Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

If militant atheists formed their own country, what would it look like?

Here is a story about North Korea from the UK Telegraph about a government run by atheists, for atheists.

Excerpt:

Christian missionaries have set up an extraordinary network of front companies – including tour agencies, bakeries, factories, farms, schools and orphanages – in order to spread the Gospel inside North Korea.

For nearly two years, Kenneth Bae, a father of three and an American citizen, ran a successful travel company offering tours of North Korea.

But as the 44-year-old passed through the Wonjong border crossing in November 2012, he was suddenly arrested. Convicted of “hostile acts” towards North Korea, he is currently serving 15 years in a labour camp.

What exactly happened remains a mystery. Mr Bae had taken at least 15 other tour groups into North Korea without incident. However, it seems clear that his mission to spread the Christian gospel was at least one major factor that landed him in trouble.

Mr Bae is not alone in using his company, Nations Tour, to evangelise inside North Korea. While precise numbers are impossible to pin down, the network of well-financed front companies, missions operating as businesses, is extensive.

North Korea, the most hostile country in the world to organised religion, has a strong pull for a certain stripe of evangelical Christians, and the 288 sq mile “Special Economic Zone” outside the city of Rason, where Mr Bae was detained, is Ground Zero for these modern apostles.

[...]According to one American who once travelled with Mr Bae, but who asked to remain anonymous, their group was able to carry bibles with them into the zone. Possession of bibles by North Koreans can lead to imprisonment, torture and perhaps even death.

The source said a delicate dance had played out on their arrival, with their bibles being counted by the border guards on their way in and then again when they left to make sure none had been distributed.

At the final inspection, the guards even flipped through each copy to make sure no pages had been ripped out and left behind.

Before arriving at the border, the 15-member group was told by Mr Bae not to discuss politics or carry out any overt proselytising. The two or three pastors travelling with them were not to be addressed by their titles.

Once inside North Korea, they were accompanied by government minders at all times. On group hikes with these “tour guides”, the source said they sang Christian songs, but hummed key verses to avoid saying “God” out loud.

“That was our way of worshipping and praising in our hearts, even if we could not say it,” the source said. “Talking about God directly, that would be asking for a death sentence.”

This is the dream of militant groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation. North Korea has an official state religion of atheism. Is that a factor in their horrible record for human rights? Well, according to the The Black Book of Communism, published by Harvard University Press, over 100 million innocent people were killed in atheistic, communist regimes like North Korea in the last century.

I have been working on a theory about what militant atheists mean when they say that religion causes a lot of wars. My theory is that they are actually talking about themselves. They mean their religion. They are boasting that they are number one at killing innocent people. A person can justify killing very easily if you believe that no one is watching you and no one will hold you accountable when you die for what you’ve done.

Of course there are lots of atheists in the Judeo-Christian West who live more peacefully, because they are living in a background of objective morality and human rights provided by Western religions. But in countries like North Korea, with a state religion that cannot ground free will or objective morality or human rights or judgment after death, there are fewer restraints.

Even here, we have already seen over 50 million unborn children killed since abortion became legal. And I can guarantee you that it’s not authentic Christians who are having these abortions. As a group, atheists tend to be among the most radical in favor of abortion rights. The Secular Census of 2012 found that 97% of atheists vote for abortion.

The idea of the strong killing the weak for pleasure is the law of the jungle, and it’s not surprising to me that those who think that humans are just animals would act this way with vulnerable children. If you only have 80 years to be happy in an accidental universe, then anything goes. No one is there to hold you accountable. If the weak get in your way, kill them all. That’s atheist morality. You don’t have to go to North Korea to see it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Welfare cash used to purchase marijuana in Colorado

National Review has the story.

Excerpt:

For the past six months, welfare beneficiaries in Colorado have repeatedly withdrawn their cash benefits at marijuana retailers and dispensaries, according to a new analysis by National Review Online. Such apparent abuses have caught the eye of Colorado’s executive and legislative powers alike, and the state has launched an effort to curb them.

At least 259 times in the first six months of legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, beneficiaries used their electronic-benefit transfer (EBT) cards to access public assistance at weed retailers and dispensaries, withdrawing a total of $23,608.53 in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash, NRO’s examination found.

In 2012, the latest fiscal year available, Colorado used $124 million in TANF money from the federal government, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Withdrawals at marijuana establishments represented only a tiny fraction of the more than 500,000 total EBT transactions that have occurred since recreational weed became legal in Colorado on January 1. And it’s impossible to determine how much of that welfare money actually was used to buy pot, given that cash benefits are fungible and some of these establishments also sell groceries.

Nevertheless, welfare withdrawals at weed stores are coming under increasing scrutiny, and Colorado’s legislators and bureaucrats are beginning an effort to restrict abuses.

[...]Last session, some Colorado legislators attempted to pass a bill banning TANF withdrawals at marijuana establishments, but Democrats blocked it. The state’s Republicans did succeed, however, in passing a budget amendment that would preclude such use. Because of a legislative technicality, however, the amendment “doesn’t have the power and teeth behind it that a statute does,” says Colorado Springs representative Dan Nordberg, one of the key proponents of the ban. Republican lawmakers plan to re-introduce stronger legislation next session.

Democrats are in favor of having welfare money be used for marijuana. Imagine that.

Filed under: News, , , , , ,

Does the free market work to reduce poverty?

Economist Walter Williams

Economist Walter Williams

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

There has never been a purely free market economic system, just as there has never been a purely communist system. However, we can rank economies and see whether ones that are closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum are better than ones that are closer to the communist end.

Let’s try it.

First, list countries according to whether they are closer to the free market or the communist end of the economic spectrum. Then rank countries according to per capita gross domestic product. Finally, rank countries according to Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World” report.

People who live in countries closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum have far greater income than people who live in countries toward the communist end — and enjoy far greater human rights protection.

According to the 2012 “Economic Freedom of the World” report by James Gwartney, Robert Lawson and Joshua Hall, nations ranking in the top quartile with regard to economic freedom had average per capita GDP of $37,691 in 2010 compared with $5,188 for those in the bottom quartile.

In the freest nations, the average income of the poorest 10% of their populations was $11,382. In the least free nations, it was $1,209.

Remarkably, the average income of the poorest 10% in the economically freer nations is more than twice the average of those in the least free nations.

Free market benefits aren’t only measured in dollars and cents.

Life expectancy is 79.5 years in the freest nations and 61.6 years in the least free.

Political and civil liberties are considerably greater in the economically free nations than in unfree nations.

Leftists might argue that the free market doesn’t help the poor. That argument can’t even pass the smell test.

Imagine that you are an unborn spirit and God condemned you to a life of poverty but gave you a choice of the country in which to be poor. Which country would you choose?

To help with your choice, here are facts provided by Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield in their report “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor.”

  • Eighty percent of American poor households have air conditioning.
  • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31% have two or more.
  • Almost two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.
  • Half have one or more computers.
  • Forty-two percent own their homes.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France and the U.K. Ninety-six percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry; in other words, they could afford food.

The bottom line is that there is little or no material poverty in the U.S.

At the time of our nation’s birth, we were poor, but we established an institutional structure of free markets and limited government and became rich.

This might be a good article send along to people who want to bash our free-market system. It’s easy for them to make assertions that we have to do this or that policy to redistribute wealth. But the real solution to helping the poor is not to take from one and give to another, it’s to put into place a system that causes wealth to be created for all. That’s what happened in the United States, and you can see how it happened in other capitalist economies like Chile, Hong Kong and Singapore. Capitalism turns poor nations into rich nations.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

IRS Lois Lerner pushed to have Republican senator Chuck Grassley audited

From the web site of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Full text:

Washington, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative individuals includes a sitting United States Senator.  According to emails reviewed by the Committee under its Section 6103 authority, which allows the Committee to review confidential taxpayer information, Lois Lerner sought to have Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) referred for IRS examination.

“We have seen a lot of unbelievable things in this investigation, but the fact that Lois Lerner attempted to initiate an apparently baseless IRS examination against a sitting Republican United States Senator is shocking,” said Camp.  “At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights.  We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal.  The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this Administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.”

Background: 
While the Ways and Means Committee investigation into Lerner’s involvement in the potential Grassley examination is ongoing, documents show that Lerner received an invitation to a speaking event that was intended for Senator Grassley.  Instead of forwarding the invitation to Grassley’s office, Lerner immediately suggested to others in her office that the issue should be referred for examination.  The Committee was able to investigate this information through its authority under Section 6103 of the tax code.  A waiver was signed by Senator Grassley and his wife in order to make this information public.

And there is good news about the corruption at the IRS – the news is reaching the American public.

The Daily Signal reports:

Americans are running out of faith in the Internal Revenue Service.

Seventy-six percent believe that the “lost” Lois Lerner emails were deliberately destroyed, according to a Fox News poll. Only 12 percent believe the destruction resulted as an accident.

This skepticism crossed party lines. A whopping 90 percent of Republicans doubt the IRS’s most recent claims, as do 74 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats.

There remains desire for congressional action. Seventy-four percent feel that lawmakers should continue investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups “until someone is held accountable.”

Americans are also dubious about President Barack Obama’s claims that he first learned about the scandal through the media, with just 31 percent believing this to be true.

This poll surveyed 1,018 adults at random and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.

And finally, this, which I posted previously, but it’s SO GOOD:

Now that’s effective cross-examination.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

IRS e-mail backups destroyed shortly after targeting of conservatives was discovered

Investors Business Daily reports.

Excerpt:

The IRS canceled a contract with an email storage contractor weeks after Lois Lerner reported lost personal files and before other IRS officials had their hard drives crash as Tea Party-targeting investigations began.

Timing is everything, the saying goes, and sometimes the timing of events is also very curious, as in the case of the lost emails of Lerner and at least six other officials at the very same time the IRS canceled its contract to back up and preserve those emails as required by federal law.

So the IRS did at one time have back-ups of the e-mails. And they seem to have admitted it in Congressional Testimony:

Perhaps this is what IRS Commissioner John Koskinen was referring to when in March testimony before the House Oversight Committee he assured Rep. Jason Chaffetz that the reason requested emails were difficult to provide was that IRS emails “get taken off and stored in servers.”

Later we would be told that the emails were lost forever and, as we noted, Koskinen was lying in March, when he said they were somewhere, or in June, when he said they were nowhere to be found. Let us ponder another possibility: that the emails were taken off and stored in Sonasoft servers, emails that would be deleted when the IRS contract for their storage ended. They were not lost, but, in effect, deliberately destroyed.

[...]Sonasoft’s fiscal 2011 contract with the IRS ended Aug. 31, 2011. Eight days later, and about a month after Lerner’s computer allegedly crashed, the IRS officially severed its relationship with Sonasoft.

Three months later, IRS official Nikole Flax, who visited the White House more than 30 times, had her computer crash with a similar loss of critical emails, something that afflicted at least half-a-dozen IRS officials in a chain of events that defies logic and the smell test.

You can kind of form a hypothesis of who ordered the hit on the conservative groups by seeing whose e-mails are being deleted and who they were talking to. If I had to bet on it, I’d say that the order to persecute the conservative groups came from the White House, perhaps from the community organizer Barack Obama himself.

George Will has a good column up in the leftist Washington Post about how the Republicans can respond to Obama’s decision to act outside the rule of law.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

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