The Least, First

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Vacation in Somalia: The Libertarian’s Paradise

with 13 comments

One

Government is like television.

Lots of television programs are bad.

But television isn’t bad.

Television is just a thing, neither bad nor good.

If it’s used badly, the result is bad.

But if it’s used well, the result is good.

Two

Government is like a hammer.

Much damage has been done with hammers.

But hammers are not bad.

A hammer is just a thing, neither bad nor good.

If it’s used badly, the result is bad.

But if it’s used well, the result is good.

Three

Government is like . . . [your turn!]

No one in this election is a true “leftist”

with 3 comments

UPDATE:  With election hoopla at full frenzy, I hear scare-words (like “socialist”) being thrown around.  Truth is, almost no one in American politics is genuinely left of center; nearly all fall into the center-right regions, including both of the remaining presidential candidates.

It seemed like a good idea to re-post this graph from the primary days. As you’ll see, this being America, we’re pretty much all capitalists.  Our “left” and “right” are merely debates about how much leash we give our capitalism.

Meanwhile, pooh-pooh the idea that Obama’s palling around over there next to Karl Marx. That’s a long, long ways from true. -M


Notice the old labels don’t work any more? Political Compass politicians Used to be that a fire-breathing politician could cry “LIBBRAL!” and everyone in the room would look shocked as linebackers near a penalty flag. Nowadays, no one looks up. Must be disappointing.

As The Political Compass points out, the old terms don’t express much helpful information:

The old one-dimensional categories of ‘right’ and ‘left’, established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today’s complex political landscape. For example, who are the ‘conservatives’ in today’s Russia? Are they the unreconstructed Stalinists, or the reformers who have adopted the right-wing views of conservatives like Margaret Thatcher ?

On the standard left-right scale, how do you distinguish leftists like Stalin and Gandhi? It’s not sufficient to say that Stalin was simply more left than Gandhi. There are fundamental political differences between them that the old categories on their own can’t explain. Similarly, we generally describe social reactionaries as ‘right-wingers’, yet that leaves left-wing reactionaries like Robert Mugabe and Pol Pot off the hook.
So, Political Compass stirred in a couple more ingredients, then made a test to sample views. Try it—it only takes a few minutes, and I’ll guarantee it will give you something to think about—at their web page.
And, if you’re curious, my results are after the break: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 14, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Politics

Poverty, government, and the Bible

with 11 comments

[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This page is also saved as a post, under the title A Bible Argument for Government Aid to the Poor. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]



Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 12, 2008 at 12:24 am

Posted in

A Bible argument for government aid to the poor

with 38 comments

[Please note that many helps came via Ron Sider’s excellent but aging book Just Generosity: A new vision for overcoming poverty in America. This post is also saved as a page, at the link shown in the blog’s title bar (above) called Poverty, Government, and the Bible. The text is about the same there, but the comments of others—and my responses to them—are different. Thanks for thinking along!]


Madison Free ClinicEvangelicals often struggle with the idea of a government role in addressing poverty. Often, I hear questions like these, from an honest blogger called RenaissanceGuy:

  • I want to hear a reasoned biblical argument for government-run health care.”
  • … if people are coerced, though the income tax code, to support the poor, then are they actually pleasing our Lord?”

Others put it like this:

  • “Is it government’s job to care for the poor, or should the church and their families do it?”

While sectarian government is antithetical to American democracy, people of faith in the USA do have the privilege of holding and sharing political values consistent with what they understand to be good. Those values may not well fit in either conservative or liberal camps, but there will be common ground that can be shared with both.

In order to do that, people of faith have to be deeply aware of their own faith, and not just the arguments of right or left. So here’s an attempt to think aloud on one of those issues.

Especially for evangelicals:

a Bible argument for government aid to the poor:

First, some assumptions on which I think all can agree:

1. Jesus, as described in the gospels, is much more focused on the poor than our evangelical theologies have been. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

October 18, 2007 at 12:09 am

Conservatives seek no-wiretap promise: Romney declines

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How odd it is, to be cheering political liberals one day, and conservatives like those below the next. Who can explain this phenomenon?

At any rate, I found the following a heartening development:

clipped from www.boston.com
WASHINGTON — A new political group recently asked Mitt Romney to promise not to wiretap Americans without a judge’s approval or to imprison US citizens without a trial as “enemy combatants.” When Romney declined to sign their pledge, the group denounced him as “unfit to serve as president.”
…these critics, who call their organization American Freedom Agenda, are hardly leftists. They represent what they insist is a growing group of disaffected conservatives who are demanding that the Republican Party return to its traditional mistrust of concentrated government power.[…]
Other points in the pledge include renouncing the use of presidential signing statements to claim a right to disobey laws; ending threats to prosecute journalists who write about classified matters; and promising to use regular courts rather than military commissions to try terrorism suspects. The full pledge is posted on the group’s website, AmericanFreedomAgenda.org.Continued…

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Written by Monte

June 14, 2007 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Politics