Like a Choir of Parrots

Politicians from the President all the way down to lowly state representatives, along with their mouthpieces in the media, keep repeating the same refrain like a choir of parrots drunk from whiskey and buzzing from caffeine at the same time. Jobs, jobs, jobs.  The economy needs to improve, and the way to do that is to create jobs. Every politician who wants to get elected and keep sucking dry the marrow of civilization promises to personally “create jobs.”

But this is a horrible metric. As with most things the government does or believes, it trips over the roots of the first tree it comes across and then can’t see the forest because officials are blinded by their own tears and deaf from the sound of their own whining. The health of the economy is not dependent on the number of “new” jobs, whatever that means.

Let’s take a hypothetical two income household. Each parent brings in $30,000. Their total income is $60,000.

Let’s say the husband gets a big break and more than doubles his income. He is now bringing home $65,000.  His wife decides to quit her job and stay home, because they can now afford the situation.

Gasp! But this family only one has one job now! Certainly they must be worse off than before.  Right?

On the other side of things, we have the idea of productivity.  The reason a job exists is because the value the person creates can eventually be traded for more than that person is being paid. They produce something of worth. that might be part of a product, or it might be ideas or information. Worth is generally subjective.

But according to the jobs, jobs, jobs logic, the job itself is an end, instead of a means to an end.  If this was true, then we could round up a bunch of hobos from the street and give them jobs digging holes in the field and then filling them right back up again. The job itself is the goal, and so we just created a bunch jobs. But no one in their right mind would actually pay for people to just dig holes and fill them back up for no apparent reason. There is no value.

So what does the government do when no reasonable person would do this on their own. They institutionalize it. A group of people can be wiser than their individual parts, but a group of bureaucrats will almost always be unreasonable. And so being the unreasonable entity required to hire hole diggers who add no value, they then need the money for this.  So they tax, taking money out of the economy, skimming a little off the top, and then putting it back in the economy toward something unproductive.

And magically, the economy is improving because they just created new jobs!

As someone once said, the government trying to stimulate the economy is like a man trying to fill up the shallow end of the pool by taking water from the deep end of the same pool.  Except the man uses a colander to carry the water.

Don’t get caught up in the religious mantra of jobs, jobs, jobs. It’s an idol that leads to nothing but…nothing.

Isaac, the Limp Rag

The promise was given to Abraham.  Through Jacob, it expanded to include the entire Israelite community. Then there is Isaac.

Abraham is a man of action. The man who attacked the army of four kings with only 318 men, and prevailed, also made a point to ensure his son had a suitable bride, one that was not a daughter of the native Canaanites. Of all you could say about Abraham, you could not call him passive. He had all his Egyptian plunder in a row.

Jacob also is an active agent to the point of wresting God himself, an event that branded the name of his descendants for all of eternity.

And then there is Isaac, the limp rag in the middle. When we get to his account, he rarely does anything on his own volition. He rarely even speaks. Rather, it is Rebekah who seems to be the primary mover of the promise in this portion of the story of the patriarchs.

When Laban wants her to stay ten more days, Rebekah decides to leave the next day with Abraham’s servant, ready to begin her own pilgrimage. When she is called to leave, she doesn’t delay. (Gen. 24:55-59)

When Isaac plans to bless Esau, Rebekah, knowing that God had told her “the older will serve the younger,” forms a plan to correct this action so the promise is passed through the correct son. Jacob has the birthright, and so he should receive the blessing of the first-born.

Unlike Abraham, Isaac doesn’t secure wives for his sons, and Esau marries Hittite women. It is Rebekah who prods Isaac into sending Jacob to the land of her father, to first ensure that Esau does not become another Cain, but also to ensure that Jacob does not marry a Canaanite woman. (Gen 27:46)

Isaac abdicates. Rebekah picks up the slack and thereby ensures that the covenant family will continue. Without Rebekah, Isaac would probably have never left his tent.

Meaningless Fireworks of the 4th

Fireworks are funny.  I remember them being awesome when I was a boy, watching the sky light up from my seat in a packed football stadium. Now, they are still probably awesome, but I don’t care for them much.  At this point in life, they accomplish two things: cause our dogs to act like skittish mice.  Loud, barking mice.

And then there’s the risk of them waking up my baby daughter. I’m sure that my interest and appreciation for fireworks will rise in parallel to her own interest and wonder.

But to me, they will always be just pretty lights in the sky, no matter how they draw my attention.

The official date given for the colonies’ secession from the House of Hanover is July 4th, 1776.  They reacted to a form of tyranny. The independent colonists were sensitive to that sort of thing. Nowadays, we are kept on a steady injection of Novocain.  Sometimes we even push in the plunger of the syringe ourselves, and don’t squirm when our “benefactors” try to find the best place to stick us.

For comparison, compare the list of offenses given against King George III in the Declaration of Independence. If you’re not familiar, you can brush up on them here. Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

Just 85 years after the signing of this document, President Lincoln committed every single one of those offenses, in some form or another.  Against the North.  That doesn’t even take into account the kind of devastation wrought on the South. Just 85 years.

The Founders knew that no man, not even Americans, could be trusted with power. And they sought to contain it.  God must have a sense of humor, because the so-called checks and balances devised by some of the wisest of men only lasted 85 years.

And yet, the offenses listed in the Declaration, the ones that caused men to fight and die, are tepid compared to the furnace we undergo now. King George III, in his wildest imagination, could not have dreamed of the power the Federal government wields today. Our benevolent overlords impact virtually every area of our personal lives, from housing to light bulbs to food to the raising of our children, and oversee a hegemony of foreign influence far greater than the British empire of old. Compared to today, George was a very soft tyrant.

So think about that while you are celebrating this 4th. What are we really celebrating? Jumping out of the frying pan and into a deep pit of vipers? The lowering of our collective standards?

Appreciate the fireworks for what they are: pretty, loud, and sometimes impressive displays of light and creativity.  But know that beyond this, they are meaningless. Or, if anything, they represent the raising of our tolerance for evil.

Thank God for what you have, and for the vestiges left over from the American experiment. Thank Him for the prosperity he still allows us to have, even though we spit at the heavens. Thank Him for the wide eyes your child will get the first time they really notice fireworks. Thank Him that you are an American, rather than anything else, because he has certainly blessed this country.

And perhaps thank Him for the original spirit of freedom held by the signers of the Declaration, and then ask to at least be infused with the dregs for the fights in our modern era.

So happy 4th of July.  Happy Secession Day.