Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Of Christmas and Peace

The name of Christ will remain in the public square as long as it is profitable. My children are in the next room watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Why is there a Charlie Brown Christmas Special? Because it sells. If we were to be honest, we would make overt efforts to prevent the commercialization of His name. Instead we slap it on T-shirts, wristbands, bumper stickers, and ipods dowloaded with Brittany Spears and Justin Timberlake. What is vanity?
Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace. He brought peace between God and man. He never implied that he would bring peace between nations. He did nothing to prevent war between Jews and Romans. He could have pulled the ultimate Jimmy Carter then and there, but He didn't. He came to free us from allegiance to all other entites but Himself. Servitude to a central government is pagan worship. Practicing the methodologies of political mechanism is witchcraft. We are free from these to imitate Christ instead, and in so doing to fulfill the greatest commandments: Love God and love our neighbor. We can work to prevent war, that is a noble pursuit. But let us be wholly consistent in our reasoning. If we believe the war in Iraq is unjustified, is it for political reasons, or religious ones? If political, then our reasoning is arbitrary and practices favoritism. If religious, then we have to confess that involvement in WWII and WWI, to say nothing of the Spanish American War and the other 150+ military actions the Government of the United States has imposed on its citizens were also unjustified.

One last question: Was Christ's birth all that low? Were Mary and Joseph poor? They could afford a trip to Bethlehem. They had enough money to have to pay taxes. They attempted to get a room at the inn, implying they could also pay for it. They later received valuable gifts from the magi, including gold. They then took a two-year trip to Egypt. They had children other than Jesus, none of whom starved to death. Why is it important to our doctrine to insist that Jesus was poor?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bounty

I recommend going to every Library Book Sale you can make it to.

Today's bounty:
Free to Choose: Rose and Milton Friedman
The Fountainhead- Ayn Rand
The Tempting Of America- Robert Bork
Principles of Economics- Carl Menger*** wow!
A Choice Of Days- HL Mencken
a Jan Karon novel
Essentials of Economics- Faustino Balive (a FEE book)
Self Reliance and Other Essays- Emerson
a Walt Whitman anthology
The Virtue of Selfishness - Ayn Rand

All for 8 bucks!

I'm going back tomorrow for $5 a box day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Christian Libertarian's Political Platform

Jim Wallis was giving his platform on Voting God's Politics before the midterm elections. I offered an alternative:

The religious right has made manipulation of the political mechanism a priority. The fault does not lie with their particular set of policies, but with the decision to employ coercion in achieving their ends.
The proper response is not to provide an alternative set of policies that likewise require the use of force, but to work towards the abolishment of force altogether.
As Christians we can reform social welfare programs by assuming full responsiblity for caring for the least of these. Unless one's behavior is in response to the call of Christ there is no virtue in it. Forcing unbelievers to give of their wealth to help others through taxation is devoid of virtue. Only Christians can give meaningfully and freely to others because we alone recognize that all we have has been given to us.
As Christians we can change the face of healthcare by supporting chuch hospitals and clinics, and by seeking only restitution and not punitive damages in the case of malpractice.
As Christians we can provide fair wages and safe workplaces to our employees, while providing them with opportunities to "own their own labor" in order to escape poverty mentalities.
As Christians we should recognize that a large centralized government in Iraq will be oppressive of minorities. Iraq is actually at least three seperate nations forced into one so as to be manageable to European Imperealists. We ought to oppose all centralization of government power as paganism and work for liberty for all, not democracy. Allow those portions of Iraq that desire independance to secceed. Recognize that terrorists have a reason to be angry after we allied ourselves with the European Imperialists since the Barbary Wars. Oppose the presence of a standing army in America and bring all our boys home to be productive in enterprise. Establish defensive militias at the local level with no federal oversight.
As Christians we should recognize that marriage is a religious institution and has no relevance in the public sphere. Allow individuals to make contracts amongst themselves and limit state influence to the enforcement of contracts.
As Christians we read the commands to be fruitful, to take dominion over the earth, and to respect boundaries. Property rights are the cornerstone of liberty and good environmental policy. Abolish public lands and make individuals responsible for encroachments onto other people's property.

Renounce the use of force. Take the responsibility upon ourselves.

Capital Punishment

My letter to the editor in today's Technician:
Capital pubishment misses target
Jeff Gaither's satire of lethal injection makes a legitimate point, but focuses on a symptom instead of the problem.
Capital punishment by the state assumes that the debt a criminal owes is to society or the government rather than to the victims. When such a criminal is executed no retribution, save psychological, is made to the victims. The loss has not been repaid, and now a second loss, the life of the criminal, has been incurred.
For example: Mary's husband John has been murdered by Bob. The state has tried and convicted Bob and he is set for execution. Mary is now poor and destitute without John's income. Yet she continues to pay taxes, her share of which may be wholly absorbed by the cost of incarcerating Bob until his execution, which will also be costly. How has Mary been helped?
How has justice been served? She may feel a good deal safer, but she is much the worse off.
How much better if Bob were compelled to make retribution to Mary. Mary and Bob's taxes would be put to better use than his incarceration. Mary will have recovered some portion of her lost income. Bob will have recovered a portion of his dignity and the whole of his life. There is a risk to such a proposal, that Bob may run off and murder somone else. We must then ask ourselves which we value more highly: security or liberty? To answer security is to give in to fear which enslaves us. Liberty, in contrast, leads to personal responsibility which encourages productivity and peaceful resolutions to conflict. We ought to be willing to take the risks of liberty.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Memed

1. What is your occupation? Student (NCSU Economics)

2. What color are your socks right now? Grey fuzzy slippers.

3. What are you listening to right now? My wife and her friend talking about the Sopranos and Survivor.

4. What was the last thing that you ate? Potato Chips

5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yup.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Blue, boring.

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Telemarketer.

8. Do you like the person(s) who sent this to you? Yeah!

9. How old are you today? 30

10. Favorite drink? Good beer.

11. What is your favorite sport to watch? College basketball (Go Duke!)

12. Have you ever dyed your hair? No, but I have shaved it all off.

13. Pets? We’re babysitting a guinea pig this weekend…

14. Favorite food? Vinegar, I like things with vinegar in them.

15. What was the last movie you watched and did you like it? Hole In the Head, Frank Sinatra.

16. Favorite month? April. The fish really start biting.

17. What do you do to vent anger? Drive.

18. What was your favorite toy as a child? My bike.

19. What is your favorite, fall or spring? Spring

20. Hugs or kisses? Kisses.

21. Cherries or Blueberries? Blueberries.

22. Do you want your friends to email you back? Any communication is great.

25. Living arrangements? 3 BR Apartment.

26. When was the last time you cried? It’s been a while.

26. What is on the floor of your closet? Old journals and unseasonal clothes.

28. What did you do last night? Homework, then Lost.

29. Favorite smells? Cookies, Coffee, Rosemary.

30. What inspires you? Music, books.

31. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Green chile.

32. Favorite dog breed? Lab

33. Number of keys on your key ring? 8, which is about 20 less than a year ago.

34. How many years at your current job? Student for the last year.

35. Favorite day of the week? Saturday, we’re all at home, and we sleep in, and take naps.

36. What states have you lived in? New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, Louisiana, New Mexico, Colorado

37. Favorite holiday? Easter.

38. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? I had a bike in Colorado, and I’ve driven some pretty big trucks.

I tag thebrokenwindow and persona

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Capital

How much are you worth? How wealthy are you?
I've decided upon a new measure of wealth. Wealth is how far you can see into the future, your "time horizon".
If you are working at a dead end job and barely making ends meet, if you have no plan for the future other than to do more of the same, you are poor. No matter how much you earn at your job, you are poor.
If you apply yourself every day, even if you earn little, but you aquire skills and develop talents. If you are collecting tools. If you have a vision for the future and are building towards it, though you may be in debt, you are working toward wealth.

Murray Rothbard tells a story about a man stranded on an island where the only food for him to eat is berries. He must eat 200 berries a day to keep from being hungry, and it takes him 10 hours a day to collect this many berries.
He then imagines a tool, a sort of stick, that would help him to collect berries by shaking the bushes in such a way that in 10 hours he might collect 500 berries.
Unfortunately it will take him 10 hours to put this stick together. When is he to do this? He may give up some of his leisure time, but if he gives up some of his labor time he will have fewer berries to eat and he will go hungry.

Rothbard doesn't consider the following scenario, but it best parallels my current situation:
What if this man could somehow "borrow" the resources to develop his stick. Let's say he borrows the equivalent of 10 hours (the time required to make the stick) production at the stick-producing rate: 500 berries, plus 10% simple interest.

Without the loan, he would spent 1 hour every day for ten days building a stick, and only eat 180 berries each of these 10 days, followed by 500 on the 11th day and every day after.

If he takes the loan, however, he will produce 500 berries on the first day, and will give 60 of them in payment on the loan. He will do this for 10 days until 600 berries are repayed.

In the first scenario he must forego 20 * 10 = 200 berries.
In the second he must repay 600 berries. Which is better? If we focus on the losses, one might say forgoing 200 berries is better than having to repay 600. But that way of thinking fails to recognize that the gains outweigh the losses. You see without the stick the man produces only 180berries a day * 10 days = 1800 berries. But with the stick he produces 500 berries a day *10 days= 5000 berries, of which he must repay 600, with a net of 4600 berries. That's 3800 berries more than if he had not borrowed to get the stick.

The use of capital, saved-up resources, creates new wealth rather than redistributing it.

Right now I have very little money, and a good deal of debt. But I have been buying capital with that debt. I have expanded my time horizon farther into the future. I have taken a risk, for there are many uncertainties. But I am enabled to step out and take that risk by the vision which God gave me. He showed me what He wants to do with me, and I have believed Him. For God can see all the way into the future and beyond it. As I grow in imitation of Him by having faith in Him and believing what He says to me I too can see farther into the future with Him. By conforming into His image I am learning to create wealth from the creator. I am not afraid of the debt I am in, because the capital I have invested in will appreciate at a rate greater than the interest I must repay.

Veteran's Day

May Dad is a U.S. Marine. He trained near the end of the Vietnam era, and recieved a medical discharge after serving for almost three years. He gave his knees for his country, and I am proud of him.
It's taken me a while to reconcile my libertarian-leaning opinions with his sacrifice. I feel like I've learned a few things that have changed the way I think.
The country is not the government. Dad served his country, not some politicians in Washington D.C. He was not thinking of Gerald Ford or Jimmy Carter when he volunteered for the Marine Corp. Nary a soldier was thinking of how much they loved Roosevelt or Truman as they pounded the beaches of Imo Jima. They did it out of love for their country, love for their moms and dads and sisters and brothers. Aunts and Uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, co-workers, girlfriends, wives, sons and daughters. For their comrades and for freedom, for the American way of life, which was still relatively free in the 1940's.
Veterans fought for the right reasons. Politicians fought for power. Or maybe they just believed in power, the way George Bush does. They believe political power can be used to do good. I'm not convinced.
How were our soldiers to know that Roosevelt was provoking both the Germans and the Japaneese by supplying England and China with weapons? How were they to know that WWII was effectively over at the battle of Stalingrad, before the bombing of Pearl Harbor? They watched "Why We Fight" at the movie theaters and were told all kinds of propagandistic exaggerations of the story.
They bought into the same nationalistic story that the Germans were teaching their children.
They were lied to.
So, I'm grateful for all of the soldiers who sacrificed for their ideals and their true loves. I'm grieved at the clouded distiction between law and government, between State and Country, between security and liberty.