The Missing Morality of Entitlements

If you’ve been within sightline or even earshot of the American news within the last few years, you’ve heard the word “entitlements” from the political right and “rights” from the political left. To say it’s a hot topic would be a severe understatement. That’s because it’s not just a political plank for candidates, but something that hits Americans at home.

Every last one of us.

Because we’re either paying for someone else’s benefit, or benefiting from someone else’s payment.

During a scene in the Republican debate in Mesa, Arizona earlier this week, Senator Rick Santorum made an interesting statement – and since I can’t find evidence to the contrary, especially from the liberal media, I must assume it’s accurate:

When I was born, less than 10 percent of the federal budget was entitlement spending. It’s now 60 percent of the budget. Some people have suggested that defense spending is the problem. When I was born, defense spending was 60 percent of the budget. It’s now 17 percent. If you think defense spending is the problem, then you need a remedial math class to go back to.

Certainly a fascinating statistic. But if this is simply a debate about spending, then we’ve missed the point as a nation.

There is a direct connection between assistance and morality.

No one would argue that there are not serious physical and mental needs in any society, including the United States. While we certainly have the highest living standard in the world per capita, our sheer size merits a large amount of need. Any forward thinking society must do due diligence is thinking through how to meet those needs; to ignore it is tantamount to genocide – wiping out the class of the frail and seemingly incompetent.

What must be decided is who is best equipped to manage the need-meeting. The importance of this subject goes far beyond who’s a better money manager, it goes into ethics.

What’s so staggering about Santorum’s quote is not the comparison with military spending, but with the timeline of what America was like when he was born (May 10, 1958) and what she is like today. We are decidedly a far more liberal culture, and more accepting of violence, sexual immorality, and horror, especially through the portals of television, music and the internet. Just 10 years before Santorum was born, the first time a couple had ever been seen sleeping in the same bed was on the Mark Kay and Johnny show. In its day it was considered blasphemy; how much more what we see on major networks at almost any hour of the day in 2012?

So what’s the connection?

As entitlements and people dependent on free handouts has grown – whether services or checks – so too has our culture’s capacity and desire for the immoral. While I don’t have enough statical evidence to draw finite conclusions, I feel confident in that the availability of the free, devoid of accountability and non-contingent on personal work ethic, erodes the senses of a human heart and devalues our sense of self-worth. As such the moral compass spins erroneously until it is finally stowed away, inaccurate and untrustworthy.

Does free human assistance have a place in society then?

Absolutely. But it must be tied to an element which the government can not and should not give. That of the divine.

Human assistance may be free, but it is very expensive. Jesus understood this the most, thus why he claimed that anyone willing to follow him would never thirst again, but the price was the person’s soul. He literally purchased complete human health in every facet with his blood –  the key word being purchased. No amount of taxes, spending, “revenue creation,” or donations can come close to what he spent his inheritance on: the entire human condition.

Free care without the kiss of the divine leaves a human soul destitute and wandering. Therefore aid must come from entities equipped not only to help meet physical needs, but to answer the questions of the heart.

While I believe there are many primarily non-profit institutions able to handle the core needs within their environments, I still argue that it is local churches who were intended to shoulder the majority of this burden. And while our governmental entitlement system may never fully recover to a place of health, nor will the Church be able to bear the financial and medial needs of millions of Americans, we can and should be adding our part to the conversation, which is marrying the physical needs being met by the government with the spiritual needs which must be met by the Church. Only then will we see an easing of the incessant and out-of-control entitlement spending, and a resurgence of a self-motivated, hardworking, diligent society.

Benjamin Franklin said:

I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

Government handouts can not meet the human need for identity and self-worth. Only Jesus can. And if Jesus lives in you, then only you can. While voting more conservative spenders into places of authority over the coming years may help slow the problem, only the intervention of the divine through the conduct of the Christian can turn the mire of the present into the foundation of the future. ch:

 

PIPA Love SOPA

No, it’s not some new children’s book. Although a big lovable elephant named Pipa who follows his favorite bar of soap on a jungle adventure sure sounds cute. Or like a prison allegory turned horribly wrong.

Actually, a prison allegory would be tame compared to what PIPA | SOPA really is. (And if PIPA | SOPA have their way, the allegory would never get air time for poking fun at a government system).

Here’s why.

The Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House are new government regulations designed to thwart online piracy. Sounds noble, right? Except that there are already numerous national and international laws on the books that accomplish this pretty well, successfully disbanding copyright infringing entities.

When you read the fine print, these two measures are actually allowing unprecedented government access into our most accessible vehicle for the freedom of speech: the internet.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the US Government breaks everything it touches. Heck, it can’t even turn a profit delivering mail!

My friend Christian Fahey pointed out an incredible statistic on his blog recently:

If you started a business the day Jesus was born and managed it so poorly that it lost $1,000,000.00 a day up until the present day, you would have just over 2 trillion dollars of loss (that’s 2,000,000,000,000). That is 1/7 of our national debt, which is today over 15 trillion dollars. (Thanks to Chuck Missler for the analogy.)

The bottom line is our government either outspends positive cash flow and puts public entities in debt, or it over regulates and puts private entities in debt (and out of business).

With such mismanagement, do you really trust our Congress to properly manage the internet?

Although since AL Gore did invent it, maybe they have a right to and don’t even need to vote.

Please watch this video by FightForTheFuture.org first, then consider writing your Congressional Representatives through their web form. While you’re at it, sign Google’s petition too.

If you have a differing viewpoint than mine, I’d love to read your comments. And if you share the same, or if you want to add to the dialog, you’re always welcome to comment (but you already knew that). ch:

______________

UPDATE 01.20.11: I just received this email from Tiffiniy Cheng, spokeswoman for FightForTheFuture.org, (as did you if you signed up with them) and thought it was worth posting. Great job everyone!

Hi everyone!

A big hurrah to you!!!!! We’ve won for now — SOPA and PIPA were dropped by Congress today — the votes we’ve been scrambling to mobilize against have been cancelled.

The largest online protest in history has fundamentally changed the game.  You were heard.

On January 18th, 13 million of us took the time to tell Congress to protect free speech rights on the internet. Hundreds of millions, maybe a billion, people all around the world saw what we did on Wednesday.  See the amazing numbers here and tell everyone what you did.

This was unprecedented. Your activism may have changed the way people fight for the public interest and basic rights forever.

The MPAA (the lobby for big movie studios which created these terrible bills) was shocked and seemingly humbled.  “‘This was a whole new different game all of a sudden,’ MPAA Chairman and former Senator Chris Dodd told the New York Times. ‘[PIPA and SOPA were] considered by many to be a slam dunk.’”

“’This is altogether a new effect,’ Mr. Dodd said, comparing the online movement to the Arab Spring. He could not remember seeing ‘an effort that was moving with this degree of support change this dramatically’ in the last four decades, he added.”  

Tweet with us, shout on the internet with us, let’s celebrate: Round of applause to the 13 million people who stood up  – #PIPA and #SOPA are tabled 4 now. #13millionapplause

We’re indebted to everyone who helped in the beginning of this movement — you, and all the sites that went out on a limb to protest in November — Boing Boing and Mozilla Foundation (and thank you Tumblr, 4chan)! And the grassroots groups — Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, CDT, and many more.

We changed the game this fall, and we’re not gonna stop.

13 million strong,

Tiffiniy, Holmes, Joshua, Phil, CJ, Donny, Douglas, Nicholas, Dean, David S. and Moore… Fight for the Future!

P.S.  China’s internet censorship system reminds us why the fight for democratic principles is so important:

In the New Yorker:  “Fittingly, perhaps, the discussion has unfolded on Weibo, the Twitter-like micro-blogging site that has a team of censors on staff to trim posts with sensitive political content. That is the arrangement that opponents of the bill have suggested would be required of American sites if they are compelled to police their users’ content for copyright violations. On Weibo, joking about SOPA’s similarities to Chinese censorship was sensitive enough that some posts on the subject were almost certainly deleted (though it can be hard to know).

After Chinese Web users got over the strangeness of hearing Americans debate the merits of screening the Web for objectionable content, they marvelled at the American response. Commentator Liu Qingyan wrote:

‘We should learn something from the way these American Internet companies protested against SOPA and PIPA. A free and democratic society depends on every one of us caring about politics and fighting for our rights. We will not achieve it by avoiding talk about politics.’”

 

Tether XBox 360 to iPhone

Question: Can connect to XBox live using my iPhone’s data-plan?

Answer: Yes. (If you don’t want to read my schmaltzy backstory, skip to “Directions” below).

For the record, I’m a geek. Not a nerd. Geeks make more money than nerds.

My biggest tech woe is that I live in the sticks. For those geeks not familiar with living on a one-lane dirt road 20 minutes from civilization, it means wire will never be run to your home for internet unless you’re willing to pay a $26,000+ install fee (my most recent quote from a mega-ISP).

As a result, we’ve tried everything under the sun. And I mean that. Satellites are the most common solution. But their weather-related finickiness combined with their outrageously low bandwidth allowances make it only slightly better than an internet dial-up connection. And for 100 times the money. Then there was Verizon’s nice USB stick option, which we tried. Until my first bill came back at $400 for exceeding the 4Gb monthly allowance.

Enter the iPhone.

While I wasn’t as open with discussing jailbreaking the iPhone before it became legal, I now see it as a more than viable option for bringing home internet capabilities to those of us “less-fortunate” in the sticks. A recent boost by AT&T to our local tower now feeds me a steady full-bar stream of 3G anywhere in my house. MyWi has become arguably my second most favored app (right after HeyTell). Now our little home in the middle of nowhere has beautiful wifi for all of our computers.

Except one. The only PC I own: XBox.

Before we moved to northern NY I had a sweet wireless router that I used for my Xbox. But now that my internet is provided by my iPhone, how do I get them to talk? The first trick is that you need a computer to act as a router. My directions are all for Macs, but the same principle will work for you PC users. (A big thanks to MacCheeta3 who’s 2007 directions I’ve modified below).

Directions:

While plugging in an XBox to your Mac’s ethernet port and pointing it to “share” your AirPort or USB internet connection might seem easy enough, the XBox 360 won’t dynamically take an IP from a Mac using Internet Sharing, so it must be static (Manual).

Any IP ranges using the 10.0.x.x or 192.168.x.x ranges will work. It’s best if you don’t use the same IP range as your router. If your router has an IP of 192.168.1.1 use a 10.0.x.x range and vice versa. I’ll use the 10.0.0.x range for example.

Mac OS X
1) Apple>System Preferences>Network>Ethernet>Advanced>TCP/IP
2) Set Configure IPv4: to Manually
– Set IP Address: to 10.0.0.1
– Set Subnet Mask: to 255.255.255.0
3) Apple>System Preferences>Sharing>Internet Sharing (don’t toggle on the field yet, just highlight the region)
4) Set: Share your connection from: to Airport
– Set: To computers using: to Ethernet
– Now click toggle on the Internet Sharing field, and click Start when prompted

XBox 360
1) While in the Dashboard, navigate to the System blade
2) Network Settings>Edit Settings>IP Settings>Manual
3) Set IP Address to 10.0.0.2 – The first three segments (ie 10.0.0) will need to match what you set in step #2 of the Mac OS X section
– Set Subnet Mask to 255.255.255.0
– Set Gateway to 10.0.0.1 – what you set in step #2 under the Mac OS X section
– Click Done
4) Go to DNS Settings
- Set Primary to your router (iPhone). You can find your router’s IP by going to your MacBook and to: Apple>System Preferences>Network>Airport>TCP/IP.
-Leave the
Secondary
blank.
-Click “B” for back. Everything will save automatically. Now “Test Your Connection” to XBox Live.

Hope that helped! If you’re a PC user and want to list or link instructions below, I’ll gladly approve your comment.

Happy gaming fellow geeks! ch: