The Theory of Everything and the Kingdom of God

theory-of-everythingPhilosopher Ken Wilber, in his book “A Theory of Everything”, proposes a series of 8 levels of human development, which I’ll summarize here.

Self Culture System
instinctual archaic clan
superstitious animistic tribe
egocentric power gods (polytheistic) empire
mythic mythic (pantheistic) nation
achieving rational corporate state
sensitive pluralistic community
integral integral commons
holistic holonic meshwork

Wilber’s thinking is revealed, once you understand his terminology. Prehistoric clans gave way to tribal stone age cultures who believed in a world populated by spirits. These were in turn followed by the great empires of the ancient world, who were typically pantheistic, often having a cultural god like Yahweh/El, Odin, or Jove. Wilber calls them egocentric, but I would characterize them as culturally identitarian.

The fourth tier in his model is the modern nation state, which Wilber calls a mythic society. I would instead call this a pantheistic world view. Identification with cultural gods like Yahweh, the god of Israel, is replaced with identification with a mythic ideology like Christianity and with the nation. Early America is a good example of such a nation.

The fifth tier in Wilber’s model is the corporate state, which he characterizes as a rational society focused on individual achievement. This seems to adequately describe western nations of the late twentieth century.

His next step is a sensitive, pluralistic community. By sensitive, he seems to mean individuals who are empathetic toward others in the society. Presumably, he is thinking of superstates like the European Union. This has Wilber, in my book, holding socialism above capitalism.

His penultimate tier is the integral commons. A commons is a shared resource. Integrity implies the consistent application of ones ideology. This is the stated goal of ideologies like communism and the modern progressive movement, but also seems eerily like the simple sharing society of the early Christians, before it was taken over by churches organized in the pastoral model.

Wilber’s final level is the holistic, holonic meshwork. Holism goes beyond integrity. If you have integrity, you are consistent in your approach across all of your roles. If your mind is holistic, all parts of it are tightly interconnected, and no part is separable from the whole. Similarly, a holonic society would be one where the discrete parts function like the whole, and all functions are interconnected.

The holonic meshwork society of holistic minded individuals that Wilber dreams of could be a future society where all our needs are provided for, and people have time to live free from any roles and discover who they really are. Technology could provide the interconnected meshwork that allows every part of the society to behave in the same way as the whole.

Given the mess that attempts to create communist and utopian societies have made thus far, perhaps such a society is still along way off. As Jesus said, no man can know the time when the kingdom of heaven on earth will come. But Jesus also said that the kingdom is within all of us; we simply need to unlock it. Maybe all of the wars and politics that the world is currently embroiled in will be wiped away by technology that changes the fundamental way humans think. Otherwise, there may still be a long and dangerous road ahead.

Posted in philosophy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Be Shamed into Marriage

shotgun-weddingWhile many women bemoan the lack of good men, traditional conservatives are attempting to shame men into marriage. Case in point, the Blaze article Dear Millennial Men, Don’t Be Afraid of Marriage And Fatherhood by

Childhood ended and manhood began precisely when I became a husband and then a father.

While I understand this can be the case, it isn’t something to be proud of. The transition to adulthood is meant to be one of dependence to independence. Unless one lives as an adult at least for a short time, they are likely entering married life, which requires them to become interdependent to be successful, before they are ready.

I walk through life as a man, feeling like a man, because I have a wife to love, children to raise, … and a family to provide for and protect.

While there is nothing wrong with having your marriage and your family be the inspiration of your life, there is no reason that they need to be the only inspiration, nor is there anything wrong with having something else, such as art or business, be your sole inspiration.

That’s why it pains me to see what’s happening in my generation — how so many of us men are so deathly afraid of marriage and fatherhood. Young men these days desperately hang onto their adolescence, unwilling to grow up and graduate to the next stage of their lives. Record numbers are living at home. Millions supposedly can’t find jobs and can’t support themselves.

The claim that young men are immature because they are afraid of marriage and fatherhood is baseless. The next stage of a young man’s life is to become independent of his parents. Why are so many men failing to do so? Could it because jobs actually are hard to find? Could it be that they lack motivation to want to become independent?

On average we’re waiting almost until our 30s to get married, and a large number will never get married or have kids at all. Of course, we’ll still move in with women, and maybe procreate with them, but we’re often satisfied just to have a glorified roommate, not a wife. We substitute marriage with “living together” because cohabitation gives us all the selfish perks (less loneliness, more sex) but none of the petrifying commitment, responsibility and sacrifice that comes with forming a family fortified by the covenant of marriage.

Again, the claim that the reason for these changes is due to men being petrified of commitment is baseless. This smacks of a blatant attempt by the author to shame men who decide against adopting the traditional lifestyle.

But love that avoids commitment and sacrifice is no love at all… As men, we either give ourselves entirely to the women we love, or not at all. Increasingly, we seem to be choosing the latter. We turn away from marriage but grasp for some pale reflection of its joys. We don’t want to be family men, but neither do we want to be celibate and single.  We don’t want to give, in other words, but we won’t hesitate to take.

The statement that men must give themselves entirely to the women they love or not at all is absurd. A man who is willing to give up his individuality and completely subsume his life to the whims of his wife is no man.  What is wrong with not wanting to be a family man, but still wanting to have relationships with women? Why is marriage the only way to give, and why is having an unmarried relationship with a woman taking?

In our fear we’ve become stagnate, and in our stagnation we’ve lost focus and ambition. That, I believe, is the disease that plagues our generation more than anything.

Again, claiming that fear is the motive for men who don’t want to marry, that doing so is “stagnation”, and that only married men have focus and ambition is complete bullshit. The author then calls being unmarried a disease. This is shaming.

Often it seems they have no direction; no sense of who they are, why they’re here, and what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives. Depression rates are soaring in our ranks, not just because of the diseasification of every difficult human emotion, but because we have no ambition, no overarching goal or motivation. We’re running in place, terrified of what we’ll encounter if we progress down the road a bit.

I agree that many people today are lacking in direction and are depressed. Yet this can be said of many who are married and who have children. While marriage and children can give life some meaning, they are not the be all and end all. Progressing down the road to marriage and family before you find your own purpose and ambition in life is actually putting the cart before the horse, if you are a person who will not be content to merely be a family man.

Look, I realize there are other elements to this. Yes, of course I know some men are truly not called to this vocation. But the men who are meant to be single or childless for a while, or permanently, are still meant to sacrifice themselves and live devoted to another. To be fathers, essentially, in another sense.

Why must men sacrifice themselves and live devoted to others? Art, science, creating a great company, even serving in government, all seem fine vocations to devote oneself to.

Some men will find the Other in religious life, or military service, or something else. These are noble, fatherly callings. The young men pouring themselves into these causes are certainly very mature, masculine, and selfless. I admire those men. But I’m sure you’d agree they are the exception, not the rule. Let’s be real: most of the guys our age aren’t shirking marriage because they’ve dedicated themselves to celibate lives of benevolent and humble service to God or country.

One can be devoted to religion or military service without being celibate. The fact that the author chooses these vocations, rather than the arts, science, or business, as his only “virtuous callings” is telling.

Our women, poisoned by feminism and materialism, often choose to be frivolous, self-centered, and self-seeking in the extreme. Our society celebrates whorish, vulgar, cowardly, violent qualities in women, and many have taken that to heart. Some women today have no problem expressing hatred towards men and children, even killing their babies and bragging about it publicly.

Our society also puts enormous pressure on women to work. If a woman dedicates years of her life to mastering a discipline, she may justifiably resent the idea of giving up her career to start a family. While I agree that feminism may need to take some of the blame for pushing women to value career over family, corporate greed has something to do with it as well.

Meanwhile, as men take heat (rightly so, in my mind) for being fixated on toys and comic book characters invented to appeal to 12 year olds, women generally get off the hook for their own juvenile, ridiculous affection for adolescent pop music and trashy romance novels. Indeed, there are plenty of immature, resentful, selfish, immodest, anti-maternal women out there, and I know that makes it harder for the men who do wish to become husbands and fathers.

Smearing comic books as appealing to children shows the author’s ignorance of the genre. Graphic novels are a legitimate art form. Next, he will start slagging Homer because his great epic was made into a Brad Pitt movie. There is nothing wrong with men (and women) having hobbies, enjoying any kind of music, and especially reading. Equating lack of desire to become a mother to immaturity in women is exactly the same as saying maturity in men is achieved only by marriage and family.

We’re men; we’re supposed to be the leaders. We’re supposed to take the reins, not just in our families, but in society as a whole. Sure, feminism has made many in our culture hostile to masculine, assertive men, but that doesn’t mean we should just surrender and take a back seat.

Marriage is supposed to be an interdependent partnership. I agree that men should not surrender or take the back seat, but if they see no chance of achieving a fair partnership in marriage, why shouldn’t they follow other pursuits? Each person should be free to pursue his own happiness.

In truth, even most of these deluded feminists still fiercely and quietly yearn for a man who will come into their lives and be that protector and leader. These roles are natural and ingrained, fundamentally desirable to almost everyone, and it’s up to us to reassert them. Nobody will do it for us.

This seems completely false. While most feminists may indeed want men in their lives, they are hardly looking for someone to lead them. The great thing about being conscious beings is that we are able to overcome instinctual behaviors. If men’s fundamental desires aren’t leading to happiness, they can choose another path, as can women.

Men are right to hate modern feminism with a raw and fiery passion, but they aren’t right to slink away to their basements and throw up the white flag. They aren’t right to devolve back into adolescence and blame that decision on environmental factors. Regardless of feminism or “the system” or whatever, we have to go on being men.

Again, the author is implying that anyone who is not marrying is giving up and is not a real man.

So I’m here to tell you don’t be afraid of marriage and fatherhood. Only 50 years ago, men were getting married and starting families at the age of 22. Today we’re waiting until we’re practically middle aged. And what greater cause are we pursuing during that time? Usually, the answer is nothing. We’re watching a lot of Netflix and playing a lot of video games, but that’s not enough.

50 years ago, far fewer marriages ended in divorce. 50 years ago, laws where more equitable. 50 years ago, the party at fault in the marriage got nothing. Now, the party initiating the divorce, which is far more commonly the woman, gets half of the assets and alimony payments in future. Rather than shaming men, traditionalists should ask themselves how they allowed this to happen. The laws that their elected representatives brought in have made marriage far less attractive to men. Is it any wonder that they are waiting?

Marriage and family should be the bedrock, the birth, the foundation of adulthood, because it rips you out of that cycle of self-involvement.

But if the institution of marriage has been corrupted, you will see cracks in the foundation, and, lo and behold, you are. Is it any wonder men are turning to other avocations?

This is what I try to explain to my single friends who are single mostly because marriage makes them nervous. Sure, it can be a challenging vocation — life is challenge. But we find truth and joy in overcoming it, not avoiding it. And yes, parenthood can drain and exhaust you, but it also infuses you with a strength and energy you didn’t know you had. Most of all, in family there is love. For me, the love found in family has been all encompassing, fulfilling, affirming, and transformative. It is what turned me from a boy into a man. I believe all men search for this kind of love.

Tell this to a man who has had his family ripped from him by divorce, which is now close to half of all married men. With those kind of odds, shame on you for shaming men who choose not to marry.

Traditional conservatives think that ignoring the changes that have been wrought to the institution of marriage since the sixties, then using shaming tactics to force men to marry is somehow righteous. If they want more men to marry, they should focus on the real reasons men are avoiding the institution. Until marriage is made equitable once more, I expect the trend among men to avoiding it to continue to strengthen. I don’t think calling them “chicken” is going to work.

