Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

CAN WE AFFORD TO HOUSE THE HOMELESS?

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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ARE PEOPLE REALLY SINNERS?

July 17, 2010

Why would someone who doesn’t believe in sin carry an anti-war, anti-pollution or pro-peace sign?  If war and other human oppression is just part of a larger “natural selection” process, why do such people consider themselves more righteous than many other people?  If there is no evil, why is it considered morally “wrong” to harm and morally “right” to help our neighbor? 

Why are Rosa Parks and Albert Schweitzer considered morally superior to Bonnie Parker and Adolf Hitler?  Why would all four arise in the same “advanced” modern species? Why is it called “justice” when people imprison other people?  Who gets to decide and, why? 

If babies are born moral and pure, why do we need to be taught how to morally behave?  Why is there a concept of “hatred”?  If we change the word “sin” to “social maladjustment” or “seething mass within”, does it lessen the pain and suffering people inflict on other people?  Does changing terminology change the reality of what men and women do? 

Why do we lie to each other?  Why are there laws against murder, theft and false witness?  Why are there university ethics classes?  Why don’t we automatically love our neighbor as ourselves?  Why did we crucify our greatest moral teacher?  Why do human oppression and civil rights movements exist?  Why is there a song entitled “We Shall Overcome”?  What is it we are trying to overcome? 

If people are born morally “blank” with no predisposition towards evil, as Freud assumed, why are we so self-destructive?  Why do we eat and drink what we believe is harmful?  Why do we abuse both ourselves and other people, often in the face of severe social rejection, lengthy incarceration and even execution?  Why is there a “Nobel Peace Prize”?  Why are adults rewarded for behaving like we believe we all should behave? 

Why is it so difficult to teach children to be what our conscience dictates as “good”, while they are what we consider “bad” quite easily on their own, without any parental reward and, often in spite of repeated punishment?  If it’s against human rights to murder, steal and lie, why do we do so?  If this is not against our reproductive survival, why are Jesus and Gandhi considered exceptional people? 

After thousands of years of education to the contrary, why do even our most educated people continue to add to the pile of global mass pollution, bilk the common masses with complicated financial schemes and, continue to create horrific weapons, even after the horrific evidence of the Great Depression and WWII?  Why didn’t an “Age of Enlightenment” result in peace on earth, instead of even worse wars?

According to modern science and the Bible, our underlying motivations are deceptive and often different than we perceive in our own conscious awareness.  Is it true we “all have sinned” and fall short of moral perfection?  Are people really sinners? 

You decide.

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IS THE GOLDEN RULE REALLY THE BEST IDEA?

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

DOES BELIEF IN GOD CAUSE WAR AND OTHER HUMAN OPPRESSION?

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

ARE PEOPLE REALLY SHEEP?

November 29, 2009

Most men may not complain when young women these days wear their pants lower than where their mother’s pockets used to be, but it can be somewhat nauseating to see older females trying to keep up with their daughter and even granddaughter’s peer group. It reminds one of the sixties, when in order to be cool, boys had to wear Levi’s brand jeans, even though JC Penny sold a perfectly functional pair for half the price.

A Bob Dylan song back then touched on this “Mr. Jones” mentality of modern society and, what with large gas-guzzling SUV’s being purchased by American middle-class “McMansion” families in the midst of Middle East wars, oil shortages and looming planetary disaster, certainly nothing much has changed.

Liberal authors tend to blame corporate branding, but such a “keeping up with the Joneses” reality has existed since ancient Babylon and, traces back into the mists of prehistoric time. Tribal cultures on a global basis display culturally dictated rings, beads, feathers and other ornaments, paint faces and bodies in peer-pressure proscribed ways and, mimic each other in dress, speech and custom.

Ancient warriors often trimmed beards and hair in certain proscribed fashion and displayed specific tattoos and other body markings. Cultures throughout history display their own unique concepts of beauty, manliness and femininity, often directly contradicting what other cultures dictate. Heterosexual men in many societies have worn clothing that even the most overt homosexual male wouldn’t wear in our own.

Today, tattoos and body piercings are all the modern rage and women deliberately reveal bra straps they worked diligently to keep hidden not long ago. And, we are inundated with harmful food and “must have” gizmos and gadgets that no one in their right mind would consider purchasing for logical survival or any other purpose.

Are designs carved on ancient pottery and inlaid jewels on swords functionally necessary at all? And, was expensive architecture, art and sculpture purchased by kings and popes in the midst of massive poverty and famine during the Middle Ages, any less moral than modern Wall Street paper-shufflers earning 10,000 and more times as much as those who pick their fruit, cook their food, cut their lawns and pick up their garbage?

Does a wise society reward athletes with enormous sums to play games in the midst of rising poverty, homelessness and human suffering? Do wise people stand in long lines to see the latest film or to meet celebrities who really haven’t accomplished much of anything at all? How many Americans blindly believe we represent the greatest society in history, without even bothering to actually study much of human civilization, if any?

Culturally induced conformity might appear harmless, but it extends into endorsing the amassing of private wealth and consequent enslavement of the masses, supporting wars in a guise of false patriotism’ and, endorsing racism and classicism in order to “belong”.

Is it really true that “all we like sheep have gone astray”? You decide.

Link to footnotes and documentation for this article