A bland notes post. I want to record here some of the ideas presented by the theologian Arthur Lunn, who is quoted frequently in William F. Buckley’s book, Nearer, My God. His argument on the nature of hell is as follows:
(1) I object to God being represented as a torturer. (2) I object to any form of punishment which is eternal. (3)I object to the fact that a man’s eternal destiny depends less on “striking a due balance between his virtues and his sins than on the pure accident of what takes place during the last moments of his life.”
Later on, Lunn is portrayed as being open to the concept of heaven as a place where few people go, but still establishes a divide between the idea of eternal punishment and soul annihilation. He further notes that man was not born to love God, and thus God cannot demand love of himself as a prerequisite to being redeemed. So God can insist on obedience, but not love, which is enjoyed by only a few. Hence Lunn is against the idea of hell because it is irrational in his outlook on the spiritual world. (pp. 68-72)
Worth documenting here, as I’ve seen so many cases like this on Twitter:
He’s an empowered feminist as well:
Some people try to reason, but then we get a healthy dose of Kevinism:
The importance of these images lies with what they signal about the folks around you. For years we’ve heard of “La Resistance” courageously fighting back against fascism and evil Nazis. Today, they happily relish the opportunity to round up others. Such upstanding citizens.
An especially frightful bogeyman mustered by folks on the Plural Right to win elections is the idea of the welfare queen. This horrendous creature oozes about in life, deviously attempting to confiscate as much from the public dole as possible, and using taxpayer dollars to fund her luxurious lifestyle. She is often paired with her live-in boyfriend, a clownish drug dealer who uses his perch in a Section 8 housing complex to make tax-free money by selling controlled substances. Topping off the vignette are their countless children, who assist in generating those lovable food stamp checks which are annihilating the economy.
Effective as the idea may be for politicians, it betrays a fundamental unwillingness to understand the nature of the public support system, along with the actual status of people involved. Thus we must provide an overview of precisely what is available to welfare dependents, and for how long. Hopefully, a measure of clarity can help eliminate the misconceptions that inevitably fuel terrible corrective policy on the part of the State.
The first salvo ought to involve a popular 2012 study from Wisconsin distributed inside conservative circles. According to the authors, a family on welfare in the Badger State can rake in $35,000 annually post-taxes by yukking it up with a variety of government programs and not working. A similar 50-state analysis by the Cato Institute confirms such alarmism, noting how places like Hawaii grant payments of almost $50,000 a year to government dependents.
There is no doubt the proponents of such studies have justifiable concern about the nature of welfare. Unfortunately, they rely on rather self-serving conclusions to fit the bill of lolbertarian ideology. For one, the Wisconsin study relies upon an assumption that eligibility automatically equates to acceptance. In reality, analysts have concluded that less than 300 Wisconsinites would be able to draw the $35,000 amount of income, this in a state of almost 6 million people. Further complicating the matter is how most welfare programs require participants to be seeking a job or working, stipulations which undermine the suggestion they are simply mooching because they can.
Perhaps more critical to mention are the limitations on welfare programs themselves. In the case of SNAP benefits (food stamps), users without children are limited to 90 days in the service within a 36-month period by a federal law enacted in 2008, unless they can meet certain work requirements. When paid out, benefits average about $256.00 per month for a household or $127.00 a person, and come to around $1.40 for each meal. Higher payments materialize in the event of a household being extremely low income or with many kids, so not everyone receives the same amount of money. It is worth noting that the Obama Administration promulgated an $8.7 billion cut to SNAP, despite its supposedly progressive credentials.
Section 8 housing also gets a bad rap due to the poor reputation of such communities, yet it too has strict standards for access, cutting out sizable swaths of the general population based on income and family status. Quite crucially, the voucher system does not cater to illegal immigrants, as applicants must be citizens or possess eligibility for citizenship. The closely-associated LIHEAP program gives recipients help with heating and cooling bills providing they meet certain requirements. Strangely enough, President Obama also made repeated requests for Congress to cut funding to LIHEAP, instigating a move by the late Hugo Chavez to donate heating oil to Americans.
Some critics will aim their guns at the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash support program to satisfy notions of dependency. Here again the issue is complex. TANF operates not as a long-term solution to poverty, but merely the helping hand to bring people back on their feet during hard times. Benefit checks in July 2020 ranged from just over $300.00 in Texas to $1,086 in New Hampshire, reflecting cost of living and state government decisions. The final point is important because individual states control the destiny of TANF money block-granted by the Fed, and are not obliged to offer a large (or elevated) amount. Furthermore, recipients are limited to 5 years on the TANF dole throughout their entire life, so it is hardly a career dependency model.
Welfare alarmism also flies in the face of the historical record. The 1996 welfare reform bill signed by Bill Clinton had the effect of eliminating the “entitlement” concept behind such programs by instituting stricter work requirements. Since 1997, spending on TANF has remained largely unchanged at $16.5 billion, and broader welfare caseloads have increased to 15 percent, while the assistance rolls remain down by 68 percent from the pre-reform highs, this even with the effects of the recession and Corona. As a percentage of the total federal budget, the programs amount to $361 billion, or 8 percent.
One final point to acknowledge regarding the 1996 reform lies with the impact on child support enforcement. Prior to the legislation’s passage, the State’s involvement in collection and insistence on men paying was decidedly more limited. Clinton’s bill changed that by requiring state authorities to more aggressively pursue orders on child support, and encouraging women to pursue it. So in a sense men replaced the State for a portion of the payments, arguably leading to the disaster of family courts today.
At the end of the day, I can appreciate the rage against welfare. Those of us who work feel indignant about folks who simply take checks and live on the dole. Of course the truth is that many of the “takers” are actually employed, yet simply do not make enough to survive. Perhaps our bigger focus should be on the creatures and organizations regularly taking trillions from the government to bail them out whenever the economy turns south.
In a futile effort to save more trees, I will at times use this digital scroll as a repository for random notes. Here we have an interesting tidbit from Edmund White’s biography on Marcel Proust, page 43. It actually stems from reference to The Guermantes Way, in which the Jew called Bloch asks a former French official by the name of Norpois what he thinks of the dramatic Dreyfus Affair. Norpois proceeds to avoid the question repeatedly by hiding behind rhetorical camouflage. The piece’s narrator then observes about Norpois:
“…the maxims of his political wisdom being applicable only to questions of form, of procedure, of expediency, they were powerless to solve questions of fact as, in philosophy, pure logic is powerless to tackle to the problems of existence…”
I cannot think of a better summary for our modern system of political grandstanders and toothless business leaders.
A few days ago I was driving to work in the very early morning hours, when darkness floods your vision, and one asks softly that the faded hue of headlights refuses to fade away. With eyes heavy from inadequate sleep, I switched on the radio to perk myself up. After a couple of country tunes, the Honda’s audio system began issuing a timeless hit: “Hotel California” by the Eagles.
My first experience with the tune was well over a decade ago, yet at the time I just heard the sounds, and imagined it had something to do with love, or perhaps adventure. To the innocent mind, there is little treacherous about the instrumental, and even the lead singer sounds rather hopeful in certain parts. It was only as I focused upon the words that the undertones became clearer. Was it about pity? Then the clobbering blow:
Last thing I remember, I was Running for the door I had to find the passage back To the place I was before “Relax, ” said the night man, “We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave! “
For all the times in my life that I’ve heard the song, those two lines never registered, but they make perfect sense now. Others have claimed the entire piece is about drug abuse or a vile music industry, all fair assessments. I choose to go further, however. From my perspective, it highlights our state of existence, and perhaps that of our forefathers.
To put things into perspective, consider a video topic I came up with a while back: “Can You Live Without Google?” The segment was designed to get at the fact that people attempting to rid themselves of the tech behemoth were often playing right back into servitude because it was too convenient. Going through the process of finding alternatives, which often do not function as well, would likely preclude the majority of these outraged revolutionaries from pursuing change.
But there were some who resisted. I received a treasure trove of smug comments from folks claiming to have dispensed with Google in favor of Yahoo or Bing, vehicles of two other massive technology companies with spotty records on data privacy. That was the extent of their opposition, marching from one burning pyre to the next, while somehow believing the newest flames are liberating.
Today the problem is even more grim. People removed from Twitter or Facebook proudly sprint over to Parler or Gab, not realizing how quickly the system will move and absorb (or quash) such threats. The gallant ride of independent knights swiftly takes the shape of a suicide run, for the citadel has long since been breached. Our heroes at this stage are battling on to write history, not preserve their autonomy at all.
Much like a denizen inside Hotel California, we have the freedom to “check-out,” but is it possible to ever leave?
If one thing is consistent, it would be the general atmosphere of dislike for the State in circles of the Right. One could spend hours parsing up the backstory and justifications, but such a practice fails to crystallize exactly what the future holds. Our reasonable guarantee holds that governments will continue to exist, and thus financial corruption shall abound. All else is fantasy.
With said negativity considered, we might consider exactly how the State might alleviate the suffering of countless Americans with a handful of small moves. Healthcare has already been discussed, although the government-run model falls under harsh modes of criticism. Federalized educational payments are similarly fraught with peril, at least insofar as they become breeding grounds of progressive lunacy and degree value inflation. So what else can we hope for? Government-funded groceries?
Not so much, but has anyone considered the question of usury? The term is controversial in modern days due to our obsession with debt-financed economics, but would it really be so bad to leave that category to the rich and empowered? After all we’ve heard about how “every man can be a king” with deregulatory policies, the powers that be still go about trying to blame poor people for financial collapses which their own foolish behaviors instigated. If we take them seriously for a second, how could this downside be avoided in the future?
Simple, by smashing the concept of interest on home loans. A certain figure who will go unmentioned launched his very successful program on these terms decades ago, specifically oriented around building up the family. The program he promulgated allowed couples to attain interest-free loans which could go towards the purchase of a new house, along with furnishings. Instead of being mortgaged to interest payments, the newlyweds had merely to repay the principal, giving them a massive shelter against debt slavery in a world where the percentage charges often eclipse what has been borrowed.
When we account for the reality of Adjustable (Variable) mortgages, and how they threw countless Americans to the curb during the 2007-2008 collapse, the aforementioned plan sounds intriguing. Even a non-gambler would be inclined to wager that families who only had to pay their principle back without interest might well have avoided losing their homes when things went belly up, even if a job loss occurred. Furthermore, nothing prevents the State from extending grace periods in case the person is unemployed so they do not immediately fall into destitution due to vibrations beyond their control.
Obviously such a proposal must be crafted to avoid exploitation by real estate investors. Consequently, the applicants would need to prove they are in a committed marriage with intentions of having children. Allowing only one application per family would also stand to cut down on fraud, as might requiring them to live in the house for a certain number of years. The latter component has the potential to preserve communities as well, which is attractive.
Maybe the hammer to usury would backfire, turning into another predictable creation of the federal behemoth and pushing us closer to fiscal insanity. At the same time, it could be the solution to most national problems, and those facing the children of tomorrow. Debt is a scourge which conquers nations, so why not set our people free?
There’s an older meme of Congressman Ron Paul smiling or waving his arms with the caption “It’s Happening!” The image is meant to imply that Paul was right, and simply got ignored by the broader masses of sheep who continue voting for establishment Democrats and Republicans. Most people throw it around sarcastically, and even less probably recognize Ron Paul anymore.
Except it’s not really a meme. According to reports from congressional testimony, incoming DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas will not commit to tearing down Trump’s spooky fence wall on the southern border region. This seems completely out of character for someone like him, who is only in power due to a political party which spent the last several years lamenting over immigrant detainment and access control. Are the Dems having some magical wake up call regarding border security?
Absolutely not. After all, Biden has encouraged the approaching wave of migrants to enter in the future, regardless of the damage such a move is bound to cause. Instead, the development from Mayorkas made me think back to an old debate from 2011, when Ron Paul answered a question on the long-legislated idea of immigration control:
What a fascinating idea: instead of the wall being used to keep terrorists and immigrants out, it is actually designed to prevent people who wish to leave. From a traditional conservative standpoint this sounds absurd, as who would really want to depart the United States? As it turns out, more than we might realize. The next couple years will begin to show people how all the security apparatus which they endorsed happily as a weapon against terror is going to be used against them. We already have folks getting kicked off platforms and denied flight access because they expressed views which are seen as toxic to the mainstream. How far are we from passport revocation on the same basis?
Not far at all. The IRS already possesses the ability to snatch a person’s passport on the basis of tax issues, so only an upgrade to “problematic political ideas” is needed for us to come full circle. After all, we can’t be exporting extremism and terror to other countries…that would be unacceptable.
Will the Left ever be consistent? Yes, I accept this post is one of many preaching to an exasperated choir, but it feels important when we consider the method being employed. Social media snitching has been a regular part of our existence for years now, but there still seemed to be a fragile line blocking off certain realms from encroachment – at least until now. The last gates of respect have been battered through.
Reports are emerging of liberal women who labeled themselves as conservatives on popular dating apps such as Bumble in order to draw in men who might have attended the January 7th protest in D.C. Upon gaining photographic proof, they proceeded to forward the information to federal authorities. Here is a celebratory internet cackle:
Bear in mind that these were the same type of creatures castigating Jim Comey and the FBI for supposedly helping Donald Trump win election in 2016 by his reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Many leftists at the time called for Comey’s removal, and decided the law enforcement agency he headed was compromised. Yet here they are, happily going from “La Resistance” to loyal information brokers for the Feds.
Is there no contradiction visible? What if the ill-termed “rioters” were actually AntiFa, albeit raging against Joe Biden’s Corporate Democrat appointments…would they also happily provide details to help the men in black? Would these pleasant faces bother taking time out of their boring lives to draw in some Anarcho-Communist activist with their deep knowledge of Das Kapital before springing Wray’s Army on that delusional revolutionary?
I reckon not, but who knows? Social credit is a lovely thing.
I pass through your doors, and smell forever death. Not the rotting corpse, but its vivid anticipation. Fear. Those bashful eyes, peeping above a mask blue to white, sensing weighted antimony. How long? Who is imbued with knowledge? A few beings hope, swaddled in great white jackets, speaking as if sure, while we wait clueless.
Sudden. The denizen catches this glance, dazzling more terror. Myself the cause I disbelieve. Something else must speak. Could empathy well within? Aye, yet never still the twin fashion. That poor soul 72, frail to the saunter. I cannot know his fear, walking as I do on water. When the invisible beings sneer I laugh, he alone quavers. He alone prays.
Ring, answer, answering. How many cry after chance, for guarantee? Too late, none remain. Try with new sun. Alas, but can they afford to? I fall back to tempt myself. Give the slot, let them enjoy. Swift it perishes. How more will I earn depleted units? There are others who fear, others with currency. They craft mint paper bonds, strongest of manacles. Dismiss the moral shriek.
Finally, she beckons. Sit, clothespin finger, wrap your arm, feel it close to burst. Enough. Spears in the nostril. The vision floods. Wait now, a printed vein of trees. Sainted in truth. The white robe says be well. Past three masking shields, almost genuine. He says sorry for waiting, but I feel sorry for him.
Clear. An open passage shines. Depart high feeling, thoughts to know freedom. Two steps more. Disaster. I see his stare anew. Older, worn, tragic. Burdens for that soul to live, I carry the pain-thing forever. Brushes never rest.
I hope this will be the last (contemporary) political post made on the blog for a while. As much as the topic is compelling, one cannot escape the feeling of its overall vapidity. We observe representatives voting to object to an election in small numbers, knowing well in advance the act is mere grandstanding to avoid what harsh realities a corrupt system has foisted on the people. They “do their part,” even while the finishing glaze was conjured up weeks ago.
Strangely enough, there is a different kind of electoral moralization going on in D.C. and state capitols around the country: that of defending convention. Not long after the fury blew up on Capitol Hill, empowered libertarian representatives quickly rushed to “defend the Constitution” by joining with Democrats and ratifying the results of an obviously corrupt election. These are the same characters frantically warning about excess spending, surveillance, and endless wars, yet the critical moment is simply too trying for their sensibilities. So instead of taking a principled stand to favor what they believe, the route is one of guarding the system and status quo.
What makes this behavior especially confusing is the purveyors’ own knowledge that they are waging a losing battle by being good town watchmen over modern day malevolence. The reason spending does not come down is because the decision gets devolved across fifty different states, all with various projects and payoffs lined up for fulfillment. Wars are similarly driven by money, and continue to be pushed by the uniparty majority despite public opposition. Such programs are not going anywhere on the basis of libertarian idea-spreading, and certainly no Balanced Budget is forthcoming.
Keeping all that in mind, what exactly do these steady tradition enforcers get in exchange for their complicity? The simple enough answer is as follows: an opportunity to flaunt moral self-righteousness by being “right” because they warned folks in advance. If the rest of us had only listened to the libertarians and conservatives, somehow the cities wouldn’t be burning, racism would hardly matter, and decency might reign supreme. Now that all is ashes, we should turn and recognize our steady friends who wouldn’t allow the structure to collapse, not for all the ideological triumph in the world.
Perhaps an addendum here should speculate as to whether the system defenders cultivate a martyr complex in their minds to feel better about the collapse of convention. It would certainly jive well with the sacrificial themes of those Abrahamic religions they follow, in which the upright are cut down while preaching forgiveness and respect towards their enemies. Thus they can die (or devolve into the political deserts) knowing their honor was bright, and the other side is wrong or sinful.
Now let us pose one final query: should the more radical Rightists somehow seize power in the future, what shall the libertarians and conservatives do? Will they yet lament the collapse of the system, which holds the bulk of their spiritual wealth, or simply revert to becoming grifters aligned to that triumphant cause?