An Interesting Quote

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."--Abraham Lincoln

It seems to me that Mr. Lincoln went to war and killed 600,000 Americans to prevent the very thing he said in that quote.

Current Event Ramblings, September 24

I've started a "Bible Blog Ramblings" section on my main Bible blog.  By going to that blog you can see where all I've posted every day (for the previous five days).  It would be a good idea to hit that blog first for that info rather than searching every blog to see if I've posted on it.

James sent me some interesting information regarding who has prospered during the current recession.  Since January, 2008, employment in the federal government is up 10%.  In local governments, it's down 0.9%, in state governments, down 0.1%, and in the private sector, employment had dropped 6.8%.  In total figures, that's a plus 198,100 for the feds (this does not include the temporary census workers), and a minus 6,000 for states governments, -128,000 for locals, and minus 7,837,000 for the private sector.  Most of that, not surprisingly, has come since January, 2009.  These figures are from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Koreans have quit chewing on their socks, so I'll get back to work next week.  Maybe that will help with this "dark cloud" depression that has swept o'er me the past 10 days or so.  I guess I'm going to fight this stuff the rest of my life, but there are people a whole lot worse off than I am.  I do wish that thought made me feel better...

Wisdom From America's Founders-III

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."--Thomas Jefferson

The founders of this country were not necessarily rebelling against a "big" government; they were rebelling against one that they believed had exceeded its constitutional authority.  Even though England did not have a written constitution, as we do (and as most of the colonies did), there were certain traditions that had been in place for generations which the Americans believed were inviolable, and thus part of the “constitution” to which Parliament must adhere.  One of those inviolable traditions (or, "self-evident truths") was “no taxation without representation.”  When Parliament desecrated that, the colonists revolted.  And, the cliché, “the rest is history.”

Again, it wasn’t that the British government was so huge; indeed, given the distance between England and America and the slowness of communication at the time, King and Parliament were hardly intrusive at all, certainly as compared with governments today.  The problem was not size, it was what the English government could become if it were allowed to extend its authority beyond its constitutionally recognized limits (recognized by the Americans, but not by the British).  If a government is allowed to take one step beyond its constitutional restraints, then, logically, it can take two…and three…and four…where does it stop?  X plus 1 implies x plus 2 implies x plus 3, ad infinitum.  This is what concerned our founders and why they insisted, when they formed their own government, on having a written charter (constitution) clearly delineating exactly what the American government could, and could not, do.  That way, if there were any dispute on any matter, one could simply go to the constitutional text and see what it says.  Our Constitution is not hard to understand; succeeding generations of politicians, loving power, have corrupted it, or simply ignored it.  We had a “civil war” over that issue—and the wrong side lost, at least from the constitutional standpoint.

So, as Jefferson said, if government gets so big as to provide all the wants and wishes of the populace—“entitlements”—then there is the fear it can take anything and everything it wants.  As discussed in an earlier post in this series, the American government has been slowly doing that very thing over the last 100 years.  With no constitutional restraints that it does not impose upon itself, there has been no hampering what it has done, and continues to do.  We have allowed the national government to define its own powers—the worst nightmare of Thomas Jefferson AND the southerners.  And if Washington defines its own powers, those powers can, ultimately, become unlimited.  What “rights” we now possess as Americans are possessed only by the grace and favor of the federal government.  And what Washington gives, Washington can take away.  Only politicians will never take away anything that will buy themselves votes.

I fear especially for religious freedom.  One has only to look at the history of the last two centuries when tyrannical, absolutist governments (the French during their revolution, the Soviet Union and other communist dictatorships) totally denied freedom of worship and persecuted those who tried.  Our government, of course, has been making inroads in this direction.  We think it could never happen in America.  But, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.”  And that doesn’t mean only material gains.  There was a reason why the French, Soviets, i.e., totalitarian governments persecute(d) religion (and try to destroy the family)—one is to have no higher allegiance than to that government.  Total, complete obedience is demanded (indoctrinated through propaganda and education), and obviously religions teach total, complete obedience to a higher authority (and families might train their children in ways the government does not wish.  Government controlled education is part of the undermining of the family.  It can’t happen in America?)  Thus, a totalitarian regime must destroy religion.  It is within its very nature.

