Category Archives: riches

My kind of vacation

For the second year in row, our dear friends from Texas (AJ, Laura,and #8) drove all the way to our home in South Carolina to spend a few days of their vacation with us and to celebrate our Independence Day together, blowing stuff up and eating lots of yummy food.  We laughed, shared memories and just enjoyed each other’s company.

Somehow this year, we started talking about Meyers-Briggs personality types and my brother-from-another-mother pointed out a simple description of the difference between Introverts and Extroverts.  I, being an Introvert, lose energy with prolonged exposure to people, even beloved friends.  He, being an Extrovert, replenishs his energy supply from being around people.

So, when I wake up in the morning, my batteries are fully charged because I’ve had a nice long break away from people (well, except for my beloved wife).  AJ wakes up depleted and needs company fast in order to recharge.  Basically, my brother is a vampire feeding off of people like me.  😂

Thing is that I love being around my friends and family, but I don’t really have this burning need to DO stuff.  I just love knowing they are near.  I do, however, need a plan or some milestones for the day – like what we’re going to eat or if I need to drive anyone anywhere or if we need supplies, etc.  Guess if you are a father of seven, much of this stems from necessity.

At one point during our weekend, I think a circuit just snapped in my head and I made a mess of the festivities, getting short with my wife and embarrassing myself in front of my friends because “I just needed to know the details of the plan!“. 

Sigh, thankfully my wife and our friends love me too much to hold a grudge when I get stupid.

Have you ever seen Weird Science?  There’s this scene where Gary and Wyatt are hosting this huge, rocking party and where are they?  Hiding out in the bedroom, taking some consolation that everyone else seems to be having a good time.  I can totally relate to them.  😁

But here’s how thoughtful and wise God is.  In all my quirks and oddities, my wife is the glue that keeps it all together for me.  She, being an Extrovert, can graciously host dozens of our friends at our home without batting an eye.

Well, the Fourth came and I was super excited.  I had a stock pile of fireworks all planned out.  And then, our friends brought even more!  They brought food, children, and most importantly, themselves.

I was a little nervous because of the rain in the forecast, but it cleared up just in time for the show.  God is good! 

The week was a huge success.  We had such a good time with our friends.  I didn’t have to drive cross country and enjoyed the comforts of home.  We blew up a ton of explosives.  AND, no police showed up!  (We’ve got a cranky neighbor that complains to them anytime we’re out in our yard after 9 pm).  

I am so thankful for all of you in my life.  Thanks for the best vacation an INTJ can ask for.

Prepare Your Children For Adulthood

Are we getting our money’s worth with public education?  Take a good look around you.  When you are going to work, shopping at the grocery, driving in your car, hiring a plumber, calling Customer Service, making a deposit at your bank, going out to the movies, dining at a restaurant — do you believe, based on the interactions you have every day, that we are getting progressively smarter as a society or are we going in the other direction?  Has Idiocracy finally achieved prophetic, documentary status?

I look around and I see grown adults who can’t form complete sentences.  I see men and women writing business communications at a 7th-grade level.  I see people who handle money or work with numbers all day and yet can’t do simple arithmetic without the use of their phone or calculator.  Logic and persuasive debate are completely foreign to most adults.  Thanks to the Universities of Safe Spaces, we don’t teach young adults to disagree anymore, and we certainly don’t teach them to defend any unpopular positions they might have based on their convictions and logical reasoning.  I see parents who haven’t the slightest clue of how to shop for groceries, buy and own a home, create and stay on a budget, or balance a checkbook.  Is it any wonder they are totally incompetent when it comes to preparing their children for the real world?

I suspect many professional educators feel it’s their job to produce little Renaissance men and women, to enlighten and ignite their curiosities, and to send them off into the world filled with knowledge for the betterment of humankind.  Even the folks at Learn Liberty seem to embrace this notion — 

And it is the examined life that both George and West view as the purpose of a liberal-arts education. Its goal, that is, is to encourage critical reflection on the biggest questions; to lead us into an intellectual engagement that fulfills our nature as thinking beings; to help us achieve self-mastery; to enlarge our souls. It is, of course, possible to pursue these goals without going to college, but institutions of higher education are (or should be) dedicated to them in a special way.

 What does that even mean?  I hear things like “an examined life” and “well-rounded students” and I immediately think of someone that’s not an expert (or even above average) at anything.  Instead, they’re basically treading water like everyone else in the same cesspool of mediocrity and general, useless, regurgitated information.

We need to change how we view the purpose of education.  Every student does not have the same need.  How many of us had to suffer through years of a foreign language even though we knew we’d never use it?  How many of us struggled needlessly through biology, chemistry or physics when we had absolutely no aspirations to go into the physical sciences?  Has anyone that’s not an engineer or scientist used the Pythagorean theorem, calculated a 2nd derivative, or used Ohm’s Law lately?

Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach to education, would it not make more sense for parents and teachers to help our children develop essential life skills, relevant training geared toward a career and eventually adulthood?

I firmly believe, through personal experience, that college isn’t for everyone.  In fact, I would argue that most people don’t need a high school or college degree.  Parents, however, will insist on sending their children to college because they’ve been taught you need a degree in order to be successful and happy.  There’s a nice, short essay written by Jeffrey Tucker entitled “Ditch College, Get a Real Skill, Live a Good Life” which shares many of my thoughts on education and work.

As I had written in my last post, my wife and I comply with compulsory education requirements for our children because I don’t want them taken away from us.  My plan for them post-compulsory education is simple.  These are some guidelines and rules I’ve shared with our firstborn as she prepares to graduate from high school in the spring:

As long as you live in my house, you will work or you will go to school.  Or both.  There’s no sitting around waiting for the perfect job to just fall in your lap.  If you are going to attend school, it should be to prepare for a specific career.

Most high school and college graduates are woefully unprepared to enter the workplace.  They lack experience and useful skills in the real world.  The reason is that our high schools and colleges are not training students for work.  They are teaching them to pass exams.

The majority of young people, that actually get a part-time job while going to school, think it’s all about the money.  They might start at McDonald’s or somewhere else in Retail.  They get excited about earning a paycheck.  Pretty soon, they realize that the work is very difficult, the hours are long, you end up working holidays and weekends, and in the end, the money isn’t all that great.  So what do they do?  They quit.  This is the biggest career mistake most young people make.

When you have no experience, no transferable job skills, when you are competing potentially against a hundred other people just like you (except that maybe some of them have college degrees), when Leftists keep pushing for higher minimum wage, destroying entry-level jobs for inexperienced, young people — your spoon-fed, entitled world which you’ve been suckling since Kindergarten will eventually come crashing into reality.

But there’s hope if you look at your job as an opportunity to fill in the missing gaps.

Forget the paycheck.  Focus on the things you can learn from your job — skills that will separate you from your competition.  It’s not just about having the head knowledge to do simple tasks, but it has everything to do with PROVING you can and have done these things.

  • Can you operate a cash register, credit card machine, order entry system?
  • Do you know how to balance your drawer?
  • Do you know how to greet, listen to, and assist customers in person?  On the phone? Over the internet?
  • Have you proven to your manager that you can show up ON TIME to work, day in and day out, for weeks, months, or YEARS?
  • Do you know how to deal with unpleasant or even angry customers?

Eventually, if you prove yourself trustworthy with the little things, your manager might actually give you more important jobs to fulfill.  Maybe you will manage other people.  Maybe you will be in charge of a department or a sales group.

  • Can you train and lead a team of subordinates?
  • Can you be trusted to open the store?  Close up?  Make the night deposits?
  • Have you handled ordering supplies, working with vendors, or creating invoices?
  • Have you made accounts receivables calls?  What was your success ratio?

These are all highly sought-after skills in the workplace.  For many employers, a resume showing a history of consistent, proven execution of these skills is a lot more useful than a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy or 18th Century Scandinavian History.

The other important consideration is just to find out what kinds of careers are out there.  How many young people aspire to own a coffee shop or little boutique store or an internet business and have NEVER WORKED IN ONE before?!?  Or even spoken to someone that’s successfully doing that exact job?  

If you want to own a business someday, what do you know about finding a space?  Negotiating a lease?  Getting the necessary licenses or permits (because the State will confiscate your property and throw you in jail if you don’t)?  Are you going to hire employees?  Do you have the slightest CLUE as to what regulations and requirements are involved in hiring help?  Do you know how to file business taxes or keep accounting records?

Do you know how much liquid capital you require?  How long do you anticipate it will be before you are profitable?  Can you read or prepare financial statements?  Do you know who your customers are and where to find them?  

Finally, when it comes to college, there are legitimate careers that require a degree.  Do you know that many large companies offer free or partial college tuition reimbursement?  In other words, why shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a college education in hopes that you might someday get a job related to your studies when you can start working at a company, gain critical experience and a salary, and then have your company send you to college or graduate school on their dime?

My daughter has been thinking about owning her own business someday.  Because of that, we encouraged her to find a job,  ANY JOB, at a business owned by an individual or family.  I even encouraged her to offer to work for free on the condition that the owners would teach her EVERYTHING they know about starting, managing, and growing a successful business.

And sure enough, God provided and answered our prayers.  Our neighbors and dear friends own a successful, family-owned, business and were looking to hire additional help.  We talked with them and before you knew it, they hired our daughter part-time.  And she’s been thrilled to work for them ever since, as she’s written in her blog. 

I have no idea how long she will be there or if she will someday go to college.  But I can guarantee her time is better spent right now learning invaluable, practical skills in the real world instead of running off to college, taking on debt, and searching aimlessly to attain the “examined life” shielded from any semblance of reality.  

Parents, think long and hard before you send your children off to college just because it’s what you might have done or it’s what everyone else is doing.  There are many free resources online to broaden your minds.  Instead, give your children a hunger to learn life skills to have success wherever they may go.

 

 

Do you even know what you’re saying?

Socialism, and her inevitable offspring Communism, are gaining popularity once again.  Visions of Che Guevara swell in the hearts and on the T-shirts of the ‘working class’.  Students flock to the local Leftist “Equality” rallies, iPhones and Starbucks Gluten-Free-Mocha-Frappa-Caramelitos in hand.  Disgruntled workers, not feeling the love, covet their CEO’s bonus payout last year without the slightest clue of what it takes to run a company that may employ tens of thousands of workers.

And why not?  On the surface, there’s some appeal to the idea of Socialism.  Why wouldn’t we want everyone to have guaranteed food, shelter, education, medicine, clean air, pothole-free roads, high paying jobs, time and money for vacations on the beach, USDA Prime filet mignon for dinner every night, or blazing fast wifi?  Unless you’re a real sociopath, no one wants to actively prevent someone from having these things.

The problem is that in reality, everyone can’t simply have all of these things just because we want it to be so.  As I’ve written previously, the fundamental truth of economics comes down to 2 basic, opposing forces – the insatiability of our appetites vs. the scarcity of available resources.  You cannot completely satisfy even a personal insatiability because of the scarcity of resources, much less the desires on a national or global scale.

Don’t misunderstand.  That’s not to say individuals cannot find contentment in their situation.  We may resolve to be content with what we have.  But tomorrow, we will be hungry again.  We will need shelter again.  We will want electricity and heat and water again.  That’s what it means to have an insatiable Demand over time.

Despite these fundamental truths, modern Socialists want you to believe that it IS possible for a central planner to gather up all of the resources and equitably parse them out to the masses.  They also want you to believe that in this fairy tale, individuals will choose to work, not for selfish gain, but for the good of humanity.

Can a central planner actually accomplish this better than the free market?

This clip from Milton Friedman explains why no one can even build a pencil on their own.

What is Socialism?  How do they propose to distribute all these goods and services for everyone to enjoy?

Here’s a quote from MarxMail.org —

Instead of wanting to take away people’s private property, socialists want more people to have more private property than ever before.

There are two kinds of private property. There is property which is personal in nature, consumer’s goods, used for private enjoyment. Then there is the kind of private property which is not personal in nature, property in the means of production. This kind of property is not used for private enjoyment, but to produce the consumer’s goods which are.

Socialism does not mean taking away the first kind of private property, e.g. your suit of clothes; it does mean taking away the second kind of private property, e.g. your factory for making suits of clothes. It means taking away private property in the means of production from the few so that there will be much more private property in the means of consumption for the many. That part of the wealth which is produced by workers and taken from them in the form of profits would be theirs, under socialism, to buy more private property, more suits of clothes, more furniture, more food, more tickets to the movies.

More private property for use and enjoyment. No private property for oppression and exploitation. That’s socialism.

So first off, Socialists want you to have MORE private property by taking away your second kind of Private Property.

wait-what-meme

But let’s take a closer look at this nonsensical banality.  You have the right to your property for use and enjoyment, just not the things that will produce more property for use and enjoyment.

How many of you have 2 separate bank accounts – one for your use and enjoyment (say a checking account) and another for producing more money (say an IRA or Savings account)?  Well, that second account would become property of the Socialist State.

For those of you that are business owners or employers, how many of you sacrifice some of your “use and enjoyment” private property to invest in your business or to create jobs for employees?  Well, you might want to reconsider because the Socialist State would immediately seize your tools of exploitation and oppression.

So what’ you say?  As long as there’s equality and people’s lives improve, isn’t that good?

Let’s imagine if we measured the Total Global Production of Goods today, and declare it be equal to 100 units of measurement (let’s call them widgets).  So as of Jan 24, 2015, there are 100 widgets in the world today.  Socialist believe that if the global population equaled 100 people, well then each person would get, on average, 1 widget to consume.  (True Socialists differ from hard-lined Communists in that they won’t distribute the stolen goods equally per person, but that’s another topic).

So what happens when 100 widgets are consumed?  Will they all be replenished and can we continue to perpetuate this rate of consumption once we take away Private Property (Capitalism and Self-Interest)?  Will consumption remain constant or might it grow?

Ask yourself – what if you could continue to consume what you do today (or even consume MORE than what you do today) without increasing your workload?  What if not a single hour of additional labor would net you any additional benefit in compensation?  You get paid regardless of if you work 8 hours a day or 4.  Would you work as hard as you do?  Would anyone?

I don’t know if you’ve recently been to the United States Post Office.  Take a look at the floors, the walls, the supplies stations.  Even the self-service kiosks.  Unlike privately-owned businesses that are meticulously maintained in order to keep customers satisfied, most of the time the USPO is filthy, out of supplies, understaffed and totally run by clock watchers.  Try walking into the Post Office with a stack of packages at 5:01 pm when the place closes at 5:00.

So now think about the 100 widgets being consumed.  Is there any likelihood those consumed widgets would be replaced or even grow past the current level when you take away the incentives to work harder and longer?

Of course not.  In fact, very quickly, the Socialist State has to scale back their promises of free goods and services, institute rationing and price fixing, and nationalize mandatory labor (e.g. slavery) in order to keep the State alive.  Forget about iPhones and free wifi or healthcare and education.  Now, you can’t even manage to keep everyone fed.

When this happens, you have gone from the Socialist’s Pipe Dream to the hard reality of a Communist State.

So what’s so bad about the Communist State?

Plenty.

Now, any lingering seed of individualism or free thinking is met with severe hostility, violence, persecution, torture, starvation, and death.  This account of the horrific genocide perpetrated by Mao Tse Tung on his own people should be a sobering wakeup call for those who live on some Fantasy Island thinking that we can just take everyone’s property for the good of the people, yet production will be able to keep up with the increased demand.

alewitz2

(okay, I added a bit of truth to this Socialist propaganda.)

Even more disturbing to me are the attempts by Socialist fan boys to re-write or ignore history.  Like Mao, the history of Stalin, Russia and the Soviet Union is written in the blood of millions of people, murdered and tortured by their own leaders.  This film of the Soviet Story is disturbing but must be shared.  If you watch to the end, what’s particularly alarming are the current trends in Russia under Putin to go back to the days of Stalin and ethnic cleansing.

You can also go here to see the film with full English subtitles.

Now I know there are still some naïve daydreamers out there, sitting in your dorm rooms, looking up at your Bob Marley posters, sipping your dandelion tea and thinking “we would never resort to killing and violence and torture in order to achieve equality.  We just want to stand up for the 99%.”

So to you, let me ask you this:  If I choose to ignore your demands on my Private Property, if I refuse to fund your regime with my taxes, if I protest anything that has to do with “contributing My Fair Share”, if I stand defiantly at the doors of my business and do not allow you to come in and take what I’ve created or earned – WHAT IS YOUR NEXT COURSE OF ACTION?

Will you leave me alone?

Will you go pick on someone else instead?

Will your master plan survive with the existence of Choice?

The U.S. Should Open its Immigration, but . . .

As promised, here’s my post on the topic of US Immigration. If you haven’t done so already, you should check out the 2 opposing views posted by Nathan Smith and A.M. Fantini on Fee.org which I will reference throughout this post. Keep in mind that both Smith and Fantini are examining US Immigration from a Libertarian perspective which is all the more reason why I’m fascinated with the debate.

Here’s basically what it comes down to:

On the one hand, Smith argues that opening up Immigration, including to those here already illegally, would create economic prosperity for all. Not only does the current system create an enormous amount of waste, red tape, totally inconsistent / totally unenforceable set of subjective rules, but it also arbitrarily destroys families here illegally, incarcerating or deporting mostly non-violent “criminals” from their families. Opening up immigration would increase PAID demand for goods and services, potential tax revenues (if you support taxation, which I do not), and would create a huge windfall of growth for our economy – some conservative estimates being a 2x GDP multiplier. Smith also argues that opening immigration is, by far, the most logical and ethical decision if you hold Liberty in high regard.

On the other hand, Fantini makes the case that by opening up Immigration, Libertarians run the risk of tearing apart the very fabric of our society, including a base-level tolerance of the principals of Liberty. You are inviting in all kinds of crazy political externalities including Socialism, Totalitarianism, Sharia Law, Polygamy, Bestiality, and so on if you just up and open the borders to anyone that wants to enter. Immigrants won’t assimilate into our culture, and instead we might lose everything that makes America great.

In addition to these points, some of my Right-Wing readers will also argue that Immigrants are poor and will create a drain on Social Services / Welfare, Education, Law Enforcement, and Infrastructure. They steal our jobs and will bring down wages.

Some other well-known Libertarians make the case that since public land is owned by taxpayers, it’s essentially private land, and opening Immigration forces you to allow people onto your private property against your will.

 

So, let’s start with the softballs, the basics of jobs and the economy. The argument that immigrants will steal our jobs, bring down wages, or create a drag on the economy are somewhat of a head scratcher to me. It’s entirely possible that YOUR job might get replaced by an incoming immigrant, just like it’s possible that a local high school or college graduate might replace you after 20 years on the job (that is, of course, unless you are protected by a thug Labor Union which makes it basically impossible to get fired). But this fear of losing one’s job is deeply rooted in the notion that the economy is fixed, that there’s only a set amount of resources and demand. However, as Smith points out, letting immigrants into the community means NEW demand for housing, groceries, energy, financial services, cars, computers, dining out, etc. That demand will create MORE jobs, not less.

Some are concerned that Immigrants will be willing to undercut the current employee for work, driving down wages despite studies that have shown Immigration actually raising the wages of US-born workers. But even if wages fell, Thomas E. Lehman points out this is actually a good thing in the long run. Lower costs to Employers will lead to lower prices for Consumers. It also frees up capital for increased innovation, entrepreneurship, and spending more productively.

Everyone benefits from lower costs. (If you take nothing else from this post, go home with that.) Just like Wheat, Aluminum, Oil, and Land, Labor is just another input into the Marketplace to determine Price of Finished Goods. Put Price in terms of dollars ($) aside for a minute and think of your labor in terms of units of exchange. If you currently exchange about a day of your labor for a week’s worth of groceries, and because of lower total costs, now your labor nets you a month’s worth, aren’t you better off?

Those of you that are concerned about Immigrants coming in that are poor and would create a drain on Social Services and Welfare and ignore the effect of increased Demand (eg. more spending), studies show that immigrants largely do not create a drain on Welfare or Public Aid (due in no small part to the fact that they are currently ineligible to receive it anyway). To that end, Smith’s proposal to counter this fear is very simple — continue to disqualify Immigrants from receiving public aid as part of the terms for entry.

(Those of you who know me know that I’m opposed to All Public Assistance to begin with. I would much rather cut all our taxes and voluntarily help those in need than enable some over-bloated, government program forcing “charity” on everyone.)

This clip is short and sweet and covers the 3 biggest Economic objections to Open Immigration.

 

Thus, based solely on the economic results of Open Immigration, I see no compelling reason to continue to restrict (or even tighten) US Immigration.

 

The next set of issues raised by Fantini on us losing our heritage appears to be more legitimate (on the surface) than the economic fears. Hypothetically, if ½ of China’s native 1.4 Billion population wanted to, and could afford to, move to the US, Chinese American immigrants could overshadow the roughly 320 million Americans overnight. They might decide to ditch the Constitution in favor of a Communist regime or institute Buddhism as the only allowed religion. If we allowed a flood of radical Muslims to come into our country, we’d have Sharia Law taking precedence over our democracy.

So once again, Smith points out a very simple counter proposal to dissuade these fears – don’t allow 1st generation immigrants the right to vote. Their children, born here, would be naturalized citizens and would be able to vote like any other citizen.

Well, what assurance do we have that their children will adopt traditional American values?

There are studies have shown both a tendency to assimilate into as well as segregate from the host culture, so it could arguably go either way.

Here, though, is the most interesting part of this debate.  Don Boudreaux summarized the Libertarian argument against opening Immigration very nicely.

The most popular version of the so-called libertarian case against immigration runs something like this.

Each private property owner has the moral right (and should have the legal right) to ban from his property, or to admit onto his property, anyone he chooses. In a free society, no one is coerced into unwanted associations with others. Therefore, because in a fully free society all land would be privately owned and government would be limited (at most) to keeping the peace, immigration policy in this society would be what ever each private property owner decides it to be. If I wish to let 100 unskilled Irish peasants onto my property, so be it. If my neighbor chooses never to admit onto his property even people from across the street, so be it. There would, in fact, be as many immigration policies in the fully free society as there are landowners. As a practical matter, immigrants would be people who contribute through gains-from-trade to domestic citizens.

But we do not live in a fully free society. Like it or not, we’re stuck with a large and intrusive government. And this same government happens to own enormous tracts of land and public facilities. Given that excessive government is a reality that isn’t soon disappearing, the best that citizens of a democratic society can hope for on the immigration front is that their overly powerful government mimics the immigration policies that a fully free society would adopt. Because there would be no free admission in a fully free society, there should be no free admission in today’s less-than-free society. Indeed, open immigration today is tantamount to forced integration. Citizens who do not wish to associate with foreigners are forced to do so by a government that too freely admits foreign immigrants. And because force is bad, forced integration—a.k.a, open immigration—is bad.

 

As I had alluded to above, well respected Libertarian thinkers like Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Lew Rockwell seem to support this opposition as well.

And to me personally, I don’t understand this objection / fear.

Is it possible / likely that open immigration could change the political / social landscape of our country? Absolutely. The question I ask is, are you happy with the status quo? Are you of the mindset that “well, it’s not perfect, but I’d like to keep things the way they are for the most part and trust that our current system will improve.”?

Not to beat a dead horse, but do you trust the government to KEEP THE STATUS QUO to your liking or do you believe it’s going to steadily degrade against you?

As it relates to Immigration, what part of it are you satisfied in keeping “As Is”?

If you want to completely shut down any foreigners from entering our country, do you think the government is doing a good job?

What about if you only want skilled, educated, rich, or productive immigrants allowed in?

Or if you only want democracy loving, flag-waiving, Christian, right-wing immigrants allowed in?

Do you even know what the process is for legal immigration? Here you go. (Click to enlarge.)


 

Pretty simple, right?

So as it sits, here’s where I stand on the issue of Immigration.

Economically speaking, it’s a no-brainer that open immigration will create incredible prosperity, not just for those coming into our global marketplace but also for existing citizens of all economic levels.

There’s no need to radically dump the existing system and create shockwaves throughout. We could begin in phases of opening our borders to certain countries or types of people / skills.

We should limit the voting rights / public welfare access 1st generation immigrants can have as part of the terms of entrance.

 

But this is a complicated topic and I’ve, by no means, put the issue to bed in my mind.  For those of you reading, I would highly recommend checking out some of the links below. Lots of great information, study results, videos, and ongoing debate on this topic.

Whatever you do, don’t pigeonhole yourself into a view on Immigration based on the 2-party system’s regurgitated, canned responses. I’ve learned a great deal in just the last few weeks reading up on the topic and find the discussion fascinating. I will definitely be posting / following the Immigration debate more closely in the future.

—————————

 

Selections from Openborders.info:

Short Videos

Libertarian Case for Open Borders

Conservative and Small Government Case for Open Borders

Some simple, keyhole solutions to common objections

Selections from Fee.org:

Coming to America: The Benefits of Open Immigration

Liberty and Immigration — by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

 


Thanksgiving is a religious holiday

We had an interesting study in church this morning, and we looked at several verses of Scripture, but in particular, we read Psalm 136 together. It got me thinking.

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving every November. In grade school, you might have learned about the pilgrims and the Indians, the harsh winter conditions, near famine.


You might have even learned about George Washington and the “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” or Abraham Lincoln and the Federalization of the holiday.

These days, the observance of Thanksgiving has different meaning and traditions for everyone. Many people get together with friends or family and have a big meal.


Others get excited about Football games. Some look forward to the official beginning of the holiday shopping season and the madness known as Black Friday.

But for most, this holiday centers around the notion that we should be Thankful. You will hear countless politicians, business leaders, preachers, celebrities, and even members of your family and community tell you “we should be thankful”, especially during this time of year.

So I ask.

Why? Why should we feel Thankful? And what exactly does that mean? To Feel Thankful?

And I’m not looking for specific examples. I’m not looking for the “I’m thankful because I’m healthy or have a job or my kids go to the best schools, etc.” answers. I’m asking, what is it about our nature that would prompt anyone to feel gratitude? Is this a natural inclination or are we taught how to ‘feel’ grateful / thankful?

Some may say that when someone extends a kindness to you that you didn’t deserve, when you feel like someone has gone above and beyond the minimum call to duty, it’s that ‘extra something’ that elicits gratitude. So in response to the knowledge that something other than the bare minimum was done for you, your natural response is one of gratitude.

But what if the object of your gratitude isn’t a person’s actions? You’ve heard people say “I’m grateful for Freedom.” Or “I’m thankful that I have my health.” Or “I’m grateful that I could buy dinner tonight (because I labored, earned a wage, paid my debts, and had enough left over).”

If you follow the “extra something” logic, then your gratitude for things or circumstances may stem from an idea that you have more than you “deserve”. So for example, if you are grateful for Freedom, maybe it’s because you believe you don’t deserve freedom, but it’s kind of like a bonus.

Of course, if you’re an atheist and purely pragmatic, maybe you don’t feel gratitude or thanksgiving at all. I’m not exactly sure how that works.

IF, however, you feel the need to show gratitude, to be thankful for ___, or to appreciate your lot in life, and you are planning on celebrating part of this Thanksgiving holiday in reflection, I pose one final question that I alluded to above.

TO WHOM do you direct your gratitude and how exactly do you express that?

Is Thankfulness basically a warm and fuzzy feeling you get or does it manifest itself into some action?

How do you show your thanks for the men and women that defend our country? Do you wear a pretty yellow bow? Place bumper stickers on your car? Vote for higher taxes to give our soldiers more __ (incidentally, you can always pay extra taxes to the Treasury if you are so inclined without having to steal from everyone else that doesn’t share your patriotism.)

How do you give thanks for your job, your car, your home?

How do you show gratitude for the welfare check you received this week (or do you believe you deserved that check, so there’s really nothing to be thankful for)?

How do you give thanks if you studied really hard for months and got an ‘A’ on your college mid-term? Do you treat yourself to beer, giving thanks to yourself?

How do you show gratitude for the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? Obamacare? Great books? Your favorite band?

How do you show gratitude for the privilege of being a parent? Do you go out for some “me time”, buy yourself a new car because you deserve it, or have your nails done?

I submit to you readers that Gratitude comes from our Creator. Just like our natural ability to feel and understand JOY, for example, God gave us a natural desire to feel Thankfulness because it is our natural reaction to His goodness. The Bible tells us that God is Good and that all good things come from Him. If there was no God, there would be no Good, and we would not have Thankfulness in our hearts. We did not deserve His goodness. We have no rightful claim to it. But He pours out His goodness on us because He loves us.

Our response to His goodness, our gratitude that we show, is evidenced in the Love we have for Him.  Jesus said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

Our thankfulness should not be limited to the 2nd to last Thursday of November. It should be the core of defining who we are. But as you prepare for the festivities and celebration this Thanksgiving, be sure to recognize that the very act of Giving Thanks comes from God to whom all Thanks is due.