Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cruelty to Animals

Several times a year I hear a story in the news about a Pit Bull in Southern California killing a child. Pit Bull owners are quick to claim the individual dog or the individual owner is to blame for the death but the Pit Bull breed is no more dangerous than any other breed.

Amazing how some folks can rationalize just about anything. Of course the Pit Bull is the most dangerous breed of dog. This is precisely why Pit Bulls are used in dog fighting and why property owners in high crime areas use Pit Bulls to guard their property. Pit Bulls get the job done like no other breed.

Most of America is outraged by Michael Vick’s treatment of his dogs. Some in the minority are making the point that Michael Vick’s treatment of dogs is no worse than the way many animals are killed before becoming human food or killed during the sport of hunting.

A line of demarcation between moral and immoral behavior is the intentional infliction of pain. Moral people always make an effort to avoid inflicting pain on other living creatures, and when possible, make an effort to relieve the pain of other living creatures. There is a moral hierarchy that goes from humans through other mammals and then through other living creatures. Dogs and other mammals are not morally the same as humans, but humans still have a moral obligation to never inflict unnecessary suffering on other mammals, even, perhaps even especially, when the other mammals are our food.

Michael Vick will plead guilty and be punished for cruelty to animals. I don’t know if his punishment will fit his crime. However, I do know Pit Bulls are just as dangerous to humans as they are to other dogs. We should have just as much contempt for any Pit Bull owner who puts humans at risk by their ownership and failure to control their dog as we do for a dog owner who allows dogs to suffer.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Glass Houses

I am amazed [not really] that this story about Glass Houses was never picked up by the national media.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The unfair Tax

Death and taxes are referred to as the only two certainties in life. Of course there are certainly more certainties than these two, but an obvious certainty that relates to death and taxes is the word “fair”. We can be absolutely certain that when someone uses the word “fair” as a modifier, their idea or proposal may seem fair to them but it is anything but fair for most everyone else.

The Fair Tax is not only unfair to those Americans who have spent a lifetime, or anytime at all, saving for retirement, it is also a proposal based on ridiculous assumptions.

Basically, the fair tax would replace income and payroll taxes with a national sales tax. This change would have the immediate effect of rewarding those who are in debt, since those in debt bought before they earned, and punishing those with savings, since those with savings earned before they bought. Those who are in debt paid a lower sales tax when they bought and will payer a lower income tax when they earn. Those with savings paid a higher income tax when they earned and will also pay a higher sales tax when they spend. How is that fair?

The big hook of appeal of the Fair Tax is the claim it would Abolish the IRS. Is it logical to assume some employees cheat when calculating their Income Taxes but no Vendors will cheat when calculating their Sales Tax? Of course not; any and every tax system needs a form of oversight and enforcement. Black market, under the table, employment transactions in the current system will be replaced with black market, under the table, sales transactions in the new system.

The so-called Fair Tax also proposes to give money to those under poverty limits. This payment is called a “prebate”. Those who don’t work, or who don’t choose to do productive work, will have enough money to meet their basic needs. How can this prebate possibly exist without cheaters gaming the system? How can this prebate possibly function without tons of administrative costs for oversight?

The best tax system is a tax system that taxes a little bit in a lot of places. Ideally, it would tax so little that decisions are not influenced or controlled by the tax implications of the decision and cheating on taxes is minimized. The best society is a society that does not depend on government to tax, regulate, and spend.

Mike Huckabee seems like a really good guy, but if he thinks changing one bad tax system for another bad tax system is a good idea, he isn’t a good choice to be the next President of the Untied States. If Governor Huckabee and others want to improve the tax system, they should start by reducing all taxes and limiting the role of government in our lives. Somehow, I don’t think Governor Huckabee could buy enough votes without proposing new ways to spend our money.

In the mean time, using the word fair, combined with the word tax, should be against the law.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The only way to Lose is to Quit

I am surprised by the large number of people who believe situations in life must always be improving or life is getting worse when the lesson everyone learns about life as they age is that there are no straight lines to success.

How many couples can claim to have never broken up during the courtship process? Almost all couples go through periods of certainty regarding a lifetime together and periods of panic regarding a decision to spend a lifetime together. The certainty creates more intimacy while the panic creates fears, but both are part of the process of becoming a married couple. Life is not worse due to the panic periods; life becomes better as the periods of panic lead to the end result.

Most of the media and opinion makers focus on individual events when reporting about the success and failure of Iraq. Political punditry believes that bad news is proof of the failure of American involvement and good news is proof of the success of American involvement. I don’t look at the situation in Iraq like most of the pundits look at it.

To me, the situation in Iraq is progressing the way I would expect it to progress on the way to success; which means lots of unexpected and unforeseen events, many setbacks, a determined and sophisticated enemy, and a whole lot of Americans and Iraqis who are ready to quit. This is all part of the process of becoming a functioning democracy; life is not a strait line. The only way to lose is to quit.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Still More God is not...

Joe Carter links to John Mark Reynolds satirical pieces Ten Commandments for Evangelical Leaders in Politic and L.O.S.E. (Lovingly Opposed to Sin and Evil) Position Paper 1.
The statement “God is not a Republican or a Democrat” can be understood one of two ways.

More fundamentalist readers of this statement within L.O.S.E. take it literally and believe we should do nothing God would not do. God pays no taxes. We should not pay taxes. God does not obey speeding laws. We should not obey speeding laws. In fact, God is not an American so we should not be Americans.

This causes our members that take their bumper stickers less literally (and more poetically) some difficulties. They point out that God also has no gender or single location. It has proven hard for some L.O.S.E. members to be metrosexual and omnipresent.

As a result these more “liberal” L.O.S.E. members understand the holy bumper sticker to imply that Christians can be in a political party, but cannot believe that God favors one party over any other or that one party is more godly than another.

As much as I love to read everything Joe Carter writes, I find some of the comments and commenter’s at his site to be very hateful towards anything and everything Christian. John Mark Reynolds himself makes an appearance in the comments to Joe’s piece and he cuts through the nastiness with some of the best comments about slavery and Christianity I have read anywhere. It’s well worth a peak.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Value of a Large Brood

Rusty Lopez writing about (over)protecting our children:
While someone may consider a certain practice as "overprotection", another may simply see it as an exercise in safety. And while someone may consider it a positive thing to let a child "learn the hard way", another may see such an approach as reckless abandon. It would seem that context, intentions, and application ultimately determine how "overprotective" any individual practice may be.

He then goes on to write:
Safety, as a way of life, is not a capitulation to the fear of reality, exemplified by a lack of faith in God; it is an acknowledgment of the realities of our physical existence, and of our responsibilities regarding such realities. These responsibilities are grounded in wisdom. It is, indeed, interesting that God chose to include the entire genre of Wisdom Literature in the Bible. While our culture may think "live and learn", the book of Proverbs exhorts us to, "Learn! Then live!"

I agree with Rusty, parenting is not a question of whether to protect our children or not protect our children. We have to protect our children as we prepare them to not need our protection any longer.

In the traditional American family, mothers have a tendency to over-protect as they nurture their children and fathers have a tendency to under-protect as they train their children. A balance between mothering and fathering provides the right amount of protection and preparation.

However, in a dysfunctional family the balance is lost. This is why so many of the sons of well intentioned single moms end up unprepared to handle adult responsibilities. This why marriage is so necessary to always raising the next generation of Americans. This is why husbands and wives must both fight their desire to dominate a marriage as they both maintain purposeful and assertive respect for each other.

There is also something to be said for large families. Families with more than two children are functionally better for raising children to be adults because it is harder for parents to over-protect their children when the brood is larger. Perhaps this is one of the reasons European society seems so immature compared to America now and one of the reasons America seems headed in the wrong direction.

Update: I bet none of these kids are over-protected.
Among the "fun facts" listed on Discovery Health's Web page devoted to the Duggars: A baby has been born in every month except June; the Duggars have gone through an estimated 90,000 diapers, and Michelle, 40, has been pregnant for 126 months - or 10.5 years - of her life.

Mayor Giulini's Economic Soul

Mayor Giuliani is advocating free market reforms for improving health care in America.
Most Republicans believe in expanding individual choice and decision-making. I believe we can reduce costs and improve the quality of care by increasing competition. We can do it through tax cuts, not tax hikes. We can do it by empowering patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats. Instead of being more like Europe, we need to be more like America.

Of course he is right about health care. However, his free market solution to health care will also solve many of the other problems in America now, including reliance on oil from the Middle East. So why is he advocating government mandates when it comes to energy, but free market solutions when it comes to health care? Why does he trust Americans to make their own health care choices but not their own energy choices? Why does he trust health care providers to be innovative and efficient but not energy providers? Does Mayor Giuliani have an economic soul or is he just making appeals to different voting blocks?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stealing From our Children

Many politicians, especially members of the Democratic Party, like to equate cutting tax rates with stealing money from our children.

Writing today at RCP, Robert Samuelson projects the cost and size of our current Federal commitment to retirees.
Consider the outlook. From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double to 71 million; its share of the population will rise to 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- programs that serve older people -- already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office.

Mr. Samuelson also asks some very good questions:
Little wonder politicians stay silent. But think tanks ought to be thrilled, because these changes pose basic questions about government. What should it do? For whom? Why? How big can it grow without weakening the economy? Does that matter? Is social justice more important than economic growth? Do gains in life expectancy and the well-being of the elderly justify significant changes in Social Security and Medicare?

Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicare prescription benefits, are all well intentioned programs of a benevolent Federal government. The only problem with the plan is the source of the benevolence. Most of the retirement benefits in 2030 prescribed by our Federal government will be paid by workers who aren’t even old enough to vote today and many of the benefits will be paid by workers who aren’t even born yet.

Mandating benefits that are paid by non-voters is clearly taxation without representation. But even worse, mandating benefits to be paid in 2030 and beyond really is stealing from our children. If politicians were truly concerned about our children, they would stop this Ponzi scheme immediately. I’m not holding my breath, though.