The Banning of Alex Jones

Yesterday, Facebook, Google, Apple, and Spotify all decided it was time to silence Alex Jones. You may not be a fan of Alex Jones, in fact, most people have written him off as a crazy person anyway, but the blatant censorship of Alex Jones and Infowars by these massive corporations should alarm you. It may just be “crazy Alex Jones” so who cares? But they’ve demonstrated how easily it is to silence someone, considering these company are practically monopolies. It’s Alex Jones today, but it could be someone you follow next.

This was obviously a coordinated effort by these corporations. The bans occurred on the same day, yet none of them have provided any reason as to why Alex Jones was banned. Yes, they threw out some general excuses such as “hate speech” or “harmful conduct” but they have yet to provide any real support for those claims. For those that have seen Alex Jones, you know that he has been critical of these corporations, as well as, several prominent members of the political elite. I find it very hard to believe that this was not politically motivated. Alex Jones has been on the air for years saying the same sort of things, but people are just now having issues? This is clearly an abuse of these platforms monopolistic positions.

Alex Jones is not the issue. This is not what you should be worried about. The corporations have demonstrated that they own the flow information, and that they are in it together. With the right amount of investment, any individual or group can push their views and agenda through this huge conglomerate. Where else can you go for information? I am currently searching for alternatives to all these platforms, and I’ve been relatively successful. I encourage everyone else to do the same. We have to show these corporations that, if they behave inappropriately, they will lose support. They are arrogant enough to pull this off, they assume the public is full of idiots and sheep. They think they have no reason to be concerned. Are you going to sit back and take it? The Alex Jones ban may not effect you now, but it’s only a matter of time before they come for you…

-Jon

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The Media’s True Intentions

When it comes down to it, it’s always about money…

I’m sure we can all agree on what we think the media’s true responsibility should be. Most would say that their job is to report the facts so that we can be informed about what is going on in the world we live in. It seems like a pretty straightforward idea, but ask anyone on the street if they believe that the media outlets are doing this job effectively, and you will most likely get a resounding “no”. Why is that? And when did this change occur? One might argue that it is the result of the 24hr news networks that drives the need to push news that is exaggerated or even fabricated. One may also argue that the business models have changed in a way that favors stunning headlines over all else. Headlines that bring in the most clicks is the way to maximize profits. The content of the articles might as well not even be there; it’s more of a formality…

We need to hold our trusted news outlets to higher standards. I wanted to go over a few things to watch out for in order to get a better picture of what’s really going on. The current media will use a vast number of shady tactics to either, get you to click and share articles or make you think a certain way.

Watch the wording. Often times they will throw in descriptive words to describe something a certain way to try and sway your opinion of the matter without you knowing. There is no room for this in an honest news source. Their job is to report the facts. It is up to us to determine what we think about those facts.

Check the sources and support. The news being reported should have plenty of evidence to support its claims, however, in the current age, this tends to take a back seat if it’ll make better headlines. The drive to be the first outlet to report on something has led to countless errors and falsehoods being reported. When later corrections are issued, it does no good as the damage is already done. Make sure the claims being made come from a credible source. Also, if studies or statistics are being presented, make that the information is sound and truly supports what is being claimed.

Ignore pictures. This is one of the more sneakier tactics that can be used to form your opinion for you. For example, if a particular piece of news is meant to paint an individual in a negative light, there will often times be a matching picture of an individual that makes them appear menacing. Or if they want you to get emotional, they may include pictures to appeal to that emotion. This type of activity does not belong in honest news. It’s important to notice when you are being manipulated. Stick to the facts.

The media’s true intentions are simple: they do whatever makes them the most money. Unfortunately, today, people are so easily manipulated by the media that accurate news is not the focus. They can tell you what to think and what to care about, and then throw things in your face to get you worked up for no reason. People no longer care about getting accurate information, they care more about reading those shocking headlines and getting emotional. That’s where the real money’s at…

I encourage everyone to subject any news source to militant-level scrutiny. If we want to see change, it starts with the people. Call them out when they don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

-Jon

Descartes on the Comprehension of God

From Descartes’ response to Father Mersenne’s letter regarding “Meditation III”

“…I know that God is Author of all things, and these truths are something; and consequently, that God is their Author.  I say that I know this, but not that I conceive or comprehend it; for we can know that God is infinite and almighty, even though our soul, being finite, cannot comprehend or conceive him.  This is like our being able to touch a mountain with our hands, although we cannot embrace it as we could a tree or any other object not too big for our arms; for comprehension means that our thought embraces a thing, but for knowledge it is enough that our thought touches the thing.”

Descartes concedes that he cannot truly comprehend God due to the limit of man’s mind.  Man is finite, and suggesting that man can truly comprehend the infinite is too arrogant.  Because mortal man has not, and will not, experience the infinite, it is impossible for man to fully comprehend the infinite nature of God.  Descartes had previously likened this struggle for comprehension to this:  describing the nature of sound, to someone that has never encountered sound, through the use of color.  It would be an exercise of futility.  Many intellectuals, this day in age, have simply given up on trying to comprehend the nature of God.  Because they cannot fully comprehend it, they write off God’s potential existence as impossible.  Although we lack the cognitive ability to perceive the full, infinite nature of God, we are presented with enough to be aware of His presence.

Descartes’ analogy of the mountain, although simple, does an excellent job of putting things into perspective.  God’s existence cannot be contained within man’s limited mind, but a small taste of it can be observed in the finite world around us.  Man has continually set out to limit the universe to what can be observed or quantified.   The true nature of the infinite is a scary proposition that must be denied at all costs.  A creator that fully encompasses that nature is even more terrifying and incomprehensible.  Ignorance is bliss, so it is important to limit our attempt to understand to the finite.  Man is obsessed with deriving how everything works, but is too afraid to ask what has set these things into motion.  The “why” is never address because it is not something that cannot be answered through science, which is limited to man’s finite observation and understanding.

“20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature.  So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT

Although we cannot observe God directly, His fingerprints are all over the finite realm which we are able to observe.  Man’s futile attempt to confine God to the finite has led many to abandon Him altogether.  If God could be fully comprehended by man’s feeble mind, what would that say about His infinite power?  Man undermines God’s power any time he believes he can fully comprehend said power.  This may be the hardest part to grasp; God’s power is infinite and incomprehensible.  Man, in his arrogance, will simply dismiss that which he cannot understand.  Man must humble himself if he wishes to begin to know God.

Humble yourself.  Be aware and open to God, and He will reveal Himself within the finite nature you live in, but do not expect to fully comprehend God’s own infinite nature, for man is incapable of such a feat.

-Jon

 

 

The Dangers of Minimum Wage Laws

Minimum wage laws have become a hot topic in recent years, with a constant call for their increase, especially around election time.  Increasing minimum wage is an excellent platform to run on, as a candidate, as it is very popular with most people.  I mean, who would be against getting more money in the pockets of those struggling to make ends meet?  At the surface, it would appear that everyone should be in favor of minimum wage laws, and anyone who is against them must be a greedy, heartless individual.  This is the kind of thinking that can make minimum wage laws exceptionally dangerous.  As with any governmental policy that looks to put its hand into the labor market, there are unintended consequences that arise.  The goal of this article is to bring those consequences to light.  It is supremely important to look at potential, negative outcomes when considering policy, but they often seem to be overlooked.

The Greedy Business Myth

The idea that businesses are withholding money from employees in order to line their own pockets is the greatest misconception that drives the demand for minimum wage laws.  To the uninformed, this idea is fact and easily observable; however, businesses have to walk a fine line in order to stay in business, due to the highly competitive nature of a free market.  Are there exceptions? Always, but for the vast majority of businesses, this is true.

I first want to address the function of profit.  To the uninformed public, profit is simply extra money that goes into the pockets of the business owner.  While this has the potential to be true, it would not be in the best interest of the business.  Each month, a business has money coming in from sales and money going out through expenses (rent, bills, wages, cost to buy supplies, etc.).  If a company functioned on a break-even policy where sales and expenses are equal (no profit), they would quickly run into trouble.  Buildings and equipment, for example, wear out over time and need to be replaced.  This is one of the primary functions of profit; to be set aside for investment in a new building or new equipment or potential expansions.  Without using profit for this function, a business will eventually go out of business, as the building and machinery break down around them.

A second function of profit is to improve the services or goods that a business provides.  In order to remain in business in a competitive and free market, it is important for a business to continually improve its services or products to set itself above the competition.  If a car company, for example, continues to make the same exact car for years, eventually, the competition will come out with newer, better cars with, for example, superior fuel efficiency or better safety ratings, etc.  Without profit to invest in research and development, the company will quickly go out of business.  In another example, a company may choose to invest in new equipment that allows them to provide services at a quicker rate than the competition.  If you know you can get your oil changed in 15mins at a local mechanic, you would have no reason to go to the other mechanic that takes 30mins, assuming prices are the same.  In this example, one company could use the extra profits to buy new equipment to improve service time. Conversely, another company could choose to sacrifice some profits in order to lower their prices instead.  If they did not have any profits to work with, they would quickly go bankrupt.

There are plenty more ways that profit can be used effectively, however, that is not the point of this article.  The main takeaway from this section is that most businesses walk a fine line balancing sales, expenses, and profit.  If the government comes in and demands an increase in wages to its employees, the business will need to make cuts in other areas to make up for the increased wage expense.  The idea that increasing wages simply means that the greedy business owner gets a smaller paycheck is a dangerous notion. Next, we are going to look at the options a business owner has when a mandated increase in wage expense hits his operations.

 

Cut Employee Headcount

This is one of the most common responses to higher minimum wage laws.  A notion that many people do not like to hear is that not all jobs are worth the minimum wage.  A business, for example, may have a position that has an employee returning carts to the front of a store at $5/hr.  This doesn’t seem like much, but the position does not require any skill or training.  The position is not meant to be for a head of household that is supporting an entire family, but rather for a high school kid that wants to make a few easy bucks for spending money.  When minimum wage laws demand that this position be paid at least $12/hr, most companies would cut that position altogether, not because they are heartless, but because they simply cannot afford to pay that kind of wage for low-skill work.  The resulting pay increases, however, will look great to those that manage to stay employed, but those that are now unemployed are clearly worse off.

Increase Prices

Some employers may take the apparent high road and, instead of cutting positions, may choose to increase prices on their goods or services in order to compensate for the increased wage expense.  Again, this looks good at surface level, however, we need to consider some long term effects of such a decision.  In a highly competitive, free market, prices of goods and services can make or break a company.  If a local grocery store is priced 10% higher than another, people will slowly, but surely, begin to migrate to the store with lower prices.  The store with the high prices will see a drop in sales as well as profits.  That store will, again, be faced with a difficult decision, and may very well have to cut down on employees.  They simply cannot maintain the new wage expenses at current profit levels.

Cut Down on Quality

A third option may be to cut down on quality.  A company may, for example, be forced to find a cheaper supplier for some of its materials, however, it will quickly become apparent to the consumers that the item they purchased is now breaking more frequently, or not doing as good of a job as it used to.  Some companies may be able to get away with cutting quality longer than others, but, eventually, consumers may realize that they can get a better quality good or service for the same price somewhere else.  A company may also choose to spend less on maintaining their current building and equipment.  Nothing scares away customers more than a run-down building.  Also, if machines continue to break, how will a business be able to support customer demands?  A business may be able to stave off bankruptcy a little longer this way, but eventually they will have to close their doors.  The employees may have enjoyed that initial pay increase, but now they are faced with unemployment.  If all business are facing the same issue, they will be hard-pressed to find new work.

 

Unemployment – The Dangerous Consequence

While an increase in minimum wage truly has good intentions, no one is arguing that, the ramifications of such policy can have serious repercussions in the labor market.  In summary, businesses cannot maintain increased wages for positions that cannot justify the cost.  Those positions will be reduced or eliminated accordingly, and unemployment will rear its ugly head.   Minimum wage laws, essentially, price low-skill workers out of the market.  The business will only keep those positions that can justify the cost.  Based on what was discussed above, this is not because the business owner wants to keep his pockets lined with cash, but rather, he wishes to keep his doors open.  It is important to allow the labor market to manage its own wages.  If the demand for workers is higher than those seeking jobs, a business will be forced to raise their wages to attract workers that may wish to go somewhere else that pays better.  Conversely, if there are more workers than jobs available, a business can offer lower wages, but will be able to hire more workers at that price.  If the government, however, enforced a minimum wage, the business may only be able to hire one worker, if any.  A lower than expected wage is far greater than no wage.

A business needs to be able to set its own wages to remain competitive.  If they cannot maintain the higher wage expense, they will be forced to close their doors.  In a free market, with no minimum wage, a business will need to keep wages at a level that is enticing to those seeking work, or else they will not have the necessary work force to remain in business.  If businesses try to increase their bottom lines but cutting wages or positions, increasing prices, or reducing the quality of their product or services, like was mentioned above, they will not stay in business long.  It is in their best interest to offer competitive wages or else run the risk of closing its doors.  It does not need the government to enforce it.  The labor market can manage itself far better than any government policy.  It is a mistake to think the government is knowledgeable enough to manage markets on its own.  You don’t have to take my word for it, feel free to do your own research as to the effectiveness of government intervention in the market, but remember to look at ALL consequences, not just the surface level results.

 

-Jon

Wisdom Shouts in the Streets

The following is based on Proverbs 1:20-33 NLT

“20 Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square.
21 She calls to the crowds along the main street,
to those gathered in front of the city gate:” Prov. 1:20-21 NLT

To start off, we have wisdom taking on human characteristics through speech.  There is some speculation as to who or what “wisdom” is supposed to represent.  At first glance, one could just assume that it is just an interesting way of writing.  Wisdom represents the standard wisdom that humans are aware of, but giving it tangible characteristics puts the passage in a form that is easier to visualize.  Another idea is that this wisdom represents God’s wisdom.  If one reads Luke 11:49, they can see that, here, God’s wisdom speaks for itself, although some newer translations refer God speaking “in his wisdom” instead.  There is quite a large distinction between those two translations.   Some would consider this to be related to the Holy Trinity is some way, whether it personifies the Holy Spirit or the Son of Man.  Some think this is an early hint of the coming Messiah, that ultimately, God’s wisdom manifested in human form, as Jesus.   With those thoughts aside, Wisdom is clearly going everywhere possible to get man’s attention.

“22 How long, you simpletons,
will you insist on being simpleminded?
How long will you mockers relish your mocking?
How long will you fools hate knowledge?
23 Come and listen to my counsel.
I’ll share my heart with you
and make you wise.” Prov. 1:22-23 NLT

Wisdom calls out mankind, right off the bat.  Obviously, nobody wants to hear something like this.  Some reading this may even think that this passage is not talking to you, and I think that is a big part of it.  All individuals, in some way or another, or at some time, are guilty of rejecting wisdom and knowledge in place of simple ignorance.  It almost seems as if it is human nature to reject the idea that you know nothing.  Naturally, it doesn’t feel good to be wrong or to be corrected, most people even fear speaking their mind for fear of being ridiculed, but that is how we learn and become wiser.  There are other types of people as well, that have no problem speaking their mind, but they reject all criticism and insist that those in opposition are the simpleminded.  Man needs to take a neutral stance.  Speak your mind, but you must also keep your mind open to new wisdom that can be gained through experience.  Any chance to gain knowledge or wisdom should be welcomed with open arms.  Based on the above passage, all we need to do is listen.

“24 I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.
I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
25 You ignored my advice
and rejected the correction I offered.” Prov. 1:24-25 NLT

Whoever Wisdom is speaking to here has obviously not listened, instead pursuing ignorance.  This is certainly still relevant today.  Man has gathered some initial knowledge and wisdom, but now holds fast to them and refuses to let go.  It is commonplace in today’s society to reject God’s wisdom and instead follow man’s wisdom.  People often times find specific individuals that they agree with and only look to them for wisdom and knowledge while rejecting all other sources.  Why limit yourself to man’s knowledge alone?  Keep your hearts and minds open for God’s wisdom.  It is there for you, but only if you are willing to accept it.

“26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
and anguish and distress overwhelm you.
28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.
Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
29 For they hated knowledge
and chose not to fear the LORD.
30 They rejected my advice
and paid no attention when I corrected them.
31 Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way,
choking on their own schemes.
32 For simpletons turn away from me—to death.
Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.
33 But all who listen to me will live in peace,
untroubled by fear of harm.” Prov. 1:26-33 NLT

Wisdom has had enough, she lays it out plainly.  Often times, we seek wisdom and knowledge only in time of catastrophe.  We thought we could handle it ourselves, with our own wisdom and knowledge, but man’s knowledge can only take you so far.  By the time we are willing to listen to Wisdom, it is far too late.  The damage is already done.  Wisdom makes it clear; we need to listen NOW instead of waiting.  You have to deal with the consequences on your own if you have previously rejected Wisdom’s voice.  Many of us have probably encountered tough times due to rejecting Wisdom’s correction.  Hopefully, we will learn from these situations and seek God’s wisdom in the future, but if we do not, based on the passage from above, we will not be helped.

Take this passage to heart.  Keep yourself open to Wisdom from above.  Do not lean on your own understanding or that of man.  Man is fallible and prone to failure; therefore, we should look to God for true knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.  Do not fall into man’s trap of ignorance and arrogance.

 

-Jon