where religion and politics meet

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is what one believes about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Countries also have a worldview, a way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Ours used to be Christianity. Now it is secularism, which is practical atheism.

Some of us are trying to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

A religion is not a culture, though it creates one. It is not what you prefer, like your taste in music or your favorite movie. It is what you believe to be true. Because it deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, but the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation and critical thinking.

Every human being has the duty to search for and learn the truth about life. Education and science used to be valuable tools in this search, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues,

For now I want to focus my writing now articles specifically addressed to Christians. So most of my new posts will be on my other website listed below. I will continue to write and post short responses to newspaper columns and letters and even other articles as the inspiration hits me.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:


If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Taxes on imports, jobs, and the health of our country

When there are not enough good paying jobs for everybody, it drives people to depend on the government for financial assistance.  This is considered the compassionate thing to do, a safety net, but the result of this is to increase the role of government in the lives of everybody. 

Throughout history, there have been essentially only two forms of government: tyranny and freedom.  Most governments throughout history have been tyrannies.  Life isn’t necessarily miserable under a ruler, but our nation fought a war to get the kind of government and the freedoms that we have.

When we think of tyrannies, we usually think of kings or dictators where one person basically rules the country, but freedom can be lost piece by piece as people gradually trade freedoms for security, prosperity for a safety net, and responsibility for dependency. 
When you have a massive government with an ever increasing number of rules and laws, the will and the power to force compliance on more and more things that were not issues in the past, when the government believes it is responsible for the economy and is responsible for solving all the problems of society, then your government is going from freedom to tyranny.  For many countries today, freedom and tyranny exist together on a continuum with varying degrees of each.

Our nation is moving slowly from freedom to tyranny.  Instead of being ruled by a king, we are being ruled more and more by government officials who want to protect us from ourselves and the evil around us, but are just as likely motivated by the power and the money that comes with their position.

The issue of jobs is possibly the single most important factor in preserving our freedoms, because when a person can no longer provide for oneself or one’s family, they cry out for somebody to take care of them.   This causes the government to grow, requiring more of your money and expanding the government’s reach into every area of your life.  The loss of jobs reduces revenues to the government while at the same time creates pressure on the government to grow, assume more responsibility, increase governmental spending, and consequently government debt.

Our churches used to be the primary source of public charity in our country, but the government has now become responsible for the welfare of the people.  The government is now the protector and provider of the people.  The government has assumed responsibility for, and consequently the control of, the economy.

So the economy is basically about freedom, but according to Forbes[1], more than half the people in our country now receive some form of government aid.  When this happens slowly and each new generation is not taught what freedom is all about and each new generation gets used to the increasing role of government in their lives, freedom is traded for rulers who are now looked upon as our benefactors. 

The loss of good jobs has also been a large factor in the deterioration of our families and as a result the moral deterioration of our country.  Those who do work work more jobs and more hours to try to provide for their families and more and more parenting is done by day cares, and raising children becomes a lot like having pets.  Feed them twice a day, and see that they don’t soil up the house.   The lack of good jobs takes parents out of the homes and children are raised too often by people who have little or no vested interest in their lives. 

Broken families lead to more crime, but it also contributes to the moral breakdown of our country.  What I mean by moral breakdown is that there are a lot of things that are wrong but not illegal.  All kinds of corruption, mean-spiritedness, unkindness, abuse, exploitation, indifference, negligence, selfishness, hatred, anger, things that laws either don’t touch or can’t fix, come from the breakdown of the family.  Bringing American jobs back to our country will do more than probably any other one thing to help our country economically, but also in strengthening our country morally. 

So why did we lose all these jobs?  Labor has almost always been cheaper overseas, but the jobs didn’t leave to get cheaper labor.  

Our corporate taxes are among if not the highest in the world, but the jobs didn’t leave because of high corporate taxes.  Corporate tax rates were raised to help make up for all the money the government no longer was getting from working people.  We are told that we must lower our corporate tax rates to bring jobs back to our country, but if that isn’t why they left, it won’t make much difference in bringing them back. 

The jobs left as we stopped taxing imports.

We have forgotten that taxes on imports paid for almost our entire federal budget for most of our nation’s history.  There was no federal income tax before 1913. 

We are told that taxing imports will raise the prices that consumers pay for those goods.  Yes, but these taxes used to be collected in lieu of income taxes, so income taxes should be reduced accordingly. 

We are told that Herbert Hoover raised taxes on imports as the Great Depression was just starting, and that was responsible for prolonging and intensifying it.  But the Great Depression lasted for another eight years or so under Franklin Delano Roosevelt who raised all kinds of taxes and created all kinds of government programs, and nobody thinks that had anything to do with prolonging the Depression?

Without taxes on imports, the jobs will stay overseas. 
We are told that taxing imports will start trade wars, where other nations will tax the goods we send to them, thus hurting our export industry.  But this wasn’t an issue for the 140 years before we had an income tax, and this wasn’t an issue before we stopped taxing imports and sent our jobs overseas

We are told that the world now has a global economy, that we have to support a global economy, and that to resist it is economic suicide.  By a global economy, they mean simply free trade, no taxes on imported goods.  They use words like protectionism and nationalism to describe those who oppose this, as though we are supposed to understand these words as obvious proofs of these people’s folly.

But the problem is our own companies making our own products and then sending them back to us.   Foreign goods were always available in our country, and we always paid a premium for them.  But these were actual foreign products, like Swiss chocolate and German watches, not American companies making things somewhere else and then shipping those products back here.

