Dennis Prager interviews California Senator John Moorlach (37th District) about California Assembly Bill 2943, HOWEVER, the conversation started out with budgets and economics. Sen. Moorlach is a CPA after all. This is the section I clipped for use with friends and family that state California is money rich when you speak about our states debt.
This figure should be positive for healthy organizations. It is derived by tallying the state government’s assets (monetary funds, investments, buildings, roadways, bridges, parks, etc.) and subtracting its obligations. The last positive position California had was during Governor Pete Wilson’s final term where the state had $1.5 billion in unrestricted net assets.
California is now ranked the worst state, below Illinois, whose net position is a negative $143 billion, or $11,174 per person. Illinois’ finances are so bad, they’re telling lottery winners that they may have to delay their payments.
*NOTE: For the 2015/16 fiscal year, CalPERS planned for a 7.5% rate of return, but only managed to achieve a 0.6% rate of return. Seven percent of a $400 billion liability means a shortfall of $28 billion (some 20% of Governor Brown’s general fund budget.)
3. Current Unfunded Retiree Medical Liability
California has the nation’s highest unfunded retiree medical liability at $74.1 to $80 billion.
A John and Ken reality check (posted January 2017):
John and Ken speak to Marc Joffe of the California Policy Center (http://californiapolicycenter.org/) in regard to these recent articles on the subject of California’s fiscal emergency:
Below are two positions taken by a left leaning columnist and a right leaning columnist that essentially say the same thing. SOMETHING, mind you, Dennis tapped into some time ago in his article entitled, “AMERICA’S SECOND CIVIL WAR.” Here are the other two articles mentioned in these audios:
Before beginning I just wish to say that California is working against the clear Constitutional mandates that the Federal government controls and protects its borders… and the Trump administration is working against the Constitution in its trying to fight against California’s legalization of marijuana. NOTE! If you are for the state of California choosing to legalize pot, but against the state defining marriage as between one-man and one-woman… you are a confused individual who makes choices on emotion and not Constitutional foresight/understanding. When Walsh and Prager discuss “arresting California lawmakers,” in my minds eye the legal standing ta do this is Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution — which reads:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government…“
I have been warning about this for years in regard to The Golden State… California is setting itself and our country up for a world of hurt.
NEW YORK TIMES:
* Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic of Time Magazine. His works include the novels, “As Time Goes By,” “And All the Saints” (winner, 2004 American Book Award for fiction) and the “Devlin” series of thrillers; as well as the recent nonfiction bestseller, “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace.” A sequel, “The Fiery Angel,” is scheduled to appear in 2018.
In yet another attack on California businesses, yesterday Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill (SB 1383) that requires the state to cut methane emissions from dairy cows and other animals by 40% by 2030. The bill is yet another massive blow to the agricultural industry in the state of California that has already suffered from the Governor’s passage of a $15 minimum wage and a recent bill that makes California literally the only state in the entire country to provide overtime pay to seasonal agricultural workers after working 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day (see “California Just Passed A $1.7 Billion Tax On The Whole Country That No One Noticed“).
According to a statement from Western United Dairymen CEO, Anja Raudabaugh, California’s Air Resources Board wants to regulate animal methane emissions even though it admits there is no known method for achieving the the type of reduction sought by SB 1383.
“The California Air Resources Board wants to regulate cow emissions, even though its Short-Lived Climate Pollutant(SLCP) reduction strategy acknowledges that there’s no known way to achieve this reduction.”
Among other things, compliance with the bill will likely require California dairies to install “methane digesters” that convert the organic matter in manure into methane that can then be converted to energy for on-farm or off-farm consumption. The problem, of course, is that methane digesters are expensive and with California producing 20% of the country’s milk we suspect that means that California has just passed another massive “food tax” on the country…..
Clinton began her remarks at the National Clean Energy Summit by laying out the problems climate change is already causing today, including extreme weather and droughts. “[These are] the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face,” she said. “No matter what deniers say.”…
Precipitation in 2014 was actually close to normal, ranking 44th driest since 1895.
A look at the 60-Month averages shows much more severe droughts in the 20thC. As with all droughts, it will take time for water reserves to build back up again. But it has done so before from much lower levels and there is no reason to suppose it won’t do again.
But, in the height of fear mongering a bill was passed that will assist in the destruction of dams in California… making water preservation for droughts much harder. Giving California tax-payer funds to eco-nuts. Dumb.
…As a gay conservative, I’ve always been conflicted about the issue of gay marriage. I guess it is because my political and moral philosophies are not dictated by the desire to be loved by the president or the federal government. I believe that my rights as an American citizen come from my Creator, not Barack Obama, John Roberts or Nancy Pelosi. But the reaction from most gay liberals today to theoverturning of the Defense of Marriage Act and reversing the California voters’ decision in Proposition 8 has been the opposite. The gay political class is celebrating Big Government waving its haughty approval like King George III waving his hand over his colonies.
So for those of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters who needed the federal government’s emotional approval of their relationship: Congratulations. I just hope all gay and lesbian Americans take a moment to stop and thank Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush for nominating Justices Kennedy and Roberts so the Clinton era of discrimination could come to an end Wednesday…
What Bruce got wrong in the above [excellent] article is that the will of the people has not been overturned… and as a gay man who loves our Constitution, he should fight for the will of the people and allow this change to come legally… as he has in the past.
…But that means Prop 8 is still the law in California. Section 3.5 of the California Constitution specifically commands:
An administrative agency … has no power:
(a) To declare a statute unenforceable, or refuse to enforce a statute, on the basis of it being unconstitutional unless an appellate court has made a determination that such statute is unconstitutional;
(b) To declare a statute unconstitutional;
(c) To declare a statute unenforceable, or to refuse to enforce a statute on the basis that federal law or federal regulations prohibit the enforcement of such statute unless an appellate court has made a determination that the enforcement of such statute is prohibited by federal law or federal regulations.
As of today, there is no appellate opinion (meaning an opinion issued by a court of appeals) against Prop 8. The Supreme Court refused to issue one, and threw out the only other one (the Ninth Circuit’s). There is only a trial court opinion. So every agency in California is legally bound to regard Prop 8 as binding law….
Liberals, apparently, are happy with 9th Circuit acting unConstitutionally? You see, a healthy court — and the 9th Circuit is NOT healthy — should not have gotten involved, at least according to SCOTUS. But judicial activism is the 9th Circuits game, and the Supe’s (SCOTUS) rightly stayed out of it.
The `Smart Guys` Debate
Erwin Chemerinsky ~ is the founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, with a joint appointment in Political Science.
Dr. John C. Eastman ~ is the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service at Chapman University School of Law, and also served as the School’s Dean from June 2007 to January 2010, when he stepped down to pursue a bid for California Attorney General. He is the Founding Director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm affiliated with the Claremont Institute.
The decision is really the best possible outcome we could of hoped for in regards to Proposition eight. Why? Because Prop 8 is still law and it will properly ascend back up the chain of legal ladder rungs when an attorney general refuses to marry same-sex couples according to state law.
The DOMA strengthened state-power in deciding what marriage is — as the constitution says. So the states that have defined marriage as between man-and-woman have less to fear. Mind you, the DOMA ruling will hit some snags, I explain;
But there are major inconsistencies that will need to head back to court to be smoothed out. For instance, if a couple is married in New York, and then moves to a state that doesn’t recognize SSM… Federal benefits do or do not apply? The state is not required to provide be benefits, and DOMA does not change this. A point mentioned in passing by doc Eastman is will the Feds have to confer benefits to all persons in a polygamous marriage if a state plays this? [Also, religious freedom will be front and center… more on this below]
So it is a win on the SCOTUS level… a loss [strike that earlier statement] win to voters rights on the lower level. Because, as the Breitbart article showed above, as well as the audio of Constitutional professor/Dean, John Eastman, explained — state powers were increased. Which brings us back to prop 8 and what the court[s] said/did:
(AP) ….The high court itself said nothing about the validity of gay marriage bans in California and roughly three dozen other states.
The outcome was not along ideological lines.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia.
“We have no authority to decide this case on the merits, and neither did the 9th Circuit,” Roberts said, referring to the federal appeals court that also struck down Proposition 8….
As I pointed out, Prop 8 does not go by-by. There are nuances that will not be felt for a few days… but I will quickly explain what I understand:
In the California’s constitution, the government *HAS TO* uphold a proposition (again, by law) until the prop is said to be unconstitutional by an upper court. The Supe’s said they had no jurisdiction, and neither did the 9th circuit. The 9th vacated their position, and the ruling falls back down to the local judges ruling.
Which means — I believe — that the judges ruling is only effective for the two couples suing, or that particular district?
So what will happen?
Jerry Brown has ordered — unlawfully mind you, because prop 8 is still legal (Camilla Harris also misunderstands California’s Constitution) — all 58 districts to start performing SSM. All it will take is one conservative county/attorney general to say no… and the case will again rise up to the echelons of SCOTUS (which has been making some good choices as of late). Except this time it will be in the Courts Jurisdiction because you will have a defense and a prosecution on its rise, which the original case did not.
In-other-words, as Dr. Eastman points out, seeing if Jerry brown and the Attorney General, Camilla Harris, follow state law is really more important than the Same-Sex Marriage debate!
Another aspect of this is the affect DOMA will have on religion, freedom of choice, and the like. Already, even in the Supreme Court, there are ad-hominem attacks and rhetoric that is itself bigoted and intolerant.
(National Journal) …In a ripping dissent, Scalia says that Justice Anthony Kennedy and his colleagues in the majority have resorted to calling opponents of gay marriage “enemies of the human race.” Despite this being the first time in human history, gender and marriage (as being between man and woman) being challenged… we are[!?] enemies of the human race? Sick!
But to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions. To hurl such accusations so casually demeans this institution. In the majority’s judgment, any resistance to its holding is beyond the pale of reasoned disagreement. To question its high-handed invalidation of a presumptively valid statute is to act (the majority is sure) with the purpose to “disparage,” “injure,” “degrade,” “demean,” and “humiliate” our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homo- sexual. All that, simply for supporting an Act that did no more than codify an aspect of marriage that had been unquestioned in our society for most of its existence— indeed, had been unquestioned in virtually all societies for virtually all of human history. It is one thing for a society to elect change; it is another for a court of law to impose change by adjudging those who oppose it hostes humani generis, enemies of the human race.
The new regulations will surely thrust more cases into SCOTUS and we will finally tilt one-way or the other — by this I mean will the American people understand the clear enumerated protection of religious practice, belief in the 1st Amendment? or a hitherto unknown “right-to-marry” for same-sex couples hiding between the lines in the Constitution. The two cannot co-exist in the end.
As DOMA is implemented in the Military, we will see a clash of the above enumerated right and the special rights applied to a minority (Breitbart):
…In the Washington Post, Timothy Broglio, archbishop for the Military Services, USA, wrote:
“Defenders of marriage may find that their rights to voice their beliefs and live according to them are quickly eroding after this court decision.” ~ Michelle Bauman
I remain confident that people of this great country, no matter the consequences, will continue to promote and defend the good and the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife for life. Marriage remains what it has always been, regardless of what any government might say.
I likewise remain confident that the First Amendment constitutional guarantee of the “free exercise of religion” will forever ensure that no restrictions or limitations on the teaching of the Catholic faith will be placed on any Catholic priest or deacon in the armed forces. Furthermore, the Constitution guarantees that no endorsed minister will ever be compelled to perform a religious ceremony contrary to the dictates of his/her faith nor will today’s decision have any effect on the role and teaching ability of a priest or deacon in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks or in the office.
This archdiocese remains resolved in the belief that no Catholic priest will ever be compelled to condone – even silently – same-sex “marriages.”
Michelle Bauman, assistant editor for Catholic News Agency and EWTN News, wrote Wednesday that while the Supreme Court did not claim “to have discovered a fundamental ‘right’ to marry,” or a point-blank “redefinition of marriage” that would be imposed on the entire country, overturning DOMA “will affect more than 1,000 regulations and legal provisions, and could have a sweeping impact on both the legal and cultural understanding of what marriage is.”
“In addition,” wrote Bauman, “since the federal government must acknowledge all state-recognized marriages, there will be increased pressure on the states to redefine marriage.”…
One of the failings in our current generation is the understanding behind the ethos of the founding documents of our nation. What the writers of these pieces of foundational guidelines said themselves, here is one example:
“…we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.
And we know what the Founder’s meant by the word “religion” from the debates about the First Amendment. We also know what a proper definition of a Republic means, which is what we live in… not a Democracy:
So, to conclude, while there is a lot to be optimistic about, one shouldn’t give up the fight for the ideological mind. Ours is a cause worthy of the best thinking on the matter. And a side note… debating issues. I was recently challenged with polygamy and the Bible. Christians contort for no reason over the topic. A topic meant to take your eye off the ball:
Mountain Man said
The issue of polygamy is tangentially related because the same-sex marriage debate is nothing more than an open declaration of war on the traditional and historical institution of marriage.
I agree…. however, people miss the larger issue in talking to non-believers, as well as showing believers how to make an impact on culture.
Please allow me to explain.
The Judeo-Christian understanding (as well as some of the big thinkers via Greece, like Plato and Aeschines) teaches/taught that marriage should be between one-man and one woman — or in the least between male and female. But polygamy proves the point that relationships — even in their accepted form by pagan or fallen society — have always been “male/female.” no major world religious founder, great moral thinker, or political theorist of old ever advocated this union.
So, when I debate a non-Christian on the matter, I use the idea of polygamy to make the point that this current movement is radical in its core, or, extreme. While the other side paints us as extreme for defending the idea of even male-female conventions in relationships, you can show that they are the first to reject the thinking of wise men and all culture before this generation, and that [in fact] they are the ones acting extreme. Even to the point of trying to rid society of gender differences [male/female].
But as I see it, in the marriage debate, polygamy is evidence from history that the norm a) accepted gender differences, and b) relationships have always been male-female. It is an arrow in my quiver, not someone saying the Bible approves polygamy. While the Bible does not divinely inspire polygamy and slavery, etc, it shows as a history text AND as a Divinely inspired text that relationships are male/female. I do not need to explain verse-by-verse the issue…
Forbes Online has this previously released story about the rising health premiums for Californians:
“[F]or the typical 25 year old male non-smoking Californian,” Roy added, “Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.” For a 40 year old male non-smoker” Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.” Roy summarized, “For both 25-year-olds and 40-year-olds, then, Californians under Obamacare who buy insurance for themselves will see their insurance premiums double.” That is a conservative understatement of his actual results.
Barack Obama campaigned for President not on the intellectually honest position that “Obamacare will cost more, but it would be worth it,” but instead on the intellectually dishonest position that it would reduce the cost of health insurance, while covering everyone. Peter Suderman correctly reported on MSNBC on June 4 that during Obama’s first campaign, the candidate’s position was that under his health reform plan, “If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under the plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less.” Suderman added, “On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama continued to sell the [reform] as a way to lower health premiums, promising at least 15 times to reduce health premiums for families by $2,500 on average.”
I have used the term “Calculated Deception” to refer to Obama’s strategy of rhetorical deception, taking advantage of what Obama shrewdly perceives that the average person will not understand, and what the “mainstream” Democrat Party controlled media will not tell him. That pledge to reduce the cost of health insurance by $2,500 per family was calculated deception that is being exposed as such right now.
But such Calculated Deception amplified in the Democrat controlled media echo chamber just renders our democracy confused and dysfunctional.
The rates that Ohio reported are proposed rates; the Department of Insurance still has to formally approve them. “A total of 14 companies proposed rates for 214 plans to the Department. Projected costs from the companies for providing coverage for the required [by Obamacare] essential health benefits ranged from $282.51 to $577.40 for individual health insurance plans.”
It’s called “rate shock,” but it’s not shocking to people who understand the economics of health insurance. In August 2011, Milliman, one of the nation’s leading actuarial firms, predicted that Obamacare would increase individual-market premiums in Ohio by 55 to 85 percent. This past March, the Society of Actuaries projected that the law would increase premiums in that market by 81 percent. Like good players on “The Price is Right,” they both came in just under the Dept. of Insurance’s figure.
Since it’s not a web ad featuring a super cool, hipster-celebrity making suggestive analogies about President Obama’s oh-so-dreamy and glamorous political qualities, I doubt it will get nearly the same traffic as Team Obama’s recent Lena Dunham ad — which is most unfortunate, because rather than a cotton-candy, war-on-women appeal to the youths, we actually see the real-world effect that Obama’s policies have had on hardworking, middle-class Americans.
President Obama’s policies have been brutal to the business world, and small businesses in particular. An onslaught of red-tape regulations, ObamaCare, the threat of higher taxes, generally poor economic growth — none of these have been kind to entrepreneurs or owners trying to grow their outfits. Despite the Obama administration’s several showy moves to come to the aid of small business, their vital signs just haven’t picked up, via Bloomberg Businessweek:
The measure estimates employment at independent companies with fewer than 20 employees that use Intuit’s online payroll product. Companies with fewer than 20 workers make up nearly 90 percent private employers in the U.S. …
Companies with fewer than 20 employees have actually shed jobs during the economic recovery; the Intuit Small Business Employment Index was 0.9 percent lower in October 2012 than in July 2009. Moreover, since May, the index has moved in the opposite direction from BLS estimates of overall employment, with Intuit reporting a loss of 10,000 small business jobs in each of the last two months alone. …
Compensation and hours are similarly weak. Adjusting for inflation and seasonality, monthly compensation for all employees (including the owners) at businesses with fewer than 20 employees is 10.2 percent lower than when the president took office.
California is in a worse boat that Virginia, for instance, we [California] have ranked dead last 8-years in a row as far as a business friendly environment goes:
It was alarming the first three or four times California was ranked last among 50 states for business environment. Now, Chief Executive magazine’s annual ranking, based on a survey of 650 chief executives on taxation, regulation, workforce quality and living environment, again places California dead last, 50th of 50 – for the eighth year in a row.
Eight years in a row ceases to be alarming. It now is a defining status.
Gov. Jerry Brown insists those who say California is unfriendly to business are wrong. But Mr. Brown, of course, is not the chief executive officer of a private business. He is the top executive of a deficit-burdened, intrusive, bloated government bureaucracy that has perfected squandering other peoples’ money while botching delivery of services such as education and lavishing public employees with unaffordable pay and benefits.
California public school teachers are the nation’s highest-paid, while their students’ performance ranks among the worst. The state’s various unfunded pension and retirement health care benefits promise to bankrupt the already overextended government.
As chief executive opinions go, Mr. Brown’s are considerably less credible than CEO magazines’ private-sector leaders.
“California’s enduring place of perpetual decline continues in this year’s ranking,” the magazine said. “Once the most attractive business environment, the Golden State appears to slip deeper into the ninth circle of business hell.”
The CEOs aren’t alone in their harsh critique. The state got an “F” grade in January from Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation in a survey of 6,000 small businesses across the nation, and the Tax Foundation ranked California 48th worst on business taxes.
There is little prospect of improvement. Despite finding itself in a hole, state government keeps digging. This week the state Senate Judiciary Committee killed a California Chamber of Commerce-sponsored job-creator bill to protect employers from inappropriate litigation.
Mr. Brown’s Air Resources Board is ratcheting up costly new regulations and preparing an ill-advised cap-and-trade carbon-emissions auction to coerce private energy providers to do things the government’s way. The governor and other Big Government champions also are advancing proposals for the November ballot to extract upwards of another $20 billion per year in taxes.
As CEO magazine’s poll shows, the state’s failings are obvious to business people. But Mr. Brown and California’s other governmental leaders just don’t get it.
Since I have been vacationing and catching up with work since getting back, I will deal only with one point from each article by John Van Huizum. (Click to increase size):
The left has placed on American the most regulations decreasing our freedom. It is simple, as government gets large, it regulates more. So as California gets more liberal, it will regulate many more aspects of our lives. For instance, I do not think john is tracking with the purpose (ultimately) for smart meters. Here in our state (John and mine) the “green economy” is tacking root, and the smart meters in the eye’s of the cultural left that accept the “fact” of anthropogenic global warming want to reduce energy usage. One way is to control temperatures at thermostats, one blogger discusses this proposal:
There was also a proposal in California to require utilities to use smart meters to control the thermostat in people’s homes, which would facilitate controlling air conditioning and heating loads, especially when there was a need to shave load during periods of peak usage. Thus far, this bad idea hasn’t been adopted. If the utility can control the thermostat in people’s homes, it’s conceivable government could mandate the high and low temperatures in people’s homes.
The left love to manifacture crisis’ and then exploit them for all the legislative power they can ring out of it:sexual harassment; nuclear power; anorexia; second-hand smoke; heterosexual AIDS; swine flu; silicone breast implants; homelessness in America; hunger in America; peanuts; man-made global warming, etc. etc. One author points out that many of the myths from the left are not only legislatively disastrous, but the death of millions of black are on the hands of the left:
Ecological myths have equal staying power. Despite evidence to the contrary, stories of global warming, deadly dioxin, dying forests, demonic DDT, rejuvenation by recycling, and the evils of electric fields continue to gain adherents. Green mythology holds that white technology is destroying the planet. Only with the elimination of Western evils like the internal combustion engine and chemicals can we recover the health and happiness that flow from living as one with nature.
Because the Left banned DDT, millions have died:
Dennis Prager as well talks about how the left intrudes on our freedom:
So far from the power company intruding into our lives because of greed, they are merely adopting the Left’s view of global warming and government intrusion into which light-bulbs we can use, or at what temperature we should set our air-conditioner (and if too cool, we have to pay more to buy carbon offsets).
John seems to misunderstand what Social Security is suppose to be. Putting your money away and getting it back. Today it is putting your money in, the large government using it in ways it shouldn’t, and then relying on future generations to support you with their money. John’s last sentence is his tell, and the cultural Lefts Achilles heel. I have already pointed this gulf in our conflict of visions out, but I will post it again:
Progressivism is an ideology based on the idea that historical and social progress are inevitable. The idea of progress assumes movement toward some ideal or end that usually includes the perfectibility of human, nature and human society. Progressives conceive of this end in various ways: history may culminate in an era of absolute freedom, social and economic equality, or some form of utopia.
Here is more on this idea in quotes from Thomas Sowell:
My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause [the French Revolution], but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter of January 3, 1793, The Portable Thomas Jefferson, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York: Penguin Books, 1975), p. 465; from, Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (New York, NY: basic Books, 2007), 29.
According to Adam Smith, it is when the businessman “intends only his own gain” that he contributes— via the process of competition— to promote the social good “more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.” Smith added: “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”
Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (New York, NY: basic Books, 2007), 57.
Christianity is closely tied to the success of capitalism, as it is the only possible ethic behind such an enterprise. How can such a thing be said? The famed economist/sociologist/historian of our day, Thomas Sowell, speaks to this in his book A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. He whittles down the many economic views into just two categories, the constrained view and the unconstrained view.
The constrained vision is a tragic vision of the human condition. The unconstrained vision is a moral vision of human intentions, which are viewed as ultimately decisive. The unconstrained vision promotes pursuit of the highest ideals and the best solutions. By contrast, the constrained vision sees the best as the enemy of the good— a vain attempt to reach the unattainable being seen as not only futile but often counterproductive, while the same efforts could have produced a more viable and beneficial trade-off. Adam Smith applied this reasoning not only to economics but also to morality and politics: The prudent reformer, according to Smith, will respect “the confirmed habits and prejudices of the people,” and when he cannot establish what is right, “he will not disdain to ameliorate the wrong.” His goal is not to create the ideal but to “establish the best that the people can bear.”
Dr. Sowell goes on to point out that while not “all social thinkers fit this schematic dichotomy…. the conflict of visions is no less real because everyone has not chosen sides or irrevocably committed themselves.” Continuing he points out:
Despite necessary caveats, it remains an important and remarkable phenomenon that how human nature is conceived at the outset is highly correlated with the whole conception of knowledge, morality, power, time, rationality, war, freedom, and law which defines a social vision…. The dichotomy between constrained and unconstrained visions is based on whether or not inherent limitations of man are among the key elements included in the vision.
The contribution of the nature of man by the Judeo-Christian ethic is key in this respect. One can almost say, then, that the Christian worldview demands a particular position to be taken in the socio-economic realm.* You can almost liken the constrained view of man in economics and conservatism as the Calvinist position. Pulitzer prize winning political commentator, Walter Lippmann (1889-1974), makes the above point well:
At the core of every moral code there is a picture of human nature, a map of the universe, and a version of history. To human nature (of the sort conceived), in a universe (of the kind imagined), after a history (so understood), the rules of the code apply.
A free market, then, is typically viewed through the lenses of the Christian worldview with its concrete view of the reality of man balanced with love for your neighbor;
…the super rich ALSO can contribute to the economy, but the greater number of the others contribute a lot more.
Sometimes you just bang your head on the desk because of the ignorance some people have. The Wall Street Journal clears up the confusion, especially since the media latched onto Mitt Romney paying only 15% in taxes:
Mitt Romney’s disclosure this week that his effective federal tax rate is “probably closer to the 15% rate than anything” has created the predictable political uproar. The White House and its media allies figure they’ve now got their stereotype of the Monopoly man, albeit without his cane and top hat, who they can crush in their planned class-warfare campaign.
We’re not sure if facts will matter in this cacophony, but someone should at least try to introduce a little reality into the debate, especially since Mr. Romney seems so unprepared to make the case.
Start with the fact that, like Warren Buffett, Mr. Romney said he makes most of his money from investments, not wages or salary. Thus his income is really taxed twice: once at the corporate tax rate of 35%, then again at a 15% tax rate when it is passed through to him as dividends or via capital gains from the sale of stock.
All income from businesses is eventually passed through to the owners, so to ignore business taxes creates a statistical illusion that makes it appear that the rich pay less than they really do. By this logic, if the corporate tax rate were raised to, say, 60% from today’s 35% and the dividend and capital gains tax were cut to zero, it would appear that business owners were getting away with paying no federal tax at all.
This all-too-conveniently confuses the incidence of a tax with the burden of a tax. The marginal tax rate on every additional dollar of capital gains and dividend income from corporate profits can reach as high as 44.75% at the federal level (assuming a company pays the 35% top corporate rate), not 15%.
The Congressional Budget Office recently examined the distribution of federal taxes on various income groups. The report was ballyhooed by liberals as proof of rising income inequality, but that argument is for another day. What everyone has ignored is what CBO found about the relative taxes paid by different groups. And, lo, the rich pay more, which is probably why the press didn’t report it.
The nearby table from the CBO report shows that in 2007 the average income tax rate paid by the 1% was 18.8%, compared to 4.2% for Americans in a broadly defined middle class from the 21st to 80th income percentiles. The poorest 20% on average paid a net negative income-tax rate of 5.6% because of the checks they receive for tax credits that are “refundable.” These are essentially transfer payments redistributing income from the rich and middle class to the poor.
As for all federal taxes, CBO found that in 2007 the top 1% paid an average rate of a little under 30%, compared to 15.1% for middle-income earners. In calculating this overall tax burden, CBO takes account of payroll taxes, which moves the rate of the lowest 20% of earners into positive territory at 4.7%. CBO also apportions to individuals who are shareholders the tax that corporations pay on corporate profits.
State Controller John Chaing continues to uphold the California Great Seal Motto of “Eureka”, i.e., ‘I have found it’. But what Chaing is finding as Controller is that California’s economy as measured by tax revenues is still tanking. Compared to last year, State tax collections for February shriveled by $1.2 billion or 22%. The deterioration is more than double the shocking $535 million reported decline for last month. The cumulative fiscal year decline is $6.1 billion or down 11% versus this period in 2011.
While California Governor Brown promises strong economic growth is just around the corner, Chaing proves that the best way for Sacramento politicians to hurt the economy and thereby generate lower tax revenue, is to have the highest tax rates in the nation.
California politicians seem delusional in their continued delusion that high taxes have not savaged the State’s economy. Each month’s disappointment is written off as due to some one-time event.
The State Controller’s office did acknowledge that higher than normal tax refunds for February might have reduced the collection of some personal income taxes. Given that 2012 has an extra day in February for leap year, there might have been one day more of tax refunds sent out. But the Controller’s report shows personal income tax collections fell by $325 million, or 16% versus last year. Furthermore, leap year would have added another day for retail sales and use tax collection, but those revenues also fell during February-by an even larger $813 million, 25% decline from 2011.
The more likely reason tax collections continue falling is that businesses and successful people are leaving California for the better tax rates available in more pro-business states.
Derisively referred to as “Taxifornia” by the independent Pacific Research Institute, California wins the booby prize for the highest personal income taxes in the nation and higher sales tax rates than all but four other states. Though Californians benefit from Proposition 13 restrictions on how much their property tax can increase in one year, the state still has the worst state tax burden in the U.S.
Spectrum Locations Consultants recorded 254 California companies moved some or all of their work and jobs out of state in 2011, 26% more than in 2010 and five times as many as in 2009. According SLC President, Joe Vranich: the “top ten reasons companies are leaving California: 1) Poor rankings in surveys 2) More adversarial toward business 3) Uncontrollable public spending 4) Unfriendly business climate 5) Provable savings elsewhere 6) Most expensive business locations 7) Unfriendly legal environment for business 8) Worst regulatory burden 9) Severe tax treatment 10) Unprecedented energy costs.
(You can enlarge the article by clicking it.) This is a local, small town magazine, and John Van Huizum writes a regular piece that I will critique here-and-there. Here is my first installment:
I wish to write a response to a recent Concepts article by John Van Huizum, entitled “What Does ‘Free’ Mean?” There are a couple issues worth responding to or in-the-least offering a differing viewpoint on. The first of Mr. Huizum’s positions that needs de”concept”ualizing is the idea of “greed.” Mr. Huizum spoke of history, something Dr. Sowell reminds us of in the telling of Richard Sears ferocious greed in wanting to overtake Montgomery Ward. This type of greed leads to lower prices. Alternatively the Fords, Rockefellers, and the Carnegies found ways to offer goods at lower prices. This type of greed leads to Carnegie — for instance — becoming a “prodigious philanthrop[ist] – building more than 3,000 public libraries in 47 states…, founding Carnegie-Mellon University and the Carnegie Institute of Technology (C.I.T.), establishing Carnegie Hall in New York, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and much more.”
In a wonderful response to Donahue’s 1979 challenge to Milton Freidman on the issue of greed and if greed has ever caused Dr. Friedman to doubt capitalism. Milton Friedman responded that “the world runs on individuals pursuing their own interests, the great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory from an order of a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of the grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and free trade.” So I wish to proffer another history that maybe, just possibly Forbes is taking into account and Mr. Huizum is not.
Another point worth politely rejecting is the definition given to Forbes by Mr. Huizum on freedom: “free from ANY government regulation.”This is a fallacy of straw-man. Mr. Huizum does not show a full knowledge of Forbes understanding on this matter. Nor does the facile dealing with this complex issue and the putting forth of a false definition as if-it-were Forbes do this topic justice.
One last point, the most important. Unlike big business when it makes mistakes, big government cannot go out of business. Unlike corrupt government, corrupt business cannot print money and thereby devalue a nation’s currency. Businesses cannot coerce you by force (tax liens, garnishing of wages, or armed IRS officials, etc) into an action. So the “greed” of the corporation pales in comparison to the greed of government. Which is why our Founders stated that, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government” (Patrick Henry); “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence. It is force. And force, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master” (George Washington).
 Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2004), 361.  Michael Medved, The 10 biggest Lies About America (New York, NY: Crown Forum, 2008), 132; see also, “What Did He Get for That Money?”  Milton Freidman on the Phil Donahue Show – “Greed” (VIDEO)  John Van Huizum, Agua Dulce/Acton Country Journal, Vol. XXII, Issue 21 (May 26, 2012), 19. a) Person A has position X; b) Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X); c) Person B attacks position Y; d) Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.  Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope (New York, NY: Broadside Books, 2012), 35-36.
I love to go to Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee, and read/study my favorite topics in book form. Once and a while I will bump into people well known in pop-culture. Michael Berryman was recently one of those people. Of course, he is best known to me from an 80’s classic, Weird Science. But he has been in many others, as his bio shows, another being a favorite of mine, The One Who Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Mistaking him for an officer that served in the SCV that looks — believe it or not — very similar, my mistake was quickly corrected and small chit-chat began. Michael is an amiable enough guy and I had planned on letting him go on his way after he very nicely allowed a photo to be taken. However, during this small talk that was very general, Michael mentioned news, and then interjected into his own point that one shouldn’t watch Fox News because it is not news, far from fair and balanced, he said.
Well, this is where the brakes on the rest of my plans happened. Wanting to engage the level of this man’s reasoning towards truth vs. merely spewing bumper-sticker thinking as fact [ad hoc] became the goal for the rest of my scheduled reading time. (This led to a 40-minute conversation.) After Michael drove deeper into the political abyss of commentary common from the Left, I slowed the conversation down a bit by mentioning he had touched on many topics in just a few sentences. …(con’t)…
(A tactic seemingly used by those who wish to just be “right.” They obfuscate the issue by interjecting many topics and points in the hope — apparently — of showing the person listening they have a handle on this topic. Granted, many do not realize they are doing this… they have just never had anyone around them that disagree with them. They live in sound rooms surrounded by only those who think like them.)
Before continuing with the encounter, due to the length of the post I feel the nee to update it with a “contents” section as well as headings. This will make it easier for the “topical” reader to find a response to a challenge he or she is interested in. So the following contents are based on responding to comments made during conversation:
Enjoy the conversation, I did.
1. Fox News Is Biased
…(from con’t)… I mentioned to Michael that “just a short while back he mentioned something that needed revisiting to exemplify a correlation between what many people say is true in general conversation compared to what is actually the case.” So bringing him back to the Fox News statement I asked if three reasons could be offered as to why maybe his statement might be wrong.
The first reason I gave was that “during the 2010 election Fox News had NPR, The Baltimore Sun, The Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Politico, all said [in some form or fashion] the coverage by Fox was the best in breadth (most in-depth guests) and most fair in their political stance (equal number of liberal/conservative guests, interviews and opinions). Whereas they all bemoaned MSNBC for their far-left commentary and CNN for their lack of depth.”
The second reason given was that “according to a Pew Research poll, and separately a university poll, found that between the party splits of Democrat, Republican, and Independents, there is about an equal mix of viewers of Fox. Whereas — in Contradistinction to MSNBC and CNN — there is a much larger demographic of Democrats versus Republicans that watch those channels.” Pointing out that more Democrats watch Fox than watch CNN or MSNBC (and that stat may even be combined[?]) segwayed nicely to exemplify that “if someone is saying that Fox news is not News or unfair, they may be out of the mainstream… since the stats show a much more balanced viewing audience.” This fair mix of people from differing political views is what has made Fox (posted in March of this year) the most-watched news channel in total viewers for both Total Day and Primetime for the 110th straight month.
Before making my third reason known, Michael interjected and started to again make multiple points which included anecdotal stories which surely he thought would prove his position. But they were just non-sequitur stories from his past… emotionally laden. Interjecting politely I steered him back to the topic and to my third point, which was Fox’s reporting on the 2008 election. “Fox News offered a fair mix of positive/negative stories on Obama and McCain when they reported on the two candidates than MSNBC or CNN.” Continuing I mentioned “that George Mason University’s (during the conversation I merely mentioned “a university,” here I am including the actual studies or some referring links) non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs concurred as well as another media watch org, The Project for Excellence in Journalism.” Not letting up I pointed out that maybe, just maybe what he was saying did not fit with the facts. This is a hard thing to admit — pride gets in the way.
2. I Like Ron Paul
Then came more anecdotal tales, many of which were personal references to his meeting famous people or his mother meeting famous people. All stories that only he has access to, nothing offered by Michael could be taken and used by another party to make an informed decision from these facts that lay outside him and myself — like the information given in the Fox News discussion. He asked me if I liked Ron Paul. Reservedly I responded that Ron Paul had some positions I liked, others I did not. He responded to this by merely stating that he liked him. A short while later in his ramblings he intimated that he hated Ronald Reagan. Which brought us back to his previous statement about Ron Paul. “Mentioning that I hear a lot of people from the left say they like Ron Paul without actually knowing what Ron Paul stands for,” continuing, “Much like Reagan, Ron Paul would like to shut down many Federal Departments, like the Dept. of Education, of Agriculture, the EPA, and the like.” Granted, I already knew this is something Michael would not agree with, and he didn’t. My implicit point had been made, there was a disconnect between something said (in this case the liking of a particular candidate) and said facts easily known (in this case, many of Ron Paul’s positions). Of course the conversation steered towards drugs, most conversations about Ron Paul do. I mentioned I was for the legalization of marijuana if there were someway, much like with alcohol, for law enforcement to tell if someone is under the influence of the drug. But Ron Paul would legalize (or at the least stop Federal enforcement of) heroine, speed, and the like. Later in the conversation Michael challenged my libertarian side by asking derisively if I would want to get rid of the national parks. I said no, but I pointed out that Ron Paul would… another thing he wasn’t aware of in regards to Ron Paul.
3. Reagan Caused the Homeless Problem
Mentioning Reagan again as being one of the most evil men in his life time caused me to inquire why he thought this. He started to intimate why, but then stopped himself and asked if I knew what he was going to reference. I did. “Are you going to mention the insane asylums,” I said. Knowing this is a popular mantra of the Left in regards to Reagan which proved correct. He asked me what i thought of this situation to which I responded that the movement to release these “mentally ill” persons was not Reagan’s alone, that the Democratic Left was very much involved. Michael merely dismissed this position out of hand, almost laughing as he did. (An aside should be noted. The left thinks this event happened nation wide, however, this happened when Reagan was governor of California.) An interesting conversation on Snopes forums can help the reader, as well as myself, gain information so a well informed response to an emotional position. You can trust me when I say Michael was very animated in expressing his disgust of Reagan. Here are some of the conversations from the older Snopes forum:
Snopes started the conversation off:
(Snopes Posted) For over three decades I’ve been hearing people say “those crazy people are out here walking the streets in California because Ronald Reagan removed them from State institutions.” Ronald Reagan was last California Governor in 1972. AS I recall, it’s the legislature that passes laws and then the Governor signs the law. Did that happen with the California ‘crazy people?’
Since 1972 there have been several times when the governor, the state senate and the state legislature were all controlled by the Democratic Party. Why didn’t they change the law and house the ‘crazy people?’ It’s very likely if the ‘crazy people’ were de-institutionalized during the Reagan governorship that the legislature was controlled by the Democratic Party. What’s the truth and what’s the lie? Who introduced this bill, if there ever was one that de-institutionalized ‘crazy people’, how did the vote go down, and what was Reagan’s role?
Following are some thoughtful responses:
Advocatus Diaboli posted:
I think I can successfully field this one. My father has worked for Agnews Developmental Center going on 4 decades. Having retired twice and begged to come back each time working first as a Nursing Coordinator and later on Health and Safety officer. I also have worked there in the offices as part of the youth work program.
Quite simply mental health and developmental professionals want the State/ State of California out of the business of caring for “crazy people” So acting on there recommendations that’s what the government gave them. Overall it’s probably better in most cases. A great number of these people are not “crazy” they are developmentally disabled a crucial distinction in my opinion.
I know of one girl whom I was very fond of and who loved it when I visited her that was placed in a community home and was better for it. She was not “out on the street” and some institutions still operate at some capacity for those who can not be placed, and hopefully they always will.
Politics has little to do with this at all.
G.I. Joe posted:
My wife worked for the chief of the psychiatric department at the Brentwood VA in California during the early 80s. From the mid-70s to mid-80s there was a strong ‘patients rights’ movement generated by the mental health advocate community. Although there were many facets to this movement, one of the primary elements was a re-examination of the criteria for institutionalizing patients.
The point of contention revolved around interpretations of what it meant for a patient to be able to ‘take care of himself.’ Prior to this the interpretation was rather strict; if a patient could not earn an income and provide shelter and food for himself (and if there were no family members able to care for him), then he would normally be institutionalized.
Beginning in the late 70s, the advocacy groups began to demand a lower standard. As long as a patient could merely wash and dress himself, and could perform the mechanical tasks of shoveling food into his mouth, then every effort was made to force the institutions to release them. My wife’s boss spent many months both in court and testifying before the state assembly trying to stop this lowering of standards. Unsuccessfully.
Predictably, most of the newly discharged patients were unable to take care of themselves in any meaningful sense of the word, and became the homeless people on the street. It’s no coincidence that the decline in California’s mental health institution population closely matched the sharp increase of homeless (in California, at least) during the same period. In fact, for about two years, my wife literally was on a first name basis with every homeless person we ran across in the Westwood/Santa Monica area. They were all former patients who had been ‘sprung’ from the VA by well meaning advocate groups who then simply walked away and left these guys hanging.
Reagan was not involved in this movement, nor was he a symptom or symbolic of it. Quite the contrary. The people who ‘liberated’ the inmates tended to be on the opposite end of the political spectrum. In fact, it was the ACLU who provided legal representation to force the VA to release these patients.
G.I. Joe responded to a previous comment:
Originally posted by Jason Threadslayer:
Also, since the 1960s and 1970s, it is generally illegal to forcibly treat the mentally ill.
Yeah, there are many provisions intended to protect both the patients and the doctors, but it makes the system very complicated. For instance, in order to involuntarily medicate an institutionalized psychiatric patient it requires a ‘Riese Hearing’ (in California), which is administrated by the court system. The patient gets a deputy public defender to represent him and the whole nine yards. So . . . it is not unusual that a patient has been institutionalized against his will as a result of a court order, but at the same time he can win court authority to refuse treatment (at least treatment via psychotropic medication).
It’s a complicated issue and determining right and wrong and what is best for the patient is not at all easy.
“Life is complicated. So you have to look out for the less complicated things.” ~ from some of the last words of a young man’s grandfather [thank you for sharing his final thoughts].
So we see that this issue, as encapsulated by the Left, is wrong. It is a straw-man, in other words, they define their proposition as a historical fact (wrongly), and then tear it down. The only problem is that they present an unhistorical case and feel like they are justified in their hatred for Reagan by making a fool out of themselves. The ACLU was the main catalyst behind fighting for the rights of these people to be free, even the freedom to live in alleyways and eat from trash cans. Anything but a conservative or Republican institution, they were one of the main thrusts behind both California and later a nationwide release of patients. They [the ACLU], have long heldthat involuntary institutionalization of an unwilling person, even if mentally or physically incapable, is the worst of two evils. Not to mention that many times since the 1970’s Democrats have controlled both houses and the governorship of California, the questions has been raised, why didn’t the Democrats re-institutionalize these people?
A question I suspect is entwined in the complexity of how these people were actually released, versus merely a politician waving his or her wand. in other words the Democrats hands were just as tied (actually more-so) as the Republicans hands because the genesis of the movement for patient rights was not political. Not to mention that this myth serves Democrats and Liberals well… they wouldn’t want to change this “silver bullet,” or what they wrongly presume is one.
4. Sarah Palin Kills…. Wolves
Before entering the odd conspiratorial and religious parts of the conversation, we should end the political aspect of this portion of the conversation with his hatred for Sarah Palin. The reason for this disdain, he said, is because he is an environmentalist and that “she shot 17 wolves.” Included in his reasoning was her policy on the matter of Alaska offering a bounty to cull the wolf population. His vitriol is very similar to this:
The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to he taken and plundered… Sarah Pal in does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill forty caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air… If the polar bears don’t move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected, then consider” Palin’s support for oil drilling. “I think of teeth when I think of drills,” the author continued. “I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.” (Taken from The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star)
Again, Michael’s animated hatred was present when he talked of her, similar to when speaking of Reagan. Part of this is that the hunters were payed $150 bounty on the wolves. Partially true. For instance, this is implicitly referenced in a Slate article on the topic:
Back in the 1950s, Alaska paid government employees and bounty hunters to take out thousands of wolves, but today’s aerial wolf killers are unpaid. (They can make some money by selling the wolf pelts.) Palin tried last year to have the state pay $150 for every wolf killed, but the state superior courtshot that down as an illegal use of bounty payments, which were outlawed in that state in 1984.
Take note also that the cost of helicopter hunting of wolves is very expensive, so this form of hunting (shooting from the chopper) was/is rare. Hunters typically drive in and-or hike to the hunting area. Some can afford to be helicoptered into and dropped off in an area. But the story of mass wolf shootings by helicopter is just a myth. Also note that I couldn’t find anywhere a number given for Sarah Palin hunting of wolves. In fact, if she did kill a wolf in a hunting trip, I cannot even find that. That being said, the Lefts opening up of Sarah Palin’s emails backfired in every account, even this wolf myth. The left like to say she “championed aerial hunting,” however, this is not the case. For instance, here is one email on the above topic from Sarah Palin… Stuff:
The governor told her fish and game commissioner in blunt terms that she opposed using state helicopters to hunt wolves and preferred paying private hunters.
“We have to act quickly on this as predators are acting quickly and rural families face ridiculous situation of being forced to import more beef instead of feeding their families our healthy staple of Alaskan game. Nonsense. Unacceptable – and not on my watch,” she said.
Her source of information? “Todd interviewed buddies who live out there… Some confirmation that state intervention isn’t first choice w/the locals,” Palin said.”We need to incentivize here,” including providing money for trappers.
Again, the narrative received from Michael just did not stand up to the facts.
5. New World Order
Alright, let’s switch gears a bit and enter into Michael’s views on the New World Order (NWO) conspiracies, black helicopters (yes, he believes one was getting ready to come grab him, as you will see), and religion. In our previous conversation about reasons for disliking Ron Paul it was mentioned by myself that Ron Paul had some conspiratorial views, like the New World Order. He retorted that the NWO is a fact, and he knows a server at the Bilderbergers compound, therefore, he [Michael] knows the truth… end of story. Sharing with him a bit about my previously held beliefs and my affinity to such theories even going as far as involving myself with the John Birch Society in the mid to late 90’s. Continuing, I explained three “events” that caused me to question these beliefs and spurred me to really investigate these claims, references, and quotes so often used with these theories.
My eventual shift in thinking were spurred by an article in the New American article (the magazine of the John Birch Society) blaming the Oklahoma bombing on the U.S. Government; the failure of predictions made about Y2K from many I listened to; and listening to radio talk show host Michael Medved’s “Conspiracy Show” where for one day each month he takes calls only from those who believe in conspiracies. These three things caused me to compare and contrast the positions previously accepted as fact. After a couple of years of wrestling with position after position, I eventually gave up my thinking on the NWO and embraced true history.
6. Black Helicopters and FEMA Gulags
This talk led to Michael positing that gulags exist in America. How did he prove this to me? By an anecdotal story of course. He told me a story where he called some representatives/senators about why it is important to control the border. He says he talked to someone from Diane Feinstein’s office. After a fruitless conversation with someone from her office he said he ended the conversation with a retort that he didn’t mean, but that nonetheless caused a call from a local Sheriff to where he lived within minutes of ending his call with Diane Feinstein’s office. Being that this Sheriff was a fellow Freemason (more on this later), he told Michael to hold on after hearing his explanation. When this Sheriff got back on the line with him he said the pick up was called off. Michael said he inquired with his fellow Mason what he meant, to which he was told that a black helicopter was dispatched from Langley to come get him and take him to a gulag, but was now called off. Granted portions of this story may be true, like when the person from Feinstein’s office called him a racist for wanting to control the border, but I think he added much to it. This happens with many a person, they tell a story and twist the truth here and there, however, with some this form of embellishment becomes habitual. I could see that Michael lived a life unchecked by truth (John 8:32). That being said, he was merely offering unproved, personal information as an anecdote to jump into the larger point that gulags exist. He didn’t offer any information that anyone outside his head could take and use to make a choice with. It was all emotive.
The following topic I did not deal at the time, so I will here in the hoped Michael reads this at some point.
A lot of this thinking revolves around crazy conspiracy stories pushed by people like Alex Jones in regards to FEMA Camps/gulags, coffin liners, and black helicopters. Popular Mechanics (PM) has a great article debunking this conspiracy story. And the video to the right is Glenn Beck talking about the debunking PM gave this theory. Likewise, there is a good short video debunking the supposed coffins that are part of this theory as well. What interested me was that he was a Freemason. In fact, in the photo of him and I you can see a pin of the Masonic symbol just over my left shoulder (click to enlarge). At one point during our conspiracy discussion he rejected the claim that the Masons are part of any conspiracy for “world domination.” Mind you he was just telling me that the Bilderbergers, the Council of Foreign Relations, and the like are out for world domination. “What justification do you have to make this distinction,” I asked. He moved on to other subjects.
Freemasonry is said to be a modern evolution of the Illuminati, and so, would be an older extension of this conspiracy thesis. His rejection of one aspect of the same conspiracy theory and acceptance of another portion of it, then, must be based on emotional reasons: he is a member of one and not of the other.
We did talk about religion[s], which led to a sub-extension of the conspiracy portion of the discussion. I explained to him that Freemasonry is really a modern form of gnosticism, I intimated — not too well — this post on the matter, which I have wanted to import here to RPT — why not now, at least in part:
7. What “is” Freemasonry?
(Original Post) Below is a scan from page 567 of my copy of Morals and Dogma. What you have here is an example of Gnostic thinking on spirit-material dualism; Freemasons are merely modern day Gnostics. Roles are reversed in comparison to how historic Christianity has viewed them since its inception. I will explain, but first look at page 567 (click on it to enlarge):
So let’s get into the meat of the matter. Gnostic thinking is a combination of Judaism, Platonism, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity. (By-the-by, the below is much to do with a professor’s input I had, Dr. Wayne House.)
Judaism – early Gnostics followed the thinking of Marcian, and Marcian taught that the God of the Old Testament was a demiurge. A demiurge would be what we would typically call the “devil.” Since anything 100% spirit is “good,” anything material is “bad.” So the God of the Old Testament created the world, which is material, and so this God is the Gnostic’s mortal enemy (pun intended). So Judaic thought and Judaism’s God is what Gnostics are “fighting” against. This is Judaism’s contribution.
Platonism – plutonic thought is basically the codifying of Hindu thinking into Grecian thought. He taught that innate ideas (that is: existing in one from birth; inborn; native) were the ideas the mind beheld in the world of pure Forms before birth. This world, then, is but a shadow of reality… pure spirit. This is Platonic contribution to Gnostic thinking.
An aside here for clarity of thought. Platonic thinking shares a point in common with Gnostic thinking, so you could be a Platonist and not a Gnostic. You couldn’t be, however, a Gnostic without being a Platonist. This is important because many “scholars” get this concept mixed up when describing the points of contact between Gnostic thinking and Christianity. Okay, on we go.
Zoroastrianism – Zoroastic thought has contributed what is called ethical dualism. It has said that there is a battle between good and evil, light and dark. Its addition to this is that anything material in nature is evil, and anything spiritual is good.
Christianity – Christian theology provided a “vehicle” in which to express the above. It is then, the “vehicle of expression” for Gnostics. Jesus becomes the way in which they Gnostics explain the working of impersonal deity in human existence and the offering of salvation through secret knowledge, or, Gnosis. Gnosis means knowledge of spiritual matters; mystical knowledge.
Gnostic’s, then, only have a complete “system of thought” when they combine all four of these major aspects into their thinking. If their thinking were to lack any one of these, they would cease to be Gnostic. The combining of the major aspects of these four lines thought, then, make up the Gnostic “worldview.” What do Gnostics believe then? I will explain a bit more in this crude drawing taken during notes from a class at seminary. one should note as well that “Eon” should be spelled “Aeon.”:
Much like Eastern philosophy, there is an impersonal spirit which is 100% spirit. Brahma as it is referred to in Hindu thought. Out of this impersonal force emanated “Eons.” These Eons were 99.9% spirit and .01% material, to put it layman terms. (Also, the percentages are not to explain exactly what Gnostic’s believe, I am just using these numbers as examples to get the analogy across.) These less impersonal, or more corrupted Eons, created other Eons who themselves were more deficient in their spirit/matter balance. Until finally you have very “diluted” beings. One diluted being — referred to as a “Demiurge,” what we would sometimes call the “Devil” — created our world. He also created smaller more diluted beings called “Archons.” These archons would be what we view as demons; Gnostics would say Paul referred to them in Ephesians 6:12 when he said:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Jesus comes into the picture as an Aeon who has a higher percentage of spirit left and sneaks past the demiurge and the archons and enters our world. He is “born,” not physically, but is an ethereal image of mankind (hard to explain) to point the way to a saving knowledge that is secret or hidden.
Freemasons are the most modern day representation of Gnostics; they have symbols that as you climb to higher degrees become clearer in their real meaning and are explained more-so as you climb this “knowledge ladder.” Secret handshakes, elaborate rituals and secrecy until finally at the 33rd-degree you are presented with a true understanding (a Gnostic one) of reality and “God.”
From three separate Mason’s saying each part of the name of God, “Ja-bul-on,” to the meaning of the dot or “G” in the square and compass symbol. All these serve as layers for the initiates to come to realize that this material world is evil.
The Gnostics and hence, Masons, believe that there is a war going on with the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. As this thinking has progressed throughout history it has adopted other philosophies and has become more and more convoluted in its history and thinking. The New Age, much of your occultism, cults, and even Christianity (Trinity Broadcasting Network for instance) has been influenced by this thinking in one way or another. From Madam Blavatsky and her influence on Germany’s occultism that led to the Aryan philosophy of Hitler to Benny Hinn’s healing crusades.
All sorts of writers, especially conspiratorial writers, have had a plethora of facts to misuse and misrepresent and to twist to their own agendas. Their agenda have resulted in many people believing that “secret societies” control both parties and were behind the Twin Towers so they could implement a world government. This view that combines, “sun” worship from the ancient Egyptians to the Illuninati, from the Knights Templars and Rosicrucians, to today’s Skull and Bones and Council on Foreign Relations ~ is defunct mainly due to the lack of understanding gnosis and the philosophy that has driven it.
He did ask me to define “religion,” not being able to recall a decent definition then, I do so here:
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines religion as “a specific system of belief, worship, often involving a code of ethics.” Faith is defined as “unquestioning belief… complete trust or confidence… loyalty.”
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary has this to say about religion, “The beliefs, attitudes, emotions, behavior, etc., constituting man’s relationship with the powers and principles of the universe.” On the matter of faith it says, “Confidence in or dependence on a person, statement, or thing as trustworthy… Belief without need of certain proof.”
Atheism, Taoism, and other non-god beliefs, like Buddhism, fit into this definition. I explained my relational position with God was more personal than the cut n’ paste definition.
9. Priests Molesting Kids
Of course during the conversation Michael brought up all the deaths associated with Catholicism, and the molestations associated with the Catholic church. I responded quite well in conversation on this topic. First let me speak to the portion we discussed on molestation/rape.
Using his logic, dentistry, counseling, teaching, and the like are evil. They drive the person to do such acts. The N.E.A. (National Teachers Association) and school district/union even ship the guilty party from district to district, much like the priest. Does that mean education is evil? He thought religion was evil with this example. Having dealt with this in the past — this would be a perfect place to re-post a response to this charge:
(From a cataloged discussion)
Sean, no one was lost at the Burlington Coat Factory (where the COMMUNITY CENTER, not “mosque” will be based). If we are to follow your logic, I guess no Catholic churches should be located within a few blocks of daycare centers, no? Anyway, I am a New Yorker and I also realize polls can be made to indicate almost anything. Most of the people I know think it is more important to hold up sacred tenants of our constitution than to cave in to very misguided xenophobia. There have been a LOT of people bussed in to protest and the anti-Islamic rhetoric is very damaging. http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/08/25/cab_stabbing_update/index.html
Thanks Nora for hopping into this conversation. This can be an emotional topic, so know that even though I cannot see your facial expressions, hear concern, humor, or consternation in your tone — I afford you the best of intentions. I do wish to, however, point out some mistakes in your thinking. I may take a post or two to do so as I respect where you are coming from… so bear with me. FIRST POINT, there will be a mosque in the community center. In fact, it will be the top two floors and be tall enough to view the site of the Twin-Towers. That’s number one.
NUMBER TWO, I wish to discuss this issue of molestation by priests that you intimated about.
School counselors, dentists, Buddhist monks, foster parents, and the like — all have abused children. Men who are pedophiles look for positions of AUTHORITY OVER [*not yelling, emphasizing*] children that afford MOMENTS OF PRIVACY with these same children. Dentists do not violate children or women in the name of dentistry. Buddhists monks do not sodomize children in the name of Siddhartha. School counselors in the name of psychology, foster parents in the name of Dr. Spock, etc, … you get the point. Likewise, priests do not violate children in the name of Christ.
In other words, would Columbia University have to stop teaching about education because the N.E.A. shuffles around rapists and child predators? The argument is a non-sequitur designed merely to stir up feelings of animosity and then direct them towards an entirely different subject. There tends to be a blurring of subject/object distinction on the professional left. Here is a short list of what I alluded to above:
A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a monk at a Theravada Buddhist temple in Chicago holds her 11-year-old daughter, who was conceived, according to her mother, during the assaults. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / July 24, 2011)
Two Buddhist monks and eight other men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of sexually abusing 11 children orphaned by the island’s 19-year civil war, an official said.
Investigations revealed that the children, aged between nine and 13, had been sexually abused over a period of time at an orphanage where the men worked, said Prof. Harendra de Silva, head of the National Child Protection Authority….
Mr. Tripp was arrested for sexually abusing a former 15-year-old foster care child.
The investigation started when the Oregon Department of Human Services was contacted by a school counselor who learned that there may be sexual abuse involving a student and Mr. Tripp. DHS workers then contacted Sheriff’s Detectives who took over the investigation.
Detectives learned that Mr. Tripp has been a foster parent since 1995 and has had at least 90 children placed in his home during that time. Sheriff’s Detectives are concerned that there may be more victims who have not yet reported sexual contact involving Mr. Tripp….
3) A therapist who worked at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore was arrested in Catonsville and charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy, Baltimore County police said yesterday.
Robert J. Stoever, 54, of the 1500 block of Park Ave. was arrested Sunday night after a county police officer saw him and the boy in a car in a parking lot at Edmondson Avenue and Academy Road, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a police spokesman.
Stoever was charged with a second-degree sex offense and perverted practice, according to court documents. He was sent to the Baltimore County Detention Center, Hill said….
4) A Bronx dentist was arrested yesterday on charges that he twice raped a 16-year-old patient whom he had placed under anesthesia during an office visit on Thursday, police said.
The girl, a patient of the dentist for several years, was hired for a summer job as his receptionist on Thursday, and had an appointment with him for treatment that afternoon, said Lieut. Hazel Stewart, commander of the Bronx Special Victims Squad.
“She went in and she changed into a little uniform that he gave to her, and he gave her some files to work on,” the lieutenant said. “Then he said that it was time to take a look at her teeth.”
At that point, Lieutenant Stewart said, “he used some type of anesthesia on her and he allegedly raped her.”
The young woman told officers that she was never fully anesthetized, Lieutenant Stewart said, but that “the effects of the anesthesia were strong enough to render her helpless to such a degree that he was able to rape her again.”
These folks that commit these crimes are atheists, Christians, Buddhists (which are epistemologically speaking, atheists), and every other ideology and from every stripe of life and culture in the world. Thus, the argument is as strong as this:
There have been many cases of dentists molesting and raping children, therefore, dentists cannot take moral positions on secular society.
The conclusion just doesn’t follow the premise.
There have been many cases of priests molesting and raping children, therefore, the Pope (insert Catholic here) cannot take moral positions on secular society.
In the case of religious comparisons, you would have to isolate the founders and their lives in order to properly judge a belief, not the followers. I would engender the reader to consider well this quote by Robert Hume:
The nine founders among the eleven living religions in the world had characters which attracted many devoted followers during their own lifetime, and still larger numbers during the centuries of subsequent history. They were humble in certain respects, yet they were also confident of a great religious mission. Two of the nine, Mahavira and Buddha, were men so strong-minded and self-reliant that, according to the records, they displayed no need of any divine help, though they both taught the inexorable cosmic law of Karma. They are not reported as having possessed any consciousness of a supreme personal deity. Yet they have been strangely deified by their followers. Indeed, they themselves have been worshipped, even with multitudinous idols.
All of the nine founders of religion, with the exception of Jesus Christ, are reported in their respective sacred scriptures as having passed through a preliminary period of uncertainty, or of searching for religious light. Confucius, late in life, confessed his own sense of shortcomings and his desire for further improvement in knowledge and character. All the founders of the non-Christian religions evinced inconsistencies in their personal character; some of them altered their practical policies under change of circumstances.
Jesus Christ alone is reported as having had a consistent God-consciousness, a consistent character himself, and a consistent program for his religion. The most remarkable and valuable aspect of the personality of Jesus Christ is the comprehensiveness and universal availability of his character, as well as its own loftiness, consistency, and sinlessness.
The World’s Living Religions (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), 285-286.
Michael’s bad thinking just isn’t him, it is a large portion of society that base important positions on emotion (they want to believe it), on hearsay (hear it from somebody), or bias, or: all of the above! Michael is merely living out societal ignorance. I can’t blame him, but I was surprised at how many of these mantras and myths he could back into a few short sentences. The other issue we talked about was violence done in the name of the Church. I intimated that according to the World Book Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica that the total historically known deaths from the Crusades (all 7), was about 40,000. It may have been horrible and wrong I told him, but the Christ doesn’t teach this. In contradistinction, when Nietzsche prophesied that the death of God would produce a bloody 20th century, he was right. Non-God movements in the 20th century alone killed over 166-million people. I continued the discussion using two books for examples: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, and, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. I contrasted religious views of violence and those of evolutionary standards. The Church had a reference point to return to, the non-religious person as well has a point to return to. I explained to Michael that Hitler in Mein Kampf explained this “point” well:
“The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.
“I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.”
Adolf Hitler, A sign of his quote hangs on the wall at Auschwitz; Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, p. 23.
In fact, current day biologist, Richard Dawkins agrees:
“What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.” (Stated during an interview with Larry Taunton, “Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Evangelist,” by Faith Magazine, Issue Number 18, December 2007)
If evolution is true in its natural philosophical sense, then the highest moral plain (if you can call it that) would be survival of the fittest. At some point in our evolutionary past it may have been necessary for the stronger male species to forcibly dominate the weaker female species in order for our “kind” to survive. Rape is said to not be a pathology but an evolutionary adaptation – a strategy for maximizing reproductive success (The Natural History of Rape, p.p., 71, 163; referenced on page 7 of my chapter on natural law and homosexuality.) At some point in our evolutionary future it may become again the only way for our species to survive (since without the theistic God rape is only currently taboo, socially speaking). This was the only time I became animated, and I did so knowingly to try and drive my point home, and the point is simple:
The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainty. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law.
In other words, if one rejects Christianity for the violence it has committed against its principles, how much more should you reject non-faith for living up to its?
11. Was There a Reason for the Crusades?
Of course even this response doesn’t explain the reasoning behind why the Church went to battle to begin with. The Crusades were a mandatory action, and since the church was the only real organization in that day to see the threat and to sound the alarm bells, the net good caused by the Church’s actions — even if wrong decisions and actions took place during this conflict — is commendable. For instance, I critiqued geneticist Francis Collins position (in his book) on religion and evil for a college paper, which a portion of is below:
…Not to mention that just saying the Crusades were wrong is almost juvenile. Robert Spencer talks a bit about the lead up to Christendom finally responding — rightly at first, woefully latter.
The Third Crusade (1188-1192). This crusade was proclaimed by Pope Gregory VIII in the wake of Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem and destruction of the Crusader forces of Hattin in 1187. This venture failed to retake Jerusalem, but it did strengthen Outremer, the crusader state that stretched along the coast of the Levant.
The almost Political Correct myth is that the crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world. I can see with quoting Tillich and Bonhoeffer, although worthy men to quote, they are typically favorites of the religious left. Robert Schuller and Desmond Tutu on the back of the cover of Collins first edition are also dead give a ways. So PC thought is entrenched in Collins general outlook on religion and life. Continuing:
The conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood as the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution. A few examples: Early in the eighth century, sixty Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time, the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies – except for a small number who converted to Islam; and Muslims demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn’t pay. Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the anti-religious tax (jizya) that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction to others, even their own children.
Brutal subordinations and violence became the rules of the day for Christians in the Holy Land. In 772, the caliph al-Mansur ordered the hands of Christians and Jews in Jerusalem to be stamped with a distinctive symbol. Conversions to Christianity were dealt with particularly harshly. In 789, Muslims beheaded a monk who had converted from Islam and plundered the Bethlehem monastery of Saint Theodosius, killing many more monks. Other monasteries in the region suffered the same fate. Early in the ninth century, the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled to Constantinople and other Christians cities. More persecutions in 923 saw additional churches destroyed, and in 937, Muslims went on a Palm Sunday rampage in Jerusalem, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.
One person (my pastor) said to paint a picture of the crusaders in a single year in history is like showing photos and video of Hitler hugging children and receiving flowers from them and then showing photos and video of the Allies attacking the German army. It completely forgets what Hitler and Germany had done prior.
 Robert Spencer, The Politically Correct Guide to Islam and the Crusades (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2005), 147-148.
 Ibid., 122.
 Ibid., 122-123.
One can see that the narrative that Mr. Berryman was speaking from is even flawed from its foundation. The liberal thinks the “big, bad corporate church” went over and started slaughtering people minding their own business. Nope. So the net good that came out of those actions is why Michael is not forced to his knees five times a day. I bet you Mr. Berryman would be floored to realize that only 2,000 or so people were killed directly because of the Spanish Inquisition! This is not an anecdotal story, but referenced in one of the leading historians of Spain and the Inquisition’s book, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision.
We talked about other issues and I can respond to them as well, but these are the main topics I touched on with him and expanded a bit here for the reader to use as examples of some responses to the many straw man statements we often hear. If Michael contacts me after the “beating” he took above, this means he is a man’s man. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride and admit that maybe, just maybe, there is room to learn — and life offers opportunities in the people we meet to do so. Michael met one such opportunity. I would ask that if Michael read this that he consider reading my book. It answers some other issues he mentioned. For instance when I mentioned the Bible, he said “which Bible, there are many.” Or when I presented a few positive aspects of the Christian worldview verses the non-believers. All that can be found in my book: Worldviews: A Click Away from Binary Collisions (Religio-Political Apologetics) The whole encounter was congenial for the most part. We left on good terms and I would be more than happy to sit down with him and have a beer.