Charlie's Blog: Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 11

4.30.2016

Random Thoughts on Various Subjects 11


The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made.
GROUCHO MARX

1. COMBOXES

Rod Dreher asks a question. Are comments sections worth it? Now, I could answer that question in the comments section of his article, but that would be a waste of time. So, I answer it here. No, comments sections are not worth it.

When I was a libertarian and an atheist, I had no problem having a Wild West combox policy here on my blog. I had a thick skin, so I could take it. In fact, I think people enjoyed when I would mix it up with the trolls. Trolls are to bloggers what hecklers are to comedians. They can be gifts if you know how to handle them. I knew how to handle them. Then, things got bad.

I wrote a post about another blogger who had deleted his blog under a firestorm of controversy. So, the people from that blog migrated to my blog to turn that blog post into a public forum on the guy. This was fine with me including the personal attacks on the guy. Then, people started attacking the guy's family and started publishing their home addresses and personal phone numbers. This was too much for me. Basically, these fools were trying to egg others on in behavior that I find immoral and  criminal. I deleted the comments, followed by the post, and finally, the combox feature on the C-blog. I was done. It was my first lesson in the limits of freedom.

You can't have freedom without morals and ethics. Most of the commenters in a combox don't have high morals and ethics. These people might be respectable in life, but they lose it when cloaked in anonymity and armed with F-bombs which represent their level of thought.

Dreher claims that his policing of comboxes has made them better. The reality is that the guy doesn't have a dayjob like other bloggers, so he has the time to police his blog and mix it up with people. I'm not one of those bloggers. I have to work for a living.

2. DEBT

Noah Millman writes about the indebted way we live now and makes some salient points that I find agreeable. Other points are not so agreeable stemming from a Friedmanite/Keynesian understanding of economics. Here is a great point he makes:
That’s very true – but it’s worth recognizing that it’s nothing new. Read Trollope, or Balzac, or, Tolstoy, or, well, any novelist of the 19th century, and you’ll find the books peopled with members of the gentry struggling with debt problems. Sometimes they go into debt because of bad habits – gambling, frequently – but plenty of times it’s about keeping up position. You only have so much income from your lands, but you need to keep up a place in society so that your children will marry well, and, well, soon the cost of keeping up that position has bankrupted you.
This position has indeed been democratized, thanks to credit cards, and it’s possible that Gabler and people like him just don’t recognize that they are the functional equivalent of impoverished gentry in the 19th century. But credit cards themselves are merely the latest manifestation of a long history of financial innovation to extend credit – innovation that tends to get more innovative in response to opportunity. Because those with credit to extend will always find ways to extend it as far as is profitable – and then use force, if necessary, to make sure they are repaid. Read Livy. His description of the Roman republic is an instructively repetitive tale of plebeians going deeper and deeper into debt, rioting against their patrician creditors, getting some relief, and then starting the cycle over again – a cycle that only “ended” by turning to plunder and conquest, first of Italy, then of the rest of the Mediterranean world.
Without a doubt, people who borrow money bear a great deal of blame for their indebtedness. But what about the person stuck with a hospital bill they could not pay because they were in a traffic accident on the way to the job interview for the position that didn't offer health insurance? What about the college student that pursued the hot field of petroleum engineering until the oil market collapsed leaving them with a pile of student loan debt they can't repay with their job at Starbucks?

With debt, we can blame the victim but not entirely. College tuition is off the charts mainly because of usury. The same was true of the housing bubble and now, the used car market. The fact is that "finance" is inherently destructive. For some reason, we can blame the reckless borrower for bad behavior, but we can't blame the reckless lender for their own lack of wisdom in lending to such people. So, we have laws that protect those lenders which creates the sort of moral hazards we see with finance capitalism today.

Usury is the problem. Fractional reserve banking, paper money, derivatives, and "too big to fail" exacerbate a problem the ancients already knew about. The best advice I can give to people is to never borrow money. Cut up those credit cards. Live like a pauper.

3. TARGET BOYCOTT

One million people have pledged to boycott Target over its transgender bathroom policy. Now, there is a reason that corporations and businesses are so bland when it comes to politics and cultural issues. It loses you customers. The best business rule is to not let business and politics mix. Yet, recently, many business leaders are coming out in support of LGBT issues either because they are gay themselves like Tim Cook from Apple or merely want to look courageous when it will cost them nothing. Of course, you end up looking like a hypocrite for boycotting Indiana for defending religious liberty while still continuing to do business with Saudi Arabia who executes homosexuals. It is best to keep your business and your issues at some distance.

The problem with a boycott is that it also puts you in the same hypocritical stance. If you boycott Target for its bathroom policy, why not boycott Starbucks for supporting Planned Parenthood? And if you are boycotting Starbucks, why not also boycott Microsoft, Verizon, and AT&T for the same thing? And if you boycott Target, why not boycott Walmart for its labor practices? Where does it end? Finally, what do you about your income taxes which also fund Planned Parenthood?

When it comes to material cooperation with evil, you can boycott those things which support evil directly like a company that produces pornography. But then, you get into mixed areas. For instance, should you boycott a pharmacy because they offer Plan B? At some point, you would just have to stop buying and selling completely because you are going be supporting evil somewhere. And you might as well go to prison for not paying your taxes. It just gets too stupid at some point.

I think the transgender bathroom policy of Target is stupid and evil. But I still have to live, so I'm not boycotting anything. In this world, consumer and political choices are not between the perfect and the imperfect. It is between the evil and the lesser evil.

This issue came up during St. Paul's time, and he writes about it in his epistles. In his day, the question was whether it was moral or not moral to buy meat that had been offered to pagan idols. Paul counseled people to obey their consciences in the matter. For instance, I love to drink a cold beer, but I would not bring a six pack of PBR to the Baptist picnic. Intention is the deciding factor. We should never intentionally offend people nor intentionally support evil. If you don't shop at Target anymore, I understand.

4. Q & A

Q: If you could choose, how do you want to die?

A: This question was put to George Noory on Coast to Coast AM. Noory's response was typical about dying peacefully in his sleep. My response will be atypical. I want to die a martyr's death for Jesus Christ. He died for me, and I can think of nothing greater to give to Him than my own life. But God chooses how we die, so I leave my fate in His hands.

5. ODDS AND ENDS

--The Ted Cruz campaign is done. Picking Carly as a running mate is a Hail Mary pass.

--It is becoming apparent that Prince died from a drug overdose. There should probably be a conversation on celebrity prescription drug use, but I don't think it will happen.

--Raising the minimum wage only makes it cheaper to employ robots.

--Distributists need to learn economics. Economists need to learn morality.

--Apple is done. With China shutting it out and Steve Jobs in his grave, the company has reached the end. Without innovation or emerging markets, Apple will begin to burn its cash horde until it implodes. Carl Ichan must agree.

--Trump causes riots. Is this because lazy people see the welfare gravy train ending? They need not fear because Trump is really a Democrat.

--That nuclear deal with Iran will go down as one of the stupidest treaties ever negotiated by the USA.

6. QUOTABLE QUOTES

A habit of prayer - the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season - will make a soul no longer what it was before.--Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.--Alexander Tyler on the fall of the Athenian Republic

Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror.--C.S. Lewis

There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.--J.R.R. Tolkien

7. LINKS OF INTEREST

Secret Shame of the Middle Class

8 Things You Should Know About the Armenian Genocide

Voris vs. Shea

Distributism Is the Future (That Few People Want)

In the Name of the Profit