Our political leaders have forgotten our Constitution, which our Founders fought a war in order to be able to establish it.    Our government exists to promote the general welfare of the people of the United States.  It’s like when parents give everything they have to their children.  That doesn’t mean that they hate or don’t care about the other children on the block.  But they can only be responsible for those that belong to them over whom they have some control or major influence.  We cannot control the events, the people, and the governments of other countries, so frankly they have to take care of themselves, except perhaps in the case of a major natural disaster.

We are told that globalization is good for everybody because everything is now cheaper.  What they are not telling us is that, with globalization, most people are making a lot less money as a global labor market keeps driving wages downward.  A global economy is like adding 3 billion people to the labor force.  There are always people who will work for less somewhere in the world, and wages go down everywhere else to try to compete with that. 

Rich nations become poorer, and poor nations stay poor.  The poor nations are not starting their own businesses; they’re just relying on ours. 

And, besides, it is a very dangerous policy to build or base an economy on exports.  That means that our prosperity depends first on the prosperity of other nations so that they can buy our goods.  Basing our economic health on a global economy ties the economic health of all the nations together such that a problem in one country affects all the others.  What this does is create a new normal of a sluggish world economy.  Some major country is always experiencing some kind of downturn or economic crisis. 

This ideal world of free trade also requires everybody to ‘play fair,’ nobody gaming the system by manipulating their currencies.  So the experts want to build a global economic system that requires nobody cheating for it to really work?  Seriously?   You want to build a system that every nation in the world is dependent on but that requires everybody to follow all the rules?  Can’t be done unless you create a new world system where everybody is subject to a new world government.

Quite frankly, I think the motivation behind this is resentment for the United States being so prosperous.  At least it used to be.  Before the jobs went overseas, our federal debt was minimal.  Now it is almost 20 trillion dollars and counting.  And, yes, the two are related, and we won’t fix the one without fixing the other.
How can we have a robust American economy when it is dependent on nations all over the world having the money to buy our stuff first?  We have 330 million people in our own country.  If that is not enough of a market for a company to prosper, please don’t blame our trade policies.

Before the jobs went overseas, we had plenty of jobs for everyone, good paying jobs, and our nation prospered.  When we made all of our own stuff, the jobs grew as the population grew.  Taxes on imports went away, and the jobs went away, government debt skyrocketed, and wages stagnated.  Now we don’t have enough jobs for all the people who are living in our country, yet at the same time the government keeps bringing millions more people into our country as well as allowing untold numbers of people to just come in however they can.

We now have record numbers of people on government assistance, which ends up lowering the standard of living of everyone through government borrowing, inflation, and higher taxes.

So how do we bring the jobs back to our country?  Corporate tax rates are too high.  But they are high only to make up for all the loss of revenue from the loss of jobs.  The jobs didn’t leave because tax rates were too high, though more have left since they were raised.  The jobs didn’t leave because labor was cheaper somewhere else.  Labor has always been cheaper somewhere else.

The jobs left because we stopped taxing imports.  And they will not come back until we do that again.  I should add that we have also lost jobs due to the increase in government regulations.  

The Presidential candidates all talk about the issue of jobs in various ways, but this issue needs to have a national debate and reach some kind of consensus.  The reason is that moving a company from one country to another is a major decision that can involve billions of dollars.  If one President instituted a policy which the next President might want to reverse or change, companies could be slow in doing anything differently because the cost of changing could outweigh the cost of staying put.

Right now most opinions you will hear on this matter support free trade.  Much of that I believe is due to do politically correct thinking that views taxing imports as the work of greedy American companies who want to charge high prices free from the challenges of competition or the outdated notion of putting American interests above that of other countries. 

But taxing imports again is the most important means for bringing jobs back to the United States.  I would suggest a blanket tax on every product brought into this country.  Let’s say 20%.  We can calculate the projected income from imports, though total imports should decrease a bit.  The tax is paid by the company, and the consumers will then pay them back as they buy their products.  Income tax rates should then be lowered corresponding to the projected income.  As jobs come back to our country, the revenue from taxed imports will decrease but more people working at better jobs will reduce government spending and increase government revenues.

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2014/07/02/weve-crossed-the-tipping-point-most-americans-now-receive-government-benefits/#56676bea6233

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Case for Donald Trump

The Herald (May 6) printed a reader’s case why he believes Donald Trump should not be our next President.  I feel compelled to vote for Donald Trump.  Everybody had his list of important issues by which he judges a candidate.  For me there are 5 issues that are the iceberg sinking the ship.  And if the ship sinks, nothing else is going to matter.  In each case, Donald Trump is either the only one who understands the problem, has the right solution to fix the problem, or is the only one I believe will actually do what is needed to fix the problem.
The first issue is jobs.  I believe the loss of jobs is probably the biggest reason for our country’s staggering debt.  It combines the loss of tax revenue with an increase in government spending for assistance programs. 
The jobs didn’t leave because of cheaper labor somewhere.  There has always been cheaper labor somewhere else.  They didn’t leave because of high taxes.  The high taxes came afterwards to help make up for the lost tax revenue.  The jobs left because we stopped taxing imports.
Taxes on imports used to pay for almost our entire federal budget.  We didn’t even have an income tax until 1913.  Yes, taxes on imports will raise the cost of foreign goods, but they will make possible a reduction in income taxes and will bring jobs back here.  Trump is the only one who believes in taxing imports.
The second issue is immigration, and Trump is the only person who you can believe will secure the border.  Congress has promised this since Reagan in 1986 with nothing getting done. 
Trump is the only person who challenges birthright citizenship.  We don’t give citizenship to children born to people here on vacation or to foreign workers, so why should we give it to children of people in our country illegally?  The American Indian didn’t even get this privilege.  That required an act of Congress.  With birthright citizenship, it is becoming almost impossible to deport families of people who have children born here. 
The third issue is Muslims.  The world is experiencing incredible violence and instability, whether in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, or Asia.  And, frankly, it is entirely due to Muslims.  Will America be any different?  You only need to watch the hundreds of videos coming out of Europe to know that it is only matter of time.  They just need to become a higher percentage of the population.  Trump is the only person who actually sees a problem here.
The fourth issue is the court called supreme.  This court has assumed a role in forming policies far beyond the role given to it by the Constitution.  In this case just about any of the Republican candidates would do, but those who are concerned about future court appointments need to be concerned about which political party makes the nomination.  So if Trump is the candidate, you can’t stay home and not vote if you don’t like him.  That just gives the job to the other party.
The last issue is the business as usual in Washington.  The entire political system in Washington is broken.  We need a lot of non-politicians running things there, who might, for example, replace a thousand-page bill with maybe a dozen 3 page bills, which they can actually read and debate.

Anybody but Trump will just give us more of the same.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Progressive State Income Tax: Fair or Fraud

The Sun-Times had an interesting editorial Monday that provoked a lot of thought, assuming you are one to ask questions.  The article was advocating for a progressive state income tax and contained a lot of facts, but to me it left me with a vague notion that something wasn’t right about the whole thing.

The heading itself said that a progressive state income tax was fairer to the middle class.  I guess that would mean that it is not fairer to the other classes.  So there is no solution that is fair to everybody?  We have to choose which class we should be fair to, and the rich don’t deserve it, because what?  They don’t really work harder than anyone else?  They don’t really deserve what they make?  Or is what it really saying is that there are more middle and lower class people than rich ones, so we can vote to take more money away from them?

Notice that they don’t want to lock themselves into a fixed rate for a progressive tax.  This gives them what they feel is a never-ending revenue stream from a small group of voters who would be harassed and ridiculed if they ever protested. 

Notice also that they want to lower the income tax for everyone else.  A sure way to get everyone else’s vote to tax the other guy, the ones who are doing better than they are.

Frankly what really annoys me is that I bet Democrats spend every waking moment trying to think of new taxes to levy or creative ways to get more money out of people.  They can’t think of one way to cut expenses or reduce payroll.  Private companies tighten things up all the time, but not government. 

Our pensions are based on actual contributions.  Government pensions are based on wishful thinking.  Government workers feel entitled to their jobs and see the public as their servants who must take very good care of them, regardless of the cost.  

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Most Important Issues in the 2016 Presidential Race Part 3

Have you been to a baseball game lately, or at least followed the news?  Going to a game is not like it used to be.  You must now submit to a thorough security check. 

I’m from Chicago which probably has more gun violence than any city in the country, but these security checks weren’t started because they thought somebody was going to bring a gun into a ballpark and start shooting people. They’re afraid that somebody is going to blow themselves up. 

This kind of security is now the new normal.  You have to take your shoes off before getting on an airplane.  Why?  You might be carrying a bomb.  You can’t even bring a liquid in your carry-on.  Why?  You might have a bomb.

But there is something that is not being said here.  While it is true that any given person might have a bomb, why is it only now that this has become a concern?  We could say that it is because it is happening more often now.  But we are still missing the point. 

If it were not for one simple common factor in all of this new kind of violence in the world, the world would be generally a pretty safe place.  That common factor is that this violence, or terrorism as it is now called, is committed by Muslims.  If there were no Muslims, nobody would be worrying about terrorism.  If there were no Muslims, nobody would be worrying about bombs.  If there were no Muslims, nobody would be screened at airports or ball games. 

And, no, this is not xenophobia or Islamophobia.  It’s just a fact.

But certainly isn’t it unfair to think that any and every Muslim is a threat to the safety and security of our society?  Nobody is saying that, but the simple answer is yes.  But then the answer isn’t really simple, and nobody is really trying to understand the question in the first place.

Those who are willing at least to name this problem use expressions like Islamic terrorism, radicalized Islam, Muslim extremists, or Islamists, trying to distinguish the problem from the vast majority of Muslims. 

But they are missing something very basic here when they do that.  A radical or extremist is a person who takes something that is already there and then overdoes it. 

If a Christian becomes radical or extreme, he or she may sell all of their belongings and give the money to the poor.  They may fast for days at a time or pray all night, or they may give up everything to go to a remote jungle village and spend years developing a written language and then more years translating the Bible into that language.

If a Catholic (Christian) becomes radical, he may take a vow of poverty or celibacy.  He may attend mass everyday and go to Confession once a week.  He may say the Rosary numbers of times throughout the day.

If a Jew becomes radical, he may start dressing differently, mostly in black and white, mostly black.  He won’t drive a car on Saturdays.  He won’t even turn up the heat on Saturday, the Sabbath.  And he will only eat certain foods that have been prepared in a certain way.

If a Muslim becomes radical, he kills people.  Nobody noticed this before?  If a Muslim kills people as a result of become a radical Muslim, that means that there is something already in the religion that accepts or encourages violence in certain situations.

Every Muslim nation in the world became Muslim through killing people.  Is there an exception?  I asked an ex-Muslim once who was supposed to be knowledgeable about those things, and he said no.  No exceptions.  Even Mohammed himself formed an army and went out conquering the infidels. 

Muslims don’t send out missionaries to teach literacy to primitive people so they can read the Word of God in their own language.  They don’t start medical clinics to care for the sick.  They send in warriors to kill people and blow things up, mostly people.

Now certainly few Muslims will ever do anything like this.  The problem is that, if we don’t monitor their social media or the places where they pray, any Muslim can apparently become radicalized.  Doesn’t matter whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, employed in a good job or not at all, whether they have a family or not.  It can happen anywhere without warning.  But this only happens with Muslims.

We are constantly being told that Islam is a religion of peace.  First of all, nobody would keep having to say that if this was either an obvious, observable fact or if the question was not a contested one.  As a Christian with college and a post-grad degree in all things Christian, I know a bit about religious controversies.  One thing I know is that controversies that are not settled early when the movement is essentially united never get resolved. 

Islam has been around for over 1400 years.  It is not going to resolve itself at any time in the future and decide that Islam is indeed a religion of peace, and thereafter all Muslim killing will cease.  Muslim killing in the name of Islam is here to stay, and it has been increasing as the dictators who have kept them in check have been removed, often by Western countries who think they are doing the world a favor. 

For most of the modern era, Muslim countries were either under European rule or under a dictator who kept things pretty quiet.  But the Europeans moved out, and we killed or encouraged the killing of those dictators, and Islam became free once again to be what it is.  Besides warring among themselves as to which of the two major Islamic sects is the true one, they have sparked their armies to continue their conquest of Africa and invigorated their persecution of Christians and Jews. 
Challenging the West is a different story.  A regular war wouldn’t work there, but I saw recently that the Muslim Brotherhood established a hundred-year plan for the destruction of Western Civilization.  It was written in 1928.  A major part of the plan is mass migration to the West and then using the freedoms in the West and the new values of tolerance, diversity, and multi-culturalism to gain acceptance and position, and their rapid population growth would increase their numbers to a critical mass necessary to change policies. 

This means that it is not necessary or important that the average Muslim even be aware of this long range plan.  He just needs to be part of the throng making its way into Western countries.  You can be sure that the Muslim leaders are fully aware of any long range goals for Islam in the Western world.

People talk about moderate Muslims, but you can’t judge a moderate Muslim in a country where Muslims are only 1-2% of the population.  If you want to see how a true Muslim lives, you need to go to the countries where Muslims are totally free to be themselves, a Muslim country. 

There are about 47 Muslim majority countries in the world today, and frankly there isn’t one that you would want to live in.  There isn’t even one you would want to visit, except for those few places that have either ancient relics or sites from the times before Islam came to be.  And if you are a Christian or a Jew, there are no Muslim countries in the world where you would feel safe, except for those countries where they still have that strong secular ruler or dictator. 

There are organizations that monitor the persecution of Christians in the world, and apart from places like China or North Korea, that don’t like religion at all, all the major persecuting countries are Muslim. 

Do you really think it would be any different here in the future?  In Europe, there are parts of countries or whole countries where there are substantial Muslim populations, and those areas are basically unsafe for non-Muslims.  Watch some of the hundreds of videos coming out of Europe today about the clash of cultures. 

But there is another issue at stake here as well. 

We are told that our country is based on freedom of religion, and so Muslims have as much right to be here and practice their religion as anyone else.

But you may have noticed if you have been watching the news that a lot of religious people, particularly Christians, are finding that their religious views and practices are being trumped by the ‘rights’ of other people.  So what does that mean, and what does that mean with regard to Muslims?

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion].”

That can only mean one thing.  Religion, as understood at that time, was consistent with the highest values of our country and would promote the health and prosperity of it as well.  Otherwise our country could not allow or guarantee totally free exercise of religion.

We are being told today that our Founders established a secular nation.  But if that were true, then there would be secular values that would be higher than religious ones, and freedom of religious expression could not be guaranteed.  Something like tolerance, the newest supreme value, would require Christians to accept things they didn’t believe in to accommodate the beliefs and practices of others. 

The fact is that Congress had Bibles printed to be used in our public schools and that the Bible was used and taught in our public schools for almost 200 years before the court called supreme somehow found this practice unconstitutional.  So when the Founders were thinking of freedom of religious expression, they were thinking of Christian values.

But wouldn’t this freedom apply for all religions?  Several years after our nation’s founding, we went to war with five Muslim countries in northern Africa.  Our leaders couldn’t understand why they kept attacking our ships and imprisoning our sailors.  Their leaders then showed our leaders from the Quran why they had to do this.  They were Muslims, and we were not.  This is what Muslims do. 

I can’t imagine our Founders would have accepted or encouraged thousands of Muslims to come to our country and then encourage them to openly practice their religion.  We know from their writings that there were indeed some Muslims here already and that the Founders were not against their being here.  But they believed that the free exchange of ideas would convince people of what was true, and Christianity would win out in the end. 

Our Founders did not see religion as one’s personal taste in beliefs, like one’s taste in music or food.  They understood religion to be a description of reality, telling us what is true and false, right and wrong, good and bad.  So a religion is either true or false itself, and one could know which it is, if he really wanted to.  The issue can be debated and resolved with open, thoughtful discussions.  So to think that all kinds of contradictory moral values can be given free expression is not what they were thinking.  Take a poll of Muslims and ask them their views of honor killings or what they should do to a person who converts from Islam to another religion or if violence is ever justified in the name of Islam. 

We have already talked about immigration in the last article.  And we have noted that immigration is forever.  Hundreds become thousands, and thousands become millions.  Throughout our nation’s history, the vast majority of our immigrants came from Europe, and they assimilated seamlessly into our culture and society.  It would be inaccurate to say that Muslims don’t, won’t, or can’t assimilate, but the fact is that there are far too many differences between Western Civilization and Islam for this to happen enough.  Again, we have the hundreds or thousands of videos coming out of Europe that show this clash. 

