Sep

20

Posted by : Brian | On : September 20, 2014

I was recently sent the following by a family friend from my hometown (I’ll call her June for sake of privacy):

I’ve recently been annexed in to the city of Marysville. Apparently it became official in 2006. This year, the city has begun it’s compulsory garbage pick up for all of it’s citizens living in the Sunnyside, Soper Hill, Whiskey Ridge area. Prior to this, garbage service was provided by Waste Management and was elective. I’ve lived here on [redacted] for 38 years. I’ve not needed, wanted or used the Waste Management services and have found ways of taking care of my own garbage via recycling, composting and the very little I have that needs to be disposed goes to the garbage dump with my son as he goes to do his own garbage run. When I received my first bill for services I’ve not ever used, sometime around March, I began to look into it thinking they’d made a mistake. That’s when I became enlightened that it was a compulsory service. I’ve spoken with my City Council members (3 of them) the Utilities director and the City Planning Commissioner. No one sees a reason to release me or allow me to be exempted. Apparently, I’m not the first person to point out that people not needing, wanting or using the service should not have to pay. They say, “That’s just the way it is”. Of course, I think the matter is simple. I’m self employed and work in the service industry. I provide service to those needing or wanting and using them. I get paid for rendering the service. I don’t get paid if the service doesn’t get rendered. Can you offer any insight, direction or ideas, that will help me speak in a way to be taken seriously?

George Washington once said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.”

Just imagine for a moment that you’re sitting on the couch watching old DVR’d episodes of America’s Got Talent when you hear a knock on the door. You open the door and find 3 well-dressed gentlemen with pleasant grins on their faces. Almost immediately they begin their sales pitch about their impeccable tree-trimming service. It really did seem like a good service, and they mentioned the many travesties that have occurred in the neighborhood lately because of dead tree branches that were falling and injuring “the children.” They were selling their services for a trivial cost of $19.86 per month, in which they would come out and cut down any branches that needed trimming every Thursday. “This really seems like it might be a good service for some” you think, “but I only have a few bushes on my property that might need trimming about twice a year.” You politely say “No, thank you” and close the door, only to hear the same knock on the door.

Upon opening it once again, those 3 men are still standing there, but with a slightly different countenance. “I don’t think you understand” one man says. “You WILL be buying our services. I don’t intend to scare you, but if you try not to purchase our services, we will come anyway, steal the money you owe us (plus 5%) and if it happens often enough, we’ll steal $150 the first time we come, $300 the second time we come, and then steal $1000 and kidnap you for 90 days if we have to come a third time. Then we’ll see if you straighten up and do as you’re told, so to make things simpler on you and us, just pay the $15.92 per month.”

“Oh, and one more thing,” he says, “Don’t even consider defending yourself when we force our way into your home to take your money or when we try to capture you, we’ve got them on our side.” He motions with a slight head nod to the street where rough and dangerous-looking men stand with guns at their side.

What are you to do?

In this analogy, you could call the police. In the real life situation presented, however, those rough and dangerous-looking men with guns that are on the salesmen’s side ARE the police.

Have I dragged on this analogy long enough? I think you get the picture. All the numbers that I used in that analogy are the exact numbers that come from the Marysville Municipal Code (MMC). In MMC 7.08.030, it states that trash collection is indeed compulsory for every “occupied premise.”

(The word compulsory sure does sound better than forced with the threat of violence, doesn’t it?)

MMC 7.08.110 shows that residents will be required to pay $19.86 per month (that’s just for the smallest bin). If they don’t pay this money, they will be “punished” according to MMC 4.02.040(3)(g). I won’t bore you with all the specifics of that, but you can look it up here. It is basically a three strikes you’re out rule. The first strike is a $150 fine, the second strike is a $300 fine, and the third strike makes you guilty of a misdemeanor which they then can fine you $1000 and imprison you for 90 days – all because you didn’t want to buy what they were trying to sell.

 

There are a few options to take here:

1. Pay the money: Like the low-life that keeps mugging you in the same back alley every month for a few bucks, you start to get used to it and it doesn’t bother you anymore. You know that he won’t hurt you as long as you just give him the money up front. This is by far the easiest option, but as Edmund Burke is widely acknowledged as saying: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

2. Run for office: This is my plan of action in several years, but requires a commitment and sacrifice that most are not willing to endure, and understandably so. Maybe if I run in the city of Marysville I can attach “Vote for Brian!” to this option.

3. Find loop holes: There are several exemptions listed in the MMC. 7.08.030 and 7.08.035. They may not apply, but it may be worth a shot.

4. Assemble and petition: “Congress shall make no law… prohibiting… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. June mentioned that there were several others that had spoken to city council about not wanting to be forced into paying for unnecessary services. It is easier for a council to turn away individuals than it is to turn away a group of people. The bigger the better. There are plenty of people that find compulsory trash service ridiculous even if they themselves wish to use the service – get them on board too. Pick a day that the city council meets and show up with as many people as you can. Remind them that you vote. If they try the “That’s just the way it is” BS statement, I would suggest saying something to the tune of “I know. Do your job and change it.”

5. Practice civil disobedience: This is the part where all the professing Christians look around and think “Did he just say the D-word?” Yes, I said it. I think it would be a good thing to D-I-S-O-B-E-Y. The bad rap about civil disobedience comes from this crazy notion that law=justice=righteousness=goodness. Civil disobedience is simply continuing to do the right thing, despite a bad law telling you to do otherwise. In this case, civil disobedience is easy to do, but difficult to deal with the consequences. The act of civil disobedience is as easy as not paying the bill. The difficult part comes when those consequences come into play:

-First, assuming your trash bill is incorporated with your water bill, you water will be shut off.
-Second, you’ll get several fines.
-Third, you’ll be sent to a collection agency.
-Fourth, you’ll be fined again – for more money.
-Fifth, you’ll be arrested and sent to prison.

Now, do I really think you’ll be sent to prison? Probably not. But when embarking on the civil disobedience train, it’s best to be prepared for anything. The good thing about civil disobedience – and really the whole point of it – is to bring public awareness to an unjust law. The Marysville Globe, The Everett Herald, and maybe even the Seattle Times would most likely enjoy publishing an article about a woman being sent to prison for refusing to pay for trash collection that she didn’t want or need. That creates public awareness which creates change. But count the cost and choose your battles.

In my opinion, and only my opinion, I would say start out with #4. It is probably the most effective way while still remaining inside the confines of the law (for good or bad). If that doesn’t work, I’m a big fan of #5. That being said, I am not a lawyer (yet) and I did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night. A real lawyer might be a good idea if #5 is an option for you.

“Of course, I think the matter is simple. I’m self employed and work in the service industry. I provide service to those needing or wanting and using them. I get paid for rendering the service. I don’t get paid if the service doesn’t get rendered.”

Yes, June. You are spot-on. This makes way too much sense. Unfortunately this same scenario is happening on the national stage.

You want birth control? Buy it. You don’t want birth control? Don’t buy it.

You want health care? Buy it. You don’t want health care? Don’t buy it.

You want trash services? Buy it. You don’t want trash services? Don’t buy it.

Nope. Our all-knowing governmental protector knows what we need and knows how to force us to buy it.

 

Everybody all together now:

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…”

Jul

06

Posted by : Brian | On : July 6, 2014

It’s almost that time of year where thousands of Christians citizens go to church in order to worship God America by singing spiritual patriotic songs and talk about the freedom they have in Christ America. Prayers of thankfulness for Jesus soldiers dying on the cross on the battlefield will fill the sanctuary. The superior idolators will attempt to correlate a soldier’s death to the redeeming work that Christ did on the cross. They may take some time to publicly recite catechisms the pledge of allegiance and sing Amazing Grace the National Anthem.

Of course there’s those churches that don’t need the 4th of July or Memorial Day to display their American idolatry, such as the church pictured below:photo

One of several churches that Keri and I have passed that proudly displays the American flag above the Christian flag.

Now I’m not a big man of symbolism, although I do wear a wedding ring, I’ve been baptized, and I take communion regularly – all symbolic. I don’t really care much about birthdays or other nationalized holidays, however. But if you’re going to use symbolic representations such as flags, please do it right. In the photo above, we have a symbolic representation of America, a symbolic representation of North Carolina, and a symbolic representation of – let’s see, what is that? Oh yes, Christianity.

For those that are unaware, the place of honor for a flag is centered and above other flags. If all flags are of equal height, the “marching right” (usually the onlookers left) is the place of honor. For the church above, their flag placement (if their symbolism means anything – and if it doesn’t, why are they out?) shows that America is most important, North Carolina is next, and then Christianity gets an honorable mention.

If your church doesn’t have flags flying outside, there may be a good chance that they are inside on stage. Which one is in the place of honor? Take a look this Sunday. The “marching right” in the auditorium would be to the right from the speaker’s view, not the congregation’s (i.e. the congregation’s left).

Now I am in favor of not having the American flag displayed in churches at all because Christianity transcends nationalism. In fact, 1 Peter 2 tells us that we are “a chosen race, a royal preisthood, a holy nation.” Christianity isn’t defined by geographical borders, so why is our idea of Christianity limited to America? I am more of a brother to an Iraqi or Afghani or Iranian Christian than I am to the American atheist.

(Insert plug for Chuck Baldwin’s article Christians’ Love of the Warfare State is Killing Other Christians.)

Patriotic holidays, including the 4th of July, have essentially lost their intended meaning and become another day to get drunk and sensationalize America’s do-no-wrong greatness. In the church, we just don’t get drunk.

American idolatry is nothing new, but my awareness of it is fairly new. I noticed how church members can sit with their arms crossed and eyes half-closed while the pastor spoke of Christ’s death on the cross, but hoot, holler, and tear up when a slideshow is played of American soldiers carrying “Old Glory” to the background of “God Bless America.” I noticed how church members are ashamed to speak of Jesus in public, but can’t wait to share about their son/daughter/nephew/niece who just joined the military. I noticed that churches invite military members to wear their uniform to church on Sundays nearest patriotic holidays-because that’s why we go to church.

It’s ok, rather good, to love your country, and I do love mine. But when God says “Have no other gods before Me,” that includes America.

Jul

01

Posted by : Brian | On : July 1, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 10.19.53 PM

It’s quite coincidental that the Hobby Lobby ruling came out on Frederic Bastiat’s birthday (Happy 213th!). The dissenting opinion of the Supreme Court ruling was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to say the least, I think she should read Bastiat’s book, The Law.

The website motherjones.com published an article outlining the 8 best “zingers” that Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion that, according to their opinion, address the irrationality of the majority opinion. This is my opinion of motherjones’ opinion of Ginsburg’s opinion of the SCOTUS’s opinion. I look forward to hearing your opinion.

Zinger #1 – “in a decision of startling breadth,” [the decision] would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find “incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

If, in Bastiat’s terms, law is “the collective organization of an individual’s right to lawful defense,” the corporations wouldn’t be able to opt out of laws that encroach on the rights of others. Hobby Lobby’s desire to not provide contraceptives is not encroaching on other’s rights of life, liberty, and property. Maybe more corporations should opt out of more laws that are incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Zinger #2 – “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Consetoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.”

No it wouldn’t. Stop lying.

Ginsburg nicely sums up here the progressive logic of “If you don’t give it to me, then you’re stopping me from having it at all.” You don’t want to support food stamps? You must want people to starve. You don’t want to pay for welfare checks? You must love that people are in poverty. I could go on, but since this is about why Ginsberg should read Bastiat, I’ll let him do the honors.

“But what do the socialists do? They cleverly disguise this legal plunder from others — and even from themselves — under the seductive names of fraternity, unity, organization, and association. Because we ask so little from the law — only justice — the socialists thereby assume that we reject fraternity, unity, organization, and association. The socialists brand us with the name individualist.

But we assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate the artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility. We do not repudiate the natural unity of mankind under Providence.

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”

Zinger #3 – “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”

Once again we see the term “for-profit corporations” being used as a dirty word. “Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations” must be SCOTUS-speak to reference Marx’s theory on the poor laborers fighting in the class struggle against the wealthy bourgeoisie. Therefore, in this never-ending class struggle against the rich, elite, (and now religious) capitalist, these laborers are now forced to endure anti-religious persecution.

That’s what I love about capitalism – real capitalism – people are free to associate (or disassociate as the other SCOTUS ruling confirmed) with whomever they choose, including businesses. If you don’t like your company’s stance on religion, you are free to change jobs. You are also free to not take your business there. Try Michael’s. Or Craft Mart. Or Ben Franklin. Or another hobby/craft store that my wife thoroughly enjoys.

Zinger #4 – “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”

And…?

Zinger #5 – “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”

Whew. Well I guess it’s a good thing that Hobby Lobby employees get paid more than minimum wage. In fact, the minimum wage for a full-time employee at Hobby Lobby is $14/hr, 93% above the national minimum wage.

Also something that should be noted, the cost of a 2014 Audi R8 is nearly equivalent to 3.95 years full-time pay for workers earning Hobby Lobby’s minimum wage (nearly 7.63 years for national minimum wage earners).

(Interesting side note: that’s also the estimated cost of  2 movie tickets and a tub of popcorn in the year 2030.)

So it takes some time to make enough money to buy something that I think I need. Lesson learned. Thanks for the bear note.

Zinger #6 – “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations [?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”

Let me try to answer those in the right order. “Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.” “Yes.” Yes.” and “Yes.”

Once again, a legitimate law is one that supports an individual’s right to lawful self defense. If it is not lawful for Bob to force Bill to give Bruce a blood transfusion or antidepressant, then replacing the word “Bob” with “government” cannot make it lawful. This goes deeper into just today’s ruling, but I digress.

Zinger #7 – “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”

This is where things get tricky. If the ruling would have gone the other way, it would still be favoring one religion over another. The religions that worship God/gods/flying spaghetti monsters, etc. would be undermined by those whose religion is worshipping the State. Does the religion have to be a 501(c)(3) to be considered legitimate?

Zinger #8 – “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Disclaimer: I didn’t read the full dissent. I wanted to get this out before it was no longer Mr. Bastiat’s birthday. I’d have to change the whole two-sentence intro. Needless to say, I didn’t get this exact quote in context; but then again, neither did probably any reader on motherjones.com

The SCOTUS being in a minefield is a good thing. For too long they have ruled contrary to Mr. Bastiat’s warnings and have allowed illegitimate laws to be upheld. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and have the interpreters of the Constitution examine the legitimacy of laws in a country that claims to be the bastion of liberty and freedom.

Maybe they could start by reading The Law.

May

27

Posted by : Brian | On : May 27, 2014

Today is Memorial Day and I would be amiss if I didn’t at least make a comment about it. What kind of American would I be if I missed this opportunity?

There seems to be only two options for how to celebrate today. The first option is of course to take a few extra days off from work, go to the beach, invite some friends over, have a BBQ, and then shovel down some Oscar Meyers.  The other option is to take 20 seconds to write a condescending Facebook post about people that forget the “true meaning of Memorial Day” or copy/paste a “Freedom isn’t Free” picture and then venture off on their extra days off work to go the beach, invite some friends over, have a BBQ, and then shovel down some Oscar Meyers.

Photos of flag-draped coffins, eagles, and crying family members with the words “Freedom Isn’t Free” or “Land of the Free, Because of the Brave” flooded social media today. Some people were even able to post personal stories or even name names of men and women they know that have died in a war. As a lover of life, I truly do mourn the loss of these men and women. I am lucky enough to never have known somebody personally that has died in war, but I do know plenty of people that know of others that have died in past wars as well as the current.

These deaths are a tragic thing, but the tragedy is multiplied when the deaths are in vain.

The posters tell me that the hundreds of thousands of men and women that have died in our nation’s history did so in order to keep America free. Why is that so hard for me to believe? Complete this sentence for me: 6,805 men and women have died in OIF and OEF so that Americans have the freedom to…

…to what?

Exercise free speech?

Bear arms?

Have a trial by Jury?

Maintain privacy?

Drink raw milk?

Come to think of it, those freedoms are being attacked, but not by Iraqis or Afghanis (or Syrians, or Libyans, or Iranians, etc, etc, etc…)

So what about Memorial Day?

I actually had to think long and hard about how I would “celebrate” Memorial Day. Surely all those that have died can be memorialized in one way or another, but it would be wrong to memorialize them in the same way – for me at least. Here’s how I have grouped those that have died and how I “remember” them.

THOSE THAT HAVE FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM

No, this does not include every single American military member that has been killed. This group includes those that have fought and died in just, defensive wars and engagements that were ACTUALLY fought to gain or maintain freedom and liberty. The Revolutionary War comes to mind here. This does not include those that have fought on foreign shores in offensive, aggressive, or pre-emptive war. Of course, there are far more people that have been killed in defense of liberty than just military members. They are included here.

To this group: you are true patriots. Thank you for your service in promoting freedom and liberty for all men and paying the ultimate sacrifice for such endeavors.

THOSE THAT *BELIEVED* THEY FOUGHT FOR FREEDOM

These men and women create the majority of those being memorialized today. They joined for the same reason I did back in 2004. The myriad of red, white, and blue words can be inserted here: Patriotism, honor, duty, freedom, liberty, justice. Unfortunately, those good and honorable virtues were used against them and with a cry of “FREEDOM,” they were killed in unnecessary, immoral, unjust, offensive, aggressive, and illegal wars. These deaths are the most mournful as they died needlessly for what they “thought” was right.

To this group: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have become just a statistic, or just one more headstone in the Arlington National Cemetery, or just one more named etched upon a war memorial. I believe that your intentions were just and honorable, but those of the ones that dictated your actions were not. You should have been home with your moms, your dads, your wives, your husbands, your sons and daughters.

THOSE THAT DESIRED TO KILL OTHERS

I hate that I have to even add this group, but the minority is out there. At least I pray that it’s a minority. I have heard with my own ears people that have a craving and an eagerness to kill others. They want to end human life. This doesn’t even end with the enemy, but goes as far as “I want to go kill every single (insert nationality here).” What a disgrace. The military is their legal justification to pursue their social fantasy of murder.

To this group: I do not celebrate you. I will not eat a hot dog for you. I will not thank you for your service. You may have “legally” fought, but murder is in your heart (1 John 3:15).

THOSE NON-AMERICANS 

Being a part of the human race is more important to me than being an American, therefore I mourn and memorialize the deaths of those that American troops have unjustly killed. I know, I know – how “unpatriotic” of me. I should only care about American deaths because I’m an American.

THOSE WHO DARED TO SAY “NO” TO WAR

That title is adapted from the book I just started reading yesterday, We Who Dared to Say ‘No’ to War: American Antiwar Writings from 1812 to Now. As we remember those who have died in war – both just and unjust, I couldn’t help but think that we needed a memorial day for those who refused to participate in the historically unjust wars. I’ll just add them to this holiday for now. If a war is unjust, then it becomes the antithesis of freedom. Therefore, speaking against injustice (as unpopular as it may be) is sacrificing oneself for freedom.

Ron Paul’s comments on Memorial Day:

For me, Memorial Day is a very sad day. It’s sad not only for the great loss of life in so many wars but tragic because the deaths could have been prevented. For America, going to war has become too casual and routine. They are now fought without a constitutional declaration and are not pursued in defense of our country or liberties. I’m convinced that this loss of life that we praise with patriotic fervor on Memorial Day can’t be made more acceptable by denying the truth.

We should not continue the propaganda and deception that generated support for the senseless wars in the first place. The one option that might help for so many soldiers dying in vain is if we have a change in government policy that would prevent these needless and senseless wars from occurring. Those of us who understand how so many of our war deaths could have been prevented are not assuaged by the glorification of war and the false praise on the participants who were misled into participating in them.

Our heartfelt grief cannot be dispelled by falsifying the real reasons of why we go to war.”

With all that being said, Memorial Day is a good day to think. It’s a good day to think about what is worth dying for (For instance, correcting me on ending a sentence with a preposition is not worth dying for). The past cannot be changed. If they have died in vain, creating a false glorification of war can not turn back the clock to create a purpose for their death. The only rectification can come through the actions that we take in the future.

May

19

Posted by : Brian | On : May 19, 2014

Sometimes I hate being labeled a conservative.

I say this because it seems to me that the majority of the Christian-conservative leanings of the political battlefield believe this notion that Jesus needs them to vote this way or that way – the very existence of Christianity hangs in the balance. Without the right man in office, Christianity will meet it’s impending doom and be lost in the pages of history.

O ye of little faith.

Let’s make sure we believe in the same God. You believe in the God that created the entire world? Check. You believe in the God that destroyed that same world with a flood that killed everything and everyone except Noah, his wife, his sons, daughters-in-law, and 2 of each kind of animal? Alright. You believe in the God that led his people out of the gripping hands of Pharaoh in Egypt through a series of 10 supernatural plagues? Ok, good. You believe in the God that split the waters of the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to walk across the sea on dry land? So far so good. You believe in the God that destroyed a fortified city by having men march around it and blowing trumpets? This is looking good. You believe in the God that sent his own Son to be brutally murdered on a cross, paying the penalty for our sin? I hope so. You believe in the God that established His church, the bride of Christ, to be salt and light to a lost and dying world? Great. You believe in the God that has maintained his bride through countless attacks throughout history….

…but we need to vote for Rick Santorum or America’s Christian values and morals are doomed?

(Sorry, Ricky. I could have used a whole slew of other names, but I just watched a video of you defending government’s role in legislating morality, so your name came to mind first.)

No. You see, America’s Christian values and morals are not determined by the man that occupies the oval office, or the men and women that sit in the Congressional chamber. They are determined by the men and women that sit in the church pew listening to the latest rendition of “How Great is our God,” as they tremble in fear over the next election results. Yes, how great He is…

If Christian values and morals are determined by Christians, then maybe that’s why those morals are in shambles.

But sitting in a church pew is easy. Instead of fighting the battles that God has called us to fight, we are happy to pay a small (read: large) sum (in the form of taxes) to have a politician fight the battle for us so we can go back to listening to the latest podcast about how Jesus wants us to be happy and stress-free in 5 easy steps.

“Why try to evangelize and persuade others to live a righteous life when I can just get Rick Santorum to use the government to force people to live morally? It’s far easier and I don’t get any blood on my hands.”

(Sorry again, Ricky)

Besides, the premise that government should have the authority on moral matters is extremely dangerous. As Voddie Bauchum stated,

“What happens when we send a man to the White House with the express purpose of ‘changing the moral standards’ of America in our favor, then, down the line we have a president who uses the same un-checked powers to promote moral standards with which we disagree?” (Voddie Bauchum. Why Ron Paul?)

Quit thinking that the human being that sits in a particular seat in Washington D.C. can positively change the moral standards of the nation through government decree. The goal is to reach people for Jesus Christ, not to promote a pseudo-Christianity that forces others to live a hypocritical good-looking life like, I don’t know, YOU.

Christ saves and transforms lives. He established the church so that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). That is the job and mission of the church. Don’t defer that mission to the state.

If  you need a candidate or elected official to spread Christianity – your God is not big enough.

Mar

23

Posted by : Brian | On : March 23, 2014

law-frederic-bastiat-paperback-cover-art

“But what would we do without laws?” How many times have I heard this question? I’m unclear how my critique of a law here or a law there (ok…really, it’s probably closer to 95% of all current laws) makes others think that anarchy is my  political ideology of choice.

No other book so far, has illustrated the view that I have so perfectly on the proper role of the government and its enforcement of laws. On the drive over to North Carolina, I listened to it on audiobook four times and then read it again one of the nights in the hotel room. Just thinking about it now makes me want to read it again. It’s that good. You should read/listen to it.

The book was written by Frédéric Bastiat, a French political economist and member of the French Assembly. The book was published in 1850, shortly after the French Revolution of 1848. That’s approximately 166 years ago, but it applies perfectly to today. Bastiat was very influential in economics and described the theory of opportunity cost in his book “Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas” (What is Seen and What is Unseen). He also penned the famous “broken window fallacy” which Henry Hazlitt has a whole chapter on in his book “Economics in One Lesson” (which I did a review of here).

Bastiat begins with this firecracker of a statement:

“The law perverted! And the police powers of the state perverted along with it! The law, I say, not only turned from its proper purpose but made to follow an entirely contrary purpose! The law become the weapon of every kind of greed! Instead of checking crime, the law itself guilty of the evils it is supposed to punish!

If this is true, it is a serious fact, and moral duty requires me to call the attention of my fellow-citizens to it.”

He premises his book on John Locke’s idea that every individual has a natural right to life, liberty, and property; and that every individual has the right to defend – by way of force – those natural rights. “What then is law?” he writes. “It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.” Of course, this is law as it is intended to be. Throughout the remainder of the book, he discusses how the law has been perverted, specifically through the two avenues of stupid greed and false philanthropy. Let me know if you can’t instantly think of examples of each of these.

His most intriguing section of the book critiqued the idea of universal suffrage. I know what you’re thinking. “How can anyone critique universal suffrage? Everyone should have the right to vote!” I thought the same thing when I heard it. His argument is not necessarily that everyone shouldn’t have the right to vote, but that it SHOULD be of little importance, if laws were restricted to their proper function. The moment that the law can be used to take from one and give to another, everyone will demand their right to vote in order to grab hold of their share of the government’s loot. As Bastiat put it in a hypothetical argument, “We cannot buy wine, tobacco, or salt without paying the tax. And a part of the tax that we pay is given by law — in privileges and subsidies — to men who are richer than we are. Others use the law to raise the prices of bread, meat, iron, or cloth. Thus, since everyone else uses the law for his own profit, we also would like to use the law for our own profit.”

I had never thought of this before. Would I care about my right to vote if the law were restricted to equal justice for everybody? The moment government grants itself the ability to take tax dollars to bail out banks and corporations, or to subsidize farmers, or even give me school grants, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc… my vote all of a sudden becomes very important because I need to make sure I can get the most out of these laws that benefit one group of society at the expense of the other. If I must be in one of those two groups, I had better vote to be in the “benefit” group and not the “expense” group.

You really ought to read/listen to this book.

Since I gave the opening statement, I feel compelled to copy his closing statement as well.

And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.”

I really don’t want to give too much away. It’s a rather short book; clear and concise. Did I mention it’s free online? And short (55 pages)? The audio book is on YouTube, as well as a few other sites if you just google it. It takes a little over an hour. Do it.

If I could force everyone I know to read one book about politics, this would be it. Of course I don’t believe in initiating force, so I would never do that. Hence my attempt at persuading you. Let me know what you think when you’re done.

Mar

22

Posted by : Brian | On : March 22, 2014

It’s amazing how life changes so rapidly. One minute you think you’re headed in this direction and the next minute life is completely different.

A few months ago I made a decision that drastically changed my life and today was SUPPOSED to be a huge day for me. If I had not made that decision months ago, I would have been surrounded by friends and family congratulating me on being commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps. I would pin on new shiny gold bars, which all non-military people thought was awesome (I’m sure my dad would half-jokingly tell all his friends I was promoted to General) while all military minded people would once again refer to me as “boot.”

I would be dressed in my officer dress blues, which come in at a close second in looks compared to enlisted dress blues. I would sit and listen to people probably talk about how great we are and how well we’ve done in college and how the Navy and Marine Corps will be in good hands with the newest Ensigns and 2nd Lieutenants in the military. They may have spoke of the military’s work in engagements overseas and they would praise us for leading men and women during a time of war. Maybe someone would even discuss how we reminded them of themselves when they were our age.

We would then stand and take the oath, which reads:

“I, [name], do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Everyone would clap, “Anchors Aweigh” and the “Marine Corps Hymn” would play, people would clap some more, we would shake some hands and give some hugs, then eat cake. I’d probably have 2 bites of cake then throw the rest away. I’m not much of a cake fan.

I missed out on all that.

Of course that oath a few lines up means very little anymore. The de facto version of this oath is often “I promise to do what I’m told.” I’ve asked multiple times to soon-to-be-commissionees if they have ever read the Constitution. If they had, it was usually back in 5th grade when they had to recite two lines from the Preamble at a school assembly. Now they’re devoting their lives to defending it with no recollection of what it says.

So why did I choose to not go through this ceremony? I’ll let you know in two years, one month, and 25 days (but who’s counting?).

Feb

09

Posted by : Brian | On : February 9, 2014

“IRAN WARSHIPS SENT TO USA BORDERS” – Headline of the Drudge Report at the moment.

Well that’s a scary headline, huh?

Here’s the linked article. If you don’t want to read the 5 paragraph article, the short version is that Iran has some warships that are currently out to sea that are headed our way on a three-month training mission amid growth of Iran wanting to “demonstrate its ability to project power across the Middle East and beyond.”

I need to be careful what I say, so this will be short.

Clearly this should be seen as a threat to our national sovereignty. How dare they think they can just roll up to the edge of our borders and taunt us with their military presence?

*Last sentence of the article*: “The Islamic Republic considers the move as a response to U.S. naval deployments near its own coastlines.”

Oh.

Well.

It’s different. We’re America. So it’s different.

Don’t you see why?

Feb

04

Posted by : Brian | On : February 4, 2014

Here’s a message from every parent to every other parent:

1. That thing you allow your kids to do? I don’t allow that.

What parent in their right mind would allow their children to do that thing you’re allowing them to do? I can’t imagine ever allowing my children to do such a thing, because I am a good parent. You should be, too.

2. That thing you don’t do with your kids? I do that.

All parents should really do this thing with their kids in order to make the kid be better. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t do this thing with your kids. If you continue to not do this thing with your kids, then you’ll definitely pay the consequences later.

3. You put them to bed at what time?

Don’t you know that kids need to be asleep by a certain time – specifically the time I put my kids to bed. It’s for their own good and you should follow my lead. Putting your children to bed before or after the time I do is bad for their health.

4. You let them eat that?

Why are you killing your children with that food you’re giving them? Don’t you know that will give them a certain disease that will kill them? What an irresponsible parent you are. You should feed them what I feed my kids. Stop poisoning them.

5. You send your kids to that school?

Don’t you know that this other school (or not school) will make them smart while your school is making them dumb? If you cared about your children you would remove your children from that school tomorrow and educate them this or that way instead.

6. You let them watch TV?

I should call the authorities on you for allowing your children to watch the brain-rotting television screen. My kids? No, that’s an iPad – it’s educational. Maybe you would know that if your parents didn’t let you watch TV as a child.

7. I heard you yell at your kids.

As the all-encompasing bastion of patience as a parent, I thought it was important to let you know that the time you raised your voice to your child in aisle 12 of Wal-Mart, everyone was watching. They all saw how terrible of a parent you are. I saw it too. I’m so thankful that I’ve never done that to my child.

8. Your child is behind – and it’s all your fault.

My children hit this certain milestone at this age, and your child still hasn’t done that certain thing yet. What exactly are you doing wrong? Are you ignoring them? Or did you not read to them or listen to classical music while they were still in the womb? I feel so bad for them…

I wish you could be as good of a parent as I am.

-Sincerely,
Every other parent

Jan

31

Posted by : Brian | On : January 31, 2014

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies by their intentions rather than their results.” -Milton Friedman

Obama’s proposal of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 seems like an idea that everyone can get behind. Everyone except those rich, white, capitalists, that is. Poor people should be paid more, and these employers are exploiting the low-skilled workers, right?

The exploitation argument has a few false assumptions. The biggest assumption is that the worker can only work for that particular employer. If I am making $7.25/hr and another employer is willing to pay me $8.00/hr, the rational decision for me to make would be to take the other job. In the real world, however, will I actually take the other job? Probably not. Here’s why. If the first employer finds out that another employer is willing to take me away from him, he will have to make the decision if I’m worth that $8.00 to him. If I am worth that, he may offer me the $8.00/hr – maybe more.

I am now in a really great position. I have worked at minimum wage for awhile and built up skills so that I am worth more. Now different employers are competing over me. I can now barter for higher wages, better benefits, better working conditions, etc… At some point in the bartering process, one of the employers will give up and the other employer has “won” my labor. I now make $8.50/hr. This is my maximum production value (what an employer is willing to compensate me for my labor) Awesome.

This is how pay raises work in the free market.

Now let’s look at how it works in a government-controlled market.

I am a worker making $7.25/hr. Another employer offers to pay me $8.00/hr. I begin the competing process and just as in the last scenario, the employers “bid” to hire me for what I’m worth – and just as in the last scenario – the cut off is at $8.50. I am happy that I get paid $8.50 and hour.

But wait… compassionate people don’t think that is enough. They think I should get paid more. These caring and compassionate people have the best intentions, so they celebrate getting a law passed that makes the minimum wage $10.10 (the current proposed federal minimum wage). Hooray! Poor people will make more money now!

Unfortunately, no. We already covered that my current production value is $8.50/hr. That is the MAXIMUM that an employer will hire me. If they are forced to pay me $10.10 in order to hire me, they simply won’t hire me. No sane employer will employ somebody in order to lose money. That is a quick way to go out of business.

Now, instead of making $8.50 and remaining employed to further my skill-building and experience level, eventually receiving even another pay raise, I am out of a job. My number-eating alligator education taught me that $8.50 > $0.00.

Who Does It Help?

The minimum wage law has some positives. It helps 2 groups of people. The first group is a minority group of workers. These employees are the ones that legitimately were not being paid what they are worth. The employee that is paid $8.50/hr and is worth $10.50/hr now gets paid $10.10. Yay! These are the few people that the government will parade around during political speeches.

The second group that the minimum wage law helps is big business. “What?” you ask? “But big businesses are the ones exploiting these workers by paying them a low wage. The raising of the minimum wage will force them to pay their workers a fair wage.

Yeah, you would think. Why exactly is WalMart and Costco advocating and lobbying for a higher minimum wage? If they thought it would be better to pay higher wages, they would. I don’t believe there’s a law saying they can’t pay them more. Big businesses can afford to pay their workers more, but small businesses can’t. The minimum wage law effectively shuts down their small, mom-and-pop type competitors. This is another example of crony capitalism.

The Law of Demand

The simplest way for me to understand and explain the negative effects of the minimum wage is to repeat the elementary economic principle of the law of demand. This law says that as a price of a product increases, consumers will buy less of it. Conversely, as a price of a product decreases, consumers will buy more of it.

In order to make money, you must barter for something you have. If you have no product to trade, then you must use your labor. Labor has become your product. You trade your labor. Going back to the law of demand: if the price of labor is raised artificially, consumers (employers in this case) will buy less labor.

Don’t believe the unemployment statistics

The unemployment rate is not the 6.7% that they claim. These are adjusted numbers to influence the public into having a false faith in the economy. In 1994, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) created a new category for certain unemployed people. This category was “discouraged worker.” According to their unemployment statistics, this category doesn’t get counted. This is a simple way for them to fudge the numbers and create artificially low percentages. If the BLS wants to drop the unemployment rate, they can simply add more unemployed into the “discouraged worker” category.

Simple math to help explain and drive this point further: If there were 100 people in the world and 10 of them were unemployed, we would say there’s a 10% unemployment rate.

(10/100 = 10%)

But I’m up for reelection soon and 10% doesn’t look very good, I need to drop that number, so I’m going to say that 3 of them have been out of work for too long and they are now “discouraged,” so we’ll take them out of the equation altogether. We now have only 7 people on unemployment out of 97.

(7/97 = 7.2%)

Wow! I’m such a great politician. Under my leadership, I have dropped the unemployment rate from 2.8%. Vote for me again, and I promise I will mess with the numbers again to make myself look even better.

What’s really happening is that unemployment keeps getting worse and worse, with so few jobs available (partly thanks to the minimum wage laws) that more people are being labeled as a “discouraged worker.” The BLS has another statistic called the “U-6″ which in short is all unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers combined. This unemployment number ranged between 13-16% last year. Economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics claims that the real unemployment rate is right around 22%.

Here’s a graph that shows all 3:

Unemployment

All that to say, don’t believe anything about stats that are given about unemployment rates.

Minimum Wage Myth #1 – It helps the poor.

I’ve already tried to argue against this, but I needed to put this as #1 because it is such a prevalent argument. I am 100% on board for helping the poor, but unfortunately the most needy are the ones most hurt by minimum wage laws.

Minimum Wage Myth #2 – Workers deserve a fair wage.

This isn’t a myth, really. Workers deserve a fair wage. In a free market economy, they will get a fair wage. Of course you have to define what fair means. Minimum wage supports use the word “fair” to mean “as much as everyone else.” Free market supporters use the word “fair” to mean “equal to the value you produce.” This is different for everybody. A fry cook at McDonald’s doesn’t deserve $15/hr because that is not fair. It does not equal the value he is producing for McDonald’s.

Minimum Wage Myth #3 – It helps boost the economy.

Anything can be done legislatively if you tag several choices of words at the end of a bill. Two of the biggest culprits are probably “for the children” and “to boost the economy.” The claim here is that if employers pay their employees more, then they will have more money to spend in the economy. First, this overlooks the fact that employers will be forced to compensate the extra cost of labor. They have a few options to choose from:

1. Hire less people

This goes back to the law of demand. If they have to pay more for labor, they will be forced to buy less labor. Now you’ve removed someone from earning any money at all. How does that help boost the economy?

2. Increase prices of goods

If employers are forced to pay more money for labor, they will be forced to earn more money by charging more. Of course taking supply and demand into the equation, the possibility of increasing prices may just drive a small business into the ground.

3. Outsource

If an employer needs cheap labor and can’t get it where he’s at, he’ll find a place to get it. Someone will underbid the minimum wage worker. Unfortunately, it’s against the law for an American to compete for that job (if we’re strictly speaking about the federal minimum wage).

4. Invest in technology

No one will argue against technological advancements, but they do often take away low-skilled jobs. Have you been in a Jack-in-the-Box lately? Many of them have computer screens rather than employees taking your order. Employers don’t have to pay a machine an hourly rate, so once it is cheaper to automate a job through technology, jobs are lost.

Evidence

I’m going to steal this straight from a Thomas Sowell article, “Minimum Wage Madness” because it’s too good not to copy.

“Most nations today have minimum wage laws, but they have not always had them. Unemployment rates have been very much lower in places and times when there were no minimum wage laws.

Switzerland is one of the few modern nations without a minimum wage law. In 2003, “The Economist” magazine reported: “Switzerland’s unemployment neared a five-year high of 3.9 percent in February.” In February of this year, Switzerland’s unemployment rate was 3.1 percent. A recent issue of “The Economist” showed Switzerland’s unemployment rate as 2.1 percent.

Most Americans today have never seen unemployment rates that low. However, there was a time when there was no federal minimum wage law in the United States. The last time was during the Coolidge administration, when the annual unemployment rate got as low as 1.8 percent. When Hong Kong was a British colony, it had no minimum wage law. In 1991 its unemployment rate was under 2 percent.”

Conclusion

The minimum wage sounds good on the surface, but it’s true effects on unemployment and a rotten economy are seen easily today. More steps must be done to have a free market than simply removing minimum wage laws, but it is a good first step. Let’s end the ban on working.