Archive for March, 2012

Proving God

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I recently viewed a DVD from the History Channel entitled Proving God. It looked at the possibilities of reconciling science with faith, and whether or not science might one day be able to prove (or disprove) the existence of God. It talks about the possible discovery of the Theory of Everything (TOE), where some hope to find “the God Particle” to explain gravity, nuclear forces, chemical interactions, electro-magnetism, quantum mechanics, and life itself.

It explained the science behind the proton collision of the Large Hedron Collider (LHC), and the possibility of being able to explain the Big Bang Theory, and what was before the Big Bang. Some hope to be able to either replace God with science or produce evidence of God. To many, evolution offers the best scientific explanation of life. Still there’s much debate about whether or not everything happened by chance, or by necessity. Stephen Hawking as said, “… the universe can and will create itself.” We don’t need God. Others favor the Theory of the Fine-Tuned Universe, with God is the architect.

Of course, science cannot prove God, but He is certainly suggested. So how does one go about trying to find quantifiable proof of a Creator? Is there tangible evidence of God on earth? Can we use science to prove that God exists and that the Bible is the literal Word of God? One suggestion was to find the lost Ark of the Covenant. It was a central treasure to the Jewish religion, and therefore to Judeo-Christian truth. Some believe that it’s locked away in an obscure part of Ethiopia, and they are even trying to do DNA testing on people there to try to trace them back to the nation of Israel. Of course, even discovering the Ark of the Covenant would not constitute enough evidence for some people to see the physical proof of God.

Well, this video sets out to use scientific investigation to prove whether or not certain miracles of the Bible could have occurred. Although we will examine this further below, we first need to discuss the concept of a miracle. What is a miracle? The dictionary defines a miracle as being an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Click here for the full article.

Economic Generations of the 20th Century

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Tom Brokaw coined the term “The Greatest Generation” for that generation that won World War II for us.  I believe that there are some very interesting observations about the various generations of the U.S. in the 20th century, especially from an economic perspective.  We might be able to break down these generations as follows:

The Lost Generations 

Click here for the full article.

Is Social Security an Entitlement?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

There has been an e-mail circulating recently where a guy is upset with government spending, and also that the federal government has changed how they’re referring to social security payments. They’re now calling them “Federal Benefit Payments” (on the check themselves). In other words, he’s upset that they’re now officially being referred to as entitlements, but he feels like he has “earned” his payments because of all of the Social Security taxes he paid over the years. He goes on to cite how much more money he could have had if he had been able to invest that money himself.

Well, I agree that our government is bloated, getting away with too much and spending too much, including what we spend on government employees and pension, foreign aid, etc. I also agree that we would be better off over the course of our lifetimes if we could take our Social Security taxes and invest this in the private sector, leaving the government (and its huge overhead) out of it. (Bush tried this in 2005, and it got nowhere, basically because it was misunderstood as a threat against senior citizens.)

However, I don’t agree with the assumptions made in this e-mail about how much one would have if he could invest his own Social Security money, because: 1) The 4% and 5% interest rates that are used are unreasonable. Today’s rate on CDs is more like 0.2%. This cuts the assumed amount by about 65% (back to less than what he will collect in Social Security); and, 2) for most people, if they’re not forced to save it, they won’t.

Also, I do believe that Social Security (along with Medicare) is an entitlement program because the government collects taxes and then (after the overhead) redistributes the (remaining) money to select groups of people.

However, the main things that I disagreed with were his statements concerning senior citizens:

– “We’re ‘broke’ and can’t help our own seniors, veterans, orphans, and homeless.”

– “Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks…”

Consider an average elderly man who was born in 1929, and who made average wages all of his life. He entered the workforce in about 1947 and worked for 45 years, retiring in 1992. Even if he reached the maximum SS wage limit each year, he paid a total of only $37,000 into SS. However, during the 20 years that he has been retired, he has received $300,000 in Social Security payments (an 800% return). Also, he paid about $8,000 into Medicare, but Medicare has paid $300,000 of his medical bills (a 3,700% return).

So, I believe that we do indeed “help our own seniors.” I don’t see how anyone can say that our senior citizens don’t receive any aid or that they don’t get any breaks, just because they’re living on a “fixed income,” because: 1) Their income isn’t really fixed, because they receive periodic adjustments for inflation, just like the rest of us who get an occasional 2 or 3% increase; and, 2) Many senior citizens make more money than the rest of us, especially when considering their Social Security payments, Medicare benefits, pensions, and gains on personal savings.

We also help our veterans with pensions and medical benefits for life. And, we help our orphans and homeless with programs like Public Assistance (welfare), food stamps, Medicaid, and free school lunches. I would argue that we spend one or two trillion dollars every year helping “our own seniors, veterans, orphans, and homeless.”

Why We Need to End the Afghanistan War

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

1) After 11 years, we’re still not willing to win the war.  We haven’t had the will to decisively win a war since WW II. 

2) We have unclear objectives.  We never should have sent troops to either Iraq or Afghanistan.  Here are some of the excuses we used: 

– The bad guys were in Afghanistan.  (Probably as soon as we arrived, most of the Taliban leaders fled to Pakistan.) 

– The bad guys were in Iraq; i.e., Bin Laden and Hussein were allies.  There is still no indication that this was true. 

– Iraq was violating U.N. sanctions.  This is always a good excuse for war, but sometimes we act on it, and other times we don’t (the U.S.S.R.). 

– Iraq was going to develop a nuclear bomb.  There seems to have been no validity to this. 

– Iraq had other weapons of mass destruction.  This was never proven either. 

3) We have now become the aggressors.  The valid reason for going to war is when an aggressor attacks.  Not only did neither of these countries attack us (although the terrorists initially lived in Afghanistan), we have now become the bad guys.  We are the ones who started the Iraqi War.  Iraq finally demanded that we leave, and now Afghanistan doesn’t want us there either. 

4) When we’re not willing to win, and the war is too drawn out, our troops and our citizens become war weary.  Not only have we now become the aggressors, but we have also now become terrorists.  The soldier who murdered 16 Afghan civilians reminded me of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam in 1968.  When our objectives are unclear, and we’re unwilling to win, everything becomes meaningless and we start acting irrationally. 

5) Neither war has been worth it.  6,396 of our soldiers have been killed, and over 120,000 more have been injured (45,000 battlefield injuries plus 75,000 cases of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other issues after returning home).  Including coalition forces and civilians (mostly Iraqi), hundreds of thousands more have been killed, and still more Iraqi families have been displaced and they’ve had their lives turned upside down.  In addition, these wars have cost trillions of dollars. 

To put it another way:  In order to avenge the deaths of 3,000 people killed on 9/11, we have been willing to sacrifice another 6,396 lives of our own people, and another 120,000 injuries.  The negative impact of all of this has directly affected millions more of our own people (family and friends), not to mention millions more among our allies.  Yet we have not been willing to decisively win either war, and we have not been effective in dismantling the Taliban. 

If we insist on starting more wars (like maybe in Syria or Iran), we should make them air wars and not send any troops there.  We should bring our soldiers home, teach a few of them how to fly bombers, and teach the rest of them how to make bombs.  We should tolerate no more casualties from stepping on IEDs.