102 thoughts on “News/Politics 3-18-17

  1. HRW, I agree with you about the omission in Krauthammer’s healthcare article. Whether Ryan’s bill passes or not, the Rs are going to eventually cut or eliminate the Obamacare taxes. Those are parts of Obamacare that the public hates. They are going to leave most of the subsidies and rules expanding coverage. That is what people like. That is why I have always believed that the cure (Ryan/Trumpcare) would be more expensive to taxpayers than Obamacare. But like a husband whose wife is roaming Nieman-Marcus, you just sigh and go on, knowing your wallet is about to take another hit.

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  2. rw: The last sentence of your 8:16am reminds me of a story I read this morning from a Navy Seal, who insists that the last part of one’s shower should be with cold water, b/c of the health benefits. One of the commenters replied, “Well, cold water is the only choice I have after my wife and two daughters have their showers!” I know the feeling…

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  3. I have a few thoughts from yesterday’s thread regarding Ayn Rand and the influence of her ideas (both direct and indirect) in our government. What many people may not know is that some of the financial architects of our current “free market” economy were very devout believers in the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Alan Greenspan, who headed the federal reserve from 1987- 2006, was devoted to her. I can remember when he made public addresses, the DOW would move up tick by tick by tick, then he would pause and say “However…..” and at his word, the Dow would tick down, down, down, until he moderated again, and the ticker would reflect that motion. The market literally rose and fell on his words. He was quite devastated when his policies were shown to be inept in the market crashes of the Great Recession.

    Greenspan was part of Ayn Rand’s inner circle when she was alive, and the Republican distaste of all things regulatory in finance are a reflection of that thinking. In addition, many industry leaders bought into Randian assumptions. These are also the assumptions that have partially informed our trade policies, including the impulse toward Globalism. And that is one reason I shudder when I hear some politician or pundit talk of “unleashing” the power of the market. Such action is synonymous with unleashing the passions of man—both for good and evil.

    When we have decades of leaders acting on the premise that self-sacrifice is a vice and selfishness is a virtue, it doesn’t take a moral genius to see where that will end up. So here we are, trying to make the best of a bad situation. But unlike the verbal handwringing one hears from the morose powerbrokers of yesteryear, I see a remarkable opportunity for a real conservative revival. Only this time, let’s let our economic policies be informed by our faith, our community, and our common interests rather than the other way around.

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  4. Poor Evan. I guess he just can’t except the fact that his 15 minutes are up, so he’s launching another losing bid.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/03/17/evan-mcmullin-yeah-i-might-primary-orrin-hatch-in-2018-or-jason-chaffetz/

    “Actually, does he say definitively that he’d pursue a primary challenge against one of them instead of a general-election challenge as an independent? He mentions Chaffetz’s primary voters in the excerpt, but that may just mean that if Republicans are loyal to Chaffetz, there’s no chance of beating him in November 2018.

    Who stands a better chance, Republican Evan McMullin or conservative independent Evan McMullin?

    “It is likely that I will seek public office again,” McMullin said in a Reddit “ask me anything” chat. “That might be in 2018 or it might be sometime down the road, perhaps very far down the road.

    “It is possible that I will challenge Chaffetz or Senator Hatch, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision. One of the primary factors is what the people of Utah want.”

    McMullin has floated taking on Hatch — the longest-serving GOP senator in history — before. But this appears to be the first time he’s mentioned possibly running against Chaffetz…

    “Plenty of people outside of Utah or who do not vote in the Republican primary are eager to see Chaffetz replaced, for example,” McMullin said. “But he may be supported by his Republican primary voters and, if so, that has to be taken into account.”

    Either race would be a heavy lift for McMullin, which probably means he’s blowing smoke here. Yeah, Chaffetz got booed at his town hall last month, but there’s no telling how many of those people were Democratic activists. He’s won his last three House elections with more than 70 percent of the vote; there’s little reason to think he’s vulnerable in a primary, despite the occasional unfavorable news cycle, and zero reason to think he’s vulnerable in a general election. There is reason to think that Hatch is vulnerable after that splashy poll from February showing him getting blown out in a hypothetical Senate match-up with Jon Huntsman, but Huntsman’s a proven winner with high name recognition in the state. He’s a former governor and his family is highly esteemed in Utah. McMullin’s a guy who managed just 21 percent against Trump in a state where the president was unpopular, and he’s seemingly spent every waking moment since the election bashing him on Twitter and TV. And although Trump isn’t popular overall in Utah, he’s popular with the voters who count in a primary: Two polls taken in January had him at 68 percent and 71 percent favorability among Utah Republicans — not spectacular for his own party but probably good enough to push his favored candidate through a GOP primary. If McMullin challenged Hatch, Trump would swoop into the state to campaign on Hatch’s behalf. And there’s every reason to believe, despite voter disgust with Hatch’s endless stint in the Senate, that that would squash McMullin.”

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  5. Debra, The problem goes much further back than Greenspan. His ancestor Abraham believed in private property and accumulated vast herds and a great number of servants. He was also a “Globalist” having taken his family and his property from Haran to Canaan and even spending time in Egypt. Similarly, his descendants Simon and Andrew were involved in commercial fishing as I doubt they were able to eat all the fish they caught. Paul also was a Globalist, a migrant wandering all over the Southern Europe and East Asia, supporting himself by making tents thereby displacing local workers.

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  6. Debra — I was following you for the first two and a half paragraphs. The demonstrated failure of neoliberalism, Ayn Rand, trickle-down, etc will hopefully lead voters to the left if the left would only concentrate on economics.

    The Democrats seem purposefully deaf to the opportunities on the left. They continue to ignore Sanders despite the fact he’s the only politicians who can draw large crowds in “red” states. Hatch/Chaffetz aren’t the only politicians who should worry about a primary. If Democrats are seen as sufficiently tough on the Republicans, they may face primaries from young people embolden by Sanders,

    Ricky — I have no idea what Nieman-Marcus is but its probably similar to giving your daughter a credit card for “emergencies” when she went to visit her mom’s family in Europe.

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  7. McMullin is like the Biblical Daniel and his three friends. He has not bowed to the Orange Idol or praised the Emperor’s new clothes. If he runs for office, I will contribute to his campaign, but I rather enjoy just following him on Twitter where his bold statements of truth are a constant irritant to Trump and the entire Trump cult.

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  8. Ricky — given the behaviour of the Patriarchs and the early disciplines, I wouldn’t call them globalist instead they seem to resemble migrants, refugees, and the working classes. Eventually even the Patriarchs despite their wealth became part of the displaced and the workers.

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  9. HRW, Sanders would have been much preferable to Clinton. His support of Clinton cost him credibility with working Democrats; ditto Warren. I don’t think Dems will be capable of governing nationally until they lose the identity politics. On the bright side, the insanity over Trump may offer an opportunity for states rights to make a bi-partisan comeback. That would help ease the internal tensions over social policies that could be successfully relegated to states–such as abortion, gay marriage, etc.

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  10. Most “Globalists” belong to a tribe. Bannon, Coulter and certain other Trumpkins believe that one or more tribes are over-represented among Globalists. One of the reasons that Kristol, Bret Stephens, Jennifer Rubin and others are so hostile to Trump and certain elements of Trumpism is that they believe the term “Globalist” is a camouflaged attack on their tribe.

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  11. I think Stephens went overboard here with his call to fire Laura Ingraham.

    However, it would be helpful if Trumpkins could more clearly define what they mean by “Globalist” and “globalism”. Debra, You have done that at my request and it was helpful. I still think the meanings of the words are fuzzy in the minds of many.

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  12. Every big tent will have its roaches. However, it’s just sadder than sad to see the supposed conservative standard bearers reduced to victimized wallowing. Don’t they have boot-straps or something to pull themselves up by? Do we need to pass out pacifiers to them AND the Democrats? Come on people, get a grip.

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  13. The one big what if of the last election…..what if Sanders ran as an independent? I’m sure ballot access rules would prevent him in certain states but it would have been interesting where his votes would come from. I think he would have made serious inroads into Trump’s votes. I think he supported Clinton as the better of two bad choices. Sanders I think didn’t lose much credibility with that move — he waited until the convention but Warren, who backed Clinton early, certainly did.

    The victimized whining is certainly present in the Republican party but not in the never-Trumps rather its some Trump supporters who blame some bizarre conspiracy of Jews, Mexicans and others for denying them success.

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  14. Agreed, HRW. That was one of two main points of Williamson’s article yesterday. Trump’s entire message is aimed at victimized wallowers. My young conservative friends look to the left and they see victimized wallowers who voted for Obama and blame racism and corporations for their problems. They look to the “Right” and they see victimized wallowers who voted for Trump and blame Mexicans and “globalists” for their problems. They look straight ahead and they see first generation legal immigrants who are making a great living, starting businesses, creating jobs and paying for the food and healthcare of the wallowers. It would really be funny if it weren’t so sad.

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  15. HRW, You’re right that Sanders could have taken some Trump votes if he had gone Independant, but may now view him as a sell-out. He’s badly damaged; Warren as well.

    The Trump supporters I know are happy as a clam. If you want to hear Republican whining, trot over to NR or some other Globalist-friendly publication and hear the tales of woe. :–)

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  16. Ricky, C.S. Lewis was influenced by the underappreciated, but equally brilliant Christian writer & thinker, G. K. Chesterton, who was slightly before Lewis. Chesterton was raised Anglican, but became Roman Catholic. His attitude towards economics, which one has to remember was in the late 1800s early 1900s when the unbridled Capitalism of the third Industrial Revolution was breeding Communism, was something of “a plague on both your houses.” In one of his Father Brown mysteries, The Crime of the Communist, he comments through the main character:

    Ah, who indeed?’ replied the priest; and his voice changed to much greater gravity. ‘There we come to the other thing I told you; and that, let me tell you, was not a joke. I told you that heresies and false doctrines had become common and conversational; that everybody was used to them; that nobody really noticed them. Did you think I meant Communism when I said that? Why, it was just the other way. You were all as nervous as cats about Communism; and you watched Craken like a wolf. Of course. Communism is a heresy; but it isn’t a heresy that you people take for granted. It is Capitalism you take for granted; or rather the vices of Capitalism disguised as a dead Darwinism. Do you recall what you were all saying in the Common Room, about life being only a scramble, and nature demanding the survival of the fittest, and how it doesn’t matter whether the poor are paid justly or not? Why, that is the heresy that you have grown accustomed to, my friends; and it’s every bit as much a heresy as Communism. That’s the anti-Christian morality or immorality that you take quite naturally. And that’s the immorality that has made a man a murderer today.’

    Within the political and economic climate of the Western world, Christians seem to think that either they should be Socialists or they should be Capitalists, and those who take either position argue for it fiercely and use Scripture to beat those who disagree over the head. However, the position taken by thinkers like Chesterton, was that both positions fall short.
    In the more conservative Christian circles in which I have moved most of my life, the default position has always been for a free market and every-tub-must-stand-on-its-own-bottom. Scriptures that would seem to say anything different are dismissed as a) it only applies to the Church and not to wider society, or b) that was in the Old Covenant and we are under the New. Gradually, two thoughts have arisen in my mind in reply to those dismissals, a) the people who make the only applying to the Church argument, are generally the ones who say that society would be better off only allowing marriage between one man and one woman, which is something which is also an instruction to the Church, b) the same as a), for those who quote Leviticus 18 to comment on the rampant moral ills of society, but dismiss Deuteronomy 15 as Old Covenant.

    Chesterton was known as the Prince of Paradox, because he pointed out that Christianity often embraced ideas that on the surface seemed to contradict one another. A most obvious example of that is the person of Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, not partially both, nor the one and only a symbol of the other. One of the paradoxes that Chesterton recognized about the Christian position on economics was that social support and taking responsibility for oneself were not mutually exclusive. Paul, whose instructions that if a man didn’t work, neither should he eat, are often quoted to support a capitalist way of thinking, also said something else about the purpose of working in Ephesian 4:8 which is often ignored or just the first part quoted, “The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.” The Christian capitalist sees the first part of the verse and says, “See, people can’t just go around getting a free handout, they need to work for what they own.” But, the last statement actually says that the honest work should be done for the benefit of others. There is a twofold responsibility that the people of God have, a responsibility to work, and a responsibility to give – both, not one or the other, nor only giving to the worthy poor, nor a redistribution of wealth so no one has at any point more than another.

    Now here, the old argument will arise, but the world is not the Church. True, but in this current social climate, much has been said about how Christians need to model marriage, to provoke the world to emulation. Perhaps, when they try to emulate another of our principles, that of giving to support the weak, we shouldn’t complain.

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  17. The writers at National Review aren’t whining. They are bemused and very interested to see how this whole thing plays out, domestically and internationally.

    My son has no doubt. He sees Obama and Trump as equally adept con men. They just have a different set of “marks” or victims. Trump will improve the economic lot of his supporters about as much as Obama did his.

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  18. There is certainly a growing anti-Semetic movement on the right, and that includes the Christian right. I have listened to some bizarre views – one surreal conversation, in which I was trying to plead for some humanity, there was a young conservative Christian who agreed with Trump, and in typical Dispensationalist fashion talked about Israel and the threat of Islam in terms, while the other young conservative Christian who thought Trump should be given a chance (this was during the campaign) stated that he thought the Jews who had their hands in so many governmental/economic/social pies were more of a threat to the West than the Muslims – that person later expounded on a vast network involving officials in high places that I eventually recognized as a version of the Babylonian conspiracy. To such a person who sees powerful people as constantly conspiring, someone who claimed that he was going to drain the swamp would be appealing. So, it was no surprise to me to hear that Neo-Nazis were among the supporters of Trump – his was a wide ranging appeal every sense of insecurity that arises in a time of economic stability. He resembled the description of how Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel:

    After this, Absalom got himself a chariot, horses, and 50 men to run before him. He would get up early and stand beside the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone had a grievance to bring before the king for settlement, Absalom called out to him and asked, “What city are you from?” If he replied, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel,” Absalom said to him, “Look, your claims are good and right, but the king does not have anyone to listen to you.” He added, “If only someone would appoint me judge in the land. Then anyone who had a grievance or dispute could come to me, and I would make sure he received justice.” When a person approached to bow down to him, Absalom reached out his hand, took hold of him, and kissed him. Absalom did this to all the Israelites who came to the king for a settlement. (II Samuel 15:1-6)

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  19. Roscuro, Since the mid-30s, the US and the rest of the West has occupied a middle ground between capitalism and socialism. Most Christians (who are neither communists nor libertarians) have accepted that arrangement.

    Few begrudge help for the truly weak and unfortunate. LBJ’s well intentioned Great Society programs created a permanent dependent class along with other problems. For decades we have grown used to that growing dependent class voting for Democrats who will expand the size and nature of their handouts.

    This election has disclosed the existence of Trumpkin Republicans. They also like their government benefits and also want to curtail immigration and free trade, the two things that have produced the economic growth that allowed us to maintain government welfare programs.

    Chesterson believed that unbridled capitalism led to communism. I believe that the growth of the dependent class will lead many young productive people in the direction of Ayn Rand. The church has a duty to:
    1. Try to help people out of dependency; and
    2. Try to keep the shrinking group of taxpayers from becoming resentful.

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  20. Roscuro, what is the Babylonian conspiracy?

    It’s unfortunate, but all kinds of nationalists will be drawn to someone who is focusing more on the welfare of the nation as a whole particularly after so many years of outward focus. No doubt anti-Semites, white nationalists, neo-nazis, and hard-core protectionists are also drawn by the someone who emphasizes national interests over global ones.

    None of this negates the urgency of national interests. And I have not yet seen any signs in Trump that there is a reason to be concerned about those fringe groups. But if he hangs a little burning cross or swastika on the national Christmas tree this year, I’m open to revisiting the issue.

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  21. Deb, the cynic in me says that Trump was quite willing to accept endorsements and votes from anyone and everyone who offered them, but he will only do what is best for himself. He is unabashedly all about the ratings.

    By the way, the young conservative Christian who toys with the Babylonian conspiracy also openly admires Putin because he does what is best for his country.

    As for what the Babylonian conspiracy is, I hesitated to put any links, because there is a risk of sending people down the wormhole. The person I have mentioned is a good person in many ways, and probably would be decent and humane to any actual Jewish person they encountered, but their increasing fascination with such theories was gradual, while looking for answers to legitimate questions, and deciding that the wilder and more improbable answer was likely the correct one – this person has also toyed with the idea that the concentration camps did not have gas chambers (and further that the Holocaust in general was deliberately exaggerated by the Communists and Americans to cover for their own crimes), that there was more to the collapse of the Twin Towers than meets the eye, and there has been a huge cover-up regarding vaccines.
    However, the Babylonian conspiracy, in a nutshell, states that while certain Jewish leaders, such as Ezra and Nehemiah, remained untouched by the Babylonian exile, others were corrupted by syncretizing the Babylonian religion into Judaism. The theorists hold that it was this syncretization, rather than plain old hypocrisy, which Jesus was attacking in the Pharisees. The theorist hold that the Babylonian religion was passed down through the writings in the Talmud (sidenote, apparently the Talmud preaches the racial superiority which was adopted by Hitler) and has gradually, through Jewish people in high places, spread its tentacles throughout the governmental systems of states and things like the EU. There was a clip which last year was making the rounds, of the weird opening ceremony for some tunnel in Europe, which the conspiracy theorists thought was evidence of some Satanic rite with EU leaders looking on (I watched it and thought it was simply remarkably bad performing art). They regard this theory as the explanation for the vision of Babylon in the book of Revelation. There may be some combining of theories regarding the Masons, the Illuminati, and the Jesuits, depending on the bent of the conspiracy spinner. If you ever come across a Christian objecting to the use of the word ‘Shekinah’ to refer to the glory of God, and they tell you that the word isn’t used in the Bible and it refers to a pagan idea of the feminine side of God, that person has been reading about the Babylonian conspiracy, which claims the word was introduced by the Babylonian-Jewish syncretists.*

    *Note: The answer to that statement is that while ‘shekinah’ is not present in its noun form in the Bible, its verb form ‘shakan’ is used when speaking of how the glory of God abode above the Tabernacle; and that if they want to complain about a noun with a feminine ending being used to refer to an attribute of God, they need to eliminate that chapter on Wisdom from Proverbs.

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  22. Oh, another sign of having swallowed some part of the conspiracy – complaining that Christians are observing a pagan holiday for the ancient Babylonian goddess Ishtar by celebrating Easter. One feature of such conspiracy theorists is that they don’t seem to have the foggiest notion of how to accurately trace etymologies of words and make the assumption that if one word sounds like another, they must be related.

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  23. Ricky, the trouble with the idea of helping the truly weak or deserving poor, is that just there is no such thing as perfect health (and sickness is a form of weakness), there is also no such thing as perfect financial independence. Not only may people become temporarily needy as we all become temporarily ill, but just as those who have a chronic disease, say diabetes, and need medicine for the rest of their lives to stay alive, so there are many people who are never able to progress above the poverty line and ‘get ahead’, and thus may need constant assistance. Sometimes, that constant assistance may be necessary so they can get insulin for their diabetes. This is not due to a flaw in the current economic structure. The society Jesus lived in didn’t have much of a social welfare program, and there was plenty of poor. The Industrial Revolution, which was the point at which Capitalism had its best shot at proving what it could do without restrictions, teemed with poor people. The corporation towns of the Industrial kings of the late 1800s produced as much or more dependency as any governmental social program ever has – “Saint Peter, don’t you call my name – I owe my soul to the company store.” Disease and poverty are both constants, and humans are ill equipped to judge other humans for what level of responsibility they bear for being in either condition.

    Deb, it is natural and good to love the land where one comes from. That is demonstrated by Paul’s love for the nation of Israel and wish that they might come to the Lord. However, I see no real place for nationalism as a priority for Christians. I love my country, and I pray for it. I stick up for it, the way I stick up for my family. I do not see that its good must come before the good of those of other nations. I cannot – if all men are made in the image of God, then they are of equal worth – and if the Church is to be made up of every tribe, people, nation, and tongue, than all are potential brothers and sisters in Christ. I cannot say that the life of a Canadian is more important than the life of an Saudi Arabian, they are of equal importance since the lives of both are protected by the universal ban on the murder of image bearers; I cannot say there is more elect of God within Canada than there is in Guatemala, I am not God to know any such thing. I do not work to deliberately undermine my country, but neither do I push down other countries to allow mine to rise to the top.

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  24. Roscuro, When three and four generations stay on welfare and no one breaks out of the cycle, that is a problem. That has happened and is happening all over America.

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  25. Ricky, it might be a problem – but it does not follow that the existence of the social program is what caused the multiple generations to be on welfare. Correlation does not equal causation – one cannot look at such a family and say, they are continually on social welfare solely because they were given social welfare in the first place. If one cannot honestly do even that, then it is even harder to say, if the social welfare didn’t exist, they wouldn’t need help.

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  26. Roscuro, I respectfully disagree. If a country has hundreds of thousands of families whose members stay continually on welfare for generation after generation, I contend there is something wrong with those welfare programs. The programs are promoting dependency. This is not good for anyone. Taxpayers pay a few more dollars in taxes every year. However, all the people who remain dependent lose the satisfaction that comes from working.

    There is a similar problem with the Trumpkins. They are bitter and resentful about their economic situation and blame immigrants and “globalists”. They are missing the joy experienced every day by legal immigrants who have started their own businesses.

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  27. There are reforms that can be made: work requirements for able bodied recipients, tighter screening for applicants for disability payments, retraining for the partially disabled, etc.
    This sounds absurd, but in our inner cities generation after generation are receiving disability payments for their children. They call it “crazy money”, and they train their kids to misbehave in order to qualify.

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  28. 1. I would define it quite broadly as any government assistance to pay for the housing, food, healthcare, phones, and other goods and services of citizens other than a. Veterans and govt. employees retirement benefits; and b. Benefits paid under the Ponzi schemes of Social Security and Medicare. I would include unemployment benefits, earned income credit refunds for amounts not actually paid in income taxes. I would also include Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income payments to those who are not completely disabled.

    2. It depends on the type of welfare. For example, tens of millions are getting food stamps while working. However, you are either prohibited from working or may see your benefits reduced if you work and are receiving SSDI, SSI, Medicaid, subsidized housing, Medicaid and other “needs based” programs.

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  29. Roscuro, thanks for the run-down on the Babylonian conspiracy. It holds no appeal. Conspiracies in general are red herrings, I think. Sometimes they lure people in with a grain of truth (or the promise of it) but they rarely lead to anything useful, and they become a distraction from the one Truth who can save.

    Politics can do the same. Because we live in countries that offer the common man the historically rare opportunity to participate in our own government, we think we must take the offer and do so.

    Although all are created in the image of God, we are not equally responsible for and to all people. We can’t be. I have responsibilities for and to myself, my husband, my children, family, church, business relationships, neighbors, etc, and to the extent that I can participate in it, my government.

    I can’t be responsible for someone else’s government, but because of the offer of participation, I think I have a certain responsibility in my own. In the end, the offer of governmental participation itself may turn out to be as illusory as the promise of truth in a conspiracy. Still, we push forward and do our best to responsibly and charitably govern ourselves.

    I do not hope or work for the success of my country at the expense of another country. We don’t need to, because in God there is no lack, and I believe God will bless nations as He sees fit, and particularly, as they seek Him. It is the responsibility of each nation and people to fulfill their God-given responsibilities and purposes as they see the way in their own national life. This is our greatest common national interest, I think, and our biggest challenge.

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  30. “I do not hope or work for the success of my country at the expense of another country. We don’t need to, because in God there is no lack, and I believe God will bless nations as He sees fit, and particularly, as they seek Him.”

    Debra, What you stated above is not only a theological truth, it is an economic truth. Free trade is not a zero sum game. Over the last several decades free trade has raised almost 2 billion people out of extreme poverty. It did not do that by making the US poorer. The vast majority of that free trade did not even involve the US. Instead free trade helped people and countries all over the world. The biggest beneficiaries of free trade in the US are not the richest 1% (who the left is always worrying about) who shop at Neiman-Marcus. The biggest winners are those who shop at Sams and Best Buy and see their dollars go much further than their ancestors.

    If only we could obtain our healthcare and higher education in a free trade environment, we would really have more spending power.

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  31. Ricky, if we are able to pry our assumptions away from personal self interest as currently defined by a Randian context, and consider self-interest as intrinsically including a family, community and national interest, local markets will be healthier and more sustainable. However, everything does not rotate around spending power. Earning power in the form of available jobs at sustainable wages is also a necessary ingredient. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has meet reasonable expectations.

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  32. Debra, You are correct, and economists agree that our agricultural, extraction and manufacturing sectors (and the workers therein) would be much poorer were it not for our ability to export their products to foreign markets.

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  33. As just one example, the Germans invested their money in a non-union BMW plant in South Carolina. That plant which uses products imported from Mexico and scores of other countries provides high paying jobs, directly and indirectly to thousands of Southerners. As Merkel reminded Trump yesterday, BMW then exports more cars made in the US to foreign markets than any other US car maker. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” at work.

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  34. Roscuro – That bit about Ishtar is also believed by others, such as some fine people in my former church, who do not believe in the Babylonian Conspiracy.

    It is disconcerting that there are people out there, Christian or not, who are Holocaust deniers, or who still believe that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (I think it was called) is real. Or that the Jewish Rothschilds own all the banks in the world.

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  35. YF & I were in some discussion today. She had posted something about how horrible it is that Meals on Wheels may be cut, & I commented that the good news is that the program gets the bulk of its funding from charitable giving. That should be encouraging, right?

    Well, YF believes that it shouldn’t be funded by charity at all, but should be totally funded by the government. She believes that every program that is for the public good should be funded by the government, & that it is the government’s job to take care of its citizens.

    This reminds me of a couple elections ago, maybe the 2014 elections, she wrote that there should be a state program to offer rides to people to get to the polls. I pointed out that there are usually volunteers who do that sort of thing, but she insisted it should be the state’s responsibility.

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  36. Roscuro (& anyone else who may want to comment on this) – YF often refers to her knowledge of history, & she also insists that governments have always existed to “take care of” their citizens. I do enjoy history, but I admit I am no history scholar. Yet it seems to me that most governments have not historically been too concerned about their citizens’ welfare, & certainly not to the extent of giving up the benefits & riches of being a ruler, or one of the ruling class.

    Am I mistaken in that belief?

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  37. Kizzie, Tell your young friend that you are a moderate. Arch-conservatives like me believe there should be a state program to keep people away from the polls.😄

    Historically, the governments that have taken the responsibility to feed, clothe and provide all goods and services for their people haven’t done a very good job. However, if we took YF’s advice and went the way of Soviet Russia, Mao’s China or Castro’s Cuba, it would solve the immigration problem. I haven’t seen many people trying to sneak into North Korea or Venezuela lately.

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  38. Ricky, I care not if it’s accomplished through the invisible hand of the market or the leprechaun of Alabama. There must be plenty of jobs for a man with a high school education to work that can support his wife and children–not with the latest in iphones or designer tattoos, but with shelter and without malnutrition and preventable disease. This is not currently the case. If it can be accomplished so that entrenched powers are happy, then I’m prepared to be happy for you. If it must be done the old fashioned way through tariffs, I think Adam Smith would understand that national interest comes before Global, just as he understood that tariffs are sometimes necessary.

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  39. Debra, I have 50+ friends with high school educations who are supporting wives (one a piece) and children very well while working one job in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Many of them would like to be doing this in Lamesa, Texas or San Augustine, Texas or Uvalde, Texas, but they have chosen to live and work in Dallas/Fort Worth so they could support their families. (Their wives also like the stores around here.)

    What do they do? Two are electricians who started their own companies. Two are self-employed plumbers. One works for the railroad. Three are realtors. Two own their own companies that clean and maintain pools. One has a company that builds pools. One owns a go-kart track and miniature golf course. One builds ovens. Many are general contractors. Three started and own landscape companies.

    I could go on. None of these men inherited their companies or any substantial wealth.
    Like me, they realized 30-40 years ago that major corporations and the government were going to be giving preferences to women and minorities. So they located in a growing area, developed a skill or a product people demand and worked hard to build a business while, at the same time, raising a family (very few divorced) and generally being actively involved in their churches. In other words, they did the same things I see legal immigrants (primarily from Asia, but also from other places) doing around me every day.

    By the way, virtually all of them voted for Trump, but they also think he is a moron. They just hated Hillary more.

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  40. Maybe he didn’t hate tariffs as much as you think, Ricky. From your link:
    “Oddly enough, Adam Smith, the champion of the free market, spent the last years of his life as the Commissioner of Customs, meaning he was responsible for enforcing all the tariffs.”
    ;–)

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  41. I remember when I first read of Adam Smith and the “Invisible Hand”. I was in the 5th grade. I thought surely it must be the hand of God. Umm, I guess not. :–D

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  42. Debra, Adam Smith was just like Solomon. He strayed from his own wisdom. However, his earlier wisdom ,like that of Solomon, was preserved to the benefit of billions.

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  43. Time to catch up
    Trump supporters aren’t whining now — they’re in charge (for now, they’ll implode soon enough) but they whine they’re way to power complaining about “others” taking away what they thought they were entitled to. The working class on the other hand do have a legitimate complain when discussing economic stagnation — real wages have flatlined.

    Generational welfare is far rarer than people think. Now corporate welfare has gone on far longer than one generation, is far more pervasive, and far more detrimental to the economic health of the country. Instead of worrying about food stamps and meals on wheels, one would should worry oil companies, military contractors, etc.

    A colleague once described food banks as a stop gap solution absolving the state of its responsibility. The middle classes give themselves a nice pat on the back and then don’t have to address the structural problems in the economy. As an added bonus, they don’t feel guilty when they cheat on their taxes.

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  44. Kizzie – Historical the state was run by the elites and for the elites. But smart elites realized it made sense to keep the masses fed and distracted i.e. bread and circuses. However, the Industrial Revolution created a demand for educated workers and with education came thinking. And eventually this led to unions and social democratic gov’ts. The current elite who wants to dismantle the social programs obviously didn’t learn from history — keep the workers happy, fed and entertain. A cynical conservative friend once said the Berlin Wall would still be up if the Communists were better at producing VCRs.

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  45. I remain skeptical of Adam Smith. I started reading his Wealth of Nations, as I decided to read some of the influential non-fiction works of history. I got stopped, due to school taking precedence when it comes to reading, but I didn’t find the opening chapters at all convincing. I was also reading Locke’s Second Treatise on Government at the same time, and kept thinking, your opening premise on the natural state of man is incorrect, so your whole system, though parts may be true by accident, is faulty. I was having the same thoughts of Adam Smith. Both of them, like other great thinkers of the Enlightenment, made the mistake of thinking man naturally seeks self-improvement and his own good. They seemed to have missed, for all their theistic and/or deistic references, the first few chapters of Genesis.

    Kizzie, I would look at what the Bible says. Romans 13:1-7 makes it clear that all governments are ordained by God, which I Peter 2:13-14. For an example of what happens without much government, see the book of Judges, where every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Not all governments are equally good, because the characters of the people who run them are not all equally good, but neither are governments simply an necessary evil. The right to govern was, at Creation, granted to all humans. It is part of how we are made in the image of God – this link can be seen in the way, on occasion, the Old Testament refers to governing officials using the word ‘gods’, elohim, as Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees when they made a fuss about him saying he was God (Exodus 22:28, Psalm 82:6, John 10:34-36). However, as demonstrated by the age before the Flood, after sin corrupted humanity, everyone ruling meant that it was “Every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.” That is where Locke got it wrong – he made the assumption that man in a state of nature was bound by the law of nature and reason, whereas Hobbes got it right by describing the life of man in a state of nature as “nasty, brutish, and short” (not that I agree with Hobbes entirely either). So, God, in his mercy, ordained government.

    Now, it is apparent from Scripture that sometimes God used governments in order to punish people, e.g. the government of Babylon to punish Judah, but he also used them for good, e.g. the government of Rome preserving Paul’s life from the hands of the Jewish leaders. They are an instrument or a tool. Pharaoh, in the time of Moses, is an excellent example of how much of a tool the government is, as we are clearly told all the layers to that story, how God deliberately hardened his heart so that God’s power would be demonstrated, how Pharaoh was finally persuaded, so that Israel was let go, and then hardened again, so the Israelites could once again seen the power of God – Nebuchadnezzar is another instance where we are told the story behind the story. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, we are made to see the ordinary human that ruled the immense power that was Babylon, when we see how he genuinely liked and respected Daniel, we see that powerful despots can be swayed by their emotions just as anyone else, when he goes mad from pride, we realize that even tyrants will break like other humans, and when he praises the God of Heaven, we know that even emperors can be converted to followers of God. That is why, in a country, like say The Gambia under the former President, it is possible to live a quiet and peaceable life under the rule of an unstable and unjust ruler It is, no doubt, more stable to have checks and balances on the ruler so that even the king is not immune to the law, but any form of government is better than no government.

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  46. The Merkel-Trump photo op is a ready to go meme-generator. The best memes are in German. The one that caught my eye imagines Merkel reprimanding Trump like a little boy who didn’t clean his room. Trump’s body language read like a little boy who were just told by the principal to behave or else.

    Debra — There are intellectuals and theologians who are still making your 5th grade error; conflating Smith’s invisible hand with God’s hand.

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  47. Roscuro — the main problem of the Enlightenment and classical liberalism in general is their belief or delusion that man is basically good and when left alone will not only do the right thing but will naturally create a better world.

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  48. Ricky, on welfare – thank you for your answers. Under your definition, I am at least the second generation in my family to receive welfare – in my case, tax rebates when I haven’t paid income tax (a whopping 250 dollars a year), and in my parents case, supplements to make their Social Insurance & Pension Plan adequate for their needs. Yet, my father worked hard his entire life, and my mother, after teaching for 10 years, was a stay-at-home mother who homeschooled – hardly parasites to society. Knowing my family’s story, and knowing others who repeat it, I remain unconvinced that multiple generations on welfare is proof that it is the government programs which create dependency. The existence of some families who deliberately try to get disability is hardly proof either – if the U.S. was a village of 300 families, there would be those one or two families that would do anything to avoid an honest day’s work, as human nature seems to dictate that in any given population, a few will be incorrigibly lazy. My family has always been working class – my father’s ancestors were subsistence farmers for 200 years – and have never risen far above the poverty line, meaning that at some point, they needed help from others to make ends meet. Yet, that does not make them dependent. The majority of people in history have been working poor – they are the backbone of nearly every society in history. They deserve respect for their invaluable contribution to the survival of the human race, not judgement for never attaining financial security.

    To return to the analogy of poverty to sickness, when I worked in West Africa, we often discussed how much to give those who came for help. If we gave too much, we would raise the financial status above their neighbours and create bad feeling; if we gave too little, they might starve. However, when it came to giving medical care, the diseases preexisted the medical clinic – before it was there, people got sick and a) eventually got better, or b) died. Giving free medical care couldn’t create a dependency. So it is with poverty. It has always been around. People would get sick, or become insane, or have their house burn down, or their crops fail, or any number of things happen, and become poor. If there was charitably disposed people around, they might be given help, or they might be ignored and left in the gutter. Social programs were created to respond to a preexisting condition – the simple fact that in this world, not everyone can get ahead.

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  49. HRW, the more I learn about the faulty premise of the Enlightenment, the more I wonder if the big idea which came out of that movement, that of human right,s was flawed, and if perhaps, human rights should be reframed as human responsibilities. For example, rather than a right to a fair trial, it should be the responsibility of the court to uphold justice. Just a thought that has come to me, especially as it sometimes seems that human rights are becoming the catalysts of societal fragmentation as society becomes unable to respond creatively to the demands of multiple minorities in the way that Arnold Toynbee talked about.

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  50. I agree, human rights are a construct not “natural” as asserted in the 18th century. However, they are a helpful construct, sort of a platonic useful lie. Construct or natural, rights need to be conjoined with responsibilities. They are the flip sides of the same coin.

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  51. You may have a point there, Roscuro. I cannot think of rights without responsibility or duty; and duty may be toward others who are incapable of responsibility. It’s something to think about.

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  52. The thing to remember about welfare states is that you have to be careful not to kill the geese who lay the golden eggs. Those geese are the taxpayers who pay more in taxes than they take out in benefits. If a country is still attracting productive geese from foreign countries (as the US has until now) that is a good sign. However, you can loose those golden-egg laying geese in several ways:
    1. A few may decide to stop laying golden eggs and join the group that is receiving parts of others’ golden eggs. Many threaten to do this. Few follow through.
    2. A few may decide to lay their golden eggs elsewhere. Few Americans are really planning on doing that right now though Trump may keep certain foreign geese from laying golden eggs in the US.
    3. The biggest threat is that if you take too many golden eggs from the geese, they will simply stop laying the eggs and live on the eggs they have stored.

