Monday, March 26, 2012

Set a blog on fire.

The saying goes like this; "If you build a man a fire, you warm him for a day.  But if you set a man on fire, you can warm him for the rest of his life."

There are two levels to this proverb.  The first is purely an entertainment level.  People think that we are about to say, "Teach a man to build a fire." like the proverb about fishing.  And then we twist it in a humorous way.  It makes me smile.  I like this level and spend a bunch of time there.

But then there is another level.  What if fire is a metaphor, and not a dangerous state of combustion?  For me, being set on fire is akin to having my mind opened to new knowledge and experience.  In christianity we sometimes speak of the Holy Spirit like fire.

"he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance"  from John 14:26

I also feel like learning to read is like this.  Having homeschooled my children there is a point where their education experiences this exponential increase.  Like looking at a hockey stick graph showing compounding interest learning to read, really reading, set my children off on an exploration of the world that was both self directed, and at a velocity that would be impossible to impose.

Their minds experienced the "fire" in the metaphor and their minds have been warmed for the rest of their lives.

This also happens in other areas.  When I fell in love with my wife, I was set on fire emotionally and I am different.  I can be warmed from that love the rest of my life if I don't mess it up.

When I served two years of missionary service for my church my faith, that was already working and effective, was set afire in a new way and with new strength.

And I was set afire politically when I realized what apathy was doing to a nation I was raised to love.

So I hope that you will forgive me for taking strong stands.  For speaking out against the evils of tolerating evil.  For insisting that we call a spade a spade, and not calling bad good.  And for speaking plainly so that no one can hear and not be offended.

The constant conciliation and appeasement that goes on by good people is like Chamberlain before Hitler.    It does not, and cannot work.  It only brings greater sadness and pain later.

It is really easy to write and speak the milk toast of the politically correct.  But it is not an act of a patriot who loves his nation.

It is a much much better thing, and shows much much more love to stand against people that are wrong, and point out where that is and how to correct the problems.  And it is a much much better thing I intend to do.

By the way, I also write short stories, some of which will show up here too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

If I Were President - Same-Sex Marriage:

"Marriage, marriage is what bring us together today..."  to quote one of my favorite movies, "The Princess Bride."  But today and in many cases it is "Marriage" that is dividing people.  And so the issue of "Same Sex Marriage" or "Gay Marriage" has become a political football that is used to divide, anger and frustrate people.  Most of all it is a distraction from what is important.

There is only one reason that the US Government cares about marriage.  That reason is Citizenship.  Marriage is one of the few ways that citizens are created.  This happens in two ways.  First, and most commonly, the natural product of a marriage is children.  Children of US citizens are also citizens.  Second, people married to US citizens may become US citizens themselves.  This is why the US Government cares about marriage.

Children:

The vast majority of children are born to heterosexual parents.  I am not going to delve into the biology that facilitates this.  

It is possible to determine a parent through genetic testing, however, most of the time it is easiest just to look at the marriage and birth records to see who is descendent from who.  So when my wife has a child, that child is a citizen because at least one of the parents of the child is a citizen.

Spouse:

Because a married couple may produce children, a non-citizen spouse of a citizen gets a special pathway to becoming a citizen.  Trust me this is not an automatic thing that movies make you think it is.  It still takes years and there are many steps and lots of paperwork.

Other relationships:

A marriage or other type of union that does not have the potential to produce children/citizens will not be an institution that the government cares about.  This is directly related to its inability to produce citizens.  BFF declarations don't matter, because they don't produce citizens.  My daughter's brownie troop doesn't matter, because it can't produce citizens.  And so forth.

Yes there are other organizations that the government does care about, but we are talking about marriage. And the only reason the government cares about it, is because of the citizens that are produced out of it.

Adoption:

Sure, adoption is a path way to citizenship.  If I adopt a non-citizen, they also have a pathway to becoming a citizen.  But this really doesn't matter when we are talking about marriage.  You don't have to be married to adopt a child, so this pathway to citizenship is irrelevant.

Marriage Benefits:

I could go on an on about marriage benefits, but that would bore most people.  When this is brought up, it is used as some argument for fairness.  Somehow it is not fair for people who like each other but are unmarried to not have the same tax, insurance and visitation in prison rights as married people.

This is a really strange argument.  Let me just address them all with two answers.  Answer 1:  The government has an interest in making marriage attractive so that it can better track who is and is not a citizen.  Answer 2:  Life is not fair.  (And that is a good thing.)

Basically it is an issue of Right:

Citizens have rights.  Other people have rights too, but not the same rights.  The government was formed to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" as stated in the preamble of our constitution.  FYI; posterity means children.

As much as it would be nice if the US government could extend rights to all peoples everywhere, that is not what it is for.  And those other people might not want us to do that anyway.

The US government has the responsibility to secure the rights and privileges of it citizens.  Marriage is an institution that creates citizens.  So the US government has an interest in this institution.  Other institutions that don't have this citizen creating power are of less interest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Strategy of Distractions


There is a debate strategy called "Ad Homoniem"  http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html

There is another way.
Basically this is when instead of addressing the ideas and arguments of another person, a personal attack on the person with the argument is made.  For instance if a person makes an argument that water is wet, and the counter argument is that the person making that argument is a raincoat salesman and has a vested interest in water being wet.  Thus water isn't really or always wet, this guy just wants to sell more raincoats.

No attempt to make a real counter argument.  No refutation that water really is not wet.  Just an attack of the person.

This is the old method of "distraction" in argument.  But reacently we have seen a new twist on this.  A new tactic.  One that no one seems to be recognizing for what it is.

I call it, "intentional error" and it is being really effective.

Here is the strategy:

Lets say that I am embezzling money.  And I know that I will be caught sooner or later, so I prepare some other errors that are annoying, but less serious.

In my example, I start to wear clothing that is offensive, but not against the company dress code.  

I make a point to be as obnoxious about it as possible.  I get people to complain.  I may even pay people to complain about my attire.

And eventually I concede and stop wearing that clothing.  But I come up with something else, to keep the attention on myself directed onto things that are not important.  Or at least not as important as the embezzling.

The result, no one investigates my embezzling because they are busy arguing about my clothes.  Many people get tired of this and simply tune out.  When the topic of missing funds comes out, acusations to me are deflected as people that are really targeting my clothing. 

This is happening today.  There are some serious issues facing our country; border security, national debt, the economy.  And we should deal with these issues.

But instead of dealing with them, we are talking about birth certificates.  We are talking about poetry and what church the president went to.  We are talking about things that don't matter.  We're talking about free birth control.  Or if they do matter, the don't matter nearly as much as the economy or border security.

An analogy of this is that a person with a burning home should not be concerned with an error on the deed to the house until the fire is out.

Lets keep our eye on the ball.  Economy.  So when someone brings up a tangent like the president's pick in March Madness Final Four.  Respond with a question about unemployment, and gas prices.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If I Were President - Social Security

Social Security, like most other government programs that go on for any length of time, is a mess.  So what to do about this mess is a question that comes up all of the time in Presidential elections.  Crazily the thought is that the president can do something about it.  He can't.  Congress runs this program, and they seem really and truly to be incapable of making hard choices.

I am a Lock-Box
VoteSmart.org and others try to ask loaded questions like this one.  "Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?"  Where if one answers "Yes." People will think that you are a Republican, and that you don't care about people and want them to starve if they make poor choices.  And then if you say, "No." that you are a Democrat and want the program to limp on until if fails.

Here is the crazy thing.  I don't think just doing either thing, allowing personal investment or not, will save or curse Social Security.  This action has nothing to do with the fate of this program.  The problem is not one of investment, or with regulation, or with fraud, or with most other things that are proposed to help.

Social Security has really only one problem.  (This is the same problem as the budget.)  It is a math problem.  The Federal government is the only institution that believes that they can spend more money than they bring in and that this is okay.  (California thinks this too.  I know. )

The solution to Social Security is a math solution.  Fix the program by either spending less, or bringing in more.  Or Both.

Here are some options to spend less:

  1. Raise the retirement age.  (This is math, not cruelty)
  2. Reduce the amount paid for non-retirement reasons.  (Again, you may not know that SS covers all sorts of other people not just retired workers.)
  3. Put caps on expenditures and benefits.  (As many as possible.)
  4. Don't pay SS to anyone that doesn't want it.
  5. Don't pay SS to anyone that doesn't need it.  (This is not an investment program.  It is welfare.)
  6. The penalty for anyone found guilty of welfare fraud loses the right to ever receive it for themselves.  (If you try to cheat SS, medicare or medicade, you will never get food stamps or SS yourself.)
  7. I am sure that if we set down and looked at other things that SS pays for we could all find some things that are obviously stoppable.  They may be worthy causes, but are really outside of SS charter.
Sadly, I can't say that as President that I would do any of these things.  It really isn't his job.  If you want these changes, please write your congressmen.