Wednesday, November 6, 2019

on Libertarians and the Bevin/Beshear election

Ouch! This press release is not how I would phrase everything on the KY governor's election. But it's understandable trash-talking, given how the major parties unjustly jack with the minor parties. (And I haven't seen any polling data. Without that, it's not clear that John pulled more from Bevin than Beshear.) That said, I don't see much to argue with-- in the substance of the press release.
A few thoughts:
-I don't know much about Alvarado-- and doubt that voters care much about Lt. Gov. candidates.
-If one *really* doesn't like outcomes where minor party candidates are "spoilers", it's *really* easy to fix-- as per the LP's call to electoral reform. The problem is that the two major parties don't want the increased competition that goes with this reform. They'd rather take their chances with their cartel and carp / make excuses when things don't go their way-- than to improve the system. If you really care, make electoral reform a priority.
-After the fact, I'm guessing that the a-biblical (or even anti-biblical) opposition to legalizing pot and esp. expanded gambling doesn't look like a good...gamble.
-Hopefully the KY GOP will be better than the Dems in the 2016 prez loss-- in terms of looking in the mirror vs. making excuses. When all of the other GOP cruise to victory and you're an incumbent in a healthy economy running against a complete tool, then you should blame the candidate or perhaps the feckless GOP legislators who left him out to dry, esp. on pension reform.

Friday, October 18, 2019

apocalyptic as political strategy vs. derived from a static understanding of economics

In this op-ed, Rich Lowry says UBI is "a foolish solution to a non-problem". I'd say it's a good solution to other problems. (Here's my essay on Charles Murray's version of UBI.) But I agree with Lowry's assessment of Yang's apocalyptic on automation.

The cynic in me recognizes that apocalyptic is a common tactic to motivate various forms of govt activism and statism. As examples, note how much the govt enjoys war and likes to label its actions "the war on..."

But I think this and much else on the Left is driven by another root problem: a static understanding of the economy. One sees the same thing, in spades, on the Left with environmental concerns about resource depletion and population control. If you can't imagine how the market will adapt (or more ironically, "evolve"), then you will necessarily worry/panic over the costs of its evolution.

Saturday, October 5, 2019


I don't hear much overlap between the two talks in this link, although the author's reference to "recycling" is hilarious. But the good/bad news: I hadn't bothered to listen to Greta until now.

How brutally insufferable: A self-righteous scold. Religious beliefs without any economics or much science. Cheap theatrics. And "how dare you"?! Hilarious and pathetic. The cry-wolfers and fundies look worse and worse, embracing this sort of clap-trap.

Who to blame for this sad story? 1.) Those who sold her a secular-environmental apocalypse-- what reduces to an end-times scenario that makes Left Behind look ok by comparison. And 2.) those who encouraged her to talk like that. The cheap theatrics bother me even more than the wrong-headed thoughts. We're all wrong on some things; some people are wrong and really vocal on some important things. But whenever you add a televangelist style (whether fire-and-brimstone or health-and-wealth), it gets cheesy and embarrassing. And whenever you add self-righteousness, it just feels nasty.

And this from my friend Ray Rieck: "Can adults be adults and stop using Greta Thunberg, an autistic child, as a propaganda machine? The issue of climate change is important. But, children do not have the wisdom or life experience to understand such a complex issue or to speak authoritatively on it. They are not experts on climate change. They should not vote. They should not be looked to for wisdom. They are children. Using children in this way is morally wrong—even if the child wants to do this. It hurts them in the long run because they believe they know what’s best for the world, and they don’t even know yet what’s best for themselves. It breeds arrogance, self-righteousness, and unearned false virtue.”

Who I Want to Be (and Perceived to Be)

In Genesis 39, Joseph is blessed by God-- and Potiphar knows that Joseph has been blessed by God. The narrative (as usual in Genesis) is geniusly-sparse. But we can ably fill in the blanks with easy assumptions and reach two key inferences. 

First, Joseph was capable and working hard, but being blessed by God. Borrowing from my pastor in Texas, this is a matter of God's provision and Joseph's participation. Or paraphrasing something I read a long time ago: pray as if it depends on God and work as if it depends on you. 

Second, Joseph was "living out his faith", but talking about it well too (Mt 5:14-16). It was enough talk that Potiphar connected the dots, giving God the credit as he gave promotions to Joseph. But it was not so much talk that it was annoying to an Egyptian.  

Who are we at work and in life? How are we seen by others? Who gets the credit for our successes and the blame for our failures? And how do we tactfully and graciously give glory to God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, particularly when talking with folks who don't know the Trinitarian God of the Bible? 

In that light, I was thinking about who I strive to be and how I hope I'm seen.

-what Christ has done for me;
-what the Holy Spirit does in living through me;
-my desire to live for God's glory;
-and to make the goodness of God's Kingdom more accessible to others.

I want to be-- and to be seen as-- ...
-loving and respecting all people, particularly the more marginal in society
-full of grace and truth in actions (John 1:14)
-full of grace but tactfully seasoned with salt in my words (Colossians 4:6)
-"thoroughly equipped" for every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17)
-one has watched his "life and doctrine closely" (I Timothy 4:16)
-righteous but not self-righteous
-having high standards for myself but without being legalistic
-having appropriately strong expectations for others while being patient with them
-neither negligent nor corrupt (Daniel 6:4)
-conscientious but funny
-smart and humble
-fun-loving and hard-working
-getting things done but having time for people
-tough but fair as a teacher
-an effective communicator to large groups, small groups, and one-on-one
-gentle with the vulnerable but rough on the self-righteous
-a defender of the oppressed and a prophet who calls out the powers-that-be for sins of omission and commission
-striving keenly for justice but not settling for good intentions
-liberal but not Democrat or Left
-conservative but not Republican or Right
-having "work produced by faith, labor motivated by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thessalonians 1:3)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Spock and scientists on 1970s global cooling

The "scientific consensus" was not as strong back in the 1970s. But many scientists, media types, and public personalities were pushing this brand of apocalyptic back then.

folks who love to discriminate against (some) people of color

I doubt the Affirmative Action case by Asian-Americans vs. Harvard will stand when it gets to the SCOTUS-- any more than they let JCPS continue to tell black students they couldn't attend Central HS *because* they were black. (The C-J was a huge fan of this racism too!)

We just finished discussing Benjamin Watson's fine book, "Under our Skin", in a small group at church. I didn't get to this point, but one of the things that frosts my donut in this arena is the phrase "people of color"-- since the proponents of such things clearly don't mean that. Proponents are perfectly willing to discriminate against some "people of color" to favor other "people of color". Can we at least drop the euphemisms and aim for more truth/honesty?

Progressivism has added (and continues to add) much more to Racism than 1619

Oh, this is a brilliant piece-- and I'm sorta upset that I didn't think about it first! (Keep in mind that he's correctly referring to "the Left" here-- not the bulk of Dem partisans/idolaters or our country's handful of "Liberals".)

The NYT's "1619 project" is based on (really) bad economics. (Others have written on that nicely.) But then to Anderson's primary point, the project misses the remarkable contribution of "Progressives" to our continued/continuing trouble with racism, through the comprehensive narrative of "evolution", elitism and willingness to use policy to implement those ideals. and the use of government to segregate and restrict competition.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

on archaeology and evolutionary narratives

This article was too long to keep my full attention throughout. (Given the Jerusalem angle, it may be a bigger deal to some of you.) But I did want to pass along a quotable nugget.

I've always been fascinated by the scientific part of archaeology and the usual humility in the field-- in frequent contrast to similar pursuits with comprehensive evolutionary narratives.

"Even now the discipline sits uneasily between the sciences and the humanities; it has highly technical aspects but ultimately relies on human beings interpreting what they think they see in the dirt...Archaeologists reconstruct the past based on whatever material has happened to linger in the ground for thousands of years—­a tiny percentage of what existed at the time. Turning that partial record into a narrative about people and events takes a deep knowledge of history and some degree of imagination. Because archaeology ties identity to territory, the questions asked of it are often animated by contemporary geopolitical concerns. Armed with potsherds and inscriptions, ethnic groups or states can tell stories about the past that enable them to make claims about who they are and where they belong in the present."

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Noah vs. Abraham

We often treat OT heroes as parade of equivalents, but as a key example, Abraham was a much greater man than Noah. And we often imagine that the absence of sins of commission is the goal or something particularly praiseworthy-- when sins of omission are often a far bigger deal.

Noah's famous sin is in chapter 9. But his key failure (a symptom of the greater problem) is the sin just after the flood (8:16,18). See also: Noah's voiceless sin of omission (as Adam in 3:6): he and Abraham were both brought into God’s counsel (6:13,22 vs. ch. 18), but Noah was apparently silent whereas Abraham went into full advocacy mode.

Jonathan Sacks' conclusion: "God seeks from us something other and greater than obedience, namely responsibility...the hero of faith was not Noah but Abraham”—fought a war for his nephew and prayed for the people of the plain, even challenging God: “What might an Abraham have said when confronted with the possibility of a flood?...Abraham might have saved the world. Noah saved only himself and his family. Abraham might have failed, but Noah—at least on the evidence of the text—did not even try…Noah’s end—drunk, disheveled, an embarrassment to his children—eloquently tells us that if you save yourself while doing nothing to save the world, you do not even save yourself…”

Along the same lines, Alan Jacobs quotes Bonhoeffer: “The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation is to live. It is only this question, with its responsibility towards history, that fruitful solutions can come…”

Saturday, September 7, 2019

two basic questions for opponents of K-12 school choice

When dealing with opponents of educational choice in K-12, I'm never able to get answers to two basic questions:

1.) How do you reconcile the supposed evil of educational vouchers with the apparent glories of the GI Bill?
2.) If public schools are under-funded, what number/range of spending per student (or classroom) would be sufficient?

Opposition to the pro-choice position in K-12 seems to be mostly a lack of policy imagination, trouble with logic and arithmetic (confusing lower total spending with higher average spending), a devotion to crony capitalism and labor market cartels, or a penchant for statism.

Christ says millstones are involved, so be careful!