12/22/2010

Help to the helper? Aid to the aider?


1 in 7 Americans rely on food stamps

CNNMoney.com

The use of food stamps has increased dramatically in the U.S., as the federal government ramps up basic assistance to meet the demands of an increasingly desperate population.

The number of food stamp recipients increased 16% over last year. This means that 14% of the population is now living on food stamps. That's about 43 million people, or about one out of every seven Americans.

In some states, like Tennessee, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oregon, one in five people are receiving food stamps. Washington, D.C. leads the nation, with 21.5% of the population on food stamps.

"The high unemployment rate caused the high participation rate," said Dottie Rosenbaum from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank.

But it's not just the nation's stubbornly high unemployment rate of 9.8% that's driving the increase in food stamp use. Some states are expanding their definitions of poverty to include more people.

At the same time, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act boosted annual funding to the nationwide food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $10 billion.

The average recipient receives $133 in food stamps per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That amount varies from state to state; in Hawaii the average is $216, while it's $116 in Wisconsin.

But the Recovery Act funding increased the maximum food stamp benefit by 13.6%, which translates to about $20-24 dollars per person per month.

The U.S. government considers food stamps to be effective stimulus for the economy, because the recipients usually spend them right away.

Idaho saw the biggest increase in its food stamp program, with a spike of 39% compared to last year, followed by Nevada, at 29%, and New Jersey, at 27%.

New Jersey's food stamp program expanded at least in part because the state raised its poverty level in April, according to Nicole Brossoie of the state Department of Human Services. That let the state add 35,000 people to its food stamp rolls, an increase of 5%.

Also, Brossoie said that program has been made more accessible to poverty-stricken residents.

"Through newsletters, posters, counseling and other outreach, the stigma associated with food stamps has diminished and more individuals and families are seeking assistance," she said.

What happens when the jobless give up?
The government is also beefing up unemployment benefits. The unemployed will get a 13-month extension to file for additional unemployment benefits, which can last as long as 99 weeks in states hit hardest by job loss.

As the job market continues to dog the economy, the increase in food stamp funding is set to remain in place for nearly three years.

Dottie Rosenbaum said the hike in food stamp benefits is set to expire Nov. 1, 2013. Typically, food stamp funding increases every year to match inflation. But if Congress does not extend the stimulus funding beyond the 2013 cutoff, then food stamp benefits will revert to their original levels, but still be adjusted for inflation.

She said the budget office is forecasting a potential drop of $49 a month in food stamp benefits for a family of three, or $59 for a family of four, if the stimulus program is not continued.

President Obama, while signing a child nutrition bill on Dec. 13, said he was working with members of Congress to extend the food stamp funding.

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What a very rare time it will be when those who lend will themselves be in great need of the things that they used to lend to others. What a day like no other day it will be when those who give aid will themselves be in need of the things that they used to give to others.

He who used to lend time to others shall be given enough time by them. He who gave blessings to others shall in turn receive from others blessings. Those who lend troubles to others will gain a manifold increase of troubles.

Though the branches will be cut off, yet the Lord will preserve the trunks and the roots so that in time there may be new young branches that will sprout. In the winter, no one who toiled in the field during the season of plenty should curl cold in a barn full of chaffs, for the Lord will honor their labor; and there will be aid to the aider, and help there shall be to the helper.

12/09/2010

What's Going On?

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What happened to this case? Where is justice?

A highly encrypted video document such as this which is supposedly under the watch and safe keeping of one of the world's most advanced military and intelligence agency, all of a sudden is in the hands of some group of whistle-blowers and they were able to decrypt it? There must be something going on here than what seems to be a case of security lapses.

Woe to those whose fingers twirl the devilsticks!

12/07/2010

Who Really Are Behind WikiLeaks?

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video

With the way the information are selectively released, some people have now started to become suspicious of WikiLeaks. The mere fact that until now no one from WikiLeaks has fallen into the hands of authorities raises serious doubts as to who really are the masterminds behind this group of the so-called "online whistle-blowers". With these doubts and suspicions, it has now started becoming difficult to believe that it is the noble motive of Julian Assange to help keep governments open.

More than meets the eye, it is now beginning to appear that this whole thing is not merely leaking "secret/confidential" information for the purpose of government transparency.

Woe to those whose fingers twirl the devilsticks.

12/05/2010

Diplomacy After WikiLeaks

By Randy David
Philippine Daily Inquirer

For some people, ethical diplomacy is an oxymoron, a self-contradicting idea. Foreign policy, of which diplomacy is but an instrument, is supposed to be driven by the self-interest of nations, not by any notion of what is good for the world or for humanity. Accordingly, no one should be surprised or find offense in the ruthless selfishness with which the United States pursues its interests, as shown by US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. It is just the way foreign relations are conducted by nations everywhere.

I would argue that the average individual would find this view too cynical. While one expects nations—like persons—to keep secrets, he would nonetheless expect them to pursue their interests with decency, in a way that is worthy of the respect and trust of those with whom they deal.

In many ways, this is the burden of diplomacy. Indeed, this will not be appreciated by countries that treat their diplomats as no more than glorified shopping guides for traveling politicians and their spouses. But the work of diplomats, who are the public face of their people in the countries to which they are sent, is crucial to maintaining peace and harmony in the world.

I recently came across a lecture delivered by the British ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, before an audience in Newcastle, United Kingdom, in which he reflects on what he claims is the often misunderstood art of diplomacy. “When one mentions diplomacy many negative images can spring to mind. Perhaps none more so than Sir Henry Wotton’s description of an ambassador as ‘a man of virtue sent abroad to lie for his country’.”

This witty description of the diplomatic function seems so benign compared to what diplomats actually do, if one goes by the accounts that American ambassadors write and send to Washington. It leaves out of the picture the equally important task of interpreting what’s happening in a country, and why its leaders and people are acting the way they do, from the particular vantage point of one’s own nation. Such information is essential to any government that seeks to persuade another to act on the basis of mutual interests.

“At heart,” says Campbell, “diplomacy is about a relationship—it is about building, managing, deepening and maintaining a relationship.” From the embassy cables released by the WikiLeaks website, one can conclude that a good number of America’s diplomats fulfill this function in a way that does credit to their jobs and their government. But, when these cables are read by the very people who are the topic, the consequences can be unpredictable.

These cables, sent from 274 US embassies and consulates all over the world, were written for very specific readers—mainly the heads of regional desks in the foreign office and other high government officials. Most are cast in dry and tedious bureaucratese, while a few can actually pass for literary gems. Some are artfully anthropological, others profoundly psychological. One can imagine how the boredom of an ambassador in a hardship assignment may be greatly relieved by the writing of a report that mixes imaginative gossip with dry empirical facts, political analysis with cultural interpretation. What has made these cables especially controversial however is the attitude they seem to embody—a condescending “orientalism” (in Edward Said’s sense of the word) that can only erode the trust that diplomats are supposed to build.

This is the effect that US President Barack Obama and State Secretary Hillary Clinton are now doing their best to neutralize. When allies and leaders of friendly nations are depicted in disdainful and mocking language by US diplomats in their memos, not even a personal call from the American president may suffice to repair the injury that has been done. Out of politeness, America’s allies will likely dismiss these incidents as insignificant. No formal diplomatic protest will be lodged by anyone, except by politicians who like to perform before the peanut gallery at home. Still, the US would be greatly mistaken if it takes this to mean that all is well among friends.

This is one time when America’s diplomats may need to summon all their skills in cultural interpretation if they are to get past this crisis. In many places in the non-Western world, as they may know, trust is everything. Lacking the hard information they need to make rational choices, people in these societies tend to rely mainly on their instincts—that is to say, on the relationships of tacit trust they build with other people—to make decisions. It is this kind of trust that has become the first casualty of WikiLeaks’ disclosures.

Perhaps it is just as well that small nations that have tended to conduct their foreign relations on a foundation of personal trust are getting a good education in modern diplomacy. It is probably to them that WikiLeaks speaks when it claims that its work is inspired by this quote from James Madison: “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

The WikiLeaks cables are supposed to span the period 1966 to February 2010. That’s a long time. Many transitions happened in the Philippines during those years, and we know that more than any other nation, the US played a big role in those events. We don’t know the full extent of that role. Information of this sort will not allow us to undo the past. But it may lead us to a better understanding of the persistent problems that have troubled our nation, and what we need to do to overcome them.

12/04/2010

Utillizing Media for Goodness

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"Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its destiny... The Church is called to use the mass media to spread the Gospel." --Pope John Paul II

12/03/2010

Diplomacy. Anyone?

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"Ground zero... So this is where the first guy got aids?" --Peter

I laughed hard watching this segment of a TV cartoon "Family Guy". This is one hilarious way (for people who are against the U.S. foreign policy) of bashing the U.S. for relying on a poor intel in persuading its allies into taking part in the invasion of Iraq.

In relevance to the confidential U.S. "intel" documents recently being leaked by WikiLeaks, it may be pathetic but the documents give ordinary people (including the likes of the cartoon character Peter) a glimpse of how most leaders of supposed great democratic nations have mastered the art of political hypocrisy which they insist to call "Diplomacy".

Unable to properly digest the tons of leaked confidential information, there is a possibility that some leaders of some countries affected by the leak may misinterpret the huge volume of info and may fail to correctly connect some dots. In their confusion, some leaders might arrive at a wrong conclusion.

In the video clip, an overwhelmed Peter, in his innocence and confusion wrongly concluded and exclaimed, "So you're sayin' we need to invade Iran?" I laughed even more hearing Peter's last line.

10/29/2010

Stool Repair 101: A Commentary on the State of the Pillars of Family

By Jim Tonkowich
Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
Commentary - Crosswalk.com

In the beginning, God created a three-legged stool: marriage, sex, and children. The beauty of three-legged stools including God's is that they're solid and hard to tip over regardless of the uneven ground on which they stand. Observe the simplicity, wisdom, and stability of God's stool!

Though people regularly break the rules, in God's economy, the commitment of marriage comes before sex. The sacramental quality of sex is recognized in the notion of consummation. Sex seals the covenant between man and the woman physically: "the two shall become one flesh."

Babies are the natural and expected result of sex within marriage. Without artificial contraception, sex always carries the risk—or more accurately, the blessed possibility—of pregnancy. Even well into the twentieth century, a "barren" woman (not that people used that term) was looked on as an object of pity.

Sex then is reserved for marriage and produces children, the rearing of whom is a primary purpose of marriage to begin with. Couple's needs for companionship are taken care of. Aggressive male sexuality is reigned in. And the future generation enjoys the benefits of growing up with stability and love.

While revealed in the Scriptures and affirmed by the Church, this three-legged stool is also clear from natural law. With some variations, twists, and a great deal of dysfunctionality, the three-legged stool has been the foundation for nearly every human culture throughout the world from time out of mind.

So marriage, sex, and children go together. Or at least they did until what by historical standards is just yesterday.

Sex has been sawn apart from marriage, marriage from children, and children from sex. The result is the mess we still call "marriage," but marriage encumbered by abortion and "reproductive technologies," divorce and cohabitation, "hooking up" and pornography, out-of-wedlock births and blended families, the political and cultural war over same-sex marriage, and the subsequent damage to our children and the future.

For 1,930 years, Christian churches uniformly taught that artificial birth control was inherently evil. Martin Luther, to pick just one example, ranked the sin of birth control as, "far more atrocious than incest and adultery." As extreme as that sounds to modern years, Luther, who was never one to mince words, was in the mainstream of Christian belief and teaching.

But under social pressure that was already building, the Anglicans opened the door—just a crack—to artificial contraception at their 1930 Lambeth Conference. The next year the American the Federal Council of Churches followed suit and the Washington Post excoriated them: "Carried to its logical conclusion, [churches permitting artificial birth control], if carried into effect, would sound the deathknell of marriage as a holy institution by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be ‘careful and restrained' is preposterous."

The Post was right, but that didn't stop the tide it predicted from engulfing the country and before long Christian pastors were asking couples in pre-marital counseling what sort of birth control they intended to use and even making suggestions.

In 1968, a mere thirty-seven years after that Post editorial, Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, a document that was consistent with 1,968 years of Christian teaching, sounded even to Christian ears as not only completely outrageous, but also as brand new, as if its contents had been conjured out of thin air for the occasion. Five years later abortion was legalized in the United States and the connection between sex and childbearing was completely severed.

New attitudes toward and the easy availability of artificial contraception—including abortion as an ex post facto method of birth control—democratized the sexual revolution that had begun at the end of the nineteenth century. Marriage could not help but be the victim.

At the same time, "reproductive technologies" beginning with in vitroin vitro without moral due diligence since it appeared to be the answer to the prayers of infertile couples everywhere. fertilization separated childbearing from sex. Biological children were suddenly available not only to infertile couples, but to gay couples (through a surrogate), lesbian couples, and unmarried individuals. And many churches embraced

This is the short version of how marriage, sex, and children became independent of one another. The three-legged stool is in pieces and, needless to say, no longer functions as designed.

In light of the ongoing judicial usurpation of marriage in the recent decision striking down Proposition 8 in California and other victories for same-sex marriage, we must, Christian leaders tell us, defend and fix marriage. Agreed, but defending and fixing marriage is a vast, long-term cultural project, not a quick legislative sprint.

Changing a few laws and winning a few court battles will accomplish little unless we address all three legs of the stool and begin reattaching them according to God's original specifications. This begins by with the difficult task of challenging the now conventional wisdom that birth control is not only a right, but a normal, wise, and even godly practice.

Jim Tonkowich is a Senior Fellow at the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and a scholar at the Institute on Religion & Democracy. He holds a degree in philosophy from Bates College and both a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. More of his work can be found at jimtonkowich.com.

10/20/2010

A Muslim Cries Out to Jesus

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He heard a voice call his name and saw a vision of Christ. This was miraculous, because up until then, Kamal was a Muslim.

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; If he is thirsty, give him water to drink." (Proverbs 25:21
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10/19/2010

Betraying One's Own Conscience

Fr. Barron on Obama's "The Audacity of Hope"

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10/17/2010

Be Not Deceived By False Christianity

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"This is a shockingly powerful & biblical message preached to about 5,000 youth in a day when youth are appealed to through shallow and worldly means. At one point in this sermon the 5,000 Youth are clapping and yelling but then the preacher makes a comment that change the whole atmosphere to where you could have heard a pin drop... As you can imagine, the preacher was never invited back. We believe the whole sermon will be a blessing to many souls." --Heart Cry Missionary

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim 4:3-4)
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10/15/2010

10/10/2010

The Heart Of The King They Wanted

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The people demanded to the servant of the Lord and said, "Give us a king to judge us." The Lord said to his servant, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not be king over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of the Land of Slavery even to this day, in that they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also to you. Now therefore listen to their voice: however you shall protest solemnly to them, and shall show them the manner of the king who shall reign over them." (Reference: 1 Samuel 8:6-9)

The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he will. (Reference: Proverbs 21:1)

And the Lord hardened the heart of the king..., and the king pursued after their children... (Reference: Exodus 14:8)
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See video: Planned Parenthood
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10/09/2010

The Hijacked U.N. General Assembly Agenda

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video
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"...the U.N. General Assembly has never agreed, never agreed that Reproductive Health includes abortion..."
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10/08/2010

Superficial Preaching: Greatest Obstacle to Evangelization

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One bishop complained: "In the 'Acts of the Apostles', the apostles gave one sermon and made three thousand converts. We give three thousand sermons and don't make a single convert."

"The greatest obstacle to evangelization is superficial preaching." --Pope John Paul II

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[2 Timothy 3:16-4:5]

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

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Luke 21:33] Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

[Matthew 28:19-20] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

10/07/2010

There's No Such Thing As An Atheist

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video
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Watch the full video: The Virtue of Faith
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Not Enough Young To Support The Old

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video
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Problems of aging, shrinking population
The Economist

The population of bugs in a Petri dish typically increases in an S-shaped curve. To start with, the line is flat because the colony is barely growing. Then the slope rises ever more steeply as bacteria proliferate until it reaches an inflection point. After that, the curve flattens out as the colony stops growing.

Overcrowding and a shortage of resources constrain bug populations. The reasons for the growth of the human population may be different, but the pattern may be surprisingly similar.

For thousands of years, the number of people in the world inched up. Then there was a sudden spurt during the Industrial Revolution that produced, between 1900 and 2000, a near quadrupling of the world's population.

Numbers are still growing; but recently an inflection point seems to have been reached. The rate of population increase began to slow. In more and more countries, women started having fewer children than the number required to keep populations stable.

Four of nine people already live in countries in which the fertility rate has dipped below the replacement rate. Last year the United Nations said it thought the world's average fertility would fall below replacement by 2025. Demographers expect the global population to peak at around 10 billion (it is now 6.5 billion) by mid-century.

As population predictions have changed in the past few years, so have attitudes. The panic about resource constraints that prevailed during the 1970s and 1980s, when the population was rising through the steep part of the S-curve, has given way to a new concern: that the number of people in the world is likely to start falling.

Some regard this as a cause for celebration, on the ground that there are obviously too many people on the planet. But too many for what? There doesn't seem to be much danger of a Malthusian catastrophe.

Humankind appropriates about a quarter of what is known as the net primary production of the Earth (this is the plant tissue created by photosynthesis) -- a lot, but hardly near the point of exhaustion. The price of raw materials reflects their scarcity and, despite recent rises, commodity prices have fallen sharply in real terms during the past century.

By that measure, raw materials have become more abundant, not scarcer. Certainly, the impact that people have on the climate is a problem; but the solution lies in consuming less fossil fuel, not in manipulating population levels.

Nor does the opposite problem -- that the population will fall so fast or so far that civilization is threatened -- seem a real danger. The projections suggest a flattening off and then a slight decline in the foreseeable future.

If the world's population does not look like it's rising or shrinking to unmanageable levels, surely governments can watch its progress with equanimity? Not quite. Adjusting to decline poses problems, which three areas of the world -- Central and Eastern Europe, from Germany to Russia; the northern Mediterranean; and parts of East Asia, including Japan and South Korea -- are already facing.

Think of 20-somethings as a single work force, the best educated there is. In Japan, that work force will shrink by one-fifth in the next decade -- a considerable loss of knowledge and skills. At the other end of the age spectrum, state pensions systems face difficulties now, when there are four people of working age to each retired person. By 2030, Japan and Italy will have only two per retiree; by 2050, the ratio will be three to two.

An aging, shrinking population poses problems in other, surprising ways. The Russian army has had to tighten up conscription because there are not enough young men around. In Japan, rural areas have borne the brunt of population decline, which is so bad that one village wants to give up and turn itself into an industrial-waste dump.

States should not be in the business of pushing people to have babies. If women decide to spend their 20s clubbing rather than child-rearing, and their cash on handbags rather than diapers, that's up to them. But the transition to a lower population can be a difficult one, and it is up to governments to ease it.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways of going about it -- most of which involve social changes that are desirable in themselves.

The best way to ease the transition toward a smaller population would be to encourage people to work longer, and remove the barriers that prevent them from doing so. State pension ages need raising.

Mandatory retirement ages need to go. They're bad not just for society, which has to pay the pensions of perfectly capable people who have been put out to pasture, but also for companies, which would do better to use performance, rather than age, as a criterion for employing people.

Rigid salary structures in which pay rises with seniority (as in Japan) should also be replaced with more flexible ones. More immigration would ease labor shortages, though it would not stop the aging of societies because the numbers required would be too vast. Policies to encourage women into the workplace, through better provisions for child care and parental leave, can also help redress the balance between workers and retirees.

Some of those measures might have an interesting side effect. The U.S. and northwestern Europe once also faced demographic decline, but are growing again, and not just because of immigration. All sorts of factors may be involved; but one obvious candidate is the efforts those countries have made to ease the business of being a working parent.

Most changes were carried out to make labor markets efficient or advance sexual equality. But they had the effect of increasing fertility.

As traditional societies modernize, fertility falls. In traditional societies with modern economies -- Japan and Italy, for instance -- fertility falls the most. And in societies that make breeding and working compatible, by contrast, women tend to do both.

10/05/2010

Art, or Blasphemy?

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video
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Some people, when they are in a state of denial of their silent crisis of spiritual identity, subconsciously tend to resort to art as a means of abstractly ventilating their inner confusion.

Going back to the question at hand. Is the painting mentioned in the video an art, or is it blasphemy? There should be no argue as to whether it is an art or a blasphemy because clearly it is a combination of both. It is an artistic blasphemy as well as a blasphemous art. It is a work of a soul who is subconsciously learning the art of blasphemy.

8/12/2010

People Say, "Life Is A Gamble"


Book Title: "Gambling: Don't Bet on It"
Author: Dr. Rex M. Rogers
Publisher: Kregel Publications

Source: Crosswalk.com


The Earl of Sandwich was a problem gambler who wouldn't leave the gambling table long enough to eat his dinner, so his servants had no choice but to develop something he could eat with one hand while he gambled with the other. Hence the birth of the sandwich as we know it today. This tidbit from the new Kregel Publications release, "Gambling: Don't Bet on It," demonstrates the degree to which gambling can alter a lifestyle, a personality, and in this case, even our eating habits.

Finally, we have the definitive book on gambling, better defined as, the game ... that turns into pain. It has become a religion where people faithfully worship at the Temple of Chance, genuflecting before The Wizard of Odds. It is a totally inclusive religion that welcomes outcasts and ne'er-do-wells, along with the rich and the powerful. As long as you have a few bucks in the pocket, it's an egalitarian community.

The big names caught in the grip of gambling's tentacles include sports figures, religious leaders, movie stars and government officials who have been sucked into this "sophisticated" lifestyle to their ruin.

This well-researched and thoroughly documented work by Dr. Rex. M. Rogers puts gambling in a perspective that has never been captured so effectively. It details a fascinating history ... and yes, they did cast lots in biblical times even though it is explained how that was not considered gambling.

The author reveals the very nature of gambling, its destructiveness, those who are behind it, and how the odds are skillfully rigged against the players so that the casino must make a profit at the player's expense (or more correctly stated, the player's "loss").

It is not by chance that the casino wins, as the public has been duped to believe. Common sense should tell you that those elaborate hotels and casinos were not built by you winning. To further hammer home that point, heed these words of wisdom from Steve Wynn: "If you want to make money in a casino, you'd better own it." And he should know. Wynn, who masterminded the gaming revolution in America, is also known as "The Casino King of Las Vegas." (See page 54 in Rogers' book.)

Every ploy and psychological device is employed to entice a "mark" (as the carnival refers to those who stroll down their midways) to part with their money. The reader will be amazed at how purposeful casinos are designed for that very purpose.

Hooking potential lifelong gamblers is the goal. Pit bosses and casino owners make special efforts to appeal to the young. The televised poker tournaments show young players making it all look chic to instill a desire in teenagers to take it up. And the new on-line poker tournaments make it easy and immediately accessible.

This is all carefully planned. The liquor industry has contrived to lure the very young to the habit of drinking cocktails by offering a kids' cocktail – called a "Shirley Temple" – which they enjoy while the adults sip their martinis. It is all designed to shape a habit. And remember years ago when beautiful young girls with short skirts came to the high schools to give out free samples of cigarettes?

Chapter Seven in this book, "Gambling as a Means of Fund-Raising," spotlights the contribution of the Church to gambling, which is disturbing. A nationwide survey conducted by the Barna Research Group in 2002 found that 27 percent of Evangelicals, to varying degrees, consider gambling morally acceptable.

You can say what you will about the Mormon Church, but they have taken a strong stand against gambling, and Utah is the one state where it is not permitted. The Mormons have given us a good example of the impact that united religious people can exercise in a democratic polity.

Church-sponsored "casino nights" imply a stamp of approval for gambling from the highest of all authority. Then with the lottery being sponsored by our own state governments with ads and TV spots suggesting it is patriotic to play the lottery, gambling has become legitimized and accepted.

There was a time when gambling was considered outside the rules of law and decency. It was taboo. Not any more. It is legally here – it is everywhere, and its presence is growing. Poker tables are sold now in various family stores. Leading bookstores stock dozens of books, prominently displayed, that purportedly tells the reader how to win at gambling. It is all glamorized to bait a new mark.

Those who profit from gambling do not care that people are driven to bankruptcy, that families are devastated, that crime rates soar as gamblers begin to embezzle money to pay off gambling debts, and that the suicide rate for gamblers is staggering.

Readers will be astonished to learn how much money these game operators take in; and they will learn the real inside story of the Indian casinos, where the money goes and – most startling of all – how the public is being manipulated. This book should challenge everyone to re-think participating in so-called "charity gambling."

And let no one mislead you into thinking that a casino improves an area. This book provides solid documentation of what actually happens to cities like Atlantic City (and others) when casinos are brought in. It shows clearly how crime skyrockets in the wake of casino gambling, identifies the kinds of crime that casinos attract, and explains how much money actually goes to the community.

"Gambling: Don't Bet on It" shows that the so-called community and state "windfall" that results from legalized casino gambling is a delusion. It reveals that for every dollar gambling contributes in taxes, taxpayers spend at least three dollars fixing streets, increasing police patrols, and treating compulsive gamblers (page 82). The only financial "windfall" goes to the casino owners and certain politicians.

What is worse, the "powers that be" – those politicians and casino owners – have no conscience or even concern that they are aiding and abetting an addiction that is every bit as damaging as drugs, alcohol, and sex addition. Their only interest is bringing in the money.

Dr. Rogers' book cites scriptural authority of what our role as Christians should be. Is gambling a sin? (See Chapter 4.) Is it a disease? (See page 124.) What is the Catholic view? (Page 62.) And what does Pete Rose, whose gambling habit cost him a spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, say about the Church and gambling? (The answer is on page 145.)

Finally, suggestions on how to begin to defeat gambling and stop further growth of this sordid industry can be found in the last chapter. And this is not signing a petition or blast-faxing officials; this is solid, workable information.

And frankly, I think another way to slow down the spread of gambling is to get this book in the hands of as many people as possible – including those who have a gambling problem. Seeing the shocking truth about the gambling industry should cause even the most dedicated gambler to pause and think. Resources for gambling addiction recovery are listed.

Dr. Rex M. Rogers has done an outstanding job with this book. Every pastor, chaplain, and counselor should have this book in their library for reference.

The history of gambling is a consistent record of broken promises, broken dreams, and broken lives. Indeed, gambling seems to thrive on destroyed lives. Without fail, gambling produces detrimental personal and social consequences

Read Also:

*
The Effects of Gambling
* Gambling Away The Golden Years

8/10/2010

How's The Condition Of Your Laptop Computer?

By The WindChime

Laptop computers are supposed to last between five to seven years. But one day last week, I was starting a repair work on my father's 3-year old laptop computer whose power circuitry simply went dead. When I opened the unit I discovered a thick layer of lint and dust accumulating in the cooling gills of the unit's copper heat sink/radiator. This condition prevented the external air sucked in by the internal cooling fan to circulate and exit from the unit since the exhaust passage through the heat radiator's gills is clogged with bonded particles of dust. When such condition occurs, heat quickly builds up inside the laptop until one (or more) of its electronic components overheats and fails.

