Archive for January, 2012

A Person’s a Person No Matter How…Foreign

Posted on January 22, 2012 at 9.38 pm

Q. Since you’re someone who is both pro-life and pro-peace, I was wondering what you thought of the idea of the “consistent life ethic” which is a political philosophy that opposes all forms of legalized homicide such as abortion, war, capital punishment, euthanasia, etc.?– nrneal, from tumblr.

A. It is perhaps appropriate that I should be delayed in answering this until today, as I understand from church this morning that today is  Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  It is especially fitting, I suppose, as my answer to your query is essentially positive.

One of the most puzzling and grievous aspects, to me, of modern American Christianity is its partial love of life and little love for peace.  (I am, of course, speaking generally — and honestly without an intent to disparage.  Not only are there many American Christians who strongly pursue peace in every level of their lives, but even those in whose valuations of life I see the greatest incongruities typically hold those values in ignorance of the inconsistency rather than malice.)*

Nonetheless, it is at best a state of extreme misinformation which can lead someone to claim the pro-life title and yet “refuse to extend their pro-life sentiments to foreigners already out of the womb.”  Laurence Vance puts the dilemma this way:

Why is it that foreigners don’t have the same right to life as unborn American babies? There should be no difference between being for abortion and for war. Both result in the death of innocents. Both are unnecessary. Both cause psychological harm to the one who signs a consent form or fires a weapon. Why is it that to many Christians an American doctor in a white coat is considered a murderer if he kills an unborn baby, but an American soldier in a uniform is considered a hero if he kills an adult [not to mention a foreign child]? In January of every year, many churches observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Fine, but we need ministers who are as concerned about killing on the battlefield as they are about killing in the womb.

Vance is using his characteristically strong language, but don’t let that cause you to miss the point:  If we claim to care about life as inherently valuable — no matter how young…or old, or rich, or poor, or of any skin color, ethnicity, or nationality — if we claim to care about life at all, we must care about all of it.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously told CBS that it was “worth it” for 500,000 Iraqi children — all civilians, all innocent by the standards of “civilized” warfare and pro-life arguments against abortion — to die as a result of American sanctions against their nation in the 1990s.  Since then, the War in Iraq has resulted in as many as one million civilian deaths in Iraq, many of them by violent causes.  Keep in mind this is just one country of the many now at war.

Yes, abortion is horrible.  But so is being mowed down by gunfire while making dinner or watching your five-year old slowly starve to death.  To be consistently pro-life, we must oppose both of these terrible occurrences.

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A Couple Quick Questions, Ed. 15

Posted on January 14, 2012 at 5.34 pm

Q. Under the Austrian School of Economics, and indeed by the predictions of its proponents, the huge, expansionary policies of the Federal Reserve should be causing run-away Inflation. Indeed, the cry for years has been to warn of dire hyperinflation should any of the no in place expansionary policies by tried. Yet this flies in the face of what we have seen, namely price stability (save for rising Oil Imports) resulting in an entirely normal inflation rate of 3%. How do you square this with your avowed Austrian view? — Whimsical Eloquence, from tumblr.

A. Most of my answer can be summed up in this graphic:

As you can see, the value of the dollar has steadily declined over the course of the last hundred years.  It was also on the decline before then.  If you’d like to play with the numbers on a year-by-year basis, try this inflation calculator.  As the results of my calculation put it, “What cost $1 in 1900 would cost $25.85 in 2010.  Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2010 and 1900, they would cost you $1 and $0.04 respectively.”

That’s a lot of inflation, especially considering the lowering of prices which has been produced by technological advances, economies of scale, etc.  Moreover, as you mentioned, I subscribe to Austrian economics, which sees inflation not primarily as a rise in prices — the rising prices are merely a symptom of the underlying problem of the (fiat) growth of the money supply, which has grown precipitously.  Learn more here.

Q. I like Ron Paul, for the most part, however why do Ron Paul fanatics never mention his millions of dollars in earmarks he asks for (and mostly receives) every year? — The Modern Patriot, from tumblr.

A. I’m not sure that it’s accurate to say that this issue is “never” mentioned.  On the contrary, it’s brought up quite regularly as a supposed “gotcha” ostensibly showing Dr. Paul is not as consistent as he’s cracked up to be.  This is far from the case, especially as even his harshest detractors on the subject admit thatPaul’s campaign-finance record  shows little indication of a politician who is tied to special interests. Individuals have provided the vast majority of his campaign cash, supplying 91 percent of the money since his first bid for office.”

Here’s a speech (including transcript — and on a pro-Ron Paul website, by the way) of the congressman explain his reasoning behind his stance on earmarks.  The shortest version of his argument is that, constitutionally, he’d rather see money appropriated by Congress than the executive branch, so he puts in the earmarks his district requests and then votes against them because he doesn’t want the money spent at all.

Q. How can you legitimately believe that you are supporting the preservation of liberty when you are against taxes on the rich and for deregulating our economy. There is the freedom to do something and then there is the freedom from something. In the case of corporations, the question is whether they should have the freedom to exploit their workers and consumers without consequences, or whether the workers and consumers should have freedom from this exploitation. For whatever reason you side with the corporate opinion. Your attempt at forming a philosophy based around anti-authoritarianism has completely ignored the authority that capital accumulation gives the rich. There is nothing “libertarian” or “hip” about supporting neoliberal economics. — David, from the internet.

A. Woah, woah, woah.  So many unfounded assumptions here.  Let’s start at the end:  The title of my tumblr is very much tongue in cheek based on some amusing Google Analytics results I got one time.

But moving back to the beginning, let’s go through these accusations one by one.

1. How can you legitimately believe that you are supporting the preservation of liberty when you are against taxes on the rich and for deregulating our economy.  Well, I’m actually against taxes for everybody, not the rich in particular.  As for deregulation, the rest of your question indicates that you have rather different ideas about the nature and consequences of this idea than I do.  As it happens, the economic mess we’re in now is not due to a lack of regulation.

2. There is the freedom to do something and then there is the freedom from something. In the case of corporations, the question is whether they should have the freedom to exploit their workers and consumers without consequences, or whether the workers and consumers should have freedom from this exploitation. For whatever reason you side with the corporate opinion.  Do we really have to go through this again?  I am not advocating special benefits for corporations.  I am not transferring trillions from the poor and middle class taxpayer to Wall Street.  I am not permitting the wealthy to get away with fraudulent activity without prosecution.  The government — the entity you want to give more control over our economy — is.  My goodness, what do they teach in schools these days?

3. Your attempt at forming a philosophy based around anti-authoritarianism has completely ignored the authority that capital accumulation gives the rich.  I’ve argued above that it hasn’t, but I’d contend that yours has.  You object to the government using its powers to give special favors to its rich friends, but you want to give the government more of those same powers.  Do you really think the rich friends won’t come knocking again?  Really?  I find that I am the more suspicious of the wealthy of the two of us.

2 Hours to Go

Posted on January 3, 2012 at 6.37 pm

In less than two hours, Iowa caucusgoers will begin their complicated process of selecting their preferred candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency.  So here’s an update of some stuff which has been happening in the final days of the Iowa campaign:

  • Finally, Buzzfeed has found a strong similarity between the campaign plans of Ron Paul 2012 and Barack Obama 2008 in an article titled “Ron Paul’s Secret Plan to Actually Win.”  I’m not sure this plan is supposed to be a secret, but here’s hoping he does indeed win.