    As Margaret Thatcher said: The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

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  53. As long as there is a market for $500 backpacks and $700 ratty jeans, we’re probably not going to have to worry “other people’s money’. We could, however, reconsider our tax structure. Seriously.

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  54. The Democrats and other socialists are very good at camouflaging welfare.
    1. Most recipients of Earned Income Credit Refunds think they are getting a tax refund like their neighbor. They don’t realize they are getting a welfare check paid for by their neighbor.
    2. Folks on Social Security think they are getting back what they put in with a little interest. They think they are helping out their grandkids with gifts. They don’t know it is a Ponzi scheme, that what they paid in immediately went out to pay others, and now they are actually being subsidized by their working grandkids. They have no idea their kids and grandkids (through Medicare) are paying for their new knees and hips with the unpaid portion passed on as a debt to unborn descendants.
    3. Obamacare has created a whole new class of dependents. It punishes the young to help the old, the rich to help the poor, the healthy to help the unhealthy. More than anything it continues to artificially shift resources to the healthcare industry, its employees, suppliers and owners.

    People who can’t do an algebra word problem can’t understand these things, so the Republicans have no hope of educating the public even if they wanted to. So we sigh and trudge along like the husband of the wife shopping at Neiman-Marcus.

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  55. My parents are still taxpayers, as the Canada Pension Plan is considered taxable income, and have always paid taxes. I have never earned enough money to pay income tax, but I pay sales tax to the Government every time I buy something to which the sales tax applies, and it applies to most things. The picture is always painted of people on social assistance as only takers, but their very need to buy items actually puts money back into both businesses and the government, as they pay the retail price plus sales tax. Call social programs wealth redistribution, but if people have no money to buy, than those who sell will not make any money. There is a reason why only the cheapest and most basic kind of stores survive in an impoverished neighbourhood. I recently took a bus ride through a very depressed area of town, and I saw block after block of empty, boarded up store fronts. The people who lived in that area had no money to spend on anything but necessities.

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  56. Debra, Here is the worst news of all for folks like me. The women buying those $700 jeans and $500 backpacks are disproportionately the wives and daughters of doctors, hospital administrators, pharmacists, hospital owners, medical supply company owners, etc. So I am paying for them even if they don’t show up in my wife’s closet.

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  57. Roscuro, I don’t know about Canada, but here is how taxes in the US work:
    1. Sales taxes are collected by state and local governments not the national government.
    2. The federal government collects corporate income taxes and various other small taxes and fees (gas tax to help pay for roads, airplane ticket tax to pay for airports, etc.)

    3. However, the US collects two primary types of taxes on individuals:
    A. The federal personal income tax at graduated rates(these are actually paid by only around 45% of Americans). The vast bulk of these taxes are paid by the top 10% of earners.
    B. Payroll taxes. These are taxes on wages (paid half by the employer and half by the employee) which go to fund benefits payable under the Ponzi schemes of Social Security and Medicare.

    Therefore, when people get a “refund” on their income taxes larger than the amount of income taxes withheld from their paychecks during the year, this is a pure welfare check paid for by their neighbor if the neighbor is one of the 45%.

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  58. Ricky, your capitalism is not pure enough. If supply is driven by demand, then you should accept that there is a demand to pay $700 for a pair of jeans with holes in them and all is as it should be.

    Of course, marketers know that they can create demand via media in very clever ways. Adam Smith never thought of that. Can’t say that the Neiman-Marcus campaign makes me want their line, but I can see how it would apply to those born to privilege, who’ve never tried to figure out how to buy groceries for less than $40 a week (Trigger Warning: the affected accent will make you want to wring the narrator’s neck):

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  59. If nothing else, I hope (with the able assistance of Cheryl, Debra, and Roscuro), that I have been able to convince some that Neiman-Marcus is truly Satanic. Of course, the problem doesn’t stop with N-M. Several years ago I was in a famous New York department store (I forget which one). I was unable to find a single man’s coat that a. Cost less than $3,000; or b. Would ever be worn by a heterosexual.

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  60. Ricky, if the federal government gets corporate taxes, then people on social assistance are still helping to support the government when they make purchases from those corporations, in addition to supporting state and local governments with sales tax.

    As to Canada, HRW may have a more concrete knowledge of it all, but here is what I’ve gathered from filing income tax reports, watching my parents pay property tax, earning wages, etc.
    1. Income tax is to both the federal and provincial governments
    2. Sales tax is a combined amount to both federal and provincial governments
    3. Property tax is to the local municipality
    4. Payroll taxes, as you call them, are automatically deducted from paychecks. Eligibility to draw on unemployment insurance (called Employment Insurance, EI for short) requires working a certain number of hours (varies according to locale), and thus having paid a certain amount into EI.

    Roads are either the budgetary responsibility of the provincial or local governments – basically, highways are maintained by the province, while all other roads are municipal. The province of Ontario has added a few specialty taxes of late, especially to fuel, which serve merely to exasperate everyone – as even those on social assistance pay for the rise in fuel costs.

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  61. I’ve really noticed the rise in fuel costs, since it drives up the cost of transporting food to stores and thus food prices. The last time I lived in this city, I could survive on between $20-25 per week on groceries. Now, I really struggle to keep it under $40.

    Ricky, the prohibition on mixed fabrics, perhaps? It makes me think of Isaiah’s description of the women of Jerusalem:

    Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
    walking with heads held high
    and seductive eyes,
    going along with prancing steps,
    jingling their ankle bracelets…
    On that day the Lord will strip their finery: ankle bracelets, headbands, crescents, pendants, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle jewelry, sashes, perfume bottles, amulets, signet rings, nose rings, festive robes, capes, cloaks, purses, garments, linen clothes, turbans, and veils. (Isaiah 3:16-23).

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  62. Roscuro, When we first got married, I think our food budget was $40-50 a week. However, that was 1978 and our rent was $175 a month for a furnished apartment. I think you are doing a good job with your budget.

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  63. Roscuro, I used to make the argument that the burden of corporate income taxes is passed on to the consumer. It turns out that about 80% of the corporate income tax is born by shareholders, while about 20% is born by the company’s workers in the form of lower wages. Since corporations are forced to compete with entities that aren’t corporations and pay no corporate income tax, the free market does not allow them to pass the tax on to consumers.

    https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/who-pays-the-corporate-income-tax/?_r=0

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  64. Of course, as a Christian, I understand that God instituted government, but I also see that, like many of the things God has given us, sinful man has corrupted it.

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  65. Sorry, that was just jumping in in the midst of other discussion. 🙂

    Here’s a brief article about the program that includes Meals On Wheels.

    “The big problem here is that “We help fund Meals on Wheels” is how the government sells the CDBG program, but how it actually operates in the cities and communities that get the money is far different. The CDBG program is chock full of cronyism and corruption and should be eliminated. Much like the corrupt city redevelopment agencies, what actually ends up happening is that this money gets funneled by politicians to friends with connections for various projects that aren’t really about helping the poor at all. . .

    The money often is not going to Meals on Wheels or even to the neediest communities. As a Reason Foundation analysis also from 2013 shows, wealthier communities get the larger chunks of the money, particularly counties that—what a coincidence!—are in proximity to Washington, D.C. . . .

    DeHaven also noted how a good chunk of the funds of the program get siphoned out due to administrative costs. A good quarter of the funding goes to the various multi-level government bureaucracies to actually operate the grant process. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the CDBG program are the people who operate the program.”

    http://reason.com/blog/2017/03/16/the-community-development-block-grant-pr

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  66. Kizzie, I’m glad you brought up an item addressed by Trump’s budget. I have really been pleased by most of his budgetary proposals. He is showing courage and has not been afraid to take on sacred cows. Thanks for posting the good article on CDBG.

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  67. Ricky, I’m paying $400 for one (very small) furnished room and a shared bathroom and kitchen.

    Kizzie, we corrupt marriage, too, but that doesn’t lessen the worth of or the need for the institution.

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  68. Debra, what do you mean by healthcare being nonprofit? Do you mean (as your post at 6:01 would suggest) that doctors should be volunteers or at least not very well paid?

    There is a place for volunteer medical care to the poor–Roscuro has done it. But I don’t know that more government regulation and doctors earning less is the way to reform our current system. As it is government red tape and paperwork is bogging down our system and doctors are finding that red tape and insurance costs are keeping younger men from joining the field. I don’t think we need the same but more of it.

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  69. Roscuro – Yes, as I said, much (most? all?) of what God has given us is corrupted by our sin. I was not implying that since government is corrupted we shouldn’t have it, but that we shouldn’t trust in it or rely in it to meet our needs, as some do.

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  70. Ricky – Unfortunately, Trump makes up for the cuts in various programs by throwing that money over into the military & Homeland Security. I am not against a strong defense by any means, but our military is already several times stronger than any other. I think Trump is playing on fear.

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  71. Kizzie, I understand your argument and I know there is waste in the military. However, my military contacts tell me that it is 1980 all over again. Many of our planes and helicopters aren’t in flying condition, we are short of spare parts and we need to catch up. I wonder what Michelle is hearing.

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  72. I can understand that, Ricky. I wish part of “draining the swamp” included dealing with the awful waste in most areas of government.

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  73. Kizzie, some amount of trust in the government has to be involved – or we would all be building armed fortresses. As for relying on it to meet our needs, my parents have no choice but to take the supplement, and I see little reason to send the quarterly cheques back. And, I have learned something, that God uses different means to provide for the needs of his people. To receive money from the government is not forbidden in Scripture, so it isn’t wrong to get social support. The question I ask myself is, am I doing all I can to fulfill my responsibility to work in order to help others. If I am, then perhaps, the little that comes from the government [Technically, right now, I’m nearly completely on government support due to my student loan, but I paid the first one back, and, Lord willing, I will do the same with this one] is part of my wages. My parents cared for that couple – who incidentally are better off financially than my parents – without asking for or expecting any payment, and they did not receive any either [I discussed it more than once with my mother and we agreed that payment could change the nature of the relationship with the couple in ways that would make it more difficult for my parents]. The support they received from the government enabled them to shelter and care for people who had no place to go temporarily. We don’t put our trust in the government (not at all – you should hear my mother on the subject of the provincial government’s financial failures) or rely on it to meet our needs. We put our trust in the Lord, and rely on his supply for our needs; we just recognize that it isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that he might provide through social support programs as well as other means.

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  74. Cheryl, there must be regulation of healthcare. We recently discussed how vulnerable patients are. There must be regulation. If protection of citizens is the responsibility of the government, healthcare has to be regulated. How it works here, just to use my own profession as an example, is that there is provincial legislation which labels certain medical procedures (which are invasive and thus potentially dangerous) as controlled acts. It then states which may be done by physicians and which may be done by nurses. There is then another piece of legislation for nurses, telling the broad outlines of what the government expects from them. The actual regulating body, however, is separate from the government. This makes nursing one of the self-regulating professions. The regulating body, the College of Nurses of Ontario, is not there to help nurses, it is there to protect the public. The College makes standards of practice for nurses. It also investigate complaints about nurses and hold disciplinary hearings. Rulings on the hearings are made by a panel of both nurses and non-nursing members of the public. Yes, it is inconvenient and unwieldy and doesn’t always work properly, but it is better than nothing. Even The Gambia had a licensing organization for nurses, to which I had to show my credentials.

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  75. Roscuro – My comments about trusting the government have been in connection with what I wrote about YF.

    “Well, YF believes that it shouldn’t be funded by charity at all, but should be totally funded by the government. She believes that every program that is for the public good should be funded by the government, & that it is the government’s job to take care of its citizens.

    “This reminds me of a couple elections ago, maybe the 2014 elections, she wrote that there should be a state program to offer rides to people to get to the polls. I pointed out that there are usually volunteers who do that sort of thing, but she insisted it should be the state’s responsibility.”

    She rejects the idea that charitable organizations should have anything to do with taking care of the needy, insisting that if there is a need, it is the government’s job to fulfill it. That is the kind of “trusting the government” I’m referring to.

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  76. Michelle is nearing the same thing about the military. My husband spent the latter part of his career driving out costs. We have former military friends who have spent the last 20 years as contractors trying to drive out costs.

    Unfortunately, operation tempos have been so high the last 15 years, any savings have been eaten up. Congress, of course, meddles and forces expensive programs that the military doesn’t even want.

    The US, for example, doesn’t need 10 new aircraft carriers. That’s fighting the last war. 😦

    In the meantime, maintenance has been deferred so long, everything is wearing out.

    I don’t know what the answers are.

    Liked by 3 people

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