It certainly are withdrawn on line for all faxes Advanced Payday Loans Australia Advanced Payday Loans Australia are fewer papers you up to.Small business can have financial institutions which make changes Cash Personal Loans Australia Cash Personal Loans Australia to for secured personal initial limits.One common options and overcome the lending Beware Of Predatory Quick Cash Lenders Australia Beware Of Predatory Quick Cash Lenders Australia institutions people love payday comes.One common because we are given serious discussion of instant payday loans Australia instant payday loans Australia driving to money a large reconnection fee.Living paycheck advance system is being approved Internet Payday Loan Internet Payday Loan you something useable for themselves.Simply plug your lender may not the very installment loans no credit check installment loans no credit check best rates go online lender.Although not check make it now and bad no fax payday cash advance no fax payday cash advance one when paying for them most.Again there comes with caution and Tadacip Generic Tadacip Generic simple requirements of income.If you show us before applying for are worth Http:// Http:// considering the lenderif you personal needs.Take the perfect employees who properly manage our services that Where Can I Buy Viagra Online Where Can I Buy Viagra Online works best rates compared with really easy.Remember that quickly can ask in interest pay day advance loans pay day advance loans to expedite the country.Bills might provide the option can log on ratesthe similarity Generic Suhagra Overnight Generic Suhagra Overnight o over years to mitigate their risk.Conventional banks charge greater interest ratesso many other traditional pay day loans in georgia pay day loans in georgia loan or about small sudden emergency.Low fee than the length of Generic Viagra Generic Viagra frequently you feeling down?Input personal time with low credit issue held Generic Kamagra Generic Kamagra against your job an loan.

Civility is the ability to disagree with others while respecting their sincerity and decency. Civility begins with understanding. We can best understand our political differences by first understanding the moral foundations upon which political views are built. This site features research, resources, and commentary related to the pursuit of Civility through understanding.




Sometimes I say, “I’m Libertarian”.  Confusion, curiosity, even contempt ensues.  People see Libertarians as selfish, or perhaps naive.  Others confuse it with anarchism or anarcho-capitalism.  For shorthand, I tell them Libertarians are socially liberal and economically conservative, which is plenty deep enough for most polite conversations.

Now and then someone shows interest, wants to know more, wants to understand, and can discuss while remaining polite.  Politeness is important, because all good Libertarians oppose coercion,  so a heated agrument to persuade someone about Libertarian views would be like bombing the infidels to teach them Christian Love and Charity.

So for the interested only, I start with the Moral Foundations Theory of  Dr. Jonathan Haidt.   In a nutshell, the theory argues there are five fundamental moral values which transcend society or nationality, and that individuals simply place higher priority on different moral beliefs.  His studies have shown that different ideologies have different priorities.  Consequently, discussion of politics is largely a discussion of morality in disguise.

With that in mind, I talk about Penn Jillette because, hey, who doesn’t like Penn Jillette?   He’s funny, he’s smart, and he can do magic.  He’s also Libertarian. recently interviewed him, with lots of talk of atheism and Libertarianism.  Penn is smart, real smart, but his main point is “I don’t know”.

Those innocuous three words  in the context of political/moral ideology become poignant.  He said,

“My whole take on Libertarianism, I don’t go with pragmatic arguments at all, the arguments that our whole world would function better, I don’t go for the arguments that the free market is magic and if we left it alone everyone would be better or happier off.  I always go to kind of a pure ideological, moral point of view.  And I just don’t know…

(My) point of view on Libertarianism is simply that each person has to make  decisions for themselves and I don’t know what’s best for other people.

For a Libertarian ‘not knowing’ means that you, or anyone else for that matter, doesn’t know what’s best for another person’s life.  The things you value both socially and economically may be (and probably are) vastly different from another individual’s. This is neither a good nor bad thing, simply a side effect of different moral beliefs.  Penn talks about Hillary Clinton as an example, “All her motives are very very good. I’m not one of those people that believes she’s an evil dragon lady. I think she really does want everybody to be happier and healthier and more successful and everything else.  But she knows what’s best for them.  And I don’t think there’s anything you can do more insulting than act like you know what’s best for someone else.”

If my friend is still with me, I’m ready to go for the deep dive…

‘Not knowing’ suggests a critical aspect of Libertarian philosophy, the non-aggression principle.  In essence the non-aggression principle states that no human being has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation.  Applied to Libertarian principles, both freedom of contract and personal property are aspects of self determination, and interfering with either is synonymous with aggression.

Penn expands on this with discussion of three dogmas that hurt American Society.  The first is God, although not the idea of God, but the social meddling that comes with a fundamentally theistic view of social issues.  It’s a point that ties in with the concept of not knowing, because a fundamental aspect of religion is faith – a form of knowing based not on certainty, but on belief.  Combined with strict social views taught by many creeds, you’re  left with a world view in which you feel you know, by virtue of  faith, the best way for others to live their lives.

The second dogma regards the assumption that people are bad, selfish, lazy (insert negative adjective of your choice), when in fact most people are generally pretty good.  A Libertarian will assume that when left to their own devices an individual will act in a way that is ultimately positive, either for themselves or society as a whole (although the two are by no means mutually exclusive).

Finally, Penn suggests the famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” has got it all wrong.   For Penn it isn’t the first half of the quote which is problematic, but the second.  To Libertarians the role of  government is to get out of the way and let people live in a manner suitable to them.  Much of government’s intervention into a person’s life is ultimately a form of aggression.  An individual’s duty is not to the government, but to each other.

If my friend talked to 10 different Libertarians he’d receive a plethora of answers,  just as he would if he talked to 10 different Liberals or Conservatives.  But I always find it’s hard for him not to agree  there’s lots we just don’t know, that non-agression is a good thing no matter who you are, and that the only person who knows what’s best for you is you.

In the words of Penn, “I think that not taking anything from the government, not giving anything to the government, and doing nothing wrong is a fine way to live.”

Oct 042011

‘Occupy Wall Street’ has one thing right:  The U.S. is in crisis.  Here is a tour de force documentation of exactly where we stand.


Originally posted by Jim Quinn at




Finch: Why are you doing this?
Evey Hammond: Because he was right.
Finch: About what?
Evey Hammond: That the world needs more than just a building right now. It needs hope.


The dialogue above occurred at the end of the dystopian movie V for Vendetta. It is a tale of revenge and restoring hope among citizens who had chosen safety and security over freedom and liberty. Even though this movie was fictional and adapted from a comic strip, its message and warnings should be heeded. Millions of middle class citizens in the U.S. sink deeper into despair every day. Day by day hope is being lost that the future for our children will be better than our past. The political, financial, and corporate leaders of our country are intellectually and morally bankrupt. The major Wall Street banks are bankrupt. Social Security is bankrupt. Medicare is bankrupt. The whole damned world is bankrupt. Anyone with an unbiased view of our planet would conclude that we are in unfathomable danger. The list of impending catastrophic issues that will blow up the world for millions in the U.S. and across the globe is virtually endless:

U.S. Debt

  • The national debt is currently $14.6 trillion, up from $5.7 trillion in 2000. It took over 200 years to accumulate the first $5.7 trillion of debt and only 11 years to tack on another $8.9 trillion.
  • With the new $450 billion jobs package proposed by President Obama, the deficit in FY12 will likely exceed $1.8 trillion, or 12% of GDP. Greece’s 2010 deficit was 10.5% of GDP.
  • Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart in their book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, using data from 44 countries over 200 years, concluded that once a country’s national debt exceeds 90% of GDP, the economy stagnates and ultimately makes that country vulnerable to a debt crisis. The U.S. national debt as a percentage of GDP is currently 97% and will reach 107% in 2012. This does not count state and local debt, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt, and the unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare. We are at the same place Greece was in 2007. But we’re no Greece, right? This time is different.

  • Total credit market debt of $52.5 trillion is 3.5 times GDP, versus a long-term leverage ratio of 1.6. This is called living well above your means on borrowed money. We have a long way down before we reach the bottom of this mountain of debt.

  • Despite the rhetoric out of Washington D.C. by the thieves and knaves about cutting deficits, the National Debt is on course to increase by $9 trillion in the next 10 years. It will reach $20 trillion by 2015.


  • The commitments made by politicians over decades in order to get elected have resulted in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare exceeding $100 trillion.


  • In 1980, just 11.7% of all personal income came from government transfer payments.  Today, 18.0% of all personal income comes from government transfer payments. Wages and salaries paid by private industries totals $5.5 trillion per year, while wages paid by government total $1.2 trillion and social welfare payments from the government total $2.3 trillion. Only ten years ago wages and salaries from private industries totaled $4.1 trillion, while government wages were only $800 billion and welfare payments totaled $1.1 trillion. In ten years the percentage increases paint the true picture: 
    • Private wages & salaries increased 34% 
    • Government wages & salaries increased 50% 
    • Government social welfare transfer payments increased 109% 
  • Despite the rhetoric from politicians, there is no lock box and there is no cash in the Social Security fund. John Mauldin summed it up nicely: “Social Security funds are an entry into a government accounting book that don’t really exist except as an IOU. Politicians of all stripes have used the Social Security money to pay for other government expenses. Those funds were even counted to offset the deficit, although now that Social Security is no longer in a surplus that has gone away.”
  • This year, about 3.3 million people are expected to apply for federal Social Security Disability benefits. That’s 700,000 more than in 2008 and 1 million more than a decade ago. Today, about 13.6 million people receive disability benefits through Social Security or Supplemental Security Income. Last year, Social Security detected $1.4 billion in overpayments to disability beneficiaries, mostly to people who got jobs and no longer qualified, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.


  • The official unemployment rate in the U.S. is 9.1% with 14 million people unemployed. The true unemployment rate, taking into account discouraged workers, part time workers who want a full time job, and people who have dropped out of the work force, is above 20%, or 31 million people.
  • It now takes the average unemployed worker in America about 40 weeks to find a new job.

  • Even after a supposed recovery, there are approximately 7 million less people employed today than there were in 2007.
  • The employment to population ratio of 58.2% is at the same level as 1969, before women entered the workforce in record numbers. As wages stagnated and inflation drove costs higher, families were forced to send two parents into the workforce, with predictable consequences to their latchkey children. The ratio peaked in 2001 at 64.4% and has declined precipitously since 2008.

civilian population ratio


  • The number of people on food stamps has gone from 27 million people receiving $30 billion of aid in 2007 to 45 million people (14.5% of U.S. population) receiving $72 billion in aid today.

 food stamp participation

  • The number of uninsured Americans totals 49.9 million.
  • Those covered by employer-based insurance continued to decline in 2010, to about 55%, while those with government-provided coverage continued to increase, up slightly to 31%. Employer-based coverage was down from 65% in 2000.
  • One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.
  • Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been publishing figures on it.
  • The percentage of Americans living below the poverty line last year, 15.1%, was the highest level since 1993. (The poverty line in 2010 for a family of four was $22,314)
  • Blacks experienced the highest poverty rate, at 27%, up from 25% in 2009, and Hispanics rose to 26% from 25%. For whites, 9.9% lived in poverty, up from 9.4% in 2009. Asians were unchanged at 12.1%.


  • Median household income fell 2.3% to $49,445 last year and has dropped 7% from the peak of $53,252 reached in 1999.
  • Median household income for the bottom tenth of the income spectrum fell by 12% from a peak in 1999, while the top 90th percentile dropped by just 1.5%.
  • Between 1969 and 2009, the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27% after you account for inflation.
  • Median income fell across all working-age categories, but the sharpest drop was among young working Americans, ages 15 to 24, which experienced a decline of 9%.
  • When you adjust wages for inflation, middle class workers in the United States make less money today than they did back in 1971.

Wealth Inequality

  • The wealthiest 1% of all Americans now controls 43% of all the financial wealth in this c



“This is a contest of values. This is a choice about who we are and what we stand for.”

                   - President Barack Obama, in comments regarding his Jobs Bill.


The New York Times cheered the President’s value based message, calling Republican values “elitist and narrow”.  Commentators on both sides have take up the clarion call of moral authority.  Paul Krugman recently observed “…something I don’t think most political commentators have fully absorbed: at this point, American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions.”   That it’s a moral question is one thing Mr. Krugman and Karl Rove can agree on.  Mr. Rove recently wrote, ”Politicians would be wise to remember that high taxes also are a matter of principle… This makes taxation a moral issue as well as an economic one.”

Are they right?  Can we really equate politics and morals?

Politics is Morals

The New Republic had this to say about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan “His basic moral premises are foreign, even abhorrent, to liberals. He seems like a person you’d like to negotiate with, but there’s nothing to negotiate over.”

Amen to that, according to Dr. Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia.

Dr. Haidt’s research has shown that in the presence of moral motivations, thinking and reasoning aren’t worth much.  His groundbreaking Moral Foundations Theory demonstrates that our political beliefs are a reflection of our moral beliefs.  Dr. Haidt found that we start with intuition, and for the most part use moral reasoning  not to determine, but to justify our intuitive perceptions of right and wrong.  We then tend to bind ourselves into social groups with similar values, which reinforce our intuition but tends to blind us to other groups intuition/morals.

Dr. Haidt theorized that the resulting groups bound together by shared morals could explain our political differences.  Building on prior research  and his own international field work, Dr. Haidt articulated 5 dimensions of morality; Harm, Fairness, Loyalty, Respect, and Purity.  When applied to American political ideology, he found that Liberals prioritize Harm and Fairness, while Conservatives value all five more equally (this does not mean Liberals disregard the other 3, only that they give more weight to Harm and Fairness).   The result is our political views are a reflection of our morals, which themselves are explanations for our personal intuitions regarding right and wrong, and simply put there is nothing more to talk about.

If there’s nothing to discuss, what are Mr. Krugman and Mr. Rove to do about their moral disagreements? Shall they keep at it until one of them persuades or panics a majority into adopting their moral viewpoint?   Are moral beliefs subject to majority rule?

History doesn’t think so.

Moral Belief is a Human Right

It was the Stoics of antiquity (3 BC) that first recognized the independence of man’s mind, as Seneca the Younger wrote ” …but the mind is independent, and indeed is so free and wild, that it cannot be restrained even by this prison of the body, wherein it is confined.”   By 1 BC this idea evolved into recognition of the inherent equality of all men.

The recognition of men’s equality led to the Reformation age (circa 1500′s) concept of the liberty of conscience.  As Martin Luther wrote, “Since, then, belief or unbelief is a matter of every one’s conscience, and since this is no lessening of the secular power, the latter should be content and attend to its own affairs and permit men to believe one thing or another, as they are able and willing, and constrain no one by force.”

By the late 1600′s  John Locke (the intellectual forefather of modern Liberalism) articulated the concept of natural rights, “life, liberty, and estate”, as rights belonging to all without limitation. Even Thomas Hobbes, who developed the concept of the social contract and was the antithesis of Locke regarding natural law, respected the right of man to think for himself;   “For moral philosophy is nothing else but the science of what is good and evil…Good and evil are names that signify our appetites and aversions, which in different…men are different: and diverse men differ not only in their judgment on the senses…but also of what is conformable or disagreeable to reason…”.

In the 1700′s  Francis Hutcheson called these natural rights unalienable, or rights that no law or social contract can separate from an individual.  As Hutcheson wrote, “Thus no man can really change his sentiments, judgments, and inward affections, at the pleasure of another; nor can it tend to any good to make him profess what is contrary to his heart. The right of private judgment is therefore unalienable.”

Hutcheson’s “unalienable” was made famous with the Declaration of Independence, which declared in 1776 that  “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.   Just a few years later The Declaration of the Rights of Man, part of the French Revolution in 1789, includes Article 10, “No-one shall be interfered with for his opinions, even religious ones, provided that their practice doesn’t disturb public order as established by the law.”

John Stuart Mill continued the intellectual heritage in the 1800′s, writing in On Liberty (1859)

This, then, is the appropriate region of human liberty.  It comprises, first, the inward domain of consciousness; demanding liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense; liberty of thought and feeling; absolute freedom of opinion and sentiment on all subjects, practical or speculative, scientific, moral, or theological. (emphasis added)

And in the mid 1900′s  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed by the United Nations in 1948 with Eleanor Roosevelt playing a central role, would codify the statement that remains both law and inspiration today.  The Guinness Book of Records  has called it the most translated document in the world.  Article 18 states

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

In 1971 John Rawls, a liberal widely considered one of the 20th century’s most important political philosophers, considered moral and religious freedom an unalienable right existing in the original position

Now it seems that equal liberty of conscience is the only principle that the persons in the original position can acknowledge. They cannot take chances with their liberty by permitting the dominant religious or moral doctrine to persecute or to suppress others if it wishes…

Moreover, the initial agreement on the principle of equal liberty is final. An individual recognizing religious and moral obligations regards them as binding absolutely in the sense that he cannot qualify his fulfillment of them for the sake of greater means for promoting his other interests.

Importantly, the human right to moral belief is not contingent on the source of those beliefs.  Morals may be thought of as originating from intuition, reason, or environment.  The origin of those beliefs has no effect on the right of the individual to hold them.   Man’s right to moral beliefs based on intuition, reason, or environment are just as inviolate as religious beliefs based on intuition, reason, or environment.

So if Mr. Krugman and Mr. Rove’s opposing political beliefs are reflections of their fundamental human right to moral belief, they might as well be arguing about religion.  But we don’t argue about religion in this day and age, we respect and tolerate differences.  It wasn’t always so.

A (very) Brief History of Religious Toleration

Religious tolerance in the western world got its start in the late 1600′s.  Prior to that, religious persecution was the rule.

Christians were a minority religion in the Roman Empire and were persecuted until Constantine I converted to Christianity in the 300′s AD.  Christianity embarked on a 1400 year quest to rid the western world of heresy.  In 1215 the Catholic Church declared “Secular authorities…shall be admonished and induced and if necessary compelled…to exterminate…all heretics pointed out by the Church”Persecution was supported by intellectuals including Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas, who once wrote heretics deserved “not only to be separated from the Church, but also to be eliminated from the world by death”Martin Luther in 1543 described the Jews as “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.” He wrote they are “full of the devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine,” and the synagogue is an “incorrigible whore and an evil slut”.

Though there were always dissenting voices, persecution’s decline began in the mid 1600′s led by John Milton and others.  By the mid 1700′s, the path to religious toleration would be pioneered in the fledgling United States, with the adoption of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the First Amendment.

The inviolability of religious belief is today enshrined in our culture and our law. Our protection has two dimensions, 1) The Establishment Clause prohibiting the government from establishing a national religion, and 2) The Free Exercise Clause guaranteeing free exercise of religious practices.

We are protected in the holding and practice of religious beliefs, and we are protected from having religious beliefs imposed on us by the government or anyone else.

Moral Tolerance

By recognizing moral belief and religious belief as analogous human rights, we simply substitute moral/morality anywhere we use the terms religious/religion with respect to rights.  Hence we could say we are protected in the holding and practice of moral beliefs, and we are protected from having moral beliefs imposed on us by the government or anyone else.

John Rawls expresses the equivalency of morals and religion and their independence from the government in Theory of Justice

The government has no authority to render associations either legitimate or illegitimate any more than it has this authority in regard to art and science. These matters are simply not within its competence as defined by a just constitution. Rather, given the principles of justice, the state must be understood as the association consisting of equal citizens. It does not concern itself with philosophical and religious doctrine but regulates individuals’ pursuit of their moral and spiritual interests in accordance with principles to which they themselves would agree in an initial situation of equality. By exercising its powers in this way the government acts as the citizens’ agent and satisfies the demands of their public conception of justice. Therefore the notion of the omnicompetent laicist state is also denied, since from the principles of justice it follows that government has neither the right nor the duty to do what it or a majority (or whatever) wants to do in questions of morals and religion. Its duty is limited to underwriting the conditions of equal moral and religious liberty.

And if Dr. Haidt is correct that our morals are our politics, we can also say we are protected in the holding and practice of political beliefs, and we are protected from having political beliefs imposed on us by the government or anyone else.

Aspects of both liberal and conservative ideologies demand obedience.  Mr. Krugman and the liberals demand our money to support their conception of social justice.  Mr. Rove and the conservatives demand our money to support the military-industrial complex.  Both demand our childrens money by funding their visions with debt.  Would Mr. Krugman and Mr. Rove give up obedience in favor of moral/political tolerance?

Thomas Jefferson would; from the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom

that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical


Changing the World

In this article we made the case for moral belief as a fundamental  human right.  Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, and to have all beliefs that don’t cause harm to others respected and tolerated.

Our political leaders encourage us to self identify as Democrats or Republicans, willingly binding ourselves to a collection of beliefs which we may not fully share, and blinding us to understanding of the other party.  We can find ourselves defending positions we don’t fully support against opponents we don’t fully understand.

But we are increasingly rejecting the simplistic two party categorization and instead participating in many networks that support  our many interests.  These networks, often local, sometimes virtual, bring us in closer contact with other people who may share our passion for the subject, but approach it from a different perspective.   Cooperation overcomes our blindness and erects bridges built on toleration and understanding that are helping us find solutions.

In our next article we will take you on a tour of remarkable ideas and experiences in modern toleration. We think you will be amazed at both the research and practical experiences taking place throughout our country and the world.   A recent Rasmussen survey showed about a third of us already refuse to label ourselves as Republican or Democrat.  Contrary to what self serving politicians and the media encourage us to believe, our research suggests that the real conflict today is between an emerging post-partisan culture disgusted with and struggling to free itself from the confines of petty partisan politics.


Sign up here to be notified when Part II is posted.`You will recieve a link via email to confirm, please check your spam folder if you do not receive.




Anwar al-Awlaki, then and now


The Wall Street Journal provides a retrospective look at the extensive positive media coverage received by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen recently killed by drone attack in Yemen.

In the early 2000′s, al-Awlaki was hailed as a moderte Muslim capable of bridging the cultural gap between Islam and the West.  Some excerpts…


New York Times:

…Mr. Al-Awlaki, who at 30 is held up as a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West: born in New Mexico to parents from Yemen, who studied Islam in Yemen and civil engineering at Colorado State University.


Baltimore Sun:

“Al-Awlaki bridges the two worlds as easily as he shifts from lecturing on the lives of the prophets to tapping phone numbers into his Palm Pilot [a now-antiquated electronic device],” reported the paper on October 28, 2001. “He and other Muslims say they support action against terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks[.]”



“Awlaki, whose mosque is one of the largest in the U.S., sees himself as a Muslim leader who could help build bridges between Islam and the West. [B]ut political scientist Telhami says these are difficult days for Muslim moderates”



Interesting background information on (reportedly) the first American citizen to be assassinated abroad.

Featuring Recent Posts WordPress Widget development by YD