Thursday, April 28, 2016

Identity

Earlier this month I read an essay by Robert George, “Transgenderism,'Marriage Equality,' and Liberalism’s Tragic Error”—an excerpt from his recent book Conscience and Its Enemies. It’s philosophical, but I think it’s relevant to issues we’re dealing with. Issues we shouldn’t, if we’re sane, have to be dealing with, but here we are.

The essence of the essay is that there are two warring beliefs about who we are as humans: we are either mental energy in a random physical body—George refers to this as “nonbodily persons inhabiting nonpersonal bodies,”—or we are made up of a mind and body together, “a dynamic unity: a personal body, a bodily self.”

The difference is important, he says, because, “Whether in the courts, on campus, or at boardroom tables, it significantly shapes the expressive individualism and social liberalism that are dominant among elites.”

Christianity in general has rejected the nonbodily identity, in a similar way that Aristotle veered from Plato on the issue. As George continues:

The living body, far from being our external instrument, is part of our personal reality. So while it cannot exist apart from the soul—which is its substantial form—the body is not inferior. It shares in our personal dignity. The idea of the soul as the substantial form of the body is orthodox Christianity’s alternative to the heretical conception of the soul as a “ghost in the machine.” One can separate living body from soul in analysis but not in fact; we are body-soul composites.
My religion has something specific to say on this as well: we are who we are from before being born in a body; gaining a body is progress in becoming more like our Father in Heaven. This is the second paragraph of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
George’s piece is about the liberal elite view of marriage—based on what the mind wants to create and be, rather than what is biological or real. He is a mentor of Ryan Anderson, and one of the best minds on marriage today.

But I’m going to use these ideas to talk about a different letter of the LBGT etc. alphabet: the T.
found here


It is my belief that we are in this life who we were when Heavenly Father created our spirits, and this included our maleness or femaleness. It’s not a matter of which body we got randomly put into. It is part of who we have always been and who we will always be. God does not mistakenly put us into the wrong body.

That means that, if a person thinks they are a gender other than what they biologically and to the core of their soul are, then they have a mental problem, accurately called gender confusion.

It is not possible to change gender. Gender comes up in every cell of the body. Genetically a person will continue to have a Y chromosome or not. What can be done is chemical and surgical mutilation of a body that will continue to have in all its cells that Y chromosome or not.

With that reality in place, the question becomes, how do we treat people who claim to be a different gender than they are?

The human dignity answer is, treat them with kindness and dignity, but as who they really are when confronted. This would include allowing them the same natural rights as the rest of us, but ends at creating special rights that encourage their delusion or negatively affect the natural rights of the rest of us.

It could include better mental health science and research to help them in whatever way will lead away from self-harm and toward a fully functional human life of contribution and joy.

However, the politically dictated answer is, we go along with their delusion, no matter how that inconveniences the rest of us, and no matter how harmful to the gender confused person.

As I mentioned earlier this month, adults who have gone through surgical and hormonal reassignment suffer 20 times greater rates of suicide than those who don’t undergo a chemical and/or surgical change. Wouldn’t it be kinder—healthier for the gender confused person—to treat the mental illness, to help them come to terms with reality, rather than to indulge their delusion?

The American College of Pediatricians recently called it child abuse to submit children to gender reassignment, since 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty. Isn’t it kinder to deal with the child’s confusion as an error that can be corrected, rather than indulge the error and deepen the damage that could otherwise have self-corrected?

So, let’s start the “bathroom” question with the assumption that accepting the delusion is more damaging and less kind than indulging it.

We dealt with the bathroom question this past year in Houston. To remind you, the lesbian then-mayor of Houston had pushed through an ordinance, purportedly for “equal rights,” that imposed a demand on all places with public restrooms or locker rooms to allow self-identified transgendered people to use their choice of facilities. The people immediately gathered signatures to put the issue before the people on the ballot to repeal the bill. Mayor Anise Parker illegally threw out the signatures, but was overruled by the courts. She tried to intimidate local pastors by demanding copies, transcripts, and recordings of their sermons and communications so she could look for words against her agenda. Again the courts slapped her down. In November the issue was put before the people and her bill was repealed, in part because it was successfully accurately renamed “the bathroom bill,” rather than “equal rights.”

People in a liberal city that had already twice reelected a homosexual mayor did not want to force all businesses and public places to force women and girls to share intimate places such as bathrooms—and even more shockingly gym locker rooms--with “self-identified transgendered” men.

The worry has not been about transgendered people, who are not only rare, but are not necessarily sexual predators (are probably not—although they are likely to still be attracted to the actual opposite sex, whom they’re sharing these private places with). It is that there is no way to identify the difference, and it takes away the rights of women and girls to feel safe. The law should not label a woman as a bigoted lawbreaker because as a punishment for feeling uncomfortable or threatened by a man. It should be obvious that is an infringement of her rights, and a loss of her freedom—as well as for those who care about the endangered women and girls.

In locker rooms, where private parts are more likely to be exposed, women—and particularly minors in schools—absolutely should not be exposed to the naked opposite-sex body and have no privacy from that person. Many of us thought the most traumatic part of going to junior high was being forced to shower and change in front of others of the same sex. (I’m told guys never had this same issue, but I’m telling you it was a normal fear and feeling among females.) A person who feels such natural modesty should not be told they’re the mentally ill ones, while the gender confused or the blatantly lying predator is protected.

We will not eradicate gender confusion, any more than we’re likely to eradicate depression, schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses. While we can work toward treatment, we meanwhile want to live kindly among suffering people.

We’ve actually been dealing with “transgendered” men in women’s restrooms for a long time. If they are serious about looking like the opposite sex, mostly they have been tolerated in the opposite-sex restroom, without a law. And good parents have been taking precautions in all restrooms all along: women take young boys in the women’s restroom with them. Once their boys are too old to do that, the mom waits just outside, within hearing range, and makes sure not too much time has passed. And boys have been taught how to avoid predators in those spaces. It’s not as ideal as being able to magically identify all predators and quarantine them, but failing that it has sufficed.

But females are more vulnerable, biologically, to sexual predators. It makes no sense to increase the vulnerability and then to shame them for noticing.

It seems like a parallel universe, that we are needing to discuss this obvious truth: men and women are different, and being separate in intimately private settings is respectful and important for safety. But a decade or two ago it was unthinkable that we would redefine marriage as something in which maleness and femaleness was irrelevant.

The “nonbodily persons inhabiting nonpersonal bodies” believers have the media megaphone. They are shoving their ideologies down our throats. But we don’t have to swallow.

The Emperor's New Clothes
illustration found here


If we don’t speak up wherever we can, we lose our freedoms. We need more of the honest child who stands up and says, “The Emperor has no clothes!” In the Hans Christian Anderson story, once the child spoke the words, everybody else gave up their pretense and embraced the truth. We need that to happen.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Establishment and Grassroots

Sometimes there are words we assume we understand, but that aren’t clearly or easily defined. Establishment and grassroots are two of these. They are supposedly opposite, but lately establishment has been used as an epithet to silence disagreement from elsewhere in the grassroots, which is the exact opposite of what grassroots is about. So, let’s define and examine for clarity.

The term Establishment identifies an amorphous controlling elite. Lately this refers to those in the Republican Party, particularly in Washington, DC, who have a different agenda than the rank-and-file Republican citizen. Assumed to belong are the party leadership and leadership in the US Congress and Senate. Sometimes Paul Ryan, recently chosen to replace John Boehner as House Majority Leader, is included, and sometimes he’s exempted. He was chosen because he was acceptable to both the establishment and the non-establishment.

But it can’t be that being in a particular position automatically makes someone establishment. That would require, instead, some beliefs and attitudes in addition to position. Otherwise it would be pointless to try to elect people who share grassroots ideas into positions of leadership.

So, for our purposes, maybe we need to identify the beliefs and attitudes. There’s not an overriding authority, so this is from my observations.

The GOP Establishment consists of House and Senate members, sometimes including leadership, who focus on party power more than on party purpose—plus some lobbyists, crony capitalists, and various opinion makers who share an agenda with the rest of the establishment. Sometimes the difference in beliefs is as slight as wanting to go the right direction, but wanting to do it slowly and incrementally rather than suddenly. In other words, change slowly rather than radically.

But sometimes it’s more a matter of wanting to keep the status quo—quite a lot of power in Washington, DC, regardless of authority from the Constitution. And sometimes it’s a matter of going along with Democrat ideas because the media makes it seem that is what the public wants, so, to maintain power, going that direction but slower than the Democrats go there.

Staying where we are or going further the wrong direction are not acceptable to the grassroots.

Came across this on Facebook;
can't locate origin, but found here

Grassroots ideas, or political movements or campaigns, start and grow from the local community. This includes the grassroots of a party. I need to repeat that: the grassroots include ideas, movements, and campaigns within a party. The definition includes where the movement comes from: from local people in communities. They share the idea—or word about a candidate—with friends. This could look like local clubs and meetings, like my local Tea Party, where we hear from candidates and speakers, plus share ideas with each other. Or it could be what we do at precinct meetings, when we elect delegates for the next level up and propose ideas that we’d like to have included in the party platform. It might also include sharing our opinions on social media, or going around to people in our precinct to get them educated and registered to vote.

Grassroots ideas tend to come from people dissatisfied with the status quo. So they’re likely to disagree with any establishment in the “maintain our own power” camp of keeping the status quo.
Grassroots in the Republican Party is conservative in ways outside the status quo box. The Grassroots want smaller government—like you’d get if you actually followed the Constitution. Grassroots want lower taxes and less government spending. And less regulation interfering with innovation and entrepreneurship. Or interference with personal beliefs and opinions—like those listed in the First Amendment and the other Bill of Rights amendments.

It’s possible for grassroots movements to be extreme. Most associated with Democrats are. But it is not extreme to value the basic law of our country—the Constitution.

Grassroots tend to be made up of people committed to their communities, and to taking action to make things better. So, at the local level—precinct chairs, for example—you’re likely to find conservative grassroots ideas being shared around.

At least that has been my experience everywhere I’ve been involved. I started going to precinct conventions (by another name in a different state) as soon as I was old enough to vote. I first became a delegate to a county convention in 1984. Then we lived briefly in a couple of states where I never figured out how to get involved. Then, in yet another state, Mr. Spherical Model became a precinct chair. Both of us were delegates at the county convention. He went to the state convention several times. In Texas I started attending precinct conventions—and district and state conventions—as soon as I figured out how. And now I’m a precinct chair.

So I’m involved in my party. And I have been for decades. When the Tea Party showed up in 2010, I started attending, to make connections and to educate myself as a voter. But it has turned out that I also get to express my opinions quite a lot. During the past three legislative sessions I’ve led a group of us in following legislation and expressing our opinions to Texas lawmakers as citizen lobbyists.

Not all Tea Party people have been involved as long as I have. Some just woke up after Obama’s election and imposition of atrocities like Obamacare. And we have a range of opinions, although I’d say they’re nearly all in the Republican-to-Libertarian range, with not much (if any) overlap with the Democrat-to-Socialist range.

But the reason for my post today comes from a misunderstanding—or misrepresentation being exploited—by some newer to politics who think anyone involved with parties is corrupt establishment.

Some of this misrepresentation comes directly from the Trump campaign, which might indicate whether it’s actually grassroots or not. But they’re trying to convince the relatively new “activist” followers of Trump that no one who disagrees can be trusted.

About a contested convention, which happens if no candidate gets over 50% of the total delegates before the convention, there are no “brokers,” or establishment powers who get to override all those delegates and the voters who sent them to the convention.

On the first ballot, the delegates from most states are required to vote for the candidate they’re assigned to as a result of primary voting. Some states require the delegate to remain with that candidate for more than one ballot.

But when no candidate wins a majority of delegates on the first ballot, many—probably most—are free to vote their personal choice on the next ballot. And the next. Until a candidate wins a majority. There’s no stealing involved. The delegate was elected because of his/her leanings. Elected by delegates at lower levels, reaching to the most local grassroots.

Of the remaining candidates, longtime grassroots Republicans are much more likely to choose Ted Cruz, because he is a Constitutional conservative. He has reached out to those delegates and their grassroots support—in every state—and has given them his message and asked for their vote. And he has worked to find like-minded grassroots workers to run to become delegates.

It’s not a game. But it is a process. And he has shown respect for the grassroots through this process. Whereas Donald Trump has carried out a mostly-free-media top-down campaign with little attention offered to grassroots politics.

It wouldn’t matter whether Washington insiders actually wanted Trump to be their candidate; if a majority of the delegates do not want him (and he hasn’t won a majority coming in to the convention), he doesn’t get to be the nominee.

It is a grassroots decision.

It’s informative that some of those who are just recently awake to the dire condition of the country, who haven’t been participating in the grassroots for very long, might be skeptical and cynical about everyone and everything that disagrees with them.

But people involved for quite a while—people who are familiar with the Constitution, and are fully engaged in searching for leaders committed to lower taxes, less government interference in our lives, and protection of our God-given rights—are not inclined to support a candidate who blusters about some of those things but has no coherent plan to get us there. And no record of believing in the things that will get us there. And lacking the character that would show any actual change of heart.

In summary, I’ve been involved a long time—at the grassroots level only. I do not support Trump, specifically because I am a grassroots conservative who loves the Constitution. Calling people like me establishment because I have participated with the party and do not support Trump is ignorant both of the process of growing ideas, and of the strength of the grassroots desire to return to the Constitution.

And I support Ted Cruz because I am a grassroots conservative who loves the Constitution. We grassroots have been praying and watching for such a consistent Constitutional conservative for lifetimes.


I know and trust the grassroots around me here in Texas. We’re somewhat dependent on the grassroots elsewhere. But I have watched Ted Cruz reach out to others like me, and others respond to him as I have. So now it’s time to spread that word in our own grassroots communities. And then trust that what needs to happen for the sake of our beloved country will happen.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Words from the Wise

The other day I came across a quote I wanted to save to my Quote File (up around 75 pages now). I wanted to make sure it wasn’t one I’d already saved, so I searched the file for the author: Ezra Taft Benson. The quote was new, but I realized I had quite a number of quotes from him. Enough to maybe make up a post for today.
Ezra Taft Benson
photo from LDS.org


I’ve frequently referred to Ezra Taft Benson’s hourlong speech “The Proper Role of Government,” and his "The Case for the Free Market." He had some strong political opinions, always aligned with our beloved Constitution as well as God’s law. But he is best known as the thirteenth President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from November 10, 1985 until his death May 30, 1994, nearing 95 years old.

A significant role he played—while he was also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Church—was Secretary of Agriculture from 1953-1961, during the Eisenhower administration.

Shortly after World War II, he was sent to Europe to help with relief efforts and mission efforts. Most notable was time spent in Germany, to help people there who had been our enemies but now needed our help. Some of those were members of the LDS Church needing to reconnect to their worldwide brotherhood. But one of the other places he spent time was Sweden, where my grandfather was serving as president of a mission. So they traveled the country together, and also traveled together into Finland to start a mission there.

When it became likely that Elder Benson would become president and prophet—he was at that time President of the Quorum of the Twelve, and President Spencer W. Kimball was aging after a life of health struggles—some people worried about his political views, that they might alienate members who had different political views. It turned out not to be an issue. As a person—indeed, as a lover of his country, freedom, and the Constitution—he spoke with passion. But as Prophet, the larger concern was to do whatever work God wanted him to do. He emphasized reading the Book of Mormon and doing away with personal pride.

I consider him a great man. Politically, I appreciate the bold, strong words he used—based on principles. So, with that introduction, here are a few of his words worth rereading.

Starting at the foundation of the pyramid, let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. –“Proper Role of Government.”

The smear seems to be the most widely used and effective tool of the conspiracy to discredit and weaken any effective effort. The smear of any individual or organization...is evidence of effectiveness. If any of you who are affiliated with patriotic organizations...which are not extensively smeared, you can rest assured your opposition is largely ineffective.

The price of peace is righteousness. Men and nations may loudly proclaim, “Peace, peace,” but there shall be no peace until individuals nurture in their souls those principles of personal purity, integrity, and character which foster the development of peace. Peace cannot be imposed. It must come from the lives and hearts of men. There is no other way.—“Purposeful Living,” Listen, A Journal of Better Living, Jan.–Mar. 1955, 19.

At this bicentennial celebration we must, with sadness, say that we have not been wise in keeping the trust of our Founding Fathers. For the past two centuries, those who do not prize freedom have chipped away at every major clause of our Constitution until today we face a crisis of great dimensions."—TheConstitution: A Heavenly Banner, p 24.

There were souls who wished afterward that they had stood and fought with Washington and the founding fathers, but they waited too long—they passed up eternal glory. There has never been a greater time than now to stand up against entrenched evil.—“Not Commanded in All Things,” 1965.

I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. I seek opportunity to develop whatever talents God gave me—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any earthly master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say, “This, with God's help, I have done.” All this is what it means to be an American. —Quoted in "An Enemy Hath Done This," p. 11.

I’d rather be dead than lose my liberty. I have no fear we’ll ever lose it because of invasion from the outside, but I do have fear that it may slip away from us because of our own indifference, our own negligence as citizens of this land. And so I plead with you this morning, that you take an active interest in matters pertaining to the future of this country.—“The LDS Church and Politics,” BYU Devotional, December 1, 1952.

Improve your community by active participation and service. Remember in your civic responsibility that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” [Edmund Burke, in George Seldes, comp., The Great Thoughts, New York: Ballantine Books, 1985, p. 60]. Do something meaningful in defense of your God-given freedom and liberty.—“To the Single Adult Brethren of the Church,” April 1988.

Socialism derives its philosophy from the founders of communism, Marx and Engels. Communism in practice is socialism. Its purpose is world socialism, which the communists seek to achieve by revolution, and which the socialists seek to achieve by evolution. Both communism and socialism have the same effect upon the individual—a loss of personal liberty….
Why is socialism incompatible with man’s liberty? Socialism cannot work except through an all-powerful state. The state has to be supreme in everything. When individuals begin to exert their God-given rights, the state has to suppress that freedom. So belief in God must be suppressed, and with that gone freedom of conscience and religion must also go. Those are the first of our liberties mentioned in the Bill of Rights.—“Socialism—a Philosophy Incompatible with Man’s Liberty,” a section in “A Vision of Hope for the Youth of America,” BYU Speech, April 12, 1977. [I attended this.]