NOTE: I am married and have three children. Marriage and raising a family have indeed been rewarding experiences for me. If you want to marry, do your best to make sure you have found the right person, and then by all means, go for it. Expect to work at it, and I wish you luck beating the odds on divorce. But, if you choose not to marry, that is your business. Do your best to be a good person and live a good life, no matter what path you choose.

Posted in philosophy | Leave a comment

Good Friday

On Friday, Jesus was brought before the governor.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked him.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.

“Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” Pilate asked him.

Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

It was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas.

“Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked the crowd that had gathered.

He knew it was that the Council had handed Jesus over to him out of self interest. While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message:

Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.

The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” the people answered.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

  “Crucify him!” they all answered.

 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

“Crucify him!” they shouted all the louder.

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.

“I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

“His blood is on us and on our children!” all the people answered.

Pilate released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and  the whole company  gathered around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand, then they knelt in front of him and mocked him.

“Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.

They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha, the place of the skull. There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall. After tasting it, he refused to drink it.

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him:

THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS

Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads.

Christ_on_the_cross“You said you would destroy the temple and build it in three days. Save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” they said.

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.

“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”

In the same way, the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. At three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice.

“Eli, Eli, why have you forsaken me?”

“He’s calling Elijah,” said some of those standing there when they heard this.

One of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.

“Leave him alone,” the rest said. “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of their tombs and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified.

“Surely he was the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Posted in philosophy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 More Snarky Questions for Conservatives

socialismThe questions from incredulous socialists and progressives seem unending. The article 10 Questions To Ask Your Favorite Conservative poses another 10 economically illiterate queries. The fact that someone would actually post a list of such weak questions is pretty amazing. Here are my answers:

Question #1. Why is it that when people hoard things, they are a scourge on society and when they hoard money, they are job creators? In fact, aren’t the people that buy things the true job creators?

People who hoard money are a scourge on society. If you are merely speaking of people who are wealthy, then presumably you mean that they don’t want to give their money to the government, who will then waste it. That’s just common sense.

People who buy things are consumers. They are not paying anyone’s salary. They are simply paying for goods and services. Those who create companies, own farms, or run workshops and then hire others to help them produce goods and services are the ones creating jobs.

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Question #2. Both the 10 Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins have no mention of being gay or having abortions. Greed, though, seems to be a biggie. Why do conservatives seem to get that backwards?

Note that this paragraph is not a statement of my personal beliefs, but rather a clarification of the Christian position: Leviticus 18:10 is the commandment against homosexuality (it failed to make the top ten), and the Apostle Paul condemned homosexuality in the New Testament (though Jesus did not). Most Christians believe abortion is covered by the commandment against murder, which is one of the 10.

Greed is one of the seven deadly sins, which is probably why conservatives are far more charitable than liberals.

Question #3. At what point did getting sick become a moral failing?

At what point did anyone ever say that it was? Conservatives want people to be responsible for themselves. If a good person is sick, they are happy to give them charity, but they don’t like the government taking their money at gunpoint (i.e. taxes).

Question #4. In what way are people who buy and sell paper making a more significant contribution to society than teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, mail carriers, artists, etc.?

They aren’t, unless they are helping others to produce things. Most conservatives are against big corporations and the central banks, but for rewarding those who put up capital to build new ventures.

Question #6. When did the right to unlimited profit become greater than the general welfare of the people?

People have the right to possessions, if they have earned them. They have agency, and should be responsible for their own welfare. If I have earned something, what right do you have to take it from me and give it to someone who hasn’t earned it?

Question #6. Why don’t people realize that there’s no such thing as a “self made man?” Even the most successful and ethical people can thank their parents, their teachers, their siblings, their employees, their customers, the government, their contractors, etc. Without them, they would be nothing. The unethical might want to work on their apologies.

This is bullshit. While we don’t all start from an equal point, the most successful people do things that others with the same advantages don’t. They are visionary, driven, and hard working. Anyone who thinks that most people who succeed in business are merely lucky is a fool.

Question #7. Why is physical labor less important than sitting behind a desk?

It isn’t less important, but it is often less valuable. People who run businesses enable more production (i.e. create more value) than one individual can. That’s why my CEO earns more than I do, even though I write more lines of code than he does. It’s fair.

Question #8. Why should people who inherit their money not pay taxes and people who earn their money be taxed at the highest rate?

Taxes have already been paid on the money my parents earned. Why should further taxes be paid on it? If they give me a gift of after tax money, I don’t pay tax on it. The government wastes our tax money. We should have fewer taxes, not more.

Question #9. At what point did we start judging people based on the size of their checkbook rather than the size of the heart?

As I said in my answer to question #2, conservatives are more charitable than liberals. The size of one’s heart is measured by giving to charity, not by giving power to the state to tax others.

Question #10. How has being a conservative helped you?

I have always believed that the government wastes our money, giving me a bias for small government. Being open to conservative ideas has helped me to see the flaws in progressive liberalism and socialism, which seem like good ideas at first glance but can lead to terrible systematic problems such as people being trapped in welfare and failed communist states where millions die.

Posted in philosophy | Leave a comment

Review of “One Punch Man” (season 1, sub)

one-punch-man* * * B

I just finished watching season 1 of the anime “One Punch Man”, available on (Canadian at least) Netflix. The series is Japanese, but has high quality English subtitles. The premise of the series is that the world is under constant attack by mutants, monsters, and aliens. The series is an interesting mixture of comedy and action. While not nearly as comical as “The Tick”, the series definitely plays for laughs at times.

The protagonist, Saitama, decides to become a hero and trains until he can destroy any enemy with one punch. Saitama starts out as a hero “for fun”. He takes on a disciple, a cyborg called Genos, then the two join an association for professional heroes. In the climactic episodes of the season, Saitama finally meets a worthy opponent. At the end of the season, a new plot thread giving Genos an enemy is opened and left dangling.

There is a dub (not available on Netflix), but I haven’t heard if it’s any good. As an action series, One Punch Man would be a dud, but most episodes have at least one moment that made me laugh out loud. I’m looking forward to the next season to see what happens to Genos, where they go with the only female character, the Terrible Tornado, and what happens next for Saitama.

Posted in movies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Answers to 20 More Questions for Conservatives

20-questionsIn his article Answering 20 Questions Liberals Wanted to Ask a ConservativeJohn Hawkins provides a list of 20 questions submitted to him on Twitter, together with his answers. I’m going to reproduce the questions here with my answers.

1) Do Republicans honestly believe voter fraud is a real issue and not just a blatant excuse to suppress minority vote. Please provide proof.

I don’t think its a big issue. I too would like to see some proof. Hawkins offers some evidence in his reply.

2) Why are conservatives anti-progress?

I am not anti-progress. There are many “progressive” policies that I question, and I think that overall, government is antithetical to progress.

3) If you’re a Christian how do you reconcile Good Samaritan/Sermon of the Mount with Trump denying Arab children safe passage?

As Jesus said, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Being a Christian is about how one relates to others as an individual. I see the need for national governments to protect our societies from those who would take advantage of us and do us harm. Since liberals are generally for the separation of church and state, it seems odd that in this case, you want to conflate them.

4) Why do so many people say Trump isn’t racist? Or say they voted for him despite that and feel OK with it?

I don’t know if Trump is racist. Many of his actions that have been attributed to racism don’t seem to be. For example, the goals of stopping illegal immigration and preventing terrorists from entering the country seem in no way racist to me, though one could argue with how effective his actions to achieve them are. Also, I would guess that he supported these actions simply to get elected, rather than because he is racist.

5) Doesn’t the president alarm you? What do you think about mass resignations and attempts to silence agencies?

I’m waiting to see what he does. So far, bombing Syria is one of the more alarming things he’s done. Mass resignations are understandable. Silencing agencies whose bureaucrats were hired by the previous administration and who are actively opposing the incoming one is an unsurprising move.

6) How do conservatives square a pro-life abortion policy with persistent attacks against the welfare state?

At some point, you have to agree that killing a child is murder. Those who choose to say that that point is earlier than you do are not responsible for creating these children. If children are unwanted, they can be put up for adoption. Opposing the welfare state, which has enormous negative consequences on society, and opposing late term abortions do not seem to be contradictory positions.

7) If conservatives believed in the marketplace of ideas, and observed voter fraud is low, wouldn’t they want everyone to vote?

I do want every legal citizen to vote.

8) Why are they so against an investigation into Russian ties with Donald Trump?

I don’t care about the investigation, but I find the media circus around it, when no evidence has yet been presented, to be ridiculous. It truly is “fake news”.

9) What is up with the obsession some conservatives have with cuckoldry?

Cuck is a shorthand expression for those who have caved to the system. Hawkins smears anyone using the term “cuck” as an alt-right neo-nazi. Calling anyone who uses this term a nazi is definitely virtue signalling. Thus, Hawkins himself is being a cuck.

10) Why don’t conservatives seem to give a damn about climate change?

I care about it a great deal. I object to skeptics being smeared, when the 3 degree increase due to human CO2 emissions is based on scientific models, rather than observations. I also find the idea that governments can solve climate change laughable, and think there is a good chance they will do significant needless harm with their carbon taxes, and that those worst harmed will be the poor.

11) What is the conservative view of Trump’s infrastructure plan? Good, bad, socialism?

It’s probably bad economically. I am an advocate of having the government building infrastructure that is beneficial but otherwise wouldn’t be built (like hydroelectric power plants, bridges, and transit). Borrowing to build infrastructure when you are already in debt isn’t sound, but doing it when interest rates are low is better than waiting until they go up.

12) Where is the line for you? What action could Trump take that would ensure you’d fight against him and his supporters?

Starting a war would do it. I’m already against his plan to increase military spending and upgrade the US nuclear arsenal. Actually, the border fence is one of his spends that I have the least problem with, though hopefully it will be funded with tariffs on Mexico, not with additional debt.

13) Do you still believe Trump’s business conflicts won’t be a problem after seeing the countries included/excluded in the ban?

I have to agree with Hawkins: It’s unclear how these things are connected.

14) Free press is fundamental to democracy. So why do Republican’s only trust media that flatters current administration much like state run media?

Why do Democrats trust media that actively supports the previous administration, and is run by their donors? They (e.g. the Wall Street Journal) are actively trying to censor new media sites on YouTube. Why aren’t Democrat’s concerned with their “fake news” conspiracy theories and suppression of other sources of new which deserve equal protection as free press?

15) Why should we allow Bannon to wield power & influence?

He’s an advisor, not an elected official, so its unclear how much power he wields. Who’s going to stop him having influence? Having influence is not illegal or immoral. If his ideology doesn’t make sense, Trump is free to ignore him. Since Trump was elected by a democratic process, your stuck with him listening to who he finds most credible. If you want to influence him, be credible, and stop shouting “Russia” every five minutes.

16) How can a conservative square the funding request for the wall with past demands that spending be offset elsewhere?

It should be funded with tariffs, not by debt. Trump has hinted that he will do this.

17) Does it bother you that tiny number of richest people have the same wealth as bottom half of entire world pop?

Those who earned their wealth, no. Those who manipulate the system to their favor, yes.
18) Why do conservatives assume that Black people’s views on society are a result of brainwashing by the left rather than by our own experience?
I don’t.

19) Is there any point at which the electoral college/popular vote split would become a concern?

It is a concern. Proportional representation may work in the densely populated homogeneous countries in Europe, but it will fail in any large federation. Giving to little or too much power to any one region will cause the federation to fragment, as is currently happening to the EU with the UK leaving. When the popular vote is heavily influenced by a small minority of geographies, they will feel hard done by if the rest of the country goes against them, but if they were allowed to have their way, the rest of the country would feel the same way. If the difference grows to great, you will see a secession movement, like we’ve had in Canada with Quebec, or the UK has with Scotland.

20) Why are you more comfortable with banning foreigners than banning assault weapons?

I’m against banning legal immigrants who are a benefit to my country. A person with evil intentions makes me more uncomfortable than a tool. Guns can be used for both good (defense) and evil (crime). They are not in themselves evil. Automatic weapons are illegal in Canada, and I’m fine with that. I don’t think semi-automatic hunting rifles should be banned. They are necessary if you live outside the cities.

Posted in philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elon Musk’s Mediocre Talk on Climate Change

I’m generally an Elon Musk fan. I’m going to break down his talk on global warming here and comment on it.

Elon begins by referring to the “climate crisis”, which immediately reveals his position on man made climate change. Since he owns an electric car company and is closely associated with one that makes solar panels, I guess some bias is to be expected.

He begins by explaining the carbon cycle. He then states that we have added extra carbon to the system and that it is much more than can be absorbed by the ecosystem. Since the extra carbon comes from plant life that was buried long ago, we know that that isn’t true. The ecosystem could and did absorb massive amounts of CO2 during the Carboniferous period some 300 million years ago. I will give Elon the benefit of the doubt and assume he means that the CO2 we have been releasing cannot be absorbed quickly enough to avoid posing a danger to humanity.

Elon shows the Al Gore hockey stick chart of CO2 in the atmosphere and then makes the claim that CO2 has been low for the last 10 million years. While CO2 has been near its all time low for the last 2 million years, 10 million years ago it was actually far higher than it is now (see Geologic Global Climate Changes). Interestingly enough, the low CO2 levels coincide exactly with the Pleistocene and Holocene eras, which are the only times in Earth’s history that it has experienced periodic ice ages.

Elon makes the claim that the extreme recent growth rate of the CO2 concentrations poses an extreme threat. He then points out how many cities are built near the ocean and claims that there are countries that would be completely underwater in a climate crisis. A 2017 NOAA report states that the sea level will rise between 0.3 and 2.5 meters by 2100. Assuming the worst case, 2.5 meters, Elon is right that some countries (e.g. Bangladesh) would be inundated. This number is based on IPCC climate models that predict 3 degrees of warming will occur during that time.

Elon goes on to repeat the argument from authority that 97% of climate scientists believe in the worst case climate change predicted by the IPCC. The veracity of this claim has been disputed, but I can believe that the percentage is at least high. While it holds some weight for me, I also recall that, before Galileo observed the moons of Jupiter, 97% of astronomers believed the Sun orbited the Earth.

Elon then claims that the because the cost to society of fossil fuels are not being factored in to their prices, there is a disincentive to move to renewable energy. His solution is to have a carbon tax. He goes on to claim that the fossil fuel industry is doing exactly what the tobacco industry did. Frankly, I find this claim  false. There was scientific evidence from direct observation of the health hazards of tobacco. Current climate science predictions are based on theoretical models, not measurement. The two are not comparable.

Elon advocates a revenue neutral carbon tax. While I agree that if there is to be a carbon tax, it should be revenue neutral, once the government gets a new method of taxation, they tend to increase it. See the article How BC’s formerly revenue neutral carbon tax turned into another government cash grab, for example.

One fact that Elon omits entirely is that there are not only the “hidden tax” down the road costs to the environment for fossil fuels, there are also actual government subsidies to the industries. Why are we even talking about a carbon tax when these subsidies, funded by taxes, exist? They should be eliminated first, before any thought is given to creating new taxes.

If there is to be a carbon tax, I’d like to see the money that comes for it be used to good purpose. The problem is, the government will simply waste it. In BC, we are constantly scrambling to fund improvements to public transit. Why isn’t the carbon tax going directly to these projects? Unfortunately, using the power of the government to try to create change is ineffective at best, and at worst, dangerous.

Posted in philosophy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment