All posts by Wintery Knight

https://winteryknight.com/

Evaluating Democrat policies on the budget, health care and cap and trade

A Harvard economist says that tax hikes will kill the recovery: (H/T John Boehner, Mike Pence)

Harvard economist Martin Feldstein writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Even if the proposed tax increases are not scheduled to take effect until 2011, households will recognize the permanent reduction in their future incomes and will reduce current spending accordingly.  Higher future tax rates on capital gains and dividends will depress share prices immediately and the resulting fall in wealth will cut consumer spending further.  Lower share prices will also raise the cost of equity capital, depressing business investment in plant and equipment.

Tax hikes for the poor:

Mr. Obama’s biggest proposed tax increase is the cap-and-trade system of requiring businesses to buy carbon dioxide emission permits. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the proposed permit auctions would raise about $80 billion a year and that these extra taxes would be passed along in higher prices to consumers. Anyone who drives a car, uses public transportation, consumes electricity or buys any product that involves creating CO2 in its production would face higher prices…

But while the cap-and-trade tax rises with income, the relative burden is greatest for low-income households. According to the CBO, households in the lowest-income quintile spend more than 20% of their income on energy intensive items (primarily fuels and electricity), while those in the highest-income quintile spend less than 5% on those products.

Bye-bye, American manufacturing sector. Or maybe Obama will nationalize the entire industry, who can say? He’s already practically doing it now.

Remember the no tax increases pledge that Obama made? Kevin Boland writes:

If you drive a car or flip on a light switch – Democrats have a new national energy tax for you.  If you’re a small business owner or if you’re employed by one – Democrats have a new tax for you.  If you’re a charity – Democrats have a new tax for your donors.  If you’re looking to produce more American energy – Democrats have a new tax for you.  If you own stock – Democrats have a new tax for you.  And when you’re finally able to relax – after paying all your taxes to Uncle Sam – and you want to kick back, relax, and have a cold beer, you guessed it, Democrats may have a new tax for you too.

USA Today asks where the promised fiscal restraint of Mr. ACORN lawyer has gone off to. (H/T Mike Pence)

When it comes to federal spending, there’s a pattern emerging with President Obama, and it’s not a flattering one. The president says all the right things about the importance of getting the deficit under control, but his actions don’t come close to matching his rhetoric.

An early sign of the disconnect was his heavily publicized demand last month that his Cabinet secretaries shave $100 million from their administrative budgets. Obama said the cuts would “send a signal that we are serious about how government operates” and would help close the “confidence gap” with skeptical Americans. Those cuts amounted to a less-than-confidence-inspiring 0.003% of the 2009 budget, or about 3 cents out of every $1,000.

Then, when he unveiled his 2010 budget last week, Obama made a big deal of his demand for $17 billion in cuts, insisting that the cuts “even by Washington standards … are significant” and that $17 billion is “real money.”

The president got it backward. Out in the rest of the world, $17 billion is a ton of money. But in Washington, where the president is proposing to spend $3.6 trillion next year, $17 billion looks puny – a little less than half a percent of the budget, or the equivalent of cutting a $100 grocery bill by handing back a 50-cent pack of gum.

Anybody who read David Freddoso’s book or looked up Obama’s voting record could have known that his rhetoric was just lies for the gullible.

Over to the health care issue, where John Shadegg explains how capitalism is the right way to reduce health care costs.

President Obama’s pledge to work with health care providers and insurers to scale back costs misses the entire point: health care costs are so high because we are not giving patients choice and forcing insurers to compete.  We need robust market reforms – not symbolic gestures.  The way to lower prices is to put control in the hands of patients.  We need to empower Americans by giving them the freedom to either keep their employer plan or purchase the plan of their choice through a tax credit.  Choice and competition will drive prices down and quality up.

Shadegg goes on to explain why the Obama plan does none of this. And why should it? We already know that the Democrats want private health care to fail, so they can usher in single-payer health care. (Just they want private industry to fail so they can nationalize more of the free market)

Putting 120 million Americans on government coverage will create a monopoly that sends costs skyrocketing. Choice will be lost because the enormous government-run plan will put the private plans out of business.  In other words, if you like what you have, you will lose it.  And while health insurance will be provided, health care will not – like every nationalized health plan across the world, as costs escalate, care will be slashed, patients waitlisted, drugs denied.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann notes the looming entitlement crisis is now closer than ever, with the Medicare insolvency date moving earlier.

Yesterday, the Medicare and Social Security Trustees issued a new report that laid out unequivocally that our current Medicare and Social Security programs are on a path for financial implosion and are in need of serious reform.

In fact, the Medicare insolvency date has moved up to 2017.  And, that doesn’t include the impact of the so-called “stimulus” bill, which could accelerate insolvency by about 6 months.

And, we’re facing a strain on Social Security like never before, with nearly 80 million retiring Baby Boomers tapping into the funds soon we’ll be spending more to pay benefits than what the system receives in payroll taxes. Yet, we continue to carry on with the status quo, every now and then saying that we need to reform it, but not actually doing anything about it.

Michele is trying to do something about it, but the House is filled with Democrats who never ran a business in their entire lives.

I’ve introduced the Truth In Accounting Act to make government finances truly transparent and open.  Not only would financial commitments be crystal clear to Congress, but also to the taxpayers.

Currently, when Congress and the President prepare budget proposals and pass spending bills, they have the luxury of ignoring shortfalls year after year.  They prepare, present, and approve budgets which project these estimates over the short-term – usually five or ten years.  And, there are a lot of things that can be done on paper to paper over the long-term shortfalls.

My Truth in Accounting Act would require the President to consider these long-term shortfalls when he proposes his budget.  And, it would require both the GAO (Government Accountability Office) and the U.S. Treasury to report this information to the Congress so that the numbers can be used when we’re finalizing the annual budget.

Furthermore, my legislation would require that the report be translated into easily comprehensible terms so that nothing could be hidden by complex jargon.  The government’s fiscal imbalance would be presented in the whole, and as distributed per person, per worker, and per household.

I hope she is somehow able to pass this bill.

The relationship between science, faith and academic freedom

I blogged recently about atheist philosophers Thomas Nagel and Bradley Monton, informed atheists, who both support the idea that intelligent design could potentially be researched using ordinary scientific methods. I thought it was interesting especially in the case of Nagel, who has this famous quote about his reasons for adopting atheism:

“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

The thing is, Thomas Nagel has written a paper supporting ID as science, and now I’ve learned that he is rejecting Darwinism as a full explanation of human origins. (H/T Denyse O’Leary’s related post at the Post-Darwinist). Nagel contrasts the idea that natural selection is responsible for our mental capacity, or whether some other explanation is needed.

Nagel writes:

I see no reason to believe that the truth lies in the first alternative. The only reason so many people believe it is that advanced intellectual capacities clearly exist, and this is the only available candidate for a Darwinian explanation of their existence. So it all rests on the assumption that every noteworthy characteristic of human beings, or of any other organism, must have a Darwinian explanation. But what is the reason to believe this? Even if natural selection explains all adaptive evolution, there may be developments in the history of species that are not specifically adaptive and can’t be explained in terms of natural selection. Why not take the development of the human intellect as a probable counterexample to the law that natural selection explains everything, instead of forcing it under the law with improbable speculations unsupported by evidence? We have here one of those powerful reductionist dogmas which seem to be part of the intellectual atmosphere we breath.

It’s interesting that Nagel is breaking from the pack, because my post about A. N. Wilson’s return to faith highlighted the peer-pressure that atheists feel with regards to the need to project intelligence to their peers. It’s almost as they feel the need prove themselves as better than other people, perhaps to make up for some past rejection that gave them a deep sense of being unworthy.

Wilson said:

If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb. Hitchens was excited to greet a new convert to his non-creed and put me through a catechism before uncorking some stupendous claret. “So – absolutely no God?” “Nope,” I was able to say with Moonie-zeal. “No future life, nothing ‘out there’?” “No,” I obediently replied. At last! I could join in the creed shared by so many (most?) of my intelligent contemporaries in the western world – that men and women are purely material beings (whatever that is supposed to mean), that “this is all there is” (ditto), that God, Jesus and religion are a load of baloney: and worse than that, the cause of much (no, come on, let yourself go), most (why stint yourself – go for it, man), all the trouble in the world, from Jerusalem to Belfast, from Washington to Islamabad.

Anyway, Denyse O’Leary also talks about some research done by Jeffrey Schwartz on her blog the Mindful Hack. I saw Schwartz present this research before in a live debate with Michael Shermer, another atheist I like somewhat. (I own, and have watched dozens of debates and hundreds of academic lectures – and I sponsor them, too! I love civil, fact-based disagreements!)

Denyse cites from a forthcoming paper of hers, as follows:

UCLA psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, a practitioner of Buddhist mindfulness, saw OCD as a good candidate for a non- pharmaceutical—essentially non-materialist—approach to treatment….

Schwartz used neuroscience techniques to identify the cause of the disorder. Specifically, the cause is most likely a defect in the neural circuitry connecting the orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, and basal ganglia, from which panic and compulsion are generated. When this “worry circuit” is working properly, we worry about genuine risks and feel the urge to reduce them. But, Schwartz found, when that modulation is faulty, as it is when OCD acts up, the error detector can be overactivated. It becomes locked into a pattern of repetitive firing. The firing triggers an overpowering feeling that something is wrong, accompanied by compulsive attempts to somehow make it right.

He then developed a four-step program (Relabel, Reattribute, Reassign, and Revalue) to help patients identify and reassign OCD thoughts, until they felt that they were diminishing in severity. Schwartz was not simply getting patients to change their opinions, but to change their brains. Subsequent brain imaging showed that the change in focus of attention substituted a useful neural circuit for a useless one. For example, it substituted “go work in the garden” for “wash hands seven more times.” By the time the neuronal traffic from the many different activities associated with gardening began to exceed the traffic from washing the hands, the patient could control the disorder without drugs. The mind was changing the brain.

Schwartz called this “mental effort” in the debate, and he used the treatment successfully on people like Leonardo DiCaprio.

The issue of mind as a non-material cause is an area of specialty for Denyse. She recently wrote a book on it for Harper-Collins called “The Spiritual Brain”. I bought 7 copies of that book and gave them to 6 of my friends for their Christmas presents. (One was for me!) Check it out. I hate (but use) philosophical arguments for substance dualism. Her book provides lots of hard scientific evidence that I prefer to use instead.

Atheism, science and free speech

As Denyse O’Leary notes in her post on Colliding Universes, Christian researchers in the sciences have to jump through hoops to keep their jobs and get tenure, in an establishment dominated by activist atheists. She links to this story in Science, regarding a Christian professor who is brilliant, but who has to watch his step in secular-leftist-dominated academia.

Szilágyi sees his religious faith and his research efforts as two complementary aspects of his life. Within the scientific environment, “I have some options where I can express my faith,” Szilágyi says. He directly referred to God both in the acknowledgements of his master’s and doctoral dissertations and while receiving his awards. He runs a Bible-study group for young adults, and together with a friend he founded a Christian scientific group.

But although Szilágyi’s views often lie far outside the scientific mainstream, he expresses those views only off-campus and in his personal time. For him, “the debate over evolution, design, creation, supernatural intelligence, etc., is not a scientific question in the first place but the collision of worldviews, the confrontation of materialism and idealism,” he says. He takes the Bible literally, but when he lectures on the subject–outside of work–he presents what he calls “the options” and indicates which one “to me … seems to be more probable.” But he insists that it is up to “everybody to make his or her own decision.”

“As a Christian who works in the field of science, I find it quite important to deal with the relation of Christianity and science,” Szilágyi says. But “I know that it is a minefield in today’s scientific life and can be quite dangerous for one’s scientific career. … Therefore, I do these activities absolutely separately from my university work. … I am very cautious and careful that whenever I am talking [about these issues] I do not represent my university.

“My belief is very important for my career because this is the first thing that gives me my motivations so that I could work hard and I could achieve the best I can,” Szilágyi says.

Denyse, who sees the battlefield better than anyone I know, comments:

It is sad when talented people must grovel and cringe just to keep their jobs. The thing is, in the end, that never works.

“Theistic evolution” is just a way of adjusting to a world run by atheists.

Practical questions like “Does the world show evidence of design” are scientific if the answer appears to be no, but unscientific if it appears to be yes.

Denyse also wrote about this comment on the Post-Darwinist, which emerged during the recent Texas School Board hearings.

“If our students do not feel the freedom to simply raise their hand and ask a question in science class, then we are no longer living in the United States of America.”

Common sense, combined with the pressure of at least 14,000 constituent communications in favor of allowing students to discuss all sides of science theories, finally prevailed.

You may also remember the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, who, despite outperforming virtually everyone in his department, was denied tenure thanks to a crusade by an activist atheist professor of religious studies, Hector Avalos. Persecution of outspoken Christians by secularists goes on all the time in academia. If you come out as a Christian, the secularists will be offended, and then you have to suffer the consequences.

And don’t forget, as public Christianity declines in the face of persecution by secularists, so has the right to free speech. The Democrats have recently tabled bills to enact hate crime laws and to imprison bloggers who are critical of the government.

How progressive social policy enlarges the size of government

Great editorial by Ed West writing in the UK Telegraph. Is it possible to be a social leftist and a fiscal conservative? Or does the former impact the latter negatively? West’s editorial assesses the impact of feminism and sex education on government budgets, which receive much funding from the productive private sector.

First, Britain’s social program for unwanted children is seeing record enrollment:

Last night’s Rageh Omaar programme, Lost in Care, is timely. The number of unwanted children in Britain has reached 80,000, and that figure was calculated before the recent Baby P surge. Of those unwanted kids, 10,000 live in children’s home.

And what are the costs to the taxpayer for this skyrocketing number of unwarranted children?

The show reminded us how awful the statistics are for care home children; only 13 per cent get good GCSEs [high school diplomas] and almost half achieve no qualifications. One in four prisoners were in care, as were one in three homeless. and one in five girls in care are pregnant within a year of leaving. No wonder there is currently a desperate drive to find more foster parents, a calling that is seriously heroic.

Well, I already talked about how leftist domestic policies destroy marriage here (socialism), here (same-sex marriage) and here (no-fault divorce). But the interesting thing is the cost of the anti-family, anti-child policies of the left. They were in such a rush to rebel against social conservatives, that it never occurred to them that those moral rules were in place to protect the interests of all parties.

Recklessly impregnating someone or getting pregnant without the ability or willingness to look after that child ruins another person’s life, and also costs the state £25,000 a year for that matter.

This is the problem with people who enact policies based on the need to feel compassionate and superior, while disregarding the logical consequences. Should we really be voting in people who undermine traditional morality run our government? If we do, it will cost us. To see more about how leftist policies increased the size of government and raised tax rates, see this previous post.

For more news from abroad, check out my recent post on the state of free speech in Canada, the United Kindom and Cuba.

UPDATE: Just noticed this over at OneNewsNow: Obama would ax abstinence-only funding.

Excerpt:

If Congress approves President Obama’s budget requests, there will be no more federal funding of abstinence-only education programs.

Barack Obama has recommended completely zeroing out Title V abstinence programs to states, as well as abstinence education programs to community-based organizations (CBAE) and replacing them with more than $100 million for contraceptive-based sex-education programs. The massive omnibus bill signed by the president had already reduced funding to abstinence programs by $14 million.

And then there is this story from mensactivism.org, entitled “Number of Unwed Moms in the U.S. Rising.

Story here. Excerpt:

‘(AP) The percentage of births to unmarried women in the United States has been rising sharply, but it’s way behind Northern European countries, a new U.S. report on births shows.

Iceland is the leader with 6 in 10 births occurring among unmarried women. About half of all births in Sweden and Norway are to unwed moms, while in the U.S., it’s about 40 percent.

France, Denmark and the United Kingdom also have higher percentages than the United States, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.’

Oh, well. Ideology beats out fiscal prudence, I guess. I don’t think that immorality of the parents is too good for the children who are affected, either. Bible: 1, Atheists: 0.

NRSC backs RINO Crist against conservative Rubio

Yes, when I champion the Republican party, obviously I mean the conservatives within the Republican party. (See my blogroll, and notify me if any changes are needed. I would also link to true conservatives in other countries!).

I think we need to remember that the NRSC has an abysmal record at picking and backing the right candidates. Not only did they opposed Pat Toomey when he ran against that squish Arlen Specter, (now a Democrat), but now they are backing Crist against a Cuban-American.

Excuse me? Without a conservative message, we cannot win.

Here is the main post about Rubio vs Crist from the Maritime Sentry:

The NRSC has once again decided to stick it to us Conservatives in an extremely rare move; they immediately came out and endorsed Gov. Crist over Conservative Marco Rubio. Even appearing to go so far as to try and get Rubio to drop out. Of course, obviously, we should never support the NRSC I was hopeful that when Sen. Cornyn, a Texan, took over he would recruit Conservatives.

Instead he has made it apparent he will only recruit and support RINO’s. He supported Specter before his defection, he encouraged Ridge to run, and now he is taking sides in an open primary to support Crist. What good does it do us if we elect Senators who agree with the Democrats the majority of the time. It is just repeating the mistakes of the Bush years. Senator Cornyn should step down.

And what should we do?

Until the establishment wants to support Conservatives they should receive no support from the base. I am actually quite excited about this development though. They are not hiding the fact that they plan on blowing us Conservatives off. If we get behind good Conservative candidates like Rubio and Toomey. The grassroots could be responsible for electing Conservative candidates and putting the Party establishment on notice. They believe Crist will raise more money than Rubio; let’s prove them wrong.

Marco Rubio profile video:

Marco Rubio on Fox News:

This is exactly the kind of candidate the NRSC should be backing! My previous post on Rubio and Toomey’s candidacy announcements is here, and there are more videos in that post!

Interview posted at NRO!!!

UPDATE: Here is an interview over at the National Review blog with Rubio! (H/T The Maritime Sentry)

Excerpt:

FREDDOSO: How are [Republicans] failing?

RUBIO: Two things. There’s one group of Republicans who feel our slogan should be, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” That, in essence, it’s too hard to take on this expansion of government, this overreliance on government to grow our economy and create jobs. And so what we should do is just be more like the Democrats. Another group of Republicans believes that we should basically be the party of opposition without any ideas in return — that all we have to offer is ideology, but without any new ideas behind the ideology.

I think both sides of that debate are wrong. We are a party that should have a very clear vision about government’s role in our economy and government’s role in our country, and we should back that up with specific solutions for the future. That’s what I’ve built my career on, and that’s what our candidacy should be about.

And here’s my favorite, oh, how I wish that the economic-illiterates could understand this:

FREDDOSO: What do you make of President Obama’s plans to change the taxation of deferred corporate income?

RUBIO: He’s dealing with a symptom rather than the cause. There’s a reason why companies move their assets overseas and do these things. Those are legal loopholes that exist because they’re trying to escape the punitive and anti-competitive nature of the American tax system. If we had a system that’s fair, there are few countries in the world people would rather do business in. . . . Our laws are stable; their contracts will be enforced here; we have a system of infrastructure that’s still superior to the rest of the world; we still produce the best college graduates in the world. So all things being equal, everyone would rather be in America doing business and headquartering their companies here.

And there’s another thing that’s really wrong with our tax system, and we’ve been complicit in it as Republicans. We’ve allowed the system grow so complicated that it benefits those people who can afford to hire lawyers and accountants to find loopholes, and lobbyists to create loopholes. And I think the Republican party stands to blame for that as well. So I think the Republican party is ripe for reform — if not from the inside out, then from the outside in.

You want to shut down manufacturing and ship jobs overseas? Elect a democrat who will raise corporate taxes, regulate companies with mandatory health-care and impose cap and trade. Mark my words: unemployment will be 12% by December, if cap and trade passes. And rising!

Four-minute overview of 11 arguments for Christianity by William Lane Craig

I thought that I would post a few videos from the two debates featuring William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens. The first video may be useful to Christians who have never heard any arguments for the existence of God. (See my index of apologetics posts for some arguments and responses)

Here is Bill’s concluding speech from the first skirmish at the Dallas Christian Book Expo debate:

Here is a video clip of an exchange they had in their debate at the massive Biola University showdown:

And here are some snippets from the pre-debate press interviews with Craig and Hitchens:

Here’s more information of the Biola University debate between Craig and Hitchens.

Remember what the atheist reaction in the blogosphere was: (H/T MandM)

When Debunking Christianity puts up a post entitled William Lane Craig “Won by a Landslide” Against Hitchens I think it is safe for all to say Craig bested Hitchens.

Common Sense Atheism states “Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.”

Now that we have the answers to the atheist questionnaire, we’ll be able to answer why people become atheists shortly. We’ll see in the coming days!

Here’s a hint from atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel of New York University. Nagel says this:

“In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.

I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
(”The Last Word” by Thomas Nagel, Oxford University Press: 1997)

By the way, Nagel is not, I repeat, not a the kind of atheist I usually rail against. He is one of the informed ones, and has even argued in defense of intelligent design as science, as has another informed atheist Bradley Monton. These are fair, honest, educated atheists – like Anthony Flew and Dean Kenyon were before they changed their minds. More on Nagel’s paper, and Monton’s reaction.

BONUS:

Remember the debate between William Lane Craig and Internet Infidel Richard Carrier? Audio of the debate is here. Carrier’s admission of defeat is here, on his blog. Craig’s two-part post-debate response to Carrier (MP3 podcasts) is here and here.