Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Women Who Civilize

In the last post we talked about some of the special qualities men need to develop in order to contribute to civilization. To be fair, it seems we ought to look at some of the special qualities women need to develop in their contribution to civilization.

I’ve written about the importance of motherhood and women to civilization. Today I think I’d like to look at something specifically connecting economics and civilization, because we count on women to make contributions without remuneration.
Much of the economic debate is limited to the southern hemisphere of the Spherical Model. The statist side (southeast quadrant) believes that people can’t be counted on to earn enough to support themselves, make the best decisions about how to spend any money they earn, and take care of those who are unable to care for themselves (those too elderly, too young, too ill, or too underprivileged). The better parts of the southwest quadrant align with the Atlas Shrugged view, with this creed:
“I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
At Spherical Model, the economic answer leading to civilization is always a combination of free market plus philanthropy.
Imagine, seriously, if mothers lived by John Galt’s oath. The world would collapse. It is the fatal flaw of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that she eliminates several essential qualities that are part of womanhood. She admires women who are like men: self-sufficient, intelligent, hard-working, entrepreneurial—all good qualities—but also infertile while sexually promiscuous, unsympathetic, and lacking in altruism. Dedicating your life to care for others for the sake of love instead of earning money is anathema to Rand’s world. (I wrote about this in much more detail in a three-part post here, here, and especially here).
The fact of humanity is that there are some people who depend on others through no fault of their own. Children are essential for our future, and any care we give them pays off for the future of us all. But it is usually women who are willing to do the day-in-day-out loving care, forgoing pay to do it.
I do not in any way intend to discuss whether women should be stay-at-home moms. I only know what God led me to do at various seasons, and I trust that other women can listen to God’s voice in their circumstances. Women are intelligent and capable; in today’s world, women are more likely to have college degrees and succeed academically. Woman can make many many valuable contributions to the economy. Nevertheless, civilization depends on the contributions women make without being paid.
While men can and should do many of these things as well, women as a demographic whole are more likely to give emotional nurturing to children, see to the academic progress of children, seek opportunities for social and physical growth and see to the spiritual training of children. While she goes about this, she is more likely to do volunteer work in schools and community organizations.
She is more likely to care for elderly adults. She is more likely to do the cards, letters, and gifts that keep family and friends connected. She is more likely to plan and carry out holiday celebrations. Imagine Thanksgiving if we expected nothing from women except what we pay for.
Imagine what homes would look like if women didn’t take it upon themselves to surround themselves and their loved ones with beauty and comfort. (Example: look at the difference between a series of girls’ dorm room and boys’.)
There are so many talents and abilities women naturally share, abilities we count on, that there’s a problem with women comparing themselves to the best examples in every category and always feeling they fall short, even when their unheralded giving pushes them beyond exhaustion.
Contrary to popular belief, women receive either equal or superior pay for equal work, and have done for some time. Where there seem to be differences, they are because women choose to spend less time at the office so she can spend more time with family and other ways that contribute to quality of life. She is more likely to break up her career for the sake of children. If her child is sick, she’s more likely to take time off from work than the dad is. If there’s a special event in the child’s life, she’s more likely to rearrange her schedule to be there.
Women make men more civilized than they would be without her, just by being part of his life. He’ll also be more productive and successful in his work than he would be without her in his life. Men want respect, and a wife can give him that; women want to be loved and cherished (more than rewarded with money), and a faithful, civilized man can give her that.
According to the conclusion of the Motherhood Study, many mothers understand she “holds a fragile but nonetheless powerful cultural position as the last best defense against what many people see as the impoverishment of social ties, communal obligations, and unremunerated commitments” (p. 42). Women ceasing to value civilization is a quicker route to savagery than men ceasing to value civilization. Economic necessity might require more of women in the workplace, but civilization also requires that she keep doing what she feels the life-giving need to do regardless of pay.
Women, value yourselves for what you do so unselfishly. Men, let her know how valuable you know she is.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Civilized Manliness

Some years ago, when I was just discovering what a blog was, long before I considered doing a blog myself, I came across a young writer named R. J. Moeller. I only check in there occasionally, but I’ve been glad someone out there is approaching the world after digesting C.S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton [is it a coincidence, all the initials without names?] This past weekend Andrew Klavan linked to a Moeller piece worth reading; it’s part of a collection of commentary on the social question of why it’s taking so long for young men to grow into men—why the 20s have changed from a time when men accomplished education and embarked on career, marriage, and parenthood into a time of extended adolescence.
The whole series is probably worth considering. It got me thinking about how dependent civilization is on men growing up into men. It’s not something that happens automatically just because time passes in the life of a male. It requires guidance and choice in taking on personal responsibility. Odds of it happening are much higher if there is a father modeling the example. In the absence of such a father, the surrounding family and church community can help make up the deficit with good men volunteering to take an interest in each young man and lead him toward manliness.
Most of what I talk about in the Spherical Model concerning civilization are qualities all people need to develop, not just men. But there are a few that men especially need to work on.
A couple of weeks ago I shared the Boy Scouts’ list of qualities, with their oath and law: honor God, do duty to God, do duty to country, be helpful, be physically strong, be mentally awake, be morally straight, be trustworthy, loyal helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.
There isn’t anything in there that woman shouldn’t also develop, but there are some things that might be more natural to women (possibly courteous, clean, reverent).
Over the past few decades, in large part because of women badgering men to this point, we are afraid to talk about gender roles. But here are some biological facts: women give birth to babies; men don't. Growing a baby is harder for some women that others, but there’s a good chance the pregnant mom will be tired, nauseated, sore, mentally foggy, and near the end less and less physically capable. Then she goes through the physically taxing birth, followed by recovery, while adjusting to new life connected to another little human who depends on her. She’s sleep deprived for months (maybe years). She probably has to carefully watch what she eats to make sure she’s providing for herself and the nursing baby; she may have to adjust if what she eats leads to a fussy baby. She may end up spending hours of her day sitting in a chair holding this new little person as part of the baby’s growth process.
Some dads get very involved in helping with their babies. They may spend nighttime hours walking the floor with them and feel sleep deprived as well. They may be willing to change the diapers with the best of moms (although that’s a rare dad). But they can’t provide breast milk. I know there are bottles, but biology didn’t design that as the ideal way. And it’s part of the developing process for a baby to look up into the face of a mother while nursing; changing sides develops both eyes and both sides of the brain in important ways often missed with bottle feeding.
In short, nurturing a baby is essential for mothers, which severely limits how much time and energy a mother can put into being a breadwinner. Anyone who has been through it knows that being a mother to a newborn is such a full-time job that even doing laundry and other basic household tasks is challenging. So it would be wrong for society as a whole, or for men in individual families, to assume that the mother of the children must be required to earn a living wage on top of that responsibility. Some can and do, but it takes an exceptional energy with special circumstances; it isn’t logical to expect that of all mothers.
Old photo of Mr. Spherical Model
doing manly household tasks
That means that not only the newborn child needs a financial supporter, but the mother as well. The father, who is not going through the physical task of growing, birthing, and nursing a baby is the logical person to take on the responsibility. It’s odd that I should have to spell this out, since most people over the millennia of human existence have recognized this as obvious. Civilization depends on men taking on the protecting and providing roles, and men become better, more civilized, when they take on these responsibilities. Anything that fails to lead men to take on these roles is not civilizing.
So, specifically, a young man should learn a strong work ethic. He should learn to plan for his future and his family’s future. He should consider education and training that will allow him to provide a decent living, considering physical and mental labor and personal aptitudes. He should be able to make the connection between what he’s studying, learning, and doing in his youth and how his life and family will benefit later.
He should learn to stand firm for his beliefs. That takes bravery sometimes, but it makes for a good dad. He should learn to enjoy time with others, considering others, even over his own interests or indulgences. Again, these are easier things to learn by example of a manly father than by the Lord of the Flies savagery of youth manipulating and influencing each other without civilizing adult guidance.
A real man will delight in playing with his kids. His recreation will mostly involve doing things with the family rather than getting away from them. He will be patient and understanding with children, while standing firm as he teaches them principles. He might be strong enough to go all the way through his children’s growing up years without ever yelling at them in anger. Talk about manly!
A real man will use clean language around women and children—because he uses clean language always. There is nothing manly about losing control of his mouth. A real man will recognize some built-in tendencies and always turn away from seeing a female not inadequately covered. We don’t observe averted eyes nearly enough anymore, and the need grows greater.
A real man will take his family to church with him. And he will pray with them and read scriptures with them, and talk with them about the ideas they read together, so his children can learn along with him how to apply those principles to life, and to learn to get answers to their prayers.
A real man might know how to shoot a deer and butcher it for the freezer, and might cook a good steak on the grill. But those are individual preferences—like for a woman being able to sew a good quilt or make a lovely scrapbook. Personal preferences but not essential for civilization.
What we need to do, for the sake of civilization, is give more honor to the real men, to lead more young men in that direction, so they can see the value of growing into one.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Low-Information Brick Wall

A few weeks ago I went up against a wall that was hard to break through. I was just trying to get some photos printed before going to see my mom, who can’t receive anything digital in her pre-computer world. I used to use a local photo shop that I loved; they had weekly sales of 7-cent photos, slightly smaller (3 ½ x 5, instead of the more standard 4x6). It was cheap enough that I could print out practically everything for my mom, without having to take too much time going over each photo to decide if it was worth sharing. And they always gave me good service and had lots of extra options. But they went out of business last summer, so I have been trying to adjust by using the local Wal-Mart photo center.

Some of the difficulty of the change is my technological challenge; I haven’t figured out how to override the automatic cropping for size (my old shop used to let me adjust the auto crop before placing the order). But at least I can get photos at only about double the previous cost (13-cents for 4x6 photos) if I get over 100 at once. Well, I’ve been building up for a while. I hadn’t sent my mom photos of the new grandson, or any photos of him growing (he’s five months old already). I hadn’t sent photos from our Thanksgiving trip, or Christmas with the kids visiting. So there were plenty—over 200 that I was printing.
It took a while to put in the order, and while they said they’d be ready in an hour, I wasn’t able to get back before an evening event, so I stopped in just before 9:00 PM. I should preface by saying the regular Wal-Mart photo guy, there during most daytime hours, has been knowledgeable and helpful. But he was gone for the day. In fact, the equipment in the photo section was covered, and I wasn’t sure I could still get my photos, but I was going to be gone the next day, and the day after that was my packing day, so an extra trip to the photo section would have been inconvenient. So I looked to the nearby electronics section.
There were two workers there. I asked them if they could help me pick up my photos. No answer. They spoke to each other, in Spanish. I speak Spanish, but whatever was said was mumbled, and they didn’t respond to me. I repeated my request. The young man, still without speaking to me, went toward the photo center, so I followed. He asked my name, which is a little hard to understand and spell, so, while I said it, I also got out my claim ticket, which had my name on it. He saw the name; he heard me say it. But he kept looking in the Ms (instead of the Ns) and saying “Is it such-and-such?” No. And I showed him again how it was written on the claim ticket. He brought a stack from the Ns, a few Nguyens (the most common N name around here) and then mine, which was a sizable stack of envelopes in itself. I told him which ones were mine—the ones with my name clearly written on them.
the alphabet book I made for my granddaughter
during a flurry of crafting
There was a note attached that 7 of the photos needed copyright permission. This was puzzling, because I thought they were all mine. The young man started looking through the photos to find out what the problem was. He found photos of a book and decided that must be the cause. It was a one-of-a-kind book I made myself, for my granddaughter—an alphabet book with animals made from thumbprint drawings. I took the photos of the book to show my daughter, whom I was going to see on the trip, because the book had turned out so cute. There was no copyright infringement. My book; my photos. So he kept looking.
Eventually I opened up one of the envelopes that had a separate envelope in it; these were the questionable photos. It was my fault; I had downloaded photos from my son-in-laws Facebook page, of him. They were team photos, and I didn’t have any such photos of him, so I wanted to save them. But I hadn’t looked at them for a while, and I hadn’t realized they were not photos he had posted; they were photos he was tagged in, done by a professional photographer. I saw the little icons on my computer and thought, I’d like to show these to my mom. Once I understood, I said,”These are the problem. I had forgotten I couldn’t print these. So I’ll just leave them and buy the other photos.”
The young man kept looking through all the other photos, saying he couldn’t give me these without copyright permission. I repeated my explanation, saying I just wanted all but the 7 photos copyrighted ones, so just subtract 7 x $.13 from the total and I’d pay.
He didn’t know how to find out what I owed, so I should just come back tomorrow. Now, Wal-Mart is open 24 hours a day, and I was there in person, ready to pay. There should be no problem. But, while my order had shown me what the cost would be, on their computer, the claim slip didn’t show the price, and he didn’t know how to find out what it was. I’m thinking a bar code would do, but he seemed to think he could only get that done at the photo center till, which was closed down for the night.
So I pulled a calculator out of my purse and did the math. I had about 230 photos at $.13 each, minus the 7 photos (so subtract $.91), and then add in a few 5x7s. He didn’t know how much a 5x7 cost; it didn’t happen to be written on one of the signs behind him, and I couldn’t remember. But I knew it showed me on the computer, so I pulled out my SD card to start a new order, just to find out what a 5x7 would cost. Fortunately I was able to abbreviate that process when I noticed the price of a 5x7 written on a note on the computer. So I wrote out the math on the claim ticket and showed him what I owed, before tax.
“I don’t know how to charge you for that.” Seriously? He works in electronics. He doesn’t know how to use a cash register? Any cash register in the store? At about this time, the female worker from electronics, that he had spoken to when I first asked for help, came over and offered to help me. She took the claim ticket to her register in electronics, charged me the 30-something dollars, and I left with my photos (minus the 7 I couldn’t take). Mission impossible accomplished.
The young man getting paid to do work in electronics at Wal-Mart (where I assume there is a need for some knowledge of how to use equipment, probably beyond my knowledge of such things) couldn’t read my name or find it alphabetically in a drawer. He couldn’t do simple math. He couldn’t solve a simple problem. And he couldn’t figure out how to have a customer pay a known amount at a cash register. I had to do all of the thinking necessary to get what I wanted, pay for it, and leave with what was mine.
I related this tale of woe to Mr. Spherical Model when I got home, and he made me feel worse by saying, “And the sad thing is, this guy probably votes.”
Whether he is in the portion of the population we call low-information voters, or whether he’s even below that in the half of the population that is so little engaged that they don’t even bother to vote, the trouble is, those of us with understanding, who are making efforts to do our best to be civic minded and make wise voting decisions, are at the mercy of the uninformed.
The president doesn’t even bother to talk to people like me; he only talks to those who are so little aware that they will believe him when he says outright lies. Just minor ones this week: “I didn’t have anything to do with the sequester; that was Congress,” and “If these disastrous cuts go through, you’ll lose police protection and fire protection,” knowing full well that those services are paid for locally, and even a total end of all the federal budget would not take a single police officer off our local streets.
Education, of course, is something we’d like to see working better, but I don’t see that happening with government doing all it can to indoctrinate rather than allow the teaching of thinking skills. The power-mongers see it as an advantage to have an uninformed populous reliant on them. And, seriously, I don’t know what to do about stupid. It may not be possible to fix stupid.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Simple Math above His Pay Grade

It shouldn’t be necessary to spell this out over and over again. But certain highly paid world leaders seem unable to do the simple math. Thus the minimum wage issue rears its ugly head—again.
The President thinks it ought to be $9.00 an hour, up from the current $7.25, set in 2007 by a Democrat Senate and Congress. But,, what with inflation, that ought to go up, right? I used an online calculator, which goes up to 2012 (maybe there’s been extraordinary additional inflation in the past month and a half, but it’s the closest I could get):
$7.25 in 2007 = $8.03 in 2012
The $9.00 amount would be 12.1% over inflation. Put another way, the people who could be entry level workers within that 12.1% difference in wage (from $7.25 through $8.99 per hour) will no longer have jobs available to them.
This chart shows how minimum wage affects jobs
for unskilled workers, from this 2006 article
Just to be sure this concept is clear, a wage is a contractual agreement between an employer and an employee. As I explained 5-11-2011 and 10-7-2011, in a free market, the employer is willing to pay an amount that will increase his business income, typically the lowest amount he can pay to get that outcome. The employee exchanges his time and effort in exchange for a wage—typically the highest wage he can persuade an employer to pay for the work. Both agree to what is mutually satisfying.
When government steps in and insists on a minimum wage, the employer is forced to either take a profit loss or hire only better qualified workers that are worth the set wage (plus social security, possibly insurance or other costs of employing a worker). Efficiency and effectiveness become absolute necessities. So the employer can’t risk hiring entry-level, untrained workers. Thus lower skilled workers are left unemployed, causing them both loss of income and loss of accrued experience.
As John Boehner responded following the State of the Union Address, “When you raise the price of employment, guess what? You get less of it.”
Right now we have a reported 7.9% overall unemployment, and this past summer the unemployment for youth (ages 16-24) was 17.1, with blacks suffering beyond depression levels of 28.6%. Is this the time to enforce fewer opportunities?
You know how in the cartoon Dilbert the people actually speak what they are thinking? Wouldn’t it be handy if the president actually spoke the truth? What he is saying is, “No one working 40 hours a week should be living in poverty, so we should make sure the minimum wage is high enough to provide for a two-parent family of four. We need to keep employers from unfairly exploiting workers.”
But if he were speaking truthfully, he’d be saying, “Even though a minimum wage is designed for entry level workers to gain experience that will lead to better future pay opportunities, and no one who works steadily and gains experience is likely to remain at minimum wage levels, so feeling sorry for families supporting children endlessly at minimum wage is a crock. It just sounds better politically to claim we care about the poor. So we are willing to risk having fewer job opportunities for entry level workers, thus seriously interfering with their current and future earning power, so we can claim we are the ones who care. The important thing, after all, isn’t to help poor Americans; it is to make the GOP look bad.”
Imagine the difference in polling results if the question were asked, “Do you think the minimum wage should be raised if it means all workers currently being paid below the new minimum are laid off?”
The basic fact is that government can’t make free people employ people they can’t afford to employ. You’d think the leader of the free world might have enough understanding of basic economics to know that. Either he can’t do the math, or, more likely, he’s done the math and chosen a path that purposely causes harm but gives him political bonus points in the game he’s playing with our lives. Standing firm for free enterprise is essential, despite the political cost.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Living Core Values

A new issue of my alumni magazine arrived a week or so ago, and I’ve been reading the articles. One featured piece is a reprint of a speech given there by Mitt Romney in April 1999, at the business school convocation. Brigham Young University is also my alma mater: Romney graduated with a BA in English in 1971; I graduated with a BA in English in 1980. English, at least back then, was a major often used as a base for going on to law school. It trained a student in thinking and communicating.

Romney family
photo from here
After BYU, Romney went on to earn law and MBA degrees from Harvard. By the time he gave this speech, he had experienced quite a lot of success in the business world—even though it was before he rescued the Winter Olympics, and rescued Massachusetts from overwhelming debt as their governor, and before either run for president.
For those who didn’t know who Romney was while he was running (or came to know him late in the process), I thought this was worth sharing. He talks about success in life, and how you measure it. I offer a few excerpts:
How will it seem to you 20 and 30 and 40 years on? What bases will you have chosen to conquer? What games will you have played? Will your life have been a success?
To be honest, these questions were very troubling to me as I sat where you are sitting today. Virtually every speaker said something to the effect that life’s success was in my control. They quoted authors like Napoleon Hill, who wrote Think and Grow Rich. Success, they said, was up to me—how I prepared and worked, how I thought, how I created and followed a mission statement, or how I put it all together would ensure the success they knew I wanted.
Now, 30 years on, I have come to a very different conclusion. The worldly success stories I have seen result from a blend of factors: yes, the choices you make and control but also the mental equipment you were born with, more than a fair measure of serendipity, and, where He does choose to intervene, the will of our loving Father. I am not convinced that it’s all up to you. Nor do I believe that if you live righteously, your stock will rise in value, you’ll get a promotion, you’ll win an election, or you’ll get your research published.
He tells the story of a cousin who trained for the Olympics but got the flu during the Olympic trials and thus failed to qualify. And another story is of a friend who bounced around from business to business and ended up at eBay with holdings over $1 Billion, which may, looking back, appear to be a planned path. He goes on to say,
There’s an element of unpredictability, of uncertainty, of lottery, if you will, in the world that has been created for us. If you judge your life’s success by the world’s standards, you may be elated or you may be gravely disappointed.
So what standards does this inarguably successful man use for his life? Love, family, service, and devotion. 
A consultant once helped Bain principals identify their core values. He asked them each to think of five or six people they most admired and respected, whether living or historical. Romney listed these:
I chose the Master, Joseph Smith [founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, Romney’s religion, and mine], Abraham Lincoln, and my mother, father, and wife.
They then had to write down five or six attributes they thought of connected to each person. And the result was to show that, whatever they listed most frequently would identify their core values.
If they did not live in integrity with their core values, they would experience stress, ill health, and regret. But if they did live in harmony with these identified values, they would experience what they would eventually identify as success and fulfillment. The Bain leaders, it turned out, shared core values already, but had not all identified them. So they went from seeming to work at odds to working in a united direction—which incidentally led to company success.
But the good thing was that success in living according to these values did not depend on others—others’ opinions, others’ votes, others’ willingness to offer opportunities. Romney says it’s more about successful living, rather than financial or worldly determined success. Examples:
On my father’s 80th birthday, I asked him what had brought him the most satisfaction in his life, what his greatest accomplishment was. He had been a three-term governor, United States Cabinet member, presidential candidate, CEO, multimillionaire, and prominent Church leader. His answer was immediate: “My relationship with your mother and with my children and grandchildren is my greatest accomplishment and satisfaction.”
Golda Meir, prime minister of Israel, voiced the same truth in an interview on the Today Show. She explained that being a mother was her life’s greatest accomplishment.
Both lived a life of fulfillment and success, not because of their worldly endeavors but in spite of them. They lived in harmony with values unaffected by the vagaries of markets or elections or praise.
He warns that living with integrity to your core values will be challenging. The world will seem at cross purposes.
Unless you purposefully hold fast to living first by your innermost values, … you will read too much into your worldly successes and, perhaps just as dangerously, read too much into your worldly setbacks.
Romney suggests that if you focus on the right things, you can actually control your success:
It is empowering, invigorating, and emancipating to live for the success you can control yourself, to live for your most deeply seated values and convictions.
This next anecdote about his father, told, remember, in 1999, is interesting to read at this point in history:
young Mitt Romney with his father, George Romney
photo from here
I remember my father’s reaction in 1964 when running for governor. [Romney didn’t actually run for President until 1968, briefly, but in 1964 he worked in the primaries against Goldwater, whose views on civil rights were a point of friction, among others.] President Johnson had swamped Goldwater, and my dad’s pollsters confidently predicted that he’d be pulled under [in his gubernatorial campaign] by the Democratic landslide. I was devastated. What would my friends at school think? My dad would be a loser. I looked at him. He looked calm—even relieved. Winning or losing wasn’t what was important, he told me. He had done what he felt was right by running in the first place and by speaking out on issues he cared about. The people’s votes didn’t affect that. [He was reelected as governor in a Democrat state, against the odds.]
If there is one thing verified by everyone who has known Mitt Romney over time, it is that he lives his values. He loves his wife and family. He serves whenever and wherever he sees the need—not just the easy way by donating money, but by giving his personal time and attention. And he seems to gain energy the more he serves. And tied with that is his devotion to God, which is evidenced in how he lives his religion.
The presidential run was not a personal failure. He did what he believed God was asking him to do; that was what he had control of. That was what he cared about. And what next? Enjoying his family. Serving where he sees the need. Offering help to our nation where it can be given.
It is my opinion that we have not had such a good man—brilliant, well prepared for the challenges we face, but also generous, giving, and devoted to God—run for US President since possibly George Washington.
Rush Limbaugh gave a similar opinion last week, and then pointed out that the media managed to take this sterling character and portray him as uncaring, out of touch with regular Americans, and lacking in the basic values most of us share. It took lies, repeated lies, and exclusion of truth to create that negative image. Discussion of this media malpractice can come another day, but let me repeat this verse:
Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!—Isaiah 5:20
And then let me point out that valuing love within family, generously offering service, and turning to God for direction are civilizing principles. We have very little control over what the world (or even other voters in our own nation) will do. But we can control what we personally do. As Joshua of old said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Defending the Boy Scouts, Part II

I got this Norman Rockwell painting on a
magnet as a reminder of the day
I got to pin the Eagle badge on my son.
In the last post I made the assertion that those pressuring to change the Boy Scouts of America rules to allow active homosexuals as leaders and members have a real agenda of wanting to destroy the Boy Scouts. They don’t want to join them; they want them not to exist. This post offers evidence.
This isn’t going to be pretty. It involves talking math, and unfortunately also discussion of pedophilia. My apologies. There are also footnotes worth following. (If you look up the references, some of them will lead to additional references, which I do not list.)
The number of children who undergo molestation is not precisely known, but can be estimated, as has been done in a number of studies. Logic tells us there are four combinations possible: male molester/female child victim; female molester/female child victim; male molester/male child victim; female molester/male child victim. For our question about the Boy Scouts, we can delete female victims for both male and female predators, simply because girls don’t belong to the Boy Scouts.[i]
Homosexuals make up about 1.5% of the population, according to careful research. Frequently this number is cited as 3%. The homosexual community often makes the unsupported claim that they make up 10% of the population. Some of the data I’m about to present uses the generous percentage of 2%. So, using that compromise, we can logically assume that heterosexual molestation comes from the 98% of heterosexual population. Same-sex molestation, therefore, comes from 2% of the population.
About 17% of young men in America are sexually abused before adulthood. Only a small percentage of these are female molester/male victim cases. For comparison, some estimates are that one in four girls (25%) will be molested (which goes up to one in three for females during their lifetime), the vast majority are male molester/female victim cases—in other words, coming from the 98% heterosexual population. The male abuser/male victim cases, then, come from the 2% of the population that are homosexual.
Note that the data does not imply that all homosexuals are predators; that is certainly not the case. However, the risk of someone in that demographic being a predator is much much higher than in the population at large. And at this point we don’t have a way for a “safe” homosexual to certify that they are one of the harmless ones.
Here are a couple of summaries from those who have done the math. This first one is from Steve Baldwin in “Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement”[ii] :
Family Research Institute founder and psychologist Paul Cameron, reviewing more than nineteen different academic reports and peer reviewed studies in a 1985 Psychological Reports article, found that homosexuals account for between 25% and 40% of all child molestation. Sex researhers Freund, Heasman, Racansky, and Glancy, for example, in a 1984 Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy article, put the number at 36%. Erickson, Walbek, Sely, in a 1988 Archives of Sexual Behavior article, places it at 86% when the children being molested are male.
However, it should be noted that homosexuals account for only 2% of the population which statistically means that a child molester is ten to twenty times more likely to be homosexual than heterosexual. In other words, heterosexual molestations proportionally are a fraction compared to homosexual molestations. More recent studies confirm this statistic. In 2000, the Archives of Sexual Behavior published an article by seven sex researchers concluding that ‘‘around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys. Thus the rate of homosexual attraction is 6-20 times higher among pedophiles."
There are additional versions of the research. One study by homosexual activists and researchers revealed that 73% of homosexuals surveyed had sex with boys sixteen to nineteen years of age or younger.[iii] Additional studies compare female and male targets as well as homosexual vs. heterosexual predators, such as this one: “Child molestation, by comparison, was a relatively infrequent crime occurring from an average of 23.2 times by a pedophile (nonincest) with female targets to an average of 281.7 times by a pedophile (nonincest) whose targets were males.”[iv]
Baldwin makes specific references to pedophilia infiltration within the Boy Scouts:
When a California family sued the Scouts in 1993 for exposing their son to a Scout leader who molested him, the Scouts were ordered to turn over 25,000 pages of documents to the plaintiff.  This unprecedented glimpse into the world of Scout pedophiles revealed that thousands of boys had been molested by Scout leaders and other volunteers between 1971 and 1991 resulting in the expulsion of over 1,800 Scout volunteers for pedophile activity. The documents show that some Scout leaders molested over forty boys before getting caught, and that many, once caught, simply moved to a different Scout troop and continued abusing boys.
Gay activists have spun the Scout molestation epidemic as a heterosexual problem. Examination of many of the higher profile cases, however, reveals that Scout molesters are attracted exclusively to boys and many lead mainstream gay lifestyles. John Hemstreet is a typical example. Hemstreet is a convicted child molester, former Boy Scout leader, and currently the President of the Toledo, Ohio, chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). PFLAG is one of the groups leading the nationwide attack on the Boy Scouts of America.
Incredibly, the pro-pedophile group North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which calls itself a homosexual group, wrote a letter to the national Scout office urging “the Boy Scouts of America to cease its discrimination against openly gay or lesbian persons in the appointment of its scout masters and its scouters and in its membership. This will permit scouts to be exposed to a variety of life styles and will permit more of those individuals who genuinely wish to serve boys to do so.”
NAMBLA used to make even other homosexual groups uncomfortable. But in the last couple of decades they have been embraced as part of the movement. You will find them represented at any gay parade or bookstore; they have been mainstreamed. NAMBLA has actually published information instructing pedophiles on how to become Boy Scout leaders, and other ways to profile, lure, befriend, and rape a child, then avoid detection and prosecution.[v]
People who think the argument is about eliminating discrimination against a harmless, helpful segment of the population are being duped.
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has responded by improving and increasing sexual molestation prevention training; I have been through it, more than once. Even volunteers at a Cub Scout day camp must have received the training and must abide by safety policies, such as two-deep leadership.

I know in Scout troops we have been involved in, sponsored by our church (and Latter-day Saints sponsor more troops in the US than any other sponsor), do not allow youth to be led by anyone of any sexual orientation that engages in sex outside of marriage. There is no discrimination against a segment of the population; there is discrimination against behaviors that do not qualify as moral to religious people. And the Boy Scouts is a tool for raising boys into moral men. It is not the only such tool, but it has been a good one.
If the Boy Scouts fail to remain true to their long stated mission, they will be less useful as a tool. If they stand strong, they may lose funding because of the pressure from the homosexual community on donating corporations. If the Boy Scouts give in, they may lose sponsorship by most of their individual troop sponsors. (I can’t say for certain that will happen, or when, but it does appear to me to be a likely eventuality.[vi])
What I can say for certain is that allowing homosexual leadership will have two certain outcomes: First, teaching boys to be “morally straight,” i.e., sexually pure, will be more difficult. Second, more boys will be exposed to the risk of sexual predators. Resisting the pro-homosexual pressure is the only way for the the Boy Scouts to meet their mission for boys.

