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  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 7 weeks 6 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    ReadyNutrition is a good site, and its articles are on target most of the time, but the column linked to is pure fear-mongering.  It starts with stories about people near Fukushima dying from "stress", then veers into alleged microscopic increases in cesium-137 an ocean away.  The amounts are so low that normal sensitive instruments fail and more exotic methods have to be devised to find faint hints.  Color me unimpressed.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 8 weeks 3 days ago
    Exploring Detroit
    Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Some excellent ruin-porn here. But there is life in the old girl -- and beauty -- still.
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 8 weeks 3 days ago Page S.E. Seachman
    Just a minor note on comparing today's universities with those in the Middle Ages, which is when they first appeared. On one hand, there was control by the church hierarchy over many university functions, but in one way, medieval universities were much more responsive to markets than today's state-funded horrors. If you read about debaters such as Peter Abelard and other 12th-century doctors at these schools, students would de-enroll en masse if a doctor was outflanked by a student or a question or a debating point. So there was some immediate market feedback and an immediate drop in "customers" if a professor was unable to hold his own.  
  • James Clayton's picture
    James Clayton 9 weeks 4 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    As we know, state-sanctioned money is created as debt and must be repaid with interest; total aggregate debt is always more than the total amount of money. That's the trap. The global monetary system is designed to confiscate and concentrate wealth. But, as Thomas Greco suggests, private currencies and credit clearing exchanges are the disruptive innovations that can displace that system by liberating money and decentralizing the control of credit. I highly recommend his latest book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization, and his recent article, Confronting the Power Elite. https://beyondmoney.net/the-end-of-money-and-the-future-of-civilization/ https://beyondmoney.net/confronting-the-power-elite/    
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 3 days ago Blog entry Alex R. Knight III
    Here, Alex, is about the only area of thought of yours in this 17-year topic with which I might find disagreement: "...It’s about systemic failure..." As I see it, "the system" is very successful. It's got US jeeing and hawing over it, has it not??? Therefore, "the system" is fruitful. I no longer use the term "public officials" (psychopaths all), or "public" schools. As if, should they sincerely attempt to improve themselves, they might form a benefit to you and I and those about whom we care. What the Badge Means Those who do the bidding of a supposed “authority” usually go out of their way to make it clear that they are doing so. When a soldier dons his military attire, marches in formation, or gets into a military vehicle; when a cop puts on his uniform and gets into the car marked “POLICE”; when a plainclothes “government” agent - whether from the FBI, IRS, U.S. Marshals, or any other agency - shows his “badge” or announces his “official” title, he is making a very specific statement, which can be summed up as follows: “I am not acting as a thinking, responsible, independent human being, and should not be treated as such. I am not personally responsible for my actions, because I am not acting from my own free will or my own judgment of right and wrong. I am, instead, acting as the tool of something superhuman, something with the right to rule you and control you. As such, I aim do things that you can’t. I have rights that you don’t. You must do as I say, submit to my commands, and treat me as your superior, because I am not a mere human being. I have risen above that. Through my unquestioning obedience and loyalty to my masters, I have become a piece of the superhuman entity called ‘authority.’ As a result, the rules of human morality do not apply to me, and my actions should not be judged by the usual standards of human behavior.” Thanks, Larken Rose https://archive.org/stream/LarkenRoseTheMostDangerousSuperstition/Larken... Sam
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 10 weeks 3 days ago Blog entry Alex R. Knight III
    It’s tempting to blow all this off as a single, insignificant incident in a small town. It isn’t Los Angeles’s Rampart, after all. Or Chicago’s systemized torture. But it also isn’t unique. There’s a steady stream of stories like this one. I was alerted to this particular story by a former police officer who now advocates criminal-justice reform. (He asked me not to use his name, for reasons that will be apparent in a moment.) I asked him: In his experience, how common is this sort of thing? His response:   This is very common in policing. Looking back on my career, I realize just how often I acted similarly and didn’t even realize it. It was subconscious. I was trained and subtly incentivized to do so. You intentionally create conflict and manufacture noncompliance in order to build your stop into an arrest situation. Because that’s what generations of law enforcers who have been steeped in a fear-based, comply or else, us-vs.-them mind-set do. They arrest people. Arrests are a primary measure of productivity and gives the appearance your department has solved a problem.   Most aggressive cops have honed this to an art. They are savvy, know exactly how to weaponize numerous petty laws, ordinances, use-of-force policy and procedure against citizens. This cop was off his game and clumsily went through the motions like a desperate door-to-door perfume salesman. Except when cops manufacture a “sale” like this, the “customer” ends up arrested, criminalized, emotionally and financially devastated, not to mention possibly physically beaten or worse. And the justice system will deem it legal, even when it isn’t.   As far as the police leadership and prosecutors, they knew exactly what they were doing. If someone makes a complaint, you find something, anything to charge them with.   Finley wasn’t shot, or choked to death, or found hanging in a jail cell. He didn’t suffer any permanent or lasting physical injury. Mercado didn’t even use racist or bigoted language. But Finley did everything he was supposed to. From the footage we can see and hear, he was polite, provided ID when it was asked of him and stepped out of the truck when ordered. Despite cooperating, he was treated poorly, detained and roughed up. When he then tried to file a complaint, he was harassed, and the chief of police attempted to turn his own wife against him — by citing video she hadn’t seen and that ultimately vindicated her husband. Yet even after viewing that video, city officials proceeded to prosecute. And even after the video was released, city officials maligned Finley in the press and insisted that the residents of Walnut Ridge believe the assertions of authority figures over the video evidence that contradicted them.   The “lesson” Finley learned here is pretty clear. Power usually wins. You can be as cooperative as possible, but if a police officer wants to dish out some abuse, he can. And he’ll probably get away with it. Try to hold him accountable if you’d like, but just know that doing so may come with a heavy price.   Once other public officials cover up for “bad apple” cops, the story is no longer about the bad apples. It’s about systemic failure. It’s about public servants willing to tolerate abuse because they’re more loyal to one another than to the public they serve. It’s difficult to say how someone in a position of authority — someone with the public trust — could view footage of the encounter between Mercado and Finley and proclaim they believe that the criminal charges against Finley were merited. Perhaps they were just lying. Or perhaps they were so blinded by deference to law enforcement, a fear of accountability or a knee-jerk defense of authority that they actually believe what they’re saying. I’m not sure which of those scenarios ought to worry us more.   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2018/07/10/an-arkansas-man-complained-about-police-abuse-then-town-officials-ruined-his-life/?utm_term=.766b4291c21f    
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 4 days ago Page Lawrence M. Ludlow
    As I see it, the parallels are eerie at best. There might be a tendency to always "argue" politics, religion, lack thereof (of both); anarchist and libertarian "theory" -- etc etc etc. The anarchist, however, must go on to live his or her life with the understanding that there are things s/he can change (himself or herself), and there are things s/he cannot change (the desire of the hoi polloi for a state is the most classic of examples I've seen on this and other "anarchist" sites). If you are anarchist it is necessary for you to learn the basic skills of sidestepping and circumnavigating the beast. You are not going to be very effective in changing him (them). I can only have limited influence on the general run of those who accept as necessary and deserving of their support the lunatics who make up "the state". I'm aware that leaders of innumerable "religions" teach endorsement of those crazy bastards. They virtually all produce an undercover -- sometimes subliminal -- message that the idea, "government" (central political "authority"), is essential for "society". But "society" does not exist in reality: you and I exist. Are we "society"??? And who or whom else???. And so, my friends; as I see it the message of the man incorrectly translated "Jesus" in the Hebrew Book is one of anarchy. And that's all. It has nothing to do with submitting confessions ("filing") with or to Caesar. Or sending in to Caesar media of exchange that he himself has forced you to use -- emblazoned with his image (or the images of long-dead "forefathers"). It has to do with staying out of his way wherever and whenever possible. Stop expending valuable energy trying to "change" them. Sam
  • Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
    Lawrence M. Ludlow 10 weeks 5 days ago Page Lawrence M. Ludlow
    The following article on the New Testament text about "rendering unto Caesar" is the following from Mises Institute; it is the best writing on the topic I've ever seen! - https://mises.org/wire/render-unto-caesar-most-misunderstood-new-testame...   Here's the brilliant text, written by Jeff Barr: Render Unto Caesar: A Most Misunderstood New Testament Passage 07/03/2018Jeff Barr [Adapted from the lecture "Render Unto Caesar: A Most Misunderstood New Testament Passage" presented March 13th, 2010, at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.] I. INTRODUCTION Christians have traditionally interpreted the famous passage "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s," to mean that Jesus endorsed paying taxes. This view was first expounded by St. Justin Martyr in Chapter XVII of his First Apology , who wrote, And everywhere we, more readily than all men, endeavor to pay to those appointed by you the taxes both ordinary and extraordinary, as we have been taught by Him; for at that time some came to Him and asked Him, if one ought to pay tribute to Caesar; and He answered, Tell Me, whose image does the coin bear?' And they said, Caesar's.' The passage appears to be important and well-known to the early Christian community. The Gospels of St. Matthew , St. Mark, and St. Luke recount this "Tribute Episode" nearly verbatim. Even Saying 100 of non-canonical Gospel of Thomas and Fragment 2 Recto of the Egerton Gospel record the scene, albeit with some variations from the Canon. But by His enigmatic response, did Jesus really mean for His followers to provide financial support (willingly or unwillingly) to Tiberius Caesar — a man, who, in his personal life, was a pedophile, a sexual deviant , and a murderer and who, as emperor, claimed to be a god and oppressed and enslaved millions of people, including Jesus' own? The answer, of course, is: the traditional, pro-tax interpretation of the Tribute Episode is simply wrong. Jesus never meant for His answer to be interpreted as an endorsement of Caesar's tribute or any taxes. This essay examines four dimensions of the Tribute Episode: the historical setting of the Episode; the rhetorical structure of the Episode itself; the context of the scene within the Gospels; and finally, how the Catholic Church, Herself, has understood the Tribute Episode. These dimensions point to one conclusion: the Tribute Episode does not stand for the proposition that it is morally obligatory to pay taxes. The objective of this piece is not to provide a complete exegesis on the Tribute Episode. Rather, it is simply to show that the traditional, pro-tax interpretation of the Tribute Episode is utterly untenable. The passage unequivocally does not stand for the proposition that Jesus thought it was morally obligatory to pay taxes. II. THE HISTORICAL SETTING: THE UNDERCURRENT OF TAX REVOLT In 6 A.D., Roman occupiers of Palestine imposed a census tax on the Jewish people. The tribute was not well-received, and by 17 A.D., Tacitus reports in Book II.42 of the Annals, "The provinces, too, of Syria and Judaea, exhausted by their burdens, implored a reduction of tribute." A tax-revolt, led by Judas the Galilean , soon ensued. Judas the Galilean taught that " taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery ," and he and his followers had " an inviolable attachment to liberty ," recognizing God, alone, as king and ruler of Israel. The Romans brutally combated the uprising for decades. Two of Judas' sons were crucified in 46 A.D., and a third was an early leader of the 66 A.D. Jewish revolt. Thus, payment of the tribute conveniently encapsulated the deeper philosophical, political, and theological issue: Either God and His divine laws were supreme, or the Roman emperor and his pagan laws were supreme. This undercurrent of tax-revolt flowed throughout Judaea during Jesus' ministry. All three synoptic Gospels place the episode immediately after Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem in which throngs of people proclaimed Him king, as St. Matthew states, "And when he entered Jerusalem the whole city was shaken and asked, 'Who is this?' And the crowds replied, 'This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee.'" All three agree that this scene takes place near the celebration of the Passover, one of the holiest of Jewish feast days. Passover commemorates God's deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and also celebrates the divine restoration of the Israelites to the land of Israel, land then-occupied by the Romans. Jewish pilgrims from throughout Judaea would have been streaming into Jerusalem to fulfill their periodic religious duties at the temple. Because of the mass of pilgrims, the Roman procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, had also temporarily taken up residence in Jerusalem along with a multitude of troops so as to suppress any religious violence. In her work, Pontius Pilate: The Biography of an Invented Man, Ann Wroe described Pilate as the emperor's chief soldier, chief magistrate, head of the judicial system, and above all, the chief tax collector. In Book XXXVIII of On the Embassy to Gaius, Philo has depicted Pilate as "cruel," "exceedingly angry," and "a man of most ferocious passions," who had a "habit of insulting people" and murdering them "untried and uncondemned" with the "most grievous inhumanity." Just a few years prior to Jesus' ministry, the image of Caesar nearly precipitated an insurrection in Jerusalem when Pilate, by cover of night, surreptitiously erected effigies of the emperor on the fortress Antonia, adjoining the Jewish Temple; Jewish law forbade both the creation of graven images and their introduction into holy city of Jerusalem. Pilate averted a bloodbath only by removing the images. In short, Jerusalem would have been a hot-bed of political and religious fervor, and it is against this background that the Tribute Episode unfolded. III. THE RHETORICAL STRUCTURE OF THE TRIBUTE EPISODE The Gospel of Matthew states: [15] Then the Pharisees going, consulted among themselves how to insnare him in his speech. [16] And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker and teachest the way of God in truth. Neither carest thou for any man: for thou dost not regard the person of men. [17] Tell us therefore what dost thou think? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? [18] But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? [19] Show me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny [literally, in Latin, "denarium," a denarius]. [20] And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? [21] They say to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s. [22] And hearing this, they wondered and, leaving him, went their ways. Matt 22:15–22 (Douay-Rheims translation). A. THE QUESTION All three synoptic Gospels open the scene with a plot to trap Jesus. The questioners begin with, what is in their minds, false flattery — "Master [or Teacher or Rabbi] we know that you are a true speaker and teach the way of God in truth." As David Owen-Ball forcefully argues in his 1993 article, "Rabbinic Rhetoric and the Tribute Passage," this opening statement is also a challenge to Jesus' rabbinic authority; it is a halakhic question — a question on a point of religious law. The Pharisees believed that they, alone, were the authoritative interpreters of Jewish law. By appealing to Jesus' authority to interpret God's law, the questioners accomplish two goals: (1) they force Jesus to answer the question; if Jesus refuses, He will lose credibility as a Rabbi with the very people who just proclaimed Him a King; and (2) they force Jesus to base this answer in Scripture. Thus, they are testing His scriptural knowledge and hoping to discredit Him if He cannot escape a prima facie intractable interrogatory. As Owen-Ball states, "The gospel writers thus describe a scene in which Jesus' questioners have boxed him in. He is tempted to assume, illegitimately, the authority of a Rabbi, while at the same time he is constrained to answer according to the dictates of the Torah." The questioners then pose their malevolently brilliant question: "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?" That is, is it licit under the Torah to pay taxes to the Romans? At some point, Jesus must have led His questioners to believe that He opposed the tribute; otherwise His questioners would not have posed the question in the first instance. As John Howard Yoder argues in his book, The Politics of Jesus: vicit Agnus noster, "It is hard to see how the denarius question could have been thought by those who put it to be a serious trap, unless Jesus' repudiation of the Roman occupation were taken for granted, so that he could be expected to give an answer which would enable them to denounce him." If Jesus says that it is lawful to pay the tribute, He would have been seen as a collaborator with the Roman occupiers and would alienate the people who had just proclaimed Him a king. If Jesus says that the tribute is illegitimate, He risked being branded a political criminal and incurring the wrath of Rome. With either answer, someone would have been likely to kill Him. Jesus immediately recognizes the trap. He exposes the hostility and the hypocrisy of His interrogators and recognizes that His questioners are daring Him to enter the temporal fray of Judeo-Roman politics. B. THE COIN Instead of jumping into the political discussion, though, Jesus curiously requests to see the coin of the tribute. It is not necessary that Jesus possess the coin to answer their question. He could certainly respond without seeing the coin. That He requests to see the coin suggests that there is something meaningful about the coin itself. In the Tribute Episode, the questioners produce a denarius. The denarius was approximately 1/10 of a troy ounce (at that time about 3.9 grams) of silver and roughly worth a day's wages for a common laborer. The denarius was a remarkably stable currency; Roman emperors did not begin debasing it with any vigor until Nero. The denarius in question would have been issued by the Emperor Tiberius, whose reign coincided with Jesus' ministry. Where Augustus issued hundreds of denarii, Ethelbert Stauffer, in his masterful, Christ and the Caesars, reports that Tiberius issued only three, and of those three, two are relatively rare, and the third is quite common. Tiberius preferred this third and issued it from his personal mint for twenty years. The denarius was truly the emperor's property: he used it to pay his soldiers, officials, and suppliers; it bore the imperial seal; it differed from the copper coins issued by the Roman Senate, and it was also the coin with which subjected peoples, in theory, were required to pay the tribute. Tiberius even made it a capital crime to carry any coin stamped with his image into a bathroom or a brothel. In short, the denarius was a tangible representation of the emperor's power, wealth, deification, and subjugation. Tiberius' denarii were minted at Lugdunum, modern-day Lyons, in Gaul. Thus, J. Spencer Kennard, in a well-crafted, but out-of-print book entitled Render to God , argues that the denarius' circulation in Judaea was likely scarce. The only people to transact routinely with the denarius in Judaea would have been soldiers, Roman officials, and Jewish leaders in collaboration with Rome. Thus, it is noteworthy that Jesus, Himself, does not possess the coin. The questioners' quickness to produce the coin at Jesus' request implies that they routinely used it, taking advantage of Roman financial largess, whereas Jesus did not. Moreover, the Tribute Episode takes place in the Temple, and by producing the coin, the questioners reveal their religious hypocrisy – they bring a potentially profane item, the coin of a pagan, into the sacred space of the Temple. Finally, both Stauffer and Kennard make the magnificent point that coins of the ancient world were the major instrument of imperial propaganda, promoting agendas and promulgating the deeds of their issuers, in particular the apotheosis of the emperor. As Kennard puts it, "For indoctrinating the peoples of the empire with the deity of the emperor, coins excelled all other media. They went everywhere and were handled by everyone. Their subtle symbolism pervaded every home." While Tiberius' propaganda engine was not as prolific as Augustus' machine, all of Tiberius' denarii pronounced his divinity or his debt to the deified Augustus. C. THE COUNTER-QUESTION AND ITS ANSWER After seeing the coin, Jesus then poses a counter-question, "Whose image and inscription is this?" It is again noteworthy that this counter-question and its answer are not necessary to answer the original question of whether it is licit to pay tribute to Caesar. That Jesus asks the counter-question suggests that it and its answer are significant. (1) Why Is The Counter-Question Important? The counter-question is significant for two reasons. First, Owen-Ball argues that the counter-question follows a pattern of formal rhetoric common in first century rabbinic literature in which (1) an outsider poses a hostile question to a rabbi; (2) the rabbi responds with a counter-question; (3) by answering the counter-question, the outsider's position becomes vulnerable to attack; and (4) the rabbi then uses the answer to the counter-question to refute the hostile question. Jesus' use of this rhetorical form is one way to establish His authority as a rabbi, not unlike a modern lawyer who uses a formal, legal rhetoric in the courtroom. Moreover, the point of the rhetorical exchange is ultimately to refute the hostile question. Second, because the hostile question was a direct challenge to Jesus' authority as a rabbi on a point of law, His interrogators would have expected a counter-question grounded in scripture, in particular, based upon the Torah. Two words, "image" and "inscription," in the counter-question harkens to two central provisions in the Torah, the First (Second) Commandment and the Shema. These provide the scriptural basis for this question of law. God Prohibits False Images. The First (Second) Commandment prohibits worship of anyone or anything but God, and it also forbids crafting any image of a false god for adoration, "I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness [image] of any thing…." God demands the exclusive allegiance of His people. Jesus' use of the word, "image," in the counter-question reminds His questioners of the First (Second) Commandment's requirement to venerate God first and its concomitant prohibition against creating images of false gods. The Shema Demands The Worship Of God Alone. Jesus' use of the word "inscription" alludes to the Shema. The Shema is a Jewish prayer based upon Deuteronomy 6:4–9 , 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41 and is the most important prayer a pious Jew can say. It commences with the words, "Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad," which can be translated, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God — the Lord alone." This opening line stresses Israel's worship of God to the exclusion of all other gods. The Shema then commands a person to love God with his whole heart, whole soul, and whole strength. The Shema further requires worshipers to keep the words of the Shema in their hearts, to instruct their children in them, to bind them on their hands and foreheads, and to inscribe them conspicuously on their doorposts and on the gates to their cities. Observant Jews take literally the command to bind the words upon their arms and foreheads and wear tefillin, little leather cases which contain parchment on which are inscribed certain passages from the Torah. Words of the Shema were to be metaphorically inscribed in the hearts, minds, and souls of pious Jews and physically inscribed on parchment in tefillin, on doorposts, and on city gates. St. Matthew and St. Mark both recount Jesus quoting the Shema in the same chapter just a few verses after the Tribute Episode. This proximity further reinforces the reference to the Shema in the Tribute Episode. Finally, it is noteworthy that when Satan tempts Jesus by offering Him all the kingdoms of the [Roman] world in exchange for His worship, Jesus rebukes Satan by quoting the Shema. In short, Jesus means to call attention to the Shema by using the word "inscription" in the counter-question as His appeal to scriptural authority for His response. (2) Why Is The Answer To The Counter-Question Important? The answer to the counter-question is significant for two reasons. First, while the verbal answer to the counter-question of whose image and inscription the coin bears is a feeble, "Caesar's," the actual image and inscription is much more revealing. The front of the denarius shows a profiled bust of Tiberius crowned with the laurels of victory and divinity. Even a modern viewer would immediately recognize that the person depicted on the coin is a Roman emperor. Circumscribed around Tiberius is an abbreviation, "TI CAESAR DIVI AUG F AUGUSTUS," which stands for "Tiberius Caesar Divi August Fili Augustus," which, in turn, translates, "Tiberius Caesar, Worshipful Son of the God, Augustus." On the obverse sits the Roman goddess of peace, Pax, and circumscribed around her is the abbreviation, "Pontif Maxim," which stands for "Pontifex Maximus," which, in turn, means, "High Priest." The coin of the Tribute Episode is a fine specimen of Roman propaganda. It imposes the cult of emperor worship and asserts Caesar's sovereignty upon all who transact with it. In the most richly ironic passage in the entire Bible, all three synoptic Gospels depict the Son of God and the High Priest of Peace, newly-proclaimed by His people to be a King, holding the tiny silver coin of a king who claims to be the son of a god and the high priest of Roman peace. The second reason the answer is significant is that in following the pattern of rabbinic rhetoric, the answer exposes the hostile questioners' position to attack. It is again noteworthy that the interrogators' answer to Jesus' counter-question about the coin's image and inscription bears little relevance to their original question as to whether it is licit to pay the tribute. Jesus could certainly answer their original question without their answer to His counter-question. But the rhetorical function of the answer to the counter-question is to demonstrate the vulnerability of the opponent's position and use that answer to refute the opponent's original, hostile question. D. REFUTING BY RENDERING UNTO GOD In the Tribute Episode, it is only after Jesus' counter-question is asked and answered does He respond to the original question. Jesus tells His interrogators, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's." This response begs the question of what is licitly God's and what is licitly Caesar's. In the Hebrew tradition, everything rightfully belonged to God. By using the words, "image and inscription," Jesus has already reminded His interrogators that God was owed exclusive allegiance and total love and worship. Similarly, everything economically belonged to God as well. For example, the physical land of Israel was God's, as He instructed in Leviticus 25:23, "The land [of Israel] shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is mine, and you [the Israelites] are but aliens who have become my tenants." In addition, the Jewish people were to dedicate the firstfruits, that first portion of any harvest and the first-born of any animal, to God. By giving God the firstfruits, the Jewish people acknowledged that all good things came from God and that all things, in turn, belonged to God . God even declares, "Mine is the silver and mine the gold." The emperor, on the other hand, also claimed that all people and things in the empire rightfully belonged to Rome. The denarius notified everyone who transacted with it that the emperor demanded exclusive allegiance and, at least, the pretense of worship — Tiberius claimed to be the worshipful son of a god. Roman occupiers served as a constant reminder that the land of Israel belonged to Rome. Roman tribute, paid with Roman currency, impressed upon the populace that the economic life depended on the emperor. The emperor's bread and circuses maintained political order. The propaganda on the coin even attributed peace and tranquility to the emperor. With one straightforward counter-question, Jesus skillfully points out that the claims of God and Caesar are mutually exclusive. If one's faith is in God, then God is owed everything; Caesar's claims are necessarily illegitimate, and he is therefore owed nothing. If, on the other hand, one's faith is in Caesar, God's claims are illegitimate, and Caesar is owed, at the very least, the coin which bears his image. Jesus' counter-question simply invites His listeners to choose allegiances. Remarkably, He has escaped the trap through a clever rhetorical gambit; He has authoritatively refuted His opponents' hostile question by basing His answer in scripture, and yet, He never overtly answers the question originally posed to Him. No wonder that St. Matthew ends the Tribute Episode this way: "When they heard this they were amazed, and leaving him they went away." IV. THE CONTEXT IN THE GOSPELS: A TRADITION OF SUBTLE SEDITION Subtle sedition refers to scenes throughout the Gospels which were not overtly treasonous and would not have directly threatened Roman authorities, but which delivered political messages that first century Jewish audiences would have immediately recognized. The Gospels are replete with instances of subtle sedition. Pointing these out is not to argue that Jesus saw Himself as a political king. Jesus makes it explicit in John 18:36 that He is not a political Messiah. Rather, in the context of subtle sedition, no one can interpret the Tribute Episode as Jesus' support of taxation. To the contrary, one can only understand the Tribute Episode as Jesus' opposition to the illicit Roman taxes. In addition to the Tribute Episode, three other scenes from the Gospels serve as examples of subtle sedition: (1) Jesus' temptation in the desert; (2) Jesus walking on water; and (3) Jesus curing the Gerasene demoniac. A. EMPERORS OF BREAD AND CIRCUSES Around 200 A.D., the Roman satirist Juvenal lamented that the Roman emperors, masters of the known world, tenuously maintained political power by way of "panem et circenses," or "bread and circuses," a reference to the ancient practice of pandering to Roman citizens by providing free wheat and costly circus spectacles. Caesar Augustus, for example, boasted of feeding more than 100,000 men from his personal granary. He also bragged of putting on tremendous exhibitions: Three times I gave shows of gladiators under my name and five times under the name of my sons and grandsons; in these shows about 10,000 men fought. * * * Twenty-six times, under my name or that of my sons and grandsons, I gave the people hunts of African beasts in the circus, in the open, or in the amphitheater; in them about 3,500 beasts were killed. I gave the people a spectacle of a naval battle, in the place across the Tiber where the grove of the Caesars is now, with the ground excavated in length 1,800 feet, in width 1,200, in which thirty beaked ships, biremes or triremes, but many smaller, fought among themselves; in these ships about 3,000 men fought in addition to the rowers. By the time of Jesus and the reign of Tiberius Caesar, the Roman grain dole routinely fed 200,000 people. At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the Spirit led Him into the desert "to be tempted by the devil." The devil challenged Him with three tests. First, he dared Jesus to turn stones into bread. Second, the devil took Jesus to the highest point on the temple in Jerusalem and tempted Him to cast Himself down to force the angels into a spectacular, miraculous rescue. Finally, for the last temptation, "the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, 'All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.'" The devil dared Jesus to be a king of bread and circuses and offered Him dominion over the whole earthly world. These temptations are an instantly recognizable reference to the power of the Roman emperors. Jesus forcefully rejects this power. Jesus' rejection illustrates that the things of God and the things of Rome/the world/the devil are mutually exclusive. Jesus' allegiance was to the things of God, and His rebuff of the metaphorical power of Rome is an example of subtle sedition. B. TREADING UPON THE EMPEROR'S SEAS At the beginning of Chapter 6 in St. John's Gospel, Jesus performs a miracle and feeds 5,000 people from five loaves of bread; He then refuses to be crowned a king of bread and circuses. Immediately thereafter, St. John recounts the episode of Jesus walking on a body of water in the middle of a storm. That body of water was the Sea of Galilee, which, St. John reminds his readers, was also known as the Sea of Tiberias. Around 25 A.D., Herod Antipas built a pagan city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and named it in honor of the Roman emperor, Tiberius. By Jesus' time, the city had become so important that the Sea of Galilee came to be called the "Sea of Tiberias." Thus, not only does Jesus refuse to be coronated a Roman king of bread and circuses, but He literally treads upon the emperor's seas, showing that even the emperor's waters have no dominion over Him. Treading on the emperor's seas is an additional instance of subtle sedition. C. A LEGION OF DEMONS St. Mark details Jesus' encounter with the Gerasene demoniac in another example of subtle sedition. The territory of the Gerasenes was pagan territory, and this particular demoniac was exceptionally strong and frightening. In attempting to exorcise the demon, Jesus asked its name. The demon replied, "Legion is my name. There are many of us." Jesus then expels the demons and casts them into a herd of swine. The herd immediately drive themselves into the sea. First century readers would have been well-acquainted with the name, "Legion." At that time, an imperial legion was roughly 6,000 soldiers. Thus, the demon "Legion," an agent of the devil, was a thinly-veiled reference to the Roman occupiers of Judaea. Swine were considered unclean animals under Jewish law. The symbol of the Roman Legion which occupied Jerusalem was a boar . The first century audience would have easily grasped the symbolism of Jesus' casting the demon Legion into the herd of unclean swine, and the herd driving itself into the sea. Thus, the healing of the Gerasene demoniac is another example of subtle sedition. D. TRIBUTE AS SUBTLE SEDITION In the Tribute Episode, Jesus' response is subtly seditious. The first-century audience would have immediately apprehended what it meant to render unto God the things that are God's. They would have known that the things of God and Caesar were mutually exclusive. No Jewish listener would have mistaken Jesus' response as an endorsement of paying Caesar's taxes. To the contrary, His audience would have understood that Jesus thought the tribute was illicit. Indeed, opposition to the tribute was one of the charges the authorities levied at His trial, "They brought charges against him, saying, 'We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.'" To the Roman audience, however, the pronouncement of rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's sounds benign, almost supportive. It is, however, one of many vignettes of covert political protest contained in the Gospels. In short, the Tribute Episode is a subtle form of sedition. When viewed in this context, no one can say that the Episode supports the payment of taxes. V. WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY? The Catholic Church considers Herself the authoritative interpreter of Sacred Scripture. The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church " is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church's Magisterium." The 1994 Catechism instructs the faithful that it is morally obligatory to pay one's taxes for the common good. (What the definition of the "common good" is may be left for a different debate.) The 1994 Catechism also quotes and cites the Tribute Episode. But the 1994 Catechism does NOT use the Tribute Episode to support the proposition that it is morally obligatory to pay taxes. Instead, the 1994 Catechism refers the Tribute Episode only to justify acts of civil disobedience. It quotes St. Matthew's version to teach that a Christian must refuse to obey political authority when that political authority makes a demand contrary to the demands of the moral order, the fundamental rights of persons, or the teachings of the Gospel. Similarly, the 1994 Catechism also cites to St. Mark's version to instruct that a person "should not submit his personal freedom in an absolute manner to any earthly power, but only to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Caesar is not the Lord." Thus, according to the 1994 Catechism, the Tribute Episode stands for the proposition that a Christian owes his allegiance to God and to the things of God alone. If the Tribute Episode unequivocally supported the proposition that it is morally obligatory to pay taxes, the 1994 Catechism would not hesitate to cite to it for that position. That the 1994 Catechism does not interpret the Tribute Episode as a justification for the payment of taxes suggests that such an interpretation is not an authoritative reading of the passage. In short, even the Catholic Church does not understand the Tribute Episode to mean that Jesus endorsed paying Caesar's taxes. V. CONCLUSION St. John's Gospel recounts the scene of a woman caught in adultery, brought before Jesus by the Pharisees so that they might "test" Him "so that they could have some charge to bring against Him." When asked, "'Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say,'" Jesus appears trapped by only two answers: the strict, legally-correct answer of the Pharisees, or the mercifully-right, morally-correct, but technically-illegal answer undermining Jesus' authority as a Rabbi. Notably, Jesus never does overtly respond to the question posed to Him; instead of answering, "Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger." When pressed by His inquisitors, He finally answers, "'Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,'" and, of course, the shamed Pharisees all leave one by one. Jesus then refuses to condemn the woman. The scene of the woman caught in adultery and the Tribute Episode are similar. In both, Jesus is faced with a hostile question challenging His credibility as a Rabbi. In each, the hostile question has two answers: one answer which the audience knows is morally correct, but politically incorrect, and the other answer which the audience knows is wrong, but politically correct. In the scene of the woman caught in adultery, no one roots for Jesus to say, "Stone her!" Everyone wants to see Jesus extend the woman mercy. Likewise, in the Tribute Episode, no one hopes Jesus answers, "Pay tribute to the pagan, Roman oppressors!" The Tribute Episode, like the scene of the woman caught in adultery, has a "right" answer — it is not licit to pay the tribute. But Jesus cannot give this "right" answer without running afoul of the Roman government. Instead, in both Gospel accounts, Jesus gives a quick-witted, but ultimately ambiguous, response which exposes the hypocrisy of His interrogators rather than overtly answers the underlying question posed by them. Nevertheless, in each instance, the audience can infer the right answer embedded in Jesus' response.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 10 weeks 5 days ago
    Life Without Rights
    Page Paul Bonneau
    Good to see you back, Paul. This was a good topic and elicited many comments from several participants -- most of whom no longer appear here. Sorry to see that, and hope it hasn't been due to bickering and nagging and disagreements between "libertarians" (quotes intended). The late Delmar England said it best (in my opinion -- which isn't worth a lot except to me): "...I have lived too long and seen too much to imagine that self ownership and freedom is ever going to happen on a large scale, and very few small ones either. For sure, as long as governmentalist and “anarchists” remain stuck in “government think” and insist on bringing in concepts of government and calling them non-government, things are going nowhere. "Speaking of commonalities under different labels, but in the same vein of thought, a common claim among “anarchists” is the concept, “right of self ownership.” “Right”? What is a “right”? Entitlement? Allocated “privilege”? By whom or what? By what rationale? Based on what premise? "The reality is that any human individual can believe whatever he/she wishes and take any action within his/her capacity. “Right”? Permission? With permission comes command. With command is the external ownership premise. “Rights” are a contradiction of individual identity, hence, anti-individual and anti-freedom. This is why in practice, “rights” (a version of “God intended”) become “bestowed privilege” at the point of a gun. "The idea of self ownership is not a “bestowed right.” It is a matter of personal choice. The natural law of individual volition validates this. The premise of self ownership is my personal choice, but not necessarily the choice of another, others, or all. I wish it were, but my wishes do not create reality. “If” self ownership is the agreed-upon operative social premise, subordination to anyone or anything is logically excluded. That is really all there is to it. The fact that most choose anti-self existence does not change the principle and derivatives of the self ownership concept..." You can read the whole essay here: http://www.anarchism.net/anarchism_insanityasthesocialnorm.htm I no longer use the term "rights" (not that you "shouldn't"). I make choices. I'm aware that there are many, many psychopaths standing in the wings who would gleefully interfere with the choices I make. Part of anarchy in an unfree world is learning how to sidestep and circumnavigate those no-good-nicks. Sam
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 11 weeks 13 hours ago
    Life Without Rights
    Page Paul Bonneau
    I just wanted to add another comment to this piece (that I still often link to in discussions, even if it is old). I just got done reading Raspail's "The Camp of the Saints" (highly recommended), and found this comment in it: --------------------- "We asked [Raspail] about his vision of the West, this West that had lost all confidence in itself as a worthwhile civilization. Where did he think this mentality ("the beast") had come from? He said this was a difficult question. It was a collection of things; one couldn't really say. In one sense the West is more than ever triumphant, but it has a conception of the rights of man. In its original form this was an excellent idea, but it now has been misapplied and it is being used against France, the very country that had first conceived it." -- "An Interview with Jean Raspail" by Katharine Betts, from "Camp of the Saints" Bottom line, the notion of rights is a major cause of the looming destruction of Western Civilization.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 11 weeks 1 day ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Hi again Sam:   That's just it though -- suddenly this topic, as it were, is no longer the province of Coast to Coast AM, or other kinds of "conspiracy" or paranormal media.  This is the establishment's very own MSM opening up about it.  My column attempts to probe into some possible reasons why.  It very well could be total fabrication...but then, why?  It could be 100% bonafide truth.  In which case, again, why reveal it so openly after so many decades of cagey secrecy -- some of it perhaps reverse psychology in and of itself?  "They" (the powers that shouldn't be called Government) obviously want "us," one way or another, to accept at least the two pieces of information cited above as truth.   Why?
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 11 weeks 3 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    I wouldn't be in any position to argue against any of the late-night radio shows' "evidence" from expert guests and call-in participants. There well might be folks who are "exploring us", and who have come near to "communicating" with "us". And there may well be reasons that the psychopaths-that-be don't want to disseminate the "truth" to the hoi polloi. Conspiracies of this sort are just part and parcel of that egregious idea encompassed in "the state". I'd be interested to discover if any of the Voyager expeditions launched by Carl Sagan and his associates have born fruit. He was a believer in the natural potential that there must indeed be other "intelligent life" somewhere out there in the vastness that is our incomprehensible universe. Nice topic for discussion, Alex. Sam
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 12 weeks 1 day ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Hi Sam:   I would only add to your input that the prima facie evidence of other advanced lifeforms is, evidently, already here.  Unless, of course, the above-cited incidents are in fact entirely fabricated.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 12 weeks 1 day ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    The fact that we're discussing this under the presumption that only the brainless idea called "government" would be the culprit insofar as "withholding information" pertaining to "unidentified objects" is evidence of the total saturation most of us have suffered under what we like to call "statism". None of us were born with an anarchist spoon in our mouths. Thinking logically -- outside the "statist box" -- has been a totally new feeling for many of us. And "government" (psychopaths who deign to rule) fairly well have a handle on the financing of huge scientific projects -- including evidence of the phenomenon that usually elicits an emotional response -- the-theory-of-evolution. I began to question "science" many years ago. Any time that word is placed in quotation marks -- or is used as a noun -- as if "it" were a living, breathing entity -- brings me to question. Because most of what we know as "science" has been accomplished in some manner with stolen (tax) resources one way or another. That does not mean that I question the scientific method of reason. I'm a science teacher (in a previous life). I'm merely saying "we" don't know a lot about "our" universe. My favorite "scientist" was Carl Sagan. Of all people, he knew the likelihood of other forms of life that must be present somewhere in the vastness of space. He just hadn't been able to discover one or more of those forms of life before he died at an early age. I suspect he died of unorthodox faith in the "science" of medicine. Who knows -- perhaps one day "we" will find that there ARE many other forms of life -- possibly much more advanced and intelligent than "we" are -- somewhere in the light-years (are there such things as "dark-years???" :-]) away from earth. Hopefully, that will be after "discovery" will no longer be in the hands of deep-pocket psychopaths. Sam
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 12 weeks 2 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Hi Guys:  I hadn't thought about the Space Force rollout -- interesting.  Of course, anything the USG (or any other current government) can put into outer space would be zero military match for technologies such as those displayed by these UFOs.  But the timing is definitely suspect.
  • Mark Davis's picture
    Mark Davis 12 weeks 2 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    I've been pondering this question as well, Alex; with the same skepticism. The nature and purpose of this psyops are still uncertain to me. I can't figure out if 1) they have really been hiding information proving the existance of aliens among us and are just now leaking it out before the big reveal or 2) they are creating a false narrative to make us believe that there are aliens here and now. Either way, my guess would be that the global warming and terrorism memes are losing momentum as tools to generate fear among the populace about problems too-big-for-the-little-guy-to-handle such that only international institutions (i.e. World Government/UN) can cope with them. Or maybe it was just the "Space Force" roll-out. You can be certain, as you stated, that the reason is not for honorable purposes.
  • Gwardion's picture
    Gwardion 12 weeks 2 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    If you are looking for patterns..... a Space Force? Maybe connected?
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 13 weeks 2 days ago Page S.E. Seachman
    Thanks for providing this excellent series of articles, Steve.   "It has everything to do with cultivating institutional privileges while distracting people from what matters." Well, that sums things up very nicely.   Your comment about critics being anti-profit reminds me of much of what I hear from vaccine critics. They embrace the Marxist notion that the profit motive is to blame for the rapacious vaccine industry. In reality, it is the socialism that is so devastating, but it is often difficult to get this point across to non-libertarians. Odd that the idea of selection bias never came up in your statistics class. I had an excellent professor for my first semester of probability and statistics and he was constantly reiterating that you needed "a representative sample" when doing statistical analysis.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 14 weeks 1 day ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    My "exhaustive study" places the "rubicon" at 1. I don't mean "1%". Probably more like ".0000000---0001%". In actuality, using the linked article's assessment ("How Many People I'll Need on My Side"), the answer is 0. Zero. I've discovered I can be free. Here. Today. Where I'm "at". Now. I truly hope you'll join me. But I don't need even that for me to be free. Your freedom is not a requirement for my freedom (nor is my freedom a requirement for you to be free) And that, my dear friends, appears to be where this whole she-bang went astray and STR participation fell to a small handful -- where we once had dozens and dozens (many genuine "heavy-hitters", but also many, many freedom seekers who wrote no erudite essays and who did not always agree with you or me or anybody else posting on this site). "Society" is I. Or, I am "society". Actually, "society" (like "government" and/or "the-state" and/or "our-great-nation") is an idea, not an entity. "Governments" and "states" are very bad ideas. On a brighter note -- it's nice to see you reviewing some of the older articles that made STR great. Sam
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 14 weeks 2 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Newly published related article places the "rubicon" at more like 25%:   https://futurism.com/social-change-tipping-point/    
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 14 weeks 5 days ago Page S.E. Seachman
    This is a really good article. I have been trying to get a better understanding of how college costs have spun out of control and have not really seen a lot of good analysis of the topic. As I read this through, I noted a number of parallels to the dysfunctional (to put it mildly) government vaccine program. Just like parents who are college graduates are strongly inclined to send their kids to college, most people who were vaccinated as kids are inclined to subject their kids to vaccination. In the latter case, the parents think that since vaccination was of benefit to them (or at least, that seemed to be the case), then it will be of benefit to their kids as well. They do not take into account that the vaccine schedule has tripled over the last 30 years and that it is currently producing vastly greater harm than when they took relatively few vaccines. Licensing and mandates are also critical components in the current vaccine mania. Parents feel a false sense of reassurance going to licensed pediatricians, who utilize FDA approved (licensed) drugs/biologics. They think that all of these economic blockades (as the author put it so well) are actually there for their own protection, so that they won't have to worry about "quackery". Then, of course we have the vaccine mandates which most parents mistakenly believe must be complied with in order for their kids to attend school. Little do they know that the government vaccine program has been built on a foundation of fraud and coercion.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 17 weeks 1 day ago
    One Percent
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    Great points, all.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 17 weeks 1 day ago
    One Percent
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    I concur, Mark.  Instant gratification is the touchstone concept of modern society.  I also think you make a salient point in your conclusion.  Thanks for your perspective.
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 17 weeks 4 days ago
    One Percent
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    A 1% reduction in spending, however inadequate, is not politically acceptable, probably for a couple reasons. First, if it were to happen and business would go on as usual, it would beg the question "Maybe we can cut the budget by 5% or 10%, or even more, without adverse consequences". And that is not a thought that the political class wants people to entertain. Second, and probably more importantly, in the political world, the laws of economics have (apparently) been suspended. We can have our cake and eat it too. There is no real awareness about what all of this runaway spending is REALLY costing us (i.e. in terms of opportunity cost). That will change eventually, but in the interim an incredible amount of damage is being done. There is no real incentive for politicians to be more fiscally responsible: quite the contrary.
  • Mark Davis's picture
    Mark Davis 17 weeks 5 days ago
    One Percent
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    One-percent is likely a high estimate, IMHO. My expectations of a general awakening to the joys and benefits of liberty, much less a rejection of the state, decline daily. The ability to think abstractly does not appear to be a common trait while the desire for tangible, immediate results appears overwhelming to the few who can and do. As long as the median time preference for the general population is a matter of days, weeks or even months as opposed to years, or preferably decades, the dominate social order will be based on obedience, compulsion and violence. Our best hope for a voluntary society free of this statist cult is a remnant of liberty-lovers surviving the predictable collapse of the existing order. Keep preaching to the choir, Alex, because the size of this remnant will be important in determining the structural design of future reboots of the social order.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 17 weeks 5 days ago
    One Percent
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    Hi Sam, good to hear from you again, in turn!  :-)   I would hope that I made clear in this short piece that I'm entirely in accord with everything you and the late Mr. England have to say above.  My purpose was to draw a stark illustration for the fence-sitters, while addressing the initiated also.    
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 17 weeks 5 days ago
    One Percent
    Page Alex R. Knight III
    Nice to see you back "on board", Alex. And interesting topic. I've been re-reading our old friend, Delmar England (died 2010, per Per Bylund), "Mind and Matters, The World in a Mirror". https://commonsensical.liberty.me/mind-and-matters-the-world-in-a-mirror... Here's a prefacing quote from Chapter 8: "...To speak of a governmental system is to speak of a specific segment of earth wherein the inhabitants are controlled by a certain person or persons. The segment, always established by physical force, is usually called a country or nation. The primary philosophy is physical dominance. The will to power is an insatiable appetite and those controlling each segment are forever fearful for their “security”. Every alliance of two or more segments is seen as a threat. Counter alliances and weapons buildup are necessary precautions that instills fear and insecurity in others. This fuse is always burning, sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly, but always the psychological condition of escalation is present and operating..." He goes on to outline the reality that there is no such thing as "reducing government": "...So, let us be clear from the outset. When someone seeks to control, limit, or reduce government, what they are clearly saying is that they wish to direct the centralized coercive force to compel all others to conform to their personal values, to act for their personal benefit, i.e., to claim ownership of all other individuals..." The Paul of the world may appear to mean well. But the phenomenon we like to call "government" will never be anything other than coercion and violence and war. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 23 weeks 1 day ago
    The Wonder of Words
    Page Paul Hein
    "...(The master also had guns and overseers.)..." And that, my dear friends, is the essence of "jurisdiction". I've said for years that the only legitimate governing agency is the family unit. All others are coercive interlopers, with the only advantage of loaded firearms -- nothing else. This, of course, is simply because each of us -- all newborn human beings -- arrive on earth totally dependent upon adult caregivers. Hopefully loving Moms and Dads, although all-too-often to "single-parent-jurisdictions" (homesteads). Whether you agree to it (or like it or not), if you are a parent you are "in charge". You've gotta keep the infant clothed, sanitary, fed and comfortable. And loved. The governance of love. Can't be beat. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 23 weeks 1 day ago
    The Wonder of Words
    Page Paul Hein
    This is one of your best, Paul! Since I gave up internet at home over a year ago (interfered with my bike riding regimen) I have to copy to flash drive on the computer at the government ("public" ha ha) library, for later reading at home. Which is what I've done. However, along with what you've observed as the trickery that causes the hoi polloi to think of themselves as "citizens" and "taxpayers", I've been wading through the late Delmar England's "Mind and Matters...": https://commonsensical.liberty.me/mind-and-matters-the-world-in-a-mirror... It's long, difficult to read (England used complicated sentence structure). But worth the time. Sam
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 24 weeks 5 days ago Page Paul Bonneau
    More and more, Paul, when I go back and attempt to decipher things I've written a week or a month back, I also miss my own point. Your essay was good, and think I was merely picking at lint. At least I don't remember what point I was attempting to make at the time. Regards, Sam
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 24 weeks 6 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Any government thug who tries to enforce this order should be dealt with the same as any other violent criminal.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 25 weeks 6 days ago Page S.E. Seachman
    Good article. I have a saying: given enough time, all human institutions turn to shit. I wrote something that agrees with the points made here: http://strike-the-root.com/how-i-got-job
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 25 weeks 6 days ago Page Paul Bonneau
    I guess I'm missing your point... are we disagreeing about something? I like the free market too - even if it is imperfect, and sometimes slow, and even if people attempt to manipulate it (mostly by making it less free). My solution was found in the free market...
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 26 weeks 5 days ago Web link Melinda L. Secor
    Too bad the author states, "To be clear, no one here is advocating for people determined to be mentally unfit to be able to possess firearms."  The Second Amendment makes no such exception, nor should it, as doing so is a clear path to tyranny.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 27 weeks 1 day ago Page Paul Bonneau
    "...Because I prefer to not engage in discourse with people inclined to make comments like the ones I quote above, I generally abstain from posting here..." Calinb, I too prefer to not engage in discourse with naysayers. They bore me. That said, I'm determined not to allow any commenter(s) to suppress my quest for liberty and freedom. Nor will I allow cynics to censor my prerogative to express myself. I think Paul can say the very same thing; and am inspired by his continuing to post essays and comments at STR. Even when I do not totally agree with him. Jim and Paul and I have in history enjoyed each others' web interchanges. We've also spatted and sparred a bit (especially of late). I truly hope I've learned from the crossfire. I want always to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. And that's what I think you're trying to get across here. However, abstaining from interacting with others will not strengthen the forum. I truly wish many of the old-timers would return and "buck up" -- not allowing 'em "...to get'cha down...". Sam
  • calinb's picture
    calinb 27 weeks 3 days ago Page Paul Bonneau
    "Your long and welcome absence from this site had encouraged me to suppose that, the owner having declined to eject you, you had quit on your own. Sorry to see you back." "Sam, I have indeed wished that Paul Bonneau be banned from writing anything on STR, and I repeat that desire here and now with all the emphasis at my command." Jim, I've been lurking on this site for many years. Because I prefer to not engage in discourse with people inclined to make comments like the ones I quote above, I generally abstain from posting here. However, I very much wish for you to know that your contributions have never changed my mind about anything (changed how I think) but Paul Bonneau's words have done so! Also: "I cannot prove that he is a government agent provocateur, but my opinion is that he is." I have followed Paul's writings from long ago on the Montana Alliance for Liberty Yahoo group and I highly doubt that your assertion is true. In my opinion, his work passes a "Turing Test" for anarchism. If he is a government agent provocateur, he is a very ineffective one!
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 28 weeks 1 day ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Don't know that I totally agree with your concept regarding the marketplace. If I were to invest in manufacturing a product "...guaranteed to rid you of (say) wiffles...", yes, I would perhaps feel threatened if wiffles were to become suddenly non-existent. However -- if you were to purchase my wiffle treatment with poor results (the wiffles continue to persist and aggravate), I would feel threatened that you and many others would be no longer willing to buy products manufactured by me, since I failed to produce what I promised to produce. In other words, I believe in the marketplace -- a free marketplace. Of course, I recognize few of us have ever experienced what we'd like to call "free" markets. And it's the "free" market in which I believe. Were I to lobby gangsters operating under the guise of senators and "representatives" to pass laws and regulations limiting or blocking other manufactures from producing wiffles, then I would fall into the category of your dandruff shampoo people that relish the proliferation of dandruff to "treat". Were I to have no competition it would be to my advantage to make certain that wiffles remain strong. And there might be still enough goof-balls who would buy my product that failed to do as advertised to keep me putting out anti-wiffle products. I see the medical establishment in this latter light. AMA and their parasites are always in the top 10% of lobbyists. It seems that the rapidly diminishing local family doctor is the only medical producer to have an interest in genuinely wanting to see you get well. And s/he is often holistic in her approach. Much could be discussed regarding this, Paul -- please don't take this as criticism of your essay. Sam .
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 28 weeks 1 day ago Page Paul Hein
    You've exposed the ultimate in social engineering, Paul. Where I work, the set of restrooms in the back have the men's room entrance on the right, but in front the men's room entrance is on the left. The other night I decided I'd better pee before biking home, and inadvertently entered the ladies' room -- immediately, I sensed I was in the wrong bathroom (it was a busy night at Wally-Wolrld). :-[ Well, I'm happy to report I was mortified. I hope always to be embarrassed if I ever make such a blooper again. Sam
  • ReverendDraco's picture
    ReverendDraco 30 weeks 13 hours ago
    When Will It End?
    Page Paul Hein
    Sounds like smart people over at ZH - 2 for 2 is pretty good.
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 30 weeks 2 days ago
    When Will It End?
    Page Paul Hein
    When I read a site like zerohedge.com, I'm heartened by the overwhelming rejection of gun-control arguments following this latest school shooting.  Just so I don't get too happy, I'm saddened by the overwhelming rejection of the idea of open borders.  Lock 'em up and toss 'em out is the attitude toward immigrants at ZH.
  • Paul's picture
    Paul 30 weeks 2 days ago
    When Will It End?
    Page Paul Hein
    I've recently taken up watching Chinese, Korean and Japanese romantic comedies on Netflix with my wife. It's nice to see actual chaste behavior on the idiot box, strange as that may sound. You don't end up feeling dirty after watching it. It may be there is some censorship going on to maintain this, or the culture is not as degraded as ours is, or a combination of the two. I don't know, but I like the result. As to school shootings, they sure are convenient for advancing the ruling class aim to disarm the peons. However, it's not going to work. Americans are arming up. If the parasites manage to touch off a war, that will be the end of them.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 30 weeks 4 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Probably should include this article I found here as well:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/20/using-the-best-data-possible-we-set-out-to-find-the-middle-of-nowhere/?utm_term=.017d5d6f9dc0    
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 30 weeks 6 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    I don't think that we can assume that drug testing will necessarily be very expensive in a free market setting. We really have no idea if there are far superior models for evaluating drugs than the FDA-mandated one. We need a market in order to determine how the testing ought to work and what it will cost. I am not sure about how copyright should work.
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 30 weeks 6 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Oops, I meant to reply to you but created a separate new message instead.
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 30 weeks 6 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    I agree with many of your points.      . The cost of bringing new drugs to the market is, without question, heavily distorted by government rules, allegedly in place to ensure quality but, like many or most government rules, of questionable cost-effectiveness (at best) or counterproductive (at worse).      . The true cost of drugs is obscured by government influenced, if not mandated, practices of paying for them.      . Other more cost-effective theraputics might supplant many expensive drugs now being prescribed, if the market weren't so distorted.   On the other hand,      . Even if we stipulate that the vast majority of new drugs introduced are worthless or worse, I would assert that some fraction are life-saving, a real boon to mankind.      . Even if we streamline the qualification process, removing all rules other than truth-telling (not over-hyping how safe a drug is known to be, etc.) for marketing a drug, for example, the process of testing a new drug will be very expensive.  This can be mitigated to some extent by performing human trials on people who are dying and eager to try anything, aware of the risks, but it will still be very expensive.      . As time goes on, it will become increasingly easy to maufacture any particular compound, which will make it easier than ever to make a cheap profit off someone else's work.   "Should we wring our hands or simply accept the verdict of the market...?"   Is that how you feel about copyright too?  Should I be able to sell and profit from the spreadsheet program you wrote rather than writing my own?  I think unique new drugs should be protected in much the same way copyrighted works are today.
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 30 weeks 6 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    "I don't want to defend the crony-capitalist practices of today's drug companies, but if we want a continued flow of new life-saving drugs, then the huge effort it takes to bring a drug to market must be rewarded by some form of protection." There are many assumptions built into this statement which may not be warranted. First, do we want these drugs? Well, we really can't answer that question in the absence of a real market, where consumers willingly pay the full price for these drugs out of their own pockets. Second, do we actually already have a "flow of new life-saving drugs"? The evidence is that few new drugs are life-saving, most only suppress symptoms, and many have been shown to be harmful and lethal. Third, even if we were to concede the 1st 2 points, is it really true that "the huge effort it takes to bring a drug to market must be rewarded by some form of protection."? Maybe the huge effort and expense is actually just a form of protectionism, to keep less lucrative therapeutics off the market, since they cannot afford to run the FDA gauntlet. Maybe if we had a system of competing private firms certifying drugs and other therapeutics, it could be done much more quickly and efficiently, and would not require monopoly prices to underwrite such an effort. But, let us suppose, that even in an environment where competing private firms were operating that it might sometimes, if not often, be cost prohibitive to produce new drugs which are profitable absent patent protection. What should we make of this? Should we wring our hands or simply accept the verdict of the market, that such drugs have failed the market test and that our resources toward improving health or fighting disease should be allocated elsewhere?
  • John deLaubenfels's picture
    John deLaubenfels 30 weeks 6 days ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    My views mirror yours, Alex.  My favorite example is a spreadsheet program: if I write and sell one, nothing prevents you from writing and selling a program with all the features mine has, but reasonable copyright prevents you from making money selling the program I wrote.   Where should the line be drawn between something that is protectable and something that is not?  In my view, the criterion should be that a work is complex enough that it is ridiculously unlikely (say, odds of one in the number of atoms in the universe) that it might be duplicated by chance by someone else.  Thus a book would be protected but a book title would not (same as now).      I also agree that patents are illegitimate, both in terms of the simplicity of ideas they protect and in the method by which they protect them, which discourages rather than being neutral or encouraging competition.  In contrast, by protecting individual works, copyright encourages competition.  But if we sweep away patents, some of what they now cover needs to be carried elsewhere.  I don't want to defend the crony-capitalist practices of today's drug companies, but if we want a continued flow of new life-saving drugs, then the huge effort it takes to bring a drug to market must be rewarded by some form of protection.
  • Alex R. Knight III's picture
    Alex R. Knight III 31 weeks 1 day ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    As always, I appreciate your input and analysis, Sam.  :-)  Thank you.
  • Samarami's picture
    Samarami 31 weeks 1 day ago Page Alex R. Knight III
    Good topic for discussion, Alex. And well thought-out. "...With the recognition then that, if such practices still existed in freedom they would do so purely as a product of markets and free enterprise, we must then ask the obvious question as to whether individuals would be entitled to such protections at all..." Key words here (as I see them) are "entitled" and "protections". If you invite me for a visit into your home, are you "entitled" to be "protected" from my crapping on your floor or being rude or unkind to you and/or members of your family??? Of course, if you didn't know me well enough to discern that I'm not one who would so engage, you would probably not extend the invitation in the first place. Caution is prudence. You summed it up well in your final paragraph. Since none of us have experienced "true freedom" (with the possible exception of yours truly :-]) it's up in the air as to exactly how many of these "rights" will be protected once uncivil government is finally exterminated. Because there will still be, for example, "unfit" parents (is the newborn "entitled" to be fed, clothed and kept clean???). With the advent of the internet and compooterization, where it has become so easy to copy & paste, I try to be vigilant with myself and give credit for quotations and things that make sense to me -- to provide "links" where appropriate. But, as in your example of the wheel, I suppose nothing I say or write is totally, 100% original with me. Someone at one time in my life taught me to say, "Ma-Ma". I did not originate the term, but I use it (my dear Ma-Ma died in 1996). So discernment will probably rule in many cases, and there will always be some who will steal ideas and concepts without intending to remunerate whoever took the time and effort to produce them. And you might have to hunt 'em up and gun 'em down. Sam.
  • D. Saul Weiner's picture
    D. Saul Weiner 31 weeks 3 days ago Page Paul Bonneau
    Well done. I greatly regret not homeschooling my daughters.