Still Proud

To those people that would carry / have carried out violence against the LGBT community I have this to say:

Chances are good that if your religion teaches you to hate other people, so much that you’d murder them in cold blood, simply because they’re a little different than you, then the problem is with your religion, not the other people.  

If your “god” tells you to hate people simply because they love a little differently than you, then you don’t worship a god at all, you worship a monster.  No all-intelligent being, supposedly capable of creating the universe we live in, would ever sanction the kind of atrocity that happened in Orlando today.   

Your actions, and the actions of those like you, only make me more proud of who I am. They make me more proud to be a part of the LGBT community. You see, the LGBT community, in spite of petty government employees refusing them marriage licenses, in spite of hateful business owners refusing to sell them cakes, in spite of discriminatory “religious freedom” bills, in spite of ridiculous bathroom laws that seek to dehumanize them, and yes, even in spite of all the physical violence that has been carried out against them, they keep on fighting.  Why?  Because the LGBT community is built up of people from all different races, religions, cultures, and backgrounds. It’s built up of people that are brave, caring, and accepting; while you and those like you, are nothing more than sick, pathetic, cowards.  You’ll never win.  In fact… You’ve already lost.
#StillProud #Pride2016 #Orlando

 

James Garcia:  June 12, 2016

Disenfranchised… Disenchanted… Disgusted…

Angry… Upset… Saddened… Fearful about our country’s future…  Absolutely disgusted…

These are just a few ways to describe how I’m feeling after the remaining primary elections.   Bernie Sanders fought a great fight, he packed arenas around the nation, he mobilized young and Independent voters like no one before… But let’s get real here. The Democratic nominee was decided long before the Primary even began.  The Democratic establishment had Hillary Clinton crowned since President Obama was chosen the last time and they’ve been running this faux-election that way ever since.  It didn’t matter who ran against her… it could have been Elizabeth Warren… and it didn’t matter how many Independents or how many votes her opponent won; Hillary was going to be the nominee no matter what.

Under that premise, Hillary and the DNC that she bought, played the game in the most underhanded way possible to ensure there wouldn’t be another “upset” like there was in 2008.  They’ve used voter fraud, they’ve disrespected and disenfranchised Independent voters, they’ve used ad-hominem attacks like calling Bernie supporters sexist and misogynistic for not supporting her and spinning false claims of violence, they’ve used an unscrupulous, easily bought media to slander and downplay Bernie’s movement while praising Hillary and downplaying her corruption every chance they got, and they’ve continuously added Superdelegates to the counts all along (even though they don’t vote until the end of July) to make it seem like any real challenger didn’t stand a chance.  The reality though, is that after the first week or so of the contest, everyone expected it from Hillary and the DNC.  As we seen with her contest against Obama, she fights dirty, morality be damned, and everyone knew it.  Do I like it? Of course not…

Since the Supreme Court ruled on the disastrous Citizens United case, Democrats have railed against it, and rightfully so. Yet the second it benefited their establishment candidate Wall Street and Super Pac money was perfectly fine, even though they had a truly Progressive candidate promising to fight the fight they’ve claimed to want.  

Democrats have stated they want to break up the “Big Banks” since they crashed our economy, yet they ignore the fact that their chosen candidate has taken millions in “donations” from those banks for private speeches, pretending that there is no conflict of interest, pretending like it won’t affect her decision making process.  All the while a candidate promising to get money out of politics, like Democrats claimed to want, was ignored and insulted by them.

Universal Health Care has been a token Progressive wish for almost as long as the Progressive party has existed, but because their candidate doesn’t want to fight for it suddenly it’s a “pie in the sky” dream that’s “not possible”, even though a perfectly good Progressive candidate has been saying he’d fight for it with everything he’s got.

Free / affordable college tuition? Raising the minimum wage to $15?  Strengthening Labor Unions? Expanding Social Security? Ending the use of fracking (which Hillary doesn’t seem to have any issue with)? The list goes on and on… All of these things are foundational Progressive causes that Hillary and the DNC are now claiming aren’t big deals or are impossible to achieve (they wouldn’t want to make their donors angry after all!)

