Thursday, March 16, 2006

Notification of Suspension

This is to announce that the Weekly Ramble is suspended until further notice. I simply do not have the time to write anything these days. Between my job and the maintenance of my household, I have little time to maintain any kind of regular schedule.

If you are a reader and you would like to be notified when I resume (and I fully intend to), please comment on this post and provide your email address. Or, if you'd rather not leave your address out there for fear of spam bots, feel free to email me directly at

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nazis and the Neoconservative Movement

A recent commentary on regarding the subject of the government's aversion to seeing the Bush Administration compared to Nazis, while they apparently have no trouble comparing other heads of state to Nazis. This got me thinking about the disturbing similarities I have noticed, and got me wondering if I could get into trouble doing the same. Mind you, I only have about five readers I know about (and I doubt even they are consistant), so I'm hardly a threat. But, you never know. Someone might decide to make me famous.

I would prefer to pepper this with links to quotes demonstrating the points I wish to make, but unfortunately, I am a slave, and only have time to do this on my lunch hour. So, instead I provide you with anecdotes from the top of my head.

So, without further ado, Neocons and Nazis.


I see traditional American Conservatism as having the following features. It has a mistrust for big government and high taxes, preferring smaller government and lower taxes. However, it also has a mistrust for people in, and from, other countries, and so it supports a large military. This military is meant to be used for defensive purposes, to deter those that would otherwise attack. It is not to be used for "nation building" or any other such nonsense. It prefers the lowest possible spending on social programs and foreign aid--none, if at all possible. And it has a great love for America, and American Freedoms.

The only portion of this the Neocons seem to honor is the nationalism part, but they change the message associated with it. For while both a traditional conservative and a neocon will stand and wave the flag with entusiasm, they do so for different reasons.

The traditional conservative sees America as the land of the free, a place with unique freedoms--the Consitution, the Declaration of Independence, and all that. American Nationalism and American Freedom go hand-in-hand; a true conservative would not sacrifice freedom for security.

For the Neocon, America is defined not by her internal traits of individual freedom, but by her external trait of international leadership. America is seen as a unique force for peace and justice in the world, never before seen on the stage of history. To them, ours is a God-granted destiny, to extend our holy system of government to every corner of the world. No cost in either treasure or freedom to our own people is too great to realize this destiny, and anything can be justified in the name of this destiny.

Nazi Germany was also founded on the notion that Germany was a nation superior to all others, destined to reign over the nations.


Recall that "Nazi" is a shortening of a longer party name that translates "National Socialism." Their greatest supporters were the middling majority. Ensuring the welfare of their people (Germans) was a prime concern for the German government of that period.

Traditional conservatives would end welfare if they could. Traditional conservatives have long called for the abolishment of the Department of Education.

Compare that to the Bush Administration, which, I have read, has increased spending on Medicare more than any president in years, and has extended the power of the Department of Education farther than any electable Democrat would have dared. Wheras traditional conservatives believe in a limited federal government, the new conservatives are engaged in an unprecedented expansion of federal power, to ensure the welfare of our citizens--something traditional conservatives don't see government as being particularly good at.

Government spending hasn't expanded so much since the Johnson administration, and the War isn't even the principal expansion (Medicare is).


Newsflash! Arabs are Semites! Muslims claim to worship the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, since he was Ishmael's God, too. And the problem old-line anti-semites had with Jews wasn't restricted to Jews; true anti-semites are opposed to any alien, invasive culture stemming from the Middle East, including both Islam and Christianity.

If you look at the rhetoric of the typical Neo-Conservative, there seems to be far greater reverance for the symbols of our Nation (the "Constitution", the flag, the dollar, etc.) than there is for the Cross. They claim the sanction of God, but which god? Jesus said "Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you," but the typical Bush supporter obviously follows the older dictate Jesus was responding to, "Love your Neighbor and Hate your Enemy." Love America, hate any nation that does not bow to it. Regard with suspcian any country that does not share our political systems and does not alter any and all foreign and domestic policy when Americans come to call. Hate, in particular, the French, whose nationalists are continually trying to distinguish themselves from us.

There are those who preach that our war is a great War, a Clash of Civilizations, between Islam and... something else. It depends on who you ask, but there are those who claim the opponent is Christianity, to which I say "No." Jesus preached that we should love our enemies. If a man slap us on the check, we are to turn the other to him. If a man forces us to go a mile with him, we are to go two! If a man demands our coat, we are also to give him our cloak! And I do not believe the mandate of a Christian changes any when he takes the reigns of government. For this reason, I do not believe it is possible for a genuine Christian to posess the power of the sword; few would vote for a man who would, on their behalf, turn the other cheek.

No, it is not the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob they worship, but rather the great old God of the State. In Rome, it was the Cult of The Emperor (highest of all gods). In the US, it can be seen in the idol we call the Flag, to whom the state requires we Pledge Alliegence. In the Neoconservative movement, the Cult of State, begun sometime around World War 2, reaches fruition.

The Muslims are opposed by these people with the vigour they do not because they kill in the name of their ideology (our own government does that with great frequency), but because their ideology, like that of Jews and Christians, does not regard the State in general, and America in particular, as supreme. They may be severely misguided in their assessment of the will of God (or perhaps they are not?), but that is not the reason they are opposed.

Okay, so I got it written. Understand that this is worse drivel than usual--I really had to stretch for the Anti-Semetic part. I simply don't have time to write good stuff. :( But it was fun, nonetheless. :p

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

True Wealth

At a recent bible study, the matter of "true wealth" as discussed in the Bible was the topic of the day. It got me thinking about the matter of wealth storage, wealth stability, portability, the associated risks, and so on. I came up with a sort of "wealth continuum," going from the most transient forms of wealth to the most stable. It looks something like this:


Food, consumables
Fiat Currency
Tools, Capital Improvements
Gold, Land
Knowledge, skills
Friends, Family, Social Goodwill
The LORD's Goodwill


Each of these forms of wealth have differing degrees of volatility and reliability. I shall discuss each in turn.

Food, Consumables

Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, brok them into pieces, and gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd. Matthew 15: 36

But, of course, some of them didn't listen and kep some of it until morning. By then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Exodus 16: 19-20

These are things that you buy, you use, and you're done. Food is the clearest example. You buy food, and you'd better eat it. If you don't, it'll spoil, and become useless to you. It is obviously not a place for investment, though you can't really get away from buying these things. And, of course, it is vulnerable to disasters, such as pest infestation or other contamination, and, of course, theft.

Fiat Currency

This is a more storable and portable form of wealth than consumables, but it spoils with time, as well. A fiat currency is generally managed in an inflationary style, so as time goes by, its value goes down. The sooner you spend it on something, the better. A poorly managed currency is even more vulnerable; sudden spikes of inflation can wipe out one's savings. It's probably even more vulnerable to theft than food and consumables.

Tools, Capital Improvements

This is a better investment than just holding money. One can buy tools to multiply one's labor, or one can invest in other kinds of capital improvements. One can buy shares in manufacturing operations. If one invests wisely in this category, one can do well.

However, there are many disasters that can take away this form of wealth. A sudden shift in the market can ruin a business. A fire can destroy it. Tools and machines wear out, rust, and go obselete. These things can be stolen, or vandelized. Poor management can ruin a business. A constant input of labor, both of the mind and of the body, is needed to maintain capital wealth, as well as a constant input of more capital, for maintenance, replacements, and updates.

Gold, Land

These are things that if one owns them, his wealth increases without any effort except for that which is necessary to keep his claim. Gold generally goes up in value against currencies. Land goes up in value. An investment in real estate is a sure investment. So long as an area's population increases (and this is pretty much inevitable, so long as our food supply continues to be greater than the population's needs), land and gold will increase in value. And that class that has control over their people's land is the class that rules. Gold does not tarnish or rust.

However, gold can be stolen. Land is more sure than gold, but it is dependent upon the stability of the regime that protects land claims. Both are vulnerable to shifts in government policy. And, of course, there are situations that require one to make a choice between one's land and one's life--a bad choice to have to make.

Knowledge, Skills, Wisdom

Wisdom or money can get you almost anything, but it's important to know that only wisdom can save your life. Ecclesiastes 7:12

Because of this, I will do wonders among these hypocrites. I will show that human wisdom is foolish and even the most brilliant people lack understanding. Isaiah 29: 19

I was uncertain whether to put this one before or after gold and land. I decided to put it after, since it is not something that can be taken away (except by madness) once it is acquired. It is something that can be used regardless of the situation. If one is trained as an engineer, one can either command a high salary designing solutions in a mature economy, or trade it for lesser things in a more chaotic situation. These things are useful, and do not wear out, rust, and cannot be taken away.

However, it can go obselete. A skilled blacksmith is driven to poverty by mass-production of metal goods. A skilled farmer who does not keep up on developments in his field will be competed out of the market by an agressive agricultural corporation. A computer programmer must constantly learn new techniques and languages, as the old ones go obselete. Obsolescence is the thing that hurts knowledge and skills.

Friends, Family, and Social Goodwill

I am reminded of "It's A Wonderful Life," wherin George Bailey, highly blessed in all the previous areas (particularly knowledge and skills) is failed by all those areas. Some money is lost, and no amount of skill or wealth or anything can save him. He stood to lose his business his house, and his very freedom. It drives him to suicide (and we'll discuss the intervention that prevents that in the next section), but his friends and family come through for him.

When hard times come, when all the previous forms of wealth fail, having people to fall back upon helps. If a friend is helped out in a time of need, he's likely to help in your time of need. If your house burns down, you can stay with a friend. If you don't have enough money to buy food, a friend is able to help. If your entire base of wealth is destroyed by a hurricane, a friend is able to help.

However, friends die. Friends lose their wealth, too. Sometimes, friends betray you. The more friends you have, the safer you are, but there are things that can drive away even the most loyal of friends. Friends can fail you.

The LORD, The Kingdom of God

Store up your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Matthew 6: 20

There is one friend that never fails. He is called by many titles, but here, Redeemer and Provider are probably the best ones to use. God is the ultimate source of all wealth. It is he who created the earth from which all our wealth springs. It is he who blesses us with the gifts that enable us to produce wealth. It is he who blesses us with stability, or curses us with instability, which affects the ability to retain wealth. And it is he who can save us when nothing else can.

Food and consumables are made by him, and sometimes miraculously provided, from the manna of the ancient Israelites to the loaves and fishes served up by Jesus and his disciples. Money may belong to Caesar, but the value it represents belongs to God... and I have seen the miracle of the fishes and loaves work in my own financial life (HOW exactly I manage to be okay when I'm living from check to check, and then a financial emergency strikes, can only be answered by Him). Without the skills he grants us, our tools are worthless, but he can provide us with opportunities to gain new tools when our old ones are lost.. He made the land; we are but sojourners in it, and gold is worthless if he is not with us. Skill and knowledge come directly from Him, as do opportunities to profit by them. And those who sincerely follow Him are the best of friends, the most reliable of family, and even when they are destroyed in body or otherwise unable to help, He can help us, in ways we cannot even imagine.