Addressing the Symptoms

photo credit: sigma.

As if to prove the point I made in my last post about passing out casts and crutches, the Seattle Post Intelligencer this week published an essay from Brad Soliday, a teacher in eastern Washington, where he shares his perspective about how the increasing money bring allocated to education is being misspent because it is focusing on a mistaken solution.

I doubt it is truly coincidental that while real education spending has risen 49% in the last two decades it is dysfunctional or broken families that have seen a corresponding rise in society rather than educational outcomes (which have flat-lined despite the ever rising funding). This should be irrefutable proof that those perpetually sounding the cry that education is underfunded are either misinformed or intentionally deceptive (I’m sure there are some who fall into each of those camps). Education is under-supported due to the disintegration of a solid family foundation in society but money cannot solve that problem.

Mr. Soliday puts into words a disturbing fact that many people would be unwilling to articulate:

Many educational reforms attempted in the last fifteen years are an attempt to recreate or substitute for the structure, attention, discipline, support, love and expectations of a healthy family.

I can’t imagine that there are more than a very few people who truly believe that such an attempt could ever be truly successful.

Perhaps my favorite part of the essay is the prescient statement at the end in which he summarizes:

For forty years educators and politicians have been trying to raise test performance and reduce dropout rates by “fixing” schools. These efforts have largely failed or returned meager improvements. They have failed because they are trying to fix the wrong institution. Schools are not the problem and schools are not the solution. The disintegration of the family is the problem and its restoration is the only solution (to several social issues besides educational achievement).

Schools and teachers can always improve, they can do better, and they can make the difference for tens of thousands of individual students, but they cannot make up for systemic dysfunction in the most important institution in America, the family.
(emphasis added)

Mr. Soliday ends by offering some conclusions about the true way forward in education. Among them he offers this, which sounds very much like something prophets and apostles have been telling the world for fifteen years already:

Curriculum, programs, and even laws should be developed to promote and protect the family, especially the role and responsibility of fatherhood.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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29 Responses to Addressing the Symptoms

  1. Charles D says:

    Exactly what steps should government take to increase the health of families? Should we perhaps require a license to be a parent? After all, parenting is more crucial to society than cutting hair and that requires a license. What laws could be developed to promote and protect the family that aren’t already on the books?

    • David says:

      You completely missed the point that government should not be solving our problems. Government can only try to foster an environment where we have a decent chance to freely find the solutions we need. If government is truly doing everything they can to promote and protect the family then perhaps we should be looking to some other source for our solutions.

      Should we require a license to be a parent? If we believed that marriage were at least politically for the purpose of creating families then we already have a license – not that it does anything to assure that marriages or families resulting from them have much chance of survival.

      The point I was trying to make and the point of Mr. Soliday’s essay was that government should not try to tackle all the symptoms of society’s problems. Of course his essay was focused on education but widespread poor health is a symptom of another problem. If it were a symptom of a tainted water supply they should focus on cleaning the water supply rather than focusing on training more doctors.

      Of course our health problem is mostly related to poor lifestyle choices. We overeat, and/or eat unhealthy foods. We fail to exercise adequately (physically or mentally) and regardless of whether the health problems we face are a direct result of poor choices or not we approach medical treatment with an attitude that suggests that good health and quick fixes are some sort of God-given right that government should pay for if we can’t. That’s simply irresponsible and uninformed. Bad luck is no reason why we should demand that strangers supply our needs and poor choices are an even worse reason. If we treated medical expenses as our own responsibility we would introduce actual market forces into our medical system and we would find the balance between promising a life of perpetual good health and accepting the inevitable that mortality ensures that people will have to accept the consequences of the sicknesses they encounter.

  2. Charles D says:

    Soliday is correct that schools cannot be blamed (funding cut, schools closed, teachers fired) because they are unable to overcome the problems caused by other forces. What he’s wrong about is the cause and solution.

    The ‘healthy family’ is not the problem here, it’s poverty. There is a demonstrable and clear connection between poverty and poor school performance and between poverty and unstable families. After 30 years of wage stagnation and a rising cost of living, families are under tremendous pressure. Add in the unbridled marketplace for advertising and easy unregulated credit and you have a recipe for disaster and that’s what we have.

    The question is what to do about it. Obviously the government we have, owned by the banks and large corporations, is going to do nothing about the horrific and widening gap between the rich and poor or the dramatic increase in poverty, nor is it about to rein in the media with its constant barrage of “buy, buy, buy” advertising from infancy on, nor is it going to regulate the financial industry to prevent them from ripping off working people. No, what we are going to see is calls to reduce spending on education (because it isn’t working), and/or to setup more charter schools, run by corporations with lowered standards. That’s not going to fix anything either. It’s merely going to mean that the children who once might have had a chance to attend a decent school with dedicated teachers will be deprived of that opportunity.

    The fact of the matter is that it will require massive spending for us to climb out of the mess we have made in education. Wishing that families were more loving and caring is just that – wishful thinking. Instead of railing on and on about how government shouldn’t pay for this or that, how about we concentrate on fixing the problem regardless of whether the solution fits our political ideology. Instead of saying that people ‘have to accept the consequences of the sicknesses they encounter’, how about we take seriously our moral responsibility to help our neighbor?

    • David says:

      how about we take seriously our moral responsibility to help our neighbor?

      You’re on to something there. I do take that moral responsibility very seriously and the fact of the matter is that no level of government spending will make up for the deficiencies of a society that as a whole does not take that responsibility seriously enough. So where do we instill the proper level of value for that in successive generations of society? In healthy families. Government spending cannot simulate, stimulate, or replace that.

      What you fail to recognize is that unhealthy families are the root cause of poverty being a problem in society. A society made entirely of poor people with healthy families would instill the moral code of reaching out to help others and over time such a society would escape poverty. On the other hand, unhealthy families are a breeding ground for the kind of people who are susceptible to the omnipresent marketing cry to “buy, buy, buy” and unwisely spend themselves into poverty. They are also a breeding ground for the kind of businessmen that would exploit their employees for their own gain rather than giving them, of their own accord, living wages.

      What you recognize is the fact that poverty has built in conditions to discourage the maintenance of healthy families, but poverty only promotes, it does not cause broken families.

  3. Charles D says:

    Societies that take their moral responsibility seriously use the power of government as part of their effort to meet that responsibility. While healthy families are important and they cannot be mandated, government policies can do a great deal toward lowering the stress on families and providing more support and time for parents.

    The problem is that poverty breeds unhealthy families, not the other way around. The love of money and a corporatized culture that values wealth above all else causes businesses to exploit their employees and their communities and the environment. Both poverty and the unbridled greed of business is a direct result of laissez-faire, so-called free market economic principles that reward the greedy and blame the victims.

    I will acknowledge that simply being economically comfortable does not cause healthy families in and of itself, but families that might otherwise learn to be more responsible and become healthier cannot do so when under economic stress.

    • David says:

      Every society I have ever heard of that had to resort to using the force of government to meet their moral responsibility to be their brothers keeper have collapsed or are in the process of collapsing.

      I already admitted that poverty makes it much harder to maintain healthy families but I reject the notion that families in poverty cannot be healthy.

      As for the unbridled greed of business – you are essentially suggesting that men are not accountable for their own greed. The reality is that personal restraint is the only kind that is dependable over any sustained period of time whether the government attepmts strict regulation or practices a laissez-faire approach.

  4. Charles D says:

    Gee David, I guess you’ve never heard of Western Europe. Or perhaps by inserting the word “force” you are changing my meaning and then claiming I’m wrong. Only in the United States where propagandists have worked nonstop for decades to convince people that the government is evil would most people ever have to be “forced” to support a government social program.

    As I said, there is not a complete correlation between poverty and family health (a term we should define probably) but if I wanted to increase the health of families, I would remove unnecessary stressors like poverty and provide supports like free health care, child care, public education, and low cost housing. Then at least you minimize the number of families at risk instead of maximizing the number and then blaming them for failure.

    Men are accountable for their own greed, but in a publicly owned corporation, men are accountable only for increasing the profit to the shareholders. If they exercise the kind of personal restraint you suggest, they will find themselves unemployed or at least demoted rather quickly. Government regulation (properly structured and enforced) can’t insure moral behavior, but it can make immoral behavior too costly to consider and that’s the only incentive that will work.

    Simply saying everyone should be moral and healthy while providing no incentives for them to do so, only blame when they don’t, seems hypocritical to me.

    • David says:

      Of course I have heard of Western Europe, that’s who I had in mind when referring to societies that “are in the process of collapsing.” Perhaps you have not heard of the political corruption and upheavel in the United Kingdom or the social unrest in France that erupts into open riots every few years or even what the Euro has been doing lately. Yes, I’ve heard of Western Europe. I have a great appreciation for their cuisine, art, and architecture but I have no interest in following the path to their budding dystopia.

      Government, by definition, has the ability to compel compliance. If it has power to compel it is, by definition, a power of force. I had no need to change your meaning. On top of that, let me make it perfectly clear that despite sentiments expressed by some such as Ronald Reagan’s “government is the problem” I firmly believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man. Government is a legitimte tool for social stability but like every other tool it should only be used for what it was designed for. A hammer can put a screw into a structure but when it does the screw has no holding power and is actually detrimental to that structure. There is no such thing as a tool that is designed for every purpose.

      Most people are more than willing to support a social program but the moment you insert government into the social program the result is that people lose their agency to determine the level and kind of support they will offer – in other words, it is force.

      Now, there is no such thing as free health care, only health care that is not paid for by the recipient. To provide that kind of “free” health care it is necessary to find someone willing to pay for the care. Government does not find people who are willing to pay, it simple mandates who will pay and who will receive. Who will pay is either “the rich” or, more often, future generations. That is just plain immoral. We cannot fulfill a moral obligation by committing an immoral act.

      Likewise public education, child care, and low cost housing can only be provided by shifting costs (government does not reduce costs) and must be done by finding people willing to accept the added cost of the subsidies.

      In a publicly owned corporation men are accountable to their shareholders only for increasing profits but they are still accountable to God for the methods they employ in the disharge of that responsibility, and shareholders have the right to hold them accountable for more than profits. Shareholders have the power to demand ethical conduct but shareholders do not do so. The problem is not simply the greedy business leaders but also the greedy shareholders with their eyes tightly shut.

      Government regulation (properly structured and enforced) can make immoral behavior more costly but just as it can’t ensure moral behavior it also can’t make immoral behavior so costly that nobody will consider it.

      I agree that people need incentives to be moral and healthy – that’s why I fight so vigorously against efforts to remove those incentives by shifting the cost from those making the choices onto the anonymous masses. Government cannot provide incentives to be healthy, those incentives were already built in until government decided to do some good. Government is only trying to provide incentive to purchase insurance, which is not the same as being healthy. Government can provide some incentives to act morally but in many cases it has been wantonly removing those incentives for the last half century or more.

  5. Charles D says:

    I consider it a sign of a healthy democracy that the people demand and sometimes receive redress for their grievances. A complacent society that accepts government malfeasance with little more than a whimper is not something to prize.

    When the majority of people want government to solve a societal problem, that is using their agency. When the majority is constantly frustrated in their desire to see problems solved because a few powerful interests are unwilling to pay, then they lack freedom. If we refrain from solving problems because a small minority would have to pay more taxes, then we are sacrificing the good of the many for the greed of a few. That is in reality the “conservative” position – let the majority suffer so that the wealthy minority don’t have to give up any comforts.

    In many cases, the main shareholders of large corporations are themselves corporate employees charged with the same amoral responsibility as the directors they allegedly control. Blaming the shareholders for the immoral behavior of corporations is as much of a distraction as claiming that God will hold them accountable. While it may be true in some sense, it won’t do much of anything to change behavior.

    Some things are not subject to incentive. While you can encourage healthy behavior you can’t eliminate illness and injury by providing incentives. You can’t avoid your moral obligation to provide care to the sick by encouraging them to have a healthy lifestyle or encouraging them to buy insurance, you have to actually provide the care when they are sick. That’s why health care is considered a right by civilized societies.

    • David says:

      You speak of agency as if it were a collective right. Agency is an individual right and must be exercised individually. If people collectively want government to tolve a societal problem that does not grant them the right to infringe upon the rights of those who are unwilling to pay. In fact, it is generally those who are unwilling to pay and can claim to be unable to pay who are so eager to exercise their agency to empower government to compel others to pay.

      Thank you for articulating the “reality” of the conservative position. You obviously do not understand the conservative position despite the amount of time you spend reading what I have written.

      Just because a shareholder is also an employee does not exempt them from being responsible for their actions. I do not expect the fact that shareholders also hold a share of the blame for the immoral actions of a corporation and the fact that all men are accountable to God for their actions to change behavior. I state those as facts but acknowledge that without individuals exercising their inormed agency to act morally even the best of government regulations cannot compel individuals to act morally and ethically.

      Please stop insinuating that I have made any attempt to shirk my moral obligation to provide care for any who are sick and in need.

      Apparently we need to do more to helppeople to understand that rights are rights regardless of whether we consider them to be rights. Health care is not a right. It is right to provide it but it is not a right like life or liberty. It is our moral obligation to do our best to provide care to all, on that we agree. Our disagreement is that I do not believe, and never will, that it is best to use government as our method of providing that health care.

  6. Charles D says:

    David, it does appear that the doctrine of agency seems to put the individual above the group regardless of the disparity between the small number of individuals who want one thing and the large number who want another. The majority is held hostage to the few because we mustn’t impact the agency of those few. Sounds like a copout to me. Sounds like a clever way to find some moral ground on which to place property above people.

    I don’t mean to insinuate that you personally are shirking any moral obligations. What I am saying is that by placing political ideology (“government as our method”) above the obligation to provide care you are clearly expressing a preference. What you’re saying in effect is that if we can’t really provide quality care to everyone without using government to do it, then we cannot provide care. I find that an immoral argument. I can understand that you might need to be convinced that government can or is best able to provide something, but to say that you ‘never will’ believe otherwise is to tell me that your political ideology is more important than other people’s access to health care.

    • David says:

      The doctrine of agency clearly does place the individual above the group regardless of the disparity of numbers. For good or ill the group must work around or compensate for the voices of individuals if they are to morally accomplish their designs. That is the only way that individuals may be held fully culpable for their exercise of agency. The only way that society can infringe upon a right is if by their angency an individual has relinquished or forfeit that right. For example (and let’s not get into a discussion of the death penalty here, it is simply a very clear example) if the law is established that the consequence of murder is death and a person commits murder then society is authorized to take the life of the murderer in accordance with their established law.

      You are right that I am clearly expressing a preference. My preference is in favor of agency. When government steps in to replace individual agency I consider that immoral. The purpose of government is to establish a dependable order in society so that individuals can exercise their agency and reap the consequences of that agency, again for good or ill. My belief is that unless we set the definition of “access to quality care” unnaturally high we can provide that without government stepping out of the place I have described above as proper. That is why I will never believe that government is the best way to provide that service.

      And yes, I do believe that truth is more important than people having access to health care.

  7. Charles D says:

    So it sounds like we have a theological difference, not a political one. That’s not putting truth above health care, it is putting religious doctrine above the health of others. That’s your choice certainly, but it’s one that I vigorously oppose.

    • David says:

      Taken in isolation, yes, I do believe that the principle of agency is higher than the requirement to look after the welfare of others. Taken in it’s entirety, my theology, both in theory and in practice, requires nothing less than complete devotion to the moral responsibility to exert every effort to ensure the total well being of my fellow men.

      If that seems a contradiction to you then it is because you do not understand my theology, not because I hold some religious doctrine above the health of others.

  8. Charles D says:

    Well David, we could have an interesting discussion on the difference between theology and religious doctrine, because I don’t believe there is one. It also appears that your are devoted to exerting every effort (short of involving government) to ensure the wellbeing of your fellow men. I think we should just agree to disagree here.

    • David says:

      Agree to disagree? I’ll agree to that.

      The difference between a doctrine and a theology is simple. A doctrine is like a stone while a theology is a complete structure made of many stones (and other materials). In other words, a doctrine is an indiviual tenet of a religion while a theology is the complete compendium of all the associated doctrines of a religion.

  9. Charles D says:

    So then the doctrine of agency conflicts with your the requirements of your theology. Maybe you have a weak stone in your building. That is pretty common with religious doctrine and its with the theological structures are usually convoluted.

    • David says:

      There’s no conflict whatsoever. The doctrine of agency means that I cannot be held accountable for the choices that others make. This frees me from feeling guilt over things outside my control. This doctrine also informs the way that I approach my moral obligations. If something is to be done I may enlist the help of others in doing it but I may not compel them to do what is right.

      The reason that individual liberty is so important is because people must be free to make choices and take action if they are to be held accountable for the discharge of their moral obligations.

  10. Charles D says:

    What you’re really saying is that when your desire for freedom from feeling guilty prevents the society as a whole from exerting every effort to ensure the wellbeing of your fellow citizens, then your “freedom” wins. It’s a bit facetious to hide behind the argument that government should not compel people when you don’t really have a problem with government compelling citizens to pay for things they don’t want if those things happen to fall within your definition of the proper role of government.

    If we are free to make choices, then I am free to choose to have government pay for health care instead of a bloated military, and I am free to demand that government roll back tax cuts that cause it to run a huge deficit.

    • David says:

      Please don’t waste your time trying to tell me what I’m really saying when you do not intend to understand me in the first place.

      What I am really saying is that in our mortal experience it is more important that every person be free to make choices than it is for every person to be able to afford a doctors visit.

      The proper role of government is to do those things that make it possible for eeryone to have the liberty to exercise their agency. I have no problem with people choosing not to pay for government services if they can avoid benefitting from those services. Before you offer the “everyone benefits from universal healthcare” meme please remember that healthcare does not meet the qualification of something that maximizes individual liberty – what it does is open another avenue for some to take advantage of others.

      You are free to vote for government to pay for health care just as I am free to vote against it. I also vote against having a bloated military and a perpetual deficit so please don’t imply that I favor government compelling people to pay for those things.

  11. Charles D says:

    So are you saying that if some people (40,000 per year I believe is the estimate) die because they lack health coverage every year, your freedom to make personal choices is more important than their lives? That’s what it sounds like to me. If you are explaining this by moving the words around in a different order, it’s not making any sense to me.

    The proper role of government is what the citizens decide it should be within the framework of the Constitution as amended and as interpreted by the courts. Maximizing personal liberty or making it possible for everyone to exercise their agency is not anywhere in my copy of the Constitution.

    Government cannot do anything at all unless it compels some citizens to pay taxes. We can either accept taxation or live in anarchy. Are you suggesting that some expenditures are proper and others are not because of your religious doctrine?

    • David says:

      What I am saying is that the freedom of those 40,000 people as well as your freedom and my freedom to make choices is more important than their lives. Mortality alone is not my highest aim. Could you please tell me the stories of those 40,000 people? Better yet, cite the number of people who die each year because they lack health coverage AND entirely because of circumstances beyond their control. Whatever that number is is the number government should be focusing on and deciding whether their trillion dollars are well spent.

      The proper role of government is independent of what citizens decide it should be, independent of what any constitution or amendment thereto says it should be and independent of what courts rule it to be. I happen to believe that our constitution does a pretty good job of defining what the proper role of government is but I believe the proper role of government is like gravity – it is what it is regardless of whether Newton has discovered it or not.

      If you design a plane that does not conform to the laws of physics, including gravity, it will not stay off the ground no matter how many engineers say they like the looks of the plane. I am saying that some government expenditures are proper and others are not based on whether they conform to the underlying rules of existence – one of which happens to be the doctrine of agency.

      You may not agree with me on what the underlying laws of reality are but that does not change the fact that my opinion is based on what I understand them to be. No matter how bad you would like to make my position look I will not change my position unless I find some reason to believe that the underlying laws are different than I currently perceive them to be.

  12. Charles D says:

    Mortality may not be your highest aim, but my guess is that most of the people who died because they lacked insurance would prefer to have had the freedom to choose mortal life. The exact number and exact circumstances is irrelevant to a moral discussion since if even one individual died because of another’s demand for freedom of choice then that’s one too many.

    The essential problem here is that you have a faith-based notion of reality and a faith-based notion of the proper role of government and thus, your political views are not subject to rational discourse since they are not based on demonstrable scientific facts or on rational conclusions drawn from such facts. Once religion is brought into a political discourse, the discourse is over. That’s why the Founders were so careful not to mention a deity in the Constitution because they knew a government of men had to be founded on human knowledge and human abilities, not on an appeal to some external authority.

    The close relationship between certain forms of Christianity and conservative politics is apparently due to the fact that both require their followers to believe certain unprovable ideas as truths regardless of any evidence to the contrary. Tolerance for ambiguity is just not a feature of either.

    • David says:

      If even one person dies because of another’s demand for freedom of choice that only means that the person making the demand for freedom of choice will be held accountable for their demand. I find that entire argument ironic considering how much correlation there is among those who demand the right to actively terminate a life in the name of freedom of choice who would be making that exact same argent against me here.

      Your assertion that I can’t have a rational argument based on scientific fact is also ironic seeing as you have not introduced a single scientific fact over the course of this discussion. And before you start, please do not mistake social sciences like political science as facts. Please stick to hard sciences like physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology.

  13. Charles D says:

    I could point out that it’s ironic that your freedom of choice is more important than some unknown other person’s life but a mother’s freedom to live her life as she chooses is somehow not more important than the life of an embryo.

    We were having a philosophical discussion about morality and the role of government in education and health care. I fail to see how physics and chemistry would be relevant here. We have been in the real of philosophy and political science – the social sciences – and theology which according to some isn’t really an academic discipline at all. I don’t doubt that you can form rational arguments on scientific fact, but in politics you seem to fall back on religious assertions. All I’m trying to do is make you understand that those are simply assertions which can neither be proven or disproven and therefore are immune to normal discourse.

    • David says:

      Of my freedom of choice is used only to block society from helping others without actively working to help those around me, strangers as well as friends,then that would be both ironic and immoral. Were that the case I would bit look forward to being judged on my use of moral agency.

      Philosophy is nothing more than a discussion of how we interpret the world around us in areas where hard scientific fact cannot explain all our observations. In other words, it is like religion without any reference to God. Without any reference to God your philosophical arguments are as scientifically unprovable as mine which is why it is only a straw man to claim that we cannot have a rational discussion simply because my philosophy relies on a being whose existance you cannot disprove.

    • David says:

      When it comes to philosophical discussions, arguments based on a belief on God are every bit as valid as arguments that reject such a belief. That is one of the reasons that the first amendment makes it absolutely clear that the government cannot interfere in the free exercise of religion.

  14. Charles D says:

    I agree that in philosophical discussions, references to God are legitimate although they are immune to argument usually. When you asserted however that your particular view of the proper role of government was a scientific law like gravity, you crossed the line. Religious “truth” is not truth in any scientific sense, it is merely belief, an assertion without possible evidence, and when used in a political discussion, it has the effect of closing off debate, as you stated above “…my opinion is based on what I understand them to be. No matter how bad you would like to make my position look I will not change my position…”

    You clearly understand the effect of inserting religion into political debate. It is a very effective way of avoiding coming to grip with facts that contradict your world view. It’s the “God said it, I believe it, that settles it” approach. In this ploy, any person can assert any facts they like and feel confident that they are immune from attack because it’s politically incorrect to attack someone’s faith. So you can assert the proper role of government, as can Rev. Jeremiah Wright, or Osama Bin Laden, or Pope Benedict and all of you can judge yourselves right in the eyes of your God. Such an argument is ultimately meaningless. That’s why the Constitution doesn’t begin with some paean to Almighty God but with “We the People”. Even in the small homogeneous group of white men gathered in Independence Hall, there were enough disputes about the nature and will of God to make it clear that religion should be avoided in American politics.

    • David says:

      It sure does cut off debate if you ignore the glaring “unless” that you replaced with ellipses:

      “…I will not change my position unless I find some reason to believe that the underlying laws are different than I currently perceive them to be.

      Perhaps you misunderstood my basic position regarding underlying laws. There is no commandment in my theology that says “Thou shalt not allow government to provide healthcare.” So let me try to clarify where I am coming from.

      I’m sure its safe to assume that we both believe that gravity did not start operating when Newton proved its existence. It has always been an operating force in the universe. I do not believe that God invented gravity. Likewise I do not believe that God invented the other underlying laws that govern our existence. Me saying that I believe that reality is governed by some underlying order is not a particularly religious sentiment – it is the basic tenet of science. The difference between our positions seems to be that I believe in the existence of such order even in areas where we have never has a Newton, a Galileo, or a Euclid yet who has been able to objectively demonstrate what that order is in those areas.

      I don’t claim to be a Newton, but I am a guy who sees what appears to me to be a pattern of falling apples. I don’t have the capacity to explain the pattern conclusively to someone who cannot see it, but until someone or something convinces me that I am mistaken about the patterns I see it should be understandable that I would act consistent with my own perceptions.

      I’d also like to point out that it is disingenuous for you to consistently paint my conservative position as mean spirited and selfish while trying to play nice by claiming that you believe my motivations to be genuine and honorable. I’m confident that you can’t see into the hearts of men any better than I can. I hold conservative positions and have honorable intentions in holding them, yet I do not claim that everyone who professes conservative positions does so with honorable and ho9nest conviction. You do not hold conservative positions so you have no personal frame of reference for the feelings of those who do. When I speak about people who hold liberal positions – which I have no personal frame of reference for – I admit that even though I think they are mistaken I believe the majority of them hold those convictions honestly and with honorable intent. I expect you to extend the same courtesy.

      I’d also like to point out that aside from my statement that “governments were instituted by God for the benefit of men” I have made no statements in the discussion about “God said.” I was simply trying to demonstrate that even my firm belief in God is supportive of having government in society. Even that one statement is extremely generic seeing as God clearly did not institute every individual government (what Supreme Being would create both the U.S. Constitution and the government of Rawanda?) so a belief that He approves of government generically should by no means cut off debate about the proper role of government.

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