Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Disunited States - A Nation Divided

The division and vitriol expended between the Democrat and the Republican supporters in the USA has been growing over the last thirty years. I look at news and social media and see evidence that the rift is growing larger, culminating in the very heated exchanges both before and after the last election. Each side argues that the other side will destroy the nation. Moderate voices are no longer even heard. I will not comment on the merits of any of the political points of view, merely point out how it was not supposed to be like this.

Which party controls Washington has a major impact on the direction of the nation. In 2000, the White House was decided by 537 voters in Florida. In 2016 and 2020, the Presidential selection was made by a small percentage of voters in a few swing states while the House and Senate were very closely split. A few Representatives or a single Senate seat can change the whole direction of the country, which is why some people are so vehement about the whole political process.

The Founding Fathers would have been both astounded and dismayed to see what their country has become. Back in 1789, they had thrown off the yoke of a large oppressive empire and dedicated themselves to the liberty of their citizens. They knew the thirteen new states were not homogenous but were each unique in their own ways. They were also concerned that they not replace one large unresponsive overarching government with another one. With these objectives in mind, they formed a republic that severely restricted the power of their new federal government and retained most of the sovereignty for their member states.

Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution specifies a series of finite powers that the new federal government would be allowed to exercise. There were also a couple of other items such as powers of impeachment granted to the Congress. The only way this was supposed to be changed was via an included amending process. Then they went further and added the first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, which described certain rights that the people had and which the new federal government (and only the federal government) could not violate. It was a broad list, including other unspecified rights in the 9th Amendment and the 10th stating all powers not specifically granted to the federal government would be retained by the states and the people. This was the basis of what Ben Franklin described as the republic, if you can keep it.

Once the thirteen states ratified the Constitution and Bill of Rights, things should have been good. Each state would exercise sovereign control over what went on within its boundaries while Washington would be responsible to national defense, foreign affairs, regulating business between the states and a few other limited subjects. On this basis, the impact of the elected federal Executive and Legislative Branches could not have a great impact on the character and values of each state.

So how did this patchwork of largely autonomous sovereign states turn into the current situation where 537 individuals, some elected by the slimmest of margins, control virtually every aspect of American life? How is it that the very limited entity created 230 years ago is now responsible for energy, agriculture, drug control, social programs, education, labor, national parks, health, housing and much more?

First, there was the unpleasantness between 1861 and 1865 when the President decided that the Union was more important than the Constitutional rights of the states. Then a few things were legitimately changed by amending the Constitution through the approved process, including how Senators are elected and the levying of Income taxes. But most changes have involved reinterpretation of the original intent of the Constitution by the United States Supreme Court. Two of the clauses that have been broadened beyond all recognition are Interstate Commerce and General Welfare. Plus, around 100 years ago, the politicians and courts decided that the 14th Amendment (in place for 50 years at that time) allowed that the Bill of Rights could be applied to state and lower governments. But not all the BOR. They would (and still do) cherry pick sections to apply from time to time as the biases of the justices and the wishes of the politicians require. To this day, some sections have still not been incorporated.

These revisions to the primary law of the land have resulted in the rights of the states being substantially reduced. Other than the state criminal codes (although even they are now in conflict with federal laws regarding things such as marihuana use) and elections, most of the rights guaranteed for the states by the 10th Amendment have been eroded by nine unelected and unaccountable  individuals in black robes.

If the intent of the Constitution had been followed without corruption, the US would be composed of a patchwork of states, each state following the wishes and values of its own citizens. Each state would be limited to its own Constitution and courts as decided by its own citizens. People would then be free to live in the state of their choosing, And which party controlled Washington would not be nearly as important as it is today. 

But, you say, we are all American. We should all have the same values. Look at the Civil Rights Act. Look at environmental control. Look at labour laws. Look at all the good we have done collectively.  But here's the scoop. You don't all have the same values and ideals. You have a system that tries to switch the whole country back and forth ever two, four and six years. As a result, your evenly split populace fights amongst itself, weakening the nation from within. For those who say that the changes in the United States' from what it was designed to be are good, I ask (as Doctor Phil would say) "How's that working for you".

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Pragmatic Optimism

I first shared this as a Facebook post on January 19, 2016. Five years later, I still try to follow it:

The traditional question is whether you see the glass as half full or half empty. Are you an optimist, with hope for the best (or maybe just a better) outcome? Or are you a pessimist, projecting your past negative experiences into a bleak future? Are you Pollyanna (how I obsessed over Hayley Mills when I was young) or a world-worn cynic who thinks that the light at the end of the tunnel is a train?

Someone once suggested that an optimist is merely a pessimist with no experience. And McTavish's Axiom states that Murphy was an optimist. But, despite the state of  the world and my personal experiences, if I really believed that there would be no reason to get out of bed in the morning. Unless you are that little guy in L'il Abner with the black cloud over his head, the real world lies somewhere between both extremes and I have developed a philosophy (or survival technique) to deal with it.

I allow myself to believe that anything I undertake can end up perfect. Rainbows and unicorns. Mike Holmes after the reveal. There is nothing special about that, many people delude themselves thusly. But when the thing turns to crap, as happens much of the time, most optimists will be upset and unhappy. The secret of Pragmatic Optimism is to accept that as a possible outcome and not let it get you down. Revel in it. Laugh about it. Like Icarus, believe that you will fly with all your heart and yet accept within that the likelihood of the plunge into the sea. A dichotomy, if you will. By following this creed, I avoid becoming jaded by repeated immolations and am able to enjoy the planning of my next great potential success.

It helps that I am mildly manic/depressive and so understand a bit about the cycles of life and the human psyche. But it keeps me smiling.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Thoughts on US versus THEM

Some thoughts from my perspective after the horror in New Zealand (March 2019).

People feel comfortable with people like them. White middle class folks like to associate with white middle class folks. Rich folks with rich folks. Black folks with black folks. Muslims with Muslims. Conservatives with conservatives. And so on and so on. This is why clubs form.

This has been the way ever since man formed tribes while living in caves. People who were different were driven out. Tribes fought with tribes to gain land or just because they were there. Tribes turned to nations and still it continued.

Societies functioned because people "knew their place". This continued through the 50's but started to slip in the 60's when the free thinker's alternative ways began to be sanctioned by more liberal thinking court systems in the western world. The rights of people to be individuals diluted the social pressure to conform.

Many of the problems today stem from this ingrained need for people to associate with others like themselves. It is a tribal mentality that is hard to shake. It isn't just the white people against the immigrants or the people of colour. The immigrants typically prefer to associate with other people of their culture, as do home grown minorities.

And western society is becoming more homogeneous so that the groups are afraid of losing their identities. Fear has bred hatred. Hatred has, in some cases, bred violence. And others, who would not take up a weapon themselves, silently (or not so silently) cheer the violence. Others, who disagree, stay silent for fear of drawing the ire on themselves.

Hatred of THE OTHER drives many rationalizations to support their sentiments. The current beliefs about Muslims that drove the NZ shootings says that because radical Islamists commit terrorist acts and Muslim immigrants and refugees are moving west, they are ALL hostile invaders. Because some Hispanic immigrants (legal or not) have committed crimes, they are ALL criminals. A hundred years ago, Catholics and Irish were targets. The variations are endless.

US versus THEM is a collective concept that flies in the face of individual rights. A society that respects individual rights will, by definition, be very diverse. Many people who spout off about freedom want their society to be free to be just like them. Those who truly recognize individual rights will judge each person on their own merits and will avoid the bigotry of saying ALL (fill in the blank).

I resolve to judge each person based on their own actions and words. If they make generalized pronouncements on groups, minority or majority, I will challenge them. If they promote violence or harm against other identifiable groups, minority or majority, I will condemn them. If they actually join an organization that promotes physical violence or harm against others, I will judge them based on this.

There is no place for tribalism in a free society. My tribe is individual liberty. Anyone who disagrees with this is free to unfriend me if they feel the need, and avoid me if we cross paths. Or not. Because it is a free society and I respect your right to associate or not associate as you choose.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Civil Liberties in the Modern United States

In the course of discussing current events regarding civil liberties in the USA with my friends in the Vulcan Riders and Owners Club, some thoughts have become clear in my libertarian brain. While I haven't written here in quite some time, I want to record these ideas for posterity.

"All men are created equal....." Thomas Jefferson penned these immortal words in 1776 as a moral framework for a new nation. The U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, but the Declaration of Independence is the spirit. Unfortunately, despite the Founding Fathers' commitment to the freedoms espoused in the Bill of Rights, all people were not equal. Women could not vote until early in the 20th Century. People with different coloured skin started out as slaves and, after this heinous practice was abolished, could be legally segregated in my youth. Even then, people who were drawn to romantically love people of the same sex could still be jailed in many jurisdictions.

