04-16-15 4:22  •  Atheist Invocation

Lady_Di: The Supreme Court said that saying prayers to open government meetings is okay as long as the process is open to everyone. But then this town council says they won't allow an Atheist Invocation?! WTF?

Personally I don't think any invocation is necessary and is a waste of time but if they are going to allow one they need to allow them all.

This is interesting, because I actually do not object to secular invocation. A gentleman on the council had this to say about it: "The invocation of God’s blessing on a meeting makes it a good, calm atmosphere where a meeting of the minds comes to the table.”

I think speaking a few sentiments to set a tone of seriousness and concern at the beginning of certain kinds of meetings is just right. It's a tool for having a successful meeting and we used it regularly in the business world, secularly, somehow without ever having to resort to supernatural invocations.

Claire:There is research that show people are more likely to take the moral dimension into account when making decisions, if reminded just beforehand about morality (it doesn't matter the source, just as long as it gets them into the mindset of thinking in terms of right or wrong).

Aro: An invocation is a prayer. Athiests don't pray,so i don't understand their desire to force themselves into this situation.

My family is not religious. But every time I have sat down at a Thanksgiving dinner with my father, before we start eating, he looks around the table and says, "I just want to say how thankful I am that everyone is here, and that we can share this wonderful day together. You are what makes our life so special.

And, a round of applause for Marsha and the girls, who put all this together for us today!"

I'm sure you can understand the desire of atheists to invoke appreciation is no different from anyone else.

04-15-15 8:22  •  Christian Persecution

Dana: I can really see that Christians are being persecuted in this country. Every day on Cafe Mom people say negative things about Christianity. It's like the Jews before the Holocaust.

Christianity doesn't seem to be true. That really matters. What are we supposed to do about it?

Dana: Christians are also hated and resented for being perceived as threats.

No. Christianity just seems to be wrong. That is the problem.

Dana: Well I don't agree with you.

It's not a matter of personal opinion. There is no evidence that the supernatural claims of Christianity are true. They seem false.

Unfortunately, running a society based on supernatural claims that seem false doesn't work.

Dana: The only thing you should do is simply not practice it if that is what you believe.

No. The emperor has no clothes. To remain silent about this would be a crime against humanity.

Dana: I never said you have to remain silent.

You said the only thing I should do is "simply not practice" - I am saying you are wrong about this. That is not enough.

Dana: Are you proselytizing?

I am explaining that the big elephant in the room with Christianity is not that Christians are lame in this way or that way; it is that Christianity doesn't seem to be true. The great distance between what was claimed by some people of thousands of years ago, and what was claimed by others, and what we know now, is creating a lot of error in our society. This confusion about "Christian persecution" is just one symptom.

Dana:Question: if you're an atheist why do you care to convert others?

I didn't say I was an atheist. Gods could be real as toast and that wouldn't automatically mean that Christianity is true. Christianity is making a lot more claims that just "there is a God." In fact if that was the only claim, Christianity would not be nearly as big of a problem.

Why do I care to disabuse people of ideas that seem wrong compared to reality, and turn people on to the methods that really work? Because I want to live in a society which is able to use reason to solve problems.

Dana, I want to thank you for speaking with me once again. It is always a delight to talk to you.

Dana: I don't agree with your opinion that Christianity is false.

I said it doesn't seem to be true. That is not a matter of opinion. There is no evidence at all that it is true. Things that seem to be true can be verified for accuracy. The accuracy is what makes them true.

There is no reason to think Christianity is a more accurate description of the gods than the ideas of the ancient Greeks or Aztecs, or of present-day Hindus, Muslims, etc. The religions all seem to be cultural folktales invented by primitive people who did not understand things like the weather or illness.

If you are willing to discuss your disagreement, I am entirely open to hearing your ideas about it. It would be an honor.

Dana: Regardless, how does other people believing it impede society's progress? We are scientifically advanced.

We are held back from advancing in a myriad of ways where more secular socities outpace us. For example, religiously-motivated "abstinence only" sex education drives our rates of unintended pregnancy and STDs up. U.S. school boards waste massive amounts of time wrangling to prevent non-scientific origin ideas from being pushed into the science classroom. And until very recently, and still in many states, our society is religiously motivated to disenfranchise sexual minorities. We could use less of all those problems.

However that is not the worst problem.

In order to fully utilize reason, it is important to have accurate premises. For this, we must examine reality very closely and create very accurate descriptions of it. Truth by accuracy is the essence of reason.

Descriptions which cannot be checked for accuracy are the antithesis of reason. Supernatural religion is full of descriptions which cannot be checked. In order to elevate them to the level of truth, it is necessary to abandon reason, because reason requires checking.

Large scale abandonment of reason greatly devalues reason in general, and gives the public a misunderstanding of its efficacy. If people don't care about checking, they don't understand how important it is to have very accurate understanding.

Dana: Many scientists, doctors and engineers are Christians and excel in their fields. How is their ability to solve problems affected?

I am talking about the ability of the average voter to recognize actual problems, like rapid climate change. Or their ability to recognize actual solutions, like health as infrastructure. The United States is so stupefied by the inability to use reason we cannot see what is right in front of us. The future started yesterday. We're already late.

Dana: What scares me is that you seem to think your opinion should control and take away the Freedom of others.

How could it? You don't have to legislate that objects in earth's gravity well fall at 32.2'/sec². They just do.

Dana: You just admitted it, you want to eradicate Christianity! Sound familiar to the Nazi agenda?

No, it is much more like the agenda of Mrs. Jones, the first grade teacher, who wants to "eradicate" the answer 1+1=3 from the arithmetic test.

There is this big problem. Christianity does not seem to be true. Think about that.

Rapunzel: "Christianity does not seem to be true"? I would say the same about any religion.

It depends on what they are claiming. Some 'religious' claims seem true enough - for example, some kings mentioned in the Bible were probably real people.

However there are no supernatural claims presented by religions which can be established to be true. In a religion like Buddhism, where supernaturalism is minimal, it is less of a problem than in the Abrahamic faiths, where the supernatural claims are the basic tenets.

Unsubstantiated claims are a problem everywhere - not just in religion. They are a problem in society, in business and in politics. The unsubstantiatedness is the problem.

Dana: I have already discussed your misses Jones analogy. The problem with that is 1+1=2 can be demonstrated and repeated. PROVEN.

If you are still saying my "agenda" is the same as the Nazis, you obviously do not understand. So in that case, let's use a more nuanced analogy.

My agenda is not like Nazis, who wanted to kill people. My intention is no more dangerous than that of Mr. Smith, the sex ed teacher, who wants to "eradicate" the idea that the stork brings babies.

Now, can you PROVE that no stork ever brought a baby? Of course not. It's a big universe. Unless you can be in every part simultaneously, you can't PROVE that no stork ever brought any baby. Who knows what is possible in all of space and time?

BUT - it is clear that here, where we are, the babies are not being brought by storks. It seems like a made-up story, the kind humans everywhere make up to give things cheap explanations.

In the meantime, we don't know everything about every life, but we do know a lot, for a fact, about where human babies really come from. In fact we know a lot more about it than humans have ever known before, important information to have for people to function healthily and happily in a complex social milieu.

So, Mr. Smith is not a Nazi for trying to "eradicate" the stork idea, and replace it with information which can be established to be true, and an appreciation of where truth comes from.

Dana: Besides, essentially all Christianity is, is to be a follower of Christ. By that defintion there is nothing to "prove." It is how someone chooses to live, by his teachings.

Not at all. If that was all it was, it would be very similar to Buddhism, which consists mainly of moral instructions. Certainly the parts of Christianity which instruct people to love others as themselves are nice.

However that is hardly the whole of Christianity. The basic tenets of Christianity are claims that gods are interacting with humans and that some human writings are "scriptures." Further, Christianity specifically states that a human was born who was a "Son of God" and who "Died for Our Sins." Lastly, Christianity states that belief in this supernatural claim is the means to avoiding The Bad Afterlife.

There is no reason to think any of this is true. There is no evidence of gods or supernatural beings interacting with humans. There is no evidence that any human writings are more accurate descriptions of the divine than any other. There is no evidence that a human could be a "Son of God" or that his death on the cross could somehow fix the afterlife - for some.

In fact these ideas are indistinguishable from the supernatural myths that arose in many other times and places. It is these parts of Christianity which are causing the problems, not the "love your neighbor" teachings part.

I actually do know some people who identify as Christian who don't bother believing any of that, who follow Jesus strictly as a wise human teacher. But, only a couple of them. And, as long as Christianity as a whole contains the unsubstantiated claims about the supernatural, the distance between the claims and what can be established will continue to cause greater and greater error.

Cynda: How can you claim there is no evidence of Christ or his resurrection?

I didn't say there was no evidence of "Christ." Some person or persons may have existed at that time who inspired some of the stories, though evidence is scant.

However there is no evidence that this particular ancient story of "resurrection" is true. There are plenty of natural explanations, including misunderstanding.

Cynda:Several authors wrote about their experiences with Jesus and his resurrection.

People can say anything. There is no way to check. Even if some guy inexplicably came back to life or seemed to thousands of years ago, there is no way to verify that this is because of gods.

It certainly seems to be no more likely associated with actual gods than the folktales of ancient Greek or Hindu peoples. Fantastic tales of resurrection and other forms of apotheosis are common. There is no reason to think they are true.

Raine: I don't see any other religion being openly "ridiculed" and mocked as Christianity is.

Pretending that ancient superstition came from the gods is ridiculous.

Raine: If I came on here and criticized, ridiculed, and mocked jews or muslims, how do you think people would react?

Judaism and Islam are also pretending that ancient superstition came from the gods and are equally ridiculous. Let's see.

Raine: Oh, come on, now. That's really mild compared to what I see on here about Christians.

The Abrahamic Faiths are a shell game.

While you whine about how much more persecuted Christians are than Muslims on CafeMom, three quarters of the world's population is living in serious misunderstanding of cause and effect. Almost all social, economic and conflict decision are based on delusions about magical juju invented by primitive tribesmen who did not even know why it rains.

I would much rather see any person try to justify how these are even still a thing.

04-13-15 8:22  •  Drugs Etc.

Kathy: I like to watch interventions on TV. You know, you can get a bad seed in your life, and go against God, and you need an intervention. Drugs would be a bad seed.

Well I could not disagree more. "Drugs" is a blanket term which refers to a lot of different things. Some of what we call drugs, many would not gave survived without, like antibiotics and painkillers.

By "drugs" in this context however, people usually mean fun drugs, or substances which cause intoxication. But again, this is a blanket term which applies to a wide array of chemicals which have a wide array of availabilities and a wide array of effects and a wide array of potential consequences, both positive and negative.

In particular, people often use this blanket term negatively to avoid association with one of the most popular and dangerous intoxicants, alcohol, though it is every bit as much of a drug.

So I can't at all agree that "drugs" are negative or "a bad seed." I have personally had very negative experiences with tobacco and alcohol, becoming physically addicted to both for many years before I kicked them. On the other hand, I live in Colorado where marijuana is legal, and have had nothing but positive experiences with it.

I have also had many positive experiences with other drugs both legal and otherwise, and very few negative. The positive experiences were a direct result of proceeding with knowledge and caution.

So I would say that "drugs" are like sex. A great part of life, but a big responsibility which has to be practiced safely.

"Safe sex, Safe Drugs and Dangerous Rock and Roll!"

Kathy: The goal of a pusher is just to destroy the user's life.

Do you think the goal of the guy who works at the corner liquor store is to destroy his customer's lives?

Iggy: These heroin users nodded off while their toddler was in the tub! They are monsters!

If you think the drug users should not be jailed, what DO you suggest?

Drug users should not be jailed for drug use, any more than alcohol users should be jailed for alcohol use.

In the case of heroin, here's what works better:

Effectiveness of Heroin-Assisted Treatment

Iggy: I'm sorry but those idiots do not deserve to be free. What kind of person deliberately buys and uses drugs that can harm them or possibly kill them and will ruin their lives?

What kind of person buys and drinks alcohol, a seriously addictive drug that can and does harm people, and can and does kill people, and can and does ruin lives?

Why, practically everybody of course. 87% of Americans try alcohol in their lifetime. 57% had alcohol in the last month. 30% of Americans drink alcohol every day.

Do you think all these people took up alcohol because they wanted to harm and kill themselves and ruin their lives? Of course not. They started drinking alcohol because it's fun, and because intoxication is glorified as everything that is sexy and virile and celebratory and sportsmanlike and patriotic in our culture - as long as it's alcohol intoxication of course.

Plus, people are often in pain and confused and lonely and socially awkward, and the alcohol eases all of that in seconds, replacing it with a warm feeling of pleasantness and belonging. There are all kinds of incentives.

Humans are not divided into good people, who like to get high with alcohol, and lame bad loser people who like to get high the bad way.

The world is filled with ordinary people who like to have fun and be part of things and try what they see other people having fun doing.

Only about 12 percent of people who use heroin go on to become addicts. Around six percent of Americans end up with Alcohol Use Disorders. Those odds don't seem too dissimilar, particularly to those most at risk for heroin addiction - people in at-risk, low education, low income neighborhoods.

So, what kind of person would try heroin? An ordinary person, exactly like the type of person who tries alcohol.

Iggy: But then we spend out tax dollars on care for them, for these people who victimize others while indulging their drug habit.

Jailing them is more expensive and does nothing.

Iggy: This kind of thing is why society is suffering from too much crime .

Actually crime in America is way down.

Iggy: And the worst part is that responsible, non-drug users are their victims too often.

That is nowhere more true than in the case of drunk drivers. Yet, making alcohol illegal is way worse. It's not different with other drugs.

Thanks again Iggy!

04-13-15 8:22  •  Finland, Finland, Finland

Mildred: I heard about a system where all these restaurants and stores are giving their leftover food to the hungry instead of throwing it away.

It would certainly be nice if everyone worked together to prevent waste and hunger. No problem there.

But why so much hunger? It would be far better if our society made sure everyone gets great education, and made the workplace a good place to be, and made sure everyone was decently compensated. There is no reason that enough money to live without hunger needs to be so hard to get. We could make the bottom easier.

Then we wouldn't need so much charity.

Mildred: We could make the bottom easier, but I still think there will always be people in need, and there will always be excess and waste.

Possibly, but that's not a great vision for the future. We could construct a society without need. The Finns already have this, or at least are much closer than we are. They have practically no poverty.

Carrie: Good for the Finns. How did they do it? Can you expound on that?

Hi Carrie, I am happy to elaborate. The people of Finland are making three basic investments which are paying off for them in spades.

1) Public education. Every citizen is eligible for public education, just like we have here, only lifelong, so every person who wants to can go to college. They have the best educated population on the planet and are leaders in industry and science.

2) Public healthcare. They have a fully universal healthcare system and so the all citizens can be in their best health to meet the challenges of life.

3) Public services. Finland has cradle-to-grave public service, so that no infant, no child, no adult, no elderly person has to live in poverty.

A few other great things about Finland:

a) They have a very small per capita prison population and the world's lowest recidivism rate. Their prisons are very low security and are more like schools than jails, with the stated aim of restoring the citizens to full civic participation.

b) They have great respect for their teachers, much like doctors are respected in the U.S.

c) Finland is the best country in the world to be a mother, with the best prenatal care and the lowest maternal mortality rate - five times lower than the United States.

d) Finnish people borrow more books from the library than anyone else in the world.

e) Finland has the world's least corrupt government, according to the Corruption Perception Index.

f) Finland does the best mobile apps in the world, with their companies consistently holding the top five positions on the iPad charts.

Finland's great success is not because they are superhuman. It is arising directly from the policies they are implementing. If we implemented similar polices they would also produce really great results for us.

04-12-15 8:22  •  Excerpts

Mary: Why do some people object to welfare?

It's built into the human psyche that some portion of the population has to spend their soapbox time shaming freeloaders. This behavior was invented when our ancestors were barely human, trying to survive in harsh scarcity. So it's understandable.

It's not necessary now, but not everyone knows this yet.

Sue: Most Americans side with gays in the cake disputes, what do you know. But some are still upset.

There are bound to be a lot of mixed feelings about everything - race, sexuality, gender, religion, you name it - now that everything is out in the open and we're all mixed into the pot together.

It will shake out. Reality shows what's right and wrong, and how we are the same, eventually. At least now we are all looking.

Jane: Why is it so important to deny global warming?

Because it shows that the old status quo of infinite growth and externalized costs is going to have to change in a big way.

04-05-15 8:22  •  Except for the Rich

Belinda: This article says that most Americans' incomes fell last year, except the very rich, who got richer.

This is exactly what Thomas Piketty was describing in Capital in the 21st Century. He uses the simple equation r > g to explain what is happening. Essentially it means that the rate of return on wealth (r) is greater than that of the growth of the economy in general (g). So r > g means the rich get richer faster.

Unfortunately, these unimaginable sums of money give the top .01% vastly more power than that of elected officials. This is why the Princeton study recently showed that the policy will of ordinary voters is enacted about 0% of the time while the policies favored by the extremely wealthy are enacted all the time. The non-wealthy are disenfranchised.

It is a really big problem. Piketty warned that if r > g continues, the power will become established generationally by inheritance, and we will again be ruled by dynasties.

So it needs to change.

04-01-15 4:20  •  You're gay and I still love you, but…..

NervousNelly: A former student of mine named John recently came out on Facebook. His public messages were overwhelmingly supportive.

Yesterday, John was tagged in a status by another former student. It essentially said, "I can't condone your lifestyle, but I still love you like a brother and will never treat you differently." It also said that a sin was a sin and we are all sinners, so the poster was not differentiating between being gay and cursing at someone.

Immediately, the John's family jumped all over the other poster.

The other poster said again and again that he would never treat John any differently and still views him as a brother, he's just dissapointed in his choices. That he doesn't wish any trouble or strife for John and instead wants him to be surrounded by love always.

So...someone clearly stating that their views are different than yours, but that they will not view you as any different and will continue to love you? Is there anything wrong with a post such as this?

I think so. Why should the friend be "disappointed"? How is being gay like cursing someone?

People keep claiming their views are "different" but there is no actual reason to be disappointed or to claim that homosexuality is the wrong thing. That is a problem.

NervousNelly: While I agree that it isn't wrong or a choice, it is a fundamental difference of opinion.

There is no basis for the opinion that homosexuality is wrong. Like the opinion that black people are "different" from whites, it is simply incorrect.

NervousNelly: He could just as easily say that he's disappointed in someone who decides to have sex before marriage or live together before marriage....

How is being homosexual a sin like sex outside marriage, but being heterosexual is not a sin like sex outside marriage?

NervousNelly: He's also saying he's no better b/c everyone sins.

There is no reason to claim that sexual orientation is a form of wrongdoing.

Ms. KeeKee: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone ...

This isn't better. How is homosexuality wrong?

Ms. KeeKee: Bro seems to feel John is a sinner; Yet Bro, while casting his stone at John is a sinner as well.

If you are saying it's hypocritical I would say that is the least of the problems with it.

The fact that homosexuality is considered "a sin like any other" is the problem. How is it "a sin"? It's not wrongdoing.

NervousNelly: You don't understand. He's not saying one is less than the other, he's saying he doesn't agree with the lifestyle choice and that's his right.

Of course it's his right, that is not in dispute.

However, of course he is saying it is less than the other. Otherwise, why would he be "disappointed"?

The fact is, there is no reason to be disappointed or disagree with the "lifestyle choice" of being gay. It is not wrongdoing.

NervousNelly: There are reasons. I'm not a biblical scholar, but there's plenty that's in there that's used to demonstrate why it's wrong to be gay, but not hetero.

Wow, because the bible says something is even less of a reason. I'm talking about REAL reasons.

NervousNelly: Is everyone not entitled to their own thoughts and opinions?

People are entitled to think the world is square but that doesn't make it a good idea. If an idea is just plain incorrect, it is important to challenge it.

If people want to claim there is a wrong here, it should be incumbent on them to explain what, exactly, it is. Otherwise it's just silly nose-holding.

NervousNelly, thanks so much for having this discussion with me. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this matter.

NervousNelly: Again, he's saying he's no better.

"You're lame, but it's okay for me to say because I'm just as lame?" That sucks. The whole idea that they are both basically lame is part of the problem.

NervousNelly: From reading what he wrote, he's dissapointed in himself when he sins, his disappointment is no greater at his best friend being gay than his best friend cursing at someone.

That doesn't make it better. How is being gay like cursing someone?

NervousNelly: While, again, I agree that it's not wrongdoing, I think it's.....not okay (for lack of a better phrase) to ignore that there are still large numbers of the population who don't agree with that.

I'm not ignoring it. I am challenging it everywhere I have the opportunity. That's how we work on those numbers.

NervousNelly: I'm sure biblical reasons are part of his thought processes. So, those are very real reasons to him and I don't think it's right to make light of that.

The last thing I would do is make light of it. But again, just because he thinks it, there is no reason to act like it is.

NervousNelly: He feels it's a sin. He feels it goes against God to be homosexual.

People can claim anything, absolutely anything using this line. Do you seriously think when it comes to how we treat people as a society we should set the bar no higher than this?

NervousNelly: I think the best way to open dialogue about that is to be able to start a conversation with more than "You're wrong, Biblical reasons don't count."

By all means, if anyone can establish in the slightest that biblical reasons count, I would be interested to hear how. However since that cannot be established, there is no reason at all to pretend that supernatural reasons are real.

People need to do things based on what we know about what is real and how we are and what works. Getting their ideas about homosexuality from ignorant tribesmen from thousands of years ago is not showing people how things actually are. That is why it is creating such a big problem.

The huge distance between the ancient claims of the tribesmen and our understanding of how things are is creating a lot of problems. Homosexual people just happen to be in the middle of it for the moment.

NervousNelly: My hope is that by retaining this close friendship, his eyes can be opened to the possibility that he might be wrong and that being gay isn't a sin.

We can hope. In the meantime, I hope many other people will realize it just from learning about the discussion. Thanks again Nell!

NervousNelly: You are barking up the wrong tree. I truly feel as if this could quickly turn into a theological discussion, but that would be one that needs to be had with him, not me.

Well, you brought it up, but okay.

As I mentioned, I would be happy to have this discussion with absolutely anyone. However, like you and everyone else, no one is willing to have the discussion.

That is a big problem. Christianity is toxic bullshit which is mucking up our entire society. But, no one is on the hook to explain why we are doing this.

So how are we supposed to fix it?

03-30-15 8:01  •  Which Religion is Right?

Kathy: There are so many religions! How in this world will we know which is the right one?

It is painfully obvious that the ancient supernatural religions are not correct. They are mutually exclusive with each other, not to mention with observable reality.

On the other hand, I can demonstrate that Neoism is true because I purposely crafted it to contain only true tenets. These are tenets which any person can verify are actually true. The central tenet is that, if at any point a tenet is discovered to be in error, it should be corrected to better reflect the reality. That is why the religion is called Neoism.

Kathy: It is hard for me to understand Neoism.

I'm happy to explain. "Neoism" was my attempt to create a new religion, not based on any of the previous religions, but based on what we now understand about religion, and based on reality which can be verified.

Religions exist in societies to provide stories to explain where we come from and what we should value. Usually they use myths for these explanations. However the distance between the myths and reality creates a lot of error.

So for Neoism, I found out what is the most accurate telling (so far) of where we come from, and what is the most practical rubric (so far) for determining values, and made these the explanation stories of the religion. Anyone can verify that they are true and work, and there is plenty of room to improve them as we go.

Plus, Neoism contains the specific goal of Enlightenment, with working techniques for how to move towards more enlightened action and attitudes.

So, I was able to create a complete religious structure with stories, values and goals, without resorting to mythology, speculation or the supernatural.

Kathy: What is the truth?

There are a lot of verifiable truths. They may not be perfect, but a lot of them are so accurate that we have been able to use them to do amazing things, like navigate probes around our solar system, or cure diseases, or build incredible screens.

Our examination of reality led us to see some moral truths too. This is maybe a bit more subjective, but almost everyone can now agree that institutional slavery is wrong. Most of the developed world can see the need to enfranchise women and protect children. Of course we have a way to go on this, but progress is made everywhere we evaluate morality by human well-being instead of mythology.

Kathy: What is your truth?

The truth is not personal. The accuracy of true statements can be verified by anyone.

Kathy: How you use Neoism in your life?

I was having my life first. Neoism is just how I codified it.

Thanks so much for asking Kathy!

3-30-15 11:11  •   Go Poor

Summer: If you are poor, it's because of your poor choices. It should be on you to remedy the situation, not the government.

Everybody makes poor choices. We always help each other to remedy the situations.

Summer: Yeah, but when the poor choices are made over and over again, there comes a time when the maker of those choices needs to have personal responsibility and learn to handle it on their own. If they are helped over and over again, they will never learn.

First of all, that would only be considerable if the society were doing everything it could to help in the first place, which the U.S. clearly isn't.

Secondly, there is no example of a country that got better outcomes from helping less. They get better outcomes from helping more.

Summer: I get what you are saying, I do, but there comes a time when people need to start helping themselves as well.

The point is usually obvious. As a society we should be putting every person into a classroom who is willing to sit there. However they have to pass the class themselves. Not a difficult line to identify.

Summer: Like my BIL is 28, married with three kids. He uses his mother like his personal ATM and bank account.

The United States is not your mother-in-law. We are an entire society with a huge amount of resources at our disposal, a lot of which we are squandering on the unimportant.

If your MIL wants to stop supporting her son to teach him a lesson, fine, but should the grandchildren then starve if he fails to learn it? Of course not. In fact we have an obligation to keep those children from starvation even if BIL fails and fails and never gets his head out of his ass. Cutting them off from our assistance would help nothing, only increase their suffering and insolvency.

However we could be offering all of them a lot more than food. Maybe BIL could learn to get it together if he had more education. Certainly the kids would go a lot further despite a lame dad if they had no barriers to education.

Cutting people off from support does not magically cause them to know what to do to get it together. However sometimes they can be taught how. We should be using our resources to teach as many people as possible how to be solvent instead of expecting them to figure it out just from the pain of insolvency. If some few still don't get it, keeping them from suffering is no burden.

Summer: I don't want to give people free stuff. Excluding the truly disabled and the elderly, when people understand that the care of their family is on them, then I bet they would step up to the plate.

That is a bet you would lose. There is no example of a society where they get better outcomes from helping less. In places where there is less social assistance there is not more stepping up to the plate. There is more poverty and misery and suffering.

In places where there is more education and more assistance, there is more stepping up to the plate. That is where stepping up to the plate comes from.

Summer: I refuse to continue helping someone who doesn't want to help themselves, who doesn't at least try to help themselves.

Luckily for your BILs children they are not dependent on your personal compassion because they are protected by our institutional compassion. However, as I said, some places are doing even more and getting even better results.

Summer: It shocks me that you would be completely fine with someone acting like he does, not caring for his kids and blowing his money, than again, it's not your money he is taking.

It shocks me that you think the only way to not "be completely fine" with someone is to cut them off from subsistence. Teaching people to do better is the opposite of being completely fine with what they are doing, and that is what I am advocating.

Summer: Considering how many of today's "poor" have luxuries that middle class people don't even have, no its not that rough to be "poor". If you are "poor" in America you can get your rent, utilities, cellphone, food, medical care, and child care all free or greatly reduced, PLUS Cash on top of it all. I make six figures. After you take out all the taxes I pay, there are "poor" people who make more than I do when you add up all the welfare they get. So no, I don't feel sorry for them.

MyMy: You should totally go poor and take advantage of this! What are you stupid??? Here is your chance! Stop being a total idiot and go for it. Only an ignoramus would continue to be you when they could be poor.

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