Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Falling through the Net’ Category

The Machinery of Freedom?

Lately I have engaged in a number of arguments with people supporting anarcho-capitalist notions. Many of the most extreme of these not only will throw out ambiguous desires for no government, but some of them have stumbled upon a few obfuscatory references to support their claims – or so it appears. Many those immediately point to the same video on youtube (The Machinery of Freedom).

mof

I’m reluctant to post a link to that post, because it’s a bunch of nice sounding rhetoric that makes the ideas of the Anarcho Capitalists seem workable – or at least sound more appealing. From what I understand, it’s an excerpt from a book (?) of the same name. I will admit I have not read the book, as of yet, I see no compelling reason to do so, especially if this excerpt is a representative example of the kinds of arguments the book attempts to make. The video in particular is talking about how police and courts can be handled by private ‘agencies’ like insurance agencies but with policing powers.

My take on ‘Anarchistic’ (non) government

Let me take an aside for a moment and speak to my own opinions of Anarchistic systems I have heard proposed and what I assert the consequences would be. In general, any time in history an anarchistic system is either established intentionally or results consequentially anywhere that a prior existing ‘government’ system (tyrannical or representative), the inevitable result in virtually all cases is for the society or region to fall quickly into tyranny. About the only exception to this is ‘frontier’ states where a migration of people are in the process of moving in, and the government they came from eventually moves in with them. (in other words, the desire is to bring not only themselves, but their culture and the means to maintain it with them)
As a result, I assert that the only time an anarchistic system can exist is when any other form of government is impracticable. Namely when the population is so low and the people are so spread out that a formal government is not only something that would be unfeasible, but is mostly unnecessary.

Some banter around words like ‘anarcho-socialism’ which is even more of an absurdity. A pseudo-marxist voluntary system where everyone just gets along and shares out of their love of the common good. (Whenever I hear this one, I start looking to see if the person is wearing Ruby slippers and chanting “There’s no place like social utopia… There’s no place like social utopia…”)

The basic conclusions that I arrive at whenever I examine suggested ‘anarchistic’ systems is that they will degrade into uncontrolled in fighting between ‘factions’ that spring up – aka ‘tribalism’ and ad-hoc governments will start to spring up despite any desire forbid governments (or certain types of them) to exist. Ultimately, the most brazen and charismatic leaders of these tribal factions will begin to gain a power base which will cause others in less powerful factions to side with the few remaining. The more brutal and irrational, without a basis of rules, will be the one that wins and it will either be beholden too or have to outright attack those with the most wealth first in order to achieve it’s ends. And those ends are tyranny rampant with brutality.

To the credit of the ‘anarchist’ thinkers, I am prone to agree with them that government based systems are also prone to a slow creep to tyranny regardless. But I’m also prone to think that a properly formed government will last far longer and produce better results than any ad-hoc system which is what ultimately results from any anarcho-based system. The best argument I ever heard in favor of anarchy was someone that didn’t describe it as lack of organized government, but a lack of ‘rulers’ – based on the original etymology of the word. At least the view is honest. (although the individual that communicated this to me was one of the ones that forwarded me the link to the video mentioned above)

So what about these Agencies?

In regard to the system outlined in the video itself (and any closely related to it), upon watching the whole thing, my most immediate questions are:

  1. how is that not going to continually erupt into conflict when two (or more) ‘competing’ agencies are marketing their ‘services’ to different groups with different interests and goals?
    and
  2. what is going to prevent that from eroding into serving primarily the ‘clients’ with the biggest pockets and/or most friends?

posseI used to bring up examples of the old west, and while I understand that the stories of the shootouts were more the exception than the norm, the nature of the law being somewhat ‘flexible’ based on whoever had the most gumption and the biggest posse was the only ‘working’ example of what they were talking about that I was aware of. And there were enough examples in the old west of that system failing to reach proper ‘justice’ and thus not being as ‘peachy’ as they describe it. So i always challenge people supporting such ideas to give a ‘working example’.

