Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Government We Trust?

I enjoy participating in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. One of the reasons is there just aren't that many atheists who live in my neck of the woods (if they do, they keep quiet about it). These sites make it possible to be a part of an "atheist community". And community can be important. For a long time I've felt that the main advantage believers had over non-believers was the "Pancake Breakfast" that most churches offer...who doesn't love pancakes!!

There was no local atheist community to be a part of when I was younger. Until the first time I saw Penn & Teller's: Bullshit, I had never seen another atheist on TV, let alone actually met one in real life. It was an opportunity for me to say, "Hey, maybe I'm not that weird after all." When I discovered Penn's radio show, it was an opportunity to not only hear another atheist speak about what he believed, but to hear him talk about it EVERYDAY. These things made me feel more comfortable sharing my beliefs with others (feeling like you don't have to lie is a big deal). I consider Penn Jillette a hero of mine for many reasons, but no more important than being the first person I ever heard saying the things I was feeling and thinking (to myself of course) for so long.

If there is one thing that I have noticed from my increased exposure to other atheists, it's that an overwhelming majority of them are liberals. I must confess that I too was once a liberal...hell, I think I would have to say that I was a socialist. (Ralph Nader bought me coffee once, and I used to own every book that Noam Chomsky had ever written). As I've gotten older however, I've realized that the more protections and services that the government offered, the more rules we had to play by. I DON'T LIKE RULES!!! I hate rules so much that I wear black socks with shorts because my wife tries to tell me that I CAN'T. I like freedom. Freedom over how I spend my money AND how I spend my free time. And it doesn't matter whether I like it or not, because the Constitution guarantees it.

I also can't stand the sentiment in that famous speech by President Kennedy. "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." What an awful thing to say. It should have ended "...ask what you can do for YOURSELF." (since I mentioned Penn earlier, I'll share his thoughts on the speech...I've been saying this for a long time, but he said it better). I prefer the quote attributed to Uncle Ben (Spiderman's uncle, not the rice guy). "With great power comes great responsibility." The power in this case is freedom and the responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones. Uncle Ben should have been a presidential speech writer. Uncle Sam could learn a lot from him.

Primarily because Uncle Sam does so many things inefficiently and at such a great cost. Take a look at the United States Post Office. Do you think for a second that if FedEx or UPS had lost $20 billion since 2007, they would "keep on truckin'"? NO!! Of course, you could argue that the government may deem them "too big to fail", and bail FedEx or UPS out...but that's just the government interfering in free markets, and I'm not a fan...let 'em fail!! And no, I'm not saying because we deliver mail inefficiently we should end government. Our government does several things poorly, this was just an easy one to point out (and quite frankly, I'm lazy). There are some things that the government does well. I'm not talking about anarchy (I won't dismiss it either). What I am asking is that we require a little more evidence and proof before we place our "faith" in the almighty Government. And I don't want to hear about all the "great" altruistic social programs that it offers. Altruism by force ISN'T altruism, so stop calling it that. If they went away tomorrow people would take care of one another.

As an atheist, I don't believe in a supernatural being because there is no evidence for him/her/?. Call me a skeptic. We should be applying that same level of skepticism to our political institutions and leaders. It seems that in the fight to remove "In God We Trust" from the money, liberal atheists have somehow adopted the motto: "In Government We Trust". Why fight for "separation of Church and State" only to turn our faith in government INTO a religion. Is there evidence that putting our "faith" in the government is a good thing? Three wars we are unlikely to get out of anytime soon, a $14 Billion plus federal deficit, failing public schools, unsustainable Social Security...(you get the idea). Skeptical yet?

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