Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’


January 11, 2014

It may sound callous and indifferent to say it would save taxpayers significantly to house the homeless. But we apparently live in a nation of many callous and indifferent people, who seem to think it’s in their own best interest to simply ignore the homeless.

Based on actual calculations by the state of Utah of how much it costs to arrest and jail the homeless and provide emergency room services, the average cost per homeless person to the taxpayers of Utah is over $16,500 per year. Utah has discovered housing the homeless instead, including the cost of providing a social worker, costs the taxpayers about $11,000 annually, a savings to the taxpayer of over $5500 per homeless individual.

Unlike many cities continuing to pour taxpayer dollars down the drain arresting, jailing and re-arresting the homeless, Utah has since 2005 began offering those without shelter an apartment and, the entire state is on pace to eliminate homelessness by 2015. While housing the homeless for no cost might not be the best idea, most certainly housing them for one-third of their income, regardless of what it is, would save taxpaying citizens significantly.

Not included in the above calculations, are many other additional not so obvious costs to taxpayers when cities refuse to provide affordable housing. Perhaps most importantly and least understood by American citizens in general, it is a well-established historical fact that pandemics and plagues typically arise among the poorest sections within large urban areas, where adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care is most lacking.

Scientists for several years have been warning that major plague is long overdue and could erupt at any time here in the 21st Century. Disease knows no economic or other boundaries and can quickly spread in all directions upward and outward. It isn’t an exaggeration at all to say that failing to provide adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care for everyone within our borders, is simply begging for national and global disaster to erupt. No one is safe from contagious diseases, regardless of how wealthy or insulated we may be, nor are any of our own children.

Many millions of federal, state, county and city tax dollars are spent in various ways on social outreach services and similar programs that would not be spent if there was no homeless population. And, many billions more are spent by private charities, where much of this is donated by taxpaying citizens. The total cost of private donations combined with various taxpayer funded social outreach programs, significantly adds to the cost of not housing the homeless.

With all costs included, it is at least 50% less expensive to house a homeless person, charging them one-third of their income, than to not house the same homeless person. American cities could begin buying up vacant homes and other structures and start housing the homeless, which would have the added benefit of reducing crime, stabilizing and driving up property values in distressed neighborhoods. Can we afford NOT to house the homeless? You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article

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May 28, 2010

What is today known as the “golden rule”, is found in similar form in at least 37 often non-connected cultures.  Thus, the laws of God are clearly written on the conscience of humanity, as the Bible claims and as Jefferson echoed in the Declaration of Independence.

According to Jesus, “Therefore, whatever you want people to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets”.  The added, “for this is the law and the prophets” in the society of Jesus, meant similar to as if today someone said, “this is the foundation of human rights and the sum and purpose of all reason, wisdom, philosophy, science, education, morality and ethics.”  Is this really the best idea for achieving human rights in the modern age?

Upon closer examination, most of the so-called “golden rules” found in other societies, including the one attributed to the Jewish teacher Hillel, are considerably different than that taught by Jesus.  A similar one to Jesus is found in a saying attributed to Mencius.  But unlike Mencius and all of the other known sages of history, only Jesus gives this positive, pro-active version the all-important status of being the foundation for all that matters towards positive human enlightenment and achievement.

So-called “golden rules” found in most societies instruct us not to harm others as we do not wish them to harm us.  But Jesus teaches us to reach out and help other people, even if they do not first help us. Consider how much less effective it is to tell a child not to harm someone, than teaching the same child to pro-actively treat others as they like to be treated.  For example, is a homeless widow better off if someone just doesn’t harm her or, if someone provides her food and shelter?  Isn’t it far more effective to teach us to help each other than just saying we should do no harm?

Some modern intellectuals claim we should instead, treat other people as “they” wish to be treated.  This supposed “improvement” contains at least two significant flaws:  1) It is rather difficult to know how another person wants us to treat them unless we first befriend them as we wish to be treated.  2) If we treat others as they wish to be treated without any measurement against our own well-being, we will soon be extremely tired, penniless and destitute.

Today, the term “empathy” is favored by many, apparently because it is less religious sounding than the idea of loving our neighbor as ourself.  Although it is a good idea to empathize with others, is this idea really an improvement over teaching us to pro-actively love our neighbor as ourselves?

Is the Jesus version of the golden rule the best idea?  Does anybody else have a better idea for curing what ails a race called “human”?  Do we want less than the best for our children?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article


April 20, 2010

Is it really accurate, as some intellectuals claim today, to blame belief in God as the cause of war and other human oppression?  Is this any more correct than blaming science and education?  Isn’t it more honest to instead, blame people who mis-use technology and belief in God for their own nefarious purposes?

Obviously, someone can aim the fickle finger of fate at war waged in the name of religion.  But, even before the invention of the wheel leading to ever-improved knife, spear, bow and chariot design, human science and education has been intricately entwined with waging war. Military applications have long been interlaced with government-funded science, education and modern space exploration.

Consider the Manhattan Project, nuclear missiles and space-ray weapons.  And, the rise of oppressive imperialism alongside industrial age invention; the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions; WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.  Incalculable human oppression has been aided by science and technology and, waged in the name of nationalism, democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchism and other intellectual idealism and often, just plain old fashioned human greed and lust for gold.

Arguably because of their belief in God, billions of people have helped the sick, poor and oppressed masses throughout the ages.  Consider names like Isaiah, Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and, celebrities like Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis and Martin Sheen.  Consider the Union Rescue Mission and LA Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  Throughout the European “dark” and Middle Ages, many individuals, including some popes, established public hospitals, housing and bread lines.

Consider modern electricity, medicine, surgery, global travel, computer technology and other marvels of a 21st Century age of science and wonder.  And to be fair, weigh this in the historical balances against WMDs, global mass pollution, depletion of fisheries, rain and other forests, fresh water pollution, mountains of garbage and cesspools of toxic waste left in the wake of the “Age of Enlightenment”.

Why is oppression waged in the name of Christianity, Islam and other religions any worse than that waged in the name of manifest destiny, communism and fascism?  Is human oppression a result of sincere belief in God?  Or, is it rather, a result of human beings wrongly using the sincere beliefs of others for their own devious purposes?

Isn’t it more likely that we all contribute to the negative downside of human history, whenever we fail to treat other people as we ourselves, wish to be treated?  Isn’t it more accurate, as Jesus pointed out and as Freud, Jung and modern behavioral science agree, to blame the “seething mass” of irrationality and frustration buried deep within individual human beings, as being the real cause of our problems?

If we are going to rationally and fairly blame something as being the “cause” of our problems, maybe it’s wise to first take a good look in the mirror.  Does belief in God cause human oppression?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article


February 8, 2010

This question of necessity raises several other fundamental questions, forcing one to think outside the modern English language box in regards to long-cherished and deeply-held beliefs of religious orthodoxy, historical, intellectual and other misconceptions.  And if that doesn’t adequately describe 21st Century American religious, scientific, educational, political and other confusion, most likely nothing ever will.
For example, note the rather threatening tone implied in the King James English:

1) Thou shalt not kill,
2) Thou shalt not steal and
3) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The conservative religious sounding tone and threatening archaic style of this language here in a digital age land of once shining seas, likely comes across as threatening, mean-spirited and religiously offensive to most Americans, as it does to me personally.

Instead of insisting on using the flowery archaic King James version commonly found and far less commonly followed, in many conservative fundamentalist hard on one’s backside pews of today, consider how the original Hebrew could and arguably should be translated into our modern common usage English reality:

You shouldn’t kill.
You shouldn’t steal.
You shouldn’t say untrue things about your neighbor.

By revising the same English language into modern usage form while remaining fair to the original source, a much more reasonable sounding, kinder and less threatening God suddenly emerges, in language making perfect sense if God actually cares about people.  As opposed for example, to a vague and distant “deist” type of God, who doesn’t give a damn about how we treat each other or otherwise, rape, pillage and pollute his creation to the  high heavens, kingdom come and beyond to our collective capitalist enterprising hearts’ content. 

Virtually all modern progressives are in complete agreement with these three basic moral laws, even if they don’t ever read the Bible or even believe in God.  Thus, among other things, this short illustration demonstrates how language and other cultural barriers, in particular from centuries past using the same “English” language, often leads to all manner of erroneous misconceptions, conclusions, deliberate falsifications and outright lies.

Today the archaic King James English version is invariably branded by liberals as belonging in a category labeled “religion”, being entirely undesirable to even mentioned in a supposed “free and democratic society”.  While the less religious sounding updated English example is universally viewed as being basic to human rights, common decency, morality and ethics.

And, it remains a significant cornerstone of not only American, but global ethics, morality and legal law.  Not to mention, it is both prudent and correct to adhere to such common moral decency if we are to have any hope of living in a peaceful and just 21st Century reality.

How accurate is the Bible? Perhaps a better question is, just how badly deceived and otherwise completely and entirely misinformed, are modern-day Americans in general and, often hard working, tax paying and, most unfortunately for everybody including their own children, “church going” sincere religious fundamentalists in particular? 

You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article


December 28, 2009

One would assume that if Pat Robertson and John Hagee are correct about Hurricane Katrina being God’s judgment on the liberal folks of New Orleans, then it logically follows that recent extensive tornado damage in the conservative rural South and, extending into Hagee’s own home turf of Texas, represents the Creator’s wrath against pro-war, right-wing religious conservatives.

A recent infestation of zillions of ants in the greater Houston area sounds a whole lot like biblical plagues to me, but who am I, an untrained common layman, to argue?  However, what about the recent invasion of tiny frogs in Bakersfield?  What does the Creator have against Merle Haggard?

And logically following, since citizens of Pat Robertson’s red state of Virginia recently voted in record numbers for “godless” liberals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the home of Robertson’s onward Christian soldiers of fortune must be high on the Creator’s retribution list.

It becomes a rather selective and dangerous path to tread down when those claiming to represent Jesus, while promoting the opposite of what he actually said and did, determine within their own self-righteous minds, to point the fickle finger of judgment at others.  Perhaps there is a good reason why Jesus taught to “judge not, that you be not judged”.

If weather is a fair and reliable barometer of God’s judgment, then one must consider recent earthquakes in China and Iran, not to mention the great 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and resultant Tsunami.  And, one could go on and on, about recent horrific fires worsened by severe winds in California, drought in several farm belt states and unusually severe winters in the Northeast.

If one truly believes the New Testament record, as Robertson and Hagee claim to do, then according to what Jesus actually said, God will judge the United States and every other nation by whether or not we help the sick and poor.  And according to the prophet Ezekiel in the Old Testament, God destroyed Sodom because she did not help her sick and poor.

Logically one would assume then, that the most patriotic thing for Pat Robertson, John Hagee and the rest of us to do, would be to stop pointing a finger of judgment at everyone else and instead, start using our energy and excess financial resources to help the less fortunate among us.

Come to think of it, perhaps Robertson and Hagee have a point.  Just why wouldn’t our Creator be angry with a nation that is responsible for the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians and the maiming of millions more, while it’s citizens back home continue to ignore homeless seniors, veterans and children, vote for leaders who oppose universal healthcare, allow imprisonment without trial and torture and, purchase SUV’s in the face of looming oil shortages and a global warming crises?

Maybe we have been weighed in the great divided red-blue state historical balances and found more than a little severely wanting.  Was Hurricane Katrina God’s judgment on New Orleans?  You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article