The View From 1776
Thursday, June 30, 2005
Eminent Domain: More Thoughts
Even an icon of the liberal media world knows what New London should be doing.
My friend Tom Emerson, who heads the entrepreneurship program at Carnegie Mellon University, brought to my attention yesterday’s opinion piece in the New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman. Mr. Friedman, a man who often expresses common-sense economic views (despite his worship at the secular religious altar of socialism), penned an article titled “The End of the Rainbow.” He writes:
“Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Ireland today is the richest country in the European Union after Luxembourg….In a quite unusual development, the government, the main trade unions, farmers and industrialists came together and agreed on a program of fiscal austerity, slashing corporate taxes to 12.5 percent, far below the rest of Europe, moderating wages and prices, and aggressively courting foreign investment. In 1996, Ireland made college education basically free, creating an even more educated work force.
“The results have been phenomenal. Today, 9 out of 10 of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies have operations here, as do 16 of the top 20 medical device companies and 7 out of the top 10 software designers. Last year, Ireland got more foreign direct investment from America than from China. And overall government tax receipts are way up.”
If Mr. Freidman could maintain the same clarity of perception upon returning to the socialist enclave of the New York Times editorial board, presumably he would agree with what I wrote in Eminent Domain: Random Thoughts:
“Cities like Utica and New London, Connecticut, the subject of the Supreme Court decision, are in trouble, not because of lack of urban planning, but because of high taxes, excessive regulation, and a generally anti-business, socialistic public policy.? What they need is fewer labor unions and fewer liberal-socialist citizens who have become addicted to massive, and ferociously expensive, public welfare programs that run the gamut from money thrown unaccountably down the rat hole of public education (read teachers? union perks), to mandatory, all-inclusive insurance benefits to workers.? In short, ongoing operating costs are just as important in determining business locations as their land costs.
“... Residents of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other Eastern socialistic states complain that they send more tax dollars to Washington than come back as benefit programs.? The way to deal with that is not to pay subsidies to companies like Pfizer by acquiring land for them, but to stop electing people like Teddy Kennedy and Christopher Dodd.”
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005
A Federal Republic, Not a Democracy
The founders were crystal-clear about it: a pure democracy is the least stable and worst imaginable form of government.
During most of the past century, novelists, historians, and academics pursued a deep love affair with the secular materialism of the French Revolution. Historians like Vernon L. Parrington and Charles A. Beard wrote volumes promoting the idea that the true spirit of America was a relentless drive to eliminate private property rights and to empower the masses through a process that the Socialist Party terms social democracy.
The Federalist essays, written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison to urge ratification of the Constitution, expressed exactly the opposite principle. The writers of the Constitution recognized that, in a pure democracy, the masses could too easily fall under the sway of a demagogue who might employ government power to seize private property and use it to buy their support with welfare-state hand-outs.
A reliance on the people as a whole, they wrote, is the basic source of authority for our Federal government, but experience has taught mankind the need for auxiliary precautions. Chief among those precautions were the numerous checks and balances built into the Constitution. Among the most fundamental was the graduated levels of representation in the political process. Local town governments elected representatives to state legislative assemblies. Those assemblies originally elected United States Senators. State legislatures selected Federal electors who elected the president and the Vice President.
The point was to prevent unwise and hasty political action by damping the effects of mass opinion.
What we have witnessed in the 20th century is a continual unravelling of those auxiliary precautions and the subordination of political judgment to daily, even hourly, public opinion polls. Given the manipulative power of mass media, and its dominance by liberal-socialist interests, our government has come to resemble a Paris street mob storming the Bastille more than a rational and wise decision-making process.
My friend Emil Pavone, in the following reply to one of his correspondents, deals with this problem.
No doubt you’re correct when you write:?
“. . .?democracies ? usually lack leadership that will make tough choices until the pain level becomes so high that they have no choice but to do the “right” thing ? it is the critical flaw in a democracy—that populist self interest too often trumps good governance.”?
Yet the question remains, is there anything that can be done to solve the problem without diminishing the essence of democratic government???Our Founders certainly recognized the main threats to a “government of the people,” and created an apparatus that seals off the most likely avenues of abuse.? They provided us with representative government whose republican format puts a layer of thought between the populace and the enaction of legislation.? They separated responsibility for writing the laws from their execution and interpretation.? And they essentially agreed that legislature and executive would abide by rulings of the judiciary even when it limits legislative and executive powers, thus making the judiciary, in a sense, “first among equals.”? But they did not foresee that one day every citizen would be enfranchised regardless of qualifications, and that legislators would be so richly rewarded.? Therefore, they did not recognize the potential for corruption ever present in an uninformed, uncritical electorate and a professional political class.
So, what can be done about it?? As I see it, the only possible solution lies in modification of the one-man, one-vote concept. The idea that the least informed members of society should cast ballots of equal weight to those of the best informed is, on its face, illogical.? Yet this is the situation as it currently exists.? It explains how legislators buy votes, how our country’s huge political class came into being, and why it is almost impossible to dismiss them from office once ensconced.? Bear in mind that when we talk of the political class, it includes not only federal officeholders, their staffs and support groups; but all similar individuals at the state, county and local levels of government.? ( ?Including Florida?s four Pinellas County Commissioners and three staff members soon to be junketing in Hawaii at our expense, according to yesterday?s newspaper.)
Consider then, would modification of the one-man, one-vote principle do more harm than good? Must every possible cure be worse than the disease? I think not, depending on the cure, of course, but I haven?t discovered any forum where such a prospect is under discussion by thoughtful, open-minded individuals. If one exists, and someone would direct me to it, I would be grateful.
