Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Excitement of Truth

When I was eighteen years old I attended Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, Oregon. Five months prior to that I had changed my religious affiliation from Catholic to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Occasionally I passed a curious building. It looked a little like an office, yet had a sign that read The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Finally I decided to investigate and entered the building to inquire its purpose. The nice receptionist explained that the building housed the Church's Institute program. She said Institute was a program for LDS students that attended SOSC. Its purpose was to provide religious classes for the students. I told her I was a member and perhaps would like to attend some of these classes. She signed me up.
Faithfully I attended my institute classes and a very exciting thing occurred. As Brother Baird taught those classes my mind began to open to the scriptures. The difficulties I had in understanding the language and the ideas found in the ancient books disappeared. I felt the Spirit instructing me, enlightening my mind.
The excitement of what I was learning could not be contained. I would rush back to the dorm and share the many things I was learning with my non-member friend and my roommate. I can trace my excitement of reading, studying and pondering the scriptures to those institute classes held just north of SOSC.
The excitement created in me a hunger and thirst for scriptural knowledge. I desired to familiarize myself with every story and every character. The more familiar the scriptures became the more I loved them.
Familiarity with the sacred books brought clarity. I began to see clear lines of reason. The better I became at extracting principles from the books the more I was able to experiment in implementing the principles in my life. Soon blessings and success were flowing into my life.
A similar experience occurred a couple years ago as I read Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. I loved it. It was beautiful. Like the scriptures an excitement was awakened in me. I began to hunger and thirst for knowledge concerning the French Revolution. I read everything I could get my hands on. As I studied many questions entered my mind. “Why was the French Revolution so different from the American Revolution?” “What was Robespierre thinking when he instituted the Reign of Terror?” Like the scriptures, I became familiar with the French Revolution. The familiarity brought clarity. Like the scriptures, I wanted to share what I was learning with everyone.
Like my early years in institute, I can trace my excitement for reading, studying and pondering literature, history, politics, and philosophy to the reading of Charles Dickens. This excitement helps me to hunger and thirst for knowledge in these subjects.
But is it really just knowledge I am thirsting for?
Since the scriptures have been such a great guide I consulted them. And as I pondered certain scriptures I could see that the clarity in both of my experiences could be translated as light. “For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (D&C 84:45) Obviously I know that the light of truth is what I experienced in my institute classes. But have I also experienced the light of truth in my study of literature, history, politics, and philosophy?
This question is more easily answered if I approach it from the opposite direction. It seems logical to me that the enemy of righteousness, Satan, would have desires to keep us from the most important truths contained in the gospel of Christ. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthian 4:3-4) But the father of all lies would also desire us to be ignorant of all truth, whether spiritual or secular. “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning... (D&C 93:24) The wicked one desires to hide all truth from us. If true principles of history are hid, we will repeat the mistakes of the past. If truth principles of politics are hid, we will succumb to tyranny. If true principles of philosophy are hid, we will think truth is relative. What better way to destroy than to deceive and lead people from truth
So what do my two experiences have in common? Well, both of them involved light. In both instances I could feel the light of truth because things seemed so clear. They both created in me an excitement, a desire to share. I believe that being released from darkness and being able to see what I had been blind to previously, is very exciting. It is the feeling of peace and joy and freedom.
So where do I go from here? And where do others go who may also be experiencing this excitement? An epiphany came to me as I read the 33rd verse of Doctrine and Covenants section 121. “How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” Heavenly Father will endow the righteous with power. That power will come from the knowledge of truth. It will cut through all the false and impure waters of our day.
My responsibility is to seek for knowledge out of the best books. Knowledge “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms— That (I) may be prepared in all things when (the Lord) shall send (me) again to magnify the calling whereunto (He has) called (me), and the mission with which (He has) commissioned (me).” ( D&C 88:79-80)

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Law of Unexpected Results

Can government solve societies ills? Can it do away with poverty, racism and illiteracy? Is it the vehicle with which the world will become a better place to live? Not according to the Law of Unexpected Results.
In Paul Johnson's Modern Times, he makes one or two comments about this law. According to the Law of Unexpected Results a law or policy is put forth to solve a certain problem or injustice in society. The law is appealing to the people who think that injustices should be done away with. The media proclaims the law to be sound and surely the right thing to solve the problem. But interestingly, as the law or policy begins to unfold and begins to operate it does not do what it was professed to do. Sometimes it may create more difficulties. To the people, the law seems to be inadequate or faulty. It appears to fall short of the intended results. What is the Law of Unexpected Results: Laws and policies intended to solve societal ills fail.
But why do they fail? Government officials promise, if we take these steps to fix the problem, it will be great for the nation. The War on Poverty has not eliminated poverty. Affirmative Action has not helped the minorities. The No Child Left Behind Act continues to leave children behind. Why do these policies fail? Three basic ideas seem to be at the core of these failures. First: Just because the results were unexpected for the people does not mean the results were unexpected to the creator of the law. Second: Ideas are based on premises. If a premise is false, the ideas built on the premise cannot come to fruition. Lastly and simply: Arbitrary laws, which favor some at the expense of others, do not work.
Look at the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Most would agree the outcome of this law is not what was intended. But has it created what was expected for those that championed it? The only real beneficiaries of this law are those involved in the educational testing and curriculum industries. Was the law really created to help students or corporations? From the beginning it has put tremendous emphasis on assessment. The results of this law may not be what students, parents and teachers wanted, but they did not write the law.
Let's continue with the NCLB. Who came up with the idea that if we assess students more they will learn more? Is that true? When you build a law on a false premise it will not produce a true outcome. Think of the more basic premise: Who is responsible for public education? Is it the federal government or the state or local government? Who is responsible for an individual's education? Is it the teacher, the parent or the student? If the responsibility lies with the student, why is education compulsory?
Is NCLB an arbitrary law? Arbitrary means at random without reason. A good test to determine if a law is arbitrary is to examine whether the law favors some at the expense of others. The NCLB was designed to focus on the disabled and disadvantaged students. The students who excel and succeed receive no benefits from this law.
I believe these huge thousand-page laws coming out of Washington, are corrupt, false and arbitrary. The results for the people in general remain the same. They do not and ca not solve problems. Most problems that government tries to solve would be best taken care of by the individual.
Now who knows what will result of our new Health Care Reform bill. But according to the Law of Unexpected Results, it will not be to reform health care. It is obviously an law designed with corruption, based on the idea that health care is a right and arbitrarily favors some at the expense of others.
Can government solve societies ills? No. We wish it could, then it would absolve us as individuals from the responsibility. Government can protect life, liberty and property. Unfortunately, most in Washington continue to try social engineering. They continue to create chaos in the form of these crazy laws. Next time a law comes around professing to solve everyone's problems, apply the Law of Unexpected Results. I think you will find it interesting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I am Not a Communist? By Connie Pulotu

I am not a Communist because...

Communists believe in equal liability to all to labor. I believe all men are not created equal. I believe that some people just work harder than others. I believe some people love to work, while others enjoy loafing a bit more. I believe that we reap what we sow, literally.

Communists believe that bourgeois society creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage labour...Property in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor. I believe in the opposites of good and evil. I do not believe that inanimate objects are either good or evil. I believe that people may choose to treat others well or poorly. I do not believe that property can exploit, only individuals.

Communists believe the abolition of bourgeois individuality, bourgeois independence and bourgeois freedom is undoubtedly the aim. By freedom is meant, free trade, free selling and buying. I do not believe that for one class to prosper another must be abolished. Nor do I believe that by abolishing the property of one class another will benefit. I believe that it is not circumstances or wealth that makes men free, but the ability to choose in every circumstance. I believe in free-enterprise. I believe that when men have the freedom to experiment in trying a new business, it benefits society. I believe that innovation comes from the freedom to try. I also believe that a free market economy creates a greater wealth for all.

Communists believe that in bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality. Again, I believe in the freedom to choose. I believe that individuals, although dependent on others for some things still have freedom in other areas. I do not believe that individuals with more money have greater freedom, only greater opportunity which is not always synonymous with freedom. I believe, in my society, that one can choose what level of affluence they want to achieve in this life. But I also believe that some may have an easier way to prosperity.

The theory of the Communist may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property. I believe in private property. I believe that an individuals property is an extension of that individual. I believe that my property is the fruit of my labor. I believe that I may choose to give away my property of my own free will, but that another does not have the right to take my property without compensation. Nor do I believe that any property beyond the needs of an individuals belongs to public domain. I believe that even the poor have and deserve property rights.

Communists believe that to a great extent (industry has) already destroyed it (labors property). I do not believe that capital seeks to destroy labors individual property. Nor do I believe that capital is evil. I do, however, believe that power and money have the tendency to corrupt individuals.

Communists have no interest separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole. I do not believe that Communists “have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.” I believe that man is naturally inclined to his own interests. I also believe that those who propose anarchy assume they will be in a higher, more authoritative position after or they would not propose it.

Communists believe, in its completely developed form exists only among the bourgeoisie. I believe that family has always been the basic unit of society. I do not believe family is a creation of the bourgeoisie. I believe that even among the poor in a society, the family can and does exist. I do, however, believe that poor circumstances can adversely effect the family unit.

Communists believe that the proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class. I believe that government is best established by order. I believe that when the Communists talk about a centralized “State” they are talking about a few governing the many. I believe that anarchy has no other purpose other than to wrestle the power from one ruler to give to another.

Communists believe that the ideas of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, merely gave expression to the sway of freedom of competition within the domain of knowledge. I am not a Communist because I believe in religious liberty for all. I believe that freedom of conscience is fundamental to peace and happiness in this life. I do not believe that religion is a creation to submit the poorer classes to the will of the ruling class. I believe in a God, the Creator of this world. I believe that society is best served when the individuals of that society follow the Creator and live by His laws.

Having stated why I am not a communists, I understand the main point of their argument. I know that there are great advantages in possessing wealth in this life. I also know that those who are the poorest in our society are disadvantaged. But because I believe that happiness is not determined in the amount of wealth one possess, nor in the comfort or education one receives, I really feel less inclined to participate in the passion that stems from the arguments of the Manifesto.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Simple Thing Called Consequences
By Connie Pulotu

There is a simple thing called consequences in this world. It is a wonderful natural law that I believe helps the world maintain a sense of order. It works in a very natural way: Fire is hot and burns, don't touch the fire or you will be burned. You touched the fire, therefore you were burned. It is an important matter.
Unfortunately, in the world of parenting, sometimes the natural consequences are not realized. Parents who think they are showing love often circumvent the law of natural consequence and allow the child to fore go the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. The child usually turns out bad.
I think the idea of consequences has a lot to do with economics.
Let's suppose I am a twenty-five year old graduate student. I have been extended many credit cards by various banks. Justifying the use of all these cards as a way to help me through school, they are all “maxed out”. The natural consequence of this careless behavior is the opportunity to take fifty years to pay back these companies for letting me use their money. But what if I can't find a job after I graduate? What if I don't have the money to pay it back? Well, more than likely I will have to file bankruptcy and will be labeled a bad investment in the future. That is the consequences. But what about the bank?
Let's look at this from the bank that issued the credit card. They knew I was a student because when I applied I gave truthful information. They knew I had only a part-time job. They decided to take a chance on me. Well, because I filed bankruptcy, they will only recover a portion of my balance. That is the consequence.
How about a bigger example? Let's suppose a government has a policy to get involved in lending money for mortgages. This policy is aimed to help lower-income households qualify for loans that they might not have qualified for. The government has said they will back the loans if the individuals default. So big banks begin issuing lots of loans. A consequence: the housing market soars. New types of loans are created. The banks are making lots of money. Construction companies are making lots of money. Everyone is making lots of money. An economic bubble is formed. This is a consequence. But like all bubbles, it finally bursts. Now the natural consequences of a burst bubble are painful. Housing prices plummet, construction companies go belly up, everyone loses money. Well, not quite everyone. There are some big banks that will not feel the natural consequences. There will be some individuals who will actually gain from the crisis. But, just like a parent who interferes will the natural consequences of her child, the outcome is never good.
I think these are the things that bother me about the Keynesian view of economics.
Keynes says, “Individuals acting independently by the method of trial and error in such a way that those individuals who move in the right direction will destroy those who move in the wrong direction. This implies that there must be no mercy or protection for those who embark their capital or their labour in the wrong direction”
Keynes gets passionate when he discusses the idea that no mercy is extended to those businesses that can't compete. Should we show “mercy or protection” to those who move in the wrong direction? Would we not be like the parent raising a bad kid? Wouldn't that encourage other businesses to move in the wrong direction?
Those businesses which move in the right direction benefit our community. They increase capital and create new jobs. Should we limit them by legislature? That just doesn't make sense to me.
So I am a proponent for consequences. As painful as it maybe to experience the consequences of our decision, I think it is fundamentally important to learning. Oh, and government needs to stop interfering in the natural consequences. The child usually turns out bad.