Americans have always been committed to taking care of the poor, aged, and unemployed. We have done this on the basis of Judaic-Christian beliefs and humanitarian principles. It has been fundamental to our way of life that charity must be voluntary if it is to be charity. Compulsory benevolence is not charity. Today’s socialists—who call themselves egalitarians—are using the federal government to redistribute wealth in our society, not as a matter of voluntary charity, but as a so-called matter of right. One HEW [Health, Education and Welfare] official said recently, “In this country, welfare is no longer charity, it is a right. More and more Americans feel that their government owes them something” [U.S. News and World Report, April 21, 1975, p. 49]. President Grover Cleveland said—and we believe as a people—that though the people support the government the government should not support the people.—“Socialism Disguised under Welfare State Measures,” a section in “A Vision of Hope for the Youth of America,” BYU Speech, April 12, 1977.

Government can give you nothing but what it takes from somebody else. A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you’ve got, including your freedom.—[A version of part of this is attributed to Gerald R. Ford. I was unable to identify the source as Ezra Taft Benson, although he might have said it or quoted it. I found it on a Facebook meme attributed to him without a source. So maybe it doesn't belong in this collection, but, still, I like the words.]


In my hunt to identify the source for some of these quotes, I found this collection of around 40 pages:  “Ezra Taft Benson: Quotes on Freedom, America,Constitution, Liberty, Etc.” 

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Tax Day Flood

It’s tax filing deadline day—an extension from the usual April 15th. We’re having a flood here in Houston, from storms all night long. Several hours during the night we got 2-3 inches of rain per hour. In our neighborhood we got 15.6 inches overnight, double what we got during Tropical Storm Allison. The nearby bayou went over its banks; it’s a 500-year flood level. Our neighborhood, relatively new, is built up several feet about street level, so we’re safe. But a number of neighbors and people we know from church have some flooding. And the main street we have to take to get out of the neighborhood has flooded.
Houston's Tax Day Flood
photo from Houston Chronicle reader, here

This afternoon we’re having a bit of a reprieve between storms that are predicted throughout the week. That should give the water a chance to flow into the reservoirs down the road. We’re the bayou city for a reason; bayous (i.e., drainage ditches) are in and around every neighborhood. Because heavy rains happen here. So we’ve planned for them. And, when whatever we do is not enough and flooding happens, we dig in and help each other out.

There ought to be some metaphor in here about taxes. One might be that we’ve been suffering something of an economic catastrophe since around late 2008—that’s eight years. At last there are signs of the bad stuff letting up in the not-too-distant future.

I’m looking at the possibility that we could get lower taxes, simpler taxes, higher growth—all the things that happen when the government gets out of the way. These things might just happen, if we get the Ted Cruz tax plan.

It’s a simple plan. He put out an ad this past week, explaining it in one minute:



You can read the summary on his website. 

On Friday Ted Cruz appeared on CNBC’s Squawkbox, where he talked about his tax plan with Joe Scarborough and team. It was a good opportunity to hear what the outcome for the economy will be of this simple plan. So I’m sharing a few portions of it.

Joe Scarborough starts the conversation asking about economic growth.

Ted Cruz: Growth is foundational. My number one priority is growth. Every other problem we’ve got, whether it’s unemployment, the debt, the deficit. Whether it is strengthening and preserving social security and Medicare, or whether it is rebuilding our military and keeping us safe—you’ve got to have growth to make it work. And we have been trapped in stagnation for the seven years. And if we don’t turn that around, nothing else gets fixed….
Historically, since WWII, our country has grown an average of 3% per year. And yet from 2008 to today it’s averaged only 1.2% a year. If we stay at… this level of growth, these problems are not solvable….
My economic agenda is focused very directly on growth, because if you get back to historic levels, 3, 4, 5% growth, suddenly the federal government numbers turn around dramatically….
Joe S is concerned about what looks like a global problem and asks about that. Ted Cruz responds with examples from history, from Coolidge, to JFK, to Reagan, where the right policies turned things around.

TC: Taxation reform and regulatory reform are the two most potent levers that the government has. In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy did the same thing. In the 1980s Ronald Reagan did the same thing. We have three periods in the past century, the 20s, the 60s, and the 80s, and in every one when we passed tax reform and regulatory reform, when we reduce the burdens of government on small businesses—and small businesses are critical; they’re the job creators; they’re the innovators; they’re the catalysts—the result has been record-shattering growth. We just need to do what works.
At 13 minutes in, Ted Cruz gets to describe the actual tax plan.

TC: My tax plan is simple. It is a simple flat tax. For a typical family of four, for the first $36,000 you earn, you pay nothing. Zero income tax. Zero payroll tax. Nothing. Above $36,000, each marginal dollar you pay a simple flat tax of 10%.… Everyone pays the exact same….
Another difference, by the way, no longer do you have any differential rates between ordinary income and dividends or cap gains…. Everything’s 10%, which means people actually allocate capital based on where it’s efficient, rather than on what the tax laws say, because the tax laws are neutral to everything.
And then, on the business side, we abolish the corporate income tax. As you know we have the most punitive corporate income tax of any developed country in the world. We abolish the Obamacare taxes. We abolish the payroll taxes, which are the single biggest tax most working Americans pay. And we abolish the death tax, which is a tremendously unfair and punitive tax on farmers, on ranchers, on small businesses. And we replace all of those with a simple 16% business flat tax.
And the effect is an incredible catalyst for job creation and wages going up, and bringing jobs back to America. That’s my priority: high-priced jobs coming back to America, wages going up for everyone.
When government people score a plan, they give a number on what it will cost. But they assume the tax cut will do nothing but reduce government revenue. That is called static scoring. Ted Cruz gets to talk about that, and offers a more likely dynamic scoring scenario.        
                                                                                                                             
TC: I suspected you might say that, so I actually printed out a comparison of tax plans that was done by the Tax Foundation. The Tax Foundation is a nonprofit…. It is nonpartisan, and it scores everybody’s plan. If you look at it the way they score it, in terms of the cost—Now, the static cost is $3.6 trillion; that’s a lot of money. But scoring it static is assuming that cutting taxes has no impact on the economy—that doesn’t make any sense. I mean, that is an Alice-in-Wonderland scoring.
If you score it with dynamic scoring, which is, you take into effect what is going to happen when you cut taxes, then the total cost of this plan is $768 billion. It’s less than a trillion. If you contrast that, for example, to Donald Trump’s plan, Donald’s plan costs over $10 trillion. So mine is less than a trillion…. And the difference is, even though Donald’s is more than ten times as expensive as mine is, my tax plan produces more economic growth. 4.9 million new jobs, coming from this capital investment, increases 44%.
One of the big reasons is that any business, when you invest in capital, it’s immediately deductible. No longer do you have complicated depreciation tables. None of that matters. If you make a capital expenditure, you immediately expense it. That is a powerful catalyst for growth.
And then, the most exciting thing about it is just the impact on after-tax wages, take-home pay. Every income group, from the very poorest to the very richest sees a double-digit in after-tax pay. The average family in America under the Cruz simple flat tax will take home $7600 dollars more. Seven thousand six hundred dollars. That’s real money that makes a difference for someone struggling to make ends meet
Around 34 minutes into the conversation, Joe Scarborough brings in economist Art Laffer. Laffer, best known for the Laffer Curve, advised Reagan back in the day, and has helped Cruz in developing his plan. He is asked whether he can verify this “dynamic scoring.”

Art Laffer: Of course dynamic scoring’s the right way to do it, Joe…. I did watch the other segment. I thought Ted did a great job of explaining exactly how it works and what the dynamics of it would be—except that I think he underestimated the dynamics that will occur.
If you look at his tax plan, it makes Reagan’s tax plan look weak, in the 1980s. I would expect to see a greater growth rate, not only because Obama is worse than Jimmy Carter, but because this tax plan is even better than Reagan’s. It’s would take the top rate down to 16% on businesses and 10% on individuals. And I think you’ll get growth rates higher than Reagan’s, which were enormous, Joe. You’ve got 6, 7, 8% real growth annualized on a quarterly basis in the years ‘83, ‘84. And in a number of the quarters you’ll get more than that. Our economy is relatively much worse off than it was even under Jimmy Carter.
There’s some discussion about the excuses, relating to the Fed, about why this recession is supposedly different from all others, and then Ted Cruz is brought back in.

TC: I agree with Art that the numbers that were estimated, if anything they’re underselling the GDP impact. My object is a minimum of 5% GDP growth. And I would note JFK, when he campaigned, he campaigned promising 5% GDP growth, and he ended up producing 5% GDP growth. 
AL: And the tax revenues were much higher too. He went into surplus because of economic growth.
TC: That is exactly right. And the wealthy ended up paying more. When you cut the tax rates, the wealthy paid a higher percentage of taxes.
Art, tell us, what would the impact be on the economy? What would the impact be on working men and women, if we had four years or eight years of 5% GDP growth, instead of the stagnant 1 and 2% we’ve got right now?
AL: Well, the impact would be huge. I mean, the biggest driver of tax revenues, Ted, is GDP growth.
But what very few people have talked about on your plan, and, if I may, is the revenue impact on cities, counties, local districts, and state budgets would be enormous as well. And no one’s even looking at that.
The impact on income redistribution would be also huge. I mean, John F. Kennedy put it so beautifully—you referred to Kennedy, and he was my hero—John F. Kennedy said the best form of welfare is still a good high paying job. And creating those jobs will reduce inequality dramatically. And that will lead to more prosperity everywhere.
So you’re going to have much higher revenue impact. I think you’re going to get even higher growth rates than 5%. And you’re going to reduce inequality. What’s not to love in this plan?
Indeed. What’s not to love?

But would those good outcomes really happen? I think they would. I remember the Reagan years, which is helpful. But I think hearing from business people is helpful. I came across a five-minute video by businessman/speaker Ryan Moran, in which he talks about the so-called “fair share” he has to pay. He holds up a check for $170,000 he’s paying in taxes. This is not his tax bill; he paid the estimated tax in December. This is just the overage, by which he was off. He explains a bit about what he’s paying. And then he talks about what he could do with that money.

Now what could a businessperson do with $170,000? You know what I would like to do? Hire more people. I’d love to hire three highly paid people at $55,000, or five people at $35,000. But I can’t. ‘Cause it’s going to the government…. I’d love to put it back into a business, or back into people….
So the government can’t just create things out of thin air. It has to take—it has to take— from what would be productive: hiring people, investing into more products and services, creating better experiences for customers, putting into a college fund for my ten-month-old daughter. Any of that would be a better use.
But, no. People got to pay their “fair share.”
It’s not just speculation. People really do make better use of their money than government does.

I like that a 10% flat tax is pretty similar to what God does, with tithing. Let’s limit what government takes from us, and limit what government does with the tax money it gets—to the powers enumerated in the Constitution. 

Let the government-caused catastrophes end. And then watch us thrive.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Haters

I came across this post a few days ago on Facebook:

When a person chooses hate, it is difficult to turn around and choose not to hate. Hate is not always the label they would choose for the emotion they put out. Usually, it is more as if they feel that they are right, no matter what.
OK. Basically I agree with that. But this particular statement is more than just a bit ironic. Here’s some background.

Several months ago, ahead of the November election, I posted my ballot recommendations, as I usually do. Unlike most of my posts, these occasional ones are meant for local/state friends that are looking at the same ballot I am and want more information before they vote. In this post I included a short section about the Houston mayoral race. I’m just outside the city of Houston, so I didn’t delve into the race, but I did point out some basic information:
 photo from David Bro/Zuma Press/Newscom,found here


The mayor, as well as city council races are non-partisan. That is, the candidates don’t run from a party, with a primary putting up a chosen candidate. The candidates themselves, however, generally have a strong party affiliation. And Houston hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1938[i]….
Then we got Mayor Anise Parker, who ran as a businesswoman. She sounded sensible. You’re supposed to vote for the best person. I don’t vote in Houston city elections, but she seemed reasonable, and I wasn’t against her. As soon as she was elected, the news announced how remarkable it was that a lesbian had been elected.
During her campaign her sexual orientation had not been an issue. Suddenly it was. And she conducted her administration as an activist for homosexuality. HERO (the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance), Prop 1 on the city ballot, is an example—which you must vote AGAINST if you're in Houston; it adds no equal rights protections to anyone, but does take away the right to believe women and children are put at risk if men are allowed in their bathrooms. If you followed that issue, you know Mayor Parker threw out tens of thousands of signatures intended to put it on the ballot, rather than just going along with her. And she subpoenaed pastors for their sermons and communications to see if they said anything about LGBT issues. She was legally slapped down for that.
So now, maybe it’s time to forget about who appears to be the best person, cross off everyone that is a Democrat, a liberal, or a progressive (or any other code word). And from whomever is left, find the best conservative and vote for that person.
That commentary was a trigger. Was I wrong to say we shouldn’t vote for that sort of leadership? The writer of the anti-hate words I quoted above thinks so. Disapproval came as a late-night Facebook attack, even though he had known me since my teenage years—and had not that long ago told me I was one of the kindest, sweetest people he remembered from high school. Suddenly I was one of the most hateful people he’d ever encountered. “So much hate,” and “homophobia,” and “How is this not defending hate?”

What had I done to deserve that epithet? Only write the above portion of a story on local politics—which I had posted where he could go read them, but I had not invited him to do so.

Family and friends messaged me and said to block the jerk (worse word was used). I disengaged, went to bed, and didn’t block him until I saw that he had gone on through hours of the night, and still tried to bait me the afternoon of the next day.

Because I’m hateful? For not approving of the former mayor of Houston’s illegal attack on local churches and anyone who disagreed with her?

A reasonable person would see that, in actual fact, I didn’t say anything anti-gay or hateful; I noted that the former mayor was elected even though she was a lesbian, because people didn’t care about that if she was going to be a good mayor. But she wasn’t a good mayor. And she betrayed the people who voted for her by using her platform as mayor to favor a segment of the population and attacking people who disagreed.

Writers get this kind of attack. Why bother about this one? Only to illustrate about the definition of hate that is being forced on reasonable people. Truth and people who speak truth are attacked louder and louder as haters.

Matt Walsh summed up the situation earlier this week:

But it’s one thing to fail in your pursuit of holiness, and it’s another to call holiness ”hateful.” It’s one thing to sin, it’s another to say that sinning is not sinful. It’s one thing to disobey the Commandments, it’s another to categorically reject the authority of the Commandments. It’s one thing to crawl back to God and beg for forgiveness, it’s another to stand there and say you don’t need forgiveness because God was wrong when he called your sin a sin. It’s one thing to follow Christian teachings imperfectly, it’s another to loudly denounce them. It’s one thing to fall short of the faith, it’s another to change the faith to suit you.
He was speaking at Catholic University on religious liberty. One would think that would be a safe place to speak on such a topic. But, it’s a university, not the safest place for free speech these days, maybe especially religious free speech. Walsh talks about the Q&A afterward:

Nobody shouted or heckled during my speech, which was nice, but the Q&A afterwards was mostly dominated by one student after another fishing for applause by calmly explaining why I’m a mean, hateful bigot, and so forth. I argued with as many of them as I could before they kicked us out of the room, then I stood in the hallway and argued for another hour.
Most of the kids offended by my arguments and my very presence were upset that I don’t believe in “marriage equality.” Some said they agreed with me but believe my approach is hateful. The word hate was tossed around quite a bit. My words are hateful, my ideas are hateful, my beliefs are hateful. Everything is hateful. Except for a crowd of people pointing at me and calling me hateful. They’re not hateful, remember. Just me.
Yes, there’s the irony.

There’s been a lot of that hate word in the news lately. North Carolina’s HB2 bill was similar to Houston’s anti-HERO fight. The bill intended to keep things the way they had been since about the time public restrooms were invented, a month after the Charlotte City Council imposed transgendered bathrooms on people there.

In Washington State female victims of sexual abuse are speaking out against a transgender bathroom policy there. They’re getting called hateful, but the people who disregard their realistic fears are supposedly the caring, open-minded, tolerant ones.

Are their fears realistic? These incidents lead to a yes:

·         A sexual predator in Toronto was jailed after claiming to be “transgender” as a ruse to assault women in a shelter.
·         In southern California, a perpetrator dressed as a women, spent two hours in a women’s restroom to video women going to the bathroom before being caught.
·         A man who had victimized grade school girls was caught in a women’s changing room where girls were changing into swim suits. He was caught in similar acts two years later.
·         A man put on a bra and wig to spy on women in a community college women’s bathroom. This was not his first voyeurism incident.
·         A self-identified transgender boy dressed as a girl, and insisted on accommodations by the school district, including using the girls’ locker room.
·         A 24-year-old transgender male youth minister is guilty of dozens of counts of sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl.
·         A man was arrested for multiple counts of indecent exposure was dressed as a woman in the women’s section of a Walmart.
·         A prisoner guilty of second-degree murder and beating up women decided he was a woman during his 28-year sentence and has been paroled.
·         A 6’3” 280-lb. martial arts expert decided he was transgender. A woman questioned his presence in a women’s bathroom and he knocked out five of her teeth.
·         A man was caught twice on voyeurism charges in a women’s bathroom of a public library.
These last eight are among many more compiled on a 23-minute video. There are plenty of examples, not for the squeamish.

“Transgendered” individuals are an extremely small subset of society—an estimated 3 per 1000, while women who are victims of sexual predators in their lifetime are estimated to be about 20%, and those who feel uncomfortable when subjected to possible voyeurism is almost universal. We ought to be able to come up with an agreeable practice that doesn’t ignore the concerns of half of the population and those who care about them. I believe we had one until agenda-driven activists started imposing this unacceptable new LGBT “right.”

The American College of Pediatricians recently called it child abuse to submit children to gender reassignment, since 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty[ii]. Of adults who have gone through surgical and hormonal reassignment suffer 20 times greater rates of suicide than those who don’t undergo a chemical and/or surgical change.[iii]

It is possible, even probable, that “transgenderism” is more accurately a mental illness. It was put like this, by Michael Brown, in an “open letter to Bruce Springsteen,” who has decided to boycott North Carolina over the issue, while not worrying about much greater violence to LGBT people in other parts of the world:

First, how do you know if someone is really “transgender” or not? Is it determined entirely by how they feel about themselves? If so, do you think that it might be hard to make laws based entirely on how people feel? Did you ever stop to consider that?
Second, what’s the difference between someone with “gender dysphoria” (or, as it used to be called, “gender identity disorder”) and someone, say, with schizophrenia or “multiple personality disorder” or some other psychological condition? In other words, if a man is a biological and chromosomal male but believes he is a woman, is he actually a woman, or does he have a psychological disorder?...
Since you don’t like HB2 — indeed, your guitarist called it an “evil virus” — what’s your plan to keep the predators out? How can we tell the difference between a “genuine” transgender person and a sexual predator?
I like his final question to Springsteen—about the irony:

When you booked the concert in Greenboro, the laws in North Carolina were just as they are today: In public facilities, people had to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that corresponded to their biological sex. Why, then, did you agree to come in the first place? Why cancel the concert when things today are just what they were six months ago?
I suggest that the answer is a knee-jerk assumption. By definition, they believe anyone who disagrees with their currently trendy yet ironically illiberal political correctness couldn’t possibly have any motive for their beliefs except hatred and bigotry. And they hate those different believers for it; they will not tolerate opposing beliefs or the people who hold them.

I do not accept their definition of hate.

I can tell I’m not hating. I’m calm; I’m feeling compassion toward all sides. I’ve considered the arguments on all sides and come down where I think God is guiding me to believe, which happens to be also where the scientific evidence is leading.

I think my belief is more compassionate all around. And when I find old friends who believe otherwise, I don’t throw away years of positive interactions to call them hateful sinners. Only the real haters do that.



[i] This detail was in error. I had misread some information on Wikipedia. Later I learned that the last Republican mayor of Houston was James Joseph McConn, from 1978 to 1982. My basic point still holds; the city has rarely had a Republican (even a moderate Republican) mayor in its long history.
[ii] American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013 (451-459). See page 455 re: rates of persistence of gender dysphoria.
[iii] Dhejne, C, et.al. “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden.” PLoS ONE, 2011; 6(2). Affiliation: Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Division of Psychiatry, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Accessed 3.20.16 from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016885.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Spherical Model Quotes

The Political Sphere
of The Spherical Model
I’ve done posts in the past of quotes from various people that relate to the Spherical Model (for example, here, here, and here). And I’ve done posts collecting links to some of the “best of” the Spherical Model blog posts. But I haven’t done a post quoting from the Spherical Model website and blog. That’s what we’re doing today—quoting myself. I’m hoping this will encourage you to read more about the Spherical Model, an alternative to right and left in describing interrelating ideas from the political, economic, and social spheres.


From “Fact or Opinion,” March 12, 2015. The piece was about the distortion of the definitions of fact and opinion in a way that removes morality and makes truth harder to ascertain. This is the final summary:

Truth exists separate from us. Seeking truth is a work for a lifetime. It takes a good mind, and a good heart, and spiritual strength to know truth. Seeking God is more likely to lead to truth than leaving out the Omniscient One and going at it on our own.

From “Wealth, Poverty, and Politics,” December, December 10, 2015. This piece reviewed an interview with Thomas Sowell on Uncommon Knowledge, following Sowell’s book by the same title. I noticed connections with the Spherical Model idea of interrelationships of political freedom, economic prosperity, and civilization. This is one of the basic axioms of the Spherical Model and the role of government:

Whenever government attempts something beyond the proper role of government (protection of life, liberty, and property), it causes unintended consequences—usually exactly opposite to the stated goals of the interference.

From “Commerce and Philanthropy—Two Sides of the Same Coin,” November 9, 2015. The piece covered a Q&A with Steve Forbes at a Hillsdale College economic symposium. Forbes mentioned the importance, morally, of turning to the Constitution for economic thriving, which sounds like the Spherical Model, with the interrelating spheres. I followed with this:

The goals are freedom, which we get from abiding by the US Constitution; prosperity, which we get from free markets (not to be confused with crony capitalism); and civilization, which we get from a moral people living moral lives, which includes strong families to pass along the way to civilization.

From “What We Conserve,” October 1, 2015. In this piece, we go over the enumerated powers of the Constitution, based on God-given rights. Because this is the Spherical Model, we cover what we conserve in each of the spheres: political, economic, and social. So we’ll have a quote or two from each of those:

Political Sphere:
If we’re going to conserve our liberties, that means government does nothing to infringe on our God-given rights. So government has no business involving itself in what we believe or what we say, with the specific exceptions of when something we do infringes on the God-given rights of others. What we need is to conserve our Constitution, in its real form, not some penumbras invented by unelected judges.
Economic Sphere:
Every dollar government spends is a societal expense. Government can’t spend more money to help the economy. When we have downturns in the economy, and everyone says government has to do something—that something should be to get out of the way and let the recovery happen.
Charity isn’t a duty of government; charity isn’t even possible by government. Government charity is better labeled coercive taking of income from some to give to others—or theft. Charity includes various helps for the poor: welfare food and housing, health care, student grants, social security, and more.
Conservatives don’t mean for these helps to be eliminated. But in a civilized society, those in need receive help mainly locally, by those in contact with them, such as churches and local nonprofits, from those who freely give. Charity means love; it is entirely unrelated to forced income redistribution. If there is one thing conservatives need to speak more clearly on, it is this better way to help those in need. Our way is better for giver and receiver, and leads to greater prosperity, rather than more poverty at the cost of lost freedom.
Social Sphere:
Civilization requires a people accountable to God. Such people value family, innocent human life, property rights, and truth. Such people respect one another and generally live together in peace despite differences in belief and culture.
A conservative leader recognizes that religion is not just a tolerated quirk of some minority of the population; religion is an essential institution helping us understand what our rights are, and what our obligations to one another are. The question about forcing Little Sisters of the Poor, or Hobby Lobby, or bakers, florists, and photographers to act against their conscience would disappear, if our leaders appreciated the religious view of family, life, property, and truth.

From “The Political World Is Round,” on The Spherical Model website, in the section “US Parties in Relation to Freedom Zone.” This was written, in its current form, in 2010. It’s probably more positive than the party is today:

The Democrats are a symbiotic mix of people demanding that government provide for their needs—health care, education, housing, redistribution of wealth, regulating use of resources, even making jobs: the demanding needy, we could call them—along with the elites who are willing to pander to the demanding needy in order to increase their personal power: the would-be dictators. When Republicans engage in the debate, they often try to deal with the demanding needy by saying, “We’ll give you those things too, but we’ll be more responsible about it and cost you less in taxes,” to which the reply is, “You hate children and old people; you’re trying to kill them!” and other absurdities. It’s not a reasonable debate approaching even the lowest borders of the freedom zone.
I don’t mean to imply that everyone in the Democratic Party is consciously socialist. Many simply focus on needs and wants as problems, with government as the only logical problem solver. Many on the would-be dictators’ side of the party, those in academia, media, entertainment, and other areas controlling wealth, are well-intentioned. They think of themselves as the fortunate (and often therefore guilty) elite who believe it’s their moral obligation to force society to provide for the needy—unwilling or unable to see the immorality in taking substance from one person for their own purposes—what we call theft when anybody but the government does it. One troubling thing about elites who seek power is that, when the people don’t elect them, they see that as just more evidence that the people aren’t capable of choosing what’s good for them, and so they see their power seeking as even more justified.

From “Free Enterprise vs. Controlled Economy,” on The Spherical Model website, in the section on “Capitalism.”

Capital in and of itself is simply never evil. Capital might be considered always good. It represents work above and beyond what is essential followed by careful use of it toward a good idea, resulting in even more surplus. Those who hate capitalism are those who don’t produce it. They don’t have either the discipline or the drive to produce more than is necessary, and then to find ways to have that wealth work for them. They are jealous of those who have produced capital and use it. They insist it’s unfair that some have advantages that they don’t.


If you’re interested in more collected words from The Spherical Model, try the links found in “Spherical Model Review,” December 31, 2015. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rebuilding after the Damage

Helping the neighbors after Hurricane Ike.
I told Mr. Spherical Model he ought to let younger, shorter
guys with better knees do this job.
Here in Houston we have the occasional life-altering disaster: hurricanes, floods, tornadoes. In our seventeen years here we’ve seen all of these, but so far have remained fairly safe. During Hurricane Ike, in 2008, we lost power for eight days, had to repair a ceiling and reroof the house. That was pretty minor. We had neighbors, at the end of the cul-de-sac, who got hit harder and had some major rebuilding to do. We, along with people from church, helped cover the holes in their roofs with tarps. And we shared a generator with the neighbors on either side. We kept busy; there was plenty to do.

I recently came across an article, “From the Ruins:Rebuilding Civilization,” by Anthony Esolen, which talks about rebuilding after disaster—and compares that to the rebuilding needed in today’s culture. Here is the paragraph that caught my attention:
Some of the young men from church
helping rebuild our neighbor's fence
after Hurricane Ike


What shall we do now? The answer is both daunting and liberating. We do everything. That doesn’t mean that I do everything, or that you do everything. Suppose you find yourself in a bombed out city. There are all kinds of things to do, and all of them have to be done. Some needs are more pressing than others, and some things can be done only after other things are in order. But everywhere you turn, there’s work to do. You have to find clean water. You have to find food. You have to tend to the wounded and bury the dead. You have to erect shelters. You have to see which of the few buildings left standing are actually safe. You have to demolish those that are ruined beyond repair. You have to organize work teams. Someone has to prepare the meals. Someone has to keep the children out of trouble. In such a situation, it’s almost absurd to ask whether it’s more important to build a latrine than to gather together some undamaged books. All of it has to be done. So you do what you can do—the work that is ready to your hand.
While I’m more familiar with natural disaster, the bombed-out city is maybe more apt, since the chaos of societal ruin that we face is man-caused.

Esolen suggests a list of things to do—in no particular order. Some require reading more than the enumerated item to understand what he means. But, take your pick of what you want to take on:

·         Build new schools, reform old schools, and abandon irreformable ones.
·         Restore your parish church and bring reverence back to the liturgy.
·         Acquaint yourself with the proper use of the zipper [i.e., remain sexually chaste, regardless of what others do].
·         Be social.
·         Read good books.
·         Recover the human things.
·         Pray like the pilgrim you are.
·         Whatever you do, do it as if everything depends on just that.
·         Begin.

I won’t quibble with any of his suggestions. But, since we look at what is Civilization, here at the Spherical Model, I thought I might add to his list.

Civilization requires certain things: a religious people, who value God, family, life, property rights, and truth. So, here are a few tasks to take on, under those headings or combinations thereof.

·         Pray. Read scriptures. Go to church. Take your children. Pray and read scriptures with your children.
·         Love your spouse, and together love your children. Don’t consider divorce—except under the most severe causes—abuse, adultery, abandonment, or unwilling-to-treat addiction. Let your children know that working things out with those you love is the normal way to live. It’s the civilized way.

·         Stand up for your God-given inalienable right to freedom of religion. Respect others and their beliefs while standing absolutely strong in your own.

·         Live a chaste life: no sex outside of marriage, and absolute fidelity within marriage. You can understand someone with same-sex attraction, but you do not condone—not any more than you understand someone attracted to a married person, but you would not condone adultery.

·         Take responsibility for the education and upbringing of your own children. It’s not up to the schools, or the Sunday School or youth program leadership; it’s up to you. Use those resources if they’re helpful. If they’re not, find something better, or do something better for them yourself.

·         Share uplifting communications in social media, and in all your conversations. Stand strong and firm, and ever respectful, but avoid contention.

·         Volunteer in the community. Lend your help to sports teams for children, charities that match your values, that are working toward goals you admire. Work with people who have challenges you don’t have—it helps you understand and relate, and learn how to truly help.

·         Give to charity. Tithe plus offerings. Give where what you give can do the most good for what you care about.

·         Educate yourself, and share what you learn. Education isn’t just about learning the knowledge and skills for a career (although that’s important too); it’s a beautiful way of living, always. There have never been more ways of learning at little or no cost than there are today.

·         Weed out the things in your life that don’t uplift: the entertainments, the music, the media. Fill those spaces with lasting things of value—better music, better books, better movies, better entertainments.

·         Participate civically. Vote—and be a prepared, educated voter. Participate in grassroots forums: parties, clubs, groups, town halls. Find other like-minded people in the community and join with them in doing good. Influence groups to be better. Contact school boards and elected officials at all levels; let them know what you believe and what you expect from them. Support good candidates, and then keep in contact and keep them accountable.

·         Read the founding documents, and a good variety of history. Understand the beliefs that led to our Constitution. If you’re fuzzy on how defend the basic ideas, study up. I suggest the nearly unlimited short videos at Prager University online, and the free online courses provided by Hillsdale College—start with their Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution.

·         Avoid cynicism. Being smugly right about negative things doesn’t help rebuild anything. Yes, things are dire. But assuming everyone is untrustworthy is just hopeless and discouraging. Find the good, and build on that.

There’s more to do. There will always be more to do. Get yourself anxiously engaged in a good cause, or two, or ten.


Start with yourself. Spread the good to your family. Then connect with other families and individuals with the same goals. Strengthen one another. We’re in a mess here in this world, including in this country. There’s plenty to do. Just do what you can. And pray that there will be enough others that our combined efforts will be enough.