28 October 2010

The Life of Juan Libertarian

The following was posted to my Facebook page as a response to a similar piece by one of my friends. The original is re-printed below, for purposes of authorial attribution and needful context.

Juan gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is as clean and good as it was when his ancestors pumped it up from wells they dug themsleves without the help of tree-hugging liberals. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are as safe to take as ever because some smart capitalist, in addition to financing the research which brought the medication to market, also determined that knowingly, willingly and negligently killing customers isn't a workable business plan. He also knew that where he failed, one of his competitors might succeed, putting him out of business and his employees out of work.

All but $10 of Juan's medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Juan gets it too. Aside from the fact that he didn't ask for it, he also wouldn't need it if not for the insurance in the first place. You see, Juan is the curious sort who long ago wondered why the costs of just about every other good or service on the market has a tendency to go down, except for healthcare. Reluctant to take the word of people who give him things he did not ask for and then demand gratitude, he looked into the matter himself and determined that using the insurance model to pay for health care is one of the things driving up the costs--that and his government's dictate that there are no such things as pre-existing conditions. Then, too, are all the regulations which arbitrarily add to the cost of it all.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Juan's bacon is as safe to eat as it was when his great-grandfather and grandfather were growing pigs on the family farm in South Texas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of course, now, thanks to regulations and all those other good things he asked no one to do for him, his pork costs a hell of a lot more than it did a century ago (adjusting for inflation, which was also brought to him by his government). Not only that, but thanks to all these regulations, and licensing fees, and inheritance taxes, Juan's ancestors could not today afford to go into farming in the first place, leading Juan to believe that the primary purpose of these regulations is, for the most part, to limit the entry of new competitors to the no-longer-very-free market.

In the morning shower, Juan reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some enterprising capitalist accurately forecast that consumers would have a preference for his product over his competitors' precisely because it was labelled. Juan, of course, doesn't really care as long as it cleans his @#$%ing hair, so he has no intention of expressing gratitude to anyone for it. He paid for shampoo that cleans his hair--label or no label--and he received shampoo that cleans his hair--label or no label. He figures that if he ever really wanted to know what was in his shampoo he could have called and asked the producer to email him a list. Or he could wash his hair, and the rest of his body with lye soap, like his ancestors. Again: he didn't ask anyone for this shit in the first place. After all, even if he could easily pronounce Dodecylbenzenesulfonate, he doesn't have a degree in chemistry so he has no @#$%ing idea what the hell it is, anyway.

Juan dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean not because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air but because the people who own those polluting factories discovered they couldn't breathe the shit in the air any more than people who don't own factories. On his view the liberals don't want clean air; they want purified air--or just fewer factories, which they will get due the costs of building and managing new ones. (You know, like oil refineries.)

He walks on a government-provided sidewalk because it's there, whether he wants it to be or not, whether he asked for it or not. If being lectured to by liberals--in addition to paying his taxes--is the price for walking on a sidewalk he didn't ask for, then he'd rather walk in the mud, like humans did for thousands of years without having to be made to kiss meddling liberals' asses for an alternative. (He smiles at the probablility that those humans who walked in the mud for those thousands of years would consider liberals to be whinning, snivelling little pusses. The Spartans would have killed them, or exiled them: dead weight.) As he walks, he shares the sidewalk with children on their way to the elementary school, supported at the local level by his property taxes and at the federal level by his income taxes. (His own children go to a private school, for which he foots the entire bill.) He tries not be too miffed that the people responsible for taking his money in the form of taxes then turn round and lecture him on the gratitude he owes them for what they have provided him at his cost and depriving him, in the process, of those things he might have preferred to spend the money on--had he been allowed to keep it and employ it as he, the earner of the money, saw fit. "Thugs and racketeers," he mutters to himself. "I wish they'd grind this sidewalk to powder and blow it up their asses."

As he stands in the subway car, tolerating his government-subsidized ride to work, he fondles the .45 semi-auto in his overcoat and hopes two things: (1) he doesn't get caught with it since his caring and benevolent government won't let him be responsible for his own safety without its kind permission (any more than it will permit him to be responsible for his own ride to work); and (2) he never has to use it (because his benevolent government doesn't exactly own and manage the safest subway system in the world). He politely smiles at the liberal standing next to him, lecturing him on the benevolence of the government, who takes money from people who for the most part never use the damn thing in the first place. The liberal demands gratitude from Juan for an opportunity he didn't ask for--the "opportunity" to be a contributor. The liberal says, "I object to people like you enjoying the benefits I and my ilk provide and criticizing us for providing them." He tries not to laugh too hard: this liberal don't provide shit; he's a @#$%ing fast food restaurant manager who receives tax credits.

Juan begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, because he doesn't belong to a union and is not bound to a collectively bargained employment agreement, which limits his pay to a figure approved by his union "brothers". Therefore, because of his superior marketable skills, as well as his skill as a negotiator, he makes better money than his unionized peers in other organizations. He has medical benefits, it's true. But this is not because liberal union members fought and died for it. (Another thing he didn't ask anyone to do for him.) It's because of U.S. domestic policy in WWII. Due to government policy, Juan learned in his private school, inflation grew both before and during WWII. As a “remedy,” caps on wage increases were imposed by the government. (Another financial set-back provided by your benevolent government.) In response, employers began to offer their employees health insurance to soften the blow and attract quality workers. ( WTF, mate? Imagine that: employers providing health care insurance, not because they were commanded by a benevolent government, but rather because of market considerations. Sometimes, it's an employees' market, not an employers' market. Again: WTF?) The federal government did not consider an increase in health benefits a violation of these wage controls, and the IRS (bless them for their infinite wisdom and generosity) ruled that health benefits were tax exempt for workers. After the wage caps were abolished, health insurance benefits became the norm and were not eliminated. Now, of course, these benefits, which started out as market driven benefits, are rights. And liberals want us to kiss their asses for (not!) procuring them for us. Thank you (relatively) free market.

It is noon-time and Juan needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. It's true that Juan's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some liberal wanted to protect Juan's money from bankers he determined were unscrupulous and ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. But Juan, again because he was privately educated, suspects that the liberal had no idea what unscrupulous actions the bankers took. Juan, on the other knows that the banking system wasn't ruined until after the stock market crash. Juan further knows that the stock market crash followed in predictable fashion on the heels of a great boom, a boom which was itself created by a fraudulent banking practice called "fractional reserve banking", which Juan, since he thinks its fraudulent, opposes. If banks were prohibited from practicing fractional reserve banking, he wouldn't need the @#$%ing FDIC. We wouldn't need the Federal Reserve, either, which would do away with inflation.

Unlike Joe the Republican (maybe!), Juan doesn't have a Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage or a below-market federal student loan. Consequently he doesn't feel a duty to express gratitude to some elitist liberal who decided that Juan and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime--things which cost him (i.e., the elitist) nothing. Juan wonders two things: (1) Who the hell is the liberal to decide for him what would make him better off and then to force it upon him? and (2) Why do liberals, since they feel so strongly about it, not start their own mortagage and student loan companies and extend below-market loans to the objects of their concern? Better yet, he thinks, why don't liberals found, fund and operate their own free universities? You know: do something that actually costs them--and only them--their own @#$%ing money.

It is true that Juan attended a state funded university. But he attended it, not because it was state funded but because it was in a city he wanted to live in while he went to college. He'd have gone to that state funded university even if it were private. (He spent six years working his way through that university for his bachelor's degree; he'd have had no problem spending eight years working his way through a private one). Moreover, he'd have had no problem taking out a market-priced student loan, spending fewer years working his way throught school and paying the loan off from money earned from his improved employment conditions. Juan happens to believe that without state funding inflating both the costs of a university education, as well as the grades awarded by universities, there could be more private universities. This increase in the number of universities, all competing for students, would drive down the cost of a university education. (It's a supply and demand kind of a thing. A liberal wouldn't understand.) Finally, as a believer in privately funded university education, as well as personal generosity, Juan is a member of his alma mater's alumni association and gives as generously as he is able to financially support his university.

Juan is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world. It's also a bit more expensive than it needs to be because it has features required by law he might not have wanted in the first place had he been asked. This, again, is because some meddling liberal fought for unreasonable car safety standards. As he drives out to his father's he remembers his great-grandfather's car that didn't even have seat belts because in those days, seat belts were optional; and his great-grandfather didn't think he needed them. Juan admits that he himself would have purchased them, but wonders what it would be like to live in a country where an adult is free to make such decisions for himself. What a country that would be.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the fourth generation to live in the house financed by three previous generations of capital accumulation--no inheritance taxes. The house didn't have electricity until Juan's dad was almost out of high school. It's true that some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification, which, naturally, cost the liberal nothing. The electric company ran the wires out there, but lost a lot of money because there were few customers: Juan's family and their neighbors didn't have shit that ran on electricity in the first @#$%ing place, and had no immediate plans to buy such things. But you can't expect your average, city-dwelling, big-government liberal to know shit about country living.

Juan is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father, who lives on a farm, remember, lives on the money his still-productive farm generates for the family. Yep. His dad and mom handled their money well, making sure, as well as they could, that they could take care of themselves so Juan wouldn't have to. Not that Juan would mind: he loves his parents. (He knows there are liberals who think he shouldn't have to take care of his parents, but he doesn't care what they think. These are not their parents!) And it's a good thing his parents were smart with their money, too: Social Security don't pay squat. Who the @#$% can live off it? Certainly not Juan's parents.

Juan gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The liberal radio host keeps saying that liberals are good and conservatives are bad. (Libertarians are probably worse than bad.) He doesn't mention that the benevolence bestowed by liberals like himself cost them nothing or, at most, a pittance. He doesn't understand why conservatives aren't grateful.

Juan muses aloud: "First they take our money, then return a fraction of it in the form of things we didn't ask them for. Then they demand our gratitude and call us hypocrites for living the life they have forced upon us. What the hell are we supposed to do? Rip out the seat belts? They have made it illegal not to use them. For this, we are to be grateful? Cabrones."

P. S. -- Joe Republican, who in Juan's opinion is almost as much a statist as any liberal, can speak for himself.

*********************************************************************

"The Life of Joe Republican"
by Hector Cruz

[Or; "How a Liberal Does Ad Hominem, Specious and Tendentious all in Seven Hundred Words or Less"]



Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans.The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
11 October 2010

To Keep My Brother

Hugh Hewitt was recently concerned with the President’s description, speaking in New Mexico (28 September), of why he was a Christian and what it meant to be a Christian. Question and answer are split between the two following videos, beginning at about 6:20 into the first posted video.


Obama refers to a passage in Genesis and tacitly asserts that it conveys the notion that we are our brother’s keepers. Color me skeptical.

And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And [Cain] said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" [God] said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground" (Genesis 4.8-10).

The question asked by Cain seems to be a request for information. Cain, we are to believe, is honestly asking God if he is Abel’s keeper. But note what Cain says just previously: “I do not know [where my brother is].” Cain’s question is rhetorical, claiming that it is not his job to know Abel’s whereabouts. Remember, the question Cain is answering is about Abel’s whereabouts, not his welfare. Today we might say, “It’s not my day to keep up with him.”

Obama seems to be under the impression that when Cain uses the word translated “keeper” he means the same thing as is meant when in verse 2 it is said of Abel that he was a “keeper of flocks”, a shepherd. We are, if Obama is correct, our brothers’ shepherds. But the two words are not the same. Abel was a “keeper [רעה] of flocks”. Cain denies being his brothers “keeper” (הֲשֹׁמֵ֥ר). It doesn’t take a Hebrew scholar to see that the two words are different. הֲשֹׁמֵ֥ר is used in reference to sheep only one other time, in 1 Samuel 17.20, where David is recorded as leaving a flock of sheep with a keeper. But this is telling: in the same passage (verse 22) it is recorded that David left his baggage in the care of a “baggage keeper”. This second notion, of someone who “keeps” in the sense, not of shepherding, but of guarding, is the one most associated with the word employed by Cain in Genesis 4.9. The word is used similarly elsewhere in references to officers called “keeper of the wardrobe” (2 Kings 22.14), “keeper of the king’s forest” (Nehemiah 2.8), “keeper of the women” (Esther 2.3). Frankly, I don’t feel like I need a keeper, thank you very much.

It is interesting to see and compare the Septuagint with the New Testament. In the LXX, the word Cain uses is translated into Greek as φύλαξ, while the word employed with reference to Abel is ποιμν, the same word used in the New Testament to refer to pastors. How is φύλαξ used? In the Louw-Nida schema, it belongs to the category of words associated with rule, or control (i.e., 37) and appears three times: Acts 5.23, Acts 12.6, and Acts 12.19. Each time it is used, it refers to guards in prisons. Get the picture? Cain is really asking, “Am I to be holding my brother captive, so as to know at all times where he is?” Or, perhaps a better fit with the context: "Am I my brother's master?"

But Obama is not a Bible scholar, certainly no Greek or Hebrew scholar. So let’s stipulate that, all of this aside, he really means “keeper” the way that the word is used of Abel. He wants to be his brother’s shepherd. But recall that his claim is that the Scriptures, or specifically Jesus, teach that we are our brothers’ keepers. The fact is, the Scriptures don't teach this. Secondly, let us note that Obama wants to use this as an excuse for his statist policies. Even if I am my brother’s keeper, it does not follow that support for statism is an appropriate means of exercising my duty.

I might not mind so much the idea that I am my brother’s keeper in the same sense in which Abel was a keeper of flocks, if not for the fact that the state bears the sword. I might wish to be my brother's keeper by assisting him with paying his medical bills, but the sword-bearing state makes me do it, whether I want or not, and in a way I might not want. The sword-bearing state makes me be my brother's keeper, but in a way suitable to it, not me. I might not mind, as my brother's keeper, assisting him with his college education by giving money to insititutions I deem worthy of my personal financial support. The sword-bearing state makes me do so anyway, whether I want to or not, taking my money from me and giving to institutions and students which I may deem unworthy. If I am an atheist and find objectionable the biblical notion that people other than my biological siblings are my siblings and that I am their keeper, then the sword-bearing state "establishes" religion by forcing me to, for all practical purposes, pay tithes.

The fact is the state is not the proper means by which I exercise my brother-keeping, assuming we actually have this duty--which we don't. If, as President Obama seems to believe, we must be our brothers’ keepers, then we must be so because the Scriptures teach it. And that’s the problem for the idea that the operations of the state are the appropriate means for exercising this duty.

If we look at the key NT text regarding the state’s obligation, what we find, to put the matter in simplest terms is that the state bears the sword—not the bread basket—for purposes of serving as God’s “avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 13.4). I suppose it wouldn’t bother me so much that statists believe they are acting as their brother’s keeper but for the fact that the state bears the sword, not, let us note, the shepherd’s staff.

Every time Obama and his ilk talk about being our brothers’ keepers I get this image in my head of a book titled, To Serve Man. I mean, it sounds good and all, but it’s really not. It sounds really sweet of people to want to be their brothers' keeper. But it doesn't look like they are going to put up with people who don't want to be kept.

About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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