Saturday, May 20, 2017

Either a Patriarch or a Case Worker

I think a lot of Arkansans have been moved- in all sorts of directions - by the sad case of the baby attacked by rats in Magnolia. The teenage parents (Erica Shryock and Charles Elliot) are now being prosecuted for neglect leading to abuse. The facts of the case are still being gathered, but my initial take on the situation is that these are not particularly evil people but they are particularly incompetent people. They look like a couple of not-very-bright teenage screw-ups to me. I don't think they have the wherewithal to manage their own lives in today's complex society, much less raise children on their own.

They will probably have to go to prison. If they were a member of the ruling class they might get off- like Judge Wade Naramore did when he left his two year old son to die in a hot car. But he had the assistance of a Hot Springs police department which conveniently "lost" the video tape evidence showing the child's last agonizing hour of life. Without visual evidence of the child's pain all the jury sees is the parent's pain so it is harder to convict. I promise you the system will not "lose" the evidence when they prosecute these two clueless kids.

I think there are a lot of people like that in prison. Not particularly evil, just terrible screw-ups who cannot manage their own affairs without hurting themselves or others. There are a lot of people like that who are not in prison too. People like this are the heart of the argument for the paternalistic welfare state. I want you to zoom out a minute and use this tragic event to make some larger connections. Here is a quote from the famous Ronald Reagan speech in 1964 called "A Time For Choosing"....
This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
Here is the thing, I am totally with Reagan in principle on the idea of people running their own lives better than experts can run them. But that's me as I am now. That's the people I work with and politic with. It's not these kids or the people like them. Left and right are shouting past each other. The left is screaming that we need bigger budgets and more programs so that people like this don't wind up in situations like the one they are in. The right hollers back that we don't need our taxes raised so that (as Gingrich put it) "the government can hire our cousin to tell us what to do."

The right is exactly correct- for them and their friends. There is an underclass though for which that is not quite right, at least until they get older and wiser. There is going to be a slice of every population which is going to need either a patriarch or a case worker.  Today the system and the laws and the economy and culture are totally one-sided in favor of the "solution" being the case worker rather than the patriarch. That is partially the fault of the right, for their side of the argument of late has been to show how they do not need more government regulations and overseers.

What the caring-right should be arguing is that the poor don't need a case-worker, but that they need a patriarch. We don't need programs to provide housing at taxpayer expense to screw-ups. Victorian England did a lot wrong, but in one respect they had a better solution. That is, a culture and economy where young people like that were household servants of some successful person. They did not live in a slum somewhere and onlt showed up to trim the yard or clean the house. They lived on the same grounds as the owners. There these young people can see how successful people operate. They can have access to the resources they need- including someone to make big decisions for them. In return, they could relieve the Patriarch (or Matriarch) of the day-to-day stress of all of those errands and household tasks that today's person on the go does not have time to deal with.

To take a specific example, this young couple did not have the wherewithal to manage their own lives and Judge Wade Naramore had so much going on that he tragically forgot his own child in the back of a hot car. I submit to you if the Naramores had taken in these young people as their household servants then both tragedies would have been avoided. Shryrock would have, with guidance, been a loving nanny even as she is a loving mother. She is just not competent as a stand-alone mother in a house full of viscous rats. If the Naramores had constant access to someone who could watch the kids a bit while they were off attending to their high-powered duties then their own child would not have been lost. We are only going to see more tragedies of both of these kinds until we make some changes- starting with the way we view patriarchy.

Right now the tax laws are not set up to encourage that- in fact they discourage it. The same with liability laws. The culture has twisted the lower class until a lot of them consider that it is a disgrace to live in a comparative mansion as the household servant of a power couple. The reality is that is much better for them than living in a rat-infested dump with no clue or access to a way to become a successful person. The poor would be much better off with a patriarch (or matriarch) than a case-worker. But the other problem is that our ruling class is tilting toward social Darwinism rather than Christian duty. The latter encourages caring patriarchy, the latter disdains it. We have an unworkable and unsustainable society because of the present condition of our hearts and heads. Both rich and poor are going to have to rethink things.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Going Off the Rails is a Verb: Judge Wendell Griffen

