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Author Involvement Central to New Publishing Models

Not too long ago I had someone pitch me a book. The book had good potential, but needed some revisions. As in other cases in my experience, the author was ready to participate in the marketing of the book, but by that it seemed clear that it was going to be publisher-initiated. The author expected me to help him revise his book and then take the lead on advertising it. This is what ‘traditional publishers’ do. I had to explain that A., I am not a publisher in that sense and B., publishers like that are a dying breed. There are of course many cases where publishers will provide these services, and probably always will be. However, there is something really new that is afoot–we may term it the marriage of Print on Demand technologies and the Internet, and just for kicks, the word processor.

Today, every author and his mother can produce a book, and they are. Moreover, the author’s mother is doing the same! Literary agencies and publishers have to cope with a huge influx of submissions while keeping their eye out for the title that they reasonably expect will be able to turn a profit in the era of the Ebook and collapsing brick and mortar book chains–and the continued dominance of Amazon.com.

The demise of the brick and mortar book chains have an important side effect. When the book stores were the primary avenue by which best-sellers were made, the cozy relationship between the publishers and the chains meant that it was easier to block the self-published authors from the path to success. However, with the book stores going under, other avenues such as social media, pay-per-click advertising, and reviews on Amazon, have become increasingly powerful routes to exposure for authors. And anyone can avail themselves of these options. And they are. There is no more blocking anyone from the ‘means of marketing.’

I saw on a literary agent’s web page today a compelling indicator of what this means for publishers. The search was on for “authors with the ability to partner with publishers to market their work.”

In the great melee of authors getting their work out to the masses and making use of tools that publishers themselves are increasingly relying upon, the publishers are looking for authors ready, willing, and able, to take the initiative in marketing their work.

Superfan by Anthony HorvathMany if not most of the authors I interact with (and in this, I will include myself) self-promotion of any kind is just not the kind of thing they find enjoyable. Really, it is downright uncomfortable. Here’s the bad news, friends: TOUGH.

Digital technologies have made it easier than ever to produce, distribute, and market a book. The person best able to advocate for a book is the one who wrote it. That means that if a publisher has to choose between two books of equal quality and the difference lies in the willingness of one author to get out their and hawk their book, that’s the one they’re going to go for. When you are Stephen King or JK Rowling, perhaps you can ignore such uncomfortable realities, but until then, pinning your hopes on finding a publisher that is going to do all the work for you, happily satisfied that they found a quality manuscript, is increasingly just that: a mere hope.

Realities such as these is why I formed Bard and Book Publishing. We are focused here on building a community of readers and authors, and I hope that you will join us. Authors interested in hearing more about my take on digital revolution in book selling should take a look at my latest, a little booklet called: Superfan: How You Can Turn Your Favorite Indie Author Or Artist Into a Star – A “New Economy” Advertising Primer for Authors and the People Who Love Them

The tips in this book can apply as much to authors as to the ‘superfans’ that I call upon to be the authors advocates, since, as I have just argued, the authors themselves are the best advocates for their work.

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What the Ukraine Can Teach us About the Future of America

Actually, a fair number of illustrations from a variety of countries in recent memory could have served.

As I write this, the president of the Ukraine has been deposed and there are tens of thousands of people massed in great, giant, demonstrations.

Have you ever noticed that in a certain *kind* of country, this is the kind of thing necessary in order to get rid of the bad men in charge?  Remember Libya?  Remember Egypt?  It probably would have worked in Iran, too, except for Obama’s refusal to challenge the fraudulent election there.

In saying this, I am not condoning or even applauding these mob actions.  What I am doing is observing that there are certain places where it takes sustained mob action, usually accompanied by severe and significant violence among all the parties (Remember Syria?) to effect a change of governance.  In a stark contrast, the United States changes its course every two years, with hardly any fanfare at all.

Before we consider that unappreciated fact, let us consider why in other countries it takes mob action.

1.  Rampant corruption within the government of that country, including widespread doubt about the legitimacy of ‘elections’ (if they even feign to have one).

In theory the mechanics are there for a peaceful transition of power, but in practice the elections are rigged, and everyone knows it.  Deprived of a functional process for peacefully exerting one’s political will, people look for an alternative.

2.  A total collapse of the rule of law.

This runs parallel to #1, but even in a dictatorship it is possible to have a rule of law.  Critical components of the ‘rule of law’ include constancy and equitable application.  If the law can change on a whim, and does frequently, people live in a constant state of fear that they may be spirited away in the dead of night for doing what had been legal just a day or so earlier.  If the law applies to this person and not that person, the same fear emerges, and bribery and corruption further disenfranchises the great mass who are unable to ‘grease’ the system in their favor.

3.  Safety in numbers.

While the police and the army might be as bloodthirsty as all get out, they still want to live.  If there are more people than bullets, or it is logistically impossible to successfully wipe out the threat without exposing oneself to danger, the government forces will play it cautiously.  Smaller groups, of course, are ripe for the picking;  the people in these countries know this, which is why they try to make the biggest demonstration possible.  There is also the fact, of course, that it would look really bad if word got out that tens of thousands of people were massacred.  See #4.

4.  The people are disarmed.

Since the government has all the guns and all the bullets, if push comes to shove, pretty much the only thing that people have left is to throw their corpses up against the citadel and hope there are enough left alive to clamor over them to take down the government.

It is clear that in the Ukraine, points 1 and 2 were in play.  Probably 3 and 4 as well, but I don’t know enough about the Ukraine to know the details.  In many of the other countries where we have seen great upheavals recently, these 4 general observations seem to fit pretty well.  It would also seem that one of the factors in a successful insurrection is access to technology and the Internet:  turning out enough people to be dangerous on very short notice, before the authorities can put a stop to it, is a massive tactical advantage for the mob.  In places where the authorities have their thumb more firmly on top of the nation’s communication system, it is much harder to organize these kinds of marches.

I notice that in the United States, things are progressively moving in this same direction.  They have been steadily going this way for many, many years, but Obama has put his foot on the accelerator.

More and more elections are coming under suspicion, largely because of the work of leftist groups such as ACORN, but also because of the amazing way that Democrats manage to keep finding new, uncounted ballots.  And lest this be seen as a strictly partisan jab, I am aware that the left is also concerned about election stealing.   While I think they are the ones doing most of the stealing and the number one cause for why the elections are increasingly becoming suspect, that doesn’t change the fact that both the left and the right, as well as the middle, are feeling like their vote counts for less and less each passing election.

The rule of law has been under siege for decades in the United States.  The signs of its decay are everywhere.  In my estimation, and the estimation of many others, a total collapse could occur just about any time.  Obama certainly has not helped this with his constant usurpation of the legislative branch and his heavy handed use of government agencies to get what he wants.  The use of the IRS to undermine Tea Party groups obviously undermines the validity of the 2012 election.  We are to believe, for example, that the reasons for the 2010 GOP revolution ceased to exist in just two short years.  It is hard to prove, of course, but it would seem that the anti-Obama vote was suppressed, and the current administration does not have its power because a majority of the populace wanted it to.  It does not have to be proved;  what I’m saying is that the suspicion is enough by itself, and the fact that it can neither be proved or disproved adds to the many other suspicions that people already have.

I am absolutely certain that bribery is going on.  However, the various exemptions and extensions of Obamacare, in defiance of the actual legal language of Obamacare, the sweet deals given to places like Solyndra, the use of government agencies to sue the pants off of organizations and individuals that do not have the same capacity to print more money to pay for the lawyers, the use and manipulation of courts to achieve that which the ballot box did not allow (ie, gay marriage), and so on and so forth, like an avalanche, all illustrate how the ‘rule of law’ is on its way out in the United States–some wonder if it is already completely gone.  One thing is for sure, the only people following the law are the great mass of people–because they know they are the only ones subject to it;  the rich, the privileged, the elite, and so on do not have to follow the law, and aren’t.

In short, we are rapidly approaching a point in the U.S. where there is not even the hope that we can change things by changing the law;  the very people and organizations and institutions we want our law to restrain will gleefully violate it anyway, and know that they’ll be able to get away with it.

As far as #4 goes, I don’t think anyone failed to notice that the Obama administration wanted to heavily restrict gun ownership.  Nor does anyone doubt, not if they are being honest, that if liberals could get their way, the only people who would have guns in this country are government officials… who, ideally, the liberals would control.

In saying this, I am not necessarily doubting the sincerity of the many liberals who believe they are acting in the public interest with such measures.  But that’s the nice thing about well-meaning, sincere people:  they can lay the foundation for tyranny (or bad outcomes, more generally) and then be surprised when things didn’t turn out the way they expected.  That’s why one of the liberal’s favorite sayings is, “Well, yes, there are always going to be ‘bumps in the road.'”  They figure as long as they had good intentions, everything can eventually be worked out–the assumption being, of course, that the people they put in power have the same good intentions.  But see #1 and #2.

There is a #5, but I think it is in a different category, though still important for us to consider.  Namely, in the Ukraine and elsewhere where we have seen these mob actions, there are very often sectarian and ethnic divisions that serve to further create problems.  When Group A controls the government, and numbers #1 and #2 and #4 are seen as realities by Group B, then Group B has no choice but to resort to #3.  And if Group B succeeds in their insurrection, of course now it is Group A’s turn to resort to #3.

There is no question that liberals and progressives and Democrats in the United States are constantly engaged in ‘identity politics.’  They are doing everything in their power to foment class envy and will engage in race baiting whenever they can;  who else do we see constantly warning about a ‘war on women’?  You hear a lot of tripe out of them about ‘unity’ but in their policies and their actions, the truth emerges that it is they that are creating this country’s divisions.  They feel that they need these abused sub-populations in order to win elections (as if the elections were fair!), and in this they are probably correct.  But in the long run, in creating all of these groups, it is inevitable  that there will be one or more groups that have been disenfranchised per points #1 and #2, and knowing that their government does not fear them and has all of the means of destruction (see #4), this will force the people in these groups to believe that their only recourse is to take to the streets and burn things down.  Naturally, rival groups that the liberals helped create and delineate will meet them with clubs and knives and whatever other lethal instrument the liberals haven’t yet outlawed.

I have noticed an increase in massive marches and demonstrations in the United States over the last ten years.  Some see this as a healthy by-product of democracy.  I think it is the opposite.  I think it is an indicator that democracy is in some stage of collapse.  Certainly, any legitimate democracy should grant a free right to assemble, but that the people feel they have to assemble in the first place in order for anything to get done means that there is the stench of something very rotten in Denmark.  It isn’t easy to put one’s finger on what it is–but that’s precisely part of the problem.   If you want to get a feel for how the Republic is really doing these days, don’t look to that meaningless ‘State of the Union’ speech given by the president each year.  Look to the streets and see how many, and how often, the people are coursing through them.

And if you don’t like it, you best take a hard look at #1 and #2.  Just because it is “your guys” in the government doing things you like by fiat, doesn’t mean in a long run that its good for the country.

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A concise summary of why progressivism is dangerous, by Alec Baldwin

Was reading Alec Baldwin’s “goodbye” this morning and saw this comment:

As progressive as I’ve been in my politics, there are other things I don’t think of as liberal or progressive, just common sense.

This statement concisely summarizes why progressivism, and progressives, are dangerous.  They do not view a large number of their viewpoints, up to and including some of their more controversial ones, as a function of their ideology.   In advocating for them, they are not being political;  no, they are just standing on the side of “common sense.”  If they actually believe this, they are lying to themselves.  But the elite progressives know better;  they are just lying.  If something were “common sense” it would not need advocating for, it would just be.  What we actually see, then, is progressives hoisting their ‘common sense’ upon others, and doing whatever they can to undermine that which actually is common, and change the attitudes of the populace (or change the populace itself) so that they conform with their ideology.

Setting aside the deception and self-deception, that is not what makes the sentiment dangerous.  To the extent that they really believe they are advocating for something that is “common sense”, there is no ideological or moral “check and balances” to their advocacy.  They will push, and push, and push, and push, never thinking that they have pushed too hard, always oriented (they say) towards the ‘common good.’  And if some individuals are trampled along the way, or if individual rights are obliterated, that’s alright;  it’s just the cost of achieving “common sense” social ‘justice.’

Baldwin’s comment made me think of a comment made by C. S. Lewis in the essay “The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment”, which is included in the collection of his essays, God in the Dock (Page 292). I have quoted it before on this blog:

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

See also this.

Of all the things I fear most today, it is the love of my fellow man.  It literally knows no bounds.

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Thank a Rich Person this Tax Season — A Call to Abolish Taxes and Enact a Balanced Budget Amendment

I would just like to take this moment to thank the rich people of America for their generous subsidizing the lion’s share of America’s taxes.  This year, for example, I am especially grateful for the child tax credit.  Thanks!

I know that many people believe you are eeeeeeeeeeeeevil, and that you ought to be slapped with higher and higher taxes.  In their view, such taxes are as much about hurting you as it is helping them and me.  I, on the other hand, think that it is a damn shame how much you are taxed, even if my own tax burden is carried so substantially on your shoulders.

In fact, I would like to use this opportunity to argue that, even in the face of the direct benefit I seem to be receiving, we ought to abolish taxes altogether.  For you, and for me.

A naysayer is likely to come and say, “But then how can you receive your yearly windfall (from your irresponsibly large brood)?  Someone has to pay for it.”

I have two answers to this.  First of all, if it meant we stopped sticking it to the rich, I’d be more than happy to forgo these and all other tax benefits.  Why? Because I understand the way the world really works.  By soaking the rich, I diminish the width and breadth of opportunity available to me and the rest of America to enjoy wild success.  It is a piece of nonsense, that ought to be self-evident, that the rich will merely hoard their cash.  Obviously, at some point, they will wish to spend some of it.  And they will spend it on creating new businesses, buying lots of expensive new toys, investing in new or expanded enterprises, etc. In doing so, they will employ loads of people, create loads of new opportunities, and in general, lift up everyone around them.  A rising tide lifts all boats, as it were.

Every dollar taken from anyone, including a rich person, diminishes their disposable income.

I have felt the impact of a decrease in disposable income.  Since the great recession began with the taking of the House by the Democrats in 2007, the donations in my ministry have dropped significantly and selling books has become increasingly more difficult.  It makes sense;  when people have less money, they have to choose more carefully where they are going to spend it.  In a choice between a fantastic book written by yours truly, and eating, is it no wonder they choose to eat?  (I say this on the assumption they haven’t read my books, because if they had, they would in fact forgo a meal!)

In other words, I expect that what I would make in more book sales and donations to the ministry and a higher salary would exceed that which I receive in tax benefits.  (Indeed, I have argued elsewhere on this blog that most of the ‘services’ our taxes are meant to secure for us could be more easily attained if the government wasn’t involved, in part because they would be much more affordable and in part because we would earn significantly more.  Healthcare being a prime example).

Eliminating taxes for all would increase everyone’s disposable income, and an economic dream would unfold before our collective eyes.

But the naysayer cannot wait for me to get to my second point.  He interjects, “But someone has to pay for it!)

But alas, we know that this is not actually the case.  The government has been printing money by the billions for months and months and months and years and years and years.  As it stands right now, each month they are printing more than the Iraq War was estimated to cost.  Each month.

We are 16 trillion dollars in debt, not including the unfunded liabilities, which are five-fold that figure, if not more.  Each year (under Obama), the Federal government spends about 4 trillion, whilst it only collects 2.8 trillion.  For the gruesome details, you can look  here: http://www.usdebtclock.org/

So, clearly it cannot be the case–not really–that even now, the money of the rich or anyone else is really going to pay for this, that, or the other, government program.  The shortfall is made up through a variety of mechanisms, most of which seem to me to be a complete fiction.

So, why not dispense with the fictions altogether?  If you’re going to just print the money anyway, why not stop collecting taxes at all?  Why not just let everyone keep their money and get the best (putatively) of both worlds:  unbridled government spending of money it does not have, principally via a few strokes of a keyboard at the US Treasury, and an economic windfall for every American?

This seems quite reasonable to me.  But, for the record, I fully recognize what this state of affairs really amounts to.  Anyone with half a brain can see that it is not necessary to directly link expenses (such as tax credits) with income (such as tax revenues), because clearly, that isn’t what is happening. Instead, it must be the case that the primary reason for taxing the rich is to punish them and the primary reason for throwing credits at the likes of me is to buy my vote.  Or maybe its our big opportunity to express our patriotism?

And you know, that’s just not a scheme I can go along with.  I don’t think a proper use of government is to target one group for punitive measures for the express purpose of bribing another group,  robbing Peter to bribe Paul, as it were.

If ever there is a Balanced Budget Amendment with teeth, ask me to revisit this topic again.

In the meantime, I am quietly waiting for the great bubble to burst, with everyone paying a steep cost.  And expressing my thanks to the rich people who, ostensibly, are the ones to credit for buffing up my disposable income.

Thanks!

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Dear NSA and IRS agents,

I know you’re reading this, but please see the above as a bit of tongue and cheek spouting off.  I didn’t mean any of it, honest.  Please leave me alone… please!

Yours,

Sntjohnny

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Why Ken Ham should Not Debate Bill Nye

Knowing the Internet the way I do, if you find any of the below offensive, please skip to the last paragraph of the post.

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An interesting thing has happened, so rare it might even be deemed a singularity on par with the Big Bang:  There will be a debate between a young earth creationist* and an avowed evolutionist.  The debate, to be held on Feb. 4th, 2013, is between Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and Bill Nye… the Science Guy.  I attempted to get tickets;  they were sold out within just a few minutes.  This is indicative of the kind of interest there is in such an event.  It is no doubt good publicity for the Creation Museum, but sitting here as a young earth creationist myself, I wish to lodge my (obviously belated) advice to Mr. Ham:  cancel the debate.

Let me try to sum up my reasoning.

In the first place, sharing a stage with an evolutionist will lend credence to the idea that evolutionary theory is actually a viable account of biological origins on this planet.  No reasonable person believes that;  to have a conversation with someone who does gives the false impression that there is something to the theory, when of course, there is not.

To this you might counter, “Surely, merely having a conversation with someone isn’t enough, by itself, to persuade knowledgeable witnesses, that evolution is true?!?!”  But there is the rub.  The one thing that we cannot do is assume that there are more than a handful of actually ‘knowledgeable’ witnesses.   In fact, most people are idiots.  Even being seen to shake hands with Bill Nye will cause a huge influx of people to the evolutionary cause.  That may seem silly, but it isn’t as silly as you might think, since evolutionary theory is built on evidences that are even flimsier than the evidence of a young earth creationist engaging in a debate with an evolutionist.

You might counter further, “So, wouldn’t this make the bulwark of your defense of young earth creationism amount to nothing more than an argument from authority?  Are you not implicitly saying that people are expected to believe only because people deemed as experts categorically accept one position?  By refusing to openly debate those who dissent, labeling them as ‘non-experts’  (which they must be by definition, because if they were experts, they’d accept the one position) and relying only on The One Authoritative Unified Voice, isn’t that the epitome of that fallacy?”

To that, of course, we must say, “You, sir, are an idiot.  It is because of people just like you that it is important that we do not allow even the hint of dissent.  I would kindly direct you to the nearest expert adherent to young earth creationism (pardon the redundancy) for re-conditioning.  Idiot.”

In the face of this “calling it as I see it” assessment, you might say, “Are you really saying that I ought to accept your position simply because if I don’t, I’m an idiot?”

Or ignorant, stupid or insane.  Or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that.

To that, your only reply must be, “Ah, very well.  I accept that you are correct:  young earth creationism is the correct account of origins.”  If that isn’t your reply, then there is a good chance that you are actually a child abuser, teaching people something differently.  And society does not look the other way when there is child abuse involved.  I don’t see why we shouldn’t take your children away and pack them into monasteries if you are going to continue teaching them such abusive beliefs.

Now, thus bludgeoned into acquiescence by my above retort, and the veiled threat implied by the charge of child abuse, but still uncomfortable to accept my position simply based on my blunt assertions, you might appeal to something more basic in our human nature, bravery and cowardice.

You say, “But wouldn’t it possibly have the opposite effect, if you canceled the debate, or refused the debate?  Might it actually tell the whole world that in fact you are a coward?  Might it actually suggest that there really isn’t any evidence for the young earth creationist position, except for the assertions made by those lucky enough to be called ‘experts’?   Might people suspect that in point of fact, the primary arguments for young earth creationism are philosophical in nature, not scientific.  After all, has not it been said that thanks to Paley’s advancement of intelligent design, it is now possible to be an intellectually satisfied theist?  Might not people wonder if the truth, rather, is that the emperor has no clothes? ”

Idiot.  Although, at this point, I really am beginning to wonder if you are evil.  And not fit to be a parent, I reckon.  Not that I’m suggesting your children be taken from you, of course.  Just that it logically follows.  Not that you understand even that, since you are an idiot.

Yes, it is true.  People might think that Mr. Ham is a coward for taking this view.  Recall, for example, that for many, many months, the famed evolutionist Richard Dawkins has been harping at William Lane Craig, trying to get any kind of hearing whatsoever on his atheistic version of evolutionary theory, but Craig has rebuffed him at every turn.  To deepen the irony, Dawkins has shown that his atheistic outlook is not actually entrenched in his acceptance and description of evolution, by heaping nothing but praise and respect for the theistic evolutionist, Francis Collins.  Collins accepts every ounce of evolutionary theory in exactly the same way that Dawkins himself believes it, and also views young earth creationism–and intelligent design–as nothing more than pseudo-science.  Collins essentially embraces nearly every component of Dawkins outlook on the world, and Dawkins has shown his good faith by acknowledging this, and allowing that Collins might know what he’s talking about.  Collins was willing to debate Dawkins, so why shouldn’t a young earth creationist?  (And for that matter, Craig isn’t a young earth creationist, either, so Craig really should have no objections to debating Dawkins.  I mean, really.)

It pains me to say it, though:  once you buy into the evolutionary theory, “then suddenly you find yourself losing all of your natural skepticism and your scientific–really scientific–credibility. I’m sorry to be so blunt.”  Collins is a scientific lightweight.  It isn’t like he was a head of the human genome project or perhaps the director of the NIH or something.  If only he were that, we could believe he may have some scientific–really scientific–credibility.

The question of credibility brings us back to the fact that we must presume that people are idiots (because they are), and while there will be some that conclude a refusal to debate basically means you are a chicken wearing no clothes, most people are persuaded of a position only because of the aura of credibility that is given to it.  Let a few voices decide that it is cowardice, but the great mass of unwashed clowns will never hear of those charges.  What they will hear about is this grand debate between Mr. Ham and Mr. Nye.

And that could finally be the undoing of young earth creationism and generate a large mass of people whose interest will be piqued, who will suddenly wonder, “What?  There are actually other positions to consider?  I thought there was only one!” and then begin to study and research the issues for themselves.  And if there is anything we cannot have, its people thinking for themselves.

For these reasons, I implore Mr. Ham to cancel the debate as soon as possible.  The whole case for young earth creationism stands in the balance.  If the debate proceeds, young earth creationism might cease to be considered a viable account of origins, and since we know it is the only viable account of origins, people must not hear that there are other perspectives.

It’s for their own good:  those idiots.

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* the modifier, ‘young earth’ in front of ‘creationist’ is important. Strictly speaking, there are many people who are creationists who are not young earth creationists, who believe that God made the universe and all that is in it, but accept varying degrees of evolutionary theory.  Young earth creationism is not synonymous with these other creationist viewpoints.  What is view in this article is only the young earth creationist view point, and not any of the others… which of course, are dead wrong, and you are not allowed to consider.  Idiots.

** Knowing the Internet the way I do, there will be people who do not know that the above was actually a bit of satire, and the most of the really incendiary remarks are actually derived from remarks by evolutionists, and some are virtually direct quotes from Richard Dawkins himself.  So, spare me, and try to see your way to identifying the irony that positively drips from the blog post.  Please try.  I beg you.

 

 

 

 

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It is Important that You Die Where You Stand (Or Else You are Selfish!)

I read an article today that pointed out (what seems a bit obvious) that in case of a nuclear blast, you might be better off dispensing with the ‘official’ advice, which is:

The official U.S. government advice is to “take shelter in the nearest and most protective building.”

The nearest and most protective building might not really be suitable for shielding yourself from radiation.  The researcher suggests that many thousands could be saved if you risked a 5-30 minute trip to find something better.  But then there is this at the end of the article:

“I disagree with the conclusions,” Lawrence Wein, an operations research scientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, told Science. “He fails to account for several important issues that are vitally important for policy recommendations.”

I would like to take a stab at what these other issues are, inspired by my research into the public health community past and present.  Everything comes down to ‘policy recommendations’ for them, because the lot of them think there isn’t anything we commoners do that we can manage ourselves.  The article doesn’t elaborate on what Wein had in mind, but my guess is that one of those issues would be all those people running around town, clogging the roads, looting the local grocery store, etc.  You might get in the way of first responders.  So, my guess at what he wants you to do is to just shelter in place and…  DIE … for the common good.

I am weary of those who think they know just what the ‘common good’ is.  I always have the strange feeling that their policy measures, which allow for, say, 5, 10, or 25% losses/bad reactions/etc, while an ‘acceptable’ cost to them, won’t in the end apply to them.

Using this instance to illustrate, while you are sheltering in place, they have every intention of getting to a location much more likely to increase their own survival.

Maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age.  Or maybe I’m just finally getting hip to what’s going on.

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Rush Limbaugh, Jonathan Gruber, Eugenics, and Obamacare

I happened to be listening to Rush Limbaugh today and heard him discoursing on the eugenics-laced elements behind putative ‘Obamacare architect’ Jonathan Gruber’s recent remarks, viewable here.

Limbaugh did a better than adequate job analyzing these remarks, but there were a few points that I thought could be better made.  My credentials–I am on the verge of completing my PhD, my dissertation being on the subject of evolution and eugenics.  I founded a policy organization dedicated to detailing how the ‘culture of death’ (ie, eugenics-style thinking) has entrenched itself in unexpected ways in our government.  My organization is the publisher of a new translation of the work that was a catalyst to the holocaust, Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life.  I have produced a work of my own summarizing and linking the eugenics movements of the early 20th century with contemporary government–and health care–policies.  So, busy as I am, I believe I can add to this.

Gruber’s offending comment was:

Exactly. It’s 12 million people, about a third of which will end up paying more under this law. And that as you said in the introductions sort of the idea. We currently have a highly discriminatory system where if you’re sick, if you’ve been sick or [if] you’re going to get sick, you cannot get health insurance.

The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners who’ve been paying an artificially low price because of this discrimination now will have to pay more in return. And that, by my estimate, is about four million people. In return, we’ll have a fixed system where over 30 million people will now for the first time be able to access fairly price and guaranteed health insurance.

Limbaugh and others are correct in detecting the eugenics thinking behind this comment but do not go far enough in their explanation.  The problem is that a moment’s thought, especially amongst those with only a passing knowledge of the phrase ‘eugenics’, would recall that early 20th century eugenics had essentially embraced Darwin’s formula, “Survival of the fittest.”  (Darwin borrowed the phrase from Herbert Spencer.)  Given that evolution, as expressed in this maxim, was a raw scientific fact, early eugenicists saw the genetically inferior as a burden on society that needed to be eliminated.

But according to Gruber’s thinking, the genetically superior (“the genetic winners”) have to be made to pay for their “luck” by paying higher premiums so that the genetically inferior can have access to health care.  Such thinking would have garnered cat calls by Margaret Sanger and other early eugenicists.  The idea of facilitating the health and well-being of the ‘unfit’ at the expense of the fit would have made their blood curdle.  Certainly, the government shouldn’t be involved in such measures;  if anything, the government should be involved in doing the opposite.

So, on the face of it, Gruber can’t possibly be drawing from a eugenics ideology.  However, eugenics is a deep well to draw from.  One of the problems I’ve had in making these connections for people (besides the fact that they find it so outrageous as to be unbelievable–despite being absolutely true and relatively easy to document, thanks to the Internet) is that early eugenicists often proposed and entertained a wide variety of policies, often mutually contradictory ones.  Moreover, there was a distinction at the time between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ eugenics, and some debate over which approach to take.  ‘Positive eugenics’ entailed encouraging the fit to produce more and ‘negative eugenics’ entailed trying to curtail the reproduction of the unfit.

Neither of these would apply to Gruber, so we must go further.

Yet all their proposals, even the contradictory ones, had several things in common.  First of all, they firmly believed in evolutionary theory.  Second of all, they embraced the notion that it was proper and appropriate for the ‘species’ to take evolution into its own hands… and government was an obvious and ideal mechanism for doing such a thing.  Always, always, it was a question of having enough data to determine just what the right policy really was.  There was no question in their minds that they had the right, and even the duty, to try to implement those policies.

And that is one of the missing elements required to understanding the eugenics-style nature of Gruber’s remarks.  Very evidently, Gruber believes two things:  1., it is appropriate to view social issues through the lens of biological realities and 2., it is appropriate to act on those realities… through the government.

For all their multitude of contradictions, and Gruber’s own contradiction of past eugenicists, they all had these two beliefs in common.  They are fundamental pre-requisites for all the terrors that eugenics would soon inflict upon human history.   You could not have had compulsory sterilizations without these beliefs.  You could not have had anti-miscegenation laws.  You could not have had the Nazi T-4 project without them.  You could not have had the Office of Population Affairs without them.  You could not have had the Holocaust itself without them.

And, as ‘Obamacare Architect’ Gruber alludes to, you could not have had Obamacare without those beliefs, either.

Both, incidentally, are core features of contemporary liberalism and Progressives in particular.

A third commonality is almost certainly at work, but I haven’t verified this through research into Mr. Gruber.  Namely, the ‘universal acid’ (as Dan Dennett puts it) of Darwnism eats through everything, and this includes ethics and morality itself.  This idea that it is ethical to inflict suffering on one population (in this case, the genetic lottery winners) in order to help another population (in this case, the genetic lottery losers) must come from somewhere.  But based on any ideology that has evolution at its bottom, ethics consists of essentially whatever any particular evolutionist happens to think is ‘good’ for the species.  *Ahem* I mean, is in accord with the ‘common good.’

By virtue of being in charge (might makes right), people like Gruber believe that it is proper and appropriate for them to transmit and act on their particular ethical views through the government.

I’d have to do some research to know how close to the surface Gruber entertains such thinking.  Some are more self-aware than others.

My sense from this comment is that Gruber probably hasn’t really thought much about it.  Unfortunately, Dennett is quite right in referring to Darwinism as a ‘universal acid,’ and unfortunately, that includes rationality itself.  Reacting to the abuses of liberals and Progressives in the early 20th century, which horrified them, they drew all the wrong lessons.  They didn’t re-examine their core beliefs.  They still manly accepted the raw scientific truth that Darwinism was absolutely true and still believed it was appropriate to use the government to act on that truth.  They obfuscated the real foundation of the horrors of the 20th century, and came away thinking that ‘discrimination’ was the real enemy.

Thus, 60-70 years later, a person reflecting what is essentially a eugenics viewpoint is able to promote, implement, and defend policies that early eugenicists would have found revolting and totally inconsistent with the implications of Darwinism.

Nonetheless, Gruber’s comment reveals that some of the core axioms of the eugenicists still serve as guiding principles in Obamacare itself.  It’s just that at this particular moment (in Gruber’s mind) the pendulum has swung away from improving the race by cleansing it from the ‘unfit’ to improving the race by enforcing ‘fairness.’  In any case, viewing issues in biological, genetic, terms and embracing the notion that the government is an appropriate tool for addressing those issues, and the conclusion that humans ought to use that tool in that way, are all planks in the eugenics ideological platform.

And, as happened in the past, we will see in the future that, for all their good intentions, it will be the weak and defenseless that is harmed by eugenics programs such as Obamacare.

But that is another post.

 

 

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California Eugenics and the Devil’s Schemes

Originally Posted at the ChristianPost.com:  Eugenics and the Devil’s Schemes in California (and Elsewhere)

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he makes a comment that I have always found intriguing: “… in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Cor. 2:11)

I find this interesting, because as it seems to me, Christians continue to be outwitted by their chief Enemy and merrily remain unaware of his schemes. Of course, this applies to non-Christians, but that goes without saying, since they don’t even believe he exists. Christians, the bulk of whom presumably believe Satan is real and active, seeking those to devour, have no such excuse.

The example I want to provide today of the devil’s schemes, to be clear, is not something I am putting at the feet of Christians, as if to blame them. Instead, I submit it as an example of how devious and deceptive our enemy is; alert to his schemes, we perhaps won’t allow ourselves to be outwitted.

The example is the news out of California yesterday that over a period of about five years, imprisoned women were sterilized without state approval. In some of those cases, it appears also that the women had not given consent. In others, it may be the case that they did not even know the procedure was going to be performed. It is hard to tell from the article. What is clear, is that some of the women who did ‘give consent’ were pressured into doing so.

This treatment of women, some would think, is the sort of thing that could never happen after Roe vs. Wade. Didn’t it enshrine a women’s right to do with her body as she pleased? This is one of the enemy’s first deception, and one that I am afraid he has found many humans happily willing to knowingly go along with the deception. The ‘right’ to an abortion has little to nothing to do, in the eyes of the elites, with a woman’s reproductive choice. They were concerned, and remained concerned, with only two things: population control and making a bunch of money for themselves, preferably on the tax payer’s dime. “Choice” is a mere myth that popular society has imbibed and accepted, the elites, such as those who run Planned Parenthood, don’t give a lick.

I realize that is an assertion that many should like to see extensively corroborated. Space won’t allow it, but if there is a single document that exposes just how quickly organizations such as Planned Parenthood are willing to dispense with “women’s rights” in considering solutions, take a look at what is known as the Jaffe Memo. This memo, submitted to the Population Council in 1969 by Planned Parenthood’s vice-president in charge of ‘population’ issues, Frank Jaffe, proposes a number of measures to reduce fertility in the United States. Examples include:

  • Adding fertility control agents in the water supply
  • Requiring women to work and then providing few child care facilities
  • Abortion and sterilization on demand
  • Compelling women to be sterilized–or get abortions
  • Oh, and encouraging increased homosexuality.

I’m sure that the rapid public acceptance of homosexuality in our society has everything to do with rights, and nothing to do with elite propagandists forty years ago who saw in it a convenient way to reduce the population in the United States. (To draw the connection for people in our society today who for some reason may not be able to understand Jaffe’s logic… gay couples cannot, by themselves, reproduce. Did you know that? You may think this perfectly plain self-evident fact is a bigoted statement rather than the perfectly plain self-evident fact that it is. You can thank the propagandists for your inability to grasp this logic, and the speed in which you pull out the “you are a bigot!” card.)

That is a slight digression, but I make the point because it is another case in point of secular humanist liberal atheist materialists in a previous generation lying about their objectives, and winning acceptance of their proposals on a basis entirely different than the one that drives their agenda.

It may seem hard for some of us to learn that Planned Parenthood submitted abortion on demand as a population control measure, and was even willing to consider compelling women to get abortions, but that is precisely what they did. Whether or not this remains their agenda, of course we’ll never know, because, like the Enemy, they lie.

Finish Reading at the ChristianPost.com:  Eugenics and the Devil’s Schemes in California (and Elsewhere)

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Trucker Hours of Service Changes A Nightmare Come True

And now for something completely different.

Those who frequent this blog know that I offer arguments for Christianity against any and all and that I often ‘digress’ into political matters;  this justified because I think the current trends in America are leading up to piles of dead on top of the piles we are already generating, and this seems like the kind of thing that (if you believe it) ought to speak out about.  But they may not know that a few years back, I was an over the road truck driver.  This was an interesting experience and gives me some perspective to speak about the latest hours of service (HOS) changes coming down the pike for (against) truck drivers.  LINK

I feel compelled to highlight a couple of the quotes in that linked article, just because they really burn me up.

“The updated hours of service rule makes three common sense, data-driven changes to increase safety on our roadways and reduce driver fatigue, a leading factor in large truck crashes,” Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which issued the rules, said in a statement.

Few things chafe me like bureaucrats (and Obama) uttering phrases like “common sense” and “data driven.”  This is supposed to answer everything, you know.  What they are saying is scientific.  If you reject their ideas, you’ve lost your marbles, see.  The arrogant hubris of these people is precisely what is actually going to get us all killed on a grand scale.

Or later,

But the federal safety administration counters that nearly 4,000 truck crashes a year is still too many. The new rules, it maintains, will prevent about 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries, and save 19 lives each year, according to its analysis.

combined with:

The Department of Transportation contends the new rules would also save money. The department’s analysis found that in 2009, large truck and bus accidents cost about $20 billion in medical and insurance costs, infrastructure damage, lost wages and productivity. The analysis also estimated $470 million in benefits from reduced driver mortality.

I don’t want to disparage the idea of saving lives or saving money, but its this kind of meddling intrusion that makes me ill.  We do, after all, have someone in the White House that says saving just one life justifies any number of gun control measures.  What that Dude never factors into his ‘analysis’ is that in saving ‘one life’ he may actually end any number of lives–the people who are victims of violent crime who were prevented from protecting themselves because of the ‘one life’ they saved… and probably just one life, mind you… through their infantile gun control proposals.

Similarly, what this analysis leaves out is that there are other costs on the other side of the scale.  The accidents may cost $20 billion in medical and insurance costs, etc, but what are the costs involved from all the truck drivers who are probably about to leave their jobs?  After all, what we are basically doing is cutting their hours via Federal regulation… not even legislation!  A sizable number of them are going to decide that it isn’t worth it.

On top of that, as the article notes, the truck companies are going to have to raise their prices in a bid to higher more drivers and keep the ones that they have.  You know what I didn’t see?  Anne Ferro and Richard Hanowski (who said, no pun intended, “science really drove this policy”) tell us what the extra costs are going to be from paying unemployment benefits, the social costs for drivers who cannot afford to take care of their families, the extra burden on every American’s pocket book because the costs of the products they buy will have to go up since the shipping to get it to them have gone up, and the social costs involved in that.  Is that more or less than 21 billion dollars?

We’ll never know, because the ‘smart’ people didn’t think of it.  Or, if they did, we didn’t hear that.  Maybe as a society we would have decided that $100 billion in unemployment benefits and increased cost of living wasn’t enough implementing measures that may save $21 billion, and theoretically save 19 lives, while possibly destroying 10,000 others–19 of whom perhaps will commit suicide out of desperation.  We may suppose.

Of course, these things are hard to measure.  It would be difficult to monitor the change in a system like this and see exactly what kinds of effects there are.  Not to worry.  Our well-meaning bureaucrats love trying to sort this stuff out.  It’s what makes them tick.

Having had to abide by the old HOS, let me assure you that they definitely put a dent in my pocketbook.   Not that the HOS was the sole reason why I had to leave the industry, mind you.  And let me say this:  driver fatigue is absolutely and definitely an issue.  When people are guiding 40 ton missiles down the road, you want them to be awake and alert.

But here is the problem:  the HOS were an unwieldy instrument that didn’t actually facilitate me being ready and rested in time for a long drive, and often prevented me from driving when I was actually alert and ready to go.   Let’s take an example using the new hours of service that correlates to some real world instances (under the old rules).

You are only allowed to drive eleven hours total, but not beyond the fourteenth hour once you began driving.  Let’s say you wake up in the morning and you drive five hours to drop your load at a warehouse.  Your next load is just five hours away, so if you can just get unloaded quickly enough, you’ll be able to get a solid ten hours of driving in and not violate either the eleven or fourteen hour rule.  But there is a problem.

One thing leads to another, and the warehouse is not able to get you through smoothly enough.  It takes them five hours to get to you.  So, now you are already ten hours in on your fourteen hour limit, with five hours to go–plus a mandatory 30 minute break, and of course the need to have time to drop the load and find a place to sleep.  No biggie, you say.  You drive three hours that night, take your ten hour required rest, and pick up the last two hours the next day.  But there is another problem.

The customer requiring the second load needed it that night.  When your dispatcher found out that you would not be able to make the delivery that night, he had to give it to someone else.  So just get another load, right?

Sure.  Except the next ones available aren’t ready for you until the following morning.  You’ve got hours to burn but you can’t do anything with them.  They’re basically wasted.  You got in 250 miles instead of 500 miles.  And that five hours of down time?  Why, you probably figured out pretty quick that things were delayed and spent a lot of that SLEEPING.  When they were finally ready to send you on your way, you were wide awake.  Which meant that when you tried to sleep that night, you couldn’t, so you ended up only getting another five hours of sleep in after that, and when you started your morning drive–after a solid fifteen hour down time, five hours MORE than the 10 required–you were fatigued!

That kind of crap happened to me all the time.

Because in the real world, there are some things as a driver you can control, but a lot more that you can’t.  You can’t control what loads are available, what the time constraints on those loads are, what kind of set-up your customers have, whether or not they can process you efficiently or not, and so on and so forth.

And this is the kind of thing that I find it hard to believe ‘researchers’ would be able to take into account.  More to the point, I was as interested as anyone else in not driving fatigued, but as a grown adult, that is the sort of thing that I actually do know how to manage.  Can you believe that?  An adult.

I am well aware that there are adults that push it and make dangerous choices that risk putting innocents at risk.  You’re going to get this pretty much no matter what.  Did you know that some truckers kept two log books?  People violated the HOS before, they will now.  Trucking companies will enable and even smile on that behavior.  The question is whether or not you can resolve this issue with these kinds of regulations.  I doubt very much that you can.

I think a more effective measure would be this:

Make it a law (ie, via legislation, none of this Cass Sunstein-style ‘nudge’ crap, cloaked in ‘science’) that if you drive a truck and kill someone because you were fatigued, you get the death penalty.  Heck, give the dispatcher and the CEO the death penalty, too.  Watch how quickly the trucking industry shapes up their act.

Ok, so that’s obviously an unjust and disproportionate approach, but it would actually be effective, which is my point.  Linking consequences to outcomes, rather than micromanaging processes, is what will actually work.  In other words, rather than trying to tinker with things that one cannot possibly know anything about with sufficient knowledge and understanding to manage–the complexities of the real world trucking industry–you focus on what you want, which is people not dead.

So, you heavily penalize drivers and their companies that make people dead, and you heavily incentivize drivers and companies that don’t make people dead.

This does not seem to me to be that hard to understand, or even to implement.  But it is so much more fun to regulate people’s behavior, don’t you agree?  Let’s assume they are totally sincere and completely competent:  the job still cannot be done.  The system is too complex to micromanage.  Almost any system is.  But the people ‘running the show’ love systems, and love the idea of managing them.  What is necessary is the opposite of what they want:  less managing, less running of the show.  More trusting adults to be adults, and treating them like adults if they engage in behavior that leads to someone’s death.

And one more thing.  One way or the other, the price we pay for our goods has got to go up.  Drivers are woefully underpaid.  If they made $1/mile instead of 35 cents a mile, they may be more willing to stop after driving 400 miles in a day.  There would be less reason for them to risk their lives driving fatigued.  And, people would stay in the industry longer, which means more experienced drivers, and consequently, fewer accidents.  But of course, we are not so keen on paying more for the things we purchase.  Completely understandable.

But if we’re going to put in place measures that are going to drive up the cost of living significantly anyway, why not put in place ones that will actually work?

This does not seem to me to be too much to ask.

 

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How Californian Conservatives can Save America.

Here is how 2012 looked:
2012-electoral-map

California is a big state, population-wise.  It adds 55 electors to the electoral college, which under the Constitution (if anyone cares about that) determines the next President.   This is most amount of any state, with the next runner-up Texas, with 38.

California has been voting Democrat/liberal for many years and there is no sign of this changing any time soon.  Thus, California is going to be sticking its fat liberal thumb on the scales of American politics long into the future.  I would like to propose, however, that conservatives in California have the ability to Save America.  “How?” you ask.  Answer:  MOVE.

Just using the 2012 election results as a guide, we see that Obama got more votes, but Romney received 4,202,127.*  A decisive loss for the Republican cause in California, no doubt.  But what if those four million votes had been cast in other states?  Let’s take a look only at states that went for Obama:

  • In the state of Washington, with 12 electoral votes, Obama won, 1,620,432 to 1,201,369.   Deduct 419,064 from our California ‘bank’ to swing it to Romney, and we still have 3,783,064 to go.
  • In Oregon (7 votes), the swing was 203,579.  Left in our bank:  3,579,485.
  • In Nevada, 6 electoral votes, the swing was 66,380.  Now we have 3,513,105 left and we have delivered the entire west coast, minus California, to ‘our’ side.
  • In Colorado, 9 votes, the swing was  113, 100, leaving us with 3,400,005 still to spend.
  • In New Mexico, 5 votes, the swing was 76,398, leaving 3,323,607 still to play with.
  • In Florida, with a whopping 29 electoral votes (and about as many voting as in California… explain THAT!) Obama had 4.2 million votes, while Romney had 4.1, for a swing of just 73,190!  And we still have in our pocket 3,250,417!
  • In Virginia, with 13 votes, the votes needed to topple Obama was only 115,911, which still leaves us with more than 3 million to spread around, at 3,134,506.
  • In Minnesota, with 10 electoral votes, the votes needed was 226,094.  In our bank:  2,908,412.
  • In Iowa, with 6 votes, a scant 88,502 was necessary.  Left:  2,819,910.
  • In Wisconsin, 10 votes, needful was 205,205.  Leaving:  2,614,705.
  • In Ohio, 18 votes, the difference, plus 1, was 103,482, leaving 2,511,223.

To this point, we have moved away from Obama 125 electoral votes and given them to Romney.  New Total:  Romney 331 to Obama 207.  And we still have 2.5 million votes left in our bank.  There is still enough to take Michigan, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and EVEN ILLINOIS with more left over!  But I wouldn’t wish Illinois on my worst enemy, and I count those considering my proposal here as friends.

Basically, if we can get every conservative and Republican to leave California to go, well, just about anywhere else, they have the potential in doing this to save the entire country.

Now, the above states went ‘blue’ and as a conservative you may not want to leave one ‘blue’ state for another, but if we put 500,000 of your votes in each of these states:  Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, and Michigan, that would be a shift of 3.5 million that would make all but Michigan a solidly conservative state long into the future, and constitute a swing of 102 votes–still enough to have changed the last election, and certainly enough to change future ones.

I understand that there are reasons people like to live in California, and you would find it hard to leave your home.  But look at your home:  it is perpetually on the verge of collapse, and like the dog that returns to its vomit, constantly pursuing agendas and policies that have effectively sealed its fate.  It’s only a matter of time before California falls into the fiscal and social ocean, and if you had bought property at least in Nevada, you’d have new ‘beach front’ property.  When?  No one knows.  But I think you understand that the writing is on the wall.  Do you also understand that, as far as California goes, your presence there, at best, only delays the inevitable?

And yet, you have the ability, by moving OUT of California to change the whole tide of the country.  California, like Illinois (and maybe New York) are lost causes.  Their corruption and policies leave them so hopeless, that only their complete collapse can ever restore them.  Better to leave them be to reap their own fruit.  Move anywhere but those places, and you will weaken California’s influence and strengthen conservative influences elsewhere.   If you stay, you will continue to be powerless to stop what is coming in California, but you will deprive yourself of having meaningful power somewhere else.

So, I say, if you live in California and you are at all inclined to be opposed to liberalism and progressivism, GET OUT ASAP.

I think the GOP should start a fund to help facilitate this sort of thing.  All of our campaign dollars would be better spent paying for the moving expenses of all these California conservatives, helping them find new homes and jobs, and so on.  I’m serious.  Forget the campaigning.  Get ‘our’ people where they need to be to make a difference, and the rest will take care of itself.

 Doesn’t this look better?*

 2012electionifCaliforniaSavedIt

* I am aware that many of us weren’t all that thrilled with Romney.  Or McCain.  But at least for sheer thrill-up-the-leg value, doesn’t this map just look better?  Almost any name in red, with a higher number than Obama’s, is heartwarming.

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They Think We Are Stupid

Was reading this tonight and couldn’t help but chuckle over this remark:

The balance in the VICP fund as of May 2013 was about $3.4 billion. The fund has paid out only $2.7 billion since it was established in 1988

Funny.  I don’t think nearly half of the amount the fund has collected being disbursed is eligible for the word, ‘only.’  I know its relative, but I would think something like, say, $1 million, would be a fraction suitable for the word ‘only.’  I think a pay out of $2.7 billion represents a really sizable payout, and if this were a sane world, would be a cause for alarm.  I felt the tug at my funny bone when I read the quote from Julia Lawless, GOP press secretary of U.S. Senate Finance Committee:

First off, the Joint Committee on Taxation is clear this bill is not a tax increase.  Secondly, the legislation is about ensuring vaccine manufacturers produce vaccines for the next flu season – not past flu seasons.  Thirdly, the threat of litigation has been so severe against these manufacturers that this compensation fund had to be created or they would not have produced these vaccines.  That threat of litigation still exists and so does the need for vaccines.  We need to be careful how that fund is financed, because having it run a deficit could be dangerous when our goal is to ensure the production of safe vaccines.

Let’s see if we can work this out in our heads.  The fund was created because of the high threat of litigation, which evidently still exists.  Presumably, then, if the system was fair, and run like other tort systems, the vaccine producers would have had their pants sued off of them repeatedly by now, the $2.7 billion a tiny fraction of what they probably deserved to pay.

I checked out the link they provided just for giggles, and the payout for fiscal year 2013 was a total of $172,313,339 paid out to 253 people.  This is an average payout of $681,080 per person.  These must have been some reactions, no??!?!  And if the government hadn’t intervened, I bet this $681,080 each would have been significantly higher sums the pharma companies would have had to pay out.

But here is the kicker… the goal of this fund is to “ensure the production of safe vaccines.”  Now, I ask you, why would there be a “threat of litigation” if the vaccines were safe?

This doesn’t pass the ‘smell’ test.  Plain reason suggests that if the vaccines were safe, there wouldn’t be a ‘severe’ risk of litigation.

Methinks that if the vaccine companies, and the government itself, had to defend themselves in an actual court of law, we’d find out that the effectiveness of vaccines has been blown well out of proportion.  I doubt very much that only 253 people would have been vindicated in a fair court of law where the government hasn’t rigged the system under the guise of it being a “extremely important public health matter.”

To what degree the system is rigged, we’ll never know, but every now and then we have people who accidentally let the cat out of the bag, as Julia Lawless did.  They must think we’re too stupid to notice when they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

There is a reason why so many people are fleeing the public school systems, holding the declarations of public health officials and elected nannies in contempt, and turning to ‘organic’ food, and this little story is just one little hint of it.

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Support Sntjohnny/Athanatos Ministries with your NON-tax-exempt Donation

Every June, we run a donor drive.  In getting this year’s ready, I noted that my typical proviso that ACM is not tax-exempt had more significance than in previous years.

Over the last few weeks we have been regaled with case after case of conservative, Christian, anti-Obama, anti-Obama agenda organizations that have been targeted by the IRS.  Quite coincidentally, this began before the 2012 election.  This suppression has been public knowledge for several years, but the mainstream media, quite coincidentally, didn’t think it worth reporting on.  Nonetheless, despite the fact that it was all completely unintentional, there probably was an impact on the 2012 presidential election.

Some would say, “Good!”  I say, “Perhaps it is not wise for Christians to accept tax advantages in exchange for being silent on extremely important issues.”  At least, that has been my approach since I founded Athanatos Christian Ministries in 2008.  I have since had a fair bit to say about the impact of taxes on personal and religious freedom, and if you will forgive me for saying so, I’m feeling a bit vindicated right about now.

Here is a 2009 article I wrote urging Christians to consider abandoning their tax exempt status, and in this article, I challenge Christians to work out a ‘theology of taxation.’  For more on the topic, use the blog’s search feature, or here are all my posts tagged with ‘taxation.’  And don’t get me started on how right I was in regards to the US government’s obscene overreach into our electronic lives.

So, ACM is poised for some big changes.   There is a good possibility that it will be moving to a physical location, as opposed to primarily a virtual location.  (We previously had an office;  this is more than that.) We’ll have some chances to expand our media and arts ministry to movies and film.  We will continued to speak unshackled, unfettered, unmuzzled, on so-called ‘political’ issues such as abortion on demand.

If you want ACM to continue to grow and thrive, I would encourage you to support ACM with your financial resources.  Don’t wait, thinking that someone else is supporting it.  In order for ACM to go to the next stage, it needs some of its many supporters to translate their support into cash.  As ACM more and more becomes something that actually supports the executive director’s family (ie, me), financial support takes on a more urgent role, and if the base of support is not wide enough to support this important task, then hard but necessary economic decisions would need to be made.

But know this:  whatever ACM does, you can be sure that it will do it with abandon, on principle, with clear-headed thinking, and unmuzzled.

Here is the link to ACM’s June donor drive page with a summary of our upcoming endeavors, if you just want to skip to the donation part, you can click here.

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A Theology of Taxation? Horvath column published at Worldnetdaily.com

This is a column of mine that Worldnetdaily.com published several years back.  In light of recent events concerning the IRS targeting of tea party and conservative groups (and anyone else opposed to Obama’s policies), it seemed appropriate to highlight it again.


I am not a theologian or an economist and have never received formal instruction on the morality of taxation. That, though, is a bit of the point: Little effort is made to educate young Christians about matters of importance or otherwise equip them for the actual challenges they face when they come of age. It might seem odd to propose the development of a theology of taxation. Isn’t a theology on civil government enough?

No, it isn’t, especially when we the people (theoretically) constitute the government. Unfortunately, “taxation” is relegated off as mere “politics,” and in many minds most political issues are considered “spiritually neutral.” The feeling is that a Christian can in good conscience embrace any number of views and be within the revealed Word of God.

 Certainly, in ultimate terms Christians understand that the highest concern is the eternal fate of every human soul on the planet. Thus, temporal issues are of limited importance. True, but not of no importance. We must remind ourselves that God created the material world and our physical bodies and called it “good.” Though we will be resurrected with a “spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44), it is still a body. Even Jesus in his resurrected body retained the physical marks of his crucifixion.

Taxation is a subset of a larger issue. As Christians, we know that we cannot be indifferent to the welfare of our fellow man. We know that we should attempt to end or curtail atrocities such as abortion on demand and the Holocaust. We know that we should not look the other way when we see whole nations terrorized by tyrants and tyrannical ideologies. We know that, insofar as it is within our power, we should increase freedom and oppose slavery whenever we can. Slavery has many forms but is marked essentially by the forceful repression of individual human will. Taxation, all taxation, is in some respect and to some degree just such a repression.

Every increase in taxation represents a proportional decrease in human freedom.

How can that be? The easiest way to see it is to look at one of the most extreme examples ever to be manifested in human history: communism. Indisputably, wherever communism went, tyranny and enslavement – and worse – went with it. The grand experiment in mass redistribution of wealth had horrific consequences. However, it may be surprising and unexpected that religious persecution, torment and torture accompanied communism on its long march.

Why is that the case? Simply put, those who tax feel that they have the right, justification and authority to do so. When people believe that there is no higher authority than man himself, then they do not believe they answer to anyone, except of course their fellow man, and these they might be able to control – for the “common good” of course. This describes the communists to a T.

Religion, and Christianity in particular, stands in the way of that attitude, and the communists understood that acutely. The only ones who don’t seem to understand it are Christians.

Can it really be said, though, that all taxation represents a reduction in freedom? The answer to this must be yes, even if we recognize that the effect on freedom might be slight in some cases. To illustrate, imagine a small income tax of a dollar. It might be an easy matter to get by without that dollar, but it is still one more dollar that you cannot spend according to your own priorities. Consider what the impact is if instead the tax is 25 percent of your income!

We also have to ask about those who are doing the taxing. They obviously believe they have the right to take your resources from you. They must believe that they can obtain some good that people would not have subsidized if left to their own devices. They must believe that they know how much they can fairly extract from you. They must believe that they have the right, if you protest, to incarcerate you and take your possessions by force if need be. In sum, they are almost indistinguishable from tyrants.

Christians should not support tyrants or adopt their methods and so become tyrants ourselves. If there is a cause we wish to support, we ought to do so from our own resources out of the free expression of our own hearts (2 Corinthians 8).

Where does theology come into the picture? After all, Jesus is on the record saying, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Clearly, we must pay our taxes. Note, however, that in this passage Jesus was speaking to the people being taxed. What would He have said if he were speaking to the ones doing the taxing? What would He have said to Caesar? In a country such as ours, which is theoretically ruled at the consent of the governed, are we not in some way Caesar?

In light of the foregoing, Christians should carefully test their attitudes about taxation (and governing) against the Scriptures, not merely as those who are taxed and governed but as those who tax and govern.

Remember what Samuel told the Israelites when they demanded a king: “This is what [he] will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses … he will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendances. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage. … He will take a tenth of your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves” (1 Samuel 8).

Note: Samuel does not think any of these things are good things. In America there is no king – so why do we still see all the things that Samuel warned the Israelites about?

True Christian theologians and economists should sit down and work out a “theology of taxation” and present it before the church. Then we should teach our children that what happens in the world matters and has eternal reverberations (e.g., 1 Timothy 5:24-25). If we don’t teach our children, their secularist humanistic professors will.

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