Thursday, February 20, 2014

Concealing Evil

By Walter E. Williams

Evil acts are given an aura of moral legitimacy by noble-sounding socialistic expressions, such as spreading the wealth, income redistribution, caring for the less fortunate, and the will of the majority. Let's have a thought experiment to consider just how much Americans sanction evil.

Imagine there are several elderly widows in your neighborhood. They have neither the strength to mow their lawns, clean their windows and perform other household tasks nor the financial means to hire someone to help them. Here's a question that I'm almost afraid to ask: Would you support a government mandate that forces you or one of your neighbors to mow these elderly widows' lawns, clean their windows and perform other household tasks?

Moreover, if the person so ordered failed to obey the government mandate, would you approve of some sort of sanction, such as fines, property confiscation or imprisonment? I'm hoping, and I believe, that most of my fellow Americans would condemn such a mandate. They'd agree that it would be a form of slavery — namely, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.

Would there be the same condemnation if, instead of forcing you or your neighbor to actually perform weekly household tasks for the elderly widows, the government forced you or your neighbor to give one of the widows $50 of your weekly earnings? That way, she could hire someone to mow her lawn or clean her windows. Would such a mandate differ from one under which you are forced to actually perform the household task? I'd answer that there is little difference between the two mandates except the mechanism for the servitude. In either case, one person is being forcibly used to serve the purposes of another.

I'm guessing that most Americans would want to help these elderly ladies in need but they'd find anything that openly smacks of servitude or slavery deeply offensive. They might have a clearer conscience if all the neighbors were forced (taxed) to put money into a government pot. A government agency would then send the widows $50 to hire someone to mow their lawns and perform other household tasks. This collective mechanism makes the particular victim invisible, but it doesn't change the fact that a person is being forcibly used to serve the purposes of others. Putting the money into a government pot simply conceals an act that would otherwise be deemed morally depraved.

This is why socialism is evil. It employs evil means, confiscation and intimidation, to accomplish what are often seen as noble goals — namely, helping one's fellow man. Helping one's fellow man in need by reaching into one's own pockets to do so is laudable and praiseworthy. Helping one's fellow man through coercion and reaching into another's pockets is evil and worthy of condemnation. Tragically, most teachings, from the church on down, support government use of one person to serve the purposes of another; the advocates cringe from calling it such and prefer to call it charity or duty.

Some might argue that we are a democracy, in which the majority rules. But does a majority consensus make moral acts that would otherwise be deemed immoral? In other words, if the neighbors got a majority vote to force one of their number — under pain of punishment — to perform household tasks for the elderly widows, would that make it moral?

The bottom line is that we've betrayed much of the moral vision of our Founding Fathers. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who had fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison rose on the floor of the House of Representatives to object, saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

Tragically, today's Americans — Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative — would hold such a position in contempt and run a politician like Madison out of town on a rail.



The Right To Take (Even Really Stupid) Risks

The value of life is determined not by the mere drawing of one breath after another, but by the freedom to make our own decisions

J.D. Tuccille

There's nothing like the feeling of a motorcycle sliding out from beneath you on a busy thoroughfare to focus the mind beautifully on the value of life. As your ass bounces from the cushioned seat toward the hard tarmac with the screech of unseen cars slamming on their brakes to your rear, you have one glorious moment in which to ask yourself: "What the hell am I doing?"

You see, that's the precise question that flashed through my mind as my accelerating rear wheel spun helplessly on an oil slick and 400lbs of Japanese machinery cushioned its fall with 170lbs of J.D. Tuccille.

My left elbow slammed against the asphalt before I had time to consider the answer.

But to a large extent, it's the question itself that matters the most: "What the hell am I doing?" Sooner or later most of us ask that same question. We ask it when we're doing something foolish, or brave, or unfamiliar, and we especially ask it when the situation goes sour—when we find ourselves airborne in late-morning traffic. And if we don't ask it of ourselves, somebody else is sure to do us the favor: "What the hell are you doing?"

The question means that we're taking risks, trying something new, or just pushing the boundaries of our usual behavior. It means that we're living, not just existing; to pass through life without facing that question would imply a tightly constrained existence lacking risk and adventure.

Not every situation that provokes the question is to our credit, of course. Sometimes we've made a mistake, sometimes we've embarrassed ourselves, and sometimes we've made a complete balls-up of a situation and we find ourselves staring up from the ground into the face of an Emergency Medical Technician. And whether we decide that our latest venture was a moment of glory or shame, it's a sure bet that somebody else views our decision with disdain; we all have our own lives, and our own very different standards by which to judge them.

But it's important to remember that while everybody has the right to ask the question of himself and others, only the person on the spot, the person living that moment has the right to decide whether the answer is justifiable—so long as that person also bears the costs and consequences of the answer, that is. And that is what gives life so much of its value. We have the right to try, to risk dignity and even death as we take the basic fact of existence and mold it into a life worthy of the name through a personal choice of experiences, occupations, and adventures.

So when others try to answer the question for us, to prevent us from taking the risk because they don't approve, they don't just do us a disservice—they rob us of the freedom that gives life its value. Through laws and taxes and regulations they try to consign us to an existence instead of a life; and this is not because the decisions they would make for us are necessarily bad decisions, but because they are not our own.

Some people—not enough—do understand this. After the accident, when the EMTs had assured themselves that my limbs were all in place and that I remembered my name, one turned to me and said: "And now for the important question: How's the bike?" (Answer: Not so good.) As an EMT he had certainly seen his share of nasty motorcycle accidents—incidents that ended with consequences more serious than my broken arm. But he understood, or at least respected, my decision to ride and to take risks that others find unacceptable.

We have the right to demand that attitude of everybody: disagree with us, call us fools, live your own lives differently, but don't try to tell us what decisions we may make in the conduct of our lives. Because the value of life is determined not by the mere drawing of one breath after another, but by the freedom to make our own decisions; to mold our lives as best we can into a shape that pleases us, and to enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences.

What the hell was I doing? I was living my life. Now hand me my helmet or get out of the way.



Thank You President Obama for Freeing Me

Bruce Bialosky

Hi, I’m Dave.

Until recently I was a full-time employee and had a very good job. In fact most years we were so busy I worked some long hours and received some significant bonuses from my employer. But now I have been freed from having to spend so much time supporting my family. Because of some great new policies from our government, I am now working part-time and spending more time with my family.

It has been an adjustment. When I told my wife the exciting news that I would spending more time at home, initially she wasn’t delighted. She sure seemed like she did not want me around.She asked how we were going to put the money away for the kids’ college educations. I was a little surprised she was not more focused on the time we could spend together, working on our relationship. She seemed like she thought having me at work was more beneficial for us. Then I told her about all the neat government programs that would help the kids pay for college. Plus, I am confident we will grow closer as we have more quality time together. I did point out we may have less money to spend, but sharing time was what life was all about.

The kids were really excited to hear about me being around a lot more. Kinda. Madison asked if I really was not going to work. When I told her it would give us more time to get to know each other, she said “Dad, get real. I’m like really busy with school and my friends.Maybe soon.”And then she stared at her phone and said she was having a conversation with a friend. Buddy Boy was a lot more receptive. I told him I could now learn how to play those video games and we could play together. He said, “Hey, don’t you think it would be geekish for me to be playing video games with my old man?” When I told him no, he turned and closed the door to his room.I am sure once he warms up to the idea we will have a blast together.

I went on and found out that my income is now going to be lower so I qualify for some really big subsidies. As long as I don’t go back to working full-time, the government will pay for over half of my family’s health insurance. All I have to do is just keep my work at the current reduced level and we will have some great coverage.I can even pick up some work on the side (if you know what I mean) and not have it affect my ability to have the government pay for most all our health insurance. Once I figured it out, we are really better off with me working less and staying home more.

Then with my new free time I found a speech that Mrs. Obama gave to college students.She told them “Don’t leave money on the table. ”This was regarding getting student aid that she told them did not have to be paid back.Pondering that I thought why not me?So I applied for Food Stamps -- thankfully now called SNAP -- and it makes me feel so much better. I was really surprised to find out that at my new income level that we qualify as a family.

The nice people at the SNAP office told me there are other state and federal programs I qualify for to help underwrite my new reduced income.For example, they will help pay for my utilities. While I was so busy working I never realized there were so many programs to help people. I have researched it and found there are over 100 programs to help pay for me.How stupid I feel working hard all these years when I could have been home and the government would pay for all these things.

As I begin my new less demanding life, I am really just beginning to explore the universe I am now part of each day. Who knew I could work so little and still get all this stuff from the government? President Obama, thank you for freeing me from the burden of having to work so hard to support my family.Now I just have to get my family used to having me around. And find something to do with my time.

I’m Dave, and I love this new America.



Lawmakers Fight Obamacare Labeling Regulation

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are joining forces to curtail an overbearing labeling regulation mandated by Obamacare.

Embedded in the 906-page behemoth bill is a requirement that all chain restaurants (those with 20 or more locations) provide nutrition information for every item listed on the menu.

Now stop—mull over the reality of that regulation for a moment. A pizza place would need to provide the number of calories and the list of ingredients found in every pizza topping. Dominoes offers at least 31 topping options.

In accordance with Obamacare, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed requirements and is close to making them finalized. However Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) have initiated a bill that would amend the proposed rules to allow more leeway for businesses. Adjustments would include allowing delivery restaurants to post nutrition information online and limiting the penalties for labeling mistakes. More than 50 co-sponsors have rallied behind the bill.

The Hill reported:

 “Specifically, the proposed rule limits the ability of businesses to determine for themselves how best to provide nutritional information to customers,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “As a result, the proposal harms both those non-restaurants that were not intended to be captured by the menu labeling law as well as those restaurants that have flexibility and variability in the foods they offer.”
The lawmakers pressed the FDA to limit the scope of the regulations, which they say would harm small businesses that are already complying separately with the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act.

Similar Obamacare labeling regulation for vending machines are estimated to cost $25.8 million initially and $24 million annually.

Estranging businesses from government management and allowing them freedom to invest time and money into what they deem profitable is undoubtedly the best option for the economy.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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