In my years of experience as a computer technician, I can say that most of the common hardware-related failures occurring in laptop computers today can be traced to overheating as the main cause. This is because in the tightly confined and very limited space inside any laptop, the ventilation is very poor and this condition is conducive to overheating. The combined heat that is simultaneously generated by the so many compact electronic components cramped inside the laptop's circuitry builds up quickly and, if not exhausted fast enough, could heat-compromise component parts inside and cause them to fail. This is the reason it is very critical for laptop computers that their internal cooling system's efficiency be maintained and must be in top working condition all the time.

Every time you use your laptop computer the internal cooling system of your laptop sucks air from its surrounding environment to cool itself. As air is taken in by the cooling fan, some dusts and other very tiny particles floating in the air around the laptop's close vicinity are also sucked in. While most of these tiny particles are carried away by the stream of of the exhaust air out of the system, a few amount of them get deposited in the area around the cooling system's exhaust passage when the laptop is turned off. And as the laptop cools down, these deposit of dusts and other tiny particles will attract themselves electrostatically bonding together to form a very fine layer of cobweb-like material. As time goes by, the continued use of the laptop without periodically cleaning its internal area can cause the accumulation of dusts and tiny particles to continue and the build-up of the fine layer of cobweb-like material will grow thicker at the critical area between the very narrow spaces of the laptop's exhaust air passage until clogging of the outflow of air in the laptop's cooling system will begin to occur. When the laptop is in this condition overheating is sure to happen and it will just be a matter of time before hardware-related problems start to develop and manifest intermittently every now and then until eventually your laptop's motherboard will totally fail.

Since most owners of laptop computers are unaware of the necessity to periodically get their laptop computers cleaned internally as a simple measure to prevent overheating, this is perhaps the main reason why so many laptop computers don't last up to their maximum lifespan.

Laptop computers' motherboards are designed differently from desktop computers' motherboards in such a way that their dimensions or form factor is very much proprietary and model specific. So when your laptop's motherboard is dead beyond repair due to overheating, you have no other choice but to contact the manufacturer of your laptop and ask for a replacement. But if the model of your laptop was some two or three years ago, chances are the manufacturer had already stopped producing parts in support for that specific model. What happens now is that you are left with no choice except to trash your laptop and painfully bleed enough cash to buy for another laptop unit. This is a criminal offense against austerity in the season of economic crisis.

If only laptop manufacturers were able to redesign the cooling system of their products such that it was possible for users by themselves to easily access and clean even just the cooling gills of the heat sink/radiator located at the critical part of the cooling system's exhaust passage without having the need to disassemble the laptop, I believe this would have significantly reduced the number of customer warranty services availments and would have saved them a lot of after sales customer support costs. And also since it would have helped maximize the lifespan of their laptop computers sold, people would have been buying laptop computers not too unnecessarily and as a result there would have been a reduction in the rate of wastage resulting from premature deaths of laptop computers, and possibly a lessening of the manufacturers' overall demand for raw materials, and ultimately thus helped promote environment friendly sustainable manufacturing. Not to mention the tangible and intangible benefits the manufacturers would have enjoyed as the result of the improved reliability of their products.

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The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do. -Ted Nelson

People think computers will keep them from making mistakes. They're wrong. With computers you make mistakes faster. -Adam Osborne

Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window. -Steve Wozniak

The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers. -Sydney J. Harris

Why is it drug addicts and computer afficionados are both called users? -Clifford Stoll

7/24/2010

Finding Your Leadership Style


Ten different ways to lead God's people

Christianity Today
By Bill Hybels

A few years ago, I began to notice major differences in the ways gifted leaders led their teams. They all had the spiritual gift of leadership referred to in Romans 12:8, but they approached the challenges of leadership differently.

About the time I was making this observation, the management team at Willow Creek gave me a leadership book for my birthday. (The year before, they had hired an Elvis impersonator, who burst into my office during a meeting to serenade me. Elvis discovered my leadership style in a hurry. He barely made it out of my office with his blue suede shoes.)

This year they gave me a more appropriate gift—Certain Trumpets, by Garry Wills. Wills describes the enormous impact of great leaders whose particular leadership style meshed perfectly with a certain need in society.

For example, when people are being oppressed and want to break free from that yoke, the situation calls for a radical, transforming leader.

In a complex, pluralistic democracy, with thousands of constituencies that must be drawn together to form a government, a political or electoral leader is necessary.

In war time, a military style of leadership works best.

During an ideologically intense social struggle, an intellectual leader might fit the bill.

Wills effectively argues that there are many different styles of leadership, and certain styles fit certain leadership needs better than others.

Over the last few years, I've identified at least ten manifestations of the leadership gift as it plays out in the church. It's been helpful to our staff to identify our leadership styles and build leadership teams accordingly.

1. Visionary Leader

These leaders have a crystal-clear picture in their minds of what they want to happen. They cast visions powerfully and possess indefatigable enthusiasm to pursue the mission.

Visionaries shamelessly appeal to anyone and everyone to get on board with the vision. They talk about it, write about it, burn white-hot for it. They are future-oriented, usually idealistic, and full of faith to believe the vision can and will be actualized if the dream is talked about and cast often enough.

Visionary leaders are not easily discouraged or deterred. In fact, if people tell them their dream is impossible, that just adds fuel to the fire in their spirit.

Visionary leaders may or may not be able to form teams, align talents, set goals, or manage progress toward the achievement of the vision. But this one thing is sure: They carry the vision. They cast the vision. They draw people into the vision, and they'll die trying to see it fulfilled.

I was at a conference with John Maxwell some time back. John was teaching on vision, and he started his talk on one side of the sanctuary to symbolize the beginning of the vision.

"You have no money, you have no people, you have no faith, but you have the vision. So you put one foot in front of the other, and you walk, by the light of the vision . ..." He began to walk across the stage.

"Then, along the way, as you share that vision, God gives you the faith, the power, the people, the resources . ..." Everyone's eyes were riveted on John as he made this vision walk. But there was a planter between where he was and where he was headed. Inside, I'm screaming, Watch out for the planter! John never saw it. He ran into it and stumbled—but the vision was so powerful that he never stopped speaking, never lost his train of thought. I was looking around the crowd, and no one else even seemed to notice!

You know a person is a visionary leader when he trips on the stage and no one even acknowledges it! It was a picture of the leader who cannot help but pour out the vision, despite any obstacle.

2. Directional Leader

This style doesn't get much press, but it is exceedingly important. The directional leader has the uncanny, God-given ability to choose the right path at those critical intersections where an organization starts asking hard questions: "Is it time for a wholesale change or should we stay the course? Do we focus on growth or consolidation? Should we start new ministries or deepen and improve existing ones? Should we add facilities or relocate? Is it time for some fresh staff, or do we dance with those who brought us here?"

These are directional issues, and they are capable of immobilizing an organization. But a leader with a directional style is able to sort the options. He or she can carefully assess the values, mission, strengths, weaknesses, resources, personnel, and openness to change of an organization—then, with remarkable wisdom, point that organization in the right direction.

Wrong calls at these key intersections can wreck organizations. Shortly after Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam became king. His first critical intersection came almost immediately: a representative group of the people asked for their workloads to be reduced. Solomon had worked people to the point of despair. Rehoboam had to make a directional call. The older counselors said, "You'd better ease up on them." The younger counselors said, "Just load them up." He made the wrong call at that intersection, and it wrecked the kingdom.

When Willow Creek is at such a crossroads, I will not move in the direction I believe God is calling us without the green light from two board members who are strong in directional leadership. Whenever we've followed their lead, we've made good decisions. Whenever we've ignored their advice, we've paid a high price.

3. Strategic Leader

Some leaders have the God-given ability to break an exciting vision into achievable steps, so an organization can march intentionally toward the actualization of their mission.

Visions are powerful. Visions excite and inspire people. They compel action. But unless people eventually see progress toward the fulfillment of the vision, they conclude the vision caster is just blowing smoke.

A strategic leader forms a game plan everyone can understand and participate in, one that will eventually lead to the achievement of the vision. A strategic leader challenges the organization to work the plan. She says, "Don't get distracted. Do what needs to be done to achieve the next step, then the next, and we'll achieve the vision together." A strategic leader is able to get various departments of an organization synchronized so that the organization is focused toward the prize.

The vision of Willow Creek has been compelling for more than twenty years. But it has been a seven-step strategy, put together by leaders in the early days of our church, that has helped us move toward the achievement of that vision.

4. Managing Leader

There is always discussion in leadership circles about the differences between management and leadership. You've heard, "Managers do things right; leaders do the right things," and other delineations.

Those may be helpful, but I'm convinced certain leaders possess the unique ability to establish mile markers on the road to the destination, then organize and monitor people, processes, systems, and resources for mission achievement. Old Testament examples include Joseph and Nehemiah.

What's most amazing to those who don't have this style is that managing leaders derive enormous satisfaction from doing all this managing!

You'd be surprised how many visionary leaders are inept at managing people, processes, and systems. Many directional and strategic leaders are incapable of actually putting the players, resources, and systems in place for the goals of the organization to be achieved.

I've often said around our church, "Sooner or later someone's going to have to manage all of this stuff." We've always had an abundance of visionary, directional, and strategic leaders, but we've always had a shortage of managing leaders. That has hurt us all along the way.

Managing leaders often aren't as popular as the leader who can give the big vision talk or make the big decision around the board-room table or put the big plan in place. But in the day-to-day world, someone has to manage the process to make sure we get where we want to go.

5. Motivational Leader

These leaders possess insight into who needs a fresh challenge or additional training. They can sense who needs public recognition, an encouraging word, or a day off. They know when a pay increase, office change, title change, or sabbatical is needed.

Unfortunately, some view the motivational style as a lightweight style of leadership. Well, just ask team members how important it is to receive ongoing inspiration!

I will follow a leader who will fire me up, call out the best in me, celebrate my accomplishments, and cheer my progress, even if it means a lower-voltage vision, an occasional bad call at a crossroads, or a periodic lapse of managerial effectiveness.

Motivational leaders know that teammates get tired, lose focus, and experience mission drift. Workers wonder if what they're doing really matters to anyone—or to God. Motivational leaders don't get bitter or vengeful when morale sinks. They see it as an opportunity to inspire and lift the spirits of everyone on the team.

Jesus was a consistent motivator of the disciples. He changed Peter's name. He promised his followers a hundred-fold reward in this life and in the next. Often, Jesus would take the disciples away and say, "Let's not take a hill. Let's sleep at the bottom of one. Let's go fishing, eat, and hang out."

Some of our teammates would love more than anything else a day with their leader around a campfire in an unrushed setting, instead of always being under our command.

Remember the time Jesus said, "I call you friends"? He always promised them, "In my Father's house are many mansions. I can't imagine spending eternity without you people around me. You'll be with me forever."

Don't ever look down on yourself if God has given you the motivational style.

6. Shepherding Leader

This man or woman loves team members so deeply, nurtures them so gently, supports them so consistently, listens to them so patiently, and prays for them so diligently that the mission of the team gets achieved. It happens primarily because of good will in the hearts of those who have been cared for by the shepherd.

I'm on the board of World Vision, an organization that has fed starving children for more than thirty years. They've had several different presidents, and constituents have supported the vision, regardless of who was at the helm.

It's a different dynamic with shepherding leaders and their teams. Team members support their shepherd, and teammates often feel, Whatever cause is important to the leader is fine with me. If it's broadly Christian, if we can accomplish it in community, if we can retain our shepherd, we'll do it.

Second Samuel 23 records David's leadership in the early days. He drew together the lonely and disaffected, then shepherded them deeply and lovingly. One night, he happened to mention that he was thirsty, but his troops were surrounded by the enemy. Three members of his team risked their lives to sneak behind enemy lines to bring David a jar of water. When they gave him the water, he was so moved by their expression of love that he poured it out as a worship offering.

While there are many cause-driven people waiting to be drawn into a mission by a visionary leader, there are surprising numbers of community-driven people who want to be shepherded and loved. When they are, they will joyfully pursue almost any kingdom purpose. If you can shepherd a group of people, you're a leader, and you can really make a difference.

7. Team-building Leader

Team-building leaders have supernatural insight into people. They find or develop leaders with the right abilities, character, and chemistry with other team members. They place people in the right positions for the right reasons who will then produce the right results.

When the team-building leader gets everyone in place, he or she then says to the team, "You know what we're trying to do. You know what part of the mission you're responsible for. You know what part of the vision the rest of us are responsible for. So head out. Work hard. Achieve your objectives. Communicate with your co-laborers, but lead."

The team-building leader might not nurture or manage people well. He or she reasons that shouldn't be necessary. If the right people are in the right slots doing the right things for the right reasons, they'll get the work done without the leader looking over their shoulder. Few things are as exciting to me as drawing together the right people, putting them in the right positions, then letting that team play hard and have fun.

8. Entrepreneurial Leader

These leaders possess vision, boundless energy, and a risk-taking spirit. Their distinguishing characteristic is they function best in a start-up operation. They love being told it cannot be done.

But once the effort requires steady, ongoing leadership—once things get complex and there are endless discussions about policies, systems, controls, and databases—the entrepreneurial leader loses energy and may even lose focus and confidence. He or she starts to peek over the fence and wonder if there's another start-up project out there.

Entrepreneurs often feel guilty at the thought of leaving something they gave birth to. But if they think, I can't give birth to something every few years, something inside them starts to die. That's their style. It's important in the kingdom.

The apostle Paul was an entrepreneurial leader. He wanted to build churches where Christ had not been named. He wanted to pioneer them, then let someone else run them so he could move on. He made no apologies for his leadership style.

9. Re-engineering Leader

Some leaders thrive in a situation that has lost vision or focus, or one that has been staffed inappropriately. This kind of leader says, "Oh boy, I get to re-engineer this whole situation." They find out what the mission was and what it needs to be now. They decide how progress and success will be measured. They love to tune up, heal, and revitalize hurting organizations.

But when the group is running on eight cylinders, re-engineering leaders may not want to lead over the long haul. Often, rather than manage what they've re-engineered, they look for another project to overhaul. When they find one, they salivate. "Would you look at that train wreck? I'd love to get my hands on all that twisted metal and human carnage. I could really sort that out and make something great out of that."

10. Bridge-building Leader

This leader brings a wide variety of constituencies together under a single umbrella of leadership so that a complex organization can achieve its mission.

This feat requires enormous flexibility in a leader—the ability to compromise and negotiate, to listen, understand, and think outside of the box. It requires not only the ability to be diplomatic; it requires also the gift of being able to relate to diverse people.

In a start-up venture, a leader is surrounded by those who share his or her vision. Contrast that with a church or parachurch organization made up of scores of well-defined constituencies, many of whom care little about the overall vision of the ministry anymore. They just want to make sure their interests are served.

I talked to a pastor who said, "I'm dying. The choir wants new designer robes. The youth want a new gymnasium. The missions department wants to give more money away. The Sunday school department wants more classrooms. The production people want more equipment. The seniors want large-print hymnals, and the Gen Xers want to turn the board room into a cappuccino bar."

The variety and velocity of those requests had him imagining each of those subministries as the enemy. But that situation fires up a bridge-building leader. A bridge builder becomes the best friend and advocate of all the constituent groups. He or she seeks to unite them and focus their efforts.

Beyond envy

It concerns me that there is a certain amount of "gift envy" among church leaders these days. God gave each of us our gift mix for a reason. When leaders adopt someone else's style, they miss the unique opportunities God has given them.

I celebrate when I look around the world and see flourishing churches of all kinds, with many different types of leaders, because it's going to take a variety of churches led by a variety of leaders to reach our world with the love of Christ.

Whatever your style, recognize it, celebrate it, and step up to the plate and lead.

You may also want to read the following related articles:

* The Gift of Giving by Charles Stanley
* The Gift of Mercy by Charles Stanley

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For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don't have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, if prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith; or service, let us give ourselves to service; or he who teaches, to his teaching; or he who exhorts, to his exhorting: he who gives, let him do it with liberality; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:4-8)

7/16/2010

On Equality And Inequality

Talk by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett co-authors of "The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger" recorded January 8, 2010 at Hogness Auditorium, University of Washington, Seattle.



* * * * *

The Inequalities of Equality
All Things Being Equal, Not Everything Can Be Equal
By Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Ignatius Insight
Originally Published: October 12, 2005


"The idea of the equality of man is in substance simply the idea of the importance of man." — G. K. Chesterton, A Short History of England

I.

Anyone who has ever thought about the subject of "equality" knows that, however noble sounding, it is an intellectual minefield. Equality is the idea that makes most normal people feel a sense of dizziness when reading a book like Rawls’ A Theory of Justice. Of the French triad, "liberty, equality, and fraternity," equality is by far the most slippery and ambiguous. Much of modern political thought has been devoted to producing "equality," usually at the expense of liberty or fraternity, if not sanity. Modern thought has also had to sit by and realize not only that inequality won’t go away, but that the noble efforts to be rid of it often have totalitarian implications.

No reader of Plato can entirely forget these things, which is one of the reasons why we still read him. The most perfect human "equality" imaginable, after all, is contained in the contemporary proposals of massive cloning of human beings so that everyone would presumably have the identical genes and corpus. Equality equals identity. The system would also rid us of the necessity of "begetting," which is seen to be the root of inequality. This very proposal as something good is a form of madness.

All human beings have the same nature that sets them apart from other beings natural and transcendent. No human being is exactly the same in anything beginning with his cells, to the color of his eyes, to his willingness or unwillingness to practice virtue. Even though Hobbes postulated that human beings are approximately of equal strength, the differences among men in terms of talents, energy, vice, health, fingerprints, and endurance are enormous. Some of these differences are measurable; some are not.

Such differences, however, are themselves generally goods, things to be fostered. They represent a richness about our kind, not a defect They are intended to make possible, as Plato also said, a division of labor and a variety of specialized contribution that cause greater things to exist than would result if everyone had to do everything by himself. Everyone is better off because of the variety and difference of talents and capacities among us provided this exists within a spirit and reality of reciprocal exchange, including exchange of the highest things.

Moreover, a whole intellectual industry is devoted to what I call "gapism." Any "gap" in income or talent or material goods between rich and poor, this nation or that, or this person and that, is said to be a sign of injustice, imbalance, or evil. While this view practically ignores the whole history of how wealth came to be produced and distributed in the first place, the thesis is constantly repeated as if it were obvious, which it isn’t. As a result, we inaugurate agonizing crusades to right the imbalances. Massive efforts in unequal taxation and discriminatory policy initiatives are set in motion whereby these "gaps" are to be leveled down so that those who are said to suffer under them can feel more "equal."

Interestingly enough, studies in the history of envy show that often envy, the spiritual vice associated with equality and inequality, is more prevalent when people are more nearly equal than when they are not. This fact suggests that this "gap" analysis is missing something fundamental about human nature. Indeed, chances are that if we took a given population and somehow made them, on a given day, absolutely equal in terms of income and property, after a few years we would return to see that, in the meantime, by normal workings of exchange, talent, energy, and effort, some would have more, others less. The same inequality would return. Some people will be horrified by this result. Others will understand that inequalities are themselves a normal part of the human condition, something that explains why elements of aristocracy, the distinction between virtue and lack of it, have always existed in every society.

The further trouble is that not everyone wants or needs the same things. The philosopher in Greek thought, for instance, not to mention innumerable saints in Christian tradition, affirmed voluntary poverty. Many of the things that everyone else said he needed, the philosopher did not need or want. The philosopher could have been rich if he wanted to be. He knew how to create a monopoly. But he chose not to be rich so that he could be free, yes, imagine, free to do what he could not do if he were burdened with riches. Thus to make him "equal" in terms of material goods would prevent him from being "unequal" in terms of spiritual ones.


II.

These initial remarks are occasioned by my brother having sent me an essay of David Brooks in the New York Times entitled, "An Elite Class Splits the Nation: Higher Education Is Now Causing Most of the Inequality in America." About the only thing worse than "gapism," I sometimes think, is such elite-class analysis, however popular. This rather frantic, but insightful, article informs us that we academics are causing "most of the inequality in America." If true, this is definitely a man-bites-dog sort of situation. Since the very purpose of higher education is, in a sense, to produce inequality, to find out who learns and who does not, who is willing to learn and who is not, it follows (so it is said) that institutions of higher learning are doing something subversive, setting the elite against the non-elite.

This essay on "neo-elitism" reminded me of the old statistics I used to read about the percentage of students who went to college in England, France, Germany, or Italy, in comparison to the much higher percentage who went to college in the United States. It turned out that a far higher percentage of students went to institutions of higher learning in the United States than in any of the European nations. Why? It turns out that the Europeans had a different idea about what higher education was for. They also recognized more frankly that not everyone was made for the academic or intellectual vocation. If we put people in institutions for which their talents did not fit them, what happened was either that we had to lower the standards or to give those students who could not hack the matter a huge inferiority complex.

In the meantime, the Americans did about the same thing that the Europeans did, only they called it something else. We established all sorts of institutions of "higher education" including junior colleges, city colleges, state colleges, technical schools, and huge multi-disciplined universities with a myriad of different kinds of degrees, as well as elite colleges and universities. When it comes to a really elite intellectual vocation, we did not really differ much from the Europeans who also have trade schools and programs for training those not in college, but they do not call these institutions, as we do, colleges.

Brooks argues that more people are coming out of high schools but are not going to college. Most studies I have seen of late indicate that our elite graduate schools–especially in the sciences–are more and more populated, not by Americans, but by foreign students. Our schools are becoming the training grounds for foreign elites. Moreover, our high school performance compared to other nations shows that the quality of secondary education is in constant decline no matter how much money we spend on it. Money is not really the answer to their problems. So perhaps something else is at issue besides the mere statistics about who does or does not go to college.

Brooks’ thesis is that those who are educated tend to pass on talents and wealth to their offspring so that we are creating a new class of those who enter and can survive in college. The universities, in being universities, are presumably at fault for not recruiting and training those who do not come from these well prepared familial backgrounds. Brooks also notes that those who are educated divorce less, vote more frequently, and even exercise more. I believe in earlier eras it was the upper crust who were said to divorce more, eat more, and exercise less, while the poorer classes stayed married, had a religious aversion to drink, and worked hard.

Behind this analysis, we must also consider the massive transfer of technology and service industries outside of the United States. This transfer is to be seen in the light of the radical decline of birth rates of Americans and Europeans. Immigration problems are, at bottom, a function of birth problems. Formerly, as Brooks argues, these industrial and service areas provided employment and opportunities to the non-college types to get ahead. Now, it is argued, the middle is evaporating so that what is left is only the very rich and the very poor, "gapism" run wild. The physical labor force in Europe and the States is becoming Muslim and Latino. It is because of this situation that critics like Pat Buchanan and others seek to restore American industry and jobs through governmental policy.

In one sense, this export of technological knowledge–we still are in the forefront of its invention–is what we have always wanted, namely, that the poorer nations learn more and more skills and acquire the capacity to care for themselves. Most of the current criticism is that our restrictive import laws (often because of union pressure to save high-cost jobs) have prevented industry in the poor countries from growing by normal market processes. Now that growth in the poorer world is happening, we think that it is a threat to our own well being. It may be, but not because of the transfer of technological know-how. More likely, it is because of the ideologies and religions that we see in China, the Islamic world, India, and other points of the globe that determine the use of such economic growth in terms of political power.

One of the ironies of this analysis, I think, is again its Platonic background. Though perhaps not seriously, Plato held in the fifth book of the Republic that inequalities were caused by families and property. The only way to get rid of such inequalities would be to prevent parents from bringing up their own children and thereby giving them unfair advantages. Communize families and property. Plato also suggested a kind of genetic engineering to produce only elites, along with governmental day-care centers and control of education to enforce them. Such things are not wholly unfamiliar to us. Our age is rather more Platonic in this sense than we want to admit.

III.

A part of any understanding of education, especially higher education, has been the recognition that the function of education is to increase the inequalities for the good of the whole. This latter side involves the moral and religious notions of gift, charity, generosity, and sacrifice whereby those who have received education consciously recognize their responsibility to others, especially, in Brooks’ terms, of teaching others. The Christian notion that those in authority are to be there not for their own self-interest but for service to others is, more than we will admit, itself a part of the American tradition.

It is of some interest that when there is any sort of crisis throughout the world, it is our wealth and initiative that are looked to deal with it, be it floods, wars, earthquakes, or terrorism. We take this expectation for granted and seldom wonder where it came from. But it is something rather unique in the world. And a part of this effort is the simple idea that any nation can learn to take care of itself, provided that it recognize the meaning of free enterprise, justice, property, control of corruption, initiative, selection and control of leaders, profits, allowing one’s work to benefit also oneself and families, with a consciousness of generosity to others. And this latter is not solely or primarily a governmental thing, though is it government that can most easily foster or hinder it.

Brooks’ analysis is presented almost exclusively in terms of education and not of virtue or goodness. Aristotle was always the first to point out the limits of knowledge of moral things as opposed to the habits needed to put it to good usage. The real lesson Brooks seems to point to is that if families stay together, if they successfully teach children responsibility, honor, and the value of knowledge, if they learn and understand the consequence of vice of whatever sort, they will prosper.

It is often said, for instance, that if a woman wants to guarantee that she will be poor later in life, the easiest way to do so is to be divorced, not that there isn’t usually an irresponsible man involved. Yet, divorce is considered a "right," as if it has no consequences. The point is that what we need is not just educational institutions, but virtue-making institutions. This is the real danger, I might add, of religion, the classic virtue-encouraging source in our society, preaching "rights" and not virtue.

Let me say, in conclusion, a final word about universities. Universities, as we know them, were originally founded by the Church. They grew within a philosophic environment that understood justice and mercy, but also one that understood intelligence. Aquinas is famous for concerning himself with the problem of how to teach "beginners."

Universities did stand for the principle that everyone ought to be allowed to and encouraged to learn to the limit of his ability or desire (they are not the same). But this is a two-way street. It recognizes that inequalities will come forth since human beings do not have identical talents or desires to bring them forth. The answers that we are looking for must include virtue enhancing ideas and institutions, the understanding that the principal reason for many human problems is not lack of wealth or education, but lack of virtue.

But if we cannot admit that there is such a thing as virtue, then we will seek to solve an essentially spiritual problem with an intellectual problem, namely, more education. And this brings us up against the fact that criminals are also very shrewd and intelligent. The history of dope and its usage, of its relation to crime and the corruption of governments in the contemporary world, is surely not merely a question of the poor and uneducated. But the essential point I want to make is that education is, and should be, an inequality-making institution. How the resultant inequalities, which are as such to be praised, return to the common good of all is not itself primarily a question of education but of virtue.

When Chesterton remarked that "the idea of equality" is simply the "idea of the importance of man," he intended to include, I think, both the things in which men are equal and the things in which they are unequal. Both are necessary, both are, in principle, good; neither will go away. But they are intended to exist in harmony, something that depends on virtue, knowledge, generosity, and yes, sacrifice and probably faith.

The "inequalities of equality" are, paradoxically, what brings us closest to a proper notion of equality. This is one that sees the proportionate and objective differences in talent and education to be arrayed not against the less talented and less educated, but as means to bring all talent, properly developed, into a relation to a larger common good.

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"
Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference." - Voltaire

"Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity." -Irving Kristol