L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 345, November 13, 2005
"Plant the Spirit of the Rifleman"
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I have to disagree with one thing that L. Neil Smith wrote in his recent article, "There is no 'Joe Sixpack'". He wrote,
"the times are better for the average American today than anyplace else in the world, at any other time in history."
This is a comforting fiction, but sadly, it simply isn't true any more. Consider:
1. America no longer has the freest economy in the world, not by a long shot. According to the 2005 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States doesn't even make the top 10it is tied for 12th place! (http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.cfm)
2. America no longer has the freest press in the world, not by a very long shot. According to the 2005 Worldwide Press Freedom Index, the United States doesn't make the top 10nor the top 20nor the top 30nor even the top 40. The United States ranks number 44 in freedom of the press! (http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=554)
3. The United States imprisons a greater percentage of its population than any other country in the world, beating out its nearest "competitor" (Russia) by a wide margin. (http://www.nationmaster.com/ graph-T/cri_pri_per_cap)
4. When it comes to life expectancyone measure of the quality of lifethe United States ranks number 48. (http:// www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/hea_lif_exp_at_bir_tot_pop)
5. Real GDP per capita (a measure of material standard of living) in the United States declined 17% from 1973 to 1998. (http://www.eh.net/ encyclopedia/article/steckel.standard.living.us)
Given that Americans suffer under the most powerful government in the world, none of these statistics should be surprising.
Kevin Van Horn
L. Neil Smith replies:
I was writing of the impression that most Americans have. But your points are well taken.
L. Neil Smith
Dear Mr. Ed/Editor/Ken,
The above got me to thinking, and that can be a sometimes dangerous thing.
Hmmm, 'intelligent design.'
I am familiar with people on all sides of this issue, and it would seem that as I view the matter, it appears to be nothing much more than shades of grey.
To be sure, there are the 'black and white' extremes, but even thereone will discover the same set of shades.
To properly evaluate the matter then, one must look at the extremesthe competing theories.
Neither evolution nor creation can be proven in whatever human understanding, as a certifiable truth in whatever case.
Both hypothesize, and both analyze, but neither comes close to any 'truth' that might be totally understood by mere men.
And, I hasten to add, that no amount of facts may be used to representor take the place ofa truth.
In all of this, what I find to be most disconcerting, is the willingness of one set of champions to denounce the other group of champions as charlatans, while they themselves cannot even provide certifiable proof of their own contentions.
"Bones!" they proclaim, "We have bones!"
Well, as far as I'm concerned, you may have all the bones in the world, and possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but without that last tenth percent, you have an incomplete picture of what it took to make those bones come into existenceto begin with.
Variations upon a theme.
You simply cannot proclaimwith any degree of veracity, that living organisms replicate exactly, and then proceed to proclaim that they 'evolve' in the process. If the mathematics of life, in whatever its form, are true to their origins, then any change from the original must of necessity be degradationand not evolution, as if the equations used are modified, and parts removed, then the original idea of the math involved has devolved to something lesser than its beginning.
This is not the same thing as 'breeds' where the degree of difference is predicated upon emphasis of certain traits, all of which exist in every one of the breeds.
And, more importantly? How did this set of equations come about to begin with? Are we to presume that mud thinks?
One might just as well proclaim that any child could take a collection of elements and wish a new form of life into existence, whereupon its inception, it will have every facility necessary to faithfully reproduce itselfendlessly.
Mathematics does not propel itself forward. Abstract thought is an expression of intelligence, and without that intelligence the math is merely a concept without any ability to do anything, period.
In all of the Theory of Evolution, there is not so much as a single explanation as to what mathematical processes were/are involved which enabled a species/sub-species to change from one aspect into another. And, genetics is that science which seeks to explain how certain traits are expressed, but it in no way explains how they are able to 'get there' to begin with. What math brought the whole into existence? What power was able to assemble the whole, and make sense of the lot?
If one presumes to think that math is unto itself all that is necessary for the beginning of lifeand it's continuation, then we'd best be ready for some real eye-openers in the future, when the math takes to the road once again.
More importantly, why are not newer species 'popping' into existence every day? Has 'nature' expended herself of new ideas?
Without that critical evaluation of the mathematics involved, we are left with just one thing: Faith in the idea as presented.
But wait: Isn't faith that which demands belief in a thing, where no proof is available to completely sustain the proposition? Does one faith take precedence over another, and if so, does that not fly into the face of equal protection under the lawas well as the establishment clause?
Further, if we 'presume' that it all 'just happened' one fine day, then why has it not happened again in all of its suddenness?
Are we to presume that this happens only once in a 'lifetime?'
I cannot buy that, for the simple reason that if it has happened once, then it can happen againstatistically speaking.
Finally, if we are to be intellectually honest, then either both or neither theories should be included or excluded from whatever 'public' school curriculum.
Some might find this a hideous proposition, but to show any degree of favoritism to either sideat the expense of the other, is actually an expression of abject fear. If one is steadfast in one's beliefs, then no degree of presentation of another's ideas will shake that belief.
This then, is the essence of the argument: Fear that another theory will shake the very foundations of one's thesis. And fear, I seek to remind the reader, is the quintessence of tyranny.
For my tax money, it's either both, or none at all.