Thursday, June 12, 2008

Liberty Lessons From a Co-worker

I learned this morning that a co-worker of mine is answering emails for work from the hospital. He is answering emails right before he is ready to go into open heart surgery! This is the saddest commentary on what is wrong with our collective corporate life and what it does to a man, a child of God. He is doing this not because he is a shareholder, reaping great exponential profits from the company, but simply out of a misguided sense of loyalty to a company that pays him the minimum salary that the market will bear for his services. I'm sure there are more extreme stories of company serfdom, but this is the first time I've seen it up close. It is disgusting to think that we as human beings have been reduced to this. If he dies, the company will go on. His position will be filled by another. And the cycle of stress that led to heart trouble will continue because all companies serve the god of this world, the idol of money. We believe that the passionate pursuit of money is our highest calling. Even in the Christian community, many of our ministries have been co-opted by the idea of massive fund raising to support world-wide ministries where the leaders of those ministries live like royalty. And I'm only talking about the genuinely altruistic ones. The rest, similar to the Kenneth Copelands of the world, are brazen in their pride and pursuit of opulent wealth that they spend only on themselves. My brothers and sisters, it ought not be so.

We talk much of freedom and liberty in this country. But the truth is that we
are all slaves to an economic system that makes it very difficult for people to
be self-sufficient financially. I argue that true freedom starts with the internal freedom that comes from becoming a follower of Christ. But second and most importantly after our spiritual relationship, we must strive to be financially free. For some this means God blesses with relative wealth. For others, like the missionaries, it means they divest themselves of most worldly goods and make themselves available to God's specific work. What about those of us in the middle? Is there an answer? The Bible gives its answer in 1st Thessalonians:

To make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you, so that you may bear yourselves becomingly and be correct and honorable and command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-supporting] and having need of nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 - Amplified version

11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-13 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)

I believe God will honor our efforts in any area that will lead to our financial freedom. It is honoring to His kingdom when we can say what we really believe without fear of losing our jobs.

We were not meant to be cogs in a corporate machine, but citizens of the kingdom of God. So sad for this guy. I hope and pray this will not be me and that no matter what the cost, I can get out from under the thumb of a corporate machine that only seeks to drain my human resources as ruthlessly as it does the Earth's natural resources. Make no mistake, we are to be in the world being salt and light, but we are not to be of the world. We compromise ourselves when we succumb to the world's system to meet our needs. Some people will be called to work in the Corporate system. But most of us have been brainwashed by a corrupt school system that teaches two erroneous concepts: A good job and Retirement.

Nowhere in the New Testament does God teach us to work towards getting a good job. It does teach us to work at whatever we find to do with all our heart, but those goals should be God centered and not self-centered. It teaches us to be content with whatever state we find ourselves in, but does not teach us to roll over and be a part of a corrupt system especially when we live in a society where it is within our power to remove ourselves from that system. We were not literally born into slavery in most of the Western world. We were born into free societies where it is in our power to learn to work for ourselves and small companies where the company is small enough to be accountable to those it employs through profit sharing.

No, the concept of a good job is a lie foisted upon us by Socialists in the late 1800's that believed that the best way to answer the problem of over-production was to produce a nation of consumers. Teach people to want more than they can use and then make those products of such low quality that they must be replaced and the never ending consumerist society was born. They taught us to want a good job so that we could buy crap we don't need to impress people who don't care. Who of us was ever taught to work for yourself through the public school system?

This leads to the other lie taught to us by our corporate run schools:
Retirement. When you are not self-sufficient, you must work and save money separately so that someday you can finally do what God placed in your heart to do. Society calls it Retirement: A narcissistic time when you can finally eat drink and be merry. It is focused on entertainment and a life of ease. This is not at all what Jesus has called us to. For those that still believe that many goods stored up for many years is the goal, I refer you to Jesus' parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13 - 21. God calls us to live out what he has placed in our hearts today, not when our life has been spent in pursuit of the good life and our best years are behind us.

There is a Libertarian movement afoot that seeks to restore the Republic of the
United States to a very limited Federal government and many more free market benefits than we are enjoying today. I argue that no citizen can think of being free until he is first free from the financial bondage that public schools brainwash him or her into joining. There is a better way. Each human being must decide for themself that they will not be a slave to the corporate machine. They must find their own way in the free market to earn enough for their families to be self-sufficient. We must, all of us, seek to avoid the bondage that causes a man to be writing emails to his company hours before open heart surgery. We must be free.

Friday, April 25, 2008

My response to a Liberals vs. Conservatives Email

This post is an email response I sent to family and friends recently about why gasoline prices are so high in California. I can't find the original article which was supposedly written by Christopher Van. Since I can't find the original post, I'll just summarize by saying that the premise of high gas prices was because Liberal environmental wackos kept the oil companies from building new refineries, no drilling in the ANWR, and a lack of research of oil availability off the coasts of Florida and California. I disagreed with those simplistic premises and here is my response:

I am weary of the debate being defined as one of liberal ideology versus conservatism. To properly define these terms, you need to know that American Conservatism is merely the right leaning form of European Liberalism. True Conservatism is not practiced in this country. It was started in Europe as a way to preserve the elitist monarchy power structure in the face of liberal democratic change. That democratic change saw some success in Europe but has found its fullest expression here in America. To define the problem with oil prices purely in terms of liberal ideology misses the point and needlessly divides concerned, intelligent, thinking Americans by use of name calling and misunderstandings.

There are other factors at play that have caused the price of oil to rise so precipitously in recent months. The oil companies are efficient at extracting profit from capital and resources. If they haven't built any refineries since the 1970's, you have to ask yourself why. The excuse that "liberal environmental wackos" are keeping them from building refineries is a red herring meant to obfuscate the fact that oil supplies have dwindled to the point that it is not profitable to build any new refineries. We need to check our facts about ANWR as well. According to the Department of Energy, oil from ANWR will only reduce the cost of gasoline by .50 cents per gallon. ANWR only contains 10 billion barrels of oil - or about the amount the US consumes in a little more than a year. Hardly enough for a generation unless we somehow construct a world class electric rail and trolley system for public transportation in the next 5 years. But unfortunately, the automobile industry made sure those were dismantled. As with all oil projects, ANWR will take about 10 years to come online. Once it does, its production will peak at 875,000 barrels per day - but not till the year 2025. By then the US is projected to need a whopping 35 million barrels per day while the world is projected to need 120 million barrels per day.

I don't have any facts about possible oil in the Florida and California seabeds, but given the decline in ocean fisheries, decline of marine reefs, and rise of red bloom algae and jellyfish (a sign that their food, garbage and slime, is increasing in the ocean), our seas are not in good shape. I hardly think destroying more marine life for the sake of oil is the answer to our energy needs.

I may sound like a liberal, but I've served my country as an Air Force Officer.
For that matter, I was a Reagan Republican. As a Christian, I can't even get the "Liberals" to think critically about other social issues because of their own biases toward "Conservatives." But you have to ask how a social Conservative like myself and former military member has come to hold seemingly Liberal views. The answer is that I've learned through much discussion and humility to put down the labels with which we try and define ourselves. I don't fit a category and neither should any of us. We are all human beings first.
Perhaps we are also children of God, if you've made that choice. The point is that we should be looking for things that unite us. We need to be thinking outside of the box when it comes to energy, the environment, social issues, and
politics. One point on the environment is that it is not a liberal issue at
all. They've simply co-opted it. If anything, Christians should be the staunchest environmentalists because we are called to steward this earth God has given us. Historically, we haven't done a good job in that area.

So, I humbly ask those on this email thread to open your eyes to what is really going on around us. As my grandfather is teaching me, it is a spiritual battle first that cannot be won through the accession to prominence of any one political ideology. If you want an ideology to combat that has factually rolled back some of our freedoms in recent years, look into the neo-conservative movement that has infiltrated the Republican party. The leadership has some very different ideas of freedom from what you and I would consider true freedom.

For anyone interested, I can send you a plethora of websites, well balanced on both sides of the political issues, to begin your research. I applaud anyone that wants to become better informed. Indeed, it is the RESPONSIBILITY of free Citizens to be informed of the issues and their stances on them. We ought not vote for Obama merely due to popularity, nor Hillary because she's a woman, nor McCain simply because he is the lesser of the 2 evil choices in the upcoming presidential election.

I'll stop here. I'm sorry to preach, but I get frustrated at the narrow-minded labels that continue to divide us. I felt I had to say something because the problem is simply not that evil liberals are trying to take our SUV's and our tax money. The issues are much more complex and broad than that. Only an informed populace can truly be free. So, I'll say humbly again that we need to educate ourselves and not fall prey to platitudes from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or George Soros or Bill Maher.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Should the United States boycott the Olympics because of China's violent treatment of Tibet?

Should the United States boycott the Olympics because of China's violent treatment of Tibet - among other things like the persecution of Christians?

Any discussion of boycotting China has to start with the United States' foreign policy toward China since the Nixon administration. In my opinion, 30+ years of economic detente with one of the last bastions of pure communism in the world shows that our true interests are dominated more by greed than by charity. Starting with Nixon and then every Presidential administration since then, to a nation that instituted the damnable one child policy and forced abortions on couples unwilling to comply, we have given Most Favored Nation (MFN) trading status. Since then, we've been attached at the hip to a country that willingly uses slave labor to produce cheap goods for our purely consumerist economy. Boycotting based on their treatment of Tibet does not nearly approach the appropriate level of sanctions that need to be levied were we serious about bringing China to accountability for their human rights abuses.

As it stands, neither country can do without the other. China needs us to keep buying their cheap goods at Wal-Mart while we need China to be first in line at the daily T-Bill auctions to continue propping up our weak dollar. Anything seen to threaten that grotesque symbiotic relationship will not be tolerated. Furthermore, the 1980 boycott of the Summer Olympics in Moscow did little to curb communism in the Soviet Union. It was merely a public notice of what was already going on behind the scenes economically to thwart communist expansion. The boycott was symbolic and only served to hurt our athletes that had prepared their entire lives to peak for that slim window of opportunity for athletic glory.

As Christians, we should be using the Olympics as further opportunity to bolster the underground church in China. The Olympics are an open door to showcase the failures of communist ideologies while contrasting them with the successes of Christian philosophies. I'm convinced that the only thing we can do for communist China is continue to try and win a new People's Cultural Revolution by winning hearts and minds in the underground Christian church. When enough people change their beliefs about God and themselves, they will then be equipped, strengthened, and motivated to change their government.

Sadly, the same could be said about the United States...