24 July 2014

At Least Chalupas Are Cheap

PJ Media:
Millennials are slower to marry than previous generations. They have moved the median marriage age up to 29 for men and 27 for women. They are largely delaying marriage because they are loaded down with massive student debt, and because there are few jobs available to them upon which they can build their lives.
Fortunately, there are a ton of immigrants, legal and otherwise, who will work for cheap.  Thus, when Millenials finally get those big jobs that their student loans have bought them, they'll be able to afford not only a gardener and pool boy, but a nanny as well!  And all by the age of 50 to boot!

A Self-Righteous Hypocrite

Jeffrey Tucker:
The humanitarians are drawn to reasons such as the following. Liberty allows peaceful human cooperation. It inspires the creative service of others. It keeps violence at bay. It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms. It socializes people with rewards toward getting along rather than tearing each other apart, and leads to a world in which people are valued as ends in themselves rather than fodder in the central plan. 
We know all of this from history and experience. These are all great reasons to love liberty. 
But they are not the only reasons that people support liberty. There is a segment of the population of self-described libertarians—described here as brutalists—who find all the above rather boring, broad, and excessively humanitarian. To them, what’s impressive about liberty is that it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on “politically incorrect” standards, to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions, to be openly racist and sexist, to exclude and isolate and be generally malcontented with modernity, and to reject civil standards of values and etiquette in favor of antisocial norms.
What poor Mr. Tucker seems to not understand is that the liberty that enables "human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms" must necessarily be both positive and negative.  What does this mean?  Well let's turn to Jeffrey Tucker for the answer:
Even in the case of the Garden of Eden, where superabundance would mean that all things we ever wanted were in our grasp, Hoppe explains that there would still be a need for property rights. This is because the human body itself is scarce: choices about who can use it and how it can be used necessarily exclude other choices. One cannot simultaneously eat an apple, smoke a cigarette, climb a tree, and build a house.
If I might be so bold, it would also appear that one cannot simultaneously have a relationship with everyone on earth.  Or, to spell it out for our dear anti-racist Jeffrey Tucker, the ability to choose to form relationships with certain people necessarily requires that one choose to not have relationships with other people.  Thus, Tucker's complaint that some libertarians are not the right type of libertarians because they want to use liberty to exclude others is a wash because, per Tucker's own logic regarding the scarcity of the human body, every libertarian is a libertarian brutalist, including Tucker himself.

There is much more to be said about Tucker's self-serving platitudinous nonsense, but that will have to be for another post.  In the meantime, isn't interesting how fascistly progressive the libertarian movement has become?

09 July 2014

What A Surprise

News from Texas:
We have yet another armed robbery at a Jack in the Box restaurant in Texas just weeks after the chain asked legal gun owners to leave their firearms at home. 
According to Your Houston News, "Police are asking for help identifying a possible suspect in an armed robbery. The robbery occurred around 2 a.m. Monday, June 9. One white male subject held employees at gunpoint shortly after 2 a.m. at the Jack in the Box on North Main in Liberty."
This may come as a surprise to some, but not everyone is nice, kind, and peaceful.  In fact, some people are completely selfish assholes who have no regard for the lives and rights o other people, and are thus willing to go around exerting coercive dominance over others in order to get what they want.  This is not to say that everyone is like this, but clearly some people are.

Interestingly, it is often the case that those who are most willing to violently exert control over others will stand down when anyone else demonstrates an equal or greater willingness to violently exert control over them.  To state it differently, those who are willing to threatened violence are usually the ones most threatened by violence.  Thus, warding off violent assholes can generally be accomplished by returning their threat in kind.  So, if you don't wish to be robbed by an armed criminal, it is usually heplful to be armed yourself.

It is easier to stop an armed robber with arms of your own than with vague feelings of niceness.

Behind the Tanks

Via Cracked:
Despite a continuing lack of rich vigilante superheroes, crime in America has been dropping for decades. Among other things, this means that police officers now have it easier: It's safer to be a cop today than it has been in over 50 years. In fact, the number of police officers killed by guns in 2012 was the lowest since 1887, and I'm pretty sure guns back then were steam powered and required 10 minutes of hand cranking. 
And yet, as we've written about before, police departments all over America are going mad with power. SWAT teams are everywhere, doing stuff like storming art galleries for serving alcohol without the right permit and raiding Tibetan monks who overstayed their visas. In general, American cops are projecting less "friendly face of public order" and more "bad guys who just stumbled out of a young-adult dystopian movie." 
Why has this happened? Why are so many of America's police, who I'd like to assume are mostly normal, decent human beings, acting like they're policing a futuristic war zone instead of crime-lite America?
To the answer the question, the reason why cops are turning into stormtroopers is pretty simple:  America has imported a lot of uncivilized people who are neither capable of building a civilization nor maintaining it.  While violent crime rates are very low right now, one reason for this is that non-white non-American immigrants still tend to be afraid of the authorities, particularly locals, who are not as subservient to the federal policy of invade the world, invite the world.  Also, a lot of the crime committed by illegal immigrants is covered up or unreported, and thus stays off the books, and is therefore not counted by the statisticians.

Peace and social harmony are generally only possible in prosperous, powerful, homgenous cultures.  Undermining these elements causes instability and requires greater shows of power to restabilize the culture.  Thus, allowing dishonest, criminally-inclined invaders asylum in a country (e.g. giving amnesty to those who violate immigration laws) tends to undermine the homogeneity of a law-abiding culture.  Curtailing the subsequent possibility of an increase in lawless behavior requires an increase in displays of power.

Alternatively, allowing a large number of poor people to enter a country (say, because they come from such an uncivilized culture they are constantly engaged in civil wars and ethnic cleansing, as might be the case in Burma or Somalia) usually makes a country poorer (at least on a per capita basis, obviously).  Compensating for the increased levels of poverty as a result of this influx of fiscally in culturally impoverished people usually requires amping up power structures to attain an increasing amount of compensatory wealth.

Or, to state it another way, the only way to have diversity and stability is through fascism.

08 July 2014

Doing The Things That Make For Peace

News from Baltimore:
After two recent “knockout games” left several people in Baltimore injured, the city’s mayor has decided to speak out. 
WNEW Annapolis Bureau Chief Karen Adams reports that Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is disgusted by the attacks and says they are not a game. 
“They don’t understand the consequences,” Rawlings-Blake said. “If you knock someone out, you could think its a joke and you’ll hurt somebody – that person could die. And then your life is ruined for some stupidity that you and your friends think is fun. It’s just not worth it.” 
Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that adults in the city can help to prevent these crimes by being more involved in the lives of children who may be roaming the streets.
I would generally concur that additional parental guidance in the lives of delinquent youfs is a good thing.  I suspect that most of the youths playing the knockout game are children of single mothers, and have few or no positive male role models in their lives, to say nothing of fathers.  This is, of course, mere speculation.  Nonetheless, there is much to be said for increased parental guidance in the lives of the young and restless.

There is also a lot to be said for being armed and dangerous, particularly to the point where youfs are a little hesitant to play the knockout game with you.  To this end, furthering the goal of promoting peace and reducing violence is a matter of arming yourself intelligently and knowing the basics of fighting.

Guns are an obvious solution, but they are not as advantageous as Hollywood propaganda would leave one to believe.  Guns are a deterrent because many people ignorantly believe that guns are a magical tool that can instantly kill anyone with a single shot.  The truth is that it takes a fair amount of training, as well as regular practice, to be proficient at accurately wielding a firearm while under pressure.  In addition, instant kills are rather rare.  Statistical analyses tend to suggest that roughly 33% of shooting victims die from their wounds.  While 90% of gunshot wounds to head result in death, it is usually quite difficult to pull off a headshot in a high-pressure self-defense situation.  Additionally, anecdotal evidence shows that merely shooting someone is not enough to prevent them from attacking you, at least in some instances.  Not only that, guns can only fire a limited number of rounds; once you run out, all that's left is a gun-shaped brick.  Thus, guns are far from foolproof as a method of deterrence.  That is not to say that guns are useless for self-defense, only that they are not a comprehensive solution.

