Tag Archives: freedom

Individualism vs Collectivism – The True Debate of Our Time

Share/Bookmark

Why are Christians not winning the culture war on marriage?

We respond to polished presentations like this:

With this:

I support traditional marriage but if I had to make a decision based solely on the testimonies above I’d have to side with the person who made an articulate case based on freedom.

Pining for a perfect world

Everyone wants to live in a perfect world.

That’s not a really surprising statement. What separates us, however, is whether we think a perfect world is attainable given the current state of affairs and whether we think it is possible  to bring about a perfect world.

How we answer these crucial questions is what defines our political outlook.

Big government advocates, for instance, think a perfect world is obtainable through the right policies. In the past these policies were based purely on theory (a la Karl Marx) but in more recent times these policies are being based on statistical averages. Modern proponents of big government are fond of making the case based on scientific research and strong appeals to game theory as a solution to the tragedy of the commons. In short, a perfect world is possible if we limit the non-optimal decisions of others.

This view sells. Its a sound theory. It is possible to bring about the most optimal set of circumstances through the application of something like the Nash equilibrium. However it fails to account for one crucial fact. The fact that complete and flawless knowledge of all the relevant facts is required in order to make the calculations accurate. Big government proponents either fail to factor in the uniqueness of individuals or else they boldly assert that individuals are obligated to conform to the community’s desires. The recipe for a perfect plan calls for perfection.

This inconvenient truth is where big government advocates often find their lofty ideals being dashed on the shores of reality.

There are no individual humans or group of humans who have acquired the omniscience required in order to concoct such a perfect plan in order to bring about a perfect world.

And its this reality that leads people to advocate for a realistic system designed not to bring about a perfect world, but a just one.

Small government supporters rightly recognize the problem inherent in designing a perfect society. So rather than try they prefer to uphold the individuals right to chart their own course through the ocean of life. Small government advocates believe in the principle that more people come up with better solutions to problems than a small group of people do. Small government supporters also believe that it is wrong for others to try and force their view of what constitutes a perfect world on others.

Should there be a new Palestinian state? 28 year old MIT grad Benjamin Netanyahu answers…

Was there really a healthcare mandate over 200 years ago?

A liberal friend of mine sent me this article from Forbes which attempts to argue that “Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798”

From the article:

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed –“An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

There’s a few problems with comparing this 2 page law with the 2,000 monstrosity that is Obamacare. Here’s a short list:

  • Not everyone was employed AS a seamen, so off the bat this bill was worlds away from the mandate levied by Obamacare on every US citizen just for breathing.
  • The mandate was applied per ship, not per sailor. The only things recorded were the counts of seamen aboard. The fine of $100 was to be levied against the ship, not the individual crew members. This was really more of a payroll tax than anything else.
  • The seamen had the free choice of which port to go to, meaning there was interstate competition among ports with regard to this service.
  • The care was not open-ended and not lifetime. When your money ran out, you were kicked out. Oh, and pre-existing condition were not treated. This bill was specifically designed to alleviate the arduous effects of long-term sea voyage for the purpose of international trade. It was effectively an insurance plan for sailors, not much different than seafaring insurance plans that were already in place at the time to make intercontinental commerce less of a financially risky endeavor.
  • Doctors were not mandated to work at ports. In fact, this plan says nothing about the coverage provided. Its amazing to think that anyone would compare this with Obamacare when the medical care provided is not listed. The only thing the bill does stipulate with regard to the service is how the overseers of the port hospitals will be appointed by the president.
  • The money collected never left the port it was collected in. That’s what they used to call “states’ rights”.
  • The wording of the bill focuses on accounting. It actually expects there to be a surplus left over!

This bill was also far from uncontested as many posts that want to use this as ammunition to support Obamacare seem to imply.

For an extended review of this topic, I highly recommend this blog post at Wandering Reveleries.

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. –John Adams

Why libertarians should be opposed to same-sex marriage

During a discussion on same-sex marriage with one of my more liberal friends, I mentioned not wanting the state to encourage self-destructive behavior like homosexuality. My friend asked why I, a libertarian, would want the government to interfere in people’s lives.

Unfortunately this is actually a common libertarian position. So in an attempt to persuade my fellow libertraians, let me outline why I believe all libertarians ought to be opposed to same-sex marriage.

Libertarians believe in limited government. Same sex marriage greatly expands the role of government in peoples’ lives. Ergo, I am opposed to same-sex marriage because it would necessarily entail an expansion of the government just like it has in every country that has embraced same-sex marriage.

Here’s a great article about the effects of normalizing aberrant sexual practices weakens the institution of marriage.

Weakening marriage means the state needs to grow to take on the roles the parents once filled. Today that means the state becomes the husband (provider/protector/teacher) in the lives of millions of single-parent homes (which are predominantly female).

When we make sex out to be a private pleasure divorced from any public good (like the production and care and raising of children) then we end up with fewer children (because they are seen as a nuisance) and fewer marriages which provide the most stable environment for the raising of children.

And you know what’s great about properly functioning marriages? The state doesn’t need to interfere with them, so it doesn’t need to grow in order to provide anyone with an imagined “right”.

The family is the fundamental building block of society. And for that reason, all libertarians should be opposed to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Is the government takeover of healthcare a lie?

Contra to Politifact, the government takeover of healthcare, characterized by the existence of strict government oversight as to who gets what treatment when and where (aka, “death panels”), or none at all, is very real.

Its also increasingly hard to sustain the notion that the government takeover of healthcare is not an established fact when it has already lead to an increase in premiums, a loss in care (so much for the whole “if you like your existing plan, keep it”, we’ve experienced this one as well), and reduced coverage of the very people it was supposed to help (children and the poor).

In fact, hundreds of businesses and unions have already files to be exempted from Obamacare (or else they would have to drop coverage altogether, thanks to the crushing price-tag of this “non-takeover”).

If you are providing health insurance only with the permission of the federal government, government has taken over your health insurance.

Actually, if its such a lie that Obamacare is not a takeover of the healthcare industry, why has it already been ruled unconstitutional, specifically for its provision regulating economic inactivity? Not buying healthcare now carries with it the possible penalty of jail time.

On top of all of this is the great big whopper that Obamacare won’t fund abortions.

What is truly amazing is that in spite of all of these facts, liberal organizations like Polifact feel no shame in attempting to sweep it all under the rug by calling it a great big lie. As if we had made all of the preceding facts up and were merely out “to scare people”.

Hope and change is only worthwhile if whats hoped for is clearly defined and real and what is changed is well-vetted (remember that whole 5-day public disclosure, “we’ll televise the ‘debate’ on C-SPAN” mess?) and avoids as best as possible unintended consequences like those mentioned above.

Why should Christians in particular care about all of this? Because Obamacare funds lifestyles and choices (thereby encouraging them) that are in direct opposition to our faith. Sure, free market capitalism makes such things possible, but it does not force others to fund something they fundamentally disagree with. Also, Obamacare costs money, a lot of it. More money in the government’s pockets means less money in our pockets (because the government cannot create, only take, wealth). So even the weakest churches should be up in arms about Obamacare because more money going to the government means less money in the offering plate.

What conservatives believe

Here are a series of videos from Bill Whittle which describe a few of the core tenants that conservatives believe.

Free enterprise

The problem with elitism

Wealth creation

Natural law

Does responsibility presuppose freedom?

A friend of mine on Facebook posted the following video with the following claim:

No responsibility doesn’t presuppose freedom, but responsibility does presuppose authority.

Here is my initial response, along with the ensuing conversation’s highlights.

It presupposes both actually. Responsibility requires both someone to be held accountable and someone to be held accountable to. Both subsiquiently require a certain amount of freedom to choose. Both to set the standard of responsibility as well as whether to even attempt to live up to the standard set. To negate the freedom of either is to render them an object and not an agent. And objects cannot be responsible or authoritative. Humans aren’t objects, and neither is God.

Why do both [causal agents] require freedom?

They require freedom in order to be considered causal agents. I explained this in my previous note when I talked about how responsibility presupposes that both the one being held accountable and the one to whom we are accountable need to be agents and not objects.

You changed the question entirely to whether you were predestined to do one thing or it was entirely undetermined by any but yourself.1

No, I think your theological presuppositions are getting in the way of your understanding my question and its significance as to the present topic.

You asserted earlier that I am mistaken. Well that implies that I am responsible for presenting accurate information. So my question is whether my mistakenness is my own fault due to my own limited but free choices in what information to pursue and what propositional truth claims to maintain as true or whether I have no free will at all (not absolute freedom mind you, that is a straw man on your part) and thus have no alternative than to be mistaken about my assertions. In the former case responsibility and the subsequent admonition are warranted whereas in the second case responsibility is negated simply because there is nothing I could have done otherwise.

If our responsibility is founded on our freedom, how is it that Jesus Christ is held responsible for our sins instead of us when he did not perpetrate them?

Jesus was held responsible for our sins? That is news to me. I was under the impression that He willingly paid a debt He did not owe. However it is funny that you should bring this up as it lends itself further to the notion that men have limited freedom since their sins are just that, theirs, and not someone else’s. The very notion of sin, like responsibility, necessitate at least enough freedom on the part of the agent charged with sin to have possibly opted to not sin. Otherwise, if you negate any and all freedom whatsoever, or if you redefine will to mean something other than will, you are left with a logical contradiction (not just mystery) in that men sin by necessity and due to a causal determination outside of their own volition.

In the end, I think you understand the correct and logically cohesive argument since you state it quite plainly:
“If I am responsible, then I am free. I am free therefore I am responsible.
Then you give the further proof: If I am causally determined (by some thing other than myself) then I am not responsible, I am responsible therefore I am not causally determined (by some thing other than myself).”

Simply put, yes. This is correct since men are not robots but causal agents capable of making limited but truly free choices.

If responsibility is required then freedom to respond is available. Responsibility is required therefore freedom to respond is available.

Responsibility: definition

Responsible: definition

1 a : liable to be called on to answer b (1) : liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent (2) : being the cause or explanation c : liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties
2 a : able to answer for one’s conduct and obligations : trustworthy b : able to choose for oneself between right and wrong

So you see. The language of causal agency is etched into the very definition of the words used. So unless you want to take the route of being a pure deconstructionalist, wishing (freely) to remake the English language in your own image (by redefining words as you see fit) then I would consider this topic to be rather simple and resolved purely on account of the necessity of linguistic structures.

Responsibility requires the ability to respond by a causal agent. Causal agency entails some degree of freedom to choose. Or, in this case, “choose between right and wrong”.

To sum it all up. Those who disagree with the notion that responsibility presupposes the freedom to make real, morally significant moral choices are, themselves, mistaken. It is not God or any other outside agent or force that has caused them to be mistaken, their error is wholly their own.

Note, that if a person wants to deny the above paragraph they cannot simply say that I am mistaken since such a claim would, itself, necessitate the limited freedom to be 1. wrong and 2. responsible for correcting that wrong belief. The best someone who wants to deny true causal agency (aka limited free will) and who implicitly wants to affirm causal determinism can say is that I have been predestined according to forces wholly beyond my control (which goes without saying, but I feel the need to be overly specific and verbose here) to believe the way I do. They cannot, however, say that I am wrong in my beliefs. Because no matter how hard they try, they cannot get around the fact that to deny causal agency, which is the core of limited freedom, is to unhinge the whole notion of responsibility by destroying. And no amount of redefining words is enough to save such a wholly illogical and philosophically untenable position.

  1. After a previous response I received the objection that I was mistaken. The quoted comment, then, is in response to my question as to whom was mistaken, me or God. The purpose of this inquiry was to implicate the intuitive nature of limited freedom being asserted here. []

On the “secret will of God”

The common view of the multiplicity of wills of God (revealed and secret) has several flaws. Namely it seeks to resolve the apparent paradox posed by the view of God’s sovereignty wherein God MUST get his way without fail (and his way is the only way any situation or event may come about) and the view that man possesses responsibility and therefore the power of limited free choice.

So when we read about events such as God repenting for creating man or for saving Israel we are forced to call into question the initial presupposed definition of sovereignty (as stated above and affirmed throughout Calvinistic literature). However, rather than reject this view of sovereignty God’s will is seen as divided and hierarchical such that God MUST (by necessity) have a “hidden” will that can somehow freely subvert and even contradict his revealed will.

We can see this further when Jesus tells us to love our enemies. This seems to stand in stark contrast to the late Calvinistic notion that God gleefully damns sinners to hell “for his glory” even though he (limited atonement) never died for them in the first place. This can only be resolved by positing a hidden or secret will that freely contradicts the revealed will (Scripture).

After many long hours of studying this whole view of God’s will as being multiplied beyond a single unified will that is revealed in part, I am forced to wonder whether this whole “secret will of God” is not, in the end, much different than the hidden knowledge the Gnostic were so infatuated with.

In summation; I find the attempt to resolve the apparent conflict between the Calvinistic understanding of sovereignty (as God being the sole causal agent in the universe) and man’s responsibility before him (which, itself, requires a limited view of freedom that causal determinism explicitly prohibits) by way of hidden or secret wills to be insufficient at best and downright subversive (intentional or not) at worst.

For more information about the problems posed by dividing God’s will up, see: