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Monday links

38 Comments

  1. Myself
    Myself January 22, 2018 2:04 am

    “Yeah, I know it’s Oxfam, so you have to consider the source. But this isn’t right. And it gets worse every year.”

    Why not?

    And what should be done about this “wrong”?

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 22, 2018 4:18 am

    Creation of wealth is available to everyone with a pulse and a brainwave – each according to their own ability and effort. Far too many folks have bought the lie that there is some finite amount of wealth available, and some have more than they should. It’s maybe easier to steal than to produce, but this ultimately gets back to the source of the evil… control of the lives and property of others.

  3. Claire
    Claire January 22, 2018 5:13 am

    “Creation of wealth is available to everyone with a pulse and a brainwave – each according to their own ability and effort.”

    Then why are you poor, ML? You have a pulse and a brainwave, I know.

    And if anybody with a pulse and a brain can create wealth, why are kids not allowed to have unlicensed lemonade stands or young black women not allowed to braid hair without having a completely irrelevant and unaffordable cosmetology license? And how many small business people — complete with brains and pulses — have been driven out of business by high taxes, regulations, harassment, and other “gifts” of the state?

    And how many of the ultimate rich (Larry Ellison and the creepy guys of Google come to mind) got there by serving the needs of the uber-state? Or at the very least, by manipulating the state to their purposes?

    You know all this. You also know that nobody here is of the “finite amount of wealth” school. Why so black & white?

  4. Claire
    Claire January 22, 2018 5:16 am

    And what should be done about this “wrong”?

    Not a lot We the Peasants can do. But get rid of the engine by which so much wealth is tied to either serving government or buying privileges from the government. Get rid of the barriers (taxes, licensing, zoning, regulation, official harassment, etc.) that keep poor people with entrepreneurial spirit down.

  5. Pat
    Pat January 22, 2018 5:53 am

    Re wealth – it depends on how the wealth is acquired. I’m nor sure of Bezos’ history, but I am sure that Gates, e.g., acquired his wealth by riding on the back of IBM. He was smart in manipulation and theft of ideas, not that brilliant in electronics per se. He knew what he wanted to do, and used others to get it.
    ……….
    Such an absurd idea re the asteroid. The media has been playing Chicken Little with this asteroid for some time now. What on earth is NASA going to do about it anyway, if they (or we) know it’s coming?

    And who says that NASA will actually shut down? It’s all hype – for all we know, every department will stay open; only the doors to the “public” will remain closed.

  6. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 22, 2018 6:53 am

    Ah, dear Claire. The creation of wealth is indeed open to everyone – be it little or much… and I assumed that you would understand that I know the non-voluntary government and the attitude of control IS a serious barrier to that.

    But, throughout history there have been many who managed to create wealth in SPITE of the controllers. I don’t envy them. I don’t think what they earned should be given to me. As always, the free market and individual liberty are the answers that will open the doors to wealth creation the world has never known.

    I am “poor” because I chose this life, made a number of poor financial decisions too. The theft and coercion by government is certainly a big part of that. I had many ideas for business ventures, but all were stillborn because both government and many fellow “citizens” would not likely be willing to leave me alone to carry them out.

    Actually, I am “rich” in so many ways. I am debt free, have a home and transportation. I have food enough and to spare. I have warm clothes and the means to make more. I have friends and contacts here and all over the world. I have more than enough to keep me busy and productive the rest of my life. Sure I could use more money some times, but compared to so much of the world I am rich indeed.

  7. rochester_veteran
    rochester_veteran January 22, 2018 6:56 am

    Things are insane in California! There’s a secession movement that’s going on out there and we should let them go!

  8. Jim B.
    Jim B. January 22, 2018 8:55 am

    Of course the U.S. cops wouldn’t be amused about the snow car, they want “their” money.

    No. Matter. What.

  9. MP
    MP January 22, 2018 9:19 am

    The Discover article is interesting and sad. But perhaps the most interesting (and ironic) part to me is how Discover itself seems blind to the most obvious conclusion of this article–that something is seriously wrong with the scientific process itself as generally practiced by researchers these days to allow of this. They fail to see that there may be (I would argue IS) a generalization of this problem, choosing rather to focus narrowly on whether there are other instances of this solely in “the medical literature” as if this blindness to what shows against one’s presuppositions (or hypothesis/theory, if you prefer) is somehow a risk only for medical researchers, not researchers in general or, need I say it, science journalists.

  10. Claire
    Claire January 22, 2018 9:46 am

    “Creation of wealth is available to everyone with a pulse and a brainwave – each according to their own ability and effort.”

    “I know the non-voluntary government and the attitude of control IS a serious barrier to [wealth creation]. … But, throughout history there have been many who managed to create wealth in SPITE of the controllers.”

    “Everyone with a pulse and a brainwave” =/= “many who managed to create wealth in SPITE of the controllers.”

    We both see that every act of control and interference raises a barrier than some can’t, or won’t even try, to surmount.

    And how many who get rich in over-governed conditions either do so by manipulating government to their ends, breaking government laws, or serving government needs?

    That’s my problem with the handful of ultra-rich. Not that they’re rich, but that both the individual rich and the most wealthy corporations too often get there in ways that are inimical to freedom.

  11. Myself
    Myself January 22, 2018 10:29 am

    This gets us back to not what can be done, but what should be done? I would eliminate government myself, of course this would mean open borders, and no more military, and that view is unpopular.

    So, what should be done?

  12. Comrade X
    Comrade X January 22, 2018 10:31 am

    One word; Me too.

  13. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 22, 2018 11:01 am

    A great many people “get rich” via government and stepping on others. A lot of people spend their lives manipulating government and stepping on others, but don’t get rich at all. Everything you point out is very true… but what can you do about it?

    I can only do my best to live my own life without aggression. People who won’t even try to be productive self owners are not my problem. I can feel sorry for them, but that’s it. The ultra rich and how they got there is also not my problem in reality. I can’t do a damned thing about it anyway. Just being upset and angry about it seems counterproductive.

    What we CAN do is take as much control of our own lives as possible, and use our own minds and talents to create. Everyone is able to do that, if they want to. Create beauty, kindness, love, and even some wealth along the way. Everyone who is earning a paycheck by honest work, or producing something others want to buy, is creating wealth.

    I have no interest in being “ultra rich,” by any means. In fact, from what I read… I don’t think most of those people have life nearly as good as I do. Their great wealth can’t make them happy or even productive. Do they deserve any of it? Who knows, and what can be done about it anyway?

    The desire/lust/compulsion to control the lives and property of others is the root of all evil. I have no desire to control anyone else.

  14. larryarnold
    larryarnold January 22, 2018 11:37 am

    One of the comments from the Asteroid Warning story:
    “Don’t worry Hawaii has the early warning system covered !!!”
    That’s going to be funny for a while.

    Besides, the military, including all the ICBM crews, are still on duty. They’ll just shoot all our ICBMs at the rock and it will shatter/split and go on either side/be diverted, depending on which movie star prez gives the order.
    (Unless you know what the “Ballistic” in ICBM means.)

    It would be interesting to know how many of the world’s poorest half live in countries where someone can legally earn a billion dollars. I doubt anyone in the U.S. is a member of the “poorest half” group.

    U.S. cops would have called in a dog.
    “It’s snow, guys. No, not that kind, real snow.”

    Right on ML. I wouldn’t trade the “wealth” I have for the fortunes of Gates or Bezos. And yes, I made some poor decisions as well, usually for the best of reasons, at least at the time.

  15. Bob
    Bob January 22, 2018 1:52 pm

    I have all the good stuff mentioned above, so I guess I’m “free.” Still, I wouldn’t mind having just a smidgen of what Gates & Bezos have.

  16. Mike
    Mike January 22, 2018 2:42 pm

    I have always felt that Oxfam is nothing but an organization of looters with “hearts of gold.” Their attempt at shaming the group that actually creates wealth in the economy is nothing more then a vehicle to get publicity. In doing this, Oxfam gets to be seen as the Jeanne d’Arc of the poor battling the greedy 1%.

    So far as the 1% getting more money being a bad thing, so what? The whole attitude against the 1% and their wealth can be summed up with one word, jealousy. Jealousy over their success, jealousy over their net worth, jealousy over the power that comes with their position at the top of the food chain. Oxfam makes the case that the 1% are greedy. Well maybe they are, but that greed keeps tens of millions of folks off the bread line.

  17. Claire
    Claire January 22, 2018 3:00 pm

    “The whole attitude against the 1% and their wealth can be summed up with one word, jealousy.”

    That may very well be true in general. It may be true of Oxfam. But I doubt that anybody here begrudges anyone his or her honestly earned wealth.

    There’s a much, much more serious problem than jealousy involved. The real problem is disparity. Inequality not of outcome, but of opportunity. When the rich are getting enormously richer and working people aren’t prospering, it’s a terrible sign. It’s a sign that society is out of whack. A sign of stagnation, of unearned privilege, and of even greater troubles to arise in the future.

    When you’ve got the situation we have in the U.S., where billionaires are getting more billions while ordinary guys — the kind who live in my neighborhood — are, unemployed, underemployed, falling into addiction, getting unhealthier, and dying young, you’ve got a real problem brewing.

    Jealousy is far, far, far from being the “whole attitude.”

  18. Myself
    Myself January 22, 2018 3:32 pm

    How should “unearned privilege” and “Inequality of opportunity” be dealt with?

  19. Claire
    Claire January 22, 2018 3:58 pm

    I already dealt with that, as best I could, earlier in this comment thread.

  20. fred
    fred January 22, 2018 6:49 pm

    I agree with Claire,the income disparity reeks of Prince’s and Serfs,or Masters and Slaves.When the upper income tax was 90% there was no need to pay a CEO insane wages,the gov would suck it back.Instead,that excess money went into investing in the company and returning a share of the increasing productivity to the masses,who are making it happen with their labor.

    When the wealth disparity is the greatest in our history,including the Robber Baron age,something is wrong,very very wrong.

    Tell me how the wealthiest only pay 20% max as their income is conveniently a ‘long term capital gain’,or how their income percentage to Social Security stops at 133,000 dollars a year,yet my taxes are higher,the SS tax is fully deducted on my income,and those taxes hurt my standard of living far harder than it hurts the 0.000001%,i have a slight problem with that.

  21. Dana
    Dana January 22, 2018 7:38 pm

    And what should be done about this “wrong”?

    “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11)

    If you don’t believe that, fine. But some people (e.g. Florida and New York) claim you need a permit if you do. A little ZAP between believers and unbelievers would go a long way.

  22. Claire
    Claire January 23, 2018 7:04 am

    “He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

    Jesus didn’t seem to have much grasp of what creates prosperity in the long term.

    But at least he advocated voluntary charity over enforced socialism. (The latter came later, in Acts.)

  23. Pat
    Pat January 23, 2018 7:42 am

    “Jesus didn’t seem to have much grasp of what creates prosperity in the long term.

    But at least he advocated voluntary charity over enforced socialism. (The latter came later, in Acts.)”

    Amen! 🙂

    (Whatever happened to the Applaud button here? I’ve been missing it.)

  24. firstdouglas
    firstdouglas January 23, 2018 8:04 am

    So what happened in Acts, asks someone probably fifty years out of touch with that book?

  25. Claire
    Claire January 23, 2018 8:43 am

    firstdouglas — Acts is the book of the bible (IIRC the only book of the bible, though I’m no scholar and could be wrong on that) that claims the early Christians shared all their possessions in common. Or rather that they gave everything to Peter and the other apostles who decided who got what.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_the_Apostles

    Any illusion that this sharing was voluntary is dispelled by the instructive story of Ananias and Sapphira.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+5&version=NIV

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ananias_and_Sapphira

    … although Dana may point out that technically God killed them for lying, rather than withholding money.

  26. MP
    MP January 23, 2018 9:29 am

    I beg to differ, Claire. there is really no technically about it. Ananias and Sapphira were judged/punished specifically because The “lied to the Holy Spirit”, and NOT because they did not give what they had to the poor. Acts 5:3-5: But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

    The preceding incident as a comparison makes it clear that Ananias and Sapphira pretended to give everything they got for the land, following on the heels of Joseph having done just that.

    Acts 4:32-35 makes it pretty clear that it was entirely voluntary on the part of the early church. Acts 6:1-4 shows that the leaders more than willingly gave over responsibility for handling this money to others (i.e., the first deacons as most people understand this) so it wasn’t a matter of greed or personal power.

    It is notable that these passages describe the earliest church in Jerusalem, and as you indicated this isn’t talked about elsewhere in the same way though churches are commended in other places for their generosity toward other churches elsewhere.

    All that said, it is rare to find a church today that understands the voluntary nature of this lifestyle, recognizes the context of it as meaningful to understanding it, or–above all–exhibits such a self-sacrificing lifestyle, especially in the leadership. Far from distributing what is given to widows and orphans, they build mega-structures and mega-mansions.

  27. firstdouglas
    firstdouglas January 23, 2018 9:48 am

    Thanks for the Acts 5 reference, Claire. Mine was the kind of question I usually feel I should research for myself, but with Bible verse, between all the translations and various versions, I expect that interpretation can vary, here and there (everywhere?) across the Old Testament and New.

    So I was happy to see that the verse you had in mind didn’t somehow specify forcible property collection and sharing. Conspiring to “test the Spirit of the Lord” sounds to me to be more of a personal matter, an inner struggle between self and “god,” rather than a specification for organizing society.

    And even if I don’t base my own moral code on the Bible, I do find it easier if I can believe that Christian collectivists’ beliefs are founded on misinterpretation, rather than, essentially, plain language commanding the police state.

  28. firstdouglas
    firstdouglas January 23, 2018 10:24 am

    And thanks, MP–I hadn’t seen your reply when I made mine.

  29. fred
    fred January 23, 2018 12:11 pm

    Lets look at the last 50 years,compare 1967 to 2017…

    67-family of 6.We lived middle class to lower middle.Single income.4 bedroom house in a new neighborhood.Our school was new.Lots of new cars.Nice clothes.Teacher,cop,and the SCHOOL BUS DRIVER all could live in my ‘hood.The rich kid? His dad owned a company that today would be equal to Johnson Home Products.Their house was 50% larger than ours and had a 1/4 acre lot.Drove a Cadillac.

    Fast forward,2017- Everyone is pretty much dual income.4 kids are rare.Teacher and cop still can afford it,but now they are married to each other to be able to live there.Bus driver,get real,he is 15 miles away at best.the rich guy? A house in the Hamptons,another Florida coast,maybe something else in Europe.Chauffeured everywhere.

    What happened??? SOCIAL ENGINEERING,also known as PROPAGANDA! Used to be EEK!! Commies!!! Now the Commies are our trading buddies.But SOCIALISM??? EEEEKKKK!!!!! Except the only ones who actually need fear Socialism are the obscenely wealthy elite.But they have most of you crying in fear that socialism in any form is hell on earth.While they own 90% of the wealth.Well done folks.

    I look at the comments here from very intelligent people and all I see are propagandised people.And as always,those being propagandised are the last to see it.

    Socialism where the company owners live on 2 or 4 million a year,i have no problem with that,at all.If that isnt luxury enough,then too damn bad.They wont produce,like hell they wont,millions a year is a damn nice life.

    A world with 90% of wealth held by 1% of the people is Royalty and serfdom.

    Give me 1967 not 2017 for quality of life across the board.

    Marie Antoinette would be proud of you. 🙁

  30. fred
    fred January 23, 2018 12:19 pm

    How do ‘they’ get you living in fear of socialism? They drop it all on your back,and not on theirs. You quake in fear that more socialism will destroy you,as they are exempt in standard of living actually being affected by any of it.Great scam now isnt it????

    Why do you stand back and allow your quality of life to plummet in 50 years while defending their right to stick it to you?? POLITICS people,and they own the politicians.

    Open up and believe your own lying eyes,its right there in front of you,only takes a lousy 50 years of history to see whats happened.

    Baaaaa!!!! BAAAAA!!!!

  31. Claire
    Claire January 23, 2018 1:08 pm

    “The preceding incident as a comparison makes it clear that Ananias and Sapphira pretended to give everything they got for the land, following on the heels of Joseph having done just that.”

    That’s true. In the story, they did both lie and God struck them dead for lying about giving all the proceeds of their property sale. Thank you for illuminating that and other things Acts has to say about property ownership.

    To me, the reason God struck those two dead doesn’t matter much because I believe the story is just that — a story. It’s a cautionary tale written to scare children and gullible adults into obeying out of terror. I’ve read various Christian defenses of it, but I consider the story of Ananias and Sapphira manipulative, barbaric, unworthy, and untrue.

  32. fred
    fred January 23, 2018 1:32 pm

    Comparing the Bibles economy with the economy of today has zero relevance.When is the last time you sacrificed a sheep and spread its blood around your front door?

  33. Claire
    Claire January 23, 2018 2:27 pm

    “When is the last time you sacrificed a sheep and spread its blood around your front door?”

    Well, let’s see. There was that time … No, better not go into that … 😉

  34. Dana
    Dana January 24, 2018 1:14 am

    Well, let’s see. There was that time … No, better not go into that … 😉

    You got a dinner invite from Marina Abramović?? (warning: graphic related video cannot be unseen.)

    Jesus didn’t seem to have much grasp of what creates prosperity in the long term. But at least he advocated voluntary charity over enforced socialism. (The latter came later, in Acts.)

    I think there’s actually a common narrative arc between the snippet I mentioned earlier (Luke 3:10-11) about John the Baptist and the account of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are written by the same author, and traditionally credited to St. Luke. The first account happens before the Baptism of Jesus, and concerns “the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him [John].” The crowds took a trek out to the boonies to find John, not the other way around, and John told them “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:11). But the very next thing John says is to the tax collectors and soldiers, and concerns extortion. The account of Ananias and Sapphira does indeed happen much later — after the Ascension. I think the common thread is in Luke 3:16.

    … although Dana may point out that technically God killed them for lying, rather than withholding money.

    MP did a good job of that, and I don’t really disagree. But someone might be guilty on multiple counts, some more serious than others. Acts 5:3 is really difficult to translate. The verb “to keep back” isn’t commonly used, and both it and the lying are done in the aorist tense and middle voice, which doesn’t really have an English equivalent. And they’re both done in relation to the Holy Spirit. That same uncommon Greek verb (“to keep back”) is also used in Joshua 7:1 (LXX) concerning Achan right after the Jews enter the Promised Land. (And yes, you too can pretend you know some Greek when you really don’t, thanks to modern technology!)

    For narrative parallels, look at what happens right after Adam and Eve get handed the Garden of Eden. What happens immediately after the Jews get handed the Promised Land. And compare that with what happens immediately after the Christians get given the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31) which is what John was talking about back in Luke 3:16. If the entire aim of the Christian Life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God, then Ananias and Sapphira are the first screw-ups, and it’s big-time. They’re filled up in Acts 4:31 and emptied out in Acts 5:5 and 5:10. That is, they lost the Spirit and their own breath. The bodily death part seems secondary to me.

    The great sin is refusing to accept with gratitude a gift of extraordinary value, all while grasping at something worthless. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48).

    It’s a cautionary tale written to scare children and gullible adults into obeying out of terror.

    I don’t doubt that it’s been used to to scare children and gullible adults into obeying out of terror. I’m not sure that’s why it was written. I’d read it more as a cautionary tale about “not throwing it all away” for grown-ups who have been given much, and ought to be anything but gullible.

    Ananias and Sapphira messed less by failing to give, but by “throwing away” what they were given.

  35. Claire
    Claire January 24, 2018 7:05 am

    Dana — First, thank you for so politely not calling me out when you linked to a John the Baptist quote and I responded with a remark about Jesus.

    Second, we can always count on you for a deep excavation into the Bible. Kudos. You and MP might make a formidable tag team. 🙂

    You wrote:

    “I don’t doubt that it’s been used to to scare children and gullible adults into obeying out of terror. I’m not sure that’s why it was written. I’d read it more as a cautionary tale about “not throwing it all away” for grown-ups who have been given much, and ought to be anything but gullible.”

    But the story is so inherently silly. A good writer could have thought of 100 better ways to say “don’t throw away your opportunities or your blessings,” if that was the intended message. Instead we get “God magically strikes liars dead!” A simplistic, vicious, and scary fable.

  36. Claire
    Claire January 24, 2018 7:08 am

    “You got a dinner invite from Marina Abramović??”

    Eeeeeeew. I’d forgotten she was the “spirit cooking” weirdo so beloved of the Clinton crowd. I’m going to have a problem unseeing that video even though I watched only a few seconds of it.

  37. MP
    MP January 24, 2018 9:57 am

    “Eeeeeeew. I’d forgotten she was the “spirit cooking” weirdo so beloved of the Clinton crowd. I’m going to have a problem unseeing that video even though I watched only a few seconds of it.”

    With that recommendation, I am VERY glad I didn’t click that link! I have seen enough things that made me wish for eyeball bleach in my life…

    “But the story is so inherently silly. A good writer could have thought of 100 better ways to say “don’t throw away your opportunities or your blessings,” if that was the intended message. Instead we get “God magically strikes liars dead!” A simplistic, vicious, and scary fable.”

    This is one of those passages that has always struck me as weird and it feels out of place to me, too, so I can certainly appreciate the conclusion you drew. Dana did a good job of giving some biblical context, and I don’t have an alternative explanation to offer, so I will just throw out some random additional thoughts on the subject.

    One’s starting position when looking at the Bible is critical to the conclusions that are drawn regarding such passages. (OK, so I haven’t been called Captain Obvious at times for no reason.) A starting tenet for me (behind which there is a long chain of ontological and logical truths that have “proven” this tenet for me, or at least enough firm evidence for it to satisfy me 😉 ) is that both God and the human authors have sound reasons for what is written and which incidents are recorded and that these can generally be deduced. They may not necessarily be the same motives, but they are both intentional. While God is recorded as executing judgments like this at times, these events seem to be extraordinary and exceptional rather than common and therefore likely are not an attempt to say “Don’t do this or something bad will happen to you.” The purpose, then, seems likely to be other than just or primarily cautionary about the act itself.

    Deducing what the meaning and purpose of what is written is not always easy and may be nigh impossible. Circumstances, cultural differences, translation difficulties, etc., all can contribute to this. But at core the issue is that God is infinite and we are finite–a statement that I think would be shown untrue if everything about him were easily understood. That there are difficult passages itself seems to me supporting evidence that the Bible is more than just a human creation.

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