Knives are good option to have in your personal arsenal, in that they enable you to do lots of damage in hand-to-hand combat.  While knives are not as lethal as guns, they are more useful for inflicting lots of damage at close range, and have the added bonus of never needing to be reloaded.  They aren't as scary-looking, generally speaking, and therefore are not as likely to simply scare off would-be attackers.  But if you actually have to engage in violence, they are a better choice in close range action.

Batons are a good choice as well, especially well-designed martial batons.  While they don't do the same sort of damage that knives do, they do inflict lots of pain, are good at breaking bones, and are quite good for close-quarter combat.

Being good at fighting is mostly a matter of being willing to fight, and not being an idiot when you do.  Fighting tends to hurt, even when you win.  As such, it takes some predetermination to know when to fight.  Know when to walk away, and know when to fight.  Some dude jawing at you over some nonsense isn't a reason to fight.  A young thug playing knockout game with you or a loved one is.  There is little point in fighting about stupid things when you can simply walk away.  However, there is no value in trying to walk away from someone who is determined to fight you.  Turning your back on a potential attacker is a good way to get hurt.

The main key to avoiding fighting like an idiot is to know how to use your weight.  If you are much smaller than your opponent, you are best off using your weight to run away.  If you are bigger than your opponent, don't let him use your weight against you (i.e. don't let him get lower than you and knock you to the ground).  The bigger guy can absorb more damage by virtue of size.  The bigger guy can also dish out more damage, again by virtue of size.  This is simply basic physics.

Training to fight is advantageous, though not necessary.  Most street thugs are dumb and undisciplined, which is one of the reasons why they are street thugs.  They convey their status by how they dress and pose.  They try to look and act intimidating, by their actions are generally unable to cash the checks their poses write.  Their bravado tends to be a mask for their cowardice, which is why they run away after they incapacitate their victims.  There is little threat of them getting arrested in the first couple of minutes after their crime, and zero threat of retribution from their victim.  As such, a sufficient display of force (pointing a gun or pulling a knife, or a good rap to the head with a baton) should be sufficient to dissuade them from from further attempts at violence.

If street thugs persist in being violent and conflict occurs, the main rules of fighting successfully are 1) get your opponent on the ground in a prone position and 2) exploit the weak zones of their bodies.  Noses are easy to break, and solid shots to the ears are disorienting.  The throat is also fairly weak, so attempt to punch it or choke it.  Tuck your chin to prevent your neck from attacked and keep an arm or a shoulder turned to avoid blows to your own nose or ears.  a groin attack may be effective, but it is not necessarily the most effective place to attack.  A punch to the solar plexus can often be debilitating.  The main thing is to be committed your actions.  Either be willing to inflict maximal or run away.  There is no point in being half-committed to a fight.

Being armed and having some, even small ability to fight is a good way to deter crime.  While parental guidance in the lives of bored hoodlums would undoubtedly be beneficial, the world is still yet a long way from reaching its ideal state and so in the interim it is best to be armed and dangerous.  Now you know how.

An Experimental Solution

Ron Paul fails to see one:
Last week Americans were shocked and saddened by another mass killing, this one near a college campus in California. We all feel deep sympathy for the families of the victims. 
As usual, many people responded to this shooting by calling for new federal gun control laws, including the mental health screening of anyone attempting to purchase a firearm. There are a number of problems with this proposal. Federally-mandated mental health screenings would require storing mental health records in a government database. This obviously raises concerns about patient privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality, as well as the threat of identity theft. Anyone who doubts that these are legitimate concerns should consider the enormous privacy problems with the Obamacare website; some have even suggested that healthcare.gov be renamed indentifytheft.gov. 
Giving government the power to bar some Americans from owning guns by labeling them as "mentally ill" could easily lead to serious abuses. Even authors of mental health manuals admit that mental health diagnoses are subjective and can be based on "social constructions." Thus, anyone whose behavior deviates from some "norm" could find himself deprived of his second amendment, and possibly other, rights.
It is certain that giving increasing federal power to bar citizens from owning guns is not only a clear violation of the 2nd amendment, but also generally unwise policy and anti-freedom.  On the other hand, the entire point of the federal system and its clear demarcation of powers and its delineation and enumeration of rights is to give the states and people the ability to experiment on how to balance the tradeoff between securities and freedoms.  As such, it is entirely legitimate for state governments to limit the sale and usage of firearms, should they so choose.  States can also choose to collect data and screen for the mentally unstable and bar them from gun ownership, if they so choose.  If citizens of the states don't like the regulations and rules imposed by the states on gun ownership, they can move to a different state, or attempt to elect politicians who more accurately reflect their civic desires.

While the right of gun ownership is absolute, there is absolutely nothing that precludes anyone from voluntarily giving up their rights in exchange for belonging to an organized community.  Indeed, the inability to properly understand and extend this concept is a blind spot of many libertarians.  It is intellectually easy for libertarians to understand this general principle when it comes to, say, work contracts.  If, for example, an employer mandates someone to adhere to a dress code as a condition of employment, virtually every libertarian would say that an employer is withing his rights to make this a condition of employment and that prospective employees would have to choose whether to give up their right to choose how to dress in exchange for the benefits of working for a particular employer.  Alternatively, prospective employees could attempt to negotiate different terms of employment, which the employer could accept or reject.

In like manner, a collective entity like the state can decide, if it so chooses, to regulate the behaviors of its citizens.  And, like the employees in the above example, citizens are free to move out of the boundaries of the state if they decide that they do not like the bargain the state is making with them.  Alternatively, they could attempt to bargain with the state.  As long as the state allows current citizens to leave or elsewise renounce their citizenship, the social contract is pretty much akin to a business contract, and in neither event would anyone's rights be denied.  (As a caveat, a state that denies citizens the right to renounce their citizenship is certainly trampling on the rights of citizens, and the social contract is void.  This is not currently the case with the United States, though.)

What seems to be misunderstood about the US constitution is that many believe it to be something other than a document that prescribes the limits of a specified form of governance.  Basically, it puts limits on the social contract of the federal government.  The federal government is simply an entity designed to provide some degree of governmental and social cohesion for a limited number of states.  The limits of the federal government, as prescribed by the constitution, exist to delineate what is the realm of the feds and what is the realm of the states.  The federal government has the authority to subjugate the states in a specified number of ways, and it is up to the states to accept or reject the terms the fed offers.

While libertarians often tend to have a decent understanding of contract theory in general, they seem increasingly ignorant of social contract theory.  Liberty is fundamentally the right to do whatever you choose, insofar as you do not infringe upon the rights of others to do the same.  This right to choose, however, can be voluntarily given up for any reason.  Furthermore, liberty does render contracts null and void.  If you agree to not own a weapon as a condition of employment, your rights are not trampled upon.  If you agree to not own a weapon as a condition of belonging to a social club, your rights are not being trampled upon.  If you agree to not own a weapon as condition of being a citizen of a state your rights are not being trampled upon.

The fundamental problem with the federal government trying to limit gun ownership is not necessarily that they are trying to have people not exercise a right; the problem is that the federal government is not keeping its contractual obligations.  The federal government is contractually obligated to refrain in any way from infringing upon the people's rights to bear arms.  State governments, in contrast, are not (though some states do constitutionally obligate themselves from infringing on this right).

The bigger problem with modern libertarian thought is that it is, for the most part, communistic and progressive, about which more anon.  The basic mindset of modern libertarian thinkers appears to be that of a two-year-old brat, in that they want all the upside in life (security, money, etc.) without any of the downside (restrictions on behavior, etc.).  This is wishful thinking at its finest, and is incredibly ignorant to boot.

In Pursuit of Better Art

Doug Giles:

If Christians are going to rail against Hollywood, I suggest getting into the fray and besting ‘em at their own game; or don’t bitch when they put out gay cowboy movies or when they morph Moses into some ganja smoking Rastafarian or something.
Is the church’s answer to LA’s lunacy the Left Behind movies? Or the ubiquitous and underfunded Jesus flicks that always have him looking like an angst-addled Jared Leto? Nothing like trying to beat something with nothing, Church.
Which leads me to dig the knife further and ask the church the tough question of why haven’t we championed serious involvement in the arts by our congregants, versus just hissing from the lattices of our stained glass windows? I have actually heard pastors condemn those who wanted to pursue a career in Hollywood and yet, I can’t think of a more needy place for serious and excellent Christian involvement than the arts.
It’s actually quite astonishing how much ground Christians have conceded to the godless materialists in the artistic realm.  It used to be that the church would commission art; now it’s hostile to artists.  It is certainly true that artists these days have a rather atheistic bent.  Consequently, their attempts at art can be glossy—pretty, even—but often lack the depth of true beauty.  Sometimes, the end results are pure propaganda.  Even so, it would behoove the church to seriously encourage and develop the artistic spirit in its people once again.

To this end, there are a couple of things that must happen.  First, the church needs to start treating art as media for sacred expression and treating artists with respect and status.  Second, the church needs to do its best to encourage those with artistic aspirations to develop their craft.  Third, the church needs to find a way to ensure the distribution of new Christian art.

While it is easy to feel betrayed by modern artists, or to fall into internecine squabbling over the  hermeneutical validity of, say, Christian pop music, it’s downright foolish to act as if art no longer matters since Christians are not in control of it.  The church must nonetheless begin to show respect for art and artists alike, and encourage artists to produce works of true beauty.

Additionally, the church must work on developing a framework for the craftsmanship of art.  Art is certainly a craft, and has certain standards.  Writers need to know how to be disciplined at writing, at developing characters, at composing prose, at plotting, at dialogue, and so forth.  Merely have a good moral isn’t enough; can the author show the moral to the readers with it seeming ham-fisted?  Can the writer present the moral without readers getting bored before they get to it?

Musicians need to know music theory.  They need to know the rules of composition.  They need to know how to play their chosen instrument.  Songwriters need to know how to craft songs, how to use imagery, how to make rhymes and weave meter through their lyrics.  Can they create a melody with lasting beauty that listeners don’t soon forget?  Can they lead listeners to a beautiful truth?

Every art has its craft, and craftsmanship is not intrinsic; it must be taught.  There must be room for experimentation and failure as well; it’s part of the learning process.  Not every attempt at a book turns out a classic, nor does every attempt at a song turn out a hit. Not every painting is a masterpiece.

Furthermore, it’s important to not get all bent out of shape if art does not conform to the saccharine standards of evangelical Christians.  The Bible itself is far from being a book of happily-ever-afters.  Many of God’s favorite people lied, committed adultery, murdered, were killed, and lived in misery.  The real-life experiences of many Christians are often like this.  Murderers come to Christ; adulterers repent of their sins; etc.  If Christians are to produce art, it must be real.  And reality is often bitter and repulsive.  If art is to be good, it must be honest for lies are from the devil.  And an honest look at this fallen world is not going to be pretty, which is what makes the story of redemption so beautiful to behold.

Finally, it is important to share this art with the world.  Lamps are not meant to sit under a basket, they are supposed to illuminate.  The gatekeepers of this world hate God and his children.  They despise life and beauty, and will fight anyone who attempts to spread the glory of God and the light of life to the world.  The reason why the gatekeepers kicked Vox out of the SFWA was ultimately because he created a work of art that showed just how depraved their materialist worldview is, and how utterly devoid of creativity and beauty their works truly are.  To be brief, the gatekeepers are not our allies.

To some extent, Christians can ally themselves with mercenaries (like Amazon, e.g.) but ultimately Christians will need to develop their own distribution networks.  This will require a good grasp of technology and business.  Artists are generally not good at either, which is why even some of the most famous artists end up dying broke and alone.  Christians who are good at either business or take should be encouraged to get into the art distribution market.

There is much work to be done in the realm of encouraging and promoting Christian art.  Christians need to refrain from stigmatizing art and artists (though they should stigmatize art that is Bad; not because it is art but because it is Bad), and they need to know how to recognize what is wholesome and produce art that is Good.  Then they can begin to criticize art in earnest.

The Modern Pharisees

The modern Pharisees are liberals:

Al Gore reportedly left government with a net worth of less than $2 million; he's now worth more than $200 million, in part by profiting from climate policies he lobbies for. Gore surely believes in those policies, but why does he get the benefit of the doubt? GE spent millions on politics in exchange for "green energy" policies that generate billions in profits that wouldn't exist in a free market. Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon recently chronicled how George Soros and new liberal golden-boy fat cat Tom Steyer have financial interests at stake in their own preferred public policies. And yet they get glowing treatment from the press as idealists sacrificing profit for principles.
Liberals are quintessential Pharisees, in that they are not only flawed, but they are deluded in thinking that they are essentially flawless.  Case in point:  Al Gore pursues policies that make him super-rich, but at no point does anyone question his motives; his motives are simply assumed to be pure by mere virtue of the fact that he is a double-plus-good-thinking liberal.  Now, I have no idea what his motives are, but I’m a little doubtful that his policies are not motivated by profit.  I’m willing to concede that it’s possible that his enthusiasm for his beliefs have propelled him to success, but I’m not 100% convinced that this is indeed the case.

More to the point, the most infuriating thing about liberals is how they are not at all different from the people they condemn as raciss, sexiss, homophobic, etc.  Some of the most hilarious racist and sexist jokes were told to me by self-confessed liberals.  I’ve heard liberals use an astonishing array of remarkably diverse racial epithets.  What’s impressive to me, though, is how many of them think that a) they are doing this “ironically” and that b) doing so makes it not racist.  Liberals simply cannot admit that they are just like everyone else; to do so would undermine their status as the morally superior.  Thus, they are the modern Pharisees, and are consequently deserving of mockery, condemnation, and contempt.

07 July 2014

On Our Way to Africa

Men between the ages of 25 and 54 are in their prime working years. Generally speaking, they’re too old for college and too young for retirement.
In February 2008, 87.4 percent of men in that demographic had jobs.
Six years later, only 83.2 percent of men in that bracket are working.
This employment rate is an important indicator of the health of the labor market. I’ve written repeatedly that overall job growth has roughly kept pace with population growth since the recession. Nothing less; nothing more.

To state the obvious, this state of affairs wouldn’t exist if we got rid of all the immigrants and strongly encouraged women to tend to the affairs of home instead of doing bullshit corporate work.

To state the less obvious, it starting to look like fewer men will be involved in building and maintaining society.  This will probably introduce either a soft matriarchy or a lot of what essentially amounts to tribalistic polygamy as the decreasing numbers of high-status men and the increasing numbers of high-status women eventually yield to reality, and women start sharing high-status husbands.  Astute readers will note that these two states of affairs—polygamist societies and matriarchal societies—have pretty much been the defining social structure of African countries for quite a while, especially in the less- and un-colonized African countries.  I hope Americans like grass huts.

Thoughts on the Pharisees

Perhaps the thorns, those pesky fornicators/sluts, feminists, frivorced women, messy people, etc., cross our path as a lesson in extending patient grace.  A person in rebellion is only going to get more fire for their rebellion from a Pharisee.  The Pharisee approach is akin to stripping you naked in shame and shoving their version of correction and holiness in like a cold suppository. In contrast, the Jesus approach is a warm cup of tea where the medicine is subtle and still goes down, but in a much more gracious, patient way. Sipped over time.

The Pharisee approach was more of an exercise in moral superiority.  Christ, in his blistering criticism of the Pharisees, said “woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’”  Of course, it was the Pharisees who would conspire to put Jesus to death, which tends to undermine the notion that they would not have been partakers in shedding the blood of the prophets.

What Christ tended to condemn the Pharisees for was not their coldness or their tendency to shame sinners.  How could he, since Christ would often shame sinners himself?  Rather, what Christ often condemned the Pharisees for was their deluded trust in their own self-righteousness.  G. Campbell Morgan, in his book The Great Physician noted that the reason why Christ was so often extreme in his treatment of the Pharisees and other leaders was due to the fact that the cancer of sin in their lives was at a critical stage.  They were spiritually sick, just as everyone was and is.  Unlike most people, however, the Pharisees were quite unaware of the fact of their spiritual illness.

Further, Christ never really condemns the Pharisees for their teachings, nor does he undermine the legitimacy of their authority.  In his condemnation of the Pharisees, he says, quite clearly, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do…”  He also goes on to say, “They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments,” as a display of piety.  Christ acknowledged their moral authority (and their subsequent failings as well), and told people to obey their rules.  Christ never had any issue with their piety, nor would Christ ever seek to reduce or eliminate piety in general.  Christ’s problem with the Pharisees stemmed from their hypocrisy (literally “play-acting”).  Their piety and rules were simply surface-level behaviors that did not reflect the spiritual emptiness of their hearts.

The Pharisees could be harsh in their condemnations, but this is no evidence of wrongdoing.  Indeed many of God’s prophets were quite harsh when condemning people.  John the Baptist had no qualms about calling certain people, “a brood of vipers.”  Nathan was quite harsh when attempting to get David to admit his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder of Uriah.  Sometimes harshness is appropriate; sometimes it is not.  Harshness is not, however, Pharisaical and Pharisaism has much more to do with hypocrisy than with the tone they took in dealing with those whom they perceived to be as morally inferior.

Sell The House


The 132-year-old brick structure is sitting on prime real estate six blocks from the White House. It was once a school, but it's been vacant for almost three decades.
"All the walls are peeled, there's collapsed ceilings, there's moisture problems. It runs pretty much the gamut," Wise says.
Government estimates suggest there may be 77,000 empty or underutilized buildings across the country. Taxpayers own them, and even vacant, they're expensive. The Office of Management and Budget says these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year.
That's because someone has to mow the lawns, keep the pipes from freezing, maintain security fences, pay for some basic power — even when the buildings are just sitting empty.

The case for selling off underutilized buildings is pretty straightforward:  The government gets cash, which will help with the budget deficit, and gets to reduce spending in the long run.  Since, to paraphrase Dave Barry, selling off under-utilized buildings makes sense and the people want it, it won’t happen.

More to the point, though, the bigger problem at hand is not that the government won’t do this, but that virtually no one in the government, and very few voting taxpayers are actually serious about fiscal responsibility.  On the obvious side, the government has been running a budget deficit every year since ’94, with the lone exception of 2000 (incidentally, the last year of Clinton’s presidency, FWIW).  The federal deficit has been $500+ billion for a decade.

Furthermore, the American people aren’t much better.  American consumers owe more than $11 trillion in debt (again, this is NOT government debt).  The average American household has a mortgage of $154k, student loans of $34k, and credit card debts of $15k.

Neither the American government nor the American people exercise fiscal prudence.  Neither are responsible with money.  Is it any surprise, then, that the government that represents the American people is utterly incapable of cutting out budgetary waste so as to improve its financial standing?