Judge Wendell Griffen recently ruled to block the spate of executions the Hutchinson administration scheduled in Arkansas. Then he went outside his court and joined the anti-death penalty protesters. By this act he demonstrated that he was not judging the specific issues of the cases on their merits in the law, but rather reacted to his personal abhorrence to the death penalty.  The state supreme court banned him from hearing any more death-penalty cases because of concerns that he would impose his personal feelings over the letter of the law in such cases. He wrote about his thinking on the issue in his blog which is called "Justice is a Verb".
Look, I like opinionated people who let their opinion's be known a lot. I am one myself. I am even in the middle on some of these issues. For example I think judges should be allowed to comment on their view of the legal reasoning used in precedent-setting cases. Not cases before them, but prior cases. They should be allowed to do what the judges in the actual case did- write an opinion. They are currently banned from doing so in campaigns for office- but that is the only way that voters can make an informed choice about who to vote for. I think judges should be elected, but electing them from a position of ignorance, as the current rules in this state demand, only gives us the illusion of choice.
Did Griffen go too far in this case? Yes, obviously. He was ruling not on the facts or the law, but based on his personal political views. But I suspect that almost all of them do it. Griffen just did us the favor of being radically honest in showing his bias. I can't hate the man for that. Really, I have more against the ones who do it but pretend to me that they are being objective. Giffen is just a bad judge. They are bad and dishonest judges.
I also have mixed feelings about the death penalty. Not on whether it should be banned because it has its place, but rather I question whether the way it is being currently used is just. In this particular case I find the Governor's proposed kill-a-thon of dubious integrity. One reason for that is because it appears that our government lied to the drug company about what they intended to use the drugs for. The pharmaceutical company has asked for them back and the state seems to be in a hurry to get these guys dead before the drug companies get a court order for Arkansas to return the drugs. It seems to me that except in war,  justice and deception are uneasy companions. In some of the cases, I don't think there are two eye-witnesses to the crime. As a believer, I am mindful that under the law of Moses the death penalty was permissible, and even demanded in some cases- but it also emphasized that "a person shall not be put to death on the testimony of one eye witness" (Deut. 17:6 ESV).
Judge Griffen's blog is titled "Justice is a Verb", but I am here to tell you that mindless virtue-signalling is also a verb. Self-righteous moral preening is a verb. Going off the rails is a verb. That is what Griffen is doing with his thinking here. He starts off fine, but a few paragraphs in he quotes Matt. 25:44-45 and uses the scriptures badly out of context. It appears even his religion is subservient to his politics. I find the abuse of scripture, the attempt to co-opt God and harness His name to advance one's political agenda, to be equally morally offensive whether coming from left or right.
I don't favor mixing religion and politics for politics always seems to come out on top and abuses religion. Instead I favor politics being subservient to religion, but that is a very tricky thing for our self-deceiving human hearts to pull off. Though Griffen may be honest about his biases as a judge, he is not honest enough to master that. Few of us are on a consistent basis. I am certainly not immune from the temptation. I had written to the Judge about this before in the relative privacy of his own blog, but those comments seem to have vanished. I suppose they "didn't fit the template".
What does he write about the classic passage about the sheep and the goats? "That nurture has helped me realize that the way we treat marginalized and vulnerable people, those Jesus described as least among us, is the way we treat God. This insight challenges us to see marginalized and vulnerable people as surrogates of God in every society, regardless to our notions of empire"
and later he writes.....
"Do we see God in people without healthy food?  Do we see God in people who do not have clean water?  Do we see God in homeless people?  Do we see God in sick people?
Do we see God in people we mass incarcerate and kill in the name of empire?  Do we see God in immigrants we refuse to welcome?
Do we see God in people who are desperate, destitute, hated, and helpless?
Lord, when did we see you …?
Do we see God in murder victims?
Do we see God in their grieving loved ones?
Do we see God in the people who killed?
Lord, when did we see you …?
I am struck by the moral and ethical inconsistency of people who insist that justice requires society to kill people who are condemned because they killed others. "
First of all let's talk about his distortion of God's word. In the Matthew 25 passage when Jesus says "the least of these" He is not talking about every human being on the earth. He is talking about "these". And "these" by looking back a few verses to verse forty, are His brethren. So Christ is making a statement about seeing Him in His brethren. Griffen hijacks the words of our Savior and attempts to apply them to several of his preferred victim's groups regardless of the relationship with Jesus Christ that any individual in those groups may or may not have. In so doing he bends religion in an effort to turn it into a political statement. When the right does that, its a sin. When the left does it, its a sin. When libertarians do it, its a sin. When I do it, its a sin.
We are supposed to respect human beings because Adam was made in the Image of God back in the beginning, and because it is still His intent for us to be in that image, but murderers are not "surrogates for God". Illegal aliens are not "surrogates for God." Neither are poor people, at least not simply on the basis of their being poor. That is not what this passage of scripture teaches. Rather, human beings are surrogates for God only on the basis of their relationship with God- whether or not they are The Lord's brethren. This passage of scripture is properly a call to be saved and to see God in people who are saved, not a call to some political action on behalf of selective victim's groups.
And indeed Griffen is being selective. When he insinuates that we should view "immigrants" (without of course distinguishing between those who came legally and respected the laws of our nation and those who crept in like thieves) as surrogates for God he is ignoring the pain that many of them have caused people in this nation. Mexico has run off much of its criminal underclass into our nation and we have suffered for it. Seeing the victims of these illegal invaders as "surrogates for God" would imply that we should take political action to stop illegal immigration, but that is not the side of things that Griffen wants to see. The same muddled thinking displays itself with his insinuation that we are to view as "surrogates for God" both the killers and the families of the victims- as if God was somehow at war with Himself.
All of these groups, and ourselves, are morally accountable beings. That does not make us "surrogates for God." We can only honestly see God in them after they have asked God into their hearts. Until then they are but men, though made after the likeness of God and still due respect. That respect includes holding them morally accountable for their actions and not treating them as some brute beast merely caught in nature's wheels and therefore no more accountable for their actions than when the fox kills the hare. Yes, when Christians break the law the price for that lawbreaking should be paid. Even other Christians should insist on it, for there is no other way to operate with justice.
We can talk about the integrity of the process in giving out the death penalty, but for someone who claims the name of Christ to oppose the death penalty itself is fake moralizing and empty virtue-signalling. It makes out the moral preener to be more righteous than God Himself, for Genesis 9:6 declares "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed....". That was God Himself talking, yet some people will, in His name, pretend that their contrary position on this issue is more righteous than His. And Griffen has the nerve to complain that he is "struck by the moral and ethical inconsistency of people who insist that justice requires society to kill people who are condemned because they killed others". The one he claims is God has that position! So Griffen thinks that his own God is morally and ethically inconsistent. Talk about one's politics hijacking one's faith!
The good news for Judge Griffen, and all of us, is that God is able and willing to forgive our impudent and ill-reasoned assaults on His character and wisdom. He is able and willing to forgive our attempts to subordinate His Word and His desires to our mere political views. Yes, we have sinned in doing those things. We should not excuse ourselves because there is no excuse. Our sins are real- but if we humble ourselves and repent then they are also forgiven - the price for them paid through the suffering of Christ Jesus.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Early Genesis: The Revealed Cosmology

If anybody has wondered why my blogging pace has slowed down, it is because my book-writing pace was picking up! The result is the most important book I have ever written, or could ever hope to write. The two books on localism as a political philosophy only have the potential to change the world. Genesis, the Revealed Cosmology has the potential to change people's view of God.

Print Version.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Kal El Finds "Superman" at Crater of Diamonds

Nine year old from Centerton finds large diamond.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

HB1222 and Doing Well by Doing Good

I don't have time to connect the dots, but the dots themselves are very interesting. The Arkansas Legislature is debating whether or not they should pass a bill which would allow corporations (like Wal-Mart for example) to get a tax credit for up to 65% of what they give to "non-profit" organizations which will administer a scholarship program with the money. It starts with a small total possible contribution level at first, but the sky is the limit in coming years. Combine the tax credit with tax deductions possible on the federal level and basically the company would re-direct almost all of their state tax dollars into the scholarship program or potential federal tax breaks.

So far no real injustice done. Sure the public schools will grouse about losing the money, but if they are not educating the children, if the children are in a private school funded with this scholarship money, then why should the public school get the money for that child? That said, I would rather rebuild strong public schools which were really locally controlled than have vouchers where as a practical matter the "choices" offered were not locally controlled. Does your "choice" of health insurance company do you any good in an environment where central government micromanages your "choices"? Well it won't be any better when they do it in education.

I think kids and parents are better off when they are not just consumers of a limited array of products but rather participants and stakeholders with real say in what their children's education looks like.  But I digress, let me show you something else...

That is a org chart put together by some folks in Colorado who noted uncomfortable ties between Wal-Mart heir James Walton and some proposed charter schools. It seems like they were mixing profit and non-profit schools in the same facility- leading to a situation where the non-profit could be expending funds in a way that could bolster the profit side, and they proposed to have a landlord which turned out to not be a non-profit at all but rather an LLC run by a board with connections to the school board. IOW, all the profits could be hidden as rent payments.

Taxpayers spend an enormous amount of money on schools. Some of them are doing well, but others are not. I think that corporate America has been looking for places where there is money to take and they noticed schools had a lot of money. I see a situation here where Wal-Mart gets tax credits for its donations to a "non-profit" which is funded by the Walton Foundation  who then steers scholarship recipients into schools which are owned by other Walton interests. I.E. Wal-Mart's tax dollars don't go into the general treasury, they get "donated" to a fund which then largely spends it on schools owned by some of Wal-Mart's biggest stockholders. It would be like you being able to direct most of your tax money into a fund to buy things from your own business! I wish I had time to fill in more of the blanks. Any full time journalists out there want to take this one on?

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Certificate of Need Laws - In Health Care Government Is the Problem

As our political leaders stand in front of us and build up one interventionist health care idea after another let's remind ourselves that government intervention in health care helped produce our high-costs. IOW, their prior intervention has caused problems that they now propose to fix with even more intervention. Here is a study from the Mercatus Center and George Mason University about certificate of need laws and their huge negative effects on health care in Arkansas.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Vaccine - Autism Link Explained

Short version, if you are pregnant, don't get vaccinated. Don't give the MMR, or Chickenpox virus to your child before the age of three. Many details from solid studies are put together in this article.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Rappert Gets Two Dangerous Feel Goods Out of Senate

Don't underestimate Senator Jason Rappert. He just got two resolutions which petition Congress to call an article V convention out of the senate. One was calling for a convention to pass an amendment defining marriage and the other was to do the same with the subject being defend unborn life.

They have not passed the house yet, but I would not be surprised if they did. Rappert very cunningly positioned himself as a champion of a traditional marriage and the unborn in a way that puts his colleagues on the spot. Much in the same way leftists are unable to distinguish between objections based on propriety on things like health care and education, many on the right are unable or unwilling to make any distinctions on these issues.

That is, just because someone is against Obamacare does not mean that they want poor people to die early. Just because someone opposes giving the state the power to take children from a home based on an anonymous tip does not mean that they don't care about abused children. An increasingly numbed-down electorate (numbed-down to the potential of abuse of power because of how regularly government power is abused) only cheers win its side wins one by any means possible and wails when the other side wins one by any means possible. Only a few of us also consider the legitimacy of the means, and that needs to change.

In this case, the legislators don't want people to think that they are opposed to traditional marriage or in favor of the ghoulish practice of abortion, so they will vote for it. Not that they expect it to do any actual good besides polishing their bona-fides on a couple of issues that most voters support but their out of control and non-representative government will refuse to let them do. They figure that if 38 states don't pass petitions with identical language then Congress will never call a convention for it anyway, and the odds of that happening are close to zero.

It is a common belief that states passing identical language initiates some mandatory trigger, and it may be true, but it is also true that there is nothing preventing Congress from calling such a convention based on differing language from the 38 states. That is, article V does not require the language to be identical, but does specifically say that the convention called would be for the purpose of proposing "amendments", note the plural. That is to say, there is no legal way to limit the subject matter of the convention to a single issue, as Rappert's resolution imply. Hence article V is a poor tool for any one issue concern. Those one issues though, are excellent tools to manipulate people into supporting a convention which turns out to be mostly or totally about other things they may not have considered.

This is an appeal for a concern about the legitimacy of the process which is every bit as great as our concern for the policy to be put in place by the process. No people who fail to do this can sustain, nor deserve to sustain, self-government. It will be stolen from them by demagogues who use policies they favor to implement processes which are in the present environment a threat to freedom.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What Should "Replace" Obamacare?

Click and see if you don't agree that "The Pea Ridge Option" makes more sense than anything coming out of DC.

Monday, February 27, 2017

My musings on Fundamental Forces

I am putting this out here so that when someone who actually has the background to develop it finds it.......they can split the Noble Prize for Science money with me. Here are my musings about gravity, the force driving the expansion of the universe, and dark matter. These musings unify gravity and dark energy with the electromagnetism. So here it is in the form of pithy sayings (like Newton's "Laws"). If you don't know much about physics, please disregard this post...

In a universe containing only two monopole particles of opposite charge, the force of gravity and the EM force are one and the same.

When an EM wave of high enough frequency to be resonant with the spin of a particle, the particle’s motion is altered so as to maximize the EM force of attraction and minimize the EM force of repulsion during the interaction. I call this EM Wave-Particle Optimization.

During EM Wave-Particle Optimization the particle moves so that attractive forces increase while repulsive forces decrease. This results in a net attractive force for the event, which we call gravity.

Particles generate tiny EM waves as they spin, and the waves they generate are most ideal in form to maximize EM wave-particle optimization, unlike waves of longer wavelength, such as visible light.  Scientists should be looking at incredibly high frequencies for gravity waves, not super low ones.

In macro-scale objects, the gravity waves of their constituent atoms can resonate with one another to produce waves of increased (but still low) average amplitude (still at incredibly high frequency).

When a photon strikes a particle it produces a repulsive force. If the wavelength associated with   the photon is too large for EM wave-particle optimization to work efficiently then the repulsive force of light pressure is stronger than gravity within that EM-wave/photon system. This is known as radiation pressure.

Virtual matter pops in and out of existence, sometimes send gravity waves out into the cosmos before they disappear. This helps makes some regions seem "heavier" than their regular matter can account for and makes up a component of "dark matter".

What is driving the expansion of the universe, sometimes called "dark energy"?

Ironically, dark energy is light, and other forms of EM radiation. The universe is full of stars which convert matter (with gravity), into light (with radiation pressure). As the universe converts matter into em-radiation the universe has less gravity and more radiation pressure. This drives expansion. Black holes take gravity from the cosmos in another way. They don't let the gravity waves from the matter they swallow up out of the hole in a form usable as gravity. This sources of gravity are constantly being subtracted from the universe, while pressure which expands it is constantly being added.

The density of both matter and radiation decrease per unit of space when the universe expands.The radiation is additionally weakened in density by its waves being stretched into a longer (thus weaker) wavelengths by the expansion of space. At first glance it might seem that this would balance out, ending the expansion. That effect is more than compensated for by the uneven effect such stretching has on gravity-scale em waves versus larger em-waves. Once gravity-scale waves are stretched the ceiling for EM-wave particle optimization is lower. Thus the force of gravity weakens over very great distances of expanding space at a greater rate than longer wave-length em waves lose radiation pressure.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What Should "Replace" Obamacare?

Mark and Paul talk about "The Pea Ridge Option", a better plan for health care than anything coming out of DC or Little Rock!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

House Republican Plan Would Crush "Arkansas Works"/"Private Option"

State Republicans and Democrats joined together in the grossly immoral practice of generational looting when they expanded Medicaid to cover able-bodied adults. The plan was deceptively called the "Private Option" even though it was a Medicaid program that just had a facade built on the front end to give it the look and feel of private insurance as a part of that deception. Then they changed the name to "Arkansas Works" because too many people had caught on to the fact the "Private Option" was a farce.

"Arkansas Works" is also a farce, both because it is not fundamentally different from what it claimed to do away with and because non-workers and those barely working will continue to harvest benefits to be paid for later by your grandchildren. The new tweak just asks Medicaid for permission to have applicants "seek work". The Obama administration was not keen on granting that permission. The Trump Administration will likely reverse that, but if you had anything to do with hiring when unemployment benefits were stretched to 99 weeks you know what a sham that "seek work" requirement can be. But the establishment in Arkansas, Republicans and Democrats, saw that Washington was handing out the next generation's money and they united in determining that they were going to do everything they could to grab as much of it as they could- including committing welfare fraud on a massive and systemic scale.

Now the Republicans in Congress have rolled out their plan to "replace" Obamacare. If they pass a plan that looks anything like their roll out, the wheels are going to come off of "Arkansas Works", a program State Senator Bryan King called "a scam." The state was happy to sign up everyone they could (including those who were not eligible) when FEDGOV was paying 100% of the costs. But that was just a trick by Obama to suck states into expanding Medicaid during the first three years. Now the state must pay an increasing share of the costs.

Supposedly, the state's share was to max out at 10%. The state's share of traditional Medicaid spending is around a 33% share so adding new people to Arkansas Works costs the state less (but taxpayers the same) as adding a traditional Medicaid recipient.  But when you add hundreds of thousands of new beneficiaries and don't have your own printing press, even 10% of the cost can overwhelm the state budget. If they could have found sneaky ways to shift beneficiaries of traditional Medicaid onto the rolls of the new Medicaid program "Arkansas Works" then they might have found a way to break even.

Not only is that not going to happen, but House Republicans seem fully aware of some of the system-gaming going on in states like Arkansas. Here is a quote from the roll out of the house plan......
"This is unfair because the federal government is paying a greater portion of the cost of coverage for able-bodied adults, than for the disabled, elderly, and most vulnerable patients. This disparity also creates a perverse incentive for States when they have budget shortfalls and need to trim their Medicaid program. That’s because it creates an incentive for States to reduce services or provider payments related to the most vulnerable patients, rather than able-bodied adults."
Exactly right. Many of us have expressed concern that when it comes to crunch time the legislature will cut benefits to children and the disabled first because they have to match 33% of the dollars spent in that program but only 10% of the dollars spend on the Obamacare Medicaid expansion of able-bodied adults. They were betting people's lives that Obamacare would be successful. Or maybe they were not even thinking that far ahead. They just saw a chance to take "free" money from Washington and they took it.

The House  Republicans propose to fix this disparity by making the Fed's share for Obamacare Medicaid expansion the same as any other Medicaid......
"Under our proposal, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion for able-bodied adults enrollees would be repealed in its current form. There would be a period of stability to ensure we are not pulling the rug out from underneath States or patients. States that chose to expand their Medicaid programs under Obamacare could continue to receive enhanced federal payments for currently enrolled beneficiaries for a limited period of time. However, after a date certain, if states choose to keep their Medicaid programs open to new enrollees in the expansion population, states would be reimbursed at their traditional match rates for these beneficiaries."
The Republicrat Establishment in Arkansas expanded Medicaid under the politics of fiscal delusion. The money to pay for this program does not exist. It never existed. The state never had a realistic way to pay the bills once they had to match 10% of the dollars in 2020. Its going to be tough to match the smaller percentages from now until then. They entered a program that offered three years of "free" money" with no real plan because it was tomorrow's problem. Now not only is it tomorrow but the feds are about to change the deal to make it even more painful.

The original "Private Option" bill had provisions stating that it "is terminated" if the feds ever reneged on their percentages- a possibility that many of us tried to warn them about. It also had language declaring that this program was "not a right". Some of us, even Forbes, tried to warn them that extracting themselves from the program after getting people hooked on it and altering our health care infrastructure to accommodate it may not be possible. The new language in the successor bill (SB 1) seems to recognize these difficulties. It does not say participation in Medicaid Expansion"is terminated" if the Feds reduce the matching funds. It just says DHS shall present "a plan to terminate" those services to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CMMS has to approve these plan changes so whether we can leave or not is no longer in our hands! The feds have to approve the plan. At that point, it is going to be a disaster whether they do or they don't. And SB1 makes no mention of the part in the original "Private Option" saying that this program is "not a right". Even if CMMS let's us out of the deal, the judges might not.