June 16th, 2009
Not to brag or anything…
Social Networks Spread Defiance Online
June 15th, 2009
For those of you who use my new-found love, Twitter, search the top trending hashtag, “#iranelection.” It has completely opened my eyes to the power of online social networking.
Throughout the day, Iranian’s (those who still have access to the internet) have been tweeting on the events they see, posting pictures, etc. To assist them, others from around the world have been tweeting proxies that still work (i.e. unblocked) in Iran that still work so that they can keep posting on events they see.
There was even a scheduled maintenance on Twitter that would have preventing everyone from posting. What did people do? Spontaneously develop another hashtag, “#nomaintenance,” and ask Twitter to delay the scheduled maintenance. Twitter noticed, and delayed shutting down the site temporarily.
It’s an interesting question whether technology helps or hurts (or neither) liberty overall. It has been an incredible experience to see it used today to fight a brutal dictatorship and give voices to people who otherwise would go unheard.
February 26th, 2009
As I read overviews of Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal, I am shocked and appalled. This budget projects a budget deficit of $1.75 trillion (that’s trillion with a “t”). That 12.3% of GDP–a level not seen since WWII (1942). Without even going into the details of this proposal, its sheer magnitude is cause for extreme alarm.
Obama tells us,
“We need to be honest with ourselves about what costs are being racked up, because that’s how we’ll come to grips with the hard choices that lie ahead”
Do the choices have to be this “hard” Mr. Obama? Is the state of our economy so dire that it warrents spending on a scale that we haven’t seen since the world was at war? The answer, of course, is no. Seeking to continue what little political “honeymoon” capital he has left, Obama is using the current crises to sneak in everything from cap-and-trade, to the first steps towards universal healthcare.
I sincerely hope the American public sees this budget proposal for what it is: exploitation of an economic downturn to push through extreme liberal policies. If the Republican party plays its cards right, then the only grave Obama is digging is the Democratic control of congress by 2010.
January 14th, 2009
Alex Tabarrok over at Marginal Revolution gives a great perspective on the current recession in terms of job losses. Everyone keeps claiming this is the worst one ever. Who knows when things will start turning back around, but so far, things aren’t looking any worse than they have before…
It you look at job losses in this recession compared to previous recessions this recession looks very bad but the labor force is much bigger today than in previous recessions. Thus, if you look at the percentage change in employment you get a different story. The Minneapolis Fed crunches the numbers:
Of course, this recession is not yet over but this is useful information. We might not like it but recessions are normal.
P.S. Things have been insane since my last blog post. I’ve started two jobs, quit one of them, started a local chapter of America’s Future Foundation, and have gotten engaged. I feel like I’m getting a better hold of things and will hopefully be posting more often (not that it would be very difficult to beat my current pace).
October 27th, 2008
After posting the Obama radio interview where he endorses wealth redistribution on my facebook page, I received several good responses. One of which was from my wonderful Aunt whom I love dearly, but respectfully disagree with on this issue. Her comment cited the passage above. I thought it would be beneficial if I posted my response here and let others contribute as well.
This Bible passage tells of a rich young man asking Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. After Jesus told him to keep the commandments, the young man asked Jesus what else he lacked. Here is Jesus’ response (ESV):
21 Jesus said to [the young man], “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
I have several responses to this passage, but first I want to reemphasize that I do believe in the authority and reliability of scripture. This event really happened and Jesus really did make those comments. So I am assuming throughout my post (and this entire blog) that Scriptural passages have real-world implications. With that out of the way…
1) There is a difference between Jesus’ commandments to individuals and government coercion. In this story, Jesus did not command his disciples to rob the rich man to give his possessions to the poor. On the contrary, he implies personal responsibility in verse 23 when he states:
“Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.”
It does not follow that because an action is moral, government should force it to occur. For example, there are many verses that command Christians to tithe. I would shudder at the thought of taxes paying for church budgets however! Instead, I believe 2 Corinthians 9:7 gives good guidance on giving (ESV, emphasis added):
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
2) If we were to interpret this passage as applying to government, tax rates would be 100%! Jesus tells the young man to sell all that he possesses and give it all to the poor. If this passage were to apply to government, we would have to give Uncle Sam all that we own and let them decide who gets what. There’s a name for such a government system: communism. Obviously, we have seen those results…
3) Even if it is acceptable for government to redistribute wealth, government’s success in alleviating poverty is debatable. The Acton Institute published an excellent video that gives a Christian perspective on how government programs have not helped the poor, but have instead hurt communities. Other studies have had similar results.
It goes without saying, there are many Christian thinkers that would disagree with my assessment. Jim Wallis the founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine, as well as David Beckmann the president of Bread for the World, both have very different opinions. There are also plenty of other verses that have been used to justify wealth redistribution. I would love to hear my readers opinions on this extremely important and hotly debated topic.
October 27th, 2008
What if American political culture actually placed their ultimate hope in the right things? This is one of the questions that British theologian, N.T. Wright seeks to address in his book, Surprised by Hope.
“What would happen if we were to take seriously our stated belief that Jesus Christ is already the Lord of the world and that at his name, one day, every knee would bow?” He asks.
“[C]onfessing Jesus as the ascended and coming Lord frees us up from needing to pretend that this of that program or leader has the key to utopia (if only we would elect him or her). Equally, it frees up our corporate life from the despair that comes when we realize that once again our political systems let us down.”
The next several posts I hope to expose the underlying “utopian” values and claims we hear from our politicians. I may switch the order around, but I hope to follow this outline:
Part 1: Intro
Part 2: The Bush Administration
Part 3: Obama’s Hope in Unity
Part 4: McCain’s Hope in Country
Part 5: Hope in Government
October 24th, 2008
Props to Kevin Schmiesing at the Acton Institute for his post demonstrating the moral dimensions of the financial crises:
Economists have long deplored the poor savings rate in the United States, arguing that our ever-increasing debt load (national and personal) would eventually come back to haunt us. British intellectual Peter Heslam points out that this problem is essentially moral, a failure to value the traditional virtue of thrift.
He writes: Hebrew and Christian scriptures support a theology of thrift. Literally, thrift means ‘prosperity’ or ‘well-being’, meanings encompassed in the Hebrew notion of shalom, which is central to the biblical theme of redemption. True, Jesus warned against laying up treasure on earth. But his warning is against greed and miserliness, which undermine thrift.
The incredible amount of fear and blind trust in government during this time are two other emotional/spiritual areas that I hope to explore soon…
October 24th, 2008
Schlossberg’s chapter on politics (where I got my title), describes how many thinkers, especially from the intellectual line of Hegel and Marx view the state as the “savior” for mankind. Here’s one quote by Hegel that sums up this position:
“We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine of earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend Nature, it is harder to grasp the Essence of the State…the State is the march of God through the world…”
A goal of mine for this blog is to combat this notion that the state is where we find our sustenance, security, and identity. Think these ideas died out with communism? With all of this talk about “Hope” and putting our “Country First,” it seems I have my work cut out for me.