Saturday, October 30, 2010

How liberal do-gooders criminalize the poor

Here is an old forum post of mine that was written in 1995, in response to someone who asserted: "The GOP is criminalizing all poor while helping BIG BUSINESS get richer." At the time, I was working in the Food Stamp, Medicaid, and TANF (then AFDC) programs, and HUD subsidies were less than they are now.


Let me tell you how Liberal regulators are "criminalizing" the poor. First off HUD housing subsidies for welfare recipients raise the rent on the honest working poor. In Houston, HUD pays $500 a month to subsidize a two bedroom Apartment -- usually for a dump that most people wouldn't live in if they were paid $500 dollars a month to do so. Now if you are an Apartment owner, and the Government offers you $500 dollars a month Guaranteed -- would you rent the same apartment to a poor working
man who could only afford $350 dollars a month?

Secondly, even in Houston, the public transportation system is not good enough for someone to depend on it to get to and from work, unless they are willing to spend several hours a day doing so. As a result people generally must depend on their own transportation -- and in rural areas, there is no choice but to do so. Liberal regulators have made owning a car and running it legally prohibitively expensive for
many borderline working poor. For one thing, they must have insurance, they must have a current inspection sticker, and they must have a current vehicle registration. And had the Democrats won the Governor's race last year, the cost of an inspection in Houston would have climbed from about 15 dollars to possibly $400 dollars. Most working poor folks, with families to take care of, cannot afford all this. As a consequence they simply drive uninsured vehicles.

In Texas, you can just count on getting a traffic ticket every so often. But if you don't have insurance, or an inspection sticker, or a valid registration sticker -- you get a ticket for each. Now this poor stiff has several hundred dollars in fines to pay, but if he could have paid the fines, he could have paid the insurance and all that other stuff. So consequently he doesn't pay the fine. Next time he gets stopped he has warrants out for his arrest -- of course he could pay the bail, but
if he could have paid the bail, he could have paid the tickets. Instead, he sits in jail for a couple of weeks. But now he is unemployed, because he missed two weeks worth of work without a good excuse.

You know where this guy goes from here? He comes to my office to apply for food stamps, Medicaid, and AFDC (if he can get it). I've seen this happen to a number of honest hard working citizens that found themselves in my office for the very reasons outlined.

Furthermore, government regulations also cost Jobs. Whereas once upon a time, poor people could start there own businesses and make their own jobs -- now due to all the red tape, this is impossible. The only free-enterprise available for poor people, is illegal.

That's how Liberal's criminalize the poor. They have made it extremely difficult to be poor and honest in this country. Your parents and mine may have been poor, but they were at least allowed to be honest and make a living.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The German Mind and Biblical Scholarship

I ran across a very interesting section of "War and Peace" last year when I finally picked the book back after my first attempt 20 years previous, and there was a very insightful comment about the national character of Germans that is relevant when you ponder much of the German Scholarship on the Bible. In this section, Tolstoy is talking about a German strategist (Karl Ludwig von Pfuel) who was serving in the Russian Army:

"Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion— science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing, and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth— science— which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth."

I discussed this with a parishioner who is German, and he agreed that it was an insightful observation. Of course, as with any generalization, it is only generally true, and not always true in any given case. Nevertheless, keep this in mind as you read about such scholars as Bultmann, Wellhausen, and Schweitzer. There is a sense you get from these scholars that the mysteries hidden from the ages were waiting for Drs. Rudolph Bultmann, Julius Wellhausen, and Albert Schweitzer to come along and unveil them. All previous generations had been fooled, but not these clever fellows.

This arrogant rationalism is to be found to one extent or another in most Western European and American thinking since the so-called "Enlightenment".

I should note I am not sure whether I am more German or more English genetically, but it would be a close call... so no slam on Germans intended.

And by the way, if you have picked up the book War and Peace, only to put it back down after losing track of who is who, I would encourage you to get the Soviet era multi-part movie (Russian title "Voina i Mir") by director Sergei Bondarchuk.

It is one of the best movies ever made, and is surprisingly respectful of the book, and of Orthodoxy -- though Orthodoxy is somewhat downplayed compared with the book. Watch the movie, and then read the book.

The movie is available with English subtitles.

Here is a clip of excerpts from the movie, to give you a taste of it: