Archive for April, 2008

Federalist Number 35

The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

For the Independent Journal.
Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

BEFORE we proceed to examine any other objections to an indefinite power of taxation in the Union, I shall make one general remark; which is, that if the jurisdiction of the national government, in the article of revenue, should be restricted to particular objects, it would naturally occasion an undue proportion of the public burdens to fall upon those objects. Two evils would spring from this source: the oppression of particular branches of industry; and an unequal distribution of the taxes, as well among the several States as among the citizens of the same State.

Suppose, as has been contended for, the federal power of taxation were to be confined to duties on imports, it is evident that the government, for want of being able to command other resources, would frequently be tempted to extend these duties to an injurious excess. There are persons who imagine that they can never be carried to too great a length; since the higher they are, the more it is alleged they will tend to discourage an extravagant consumption, to produce a favorable balance of trade, and to promote domestic manufactures. But all extremes are pernicious in various ways. Exorbitant duties on imported articles would beget a general spirit of smuggling; which is always prejudicial to the fair trader, and eventually to the revenue itself: they tend to render other classes of the community tributary, in an improper degree, to the manufacturing classes, to whom they give a premature monopoly of the markets; they sometimes force industry out of its more natural channels into others in which it flows with less advantage; and in the last place, they oppress the merchant, who is often obliged to pay them himself without any retribution from the consumer. When the demand is equal to the quantity of goods at market, the consumer generally pays the duty; but when the markets happen to be overstocked, a great proportion falls upon the merchant, and sometimes not only exhausts his profits, but breaks in upon his capital. I am apt to think that a division of the duty, between the seller and the buyer, more often happens than is commonly imagined. It is not always possible to raise the price of a commodity in exact proportion to every additional imposition laid upon it. The merchant, especially in a country of small commercial capital, is often under a necessity of keeping prices down in order to a more expeditious sale.

The maxim that the consumer is the payer, is so much oftener true than the reverse of the proposition, that it is far more equitable that the duties on imports should go into a common stock, than that they should redound to the exclusive benefit of the importing States. But it is not so generally true as to render it equitable, that those duties should form the only national fund. When they are paid by the merchant they operate as an additional tax upon the importing State, whose citizens pay their proportion of them in the character of consumers. In this view they are productive of inequality among the States; which inequality would be increased with the increased extent of the duties. The confinement of the national revenues to this species of imposts would be attended with inequality, from a different cause, between the manufacturing and the non-manufacturing States. The States which can go farthest towards the supply of their own wants, by their own manufactures, will not, according to their numbers or wealth, consume so great a proportion of imported articles as those States which are not in the same favorable situation. They would not, therefore, in this mode alone contribute to the public treasury in a ratio to their abilities. To make them do this it is necessary that recourse be had to excises, the proper objects of which are particular kinds of manufactures. New York is more deeply interested in these considerations than such of her citizens as contend for limiting the power of the Union to external taxation may be aware of. New York is an importing State, and is not likely speedily to be, to any great extent, a manufacturing State. She would, of course, suffer in a double light from restraining the jurisdiction of the Union to commercial imposts.

So far as these observations tend to inculcate a danger of the import duties being extended to an injurious extreme it may be observed, conformably to a remark made in another part of these papers, that the interest of the revenue itself would be a sufficient guard against such an extreme. I readily admit that this would be the case, as long as other resources were open; but if the avenues to them were closed, HOPE, stimulated by necessity, would beget experiments, fortified by rigorous precautions and additional penalties, which, for a time, would have the intended effect, till there had been leisure to contrive expedients to elude these new precautions. The first success would be apt to inspire false opinions, which it might require a long course of subsequent experience to correct. Necessity, especially in politics, often occasions false hopes, false reasonings, and a system of measures correspondingly erroneous. But even if this supposed excess should not be a consequence of the limitation of the federal power of taxation, the inequalities spoken of would still ensue, though not in the same degree, from the other causes that have been noticed. Let us now return to the examination of objections.

One which, if we may judge from the frequency of its repetition, seems most to be relied on, is, that the House of Representatives is not sufficiently numerous for the reception of all the different classes of citizens, in order to combine the interests and feelings of every part of the community, and to produce a due sympathy between the representative body and its constituents. This argument presents itself under a very specious and seducing form; and is well calculated to lay hold of the prejudices of those to whom it is addressed. But when we come to dissect it with attention, it will appear to be made up of nothing but fair-sounding words. The object it seems to aim at is, in the first place, impracticable, and in the sense in which it is contended for, is unnecessary. I reserve for another place the discussion of the question which relates to the sufficiency of the representative body in respect to numbers, and shall content myself with examining here the particular use which has been made of a contrary supposition, in reference to the immediate subject of our inquiries.

The idea of an actual representation of all classes of the people, by persons of each class, is altogether visionary. Unless it were expressly provided in the Constitution, that each different occupation should send one or more members, the thing would never take place in practice. Mechanics and manufacturers will always be inclined, with few exceptions, to give their votes to merchants, in preference to persons of their own professions or trades. Those discerning citizens are well aware that the mechanic and manufacturing arts furnish the materials of mercantile enterprise and industry. Many of them, indeed, are immediately connected with the operations of commerce. They know that the merchant is their natural patron and friend; and they are aware, that however great the confidence they may justly feel in their own good sense, their interests can be more effectually promoted by the merchant than by themselves. They are sensible that their habits in life have not been such as to give them those acquired endowments, without which, in a deliberative assembly, the greatest natural abilities are for the most part useless; and that the influence and weight, and superior acquirements of the merchants render them more equal to a contest with any spirit which might happen to infuse itself into the public councils, unfriendly to the manufacturing and trading interests. These considerations, and many others that might be mentioned prove, and experience confirms it, that artisans and manufacturers will commonly be disposed to bestow their votes upon merchants and those whom they recommend. We must therefore consider merchants as the natural representatives of all these classes of the community.

With regard to the learned professions, little need be observed; they truly form no distinct interest in society, and according to their situation and talents, will be indiscriminately the objects of the confidence and choice of each other, and of other parts of the community.

Nothing remains but the landed interest; and this, in a political view, and particularly in relation to taxes, I take to be perfectly united, from the wealthiest landlord down to the poorest tenant. No tax can be laid on land which will not affect the proprietor of millions of acres as well as the proprietor of a single acre. Every landholder will therefore have a common interest to keep the taxes on land as low as possible; and common interest may always be reckoned upon as the surest bond of sympathy. But if we even could suppose a distinction of interest between the opulent landholder and the middling farmer, what reason is there to conclude, that the first would stand a better chance of being deputed to the national legislature than the last? If we take fact as our guide, and look into our own senate and assembly, we shall find that moderate proprietors of land prevail in both; nor is this less the case in the senate, which consists of a smaller number, than in the assembly, which is composed of a greater number. Where the qualifications of the electors are the same, whether they have to choose a small or a large number, their votes will fall upon those in whom they have most confidence; whether these happen to be men of large fortunes, or of moderate property, or of no property at all.

It is said to be necessary, that all classes of citizens should have some of their own number in the representative body, in order that their feelings and interests may be the better understood and attended to. But we have seen that this will never happen under any arrangement that leaves the votes of the people free. Where this is the case, the representative body, with too few exceptions to have any influence on the spirit of the government, will be composed of landholders, merchants, and men of the learned professions. But where is the danger that the interests and feelings of the different classes of citizens will not be understood or attended to by these three descriptions of men? Will not the landholder know and feel whatever will promote or insure the interest of landed property? And will he not, from his own interest in that species of property, be sufficiently prone to resist every attempt to prejudice or encumber it? Will not the merchant understand and be disposed to cultivate, as far as may be proper, the interests of the mechanic and manufacturing arts, to which his commerce is so nearly allied? Will not the man of the learned profession, who will feel a neutrality to the rivalships between the different branches of industry, be likely to prove an impartial arbiter between them, ready to promote either, so far as it shall appear to him conducive to the general interests of the society?

If we take into the account the momentary humors or dispositions which may happen to prevail in particular parts of the society, and to which a wise administration will never be inattentive, is the man whose situation leads to extensive inquiry and information less likely to be a competent judge of their nature, extent, and foundation than one whose observation does not travel beyond the circle of his neighbors and acquaintances? Is it not natural that a man who is a candidate for the favor of the people, and who is dependent on the suffrages of his fellow-citizens for the continuance of his public honors, should take care to inform himself of their dispositions and inclinations, and should be willing to allow them their proper degree of influence upon his conduct? This dependence, and the necessity of being bound himself, and his posterity, by the laws to which he gives his assent, are the true, and they are the strong chords of sympathy between the representative and the constituent.

There is no part of the administration of government that requires extensive information and a thorough knowledge of the principles of political economy, so much as the business of taxation. The man who understands those principles best will be least likely to resort to oppressive expedients, or sacrifice any particular class of citizens to the procurement of revenue. It might be demonstrated that the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome. There can be no doubt that in order to a judicious exercise of the power of taxation, it is necessary that the person in whose hands it should be acquainted with the general genius, habits, and modes of thinking of the people at large, and with the resources of the country. And this is all that can be reasonably meant by a knowledge of the interests and feelings of the people. In any other sense the proposition has either no meaning, or an absurd one. And in that sense let every considerate citizen judge for himself where the requisite qualification is most likely to be found.

PUBLIUS.

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Federalist Number 34

The Same Subject Continued
(Concerning the General Power of Taxation)

From the New York Packet.
Friday, January 4, 1788.

Alexander Hamilton

To the People of the State of New York:

I FLATTER myself it has been clearly shown in my last number that the particular States, under the proposed Constitution, would have COEQUAL authority with the Union in the article of revenue, except as to duties on imports. As this leaves open to the States far the greatest part of the resources of the community, there can be no color for the assertion that they would not possess means as abundant as could be desired for the supply of their own wants, independent of all external control. That the field is sufficiently wide will more fully appear when we come to advert to the inconsiderable share of the public expenses for which it will fall to the lot of the State governments to provide.

To argue upon abstract principles that this co-ordinate authority cannot exist, is to set up supposition and theory against fact and reality. However proper such reasonings might be to show that a thing OUGHT NOT TO EXIST, they are wholly to be rejected when they are made use of to prove that it does not exist contrary to the evidence of the fact itself. It is well known that in the Roman republic the legislative authority, in the last resort, resided for ages in two different political bodies not as branches of the same legislature, but as distinct and independent legislatures, in each of which an opposite interest prevailed: in one the patrician; in the other, the plebian. Many arguments might have been adduced to prove the unfitness of two such seemingly contradictory authorities, each having power to ANNUL or REPEAL the acts of the other. But a man would have been regarded as frantic who should have attempted at Rome to disprove their existence. It will be readily understood that I allude to the COMITIA CENTURIATA and the COMITIA TRIBUTA. The former, in which the people voted by centuries, was so arranged as to give a superiority to the patrician interest; in the latter, in which numbers prevailed, the plebian interest had an entire predominancy. And yet these two legislatures coexisted for ages, and the Roman republic attained to the utmost height of human greatness.

In the case particularly under consideration, there is no such contradiction as appears in the example cited; there is no power on either side to annul the acts of the other. And in practice there is little reason to apprehend any inconvenience; because, in a short course of time, the wants of the States will naturally reduce themselves within A VERY NARROW COMPASS; and in the interim, the United States will, in all probability, find it convenient to abstain wholly from those objects to which the particular States would be inclined to resort.

To form a more precise judgment of the true merits of this question, it will be well to advert to the proportion between the objects that will require a federal provision in respect to revenue, and those which will require a State provision. We shall discover that the former are altogether unlimited, and that the latter are circumscribed within very moderate bounds. In pursuing this inquiry, we must bear in mind that we are not to confine our view to the present period, but to look forward to remote futurity. Constitutions of civil government are not to be framed upon a calculation of existing exigencies, but upon a combination of these with the probable exigencies of ages, according to the natural and tried course of human affairs. Nothing, therefore, can be more fallacious than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be lodged in the national government, from an estimate of its immediate necessities. There ought to be a CAPACITY to provide for future contingencies as they may happen; and as these are illimitable in their nature, it is impossible safely to limit that capacity. It is true, perhaps, that a computation might be made with sufficient accuracy to answer the purpose of the quantity of revenue requisite to discharge the subsisting engagements of the Union, and to maintain those establishments which, for some time to come, would suffice in time of peace. But would it be wise, or would it not rather be the extreme of folly, to stop at this point, and to leave the government intrusted with the care of the national defense in a state of absolute incapacity to provide for the protection of the community against future invasions of the public peace, by foreign war or domestic convulsions? If, on the contrary, we ought to exceed this point, where can we stop, short of an indefinite power of providing for emergencies as they may arise? Though it is easy to assert, in general terms, the possibility of forming a rational judgment of a due provision against probable dangers, yet we may safely challenge those who make the assertion to bring forward their data, and may affirm that they would be found as vague and uncertain as any that could be produced to establish the probable duration of the world. Observations confined to the mere prospects of internal attacks can deserve no weight; though even these will admit of no satisfactory calculation: but if we mean to be a commercial people, it must form a part of our policy to be able one day to defend that commerce. The support of a navy and of naval wars would involve contingencies that must baffle all the efforts of political arithmetic.

Admitting that we ought to try the novel and absurd experiment in politics of tying up the hands of government from offensive war founded upon reasons of state, yet certainly we ought not to disable it from guarding the community against the ambition or enmity of other nations. A cloud has been for some time hanging over the European world. If it should break forth into a storm, who can insure us that in its progress a part of its fury would not be spent upon us? No reasonable man would hastily pronounce that we are entirely out of its reach. Or if the combustible materials that now seem to be collecting should be dissipated without coming to maturity, or if a flame should be kindled without extending to us, what security can we have that our tranquillity will long remain undisturbed from some other cause or from some other quarter? Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others. Who could have imagined at the conclusion of the last war that France and Britain, wearied and exhausted as they both were, would so soon have looked with so hostile an aspect upon each other? To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquillity, is to calculate on the weaker springs of the human character.

What are the chief sources of expense in every government? What has occasioned that enormous accumulation of debts with which several of the European nations are oppressed? The answers plainly is, wars and rebellions; the support of those institutions which are necessary to guard the body politic against these two most mortal diseases of society. The expenses arising from those institutions which are relative to the mere domestic police of a state, to the support of its legislative, executive, and judicial departments, with their different appendages, and to the encouragement of agriculture and manufactures (which will comprehend almost all the objects of state expenditure), are insignificant in comparison with those which relate to the national defense.

In the kingdom of Great Britain, where all the ostentatious apparatus of monarchy is to be provided for, not above a fifteenth part of the annual income of the nation is appropriated to the class of expenses last mentioned; the other fourteen fifteenths are absorbed in the payment of the interest of debts contracted for carrying on the wars in which that country has been engaged, and in the maintenance of fleets and armies. If, on the one hand, it should be observed that the expenses incurred in the prosecution of the ambitious enterprises and vainglorious pursuits of a monarchy are not a proper standard by which to judge of those which might be necessary in a republic, it ought, on the other hand, to be remarked that there should be as great a disproportion between the profusion and extravagance of a wealthy kingdom in its domestic administration, and the frugality and economy which in that particular become the modest simplicity of republican government. If we balance a proper deduction from one side against that which it is supposed ought to be made from the other, the proportion may still be considered as holding good.

But let us advert to the large debt which we have ourselves contracted in a single war, and let us only calculate on a common share of the events which disturb the peace of nations, and we shall instantly perceive, without the aid of any elaborate illustration, that there must always be an immense disproportion between the objects of federal and state expenditures. It is true that several of the States, separately, are encumbered with considerable debts, which are an excrescence of the late war. But this cannot happen again, if the proposed system be adopted; and when these debts are discharged, the only call for revenue of any consequence, which the State governments will continue to experience, will be for the mere support of their respective civil list; to which, if we add all contingencies, the total amount in every State ought to fall considerably short of two hundred thousand pounds.

In framing a government for posterity as well as ourselves, we ought, in those provisions which are designed to be permanent, to calculate, not on temporary, but on permanent causes of expense. If this principle be a just one our attention would be directed to a provision in favor of the State governments for an annual sum of about two hundred thousand pounds; while the exigencies of the Union could be susceptible of no limits, even in imagination. In this view of the subject, by what logic can it be maintained that the local governments ought to command, in perpetuity, an EXCLUSIVE source of revenue for any sum beyond the extent of two hundred thousand pounds? To extend its power further, in EXCLUSION of the authority of the Union, would be to take the resources of the community out of those hands which stood in need of them for the public welfare, in order to put them into other hands which could have no just or proper occasion for them.

Suppose, then, the convention had been inclined to proceed upon the principle of a repartition of the objects of revenue, between the Union and its members, in PROPORTION to their comparative necessities; what particular fund could have been selected for the use of the States, that would not either have been too much or too little too little for their present, too much for their future wants? As to the line of separation between external and internal taxes, this would leave to the States, at a rough computation, the command of two thirds of the resources of the community to defray from a tenth to a twentieth part of its expenses; and to the Union, one third of the resources of the community, to defray from nine tenths to nineteen twentieths of its expenses. If we desert this boundary and content ourselves with leaving to the States an exclusive power of taxing houses and lands, there would still be a great disproportion between the MEANS and the END; the possession of one third of the resources of the community to supply, at most, one tenth of its wants. If any fund could have been selected and appropriated, equal to and not greater than the object, it would have been inadequate to the discharge of the existing debts of the particular States, and would have left them dependent on the Union for a provision for this purpose.

The preceding train of observation will justify the position which has been elsewhere laid down, that “A CONCURRENT JURISDICTION in the article of taxation was the only admissible substitute for an entire subordination, in respect to this branch of power, of State authority to that of the Union.” Any separation of the objects of revenue that could have been fallen upon, would have amounted to a sacrifice of the great INTERESTS of the Union to the POWER of the individual States. The convention thought the concurrent jurisdiction preferable to that subordination; and it is evident that it has at least the merit of reconciling an indefinite constitutional power of taxation in the Federal government with an adequate and independent power in the States to provide for their own necessities. There remain a few other lights, in which this important subject of taxation will claim a further consideration.

PUBLIUS.

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Email Alerts Fixed

I was building in frustration seeing that I was getting comments that just sat in moderation, and not getting the alerts. I don’t log into the control panel here at justavapor.com every day, so they go unnoticed on their own. The frustration is over, I got it figured out. Just a note, in case others have the same problem, if you change your email address because the Nigerian Scammers have found it and have been spreading it around to each other, be sure to change it in your blog’s settings, not just in the page template. I deleted the old address, created a new one, and didn’t bother letting the blog software know that, so alerts were still going to the old, now dead, address.

Tear Down This Wall: A Review of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”

This afternoon I ventured out into rarely-visited territory: the local movie theater. I have been eagerly awaiting the release of “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” with Ben Stein.

Much like “The Irrational Atheist,” which I reviewed two weeks ago, “Expelled” takes the debate between Darwinism and Intelligent Design to a place that the Darwinists don’t want it to go. In this case, the much ballyhooed realm of open discussion. “Expelled” places the discussion of origins into two camps: Darwinism and Intelligent Design, then it compares the separation to the two to the Berlin Wall. Free and open discussion is permitted so long as it’s done on the “correct” side of that wall, and no discussion is allowed of the other side.

“Expelled” starts out describing the case of Richard Sternberg, a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and editor of the journal Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, who was forced out of his job after he approved the publication of a pro-ID paper by Stephen C. Meyer of the Discovery Institute. Stein Notes that he expects this incident to be unique, but decides to do some digging to find out for sure. Once he gets going, he learns that there are many people just like Sternberg who were fired, forced out, or didn’t have their employment contracts reviewed after simply asking questions. Among them, people who are pro-evolution in their views of origins, but made the mistake of acknowledging questions raised by promoters of ID (Intelligent Design) that the Darwinian establishment has deemed verboten.

“Expelled” goes on to demonstrate what extreme Darwinism can bring about in society: the Holocaust and the American Eugenics program of the early 20th century. They clarify that not all Darwinists promote policies of eugenics and mass slaughter, but all eugenicists and mass murderers are Darwinists.

“Expelled” doesn’t dabble much into the debate over origins itself, which I think in the end is a great strength of the film. It merely shows that those who champion the aspects of science that promote discussion, debate, and criticism shut the door to those who bring the hardest hitting challenges to the table. Where “Expelled” does dabble in the discussion, they show the leading atheists of our time to be every bit as foolish as they claim the ID folks to be. When asked how the first life form (necessary to the Darwinian process of evolution) came into being, the speculations were quite wild, ranging from “molecules riding the backs of crystals,” to “technologically highly advanced alien species” ‘seeding’ the earth with primitive cells that evolved into the vast diversity of life as we know it today (That was the “brilliant” Richard Dawkins.

I never held Dawkins in high regard, but between “Expelled” and TIA, he has been made to look like an utter fool. Neither even tries hard to paint him in that light either. About the only thing this fool has going for him is the perception of sophistication that is inherent in the English accent.

When I reviewed “The Irrational Atheist,” I said:

“I foresee his book being the very beginning of a movement that will send the old arguments used by the New Atheists back into darkness until enough time has passed for another generation to drag them out again, as these have done. (It’s an old cycle that keeps coming around full circle, not a set of new arguments that will finally win a centuries-old war.)”

“Expelled” reinforces that feeling. It is a well-produced film that hits evolutionary theory very hard by addressing problems that Darwinists want relegated to the janitor’s closet in the basement of the axillary wing of the least used building on the extended campus. It is quite serendipitous that “Expelled” and TIA were released so close to each other. I firmly believe we are seeing the very beginnings of a reformation within the realms of science and academia, and it’s not surprising. As like any other philosophy that cannot tolerate dissent, Darwinism must (and will) implode on itself.

I not only recommend it, I’ll be buying the DVD when it becomes available.

Expelled!

RC Sproul interviews Ben Stein about “Expelled.” I thought it a good enough interview to share.

A Must-See!

This is the best movie trailer I’ve heard in a long time (just click the play button):

More on Ron Paul in Minnesota

Since Saturday, a lot is coming out about the other two Conventions in Minnesota, the 4th District and the 6th District. It seems there were a lot of hijinks going on, especially in 6.

The Party Elites in that district figured out that Ron Paul’s supporters were organizing and intending to get National delegates. Nothing is wrong with organizing to support each other, and nothing is wrong with countering an organization. However, the 6th district nominating committee tried to control the process, rather than leaving things to the people. The candidates for Delegate and Alternate were asked directly “Will you support John McCain if elected Delegate/Alternate?” This is a bit slanted and clearly meant to intimidate. Had they asked much more plainly “Who do you support to become the Republican Candidate for President?” they could have avoided the appearance of bias.

At least one of the delegates said he would support McCain. When it was found out that he intends to support Paul, chaos ensued. After more than an hour, the convention voted by a slim margin to bind the Delegates to support McCain. There is some question over whether the State GOP rules allow that though.

It appears to me that there are a lot of people that are upset that their own lack of effort resulted in delegates getting elected for a candidate they don’t like. Boo-freaking-hoo! At our convention, a few politicians came and spoke: Governor Pawlenty, Senator Colman, state party chairman Ron Carey, and Congressional candidate Barb Davis White. I forget who, but I think it was Carey that said that the winners are the ones that show up. Well, Ron Paul’s people showed up. We got our delegates elected because a lot of non-Paul delegates didn’t show up, so our Alternates took their seats. If they didn’t want Paul to do well, they should have showed up.

To be fair, the 5th District Convention was conducted very fairly, at least from what I saw. I did read one account that said that the nominating committee tried to stifle Ron Paul delegates from getting on the ballot. However, I also read another that suggests it was completely fair. Frankly, I saw nothing to suggest that it was in any way unfair. All three candidates for each race (Delegate and Alternate) were given a shot, and 5 of the 6 won. The 6th, I had heard, was very close (had he not gone into a rant bashing each of the other candidates, he would have probably won too).

It will be interesting to see what happens at State at the end of May. Paul did very well in the three conventions that happened this weekend, winning somewhere between 6 and 8 delegates when the Party Elites and the Media figured he’d get none. If the State convention is conducted honestly, we could pick up more delegates there too, there are 8 available.

If only the anti-Paulites would recognize that it isn’t in their best interest to marginalize us. They need our votes bad in November, and though they are unlikely to get many of them, they won’t get any if they continue to show such utter disrespect for us. I for one have no problem with McCain losing in November. GW Bush was too Liberal to get my vote in 2000 or 2004, but I’d much rather see Presidential term limits eliminated and give him two more terms than see McCain as President.

Boo Yah!! – Delegate Update #3

I just got home from the Minnesota Republican 5th Congressional District Convention, and I am excited!

We elected 3 delegates and 2 alternates to the National Convention. (We had three alternates available, but the third spot wasn’t available to be filled according to the rules*.) I am so excited to report that ALL OF THEM are Ron Paul supporters!!!

According to the straw poll taken at the precinct caucuses on Feb. 5, Ron Paul was credited with zero delegates from Minnesota, and now he has a guaranteed three from my district alone.

What’s amusing is that the Elites at this level hand-picked their three favorites for each position, including the Candidate for Congress in the last go-around. None of them got elected. It just goes to show that a well organized grass-roots movement can actually win battles. I am proud to be a part of it.

Cudos to the Ron Paul campaign for continuing their work and working out who would run for delegate and alternate, and informing the rest of us who those people were.

*The rules stated that no one could be elected unless they received a majority of votes (< 50%). Any open seat that didn't achieve a majority vote would have to have a re-vote. The rules also stated that the convention had to adjourn by 4:00 p.m., and the vote tally for the election of alternates didn't come in until 4:10 or so, leaving no time to re-vote to elect the remaining alternate.

The Atheist Has No Clothes: A Review of “The Irrational Atheist” by Vox Day

I’ve been a fan of Vox Day’s writings since the early days of his column at World Net Daily. I’ve been following his blog Vox Popoli since the very beginning as well, so it should be no surprise that I looked forward to getting a copy of The Irrational Atheist (TIA) from the day it was first announced.

In other words, I am already a bit biased in Vox’s favor.

TIA is a very well researched book, that succeeds in its mission to thoroughly refute the principle arguments of the most popular books of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens; the leading “New Atheists” on the scene today. Vox set out to face them on their own terms – that of “Rationality”, rather than falling back on typical arguments used in Creation/Evolution debates and arguments over the existence of God. He doesn’t even necessarily argue heavily for Creation, he just rips the legs out from under those “Science Fetishists” who value academic achievement too highly.

While Vox does a reasonable job of addressing each Atheist individually and thoroughly, he seems to enjoy sparring with Richard Dawkins over the others. I suspect (after following him for over six years) that this is because Dawkins comes across as the most arrogant, ignoring critics and casting them aside as “fleas” seeking to capitalize on the success of his book “The God Delusion”.

Vox does an exceptional job in refuting key arguments that are favored by Atheists to refute religion in general, and Christianity in particular; devoting one chapter to addressing arguments about the Crusades and the (Spanish) Inquisition head-on. Then he leads to the next chapter showing that Atheists living in glass houses would do well to refrain from casting stones in regards to the bloody “history of Christianity”.

In the end, Vox pulls no punches and leaves the New Atheists bruised, naked, and whimpering “mommy!”

My sole criticism of The Irrational Atheist is the key argument behind the second to last chapter (XV), entitled “Master of Puppets or Game Designer?” The reason the bulk of TIA is so successful is that Vox avoids Theological arguments, which only serve to bring eye rolls from militant Atheists, in favor of emasculating them on their own terms – Rationalism. In XV, Vox turns his attention away from the Atheists his book is written to refute and turns on his Christian compatriots in order to further an obscure and unorthodox theological teaching known today as “Open Theism”, a a close cousin to the Socinianism that Jonathan Edwards refuted in the 18th Century*. It is a theory furthered by his friend Greg Boyd, which makes great sense to Vox as a professional video game designer.

Overall the book is very strong. I have been following the response to it, which Vox is all too happy to publish on his blog, and have yet to see a compelling rebuttal from the New Atheists or their faithful followers. Many set out to do chapter-by-chapter reviews and end up losing interest at about chapter three. Atheists not being ones who typically like to retreat from a fight, their silence speaks volumes on Vox’s behalf. I foresee his book being the very beginning of a movement that will send the old arguments used by the New Atheists back into darkness until enough time has passed for another generation to drag them out again, as these have done. (It’s an old cycle that keeps coming around full circle, not a set of new arguments that will finally win a centuries-old war.)

UPDATE: I forgot to add one other thing. In some respects it is a minor criticism, but overall it is a commendation. The footnotes are very plentiful. It made it difficult to read considering that I’d have to stop mid-sentence to read the footnote, before picking up where I left off. Considering the vast number of footnotes, this got very annoying very quickly, but is also a testament to the superb effort that Vox put into the book, and making sure he had his facts straight.

*Note: Overall I very much liked TIA. My disagreements over “Open Theism” are not intended to be an invitation to debating the issue. I have limited knowledge of the subject myself and am not in a position to take on serious debate. I only offer that Vox relies heavily on the book by his pastor-friend Greg Boyd on the issue called “God of the Possible”, so I can only rely on an article by my own pastor-friend Bob DeWaay that criticizes entitled “The Foreknowledge of God: A Critique of Greg Boyd’s Open Theism

Excellent Economics Resources

I’ve recently rediscovered the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which is dedicated to the Austrian school of Economics. They have an amazing library available that includes articles, books, and some wonderful documentaries, many (if not most) available free of charge.

I especially like their video podcast, which contains some great documentaries, including the one I am watching right now: