Virtue Capitalism: The Current Problem of Profit Motive or, Using Vice to Make Money


VIRTUE CAPITALISM

The Current Problem of Profit Motive | The Problem of Socialism | The Problem of Capitalism | The Good Life or, The Chief End of Man | Business as a Tool | Virtue Capitalism or, An Economy of the Kingdom

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DSC02087As American corporations continue to get bigger and bigger and obtain more power, there is a recalcitrant truth that continues to plague these companies. That truth is that businesses motivated solely by profit tend to fail in one way or another. Paul wasn’t lying in 1 Timothy 6:10 when he stated that the love of money is the root of all evil; when a company enacts policies solely for profit gain they are betraying a love for money that ultimately makes the company’s practices evil.

Now, do not think I am condemning an attempt to earn a profit. After all, everyone is in it for the profit somewhere along the way. No one would work just to get by or to just pay the bills – ideally everyone wants enough money to take care of the necessities of life and then have some left over for liesure spending and/or savings. Companies should be no different, they should seek to make a profit because that profit can help advance the local economy. Profit in and of itself is not a bad thing, but seeking profit with no ethical parameters is dangerous.

The Myth of Profit as Success Continue reading

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Rethinking our economy


Imagine you live in a town where everyone needs to have widgets. Because everyone needs to have widgets, there are about twelve different companies dedicated to making widgets. Since all these companies compete against each other and the supply matches the demand, the price of widgets is low. But then one company becomes innovative and creates a higher quality widget at a relatively cheaper price. As time goes on, only about 2-3 companies are left who produce the widgets. Since these 2-3 companies all produce equal quality widgets, they each claim they have to raise the price of the widgets because the quality is so high. While the owners of each company never talk to each other, they watch each other and keep the prices of the widgets about the same, slowly raising the price.

The workers, seeing their bosses make more and more money from the widgets, demand that they get a share of the profit. They go on strike until the bosses begin to share their profit with the employees via benefits and an increase in wage. The bosses, however, don’t want to give up their total profits, so they increase the prices of the widgets. The workers realize this and demand more money and benefits; after all, the cost of living in the town has gone up because the price of a necessary item (the widgets) has gone up. The cycle continues until the bosses realize that the widgets are going to simply cost too much.

Thus, the bosses begin to have the widgets produced overseas at a much cheaper price, but keep the price of the widgets the same. Because people in the town are now out of jobs (since the 2-3 widget producing companies are the only ones left and they’ve shipped the jobs overseas) they struggle to pay for the widgets. The bosses open stores in the town where people can buy the widgets and employ the people to work in those stores, though at a reduced rate and with no unionized labor; thus, the employees are at the mercy of the stores.

People begin to rise up against these bosses and demand the government do something. The bosses, realizing the government could bring an end to all their profit-making ways, contribute money to politicians. Two companies contribute funds to one politician while another company contributes money to another politician. Either way, whichever politician wins will owe his victory to one of the companies, meaning he won’t be able to come down against them. And even if he can, there are multiple politicians in the town; so long as the company can purchase the majority of them, nothing can be done to the companies. The town is then left without recourse to change the way things are.

What is sad about the above scenario is that it’s not hypothetical; I believe it adequately summarizes the United States’ economy post-WWII. Since WWII, more and more small businesses and small corporations have been consumed by bigger corporations. In doing this, we’ve moved from a three class system (rich, middle-class, and poor) to a two class system: Job creators and the employed. Some may not see the problem with having these two classes, but think on it for a moment.

A job creator has no reliance on the employed. If he opens his business in America he is typically leaving it open for skilled labor only. Even then, if he can ship it overseas to make money then he will do so. Thus, the employed are almost literally a dime a dozen, but completely reliant upon the job creators. Why do we value the job creators so much? Because we apparently base the strength of our economy on the number of people employed, or number of people who have jobs. But this is a false measure for the strength of the economy. Having a job is nothing more than being a wage slave – your income is completely artificial and in a bad economy, that income is cut. Thus, you may have a “job,” but that doesn’t mean the economy is healthy – we could employ all the out of work people in America and put them on minimum wage, but it wouldn’t mean our economy is healthy.

To go back to our analogy, let’s assume that a mid-level manager for one of the widget companies makes a comfortable salary because he’d educated. Yet, within 10 years the majority of the town has the same education, meaning there are others out there who are willing to work this manager’s job for less pay. He is then left with having to take a major pay cut or lose his job entirely. This is why being paid a wage isn’t always ideal, that same wage can be devalued in an instance even if the product you sell isn’t.

Instead, the real measure of a strong economy is how many people own capital producing property. This means that, in some way, they have control over their income through being part-owners in a business or complete owners in a business. In this case, one’s income is only reduced when (1) the demand for the product is reduced and/or (2) a better product comes along. Thus, to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, the problem with Capitalism isn’t too many capitalists, it’s too few. Or, the problem isn’t that people own private property, it’s that too few people own private property. We are the town in the analogy where only a handful of companies ultimately run everything, meaning that capital producing private property is held by a few people. To liberals this is a social injustice, but to conservatives this must be understood as the destruction of the free market. In other words, the current system we have in our nation is not a free market system; it’s something that neither conservatives nor liberals can tolerate (hence the Tea Party and Occupy protests being so similar in their complaints, but different in their solutions).

The reality is we need a complete reformation of our economic system. The practical aspects of that can be debated and discussed by economists, but I believe the following philosophical principles need to undergird it:

  1. There is no utopia. Any system we developed will have inherent flaws to it, corruption will still exist, and injustices will still happen. The goal is to create a system that minimizes these realities and does all it can to delay them. Within the system there should be a series of checks that allow for penalties when corruption is found, but we should acknowledge that corruption will never be completely eradicated. There will always be the rich and the poor, the have and the have-nots, Peter will always make more than Paul, there will never be economic equality, and so on. The goal is to lessen these realities, not eradicate them.
  2. Any economic system we develop must value human beings as people with inherent rights. In other words, they cannot be part of the collective as they are in Communism, nor can they be means to an end as they are in Industrial Capitalism (or Objective Capitalism). The primary motive in any economy cannot be profit; while it must be a motive, it cannot be the motive. The primary motive needs to be the betterment of individuals and the local community.
  3. We must allow for the free market, but in a true sense of the word. The free market is the best way to value human beings because it allows them to make something of themselves. But the free market must truly be free; when left unregulated or free from government involvement, eventually the free market collapses. When only a handful of companies control the market, it’s not a “free market.” Thus, the government has the obligation to protect the free market, by limiting the growth of certain companies, or by ensuring that in corporations that are necessarily large (such as car companies) the overall power of the company is in the hands of the many and not the few (more on this later). At the same time, this means the government must keep their hands off small businesses and let those businesses develop within reason. It means the government’s job is to protect and support the ownership of private property, not make it more difficult via taxation. Thus, the system cannot be socialist, but it cannot be capitalist (as presently understood) either.
  4. In necessarily large corporations, the power within the company must be divided. While we need leaders and people who are visionaries, as a company grows, so too must its ownership. This simply means that the workers ought to get a share of the profit via direct profit share, not through wage increases. In many ways, this makes all the workers types of owners. On big decisions, such as moving the company or the like, everyone should be allowed to voice their opinion. While this allows for corporations, it takes away the power of the corporations and especially of those at the top – the richest people in the corporations still don’t have enough money to influence elections. It also lowers the gap between rich and middle class (which is a problem). While the owners and CEOs will still make quite a bit of money, in having to share the profits of the company with the workers, that gap is reduced. Furthermore, when people know that working harder will bring in a higher profit bonus, most people will be motivated to do so, which makes for better products put out at a faster rate, which does make for a better economy.
  5. The government must regulate the market to protect the free market. That is, they must protect the market against monopolies and de facto monopolies (when 2-3 companies rule an entire region). In cases where a monopoly become inevitable – such as an energy company – the government holds the job of regulating the cost and preventing the cost from getting too high. They also hold the responsibility to ensure that in large corporations the workers are given a profit share and treated as co-owners.
  6. The government must watch its regulation and not peddle when some companies fail. Failure is a good thing because it allows for learning and growth. While painful it is a necessary part of an economy. Thus, if a company is about to fail, let it fail, even if it’s a large company. The temporary pains won’t destroy the economy, but the government getting involved and ruining the free market will destroy an economy.

The goal in all of this is really to respect and protect the dignity of man. The most important point that I did not include is that we must have a moral society. We must drop the moral relativism that we’ve bought into and realize that objective moral values exist, naturally so, and that when we abandon them there are negative consequences to be had. While the above points would make for a better economy, what would ultimately help the economy is for people to realize that acting ethically allows for a more sustainable economy. Acting ethically may cap a business owner’s income to a few hundred thousand instead of a few hundred million, but it will allow for a stronger economy for everyone else and still give him enough money to live comfortably. But we have to be willing to do what is right and that requires us to reject subjectivism when it comes to ethics.

