Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who Are The Worlds' Good Samaritans?

"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions.  He had money as well."

Baroness Margaret Thatcher
British Prime Minister 1979-1990

A Soviet journalist nicknamed Margaret Thatcher "The Iron Lady" because of her uncompromising style of politics and leadership.  She derided those who always sought compromise, saying such represented the "absence of leadership."

She had a way of verbally cutting through the clutter and getting right to the nut.

And her comment is an interesting play on the oft-used word Good Samaritan.

Few understand why Jesus would use the Samaritans in that parable.

Jesus taught in parables for two reasons:

1.  To avoid being arrested.  He was followed by the "ruling class," scribes and Pharisees, hoping to catch him doing something illegal.  He was upsetting their apple cart of literal control and religious governance over the Jews, and they were looking to brand him with illegal activity.  His eventual arrest and conviction was for sedition, or rabble rousing, and was because of something he said.  Parables were "innocent" stories for which he could not be arrested.

2.  Parables are a way to offer a deep, many-layered, spiritual message.  Regarding them, He literally said that people would hear what they hear, and to each his own.  A parable is just that - a story which illustrates a spiritual teaching.  The more one delves into His parables, the more one can discover, and apply.

Why would He use the Samaritan traveler in this parable?  One reason is because as a people they were reviled by the Jews, and by Jesus's time centuries of historical hatred.  Another - they were considered to be uneducated and of a lower class, mongrels and mutts, and unworthy.

But what of Miss Thatcher's thinking?  She notices that in the parable the Good Samaritan had money!  And he did.

A Jewish man is beaten, robbed and left for dead in the road.  He is approached first, and not helped, by a priest (who, with special Godly status ministered daily in the temple, ostensibly a "good" man).  Then a Levite, the tribe set apart by God for special religious service (they are the only tribe who could touch the Ark of the Covenant for example), passes by next, sees the bleeding man and, instead of helping hastens his pace.

True to the way Jesus taught, with unexpected juxtaposition and hyperbole, an ignorant, half-breed Samaritan comes along.  The beaten man is his sworn enemy!  He takes pity, cleans and binds the wounds, and drops the pitiful man off at a place where he can recover.  He paid in advance for some recovery time but promised to pass by again and if more money was owed for the recovering man's care he would then provide it.

There's a lot going on there!

But without getting into all the spiritual teaching, notice the Samaritan was traveling with provisions and had money.  He was not only in a position to help, which was not a position given him by status and standing, he did help - with care and with money.

Maybe the most pressing and impressive part of the story is his promise to return to pay future monies that he does not then owe.  He not only has the good intentions and good heart, he puts his money where his heart is.


I am never impressed when people do for others, but want it to be known, or they have it displayed so they get the notice.  The Good Samaritan got nothing in return for his goodness.  This was an anonymous act of love and compassion.  But he did have the financial ability to do more, going the extra mile, as it were.

People now seem to want to deride those with the financial ability to do more.  Go ahead. 


So, which countries in the world are immediately there offering help when natural disasters happen?  It's the happy socialists right?  There they are, all eager to give of their time, talents, energy, treasure and provision to dress others' wounds and help them recover, right?  There they are, first in line, expecting nothing in return, right?  And they should be first to help, enjoying those high standards of living, right?

Or is it the free enterprise countries, the mixed-breed mongrels and mutts, derided by the rest of the happy socialists as unfit and unworthy, except when they want our free enterprise time, talents, energy, treasure and provision, right?  Who's first in line to say, "gimme some of that..."?

Keep in mind where the economic growth is, where wealth has always been generated, and the ability to help has always been in the heart.  THAT is the system WE want to be.

Well, it used to be WE had the money ... hopefully WE still have the good intentions.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Misallocating And Vandalizing

"All the impoverishing effects of socialism are with us in the U.S.:  reduced levels of investment and saving, the misallocation of resources, the overutilization and vandalization of factors of production, and the inferior quality of products and services."

Hans-Hermann Hoppe
Austrian School Economist

Not to sound too cynical, but how can we save and invest when we are spending all our discretionary money, well, after paying our own taxes and the taxes of those who don't think they should pay taxes, spending all our discretionary money on inferior products made elsewhere, products that don't last long so we can buy the newer version again a couple of years later!

Oh, don't forget the extended warranty.

"They" say we "don't manufacture anything here anymore."  Can we?  Wouldn't those things be too expensive?  They have to be made somewhere else or we couldn't afford all those things we want!

Well, that is pretty cynical!

But is that where we are?

What are factors of production?  The traditional economic definition would say that land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship are invested in the production of goods and services in the attempt to make a profit.  Those things invested make up the factors of production.

And what does it mean to "invest" those things?  Investment means to devote time, energy or money toward something with the expectation of a worthwhile result.

What you say?  Taxes are NOT an investment?  Only in certain circles!  And those circles are all outside the thinking of the gubment and the bureaucrat.  Thinking of taxes as investments is Animal Farm two-leg talk!  Remember, the gubment produces nothing!  It is sustained from monies taken FROM the private sector, and does not add TO it.  Each dollar taken FROM the private sector does not go TOWARD profit made possible by the employment of factors of production.

The growth of gubment, beyond its means and beyond measure(!), is truly how resources, meaning factors of production, are misallocated, overutilized and vandalized.  And the bigger it gets, the less that is left for savings and investment, infrastructure and economic development.  That's why the super influx of cheap products are so important!  So, buy, buy, buy!

Be sure to buy two, because the first will break soon anyway.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yes, We Have Bananas

"Personally, I have never seen anybody slip on a banana peel."

Jay, the Home Inspector

Bananas are a very well-known fruit in our society. 

I say fruit, but technically they are an herb.

Nonetheless, this is a food used in so many contexts, it is hard to imagine our lives without it!

But bananas were not always so common!  Our country was around 100 years before the banana, very well known in other parts of the world, was as part of the American diet.

Bananas were introduced to America during the 1876 International Centennial Exhibition, in Philadelphia PA.  We might now refer to this celebration as The World's Fair.

The theme of the exhibition was to demonstrate how the United States, and the world, had progressed from an agricultural society and into the Industrial Revolution.  It was described in newspapers and magazines as "organized chaos and clutter."

The most popular exhibits involved peoples, art, and many new inventions, particularly electronic, as that was an industry entering its new age.  More people lined up to talk on Mr. Bell's newfangled device than any other exhibit - the telephone.  Everybody wanted to be able to speak with someone else on the other end of the "line."

The second-most popular exhibit wasn't a device at all!  It was a new food!  Served warm, wrapped in tin foil, on a plate with silverware, was the BANANA!  

There was nothing special about the offering, just a warm banana on a plate!  A simple dish and a wonderful new taste.

And people lined up to eat one!  I expect most went back for more.

America's cooks probably went home and began figuring out hundreds of delicious ways to incorporate it into the daily diet.  Stores filled up with the new fruit.

And today, the three top banana-producing countries are India, Brazil and Ecuador.  Together they offer the world over 23 million metric tons of bananas annually.

> But the countries, and companies, that farm bananas do not ship them.
> And the shipping companies do not produce the boats or trucks that deliver them worldwide.
> And the distributing companies do not manage the wholesale distribution companies and warehouses.
> And this chain, from international farm to your bowl of cereal continues with everyone operating together, but entirely separately.  It's as if they were all shepherded by an invisible hand!
> Your grocer almost certainly does not know a single person with a machete that harvests the bananas he buys to sell to you.

But the BANANA is produced, distributed and sold worldwide so consistently that every grocery store in America has a regular, ripe and delicious offering.  And of more than one type of banana!

The bananas are so efficiently managed, and free enterprise reigns so supreme, that they come to us at extremely cheap retail prices.

Those bananas in the photo above I bought, as a pack of 7, for $1.27, including tax.  That's 18 cents a piece, retail.

Free enterprise works every time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Laying More Than A Finger

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted the right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

James Madison (1751-1836)
"The Father of the Constitution"

Virginian James Madison may have been the shortest American president, standing at 5'4", but he was certainly among the biggest thinkers.  He was instrumental, if not the driving force, in the drafting of the United States Constitution, hence his moniker as its "father."

As such, he was familiar with its parameters and objectives.  As one of the original ORIGINALISTS, he understood tyranny and how one of the main objectives of the document was to prevent tyranny.  It was to limit the country's federal gubment, to specific limits, with enumerated powers, so the citizen would never have to worry about living under the threat of tyrannical overlords.

A slave revolt on the French colonial island of Saint-Dominigue eliminated slavery there and founded the Haitian Republic.  This resulted in Haiti being one of only two independent republics to be established before the 19th Century after a revolution with a European power. 

As the revolt concluded, many French refugees fled to the United States.  France and the United States were, after all, close allies during the American Revolution. 

Many fled to the ports of Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Congress appropriated $15,000 toward their relief, calling this an act of "benevolence."

The James Madison quote above comes from his writing very disapprovingly of the appropriation as "unconstitutional."

A few years later a large fire left many victims and Congressmen wanted to respond, appropriating monies in the same manner.  Representative William Giles of Virginia insisted this was outside the purview of Congress, encouraging them instead not "to attend to what generosity and humanity require, but to what the Constitution and their duty require."

Years later Representative Davy Crockett responded in like manner in a debate about whether to appropriate money for the widow of a naval officer.  His statement was that Congressmen could give away their own money as they wished in benevolence, "but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money."  This story can be read here.

Presidents in those days routinely vetoed such legislation as unconstitutional.  The two most veto-prone presidents were Polk and Cleveland.

These ORIGINALISTS all understood the purpose, parameters and extent of the Constitution.  When did those things change?

Today, what percentage of the federal expenditure is spent to control "objects of benevolence?"  Two thirds?  Seventy percent?  I say control because that is what it amounts to.  There are always strings attached.  And some recipients end up trained to think it is normal and even that they are "entitled" to such "benevolence."

This "benevolence" always comes from the pockets of their neighbors, however, as the federal gubment has no money of its own, and produces nothing.

I read the Constitution all the time.  It is even installed on my phone!  And, like Madison, I cannot lay my finger on where the Constitution affords Congress the ability to give away so much to so few.

And as to laying a finger on the Constitutional article, neither can anyone in gubment...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It's Unnatural To Feed The Animals

"It is impossible to maintain a free society when more and more people look to the state to provide what Americans used to provide for themselves."

Warren Pollock

It is said that one of the many good reasons the gubment has signs at national parks asking patrons to NOT to feed animals is that the animals will begin to see humans as a food source and expect the food.  As this animal expectation grows their inclination will grow less and less to provide food for themselves.  And their natural behavior changes.

It might be said that as we humans are taken care of by others our expectations similarly grow and we will stop acting in response to that provision.

If someone else provides our food, what is our incentive to pay for our own?  What if everything was provided by someone else?  What would our incentive be to pay for it ourselves?

To the degree we are dependent we are captive.  And to the degree we are captive we are less and less free.

And so, the declaration above uses the word "impossible."   Is it "impossible" to maintain societal freedom as more and more people become captives of the state?


What is the goal of statism?  It is 100% state!  Why?  Because that is how bureaucracy is!  The goal of the bureaucracy is to maintain the bureaucracy.  And the only way to do that is to make the bureaucracy seem more and more necessary, and important, and it grows larger.  Its size means more and more are incorporated into it to manage and sustain it, and it grows more.  AT ALL COSTS!

Has the disease of statism, which prescribes itself as the cure, ever gotten to 100%?  Look to history to see the answer to that question.  What epoch has not had it dictators and wannabe dictators?  And what have these dictators wrought for their nations and people?

And so, Mr. Pollock's statement is essentially the same as the professionals, the naturalists, who manage the national parks:


Why?  Because little by little, as their dependence grows, they will stop feeding themselves.

And that is unnatural.