Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Communist Absurdity

The communist Chinese government has decreed that Buddhist monks cannot reincarnate without government permission. They have even set up a procedure monks must follow.

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

This is consistent with the communist view of religion as "the opiate of the masses." Communists really believe that people are dumb enough to follow whatever procedure they concoct to stamp the spiritual out of life. Either that, or the PRC finally concluded "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," gave up trying to secularize Tibet and decided to become experts in reincarnation

This is, of course, all a ploy to weaken the influence of the Dalai Lama who has been an opponent of the Communist takeover of Tibet since the 1950s. Communists consistently underestimate the power of deeply held beliefs. Communism cannot replace religion because it doesn't have the power to truly change a human heart. There never have been any truly converted Communists. (Even Stalin was seen praying in church as the German army closed in on Moscow). Communism is just a vehicle to gain power. Its tenets cannot answer the basic questions of life in any remotely satisfying way -

"Where did I come from?" - Religion answers this "from God," Communism answers "Nowhere, but now you're here, you must serve the state."

"What is the purpose of life?" - Religion answers (LDS) "men are that they might have joy." Communism: "You are here to serve the state."

"What happens when I die?" - Religions have many answers to this (reincarnation, exhaltation, Nirvana) all more appealing than communism's offering "you stop serving the state and cease to exist." (P.S. if you fall out of favor, we'll help you cease to exist sooner, then deny you were ever born.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

And people wonder why I don't like trial law . . .

  • A man in West Virginia is suing McDonald's for $10 million over a drive-thru order mistake. He's allergic to cheese and mistakenly got a cheeseburger. He didn't bother to check the burger before he bit into it. His mother is also suing for reckless endangerment for having to drive him to the hospital.
  • A woman in Michigan is suing the makers of Starburst candies because they don't warn consumers about the dangers of the candies being "too chewy." Her lawyer just wants to make sure others avoid this danger.
  • A New Jersey man is suing Starbucks because his tea was too hot and the Starbucks employee didn't put the lid on right. His wife is also suing for losses due to his injury.
  • Friday, August 17, 2007

    Thou shalt not covet . . .

    Even though it's one of the ten commandments, I don't think people really pay attention to why it's so important not to covet. This article from NRO really struck me as deeply insightful. Jealousy and covetousness are certainly going to need to be overcome before we can claim to be "the pure in heart." some quotes:

    We almost never discuss envy anymore. “One may admit to pride, avarice, lust, anger, gluttony, and laziness, and one may even boast of them,” Gonzalo Fernandez de la Mora wrote 20 years ago in Egalitarian Envy. “There is only one capital sin no one admits to: envy. ... Its symbol ought to be a mask.” This is a shame; the most pathetic of the seven deadly sins is perhaps the most consequential.

    Indeed, just look again on the 20th century. Envy turned Germany cruel. In Russia, the ideology of envy — socialism — likewise ran amok under the label Bolshevism and threatened to overrun the world. The consequences of envy run even deeper. It will never be known how many millennia man endured in misery and darkness under the moldering blanket of envy. Helmut Schoeck writes in his timeless masterpiece, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, that whole societies, hobbled by envy, rejected innovation, and prosperity, preferring the arrested development of all to the advancement of the few.
    Like the “scientific socialism” that concealed envy behind a slide rule, today’s liberals invoke social science as justification for their covetousness. In one famous study, a majority of people said they would rather make $50,000 if others earned $25,000 than earn $100,000 if others were making $200,000
    [T]hese studies turn a vice into a virtue. With the exception of the self-esteem movement, which glorifies pride, it’s difficult to imagine another area where we so shamelessly tout a sin as the basis of public policy. All men lust in their hearts; shall we dole out concubines for those of us who can’t live like Hugh Hefner? Envy has its social utility, of course. Schoeck argues, along with Nietzsche, that envy helped hone our sense of justice. Fine. But America is supposed to be different, in part because unlike, say, Germany or Russia, America had no feudal past and hence lacked the historic breeding swamps of envy. America’s egalitarianism is supposed to be political and nothing more: No man is the involuntary servant of another. Beyond that, he is the captain of his self.

    The man who orders a better meal than me has done no harm to me. And it is no man’s (or bureaucrat’s) job but my own to cool the fever of my futterneid.

    The whole article is very insightful, I'd encourage you to read the whole thing. and let no one say that personal vice doesn't impact anyone else.

    Monday, August 6, 2007

    Who Knew Detroit Was This Bad?

    Urban Decay.

    The National Review Online has and article by a reporter for the Detroit News on the sorry state of the city - "Unions of Urban Decay." I knew Detroit was a mess, but had no idea it was this bad. (and it can't all be blamed on the auto industry). A few sobering statistics from a once-proud city:

    • The Detroit Public School system currently graduates 22 percent of its entering freshman.
    • African-American males who drop out of high school in Detroit have 73-percent unemployment in their 20s.
    • The city has lost half its population since 1950.
    • Detroit has a 70-percent child-illegitimacy rate.
    • Detroit today sports a 47-percent adult illiteracy rate. (on par with Bangladesh and trailing the Republic of Chad).
    • An estimated 30 percent of Detroit’s population is in government employ. (Read: unionized).

    He blames the city's problems on the unions, especially the teachers' union. It seems like there is a racial component too.

    Michigan millionaire and philanthropist Robert Thompson, who in 2003 offered the city $200 million — $200 million! — to build 15 Detroit charter high schools. He was run out of town. Mayor Kwame Kilptrick, who sends his own kids to charter schools, advertised Detroit’s poisonous racial politics when he rapped the white businessman for trying “to ride in on a white horse” and save the city.
    Or consider Dave Bing, a prominent black Detroit entrepreneur. The former Detroit Pistons star was heaped with scorn for partnering with Thompson. At a 2005 banquet hosted by the Call ‘Em Out Coalition, Bing was awarded a “Sambo Sell-Out Award” by Councilwoman Sharon McPhail.

    Sad, very, very sad.

    This can't help but be a huge drain on the state's economy. Detroit proper has almost 1/10 of the state's population, it's problems affect the rest of us heavily. For example, Detroit's unemployment rate is 13.8%, Michigan as a whole is 7.2%. (by my calculations, if Detroit was at 7.2% too, the statewide unemployment rate would only be 6.5%) That difference skews perception of the rest of the state.