Friday, February 28, 2014

Are You A Man Or A Brute?

Nowadays, some will maintain, in the name of Humanism, that the “Puritan” sexual morality of the Bible is inimical to the attainment of true human maturity, and that a little more license makes for richer living.  Of this ideology we would only say that the proper name for it is not Humanism, but Brutism.  Sexual laxity does not make you more of a man, but less so; it brutalizes you, and tears your soul to pieces.  The same is true wherever any of God’s commandments are disregarded.  We are only living truly human lives just so far as we are laboring to keep God’s commandments; no further.

J.I. Packer, Knowing God,  p.103

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why Do We Need Law?

Why should people remain good when unpoliced by the police?  If [Richard] Dawkins believes that they do, he must explain the existence of the criminal law, and if he believes that they do not, then he must explain why moral enforcement is not needed at the place where law enforcement ends.

David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion, p. 34

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, 
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must - but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow - 
You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt - 
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit - 
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The USA Is Doomed

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net.  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams

Monday, February 24, 2014

Legislating Morality?

Everyone realizes what “pro-life” people want to impose: They want to protect the baby and thus impose on the mother the duty of carrying her child to term.  But what is so often missed in this debate is that “pro-choice” activists want to impose their morals on others, as well: They want to impose the morals of the mother on the baby and, in some cases, on the father.  When abortion is the choice, the morals imposed on the baby come in the form of a knife, a vacuum, or scalding chemicals.  Such a choice also imposes on the biological father by depriving him of fatherhood and the right to protect his child.

In short, while the “pro-life” side wants to impose on the mother, the “pro-choice” side wants to impose on the baby and the father.  In other words, both sides wish to impose their own morality on others.  The question remains, which morality is the “right” morality to impose?

Dr. Norman Geisler & Frank Turek, “Legislating Morality,” p.43

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Atheists Think They Won't Be Held Responsible

As far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing.

That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion, pp.26-27.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It Has Come to Pass

The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship,” 1937.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rent Control Is Harmful

Just as minimum wage laws tend to reduce employment transactions with those who pay is most affected, so rent control laws have been followed by housing shortages in Cairo, Melbourne, Hanoi, Paris, New York and numerous other places around the world.  Here again, attempts to make transactions terms better for one party usually lead the other party to make fewer transactions.  Builders especially react to rent control laws by building fewer apartment buildings and, in some cases, building none at all for years on end.

Landlords may continue to rent existing apartments but often they cut back on ancillary services such as painting, repairs, heat and hot water — all of which cost money and all of which are less necessary to maintain at previous levels to attract and keep tenants, once there is a housing shortage.  The net result is that apartment buildings that receive less maintenance deteriorate faster and wear out, without adequate numbers of replacements being built.  In Cairo, for example, this process led to families having to double up in quarters designed for only one family.  The ultimate irony is that such laws can also lead to higher rents on average — New York and San Francisco being classic examples — when luxury housing is exempted from rent control, causing resources to be diverted to building precisely that kind of housing.”

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p.70-71

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Gullible and "Art"

Is democracy responsible for the current debasement of art?  The debasement, of course, is not unquestioned; it is a matter of subjective judgment; and those of us who shudder at its excesses - its meaningless blotches of color, its collages of debris, its Babels of cacophony - are doubtless imprisoned in our past and dull to the courage of experiment.  The producers of such nonsense are appealing not to the general public  - which scorns them as lunatics, degenerated, or charlatans - but to gullible middle-class purchasers who are hypnotized by auctioneers and are thrilled by the new, however deformed.

Will and Ariel Durant, “The Lessons of History,” p.78

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Those Who Don't Learn From History....

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance.  It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in numerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.

Paul Johnson, “The Quotable Paul Johnson: A Topical Compilation of His Wit and Wisdom and Satire, p.138, as cited by Thomas Sowell in, “Intellectuals and Society,” p.485

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Describing Our Current President

The statesman, who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, p.423

Monday, February 17, 2014

Minimum Wage Harm

Intervention by politicians, judges, or others, in order to impose terms more favorable to one side - minimum wage laws or rent control laws, or example - reduces the overlapping set of mutually agreeable terms and, almost invariably, reduces the number of mutually acceptable transactions, as the party disfavored by the intervention makes fewer transactions subsequently.  Countries with generous minimum wage laws, for example, often have higher unemployment rates and longer periods of unemployment than other countries, as employers offer fewer jobs to inexperienced and low-skilled workers, who are typically the least valued and lowest paid - and who are most often priced out of a job by minimum wage laws.

It is not uncommon in European countries with generous minimum wage laws, as well as other worker benefits that employers are mandated to pay for, to have inexperienced younger workers with unemployment rates of 20 percent or more.  Employers are made slightly worse off by having to rearrange their businesses and perhaps pay for more machinery to replace the low-skilled workers whom it is no longer economic to hire.  But those low-skilled, usually younger, workers may be made much worse off by not being able to get jobs as readily, losing both the wages they could earn otherwise and sustaining the perhaps greater loss of not acquiring the work experience that would lead to better jobs and higher pay.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, p.70

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Religion Is Necessary For Morality

There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.

Will and Ariel Durant, “The Lessons of History,” p.51

Friday, February 14, 2014

Killing Our Handicapped?

The solemn fact is that if society is prepared to kill an unborn child on the sole ground that it will be handicapped, there is no logical reason why we should not go on to kill the deformed newborn, the comatose victim of a car crash, the imbecile and the senile. For the handicapped become disposable when their lives are judged "worthless" or "unproductive," and we are back in Hitler's horrible Third Reich.

John Stott, "Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today," pg.330

Thursday, February 13, 2014

God Is Watching

Do nothing that you would not like God to see. Say nothing you would not like God to hear. Write nothing you would not like God to read. Go no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say, “Show it to Me.” Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like to have God say, “What are you doing?”

―J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Problem of Teachers' Unions

Like most trade unions, teachers’ unions are status quo organizations.  They hate change.  They are against merit pay, competency testing of teachers, standardized testing of students, parental authority, decentralization of school choice.  They are terrified of competition.

It is no wonder that the growth of educational unions correlates almost perfectly with the decline in the quality, and increase in cost, of public educations.

Linda Bowles, “Teachers’ unions are terrified of competition,” Creators Syndicate, 7/22/96

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Progression of Sin’s Acceptance

That which was
illegal because of its immoral nature
becomes something which is legal but morally condemned.
That which was
morally condemned
becomes something which is acceptable, albeit less than ideal.
That which was
less than ideal
becomes something which is equal in value, if still a little morally questionable.
That which was
questionable morally
becomes something which is accepted as morally good.
That which was accepted as
morally good
becomes something which it is immoral to oppose.
That which was
immoral to oppose
becomes something which it is immoral to fail to endorse.
That which was
immoral to fail to endorse
becomes something government must endorse.
That which was
what government must endorse
becomes something which the state church will be compelled to endorse.
That which was
what the state church much endorse
becomes something which all must endorse.
That which was
what all must endorse
becomes something which it is illegal to fail to endorse.
And so that which was illegal, because of its immoral nature,
has become something which it is illegal to fail to endorse.
For evil will eventually be unsatisfied to merely coexist with good.

What is true of a society is true in the human heart.
If we let evil become acceptable to us,
it will want to rule us.

By Jon Gleason, at Mind Renewers

(The red stanza is the current state of the USA and many other countries, while the green stanza will be the near future.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Industrial Revolution Led to a Quicker Moral Decline

Gradually, then rapidly and ever more widely, the Industrial Revolution changed the economic form and moral superstructure of European and American life.  Men, women, and children left home and family, authority and unity, to work as individuals, individually paid, in factories built to house not men but machines.  Every decade the machines multiplied and became more complex; economic maturity (the capacity to support a family) came later; children no longer were economic assets; marriage was delayed; premarital continence became more difficult to maintain.  The city offered every discouragement to marriage, but it provided every stimulus and facility for sex.  Women were "emancipated" - i.e., industrialized; and contraceptives enabled them to separate intercourse from pregnancy.  The authority of father and mother lost its economic base through the growing individualism of industry.  The rebellious youth was no longer constrained by the surveillance of the village; he could hide his sins in the protective anonymity of the city crowd.  The progress of science raised the authority of the test tube over that of the crosier; the mechanism of economic production suggested mechanistic philosophies; education spread religious doubts; morality lost more and more of its supernatural supports.  The old agricultural moral code began to die.

Will & Ariel Durant, "The Lessons of History," p.39

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Capitalism vs Socialism

The crucial distinction between market transactions and collective decision-making is that in the market people are rewarded according to the value of their goods and services to those particular individuals who receive those goods and services, and who have every incentive to seek alternative sources, so as to minimize their costs, just as sellers of goods and services have every incentive to seek the highest bids for what they have to offer.  But collective decision-making by third parties allows those third parties to superimpose their preferences on others at no cost to themselves, and to become arbiters of other people’s economic fate without accountability for the consequences.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, P.67

Friday, February 7, 2014

"Hyphenated" Americans Need to Unite and Drop the Hyphen

We are either a united people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all matters of general concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it.

George Washington

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Way to Socialism

If you have transformed the taxing agency of the stated into a political weapon; ... if you are setting up a massive government program to gather the financial and health information of every citizen, and control their access to care; and if you have a spy agency that can read the mail and listen to the communications of every individual in the country, you don’t really need a secret police to destroy your political opponents.  Once you have silenced them, you can proceed with your plans to remake the world in your image.

David Horowitz, Israel My Glory magazine, Jan/Feb 2014, p.37

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Thinker

Back of the beating hammer
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop's clamor
The seeker may find the Thought -
The Thought that is ever master
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!

The drudge may fret and tinker
Or labor with lusty blows,
But back of him stands the Thinker,
The clear-eyed man who knows;
For into each plow or sabre,
Each piece and part and whole,
Must go the Brains of Labor,
Which gives the work a soul!

Back of the motors humming,
Back of the bells that sing,
Back of the hammers drumming,
Back of the cranes that swing,
There is the eye which scans them
Watching though stress and strain,
There is the Mind which plans them -
Back of the brawn, the Brain!

Might of the roaring boiler,
Force of the engine's thrust,
Strength of the sweating toiler -
Greatly in these we trust.
But back of them stands the Schemer,
The Thinker who drives things through;
Back of the Job - the Dreamer
Who's making the dream come true!

Berton Braley
From "The Best Love Poems Of the American People"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Compromise With Evil Only Benefits Evil

The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world.  Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life.  Whether you live or die is an absolute.  Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute.  Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter’s stomach, is an absolute.

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.  The man who is wrong still retains some respect for the truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice.  But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway.  In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win.  In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit.  In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube.

John Galt in “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand

Monday, February 3, 2014

When the State Determines the Institution of Marriage

Some day marriage licenses would be sold like dog licenses, good for a period of twelve months, with no lawsuit against changing dogs or keeping more than one animal at a time.

Aldous Huxley, “Brave New World.”

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Income Distribution

This mundane, utilitarian process is quite different from the vision of "income distribution" projected by those among the intelligentsia who invest that vision with moral angst.  If there really were some pre-existing body of income or wealth, produced somehow - manna from heaven, as it were - then there would of course be a moral question as to how large a share each member of society should receive.  But wealth is produced.  It does not just exist somehow.  Where millions of individuals are paid according to how much what they produce is valued subjectively by millions of other individuals, it is not at all clear on what basis third parties could say that some goods or services are over-valued or under-valued, that cooking should be valued more or carpentry should be valued less, for example, much less than not working at all is not rewarded enough compared to working. ...

Where people are paid for what the produce, one person’s output can easily be worth a thousand times as much as another person’s output to those who are recipients of that output...

The fact that one person’s productivity may be a thousand times as valuable as another’s does not mean that one person’s merit is a thousand times great as another’s.  Productivity and merit are very different things, though the two things are often confused with one another.  Moreover, an individual’s productivity is affected by innumerable factors besides the efforts of that individual - being born with a great voice being an obvious example.  Being raised in a particular home with a particular set of values and behavior patterns, living in a particular geographic or social environment, merely being b born with a normal brain...can make enormous differences in what a given person is capable of producing.

More fundamentally, third parties are in no position to second-guess the felt value of someone’s productivity to someone else, and it is hard even to conceive how someone’s merit could be judged accurately by another human being who "never walked in his shoes."  An individual raised in terrible home conditions or terrible social conditions may be laudable for having become an average, decent citizen with average work skills as a shoe repairer, while someone raised from birth with every advantage that money and social position can confer may be no more laudable for becoming an eminent brain surgeon.  But that is wholly different from saying that repairing shoes is just as valuable as being able to repair maladies of the brain. ...

If one prefers an economy in which income is divorced from productivity, then the case for that kind of economy needs to be made explicitly.  But that is wholly different from making such a large and fundamental change on the basis of verbal virtuosity in depicting the issue as being simply that of one set of "income distribution" statistics today versus an alternative set of "income distribution" statistics tomorrow.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society, pp. 50-51

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Thought About Marriage

There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.

Homer, c. 700 BC