Tag Archives: Freedom

Christian Compulsion

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. (Philemon 1:8, 9, 14 ESV)

There is no compulsion to do good. Paul is justified, both then and in our current minds, in commanding Philemon to accept back Onesimus not as a slave, but as a brother, relinquishing any ownership he previously held of is man according to his right of possession of the slave.

However, instead of commanding him under his right as an elder in Christ, Paul instead gives Philemon the opportunity to either take his slave back as a slave, with requisite punishment for his having ran away, or to take him back as a brother in Christ, with the purpose that God might receive greater glory through this reconciliation between master and former slave and that spiritual growth may occur both in these two and in those around them observing this obviously difficult situation.

Such freedom from compulsion ought to characterize Christians today in the same way and for the same reasons. God seeks not automatons, forced and enforced confessions of non-present faith, or insincere actions done supposedly in His name. God instead seeks freely given love, sincere searchings for Him, unforced confessions revealing the true state of a persons soul.

This free expression does not negate predestination and free will. God’s working through the Holy Spirit to bring those He has called, foreordained, and predestined does not negate their human effort and prerogative to seek, knock, accept, and follow.

Such freedom ought not be limited to “spiritual” things, either. If the ultimate goal of a Christian is to see as many choose to follow Christ freely, then, by extension, the goal of the Christian in the world is to seek to allow as much freedom for as many people as absolutely possible so that all may, by the choices, words, and actions, reveal the truest view of their internal state. This is obviously done with regard for the inherent evil bound up in the hearts of all people. Reasonable laws protecting people from the predations of others are, and will continue to be so long as our Lord tarries, necessary and good. Free actions are to be allowed without censure so long as the do not infringe upon free actions and choices of others or prevent others from living freely in their own way. But such laws and regulations are to be as minimal as possible because the right of liberty is of greater worth than the freedom from pain or want.

As laws and regulations begin to prevent more than merely the excessive damage to others by actions of some and instead begin protecting people from the results of their own actions and choices, they exceed their just purpose and therefore become unjust. An unjust law is not necessarily a law that harms through lack of protection, it can also be a law exceeding its just purpose.

Paul chose to use persuasion, leaving the choice to Philemon, even when a possible result would have been the re-enslavement of Onesimus, in order that the true state of these men’s hearts could be shown. Only through such a freedom-embracing choice allowing possible ill is the responsibility of all involved kept sacrosanct.

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” (Revelation 22:10, 11 ESV)

Doesn’t Pass The Sniff Test

Do you want an example of an ideologue attempting to justify his existence at the government trough?

Imagine the tragedy if every day for years on end a crowded jetliner crashed. Then imagine the outrage when the public learned that those tragedies had been preventable, but that the airlines and government had done nothing. Fortunately, jetliners rarely crash. But excessive salt in our food is causing several hundred preventable deaths every day—100,000 deaths each and every year. And the food industry and government have done virtually nothing.

Sorry, this doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Writer Michael Jacobson would have to add a lot of qualifiers to the statement before it made it past the sniff test.

First off, salt is not killing several hundred people a day. Accurately interpreting the words Michael has chosen leads to only one conclusion, salt kills several hundred people a day. And hundreds of thousands of people who drink water die every day. A more accurate statement would be “medical conditions related to high-sodium diets are factors in several hundred deaths each day.”

Salt doesn’t kill. In fact, salt is a necessary part of our bodies ability to regulate its water levels. High levels of sodium in our bodies alerts us with the sensation of thirst. And without sodium, the water would not travel into the necessary cells. It works in much the same way a good sauce flavors meat, by passing liquids back and forth across the various membranes until the saline (salt) levels equalize on both sides.

The second problem with Michael Jacobson’s arguments are his assumption that government regulation is the best source of a solution to the problem of high-sodium diets.

First off, any such regulation is flatly contradictory to the stipulations of the Constitution of the United States of America. The amount of salt a person consumes is completely within their rights to self-determination.

Not to say there isn’t an issue with the overall health of our nation. However, such issues illustrate the inappropriateness of government involvement in health and other private decisions and responsibilities. If the government wants to require that food stamps and WIC and other welfare assistance programs only be used on low-sodium foods, that’s OK. That particular cat is already out of that particular bag. And if you live on the government dole you live at their behest.

I don’t live at the government’s behest. I live in spite of the government.

Secondly, there are those who still live a healthy and active lifestyle whose bodies use and process higher levels of sodium effectively.

According to an evolutionary understanding, due to the necessity of hard labor to survival, our bodies evolved to prefer high-fat, high-starch, high-salt foods because they stored much higher levels of energy necessary for the long days in the fields and on the hunt.

According to a creationary understanding, God designed our bodies to prefer the foods that conveyed most effectively the elements essential to our carrying out the stipulations of the curse.

Either way, we’re tuned to want this stuff even if we don’t need it. But some do, and that is the inherent failure of each and every government regulation. There is simply no way a blanket rule can be applied without it causing harm to some without a corresponding benefit.

John Tate counters Michael Jacobson:

Supporters of intervention are focusing on the overconsumption of salt. Point taken. However, the problem of overconsumption derives more from personal choice than from sodium intake under circumstances beyond one’s control, such as when large amounts of sodium were added to food products without information to consumers.

People are presented with all the data needed to make an informed decision. Warnings about excessive sodium abound. Product labels list the amount of sodium each serving contains. Restaurants are increasingly supplying nutritional guides. The responsibility lies with the consumer on how to act on this knowledge.

Most Americans do not seem to be choosing to restrict their own salt intake, and the FDA is looking to use this outcome to justify intervening in everyone’s food choices “for our own good.” But no amount of such intervention will ever force people to make good choices. What will regulators do if this idea doesn’t work? Resort to policing salt intake within people’s own homes? Where does dictating the actions of others “for their own good” end?

As Tate mentions, the argument that many people are unwise in their decisions regarding nutrition is valid. But when it comes to the government of the United States of America, there is this niggling detail. All arguments regarding the role and responsibility of the government must begin with the Constitution. And only if they pass that muster may they proceed to whether they are logical, practical, necessary, or wise. If there is truly compelling reasons, the Constitution may be amended, as it has in the past. But the failure of Constitutional amendments today serves to highlight the paucity of truly revolutionary ideas in government.

Tate ends thus:

Ultimately, the risk we take by trusting Americans to make their own decisions is significantly less than the sacrifice we make by continuing to excuse actions by a government that has repeatedly proven its total disregard for the limits imposed by the Constitution.

The Internet And The Death Of FUD

The Internet circa 2003
The Internet circa 2003

Latest in our series on the beneficent free market is this wee screed on the internet.

The internet is a good thing. A powerful thing, I think everybody can agree with that. But I would argue it is a good thing too.

I don’t gloss over the terrible things people can find on the internet, the addictions it foments and feeds, the filth it spreads or the lies and slander that so easily pass for worthwhile information on it’s myriad nooks and crannies.

As with anything truly powerful, those who use it best seem to be those who would misuse it and abuse other with it.

But for all the garbage you can so easily stumble upon, there is great good. The potential and realized good both far outweigh the potential and realized evil in the same way the slightest candle will chase and overpower the shadows of the darkest room.

The internet is good because the internet allows information.

This would seem like a tenuous argument at best, but let’s not leave the argument there.

The internet is good because the internet allows information of all types, from all sources, to all consumers.

As Lady Justice holds her scales blindly and impartially, the internet is oblivious to any contextualizing of either the informer or the informed. The information itself can be contextualized, and due to the sheer mass of information on the internet, any single bit can be matched with any other bits to provide context and deeper insight into any piece of information.

But the internet itself does not care. It’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness. The internet does not care what or who or how or why or anything else regarding the information that is posted and shared and disseminated through it’s labyrinthine pipes.

Fear is always the result of misinformation or too little information. From the macro fears of life “does God care for my future?” to the micro fears, “spiders!!!!!”, information is the best and most effective form of fear slaying. Reading the bible (maybe even on the internet) we can read God’s promises regarding our lives, and then looking back through our own lives and seeing the providential Hand working through the good times and the bad, that fear can be slayed by information. Using other information we can determine whether or not a given spider is dangerous to humans.

Thus the greatest enemy of fear is information, real and true information.

Now the obvious argument is that lies and disinformation are so very common on the internet, often masquerading as truth very effectively.

However, the internet also addresses that issue by nature, once again, of it’s open information structure.

Prior to instant background checks and credit reports and the globalized economies, trust was a necessary part of a business relationship. Today we still have trust-based systems for those times when a resume just isn’t enough.

References, people who know something and are in positions of trust and recognition, are often called upon to verify the abilities and character of a person. When one is unsure of whether or not someone else can or should be trusted they confer with a third party who has legitimate reason to be trusted and thereby determine the trustworthiness of the person.

With the internet, in it’s connected and interconnected state, we can easily find legitimately trustworthy people and then infer, from those they trust, other trustworthy sources. It is all about the free exchange of ideas and information.

Further, the antagonism that naturally results in such a free-for-all atmosphere further bolsters legitimate reputations as negative information can only with the greatest of difficulty be quashed or controlled, and more often than not, will free itself regardless the efforts of those seeking to control it. Those legitimately trustworthy will weather and withstand the onslaught and thereby gain further credibility.

The internet is the death of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) in that it enabled anybody to speak the truth, share the truth, and find the truth,and be sure it is the truth easily, and with high levels of certainty. It is the greatest leveler of the masses.

The internet could not exist were it not for the freest society in the world pushing and encouraging and growing it beyond the wildest dreams of those researchers at DARPA so many years ago.

Hey, it even allows me, a 20-something nobody to publish my pointless and babbling rants in a public forum with equal opportunity for success as authors of the first degree and highest reputation.

Disturbing musings

I was rather disturbed recently when reading about the Democrat’s need to suppress right leaning speech.

Here are a few quotes from the articles.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn’t seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan’s FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats – including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore – strongly support the idea of mandating “fairness.”

 

Liberals, Rasmussen found, support a Fairness Doctrine by 54 percent to 26 percent, while Republicans and unaffiliated voters were more evenly divided. The language of “fairness” is seductive.

 

But Obama and the Democrats also plan other, more subtle regulations that would achieve much the same outcome. . . One such measure would be to impose greater “local accountability” on them – requiring stations to carry more local programming whether the public wants it or not. . . The measure is clearly aimed at national syndicators like Clear Channel that offer conservative shows. . .Finally, the Democrats also want more minority-owned stations and plan to intervene in the radio marketplace to ensure that outcome.

It might just be me but does this sound like a direct attack on a multitude of the basic rights that freedoms that are supported and coveted by conservatism. Is this an attack on ideas like say . . . free speech, free market, free enterprise. Wait, I think I just had a revelation . . . Isn’t this a DIRECT attack on freedom.

Honestly, what are the liberal puppeteers trying to accomplish? Isn’t it clear that this is the suppression of dissention, the bridling of local choice, and forceful creation of unsuccessful enterprises in the name of equality (that last quote really sounds like what happened to housing in the United States).

To sum it all up, I know that tomorrow will be better because of what I have done today, but why does today have to be so bleak? I am sorry if this offends some, but I am almost at the point where I cannot look at the presidential candidates without a measure of disdain, distrust, and disturbance.

In other news . . . A government funded scientific study supports industial advances. However, the English government cannot stand the truth they themselves found and so there is a cover up (sounds like the fair and representative government has an agenda).

I love my life and am going to have a great day today. I just wish my loving, protective government would stop getting in my way.