Thus, if we wish to fix our economy and overhaul it, the first step has to be an ethical one. It has to be a commitment to doing what is right and encouraging others to do what is right as well. The economy we have today was founded in the 60s and 70s, the self-love and individualistic ethos. To fix our economy we have to fix our social ethic, I’m just not sure anyone is willing to do that.

The Wall Street Journal and Slavery


I’m quite surprised that an article in the Wall Street Journal about how to retire “cheap” to Bali hasn’t caused a bigger stir. The reason I’m shocked this hasn’t caused a stir – other than how completely pretentious it is and how the average retired couple couple actually afford this “cheap” retirement – is because of this section right here:

When it comes to cooking—and cleaning and all of those other daily time-consumers—we hire Balinese help. Our cook, who is paid $75 a month, shops in the market at 6:30 a.m. and prepares all of our meals from scratch. It’s very healthy. Sundays we are on our own, and that is our brunch and pizza day.

Now, since they’re “on their own” on Sundays, once we avreage out what they pay their cook it’s about $2.88 A DAY. Now, some might point out that Indonesia’s poverty-line is at $1 a day, so they’re paying the cook above the poverty-line. But such thinking ignores that Indonesia recently lowered their poverty line to the international poverty line (it would be like the United States lowering its poverty line to Mexico’s poverty line). Thus, the statistics are vastly skewed and in reality even $2 a day puts a person in the definition of poverty. To put this in perspective; in America, poverty means you struggle to pay your rent and get enough food without the aid of food stamps. In most of the world, however, poverty means you’re living in a shack or an overcrowded apartment and struggling to get to just 2,000 calories a day.

The “$1 a day” poverty line works for nations where there is no industry and the vast majority of the population is poor (mostly Sub-Saharan African). It doesn’t work for industrialized nations or nations that are becoming industrialized; $1 a day in England, France, the United States, Australia, or China would result in a person dying from starvation and being homeless. In Indonesia, which is a growing economy and competitive on the Southeast Asian stage, $1 a day simply will not feed a person. $2.88 a day doesn’t bring someone above the poverty line.

Thus, we have an article in the Wall Street Journal promoting using cheap/slave labor to achieve a cheap retirement. But this has always been the excuse for slavery. When we read the old justifications for slavery in Europe and the New World, it was always about how it made things cheaper, how if we didn’t have slaves then we couldn’t increase our goods. And to a certain extent, such calculations are right. If we didn’t have slave labor overseas today, just like if we didn’t have slaves picking cotton, the price of the goods would be too high for most people to afford the goods. If a cook who shopped and cooked for you in Indonesia was paid a fair wage, chances are this couple wouldn’t pay for him as it would’t be the bargain they’re getting right now. But an economy should never be driven by pragmatism, instead it should be driven by virtue.

The ultimate goal of any economy should be to grow, but it should be through ethical means. When it’s accomplished via unethical means, you ultimately create other problems that will eventually undermine society. Use slaves and eventually the slaves will rebel. Preach selfishness and eventually people will cheat and lie to gain more money, which eventually collapses the company, taking more from the economy than was ever put into it. Use low-labor as a foreigner and eventually the “natives” will get restless and kill you (it’s happened quite a bit in world history, shocking how we never learn). When you violate natural laws and natural orders there are natural consequences. If you jump off a building, the natural law of gravity will cause you to plummet to your death. If you stay under water without a breathing apparatus, do to the laws attached to your physiology you will die. But these natural laws extend to morality; if you live a life of vice, eventually there will be consequences for you or those who come after you. When you rob humans of their God-given dignity and freedom, eventually those humans will strike back and fight to regain their dignity and freedom.

Ultimately, we should treat humans beings with dignity because they’re human beings. We should pay a fair wage because it’s the right thing to do and we should want to do the right thing simply because it’s right. Now certainly you’re not going to pay a cook in Indonesia what you would pay a cook in the United States. With the difference in economies it will be cheaper to hire a cook in Indonesia. But it’s not difficult to still live cheap while also giving a fair wage to the cook. It doesn’t take a lot of compromise to treat people like people, but it certainly takes a lot of dignity.

A Possible Solution for Wall Street Protestors?


Taken from digitalburg.com

The “Occupy Wall Street” protest is quite interesting to me. On one hand, I understand and agree that something is wrong with any nation where greed goes unchecked. At the same time, some of the solutions I’ve heard only take one tyrant (an oligarchic Wall Street) and replace it with another (an authoritarian Washington). If the movement is to achieve anything worthwhile and noteworthy of change, it should be towards creating a more stable economy while also furthering freedom, not in taking one dictator and replacing him with another dictator.

With the above in mind, rather than sitting and complaining about the greed in Wall Street (or Washington for that matter), I’d like to offer a few practical solutions for CEOs to follow as well as a few idealistic solutions. First, with the practical solutions:

  1. For employees with a minimum of 6 months employment, offer them a profit share in the company – this is best accomplished via buying or giving employees stock. While I’m not sure on the laws, giving employees stock in the company for achieving certain goals makes them part owners and spreads the wealth of the company to those working for the company. For instance, if you have a store that is performing at 40% guest satisfaction, you could promise every employee x amount of stock if they increase that to 50% guest satisfaction. This would allow employees to take ownership of the company and give them something more than an hourly wage or the promise of a raise. While this cuts into the take-home profits for CEOs (temporarily), it creates a happier workforce, which in turn could actually increase profits; after all, no one works harder than a business owner, so if you can turn your entire workforce into co-owners of your company, then why not?Let us also not forget that not every employee will be enticed by the above offer. Yet, this shows the strength of the suggestion – if an employee is still lethargic after being offered a co-ownership of the company, then he’s probably not fit to work at your company. Thus, the above program offers a way to weed out employees who could potentially bring down your business. You end up receiving a workforce who wants to be there, who is motivated to be there, who is qualified to be there, and who shares in the successes of the company.
  2. Celebrate a “jubilee-type” income (give away your income every 7 years). Many executives make upwards to a million dollars after benefits; many others make far more than that. Thus, it isn’t too much to ask them to show some frugality in saving up their income for 6 years and on the 7th year donate every penny of income that year to charity, to employees who need help, or back to the company. For those who make quite a bit of income this charitable spending goes a long way towards helping those who are less fortunate. At the same time, on the practical level, it elevates one to near sainthood in the media and among the masses; who can complain about corporate greed if you’re giving away your income every 7 years, especially if you’re giving that back to your employees as a bonus?
  3. Always give away more than 50% of your income after tax (this is for those bringing home a substantial income). While you could give away your income every 7 years, another thing to help dispel the belief in corporate greed is to give away 50% or more of your net income. Again, not all CEOs of all corporations will be able to do this (some corporations are small, thus some CEOs really do not make that much). But for those who are bringing home well above half a million dollars, living off half the net income isn’t asking that much; it’s still much more than what the average American has to deal with. Again, by giving away your personal income, who can protest you or call you greedy?
  4. Give back to the company, especially to help the most underprivileged of your employees. When giving back your personal income, one thing to look at is possibly setting up a charitable program within your own company to help your employees. One company – Darden – has set up a program called “Darden Dimes” where employees can donate as little as 10 cents of each paycheck towards the program. If an employee within the Darden company needs help, they can receive a prepaid gift card to help them through a troubled time. If all companies did this, with CEOs pumping hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars into it every year, this would increase employee satisfaction and faith in the company. This, in turn, would increase guest satisfaction (because guests would walk into a happier environment), which in turn would increase overall profit.
  5. Give back to the community, especially in education ventures. Imagine if the richest of Americans offered to help people with medical bills, or finding jobs, or building up lower income housing to help those in the area. We complain about welfare, government spending, and the like, but what if the richest of Americans took their money and invested it into private ventures that addressed issues related to the poor. It would render the government to a secondary role for those in extreme poverty; in other words, the government wouldn’t have to spend as much, meaning they wouldn’t have to tax people as much, meaning the whole debate about cutting spending or raising taxes could cool down a bit. While there isn’t enough money in the world to fix these problems (there will always be those in poverty), if every American who makes over half a million dollars a year donated to these private organizations in a substantial fashion, perhaps it could help alleviate and reduce the problem.If one were to choose where the money would go, I would argue that it should go into reshaping and reforming our educational system. Put money into programs that actually teach students rather than prepare them to take a government-issued test. Put the money into programs that help us reform education so we’re producing thinkers and not test-takers. Remember, all of these students aren’t just future consumers, but future employees; if they don’t know how to think now, they’ll make for bad employees in the future, which will ruin profits in the future. Thus, it makes sense to invest in them now so you can make more later.

Along with the practical solutions (ones that are driven by profit motive), there are some idealistic solutions I would offer. These, of course, are harder to obtain, but would naturally cause greed to disappear.

  1. Recognize that you will be held accountable for your actions, in this life or the next. Though a belief in God exists for the vast majority of Americans, acting as though God exists seems to be passé. However, God does exist and He will hold you accountable for how you’ve spent your money. One can look to the Scriptures and see that there are over 1,000 verses concerning poverty; half of those condemn those who do nothing to help it or make money off the impoverished. For the richest Americans, especially those who attend church on a regular to semi-regular basis, do understand that how you treat the poor will weigh heavily in the coming judgment.
  2. Recognize that the happy life is one of virtue, not one of vice. All humans pursue happiness, of this there is no doubt. What we define as “happy,” however, differs amongst humans. In our modern world, we tend to think of material things as being happy, and it’s true they can bring temporary happiness, but they do not resemble true happiness. Think of it this way – when you were younger you wanted that cassette player so you could be happy. If you got that same cassette player now, would you be just as happy? Of course not, because it’s out of date. Thus, happiness based on material items is constantly in flux, never satisfied, and always seeking; one is never truly happy because one is always seeking after the next change. Rather, true happiness is found in the pursuit of virtue and the obtaining of virtue. True happiness is found in the things that do not change, not in material wealth, which is always in flux.
  3. Recognize that material wealth will bring you nothing. The world has lost many millionaires to death; in fact, to date, every single millionaire or billionaire that has lived has also died. We can think of the recent tragic death of Steve Jobs, who in spite of his millions, still passed away (as a side note, Jobs serves as an example of a CEO who had a giver’s heart). Your wealth will not follow you, nor will it follow your children, nor will it follow your children’s children. At some point, your wealth will run out; and no matter what, it cannot save you. It may prolonge your life, but it will never prevent its inevitable end. So why pursue that which is temporary? Why not use that which is temporary for eternal gains? Why not build a legacy of giving, or helping people, of helping a community, of helping a society, and in so doing establish an eternal legacy that will never end?
  4. Recognize that living a good life is far more important than living a material life. The best things in life are so expensive that they can’t be bought. Having a big screen TV or the best car is nice and makes life easier, but it’s not nearly as good as having a family to come home to. Living in a multi-million dollar mansion is wonderful, but it’s minuscule compared to helping out someone who is desperate for help. The good life is the one lived in pursuit of true happiness, of a happiness that is good in and of itself; the good life is the one lived in service to others.

It is my hope that someday we’ll live in a society where these principles are put into practice. It is my hope that the problem will fix itself. But from what I’ve studied in history, it seems rather sad that in order to fix the problem of our current oligarch, will turn to a different type of tyranny and suffer all the more for it. 


The Government, Tax Hikes, and Public Virtue (Part 2)


In our economic collapse, we must find a solution that gets us on the right track. This stands true for economies around the world and not just the American economy. Yet, in many ways, we are responsible for our own state of being; in our support and promotion of hedonistic ethics, or “do whatever feels right,” we’ve created a climate that produces the kind of government corruption that we see. In short, no economic system will work until we have a consistent, virtue-based ethical system; ethics comes before economics, ethics dictates economics.

Consider the corruption within the government. During any sex scandal for a politician, someone generally raises the point that what a politician does behind closed doors doesn’t matter. So long as a politician does a good job in office, who cares what he does in the bedroom? But such a sentiment ignores several things.

For one, if a politician is willing to break a vow with his spouse, a covenant with the one that he loves, how more likely is he to break his vow to his constituents? After all, his spouse is the one he’s come to love, the one he’s been intimate with (in more than a physical way), the one he’s spent quite a bit of his life with, and so on. If he is willing to cast her aside for something a bit better, then why would he remain faithful to his constituency, who are nothing more to him than a voting base? In other words, not only should we pay attention to what a public leader does in the bedroom, we should care quite a bit that he’s upholding vows in his private life so we have some assurance he will uphold the vows in his public life.

Or we can consider a multi-million dollar CEO and how he only gives a tiny fraction of his income to the poor. He is simply doing what feels right, or following his own ethic. If we each decide what is true for us, then he has decided what is true for him and there is nothing anyone can do about it, at least not without upholding some absolute moral standard. Yet, we’ve been told for so long that absolute morality is passé, out of date, oppressive, tyrannical, and so on. Yet, when it comes to the rich exploiting the poor, we quickly want to create an absolute standard!

If we truly want to save our government from corruption and save our economy from the elite (whether that elite be in our government via socialism or in the private sector via an oligarchic capitalism), then we must begin to promote an ethical way of life for all, and then shame public officials who consistently refuse to live up to that ethical standard.

Whether we like it or not, the only solution to our woes is to embrace an absolute ethic, something that all humans at all times in all places can follow. The solution isn’t smaller government, more regulation, bigger government, a freer market, or so on; in all of these instances, if we have men who love vice setting the rules, then the rules will ultimately be subverted. If we have men who love virtue setting the rules, however, then at some point there is no need for rules, because they wouldn’t dare shame themselves by showing themselves to love vice.

When people aren’t interested in doing the right thing, or are only interested in what’s good for them, then a society cannot last. When elected officials put regulations on businesses in order to secure a vote, then they don’t really intent to stick by those regulations, especially if it’ll cost them campaign donations. Rather, the regulations become lip-service. Or, worse, what if the government officials do exert their power and regulate a business, but they exert the power in order to demonstrate their authority? Then we have traded in one form of tyranny (an oligarchy) for another (an authoritarian government). In both, powerful and rich individuals do what makes them feel right and do what is in their own interests.

We must move back to some form of moral absolutism, to some moral standard where the rich and powerful realize they have an obligation to others. We must move to a place where men are valued not by what they own or by their vocations, but by what they do in virtue. If we cannot reform our ethics, then we will never reform our economics.

 

Why Modern Economic Systems Fail


Ever since the United States dove headfirst into a recession a few years ago, everyone has been quick to say, “See, Capitalism doesn’t work! Capitalism has failed us!” The alternative, however, have been some type of socialism, a hybrid of Capitalism and Socialism developed by the economist John Maynard Keynes. The system basically calls for more regulation, more spending, and more government oversight; by doing all three things, so the theory goes, we’ll get out of a recession.

Many proponents of “Keynesian economics” point to WWII as an example where massive spending actually increased the job force and allowed us to have an economic boom in the 50s. In fact, the current system has been Keynesian economics put into practice with the bailouts under Bush in 2007 and then under Obama in 2009. Yet, even after the massive influx of cash into the economy we’re still stuck in a recession (the stock market isn’t a good measure of the economy; looking to actual unemployed or underemployed figures, actual consumer spending, and foreclosure rates are better ways of measuring the health of an economy).  Continue reading

Random thoughts of the day.


– Are economic hardships always bad? So long as a person is able to feed his family, clothe his family, and provide adequate shelter for his family (even if it’s a temporary apartment), isn’t he living a good life?

– The abortion issue isn’t about women and their rights. It is about if the fetus growing in her is a human being. If it were about what right she has to do with her own body, why aren’t there “pro-plain nail” groups? Why aren’t there groups protesting women who get piercing, tattoos, or adorn make up? If those who are pro-life actually hate women and don’t want women to control their bodies, why aren’t these other issues…issues? Rather, the entirety of the issue is about the life of the fetus; if the fetus is human, then he has rights from the moment of his conception. If he isn’t human, then he can be removed from his mother for the same reason his mother can remove her nail polish.

– We live in a materialistic pagan society, not a secular society. We still worship gods and goddesses, just in a different way. We call them celebrities, sports players, and musicians. They lead us in our sexual orgies, debauchery, child sacrifice (via abortion or the neglect of those born), and many other vices.

– I figured it would take six months for the public to begin turning against Obama. Unfortunately, I forgot how powerful delusion is. Granted, his approval rating is dropping daily, but many natural skeptics are still blaming everyone except Obama. It would seem narcissism and the desire to be right and not admit that one was wrong is greater than one’s own skepticism.

– In a materialistic society an economic depression is the worst thing that can happen – due to financial constraints, we cannot define who we are because we cannot purchase the material items we want. In a virtuous society an economic depression is, at most, a nuisance (so long as basic necessities are still available).

– If people support those in the “LGBT” society so long as they’re in a monogamous relationship, what do they do with the “B” (bi-sexual) part of that society?

– American Christians have become apathetic to the direction of their culture because they’ve become apathetic to their Savior. He is no more than the man they talk about in Sunday School and hear about from the pulpit, but no less than what they read in the Bible. He is safe and knowable. But the words “safe” and “knowable” are not the terms the contemporaries of Jesus would have used to describe Him; after all, they didn’t crucify Him because He handed out hugs and kisses.

– The pagans of old were far more astute than the modern pagans; the ancient pagans at least recognized there was a supernatural element to the world. The neo-pagans are too blind to see even that.

– The average modern American; skeptical about everything – except himself.