Random Thoughts

I have had some wonderfully thoughtful debates on Facebook in recent days.  I have had a number of thoughts that I wanted to capture.  I don’t have the time elucidate, but I wanted to capture the thoughts for a future post…

The dichotomy between the tea-party conservatives and socialist leaning liberals.  The extremists emerging from both camps leave little room for compromise or thoughtful discussion.

The world views America as an oddity.  We are highly religious, technological advanced, fiercely independent, and incredibly nationalistic.  They have criticized that culture incessantly for the past 50 years and it seems in recent to the point that some Americans have begun to think these points are valid.

Universal literacy and shared Christain values among the founding fathers.  I believe this was a prerequisite condition for the democratic republic made up of citizen legislators they founded.  The fact that this does not exist in many areas of the world today and we are losing this in today’s America put our system at peril.

Recent Reads

I just completed the book America Alone by Mark Steyn. I have enjoyed Mark’s articles in the OC Register and online for many years. The book’s premise is that the Muslim faith is political in nature and fundamentally incompatible with Western political ideals of freedom. He also notes how demographics are playing in the favor of the religion and against the Western world. He makes a passionate case against those who refuse to stand up for freedom when confronted by terrorists.
I think it is worth a read, but probably just the first 3 chapters and the last 4 chapters- it does drag a little during the middle 100 pages. I am also a little torn on the premise that the Muslim faith lacks moderates and is incompatible with peace. As someone with Muslim friends of various levels of devotion, I would trust my life with them. I have read the Koran in translation and found it violent in places, but then so is the Bible. So I’m not yet ready to pronounce the religion “evil”, however, the religion is certainly being used as a justification for some horrible attrocities and extremist viewpoints seem to be moving mainstream.
It also got me thinking about various social movements that promote zero population growth. Isn’t it interesting that global warming, “pro-choice”, same sex marriage, and Malthusian policies all result in low birthrates, negative economic growth, self-loathing, and eventually extinction?

What really resonnated with me was his comments about the feminization of the West and the intellectual bankruptcy of cultural relativism. He gave multiple examples of why multiculturalism fails and some cultures are superior. As he states, “Multiculturalism was conceived by the Western elites not to celebrate all cultures but to deny their own.”

Wealth Redistribution

I just completed End the Fed by Ron Paul.  I appreciate his passionate plea for real money.  I agree with his argument about the morality of elastic money.  I am still not sure if ending the Fed is necessary, but more transparency is definitely needed.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about wealth redistribution policies.  Several people have explained to me how the government can play a meaningful role in helping others improve their lot in life and achieve greater security with sums that aren’t really that much when you realize it comes via small amounts from ALL taxpayers.  Our economy has changed drastically in recent years and old skills and methods no longer work in today’s more complex world.  While in the past I have been the type to say, “Let people suffer the consequences of their bad decisions,”  I know now that many of the people suffering did not understand what would happen as a result of their actions (or inaction).

Since we all benefit when productive citizens keep their salaries, continue to spend money, have homes, aren’t  forced to suffer the results of educational failures, set aside adequate reserves, or fail to avoid the siren call of immediate gratification, shouldn’t we help them avoid the damaging effects of their risky behaviors?  After all, who are we to judge?

That’s why I think we need to continue to give money to the CEOs, bankers, and others who were unintentionally affected so radically in this downturn.  We know that politicians are better judges of who should receive the productive fruits of our society’s labor than the free market.  We should purchase the bad investments those who unwisely made them for more than they are worth (TARP), and lend these people money at below market rates so they can still make a profit even as they are forced to liquidate foreclosed homes for a fraction of the loans made against them.  After all, government should provide a safety net, right?  These programs only cost each American about 4,500 dollars + interest.   I’m sure that knowing us taxpayers are there to bail them out will prevent them from pursuing such risky behavior in the future.

Once you agree that stealing from one group to give to another is not immoral- especially if your intentions are noble, then the means of acquisition are less relevant.  It could be accomplished through fraud, exploitation, inflation, or taxation.  The real problem comes when you must rely on a small group of individuals to distribute those confiscated funds.  If the means of acquiring the funds is exploitation, CEOs will distribute the wealth, taxation means politicians, inflation relies on banks and politicians, and fraud and extortion is the domain of mobsters.  It is not hard to imagine that the spoils will go disproportionately to those who can most benefit those in charge of allocating the monies.  The poor and dispossessed seldom bring much benefit to the allocators.  I don’t know that any of these groups outshines the others on the virtue scale.

Whether you are a drug abuser, single mom, free lance consultant :), banker, CEO, or blue collar worker, we all tend to think our mistakes are small in comparison to the lapses in judgments of others.  It would be nice to avoid the consequences of our poor decisions, lack of effort, or risky gambles.  However, those consequences are the price you pay when you believe you also have the right keep the upside of wise judgment,  hard work or a successful gamble/investment.  You can’t have it both ways.

So concentrate power if you must so that wealth redistribution can more readily happen, but realize those in power don’t happily give up their power.  Unless you have power, don’t expect wealth redistribution to come to you.  Do expect that those in power will now have more control and the rest of us will lose our liberty and security in the process.