Freedom and Belief

Freedom of religion is anatomically equivalent to freedom from religion; which is to say, there are no state-sponsored consequences resulting from your choice of religion or lack thereof. Whether that results in more or less ‘freedom’ for you really depends on you and not on the state.

Religion, on the other hand, is generally just acceptance of a standardized set of spiritual beliefs. Christians are people who accept that Jesus is their personal conduit to salvation. Catholics are people who, while believing in the same god, accept that the Church is their conduit to salvation. To be part of a religion is largely to accept a preconfigured set of beliefs and make them your own.

It is belief itself which destroys freedom. If you “believe” that a thing is valuable, then you no longer have the freedom to assist or ignore an attack on it.  If you believe that thunderstorms are troublesome for aircraft, then you no longer have the freedom to fly through hurricanes.  If you believe that Jesus is your main man, then you no longer have the freedom to sacrifice human beings to your idols.  All of these, of course, being freedoms that you give up in order to retain your beliefs and maintain an internally self-consistent mindset.

The question really is; if there exists truth out there somewhere, and you find it and believe it, and it constrains your actions in some manner… are you more free or less free?

Political Masochism

I was accosted near my university’s bookstore yesterday by a man who wanted me to sign a petition. Granted, I live, work, and study in a county that is so liberal it makes my USMC retired grandparents roll over in their graves, but this petition was going a little far.

Apparently, the petition was to put a measure on the California ballot to require that all non-residential property be re-assessed every calendar year. The motivation is, apparently, that many commercial properties will go unassessed for decades at a time, making the owner’s property taxes significantly less than they would be otherwise. The creators of this petition, in typical far-left anti-business style, want to make it so that all commercial property is reassessed and taxed at the proper rate, every single year. This is incredibly problematic.

This will create an additional expense for every company that owns property, linearly related to the number of properties that the company owns. This will not be significant to large companies, the cost of an assessment is quite small compared to the value of the property. But for a small business that happens to own the property where it is established, this is horrific. This will create a sharpening of the already established trend towards land ownership being a privilege available to a select few, with everyone else economically precluded. It will have a stifling effect on any small, developing business, and those are precisely the businesses from which the additional tax revenue will not be significant.

I have some left-leaning tendencies of my own, but irrational attacks against the machine like this do much more damage than they’re worth.

Fired for smoking?

From the alerts of the Drug Policy Alliance:

Earlier this year, a Michigan health care company fired four employees for refusing to take a test to determine whether they smoked cigarettes. The company, Weyco Inc., adopted a policy that allows them to fire employees who smoke, even if the smoking happens after business hours, away from the office.

So… what’s the next lifestyle choice that companies will have oversight into? Will people start getting fired for not watching enough TV, or perhaps being vegetarian?

Christian US?

The men who lead the United States in its revolution against England, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and put together the Constitution were not Christians by any stretch of the imagination.

An excellent refutation of the assertion that the United States was founded on ‘Christian’ values.

Patience

It’s part of a letter that Jefferson sent in 1798 after the passage of the Sedition Act (Patriot Act version 0):

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt…. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.”

News Hounds: Jefferson For Our Times

Water or Bush? – part III

America is not red or blue, it’s purple, despite a confederate resurgence. But it could be that the people voting for Kerry are just afraid of the dark, or maybe just smarter (found here, based on this). [ update 11/10: a series of cartograms ]

All in all, the conclusion that I’m coming to is that America is not nearly as divided (geographically) as we think. We are, however, still awesomely divided inside our communities. When most communities in the country are split pretty close to 50/50, something is awry.

Partisanism

I spoke at length today with a convicted republican. She’s quite intelligent, her leap of faith is belief in the bible, similar to my leap of faith believing things like ‘killing is always wrong’, and ‘all people are created equal’. I can’t in any rational way say that her jump makes less sense than mine, it’s just not the one I chose.

The first question I asked her was ‘Do you feel that the people you voted for in the election are representing your beliefs?’

The answer was a resounding ‘No.’ This is, of course, an incredibly unscientific study, but it does suggest the standpoint that the vast majority of voters are voting for the lesser of two evils. We are now involved in a system that is making a very few people happy most of the time, and making most people unhappy most of the time.

There must be a more equitable solution.

Legitimacy

it’s over. let it go

There’s a lot of truth to this. We must also focus our attentions on repairing the system that created the false dichotomy of partisan politics.

He is our President — legitimately, and credibly.

Our criticism of this administration must now focus narrowly and sharply: on the policies, not on the credibility of the man.