It would be foolish to experiment with or jeopardize the entire future of our country thinking that it will be different here.  Again, see my article on immigration for a fuller discussion of the purpose of our government in the first place.  Our government exists to promote the unity, tranquility, and welfare of our people.  There is no room, place, or authority for our government to put that at risk, and for what?  To give some non-Americans a promise of a better life?  Living in the United States can probably provide a better life for maybe 7 billion people on the planet.  Unless they can all move here, other countries will need to learn what they can about how we became the nation they all want to come to and then duplicate what they can where they are at. 

Is this a cruel, heartless thing to say?  No, and frankly because we are no longer that rich, wonderful nation we used to be.  We have to borrow money now from other countries just to pay our bills, and we still don’t have enough to do that.  We print new money to pay bills with, and that just lowers the standard of living for everybody who already lives here.

This is the third in a series of article on the most important issues of the 2016 Presidential campaign.  I was going to call the issue terrorism and then discuss Islam in a separate article.  But then I saw that this would be redundant.  The goal of terrorism is to change a country into a Muslim country.  The goal of Muslim migration is to change a country into a Muslim country.  The goal of Muslim immigration to our country is to change our country into a Muslim country.  This is not the thought of every single Muslim who comes here, no, but this is the thought of Muslim leaders throughout the world, and massive migration is necessary to work that out.

Muslim immigration is unlike any previous immigration to our country.  We used to have an American identity that we were proud of and that immigrants gladly embraced and assimilated to.  We no longer have that, and there is nothing in Islam that a Muslim thinks should be accommodated to adapt to a new culture.  At least permanently.  We will need to adapt to them.

There is only one Presidential candidate who has even expressed a willingness to stop Muslim immigration even temporarily, and I know of no political leader who even sees a problem here at all. 

I have two children and a grandchild on the way.  Political and public policy is not just about what effect things will have today.  It’s about how policies affect the future.  I am old enough to see countless changes to our country that younger people see as the way things have always been.  I see the direction our country is going in where younger people don’t even know what road we are on. 

Our Founders and our Constitution stressed how the role of our government to unite our people, promote their tranquility, and secure our liberties for future generations.  Our political leaders have proceeded to divide our country into as many groups and subgroups of people as possible, almost all with competing interests, needs, and demands.  They have stifled our freedoms so as not to ‘offend’ even the smallest of those groups, even if only the slightest possibility exists such a thing might occur.  And they have cast everyone as either a victim or an oppressor in a never-ending clash of classes, races, and religions. 

With the growth of Islam in our country, this dynamic will be repeated yet different in a unique way.  And it won’t need any help from our politicians.  Our nation will bend to their will, first through polite accommodation, then through demands for equality and fairness, and then frankly you will be afraid not to give them everything they want because, frankly, you will be afraid of what will happen if you don’t. 

Bringing Muslims into our country could be the single worst mistake in our nation’s history.  Bad laws can be undone.  Bad taxes and bad trade policies can be undone.  Bad immigration cannot. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

voting and smoking

A strange thing is happening in our country.  Our government is encouraging and permitting voting by certain 17 year olds to vote in state primaries yet governments throughout the country are trying to raise the age for smoking to 21. 

Essentially our governments are saying that our young people are smart enough to vote for the right candidates but too immature or stupid to know whether they should smoke or not.

Smoking is well known to be detrimental to one’s health, yet people smoke because they see benefits that to them outweigh the risks.  Politics is much the same.  Candidates promise all kinds of benefits to their constituents, but it often takes a little work to find out the full costs and risks of what they are offering. 

So these same people who can’t be trusted to make sound judgments when the risks and costs are well known can be fully trusted to make decisions where the risks and costs often require real homework to find out. 

Similarly, it is easy for someone who doesn’t pay taxes to vote for a political candidate who will tax other people to pay for benefits which he will receive.  I have no doubt that this is behind many of the government drives to increase voter turnout.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Most Important Issues of the 2016 Presidential Race (Part 2)

Another of the most important issues of the 2016 Presidential campaign is immigration.  Again, I am not ranking these in order of importance, but the issue of jobs did need to be discussed before the issue of immigration. 
So why is immigration so important?
1)         Because immigration as it now exists is bankrupting our country and destroying our economy.  No, not by itself, of course, but combined with what I wrote in part 1 about jobs.  When we made all of our own stuff in this country, as the population increased, so would the demand for these goods.  That means that the number of jobs grew as the population grew.  And these were good paying jobs where your spouse could stay home with the kids.  But those jobs began disappearing in the 1990s and have continued disappearing ever since.
Our country, however, has been bringing into our country, and just the legal immigrants, more immigrants per year than at almost any time in our nation’s history.  And this has been almost every year since we started sending jobs out of the country.[1]  So this floods the job market for those jobs still here and drives wages down.  This also drives more people out of the work force, so that we have the lowest labor participation rates since the recession of the 1970s under President Carter.  And that then drives government spending to meet all the social costs of people either out of work or in need of assistance at a time when government revenues are declining.  That then drives up the tax rates both personally or corporately, which lowers your standard of living and drives more companies, and jobs, out of the country.
As the role of government increases with these added social expenses, government debt is driven upward.  The federal government is now 20 trillion dollars in debt, give or take.  A third of that is money borrowed from other countries.  We have to borrow money, trillions of dollars, from China and Japan and some other countries.
Personally, I find this outright embarrassing.  Do you know anybody who is always asking you for money?  What do you think of them?  Loser?  Stupid?  Irresponsible?  That’s us now.  The richest nation in the world, by far, now has to borrow money from other countries to pay its bills.  And then we borrow money to pay off those bills.  I am ashamed of my country.  The leaders of our country, the people who elect and let them stay in office, and the people who either don’t know what is going on or who don’t speak up and try to bring some sense back to our country.
2)         The second reason immigration is so important is that it is so controversial.  But then a lot of things are controversial, so how is this issue any different?
Frankly, we have forgotten the purpose of government in our country.  One thing that it is not for is for the government to do something and then tell the American people to like it.  Our government officials and elected representatives need to have a copy of the beginning of our Constitution printed out and mounted on their desks.  It provides a 6-point checklist for everything they do.  And they need to be reminded often that our country fought a war in order to establish this Constitution.
We the People of the United States,
1) in Order to form a more perfect Union,
The first purpose of our government as listed here is to unite or keep our people united.  There are controversies where people can live with their differences, but immigration policy in the United States has focused on and favored as diverse as possible immigrant population.  Our country is being torn apart by every different group having their own unique needs and wants that can only come at the expense of another group’s needs and wants.  How is this forming a more perfect union?  For most of our nation’s history, immigration policy tried to keep the same demographics in our country.  For generations now it has been trying for immigrants most unlike those who have lived here.  How is this supposed to be promoting union?
2) establish Justice,
Establishing justice in the context of the Constitution was ensuring that the rights of the people as noted in the Bill of Rights as a baseline were protected.
These rights originally were things that people could do without interference from the government.  The government has since added new rights of its own, but a different kind of rights, things that people are entitled to at the expense of everyone else. 
Our current immigration policies have focused on the needs and perceived rights of people who are not living here over that of those who are.  A government exists to take care of its own people.  Imagine you hired a manager to take care of your store, and when you went in to see how he was doing, you found he wasn’t there but across the street taking care of somebody else’s store.  You would fire him immediately and hire somebody else.
3) insure domestic Tranquility,
The government has been encouraging, promoting, and establishing as many distinct, diverse, and competing demographic groups as possible.  How is this promoting or ensuring the tranquility of the American people?
4) provide for the common defence,
Defending our country isn’t just about killing people who want to kill us.  The goal of war is usually not to kill people but to change the government of your enemy.  Killing people is usually just the way of getting that done.  If that could be done peacefully, so much the better.  This means that protecting our government from changing in ways that the people either don’t want or from changing it in ways that are contrary to the purposes for which it was established is just as much defending our country as sending an army to war. 
Our immigration policies have been changing our country for several generations now.  The fact that the changes are occurring slowly doesn’t make them any less significant or threatening.  We have gone from being the richest nation in the world to arguably the poorest, with $20 trillion in debt, having to borrow from other countries to pay our bills.  Our nation is being stolen from us and our wealth plundered.  We are being defeated without a shot fired or blood being shed.
5) promote the general Welfare,
It is the purpose of our government to see that the people of the United States prosper.  It is not the role of the United States to try to prosper people who are not of the United States, and particularly when it is at our expense.  But is it selfish and un-American to think that way?
The United States has been the most generous nation in the world in helping people.  But that was when it was rich.  If you squander that wealth through misguided, stupid, deceptive practices and policies, we are no longer in a position to help anyone.  It makes no sense to borrow money you can’t pay back to give to somebody in need.  It may sound noble to some people, but those are the same people who would rather everybody in the world be equally poor as long as the misery was equally shared.  Government rulers, I mean employees, exempted, of course.
If you are trying to take care of everybody, you are taking care of nobody.  But it is wrong for our government to do things at our expense or against the will or knowing consent of the people and then tell them to like it.
6) and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of ...
This means among other things that our government must pursue policies with the long range in view.  You don’t spend money now that your children have to pay back later with interest.  You don’t change things now without asking how this will affect things in the future. 
Immigration is forever.  The people who come here will have children, and thousands become millions.  Yes, they all want a better life, so anything they see here is probably an improvement over what they saw from where they came.  That also means they are often quite willing to vote for a lot of things that are contrary to the intended direction of our country because they don’t know how our country is supposed to work, plus almost anything is better than what they were used to.  If they don’t know or learn the values that made our country what it is, that made it the country that they wanted to move to, then they can and will very likely change our country into a country more like the ones they left.  It’s what they know.  Except they can get a lot of free money here, until the money runs out, of course.
So just what is it about immigration that needs to be changed?  Everybody talks about comprehensive immigration reform, but they don’t tell you what they mean.  Any comprehensive government bill means that the bill is too big for anyone to read, a lot of things are in there that you won’t like, but of course you won’t know they are there until the bill is passed, and a lot of things are in that bill that would never pass on their own.  They have to be stuck in a bigger bill where you have to take it all or nothing.  This is how the government steals your life and wealth from you with your consent.  It creates the illusion that the people actually voted for everything they are getting, that this is the will of the people.
1)         Stop illegal immigration.  A country has the right and the responsibility to know who wants to enter our country.  And with that, of course, is the right of refusal.  We have diseases appearing in our country again that had long been eradicated, and now they are back, like tuberculosis and polio.  Our government is supposed to protect the people from all enemies, not just those with armies.
How can we protect our people, provide for the common defense, if we don’t know who is coming into our country?  Are we supposed to assume that every person is an honest, hard-working family man who will only have a positive impact on American life? 
When you lock your doors at night, it isn’t because most people are criminals, but there are enough out there that you need to be cautious.  So too, there are enough people coming into our country illegally that we don’t want to come in, for whatever reason, that we need to have safeguards that affect everybody who wants to come in.
We are told that we are a nation of immigrants, but we are not being told that immigrants had to meet a number of standards in the past.  A government textbook I have from 1949 lists 11 requirements immigrants had to meet to be allowed into our country, including literacy at least in their original language, healthy, normal as in not crazy or really stupid, good morals (by our standards, not theirs), and not likely to require government assistance.
We have had a problem with illegal immigration on our southern border for at least 40 years.  Politicians have promised since the mid-1980s that they would build a wall.  If we fully staffed and empowered our border police, a physical wall may not be necessary, but our government does not now have a policy of stopping illegal immigration.  So building a wall is not some harebrained idea of a crackpot but a need that has been recognized by both parties for over a generation.
But what should we do about those illegal immigrants who are already here?  Yes, they broke the law, but it was a law that we weren’t intending on really enforcing, and they knew that.  I would offer a six-month period in which they would have to come in and apply for legal status.  This, of course, could only begin after the border was secured.  If there are too many people to be processed in that time, they would receive a document noting their attempt, and they would be exempt from deportation until they can actually see someone about legalization.    Criminals would be deported, and all those still illegal after six months.  Those other standards should probably all be reintroduced again.  Anyone without a work track record should also go.  But what about their families?
If families are so important, then by that reasoning we should never imprison somebody who has a family.  If somebody in a family is deported, they can decide if it is more important for the family to stay together or for some to remain in this country.
Could this lead to citizenship?  I have no problem with that, but we need to think again about what citizenship really means.  You can’t have allegiances to two countries.  You also need to speak, read, and write English.  How can you be an informed, responsible citizen if you can’t read an American newspaper, watch the evening news, talk to all your neighbors, read our books, and listen to our politicians?
And they should also be required to learn about what made America what it is, not just a few facts about the branches of government.  They should be required to take and pass a college or high school level class on Western Civilization, taught in English, of course.  A citizenship loyalty oath to the United States doesn’t mean much if a person doesn’t understand the essential nature of our country.  This oath should also include a commitment to those values. 
2          Repair the citizenship process.  Birthright citizenship is a very important issue if we have any intention on controlling illegal immigration, and it is also being highly abused.  Children of foreign workers and people visiting our country do not automatically become American citizens if they are born here.  The American Indian didn’t even receive citizenship under birthright citizenship.  That required an act of Congress.  So why would we think that children who are born to people who are in our country illegally should be considered United States citizens?
The short answer is that one of our two major political parties finds that minorities tend to vote for their party overwhelmingly more than they do for that other political party.  Also this makes it harder to deport their parents.  You see, in general, residents are leaving states that are controlled by that first mentioned political party.  By promoting illegal resident populations, this party is able to maintain its population, which retains the number of Congressional Representatives those states have, but more importantly the number of Presidential electors, which helps them in Presidential elections.
So one political party wants more people who can be counted on to vote for them, and the other political party is afraid of being called racist for opposing it.  
3)         Pause immigration until we get the jobs back.  Most Western countries are encouraging immigration now, because their populations would shrink without getting more people into their countries.  Westerners are not having enough children to maintain their population, so the population grows older, and younger people are needed to help pay the social costs for these older people.
But our immigration policy has long prioritized bringing family members of immigrants into our country, but that basically defeats the whole purpose for bringing these immigrants here in the first place.   Any benefit of a new taxpayer is generally offset by family members who are more likely to need some form of government assistance or government services, whether public schools or public health services. 
We are told that we have always been a nation of immigrants, and as such we should be as open as possible to anyone who wants to come to this country.  But then we had jobs for everybody.  When we made all of our own stuff, we had jobs for everybody.  (See the first article about jobs.)  Now we don’t even have enough jobs for our own people.  So actually, until we can get the jobs back, immigration is hurting us far more than helping us.  It is driving wages down, driving people out of the work force, and driving government spending to help people who we think need help.  We need a complete moratorium on all immigration, unless the person is a proven entrepreneur or a person with a really needed skill.
Many new immigrants, legal and otherwise, receive government support.   We used to refuse immigrants who we thought would need it.  This just takes money from everybody else.  When people give money willingly to people in need, it is called charity.  When this money is taken from some people to give to other people of a politician’s choosing, it then becomes an abuse of the public trust, or just plain stealing. 
We are told that people just want to come here to get a better life, but what we are not told is that certain politicians want poor, uneducated people to fill our country because anything here is better than what they had, and so they will accept and vote for anything, even if it is contrary to the very principles that America so great and prosperous in the first place. 
There needs to be either a pause or a reduction in the number of immigrants coming into our country.  Until when?  The best answer is: until the jobs come back. 
4)         Focus on the best and brightest immigrants.  We are told that we have a responsibility to help all the poor and refugees in the world, because we are so rich.  What they are not telling you is that we are no longer rich.  We cannot be rich if we are 20 trillion dollars in debt and we have to borrow money from other countries to pay our bills.
There are between 19 – 55 million refugees in the world today, depending on who’s counting, and most of the rest of the world is living below our standard of living.  Should we take them all, or are we allowed to choose between them?  Choosing some means rejecting others, so it would be hard to do that today without somebody being up in arms over how we made that choice. 
So let me suggest that if we choose the neediest first, then any aid we give to them will be a direct one to one transfer of money.  We feed them, we clothe them, we house them, and maybe they will get some kind of job that pays enough where we will actually receive some tax dollars from them to offset in some way what we have given to them.  Is that a selfish thing to consider?   You decide, but it does mean that we are only able to help the least amount of people.  There is a limit on how much money we have.  In fact, we have none, if we have to borrow money to do this, which we do.
If we chose people on the basis on how much these immigrants can contribute to our society, educated people who already know English perhaps with marketable skills and from a culture similar to ours, then their dependence on the wealth of others for survival is limited and what they can pay into our system in tax dollars is more substantial, which means that we can theoretically help far more people.  Our government is already so deeply in debt from being ‘compassionate’, it’s at the breaking point.  There is compassion, and there is stupid.  You don’t give your kid’s college money to feed, house, and clothe a homeless person.
5)         Look after the interests of our own country first if you want to continue having a country that can help people in the first place.  We are told we are a nation of immigrants, but that was before multiculturalism and diversity.  We used to have a distinctly American culture that we were proud of and that we fully expected immigrants to embrace and assimilate to.  But now we don’t teach American culture, or at least Western Civilization, and we are told to embrace diversity.  They say that diversity enriches us, but they don’t say that it unites us, which is what our Constitution prioritizes.  And it’s not.
We are told we are a nation of immigrants, but we are not told that for most of our nation’s history, those immigrants came almost entirely from the same nations of immigrants who founded our country.  And that was by design.  It was always regarded as wise to maintain the same demographics in our country.  It was only recently historically that we were told that diversity is our strength. 
Now immigrants come almost entirely from what we used to call Third World countries.  And they will make our country more like those countries from which they came and less like the country they wanted to come to in the first place.
Immigration is not a right that people have to move to another country.  Houses have doors, and yards have fences, and countries have borders.  If you don’t want strangers pitching tents in your yard, walking into your house, helping themselves to the food in your refrigerator, then you might understand that countries exist for the general welfare of the people living there.  If people are free to enter them without restrictions, then countries cannot ensure the welfare of their people.  Immigration exists either to benefit a country or at least to try not to hurt it.
Any attempts to deal or resolve these issues in a manner that puts the interests of our country and its citizens over that of the people who want to come here are being labelled as racism, bigotry, phobias, hate, nativism, or nationalism.  And those who want to have a common sense immigration policy will need a better understanding what that entails if they want to withstand that verbal onslaught.

Donald Trump has been criticized for remarks he made about many of the Mexicans who have come into our country illegally, but he is not talking about building a wall because of anything he said about Mexicans.  Politicians, Democrats and Republicans, have been talking about a wall since 1986, when President Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to several million illegal immigrants for what was called a one-time need, because this problem of illegal immigration would be dealt with. 
A lot of people lied, because nobody really had any intention of stopping the flow of illegal immigration from Mexico or building a wall.  Even now all the Republican candidates have talked about the need for a wall.   The only question now is who we really think will do it.
Only one candidate has even talked about birthright citizenship. 
Many of the other questions about immigration are tied to the jobs issue, discussed in the first article.
There is one other question about immigration that we have not touched on here.  That will be covered in the next article.

[1] http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/us-immigration-trends

Monday, April 11, 2016

Should Republicans consider President Obama's Supreme Court nominee?

President Obama wants the Senate, which has a Republican majority, to consider and confirm his Supreme Court nominee.  He thinks the Senate’s refusal to even consider a nominee with a Presidential election coming up is a political move that is unworthy of the Supreme Court and an unconstitutional act in itself.

Yet I think we all know that if Justice Ginsburg had been the one who died instead of Scalia, and President Obama were a Republican, and the Senate was Democratically controlled, the Senate would not have hearings on her replacement this year, and everybody would agree with that decision.  In fact, in 1992 Joe Biden was head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he said pretty much the same thing in a similar situation.

I think that calling the Republicans’ refusal to hold hearings on this nominee is political itself and tries to ignore the real issue and keep it from the public consciousness.
Politics in general is when a political party just thinks in terms of advancing its political party; everything is about putting or keeping their party in power and not wanting the other party to get any credit for doing anything good or doing anything that will hurt that first party’s political success in the future.

But we are way beyond that now.  Political philosophy now transcends political parties, though the two major parties tend to align with these vastly contrasting political philosophies.

One view is that the founders of our country wrote a Constitution that created the greatest nation on earth, and we need to understand and follow the principles that guided their thinking.

The other view is that those early founders, though smart people for their time, were at heart racists, phobic, and actually unenlightened on so many things scientifically and economically.  We have learned a lot since their time, and we think we can do better.  Besides a lot of new things have happened since then which may require some adjustments and updating in our understanding of the Constitution.  Besides, much of our supposed success anyway was due to our oppression of minorities and workers in general

The consequences of these views reflect in many of the major decisions these political parties make today, and they also reflect in the thinking of those people who act at judges.  We are finding that things that our country has long believed in and practiced are now all of a sudden unconstitutional, like, for example, religious symbols in public places.

There are also rising sentiments to modify the Bill of Rights to protect us from hate speech, discriminatory behavior, and gun violence.  Where some see very clear wording:  “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” or “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion],” others are seeing newly recognized values that supersede these rights and which now must be recognized in law.

These questions go far beyond political parties, though as noted, most of those who hold each view belong to the same political party.

And for those who are afraid that the Republicans’ action is politicizing our Supreme Court, well, it’s too late for that.  When a Supreme Court justice can take the Administration’s argument that people who don’t buy health insurance have to pay a penalty, and then call it a tax instead of a penalty, contrary to the argument that was made, then I think the Supreme Court has gone from interpreting law to advancing politics.   And so a Supreme Court justice’s politics has now become more relevant than his education and experience.