Archive for the ‘#politicalphilosophy’ Tag

Criminal Justice Reform Must Include Dignity   Leave a comment

PrisonI must confess I’ve always been a lukewarm supporter of the Koch brothers. I know … that makes me an enemy of trees and babies and bunnies … but meh … I don’t care! I’ve researched what they’re actually trying to accomplish and I agree with a fair amount of it. So, while you’re welcome to your half-formed opinions, you might want to gather some facts before you argue with me.

And, now I’ve found convergence on yet another issue.

The Rand Corporation reports that “more than 2 million adults are incarcerated in U.S. prisons,” with roughly 700,000 leaving federal and state prisons each year. There’s about a 40% recidivism rate among the released.

Brad and I have done a lot of jail ministry and seen the struggles behind this staggering statistic. What the heck are we doing, America?

Alaska recently reformed our sentencing laws, but before they even took effect, the legislature reinstituted most of the draconian system that has been the norm here for decades. So, my ears perked up when Koch Industries came forward with a vision of human dignity and individual liberty based on the restorative power of work. Maybe someone is finally getting the point.

How do we reform the criminal justice system to better help and support these individuals in recognizing their gifts and learning to leverage those gifts toward  meaningful work and relationships across society?

Koch Industries is not the only company reflecting on these needs, but they’re taking action and becoming a leading voice in the fight for criminal justice reform, involving an extensive lobbying toward public reforms and instituting changes in their hiring and training practices as a private business—a development that other businesses are beginning mirror.

In an interview with Barron’s, Mark Holden, Koch’s general counsel and leader of its various criminal justice efforts, explains how improving prisoner rehabilitation closely corresponds with an integrative vision of human dignity, individual liberty, and the restorative power of work.

“We’re focused on removing external barriers to opportunity for all Americans, particularly the least advantaged,” Holden explains.

We want a system that keeps communities safe, that is based on equal rights, that is redemptive and rehabilitative, and that provides for real second chances for people who break the law, are incarcerated, and return to society.

As a former jail guard himself, Holden has witnessed many of the problems firsthand, leading him to believe that America now has a “two-tiered system” that benefits the rich while the least powerful are shuffled and reshuffled through an impersonal and dehumanizing system.

Holden and Koch approach the issue through three distinct “lenses”—moral, constitutional, and then fiscal:

The moral case is basically the two-tiered system. I’m a big fan of public defenders, they are heroes, and the Sixth Amendment says that it’s a natural right that you have a lawyer. But 80%-plus of the people in the system need a lawyer and oftentimes don’t get one who can work on their case full-time, beginning to end. Then you come back out [with] a criminal record, which makes it difficult to get a job, to get housing, loans, the whole drill. The whole system, from our perspective, is immoral.

The constitutional case is based on the Bill of Rights: 40% of the Bill of Rights deals with criminal justice issues, whether that’s the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, or Eighth amendments.

Lastly is the fiscal case…States are responsible for their own budgets, and once someone starts to look at different line items in the state budget and sees how much they’re spending on incarceration, they want to peel back who’s in prison and why. That’s what’s happened in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, Michigan, and many other states… We say the fiscal case is the moral case, because when you stop spending so much money on incarcerating people, you have a lot more resources to pay for better education systems, roads, mental health issues.

Education is a critical part of the restorative journey, particularly as it relates to training and mentoring individuals for re-entry into the workforce. Opportunities could be created in a variety of ways, whether by granting organizations and businesses easier access to prisons or by simply shifting the thinking and hiring processes among private businesses on the “outside.”

All of this leads to greater access to work, which brings dignity and meaning to the individual, channeling creativity, and facilitating connection and relationships:

It’s good for the individual; having a good job is a big indicator that you won’t go back to prison. That’s better for society; [it saves] money, it keeps communities safer, and keeps law enforcement safer. We see it as a win/win/win, completely consistent with our philosophy about individual liberty, consistent with our view of what will make for a much more just, better society, and help people improve their lives, if it’s done right. The reforms in the states give us that road map.

Whenever you hire anybody, record or no record, it’s a risk. A criminal record is one data point. We’ve learned over time that just because someone has a criminal record doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Now, with a tight labor market, there’s a lot more opportunity for people with criminal records, which is good.

Among the many barriers (or let’s just call them what they are — injustices) prisoners will continue to face—political, institutional, cultural, and otherwise—work is an area where real redemptive fruit is visible almost immediately.  For Koch Industries, it will require greater risk, vulnerability, and investment but God has given Holden and his employers the wisdom, relational capacity, love and grace to begin repairing the fragments of society at the ground level.

As we continue to fight for better policies and a more fair and equitable criminal justice system, let’s not forget the powerful role that work can play in facilitating personal journeys of restoration and rehabilitation in the everyday and everywhere in-between.

Advertisements

Why Does Separation of Church & State Grow Churches?   2 comments

Image result for image of a anglican churchHave you ever noticed that Europe is largely a non-Christian society while in the United States, we value freedom of religion and have relatively higher levels of faith?

It’s sort of interesting how that works because in Europe, most countries have a state religion that is subsidized by the government while in the United States people have to dole out their hard-earned money if they want to support a church.

Seventy percent of young people in Europe identify with no religion. But almost every country in Europe has a state religion. In the UK, only 7% of young adults identify as Anglican, which is the government-sponsored religion of the United Kingdom. In Germany, where the state church is Lutheran, about 45% of young people never attend church. I’m told by a friend who is from Germany and attends our church here in the States that there is a growing independent evangelical movement in Germany.

“And we want nothing to do with the state. We’d rather meet in someone’s home than take a dime from the government because it appears the government is a killer of faith.”

His view echoes a friend from England who says the same thing — that non-subsidized evangelical churches are growing while the government-supported Anglican churches are mostly empty.

I read an article a few days ago about how the Church in the Czech Republic is almost non-existent. Meanwhile, small evangelical and charismatic denominations are thriving. These are the churches that never used the State to compel them to come in and now the faithful are willingly coming into their sanctuaries.

Of course, church attendance was declining in the United States for a long time even without government interference and I’m not convinced it has stabilized. But I just find it interesting that churches without government support do better than churches with government support.

On Revolution   Leave a comment

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’m in rewrite mode for Book 4 of Transformation Project – Day’s End – and it’s summer in Alaska, but some interactions on Facebook have caused me to start thinking. I posted an 1818 letter by John Adams explaining that the American Revolution had not been the war that was fought against England, but the change in the “religious” affection of the Americans toward Britain that had occurred in the 15-years of spiritual revival that had occurred prior to the war. History records that as the First Great Awakening, but it was really more than just a rediscovery of Scripture and the Holy Spirit. The American colonists were seized by a fervor for learning that included reading far more than the Bible.

Image result for image of revolutionThe war was coda to the actual revolution that occurred in the hearts and minds of the people prior to the first shot being fired. Adams believed this was what set the American Revolution apart from the French Revolution. After the shooting was done, Americans settled down to peaceful commerce once more. Meanwhile, in France, when the revolutionaries seized power, they commenced to kill a bunch of people of varying degrees of guilt and innocence. They found no peace, but only a growing hunger for blood. Why? Adams wrote it was because France pursued revolution as a war while in America, the revolution had been in the hearts and minds of the people prior to the war. They were already free in their minds. Had Britain simply accepted that, there would have been no war.

So, today we’re at such a cusp — on the verge of a civil war that will split not along clear regional lines as it did in the 1860s, but along ideological lines that are expressed in a mixed geography – rural versus urban, blue region versus red. We’ve got a whole chorus of voices screaming for “revolution”, people in the streets demanding “justice”, setting things on fire, beating their opponents into the pavement and insisting on fundamental changes to the political system that will affect our future in enormous and damaging ways.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog, you know I didn’t support Donald Trump for president in 2016 (though I also didn’t support Hillary Clinton … remember, crooks on the left, clowns on the right, I’m still not voting for you). So this post is really not about who occupies the White House. It’s about the shattering of America that we are so not ready for.

An impeachment is a darned hard thing on the constitution of a country. It has been hard on Americans in the past — pretty much every time — though sometimes it has been necessary. There have been presidents who violated their oaths of office and deserved impeachment … and some were impeached while others were not. And let us not forget there was enough evidence to impeach Bill Clinton, articles of impeachment were upheld, and Congress still didn’t remove him from office. And that was surprisingly less harmful to the fabric of society than Richard Nixon’s resignation.

I don’t really care if Trump gets impeached … though I do care if there’s actual evidence of a crime because impeachment should not be undertaken just because some people don’t like an election result that was determined under the existing constitutional system. If they want to change it, there’s a procedure for amending the Constitution. Meanwhile, the Constitution allows us to replace Trump with Mike Pence if there’s enough evidence that Trump — not his associates — did something worthy of impeachment. And, frankly, if it weren’t for the negatives, I could easily replace Trump with Pence and go on with my life because I didn’t vote for him, ao I’ve no real dog in the fight. But ….

The 47% of American voters who gave Donald Trump the presidency did not vote for Mike Pence. And that’s a problem because they will be disenfranchised upon Trump’s removal from office. What happens to them, to the hopes they voted for when they elected him? Do they not matter? I know most progressive Democrats will insist they don’t, but they are just about half of the population, so … do we just ignore them once Trump has been removed from office? How do you think that’s going to work out for the country?

And will those rioting in the streets be satisfied with the replacement of a populist progressive president with a very conservative one? Pence is a social and fiscal conservative. He’s everything progressives hate. He’s about as far from Barack Obama’s policies as Calvin Coolidge was from Woodrow Wilson. Can the progressives currently rioting in our streets accept Pence as the constitutionally-selected president of America or will they continue to demand that their wishes be assuaged?

And if they hold out for their demands to be fulfilled, what then? The Democrats LOST the constitutional election of 2016. The Russians may have provided information people had a right to know, but they didn’t hack the voting system. There are literally thousands of election systems in the United States and that makes our voting system more or less unhackable. So there is no way, constitutionally, that a Democrat should be in the White House before 2020, but mark my words — there will be Democrats demanding it and it is that tension – between the Democrats on one side who will not accept the outcome of a constitutional election and the Republicans who are about to be disenfranchised that will tear this country apart.

I want revolution more than most people do. It’s revolutionary and counter-cultural in this era to say we need to drastically cut government (by 50 to 75%), to close all our foreign bases and bring soldiers home, to get government out of the economy and let people make their own decisions without our nanny hanging over our shoulders. But here’s the rub … I don’t think this country is ready for revolution. We’re France in the 1780s. We want change, but the vast majority of the population has not been educated to think for themselves, so naturally the vast majority of them will scream for more government rather than less … and that way lays totalitarianism … the silencing of philosophical minorities, of anyone who can think for themselves, the wholesale enslavement of the economy to the government, and the loss of individual liberty and the concept of natural rights that are inherent in being a human being instead of something given to you by the government when it deigns that you will benefit from them. None of this is a good idea by any stretch of the imagination. Yeah … it may be that we’re actually Russia in the early 20th century. We’re certainly headed that way.

If that concerns you, I hope you’ll take some time – take a pause — and educate yourselves. You can certain read back in my blog. You can check out Mises.org, the Ron Paul Institute and the Foundation for Economic Freedom.  Go to You-Tube and check out Dave Rubin or Jordan Peterson or the pod casts of Joe Rogan. In the case of Rubin and Rogan, it’s really their guests who are brilliant, but the point is to start listening to people who have actually thought out what it means to be an individual without being in conflict with society. We might potentially dodge a bullet for the next year or two, but unless we change our affections for the bloated totalitarian-lite government we currently have and start looking at the world we live in a different way, we’re head the way of so many countries that grabbed for needed change and ended up killing millions.

Define “liberal”   1 comment

We’re having a great conversation over on Facebook about the term “liberal” – exploring it’s different meanings across the US and UK, primarily, but it’s pretty far-ranging. Anyone is welcome to join us. The only rule is … be civil.

What is the Greatest Threat to Freedom of Conscience?   Leave a comment

My friend Josh Bennett over at Patriot’s Lament knocked one out of the park with this article, so I am blatantly borrowing it. I get my anarchy fix on Saturday mornings on KFAR-660 AM, which you can access through streaming if you’re not in the broadcast area of Fairbanks, Alaska. You can also check out PL’s You-Tube channel, Radio Free Fairbanks, where they repost the 3-hour programs to be listened to whenever you like. The show’s been going for seven years now, so there’s lots of liberty talk from an anarcho-capitalist point of view to refresh your mind with. Lela

The State Will Gladly Protect You from Freedom of Conscience

Josh Bennett

For hundreds of years, western cultures have been refining what is known as Freedom of Conscience.
One of the outcomes of this refinement is Freedom of Speech, a Liberty that is relatively new to the human political experience.
Not long ago, being critical of a government, for instance, could get you killed by that government. Merely speaking out of turn or having critical thought towards the State religion meant torture or death.

But, we have advanced through time to understand that free thought and critical speech is something that a free people must protect and encourage. Thomas Jefferson went as far as to say that repressing Freedom of Conscience was a “Sin against God”.

 

Suppressing Freedom of Conscience though, was and is seen by the State as self-preservation.

 

Today, we have access to information that only 20 years ago was other-worldly. Anyone with a cell phone can post a rant or share information to literally the whole world. Because of this information access, people take the information they get from the State influenced mainstream media with a grain of salt, or immediately disbelieve it, and usually, rightfully so.

 

This is dangerous for the State’s propaganda machine, but the State realizes what is even more dangerous to it, would be for the State to appear to suppress it. Whether on the Left or the Right of the political spectrum, people tend to cherish what we now call, “Free Speech”, and rightfully so.

 

So what is the State to do? What States always do. Make the people fear their Liberty more than Itself.

 

Instead of immediately passing laws suppressing and/or silencing free speech, the State is manipulating the political fears people have to make them feel threatened by what they may think is opposing speech to their beliefs. And the fear the State has spread between opposing political speech has resulted in what not long ago would have been mocked as fairytale superstition.

 

“Words can hurt you. People who disagree with you want to hurt you. You need your feelings protected against all invasion. Dissenting speech or thought is violence towards you.”
Instead of using dissenting views from our own to refine our beliefs and convictions, and to encourage discussion for the betterment of overall society, we are not only growing to fear Opposition of Thought, we want to be protected from it.

Image result for image of nazi railcar

Enter the State.

From legislating pronouns to aggressive threats of imprisonment for incorrect thinking, the State has moved in against Freedom of Conscience to suppress nonconformists. And some cheer this behavior by the State, seen to protect them from all harm. Others see it as a shield to advance their own political agenda opposition-free.
But, as Bastiat explained, while all wish to live at the expense of the State, the State lives at the expense of all.

 

No one’s political or personal thoughts or actions are safe from this aggression by the State. While the State will pick winners and losers in the short run, it’s only a matter of time before the State silences everyone.

 

Before you cheer the State for destroying your opposition’s Freedom of Conscience, remember when your opposition is gone, you will be alone, and no one will be there when the State marches you into the railcar that you have built.

Could the US School Europe on Cannabis?   1 comment

This is Brad, standing in the gap for Lela who is traveling for work. So I decided it’s my blog for the week, so I might as well say what I want. Lela knew this might happen. Maybe she should have changed the password.

 

Did you know that marijuana is not legal in Europe?

Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene prepares to roll a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 20, 2015Yeah, you can buy it in Amsterdam “coffee shops” and possession is decriminalized up to 5 grams, but police can still confiscate that amount and it is not technically legal for those coffee shops to operate, even though the authorities tolerate them. Law enforcement could shut them down any time they like.

Germany, Belgium, Luxembourge, Denmark and Malta also tolerate possession of small amounts of cannabis. Italy allows marijuana use in religious practices, Albania is apparently unable to encourage restrictions on pot, and Freetown (Copenhagen) claims it is independent of Denmark, where marijuana remains illegal. The Czech Republic and Portugal are really on the only countries to actually decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis. But still, the Netherlands are the only place that openly tolerates public sale and consumption of pot. Incarceration for possession of minor quantities remains possible in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, the Scandinavian nations and virtually all of Central and Eastern Europe. Cyprus has a maximum penalty of eight years for mere possession. Macron’s France is just now lowering possession to a misdemeanor with a fine, but according to a 2014 European Union Commission survey had 53% of 15-24 year-olds stating that marijuana should be banned. The only reason Europe is ignoring drugs these days is it lacks the money to enforce the laws that remain on the books.

Image result for image of legal cannabis in alaskaNow come across the pond to the United States. While Europeans love to hold their noses in the air about how “immature” Americans are, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state allow medical and recreational sales of cannabis and there is a large-scale public debate on the benefits of marijuana and its actual risks as well as a debate on the politics that led to Nixon’s War on Drugs. Americans are actually having discussions about law enforcement’s targeting of minorities through the drug laws and how the percentage of the population in prisons is as a direct result of nonsensical drug policies. It’s even made conservative evangelicals reconsider their stance on the legalization of cannabis. Many of them here in Alaska now openly state that, like alcohol, marijuana should be regulated to reduce its societal problems, but that prohibition doesn’t work and they regret that they didn’t foresee that 20 years ago.

Europe has always maintained that it is superior … more grownup … than America. We’re so provincial with our belief in traditional marriage, people being clothed in public and our higher incarceration rates. That sense of arrogance goes back to the Revolution, when most countries in Europe were certain we’d never last a few years, let alone centuries, and they’ve never really gotten over that, even after we had to sort out their wars twice during the 20th century. And, anyone pointing out America’s horrendous incarceration rate has got my full agreement. But, through the beauty of federalism, Americans are gradually providing (possibly) that cannabis legalization will not be the end of the world. Will Europe learn from our example?

We can only hope.

 

 

 

The Herd Obeys the Rulers   Leave a comment

From “The State” by Randolph Bourne

 

Image result for image of randolph bourneNothing is more obvious, however, than that every one of us comes into society as into something in whose creation we had not the slightest hand. We have not even the advantage of consciousness before we take up our careers on earth. By the time we find ourselves here we are caught in a network of customs and attitudes, the major directions of our desires and interests have been stamped on our minds, and by the time we have emerged from tutelage and reached the years of discretion when we might conceivably throw our influence to the reshaping of social institutions, most of us have been so molded into the society and class we live in that we are scarcely aware of any distinction between ourselves as judging, desiring individuals and our social environment. We have been kneaded so successfully that we approve of what our society approves, desire what our society desires, and add to the group our own passionate inertia against change, against the effort of reason, and the adventure of beauty.

Every one of us, without exception, is born into a society that is given, just as the fauna and flora of our environment are given. Society and its institutions are, to the individual who enters it, as much naturalistic phenomena as is the weather itself. There is, therefore, no natural sanctity in the State any more than there is in the weather. We may bow down before it, just as our ancestors bowed before the sun and moon, but it is only because something in us unregenerate finds satisfaction in such an attitude, not because there is anything inherently reverential in the institution worshiped. Once the State has begun to function, and a large class finds its interest and its expression of power in maintaining the State, this ruling class may compel obedience from any uninterested minority. The State thus becomes an instrument by which the power of the whole herd is wielded for the benefit of a class. The rulers soon learn to capitalize the reverence which the State produces in the majority, and turn it into a general resistance toward a lessening of their privileges. The sanctity of the State becomes identified with the sanctity of the ruling class, and the latter are permitted to remain in power under the impression that in obeying and serving them, we are obeying and serving society, the nation, the great collectivity of all of us.

Ask A Libertarian

This page is represented by libertarians to spread awareness of libertarianism and empower libertarians while informing non-libertarians.

Blessed with a Star on the Forehead

As I navigate through this life ...

Lyndell Williams

Author * Writer * Stoker of Flames

FAIRBANKS ARTS ASSOCIATION

Promoting traditional and contemporary arts in Interior Alaska since 1966

Joanne's Bargains

Bargains From Around The Web

Leadingchurch.com

Gospel Word Gardening in the Age of Decay

Jodie's Sewing Studio

Sewing Should be Fun

Webinar Starter Blueprint

The place to learn about doing webinars

Professor Eric Dent's Blog

A Scholar's View of the World

The Author Lab

A writing collective

The BookNook UK

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book - Dr. Seuss

Unlearning Economics

Musings on the Current State of Economics

Reveries

a state of being pleasantly lost in one's thoughts; a daydream

Christian Creative Nexus

Spiritual Resourcing Hub for Christians Pursuing their Calling

campogeno

die welt aus der sicht eines einsiedlers

Becoming Christians

Every Christian's Journey Toward Eternity...

%d bloggers like this: