems absurd to me.

First of all, everyone is "religious," in the sense that everyone has beliefs about metaphysics. Atheism and agnosticism are each religions of their own. Or, if you prefer to construe "religion" as meaning "traditional ritualized belief systems," I could say that everyone has a belief system of some sort.

The objection is raised (and, in a way, should be raised) that those religious people who choose to defend and write about Christianity are extremely passionate, emotionally invested, and (therefore) invariably biased. The implicit assumption is that atheists and other non-religious people are "rational" and "free-thinking" - objective.

Of course, this ignores the fact that men have hated religion as much as they have loved it. Just as not all religious people are fervently religious, not all non-religious people are God-hating maniacs - but many of the leading atheists sure seem to be.

Sam Harris, one of the most famous modern critics of religion, said, "If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion I would not hesitate to get rid of religion." Does that sound objective to anyone? Richard Dawkins' recent bestseller was entitled The God Delusion, implying that the vast majority of the world's population (along with a long list of some of the modern world's greatest thinkers and people such as Aristotle) was deluded in its religious thinking.

Does this sound reasonable or objective? To me, it does not. As Voltaire said, "Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde." (Look it up! And yes, it cuts both ways.) I would argue that Dawkins and Harris are just as emotionally invested in their positions as any Christian I know; in fact, it is probably just as impossible for them to remain objective as it would be for me.

(Criticism of Dawkins, Harris, and other prominent atheists do not come only from their philosophical opponents. Michael Ruse, a philosopher at Florida State University, said, "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist." Scott Atran, in response to a presentation Harris made, used similar words: "It makes me embarrassed to be a scientist and atheist.")

Of course, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins do not speak for the mass of non-religious people, and they could just as easily point to inflammatory comments made by theists. The problem is that Christianity has a moderate voice, but anti-Christianity seems to have none (or a very quiet one.)

Finally, we must distinguish between authors and the arguments they make. A child who says he cannot breathe underwater is just as correct in his assessment as the biologist who makes the same claim; in other words, the validity of a certain claim (such as "I cannot breathe underwater" or "God exists") is independent of the person making the claim. We can disagree with conclusions, but we cannot dismiss conclusions merely because we disagree with those who make them.

In the end, Harris' and Dawkins' belligerence does them and their arguments disservice.


Scalia's Dissent

I like it.


Leibnizian Cosmological Arguments

When I wrote this, I didn't realize that Leibniz had already thought of it.

I also didn't realize that Alexander Pruss had written about and basically blown me out of the water.

This is what he has to say.


When Gas Prices Get Too High...

...This happens.

Hat tip to the Fool for this one.