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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Usury and Capitalism (short version)

"Usury", in its simplest meaning, means "to charge for the use of a thing."  But Aquinas points out that the ACTUAL definition of usury is "to sell that which does not exist", i.e., to commit what we would now call "fraud."

In a subsistence-level society, money is functionally identical to consumption. In a surplus-goods society, money is NOT functionally identical to consumption.

Thus, as the monasteries were able to produce local areas of surplus goods, the function of money changed and the definition changed with it.

See Aquinas' commentary here as he explains why you can charge for the use of some things (e.g., you can rent a house), but not for the use of other things (you can't rent food).

Money was originally understood to be very much like food, but over time, the medievals began to realize that surplus food made it possible to think of money more like a house. It was this change in the understanding and use of money which allows one to "build a house of gold", i.e., accumulate capital.

I have a longer gloss here on his commentary which may (or may not) help to understand what he meant.

So, both capitalism and the industrial revolution are the result of Christian philosophy. The Catholic willingness to understand that the definition of money could change, and the affect this change had on the definition of usury was central to the development of capitalism. The Catholic development of experimental science was built off the high regard Catholics have always had for manual labor, and central to the industrial revolution.

Islam never understood the change in the definition of  "money" from the 600s through the 1500 years that followed. Christians, on the other hand, realized that the definition being used in their Scriptures was fundamentally different than how the word was being used even by the end of the first millennium. Thus, you see Aquinas drawing very fine distinctions in the Summa Theologica about what does and does not constitute usury.

Precisely because the definition of "money" changed, the definition of what it meant to "charge interest" also changed, and Aquinas recognized those changes. Usury is still a sin to this day, but Christians don't use the 600s AD broad-based definition still used today by Muslim banks, which inhibits capital formation in Muslim countries.

Instead, Christians recognized the elements of the underlying economy, distinguished them, and pointed out that many uses of this new "money" paradigm didn't actually violate any spiritual principles that had been put in peril under the old definitions.

The change then was almost as profound as the move from gold-based to fiat-based to crypto. Christians recognized, tracked and leveraged these changes without violating the spirit of the Faith. Muslims still haven't figured out that anything is different.



Thursday, November 09, 2017

SJWs and the Duty to Defend

The state legitimately defends its citizens against foreign invaders.

The biggest killers in time of war, e.g., invading armies, is not the military action itself, but the disease, malnutrition and exposure to the elements that these invading armies inflict upon the citizens.

So, arguably, when defending its citizens against an invading army the state is not primarily tasked with defending its citizens against a bloodless coup, but against agents that inflict disease, malnutrition and exposure on its citizens.

But, if THAT is true, then the state's duty to defend its citizens should also involve defending its citizens against those deleterious effects regardless of whether an army is invading.

Which means the state has a duty to make sure its citizens are at least somewhat protected against those three things under all circumstances. This means the state has the duty to conduct, say, nation-wide vaccination campaigns to wipe out smallpox and polio, mandate campaigns against vitamin-deficiency and malnutrition (which contribute to disease spread in addition to being threats in their own right).

You see where this is going.

IF we admit, as the Constitution does, that the state has a duty to protect its citizens, THEN arguments about the nation's duty to commit acts of social justice are really just variations on an argument over  where the "defense" line is drawn.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Green Energy" Kills Black Children


Al Gore, Barack Obama and Elon Musk support killing black children for personal gain.
Follow the bouncing ball:
  1. "Green energy", i.e., energy from wind and solar, is unreliable.
  2. Because it is unreliable (the sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't always blow), any electricity it generates that is not instantly transmitted and used must be stored. 
  3. The only way to store that electricity is to put it into a battery.
  4. The most efficient batteries use cobalt.
  5. Half the world's supply of cobalt is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  6. The companies in the DRC use small children to mine the cobalt.
  7. Because there is virtually no safety equipment, the children die.

SO, anyone who supports green energy tacitly supports killing small black children to make their money and/or their political point.

Now, Tesla (Elon Musk) has publicly and specifically said he refuses to source cobalt from the DRC.  Oddly enough, it seems Elon Musk is a liar.
"Human rights charity Amnesty International also investigated cobalt mining in the DRC and says that none of the 16 electric vehicle manufacturers they identified have conducted due diligence to the standard defined by the Responsible Cobalt Initiative."
Even if he does eventually succeed in not using DRC cobalt directly (which is highly unlikely, given world cobalt demand), his use of all the other cobalt supplies in the world will drive up the price of DRC cobalt so that DRC's child-mining operations become even MORE profitable than they are now. Supply and demand, and Elon still ends up contributing to the deaths of small black children.

As for Gore and Obama always nattering about "green energy", both seem (as you do), oblivious to the fact that "green energy" REQUIRES battery backup for off-peak power, and those batteries currently REQUIRE cobalt, which is mined by small black children who are worked to incapacity and death.
"Cobalt is up 150% in the last year, but it's likely to see far higher prices due to a severe deficit. According to Macquarie Research, the deficit for the next year will be 885 tonnes. In 2019, that number rises to 3,205, and by 2020, we are looking at a 5,340 tonne supply shortage!"
So, Gore, Obama, and Musk are deliberately blind to the fact that they are essentially advocating the death of small black children. "Green energy" can't avoid killing small black kids until it can avoid using the DRC's cobalt. It can't avoid using the DRC's cobalt until new cobalt-free battery technology comes on-line. That battery technology is not projected to come on-line for years, if ever.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Is Technology Pro-Worker?

Technology gives EVERYONE a better life, 
but EVERYONE has fewer jobs available, 
and HALF the population has dramatically fewer jobs available.
Why?
Tech improves everyone's life. 
Tech destroys old jobs. 
Tech creates new jobs.
Tech creates fewer jobs than it destroys, so there is a net loss of jobs, but a net increase in living standards for everyone. Tech takes the low-hanging job fruit, so it automates the simplest jobs, leaving only complex jobs and, when it creates jobs, creating relatively complex jobs.
In 1800, everyone from age 5 to dead worked 12 hours a day, six days a week.
In the intervening two centuries, we have eliminated jobs for:
• essentially everyone under 18, 
• most people over age 65, 
• anyone going to college (30% of the working population), 
• reduced the number of workdays to five, 
• reduced the number of work hours to 40 
• Obamacare tries to reduce that number to 30.
By the standards of 1800, everyone today job shares. 
So, tech brings very much increased standards of living, greatly reduces the number of jobs, and right-shifts the jobs it DOES create to the right-hand of the bell-curve. While 50% of the general population by definition always has an IQ below 100, the jobs tech creates tends to be best-suited for those in the 100+ IQ curve.
Janitors and 40-year old fast food workers generally cannot retrain as IT network administrators.
So, EVERYONE gets a better life, 
but 
EVERYONE has fewer jobs available 
and 
HALF the population has dramatically fewer jobs available.
Is that pro-worker? 
Depends on how you define it. What happens is fewer to no jobs, but higher standard of living. If that fits your definition of "pro-worker", then it is. Otherwise, it isn't.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pope Francis and the Death Penalty

Pope Francis recently announced that capital punishment “is in itself contrary to the Gospel.”

Traditional Catholics, whose failure to understand the Gospel is legendary, began caterwauling precisely on schedule.

So, let's review the basics of moral theology again.
Sigh.

We can inflict a natural evil (e.g., the pain of surgery) if we have legitimate hope that a natural good will result that is greater than the natural evil. However, we cannot inflict a moral evil at all.

Thus, we cannot take a human life (commit murder via euthanasia or abortion), even if this would restore a natural good (e.g., financial well-being to the family, health of the mother). We cannot torture another person, even if we have legitimate reason to hope that the tortured person will give up information that will prevent a great physical catastrophe. John Paul II pointed out that, given the current cultural climate, there were virtually no circumstances under which capital punishment was legitimate. Pope Francis merely stands with JP II.

Christ came to give life, and that abundantly.
He didn't come to take it.

In that sense, capital punishment has always been against the Gospel. And, it is worth keeping in mind that the Church has never, herself, imposed the death penalty. At most, she handed heretics over to the secular authority. Sometimes, the secular authority chose to execute the heretic, reasoning that anyone who was willing to rebel against God would have few cavils about rebelling against a human monarch. Other secular authorities (I'm looking at you, monarchs and princes who protected the likes of Jan Hus, Martin Luther and John Wycliffe) decided they liked what the heretic had to say and either left him alone, or actually supported him. But the death penalty was always and only a secular affair, never a sentence imposed by the Church.

Actually, the "change" in the teaching on the death penalty is virtually identical to the "change" in the teaching on usury or the Church's stance on slavery. Sure, usury is intrinsically evil, but the definition of money changed, so the phrase "interest on a loan" no longer means what it meant in the 12th century. Thus, when we say "charging interest on a loan is a mortal sin", the phrase doesn't mean now what it meant in the year 1000 AD.

Similarly, the Church permitted enslavement in the subsistence-level society of the Middle Ages, precisely because a subsistence-level society cannot afford to have many people in jail. A subsistence-level society requires that every able-bodied person work, so that the entire community does not starve. Useless moouths in jail couldn't be sustained. Prisoners either had to be killed, put to work or banished (which was equivalent to a death sentence). In justice, slavery was the only decent way to treat someone who offended against society. But, by the late 20th-century, we no longer have a subsistence-level society. We can afford to house legions of prisoners (and we do). The word "slavery" no longer means what it did. Thus, Pope John Paul II uses Veritatis Splendor #80 to pronounce "slavery... intrinsically evil."

In the same way, the circumstances which made the death penalty legitimate for state actors in the 12th century simply no longer obtain in the 21st. We aren't a subsistence-level society anymore, we have many more means to contain violence now than we did in the 12th century, so the reasons of self-defense which the state could use in the year 1000 simply don't exist anymore. The death penalty can no longer be legitimately referred to as a kind of self defense.

If the Church has permitted the death penalty, She has permitted it in the same way that Aquinas and Augustine were willing to permit prostitution, and the same way God Himself permitted divorce - not because it is a legitimate right, but because they were dealing with stiff-necked people.

"Stiff-necked people" ... That would be us.

By grumbling against Christ's mercy, shown forth in the Holy Father's words, we are acting like Korah and his associates. That didn't work out well for them.

Now, I don't expect this article to sway traditionalists. After all, when the people were told by Moses, "Look, I'm going to let God judge between me and Korah. If the ground opens up and swallows Korah and all his people in a flaming crack, then maybe you will admit that I was not entirely wrong." And when the ground opened up in a flaming crack and swallowed Korah, along with all his followers, the people - remembering Moses' warning - instantly responded, "See? Moses killed Korah."

Because that's how people are.
They don't like to admit that they are ignorant or idiots.
But for the rest of you - people who can be reasoned with, that is - these words should be sufficient.



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Self-contradictory Evolutionists

"One of the best-known segregation distorters is the so-called t gene in mice. When a mouse has two t genes it either dies young or is sterile, t is therefore said to be 'lethal' in the homozygous state. If a male mouse has only one t gene it will be a normal, healthy mouse except in one remarkable respect. If you examine such a male's sperms you will find that up to 95 per cent of them contain the t gene, only 5 per cent the normal allele. This is obviously a gross distortion of the 50 per cent ratio that we expect. Whenever, in a wild population, a t allele happens to arise by mutation, it immediately spreads like a brash fire. How could it not, when it has such a huge unfair - advantage in the meiotic lottery? It spreads so fast that, pretty soon, large numbers of individuals in the population inherit the t gene in double dose (that is, from both their - parents). These individuals die or are sterile, and before long the whole local population is likely to be driven extinct. There is some evidence that wild populations of mice have, in the past, gone extinct through epidemics of t genes."
The quote above, taken from Richard Dawkin's book, The Selfish Gene (p. 236), should be combined with Dawkin's theory of memes, described on p. 192:
Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain. As my colleague N. K. Humphrey neatly summed up an earlier draft of this chapter:’. .. memes should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically but technically.* When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell. And this isn't just a way of talking — the meme for, say, "belief in life after death" is actually realized physically, millions of times over, as a structure in the nervous systems of individual men the world over.' 
When these two ideas are combined, we see the idea that contraception is a "good" thing is simply a meme which burns through the human population in much the same way that a t gene burns through a mouse population. Both the meme and the gene drive the afflicted population towards extinction.

Thus, it is a commonplace that evolutionists who claim to promote evolution, show by their lack of child-rearing that they don't actually believe in evolution:


This is the great lesson of the movie Idiocracy.
The idiots portrayed in the movie weren't the ones who had children.
The biggest idiots in the movie were the ones who did not.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Why Corporations Back Wealth Redistribution

This lament about Obamacare from a website that celebrates the free market is deeply ironic. No one on the website realizes that government does not distort the free market, rather, government is a legitimate market actor whose purpose is to enforce the wishes of the corporations that engage in free market activity. The sentence above summarizes why corporations write laws requiring wealth redistribution AND why corporations pay legislators to pass and enforce legislation that redistributes wealth. 
When it comes to the health care industry, the principle is quite, quite simple:
Sick people spend health care dollars on themselves.
Healthy people do not.
If medical corporations want to tap into the wealth healthy people have, that wealth must first be redistributed to the only people who would spend it on health products, i.e., sick people.
But what is true for medical corporations is true for EVERY corporation. Corporations need to get at hidden wealth in order to keep growing. So, it is in every corporation's interest to encourage wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor. Warren Buffett is unlikely to spend $2 billion dollars in 24 hours. But, take that $2 billion, divvy it up among a half million relatively poor people, and all that money will be spent on corporate products in a single day with hours to spare.
Corporate owners want to grow their stash of cash. The corporations they run need to tap all locked up cash stashes. So, the corporate owners want laws that touch other people's stash, but not their own. And this is the kind of law they direct their lobbyists to write, get passed and have enforced. That means the wealth redistribution will always happen among the 99%.
This is the purpose of government in a free market: to grow corporate owners' cash piles while stripping money from everyone else. Welcome to the free market.

Real free market capitalists point out that natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes, seem to increase GDP, but actually don't. The money that goes into rebuilding is, in a sense, wasted. Instead of using that money on new ideas, new products, new processes, it has to be plowed into rebuilding existing infrastructure. That's why most economists consider natural disasters a drain on the economy, and not a boon: we have to pay for the same window twice, once when we put it in, and again when the storm breaks it.

From the corporate point of view, ending subsidies is identical to enduring a hurricane. The end of subsidies for insurance companies is good for you and me, the little guys who get paid to replace the broken window, but it's bad business for the businesses that were getting the subsidies. They just lost revenue stream.
Now they will have to buy a whole new raft of legislators to get that revenue back. The hurricane has struck their coast. The money the corporations have to spend on re-buying all those legislators and all that legislation is, from their point of view, wasted. It is money that could have been spent elsewhere. Now the corps are going to have to re-buy what had once been a settled stream of revenue. This is very destructive, from the corporate point of view.

We cry for them.