politics thoughts

Liberal or Conservative? Neither.

angry boxing elephant and smiling shopping donkey
illustrated by Ezra Engle of

Most people I know believe that poverty and helplessness are sad issues that should be addressed. What many don’t agree on is how they should be addressed.

Politics polarize these people to judge each other with labels and accusations that others don’t care as much as they do.

To simplify the arguments, I hear that liberals accuse conservatives of not caring about the poor because of a general lack of support for government programs that give to the poor.

Conservatives accuse liberals of not caring about traditional morals because of their lack of support for laws that would enforce a more a more strict set of values involving marriage and sexual conduct. They also criticize efforts to remove prayer and references to God in schools and other government buildings.

I do see a pattern in this. One party criticizes the other for not giving power to the government that the other sees as a personal decision that should not be legislated. A fiscal conservative may say, “Don’t force me to give through the government. It would be better to protect selfish people’s right to choose where they give than to reduce my freedom to be generous to organizations I fully support. That would reduce my freedom to choose how I give.” A liberal may say, “Don’t force your morals on everyone. It would be better to allow some to live out their beliefs in a way you don’t like than to force your values and restrictions on everyone. That would reduce my freedom to choose how I live.”

I used to believe that the government should just do whatever I thought was right. In a democracy, it is the people who are responsible for the decisions of the government. Although I still believe in that idea, I see government and legislation as a wasteful and ineffective conduit to implement many of these ideas. I believe in generosity and selflessness, but the government takes away something more than revenue when it assumes the role of distributor from me. It takes away a felt compassion from the giver to the receiver. I believe in self control, loyalty, monogamy and modesty, but when the government dictates what substances are legal to have, what the terms of marriage are, and what a pastor can and can’t say in a church, it takes away the responsibility of individuals to make many decisions for themselves about what is wise, what commitments they are willing to make, and have the freedom to say things that are not popular.

For the Republican party to get it’s way, I fear it would be like having an embarrassing friend who is seen as a bully, picking fights and stirring up trouble for everyone and causing unnecessary & expensive drama, even though they mean well, and just want to make things right as they see it.

For the Democratic party to get it’s way, I fear it would be like having a well-meaning friend who wants to give gifts they can’t afford to give and help everyone out using their credit card, not realizing how much of a mess they have left things for everyone involved.

I believe that the government should solve more problems than it makes. When the government oversteps what it is good or efficient at, it will create more problems than it solves. Right now, I believe that the US government is bigger than it needs to be, and its role and our expectations of what problems it solves should be reduced. Some believe that voting for a third party candidate is throwing my vote away in a two-party race, but I think that believing that a two-party outcome is always inevitable would be throwing away my vote. I am voting my conscience from now on, and I hope you do also.


Reading for Understanding

When some read, their goal is to understand, while others want to invalidate that what they are reading is worth their time.

I get it, I do that with junk mail. Perhaps I would read through what i saw as junk mail, if there was a passionate person who really cared about it enough to discuss how it really changed their life in some way. I could be convinced they were worth listening to because they respect my opinion and my time. Respect is the great adaptor for challenging ideas and sharing knowledge. Without respect, ideas cannot pass effectively. The greatest respect is shown through a willingness to also have an interest and listen to my ideas or beliefs. So far, it seems junk mail is only a low cost way to mass market products and services for businesses. The motive seems pretty plain and simple.

There have, however, been passionate people who have come to my door and I do hear them out, and I let them keep coming to talk more and discuss their ideas. Eventually, their passions and motives are made plain and we have a sort of mutual respect for one another, even without agreeing about everything we believe. I am not threatened by hearing or reading about different beliefs and ideas, and I love being around others who have a similar confidence or curiosity about what others think and believe, and what their reasoning is to come to such a hope or certainty in their view.

I only hope to come across this way to those I write to online as well, because there is a sort of coldness to digital communication that many times is taken as disrespect or condescension. I aim to both love and to understand.



I am really impressed at how a small startup can grow and encourage the best ideas to come to fruition. The Internet is a great place to throw ideas out and see what has traction and connect the ideas to people who have means to make stuff happen.

I am less optimistic about the world of politics so far. Nobody in a democracy can agree about how goals are to be met, but everyone has an opinion about how best to get there. And none of the largest ideas can be completed without a majority of people contributing their taxes towards the goal.

But what if our democracy did not consist of people without skin in the game pontificating about how to spend other people’s money, or future money? What if we all voted with our tax dollars as a percentage of our work, time and effort, and not one dime was spent until the goal was virtually funded on paper? I get bombarded by ads and automated phone calls asking me to support or not support this measure or that measure, to generate funds by taxing some evil industry and set up a committee to manage the funds, etc.

What I would prefer would be a secure website where I could choose initiatives to build better transportation infrastructure or hire teachers or establish departments of whatever, and be shown what my total estimated tax bill would be in the following year. All of the priorities and interests of voters would be distilled into only support the programs that have enough support to be actually completed, and the great ideas that were too expensive would not come to pass, and the programs that are knowingly abused would cease to be supported by the general populous. A fourth branch of checks and balances would be set up for the people as individuals, also encouraging active participation in voting. This would not give people with more money more power necessarily in a democracy, but would prevent big expensive programs from starting without the actual means to be funded.

Kickstarter would never work if people could vote with fake money. Neither will our government.

News thoughts

To Do Without

Yesterday, my bicycle was stolen.


Artistic Ministry

Would we recognize God’s speaking through people today in this way, or just dismiss it because it is not what we expect from Him?

“at that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. [3] Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, [4] so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.”
-Isaiah 20:2-4 (NIV)

Get uncomfortable with this and then consider what the original creative mind of God would come up with to get your attention. What customs and traditions are you relying on for your comfort, but others use to dismiss your actions as false piety? We are made in the image of God, not the image of a parrot. Listen to Him and be creative, because He created first.


Unfinished Business

Original Drawing by Ezra Engle

This really bothers me. A guy that I knew asked me to draw something for him for a project he was working on. I told him I would do it for 2/3 of my normal rate, because he was a buddy of mine. Then, after a few revisions, when he was satisfied with the result, I invoiced him for the money, he said that he was going to pay me after his client paid him. Now, I didn’t sign up to be a partner in his business. I just was going to do something for him for a price that we agreed on and he’s been promising, then flaking on me for almost two years now. I don’t know what to do anymore. His client never payed him so he changed the terms on his own. I guess it was a lesson in life that some people won’t do what they say when things don’t work out for them. They pass on someone else’s flakiness and pretend like it doesn’t have anything to do with them. I think that if I were to want to have some sort of partnership where I shared in the risk with somebody else that was helping me out then I should also share the reward and not be saying here’s a flat rate for what you’re doing rather than a percentage of profits and explain the risk before hand. I don’t want this to happen again, because it turned a mutually respectful acquaintance into something like tense silence. I like to think that my relationships are worth more than that, and it is sad to see one sold so undervalued. I may need to request that a lawyer draw up some concise contracts for me to use in the future, because one day I may really need a paycheck to pay my bills and live on, and have contracts with higher stakes that I can’t afford to lose.

Software thoughts

Back it Up

A Public Service Announcement:
There seems to be a lot of people I know who don’t understand how an iPod is supposed to work. Music is on your computer and a copy is on your iPod to playback. When your computer goes up in smoke and you have no backup, your music is gone. Reinstalling iTunes does not make your music reappear on a new computer. If you don’t have an external drive, get one. Copy your important photos and music to it. You will be glad you did when your system drive fails. They always do within five years. If your computer is three years old, you are on borrowed time.


Go Well

Please don’t ask the question, “What shall I watch next?”

When we are not inspired, challenged, driven or surprised, we seek diversion.
Many people seem to have a great desire to be entertained.
Entertainment is diversion without challenge.
Challenge is not encouraged often in television, because true challenge makes us turn off the television.
Entertainment has an element of surprise at times: in drama, comedy, horror, action, and almost every other genre.
Those who spend a lot of time engrossed in entertainment lose the experience of surprise and seek that experience with a continued, greater investment.
The entertainment industry capitalizes on this drive by offering more sets of channels to subscribe to and billed monthly for this ‘privilege’.
Entertainment is an imposter, attempting to compete with that which would satisfy our actual desires.
The most effective way to be inspired is through a mentoring relationship with a successful person who has accomplished an admirable feat or reached a worthy goal.
A great way to be challenged is to commit to a relationship that involves accountability to another who is stronger than us in an area of our own weakness.
One method to acquire drive is by learning to keep one’s commitments in an atmosphere of success and assured a future reward without immediate personal benefits.
Surprise occurs when we attempt things that we thought were not possible and achieve them or we witness a peer achieve them and can celebrate that in our community or group.
Without challenge to our habits or changes to our environment, surprise is unlikely.
Comfort is the enemy of satisfaction, and the friend of atrophy.
Rest is necessary, but should be earned with a continuing effort.
With wisdom, we must choose worthy endeavors and battles.
Assuming the battle is worth fighting, it is better to die in the heat of battle than to rest in the complacent coolness of peace.
Do not ask the question, “What shall I watch next?”, rather answer the question,
“Where should I go?” and wherever you do go; go well.


James Session Two

Had a great time tonight reading with Ben Parker, @kle & @Cat_Roberts and trying to plan for how to apply this verse:*

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
-James 1:27 (NIV)

I also learned that Ben’s mom, Kathy has started physically accepting the bone marrow transplant and working like we had hoped.

*This post is here because it started out as a tweet, but was impossible to do in 140 characters.

Communications thoughts

Network updates

I found two places this week that Verizon does not have coverage. One AT&T did have really good coverage, the other AT&T also was without service. One was in Clyde, CA & the other was in Martinez, CA. I did not take screenshots. I believe that if AT&T invests well in it’s network with all the wireless money it continues to get, then Verizon will have to play catch up. As for now, Verizon’s network seems more stable and reliable.

I don’t think I want to write more on this subject. It is getting a little boring to me. If anything comes up of interest, I will let you, my reader, know.