Friday, September 13, 2019

Limits to the size-of-government argument

Conservatives, of which I am one, like to argue in favor of smaller governmentPresident Reagan laid the foundation for popularizing this argument in his first inaugural address in 1981: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

That is actually a statement more about big government than it is smaller government. To a government bureaucracy, problems become less something to be solved (which would put bureaucrats out of a job), and more something to be managed (which would keep bureaucrats employed). It is no coincidence, then, that as government has gotten bigger, society's problems have increased with it.

It is logical to conclude that reversing this trend would improve things. If big government makes things worse, smaller government would make things better. While there is truth to this argument, it also lacks a foundation. Size is entirely relative. Taking this argument to its conclusion, one would wrongly assume conservatives believe having no government at all would solve all our problems.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

How to evaluate any political argument

Start with Who.

In any policy or political debate, when considering the point a candidate is making, ask • Who are the governed? and • Who is governing?

The governed are the free—those who do good. Those governing are the ones who punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. The essence of governing, then, is to identify evil and decide how to punish it, and to identify exceptional good and decide how to praise it. What punishments for the crime? What recognition for the good would be most appropriate? That is the essence of governing. Outside of those two things, government is not there to do anything. (Distinct from evaluating public policy is the evaluation of debate about public policy.)

With that understanding, ask yourself if the candidate is proposing something that governs or something by which government participates in doing good. Doing good is a good thing, but not with the government. If you want to do good, go do it. Why use coercive government to do it? This is dangerousGood policy debate is about how government reacts to the actions of others. Bad policy debate is about making the government a participant in whatever area the candidate is focused.

If those governing are promising to use government to do good or make government “a force for good,” then ask yourself, Who will be there to govern them while their government attempts to do those supposedly good things?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Floridian memories of September 11, 2001

Last year I wrote about my own memories of 9/11/2001. This year I asked David, my 9/11-born brother in Florida, to share his memories, and he did. Links added.
The morning of September 11th, 2001 was originally just like any other Tuesday morning. Classes went as expected, it was my birthday, my 16th no less, but being in high school, that really did not mean as much as it did when I was a kid. Little did I know that my birthday that year would end up as anything but ‘sweet.’

While I was walking on my way to my American History class, I started to hear some commotion. This was in the days before smartphones so information did not travel nearly as fast as it does today. When I arrived at the classroom there were a few students telling the teacher to turn on the TV, but at first, the teacher thought they just wanted to goof off so their requests were denied.

However, one student heard what had happened and said that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings! We were shocked to hear that because this came from a student not known for making outrageous, false claims. So, the teacher promptly turned on the television. On the screen was a picture of one of the World Trade Center buildings, on fire! Every network was covering the news — we were witnessing American History that day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Is a 'right' to health care absolute?

The left generally does not like absolutes, especially moral absolutes. “Who are you tell me abortion or homosexuality is wrong?” They're not in to higher authority.

Rights come from God, but they'd rather people think they came from them. And the rights they do like to “afford” to others they speak of in near absolute terms.

Sen. Bernie Sanders says he wants to “guarantee healthcare”, the services provided by medical professionals, “to all people as a right.” The key word there is guarantee.

They're trying to have it both ways—something absolute without absolutes. That's why this is an important and telling question: Does the left believe the right to health care is absolute?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Health care reform at 10 years

Today is the 10-year anniversary of President Obama's health care speech to Congress.

SMMRY of the speech:

Unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek—especially requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions—just can't be achieved.

While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined:

consumer protections for those with insurance,
• an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and
• a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.

An additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Understanding the nature of obedience to God

Someone once tried to rewrite the Ten Commandments, “stating them as a positive.” They didn't like the “negative” tone of “Thou shalt not…” There are several problems with this.

First, not all ten are written “as a negative,” as it were. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” and “Honor your father and your mother,” are written as a positives.

Second, if “as a positive” was the wisest way to write them, wouldn't God, who is alone wise, have written them that way?

Third, this misunderstands the nature of the freedom God intends.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Breaking streaks

This week I decided to ditch daily electronic to do lists altogether—even for the recurring and electronic tasks. Late nights due to internet access have still been an issue.

Electronic devices can far too easily hold my attention, and make me constantly check to see if there's something else to do.

Swipes is one of the most effective at this. While this is powerful for helping ensure things get done, it's too powerful if it feeds internet addiction.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Guest biometrics

Just before leaving town for the August recess, there was a special order hour on the House floor about immigration. One of the speakers, Representative Scott Perry, said, “I have been here for 7 years, and I have seen ‘comprehensive’ come up in healthcare, and I have seen ‘comprehensive’ come up in immigration. What I have learned is that when you put ‘comprehensive’ in front of a cause, it doesn't happen. It is political speak that says it is not going to happen because the room becomes divided, and everybody uses it as a political tool for the next election.”

This reminds me of a similar observation I made a while back in realizing the meaning of “reform.” Anything they want to “reform” is usually something they want to eliminate. Those in favor of “campaign finance reform” really just want to eliminate all campaign finance. Of course, they would say they just want to eliminate private campaign finance, and make everything publicly funded, but that's a formula for preserving the power of those who already have power. (More on this in a few weeks.)

Nonetheless, Rep. Perry: “What I want to do is, instead of trying to do comprehensive immigration reform, I want to focus on a small bite of the apple.” His small bite is “a guest worker program” in lower-skilled “agriculture, hospitality, and construction.” His focus that night was on agriculture.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

5 ways to reinvent newspapers for millennials

As newspaper subscriptions have dwindled to the point of endangering a longstanding business model, it's worth pointing out some things could be done to revive print journalism business.

After all, there are some things to like about newspaper content. It's daily. It's not always-on, up-to-the-minute/second. This provides an inherent value filter against the immediate. It's local which increases the odds the content will actually be relevant. It's in print which creates a bias toward words and meaning, not images and emotion.

There are some things that can be done about some of a newspaper's inherent limitations.

First, get rid of newsprint. It's gross.

For a generation that grew up on laser printers, unsealed ink on newsprint is substandard. I once worked in an office that had a staff person gather the “clippings” each morning by physically cutting articles out of a newspaper. She literally had to spray and wipe down her work space every single day because of the disgusting mess the newsprint would make in just an hour. It smelled nice afterwards, and it was a potent reminder of why I have no interest in a newspaper subscription.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

An Ideal French Address

I am told that a French sermon is like a French speech—it never names an historical event, but only the date of it; if you are not up in dates, you get left. A French speech is something like this:

“Comrades, citizens, brothers, noble parts of the only sublime and perfect nation, let us not forget that the 21st January cast off our chains; that the 10th August relieved us of the shameful presence of foreign spies; that the 5th September was its own justification before Heaven and humanity; that the 18th Brumaire contained the seeds of its own punishment; that the 14th July was the mighty voice of liberty proclaiming the resurrection, the new day, and inviting the oppressed peoples of the earth to look upon the divine face of France and live; and let us here record our everlasting curse against the man of the 2d December, and declare in thunder tones, the native tones of France, that but for him there had been no 17th March in history, no 12th October, nor 9th January, no 22d April, no 16th November, no 30th September, no 2d July, no 14th February, no 29th June, no 15th August, no 31st May—that but for him, France, the pure, the grand, the peerless, had had a serene and vacant almanac to-day.”

I have heard of one French sermon which closed in this odd yet eloquent way:

Monday, September 2, 2019

What is unique about America

Chesterton's observations about humor and familiarity were in the context of his observations about questions posed by America to foreigners: “Are you an anarchist?” and “Are you in favour of
subverting the government of the United States by force?” As if “anarchists and polygamists are so pure and good that the police have only to ask them questions and they are certain to tell no lies.”

Seeking not to be the traveler who “has found something to make him laugh, and he will not suffer it to make him think,” he continued, “It is not to deny that American officialism is rather peculiar on this point, but to inquire what it really is which makes America peculiar, or which is peculiar to America.”
America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

To what should the Bible be applied?

The Bible should be applied to whatever it applies itself.

This may or may not mean our personal lives or something in them at any given time. Not everything in the Bible is about us or the Church. Some things are about things larger than us—like nations—and some not dealing directly with people at all—like nature.

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