Category Archives: Social Issues

Science and Skepticism – Don’t allow democrats to claim it as their own

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

I consider myself to be agnostic/atheist.  I am not a devout atheist who has an active believe that there is no God nor am I a true agnostic who maintains that it is impossible to know if there is a God.  I am in the middle—I readily admit that I personally do not know if there is a God.

I must also confess that other than my public K-12 education, I’ve received no formal training in science. I am however, a science geek, and I’d like to point out a basic tenet of science and skepticism that I’ve learned:

A person should not assume something to be true until they have evidence to support it. We humans, especially politicians, have this incessant need to purport to know everything. When we don’t understand something, we often opt for a reason of convenience instead of just saying those three beautiful words: “I don’t know” or the three even more lovely words, “I wonder why…”

Politicians on both sides have been conditioned to act as though they know it all because ignorance appears weak, but this is wrong! Lack of curiosity is weak.  Ignorance just means there is more to be learned!

Curiosity is one of mankind’s most amazing qualities. It’s the reason why we know how to cure a vast array of illnesses that befuddled us no less than a hundred years ago. Have you ever seen a bear solve a problem it couldn’t have solved a century ago? I didn’t think so.

To give you a practical example of why this is important, look no further than the American criminal court system where you are “Innocent until proven guilty”.

Imagine if John and Jane are at a party. Jane says to her friends, “John is a murderer”.

John will of course exclaim, “I’ve never murdered anyone!”

“Prove it” replies Jane.

Think about that. How would John PROVE he has never murdered anyone? The fact is that he can’t. Proving a negative is often impossible. So the burden of proof should always ride on the person making the claim.

This leads me to skepticism, a word that is often mischaracterized. I consider myself part of the skeptical movement thanks to people like Dr. Michael Shermer. Don’t worry—it’s  not a club, cult, or anything else. It’s more of a mindset. The common misconception is that skeptics don’t believe in anything.  The truth is that skeptics resist believing anything without supporting evidence. They gather as much data as possible, then make a decision if they believe they have enough evidence to do so.

What does all this have to do with politics you might ask?

The Democratic Party asserts that they are the party of science and skepticism while painting Republicans out as cavemen even though many conservatives, like me, embrace this philosophy as well. Because I’m a small government conservative, I get very annoyed when pseudo-intellectuals (people who assume they are smart with no evidence to support that claim) assume that  I must be anti-science and therefore not very intelligent because I’m conservative.

Many of you are reading this and saying, “Yeah, I’ve had people assume that about me once or twice”. Right?

But conservatism and science have NOTHING to do with each other. Being a conservative should mean that you are for little government intervention in your personal and professional lives and that strict adherence to the constitution of the United States is important to you.

Many Republicans wrongly believe that, by acknowledging science, they are admitting to being aligned with atheists, man-made climate change proponents, etc. Don’t sell yourselves short!

The fact is, we as conservatives must embrace accepted scientific evidence.  Things like eyeless/pigmentless fish that exist in caves, the human appendix, and countless other examples are proof of some form of evolution whether you believe in a creator or not. To deny evolution exists in some form means to deny much of which we learned in basic high school biology. Conservatives cannot afford to be seen as the “Flat Earth Society”.

Before you think I’m about to tell someone they should not be a creationist, stop! I always feel it is appropriate for me to tell you what I believe, but it is NOT acceptable for me to dictate to you what you should believe.

Here’s where science AND skepticism come in. It is possible that a creator put evolution in motion isn’t it? So it is possible to have a belief yet be open to new information. That open-mindedness is the definition of being an intellectual.
As for climate change: You have Al Gore doing his best Harold Camping impression. Convincing everyone the world is going to end soon rarely helps your career. But, if climate change is man-made (There’s evidence to support both sides), then it’s worth addressing with an open mind.

Democrats claim skepticism, yet they’re in lock step regarding this issue. Objectivity left them years ago. This is where conservatives should capitalize, but instead, Republicans are also in lock step, just in the opposite direction. Conservatives could hit a home run by acknowledging the data, acknowledging the claims are possible, but pointing out that it’s still a theory and not universally accepted fact.

Conservative should make a statement like this:

“I believe the data is real and worthy of concern. However, there’s still research to be done. Until that research is proven beyond any doubt and other contributing factors that we can’t change have been ruled out, I have no interest in breaking the backs of American businesses and bankrupting our country to combat it. Had we done so not that long ago when scientists believed there was an impending ice age, millions would have been wasted for no good reason. So I’m not about to do that to America now.”

My simple statement acknowledges the scientific data, yet responsibly demonstrates skepticism in a way that any reasonable party should welcome. I believe conservatives that do this will display a superior attitude and intellect than most, attract those who are also skeptical about such issues (most Americans are), and will bring the Republican party out of the “dark-ages” pigeonhole that Democrats have worked so hard to put us in.

 

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Big Government Liberal vs Limited Government Conservative

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

A quick explanation of the title: In order to put a stop to semantical nonsense, I specify Big Government Liberal (BGL) and Limited Government Conservative (LGC) so there is no doubt to whom I refer. Some Liberals have indeed championed limited government, and some conservatives have adopted causes that grow Uncle Sam’s estate.

Here are a few viewpoints about these two paradigms that I’d like to share that are rarely discussed:

BGL’s are lazy.

To represent my point, let’s start with Warren Buffett’s new mantra that he should be taxed more. We have a man who is clearly a genius that lives modestly compared to his net worth. A recent interview showed he drove an older used car and lives in a fairly small home relative to his income. He asks to be taxed more because he presumably hopes the government will use those extra tax dollars for good causes.  Meanwhile, he is oblivious to the historical data that demonstrates the contrary.

I think it’s commendable when people give to charity; Bill Gates is a great example. But my apologies Mr. Buffett, government is NOT a charity. There are endless stories of government waste, fraud, and abuse.  Unless he’s never watched a news program or read a newspaper, he certainly knows this! Why would someone knowingly give money to an organization with a reputation for waste and expect that money to be used properly for good? It’s like going on holiday and giving your alcoholic roommate the keys to your liquor cabinet for safe keeping.

The reason I say this is lazy is because Warren is a brilliant man. Can he not think of a job creating or problem solving idea on his own that he could invest his money in that will be far more effective than giving it to the government? Instead, he’s essentially offering to donate to a fiscal toilet bowl that has proven highly proficient at flushing money down the drain.

So I would politely ask Mr. Buffett to stop being lazy and either invest his money in a worthwhile endeavor of his own creation or give it to a reputable charity, but PLEASE stop trying to give it to Uncle Sam. Coming up with a business idea that he could start for $100 million would create a lot of jobs and, if run properly, would be self-sustaining. He wouldn’t have to pump money into it continuously like a charity. He could just start it, run it, and watch it grow, create jobs, and better our economy…AND if it makes a profit, he could donate those profits to charity if he doesn’t want them. But such an idea would require effort on his part. Instead, he just wants to write a check to the Fed and hope it works.

He should look to Bill and Linda Gates who employ a mountain of people and have a charitable foundation that they oversee to make sure it does what it is supposed to do. As a result, they do significantly more for the world than Warren Buffett ever will even though both have a respectable charitable mindset because, while Warren wants to take the lazy way out and give his wealth to the government, Bill Gates rolled up his sleeves, got to work, and solved many more problems all on his own.

BGL’s fight nature, LGC’s adhere to it.

We all should know that self preservation is not a learned behavior; it is instilled in every living creature in the animal kingdom and is evolutionarily beneficial to us all. Accidentally put your hand on a hot stove, and without conscious thought, you’ll remove it immediately. It’s because your brain will always force your body to do whatever it thinks it needs to do to prevent injury or death; it is nearly impossible to resist that instinct.

If you have ever flown on a commercial airline, you’ll remember the speech given every flight about the oxygen masks and how one should secure their own mask prior to attempting to help others such as your spouse or children. Even if you are altruistic and want to help others before you help yourself, the fact is that except for organ donors, you can’t help someone else if you’re dead. The best way to put yourself in position to help others is to make sure you are healthy FIRST.

LGC’s inherently understand these concepts. For instance, they know when they send their child off to school, not to give them a debit card from their bank account. They give him one that is linked to a separate account that they put a fixed sum into every month. Why? Because little Johnny is likely to spend $100 a night at the local club on wine, women, and song based on collegiate history. While the parents may trust their little angel, it’s still not a bad idea to avoid giving them the opportunity to drain the family bank account lest they all go down in financial ruin.

BGL’s however feel better about themselves if they get the government to bilk the wealthy out of their fortune because they are oblivious to the harm it does to these folks. They seem to think the wealthy are immune to going broke, and that no matter what they take from them, somehow they’ll never be poor. Of course we know many rich people in history have gone broke—usually  as a result of misspent fortune. Many former professional athletes and musicians can surely attest. Contrary to BGL beliefs, wealthy people are not infinitely rich. There’s only so much money to be taken from these people. More often than not, this incessant desire to rob them of their fortune is born out of envy, not altruism.

So while BGL’s assume the LGC’s are just being greedy, it’s really just natural self preservation at work. There’s nothing wrong with that! The thing that infuriates me the most is that BGL’s are routinely just generous with other people’s money, Warren Buffett excluded. Look no further than Michael Moore, a self-professed socialist that believes rich people who live extravagantly should be stripped almost completely of their fortune, yet he resides in an approximately $2 million estate AND has a posh apartment in NYC. I’ll bet he rarely invites a homeless person to stay at either one.

LGC’s are the people of personal responsibility, BGL’s…not so much.

Many BGL social platforms seem to revolve around the notion that people who are downtrodden have been abused by the top 1%. This is simply not true. People with money are rich for four potential reasons.

A)     They came up with a great idea, worked hard, brought it to fruition, and are reaping the benefits.

B)      They won the lottery

C)      Were born into A or B

D)     They are engaged in criminal activity

While the legal system works hard to expose the nations pilferers, the fact is most wealthy individuals came about their fortunes quite legally. I’m all for liquidating every single asset from the criminal classes, but BGL’s act as though the A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s are one in the same. The entrepreneurs of this great nation worked hard, invested a lot of time, money, and effort into what they did, and they’re responsible for their success. For BGL’s to think that somehow they have a right to force these folks to give up their wealth for things like Solyndra, Fannie/Freddie, GM and Chrysler, saving the whales, foreign aid for countries that don’t even like us, or any other avenue that the government gives tax dollars to defies all that is just. It’s their money. They should have the absolute right to spend it or give it away as they see fit.

While I am certainly aware that there are people who are unsuccessful, often through little or no fault of their own, the fact is that people who are poor are often a product of their own lack of personal responsibility, motivation, or personality. The wealthy had nothing to do with the poor’s condition. People talk so often about big corporations like Walmart destroying small businesses, but Walmart, like almost every other corporation, started out as a small business itself. Small businesses fail—not  because of the rich–but  because of poor business models, products, or leadership. We’ve all worked with someone who constantly shows up late for work if they show up at all. When they do show up, they have a bad attitude, they put in a mediocre effort, they complain about every aspect of the company, and when they don’t get the promotion they wanted, they act as if somehow it’s not their fault.

America is flush with success stories where someone with nothing achieved greatness. So I’m not buying the notion for one second that success is only available to the upper class because there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence to refute that argument. Herman Cain was right to tell people that if they are not successful, look in the mirror. More often than not, the biggest hurdle is staring back at them.

So the class warfare blame game is the ultimate display of a lack of personal responsibility, and it’s time honest hard working Americans said, “Enough!”  I’m responsible for my success, YOU are responsible for yours. May the best person win!