Monday, May 28, 2007

On Judges

“Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

“neither place saying whether or not God saw this as a good thing. Seems a stretch to assume He did.”

Seems a stretch to assume He didn’t. The entire context of Judges has the Israelites chasing after pagan gods. Statism was the ultimate form of paganism. Most of the time they WERE following the Lord’s law, living peacefully and doing well. It was the exception when they turned aside to worship idols. If you count the years, of the 400 covered in Judges, only about 25% of the time is there trouble. I agree that human nature is evil, but I believe that during the peaceful times the Israelites were following God’s law and doing well with no other government than the judges.

Jesus doesn’t condemn governments? He rejects the political mechanism at every turn. He refuses to become a secular king. He demonstrates the wickedness of government. He insists that his disciples follow him in another way.

All government is corrupt.

I do appreciate the freedoms we have, and I am concerned that those freedoms are being eroded away by a mentality that recuses itself of responsibility and foists it upon the state. If we continue in this vein, we will have no freedoms. c.f. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom.

Unbelievers act according to incentives. When there are good laws, they respond to the legal structure in such a way as to maximize their own interests. Self-interestedness is not evil, it actually has many beneficial outcomes.

The Natural Rights have Biblical foundations and are true insights into human nature. They are internally consistent and non-contradictory. Are there any rights you would add to or subtract from this list? You do so at the peril of the others.

I do not advocate vigilante justice, I recognize an appeal to justice for what it actually is, a surrogate for violence, and as such I have a greater appreciation for it. Someone is considered innocent until proven guilty only by the courts, by an impartial third party. God recognized the need for judges, and that’s what He gave them. He recognized the trouble of kings, and withheld them.

Again, the Christian ethic is peculiar and ultimately unworkable amongst unredeemed individuals. The strong would merely slaughter the weak. So, we need a political system that will work for those who are merely under common grace and not specific grace. The system of the Judges was just such a system, and the only workable one humankind has ever observed.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Me on Capital Punishment from God's Politics Blog

I, also, am opposed to Capital Punishment, but on different grounds. With Capital Punishment there is no opportunity for retribution.

Say Joe kills Tom. Tom’s wife, Mary, is now destitute and has no support for her and her children. If we execute Joe, Mary remains in her current condition. If, however, we make Joe pay retribution to Mary, she is relieved, Joe’s dignity is improved, and there more productive individuals participating in society.

Now, as Christians, we are in the unique and peculiar position to be able to offer forgiveness, even unconditionally, but this is a new law only for those whom have experienced regeneration, and we ought not to expect or demand this ethic of the world.


True forgiveness does not have to be asked for, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Indeed the perpetrator is unable to ask for forgiveness until they are already forgiven. The act of forgiveness is done as self-sacrifice in imitation of Christ, with no conditions whatsoever.

I am also opposed to Capital Punishment on legal grounds. Today’s laws are written arbitrarily, and make no investigation of the natural law. We have lost our Common Law foundation in many cases. If it can be shown that a criminal is guilty on precedent according to scientifically discovered natural law, then I am willing for the public court to pass judgment on him. Otherwise, I refuse to recognize laws which are not in accordance with the natural law, and which have no history of discovery.

Romans 13 says that the state exists to punish the evildoer, and no more. This passage is complicated only if you desire for the state to do more or less than this. There is Biblical support for such a system. The book of Judges records over 400 years of time where there was no centralized government in Israel, only a loose federation, and Judges, whom decided cases by applying the Mosaic codified precedtial law. When Judges says, “And every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” this is a good thing. It means there was no central government making arbitrary decrees and demands upon the people, and they were free.

Now, the Israelites sometimes fell into state-worship, or paganism. They were cleansed of this repeatedly through the judges. Eventually, God lets them have their way, in I Samuel 13, and gives them a pagan government... a King. This was never God's best for them, and it established an arbitrary ruler which led them repeatedly into pagan idol worship. They were not cleansed of this until after Babylon, when they returned and wrote Chronicles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Speech is a Good, a Product of Thought-Labor

Governments don't define our rights, they restrict them. They take them away. They define the boundaries within which they will allow us to exercise our rights.
In social contract theory we say that we exchange the exercise of some of our rights for the protection of the rest. I think that's bogus too.

In practice most people do accept the premise that the state defines their rights. Wherever this is the prevalent mindset people will find their rights even further encroached upon.

We must learn that the state doesn't charge taxes to pay for programs, but that the state creates programs as an excuse to tax.

Again, I contend that freedom of speech is not a right in and of itself.

Your question has to do with a poor person without any property upon which to protest. Who cares?
Why should I care whether a poor person is poor? Why should I care if they have a right to protest? Why should I give a skinny rat's ass?
If he cannot afford any property upon which to protest then he can try to sell what he has to say to someone who does. If no one is interested in buying then no one cares to hear what he has to say. If no one cares to hear what he has to say then why should he bother to say it?

This proves that speech is a good. If no one is buying, there is no market, then there is no reason to produce. To suggest otherwise would also require that a producer of widgets has a right for them to be purchased, and if no one is willing to buy, the state should assume the role of buyer of last resort. This is ridiculous. A slightly lesser evil is the state insuring a given price to all producers of any particular good, such as in agriculture.

More on Freedom of Speech From facebook discussion

Speech is tricky in this way. I can only think of it like this:
You offer your words, but your friend may reject them. How often do we do this in our relationships? Our parents offer us constant advice, but we reject much of it. Someone offers us evidence to prove their argument, and if we agree we say, "I'll buy that."

We have the right to our labor, to offer our words as a product of our though-work. We do not have an entitlement to be heard.

A protester is on the street corner shouting about the evils of big business. If the news services do not report their protest, have the protester's rights been violated? One might say that their right to free speech has. But this is unworkable. If everyone had the right to have their protests published, the newspaper would be full of nothing else until the newspaper were run out of business.

You are including emotions as a measure of the market in your example. In other words you are assuming that I give a damn about what you have to say to me. If you should ask what I think of what you have said to me I might just respond the way Ayn Rand did: I do not think of it.

You have offered a product in a market, but have found no buyer. Now your feelings are hurt. Tough.

You can use your speech to ATTEMPT to exploit others and restrict their choices, but there is no assurance that they will pay any heed to what you have said, just as there is no assurance you will pay any heed to what I am saying now.

You are free to go on denying my argument that speech is not a right. You may be right that it is not a good, either. Perhaps it is best understood as economic "land," or "air". The action of speech itself is meaningless. What possesses value is the content of that speech, or the ideas contained in that speech.

I will say that you have a right to your ideas, the product of your thought, but you are not assured a market for them.

Property v Free Speech

Property is the fruit of one's labor. You work, what you earn is your property. You have a right to the fruit of your labor, to keep it or to exchange it. Even if one does not own land, even in the economic sense, one still owns their labor. These are consistent with and dependent on one's ownership of one's self.

Hence we demonstrate that life, liberty (labor), and property are consistent with one another and with themselves.

If we attempt to add another value, such as speech per above, or more commonly (and disastrously) equality, we erode the others and the result is an inconsistency.

Our natural rights are those few which have been demonstrated to be consistent with one another and with the nature of man.

By understanding equality and freedom of speech to be values we speak of them as economic goods - having "value". The natural rights are not economic goods, where they are treated as such we violate the nature of man and the result is unworkable. By treating a man's right to life, labor, or property as an economic good we end up with slavery. Man may exchange his labor for economic goods, but he cannot exchange his RIGHT to his labor.
The difference is subtle. A man may choose to forfeit his life to save the life of a loved one, but no one else can make that decision for him. He cannot forfeit the right to his life. A man may forfeit his property, but he cannot forfeit the right to choose what to do with his property.

On Deriving Natural Rights

I'd like to think that there are certain consistencies within the nature of man, which upon careful examination, can help to determine under what circumstances man is most likely to flourish.
Enlightenment writers were attempting to perform this examination.

Each society, in fact, does the same. The differences we observe from one group to another reflect the differences in methodology used to approach the question. We might say that some societies have certainly come closer to full discovery than others as evidenced by the degree of dignity reflected in the men of that group.

We may continue to compare the various circumstantial and historical narratives which have brought various societies to their current positions, but this leaves us without a first cause.

We must examine the nature of man and decide what he is.

I submit the Misesian story: man is first and foremost an actor.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How to follow Christ

I don't follow Christ because he promises abundance here or later. I follow Him because I accepted His call to follow Him. I don't expect anything out of the deal except the cross to bear which is required of His disciples.

Efficiency arguments in favor of Christianity are devoid of virtue.

If it turns out that there are favorable utilitarian consequences to following Christ these are mere fringe benefits and they are not guaranteed.

For example:

When we tell kids to abstain from premarital sex because it keeps them safe from STDs and unwanted pregnancy we destroy the celebration and sacrament of sex and construct an artificial and easily undermined reason for abstinence.

If we rather declare that we abstain in order to demonstrate the peculiar ethic given to us by Christ, and in recognition of the symbol that sex is, a reflection of the relationship between Christ and ourselves, then every decision to abstain becomes pregnant with meaning. The decision says:

1. I am a follower of Christ and I hold myself to a higher ethic than the rest of the world, and

2. Sex is a symbol of Christ's selfless love for me and my love for Him, so I won't contaminate that image by treating sex casually.

One of the consequences of choosing such an ethic may be a marriage with less baggage than otherwise might have been the case. It may prove to be more healthy, and conducive to trust. But these are not necessarily the case, and we set ourselves up for disappointment if we try to build a consequentialist argument for choosing the Christian ethic.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Turn on the Radio, nah...

Why does radio suck? Why are we only offered the same 200 or so songs everyday. I used to think that my day would be incomplete if I did not hear Wilson-Phillips "It's Gonna Be Alright". Now every time I get into my car to drive to school I hear a song by AC/DC. And somehow, I find that refreshing. Probably because I never listened to AC/DC before.

Well, once again, we have the government to thank. Why are there gaps between radio stations? Why does my dial scan from 88.1 to 89.7 without stopping somewhere in between? Why are all the signals on odd decimal numbers?

What if you saw the same phenomenon on a city block? There's a house at 102, but lots 104-112 are empty, until you get to 114. First of all, we haven't built ANY houses across the street! Secondly, we only see this sort of thing in two places: 1. Cary, 2. Durham.
In Cary new houses are being built, so the emptiness of the lots is temporary. They are owned and slated for development.
In Durham old houses are falling down, or burning down when the meth lab catches fire. Empty lots look good compared to the dilapidation next door.

So, the radio dial is either under development, or falling apart.

But that's not the case. Instead, we have a cartel, enforced by the government. In another time we would have called this de facto censorship, but that's insensitive. The government makes the rules about what can or cannot be said on air, they limit the number of entries to the market, supposedly to prevent "flooding", and collect huge rents from those who can manage to make it onto the air.
Thus, choices are limited on the air, and radio sucks.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Other blogs

I've been writing a good bit lately, just not here.
Try me over at:
Anthony Bradley
God's Politics
Newmark's Door
The College Guy
where we've been having a great discussion about immigration.