Historically, if I?m not mistaken, the franchise, even when it was said to be ?universal,? excluded various members of society; notably, women, slaves, Indians and unpropertied persons. Women were considered incapable, either intellectually or emotionally, of casting a ballot intelligently. Slaves and Indians, by their status, were not regarded as entitled to a voice in the community. And unpropertied persons, being judged to have no real stake in the community, were considered unentitled to any say in its management. Those parameters worked for a long time; many would say very well. But we now live in a different age. Few Americans would deny women the vote today, there are no slaves, and Indians share citizenship. Would a property ownership qualification be acceptable today? I think not, but that doesn?t mean there can be no acceptable standard for limitation ? or enhancement ? of the franchise. Could it not be based on demonstrable knowledge of our history, institutions, principles, precepts and values?
Let?s say every citizen continues to be entitled to one vote, simply by virtue of citizenship. Would our society be bettered by increasing the weights of votes cast by those who have qualified as having increased levels of knowledge concerning our history, institutions, principles, precepts and values? Thus, at various levels of demonstrated knowledge, might one?s vote carry a weight 20, 30 40, or even 100 percent greater than that of the citizen who has not demonstrated equivalent qualification? How would such a system be developed? How would it be administered? How would it be executed? These are merely technical questions that obviously can be answered.
But are thoughtful Americans ready to consider such an approach? And if they are, and if they agree that it should be adopted, how can they override a threatened political class?
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Three More From Dennis Prager
Mr. Prager continues his exposition of Judeo-Christian values.
The three most recent columns by theologian Dennis Prager explain the distinctions between our Judeo-Chtistian heritage and today’s secular materialism.
We are not just animals: Judeo-Christian values, Part XV
Nature must not be worshipped: Judeo-Christian values, Part XVI
Without man, the environment is insignificant, Part XVII
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Monday, June 27, 2005
Moral Relativity in Mathematics
A form of relativity that would have astonished Einstein.
MaggiesFarm has a link to a Wall Street Journal article appearing in the Opinion Journal section. Scroll down to “The New New Math.”
Diane Ravitch describes what the critical studies theorists are doing to make mathematics education into a political action platform. Multi-cultural moral relativity and deliberate distortion is no surprise in the social sciences. But who would have expected basic mathematics to become a tool to inculcate socialism in impressionable young students?
A sample from Professor Ravitch’s article:
“Now mathematics is being nudged into a specifically political direction by educators who call themselves “critical theorists.” They advocate using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction. One of its precepts is “ethnomathematics,” that is, the belief that different cultures have evolved different ways of using mathematics, and that students will learn best if taught in the ways that relate to their ancestral culture. From this perspective, traditional mathematics—the mathematics taught in universities around the world—is the property of Western civilization and is inexorably linked with the values of the oppressors and conquerors. The culturally attuned teacher will learn about the counting system of the ancient Mayans, ancient Africans, Papua New Guineans and other “nonmainstream” cultures.”
Diane Ravitch was a professor at Columbia University Teachers College (the fountainhead of socialist educational theory in the United States) and at New York University, as well as serving as assistant secretary in charge of educational research in the U. S. Department of Education. If you haven’t done so, read her book “Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms.”
The critical studies theorists to whom she refers have a philosophical outlook that is dedicated to destroying all of the Judeo-Christian and English political traditions that were the unwritten constitution of the United States in 1787. According to the Critical Studies and Critical Theory website:
“Critical legal studies (CLS) is a theory that challenges and overturns accepted norms and standards in legal theory and practice. Proponents of this theory believe that logic and structure attributed to the law grow out of the power relationships of the society. The law exists to support the interests of the party or class that forms it and is merely a collection of beliefs and prejudices that legitimize the injustices of society. The wealthy and the powerful use the law as an instrument for oppression in order to maintain their place in hierarchy. The basic idea of CLS is that the law is politics and it is not neutral or value free. Many in the CLS movement want to overturn the hierarchical structures of domination in the modern society and many of them have focused on the law as a tool in achieving this goal…..
“Although CLS has been largely a U.S. movement, it was influenced to the great extent by European philosophers, such as nineteenth-century German social theorists Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Max Weber; Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt school of German social philosophy; the Italian marxist Antonio Gramsci; and poststructuralist French thinkers Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, representing respectively the fields of history and literary theory. CLS has borrowed heavily from Legal Realism; the school of legal thought that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. Like CLS scholars, legal realists rebelled against accepted legal theories of the day and urged more attention to the social context of the law.”
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Why should illegal immigrants’ children born in the United States be considered legal citizens?
A defensible argument is made that many illegal workers who enter the United States clandestinely do so in part because their children born here will automatically be citizens of the United States and entitled to welfare-state benefits such as free medical care and free schooling. This, it is argued, will allow their illegal-immigrant parents to be free-loaders on tax-paying American citizens. The force of that argument is somewhat diluted by the fact that Federal Courts have required State and local governments to provide some benefits directly to illegals that might be available to natural-born citizens only with limiting qualifications.
Nonetheless, there is a real issue concerning automatic citizenship for children of people who knowingly and directly break our laws by entering the United States illegally. Why, hypothetically, should Osama Bin Ladin’s children be United States citizens, if such were the case, solely by reason of having been born here?
While their children born here are automatically citizens, the illegal-immigrant parents aren’t even eligible for naturalization as United States citizens. They can’t meet the most basic requirement of having been lawfully admitted to the United States as permanent residents.
My friend Frank Madarasz wrote in his letter to the editor (National Review, July 4, 2005):
“Stop the automatic issuing of citizenship to children who are born here of illegal parents. This was not the original intent of the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, passed in 1866. According to one of the clause’s authors, citizenship does not include “Persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”
The first clause of the 14th Amendment, Section 1, states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The historical context of the 14th Amendment must be taken into account when interpreting it. Most strikingly, this amendment was ratified in 1868 and, along with the 13th and 15th Amendments, is one of the three Civil War Reconstruction additions to the Constitution. These are the only three Amendments in which a large portion of the nation (people in the recently rebellious Confederate states) were not permitted to vote in the ratification process, as former Confederate state voters were not re-enfranchised until passage of the Amnesty Act of 1872.
Obviously, the central, if not the entire, purpose of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause was to make former slaves citizens of the United States. To state the equally obvious, slaves, most of whom had lived all their lives in the United States and were fully subject to applicable State laws, were in a very different category from illegal aliens who deliberately evade United States immigration laws and, in many cases, return from time to time to work and to vote in their native countries. It is a question of fact, of course, whether their children do likewise.
It must also be noted that the 14th Amendment has been the vehicle, or entry point, for a colossal expansion of Federal powers and for eliminating the originally intended independent spheres of sovereignty reserved to States and local governments by the 9th and 10th Amendments of the Bill of Rights. It is of no small importance that the 14th Amendment also contains the “due Process” and “equal protection” clauses upon which liberal-socialists have constructed such bizarre extensions of Constitutional “rights” as the socialist redistributive dogma of affirmative action.
Looking at the question cynically, one may also note that liberal-socialists have aggressively pursued ways to enfranchise formerly excluded categories such as convicts and sought to compel immigration authorities to short-cut naturalization citizenship procedures in order to enfranchise several million ineligible voters prior to a Presidential election. Presumably those newly enfranchised persons would be inclined to vote for liberal-socialist candidates.
None of that, however, has any bearing on Constitutional law as established in 1898 by a decision of the Supreme Court declaring flatly that children born in the United States of other than diplomatically-posted parents are citizens.
Princeton law professor Edward S. Corwin was a leading New-Deal-era apologist for socialistic collectivization of power at the Federal level and of extending Federal power essentially without limit, via the commerce clause. His “The Constitution and What it Means Today” (14th edition, 1978) says this of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause:
“The opening clause of this section makes national citizenship primary and State citizenship derivative therefrom. The definition it lays down of citizenship “at birth” is not, however, exhaustive, as was pointed out in connection with Congress’s power to “establish an uniform rule of naturalization.” .... With this narrow exception [children born in the United States of foreign diplomatic personnel stationed in the United States] all persons born in the United States are, by the principle of the Wong Kim Ark case, entitled to claim citizenship of the United States…. As rather improvidently interpreted by the Court in the Wong Kim Ark case, this clause endows with American citizenship even the children of temporary residents in the United States, provided they do not have diplomatic status.”
Incongruously, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is not Constitutionally eligible for election to the Presidency of the United States, because the Constitution’s Article II, Section 1, limits the Presidency to natural born citizens of the United States. But, as Constitutional law now stands, any child born in the United States is eligible for election to the Presidency, even if his parents were illegal immigrants hiding from the law, working only temporarily in this country, and still regarding themselves as citizens of another country.
The facts and arguments in the Wong Kim Ark case bear only limited resemblance to the present-day issue of illegal and undocumented aliens flooding into the United States across its southern and northern borders.
Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco and lived and worked there until he was twenty-one years old. His parents were like so many Chinese at the end of the 19th century who had come to California to work on the great construction projects: building railroads; erecting levees for the Sacramento River; and draining its vast swampland to create the now famously fertile Sacramento Valley farmlands. After some years during which they lived and worked openly in San Francisco, without violating any laws, they returned to China.
When he was twenty-one years old, Wong Kim Ark visited his parents in China, but upon returning to the Port of San Francisco in 1895, was denied entry on the grounds both that he was not a citizen and that the Federal Chinese Exclusion Acts prevented his entering the United States as an immigrant.
The critical legal issue in the case was the meaning of the 14th Amendment’s phrase “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. If the parents remained citizens of a foreign country, could their children born in this country automatically be regarded as subject to the jurisdiction of the United States? If the parents were temporary workers in California, but considered themselves still lawful subjects of a foreign country, must it be presumed that their children’s political loyalties automatically followed those of their parents and that the children were therefore not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States?
To emphasize that point, at least some illegals in the United States regard themselves as Mexican citizens entitled to treaty protection from the rigors of law applicable to United States citizens. In their behalf, the Mexican government recently charged the United States with violating international law relating to Mexican subjects in the United States.
Writing about such illegals, Stuart Taylor Jr. , “National Journal’s” Constitutional law expert noted:
“..... March 31 decision by the 58-year-old World Court—formally known as the International Court of Justice , and not to be confused with the ICC—in a lawsuit by Mexico against the U.S. on behalf of more than 50 Mexicans on death row in various state prisons.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 requires that foreign nationals be notified, at the time of their arrests, that they are entitled to call and meet with their home country’s consular officials. Consulates can be helpful in finding lawyers, notifying relatives, gathering exculpatory evidence from home, and otherwise. But state and local officials are often unaware of this treaty obligation and fail to give the required notice to many defendants. Mexico urged the World Court to rule that this lack of notice in itself denies fair trials to all such defendants, and that their convictions and sentences must therefore all be overturned.”
In the Wong Kim Ark case, which established the still current Constitutional law, attorneys for the United States government argued:
“Large numbers of Chinese laborers of a distinct race and religion, remaining strangers in the land, residing apart by themselves…and apparently incapable of assimilating with our people, might endanger good order and be injurious to the public interests.”
“As the respondent was born of alien parents, to wit, subjects of the Emperor of China, he was at his birth a subject of China, claimed by that nation as such, and therefore was not born “subject to the jursidiction” of the United States.”
Wong Kim Ark’s attorneys argued:
“He has always subjected himself to the jurisdiction and dominion of the United States, and has been taxed, recognized, and treated as a citizen of the United States.”
“Prejudice of race and pretension of caste were set aside by the Fourteenth Amendment, which ordained in unequivocal and far-reaching terms that ‘all persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.’ The language cannot by construction or interpretation be confined…to persons of the Caucasian race and persons of African descent, to the exclusion of persons of Mongolian descent.”
The Court’s decision in favor of Wong Kim Ark’s citizenship now seems almost unchallengeable. In 1997 and again in 1999, bills were introduced in Congress to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens. Neither bill even gained committee approval.
Today’s sensitivity to charges of racism appears to doom Congressional approval of a proposed Constitutional amendment that would deny citizenship to children born here to illegal-immigrant parents. The only possibility is a future liberal Court that might discover, within the penumbras of the shadows of the 14th Amendment, grounds for such an exception. However, with illegals constituting a rising percentage of the potential vote in states like California and Texas, it’s more likely that the Court will rule that illegals have a Constitutional right to vote in order to restore the Presidency to the liberal-socialists.
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Sunday, June 26, 2005
Stem Cell Controversy
There is more involved than intelligence vs. ignorance.
Intelligent and decent people can disagree about the advisability, as well as the prospects for success, of stem-cell research. Instead we witness, not rational discussion, but scathing attacks on the intelligence and moral character of people who oppose the potential for playing God with human life.
Even if the Federal government were to open the spending spigot for unrestricted stem-cell research, it is highly unlikely that anyone now suffering ills would benefit in his lifetime. However promising stem-cell research may appear to be, its hoped-for benefits are mostly decades away, if ever. Yet proponents characterize opponents as people who ignorantly condemn today’s sick to suffering and untimely death.
Proponents ignore the issue of destroying other people’s lives (yes, embryos, however small and however young, are living human beings) and look at the distant end of a rainbow, where they are confident a large pot of gold is to be found.
Paul Greenberg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, has framed the issue in one of the most effective presentations I’ve read. His opinion article A Modest Proposal, echoes the 1729 satirical piece of the same title by Jonathan Swift, who suggested acidly that the famine problem in Ireland might be cured easily by having the Irish eat their own children. Not only would this provide them needed nourishment and benefit Irish society as a whole, but the smaller population would reduce future needs for food.
Mr. Greenberg writes:
“Did you see Arlen Specter’s justification for subsidizing stem cell research on human embryos?
“The senator from Pennsylvania noted that “there are some 400,000 of these frozen embryos, which were created for in-vitro fertilization, which are going to be thrown away . . . .” So why not put them to good use?
“For some reason - can’t imagine why - listening to the senator brought back the reasoning that German doctors once used to justify their experiments on concentration camp inmates. They were going to die anyway; why just throw them away?
“.... The trick is not to think of the subjects of these experiments as human, but as Jews, Slavs, Gypsies . . . the eugenically undesirable. And remember that they were doomed anyway, and you can see the (brutal) logic of it.
That’s the trick in this case, too: Think of these embryos as something other than human, not as microcosms somehow programmed to turn into fully developed human beings with all of a human being’s capacity for good - and evil.
“Think of them as microscopic dots, as pre-human, or under-human, literally untermenschen, and anything we do with them is ethically permissible. Even commendable. Focus instead on the future patients to be helped, the suffering alleviated, the scientific breakthroughs that await, the progress (and maybe profits) to be made.
“Call the subjects of these experiments blastocysts, surplus embryos, pre-embryos, whatever, but don’t let on that they’re what all humans are at that stage of our development.
“The secret of promoting scientific research on human embryos is not to call them human embryos.”
Willingness to think of humans in the abstract and as masses and classes, rather than as individual persons created in the image of God, is one of the basic characteristics of liberal-socialism in the United States and of socialism in all of its varieties elsewhere. Liberals preen themselves as champions of the “little guy,” but can’t look individual “little guys” in the face and do what is right for them on a one-to-one, individual basis. Liberals convert individuals into Social Security numbers and deal with them clinically and abstractly as statistical classes.
Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s great champion in the 1860s, declared that Darwinian evolution had “proved” that there is no God, no Divine order to the world, no sin, no right or wrong, just the struggle for survival. Having accepted that as scientific truth, today’s intellectuals of the liberal variety have no qualms about using other humans as stem-cell sources for the unproved possibility that health benefits may accrue therefrom.
We saw the same callous attitude by liberals in the 1930s when confronted with the brutalities and mass murders of Lenin and Stalin. After all, they said, one has to break a few eggs to make an omelette. What are a few million lives when measured against the prospect of socialism’s perfecting human nature and human society?
What are a few million human lives against the possibility that some hot-shot researcher may win a Nobel Prize for medical research?
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Saturday, June 25, 2005
Kartik Ariyur Answers Steve Kellmeyer
The fascinating discussion of basic principle continues.
I would first like to thank Steve Kellmeyer for making more precise the parameters of the debate. Herein I continue the process, through which, hopefully, we will all understand the issues better. At this time however, many questions are, to my mind, unanswered.
Firstly, it is not true that Indian accomplishments in various fields are isolated. Grammar, mathematics—indeed, a large part of its foundation (including the zero, infinity, and the decimal representation), and other schools of philosophy (some empirical), music as a science (understanding of frequency ratios and harmonics, the system of musical scales), and even economics (The Arthasastra—which indeed noted how some rulers inflated currency in 300 BC) were all devised by schools of scholars. This is evident from the fact that they mentioned schools of scholars investigating problems, and referred to several preceding texts, now unavailable (most destroyed, some available in Arabic translation, though not in the original).
Most such large scale studies were ended by the Islamic invasion and occupation of India, during which the universities of ancient India (the ones at Taxila and Nalanda were around for more than a 1000 years), and other institutions of learning were destroyed (millions of books were burned because some of the invaders believed that anything not in the Koran was not knowledge—unlike the Arabs of just a few centuries before). However, some schools existed in regions in the deep South outside Islamic control—there a school of mathematicians, for example developed a lot of the calculus 200 years before Newton and Leibniz (from what we know now, they were not the first; Archimedes got several results of the integral calculus, as shown by a newly discovered book of his).
It was only in the 17th or 18th centuries that physical knowledge, and income in the West began to overtake that in India and China. For most of history, these nations have been the richest in the world, because they had more knowledge than other nations. Gunpowder, the magnetic compass, paper, and printing were all invented in the East (China/India). A question that arises now is whether three hundred years of greater European progress in science suffices to draw the conclusion that the outlook of Eastern religion prevents scientific progress?
The growth of scientific knowledge in the Western world appears to have begun when it obtained through the Arabs, the learning of Greece (e.g., Homer, the dramatists and philosophers, and Euclidean geometry), and India (e.g., algebra, trigonometry, and the number system). So a question that arises naturally is—why did little or no progress take place before? Why was the library of Alexandria destroyed (or permitted to burn)? Why were the Greek schools of philosophy destroyed? Would we ascribe all these to Christianity?
Coming to more recent times, should we ascribe Marxism, Darwinian evolution, and Freudian psychology to Western Christianity? May it not be that it just took time for the masses in the West to begin to understand the Bible, a process continuing to this day?
Other questions arise from the statements in the Bible itself. Does not Jesus counsel seeking first the kingdom of God, and to ?Sell that ye have and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, where no moth corrupteth,?? Similar commandments are followed by Christian monks and nuns throughout the world, and by religious communities such as the Amish. And is it not possible that the Lord Jesus or Saint Francis knew much more about Reality and the laws governing it than we generally know today, given the actions they accomplished? So the more interesting question is—how did so much material progress happen in the West in spite of a religion of renunciation?
May it not be that the difficulties of survival in cold weather may have a part in the development? For the greatest contributions to science in the Western world have been from the colder climes. Why have Spain, Portugal, Greece, the Balkans, and Latin America not contributed much to this progress?
It is true that the religious ideal has drawn the most intelligent in India (and to some extent in China as well) to become monks and nuns. The Hindu scriptures define the Creator as ever existing, ever conscious, ever new Bliss. This Bliss is perceived as the consciousness is freed of desires for sensory gratification.
What Steve calls Eastern mysticism is a systematic procedure of moral discipline that enables one to regain one?s lost memory of oneness with the Uncreated Infinite (there is nothing mysterious about it—the methods are available in print). Such a system of moral discipline is not unique to the East; similar methods are found in the Bible as well. But it is also true that very few individuals in any generation have been able to follow these steps precisely, because they are difficult.
However, there have always been enough saints (mostly serving society by working in humble obscurity) that at least one individual in almost every family in India has seen what would be commonly called a miracle—this is the reason for the enduring faith of the masses. I, for example, having seen, have no option but to believe. I know that the Bliss of God is much more tempting than any other temptation, and under Its influence, there is no desire but to do His Will. So I can understand why many donated their wealth to charity, left home and comfort to seek the Divine.
But certainly, the pursuit of Truth, to the exclusion of all material responsibilities by the most intelligent, while producing a few spiritual giants has deprived society of much material progress (relative to other nations) in the past few centuries. The West, on the other hand, has focussed primarily on material progress in recent centuries, resulting in moral and thence social problems (though these have been mitigated by the emphasis on charity and religious organization in Western Christianity). Clearly, a balance is needed between spiritual and material pursuits so that we have sustainable development of societies. This balance is coming about, certainly in the USA as individuals give more time to religious activity.
I next come to the point of whether Christianity or Platonic philosophy consider Reality to be perceptible by the senses. Clearly, Christ said that the Kingdom of God is within you?doesn?t it point to Reality being discoverable within? Didn?t St. Thomas Aquinas throw away his books into the fire when he perceived the Truth (the Formless Christ) within?
The Holy Ghost brings all things to remembrance—isn?t it saying that we inherently know all things? The statement that man is made in the image of God also says we inherently know all things. Is our religious faith based on sensory evidence? The Biblical definition of faith, ?Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,? appears contrary to such a view. We think because we exist, and the assumption of our existence and that of a Substance of which the objects of senses are properties, precedes all of our thought processes, and not vice versa.
Now, even if only intuition were to provide understanding of ultimate Reality, there is no reason why individuals and society should not ascertain causal relationships empirically, even if they not be absolute (may not apply to all of space-time) or if they are transient (recent experiments measuring the velocity of light reveal a possible time-variation), in order to reduce the uncertainty of our lives and thereby to increase our happiness.
Socrates states in the Phaedo that the senses are deceitful, and in the Meno, the doctrine of anamnesis is laid out—that the soul has known all things before, and by asking the slave the correct sequence of questions, Socrates gets him to arrive at the area of a square whose side is the diagonal of another (irrational number). Many great mathematicians and scientists were Platonists (Einstein, Godel,...)—as are several of my colleagues. They believe in the eternal existence of ideas, which are discoverable by the mind. We do know that all of the abstractions of mathematics are never exactly realized in the world—there are no straight lines, or triangles or circles outside of our thoughts. And Einstein expressed this as, ?As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.?
This is because all our measurements necessarily have noise in them and the conclusions from those measurements therefore are uncertain to the extent that the measurements are uncertain. Noise always means the part of the measurement that we cannot understand or control. The simplest representation of the universe is the universe itself—unless you measured all of space-time, you would always have uncertain measurements.
The principle of uncertainty in quantum mechanics (?p*?x??/2 for the three components of momentum and position, and ?E*?t??/2 for energy and time) is a statement of the fundamental limits of our processes of measurement, the extensions of our senses; indeed it is derivable from the Cramer-Rao inequality of classical measurement theory. Hence, our measurements only permit theories about the relations between emergent or collective phenomena of the microscopic world?they do not permit direct measurements of the quanta.
Any of a number of mathematical equations can fit all of the data?in fact, this is true in quantum mechanics?there are alternate theories based on looking on the subatomic particles as charge distributions (originally the view of Millikan) and they yield agreement on the spectra of the hydrogen atom, the Rydberg constant, and other standard tests of quantum theory. For further understanding, I would recommend study of the book Collective Electrodynamics: Quantum Foundations of Electromagnetism, by Carver Mead (has some mathematics, but should be readable even for the mathematically untrained) ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0262133784/qid=1119734882/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-0999401-3676814?v=glance&s=books ), and A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down, by Robert B. Laughlin ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/046503828X/qid=1119734730/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-0999401-3676814?v=glance&s=books ).
But if we are made in the image of God, is it not possible that we may receive within our perception, all of space-time?
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Eminent Domain: Random Thoughts
Urban renewal or big business boondoggle?
The Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London has ruled that local governments have essentially unlimited rights to confiscate private property, so long as such action is declared to be for a public purpose.
That decision prompts a couple of random observations.
First, most controversial eminent domain cases have involved some sort of urban renewal project. Not too many of those projects have been successful over the decades. Utica, New York, comes to mind, as an example. A Utica resident once said that seemingly the only industry in Utica is urban planning, a process that has been repeated without great success for decades by every new city administration.
Cities like Utica and New London, Connecticut, the subject of the Supreme Court decision, are in trouble, not because of lack of urban planning, but because of high taxes, excessive regulation, and a generally anti-business, socialistic public policy. What they need is fewer labor unions and fewer liberal-socialist citizens who have become addicted to massive, and ferociously expensive, public welfare programs that run the gamut from money thrown unaccountably down the rat hole of public education (read teachers’ union perks), to mandatory, all-inclusive insurance benefits to workers. In short, ongoing operating costs are just as important in determining business locations as their land costs.
New London is a good example. If it were truly the best location for Pfizer’s new office buildings, New London would not have to subsidize Pfizer’s investment by acting as the company’s real estate acquisition agent. Pfizer would simply use real estate brokers in the time-tested fashion to assemble a suitable block of properties at fair market values. People who preferred not to sell would not be compelled to do so. If Pfizer found New London sufficiently attractive without indirect city subsidies, it would simply raise the prices it paid for land to sufficiently high enough levels to persuade local homeowners to sell.
Additional factors are things like crime rates in the neighborhood and transportation. There is a reason why major businesses prefer Wall Street and mid-town Manhattan to Harlem and the South Bronx for office locations. There is a reason why manufacturing and distribution facilities are more likely to be found on the outskirts of cities alongside major highways. Many older cities have industrial area locations that require trucks to make numerous and costly stops at traffic lights and in heavy traffic to move from plants and warehouses to major highways. A more historically based use of eminent domain would be acquiring properties to build better highway access for all businesses between major highways and industrial locations.
Second, urban planning itself is inescapably a socialistic process to the extent it goes beyond highway access, better traffic patterns using one-way streets, wider streets, and crime prevention. Planning writ large is the European Union, run by socialistic bureaucrats in Brussels.
City planning became a fetish in the Progressive era in the early decades of the 20th century. Ironically, accepted doctrine then was that manufacturing plants needed to be multi-story affairs in densely populated areas, within walking distance of workers or with access to streetcar lines. In other words, the best socialistic minds of the era designed what is one of the biggest deterrents for business location today. One of the great success stories of the post-World War II era is Houston, Texas, which is notable for having no zoning restrictions. The market establishes land prices, thus land uses. Most importantly, Texas is a business-friendly state, compared to Connecticut or New York.
Residents of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other Eastern socialistic states complain that they send more tax dollars to Washington than come back as benefit programs. The way to deal with that is not to pay subsidies to companies like Pfizer by acquiring land for them, but to stop electing people like Teddy Kennedy and Christopher Dodd.
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Thursday, June 23, 2005
Human Defined: Earth’s Choicemaker
The missing element in every human solution is an accurate definition of the creature.
The following article is by James Fletcher Baxter, who presents an interesting analysis of life in the contemporary world, from the aspect of eternity.
The HUMAN PARADIGM Consider: The missing element in every human ‘solution’ is an accurate definition of the creature. The way we define ‘human’ determines our view of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Important? Only the Creator who made us in His own image is qualified to define us accurately. Choose wisely…there are results.
In an effort to diminish the multiple and persistent dangers and abuses which have characterized the affairs of man in his every Age, and to assist in the requisite search for human identity, it is essential to perceive and specify that distinction which naturally and most uniquely defines the human being. Because definitions rule in the minds, behaviors, and institutions of men, we can be confident that delineating and communicating that quality will assist the process of resolution and the courageous ascension to which man is called. As Americans of the 21st Century, we are obliged and privi- leged to join our forebears and participate in this continuing paradigm proclamation.
“WHAT IS MAN…?” God asks - and answers:
Many problems in human experience are the result of false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised in man- made religions and humanistic philosophies.
Human knowledge is a fraction of the whole universe. The balance is a vast void of human ignorance. Human reason cannot fully function in such a void; thus, the intellect can rise no higher than the criteria by which it perceives and measures values.
Humanism makes man his own standard of measure. However, as with all measuring systems, a standard must be greater than the value measured. Based on preponderant ignorance and an egocentric carnal nature, humanism demotes reason to the simpleton task of excuse-making in behalf of the rule of appetites, desires, feelings, emotions, and glands.
Because man, hobbled in an ego-centric predicament, cannot invent criteria greater than himself, the humanist lacks a predictive capability. Without instinct or transcendent criteria, humanism cannot evaluate options with foresight and vision for progression and survival. Lacking foresight, man is blind to potential consequence and is unwittingly committed to mediocrity, averages, and regression - and worse. Humanism is an unworthy worship.
The void of human ignorance can easily be filled with a functional faith while not-so-patiently awaiting the foot- dragging growth of human knowledge and behavior. Faith, initiated by the Creator and revealed and validated in His Word, the Bible, brings a transcendent standard to man the choice-maker. Other philosophies and religions are man- made, humanism, and thereby lack what only the Bible has:
1.Transcendent Criteria and 2.Fulfilled Prophetic Validation.
The vision of faith in God and His Word is survival equip- ment for today and the future.
Human is earth’s Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by nature and nature’s God a creature of Choice - and of Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural foundation of his environments, institutions, and respectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is oriented to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the universe.
At the sub-atomic level of the physical universe quantum physics indicates a multifarious gap or division in the causal chain; particles to which position cannot be assigned at all times, systems that pass from one energy state to another without manifestation in intermediate states, entities without mass, fields whose substance is as insubstantial as “a probability.”
Only statistical conglomerates pay tribute to deterministic forces. Singularities do not and are therefore random, unpredictable, mutant, and in this sense, uncaused. The finest contribution inanimate reality is capable of making toward choice, without its own selective agencies, is this continuing manifestation of opportunity as the pre-condition to choice it defers to the natural action of living forms.
Biological science affirms that each level of life, single-cell to man himself, possesses attributes of sensitivity, discrimination, and selectivity, and in the exclusive and unique nature of each diversified life form.
The survival and progression of life forms has all too often been dependent upon the ever-present undeterminative potential and appearance of one unique individual organism within the whole spectrum of a given life-form. Only the uniquely equipped individual organism is, like The Golden Wedge of Ophir, capable of traversing the causal gap to survival and progression. Mere reproductive determinacy would have rendered life forms incapable of such potential. Only a moving universe of opportunity plus choice enables the present reality.
Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact- ing internal mental and external physical selectivity. Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.
Man is earth’s Choicemaker. His title describes his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall that his other features are but vehicles of experience intent on the development of perceptive awareness and the following acts of decision. Note that the products of man cannot define him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-making process and include the cognition of self, the utility of experience, the development of value-measuring systems and language, and the acculturation of civilization.
The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits, customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the creative process, is a choice-making process. His articles, constructs, and commodities, however marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idolatry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth’s own highest expression of the creative process.
Man is earth’s Choicemaker. The sublime and significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the forces of cause and effect to an elected level of quality and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and bestows earth’s title, The Choicemaker, on his singular and plural brow.
Deterministic systems, ideological symbols of abdication by man from his natural role as earth’s Choicemaker, inevitably degenerate into collectivism; the negation of singularity, they become a conglomerate plural-based system of measuring human value. Blunting an awareness of diversity, blurring alternatives, and limiting the selective creative process, they are self-relegated to a passive and circular regression.
Tampering with man’s selective nature endangers his survival for it would render him impotent and obsolete by denying the tools of diversity, individuality, perception, criteria, selectivity, and progress. Coercive attempts produce revulsion, for such acts are contrary to an indeterminate nature and nature’s indeterminate off-spring, man the Choicemaker.
Until the oppressors discover that wisdom only just begins with a respectful acknowledgment of The Creator, The Creation, and The Choicemaker, they will be ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. The rejection of Creator-initiated standards relegates the mind of man to its own primitive, empirical, and delimited devices. It is thus that the human intellect cannot ascend and function at any level higher than the criteria by which it perceives and measures values.
Additionally, such rejection of transcendent criteria self-denies man the vision and foresight essential to decision-making for survival and progression. He is left, instead, with the redundant wreckage of expensive hind- sight, including human institutions characterized by averages, mediocrity, and regression.
Humanism, mired in the circular and mundane egocentric predicament, is ill-equipped to produce transcendent criteria. Evidenced by those who do not perceive superiority and thus find themselves beset by the shifting winds of the carnal-ego; i.e., moods, feelings, desires, appetites, etc., the mind becomes subordinate: a mere device for excuse-making and rationalizing self-justifica- tion.
The carnal-ego rejects criteria and self-discipline for such instruments are tools of the mind and the attitude. The appetites of the flesh have no need of standards for at the point of contention standards are perceived as alien, re- strictive, and inhibiting. Yet, the very survival of our physical nature itself depends upon a maintained sover- eignty of the mind and of the spirit.
It remained, therefore, to the initiative of a personal and living Creator to traverse the human horizon and fill the vast void of human ignorance with an intelli- gent and definitive faith. Man is thus afforded the prime tool of the intellect - a Transcendent Standard by which he may measure values in experience, anticipate results, and make enlightened and visionary choices. Only the unique and superior God-man Person can deserved- ly displace the ego-person from his predicament and free the individual to measure values and choose in a more excellent way. That sublime Person was indicated in the words of the prophet Amos, “...said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel.” Y’shua Mashiyach Jesus said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto myself.”
As long as some choose to abdicate their personal reality and submit to the delusions of humanism, determinism, and collectivism, just so long will they be subject and re- acting only, to be tossed by every impulse emanating from others. Those who abdicate such reality may, in perfect justice, find themselves weighed in the balances of their own choosing.
That human institution which is structured on the principle, “...all men are endowed by their Creator with ...Liberty…,” is a system with its roots in the natural Order of the universe. The opponents of such a system are necessarily engaged in a losing contest with nature and nature’s God. Biblical principles are still today the foundation under Western Civilization and the American way of life. To the advent of a new season we commend the present generation and the “multitudes in the valley of decision.”
Let us proclaim it. Behold! The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV
CONTEMPORARY COMMENTS “I should think that if there is one thing that man has learned about himself it is that he is a creature of choice.” Richard M. Weaver
“Man is a being capable of subduing his emotions and impulses; he can rationalize his behavior. He arranges his wishes into a scale, he chooses; in short, he acts. What distinguishes man from beasts is precisely that he adjusts his behavior deliberately.” Ludwig von Mises
“To make any sense of the idea of morality, it must be presumed that the human being is responsible for his actions and responsibility cannot be understood apart from the presumption of freedom of choice.” John Chamberlain
“The advocate of liberty believes that it is complementary of the orderly laws of cause and effect, of probability and of chance, of which man is not completely informed. It is complementary of them because it rests in part upon the faith that each individual is endowed by his Creator with the power of individual choice.” Wendell J. Brown
“These examples demonstrate a basic truth—that human dignity is embodied in the free choice of individuals.” Condoleeza Rice
“Our Founding Fathers believed that we live in an ordered universe. They believed themselves to be a part of the universal order of things. Stated another way, they believed in God. They believed that every man must find his own place in a world where a place has been made for him. They sought independence for their nation but, more importantly, they sought freedom for individuals to think and act for themselves. They established a republic dedicated to one purpose above all others - the preserva- tion of individual liberty…” Ralph W. Husted
“We have the gift of an inner liberty so far-reaching that we can choose either to accept or reject the God who gave it to us, and it would seem to follow that the Author of a liberty so radical wills that we should be equally free in our relationships with other men. Spiritual liberty logically demands conditions of outer and social freedom for its completion.” Edmund A. Opitz
“Above all I see an ability to choose the better from the worse that has made possible life’s progress.” Charles Lindbergh
“Freedom is the Right to Choose, the Right to create for oneself the alternatives of Choice. Without the possibil- ity of Choice, and the exercise of Choice, a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing.” Thomas Jefferson
THE QUESTION AND THE ANSWER Q: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” Psalm 8:4 A: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19
Q: “Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that you are mindful of him?” Psalm 144:3 A: “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Q: “What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous?” Job 15:14 A: “Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way he chooses.” Psalm 25:12 Q: “What is man, that You should magnify him, that You should set Your heart on him?” Job 7:17 A: “Do not envy the oppressor and choose none of his ways.” Proverbs 3:31
Q: “What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You take care of him?” Hebrews 2:6 A: “I have chosen the way of truth; your judgments I have laid before me.” Psalm 119:30 “Let Your hand become my help, for I have chosen Your precepts.“Psalm 119:173
?Genesis 3:3,6 Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 30:19 Job 5:23
?Isaiah 7:14-15; 13:12; 61:1 Amos 7:8 Joel 3:14
?Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Psalm 119:1-176
Sir Isaac Newton The greatest scientist in human history a Bible-Believing Christian an authority on the Bible’s Book of Daniel committed to individual value and individual liberty
Daniel 9:25-26 Habakkuk 2:2-3 KJV selah
?“What is man…?” Earth’s Choicemaker Psalm 25:12 KJV
??An old/new paradigm - Mr. Jefferson would agree!
????????????(There is no alternative!)
?????????????????????+ + +
“Man cannot make or invent or contrive principles. He
can only discover them and he ought to look through the
discovery to the Author.”—Thomas Paine 1797
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Steve Kellmeyer’s Rebuttal
A reply to comments by Kartik Ariyur.
In a recent posting, Kartik Ariyur disagreed with interpretations of Eastern religions offered by Steve Kellmeyer in his article, which appeared in the Intellectual Conservative website, and was referenced here, under the title “Science of Theology, the Religion of Physics: Part I.”
The following is Mr. Kellmeyer’s reply to Mr. Ariyur:
Kartik Ariyur may be well versed in what we in the West call Hinduism, but he seems to lack the necessary grounding in science. Take his statement “...the world is not as you perceive through the senses. Reality can only be perceived through the intuition—indeed, this has been the case—we have perceived certain mathematical structures in nature and then deviced the measurements to verify them.”
Scientific tools are merely extensions of the senses. Furthermore, it is emphatically not the case that reality is perceived through intuition. Most of the discoveries in quantum physics have been counter-intuitive, for example.
Further, if Eastern mysticism was so amenable to science, why did it not produce a culture that created science wholesale and retail as the West did? Certainly we see isolated Indian accomplishments in mathematics and a few other fields, accomplishments due primarily to the spark of an individually brilliant mind, but we never see the detailed study of reality that the West accomplished.
India did not lack the intellect for the work, she lacked the outlook. The outlook lacked because Hinduism, as Kartik points out, says precisely what science denies - the world cannot be accurately perceived through the senses. Science insists the world CAN be accurately perceived through the senses and those tools which extend the senses.
Sadly, Kartik’s “rebuttal” merely reinforced my point. When we say “reality exists” we necessarily mean that we can determine its characteristics through our senses. As Kartik affirms, Indian mysticism denies this. Thus, Western physics is an expression of Western Christianity.