So to me, the Democratic party has proven, without a doubt, that they are an establishment party just as much as the Republicans and that they will go where “Big Money” tells them to go.  To Hell with struggling poor and middle class Americans.  I don’t like it, but as I said, it’s expected.  The thing that really makes me sick though, is that we had a truly Progressive candidate in the running, and supposed “Progressives” picked the Neo-Liberal, nearly Republican candidate as their nominee, all with a smug, self-centered, arrogant attitude (for the most part… There are exceptions of course).  If anything, the Democrats have shown me that they are nothing more than sham-Progressives with claimed values that are all a lie.  They had a chance to really push Progressive values forward with this Primary and instead they turned a blind eye and did what they were told to do by the Oligarchy.   They bought the lie that their candidate cares about Progressive causes and turned their backs on a real Progressive who has been fighting for Progressive causes his entire career, not just when it became politically expedient to do so.    

So what will I do now?  

First off, I’m changing my party affiliation to either Independent or No-Party-Preference.  Going forward, after this year’s presidential election, I will no longer support a party who only claims to be Progressive.  I will try and get involved in as many Progressive causes as I can feasibly get involved in, and I will vote for truly Progressive candidates regardless of party affiliation, and I urge all true Progressives who are pissed off with this Primary election to do the same.   

Secondly, for this election, which has so much on the line, I will most likely bite the horrible bullet and vote for Hillary in the general (supposing Bernie doesn’t run as an Independent…), regardless of how sick to my stomach it makes me.  Some will say I’m just solidifying the establishment stranglehold on our democracy by voting for Hillary and ask why I would vote for her if I feel the way that I do, and the answer is simply “Supreme Court Nominees.”  In my view, the next four to eight years (hopefully only four) will be a disaster either way… We will most likely be stuck in more long, drawn out wars regardless of whether Trump or Hillary wins, because they are both unapologetic warhawks (although there is a big chance Trump just puts on a show for his voter base… Here’s hoping…)  But at the very least, with Hillary, we won’t lose any Progressive gains that have been made.  In all probability, with a Hillary presidency, things will likely just stay the same.  She is establishment by the very definition after all.  She doesn’t want things to change.  LGBT rights won’t be rolled back, environmental protections won’t be dismantled (except for the fracking issue of course…) we won’t see millions of Latino families broken apart, she might even fight to close the gender pay gap,  and she most likely won’t nominate Conservatives to the Supreme Court (of course we might get moderates like Merrick Garland, which is still far better than any truly Conservative nominees…)  That is the most important thing in my view.

Progressive Supreme Court nominees are the only silver lining I can see to a Hillary Presidency, but I honestly hope I’m wrong.  As for a Trump presidency, there are absolutely no positives. Not even one.  

So it once again boils down to voting for the “lesser of two evils.”  It comes down to considering which candidate will turn my stomach the least, and in all honesty, I can never… Ever… See myself voting for a blatantly homophobic, misogynistic, greedy, racist, fraud.  At least Hillary will pretend to be Progressive. Heck, maybe we’ll even get lucky and some minor Progressive gains will be made.  At this point all I can hope for is that we won’t lose any ground with Hillary Clinton, and that if we do, America will finally wake up and realize that establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton don’t care about the American people; that they are in it for their own power, their own wealth, and nothing more.

Here’s hoping this nomination is just the dying gasp of the establishment and that the Political Revolution Bernie Sanders started will just be the beginning of a real Progressive movement that will sweep future elections.  For better or worse, it looks like we’re going to find out.

 
James Garcia 6/8/2016

President Trump: A nightmare for Americans

A great article about how a Trump presidency will impact the economy, not just in the U.S., but worldwide.

The Quest For Knowledge: Shrey's Finance Blog

Despite outrage from the general populous at the bombastic Donald Trump’s campaign for President, a great number of Republicans continue to support him, and shockingly, he remains the overwhelming favourite for the Republican presidential nomination. This confounding support of Trump can, in truth, be narrowed down to a few key reasons, one of which is a disturbing lack of knowledge regarding actual policy, and a misguided focus on political rhetoric. In my honest opinion, the way to defeat Trump is not to simply slam him for his admittedly asinine stance on immigration, but to deliver a systematic breakdown of his economic policies, and explain how malevolent they would indeed be to the US economy. That is what I seek to achieve in this article; to provide a brief respite from his nauseating rhetoric and to inform the average American what a President Trump could actually mean for their day-to day lives…

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California’s New Minimum Wage and the Fear Based Freak Out (Part 2)

So I wrote a post yesterday regarding the complaints I’ve been seeing about California’s new minimum wage increase.  I’ll admit that that post was largely a knee-jerk, irritation, based write-up, so today I’ll attempt to correct that by calmly addressing some of the more common arguments against raising the minimum wage.  

