Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sequestration: Proof that Congress Is Retarded

Actually, it's proof that just about everyone in DC is monumentally retarded for many reasons.  Before I go into it, I want to make this statement to my readers so there is no confusion over what exactly I believe:

The budget deficit is hurting the economy.  It's trashing our currency, and it's not spurring economic growth.  We need to balance the budget.

Now, let's talk about why sequestration is a horrifyingly stupid idea.  Sure, it sounds great that we're actually going to cut the budget, but the cuts are accross the board and don't take into account the importance of some expenses over others.  What we're hearing from Congress now is that we should allow the cuts to happen, but that we should take the time to allow the cuts to be made in a smart manner.

Let me give everyone a moment to allow that thought to sink in.

What makes this so ridiculous is that Congress can agree to make slash-and-burn cuts, but it can't actually sit down and agree on strategic cuts?  They couldn't use the time it took them to come up with sequestration to actually just figure out smart budget cuts?  No.  Instead, they came up with this ridiculous penalty to impose on themselves rather than sit down, like mature, rational human beings, and figure out a solution to our financial woes.

As Obama keeps saying, the idea was to make it so horrific that Congress would be forced to make cuts before the deadline.  He and others thought this was such a clever idea, but they failed to recognize that most Republicans in congress would simply allow it to happen.  The Democrats really, really bungled this one in terms of political posturing.  Now, slash and burn cuts are almost surely to be made, and the Republicans get to come out relatively unscathed.

How, you might ask?

Well, it's all about the blame game these days.  Republicans get to blame the Democrats for being stubborn on the issue of raising taxes.  You might say "well the Democrats can blame the Republicans for being stubborn on insisting on entitlement cuts."  Yes, but the Republicans have a card up their sleeve that puts them ahead of the Dems: the budget is actually going to be cut.

I don't know if it's spending rate increase cuts or if the cuts are actual baseline cuts (analysts are saying both, so it's hard to tell who is lying/stretching the truth).  But that doesn't matter.  When it's all said and done, the Republicans get to say "we cut the budget, which is what we were elected to do."  And the Republicans will get to say "we wanted to make smart cuts, but the Democrats wouldn't yeild on tax increases."

The Democrats got out-brained this time around.  For some reason, they thought that it would be a punishment to give the Republicans what they want.  It might not be everything they wanted--afterall, the DoD is likely to get the hammer up its rear-end, and we all know how Republicans generally never put the defense budget on the table.  But still, they wanted budget cuts, and now they have it.  47% of voters went for Romney, and the Republicans hold the majority in the house.  That means a good deal of Americans support budget cuts.  Perhaps the Democrats just ignored the numbers?

If the Democrats were as smart as they think they were, then sequestration would've had to include accross the board tax hikes to actually make it a "punishment" to Republicans.  Had accross the board tax hikes been included with the accross the board cuts, then both sides would have had equal amounts of blame to place on each other, and thus both sides would have had equal reason to avoid sequestration.

Politics, my friends, is less about the numbers and more about the games.  That's why I take the time to analyze the posturing of politicians.  In my humble opinion, they don't much care about the numbers.  Will any of them be affected by the budget cuts?  Will they lose income?  Will their services be slowed?

Nope.

The only thing they care about is getting re-elected.  Thus, they will do whatever it takes to get as many people on their side as possible, consequences be damned.  Once you see that it's more about the votes than it is actually guiding this country in a prosperous direction.

And yet somehow, we keep voting for these chuckle heads.  (And by "we" I mean "you."  I didn't vote for a single, solitary establishment soul this election cycle).

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Makes a Man Good Part One

No, not good in bed.  That's a whole other article for a whole other time.  Silliness aside, it's a question that humans have been asking themselves for a long ass time: what makes men do the right thing?  What keeps us from hurting others willy-nilly?  What stops us from going on shooting sprees and bombing buildings full of children?

I have noticed something in the blogoville recently that sort of tickled me, and I think it is central to understanding how humans perceive themselves.  Many of my Conservative cohorts have expressed on more than one occasion that without God, there would be no morality.  Polar opposite to that, one of my Liberal cohorts said a week ago, or so, that "the law is all we have," and without it man would not be moral.

Let's explore how the hardcore Christians think.  For whatever reason, they think that God is the originator of morality, and that without God, morality would not exist and man would not be moral.  That's an interesting thing to ponder, so I'll see your theology and raise you some Plato.  In Euthyphro, Plato asks this question that is pretty hard to answer: what makes an action pious?  Do the gods love piety because it is inherently pious, or is it pious because the gods say so?

If that was a bit convoluted, let me rephrase: is an action moral simply because God says it is moral, or can certain actions be inherently moral?  Some people are going to say that it's moral because God says so.  But if you think about it, there's a lot that the Bible, or whatever religious text you like, does not cover.  For example, the Bible describes morality between humans, but what about morality between humans and other sapient species?

If aliens showed up one day, would we owe them the same dignity and morality, the same protection of their natural rights as sapient beings that we would owe another human being?  And what about slavery?  There is no moral condemnation of slavery in the Bible.  In fact, the Bible goes to some lengths to describe slavery that is in accordance with God's law.  But no one today would argue that slavery is moral.

And what if man one day irrefutably discovered that there is no God?  Would all things moral suddenly cease to be moral?  Would everyone then be plunged into a binge of debauchery and immorality?  Probably not.  Trust me, friends, there are plenty of Atheists out there who are more moral than most Christians.

Even if God exists and did indeed create the universe, it was done so in a way that certain things would inherently be moral. If God did not exist, it would still be righteous to do kindness to others. All of our actions would not suddenly become morally neutral. Few people would reason that the murder of children is totally fine. Just because God created the universe does not mean he personally created everything in it, but it means that he created the conditions for certain things to exist.

You wouldn't say that because God created the universe, that means he created automobiles, would you? Just as well, God created a universe in which the conditions allowed for the existence of morality.  The automobile only exists in reality insofar as there are people who were able to create the automobile, and as long as automobiles physically exist.  The same is true with morality.  If sapient beings did not exist, then morality would only exist as an idea--something that has the potential to exist.  Because what is morality other than actions committed by human beings that are considered to be pious? 

If humans do not exist, then those actions cannot be committed.  So like the automobile, morality would only exist as something that has the potential to be actually realized.

I admit that the fear of eternal damnation compelled me to do the right thing for a while.  But there came a point in my life where I decided that I truly don't care.  I won't be frightened or coerced into doing the right thing on the off chance that doing the wrong thing might land me in a place of eternal suffering and torture.  I don't mean to be insulting, but that is childish.

Morality exists without God.  Most people know this in their hearts, because they know that if one day God's existence is disproved, they would still not be able to bring themselves to murder and steal and do harm to others.  They would not go out and get sloshed every night, or engage in extra-marital, promiscuous sex.  They wouldn't do this because they would still have a sense of dignity and personal responsibility.

I'm going to do what I think is right, regardless of what a damn book tells me.  I'm going to try to live my life with dignity, personal responsibility, and I'm going to try to do right by my fellow man.  I don't want to cause harm or suffering to others, and I want to live a life of general moral piety and ethical righteousness.  If God exists and is angry at me for following my personal conscience--the conscience he supposedly gave me--and if my attempt to leave this world a better place than I found it is not pleasing to him, then I will happily march my own "immoral" ass to the gates of Hell.

And if there is no God, I will continue to do the right thing and treat people with the respect and dignity they deserve.

In part two of this three part series, I will talk about the flip side of this grand question: the notion that man only does the right thing because of the law.  In part three, I will discuss what I think the actual answer is to this question.  Hint: I think it has nothing to do with God or the Law.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Dumbass Idea of the Week: China = Spaceball City

China is selling cans of fresh air . . . roll clip!



This is no joke, though.  China's air quality is so awful, that they've actually canned fresh air for the masses to breathe.  Yup, this is the next big super power that will eventually overtake the U.S. . . . right?