Government

T Minus Three Days and Counting…

election

So. Election Day is Tuesday. And I’ve got to make a decision because, quite frankly, I haven’t done so yet, and time’s running out.

But before I even start my rant, a few definitions.

Libertarian — the philosophy that government’s power to intrude upon the lives of private citizens should be as limited as possible. This is the view that government’s legitimate purpose is merely to serve as a buffer, a barrier between my life and your life, between the individual’s life and the majority’s lives, and between our collective lives and the lives of foreign nations. It’s the philosophy of “I am the boss of me”. In this philosophy, the role of an elected representative is that of a steward, someone who sees himself as the EQUAL of the person he represents, and who exercises authority on their behalf, benefit — not unlike a stock broker, who may be smarter with money than you are, but nonetheless is bound to invest as YOU see fit.

Authoritarianism — the philosophy that government’s power to intrude upon the lives of private citizens is, to a greater or lesser degree, legitimate so long as you have enough support. This view belies equality, in my view, as it necessitates that otherwise-equal citizens gain superiority by being elected to public office. It’s the philosophy of “I am the boss of me AND you.” When an authoritarian gets elected, they are (in their mind) given the power to dictate terms to private lives, mandate an external morality, mandate redistribution of wealth, that sort of thing. In essence, an authoritarian sees government as a tool to legitimately RULE people.

Having covered that…

First decision is… do I even vote at all? If I decline to vote, I help and hurt all campaigns equally — which is to say, not at all. I’m held harmless for endorsing a candidate and permitting the harm that I’m convinced they will do. But I believe in being active in the political process — not a duty per se, but a right to have my voice heard. I always have the option of not voting, if I can’t come to consider any option viable, but if at all possible I’d prefer to politically say my piece.

But, if I’m voting, who do I vote for?

Clinton is a nonstarter from jump. Rare is the day that I vote Democrat — not because of the party, but because of the person — but I have been known to vote for the Democrat if I think they’re worthy of my support. My former sheriff in Arkansas can attest to that. That said, Clinton has never demonstrated herself worthy of my support, not even remotely. She’s an authoritarian, first and foremost. Beyond that, she’s a redistributionist, a social justice warrior, a liar, a thief, a hypocrite. She’s negligent of her responsibilities, and she thinks the law doesn’t apply to her. She’s an elitist who has completely forgotten that she is not entitled to ANYTHING from the American people, but rather that every stitch of political power she has EVER wielded is on LOAN to her from the American people, both those who voted for her and those who did not.

So… no 🙂

Jill Green’s another that’s a no from jump. Some libertarians would like you to believe that she’s got libertarian qualities, and maybe she advocates some libertarian POLICIES, but when it comes to core PRINCIPLES that inform those policies, she’s so authoritarian as to practically be totalitarian.

This segues to Gary Johnson — the Libertarian Party’s candidate. Not so much. While LP had a good shot at legitimacy with Austin Petersen (my run-away favorite from this election cycle), they sacrificed libertarian principles to go with name recognition. The further the election has gone, the more Johnson has proven himself to be a principle authoritarian that flirts with libertarian policy when it suits him.

So… Darrell Castle? Not so much. I LOVE what he has to say morally, but in policy — again, authoritarian. It seems to be a running theme this cycle. While Castle would likely be very libertarian in a number of his policies, he does advocate for legislating morality, which God made a very voluntary, relational thing. As far back as the Garden of Eden, He commanded not to eat of a particular Tree… but then left it up to us to choose to obey or NOT obey, and to accept the consequences of our choice. Morality has ALWAYS been about relationship — between us and God, between us and our friends and loved ones, between us and total strangers. It’s necessarily BIASED, so it’s a serious problem when you try to enforce biased morality with a legal system that’s fundamentally UNbiased. Besides which, Castle is a write-in for my state — with access to enough electoral votes to win the election, but not officially on the ballot in Alabama. This presents a bit of a problem for me, as it makes him both a viable candidate AND non-viable. I already have issues with him being president, so to cast a decidedly losing vote for somebody that I can’t even guarantee my support for — that, in my mind, would be WORSE than not voting at all.

And that brings me to Trump. Heh.

If you’ve followed my Facebook AT ALL, you’ve seen all my commentary already, but to sum it up… Trump is an authoritarian. He’s never held public office before, but he HAS been in the public eye for his entire career in business. And in all that time, he’s never demonstrated even the SLIGHTEST tendency toward stewardship. He handles investor money in such a way that it benefits him… and hopefully, his investors. Ya know, as a bonus. If it DOESN’T benefit his investors, well, he can live with that. He’s still huge. He’s still tremendous. His investors will get over it, because he’ll make them great again.

Yeah.

See, I couldn’t care less that he’s arrogant — that has no bearing on his ability to perform the task at hand (although it does speak to his lack of stewardship, which requires a bit of humility). I couldn’t care less that he’s not well-spoken — many brilliant people aren’t, and yes, Trump is brilliant. I couldn’t care less about the media’s crucifixion of him — the vast majority of the stories are, well, trumped up. What I care about is, will this man represent ME — whether I support him or REFUSE to support him, as is the foundation of representative government — or will he represent himself in my name?

So in case you’re keeping score, I’ve got nobody that I can vote for for president.

But what about VICE president?

Well, you got Tim Kaine who, if it were possible, is even WORSE than Clinton, both in principle and in policy. Same with Bill Weld, who’s even more authoritarian than Johnson, and very anti-gun to boot — very scary combination. The VPs for Castle and Green? I ain’t got a clue, really.

But Mike Pence?

Finally, there’s somebody on the list that I can actually get behind. Granted, he does have his authoritarian ways, but he demonstrates a libertarian streak in two key areas — immigration, and taxation.

In 2006, Pence forwarded a radical immigration plan that would curtail illegal immigration by streamlining it… but requiring the process to be started in the immigrant’s country of origin. In other words, the illegal COULD LEGALIZE, but he would have to self-deport BEFORE he could become legal. I thought that plan was BRILLIANT, as it addresses the real problem of illegal immigration while offering redemption to illegals WITHOUT it being amnesty, and also taking a libertarian stance regarding those who legitimately want to immigrate. It put the power to make amends squarely in the hands of the one who broke the law in the first place. HUGE points for me.

Then there’s taxation. Pence is one of the few politicians at his level of government who favors the FAIRtax, a consumption-side tax that replaces the mandated income tax with a national sales tax, leaving control over taxation in the hands of taxpayers. Now, the typical libertarian stance on taxes is that “taxation is theft”. I would kinda disagree. Taxation ITSELF is not theft, but HOW you tax — i.e. do you take it without consent, or do you allow the taxpayer the decision of how, or IF, they want to pay. FAIRtax makes high marks here. Don’t wanna pay tax at the grocery store? Grow a garden. You make your own food, you keep money that would otherwise go to tax, AND you remove yourself as a potential welfare burden. It’s man’s nature to try and scam the system, and under the current system such tendencies hurt the country, but the FAIRtax actually BENEFITS from that tendency. It’s wins, all around.

Now, these aren’t marijuana stances — policies where, like Johnson, you can have authoritarian principles but like the policy. No, with both immigration and taxation, your policy HAS to reflect your principle, because they both go to the core of how you as a politician see your constituent (current or potential), and how you see yourself in that light. Current immigration sees the politician as the host and the immigrant as the guest. Current taxation sees the politician as the employer and the taxpayer as the employee. Both of Pence’s revisions necessitate a view of politician and constituent being EQUAL, neither superior to the other. They don’t work — they don’t even make SENSE — with any other dynamic.

So while I can’t support any of the current presidential crop, my choice for vice president is VERY confident — Mike Pence. What this means for Tuesday? That’s what I’ve got to figure out. Do I want Pence enough that I can justify a vote for Trump? Or does Trump, as frontman on the ticket, trump Pence? I dunno. But I’ve only got a few days to get it together.

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Casting a “wasted” vote…

hillary-clinton-donald-trump

Okay, I’m real tired of fellow Christians trying to shoehorn me into casting a “lesser of the evils” vote for Trump, because Hillary will X or Johnson can’t Y or Who in the world is Z? So let me bring this question front and center with the following illustration…

The Body of Christ has become incredibly Laodecian. Sure, there are a few hold-outs that truly honor the God they claim to love, but for the most part, the church is overrun with pseudo-Christians that simply wear a title but don’t actually live the life.

Now, your respective collective is electing new leadership. The Catholic Pope is retiring. The Orthodox Patriarch has died. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention is stepping down. Whatever the church, whatever the reason, you find yourself having to elect new leadership… and your choices are all bad ones.

There are two extremely popular frontrunners. The first is one who’s very likely a closet atheist, whose only intent is to bring the church to ruin, but he is popular because he tickles the ears of many Laodecian believers. The second is a televangelist who claims to love God but shows very little interest in actually obeying Him. This guy preaches strongly against all the popular sins, but lives life as if his doctrinal positions are matters of convenience, not born out of any true submission to Christ. He tickles a completely different set of ears.

There are also a handful of also-rans who fall in a range roughly between these two front runners, and you can’t stomach ANY of them… but then there’s this one guy. Few people know his name, and he’s not even on all the ballots, but of everybody in the race, he’s the only one, the ONLY one, that visibly honors God with his life, even when that honor brings him inconvenience or even pain. You’re convinced that the guy doesn’t stand a chance — not with the Laodecian voters, and not with a God that has pretty much left the church to go the way of the Pharisees.

Time comes for you to vote. Everybody in your cliche tries to push you toward the televangelist or the closet atheist, but you want to honor God with your vote. Do you vote for the televangelist because it’s less likely that he’ll bring the church to ruin? Or do you vote for the one that you’re convinced would honor God with his position, even if you’re sure he’s not going to get the vote?

This is where I am with the whole Trump/Clinton/Also-rans thing. Feel free to vote your candidate. Feel free to vote the lesser of the evils, if you feel it wise. But never, for a second, think that my vote for X is a vote for Hillary, just because it’s not for Trump. Don’t think you can shoehorn me with strawman arguments or fear tactics. I have only one aim — to honor the principles that this nation was founded upon. If I don’t believe your candidate of choice will do that, your candidate will not get my vote. Period. You wouldn’t ask me to betray my faith for the more popular church leader. Don’t ask me to betray my patriotism for the more popular presidential candidate.

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How “compassion” is destroying America, or “Why I’m a libertarian”

Yes, there is a reason why that word is in quotes. First, though, a definition…

Compassion is actually a compound word, joining “com” (meaning “with” or “together”) and “passion” (meaning “suffering”). So, quite literally, the word means “to suffer with” or “to suffer together”.

Now, most people believe they know what compassion is. When they see someone hurting, they hurt. The most basic of them stop there and call that compassion. Not so much. Compassion moves us to action — to not just hurt from the sidelines, but to get involved in those who are hurting.

Those who “do something about it”… yeah, THEY’RE the ones who are compassionate!

Not so much. And that’s the part that’s destroying America. See, we’re johnny-on-the-spot in pointing out somebody else’s hypocrisy, but we’re kinda slow at recognizing our own, and nowhere is this as evident (to those who are looking for it) than in our politics.

See, I was discussing with some friends the concept of mandated vaccines. My position is that the government has no place to force people to get vaccinated, because that individual’s body is sovereign territory. Though the government does have the authority to protect an unwilling third party from this person’s “stupidity”, it does NOT have the authority to tell this person that they cannot be “stupid”. The subject of public schooling came up, and how unvaccinated students endanger the rest of the population, and that the only way that they could both protect the right of a student to be unvaccinated and the right of the other students is to deny unvaccinated students access to the public school system.

Yep. I totally agree.

I can just imagine the guy I was talking with turning blue and swallowing his tongue. “You’d deny a child an education? Don’t you care?”

My thinking, of course, is that while your body and your property are sovereign territories, as soon as you step out into public, you are in shared territories — places where your sovereign rights end where another person’s sovereign rights begin (thank you, Oliver Wendell Holmes). This is how I can stand against seat belt laws but support drunk driving laws, and support both the denial of vaccination and the denial of access to public education.

“Where’s your compassion? Those seat belts keep people safe. Those vaccines protect innocent children. That homeless person has no food. X person needs Y help. Don’t you care?”

Well, yes. I care deeply. But I don’t care so much that I’m going to deny your rights while I am fighting for theirs. And that’s precisely what’s wrong with America today — far too many people are unwilling to say that when it becomes inconvenient. It’s absolutely hypocritical.

Progressives see the suffering of the homeless, or the indigent, or the oppressed, and the hurt in their heart. Their response is to dig into public funds supplied by mandated taxes and seek to relieve that suffering — to mitigate the consequences of happenstance and poor judgment by forcibly rolling those consequences onto somebody who didn’t sign up for them. They just can’t watch the suffering of someone who is disabled (or simply didn’t maintain their health), or someone who walks into a desert to cross a border illegally, so rather than letting them deal with the consequences of life, and rather than getting personally involved, they bail these people out of those consequences… by rolling those consequences onto shoulders that they presume are strong enough to bear it. Compassionate as heck to the person receiving the aid — not so compassionate to the taxpayer being forced to provide it. Their justification? “They don’t need/deserve compassion as much as X”.

Conservatives are much the same. They see the suffering that drugs and alcohol represent, that prostitution and gambling brings, and institute prohibitions. They see people struggling all over the world, abused by tyrannical regimes, and they send in the military to rescue them. Though their “compassions” are different, their response is similar — to mitigate the consequences of happenstance and poor judgment by legislating against the actions that cause such pain and suffering. They just can’t bear to watch marriages fall apart due to Daddy taking time with a hooker, or babies being raised by drug addicted Mommies, so they make these things illegal. They can’t bear to see a people struggling under the weight of an oppressive government, so they “intervene”. Just like progressives, they cannot bear to witness people unjustly suffering the consequences of life, so they look for ways to prevent those consequences or mitigate them… not by getting involved personally, but by rolling those consequences onto shoulders that they presume are strong enough to bear it. Their justification? “It’s for their own good.”

The heart of this problem is that we as a nation do not understand the fundamental concept of compassion — again, which means to suffer with the suffering. That’s a natural side effect of compassion, a necessary CONSEQUENCE of it. But we don’t like consequences. We love to shift blame, to shirk responsibility, all while claiming credit for a job well done.

Oh, make no mistake about it, none of us want to see somebody else suffering… but we’re rather reluctant to share that suffering ourselves. So our response is either one of two things — to spread the consequences over the taxpayer base, or to prevent the actions that lead to those consequences. That way, no matter who we want to help with whatever suffering, we don’t have to suffer with them.

Makes perfect sense… as long as you don’t dig deep enough to find the hypocrisy. Because when we put this logic into practice, we find that we can’t forcibly spread our compassions to others without denying compassion to those we force our compassions upon. In other words, we can’t relieve suffering without causing suffering to others because we don’t want ourselves to suffer. Ultimately, we’re hypocrites.

That’s not to say that there aren’t bastions of true compassion left in America, of course. Churches. Soup kitchens (often church-funded). Foreign missions. Pro-bono clinics. GoFundMe and the like (for the most part). Charities, true charities, that operate NOT on taxpayer monies but strictly on donation. These are the people that are truly suffering with those who suffer. They get out their and they feel the pain that others feel. They provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and job placement, seeking to relieve burdens without themselves becoming a burden.

And how do we respond to such glowing examples of humanity? We regulate their gifts of food through the Health Department, or permits and business models to (pre-emptively) protect the rights of for-profit industries. We dig into these charities and issue mandates on how they do what they voluntarily do… at the taxpayer’s expense. Rather than us physically share in the suffering of others — to actually work a soup kitchen or personally pick somebody up for a ride to a job interview or take missions trips ourselves to foreign lands to help liberate an oppressed people — we roll it over onto the taxpayer who has no choice but to shoulder part of our “suffering”.

America is DYING of a false sense of compassion, its liberties being sold cheaply because although we know how to “feel” compassionate, we refuse to ACT with compassion.

The single greatest example of true compassion, of course, is the sacrifice of Christ, but I dare say that this example is incomplete without the reality of Hell. See, without Hell, the sacrifice of Christ really has no meaning. “The Cross saves us!” Absolutely… but from what? Unless there are consequences to sin, and unless God is willing to allow us to suffer those consequences, then the Cross means nothing.

Of course, our progressive example would be “God is compassionate, so He will forgive whether we repent or not” — bailing us out of the consequences. Similarly, our conservative example is “God is compassionate, so He will make us to repent” — pre-empting the consequences. Truth is, though, God IS compassionate because He shared in our suffering… and allows us the opportunity to make that choice ourselves, KNOWING the consequences of our rejection and dreading them, but allowing them anyway. Out of love.

See, God hates the consequences of sin, just like we in America hate the consequences of life. But God demonstrates compassion by feeling pain with those who feel pain, and rolling up His sleeves and personally getting involved. We, unfortunately, are reluctant to love the way God loves. We steal liberty for the sake of granting liberty, stealing rights for the sake of granting rights, stealing compassion for the sake of granting compassion. We’re quick to point this out in others, but we turn a blind eye to it in ourselves.

So, plugging this into how “compassion” is destroying America, how do we fix compassion? Quite simply, to do it like God does it — to love like God loves. We get involved. We give of our own time, our own resources, and never expect or demand that somebody does our job for us. Our military is for national defense only — not for sending into a conflict that is not inherently ours. We stop regulating “help”, recognizing that our charities aren’t required to help in the first place. We allow people to make their own choices… and live with the consequences of them. Make no mistake, I’m NOT suggesting that we throw people to the wolves, but when we exercise compassion, we exercise honest compassion, suffering with those who are suffering — never creating suffering so that we don’t have to suffer as much.

Loving how God loves, in our politics just as in our everyday lives.

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Some not-so-random thoughts…

When in life, it becomes necessary for a people to politically “divorce” themselves from each other, and to reclaim a place that’s always been theirs — separate from their “divorcees” but equal to them, owning the exact same rights that God gave them all — common decency requires that these people should tell their former country what drove them to seek divorce.

We believe these truths to be common-sensical and irrefutable…

  1. That all people are inherently equal
  2. That our Creator gave us all certain rights that cannot be taken away, rights which fall generally into one of three categories…
    1. Life
    2. Liberty
    3. The pursuit of happiness
  3. That to protect these rights, people institute governments which have NO POWER of their own, except what power the people LOAN to them
  4. That whenever any government abuses its borrowed power, the people who loaned it that power have every right to either change the government or abolish it entirely, and to form a new government in its place, based on such principles and defining (giving AND limiting) such powers as would see the people’s rights once again protected.

Now, common sense dictates that people should NOT change or abolish their governments on a whim — and in fact, history proves this, in that people would rather suffer injustice (so long as they are able) than to rise up against the government that they are used to.

But when the government has a long track record of abuse, to the point where the people feel that they no longer own their own lives but are in fact owned by their government, it is their right — their DUTY — to abolish that government, and to create a new one in its place that WILL protect their ownership of their own lives.

***

I’m sure most of you realize this, but these words aren’t really mine at all. Rather, this is the first part of the Declaration of Independence, written and signed two hundred forty years ago this Monday. I realized that MANY people in the US today have little time or desire to sift through all the “these” and “thous” of the original language, so I thought it beneficial to put the thoughts of the Declaration into today’s terms, to demonstrate just how RELEVANT the Declaration is, even in this day when politicians are claiming that our rights change with the times.

As if.

1776

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Consistently Inconsistent

Lemme warn you at the outset, this is gonna be long and rambling. I’m on night shift, and at a post where there’s nothing to do but write, so yeah — be forewarned 😉

Anyway…

Follow my posts long enough, and you’ll get a sense for my worldview. I’m first and foremost a disciple of Christ, and something of an amateur Christian apologist. I’m also a devoted husband and father, a passable author of speculative fiction (aka “the weird stuff”), and a bullheaded small government conservative.

Personally, I find all of these things vital parts of what I consider an internally consistent worldview. I mean, I don’t compartmentalize this spiritual view away from that political stance, or this role away from that aspiration. Each portion of my worldview informs all other parts, and all parts are interconnected and, for the most part, interchangeable.

Of course, I’m used to liberals accusing me of being inconsistent, a la “How can you call yourself pro-life when you’re a supporter of gun rights and capital punishment?” I try my best to explain it to them, but they’re generally more interested in leveling accusations of hypocrisy than trying to understand how I logically reconcile one view with the other. So I’m generally left with shrugging it off and going my way, letting them think of me what they will.

It’s a little harder to do, though, when I get the same accusations from my conservative friends. I sometimes get accused of being a closet liberal, or someone who’s play-acting at being a Christian, all because my views don’t jibe with theirs. Ultimately, it comes down to the same problem that I have with the typical liberal — they’re not interested in the logic; they just know that the end result of that logic doesn’t align with theirs, and so they let fly the slings and arrows.

Never is this more true than when I’m discussing my views on vices — gambling, prostitution, recreational drug use and the like. For context, let me say this at the outset — I’m completely AGAINST the illegalization of vices, regardless of what that vice might be.

See there? Closet liberal. Play-acting at being a Christian. It would seem so, wouldn’t it? 😉

Thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. As a Christian, and as a small government conservative, I find it an absolutely APPALLING MISUSE of government to try and dictate somebody’s life to them — particularly, the stupidity that the individual might want to partake in.

As a Christian, I understand how stupid sin really is. Sin is a momentary indulgence that carries with it long lasting consequences — strife with our neighbors and strangers, pain and suffering for our loved ones, a broken relationship with our Creator, death, eternal separation from everything we hold dear. Pick your poison, and sin will deliver. But for as stupid as sin is, God loves us enough to call us to REJECT sin… and then allow us the choice to obey to our benefit, or disobey to our detriment. As much as God loves us, He could MANDATE that we obey, program us so that disobedience would not be possible, and yet He DOESN’T.

So as a Christian, I am tee-totally against sin… and yet, my politics do not and WILL not reflect a mandate against it. Many of my Christian friends can’t wrap their heads around this. Why wouldn’t I support Godly laws, making it a crime to sell sex or to consume hurtful drugs? I mean, it’s for their own GOOD, for Pete’s sake! How can I be against that?!?

But how can I presume to mandate something that God Himself allows? Yes, absolutely, He will PUNISH those who reject His commandments and partake in sin… but He allows them that option. How can I then DISallow that option?

The same goes for prostitution. Selling is legal. Screwing around is legal. So why isn’t selling screwing around legal? Quite simply, it’s because moral people in government have good intentions, but manifest those intentions in totalitarian ways. Rather than exemplifying good sexual character, fidelity, respect for marriage, and respect for one’s self and others — and ENCOURAGING these values in their constituency — these well-meaning politicians seek to MAKE their constituency comply with these values, citing the families that prostitution destroys, and other moral tragedies.

I have JUST as much compassion for these broken families, but if I can’t stop a man from cheating on his wife for free, how can I justify outlawing that man cheating on his wife for a fee?

Recently, I was asked about outlawing Muslim practices — the burka, the institution of Sharia courts, and so on. While I am categorically AGAINST Islam, I don’t feel it’s my place to outlaw the manifestations of that religion, except in places where it might cause harm to an UNWILLING participant. The wearing of a burka, in my opinion, is no more inherently dangerous than the wearing of a ski mask or a scarf around your neck… until you consider security, like in a store or a bank, or when being questioned by law enforcement, same as with a ski mask or a scarf. And Sharia courts? As long as it can be proven that both participants WANT the rule of Sharia over a court case, and as long as the right to OPT OUT of the Sharia ruling is protected (i.e. as long as the Constitution remains predominant to Sharia), this again becomes a case of consent between two individuals of equal rights. For me — also an individual of rights equal to theirs — to misuse government to outlaw the practice of their religion would be to negate equal representation under the law, making them and their religious views inferior to my own.

On and on it goes. Pick your politics, and you’ll find my reasoning to be along similar lines. God commands righteousness of us, absolutely, but He allows us the option to NOT be righteous — to indulge ourselves, to destroy our relationships with others, to cause hurt and hatred and even death. He allows these things NOT because He doesn’t love our victims, but because He loves us as much as He does our victims — enough to give us the opportunity to CHOOSE to renounce our victimization, rather than force that renunciation upon us.

If God allows us this leeway, I find it entirely inconsistent to try and use politics to do what He Himself will not. So I encourage fidelity to God and to our neighbor, and exemplify it as consistently as I can… and then log my vote, my legal mandates, in a way that I think is reflective of God’s mandates.

Make no mistake about it. I believe there is a place in the law for ALL of these things — Sharia versus Constitutional law, recreational drug use, gambling, prostitution, what have you — but that place, in my opinion, IS NOT in the outlawing of what I might consider stupidity. Rather, it’s in how someone’s stupidity might affect somebody who did not choose to be part of it. Just like you can be an idiot drunk on your own property but get arrested when you’re an idiot drunk on PUBLIC property, so the line is with these things.

But… what about God’s law? What about punishing those who sin against Him?

Short answer — it’s not our job. Interestingly enough, the violation of God’s law never resulted in earthly punishment, unless that violation was also a violation of Mosaic law. God’s law is all about our relationship with God, and as God is the one who is offended, God is the one who sits in judgment. Mosaic law, on the other hand, is about our relationship with others. As such, Mosaic law DOES detail earthly punishments.

But note: Mosaic law only applied to the children of Israel, people who claimed to be God’s people. Mosaic law never applied to Gentiles who didn’t care to follow God’s laws, and they were never punished by men for not following God’s laws. You never saw God giving the Israelites the go-ahead to hunt down pagans for worshiping other gods, unless God specifically called them to hunt them down. You never saw God giving the Israelites the go-ahead to pass judgment on the prostitutes of a neighboring country. Mosaic law was all about those who claimed to be God’s people — those who were ultimately the REPRESENTATIVES of God, who had the responsibility of not dragging God’s name through the mud. Violate Mosaic law, and you were making God look bad. That’s why Gentiles in general COULDN’T violate Mosaic law, because they didn’t honor God in the first place, so they weren’t bearing His name while they were tramping around in the mud!

*SIGH* All that to say this. As a Christian, and as a conservative, I find government to be a buffer zone established between myself and my neighbor, equally representing BOTH of us and equally PROTECTING both of us. That means, my neighbor cannot mandate that I abstain from what he considers stupid (a good thing, as most atheists consider the Christian faith itself to be stupid). Similarly, and somewhat inconveniently, I cannot mandate that my neighbor abstain from that which I consider stupid. All that EITHER of us can legitimately do is make sure that our stupidity does not violate the rights of the other.

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“Talk Doesn’t Change Anything.” Seriously?

Double whammy! See there? You didn’t expect to see a blog out of me today, and instead I give you TWO of them, back to back! 😉

Anyway…

I see this complaint all the time on Facebook. When tragedy strikes (Paris and San Bernardino come most readily to mind), people get emotional and show solidarity for the grieving by changing their profile picture or issuing pithy statements. Invariably, there will be those who say that talk doesn’t change anything, that ACTION is what’s called for.

…only, how does action come about?

By… talking. Right?

See, that’s how ideas spread. Somebody considers XYZ truth, finds a way to put that truth into words, shares that truth with someone who finds it agreeable, who in turn shares it with people in THEIR sphere of influence, ad infinitum.

That’s how this nation was born, after all. Any nation can be born in base revolution, but ours was born in ENLIGHTENED revolution, where ideas regarding the future were as vital to the movement as emotions regarding the past were. We didn’t just consider what we were fighting against — we considered what we were fighting toward.

We had Patrick Henry’s famous one-liner to the Virginia Convention — “Give me liberty or give me death!” — which swung the balance of opinion, and served to kickstart Virginia’s participation in the Revolutionary War. We had Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense — a mainstay of the rebel colonists, and an inspiration to the authors of American freedom. We had the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, arguments from both sides of the federalism argument that gave a much-needed tension to the framers of the Constitution, admonishing them to not lean too much in one direction or the other.

We had wisdom. And that wisdom came from ideas. From talk.

But this axiom is not only true for the Revolutionary War. After all, where would slavery in England be without the likes of William Wilberforce? Where would women’s suffrage in America be, but for Susan B Anthony? And where would the Civil Rights movement be if Martin Luther King didn’t “have a dream” and share it with us?

It’s true that Facebook doesn’t have very many luminaries, but to be quite honest, our founding fathers — and mothers — weren’t particularly luminous themselves. But they were informed. They didn’t simply know what they hated. They also knew what they wanted. They had a goal that was BEYOND revolution, BEYOND griping and complaining and “civil disobedience” and what have you. They had an end game, a solution, a conclusion to their struggle that SATISFIED the reasoning for it. And they shared this reasoning with others, who shared it with others, ad infinitum.

“Talk doesn’t change anything”? Bah. Talk can’t help BUT change things. What we need, though, is the right talker. We need people who can put their thoughts into compelling words, with a logic that proves the validity of their argument and with a conviction that will set hearts ablaze. We need a Thomas Paine for this age, a Ben Franklin, a Thomas Jefferson, a Samuel Bryan, a Frederick Douglass, a William Wilberforce, a Martin Luther King. We need people who don’t simply feel or think, but who know WHY they feel or think that way, and can explain that why to others.

Far too many people believe that America will never see another Revolution, another Civil War. While I could hope that this is the case, I expect that it’s not. Tempers are rising, swords are being rattled, and all it will take is the right trigger at the right time, and life as we know it in these “idyllic” United States will come to an end. I’m afraid that it’s inevitable, because no matter how tolerant you are, no matter how pacifistic you try to be, everybody has a limit, a line in the sand that they absolutely WILL NOT CROSS, and when they are PUSHED over that line, they will respond. They will ACT, just as the “talk doesn’t change anything” crowd expects to see.

But not all change is for the better, and THAT is where the power of talk comes into play. When change does come — and it will come, make no mistake — what we change to is at least as important as what we’re changing from. It behooves us all to know NOT just what we want to be rid of, but where we ought to be heading. People complain about economics, but show very little understanding of its principles. That needs to change. And the government itself? It’s almost impossible to find people, not just on the street but in Washington DC itself, that actually understand what our government is SUPPOSED to be — its nature, its limitations. THAT needs to change.

Revolt if you must, and however you must, but if you do, you owe it to yourself and to your posterity to know as much about where you want to go as what you want to leave behind.

Categories: Blogroll, Government, Life In General, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As if today were your last…

Most who follow me know that I have an open heart surgery coming up sometime in the near future. Could be January, could be this summer, but who knows, really? Well, I’ve had some pains recently — pains that I couldn’t tell whether they were heart related or stress related. These pains concerned me enough to move up my January cardiologist appointment to this morning. Mary, being the devoted wife that she is, decided to join me. My two older kids, being homeschooled, tagged along as well.

So the four of us crammed into nearly every small room they had at Southeast Cardiology. The kids got to see what the inside of my heart looked and sounded like via ultrasound (…and all God’s people said “ewww”). The doctor and his nurse practitioner took great pains to explain why my pains were NOT heart related, pointing out that if they were radiant heart pain, they would manifest “here” and “here”. They also reminded me that TRUE symptoms of my condition would be passing out, shortness of breath, and swelling on my ankles. Being as I’ve got cycle training coming up (running a tactical course in full gear, shooting targets while wearing a gas mask, etc), my doctor thought it prudent to do a walking stress test on me, to see EXACTLY where my heart was and what it was doing, and to give me a good estimate on how well I would tolerate the tac course.

Still no restrictions on my activity, though. All to the good 😉

While this is going on, I’m getting feed updates regarding the shooting in California, where three people are suspected of shooting up a Christmas party and killed fourteen people. It didn’t escape my notice that the shooters were of Arab descent, or that they were Muslim. Not that that is necessarily a determining factor, mind you, but it is rather telling when the news goes out of their way to AVOID drawing that distinction, preferring instead to call this an act of “workplace violence”.

Just so we’re clear, any time you talk your girlfriend/wife into shooting up your workplace with you, dressed in what the news calls “assault gear”, armed to the teeth, and with multiple bombs in various stages of assembly in your house and vehicle… well, that’s not “workplace violence”. That’s terrorism.

Now, these two situations — my heart and San Bernardino — may seem to have nothing to do with each other, but there is a single common thread to both of them. Life can end in an instant. Whether you see the risk to your life coming, or whether it sneaks up on you during a verse of “Silent Night”, the end result is the same. Dead is dead, and you won’t see it until it’s looking you square in the eye.

This time, more than any other, we are reminded just how fragile life is. Some of us gather with loved ones to celebrate the holidays — yes, I’ve got a “Merry Christmas” cued up and ready for all of yall 😉 — and some of us pine for those who are not with us for one reason or another. This season can be uplifting, depressing, peaceful, chaotic, all at once and more! But like the situations I mentioned above, there’s a single thread that runs through them — that these times are fleeting. There’s not a single moment that will last LONGER than a single moment, so it behooves us to treat each moment as if it is our last.

In keeping with that, I want to take a moment (after what has already become a thesis paper hahaha) to say some things that I currently have a moment to say, just on the off chance that this moment is my last.

First and foremost, I thank God for giving me life, and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for saving it. Each second, I realize, is borrowed. Each second is one that I do not deserve, and yet I’m gifted with by a Giver who has no obligation to continue to do so. As the psalmist says, “This is the day that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” No matter what this day may bring, be it pleasure or pain, it’s infinitely better than not having this day at all. I praise You and thank You.

To my wife, Mary, I say thank you as well for the gift of… well, you. You may downplay the value of that gift, and you certainly inflate my worthiness of receiving it, but the fact is that you took someone who had already had one failed marriage and gave him a fresh start at life and love. We can dicker on the details of that, but the fact remains — I was used, and you treated me as if I were new, and I love you for that and a whole lot more. Thank you for pushing me, for believing in me when I don’t believe in myself, for hoping when I feel like I am without hope, for pointing out my stupidity — and doing so gently hehe — when I’m not seeing the world and myself in the right light.

To my kids, I say thank you for the opportunity to be your Daddy, for loving me unconditionally, even when I mess up, or scream my head off like a banshee, or spank the everlovin’ mess out of you. Being a Daddy is hard. Like anything else in life, you have to consider what you’re doing and when (and why) you’re doing it, but there’s a greater risk here. When you mess up in life, you often only mess yourself up. But when you mess up as a Daddy, you might mess up your kids as well. I always worry if something I say or do might break your spirit, or discourage you, or make it hard for you to believe in yourself or others. But at the same time, I always worry about going TOO SOFT on you, about not demanding enough respect out of you — for me, for others, for yourself. I worry about not pushing you hard enough to exceed the limits that you set for yourself, to be GREATER than you ever dreamed of being. I worry about being too much… and about being not enough… because you guys are the greatest work that I could ever hope to do in this life, the greatest way that I could honor my God and Savior, and this above ALL things I want to get right.

To my readers, my fellow writers, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and those who follow my blog just because I’m a pretty cool cat, I want to say thank you for being a part of my life, and allowing me to be a part of yours. Our debates and discussions, our shared dreams and aspirations, they help to color a world that would be much more drab without them. Scripture says that iron sharpens iron (LOL Dave, you see what I did there?), and it’s inevitable that the sharpening casts off sparks. but those sparks needn’t start a fire. It behooves us to USE those times of sharpening, to recognize the rough areas in our arguments, our views, and our lives, in order that we might grow from them. We shouldn’t cut ourselves off from people who disagree, and we should NEVER discount their arguments — however asinine we might consider it to be. We never know when WE might be the idiot in the conversation, so it’s always prudent that we consider the possibility.

Make no mistake about it — I have ZERO intention of today being my last day. I have every intention of intimidating my daughters’ boyfriends, of tossing the football with my son as he enters college on a full ride scholarship (“Roll Tide”, even if you want to cry “War Eagle” hehe), of singing at my daughters’ weddings, and embarrassing (or officiating) my son at his, of bouncing grandkiddos on my knee, of living to see my loving wife ACCEPT her grey hairs. But I have no control over when I’ll die. My cardiologist is evidence of that, and San Bernardino is proof.

So if today WERE my last, this is what I’d want everybody to know…

  1. God is in control. All the time, in every situation. He is sovereign and just. He sees the big picture, even more clearly than we can see our own little corner of it. He knows what will truly bless us, and what prayers for blessing, if answered, would WITHHOLD blessings from others. He knows what good my healing would do, and what good my healing would prevent. He knows who I touch with my life, and who might be touched with my death. I’d be a fool to think I have a better plan than Him, and I’m no fool 😉
  2. Mandates are a poor substitute for true charity. As a Daddy, you sometimes tell your kids to be nice to one another, to play nice, to share their things, and you see VIVIDLY how little they actually want to obey. When they do things because they “have” to, they do them half-heartedly, and those who receive that half-hearted obedience can tell. What blesses their hearts is when you give cheerfully, eagerly, with the other person’s blessing being first and foremost. I saw this played out in stark relief today in a YouTube video, featuring a pizza delivery guy who received a $700 tip from a church. Government assistance could’ve “entitled” him to more than that, and every month, but him getting what the law says he “deserved” wouldn’t have done what this tip did. His heart was touched — and maybe, his life, changed — by the EAGER giving of a few church folk. You might make fewer enemies if you’re forced to be nice, but genuinely WANTING to be nice is where you make your friends.
  3. You are free — already, wherever you live, with or without the government’s help. You always have been free. And you always will be free. The only way for you to NOT be free is to consider yourself so. Even the poorest slave, bound in chains and treated like an animal, can be as free as he wants to be, because freedom is NOT the lack of chains but the recognition that, aside from God Himself, only YOU can own you. Your mind, your life, the fruits of your labors… YOU determine who you are, what you think, what you do. You cannot be forced to be something that you fundamentally are not. You may choose to ALLOW yourself to be that person or to give of yourself — to your benefit or detriment — but it is unjust for anyone to try and “make” you do so. This goes for ALL areas of life, from religion (i.e. true conversion versus swordpoint conversions) to politics (libertarian versus authoritarian) to economics (charitable giving and taxation versus government mandated redistribution). It behooves us to always strive for freedom — to maintain our own, and to give honor to that of others.

I pray that today is not my last day, but if it were, I’d want my life to matter to those who matter to me, to not grieve for my passing, but to praise God that I was here for as long as I was, and that I touched their lives in whatever way that I did. The truest mark of a Godly man — or of ANY man, for that matter — is not what he says or does, but the visible love that he has for his family, his friends, and even his enemies. To love those who are lovable is easy. To love those you don’t know — to truly love them, not merely throw money in their direction — is harder. But to love those who hate you… that’s something that God has to do in your life, and its something that has the power to change the world. Christ Himself shows us that.

Categories: Blogroll, Government, Life In General, Religious, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Thoughts From The Webelo Campout

Camping with the cub scouts at Alaflo is always a load of fun, and we always learn something. Caleb’s a Webelo now, so it’ll only be more so going forward.

Tonight, though, it was my turn for enlightenment.

As often happens, we ended the evening bonfire with a flag retirement ceremony. It’s always a solemn occasion for the scouts, to see our nation’s colors treated with honor as the flag’s time if service comes to an end.

Tonight, as the boy scouts, with our military and public safety personnel, added the pieces of the flag to the bonfire, the scout leading the ceremony requested that we honor the flag until it was completely destroyed, and then leave the amphitheatre area in silent reflection. Of course, you couldn’t really see the flag pieces all that well once they’re added to the fire, so “completely destroyed” becomes a relative judgment.

As usual, some folks started leaving when the last piece hit the flames. Others left a few minutes later. Others left when the flames died down. At one point, an honor guard came forward and formed a wall around the remnants of the bonfire, presumably to give the remaining audience the impression that the flag had been completely consumed. At this point, the rest of us started to leave.

As we left the amphitheatre area, I cast eyes back to the bonfire area, and I caught the barest hint of red, solid and unmoving amongst the flames and embers.

It struck me as rather profound that, however we might have given ourselves over to honoring this retired American flag, the flag had outlasted even us.

As a patriot, I’m not surprised in the least.

Categories: Blogroll, Government, Life In General | Leave a comment

Marriage, and the War Between God and Government

This week, news broke that Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even in the face of a court order. A question was asked in my Apologetics group, “Did she do the right thing (for her gospel witness, the county, herself, etc) by refusing to give out marriage licenses, or would it have been better for her to resign? And does working for a government agency (rather than a private business like a bakery) have any bearing in matters like this?”

Now, knee-jerks on both side of the issue would consider the question an easy one to answer, but you know me — I’m bound to make a mountain out of a molehill 😉 So without further ado…

As a Christian, of course, I’d say that she was in the right to refuse to participate in anything that weighs against her conscience. But as someone with an eye toward the Constitution and what the Founders built this country to be, I’d say that she should have resigned rather than refuse to do her sworn duty. Here’s my reasoning…

Christianity, of course, is by nature a biased worldview. We are called to be partial to God’s Will, and opposed our own sinful nature (and by extension, the sins of others).

The American government, on the other hand, was created to be UNbiased, IMpartial — governing according to equality rather than to “right” and “wrong”. Though the majority of our Founding Fathers were either theists or outright Christians, they knew from first hand experience what happened when government was allowed to dictate terms to the private convictions of the individual. As such, they wrote the Constitution to PROTECT those convictions, whether they be Christian or not, whether they be theist or not, whether they be MORAL or not — establishing a buffer between one individual’s convictions and another’s. Even though this isn’t always the most Christian-friendly form of government, this is by far the most just form available to us — aside from our promised future theocracy with Christ Himself leading it.

Now BOTH of these worldviews — biased Christianity and unbiased government — have bearing on the institution of marriage. We Christians, of course, recognize marriage as a covenant, a profound and unconditional union of two people into “one flesh” under God’s authority and with God at the center. This is an unconditional relationship — not “I do if she will”, but “I do”, period, with divorce being antithetical to the institution, ONLY a reality “for the hardness of our hearts”.

The government, on the other hand, must be UNBIASED in all things, including marriage. Where Christianity recognizes marriage as a spiritual covenant, unbiased government can only see marriage as a contract, a legal construct with legal ramifications and restrictions. As such, government — and all its manifestations (which has bearing on the Kentucky case) — must approach marriage impartially, EQUALLY representing ALL, without exception or bias.

So all that to say… Kim Davis has conflicting duties due to her convictions. As a Christian, she stands opposed to this homosexual parody of our Godly institution, but as a representative of the government, she has a sworn duty to exercise her office WITHOUT bias. Just because she’s a Christian doesn’t mean that her convictions give her an excuse to be an oath-breaker. As such, the only route she could take that would BOTH honor God AND her promise to exercise her office impartially would be for her to vacate her office.

Just my thoughts on the matter, and I don’t even necessarily claim them to be RIGHT, however convinced I may be that they are. Ultimately, God ALONE is the final say, and not even the most learned saint on this side of eternity can claim to understand that say without error. All we can do is individually — and constantly — look to Him for our answers, and lean not to our own understanding.

Categories: Government, Life In General, Religious | 2 Comments

Money — What It Is and Why

With all the political tensions tugging our taxes and tax policies this way and that, all the economy professors building elaborate theories regarding why money does this or that, it seems to me that people have forgotten what money ACTUALLY IS. I mean, if they knew, they wouldn’t be DOING the God-awful things with it that they are. So for those who don’t know, I’m gonna do my best to unpack this.

Before you can understand what money is, you have to look at what life is like WITHOUT money. As you go through your daily life, you see things that you want — food, water, crafts, items, services. Without money, how do you get these things? By bartering — trading those things you DO have for the things that OTHER people have. When you “want” something, you’ve assigned a “value” to it. It has a “worth” based on your desire, just like something else might be worthLESS to you because you DON’T want it.

Of course, this dynamic works both ways, where someone sees something YOU have, and THEY assign a value to it. If they WANT what you have, then you have the opportunity to TRADE what you have for what they have. If, on the other hand, they see NO value in what you have (either for themselves, or to trade it for something they ACTUALLY want), it doesn’t matter how much you desire what they have — a trade is not going to happen.

Now that you both agree that you each have something that the other person wants, you decide together the DEGREE of value that the items have. Say, for example, that you have chicken eggs and he has a sling shot. How badly he wants your chicken eggs and how badly you want his sling shot will determine how your trade is going to go.

Example A: He is VERY hungry, and you don’t really “need” his sling shot. He may part with the sling shot for three eggs.

Example B: He has plenty of food, but you REALLY want his sling shot. He may hold out for two dozen eggs.

As the two people discuss the value of the items, eventually the two people may AGREE on a value for both. At this point, a trade can happen. You get the sling shot you wanted. He gets the eggs he wanted. Both of you got a FAIR value for the trade, because you both AGREED upon the value. If, at any time, you COULDN’T reach an agreement on value, you BOTH have the option to walk away at any time, keeping what you had to trade until you found something else you might want, and then the process starts all over again.

This is what life looks like without money. That’s all fine and dandy if you want a sling shot and he wants chicken eggs. But… what if he DOESN’T want chicken eggs? And what if he doesn’t think that he can trade those away for something that he DOES want? He finds NO VALUE in your chicken eggs. So how are you going to get that sling shot?

This is where money comes in. With money, you have a NEUTRAL item — something that both buyer and seller agrees has value, and something that both buyer and seller can use to get what they want. Of course, the money ITSELF has no value, which is why the prices of things at the store go up or down sometimes, but the dynamic remains the same — one of you has an item that the other values, and the buyer and seller AGREE upon a value between the item and the money being traded for it.

Example A: He needs the money and doesn’t need his sling shot. He may part with the sling shot for $5.

Example B: He has PLENTY of money and LIKES his sling shot. You may have to fork over $50 to get him to part with it.

Again, if the buyer and the seller cannot agree on a value, the trade doesn’t happen, and both people keep what they had until they find somebody else to trade for.

THIS, in a nutshell, is what money is, and why we use it the way we do. And this, in a nutshell, is why today’s misunderstanding and mishandling of money drives me CRAZY!

Let’s start with wages.

When you take a job, you do so to earn money — ya know, that neutral medium of trade we just discussed. That money is the resource that your employer has that you want. What do YOU have that your employer wants? You have time, skills, creativity, ingenuity, the ability to perform work. When you go to work, you are completing a business transaction — trading your time, effort, and creativity that your employer values, for a sum of money that YOU value. You have AGREED upon these values, and that’s how your wage is set.

Now say you earn $10 an hour — close to minimum wage. Your employer has a job open that it values at that amount, and you agree to fill that job for that amount. You and your employer agree upon the value, and BAM! You’re employed. While I agree that $10 per hour is dirt poor, as long as you and your employer agree upon this sum, the transaction is a fair one. Either one of you could leave the transaction at any time.

But what happens when the government steps in, and says that the employer MUST pay a higher wage for the tasks performed by that job? Essentially, the government is saying “I don’t care if you and your employee agree upon a value, you must assign a GREATER value to those tasks”. In other words, the government is saying “you must WANT the employee to work for you MORE”. Not only is it crazy to think that you can “force” someone to want something, it also takes away the voluntary nature of the transaction. The employer cannot just walk away from the transaction if they don’t like it.

And what about taxes?

Let’s say you’re still earning $10 an hour. That is the value that you and your employer agreed was equal to one hour of your time, effort, and creativity in a given task. So what happens when the government collects $10 in taxes? Ultimately, you are giving the government what that $10 represents — one hour of your life, and the effort you expended in trade for that money. This is where things start to get hairy.

What does it mean when the government collects that money without your approval or consent? It means that the government thinks it OWNS a certain part of you — that the government has a greater claim than you on however much of your life that you spent earning that money. Taxation CAN be fair and equitable, as long as the tax payer is given the option to determine his own involvement, to GIVE OR WITHHOLD CONSENT over his taxes. Without this consent, taxation is slavery, pure and simple. I mean, you can call it “theft” if you want to, but ultimately, the government is laying claim NOT just to what you have, but to the portion of your life that you gave to earn it.

What does it mean when the government collects that money unevenly — giving some people tax breaks and others a greater tax burden? It means that the government values some people’s money (and the amount of their lives that they spent earning it) DIFFERENTLY than it values other people’s money. Coming from a government that is supposed to recognize that “all men are created equal”, this is UNEQUAL representation.

What does it mean when the government DISTRIBUTES money unevenly — giving some people welfare and housing assistance and other benefits but giving others nothing? The exact same thing: unequal representation.

See, I understand that as members of society, there are certain responsibilities that we consent to, but our society is predicated on the GUARANTEE that we are all equal, that we all have equal value whether we “recognize” the value in another person or not… because of our individual authority to value OURSELVES. However much I may value you, I have the unfettered, absolute right to value myself more. You have the same right. Because of this, MY value and YOUR value are inherently the same. However much more I may value myself over you, I cannot claim that you are of lesser value than me… because I cannot change how YOU value you.

This is the single founding principle from which our society springs… and similarly, from which our MONEY springs. Because we are of equal value, our AUTHORITY is of equal value. Our property, our time, our services — our ability to assign value to these things is of equal value. As such, when government comes in and TINKERS with our authority to assign value — when government mandates a certain wage, or taxes people unequally, or distributes taxes unequally — government is ultimately BETRAYING the very equality that it was specifically designed to protect and foster.

Categories: Blogroll, Government | Leave a comment

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