Monday, August 29, 2016


I’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks, visiting old friends. This meant a lot of conversations about families, children, and grandchildren. But it also included, in this presidential election year, the occasional conversation about who to vote for.

In my circle of friends in which it came up, no one is willing to vote for Hillary under any circumstances. Almost no one is willing to vote for Trump. So the question at hand is, who will you vote for? For me, it’s down to three options: leave it blank, write-in Ted Cruz, or vote for independent candidate Evan McMullin. I was a bit dismayed that most were only vaguely aware of McMullin: “Is he that CIA guy?” Still, he’s gone from zero up to 9% in a few weeks, and he’s just getting underway. So we’ll see.

But what I really found disheartening was how much negative belief there was about Ted Cruz among friends who claim to be conservative and supportive of the Constitution.

One friend disliked how Evangelical he sounds. I don’t know if I’m just acclimated to that living in the South (same town Ted Cruz lives in). But I hear the passion for the Constitution. When I talked about Cruz’s history, memorizing and presenting on the Constitution hundreds of times as a teen, that was new information.

That surprised me, because I was aware of that detail well before Cruz declared for the presidency—heard it from his father, speaking at our local Tea Party meeting. If there’s a single thing to know about Cruz, it’s how strong he is on the Constitution, both his understanding of it and his resolute commitment to it. But that essential detail about Cruz apparently didn’t get passed along in media a few states away.

One conversation went something like this:

Friend: I don't like Ted Cruz. He scares me.
Me: He does? What’s scary about him?
Friend: He’s so extreme.
Me: Really? What part of the Constitution do you find extreme?
Friend: Not the Constitution. I’m for the Constitution. I just don’t like his approach.
Me: What do you mean by his approach?
Friend: He’s just so negative. He blocks everything.
Me: You must be thinking about the claim that he shut down the government. But you know the budget originates in the House, and Cruz is in the Senate, so he had no power to shut down the government.
Friend: Yeah, but…
Me: I think you’re responding to the media says about him.
Friend: No, I don’t think so. I just know in my gut, he’s so negative. And Mike Lee. I hate that guy.
Me: Really? I think Mike Lee is great. I think we’d do well to have him as a Supreme Court Justice, but we need him in the Senate.
Friend: No. I hate the way they block everything.
Me: What part of the Constitution do you think they shouldn’t stand firm on and just give in?
Friend: I can’t make the argument. I just feel like they’re too extreme.
Don’t worry; it ended well. I learned from the exchange. It wasn’t about either of us trying to convince the other, and that’s a good thing, which was true of all of these brief political conversations with friends.

So here’s my conclusion from this nonscientific survey: Among people who sense we’re way too far from freedom, prosperity, and civilization, but who get their news from snippets of TV, radio, and minimal research, and who don’t spend a lot of time thinking through the arguments because their lives are full, they believe standing firm on the Constitution is now extreme. This does not bode well for the future of America.

I think the Spherical Model can help, because we use different language than the media uses. We don’t talk about right or left, with extremes either way.
The Political Sphere

Extreme, translated through the populace, means “not in the norm for the reporter of the information.” Since 90% or more of mainstream journalists vote democrat and therefore do not understand and value the Constitution, normal for them is well outside the freedom zone.

What we seek is the particular, the special, the often rare—the good.

Politically, this means freedom, or liberty. It means the person who decides what to do with his life is the person himself, not some overseer or ruler. We have the right to our own life, liberty, and property.

In world history, that freedom, that self-sovereignty, is quite rare. Most humans have experienced some level of tyranny—under monarchies, socialism, communism, fascism, tribalism, or feudalism; led by kings, emperors, dictators, tribal chiefs, crime bosses, or some other form of grand or petty oppressor.

All of those possibilities are south, toward tyranny and away from freedom. Some are southeast, because they’re statist (governmental) tyrannies. Some are southwest, because they’re chaotic (non-governmental) tyrannies. Some are further south into tyranny than others, depending on how much freedom they deprive people of. There’s a whole array—a whole hemisphere—of forms of tyranny that media, academia, and much of the world would find normal and therefore not extreme.