The honest ones will try to suggest, that just like the minarchism (which is what I support) in the US, it’s a bold, new idea that has never been tried but should be. The less honest will try to point to places where the anarchistic nature of the (lack of) government was simply a consequence of the nomadic or spread out population involved. One such example someone raised was Greenland – I looked it up. As soon as the population started to rise, the imperial influences in Europe came in and enacted a totalitarian regime.

Has it really never been tried?

But as I watched that video, something about what they were describing sounded familiar. And not from the old west. But at first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I ended up watching some portions of it a couple of times and finally it hit me. It has been tried. A lot. The thing that I couldn’t hit on is that I had this impression in my head – it came initially as just a hunch, but once I realized the nature of what they were describing, I realized there were examples of it – that the only way there can be ‘multiple agencies’ in a single region is if the agencies have very similar goals and if those agencies have formal agreements (i.e. “government”) between one another not only as to how they will pursue those goals to mutual benefit, but to address what to do when their goals come into conflict.

Any other instance of multiple agencies with competing goals being in the same geographical region, as I was inclined to think, break down into endless conflict or results in the multiple agencies drawing lines in the sand based on whatever geography each of them can secure and defend. And even then, the feelings of resentment from their ‘customers’ carry on for years, even decades and centuries and conflicts at their borders generally continue with that resentment. People who used to live on one side of the line want back what they had. People who were moved against their will want to strike back.

Then the money and influence is also exemplified over and over again. Agencies as they describe, do in fact pander and cater to specific desires of the ‘customers’ they claim to represent. If those in charge of an agency, once confined to a given set of geography, feel bold enough, they will even turn on their customers and use the power they have amassed for their own ends. And even when this doesn’t happen, money and influence constantly peck at the doors and convince some running or working for the agencies to suit their needs above the needs of the rest of the ‘customers’.

History is the evidence

No, the anarcho-capitalist’s “agency” approach isn’t anything new at all. They just fail to see how the mixing of opposed ‘customers’ does turn into an endless shootout. It’s happened. In Israel. In Ireland. In Rowanda. In Korea. In Viet Nam. In Cambodia. In Eastern Europe.

If you haven’t figured it out yet yourself, the corollary is international politics. And ask anyone if they want a system that mirrors the one that spawned holy wars, inquisitions, imperial conquests, world wars, nuclear cold wars, etc. I have a feeling, anyone with a brain will say ‘NO’!

international

Read Full Post »

No doubt we’ve all see the zombie Jesus by now

but seriously folks – same concept if done without the sardonicism:

  • that out of this huge, trillions of years old, trillions of trillions of miles across universe full of literally countless numbers of galaxies each of those full of countless stars – many with dozens or even hundreds of planets, some with surrounding moons….
  • that it was all created by a single God (and here’s the good part):
    • who looks just like us!
    • who built it all just for us!
    • and just because of us.
  • and that despite the absolute immensity in both size and age of the universe, it all is here just so a little ape that learned to walk upright and come up with a few thousand word vocabulary can eventually die in a few short decades and go to some magic place (outside this immense universe mind you) where nothing ever goes wrong.
  • and of course, on this little rock alone, there are over 5000 different versions of that particular type of story – and the vast majority of any group believing any partilcular story, each thinks they are the only one(s) that have it right and thus the only one(s) going to the ‘magic place’.

uh, yeah. riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

(and to think I’ve been called arrogant and self-righteous by the religious.)

Read Full Post »

The following is a response I recently sent to an email that was forwarded to me.  The email included a number of quotations of sales figures of Walmart (with what appeared to be old numbers) comparing them to other chains and eventually criticizing government operations going on in the present. From what I could tell it was praise of Walmart in light of all the demonization going on by the progressive left. But I expanded on it a bit.

From the original email:

  1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day.
  2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
  3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
  4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.
  5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world’s largest private employer, and most speak English.
  6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.
  7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined, and  keep in mind they did this in only fifteen years.
  8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought bankruptcy.
  9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
  10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had five years ago.
  11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores. (Earth’s population is approximately 6.5 Billion.)
  12. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.

I then went on to add:

Here’s some other numbers. Walmart currently employs 2.1 million people worldwide. For those of you counting, that amounts to about 1.5% of all the working people (amounting to 140 million) in the country. i.e. if we had about 9 more companies like Walmart, there would be no unemployment right now. The average wage of those employees is not high, but the average skill needed to work at a Walmart isn’t incredibly complex. The average is about $11.75 per hour. (the national average for retail employees is right about $12 per hour, but Walmart also has many programs that involve part-time employment of retirees and special ‘needs’ people. This average is also well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25)

The national poverty line is currently at $22,000 which would also place the annual wage of walmart ($20,744) slightly below that amount, but they also offer benefits and profit share programs to many of their full-time employees. But one should also consider that if a single household has two people working at Walmart making the average wage, that places the total household income above $40,000 per year, well into the so-called ‘middle class’.

Just for sake of argument though, Walmart did post $15 billion in profit last year. So perhaps they should increase wages. With 2.1 million employees and annual (net profit) earnings of 15 billion, if they spent every cent of their profits on raises, that would amount to a great big whopping $3.50 per hour raising the average annual earnings of each employee to $29,000 per year.

Of course, large corporations don’t exist to post no profit. Stockholders don’t buy stock to have no earnings.

So how’s about some other numbers? The US government spends $121,000 dollars per second. To pay for this, they have to borrow $52,000 every second. This means that in 1 minute, the US government eats up $7,264,020 in money that otherwise could have been profits for companies such as Walmart. That’s $435,841,200 per hour, $10,460,188,800 per day.

And of course, the government doesn’t exist to post any profit. So what are they paying as an average salary from all this money they are spending from other people’s productivity? The average federal employee made about $68,000 per year in 2008. And we are upset at Walmart? For what? Making money? THOSE BASTARDS!

Read Full Post »

I came to realize something blatantly in error with one of my prior self quotes. It’s one that I am rather fond of so the realization was something I felt worthy of clarification. The problem isn’t so much an inaccuracy of the sentiment as it was a fault of omission. Below is the quote I refer to from my facebook stati tab:

I intend to leave the quote as is, but will point a link back to this posting for further details. The omitted concept is one that any reasonable person would consider implied within the statement and thus it’s not immediately necessary to belabor the quote with unnecessary detail. But since some folks like to stir muck, additional pre-emptive explanation should steal any such deviant’s thunder before they get the opportunity.

The omitted concept is in relation to the words ‘should not morally do’ in relation to a role a taken on behalf of the people by a government entity. When I say that the government be enlisted to do things that the people “morally” should not undertake for themselves, this assumes that the thing being undertaken exists as a moral action to be done on their behalf.

Upon discovering this omission, it occurred to me current government behaviors such as the act of ‘redistributing’ wealth (a role I condemn as both immoral and unconstitutional) might be considered condone-able actions for a ‘government’ to undertake in their stead by way of this omission. This is not what I meant in the slightest.

Instead, I refer to things such as the prosecution of criminal acts after-the-fact or the execution of foreign relations and the role of national defense when facing an imminent threat from a foreign power. Acts of diplomacy must reflect the combined will of the entire population governed and no one individual or small group should be morally allowed to endanger the lives of others or take it upon themselves to extol justice or declare war on foreign nations.

So I just wanted to clear this up before anyone chose to make an attempt at exploiting any potential ambiguity in that particular quote’s wording.

Read Full Post »

I have spoken on this before in other threads, but I was updating the comments on a picture by repeating it so I thought it might also be worthy of a blog post to re-iterate the statements. (not to mention, I have been busy with work and haven’t had the energy to post much, so why not?)

Religion supersedes self-esteem by replacing the source of it with what I call ‘God-esteem’. When you combine the church notion that you can’t understand God or his mysterious ‘plan’ with the fact that the purpose for being is to ‘please God’, the notion of anything that is good or bad, including yourself and all your choices, actions and behaviors, is only good if God says it is good. Then you end up with a surrogate esteem through the perceived ideal that is the religion’s notion of ‘God’.

Of course, without proof of this God or proof of the alleged consequences of him (proof that it is his ‘word’ in the bible/torah/koran/book-of-the-dead, etc, proof that he/she/it speaks through the religion’s priests/ministers/missionaries/rabbis/monks/imam, etc.) then you are just as bound to the notion of faith to believe in this God as you are bound to rely _only_ on faith to know what this God wants and that what you are being told he wants is in fact true. (and I have as of yet to see a single instance where what is wanted is communicated by anything other than ‘other men’ or women)

For some time I was confused as to how people so boldly and arrogantly hung on to beliefs and stubbornly not only disagreed with, but ultimately “shut out” any valid or reasonable criticisms of those beliefs — and then in turn called that process of shutting out alternate views as virtuous! It was like they cling to their faith-based ideas as though their lives depended upon it.

But if their entire sense of self-esteem, all they have lived for and based their choices upon is hinged upon the existence of this being and the faith-derived notion that this being sees their life as good, then their entire sense of esteem does in fact rely upon that God existing, and existing as they perceive it to exist.

They cling to those beliefs as though their life and all that is good about it depends on it…. they cling to it as such, because in fact it does!

Read Full Post »

I used to worry that natural selection was being contradicted in modern civilized society.  We’re doing things like creating ‘super-bug’ diseases through over-use of antibiotics, meanwhile we seem to be coming up with ways to allow people with all sorts of maladies and genetic no-nos live and produce offspring. A human thing to do, but hardly a way to upgrade the gene pool!

I also worried that ideas were subject to the ‘noise’ factor, especially since the exploding popularity of the internet and talk radio. There is so much information out there and many of the sources are so highly questionable. (I would qualify this with ‘on the net’ but it seems with a couple hundred cable channels, even television is not a reliable source for ‘accurate’ information and journalism is more about ratings chasing than about integrity of information)

I realized last night, neither is true. Or at least neither is worth worrying about.

The Helix Epiphany

Sometimes it is funny how seemingly unrelated concepts can come together to give you a better picture of something else. Someone was talking the other day about a new theory on how DNA and RNA came into existence over hundreds of millions of years. Some scientists apparently now think that a pseudo natural selection process took place with certain ‘bubble’s or collections of chemicals that proved to be more stable than others eventually spawning primitive re-producing cells. But of course, the story started out mentioning the churning cauldrons of primative earth’s volcanically timultuous seas.

What I realized in regards to natural selection is you can’t look at just your own lifetime or those immediately before and after. Natural selection is a process of many many many generations. To assume it is going to be averted by a hundred years or so of technological civilization that still hasn’t sorted out it’s optimal ‘form(s)’ yet is short sighted.

Internet and Computers as a Collective Memory Aid

And the noise on the internet and talk radio? That is not much unlike that early timultuous sea. One of the other unrelated ideas that came to me was when I was thinking about how useful it has been for me to start blogging. I’ve found since I started it, that it helps me keep my ideas on track and gives me something to refer back to, review and revise as my ideas take form – sort of an external surrogate for my own brain. I can write down and retain small details of events or thoughts that I otherwise might not remember in full clarity as my mind moves on to other things. This is probably not much different than has been the case with people writing journals and diaries for thousands of years…. but!

Now there’s this internet thing, this tumultuous cauldron of untested ideas where everyone is now blogging their thoughts and ideas.  The internet is having a ‘shared’ collective memory and little by little the more radical among them move to the top or the edges to be tested against the extremes of the rest of the bubbling soup. Some succeed and some fail, some gain prominence some are dismissed as idiocy. And the process of technology allows all these noisy intermingling ideas to do this more rapidly than ever in human history.

So then you might worry well ‘what if the bad ideas’ win out somehow? Or worse, what if a ‘bad’ idea proves to be the most ‘fittest’ to survive in such conditions. Really? Then I look at current events. I see socialist ideas failing in Greece and Spain. I see socialist ideas failing in America. I remember back to socialist ideas failing in Russia.  I see comments about Cuba and Venezuala having problems. I see people fighting for more freedoms in China and Libya and Iran.

What gives me hope are the new conventions and arenas for the ideas that advance mankind. Sure, they can be prone to the same misuse and abdication as things in the past, but the sheer velocity of how new ideas can spread now and gain prominence is amazing. It’s like giving gun rights to early Americans. You build in a new expectation upon individual freedom that the anti-gun folks have been spending more than 100 years trying to demonize and destroy. How many people do you suppose would willingly give up their internet access after having it now for less than 15 years?

The key is to not focus upon such a narrow slot of time as an indicator of the dominant trait. It’s a form of anthropomorphism more specific to our own reference point of our own lifespan. Sure, I’d like to see robot shells that could instantly transport me to alpha centauri and back for an afternoon luncheon at the Andromeda Cafe’ – but that’s unrealistic. Change takes time and the process of that change is speeding up. But it’s still going to take time.

It’s a rough ride, but the natural selection is live and well and I welcome the noise! Bring it on!!! The cream rises to the top!

Read Full Post »

Any time the conservatives try to scale back government social welfare, the progressive camp fires up the smear machine to try to convince the dupes in society that the cut backs are going to be solely responsible for kids starving and old people eating cans of dog food. (Yet they never point out that progressive programs such as these led to many people becoming dependent on the government teet in the first place)

So if any of our wonderful progressive leaders are truly worried that the constituents they and their cohorts on the left have put into a state of ‘government dependency’ are going to suddenly need to start living on alpo and tender vittles, send them a can opener so they can make them available to those in need.

The idea was inspired from the last time the progressive machine churned up this same nonsense back in 1995. Rush Limbaugh, speaking at the GOPAC meeting that year stated in mockery of the nonsense at that time:

“I want to welcome all of my fellow extremists as we sit here and plot the death of American seasoned citizens. And I just want to let you people know, I am taking it seriously. I went out and I bought my mother a brand-new can opener so she’ll have no problem opening the dog food.”
– Rush Limbaugh

So as the progressive machine fires up yet again for another round of propaganda nonsense, let’s respond with can openers for their constituents!  For any interested, I started a group on facebook called:


Send ’em a can opener

Click the link and join up to show your support of the idea.

How to contact your representatives

Here are some helpful links to find the addresses for your representatives to help find where to send your can-opener today!

US Senators of the 112th Congress

Write Your US Representative

Places to get can openers online

There are many great sellers online that not only sell can openers but will ship them to the recipient of your choice.  Amazon lists many and they do ‘gift’ based shipping where you can specify the recipient:

Harold 889 can opener

Or if you prefer American made, they also have Coleman brand starting at $0.01

Coleman 807-376T 2 Can Openers

Finally, I understand that the ‘Swing-a-way’ can opener is not only made in the good ole USA but even has an American flag on the package.  So for those of you so inclined I offer one final link as a place to get this option for a few dollars more:

Swing-a-way Can Opener

Read Full Post »

Some time ago I stumbled upon a picture on the internet of a sign in front of a church somewhere.  Below is the picture of the sign:

I posted a copy of this sign to a folder dedicated to such things on my Facebook profile to show an example of the absurdity sometimes exhibited by religious logic.  I saw it as an example of such absurdity due to the inherent flaws in this kind of a statement.

Well, this morning as I was on my way to the grocery store I saw that one of the local Churches along the way has apparently found it admirable to emulate this sign and now bears a similar message.  (I will try to get a photo of it tomorrow to replace this one in my facebook as well as possibly to add to this blog post – first hand evidence is always superior to the anecdotal kind)

I figured as long as I am going to be going by that way to take the photo anyway, it might be worthwhile to drop a quick note to the pastor to let him know that his posting of the message may not have the desired effect(s) he intended.  The following is the text I am considering sending in such a letter if I do decide to leave one behind:

To whom it may concern,

  I couldn't help but notice that the marquis sign
in front of  your Church is emulating a message
that has been making the rounds of the internet
by way of a similar sign seen in front of a
small Presbyterian church in eastern Ontario.

  I think it may be of value to inform you that this
message may not have the intended result you desire
for a couple of reasons, not the least of which are
two inherent flaws in the statement itself.  Flaws
that any reasonable person should quickly realize.
  To address the flaws first, let me begin with
the obvious one of the two.  Google is not an
'answer' engine, Google a search engine.
  Although I understand the intent of the message,
the way it is worded immediately jumps out to me
as inaccurate. I realize the intention is to
say that there are some things that can't be
answered by 'using' google, but then why not
instead have the sign read:

 "SOME QUESTIONS EVEN USING Google CAN'T ANSWER" ?

The second flaw in the statement is a fallacy
that is implied when putting such a message out
in front of a Church like yours.  The implication
being that the Bible and the Church 'can' answer
such questions.
  I will not speak to my own opinion as to whether
or how well notions of faith and belief in God
may or may not answer such questions, but I
shall address the fallacy of this implication.
  This is a typical "Because Not A, therefore B"
type argument and is a fallacy.  Using such
reasoning, one could just as easily imply:
"because you cannot find all the answers on
 Google, therefore you 'can' by way of Astrology"
  or "...asking a stranger on the street"
  or "...flipping to a random page in the nearest book"
  Because you cannot find all the answers using
Google does not automatically equate that you
can through any suggested alternative.  Any such
alternative still needs to establish that it is
not only a consistent and valid source of such
answers, but by way of that wording, that it is
an all inclusive source of such answers as well.

Again, it is not my desire to hash out whether or not
the Bible or a Church does this.  But with both of
these flaws addressed, I would like to point out one
other possible 'effect' that you might not have
considered.
  As I stated, any reasonable person can quickly
see one if not both of these flaws.  Any reasonably
connected person (on the internet) may well have
seen this sign's message and thus realize your's
is not original, but flattery through imitation.
But have you also considered that it might be seen
as 'self-righteousness' on the part of the religious
or your particular parish?  (if I am not correct,
self-righteousness is discouraged in Christian
doctrine as a form of vanity, is it not?)

What do I mean by this?  If you examine the two
flaws, and if you consider it plausible for people to
discern them, then it is not a leap to consider
that only people who already believe
'God and the Bible 'do' have all the answers'
will be the most likely people to agree with such
a statement on face value.
  In other words, the wording will likely not 'convince'
anyone that is not already convinced.  If it's not
there to convince anyone (or, if convincing them
was an intention but is one that will not be likely
to achieve such a desired purpose) then what other
purpose can the message serve other than to
'brag' or 'boast' about the about religion/church's
self-perceived ability to be the sole source of
answers to such questions?

In other words, for a reasonable person capable of
critical thinking, your sign might actually turn
people away from the idea of turning to the
church for answers.
  Just some thoughts for you to consider.

Sincerely,

one of your friendly neighborhood atheists...

P.S.  I thought it might also be of interest to
  you to know that I have a copy of this sign that
  I post as an example of the flaws of religious
  logic - due to very the two things I mentioned.

And I don’t think it’s a leap to consider that the two reasons I mentioned are also part of the reason the original version from Ontario has gotten such circulation on the internet.

Read Full Post »

We have all gotten soft.  We lead our lives in a sanitized way where we are able to avoid the thoughts of the blood that is on all of our hands.  We have built a society where it is possible for us to abdicate the job of ‘killing’ in our name onto others.  The job of killing for our food, the job of killing for our defense and public safety, the job of killing to build our homes.

This train of thought is one that I have visited before many times in regards to the practice of hunting, but was raised more recently after someone posted a video of police officers killing an aggressive dog in LaGrange, MO.  Many of the links and comments on this video follow a simple theme.  People are outraged.

Perhaps the outrage is justified, but I felt it necessary to take a contrarian role since most people will react to such videos based on the emotional ‘gut’ reaction of watching something die rather than stopping to think further.  My initial comments included:

Worthy of criticism? Of course. Condemnation? I can’t say – I wasn’t there. It’s easy to sit outside such a situation and pass judgement based on ‘feelings’ – but I try not to pass judgments based solely on feelings.

Anthropomorphizing is the real enemy here. We all see our pets as members of the family and transfer those feelings onto other animals that come to harm. I guess my experience has given me a more grounded approach when it comes to animals.

A=A – is what is. An animal is not a human – or to counter the Ingrid Newkirks of the world, a rat is NOT a pig is NOT a dog is NOT a boy.

There is obvious grounds for critique on whatever causes led these guys to this action, but that does not necessarily equate to critique of the officers themselves.

To paraphrase Ted Nugent, the truth is that we all have a blood trail and a series of gutpiles behind us.  Things have to die to make our food, things have to die to make our clothing, things have to die to build our houses and so we can drive our cars.

When I was very young, I used to often explore the Z Farms behind our house.  Before too long the Z Farms were sold to make way for a new subdivision.  For a number of years, the majority of the landmass remained undeveloped as houses slowly popped up one after another.  But the roads made it easy access to a kid on a bike.

I used to love running around Heather Lake (renamed from it’s prior name ‘Dennis Lake’ which didn’t work as well for the new sub’s marketing) and seeing the various wildlife.  We saw deer, quail, mink, rabbits, woodcock, partridge, pheasant.  One year there was an entire family of fox that we found living under a bunch of fallen logs.  They kenneled up there for 3 years straight, each year bearing about 3-6 kits.  The only reason they stopped kenneling there was – you guessed it – someone decided to build a house there.

Dennis Lake used to be great for fishing too.  There was one spot that would get so many pumpkinseeds bedding up, that you could literally catch them with a bare hook – not snagging, they were so hungry they would bite at just about anything.  Oh, I should also add that this bedding area was just below the fox dens and it too was destroyed when the house was built.

The irony of it all is, that the people that moved into that house turned out to be rather outspoken pro-animal “rights” types, a reporter for a local news station in Detroit.  (I took great joys stopping by every now and again and pointing out that their driveway used to be a fox den and their new sand beach used to be a breeding area for the fish)

Swear off meat, give away all your leather and fur, ride a bike to work and start living in a tree – and stuff will still die so you can survive.  Ask any farmer how many small animals die below the tilling blades of their combines to make room for those soybeans and sprouts.  Ask any biologist how many animals have to be killed or displaced to build our neighborhoods and yes, even farms.

By the time I got to college, I had become an outspoken hunting advocate.  One of the projects I helped sponsor for a hunting, fishing and shooting club I started on campus was to encourage all of our members to keep track of ‘roadkill’ they saw as a means to raise awareness to just the sort of thing I am talking about here – stuff dies so we can live.  Oakland University was a commuters campus (where most of the students drove to college from home) and each of us came from a different direction.  There were five of us regularly keeping track of what we saw, trying also to not count any dead, roadside animals we had seen previously.

By the time we were done, the numbers even shocked me.  With five of us keeping regular track over a period of about 2 months, we didn’t just see dozens, or hundreds.  We literally counted THOUSANDS of animals.  The largest category was one I dubbed ‘UFO’ for ‘unidentifiably flattened organisms’.

The entire concept was culminated when someone chose to challenge me one day on the ‘morality’ of my hunting.  The person in question was wearing leather shoes and a leather jacket.  Upon questioning, they were not a vegetarian.  The crux of their argument was ‘how can you kill your own food?’  My question was, how can you challenge the morality of my killing my own without looking at the moral question of abdicating the job of killing yours?  Killing my own food (whenever possible) IS my moral code!

How many of us stop to think about the animal(s) that had to die to make our Whopper (and fries and coke) or the animals that were evicted to dig the foundation for our homes?  I do almost every time.  But, more importantly, how many of us cringe and immediately jump with an urge to shout foul any time we run across something that requires us to look upon the killing of an animal at all?

Death isn’t pretty.  But to reword a popular cliche, death happens.  (or if you prefer “Shit Dies!”)  It’s easy to try to see animals anthropomorphized as ‘human-like’.  But animals are not humans.  They can’t rationalize, identify, reduce, integrate, retain or conceptualize.  Animals do not have morals, are not sentient and do not have “rights”.

The goal of ‘humane’ behavior should be to keep unnecessary harm coming to animals.  But rational behavior is to know that sometimes, like it or not, the death of animals may be necessary or us humans to survive.

Read Full Post »

(re-written based on a joke once told by Ronald Reagan*)

Once in early America an average man worked hard and earned some money, and he saved the money until he had a modest amount.  He heard word that they were opening up some frontier land so he quit his job, sold many of his possessions and purchased passage on a wagon train headed for the new land grab.

But he found upon arriving that a lot of the good land was already gobbled up by the new settlers and what little land was left was far less tillable, overgrown and at higher prices due to the steadily increasing demand.  So he looked over the varous plots and found most to be too hilly or too rocky or too wet and they were all much smaller than he’d hoped for.  But he wasn’t about to be let down on his dream so he found a reasonably flat piece of land that was considerably overgrown and rocky but that he thought he could turn around with dedication and hard work.

Due to all the new settlers moving about a town quickly sprung up in the county seat and soon along came a church.  Since the man came with basically what he could carry on his back and what money he had, he was often in need of supplies as he labored to turn his small stretch of land into a viable farm.  So once a week he would make the 4 mile trip to town to get  more supplies.

Every time he went into town, the new preacher would see him and recognizing that his was a face that he had not seen in church at Sunday mass, the preacher would always walk with him and try to talk him into coming to church.  The preacher would tell the man of all the blessings that a faithful man could expect and all the bounty that God could bring.  But the man would politely decline the invitation and suggest that he had far too much work to do on his land to make it a worthy and productive farm.

Thus was the case every week.  The man would go for supplies, the preacher would spot him and go into his pitch.  The man would politely decline.  But work hard he did, he moved the rocks a wheel barrel at a time to the edges of the property to build a small rock border around the entire plot.  He cut down and pulled up the weeds until this hands were raw.  He tilled at the soil finding more and more rocks and used the smaller ones to grade a cart path up the middle.  He cut some trees and built a small, modest house and eventually a barn.  And before too long, after pulling thousands of weeds and moving more thousands of rocks he began to lay down seed.

As the crops began to grow he had less of a need to go to town for supplies and his trips became less and less frequent and eventually, as his crops began to bear fruit he found that he barely needed to go at all.  But still, on what trips he made, the preacher always made a point corner the man and to tell him all about the wonderful blessings he could expect as a follower of God.

After a month had passed and the preacher did not see the man in town he began to wonder.  For all his attempts he hadn’t convinced the man to come to a single service.  Then one month became two months and two turned into three.  Winter was coming and the preacher decided he should make a trip before the weather gets cold to see what became of the man.  So the preacher ventured the 4 miles to where the man’s claim was said to be registered.

As the preacher rounded the corner of the country road he was overcome!  Despite the nearly unturned land on the neighboring plots where the other land grabbers had all but given up, here stood 8′ tall rows of corn, rows of tomatoes shining bright red in the sun.  Squash the size of a wash basin and melons as big as a small sow.  The preacher was amazed at the contrast between the bountiful farm and the surrounding land. His crops even rivaled the ones he’d seen on the more prime tracks of land owned by the members of  his parish.  At last the preacher spied the man hauling a basket overflowing with strawberries the size of one’s fist.

“Hallelujah!” exclaimed the preacher upon seeing the man.  “Hallelujah and praise the Lord!  Your land and your farm are like a miracle.  Your corn is taller than the eaves of your house!  And the ears appear as long as my forearm.  Your squash would fit but 2 to a cartload and the melons probably only one.  The tomatoes are so ripe and red… and those strawberries – oh those strawberries are downright divine!  It is absolutely amazing what the power of God and the work of man can do to create such a bountiful blessing!”

The man set this basket down and looked across his land remembering all the bleeding fingers, sore muscles, trip after trip with rocks and bundles of weeds and supplies from town and the hours tilling the soil, planting the seeds, pulling more weeds and tending to his crops.  But not wanting to be too unpleasant to the preacher he simply tipped his hat and said….

Preacher, you should have seen it when God was working it all by himself.


(*I’m not sure where Ronald Reagan got the joke, but I reworded the context considerably)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »