Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wow, Cool! "Heuristics"! I Love It!

I found out about a new word the other day. Never heard of it before, and somewhere, I think it was on my Google page, there it was.

Heuristics.

Apparently this is the practice of joining with others to bat about some thought or idea or concept with the intention of arriving at a firm understanding of it. I mean, tell me if I'm wrong, but that's the idea I got. Came from the same Greek word that's in Archimedes' "Eureka!"

What a totally cool thing to do! Heuristics. I must say I'm all over that. I revel in engaging others about vital issues, critical topics, all of that. Let's do it!

The problem I have is when people don't want to do that. Sadly, at least what I've seen, very few truly want to do that. Oh many say they do, but they don't. When you get into the meat of something, most people get far too uncomfortable. It's not even that they don't want to do it, but get downright nasty for even venturing a bit too far into heuristic reality. I think I know why.

It is because every issue will always find its way all the way into one thing, at the end, when it is all said and done, it will always end up at

Jesus Christ.

Too many people jump off the heuristics cruise ship whenever it gets a bit too close to that Rock. Too many are simply too devoted to their own Jesus to risk being smashed on Truth and Grace.

I can't deny that this is extraordinarily discouraging.

Some may say, "Well, Dave, what's with that? If everything comes down to Jesus, then why do you even desire to do any of this heuristics stuff when it'll all come down to what you already know anyway, namely Him?"

Great question, and my answer is actually quite simple. I'm no genius about this stuff. But here's why, it is because

I don't yet know what's beyond Him.

He hasn't told me everything about Him. How great is that! This heuristics thing--awesome! It is precisely because I do know some things about Him that makes it so wonderful! Ironically, it is those who don't know about Him that are the most resistant to heuristics!

"What about this possibility? Let's talk about it! Mix it up! How 'bout it?!..."

"No, no, don't go there, too scary. In fact, go away from me. Errmph."

There it is. The way of the World. Yeah, it's crap, it really is.

Anyway, all that to introduce my latest home page piece, on that which is truly valuable. As a pretext I peek at what happened over at Societe Generale, and I rustle about in the most recent economic woes. If you're interested, it is here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The REAL Real Price of Everything

I enjoy browsing in bookstores, but I have a peculiar distaste for them because of this weird concoction of feelings I get every time I'm perusing the stacks. On one hand I see so many fine books I will never have time to engage, and on the other hand there is so much crap mixed in there that makes it quite daunting to distinguish the two. I usually leave with a heavy sigh on my breath.

I shouldn't be so cynical. Some people put a lot of work into that crap, and that has to be commendable. Anything an individual says is worth noting one way or another, I'm sure. Even learning of the wretched things the World puts out can be edifying in some way.

As I was peeking around at the newest offerings table, my attention was drawn to a title by Michael Lewis called The Real Price of Everything. I was even more intrigued when I went to pick it up and saw that it was quite the tome, weighing in at 1472 pages I saw on Amazon.

Wow, I initially thought, what a masterpiece. This much of an effort to detail one of the most significant things in life, the real price of everything. Awesome.

I looked inside and was disappointed that I didn't see a full, rich, original take on value, but rather a republishing of the works of six economics greats (they happened to be Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Veblen, Mackay, and Keynes) along with editorial comments and liberties from Lewis.

I thought later that, really, you don't need a million-odd words to get at the real price of everything, you just need two.

Jesus Christ.

If you truly want relationship, discovery, and accomplishment--the three basic needs--and God gave His life so you could be assured of having those things forever, then there it is.

There's the real price of everything.

Sadly, World operatives know nothing about Him yet they see the name, snatch it up, and make hundreds of counterfeits to draw attention to them and their work. This is why I also wondered precisely how many times Christ was referenced in any meaningful way in these classics. I'd venture to say not a whole lot. As an Economics instructor I'm a tad familiar with them all, and though I can't say for sure, if His name were to appear He wouldn't be much more than a prop in the World's morality play. These works are merely elaborate acts in that play.

My next home page piece addresses the idea of what is truly valuable, and as I do frequently I examine the always fascinating contrast between the World and the Kingdom. I have always been reluctant to share what I plan to do with anything in my web work, because I can't say what I'll be doing in the next minute. Even though God disposes, however, I may propose a bit and I humbly do that here.

I only blog this here just to point out that the World's real price of everything requires a turgid volume of paper and ink that can double as nice ottoman, while the Kingdom's real price of everything comes in the form of The Person Who Loves.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wild and Crazy Guy, John Schoen, Ya Crazy Old Lunatic You!...

In and around all the attention given to a seminal event--"Super Tuesday"-- in the long selection process for the next American Caesar, the news broke that actor Wesley Snipes was acquitted of major tax charges against him. Snipes tried to use the 861 argument to avoid paying taxes, and in response some mainstream anti-tax-protest pundits went into their typical hyperventilation mode to firmly remind us that we do indeed have tax liability.

One of them was MSNBC’s John Schoen, who in his short piece dated February 3rd used the following adjectives and epithets to describe his conception of tax protestors and their movement:

“delusional nonsense,” “comical collection,” “myth,” “non sequitur,” “misinformation,” “out of touch,” “crazies,” “kooky,” “ridiculous,” “absurd fairy tales,” “twisted,” “giant oak of nonsense,” “inanely creative theories,” “amusing,” “frivolous drivel,” “like-minded lunatics”

I selectively pulled them from the piece to highlight the fact that I think he was trying to set a record for hyperbolic name-calling without actually saying anything about what’s true about it all. I don’t think he came close to getting into Guinness because, really, this kind of thing happens all the time.

It’s all World inhabitants can say, and they seem to get such pleasure from it all.

To be honest, some of the censure is well-deserved. The web film Zeitgeist was mentioned, and I’m fully with Schoen. It is a fine cinematic piece of folly.

But it is folly for reasons Schoen himself can't quite grasp.

To Schoen and most of his toadying mainstreamers, anyone who says something genuinely penetratingly truthful about the World System belongs somewhere in the basket of pejoratives cited above. The problem is many of those who do the saying--such as the Zeitgeist crowd--are just as much blithering in the fetid whirlpool of the World. I’ve qualified this distinction as the difference between the Devout Romanists (“Just pay your taxes like a good little drone and don’t look at the man behind the green curtain”) and the Radical Selfists (“Look! Look there! There at the man behind the green curtain, and do whatever you can to kill him off!”)

Ahh, the gleeful endeavors of World inhabitants and their virulently raging culture war.

Kingdom understanding only comes with the blood of Jesus covering one’s soul and His words bathing one’s mind.

So then, what is that understanding about taxes?

The burden of proof in tax cases like Snipes is extraordinarily high, meaning some palpable intent to defraud the government must be clearly demonstrated. This is why more renowned tax protestors like Irwin Schiff and Larken Rose got nailed with substantial prison time, because they ventured deep into “We need to kill ’em off” territory.

Snipes himself was still convicted for misdemeanor charges stemming from the fact that he still claimed income and signed off on it while trying to use 861 to keep him from paying taxes. It is very true--by constitutional law and the federal tax code--that if one does not have foreign income nor is exercising the privilege of federal employment he is not liable to pay federal income taxes.

If, however, one makes the claim, signs the forms, and then lies about any part of what’s expected when one assumes tax liability, then the authorities have every right to prosecute such behavior. This was evident in one of Schoen’s remarks, which ironically tells the truth about tax liability in a quite simple way. He said,

“Modern tax ‘deniers’ have come up with an impressive collection of twisted arguments to support the idea that Uncle Sam has no right to ask American citizens to pay for the services their government provides them.”

It is true. If you get a service from the government then it may collect its cut and use the full weight of its power to get it.

The question is, are you collecting a service from the government?

If you are, then fine. You are merely expecting Caesar to be your lord and savior, to provide all sorts of codependent benefits afforded you from his kind and caring consideration. Wesley Snipes, John Schoen, the Zeitgeist filmmakers, even Irwin Schiff and Larken Rose are all law-abiding citizens who are doing Caesar’s work for Caesar’s purposes in Caesar’s kingdom.

But what if-- what if…

What if they left law-abiding and moved into truth-and-grace-living? What if they, or anyone for that matter, actually truly genuinely authentically

Made Jesus Christ their Lord instead?

That they’d make the One who not only holds the stars in their place but has their very breath in His hands, that He’d be the One they listen to?

Listen to so much that they’d love with such a love that they would blow away anyone whom they encountered with wholeness, healing, gentleness, kindness, and phenomenal increase of what’s truly valuable at least a hundred-fold for all those around? And do these things with such abandon that

There would be no reason at all for them to have to hand over the representation of that value to Caesar in the form of income taxes, nor would Caesar expect such a payment because he has absolutely no authority in such a realm?

This is precisely why a powerful media shrill like John Schoen can call those tax-wrestlers all those things. He only sees people twisting in the wind trying to be “tax-free” when indeed they do look quite foolish. But as one without Christ himself--or, to give him credit, as one with a straw-man World Christ--he looks just as foolish having nothing of substance to say himself.

When Jesus said His Kingdom was not of the World, it is amazing to see just how far away it is. Wow, it’s a long, long way away.

But His hand graciously reaches across long distances.

Who is this Jesus guy, really? Here're some thoughts. And what is the deal with taxes? Some brief thoughts on that are here.