The Regress of Progress or, The Poverty of Wealth (A Poem)


DSC01993Hope springs forth or so I’m told
From joy and love a bountiful well
The pessimist to the optimist scold
Reminding them of this world, this hell

What is our purpose in this busy life
We fight traffic to a job we hate
And fight traffic back to a home of strife
Awake, for this night you cannot overtake

To run away to something meaningful
To run across the fields and hills
To discover in this world something beautiful
And cease relying on our cures and our pills

A man used to plow a field that was his own
As his family was with him in his vocation
We once understood the meaning of home
It was more than an address, a location

The world has itself in a damn hurry
We are only racing to our graves
Impossible to leave all the bustle and scurry
We are all fools and knaves

Buy the farm, build a skyscraper, and call it progress
Put the children in school and the parents at work
Our advanced civilization is a facade and a mess
Suppressed are our dreams, deep down they lurk

Created free, to progress we are now enslaved
We make great paper money and wage
But our master’s name upon us we engrave
And have traded nature’s freedom for a corporate cage

We are rational animals, soulful beasts
But we seek to deny both in the pursuit of wealth
Frozen dinners and fast food replace feasts
The beauty of this world is now hidden, it is stealth

Rise up above the skyscrapers and corporate chain
Reclaim your rationally savage essence
Pursue a life of living, one not in vain
And be happy as you grow in senescence

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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

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

Dr. Strangethought or: How I Learned to Stop Being Modern and Love Being Post


It’s popular in our culture today to attach the prefix “post” to an ideology or position to indicate that we have somehow advanced beyond such a position or ideology. Such phrasing, however, tends to be more Orwellian than an accurate description, as what is usually “post” still holds to the key tenets of what it supposedly leaves behind, but simply changes the conclusions of those tenets. We might say we are “post-anything,” but the sad reality is that we still very much belong to the old ideology; we slap “post” on there to act as though we’ve escaped the ideology, but we are still within its grasps.

Imagine that while walking in the woods, you come across a house. The outside of the house is painted brown and has roses in the garden. When you walk in you notice that the house has 2 bedrooms, an office, one bathroom, the carpet is purple, and the entire inside is painted red. Such a house simply will not do for your tastes. You first take out the roses and plant tulips. Next you paint the house beige on the outside and pure white on the inside. You take out the carpet and put in hardwood floors, all the while you add another bathroom and turn the study into another bedroom. While the house is different, the frame and foundation remain the same.

Likewise, when we apply the word “post” to an ideology, more often than not we have simply redecorated the ideology without changing the ideology. The base presuppositions of the ideology remain the same, but the conclusions and certain definitions to terms might change. In essence, the ideology remains the same, but is still tweaked; the presuppositions remain while the conclusions drawn from the presuppositions change.

For instance, we think of “post-modernism,” which should indicate that we have moved past the Enlightenment period of history and are now in a period that no longer holds onto the theory of absolutes, that is, we have abandoned the Enlightenment experiment and find ourselves to be enlightened for it. Any astute observer of the history of philosophy will tell you, however, that we haven’t really moved beyond modernism, but simply shifted the conclusions of modernism. Whereas modernism recognized the inherent problem of knowledge and embraced skepticism, it eventually concluded that we could reach a unified epistemology (way of thinking) worldwide through reason. Though there are some differences between modernism and modern modernism (what is called post-modernism), each begins with the same premise and presuppositions, but simply move in different directions as to the conclusions.

But post-modernism isn’t the only mis-labeled term. Terms such as “post-racial,” “post-feminism,” “post-colonialism,” and even “post-Christian” tend to fall into the Orwellian trap of renaming something to change how it’s received. Is our society truly post-racial? When a black politician can encourage voters to vote for a senatorial candidate because “he looks like us” and no one pays attention to such blatant racism, are we really “post-racial”? Rather, what we call post-racial is little more than racism against the majority – should you label something wrong because it’s a vestige of the “white male” then you are seen as an academic. Should you label something wrong because it’s a vestige of the “black man” then you are seen as a racist. The fact is both viewpoints are racist because both seek to lift up one race while degrading another. There is certainly nothing post-racial about that; the core of racism remains the same (i.e. that one race is superior/inferior than another race), but the conclusions are different. Continue reading

A More Virtuous Society


There can be little doubt that we live in a society that lacks virtue and that such a lack of virtue is causing the downfall of our society. While there are those who would disagree with my assessment, the fact is those who disagree are part of the problem.

By denying an ethical standard based upon virtue – which is external to humans and leaves humans attempting to achieve a standard – many people are turning to Hedonism, where man becomes a measure of himself. Hedonism teaches that so long as you’re not harming anyone else, what you’re doing is ethically good. This is the predominate ethical standard in America and is sadly being co-opted by Christians as well. Whereas one used to engage in moral actions for a multitude of reasons, including a desire for good judgment in the afterlife, in modern times men are only moral so long as it is within their best interests to be moral. At the point morality would prevent a hedonistic desire and violating such a moral code would come with little to no consequences, modern man then acts out against that moral code.

We see it in our CEO’s who will bring in $9 million in bonuses a year, but then put a pay freeze on their employees paychecks or induce economic panic by saying that their company teeters on the brink of bankruptcy and therefore needs a bailout. We see it in the MTV culture that has turned sex into a recreational tool or a commodity to get what they want rather than a mystical act that brings husband and wife together. We see it in our young teenagers and in our Congress, who often only differ in their vocabulary, but not attitudes and thought processes, in wanting everything to go their way rather than come to a compromise. Our society is becoming more individualistic because it’s becoming more hedonistic. At some point, hedonism will lead to dire consequences.

How much longer before our young people begin to ponder the possibilities of eradicating those who are of lower intelligence? After all, such people require sacrifice and require us to help them. Perhaps our society will refuse to devolve to a position where we are eradicating undesirables, but can we not see how we’re moving towards a classist society? Again, the hedonism of America is beginning to procure a class society where the rich can avoid the poor. We send our extremely poor to public schools, but we should never pretend that they get the same education as the child of rich parents, who generally send their children to private schools. A hedonist looks at such a situation and asks why people can’t have disparity in education, never realizing that it creates a permanent disparity between the classes, which soon become castes that people are not allowed to leave. Continue reading