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Posts Tagged ‘Government’

And they wonder why we dislike the UN

Posted by Lissa on June 16, 2009

Oh, I used to be all about the United Nations.  I really dug the idea — all nations have a voice, humanitarian projects to help the needy, international acclaim and badge of approval, all that jazz.  It sounds wise and just and correct.

The reality?  Yeah, not so much.  Turns out the UN workers in Mogadishu were taking the donated food and selling it instead of distributing it.   The article is here, but I’d rather quote Ed Morrissey:

How difficut is it to put effective guards on the warehouses? The UN personnel sold it right out of their own warehouses and helped them load the trucks. The UN has probably already lost millions of dollars in cash and food donations while its employees enrich themselves at the expense of starving women and children. And the only way Turtle Bay found out about it was to have someone outside the organization videotape the product on the black market, which shows conclusively that the UN doesn’t bother to audit their efforts, even after committing the largest fraud in human history with the Oil-for-Food program.

Who benefits from all of the black-market theft? Certainly the UN employees do, but who gets the cash from the sale of the goods? Usually in situations like Somalia’s, black market profits wind up in the hands of the warlords, revolutionaries, and terrorists — the people who cannot compete in legitimate markets. With the current anarchy in Somalia, it will be hard to pinpoint exactly where the money went, but it’s at least a good bet that the UN has funded the very people who created the need for humanitarian relief in the first place.

Again, I get why people like the idea of the UN.  I certainly did, ten years ago.  As happens not-infrequently, I wish I could go back in time and have a conversation with myself:

Liberal Lissa: Phase 1: We donate food.  Phase 2: It gets distributed.  Phase 3: The starving are fed.  Hooray!

Evil Conservative Lissa:  Gets distributed how?

LL: Huh?

ECL: Who does the distribution?  Who guarantees that the food actually gets donated to the hungry people?  Did the food get to the intended recipients?

LL: People are starving!!

ECL: I know.  It sucks most awfully.  You know what else sucks though?  Taking American taxpayer money to fund local thugs and pretending that it’s a good thing because it makes YOU feel better about the hungry.

LL: You just don’t care about starving people because you’re EVIL and CONSERVATIVE!

ECL: That’s not true, and it’s also not the point.  But I don’t see how Phase 1) taking money from taxpayers to Phase 2) give it away to thugs while Phase 3) NOT ACTUALLY FEEDING HUNGRY PEOPLE is a GOOD thing.  Enlighten me.

LL:  So you’d rather let people starve than risk having things go less-than-perfectly.  See, I told you you don’t care about the poor and hungry.

ECL: Um, people are starving ANYWAY because the program was obviously corrupt and selling the food instead of giving it out.  That’s what started this conversation.  Seeing as how people wouldn’t get fed either way, I’d kind of rather *I* still had the money.  Rather than corrupt folks in Somalia.

LL: So you don’t care about poor hungry people.  Got it.  I bet it’s because they’re black.

ECL: *headdesk*

And this little hypothetical chat doesn’t even go into the Oil-for-Food mess, the sex abuse scandals, or the general harm done by a forum that gives equal respect and legitimacy to democracies, republics and tyrant dictatorships alike.  Oy.

As for the Liberal-Lissa-10-years-ago . . . I exaggerate slightly, perhaps.  But only perhaps – I really thought I knew everything, back then, and I was NOT shy about airing my all-wonderful views. 

Having grown up a little, I realize now that I *don’t* know everything.  </massive understatement>  And living and working where I do, I rather have to keep my views to myself or get ostracized as a mouthbreathing hillbilly bigot.  It’s sometimes irksome, and yet – learning to keep my mouth shut is a Very Useful Skill, and one that was probably long overdue in the learning . . .

P.S.  It might seem like cheating to have strawman debates with myself.  I do it this way because 1) real people I might quote have no desire to be used in such a fashion, 2) they’d probably make their argument a lot more eloquently and logically in person, so it’s unfair to shortchange them, 3) I really truly did argue like this in college.  It comes back to me very easily.  Better and more fair to use myself as the epitome of arguing-from-emotion-not-fact than to ascribe it to someone who didn’t volunteer for a blog-quote.

UPDATE: Tam links and Borepatch links.  Thanks!

UPDATE: Shoothouse Barbie and Firearms & Freedom link.  Thanks!

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The Church of Government

Posted by Lissa on June 11, 2009

I mulled these thoughts over with Mike last night . . .

I read a snarky post yesterday asking that, if Obama is “sort of god,” does that mean we can just tithe our income?

It got me to thinking about a long-ago brush with the Mormon church.

Some fifteen years ago I met one of the only Mormons that have crossed my path.  She was a single mother and received financial assistance from the church to help make her way.  It was explained to me that all members of the Mormon Church had to give ten percent of their income to belong, as well as the tidbit that the guy in charge of Marriott hotels was a member.  Even my young ignorant tween-self knew that that one tithe would amount to a goodly chunk of funding.

My thirteen-year-old self thought, “How utterly stupid!  Why would you join a church that demanded to take 10% of your income?  That, AND it tells you how to live and preaches at you all moralistically?  Ridiculous!”*

And yet . . . how much MORE ridiculous is it to worship at the Church of Government?

Think about it.  Like the Mormon church, the government has decided that one of its functions is to cater to the poor and the needy.  Like the church, the government concerns itself with your behaviors and your well-being.  Like the church, the government seeks to shape your thoughts and beliefs. 

But unlike the Mormon church, you don’t join of your own free will.  There’s no such thing as a happy atheist when it comes to the church of the government.

While the Mormon church would rebuke you if you broke its rules – if you refused to tithe, for example – the government can throw you in jail. 

Oh, and the government?  Unlike the Mormon church, they take a lot more than ten percent.

I wonder if that’s an analogy that would make sense to pro-statists. 

I feel that I am being forced to join a church.  They dictate what I should think is good (welfare, affirmative action, the death of capitalism, restrictions on firearm ownership, political correctness, cronyism, the active role of government in marriage, pork projects) and use my quadru-tithe to accomplish these aims.  They want to regulate everything from my consumption of trans-fats to the source of illumination in my house.  I did not choose this church and yet I must live by its rules and pay my tithe regardless.

As always, do note – I’m not an anarchist.  I argue for smaller government, not a complete lack of government.  But I find it interesting that folks who would never accept this level of meddling if it wore the name religion have no problem doing so if it’s called government.


*Let me be clear that I am not knocking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I don’t know anything about it.  I leave it alone and it leaves me alone and that suits us both just fine.  Even if I *do* end up going to hell for it.

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Whittle alert!

Posted by Lissa on October 9, 2008

Mmmmm Whittle . . .

During the presidential debate Tuesday night, Barack Obama was asked if he thought health care was a “right.”

He said he thought it was a right. Well, if you accept that premise, I think you can ask some logical follow-up questions: Food is more important than health care. You die pretty quickly without food. Do we have a “right” to food in America? What about shelter? Do we have a “right” to housing? And if we do have a right to housing, what standard of housing do we have a right to? And if it is a right, due to all Americans, wouldn’t that mean that no one should have to accept any housing, or health care, which is inferior to anyone else’s… since it’s a right?  [snip]



But these new so-called “rights” are about the government — who the Founders saw as the enemy — giving us things: food, health care, education… And when we have a right to be given stuff that previously we had to work for, then there is no reason — none — to go and work for them. The goody bag has no bottom, except bankruptcy and ruin.

In one of those flashes that reveal, perhaps, that I was never as liberal as I thought, I do remember having a conversation a decade ago about how I did not believe food was a human right.  In a more fleshed-out discussion with Jin* five years ago, I explained my reasoning: that, while I firmly believed in access to education and job opportunities, if a person sat there and refused to work, s/he was not OWED food as a RIGHT.  Jin disagreed; he felt that, in a world of plenty and production, just being born human meant that you should never starve. 

I countered with a hypothetical.  “Okay, let’s say that there is a hungry person with no job, and I have bread that I could give him.  But before I give him bread I want him to wash my car.  Or sweep a church.  Or whatever.  But he refuses; he won’t lift a hand or a foot, just sits there and says I still owe him the bread that I bought and paid for, made of ingredients that farmers out in Iowa spent time and labor growing, that truckers spent hours bringing the grain to a bakery and then out to our local supermarkets . . . don’t I have the right to say, ‘Before I give you this bread, clean up that trash on the corner?’ ” 

I don’t think I convinced him, but Jin has always been willing to listen to alternate points of view and new facts.  He’s one of the reasons I rail against all-liberal college professors, because if one QUARTER of his instruction came from a center-right prospective he’d have so much more data!! 

Anyway, RTWT🙂  (I’m so glad Whittle has a regular NRO gig!  With all due respect to the man, the sporadic blog-updates only whetted the appetite . . . )

*Not his real name

UPDATE: Just bought the Indoctrinate-U DVD, hooray!

UPDATE UPDATE: Sarah‘s on the same page

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