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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Praise of Welfare Queens

Are conservatives born hypocrites, or do they study to become so? Consider the frequent outrage visited upon those individuals who accept government welfare via the food stamp, WIC, or similar government programs. From whence comes this outrage? Are not the people who scream about welfare also the same people who burble with praise at the new highs the stock market has reached? And therein lies the hypocrisy.

What has the Bush-Obama "Quantitative Easing" (tm) nonsense accomplished? That money was not sent in checks to taxpayers. It was ladled out to banks and corporations, who promptly used it to inflate stocks and real estate prices. Given the economy, do you really think the endless rise of the stock market to repeated new highs since 2009 actually has anything to do with the underlying fundamentals? Seriously?

All that money had to go somewhere. It went into bidding up the price of existing assets - this is called asset inflation.  How is the rise in my stock portfolio NOT the result of government welfare? How is it NOT government money poured directly into my 501K in one of the most enormous contribution matching programs in the history of the country? Anyone who has a home loan at under 5% is receiving government welfare. The federal government does, after all, set the interest rates.

Same goes for Social Security. I will take out more than I ever put in, as my parents did before me. It was always and will always be a Ponzi scheme. It is accepting a government welfare check. But who turns it down?

Do you think Con Agra, Shell Oil, or any other large corporation got where they are by refusing to take government subsidies? How many colleges - many of whom employ professors preaching against welfare - have fattened their coffers and continuously raised the price of their tuition at rates far exceeding inflation? How do you think they managed that? That's right: it is due solely and only to the government welfare checks they receive in the form of government education grants and loans.

Everyone takes government welfare, but the high and mighty launder the money. They look down their noses at those who receive it via a direct government check. The rich much prefer that their welfare checks first be laundered through their stock market picks or corporate subsidies. That way, they can pretend they actually had something to do with the rise in the value of their chosen asset. It makes them feel important, smart. But it is government welfare, all the same.

How to Earn Your Welfare Check
200 years ago, if my only skill was knocking a small white ball into a hole in the ground, I would have starved. Today, I would be paid millions for my golf game. If it was a large orange ball that went through a hoop, it would be millions for basketball. There is no rhyme or reason to why these skills pay millions today apart from the fact that people perversely enjoy watching someone else do it.

But there are all kinds of skills that are worth money. Perhaps you're good at filling out paperwork. That might win you a lot of college scholarships. You might make a profession out of it as a grant writer. Or that skill might win you a lot of welfare checks. As long as you didn't lie when you filled out the forms, where's the moral problem here? It's a skill. It brings joy to thousands of mid-level government bureaucrats. Those lovely men and women feel like they are doing a very nice thing by getting you your welfare check after you successfully pass their vetting. In fact, without you they wouldn't have jobs. They need you in the same way that the people who run a scholarship trust need college applicants. The same way that grant-funding organizations need grant writers.

If Keanu Reeves can earn millions for acting (which I still don't understand how that's possible - Reeves must playing to a very niche audience), then why can't a welfare queen earn millions for pleasing a different niche audience, government officials?

I hate Keanu Reeves acting, you hate the welfare queen's paperwork skills, but somebody somewhere really likes both of them, which is how they earn their money. As long as no one is lying, there is nothing wrong with that. It's like winning a scholarship for left-handed red-heads. Luck of the genes, but you still get the money, right?

And why shouldn't you? You're red-headed and you're left-handed. The money was set aside for anyone like you who had the sense to fill out the form.

Whose Money?
But consider further. Once Keanu or I actually get that money for our respective skills, who are you to tell either one of us how to spend it? We earned it, him by acting, me by filling out the forms. It may have been your money once, but it was given to us and now it is ours. When you hand out Christmas presents, do you make the recipients urinate in a little cup first? They pass drug tests for you before they get birthday presents, do they? When you give Keanu Reeves your money at the theatre, do you tell him he's not allowed to buy mansions with it?  Do you follow your friends around to make sure you approve of the way they spend the money they got from you?

Because that's part of the job that comes with filling out the forms for government money. Government uses welfare as a form of control. Government is happy to get outraged at the idea that a small business might put restrictions on purchasing birth control through the business health plan, but government is quite happy to tell welfare recipients exactly where they can live (HUD), what they can eat (WIC), it puts a thousand restrictions on how welfare recipients can spend their money. When churches give money to the poor, they don't put restrictions on it - they just hand out the cash. But government uses it as a means of social control. It becomes a way for bureaucrats to manage every aspect of someone else's life.

And we conservatives get upset if the welfare queens figure out how to get around that level of micromanagement? Seriously?

The welfare queen deserves her check just as much as I deserve my stock portfolio. In fact, she probably worked harder to get her check than I did to get my stock increase.

I don't want to hear another word about the horror of welfare queens.
As long as they didn't lie, they earned their money and it is their money.
Quit telling them how to spend it.

If the reception of welfare really upsets you, then mind your own business so well that not even the smallest aspect is government subsidized. By the time you manage that, you'll be living in a cave somewhere in the Rockies, too busy growing your own food to be outraged at anything.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Children Exposed To Religion Have Difficulty Distinguishing Fact From Fiction, Study Finds

I think what the Huffington Post meant to say is that religious people have rich imaginations while atheists have none. Think Miracle on 34th Street, with Maureen O'Hara. That was a very sad child, who couldn't even imagine or embrace Santa Claus.

I especially like this quote:
"religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.” 
Religious people went to the moon, because it was impossible. Now that we know it's possible, we don't go anywhere at all. As Humpty-Dumpty might say, "That's cause and effect for you.!"

Atheism has to be wrong if only because it's so boring.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stirring the Pot

Fr. John Zhulsdorf is a man with a mission. Unfortunately, his mission has very little to do with Catholic Faith. Like Father John Corapi before him, Fr. Z has discovered the secret to making money - get people angry. If they are angry, they will give you money and treats, they will beg you to keep feeding them things that will keep them angry.

When you are angry, you feel powerful, important. You feel like the world should shake at your company, because you shake. We like it when people make us angry, especially if we can be made to think we feel righteous anger. So, Fr. Zuhlsdorf highlights things like this. Then he questions what is happening, as if he has the right to question. And when you see a priest question this, you think you have the right to question it as well.

But you don't have that right. Neither does Rev. John Zuhlsdorf. The Church is not a democracy. As long as the parish boundaries aren't changed, bishop and priest have the right to do whatever they want in a parish. The Church is not a democracy.

There are certain areas where you simply have no rights. Liturgy is one of those areas. Your voice is not only not important, it can be positively scandalous (in the mortal sin sense of the word).

It. Does. Not. Matter. if you like communion on the tongue versus on the hand or if you prefer Raphael to Dali. Liturgy comes from Rome, not from lay people, not from priests, not even from bishops. If Rome approves something, then I have no further right to complain. Period. End of sentence.

This is why I can still kneel and receive in a church that has no altar railings. This is why, technically, a Catholic can demand communion in the hand at a Tridentine Mass. It is permitted. I don't care if you like it. I don't care if I personally hate it. You and I don't have a voice. It is not our business. The Church is not a democracy. The conversation is done.

Bishop does what bishop wants in his own diocese. As long as he is not infringing on anyone's canonical rights, he has complete authority to do whatever he wants. Parishioners do not have a right to decide what they think constitutes a beautiful church (as if you could ever get parishoiners to agree if you were so foolish as to allow them their opinion). That right belongs to the bishop and the bishop alone. He delegates some of this to his pastors, but even there pastors generally have to get all major church changes approved by the bishop's diocesan liturgical committee.

If pastors deign to listen to your opinion, count yourself unusually blessed. They are under no requirement to do so. This is bishop's church, not yours.

Now I am the person who designed every poster at and I have very definite ideas about what kind of art I like. But my opinion is my opinion, and no bishop is under a canonical requirement to listen to me or even to allow me to speak publicly on the matter. I can make known (privately) my thoughts to the pastors, but he is not required to seriously entertain anything I have to say.

As long as no canonical rights are infringed, I have no business yelling about what a pastor is doing in his own church. Rev. Z has the habit of getting outraged about things that are really none of his business. That's why I stopped reading him years ago. All he does is foment dissension. Catholics need to recognize boundaries. Traditionalist Catholics don't like boundaries, they like anger. Rev. John Zuhlsdorf is in the business of stoking anger. Rev. John Zuhlsdorf keeps throwing his opinion around like somebody should care. No one should care. His opinion on church art and fifty cents won't buy you coffee at Starbucks.

But, speaking of coffee, coffee pretty much seems to be the purpose of his blog.

As far as I can tell, his blog exists solely in order to encourage lay people to pay for his bird feed, coffee, sweets, and favorite books. Because most of what he says is not really Catholic, it's just stirring the pot.

He is part of the reason that trads have a reputation of being angry and mean. Trads read him and like him. Trads get angry and yell at or about or around the bishop. Bishop decides he can be treated like this by the secular press - why encourage Catholics who do the same? And thus trads are ignored, relegated to the back burner and treated like red-headed stepchildren. Because all trads do is throw tantrums. They like standing around the pot as it is stirred. And then they cry when it is ladled out to them.