Archive for March, 2012

Bearing arms

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The intent of the Bill of Rights was to protect the states (and us) from the federal government. The purpose of the second amendment was to assure, for all time, the national army could never suppress its own people. Where I sit, with my comfortable appointments and my excess of things, I often forget that purpose, and imagine instead I’d prefer to be rid of private weapons so someone doesn’t unnecessarily shoot me.

I, and many like me, are tempted to believe government is good – that it represents me; that it operates on my behalf. Perhaps it does, but I forget: it won’t, if I lose my ability to shoot back at it. That’s why our right to organize and resist was written into our Constitution.

Surprisingly, at least to me, all those crazy people terrified of the liberal president, buying guns with food stamps or however else they can afford them, and heading for the hills: those people are giving all the wrong responses – but their instincts are correct.

Sadly, it’s too late for all of us.

Here it is: in the nature of things, if I attack you, you suffer. You strike back, and I suffer. From the suffering we learn the character of respect, of restraint, and of peace. Globally, we have become an invulnerable behemoth, waging war thoughtlessly, on whims. No longer exposed to suffering, no longer fearful of consequence, we abase ourselves before the whole world. Nationally, there is no alternative for the citizen but to obey.

It’s different this time.

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

A couple decades back, I wondered if our accumulated paper wealth isn’t somehow a function of our ability to keep track of it. From time to time, this idea recurs: once values are only abstractly related to things, perhaps we’ll always ‘manage them up’ as high as we can. When we calculated with stick figures, we could manage just so much. When we got good at paper ledgers, so much more. When we figured out spreadsheets, well…

I think about this when I wonder how much gold is worth. A dozen years ago, I was a big fan of gold at $250 an once. Gold is supposed to increase in value with inflation. These past few years we haven’t had much reported inflation, but the price of gold is up several hundred percent. Instead of an ‘inflation hedge,’ it’s a ‘value store.’ People have been buying because they’re afraid it’s the end of the world.

Now the future of the world has been re-assured, and gold is getting cheaper. Odd, because reported inflation is just starting to pick up. So I can only wonder: how far is gold’s price from its actual value?

Perhaps you’ve noticed: prices of everything else are equally bizarre. Stocks have been over-priced for so long the fundamentals aren’t fundamental any more. Government bonds are so expensive you’d think people honestly expect them to be paid back. Money, when you can get it, is free. Something is different, maybe just because it’s so easy to play with really big numbers.

The vanity of the godless

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

It’s possible we came from nothing, and to nothing we’ll return. It’s possible the only consequences we’ll ever face are the physical results we see in front of us. It’s possible God created us this way. And having done so, it’s possible he warned us: “don’t claim you’re doing what you want for my benefit.”

We’re in a world of people just like ourselves. We get a warm and powerful exhilaration from believing we’re right. We invent labels and images to justify our righteousness, and steel us against the horrors we’ll have to perpetrate against those who don’t like us. But the labels and images are always false. Finally, no matter how mighty we once became, we’ll face our worldly consequences.

It’s astonishing to watch us prepare to go to war in the name of nonsense. So called ‘evangelicals,’ who hated Jews for centuries, now gather in America to prop up Israel because they claim Jews must live in Palestine before Jesus can return. While the politicians sit in Jerusalem and acknowledge: one by one all the nations on earth are turning away from them.

You Christian fools! “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

Or this will happen.