1) Inflation:  One of the most common arguments I’ve seen against raising the minimum wage is that it will cause rapid inflation.  Let’s ignore the fact that inflation happens regardless of a minimum wage increase, and pretend for now that it doesn’t.  While much higher prices would most certainly happen in an environment where a business is the only provider for a specific product, it ignores the fact that competition will not cease to exist simply because the minimum wage is increased.  Sure, prices may go up, but because competition still exists, they won’t go up so drastically that it will cause serious problems.  To use an example a friend of mine gave, if McDonald’s decides to raise the prices of their hamburgers from $5.00 to $12.00 overnight… Well, guess what?  People will go and buy a Whopper from Burger King instead.  

A more likely scenario than businesses jacking their prices up by exorbitant amounts is that the wage increase will come out of their profits.  And let’s get real here… When McDonald’s is making profits of $1.31 billion (that is billion, not million…)  while at the same time advising their employees to apply for Food Stamps, is that really such a bad thing? Besides that, the average pay for a Costco employee is $21 an hour and their prices aren’t substantially higher than Wal-Mart’s, who pays minimum wage.  It seems logical to assume that if raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour will cause rapid inflation, then surely Costco’s already high wages would show the same effect on their prices, right?  Strangely, however, Costco only marks up their prices by 15% while other retailers typically mark them up by 25%.  So not only does Costco pay their employees more, they also have lower prices.  Funny how that works isn’t it?

As with my last post, I would argue that increasing the minimum wage would increase the spending power of the general public.  Increasing the spending power of the general public would lead to increased business.  Increased business would lead to lower prices, not higher prices.  While there may be an initial system shock of slightly higher prices (if the wage were increased to $15 overnight), in time, the increase in the spending power of the general public would only help the economy and businesses at large, not harm them.  

(Thank you Jesse Marlin for bringing the competition point to my attention.)

2) Unemployment: The next most common argument is that unemployment will lead to mass layoffs and high unemployment rates.  But again… This doesn’t hold up to the historical or current effects of minimum wage increases here, or in other states.  In fact, the Economic Policy Institute had the following to say on this subject:

In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.”  

In addition, as I pointed out in part 1, Seattle recently raised their minimum wage and they haven’t seen an increase in unemployment as the naysayers predict.  In fact, they’ve seen the exact opposite effect.

3) Automation:  One of the more strange arguments I’ve been seeing is that increasing the minimum wage will cause employers to replace their human employees with machines.  An idea that seems to be perpetuated by the following meme (and many like it):

15-minimum-wage-replacement

What these memes seem to ignore is the fact that these machines already exist and businesses like McDonald’s began using them before any increase in the minimum wage occurred.  The invention of automated kiosks had nothing to do with the minimum wage.  It’s just the nature of technology.  If humans can, they will come up with ways to make life easier, and that includes inventing machines that can accomplish menial tasks for us.  Kiosks like this have existed for years now in a variety of different businesses.  At movie theaters and airports they have automated ticket kiosks, at grocery stores and department stores they have self-checkout lines.  At my own job, the airlines are more and more often using a system called CPDLC which allows them to send messages to air traffic control via text, without the involvement of a radio operator like myself.  Heck, the planes even have autopilot.  In spite of automation, what do all of these businesses have in common?  They still have human employees selling tickets, taking your money at the checkout line, radio operators that take information from flights and deliver it to air traffic control, and human pilots that fly the planes. 

Why is that?  If a machine can do the job just as well, why have humans there also?  There are a couple of different answers that I can think of… The first, and I feel, the most important… Humans like interacting with other human beings more than they do machines, especially when they’re out in the world.  Secondly, machines break down! Who will take peoples orders if all of the employees have been replaced by  machines that have broken down?  I know from experience, machines aren’t always reliable, even with multiple redundancies in place.  Even if, some day in the distant future, all minimum wage workers are replaced by machines, you will still need human beings to service those machines when they have problems (and they will have problems).  

In summary, my point is that all of the fear-based talking points that come from the right, while not without any merit, are just that… Fear-based.  It’s reasonable to have uncertainties, but these fears do not stand up to history, research, or consensus from economists, so we cannot allow them to direct policy.  Especially when it comes to the livelihood of the American people.  In reality, these same talking points have been used nearly every single time the minimum wage has increased (including when it was first instituted).  I would even go so far as to argue that these predictions are nothing more than attempts by greedy corporatists who don’t want their profit margins to decrease because of mandatory wage increases for employees that they have taken advantage of for far too long.  The American economy has bolstered corporate profits for long enough.  It’s time for the economy to once again start working for the American people, and raising the minimum wage is a great place to start.  

James Garcia – April 7, 2016

California’s New Minimum Wage and the Fear Based Freak Out

Ugh… I am so sick to death of hearing people complain about California raising the minimum wage… Sick… To… DEATH!!! Anyway… This latest post (that I am going to pick apart presently) is the straw that broke the camel’s back… And it sums up all of the fear-based, right-wing talking points all in one ignorant post.

“The sound of $15/hr sounds great at first, but let’s think a little more into this.”  

Oh please wise economic genius… Wow us with your astounding thought processes!

Argument: “If a company has to pay each employee $15/hr. the costs for their product rises. Of course the cost is put on the consumer. Duh.”  

Sure, this might be true, but let’s think on it just a little further.  First off, let’s consider something:

Question: What makes a business successful?

Answer: Aside from a good marketing plan, good management techniques, and hard working employees, the answer is a large customer base that is willing to spend money on the products the business offers.  This is what is called “demand.”

Argument: “Say good bye [sic] to small, family run businesses, large corporate businesses that will soon be moving out of state, and your local restaurants and farms.”

Again… This might be true, but let’s go a little further with our thinking and leave emotional, fear-based predictions behind.

Question: What happens if that business does not have a large enough customer base to support it?

Answer:  There are a few things that can happen.  They raise prices to counter the lack of demand.  They cut costs by cutting corners on their products (which isn’t necessarily honest, but who are we kidding? We know they do this!) They could also lay off employees, downsize, etc… However, if the demand they have available isn’t enough to cover their basic cost of business, they eventually close their doors.

Question: So what happens when a large portion of society barely has enough money to cover basic necessities like food, clothing, rent, insurance, etc?

Answer:  Well for starters they don’t spend money at small mom and pop businesses that typically charge more (considering they don’t have the vast resources available to them like companies like Wal-Mart do) that’s for damned sure!  So where do they go instead? They turn to large corporations like Wal-Mart, who can afford to completely undercut any mom and pop business, where they can buy cheap groceries in bulk.  So the argument that “mom and pop businesses will close down because the minimum wage will increase” is just flat out ridiculous.  Mom and Pop businesses are closing now because the middle class is quickly being absorbed into the poor class because they more and more often don’t have money to spend!

Also, if you honestly think that every business is suddenly going to pick up and move out of state, abandoning a large customer base like California (that will now have a lot more money to spend I might add…) then you are even more naive than I originally thought (and I thought you were pretty naive to begin with…)

Argument: “If large chain stores stay in this state, they are forced to choose one of two things. Raise prices considerably or cut jobs. WAIT?! What loose [sic] jobs, yes, jobs will be cut because people can’t afford to pay them.”  

Wrong… What they will do is possibly raise their prices, once again passing the buck on to consumers so they can continue to make billions of dollars in profits.  Eventually, when that consumer base has more money to spend, and their customer base grows, prices will return to a level that meets the demand.  That is how economics works.  It’s called “supply and demand.”  You should probably look it up.

Also, companies like Costco have been paying higher wages for years, and they are doing quite well.  In fact, Costco pays significantly more than Wal-Mart but for some strange reason (that’s really not so strange at all…)  They make more money than Wal-Mart does! But how can this possibly be true!?

Answer: Happy employees = higher productivity + better customer service = happy customers who will then be more likely to return and patronize the business again! What a surprise!

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/03/12/costco-vs-wal-mart-higher-wages-mean-superior-retu.aspx

Argument: “Who pays for unemployment? You can guess my answer to that.”

And? We’re paying to subsidize Wal-Mart and McDonald’s profits now by allowing them to pay their employees less than a living wage, which in turn requires their employees to collect Welfare and food stamps.  Is that what you want? McDonald’s even encouraged their employees to apply for Welfare because they know they aren’t paying their employees enough to live on! What you’re essentially arguing for, is for the government to use our tax dollars to subsidize the profits of large corporations, all so they can pay their employees garbage wages! How ridiculous is that??? As I’ve said before in other posts, I would much rather have our tax dollars go to things like education, infrastructure, and universal health care, instead of going to subsidize greedy corporations so they can continue to pay their employees shit!

http://www.businessinsider.com/mcdonalds-mcresources-hotline-tells-nancy-salgado-to-get-on-food-stamps-2013-10

“For all of you that think this minimum wage increase is another “fantastic” thing that Jerry Brown has done for us, please unfriend me.”  

Oh trust me, if you were on my friends list, I would have unfriended you a long time ago.  I can’t handle fear-based, ignorant arguments that don’t point to any actual facts or logic.

“You are an idiot and I honestly can’t handle it anymore.”  

Perhaps before you question the intelligence of others, you should make sure your rants use correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  I can’t imagine how you’d expect anyone to take advice from you on a complex subject like economics when you can barely get through a few paragraphs without a slew of spelling errors.

“People really need to start thinking about the larger picture.” 

You’re right.  You should probably try looking past your fear-based initial reaction and actually research a topic before you open your fat mouth.

“I am so not sorry for this rant. This is real life, and people need to start getting real.”  

And I am so not sorry for soundly destroying your ridiculous rant for the nonsense that it is.  You’re right, this is real life, and in this day and age, no one working 40 hours a week (sometimes even more than that) should have to go on Welfare or collect Food stamps because they don’t have enough money for basic necessities, all while companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald’s make millions of dollars in profits.

“We all need to think long and hard with this upcoming election, this nation needs to start electing people that can see the larger pictures.” 

If you mean people that will continue to line the pockets of the already rich, then I gladly have to say I disagree.  We need to elect government officials that will look out for the vast majority of the American people who have been sadly neglected for far too long.  People like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

“We are headed down a dark road, and I for one am scared to death of our future.”

With uninformed people like you voting based on their fear instead of facts?  I have to say, I agree completely.  I just hope those that bother to actually look into issues outnumber those like you.

Finally, the fact of the matter is, there are other places that have already raised their minimum wages.  Seattle is one that comes to mind, and they aren’t experiencing the effects on the economy that you are so scared of.  Businesses aren’t fleeing the city or closing down in record numbers, there hasn’t been a plague of mass layoffs.  None of what you’re claiming will happen here has happened there.  Why? Can you answer that?

Besides all of that, the minimum wage will not reach $15 an hour for 6 years.  If a business can’t properly prepare for the adjustment in that amount of time, then they need to find a new accountant!

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-no-the-minimum-wage-isnt-20150316-column.html

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/1/1425663/-Seattle-Raises-its-Minimum-Wage-Jobless-Rate-Drops-Fox-Scrambles-for-a-Ladder-to-Pick-Cherries

For those that are interested, here is the entire Facebook post that I responded to in its entirety:

“Well California, you sure have done it now. $15/hr. Minimum wage, you sure thought this out. Say good bye to small, family run businesses, large corporate businesses that will soon be moving out of state, and your local restaurants and farms.

I can not believe we actually elect these stupid ass people. The sound of $15/hr sounds great at first, but let’s think a little more into this.

If a company has to pay each employee $15/hr. the costs for their product rises. Of course the cost is put on the consumer. Duh.

Let’s think farther, the property management company is also going to raise their fees, passing on the buck to the tenant. That tenant now has to raise the prices of their products also to the consumer.

How about food? Farmers have several farm labor workers. You all should get excited for things such as strawberries, peaches, or cherries. Hand picked and soon to be unaffordable.

If large chain stores stay in this state, they are forced to choose one of two things. Raise prices considerably or cut jobs. WAIT?! What loose jobs, yes, jobs will be cut because people can’t afford to pay them. Of course no one will say that out loud. Well, y’all should start thinking about this. Bye bye jobs. Hello unemployment.

Who pays for unemployment? You can guess my answer to that.

For all of you that think this minimum wage increase is another “fantastic” thing that Jerry Brown has done for us, please unfriend me. You are an idiot and I honestly can’t handle it anymore. People really need to start thinking about the larger picture.

I am so not sorry for this rant. This is real life, and people need to start getting real. We all need to think long and hard with this upcoming election, this nation needs to start electing people that can see the larger pictures. We are headed down a dark road, and I for one am scared to death of our future.”  

 

 

Remembering Justice Antonin Scalia

scalia_3

With the news of the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, I will admit, I didn’t feel bad in the slightest.  My first emotion was excitement that the Supreme Court would no longer be controlled by a Conservative majority.  A friend of mine even said “I cheered when I heard… Then felt bad for cheering…”  But I, for one, am not sad that he’s gone.  I’m glad that someone who wanted to deny me basic human rights, who wanted to sell our country to whoever would write him the biggest check, who’s misogyny plagued women’s rights since his nomination, and who would be a wrench in the works at any attempt this country would make towards stopping catastrophic climate change, is no longer a member of the highest court in the nation. No… I don’t owe Justice Scalia any respect, or any grief at his passing and here are just a few reminders of what makes me feel this way:

On LGBT People:

Calls LGBT people “immoral and destructive.”: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

Homosexuality is like Murder: “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”

Compares LGBT people to murderers and animal abusers: “I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries-old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.”

Compares homosexuals (and minorities in general) to pederasts and child molesters:  “What minorities deserve protection? What about pederasts? What about child abusers?”

On Minorities: 

Claimed African Americans should go to “slower track” schools: “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”

On Gender Discrimination:

Claimed the Constitution doesn’t prohibit discrimination based on sex: “the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.”

Said it’s “intelligent” to treat women differently: “There are some intelligent reasons to treat women differently. I don’t think anybody would deny that.” 

These are just a few of the horrible things Scalia has said.  His decisions on his Supreme Court cases show that he wanted to deny me and my fellow LGBT people basic civil liberties, he believed women should be treated differently,  he believed minorities were less than white people, he frequently spoke in favor of stripping away the separation of church and state,  he was part of the deciding factor in the Citizens United case which threatens to destroy democracy as we know it,  and he stood with those who would keep the U.S. from doing their part in stopping catastrophic climate change.  His beliefs, his policies, and the fact that he sat on the highest court of the land put him in a unique position to harm countless Americans.  So do I owe him any respect?  Should I mourn his loss?  Should I be ashamed that I am happy he is no longer in a position to harm any more lives with his toxic views?  No… I don’t think so.

Morality is Man’s Creation, Not God’s!

Sometimes, while perusing the blogs of others I come across something that either really inspires me to be better, or makes me incredibly angry… Thanks to my good friend Arkenaten over at “A Tale Unfolds” I’ve ran into one of the latter type on a blog called “Citizen Tom” and I had to respond to the high level of ridiculousness contained within it.  

http://citizentom.com/2014/11/16/god-given-rights-as-opposed-to-there-is-no-god/

If we were created to glorify God, what makes us think God would create a universe where He is irrelevant?”

We weren’t “created” to glorify god, we exist because of evolution.  Whatever purpose we glean from the world is the result of our own choice.  

“Because we choose to ignore what our nation’s founders thought self-evident, secularists seem to be winning the argument.”  

Secularists aren’t winning the argument because we’re ignoring what America’s founders thought.  We are winning the argument because even if people still profess to believe in a god, they are realizing that religion is not necessary for a civilized society.  They realize that by working together in spite of our differences, instead of turning against each other, our chances of survival and a happier existence are exponentially increased.  

Math“When we begin a proof in mathematics, don’t we start from an axiom or two?”  

While that may be technically true, the point you’re trying to make with that statement is most definitely not.  The concepts of mathematics didn’t just drop out of the air.  Humans developed them and they were studied and researched in order to explain the world around us.  We may take things for granted, but that doesn’t mean that the things we take for granted are just “self-evident.”  What it means is that someone else did the work ages ago and it has already been proven.  It’s unnecessary to prove 1+1 = 2 every time we do an equation because that’s already been proven by others before us.  Math, much like religion, is something that was invented by human beings to explain the world.  One is still useful with new evidence that proves it’s accuracy nearly every day, while one is quickly becoming irrelevant as it is shown over and over again to have made completely inaccurate claims about the world we live in (oceans in the sky (Genesis)? Four legged insects (Leviticus 11: 20-23)? The moon as a source of light (Genesis)? Unicorns (Job 39:9-12)?)

“When Americans still considered the fact of their rights were God-given self-evident, government existed primarily to protect their rights.  Was America then a land of fairy tales? Did everyone live happily ever after?”  

The Term “God Given” and “Self-Evident” are just a way the founding fathers described rights they felt all humans deserved, based on their own experiences with the government they fled.  God didn’t come down and tell them “Hey guys! Humans should have these rights!” They realized this because of the way they were treated by those with different belief systems in the country they fled from (let’s just pretend for a moment that they didn’t slaughter nearly an entire race of people in the process).  There are plenty of nations that exist now with a secular government, no god involved.  Are they just fairy tales?  Do they live in absolute chaos because they have a secular government?  The answer is no.  Some of them are better off than we are!  

Civil War

“No. As people are wont to do, Americans still debated, argued and fought. That included fighting over the definition of rights.  To free the black race — allow blacks the ability to exercise their God-given rights — required a bloody civil war.”  

But you just stated that rights are “God given” and “self-evident.”  Why would it require debate and war if rights are “self-evident” to all human beings? Doesn’t “self evident” automatically imply that those rules are already known?

“However, it seems we have forgotten — or chosen to ignore — the alternative, of not believing God gives us our rights.”

No, we’ve just realized that “god” didn’t actually give us those rights.  We made them up ourselves because it benefits us as a species to work together instead of killing each other off.  

“If we do not consider our rights God-given, what are the consequences?”  

Here are just a couple of consequences:

We stop allowing religious differences to divide us and realize that when we work together as a species for the greater good we’re much better off.

We make scientific discoveries that are proven by evidence, like vaccinations and cures for diseases, without having religious nuts fighting them tooth and nail because “god said so.”

Those don’t seem like bad things to me…

farm

“Most people farmed and produced their own food, and nature cooperated poorly.”

And it still does occasionally.  But there were other times when it cooperated perfectly and crops were plentiful.  

“Sometimes people starved.”

And they still do and always have, even in so called “Christian” nations.  There were also plenty of times when people lived in comfort.  

“Occasional droughts alternated with occasional floods.”  

Again… They still do… But sometimes and in different places the weather provided perfect living conditions.  

“Mysterious plant diseases and insects reduced every harvest. People died young, sometimes for no apparent reason.”  

Again…  None of these things prove that we have “God-given rights.”  These things can and do still happen today.  The difference is that we, as a species, have discovered ways to overcome those things, or at the very least, survive them until they pass.  God had nothing to do with it.  It was human ingenuity and nothing more that helped us to survive as a species.  

Idols

“WHY? Desperate for answers, people worshiped idols, hoping that because of their worship their god would give them some control over their lives. Their harvests would not fail, their children would not die, their enemies would die at their hands in combat…..”  

This statement is absurd.  People have worshiped a variety of different gods for thousands of years.  When they didn’t have an explanation for something then it automatically became “god did it!” Just because that was the answer they came up with, doesn’t mean it was the right one. Thanks to science we now know that thunder isn’t god clapping his hands and that rain isn’t god’s tears.  This is the thing about religion, you could be saying “Wow, we have worked together as a species pretty darned well and have survived some pretty spectacular odds!” But instead you give credit to some being who you’ve never actually seen, heard, or spoken to instead of realizing that we’ve done it all ourselves and will continue to do it ourselves until we’re destroyed by each other because of some ridiculous differences, or by some massive asteroid, the imploding sun, or the collapse of the universe itself.   

“The strong and clever determine the “rights” of the weak. That is, might makes right. We obtain our “rights,” our “right” to do what we wish, because we have the power to make it so.”  

This HAS happened all throughout our history (and in many cases is still happening!)  As soon as man was able they discovered that the strong could easily overcome the weak and rule over them.  But you know what else we discovered over time?  There is strength in numbers.  The weak got tired of being trampled on by the strong so they banded together and overthrew the strong, or at the very least kept them at bay.  We discovered that it was better if we all lived and worked together to build something greater, rather than just serving the whims and desires of one strong person.  That is how our species has survived and how government and civilization was formed, and it all happened before the idea of your god ever came into existence.  

“So what would ameliorate our behavior? Why are most men usually willing to respect the rights of others? Is it the fact most people believe in God, or is each one of us the embodiment of reason? Have we logically deduced the problem that arises when we harm the interests of our neighbor? If we don’t respect our neighbors rights, no one will respect our own? Or is it the moral law, that sense of right and wrong that each of us carries in his heart?   Do we recognize in each other a being akin to our self?  Don’t we know how we would feel if someone abused us?”  

You answered your own question, yet you still chose to give “god” the credit.  It’s called “trial and error” or “action and reaction” if you will.  Much like we quickly realize that if we stick our finger in a flame we will get burned, we realized that if we go around robbing, raping, and murdering people eventually the people we’ve been robbing, raping, and murdering will get sick of it and will probably kill us or throw us in jail.  It’s that simple.  No other explanation needed.

Humans didn’t wake up and realize it was wrong to harm other people, it took a lot of trial and error.  Our history is littered with the mistakes of our ancestors and we can all see the mistakes that we continue to make.  If humans innately knew right from wrong, they wouldn’t do wrong! The fact is, we have to learn how to co-exist with each other.  You see it with children every day! They do what they think looks fun or interesting.  Sometimes they get hurt, sometimes they hurt others, sometimes they’re punished by the adults that care for them.  But you know what?They almost always learn and many times they grow up to be amazing adults who go on to do amazing things.  They don’t automatically know what’s right and wrong anymore than they know what’s safe and what is dangerous.  It’s a learning experience. We, as a species, learned together what worked and what didn’t and we adapted.    

Oppression

“Without sin, we have no need for rights, and without God sin has no meaning.”  

Sin is just a word created by the religious to condemn things they didn’t like others to do, which is why the concept of what “sin” is has varied so widely since it’s creation (by man.)  When the Pentateuch was written (by men) “sin” included things like not eating shellfish, not wearing clothing made of mixed fabrics, and not touching a woman who was menstruating. Later, those things were thrown out and it became “sin” for women to talk in church and for men to have long hair.  It was considered a “sin” to not help the poor and needy.  Now, for many religious people none of those things matter.  It was also a way for a small group of “Priests” to control the greater numbers by saying “if you break these rules, you’re sinning! Follow my… I mean GOD’S rules!” By worshiping “God” the people were inevitably worshiping the priesthood.  They’d give the best part of their flocks and harvests to the priesthood for “god” (but it was actually eaten by the priesthood…), they gave them money, clothing, the most honored houses.  Heck, in the Israelite culture the priesthood even got to determine who was king! But of course that was “god” also, wasn’t it? As I stated before, sin is nothing more than a manmade creation used to allow a small group of people or a single person to control the greater society.  It was enforced by making up a “god” that would bring down destruction if this group or person were to be disobeyed.  

“As odd as it may seem, Jesus defined the sinner, the one who would deprive another of their rights, as a slave.”  

This isn’t true even in the Biblical concept, so now you’re just making stuff up (instead of just believing things other people made up.)  Jesus condoned slavery (Luke 7:2), as did his apostles (including Paul), and they frequently treated the gentiles like garbage.  Jesus didn’t even want to heal a gentile woman and only did so after she begged him, compared herself to a dog, and literally would not leave him alone.  The only reason why Paul turned to the gentiles to preach his heretical vision of Christianity was because the Jewish Christians wouldn’t have it.  So let’s not try and pretend that the Apostles or Paul had any concern for the “inalienable rights of all mankind”, because they most certainly didn’t.  The only one in that scenario that may have cared is Jesus and we aren’t even certain that most of the things the Bible claims about him were true (I’m guessing they got part of the name right and maybe the location, but that’s about it).  

“When we hate God or our neighbor, we are enslaved to sin.”  

This is most definitely not true.  Atheists simply DON’T BELIEVE there is a god.  There is no hate involved and most atheists get along just fine with their neighbors.  Frequently they are active members of society, they donate to charities, they help the homeless, and adopt needy children, all without the concept of god ever entering into the equation.  You seem to be arguing that without the idea of god, or religion, that man would just run amok and we would all be killing each other, but evidence doesn’t support that.  If anything religion only makes that worse (the Salem Witch Trials, the Crusades, and 9/11? Anyone?) The atheist is the perfect piece of evidence that can be used to disprove the “god makes morality” nonsense because they have perfectly fine morals WITHOUT god.  If American society is any indication, then atheists care more about basic human rights than almost any religious sect.  The Conservatives in this country claim to have a direct line to Jesus and the only rights they seem to care about are their own.  The best anyone else can hope to get from them is a one way ticket to hell.  

Dog

To wrap this up I have to say, the idea that human beings would be like bloodthirsty animals if we didn’t have this idea of “sin”  and “god” is truly frightening to me.  It makes me think that if you suddenly realize god wasn’t real then you’d grab a knife and go on a killing spree.   The image this brings to mind is a giant, rabid dog, held by a tenuous chain, that could break out at any moment to wreak havoc through the neighborhood.  Can you see how that might be a little disturbing for the rest of us?

James Garcia: (9/8/15)