Monday, January 30, 2017

Jesus Was Never a Socialist

Jesus' reaction to confiscatory taxation.
Have you seen all the memes lately proclaiming Jesus is a socialist? Usually, it's someone trying to make the case that Trump is the anti-Christ and that Christians ought to support the resistance against him. They state that Jesus was a socialist as if that were a foregone conclusion.

But generally such persons have no idea who Jesus was other than that he was some guy that thought we should love everybody and feed the poor. And that's what they thing socialism is all about. This reveals a massive ignorance of both Christ's teachings and the teachings of Karl Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Nicolae Ceausescu, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and the rest of the socialists' greatest leadership hits parade.

Here's how Jesus differs with the great principles of socialism.
  1.  From each according to his ability to each according to his need. On the face of it this sounds very much like what Jesus did. Actually, at no time does Jesus advocate stealing or taking forcibly from one person to give to another person. While Jesus did expect his followers to distribute their surpluses to the poor and needy, he never suggested that the government do it for them. Quite the contrary he only valued voluntary charity.
  2. Collectivism, collective bargaining, minimum wage. In a parable, found in Matthew 20:1-16, Christ told the story of the vineyard owner who hired workers to harvest his grapes. He hired workers first thing in the morning. He hired more workers later in the day going back to hire more workers right up to the last hour of the day. At the end of the day, he payed each worker the same amount. The guys who came in the morning complained that the guys that only worked an hour got the same pay. Jesus said that they had no complaint since they had agreed on the amount they would work for at the beginning of the day. It was none of their business that the owner paid everyone a different amount per hour. Jesus did not advocate minimum wages or even equal pay. Jesus believed you should negotiate your own deal. Collective bargaining was not a feature of Jesus' economy. The man who owned the vineyard told the complaining workers this:  “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I now allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?”  If you translate the last phrase literally, it read, “Is your eye evil because I am good?”
  3. Government must make everything fair.  Fairness, if you are a socialist generally translates to sameness. In pure socialist economies, everyone makes the same wage whether you are a doctor or a garbage man. But Jesus demonstrates in his parables that fairness isn't about equal pay for equal work. Fairness is about receiving the pay you were promised. If an employer pays a worker what he promised to pay him, then it's fair. It doesn't mean workers are paid exactly the same amount. 
  4. Public ownership of the means of production. Jesus was a capitalist. His stories take place in a world where there is private ownership of the means of production. In his parables each worker is free to make his own deal for wages. In Jesus' parables the employer must pay his employees what he promised. There is no need for government management in any of his stories.
  5. Forcible redistribution of wealth through taxation. The most stunning episode that illustrates this point is when Jesus discovered a taxation scheme in the Temple itself where the Priests were collecting fees through inflated pricing at the money-changers tables where, in order to make sacrifices according to the Mosaic Law, worshipers were being forced to pay exorbitant fees. It was quite a scheme. You could only use temple coins to make offerings, so you had to trade your Roman coins for temple money at the money-changers tables and they were gouging customers. They were giving a cut to the Priests for the right to operate the money-changing franchises. Jesus responded to this attempt at government manipulation by roaring onto the Temple portico with a whip in his hand, over-turning tables and saying harsh things about the corrupt practice which basically circumvented the free market for doves, sheep, cows and pigeons 
  6. The classless society. Jesus described a society in which one's pay and station depended on hard work, careful investment, and the making of a profit. The parable of the servants who were entrusted with varying amounts of gold describes nothing less than a performance review by the employer. The ones who proved dependable, trustworthy and capable were rewarded with financial reward and received advancement according to their ability.This is not an economy in which one advances merely by occupying a position for a given amount of time and unrelated to performance.
Early Christian Collectivism:

Yes, Christians gathered together when the church was being persecuted and shared resources. These were small group tactics designed to help survive and attack. As armies do, these Christian soldiers formed an organized effort so that they could spread the gospel and at the same time take care of each other when they were under attack as a group. As persecution let up and the gospel spread, Christians began moving into small communities and cities and taking up free market self-support selling purple die, building tents, fishing and other types of enterprise.  Christians like their Jewish forebears became producing members of society and, without the need of government to make it so. It can be argued that the corruption of the Christian Church began the moment they were granted state sponsorship by Constantine and descended even further when the Roman emperor handed the power of government to the papacy when Rome was divided. This was not something Jesus would have approved of. The corrupt government of Israel in his own time, received his harsh criticism during his ministry. His disciples were almost all murdered by government. 

Let's face it, socialism is based on violation of at least two of the ten commandments. The eighth says "Thou shalt not steal."  To take by force is theft. Taxation where it is beyond the willingness of those taxed is theft.  To say it is not really theft, but that government has a "right" to tax citizens could be argued to be a violation of the commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness."  Finally, the commandment that prohibits greed, "Thou shalt not covet.

At no time did Jesus say anything remotely like "Let the poor go unto a dot gov website and apply for food stamps that they might be fed." He expected us to take care of our responsibilities to the poor and needy and not to put it off on the government in order to (as liberal TV personality Joy Behar put it), "So that I don't have to worry about the poor."

Jesus was no socialist. He fed the poor, healed the sick, and introduced the lost to their Father who loved them and would care for them and teach them to stand on their own two feet.

Just sayin'

© by Tom King

Sunday, January 29, 2017

An Entirely Inappropriate Adjective

Only a feminist could use a term that means literally "for the sake of the f-word" and then expect me to respect her opinion as a woman. First off I find that word to be unlovely, crude and almost a kind of verbal rape in the way it is used. Every thing it is attached to as an adjective is reduced by the word to the status of a crude sort of verbal rape.

If we wish to promote respect for women and their rights as human beings (all of which are enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and the Bible), then women's rights advocates should choose better words it seems to me.

I'm just saying.....© 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Need for Immigration Triage

FDR turned away German Jews seeking asylum prior to WWII.
Are we going to repeat that shameful episode?

I'm hearing a lot of pushback from the left over Trump's policy of placing a priority on admitting Christian refugees from places like Syria, calling it a "religious" test for admittance.
It's no such thing anymore than it is a policy of excluding people by nationality. After all, we wouldn't have imported large numbers of Germans or Japanese or even Italians during WWII. And folks, we are at war with ISIS. It's just that they've declared war on us and our past president kept pretending they hadn't.

Prioritizing Christians from Syria would be rather like putting a priority on Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide by Hutu forces. Would liberals have complained that it was a "racial" test? It's no such thing. It's saving the people who are in the greatest danger and making sure you don't "rescue" the very people that want to slaughter them. 

And don't tell me there's no risk. A Coptic Christian from Egypt was beheaded in New York by a Muslim jihadi from Egypt. We've seen Muslim extremists come to the States and carry out honor killings against American Muslim girls. Just one incident like this is too many. 

We need a common sense immigration and refugee policy. What we have now is muddle-headed chaos based, not on the threat to refugees, but on the immediate past president's need for virtue signaling. People are dying. We can help. Saving Christians isn't about a religious test. It's triage. It's like if a boat sinks and rescuers start plucking the drowning people out of the water first and THEN going around to pull out the people wearing life jackets. It's a needs test, not a religious test. Christians are being murdered and persecuted because of their religion. How hard is that to understand?

© 2017 by Tom King

Thursday, January 26, 2017

In Case They Ever Do Win

The left is apoplectic because their strategy to elect Hillary failed.
They are supposed to be the intellectual elite of the nation. According to their ideology, they cannot fail because their ideology is correct. This is why socialism inevitably winds up being tyranny because when the ideology fails, the elite leaders, in order to maintain their exalted status, must silence anyone who notices that their ideology has failed.

And to quote the inimitable Bill Whittle, H.G. Wells and Kent Brockman, "I, for one, welcome our would be Insect overlords and would like to remind them that as a respected member of the conservative media, I can be useful in rounding up other troublesome conservatives to work as slaves in their underground sugar caves....."

© 2017 by Tom King

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Blame Democrats

It's really funny how desperately liberal Democrats want to pin the blame for Donald Trump on conservatives like me.  Well, I've got news, guys. I didn't vote for him or for Mrs. Clinton. What happened that got Trump elected was that a supposedly brilliant strategy by Democrats went terribly terribly wrong. First, millions of Democrats crossed over to vote for Mr. Trump (I have to call him that now that he's president) in the Republican Primaries because they were certain Hillary could beat him if they just could get stupid Republicans to nominate him. This they did.

Then, once he was safely nominated by the Keystone Cops over at the RNC, the Democrat strategerists nominated the only Democrat on the planet that could have lost to someone as abysmal as Donald Trump. To add insult to injury he was trained by Democrats. Up until this election, Trump was a lifelong Democrat. He donated to both Hillary and Barak Obama's campaigns. He was safely in the Democrat camp saying Democrat things right up until he decided y'all Democrats weren't going to make him president. He was getting old, so he decided to be a Republican for a while given that it was pretty much now or never.

You Democrats made him. Angry wishy-washy unprincipled "moderates" and low-information voters voted for him because they were mad about being talked down to like they were idiots by Democrats. And the hilarious thing is that you guys were surprised you screwed it up so badly. You believed your own press, your own propaganda and thought the Hildebeest was a shoe-in. You counted on the liberal East and West Coasts to carry the day and forgot about the leavening effect of the electoral college.

You people seriously screwed up. I don't know why you're unhappy though. Donald is a trained liberal and could switch hit any day now. Sure he's dismantling Obamacare. But he's still a nationalized healthcare guy like he's always been. He's just going to rename it Trumpcare. As long as his name's on the building, Trump could give a rats tukas what's in it.

Trump isn't my fault, nor is he the fault of genuine conservatives - many of us left the party over Trump in fact. But we can't help giggling over the discomfiture of the left over this one. Trump talked in 6th grade English in his speeches. Your leftist pundits chortled at that and assumed he must be stupid. You comforted yourselves that you were smarter with the superior election strategy. And while you were snickering behind your hands, Trump stole most of the lower half of the IQ bell curve voters from you. And you were shocked because you thought you owned those people. The left was arrogant and it camp back to smack them in the face. You guys on the left don't like it because Trump used the very same tactics you taught him when he was a Democrat to beat you at your own game when he went Republican.  Now we have (God help us) President Trump. Thanks to you.

Tough luck, buttercup; I don't feel sorry for you. Enjoy the next four years. Maybe if you push the whole Elizabeth Warren and the historical inevitability of a woman president thing hard enough, perhaps you can lose again in 2020 with Fauxchahontas and give us all another eight years of Donald Trump instead of just the four. Much as I distrust Trump, I must admit watching the arrogant hard left wing of liberalism squirm is kind of a treat for a crusty old conservative like me.

Almost as entertaining as watching 3 million overweight, half-naked, angry women march in the street to protect their right to murder their unborn children (which Trump will never take from them anyway) and for lots more imaginary rights they think they ought to have.  Even more interesting is watching the spectacle of the Donald actually doing some thing right for a change. And his open baiting of the media and the vast left wing conspiracy is going to rapidly become conservatives' newest favorite Reality TV show.

This might even be fun for a while, even though it also might wind up very badly. Who knows. It's those little mysteries of life that give life zest.

© 2017 by Tom King

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


These rules were originally magically delivered by Apoxia, the Egyptian god of governments to his priests on the famous Theban Scrolls of Bureaucratic Complexity. They were found by a lost American tank crew during World War I in the Hatshepsut Auxilliary Legal Library when a German shell accidentally uncovered the entrance during a brief skirmish outside the ruins of Memphis (Egypt not Tennessee). The Scrolls have been preserved ever since in a file drawer next to the water cooler in the Department of Retired Federal File Clerk Benefits in the basement of the Sam Rayburn Building in Washington, DC.  It is an enlightening document.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #1
It is easier to fix the blame than to fix the problem.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #2
A penny saved is an oversight.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #3
Information deteriorates upward.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #4
The first 90% of the task takes 90% of the time; the last 10% takes the other 90%.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #5
Experience is what you get just after you need it.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #6
For any given large, complex, hard-to-understand, expensive problem, there exists at least one short, simple, easy, cheap wrong answer that winds up costing three times the original estimate.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #7
Anything that can be changed will be, until time runs out and a new change can be proposed restarting the cycle.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #8
To err is human; to shrug is civil service. To call it a triumph and take credit is politics.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #9
There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over and recommend a budget increase.

Rules of Bureaucracy: #10
Preserve Thyself!

 © 2017 by Tom King

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Habit of Slavery

The British Civil Service is perhaps the world's most
efficient organization for maintaining bureaucratic inertia.

Why Cultural, Religious and Political Inertia Shackles Us to the Mistakes of the Past

Habits are hard to break, especially when those habits are the habits of a nation or a culture.
Railroad companies the world over lay their tracks so that the rails are four feet, eight and a half inches apart because that’s the width of a standard Roman oxcart. The standard was, of course, carried forward through several iterations including mine carts, streets and railroads – all using the standard grooves in old Roman roads. Caesar set the standard, probably based on something the Greeks were using or for some practical reason based on how far apart people put cart wheels a thousand years before.

It goes to show you the power of habit in determining the way things go. That’s how, for instance, Christmas became “Jesus’ birthday”. The church fathers, concerned because the people who, according to the emperor were all supposed to become Christian had this big party around the winter solstice where everyone would overeat and drink and party. By this time the church had become a ginormous bureaucracy and, thinking like bureaucrats, they decided that if the people had the habit of drinking, eating, and partying at winter solstice already, why not just make use of it for “holy” purposes. So the church proclaimed December the 25th Christ’s Mass, thus appropriating a holiday that goes all the way back to the Babylonians and used it as an excuse to take up a collection as protection from God’s wrath for all that drinking, overeating and partying. We still do it to this day, with, of course, the vestiges of the old pagan practices - Yule logs, Christmas trees, angels stuck up on trees (that one’s from a particularly grisly practice no on wants to think about) and boozing.

A lot of the inertia in our culture is, of course, for the convenience of government. Radical change is always bad for corrupt old governments. Should it sense a profound cultural shift among it's subjects, governments tend to suppress any new and disturbing ideas. Lots of folk get banished or financially ruined or imprisoned at this stage of any revolution.

The tax-collecting habit is also pretty well ingrained in the government bureaucrat segment of any nation's population. The old proverb about "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" reminds us that those with limited tools tend to respond in the same way to any situation. The bureaucrat mind is so fixated on what it's always done that it sees everything in terms of how it can be profitable to the bureaucracy. The more bureaucrats, the worse bureaucratic inertia becomes. Soon, anything that is fun or obligatory is fair game for them to take a piece of. Taxing becomes their reason for existing. The Romans were wonderful bureaucrats. They made tax-collecting (or as I call it – demanding protection money) into a fine art. I’m not surprised that modern organized crime has its roots in Italy.

Another example of how governments use cultural inertia occurred when Roman emperor Constantine had a nightmare and woke up with the novel thought that if he made his whole army Christian they might win the upcoming battle. So he marched his troops through a nearby river, proclaimed them “baptized” and went forth to kick his enemy’s collective butts. After that, the church quickly became a quasi-government bureaucracy and started busily searching for ways to tax its members. Of course, after all the persecutions, membership was kind of down, so they all met to decide how best to recruit new members.  The Councils of Nicaea and Laodicea eventually established that the official Christian day of worship would henceforth be Sunday.

This took advantage of cultural inertia in a couple of way.

(1)  The Church fathers switched the traditional day of worship. Some Christians had already begun worshiping on Sunday to avoid trouble with the pagans. Romans by and large were used to going to temple on Sunday (called the venerable day of the sun” by Catholic bishops). There were much fewer Christians than there were pagans at the time, so it was easier to change the habits of the smaller group, especially if you rewarded them by making them popular and therefore less susceptible to being thrown to the lions or crucified. So folk still went to temple on Sunday, the theology was just altered a little.
(2)  The Romans didn’t like Jews and because both Christians and Jews worshiped on Saturday instead of Sunday the two groups were associated in the minds of Romans. The Jews, having been scattered, did what they do – went into business. They were already doing well by this time, which really made people resentful. So to make Christianity more palatable, the church fathers removed a major impediment to a move from paganism to Christianity and shared the weekly day of worship with the pagans rather than the Jews.
(3)  They also removed another impediment to pagan conversion by quietly removing the second commandment (the one about graven images) from the Ten Commandments. After all, they had done pretty well by revising the fourth one, why not remove one altogether. Then the enterprising folk working for the Bishop of Rome went around swapping out the plaques on statues of Roman gods and making them saints. An edict calling for the veneration of the saints and pretty soon out of use idols all over town became apostles. When they ran out of apostles, the Bishop just made other folk into saints. A couple of my own ancestors were made saints for various reasons including genocide of Muslims and Jews and for the miracle of the bottomless beer mug. Just like that the statue of Jupiter in the main square became St. Peter. Venus became the Virgin Mary. And it worked so well that every few decades the Vatican has to replace St. Peter’s foot from where all the pilgrims kissing said foot have worn it away to a nub.

Public inertia is a truly powerful thing; bureaucratic inertia is worse. George W. Bush once said that once you become president and start receiving the security briefings, the economic briefings and all, that there really is very little you can do that’s a major innovation. He knew from experience. Bush started out with the intention of trimming the fat from the budget. I remember the horror with which the federal bureaucracies reacted. The weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth by federal life-long bureaucrats was epic .

Bush even had the audacity to demand that the CIA actually give him all the facts and not their interpretation of the facts or just what they thought he wanted to see. A relative who works for the CIA was beside himself that the President didn’t want his briefings filtered. Before Bush could rein the intelligence services in and get the straight poop, however, 9/11 happened. People talk about how Bush benefited from 9/11. The terrorist attack's benefits accrued primarily to Congress rather than the president. With Bush forced to mobilize the military, suddenly budget cutting was forced off the table by Congress. Terrorist fighting funds were held hostage to everybody's favorite pork. By the end of the Bush administration Congress was spending like a drunken sailor and the economy went bust. Sadly, you can't take away Congress's credit cards.

A lot of the inertia in our culture exists for the convenience of government, of course. Habits are encouraged. Change is suppressed - the real kind, not the feel-good kind that is no change at all.  Every president faces such bureaucratic inertia. It's why, thankfully, none of them accomplish much in the way of change, whatever their campaign slogans. People don’t like to change. They prefer the appearance of change. Bureaucracies have learned to use cultural inertia to their advantage. To bureaucrats, change is like sunshine to a vampire. It’s why every time some Latin American country overthrows its corrupt government, it replaces it with one that’s just as, if not more corrupt than the one before it. The revolutionaries always forget on thing. When they take over a government, they fail to replace the bureaucrats.

© 2017 by Tom King