The only extreme that really matters is the distance from the freedom zone. Extremely far south is an extremely bad thing. South at all is worse than it needs to be. We don’t have to be stuck there, despite what history has tried to convince us.

We know the principles that lead northward. We need to go there no matter what the masses who think freedom, as guaranteed in our Constitution for example, is extreme in a negative way.

We need to find better ways of saying what we mean, because perfectly good words like conservative have been redefined to mean anti-freedom, even bigoted or hate-filled—and extreme. Instead, we can say we want to go north, to the freedom zone, where we mainly govern ourselves, with government limited to its proper role of safeguarding our life, liberty, and property.

While we’re at it, we also want to go north economically to prosperity, away from poverty. And we want to go north to civilization, away from savagery. Both of those have been called extreme too. 
The Political Sphere, Economic Sphere, and Social Sphere,
the three layers of The Spherical Model

Monday, August 22, 2016

Religious Ties to Civilization

One of the concepts of the Spherical Model related to the Social Sphere is that a critical mass of religious people is a requirement for Civilization.

So what do we mean by religious people? There’s a Spherical Model definition. But we’ll add to that today.

There was a talk this past week by Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gave his remarks at Education Week, a conference for learning all kinds of things, which happens annually, between semesters at Brigham Young University. I’ve been traveling near there this week, but for different purposes. Several people had mentioned this talk on Facebook, so I took time to listen to a recording Sunday evening.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
giving Education Week address

The title is “Bound by Loving Ties.” He talks about the etymology of the word religion. It has to do with binding—related to the Latin word religare, meaning “to tie,” as in the word ligature. And the re- prefix means again. So religion is about re-binding, or reconnecting ourselves to God our Creator. As Elder Holland says,

So, for our purpose today, “religion” is that which unites what was separated or holds together that which might be torn apart, an obvious need for us, individually and collectively, given trials and tribulations we all experience here in mortality.
He then goes on to introduce the importance of religion today:

What is equally obvious is that the great conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, the moral and the immoral—conflict which the world’s great faiths and devoted religious believers have historically tried to address—is being intensified in our time and is affecting an ever-wider segment of our culture.
Near the end he says,

[T]he core landscape of history has been sketched by the pen and brush and words of those who invoke a divine creator’s involvement in our lives and who count on the ligatures of religion to bind up our wounds and help us hold things together.
The talk is given to a mostly Mormon audience, but is broader than that. It is broader than just to Christians or currently religious people. It is about having a moral sensibility, and his references are mainly from classic literature and music, which may be why it speaks to me. (I often get the sense that Elder Holland is speaking to me.) It’s for all people who understand and value Civilization.

I’m going to share the whole video below. But he began and ended the meat of the talk with quotes from historians Will and Ariel Durrant. The first quote is from their book The Lessons of History, which is one of my project books. I’ve quoted from it occasionally, searching through it for particular sections. But I’ve been reading it through completely for a year or so, as a Kindle book I can read on my phone while waiting in doctors’ offices or various other waiting places. I tend to highlight something on every page.

So, first I’ll share those two quotes, which relate to religion’s effect on civilization. And then I recommend taking the time to listen to the whole talk. (Or you can read it here.)

“There is no significant example in history of [any] society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”[i]

“These church steeples, everywhere pointing upward, ignoring despair and lifting hope, these lofty city spires, or simple chapels in the hills—they rise at every step from the earth toward the sky; in every village of every nation they challenge doubt and invite weary hearts to consolation. Is it all a vain delusion? Is there nothing beyond life but death, and nothing beyond death but decay? We cannot know,” they say, “but as long as man suffers, these steeples will remain.”[ii]

The talk begins following a 2 ½-minute introduction, and the total video is 41 minutes.

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[i] Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (1996), p. 51.
[ii] Will Durant, The Pleasures of Philosophy: A Survey of Human Life and Destiny (1953), p. 407.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Still the Only Way Up

This past weekend we had rioting in Milwaukee, ostensibly because of racist violence by police. But it was a black criminal, running from, and threatening police, being shot by a black police office. Racism isn’t part of the equation, but rampages happened anyway.

How do we get back to civilization? The same, only way.

Today I’m re-posting a piece from October 2011, on The Way Back Up to Civilization.

The Way Back Up to Civilization

Over the weekend I was reminded of a piece from August in the WSJ concerning recent riots in London. The editorial, by Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, addresses what has happened there (and what to expect here for the same reasons), and what is the way back.
Panos Pictures, from original editorial.
A priest and imam joi with community
in prayer for repair of society
What caught my attention was how well he was saying what I say at Spherical Model, only without the graphic model. So I’m going to take his words and apply them to the model, in the hope that it will make his words even more convincing. 

First is a description of the chaos, the anarchy of the southwestern quadrant on the sphere

The world was watching London again as hooded youths ran riot down high streets, smashing windows, looting shops, setting fire to cars, attacking passersby and throwing rocks at the police. 

…This was no political uprising. People were breaking into shops and making off with clothes, shoes, electronic gadgets and flat-screen televisions. It was, as someone later called it, shopping with violence, consumerism run rampage, an explosion of lawlessness made possible by mobile phones as gangs discovered that by text messaging they could bring crowds onto the streets where they became, for a while, impossible to control. 

Much of the history of the world has been the oscillation between the chaos of the southwestern quadrant and the statist control of the southeastern quadrant. But we know, particularly here in America, that there’s a whole northern [hemisphere] to move to—with effort, and with principles to follow to get there. Rabbi Sachs identifies those very principles. First comes the description of the movement away from those principles: 

In virtually every Western society in the 1960s there was a moral revolution, an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint. All you need, sang the Beatles, is love. The Judeo-Christian moral code was jettisoned. In its place came: whatever works for you. The Ten Commandments were rewritten as the Ten Creative Suggestions. 

In Britain today, more than 40% of children are born outside marriage. This has led to new forms of child poverty that serious government spending has failed to cure…. 

Whole communities are growing up without fathers or male role models. Bringing up a family in the best of circumstances is not easy. To try to do it by placing the entire burden on women—91% of single-parent families in Britain are headed by the mother, according to census data—is practically absurd and morally indefensible. By the time boys are in their early teens they are physically stronger than their mothers. Having no fathers, they are socialized in gangs. No one can control them: not parents, teachers or even the local police. There are areas in Britain’s major cities that have been no-go areas for years. Crime is rampant. So are drugs. It is a recipe for violence and despair. 

What is one of the main principles for civilization: Family is the basic unit of civilization. Married parents who raise their own children, inculcating in them the principles necessary for living a civilized life, are necessary. There is no guarantee that all children will turn out well, nor is there only hopelessness for children in broken homes. There are exceptions both ways, but the critical mass of society gives direction toward or away from civilization. Here is Sachs’s summary of raising these children without the civilizing influence of intact families: 

They are the victims of the tsunami of wishful thinking that washed across the West saying that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage, children without the responsibility of parenthood, social order without the responsibility of citizenship, liberty without the responsibility of morality and self-esteem without the responsibility of work and earned achievement. 

So when responsibilities are ignored, civilization decays. At this point we can probably summarize the other northward moving principles as moral principles. Religion is key: 

We have been spending our moral capital with the same reckless abandon that we have been spending our financial capital…. 

There are large parts of Britain, Europe and even the United States where religion is a thing of the past and there is no counter-voice to the culture of buy it, spend it, wear it, flaunt it, because you’re worth it. The message is that morality is passé, conscience is for wimps, and the single overriding command is “Thou shalt not be found out.” 

In the Spherical Model, I have said that, while not all religious societies are civilized, every civilized society is a religious society. This does not mean state-sponsored religion—the opposite. But the civilizing principles hold true: Honor God, who is the giver of human rights, and to whom we are held accountable for our choices in this life and the next. And beyond honoring God, following these basic commandments makes it possible to live in harmony with others:

·            Honor parents
·            Do not murder (take innocent life)
·            Do not have sex outside of marriage
·            Do not steal
·            Do not lie
·            Do not covet (want what belongs to your neighbor)

These are the principles families will pass along, so civilization can continue. So, if the principles are true, it must be possible to move northward into civilization—and that gives us hope. Sachs reminds us, savage chaos has happened before, and the solution was to follow the principles that move us northward. 

In the 1820s it was unsafe to walk the streets of London because of pickpockets by day and “unruly ruffians” by night. 

What happened over the next 30 years was a massive shift in public opinion. There was an unprecedented growth in charities, friendly societies, working men’s institutes, temperance groups, church and synagogue associations, Sunday schools, YMCA buildings and moral campaigns of every shape and size, fighting slavery or child labor or inhuman working conditions. The common factor was their focus on the building of moral character, self-discipline, willpower and personal responsibility. It worked. Within a single generation, crime rates came down and social order was restored. What was achieved was nothing less than the re-moralization of society—much of it driven by religion. 

…[Toqueville, in Democracy in America, found] a society in which religion was, he said, the first of its political (we would now say “civil”) institutions. It did three things he saw as essential. It strengthened the family. It taught morality. And it encouraged active citizenship. 

Yes. Of course. If you apply the principles, you get civilization as a result. Sachs then turned to observations for our day. He quoted Robert Putnam, in Amazing Grace, saying,

Social capital… has not disappeared. It is alive and well and can be found in churches, synagogues, and other places of worship. Religious people, he discovered, make better neighbors and citizens. They are more likely to give to charity, volunteer, assist a homeless person, donate blood, spend time with someone feeling depressed, offer a seat to a stranger, help someone find a job and take part in local civic life. Affiliation to a religious community is the best predictor of altruism and empathy: better than education, age, income, gender or race. 

Religion, individually lived, and extended generation to generation by families, can change people’s lives in ways governments simply cannot do. Religion is “a shaper of behavior, a tutor in morality, an ongoing seminar in self-restraint and pursuit of the common good.” 

What evidence do we have that moving northward will work in our current world? How about China? Historian Niall Ferguson, in Civilization,

…quotes a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, tasked with finding out what gave the West its dominance. He said: At first we thought it was your guns. Then we thought it was your political system, democracy. Then we said it was your economic system, capitalism. But for the last 20 years, we have known that it was your religion.

It was the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave the West its restless pursuit of a tomorrow that would be better than today. The Chinese have learned the lesson. Fifty years after Chairman Mao declared China a religion-free zone, there are now more Chinese Christians than there are members of the Communist Party.

I didn’t know that. A civilized China may be a formidable economic foe, but if we move northward as well, they will not be an enemy—they will be friendly trading partners in a more peaceful civilized world. If we stop the southward decay and make the necessary northward repairs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

As I've Said Before

Sometimes it’s worth saying things again. The economy changes, but economic principles don’t. So some of what I’ve written can be said again and apply as well today.

I’ve posted a couple of collections of economic “best of” posts:

·         In June of 2013, Best of the Spherical Model, Part II 
·         In March of 2015, More of the Best, Part III 
Among these are some that I think are repeating in full. These two go together: “Parabolas,” from November 2011, and “The Trampoline Effect,” from March 2012.  When we’re in the longest malaise (being called a tepid recovery) since the Great Depression, maybe it’s worth reviewing these.


Natural paraabolic shape
of a recession and recovery
With recessions, the rule is: what goes down must come back up. The natural shape of a recession is a parabola. There’s a sharp drop to as low as it’s going to go, and then the direction changes upward during recovery. If it is allowed to follow the natural course of events, the recovery will essentially mirror the drop—and then keep going up. 
This is a concept my sons, Economic Sphere and Political Sphere, have been sharing with me from time to time. I don’t have the economic math skills to reproduce all the math logic for you, unfortunately. But I think the basic concept will do. Recessions happen because the market needs to correct, from a bubble or maybe a natural disaster--something that interferes with the natural long-term aggregate growth of the free market. But once there’s a drop, then a naturally growing market returns.  

Political Sphere shared an article from Forbes about the concept that recessions follow a natural course—unless interfered with. The article makes that point that the excuse “this time is different” is never true. 
L-shaped recession, natural
recovery is prevented

Real trouble happens when there is interference, usually intended to “help.” According to Wikipedia, one of the shapes a recession can take is the L shape. In this one, the sharp drop happens just as you would expect. But then, instead of bouncing on the bottom and coming back up, the level just sort of dribbles along horizontally near the bottom. Other names for this are “depression,” “lost decade,” and “malaise.” These are all terms beginning to be applied to our current L-shaped recession. They are terms that applied to FDR’s Great Depression as well. 

What is it that causes this recession to be different, to languish at the bottom instead of bouncing back? Government interference. How do we know? 

This is maybe more than you wanted, but here’s a basic formula: 

Y = C + I + G + NX 

Y is GDP (production) in actual dollars.
C is consumption, which is a function of Y-T (taxes).
I is investment, or infusion of new capital (not spending on used materials, or stock exchanges).
G is government spending.
NX is net exports. 

Government can affect Y by increasing spending or raising or lowering taxes. More taxes means less money for consumers to spend, and less taxes means more money for consumers to spend. Indirectly investment will be affected if Y decreases, when there is less profit to be made. But mainly the other way government can change Y is by increasing government spending.  

I had to ask Economic Sphere why the formula includes “+G” instead of “-G.” In theory, G is just another product consumers (we the people) spend money on. To some degree it’s necessary. So the amount spent on G is just another part of the measure of GDP. However, when spending on government is too high—includes debt—it temporarily appears that the G portion of the economy shows actual growth in GDP. But that is an illusion.

natural ups and downs of
business cycle show a sine wave
It appears, in the short run, that government spending (or stimulus) increases Y. But Y’s rate of growth is, in a natural free market, fairly constant. There is fluctuation, an ongoing sine wave, or little rises and dips, but you can draw a line through that at approximately the natural rate of growth (maybe somewhere near 4%). Government spending can’t change that. It doesn’t affect aggregate supply; it only affects aggregate demand. So it may appear for a time that it has affected growth, but there will be a natural pull back to the equilibrium point where aggregate supply and demand intersect. There will be a correction. So the more government does to try to make the market go up, the greater will be the eventual correction back to the natural rate of growth. 

The longer and greater the government over-expenditures, the more drastic will be the inevitable correction. 

So what happens if government sees that inevitable drop and tries to prevent it—with more government spending? It causes an even greater drop. If the measures are taken after the drop, presumably in an effort to stop more drop or cause a rise, it interferes with the natural recovery. That is what we’re seeing now. 

Greater government spending at a time when great government spending already caused the dip is like hitting the economy over the head and beating it down. Every new interference, every new beat down, leaves the economy languishing down at the bottom, unable to rise because of the repeated drop-causing interferences. When they say, “The economy was in much worse shape than we thought; imagine how bad a shape we’d be in if we had done nothing,” you can know for certain that things are worse because of what they did in their ignorant attempts to control a natural force.  

If government wants to have a positive effect on GNP, it needs to cut spending. Since it can’t (won’t) cut to zero, the next best thing would be to cut to the bare bones of the enumerated powers of the Constitution. At the same time, lowering rather than raising taxes will help. Both lowered government spending and lowered taxes leave more money available for growth.

The Trampoline Effect
The other night I was reading something about the recovering economy—a recovery so tepid we can’t perceive it; instead we must take government’s word for it. Never comforting. And the reading led me to talk with my son Political Sphere about the concept that, the deeper the recession, the stronger the following recovery. I wrote about this principle with more detail in “Parabolas” on November 21st.
So, we were discussing this concept, and Political Sphere unveiled what he calls the Trampoline Effect. On a trampoline, the harder you come down (from a higher or heavier fall), the higher and more powerful the bounce back up. But if a big brother (yes, he worded it that way, with plenty of extra meanings) steps in to “help,” it doesn’t help. It usually disturbs the bounce, taking the energy out of it, and you end up with buckled knees and a few small bounces fading into flatness.
photo from

Picture the difference between a parabola (the natural down and back up bounce) and what is euphemistically referred to as an L-shaped recovery, but is really just the dribble that happens from interference in the bounce.
Big Brother “helping” is the government stepping in, taking actions that interfere with the energy of the natural growing economy.

So, every time you hear someone say, “We had to do something,” or “Think how bad it would be if we hadn’t taken action,” translate that in your mind to the Trampoline Effect. Does the jumper need you to step in and “help” in order to bounce back up? No, that is going to happen unless you interfere.

A recovery, by definition, is coming back up to at least the starting point. If that hasn’t happened, we’re either still going down, or we’re stuck down flat because of the interference. What we need is for Big Brother to get out of the way so we can make a few small tentative bounces and put our energy into building up a good parabolic rise. But every time he steps in, he zaps the energy out of your bounce and leaves you flagging.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dreaming the Impossible Dream

A couple of weeks ago I read this piece by Stu Burguiere, which I thought was entertaining but impossible. But because I’ve been looking for something to hope for. Stu describes his scenario:

First, don’t try to get to 270 electoral votes. If no candidate gets to 270, then the Constitution dictates that the incoming House of Representatives would vote for President. Each state delegation would get one vote. The good news? Republicans currently hold over 30 of the state delegations, and therefore would select the next President from the top three candidates with electoral votes. You must have at least one electoral vote to be considered.
There are plenty of logistical problems with this, which we can address in a moment. But, let’s address the most pressing first. How does this NOT help Hillary Clinton?
The answer: You have to be very selective. Don’t try to get on the ballots of 50 states, or even 25. The goal is to get on the ballot of a few deep red states that Hillary Clinton has no chance of winning anyway. Essentially, you hurt Trump without helping Hillary.
Again: we never take one vote from Donald Trump in a state that Hillary Clinton can win.
Here are the scenarios that could happen:
1.       If Hillary gets 270, she’s the President. But she wins entirely with electoral votes from states in which our conservative third party candidate is not on the ballot. In other words, we had nothing to do with her victory.
2.       If Trump wins in a convincing way, he’s the President. Even if he loses a few of our small deep red states, he’ll still have more than enough to get 270 electoral votes if he can pull off a decent amount of the purple states where he goes head to head with Hillary.
3.       If Trump wins in a squeaker and would have just cleared 270 electoral votes, our candidate would grab enough electoral votes to throw it to the House. Then the Constitutional magic happens.
Do I think this scenario is likely to play out? No. Is it possible? Maybe.

What matters to me is having a soul-saving alternative for my vote. Of course I could never vote for Hillary; that would be like saying, “I never loved America, and I always thought the Constitution, and even the rule of law, were passé guidelines, and I much prefer corruption and tyranny.” So, no.

And I would never vote for Trump because he is a narcissistic, authoritarian bully—something like we’ve suffered under for the past two terms, but with even more obvious character flaws. So, no.

That means that I need an alternative. That could be a third-party or independent candidate, or a write-in. I’ve been willing to write-in Ted Cruz, even if I’m told I’m not allowed to, if it comes down to that. Or I would leave that race blank—which comes with some risks, because presidential undervote is rare and might look invalid.

So I was willing to hear from Gary Johnson. Some people I respect like him. He was reportedly a good Republican governor of New Mexico. Already he’s better than Hillary or Donald. 

But there are some big flaws. He’s ready to legalize drugs—let the buyer (addict) beware. He’s pro-abortion—because it’s about doing what you want—even though in this case there’s another human life at stake. And his stance on religious freedom is more than troublesome. He sees it as an issue of religions using their beliefs as an excuse for bigotry, so government should step in and coerce service.

The issue at stake here is mainly about same-sex “marriage,” and requiring bakers, photographers, and florists to perform services against their religious beliefs. Johnson, who usually qualifies as a libertarian, thinks government ought to override religious freedom and coerce the services. I’ve heard him explain that position a couple of times; every time his clarification makes me sure I heard him right the first time.

So, Gary Johnson would almost certainly be less bad than the two main party candidates. But if I’’m looking for a soul-saving vote, he’s not it.

Then, on Monday, a new candidate entered the race.

Evan McMullin for President
image from here

His name is Evan McMullin. Chances are you’ve never heard of him before this week. I hadn’t. But if you’re looking for a candidate with national security, economic, and legislative experience, he’s there. He spent a decade as an anti-terrorism specialist with the CIA. Then he got an MBA and worked a few years for Goldman-Sachs. Then he went to work as a policy advisor for the House of Representatives.

He’s a conservative Republican—running as an independent. Normally an independent getting into the race this late would be hardly noticeable, because there would be no chance. Maybe it would be about getting a little attention for a particular issue or point of view. But in this case McMullin might be noteworthy.

He happens to be a Mormon. To us Mormons, or those who know Mormons really well, we know what it takes to live that lifestyle. We’re pretty much the definition of social conservatives. No alcohol or drugs. No sex outside of marriage. Honest. Trustworthy. Kind. Charitable and service oriented.

It’s not something you can easily fake. We’re very connected people. While I don’t yet know anyone who personally knows McMullin, I wouldn’t be surprised if I come across someone who has in the next couple of weeks.

This is important, because there are a lot of Latter-day Saints who love America, are loyal to the Constitution, and despise the idea that either Clinton or Trump might become president. They’ve been looking at Gary Johnson—or any other alternative—to possibly deserve their vote.

McMullin is opening and headquartering his campaign in Utah. It’s actually possible that he could win in Utah. And maybe also Idaho and other Intermountain West states with a significant Mormon population. I don’t know if we’ve got big enough numbers to help in many other states. But if he wins a few states, that might be enough to trigger Stu’s scenario.

McMullin claims he is working to be competitive in all states, that things are underway to get his name on the ballot. We’ll see if he can pull that off.

Since Monday, I’ve heard him interviewed on Hugh Hewitt’s Tuesday morning radio show (might require subscription to hear). Hewitt is conservative, but he doesn’t suffer fools easily. It was respectful, and McMullin presented himself well.

Then I saw a longish Bloomberg interview, from Monday. McMullin had a chance to go over his history and background, his policies, and his reasons for getting into the race. He waited, hoping someone with more name recognition would step up. But, at this nearly last minute, he decided to go for it. He’s had a team looking into the possibilities for some months, because there are some big challenges getting on ballots across the country.

There’s a Monday night ABC News interview where he takes on Clinton and Trump, asserting they are both are "woefully unfit for the responsibilities they seek." While he’s careful about the words he uses, he doesn’t hold back. I think it was in this interview I heard him say, "I've spent my life trying to serve and avoiding the limelight. Trump has spent his life avoiding service and seeking the limelight."

He was interviewed on Glenn Beck Radio this morning, and again presented himself well.    
Chances are you’re going to hear more about this quixotic candidacy. You might as well go to the source and see what he says about the issues:

·         National Security
·         Jobs and the Economy
·         Education
·         America’s Role in the World
·         Health Care
·         Energy and the Environment
·         Government Accountability
·         Life
·         Poverty
·         Veterans
·         The Second Amendment
·         Trade
·         Immigration

He’s got a statement on each. I’ve read them. For the most part we’re in agreement. Even where we’re not exactly aligned, I don’t know yet if that is careful speaking on his part. I was for Ted Cruz all the way. Cruz speaks in bold capital letters. McMullin speaks sotto voce but mostly head on. There’s enough here that I want to know more.

This is a little like starting to date someone. You’ve had a really good first date. Wanted to keep talking. Want to get together again really soon. See if this will go somewhere. You want it to. Especially because—as a twist to the story—you’ve got three months to make the commitment or you’ll lose your inheritance. Something like that.

So, I’m not sure I know everything I need to know just three days into the relationship. But I’m hopeful. I’d like to have a country-saving vote. But at the very least, I’m hopeful that in McMullin I’ll have a soul-saving vote.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tradition vs. Progress

Traditions can be good or bad. Progress is typically called good, but when it’s misapplied to what is actually regression, it’s bad.

Progressivism needs some definition, because the word progress in it is misapplied. In short, it’s the version of socialism adopted by Woodrow Wilson, both Roosevelts, Hillary Clinton, and many of today’s socialists who know better than to use the word socialism, which has provably failed everywhere it has been implemented.

There’s a connection to Darwinism in progressivism; it posits that culture always moves in a forward direction, ever closer to perfection. This assumption ignores some rather huge examples to the contrary like the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Or the disappearance of Mayan culture. Or Detroit, Michigan.

Progress requires going in the right direction. And there’s no way to know if a direction is right when everything being tried is supposed to be new, untried, and ignorant of history.

The Imaginative Conservative had a piece by Joseph Pearce that describes the type of bigotry that is progressivism:

If, for example, we were to visit a village in a remote corner of Africa and were to witness children playing with crudely crafted toys and presumed from our observations that these Africans must be inferior to Americans because American children have iPods and smart-phones we would rightly be accused of racism. Yet this is exactly what “progressivists” do when observing cultures separated by time instead of space. The past is deemed to be inferior and can be treated with scorn or, which is perhaps worse, with patronising condescension.
Pearce goes on to imagine what an experience Plato would have visiting our time. He would take a couple of days to master some of the technology and dress. And then it wouldn’t take long to notice some modern failures:
image from here

The Philosopher would soon come to the inescapable conclusion that this strange race of “progressives” were in fact barbarians who adorned themselves with the baubles of technology but had no concept whatever of the meaning of life or the nature of reality. Feeling his exile from civilization intensely he would long for the profundities of the Lyceum.
In contrast, when we honor those who have gone before, and stand upon what they have learned, then we have actual social progress. That’s what we enjoy when we cover most of the math and science we get before college—and much of what we study in college as well. We don’t have to start from scratch. Pythagoras did some of the work. And Euclid. And Newton.

Pearce quotes the wise G. K. Chesterton on the value of tradition:

Tradition may be defined as the extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. I, at any rate, cannot separate the two ideas of democracy and tradition.[i]
Traditions can be changed—when we learn something previously unknown and provably true. But throwing out truth because it’s old is foolish and ignorant.

This concept of tradition reminds me of the word conservative, which is another word that can be either good or bad, depending on what you’re conserving. If we’re conserving a dysfunctional status quo out of fear of change, then being conservative may be a bad thing.

But when we conservatives talk about what we conserve, we’re talking about preserving—or often in our day restoring—freedom, prosperity, and civilization. (I wrote about what we conserve in October and February.)

In the political sphere, we need a representative government strictly limited to its proper role of protecting our life, liberty, and property. Government doesn’t grant our rights; those come from God. And good government protects and guarantees our God-given rights. Among these are freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, the right to armed self-defense, freedom to work and engage in commerce, freedom from illegal searches and seizures, and freedom to see to the education and upbringing of our own children.

We have a US Constitution designed to protect our God-given rights. If we conserve/restore our Constitution, we get more political freedom than most of the world’s historic and present-day cultures have ever known.

In the economic sphere, we need a system that allows us to work and earn wealth, and then decide for ourselves how to spend it. Government doesn’t make the economy work. We need government to safeguard property (including intellectual property, such as with patents and copyrights), protect against monopoly, standardize money for ease of exchange, and otherwise get out of the way of the free market.

Government ought to have nothing to do with charity, since government isn’t capable of emotional care and can only coerce, by forcibly taking from some and giving to others—what we call theft, which the people empowering the government have no power to grant.

Of course, since the poor are always with us, we do need a way to care for the truly needy. But it must be voluntary. So people who are prosperous enough must willingly give to those in need.
We have had the best economy in the world. If we conserve/restore our free market, we return to prosperity.

In the social sphere, we conserve some very old ideas, hearkening back at least to the Ten Commandments. In summary, we need a critical mass of righteous people—people who love and honor God, family, life, truth, and property.

We’re not going to “progress” to a better way to raise children than under the care of their own married mother and father.

We’re not going to “progress” to a better way to distribute wealth than the right to our earned property combined with an ethic of charitable giving.

We’re not going to “progress” to a better way to decide when life is worth preserving than gratefully valuing all human life and leaving God to decide when death should come. Abortion—which kills more black babies than are born, as designed by the eugenics movement—is savage. Killing the aged, infirm, or burdensome is callous. Any time we decide some innocent lives are inferior, we’ve fallen out of civilization into savagery.

Progressivism doesn’t lead to progress; the name itself is a lie. Tradition, on the other hand, may be worth conserving. The default, when we don’t know, ought to be keeping the tradition. When we have the principles to measure whether traditions lead to freedom, prosperity, and civilization, such as with our US Constitution, we can wisely choose to conserve.

[i] G. K. Chesterton, Collected Works, Vol. 1, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, p. 251.