I, Pencil

Read, I, Pencil: Library of Economics and Liberty

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me—no, that’s too much to ask of anyone—if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work.

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people—in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity—the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “master-minding.”

Read the whole thing. It’s a masterpiece explaining why centrally planning economies and depending too much on the government in general is a recipe for disaster.

Getting Beyond “I Can’t”

Getting Beyond “I Can’t”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver, who a friend of mine and I call “The Bad-Ass Bishop” has a great article on artificial contraception and the false arguments in support of it.

A sampling:

1. Isn’t a couple’s method of family planning a matter of personal conscience?

Yes it is. Catholics, like all people, are always obligated to follow their consciences — on birth control and every other matter. But that’s not where the problem lies. The problem lies in the formation of one’s conscience. A conscientious person seeks to do good and avoid evil. Seeing the difference between good and evil, though, can sometimes be difficult….Too often, we use “conscience” as a synonym for private preference, a kind of pious alibi for doing what we want or taking the easy road. We only end up hurting others and ourselves.

3. I’m a priest. If I preach about what’s wrong with contraception, I’ll lose people.

Let me turn that around: If priests don’t preach the Church’s message about contraception, heaven loses people. Don’t be afraid. When Jesus preached the truth, He lost people. But, little by little, He gained even more people.

5. Why is the Church so obsessed with sex?

You know the old saying about the pot calling the kettle black — well, here’s a great example. Questions like this one may very well be honest, but they conceal where the real obsessions lie. American society is drowning in a sea of disordered sexuality. In such circumstances, it’s hardly an “obsession” for the Church to speak clearly and forcefully about how to swim. It’s her responsibility and mission.

God created our sexuality to be a sign in the world of His own life and love, and to reveal to us that we can only fulfill ourselves by loving as He loves. When sexuality becomes distorted, however, it’s no longer able to communicate God’s life and love. Empty of true love, life lacks meaning, and people soon seem disposable. Sex becomes a pursuit of selfish gratification at the expense of others.

Children are no longer welcomed as the natural fruit of married love, but are seen as a burden to be avoided. We don’t even shrink from killing (through abortion) thousands of innocent preborn lives a day in satisfying our convenience and appetites.

It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that disordered sexuality is the beginning of what Pope John Paul II calls “the culture of death.” In fact, we’ll never build a culture of life and love without first restoring the true meaning of human sexuality. If the Church is so concerned about sex, it’s because she seeks to defend the dignity of the human person and to safeguard the true meaning of life and love, which sexuality is meant to reveal.

The man’s on the short list of great bishops in the country, and most likely the world.

History Geek-end

The last weekend of December, I took what I’m calling a “History Geek-end”.

Taking advantage of the 1/2 my client gives us for New Year’s Eve, I drove over to Brandywine Battlefield on Friday afternoon. My father tells me I’ve been there before, but I have no memory of it, so I decided I needed to go while I work 15 minutes from there still. (My current contract ends next Friday, and I’m not sure yet where I’ll be after that.) Honestly, I found it a bit disappointing. Part of the trouble was that only the Visitor’s Center was open, with Lafayette’s and Washington’s respective headquarters closed. (Fortunately, I only paid $2.50.) So I may go back at a future date in a better season. The video about the Battle itself was a bit too pro-Colonialists. It’s not in appropriate to admit we got our hats handed to us in the battle. They made a point of saying that the Colonials used their local knowledge of the terrain to their advantage, but then pointed out that the British took the unoccupied high ground without even a shot fired because the Colonials had left it unguarded. Think about that. This was still early in the war, our Army’s best days were still in the future and it’s all right to admit that.

That Saturday, I drove down to Mount Vernon to use some of my remaining free admissions, to see the third floor of the mansion which is only open to the public in December and to see the new Visitor’s Center. The third floor of the mansion is not that exciting. It’s just a few more rooms, not even made up that nicely.

The new Visitor’s Center is impressive. There’s a nice 20-minute introductory video about the man and the mansion. (Although, I hope it’s skippable on future visits, just for time’s sake.) Also, they seemed to rush us through the mansion, whereas on previous visits, we would stop in each area and be given a presentation about what we were looking at. (This may have been to due to higher crowds than I’m used to due to the holiday weekend and being later in the day than I usually make it down.) I was also disappointed that they don’t do the wreath-laying ceremony at his tomb on cold months. Last time I was there, I was fortunate enough to participate by leading those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.

But the highlight of the tour was definitely the new museum. Filled with artifacts of his life, three movies, plus other videos and interactive features, it’s very impressive. (During the movie about the Battle of Trenton, I was surprised to see it start snowing inside the theater!) Definitely worth the visit. I didn’t get to spend as much time in there as I might have liked to do having to meet up with my girlfriend to go to a party that night, but I’ll definitely go back in the future.

Before the addition of the new Visitor’s Center, Mount Vernon was already more than a full day’s visit. It even more time-consuming now. But definitely worth it. If you get the chance, go there. You won’t be disappointed.

I may have found my Presidential Candidate

Paul moves closer to presidential bid | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Ron Paul, the iconoclastic nine-term congressman from Southeast Texas, took the first step Thursday toward launching a second presidential bid in 2008, this time as a Republican.

Paul filed incorporation papers on Thursday to create a presidential exploratory committee that allows him and his supporters to collect money on behalf of his bid. This would be Paul’s second try for the White House; he was the Libertarian nominee for president in 1988.

He’s a strong libertarian economically and he’s prolife! Although he favors returning abortion regulationto the states, getting the Supreme Court out of it, I find that acceptable as that’s probably the Constitutionally correct decision, although the part of me that enjoys tilting at windmills still wants the pro-life amendment to the Constitution, while recognizing that in a best case scenario, it’s at best decades off.

I’m not signed up completely yet, but I’m pretty close.

Hat Tip: The Corner

Faith and Science: Connecting Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute will be hosting a lecture on the topic “Faith and Science: Connecting Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” by University of Delaware Physics professor Stephen Barr. I assume this will tie in closely with his book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, which I read a few years ago. It’s really excellent, if a bit dense scientifically. Quantum mechanics, being so non-deterministic, really boggles my brain. (I also loaned the book to my friend who enjoyed. I told Professor Barr I loaned it out and he was disappointed I didn’t have the friend buy a copy.)

I’ve seen him speak before and he’s a great speaker and is just a very nice guy to talk to in conversation, which I’ve had the pleasure of doing a few times. (He actually remembered me after seeing me once in college and then not again for roughly 10 years. Impressive.)

Event Details:

Event: Faith and Science: Connecting Modern Physics and Ancient Faith
Stephen M. Barr, Professor, Bartol Research Institute
ISI Curran Lecture Series
Date: Feb 8 2007
Time: 5:30 PM ET
Location: ISI F.M. Kirby Campus
More information

Faith and Science: Connecting Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute will be hosting a lecture on the topic “Faith and Science: Connecting Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” by University of Delaware Physics professor Stephen Barr. I assume this will tie in closely with his book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, which I read a few years ago. It’s really excellent, if a bit dense scientifically. Quantum mechanics, being so non-deterministic, really boggles my brain. (I also loaned the book to my friend who enjoyed. I told Professor Barr I loaned it out and he was disappointed I didn’t have the friend buy a copy.)

I’ve seen him speak before and he’s a great speaker and is just a very nice guy to talk to in conversation, which I’ve had the pleasure of doing a few times. (He actually remembered me after seeing me once in college and then not again for roughly 10 years. Impressive.)

Event Details:

Event: Faith and Science: Connecting Modern Physics and Ancient Faith
Stephen M. Barr, Professor, Bartol Research Institute
ISI Curran Lecture Series
Date: Feb 8 2007
Time: 5:30 PM ET
Location: ISI F.M. Kirby Campus
More information