[i] In some Explorer level troops, girls do participate. The number is so small compared to the general population of the Boy Scouts that I do not include them in the equation. Likewise, there are women leaders, in Cub Scouts as well as some peripheral leadership positions in regular Scout troops, but not as Scout Masters, and never as leadership during overnight activities without male leadership present. So, while female predators cannot be 100% eliminated, they are clearly not part of the question about allowing homosexual leaders. 
[ii] See Baldwin, Steve, “Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement” and associated notes:
[iii] K. Jay et al, The Gay Report:  Lesbians and Gays Speak Out About Sexual Experiences and Lifestyles 275 (1979).
[iv] Eugene Abel et al., “Self-Reported Sex Crimes of Nonincarcerated Pedophiliacs, 2 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 3, 5 (1987). See also R. Blanchard et al, “Fraternal Order and Sexual Orientation in Pedophiles,” 29 Archives Sexual Behav. 464 (2000); K. Freund & R I. Watson, “The Proportions of Heterosexual and Homosexual Pedophiles Among Sex Offenders Against Children:  An Exploratory Study,” 18 Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 34, 34-43 (1992).
[v] Jeffery Curley, age 10, was raped and murdered Oct. 1 1997. The perpetrators had in their possession NAMBLA materials, as well as a book, “Rape and Escape,” published by NAMBLA. They used an idea from the NAMBLA materials to lure the boy. The family sued NAMBLA for its contribution to the murder of their son; the ACLU defended NAMBLA pro bono, claiming NAMBLA has 1st amendment rights to free speech; ironically, the ACLU requested a gag order against the prosecution and asked for witnesses who testified in the Curley case concerning the NAMBLA information to be disallowed.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Defending the Boy Scouts, Part I

Last week the national leaders of Boy Scouts of America considered whether to alter their long-standing position to exclude those involved in homosexual behavior from leadership and membership. The decision was put off until a future meeting in May.

When it came up, I was a little surprised. The fight against the Scouts has been quiet for some years, since a 2000 Supreme Court ruling in their favor, that a private organization is allowed to exclude a person from membership when “the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group’s ability to advocate public or private viewpoints,” a right validated through the Constitution’s First Amendment freedom of assembly clause.
I wasn’t aware of the most recent pressure—which is purportedly to eliminate discrimination but in reality is intended to destroy the organization. I’m a little late for writing about last Wednesday’s vote, but I’m ahead of time for the May vote.
The method of pressure is to remove a large percentage of business donations, which have helped the organization function as a non-profit for over a century. The discrimination argument, while it may appeal to surface-thinkers, means that an organization—any organization—must be what outsiders, rather than members, say it must be. This may be better understood with a comparison. 
T-shirt from Rudy's Barbecue in Houston, TX
A favorite restaurant feature here in Texas is the barbecue place. I don’t know what this means elsewhere, but here it means slow-cooked smoked brisket and pulled pork, sliced up and weighed in front of you, and handed to you in paper dishes that you carry to seat-yourself trestle tables, where you lay it out on sheets of paper you tore off as your own personal tablecloth. There are no plates. Plastic forks and knives are optional. Typically you put the meat of choice on slices of bread and pour on some secret recipe barbecue sauce. Our family’s favorite such place is Rudy’s, which is set up like a truck-stop gas station with the restaurant instead of a mini-mart. The sauce (regular Rudy’s Sause and Sissy Sause varieties) are so good that extended family members request that we ship it to them as Christmas gifts. Rudy’s sells T-shirts that say, “I didn’t claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables.”
In other words, this is a place with a certain belief and lifestyle.
Suppose someone comes in and sees the success of Rudy’s and wants to expand. It’s a chain, so it’s conceivable someone could want to have the opportunity to manage a new franchise. But suppose this potential new manager has a different philosophy: “I like everything you do here at Rudy’s; it really works. And clearly it’s profitable. I want all that. But I’m really troubled by all this death to animals. I think we need a kinder, gentler Rudy’s that caters to the vegetarian Texan.”
I expect the head honchos at Rudy’s would laugh in the guy's face and say "No; that isn’t possible. You can’t successfully feed people Texas barbecue without meat."
Suppose, in our hypothetical, there’s some pressure put on the organization by PETA; protesters come and picket in front of the restaurants and harass customers, discouraging the usual customers from going inside and spending their money on the meat they want. What should Rudy’s do?
Well, for one thing, stay in Texas, where meat eaters are likely to scoff at the protesters and go get their meat anyway. So loss of funding doesn’t translate as well to this metaphor. But let’s take a look at the motives of the change agents. They claim to admire the success of the original organization. They want to continue the success—but they want to take away the main reason for the success: really good meat served up pure and simple.
That’s what’s happening with the Boy Scouts. People outside the organization say they admire the outcome, the building of boys into men of strong morals and integrity. They want to keep getting that result—except that, instead of all that emphasis on morality and integrity, they want to emphasize “tolerance,” particularly tolerance of sexual immorality, instead.
You can’t have a successful barbecued meat restaurant by insisting that the eating of meat is immoral. You can’t have a successful organization to help parents raise boys to moral men by insisting that having a standard of sexual morality is immoral.
You know that if Rudy’s were to give in to the vegetarian potential manager, the business would fail. That is a given. Also know that, if the Boy Scouts were to cave and accept homosexual behavior as equivalent to married heterosexual behavior, the Boy Scouts would fail in their mission. That is also a given.
The simple question for the change pushers is this: why don’t you form your own organization that appeals to those who share your beliefs? Why walk into an organization you don’t share beliefs with and insist they adjust to your beliefs?
The real answer to that is that they do not simply want to slightly adjust an existing organization, which they believe would be an improvement for all the world; they want to destroy that organization. Not everyone has that ultimate goal. Some are simply listening to the talking points and following along with the crowd. But if you look at the requirements for civilization, and you look at the adherence to those civilizing principles within the organization, you can identify where BSA lands on the Spherical Model. People who dwell only in the southern hemisphere of the spherical model choose control of others, and they choose savagery. They do no love civilization, so there is no reason to assume their motives are pure.
In Part II we’ll look at the evidence that leads to this conclusion.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Boy Scouts of America

I have been gathering info for a post about the Boy Scouts, since they were in the news this week. I have more than I think can fit into one post, and since the big decision from Wednesday got more or less put off for a couple of months, I thought I could put info together under less urgency. But then I realized today is the anniversary of the founding: Boy Scouts of America was founded February 8, 1910, so the organization is 103 years old. So, today we'll celebrate, and save controversy for another day.

The cake from our Eagle Court of Honor back in 2005
The purpose of the organization is to raise boys into men—men of integrity and honor, men who will be valuable contributors to our civilization. The organization has been pretty effective at meeting this goal. The oath and law provide some of the method:
The Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best
 To do my duty to God and my country
 and to obey the Scout Law;
 To help other people at all times;
 To keep myself physically strong,
 mentally awake, and morally straight. 

A Scout is:
  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.
If you know what civilization looks like, and the qualities a person needs to acquire to positively contribute to making society civilized, could you come up with a better list? I’ve tried to do that at Spherical Model. Generally, obey the Ten Commandments. I’ve included on occasion a couple of other lists, like the one in I Corinthians 13, paraphrased here:  

·         be long-suffering
·         be kind
·         don’t envy
·         don’t be self-important
·         don’t behave unseemly
·         don’t be self-centered
·         don’t be easily provoked
·         think no evil
·         avoid iniquity
·         rejoice in truth
·         bear difficulties with patience
·         believe in God and truth
·         be hopeful
·         endure 

The lists for “how to be civilized” are similar enough that I think it’s possible to say that we know what behavior is required for a civilized culture. But all of the behaviors are not what you’d call natural for 12-year-old boys. They need to be taught, and they need to be able follow the model of men who have grown from uncivilized rowdy boys into fine and honorable men and fathers. 

Mr. Spherical Model was a scoutmaster for many years (and still has a volunteer role with the troop), starting well before our boys got through their cub scout years. Our older son got to the level of Life Scout, next to the highest rank. He reached that at 13, and then we moved, and the new local troop wasn’t as good at advancement. He came close, just before turning 18, at finishing the requirements for an Eagle, but college classes and work got in the way. Still, it was a good accomplishment, and the principles took root. For our second son, Mr. Spherical Model became the scoutmaster again. This was a challenging troop, made up of bright, quirky characters—who had a history of taking on the challenge of doing in adult volunteer leaders. But in Mr. Spherical Model they had met their match. And most of these young men earned their Eagle rank, including our son Economic Sphere. Today they’re educated, working, married—and surprisingly civilized. 

The photo is from Shawn Rogers' Facebook page;
he and his son were in that jamboree crowd
Only 5% of young men who begin scouting eventually reach the rank of Eagle. But some troops are much more successful than others. My assertion is that the successful ones combine more religion into the teachings. Yes, they go camping and learn woodsman and survival skills. But they take a minute at their meetings and around the campfire to develop the young man’s spirit. Not all really good men can be a good scoutmaster, but a scoutmaster has to be a really good man. 

In another post I’ll talk about the membership controversy that’s going on. But today, let’s just honor this organization that has gone about the business of inculcating the next generation with civilizing principles with remarkable success for over a century.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

International Relations

One part of Mr. Spherical Model’s job is arranging training programs for oil service customers around the world. Large buyers arrange in-depth training for some of their employees, so that in addition to equipment, they are also purchasing experience. As a result, people come from around the world for a variety of different lengths of training. I wrote about a group from Iraq back in spring 2011. We have met people from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, and probably others I’m not recalling.
This past week a new group of trainees arrived, employees of Saudi Aramco, for what I think is 15 months of training at various field operations around the US. When a group like this arrives, we often have a get-acquainted dinner, to which I am sometimes invited. Two of the Saudis have wives with them; others may have wives at home, but decided the upheaval was more disruptive than the separation, at least for now, so they signed up for just bachelor accommodations. Anyway, for various reasons (no babysitter for the newborn was one) the wives didn’t come, so I’m the only woman at the table.
There are three Muhammeds, two Achmeds—which they tell me are different versions of the same name, so they often go by an additional name to avoid confusion. And I think we had a Sayeed and a Hasham (but I’m not sure what I heard exactly or how to spell them). They seemed excited about the learning adventure, and they were personable and energetic and, as far as I could ascertain, a group of quite decent young people. I hope they don’t mind my posting their photo (this is also the first one I’ve posted of myself and Mr. Spherical Model.)
They seem to adapt well to our culture, at least so far as to welcoming me in a dinner conversation (one did not shake hands, with coming and leaving opportunities, but it wasn’t very noticeable). We had an enjoyable dinner, learning about where they all came from. Most were from the eastern coast of Saudi, where there are either oil fields, near Dhahran, or fishing villages not far from there. A couple were from the west coast, near Jeddah. One grew up in the east but was from family in Mecca (spelled Makkah on the map online), so we enjoyed talking about that city, and the Hajj celebration, which fascinated all of them. One hadn’t been to Hajj yet, and everyone was surprised. It seemed a little like being from here and never traveling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (which I have not done—and because of the lack of civilization during that event, I will likely continue to avoid NO during that time of year and maybe settle for being a tourist during milder circumstances).
We talked very little about religion or politics. But they wanted to make sure we knew that, unlike how the media may portray things, the Sunnis and Shias get along well in Saudi. Our group was mixed, and to them this was simply not an issue. No mention of (to us) extremist Wahhabism came up, even though reading has led me to understand that is the religion of at least some of the royal family. They did say there are occasional crazies everywhere, but they had so support for such things. These are educated young men, working hard to learn what they can to improve their career prospects. And they are very family oriented—a cultural similarity we have enjoyed with others from their country.
They are very serious about taking care of the elderly—because if you don’t, you go to hell. That is basic doctrine they agree on. I agree with them that having family members take on the responsibility makes a lot more sense than taxing people, passing the money through government bureaucracy, and then doling it out as the government sees fit. Only where there are no progeny to care for the elderly would this be an issue—but that would be a smaller issue.
Politically, their main concern was stability. Their King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is elderly—in his 90s. He has managed to keep things fairly stable, with the oil industry doing much of the infrastructure building, and these young men were complimentary of such efforts. When Saudi Aramco builds something, they said, it is of good quality. But the king’s age makes succession imminent. It wasn’t really a matter of who should get the position; they could see that, whoever it was, others would wish for the line of power to go their way, and there could be factions.
As the young Saudis see it, there are three possibilities: continued monarchy (whoever succeeds), transformation to democracy, or a combination of monarchy with some elements of democracy. Those who expressed their opinions liked the idea of having a voice in government. Moving suddenly from monarchy to democracy, however, looked uncertain and chaotic. They seemed to prefer the middle option, something like Great Britain, where there is a monarchy, but the decisions about running the country rest in parliament. And parliament has at least partially the voice of the people. It would not satisfy me, but I can see their reasoning, and I think their direction is toward something positive.
When we have these relatively intimate conversations with people from other cultures, we find people not terribly unlike us. I am reminded of this Bush philosophy: “I believe that God granted in every heart the desire to live in freedom.” Some peoples, living in some cultures where they’ve never experienced freedom, might not be able to envision freedom. They might be willing to settle for stable tyranny rather than chaotic tyranny. But where people can see the option, there is a desire to work and enjoy the fruits of one’s labors, without threat from theft or attack—in other words, the innate sense of the rights to life, liberty, and property. A system that protects those inalienable rights has the possibility of thriving civilization. I hope that more of the world may experience the benefits of freedom. And may God grant that we as a people can keep ours.

Monday, February 4, 2013

More Post-Apocalyptic Tyrannies

Lately it seems like every book I pick up (often young adult novels and series) is someone’s imagining of a post-apocalyptic tyrannical society. I read The Hunger Games a couple of years ago, but the movie came out last spring, so I revisited that series (and might again as each movie in the series comes out). Plus, Mr. Spherical Model just got around to reading them—one after another, just like the rest of us did (no one can read just one).
This past year I read the Matched trilogy, by Ally Condie. Since Christmas I’ve picked up The Mazerunner, the first in a series by James Dashner, and Incarceron, the first in a series by Catherine Fisher. And this past weekend I finished Glenn Beck’s latest (with Harriet Parke), Agenda 21.
Here’s what post-apocalyptic tyranny stories seem to have in common: Some historical event changed things—a war, an uprising, maybe a pandemic. Whatever it was (and sometimes the characters don’t know what it was), some scary chaos was “resolved” by the authority, for which everyone is required to be grateful. Allegiance to an entity other than the authority—such as God or family—is discouraged or forbidden (or forced underground).
There is an all-pervasive authority, monitoring all behaviors, and controlling most choices. Reading and writing tools are often missing or strictly controlled. Food is provided, pre-made, regardless of personal taste (or sometimes size and other nutritional need differences). Marriage choices are controlled by the authority—which has eugenic purposes. Personal belongings are discouraged or prevented. Understanding of how to subsist without the help of the government is extinguished. Schooling, if allowed, is scrupulously controlled by the authority to indoctrinate with authority doctrine, and generally weeding out any differences, innovations, or creative thinking. Beauty, art, and open-minded science are absent or strictly controlled.
Everyone is ostensibly equal. But there are always those with more power, who exert authority over the plebeians, and who also enjoy privileges—better food, better technology, better living conditions.
Life is cheap and disposable—particularly for anyone born with imperfections, anyone who has developed an illness that requires significant treatment resources, and anyone who rebels against the authority. Even when these societies appear on the surface to be “civilized,” they are, either visibly or just below the surface, savage and inhuman.
Usually the main characters begin with a lack of understanding or awareness. They’re just busy going day to day, moment to moment, without getting into trouble. Somewhere along the way, the stakes get higher—often with a threat to a loved one. Then they rise to heroism out of necessity of the higher goal of human love, to some combination of thwarting/changing the authoritarian society or escaping from it with the hope of something better outside.
Most of these stories are fictional warnings, someone’s imagination of worst-case scenarios. Glenn Beck’s book is essentially that as well, but with the hint that it is based on real possibilities. In the Afterword, he explains that Agenda 21, the title, comes from an actual UN program. The fictional story is simply a way to illustrate where such a plan could lead if followed to its logical inevitable conclusions. He lists nine basic principles that the real Agenda 21 intends to pursue, some of which we can already see evidence of in current policies:
1.      Move citizens off private land and into high-density urban housing.
2.      Create vast wilderness spaces inhabited by large carnivores.
3.      Reduce traffic congestion and slash fuel use by eliminating cars and creating “walkable” cities.
4.      Support chosen private businesses with public funds to be used for “sustainable development.”
5.      Make policy decisions that favor the greater good over individuals.
6.      Drastically reduce the use of power, water, and anything that creates “carbon pollution.”
7.      Use bureaucracies to make sweeping decisions outside of democratic processes.
8.      Increase taxes, fees, and regulations.
9.      Implement policies meant to incentivize a reduced population (i.e., “one-child” type laws). [p. 281 of Beck's book]
In "Agenda 21: The Earth Summit Strategy to Save Our Planet," Dan Sitarz gives this rather frighteningly frank goal statement:
Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced—a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level. [quoted on p. 279 of Beck's book]
There was one quote in the Afterword that may merit an economic post of its own in the future from the 1976 Vancouver Declaration:
[Land] cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice. [quoted on p. 282 of Beck's book]
There is something terribly wrong with the idea that accumulating wealth is evil because it is unequalizing. As I’ve written in the Economic section of the Spherical Model, “Wealth, simply, represents the accumulation of the results of labor.” A person’s wealth is only limited by his personal time, talents, and energy. When you take away the results of a person’s work, you are stealing from him the results of how he spends his life; that is slavery. Helping the poor with free giving can benefit both giver and receiver, but stealing from the producer to give to the non-producer benefits neither and discourages work and innovation. Concerning land, there’s the tragedy of the commons, where commonly owned land is always overused and resources are not guarded or developed (see Thomas E. Woods, 33 Questions about American History, p. 22).
As a review, I thought the Beck/Parke book was enjoyable and well written. As a story in the post-apocalyptic tyranny genre (is there such a genre now?), it stands up well. The possible realities underlying the story give it another layer of interest.
The scariest and most evocative of the tyranny books I’ve read are not fiction; they are the biographies and histories from WWII. I recommend Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas, and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, about Louis Zamperini, by Laura Hillebrand. We don’t have to rely on imagination to see what could happen in a savage tyranny; we have recorded evidence. We need to be aware, to prevent it from happening among us her in what is left of the free world.