But consciousness evolved. Women were allowed to vote. In the 1960's, racial segregation was prohibited nationally by expanding the Bill of Rights to the states via the Incorporation Clause of the 14th Amendment. The Loving decision by the United States Supreme Court allowed a racially mixed couple in Virginia to marry. But homosexuals were still stigmatized both through the law and by social convention.

Finally, the U.S. Federal courts are taking an enlightened stance on gay civil marriage. The patchwork of lower court decisions will be settled once and for all during this term by the USSC and, based on their handling of cases to-date, there is little doubt about how this will play out. Gay folk will be finally able to enjoy all the state granted rights, privileges and responsibilities solemnizing their commitment to each other that heterosexual people have had since the government first stuck its nose into interpersonal relationships.

This should be a great day. However, when one of the downtrodden minorities is finally freed of its shackles, a strange thing happens. Some of them don't want equality, they want superiority. Look at aspects of the feminist movement. Examine the words of Sharpton and Jackson demonstrating a clear chip on their shoulders. The government has gone so far as to identify "special classes" who must be accorded superior rights against discrimination, which are evident in things like Affirmative Action. And now a gay couple in Colorado has brought suit against a Christian baker for not baking them a cake for their wedding, despite the fact that this person of faith sincerely believed that the celebration of their orientation was a sin according to the Bible. What the Bible actually means can be debated, but that is of no matter. This person is entitled to their belief. The government in Colorado found in favour of the couple and punished the baker for not producing something that violated his deeply held religious values.

So we have formerly downtrodden minorities of all types now celebrating that the law is on their side and that they have special privilege. This is a backlash. However, in the case of homosexual practices, there is still a large group pf people who were raised to believe this activity is a sin. They believe the Colorado baker was wronged and his rights were infringed upon. Whether I agree with their premise regarding the sin or not, their right to hold that believe is inviolable. Objective review leads me to conclude that the government would compel the baker to produce something he though was wrong. What does that say for his rights?

Every good backlash typically causes a counter-backlash and we have seen that this week in Indiana. As with 19 other states preceding it, Indiana drew on a 1993 federal statute signed into law by Bill Clinton and they enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While not naming the homosexual community, it was a driving force motivating conservative states to take this step. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the law is over-broad. It specifies that "a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion...unless it (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest." It sets no limits on the burden. In addition to the case of the baker, people can now claim it is their religious prerogative to discriminate and deny service to all manner of individuals. And remember that we are not just talking about the Christian religion here, nor are we speaking necessarily about gay customers. To compound this, "persons" includes corporations and other entities.

Indiana and the other states have now opened the door to the possibility of rampant discrimination for religious reasons. I am heartened by the public outrage against this but am, at the same time, dismayed about some of the vitriol, and an underlying current in some of the protests that supports the concept of "special classes" of people. Indiana Governor Pence was asked if he would consider adding homosexuals to the list of 'special classes' and he said no.

After significant discussion around this with my learned motorcycling friends, I came to several conclusions, all stemming from Jefferson's immortal words. "All men (persons) are created equal....."

First, the concept of special classes implies special rights. If we are all equal, why should the rights of any individual take precedence over any other. The ideal is that each and every one of us have exactly the same rights. A violation of those rights for any person, regardless of who they are, should be dealt with in the same manner. This, of course, would invalidate modern liberal concepts such as Affirmative Action and Hate Crimes and I believe the nation would be the better for it.

Next, why is the only basis for protecting someone against compulsion a religious one. Free people should be equally able to legally withstand government compulsion regardless of the source of their objection.

Third, I believe all people should be treated equally in commerce. Anyone should be able to sit at a public lunch counter, even if it is privately owned. No ladies sections. No refusal to serve people of colour. One counter, one menu. The only reason for refusing service should be behaviour related, Not following a dress code (shirt and shoes in some cases, jacket and tie in others), incivility towards staff and other patrons, or having caused damage in the past all come to mind. But refuse the service based on what someone has done, not who they are. We have come too far to let this slip away, despite the arguments of some that a private business owner should be able to refuse service for any reason. The belief that bigotry would be stamped out by an enlightened marketplace is overly optimistic based on my observations of human nature.

Fourth, I clarify that the above should relate to commercial situations. In our private lives, we discriminate all the time. That is why some people are friends and others are not. And, as individuals with the right of free association, that is fine. I may not agree with the reason you dislike someone, but I will defend your right to decide for yourself. In addition to individuals, I accept that private clubs should have the ability to decide their membership requirements. I include churches in this private club category.

Now we get to the case of the Colorado baker. This person would have sold the gay couple any of the wares on his shelves. There was no denial of service. But the customer wanted a cake manufactured to celebrate something the baker sincerely disagreed with. This moves it into a different category because it required that something be made. And, as free people, no one should never be compelled to make something they don't want to. For any reason. It could be a cake, wedding photos, a portrait, a speech or whatever.

The Indiana law did not make the distinction between serving and making. Some who voted for it may have thought that was implied, but that isn't the way the system works. If Indiana had spelled out that vendors must serve whatever they normally make to whoever wants it, but can not be compelled to make something they don't agree with regardless of the reason, I would be applauding. But they are only politicians. We can't really expect anything effective from them as they dance to the beat of the ballot box, without any true understanding of what they are really supposed to accomplish.

Thus endeth my rant for the day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Evils of Democracy or We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident

Democracy. As a youngster growing up in Canada, I was taught that this was what made our nation great. This is what set us apart from the despots, dictators and kings in the less privileged parts of the world. It was why my forefathers fought and died to protect us from the evil forces who would conquer us and reduce us to serfs in a totalitarian system. I'm sure my brethern south of the border were schooled the same way. Abraham Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, gave us the lofty idea of a government "of the people, by the people and for the people". And our soldiers continue to fight and die trying to bring democracy to far flung and backward places such as Afghanistan and, in the case of the US and Britain, Iraq.

But as I observe the results of this exercise in those nations and contemplate where the protests and removal of dictators recently in the Middle East, I come to a realization that democracy should not be the objective. Given a nation that heavily subscribes to a religious doctrine, there is a very good chance that the majority in such a democracy will choose a theocracy that flies in the face of our ideals while, at the same time, reflects the will of the majority of the citizens.

In a discussion on social conservatism, a friend recently said to me that we are a nation of laws. Laws reflecting the mores of the Judeao-Christian majority should be respected. In Canada, this is probably true since the idea of protecting individual rights has come to us relatively recently. But in the US of A, they rebelled against British Rule and their Declaration of Independence (in my opinion one of the greatest documents ever penned) did not speak to democracy. Jefferson's immortal words made, instead, a statement on the natural rights of mankind. Individual rights "Endowed by the Creator" to all men. Patrick Henry didn't say "Give me democracy or give me death". No, his rallying cry was LIBERTY.

Democracy has been described as a tyranny of the majority. In its simplest form, it imposes the will of those who form the largest segment of society upon individuals who do not share those beliefs. It was the thought of popular Muslim theocracies forming in the Middle East that caught my attention but the same situation occurs in the west when the conservative element justifies current laws based on the idea that "We are a Christian nation".

In Canada, we are the heirs of the British parliamentary system of government, evolved over millenia. The American Founding Fathers, on the other hand, threw off the yoke of history and had the opportunity (and obligation to redefine both individual rights and government from scratch. After the first ill-fated attempt to establish a federal government via the Articles of Confederation and Union, representatives of the new states sat down and crafted what would become the supreme law of the land, the Untied States Constitution. It set out the structure of the government of the United States of America and placed restrictions (mostly long since ignored) on it.

At the end of the process, some of the states were uncomfortable with a lack of protection of the individual rights that Jefferson spoke of in the Declaration. Thomas himself was not present at the time to speak on the issue (I wish he had been) but the fears were that the government would supercede the rights of the individual and land the new nation back in the very type of tyranny it had just thrown off. Some of the drafters of the Constitution felt that the ideal of individual rights was so central to the nation that their protection in the document was superfluous, but to assuage the worry, the first ten amendments AKA Bill of Rights was added. In addition to the defined rights, the 9th Amendment went so far as to say the enumerated rights were not the only ones held by the people. When I look at the courts' hair splitting referrals to the BOR as people try to protect themselves against the intrusions of an ever increasing government, their adoption was not just a good idea, it was essential to protect the people from the institution that would take everything, given half a chance.

Canada only received a limited Bill of Rights in 1960. In 1982, with the repatriation of our Constitution, we were further protected by the Charter of rights and Freedoms. This is a pale shadow of the American Bill of Rights because it limits itself by imposing a "reasonable limits" clause in the very first Article. Furthermore, a government may override any provision of the Charter for a fixed period of time simply by inserting the word "notwithstanding" in the legislation. So we have individual rights as long as they are "reasonable" and the government doesn't decide otherwise. This is why I look to the United States as the beacon of natural individual rights. They engaged in the debate centuries ago and, despite the sad changes that have taken place since then, they described an ideal that I cherish.

So should we be a nation of laws? In so much as those laws protect the natural rights of each individual from the actions of other people and the government, I believe we should be. But where laws are enacted that restrict actions not infringing on the rights of others, I believe that the government oversteps its bounds in a society based on liberty. These laws are often a reflection of the will of the majority, whether it is to limit personal freedom on moral grounds as the social right would prefer or to confiscate and redistribute wealth as the left advocates. This illustrates that a democracy can easily result in a denial of individual rights.

I have heard my American friends say that they are not a democracy but a republic because of the aspersions cast on democratic government by the Founding Fathers. But what is a republic but a representative form of democracy, subject to the whims of the majority at the ballot box. The key is that they are a Constitutionally Limited Republic. It would be better if those that governed today understood what that document stood for and what limitations it defined, but at least it does still exist to provide a framework for the debate that continues to this day.

So, in closing, thank you Thomas Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence. Thank you John Locke for inspiring Jefferson. Thank you to the Constitutional Convention for stating that individual rights should come before the rights off government. And I hope that some day the people who have been gifted with this legacy actually begin to understand what it means.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My thoughts on money and banks

This is not a cut and paste but a summation of my own thoughts on the matter of paper currency and related items. Just a ramble, if you will, with my limited training in economics and thoughts on the economy of today.

There has been a lot of discussion around national debt, the gold standard and the inherent worthlessness of paper currency. Most of the talk makes assumptions that I have decided that I do not agree with.

In the very beginning, humans hunted and/or gathered for enough to keep themselves and their families alive. When some would have an excess, they would barter with others for other surplus items they needed or desired. Eventually, both people and tribes found things they could do better due to either innate talent or local resources and started to specialize. As this progressed, the original barter system proved impractical because the people who wanted your goods might not have what you desired to trade for it. Hence, some bright stars developed "mediums of exchange".

The original mediums of exchange were commodities like salt or gold, and they stood the test of time for many years due to their universal demand. Eventually, though, nations replaced the hard commodities (an abstract representation of value) with currency (an abstract representation of an abstract representation of value). Currency was originally backed up by real commodities a la Fort Knox, but this has now fallen by the wayside and currency is, in and of itself, been deemed to have intrinsic value by the government of the particular country.

It is popular to bemoan the departure from the gold standard and to say that the paper money has no value redeemable in a specific commodity. It is also popular to complain that the government spends money it does not have through borrowing from banks or other nations that hold its currency, thus indebting its citizens and requiring additional taxes to pay it back.

But what is the true nature of this cash?

The true value of any nation is what it produces. The GDP is a good approximation of that. Since we are now a very specialized society (we don't mine our own ores, build our own cars or grow our own food for the most part), we need some objective medium of exchange to represent each citizen's claim for a portion of that national product, theoretically in proportion to the effort that citizen has put into producing it.

Fixed commodities such as gold are problematic in today's society. Its availability is dependent on both the domestic holdings of gold and the amount of gold ore in a particular nation (somewhat similar to the availability of petroleum deposits in this day and age). For a country to base the fundamental medium of exchange of its GDP on a commodity that's available supply is fixed and arbitrary is, again, impractical.

So a nation decides to print or mint controlled amounts of documents that, in the aggregate, stand for the total output of the country. This medium, through supply and demand, provides each citizen with the ability to exchange the goods or services they produce for those they desire. The amount is finite and varies with the national output. Someone bargains their time, labour and skills in return for currency at competitive rate in the marketplace. Those who have higher demand skills and abilities command a proportionately higher return. Others take excess amounts they have earned and, alone or in conjunction with others, develop new production through the employment of others, thus becoming the capitalists. People then take the share of the GDP they
have earned, as represented by the money they hold, and purchase the goods they need and/or desire. Foreign nations trade amongst themselves for domestic currency, and redeem that currency at a rate that represents the desirability of any currency to purchase the goods of the issuing country.

This is simple, but it has gotten all cocked up.

First, instead of our governments issuing and maintaining the levels of money proportionate to the GDP, they allow a central bank (a private 3rd party in the case of the US) to issue it and regulate the levels. Instead of currency representing a share of the GDP, it becomes seen as a commodity in itself, defeating the purpose it was created for.

Second and directly related, this central bank and the other banks are allowed to expand the money supply by lending cash they do not hold on deposit. This increases the money supply without a corresponding increase in GDP, devaluing the currency and starting an inflationary
spiral. An argument can be made for lending fiat money for the start up or expansion of businesses that ad to the GDP, but much of the lending is for consumer goods and the additional money circulated results in inflation.

Third, these same bankers have convinced the governments that any excess currency needed for government aims must be borrowed. Borrowed from the banks that create cash out of nothing to lend and who then profit on the interest.

Governments have also compounded this by deciding that segments of society who do not contribute to the production of that society should receive a portion of it anyway and have set up entitlement programs to provide them with money representing this unearned claim.

To my way of thinking, the banks are the main culprit and the governments are accessories by buying into the banks' assertions that bankers control the money. A responsible government would control its own money supply and would ideally vary that supply in proportion to national output. It would not confiscate the claim to goods earned by people and redistribute it to those who have not contributed, possibly barring support for the truly disabled. Further, if those in another nation sold their goods into the domestic market in exchange for the domestic currency and chose to use that currency to purchase domestic goods to be exported, more power to them. The production capacity and desirability of goods would, by necessity, determine the rate of
exchange between currencies.

If the government needs more currency for its legitimate objectives, print more. Don't borrow it. The downside is that, unless the government aims increase GDP, the price of goods produced would increase due to the interaction of aggregate national supply and demand while the foreign exchange rates would be similarly affected. On the other hand, if the government needed less, reduce the available money supply accordingly.

In this scenario, there would be no need to even levy taxes at a national level since the government could produce the cash it needed to buy the required goods and services in the marketplace (recognizing, of course, that improper use of this ability could destabilize their
national economy). Bottom line is that the citizens' futures would not be compromised by the need to repay "debt" to the bankers and provide them with a healthy income for no particular reason than they created money out of thin air.

Thomas Jefferson was extremely critical when Hamilton et al advocated for the creation of a central bank in the USA. It looks to me like his reservations were warranted based on history. The banks actually control the nation. They create the money and then expect the government to borrow that money to bail them out when their schemes go awry.

Leaving the credit standard would be painful in the short term, but returning the purpose of money to its ideal use would, in the long run, benefit everyone except the bankers and those who use their paradigm to get something for nothing.

Just my $0.02

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Scientific Method, Faith and Climate Change

I am a great fan of the Scientific Method.  I believe it is the means by which mankind tries to understand the laws the Creator set in place at the beginning of the Universe.  My own version of God's Law.

The Scientific Method is a rational process.  Someone gets an idea of how something works, a What If.  So they design some experiments and make some observations.  If the results seem to support the What If, the hypothesis, they publish their data and let other learned peers do their own tests and provide their own criticism.  If the observations are repeatable, a Theory is born.  This is not necessarily the be all and end all of the Law of Nature they are trying to understand because, as new technology, data and insights occur, they are challenged, revised and amended, all using the same Method.

Here is where Faith comes in.  I am not schooled enough in science to understand the facts first hand so I need to put my Faith in the Scientific Method and those who are using it.  I can't determine what is fact and what is balderdash so I look at the opinions of the scientists.  If the Method seems to have been followed, I take the theory on faith.

So now we come to one of the great debates of our time.  Climate Change/Global Warming.  It all follows the Laws of Nature and involves physics, thermodynamics and a whole lot of other disciplines that are Greek to me.  I once looked at the math involved in the calculation of friction of air masses which is basic to the study of meteorology and came away shaking my head.

There are these 'scientists' out there who have concluded that man is affecting the environment in a negative manner causing damaging climate change.  Non-scientists have taken up their cry and have made a political issue out of it, demanding that we take drastic steps to change our ways in a manner that will negatively affect our economy and be  detrimental to our standard of living.

I am not competent enoigh to understand the science involved so I look at whether the Scientific Method has been followed to draw the conclusions.  It appears that a group of what appear to be politically motivated 'scientists' have studieed data they refuse to share. Climategate has shown that they have unashamedly massaged data to support their conclusions.  They further have used political avenues to castigate their critics preventing any true peer review or discussion.  Then they have had to retract some of their pronouncements made based on faulty input when they have been caught out.

As a laymen who is being asked to give up much based on their conclusions, I have come to my own belief that the Scientific Method has not been followed by these people.  As a result, I have no faith in their findings and will not support their recommendations.  Maybe there is some truth to what they say, since the climate appears to move in response to a 100K year cycle, but to conclude that it is man made or that any steps we take now can reverse the trend, if there is one, are unproven.

Let me see some open debate.  Let all the data be shared, tested and discussed.  Let a theory be developed that is generally supported because it is verifiable and repeatable.  Then let's see if drastic steps will make a change or if we should be spending our time preparing for the inevitable changes to come.