No, we have not reached that point in America yet—and hopefully we never will.  But the federal government today, as noted, has no restraints except those self-imposed.  Voting hasn’t cured that, indeed, democracy is the cause.  And if our government gets so big…as to give us everything we want--from health care to education to retirement…then it will be strong enough…to take everything we’ve got.

Current Events Ramblings, September 19

Today is the final day before the Korean "Chuseok" holiday period begins.  Most teachers here are going to split the scene and go traveling somewhere, so the village will be pretty empty next week.  That's not going to bother me any.  Hopefully, I can get more writing done; hopefully, I'll feel like it.

The U.S. Census Bureau just released a report which announced that 14.3% of Americans are now living in poverty.  Two thoughts.  One, the CB is an arm of the American government, which has a vested interest in people being in poverty so that they will turn to government for help and solutions.  Since the government is the entity that defines what the "poverty line" is--and thus who is above and below--this 14.3% figure doesn't mean a whole lot, except for political demogogues.  And my second thought on this is, the Democrats have been in control of Congress since 2006 and the presidency since the first of last year.  Why haven't things gotten better?  Methinks the media will not make a big deal of this 14.3% figure.

The Republican "establishment" and the "mainstream" media are having fits over conservative, "tea party" candidates winning so many primary elections.  RINOs (Republicans In Name Only, as Rush calls them) believe the party must reach out to "moderates" or there is little chance of winning elections (in other words, do what John McCain did in 2008...).  The media is loving this "split" in the Republican party, as they believe it forbodes ill in the upcoming elections.  They hate Republicans, period, whether "tea party" or "RINOs."

What chance do conservative candidates have this November?  That depends.  Many of them will no doubt win, just because the country is in such sad shape and Barak Obama and the Democrats have made things worse, not better.  Only a blind man can't see that (but there are plenty of those in America).  But does the "tea party" truly represent enough Americans to win big?  Are the RINOs correct that Republicans must reach out to "moderates" and "independents"?  Well, McCain is a good argument for "no," that didn't work.  George Bush might be considered another one.  While claiming to be conservative, he governed more like a moderate and didn't please anybody.  So Republican "moderation" hasn't worked.  As noted above, the "mainstream" media hates all Republcans (except a few, like Arlen Specter, who are nothing but Democrats wearing a Republican label), so the efforts of the media are going to be thrown behind Democrats, regardless of the political leanings of the Republican running.  Reaching out to "moderates" is a delicate thing.  A "moderate" is someone who hasn't got guts enough to stand for anything, anyway, and thus can be blown in whatever direction he fancies at the moment.  Those kind of people are worse than useless to any country and are a main reason why the government bounces between control by Republicans for awhile and then control by Democrats.  There IS a distinction between the Republican, conservative base and the Democratic liberal one.  The media knows it, but most people don't, which is why the latter can be swayed so easily.

But back to my initial question--what are the chances of "tea party" candidates?  We must keep in mind that this is not the 1770s where the vast majority of the people living in America were very supportive of less government and more freedom.  That isn't the case today.  There is a huge number of people who no longer want freedom; they are dependent upon government, they want to stay that way, and thus they are going to vote against any candidate who talks about less government and more individual responsibility.  Is that portion of the American people now of a greater number than those who believe in freedom and individual responsibility?  I don't know, but it's close.  Or maybe it isn't.  The "dependents" may outnumber those who desire freedom; the fact that huge numbers of Democrats are elected every election is indicative of that.  Of course, there are many people who vote for everything immoral and base, but that means a denial of individual responsibility, too, so I include them in the "dependent" class.  They are "dependent" upon the Democrats striking down any law that requires people to be decent and virtuous which is on a par with those who want to live off somebody else's hard work and money (that's called theft, regardless of whether Congress votes for it or not).  Immorality is immorality whether it is homosexuality or legalized theft.

Bottom line is, the Republicans will make huge gains in November.  Whether they will win enough seats to take over either house of Congress is problematic; my guess is no, but it might be close.  Some "tea party" candidates will win, and some will lose, and every "loser" will be spun by the media as a rejection of conservatism and a need for Republicans to reach out to "moderates," which, again, is a sure recipe for political disaster, as Bush and the electon of 2008 proved.  But that's what the media wants, so anything they say is of no real instruction; they are just Democrats pushing the party line.  The question rests not on what the liberal media says; that's a given.  The question is the one I raised in the paragraph above--are there now more "dependents" than "independents" in this country?  Are there now more people who will vote for immorality--regardless of its form--than virtue?  November won't answer that question, for sure.  But it might give us more information to work with in coming to an answer.

Current Events Ramblings, September 14

Next week is a major Korean holiday called "Chuseok" (pronounced "chew-sock;" it sounds like something a dog would do).  It's sort of a Thanksgiving holiday, but there are no classes at all, so I'll have the week off.  Hopefully, I can get some writing done, though I'm not going to wear myself out doing that.  Actually, I'm not terribly busy this week, either, teaching only about 7 or 8 classes, but I still have to be "at work."  We have what we call "devo time" where we either study our lesson plans for the day or write new ones.  I've studied all the classes I teach several times--and taught them--so that's a bit of a waste, and I'm developing a "Lessons of History" class which I hope to teach starting next month.  I'd like to prepare a Bible lesson, but I think that's taboo.  Most of the teachers, during "devo time" surf the net or play on Facebook or just sit and chat about the trips they are going to take on vacation, like the two next to me at the moment, so it's a bit of a joke.  It's a nice break from teaching 6 hours a day.  I'm certainly looking forward to next week, but I'm not sure any of the shops/restaurants in the village will be open, so I might starve to death.  I'm almost positive the cafeteria won't be open.  Regardless, it will be a relaxing week

I recently sent out a community-wide email--it goes out to all the teachers--asking if anyone would be interested in a Bible study.  I've had a few responses so far, so hopefully we can get everybody's schedule together and start after Chuseok.  I've been meaning to do this for awhile, but I've just been so tired I haven't felt like it.  That's no excuse so I'm going to try to get it started.  Hopefully, there will be a lot of interest.

The Jefferson quote on today's "Quote of the Day" is one of my favorites and I intend to write a "Wisdom From the Founders" article about it soon.  I also want to do some analyzation of the Declaration of Independence, so all of that's on the drawing board.  Plus, a lot of Bible blogs.  I sleep, eat, work, read, and play, too--as well as feel lousy with this depression--so I stay busy.  I appreciate everybody who continues to support my blogs.  I still get hits from strange places--there's somebody in Moscow who reads some of my blogs with regularity--so hopefully I'm doing some good.

I know that people chuckle (make fun?) of athletes when they are interviewing saying "you know" every other second, but listen to anybody under 30 speak today.  What I hear is ""  It's virtually universal, and it's aggravating.  Do we teach our kids today how to speak a simple coherent sentence?  I know we don't, and it's sad.  How anyone can defend the American education system today is totally beyond me. 

So many problems, so few solutions.  At least solutions that the politicians and people are willing to accept.

Current Events Ramblings, 9/11

As I write this, it's only 9/10 where most of my readers live, but it will be 9/11 by the time they read it.  September 11, 2001 is a date that will long be remembered in American history, but I do wonder how many more years will pass before it is largely forgotten.  How many Americans have no idea what December 7, 1941 means?  Incredible as it may sound, I had students in my history classes who didn't know what July 4, 1776 was all about (they did when I finished with them).  When one learns how ignorant our people are of our own history, it's not terribly surprising that they can be so easily demogogued by liar, tyrants, and other politicians--if there are other politicians than lying tyrants.

Perhaps the biggest "9/11" story concerns the "pastor" in Florida who planned to burn the Quran in protest of the Trade Center bombings.  As I write this, he's still deciding whether he's going to do it or not, although his son has said  it's not going to happen.  The man, of course, has the right to burn the book if he wants to, but often times a legal "right" to do something is not the wisest course of action.  And I believe such is the case here.  I have been at pains in this blog to argue that there are two major "factions" within the Muslim world--a "radical Islamic" faction, headed by people such as Osama bin Laden, who are at war with the west (hence 9/11) and, as they see it, are trying to protect their civilization and way of life from western decadence.  And, frankly, I don't blame them.  I'm trying to keep western decadence out of my life, too.

But that "faction" of the Muslim world is a small one; I don't know the percentage, but probably way under 25%.  It matters very little what the West does, as long as we continue on our course of moral debauchery, that wing of the Muslim religion is going to fight--literally.  But I do believe that the majority of Muslim people are more reasonable and tolerant.  They do not wish to be infiltrated with Western/American immorality, but matters such as democracy are appealing to them.  The problem is, the Muslim world has never had democracy and it's going to take them a while to be able to be successful at it--if they ever are.  However, these Muslims do not want Western moral values rammed down their throat, either, and if we continue to try to do so, we will probably make more radicals.  And if Terry Jones goes ahead with his Quran-burning, he is simply going to antagonize more of this element of the Islamic world and create greater animosity among them.  We don't need that.

Burning the Quran will accomplish nothing--except anger Muslim people.  It's wholly a symbolic act with no substance to it.  And, usually, such acts are worthless, or produce more harm than good.  There are too many people in America who think that every Muslim is a radical who is out to kill anybody they cannot convert to Islam.  That's just not the case.  Islam is certainly an evangelistic religion, but then so is Christianity.  But as long as this myth continues of a 100% radical Islam, then people like Terry Jones will feed off of it.  And we will create more enemies in the Middle East.

I would like to see the conversion to Christianity of every Muslim in the world.  But it's not going to happen; we must deal in reality here.  And since it's not going to happen, we do need to make some effort to get along with those people, while obviously defending what we believe to be the correct course of life.  We can teach, and we should.  We can defend, and we should.  But one thing we should not do is try to cram our way of life down the throats of people who do not want it, or antagonize them with useless acts of symbolism--like burning something they hold to be sacred and dear.  We Christians wouldn't like it if Muslims burned the Bible.  We should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  That's what makes Christianity superior to every other religion in the world.

Wisdom From America's Founders-II

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe."--Thomas Jefferson

This one's easy.  A few words come to mind:

New York
San Francisco

Name your own.

Oh, I almost forgot:

Washington, D.C.  But that one goes without saying.

Jefferson believed that America would be much better off if it remained an agricultural country; that and small businesses.  That way people would be taking care of themselves, not sponging off others, and would be so busy they wouldn't be getting into trouble--or need much government.  Big cities inevitably and invariably do not have enough employment for the masses.  So, idle with time on their hands, the basic human traits of selfishness, laziness, and self-absorption lead to vice, crime, and the worst forms of iniquity.  Jefferson had been there; he knew whereof he spoke.

Where is the greatness of America today (that which is left)?  It certainly isn't in the big cities with their incredible crime, corruption, decadence, and debauchery.  The true greatness of this country lies in its heartland, in small cities and the countryside where people still know each other, aid one another, and share a common bond.  By and large, that's being lost, and with it the true strength of the United States.

The Best Country in the World to Live In

Newsweek magazine, that bastion of intellectual superiority, recently proclaimed Finland as the best country in the world in which to live, followed by Sweden and Switzerland.  I won't bore the readers with Newsweek's arguments in reaching such a conclusion, I would only say that, determining "the best" country to live in depends entirely upon the criterion used in making that determination, and Newsweek, a magazine enamoured of European-style socialism, could be expected to name such countries as their choices of places to live.  They are welcome to it.

And, indeed, if one is more concerned with security than liberty, if one is willing to sacrifice the fruits of one's labors in order to let someone else take care of him, if one doesn't mind the incredibly waste and fraud of his tax dollars (and such is rampant in Scandinavia and other European countries)--in short, if one wants only limited freedom and massive submission to a bureaucratic morass--then yes, I suppose Finland and Sweden would be good places to live.

Those who want to be burped like a baby from cradle to grave should, indeed, move to Europe.  Those who want the opportunity to become the best they can possibly be, to pursue their dreams without government making every effort to interfere with them, to reach for the stars and strive for limitless accomplishments, should find a free country to live it.  The problem is, I don't know where one is any more.

Wisdom From America's Founders-I

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and suddent usurpations."--James Madison

I’m sure I don’t agree with everything the Founding Fathers of America said about government tyranny and power, but I am still looking for something I don’t agree with.  I'm going to start a series here entitled "Wisdom From America's Founders" in which I will give interesting quotes from the men who established this country and then briefly comment upon them.  There are many who would argue that such is a futile exercise because these men lived over 200 years ago, in a day of agriculture, slavery, minimal technology, etc., and that since things have changed so much, their world outlook and their views on government are far outdated and no longer relevant or useful.  I beg to differ and very soon I will demonstrate why.

But, to give a preview of that last thought, one reason why their ideas are still so useful is because they knew history, wrote and spoke of it, and understood that some truths and principles are timeless and will always be applicable, regardless of antiquity or modernity.  This last point is the great failure of modern liberalism, which holds nothing sacred or wise except their own fleeting, passing whims and desires.  Madison's quote above is exactly what has happened countless times in history.  Not that violent "usurpations" (revolutions) never occur; of course they do, and Madison would have been quick to admit it.  But still, most governmental tyranny begins slowly and creeps--like a cancer.  And you don't even know it's there until you wake up and it's too late, or almost so.  This is exactly what has happened in the United States of America.

It began, as I have been at pains to point out in this blog, with the American "Civil War," in which the federal government, by force of arms, wrested the sovereignty of the people away from their state governemnts, over which they had much more control, and placed it in the hands of the national government, over which the people have substantially limited power and regulatory ability.  The generation following the war (approximately 1865-1900) actually saw a phase of limited government along the lines of what the Founders had in mind, but only because the Presidents, especially, were not of a mind to use their new-found powers to infringe upon the liberties of the people.  Some of our best presidents are some of our most unknown--Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and especially Grover Cleveland--men who worked to restrict the long-reaching arm of the federal government in order that the people might use their liberties to pursue their own happiness and enjoy the fruits of their labors.  In that generation after the War for Southern Independence, the United States became the richest nation in history.

There were problems, there always are.  No society is perfect, and America needed some amendments--it always does.  And by 1900, the country had some issues to deal with, the exact nature of which it is not necessary to recount in this article.  Let me just say that Marxism, with its anti-property, pro-government philosophy, was now rampant in intellectual circles in America.  And thus the "Progessives" of the early 20th century, when they cried out for "reform," demanded it be done via national government interference.  Because of Abraham Lincoln and the victory of the federal government in the "Civil War," there was little that could be done to stop this movement.  For almost 20 years the "Progressives" (and that very term, used by themselves and historians ever since, is instructive; governmental intervention into the lives of the people, i.e., greater government is "progressive") had their way, but World War I and the unpopularity of Woodrow Wilson because of it, led to a period of "calm" in the 1920s, where two very good Presidents, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, held back the "progressive" movement and allowed the country to follow its own course.  The "Roaring '20s," the greatest economic decade in human history, was the result.  The major error Harding and Coolidge made was not abolishing the Federal Reserve system, a "progressive" institution which enabled, in effect, national control of the economy (it's a little more complicated than that, but for the moment, that's sufficient).  It was the Fed that caused the Great Depression, not capitalism.  Also, Harding and Coolidge, because they were largely "hands off" presidents, didn't--or couldn't--role back the governmental growth of the "progressives."

Of course, the Great Depression led to the election of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, both of whom bought into the "progressive" philosophy and thus believed that it was the government's obligation to end the depression and restore prosperity, and both of whom failed miserably in the attempt (Hoover was actually elected before the Depression began, but he was a "progressive" at heart.  Coolidge, in whose Cabinet Hoover sat, once said of him, "That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years--all of it bad").  It was FDR, of course, who oversaw the next big--creeping--growth of government with his New Deal, putting in place many unconstitutional programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  World War II helped end the New Deal, and to attempt to shorten the story some, the 1950s were much like the 1920s--a President who limited the activities of the federal government.  But the New Deal was not rolled back.  Slow, progressive usurpation.  The 1950s were probably the last great decade in American history, and almost assuredly will be.

The 1960s gave us Lyndon Johnson and his "war on poverty," which he called the "Great Society," and which has done nothing to cure poverty; it has only created a permanent welfare class who do not know how to work and have been told they are "entitled" to the wealth of others.  In order to be able to truly sell that disgusting doctrine, the 1960s also destroyed the Judeo-Christian moral foundations of the country; now "morality" is whatever "intellectuals" tell us it is, and "profit" is immoral and "spreading the wealth," via governmental force is moral.  The point here is that the Great Society's programs were legion, installing more national government in the lives of the people.  Ronald Reagan, for all his glorious abilities, was not able to stem that tide.  And no President since has even tried, though none was as bold as Barak Obama in the obvious attempt to expand government's dominion of the lives of the American people.

It began with the "Civil War," folks, and picked up in earnest about 100 years ago with the "Progressive" movement.  There has been no "violent or sudden usurpations" in American history.  But this country, today, is almost the exact opposite what our Founders intended for it to be.  "Gradual and silent encroachments" was Mr. Madison's term.  And it exactly describes the historical trend in this country.

The question beomes, is the cancer in America so far gone today that the patient is terminal?