Saturday, December 11, 2010

Racial Profiling and Rubber Duckies

Much has been said lately about the TSA and their methods of keeping air travel safe. I fly quite regularly and frankly I don't care if someone sees my quite unremarkable body naked or if they give me a loving vertical massage. I really think this is an excellent method of making the travelling public feel better about their safety.

Of course this is merely illusion but if the people feel safe, they are happy, even if it means tolerating the screams of the offended as they are touched by and looked at naked by, strangers. A small price to pay indeed, for the accompanying peace of mind.

When I flew to Cincinnati last week, after checking the handgun concealed carry reciprocity laws, I decided to take my favorite noisemaker with me on this trip. I checked all the requirements and locked it in a metal box that was cabled securely to the suitcase it was travelling in, then dutifully informed the airline employee that was checking my bag.

The girl that checked my luggage on the way out of town clearly misunderstood what she was supposed to do. She had me unlock and open the gun case, revealing my .45 for all to see IN AN AIRPORT. She had me sign an orange card stating that the gun was unloaded, then placed the card in the gun case and had me close and re-lock it.

Really? So I'm standing in an airport with a handgun, not in a holster. That, all by itself seems more than a little dangerous. I'm glad there were no armed police or TSA officers nearby. Then to lock the orange card IN the case? That pretty much ensures that it won't be seen again until I get to my hotel room. We'll chalk that little fiasco up to inexperience and I hope that particular young lady gets some remedial training.

I went through the normal scanner and went on my merry way. On the return trip, I again declared my unloaded weapon locked in it's metal case. This time, the agent immediately called for a TSA officer on her radio, again had me fill out the orange card, but this time placed the card inside the luggage right on top of my clothes. That made a little more sense. The TSA officer arrived and rummaged through my bag and did his explosives swab, all the while maintaining his very grave demeanor. Good job, Mr TSA guy.

While waiting to board my flight home, I pondered this "security" scenario. A 2nd grade teacher with no previous life contact with guns would reasonably say that this was exactly as it should have been. That guy with the gun Should bear extra scrutiny! You know where this is going, don't you?

Yes, I would contend that perhaps the guy that declares the weapon, is probably the absolute last guy in the world to have evil intent for that flight. Well, me and the 87 year old woman wobbling along on her cane that really should be 5 or 6" taller. The cheerleaders are probably OK too. Nope. Body scans for every 5th cheerleader. Random. Granny got snagged too. (That had to be a rude surprise for the TSA guy in the booth). Cheerleader, cheerleader, cheerleader, granny.

But this post isn't about that. This post is about basic precepts and profiling. If people wearing rubber ducky earrings were responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts by packing explosives in their butt cheek implants, then I think it would be reasonable to pay special attention to the butt cheeks of all people wearing rubber ducky earrings. If people that declare their weapons at baggage check-in Never commit terrorist acts, then I think it would also be reasonable for them to receive somewhat less scrutiny.

But what if the rubber ducky earring people have Other rubber ducky people do their bidding by carrying poisonous gas in their catheter bags? One or two incidents such as this and we will surely adapt and pay particular attention to rubber ducky earring people with catheters.

Of course this is silliness but it is serious silliness. Our current system, due to its political correctness, doesn't allow us to scrutinize any group more thoroughly than another. (Although you and I would Surely cast an extra glance or two at people wearing that particularly obvious jewelry.)

I would suggest that maybe reacting to technique is not the best way to truly protect our travellers. Political correctness needs to be thrown out the window, people need to put on their big boy and big girl panties and allow those entrusted to protect us, to protect us. They should be allowed to, nay, required to scrutinize every single person wearing rubber ducky earrings more closely than those that are not.

The rubber ducky people can only change technique. They cannot just convince anyone to commit suicide for their cause. That requires rubber ducky people. They will always self-identify by wearing rubber ducky earrings. I don't give a darn whether the Must-Be-A-Ducky-lim religion or CAIR, or whoever, objects or not. Maybe it's time for the non-violent ducky people to exert some peer pressure on those ruining it for all the other ducky people.

Quack.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Poor Are NOT Getting Poorer

I love it when I hear the argument that, "The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer." Actually, I hate it because it means that someone believes something that is patently false. Our economy is NOT a zero sum game. A person can gain wealth without someone else gaining poverty.

Here are some interesting facts to mull over. (I will call people at or below the poverty level "poor".) In 1971, only 32% of all Americans had air conditioning in their homes. By 2001, 76% of poor people had A/C. In 1971, only 43% of Americans owned a color TV; in 2001, 97% of poor people owned at least one. In 1971, 1% of American homes had a microwave oven; in 2001, 73% of poor people had one. 46% of poor households own their homes. Only about 6% of poor households are overcrowded. The average poor American has more living space than the average non-poor individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and many other European cities.

Nearly 3/4 of poor households own a car; 30% own two or more cars. 78% of the poor have a VCR or DVD player; 62% have cable or satellite TV; and 1/3 have a dishwasher. (Statistics from The Heritage Foundation)

Here's something else that every liberal politician knows but won't talk about. (Could it be because if he were to remedy the problem, he would effectively eliminate most of the people who will vote for him?) Long-term poverty today is self-inflicted. It's not difficult at all to see this.

According to the Census Bureau's 2004 Current Population Survey, there's one segment of the black population that suffers only a 9.9% poverty rate. There's another segment of the black population that suffers a 39.5% poverty rate.

Among whites, one population segment suffers a 6% poverty rate. Another segment of the white population suffers a 26.4% poverty rate.

Guess what distinguishes the high and low poverty populations? The only statistical distinction between both the black and white populations is marriage. There is far less poverty in married-couple families, where presumably at least one of the spouses is employed. Fully 85% of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed, one parent household.

Now look at a cool 3D red/blue map. Do you see what I see? The dense population centers (inner city areas) are blue. Just about everywhere else in the nation, the map is red. If the liberal politicians fix the problem (through education), they eliminate their voters. Oops. I'll bet THIS blog entry won't find it's way to many liberal politician's Facebook statuses.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wealth Accumulation And GOD

I love my brother. He truly is a beautiful soul. It saddens me to see him not walking with God and it saddens me to see him believe in the poverty perpetuating left. His challenge to me was to do a Bible Study on the accumulation of wealth. I accepted that challenge and am prepared to present this study to my BS group on Monday night.

At first blush, the unstudied Bible, without thorough context, appears to condemn the accumulation of wealth. Oft cited passages of Scripture such as “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 18:25) and “blessed are the poor” (Luke 6:20) suggest that possession of wealth is suspect while poverty is virtuous. These verses, of course, should be balanced by others that present wealth differently. In the Old Testament, it says that wealth is to be regarded as God’s blessing to be enjoyed (Eccl. 5:18-20) and a result of one’s diligence (Prov. 10:4-5).

In the New Testament, Paul advises Timothy to keep wealth in proper perspective (1 Tim. 6:6-19), and Paul acknowledges that God gives generously to his people for their enjoyment (1 Tim. 6:17). This acknowledgment is balanced by warnings not to trust in your wealth because of the temptation to become arrogant and of the uncertainty involved in keeping wealth (Eccl. 5:8-6:12), and on the flip side, to be content with one’s economic station in life.

The Bible distinguishes between possession of wealth and love of wealth. This is important because only the love of wealth is condemned (1 Tim. 6:10). The love of wealth and desire to become rich bring many temptations and have the potential to destroy your spiritual life (1 Tim. 6:9). The members of the early church and the crowds who followed Jesus were both rich and poor. From what is known of Jesus’ background and his trade as a carpenter, it appears that he lived a middle class lifestyle in contrast to many portrayals of him in poverty. It doesn't seem that being rich is a problem in Scripture, but hoarding your wealth when surrounded by poverty is a sign of selfishness and greed.

Throughout Scripture, the rich are condemned for their callousness to the needs of the poor (Amos 4:1-4; James 2:1-7). The early days of the church were characterized by an extraordinary generosity toward the poor, many of whom constituted the majority of the membership in the early church (Acts 2:43-47). Though the pattern of the early church did not involve a socialistic style of holding property in common, it did involve more awareness of the needs of the poor.

Though the Bible says you may own private property, this right isn't absolute. It's tempered by the reality that all property belongs to God and that we are all stewards of God’s property. God has entrusted his property to us both for our personal needs and enjoyment and for use to achieve God’s purposes (such as meeting the needs of the poor). (Having a large government step in and be virtuous for us is never suggested in the Bible, by the way.)

The gathering of wealth 2,000 years ago was full of potential problems which made it easy to view those who had wealth with a moral and spiritual raised eyebrow. Though the temptations facing the pursuit of wealth today shouldn't be minimized, some important differences exist between the modern and ancient economic systems that at least partially account for the strong cautions about wealth.

Back then, as a general rule, people became wealthy differently than today. The economic system back then was centered around subsistence farming with limited commerce and trade. Real estate was the primary hard asset. The economy was a “zero sum game.” Economic resources were mostly fixed, so when one person got rich, someone else became poor. Or, to a pie guy, the economy was like a pie. When someone took a larger piece, someone else received a smaller piece.

Taking advantage of the poor occurred very regularly and is one of the reasons why the Bible so often condemns exploitation of the poor. There were very few morally legitimate ways to acquire great wealth back then. In most cases, the rich became richer at the expense of the poor, and when someone was rich, they had usually acquired it through some immoral means. As a result, the rich were viewed with suspicion and great emphasis was placed on the potential temptations of becoming wealthy.

The poor certainly continue to be exploited today, but the zero-sum game type of economic system no longer exists. In fact, the economy today is nothing like a zero-sum game. In modern economies, the economic pie is constantly growing. Wealth is created instead of just transferred. Every time a company makes a profit, wealth is created and the size of the pie gets bigger. This is why the rich can become richer while at the same time the poor can also be better off.

The incomes of the poor can and have increased at the same time that the rich get richer. If you get rich, it is not a fair assumption today, that someone else is worse off because of it. In today's modern market economy, wealth is always being created, so it's possible for you to become rich without succumbing to the temptations that the Bible warns against. Today’s market economy makes it far easier to be rich and virtuous than the economic system of old did.

Don't get me wrong; warnings not to give in to the temptations associated with the pursuit of wealth still apply today, as do the commands to share generously with those in need. Your attitude toward and generosity with your money are matters of the heart that haven't changed since the days of Jesus. No matter how much money you have, you are still expected to depend on God, not on money, to share a loving Godly heart for the poor, and to be generous toward those in need.

Having gone through this exercise, I am afraid I have to maintain my original point of view. I have not skewed any facts to defend a political stance, nor have I closed my mind to opposing points of view. If you would like to discuss this further, dear brother, I would be honored to further explore an opposing point of view. I will always speak from the heart when discussing God. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to present this topic in a manner that might result in you someday realizing that to attain Heaven, all you need do is believe that Jesus died for your sins (because NONE of us are good enough to get there on our own). I love you, brother. I eagerly await your comments.