1 corinthians 10 as a parallel to 1 corinthians 6


In an article called freedom from the law under paul, I explain (from what it seems) is the most natural reading of the text. Paul introduces a concept in which “all things are lawful”, which I suspect the Corinthians began using as motto to enable their sinful lifestyles (perhaps a widespread phenomenon referenced in 2Pe 3:16). The Corinthians seem to have fully embraced Paul’s teachings. They seem also to be free from Judaizers until at least 2 Corinthians is written.

Paul writes as if he is on a mission to reclaim the phrase “all things are lawful”. This is used in two key places:

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1Co 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

Both places sound like Paul is embracing the teaching that “All things are lawful”, but he adds modifiers. He doesn’t want the idea to stand on its own (perhaps due to the wickedness that Paul describes as tolerated in the Corinthian church). While the context of chapter 6 is about sinful things that are widely disavowed by works-salvation proponents today (thus driving those proponents to disclaim what seems like the most natural reading), chapter 10 is about food and food idolatry. Paul’s style of argument can be more neutrally observed here.

1Co 10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.
1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
1Co 10:17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
1Co 10:18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

In 1 Corinthians 10:15, Paul begins building an argument. He begins by illustrating through Israel that communion unites worshipers. Recall that in Chapter 8, Paul informs his listeners that eating food offered to idols is of no consequence (1Co 8:4). In that chapter, Paul then explains that the reason that Christians should refrain is if there is an observer who doesn’t understand this, and perhaps believes that Christians are worshiping false gods. This argument is picked up, starting in verse 16. Paul argues that communion unites. He then states that the same applies to pagan communion:

1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
1Co 10:17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
1Co 10:18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

The argument holds that if Jewish communion unites under Yahweh, then pagan communion is meant to unite under the false gods. But Paul again makes clear his concern is not that real pagan worship is occurring, rather a fake worship is occurring:

1Co 10:19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
1Co 10:20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
1Co 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.

Paul’s argument is not that Christians will be worshiping false gods if they partake with pagans. Instead he argues that they might be befriending demons, which is scary and dangerous. Paul says that his hearers cannot partake in both fellowship with demons and fellowship with Yahweh (Paul may believe that knowingly choosing another god rather than Yahweh was a clear disqualifier as a Christian). Paul makes clear his concern is not that Yahweh will be jealous, after all, the idol sacrifices are nothing:

1Co 10:22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

In this context, Paul says that all things are lawful for him:

1Co 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

The pattern is the same as in Chapter 6. Paul states a rule, and then modifies it. One would think Paul would then give examples, related to the context, as to how this is true. Paul does do this, using the same topic he had just been writing about:

1Co 10:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
1Co 10:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;
1Co 10:27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake.
1Co 10:28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL ITS FULLNESS.”
1Co 10:29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?

Verse 24 points out that people should be looking out for each other (which becomes the primary thrust of Paul’s commands to refrain from certain foods). In context, Paul argues that it is not lawfulness that compels people to eat or not eat pagan food, but concern for people who do not understand the law. In this sense, yes, it is lawful to eat the food, but it is not expedient. It is lawful to eat the food, but it is not edifying.

Within Corinthians 10, we see how Paul’s mind works. When dealing with what he does not consider unlawful, but bad taste or harmful, Paul condemns the action. He then explains this does not negate the truth that “all things are lawful”. Then then modifies that general truth to explain why, even if something is lawful, that one should refrain from that action. Paul is arguing systematically, and in a focused manner.

Applying the same understanding of how Paul argues, one can see that “all things are lawful” as stated in 1 Corinthians 6, is all about “sexual immorality”. That is the subject being addressed. Paul believes that although “all things” are lawful, there are perfectly valid reasons to refrain from those activities, and the church should condemn such acts.

Posted in Dispensationalism, Theology | 1 Comment

freedom from the law under paul

no step on snek

Pauline theology champions freedom from the law. To Paul, the law brought death, but the spirit gave life (2Co 3:6). To Paul, those who are under the law are under a curse (Gal 3:10). To Paul, the law was a teacher, for which we no longer have need (Gal 3:24-25). To Paul, he was a special apostle, entrusted with this new message, never before revealed to man (Eph 3:5). When Paul is called to account in Acts 21, it is because he is offending Christians who are zealous for the law (Act 21:20). James makes Paul perform a ritual to prove to all he is not teaching Jews to forsake the law (something we have every indication to believe Paul was actually doing). What is Paul’s teaching? Why is it offensive? Why does James take issue with Paul?

Pauline theology, however it is framed, came in contrast to the previous messages of the law. Pauline theology, to most modern Christians who are familiar with the subject, is largely considered as freedom from just the symbolic/ritual laws of Moses. To these Christians, Paul taught not against laws on morality, but laws about priestly holiness (they may not use this term). But in several places throughout the Bible, Paul describes a somewhat more nuanced view, one of freedom from “all law”. In Pauline theology, Christ’s death absolves all sins and thus makes sin irrelevant for salvation. To Paul, one refrains from sin, not because it will send one to hell, but because of the natural consequences of sin.

In 1 Corinthians 6, this aspect of Pauline theology is hard to deny. Chapter 6 begins with Paul chastising the Corinthians for how they treat each other. He basically accuses them of being the same as sinners. He lists out an entire series of sins by which they may be guilty:

1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
1Co 6:10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul, in verses 9-10, informs his readers that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, which reads almost as a threat that they might lose their salvation, or that they themselves might not inherent the kingdom, or that they themselves may be classified as these sinful categories. But this does not line up with Paul’s overall message, so he clarifies:

1Co 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Although Paul almost accuses his readers of being sinners, he then switches to claim that they “were” some of these things. There was a process by which they were cleaned: they were washed, sanctified and justified. At this point, the reader might be wondering how Paul’s argument is shaking out. He nearly accuses them of being sinners, but then explains their sanctification. What if they sin after they are sanctified and justified? Do they then need new justification? Doesn’t being justified clear them of wrongdoing? Can they still be sinners even after justification?

Paul anticipates the questions and explains:

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

Paul is drawing a Venn diagram. All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful/expedient/useful. This means there is a class of action that is both lawful and not helpful. A critic of Paul might claim: “if what you are saying is true, then murder would be lawful.” Paul’s rebuttal is that, sure, it might be lawful, but that doesn’t give you go reason to do it. There are perfectly good reasons to avoid bad things other than their status under the law. In effect, Paul is saying that just because someone has the freedom to do something, doesn’t make it a good idea. Just because someone in America has the freedom to dress like a chicken and wander the sidewalks with an axe, doesn’t make it a good idea (and no one in their right mind would defend it).

All things are Lawful

Paul does not stop here, he illustrates his point:

1Co 6:13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1Co 6:14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Paul is giving two examples of what he means. He needs something that is both lawful but not helpful. He attacks dietary law. Sure, his converts COULD take up kosher law, but why? Our bodies will just be destroyed and remade. What does it gain them? Paul’s second example is very critical. Paul uses sexual immorality as an illustration. What this means is that Paul is saying sexual immorality (seeing prostitutes, in context) may be lawful, but we still should not do it. Paul lists some basic reasons, and then elaborates. Apparently some of his readers were frequenting prostitutes. Paul does not tell them they are not Christian, but explains to them the consequences of their actions:

1Co 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!
1Co 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “THE TWO,” He says, “SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”
1Co 6:17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
1Co 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
1Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
1Co 6:20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Paul’s argument against sexual immorality is multi-faceted. First, our bodies should be dedicated to God. Second, our bodies are part of a corporate body of Christians. If Christians have sex with prostitutes (and because sex is the uniting of bodies) then Christians are making prostitutes part of the body of the Church (which may be a mixing of metaphors, but the point still holds). Finally, Paul argues that sexual sin is us harming our own bodies. There is a physical consequence of sexual sin (perhaps STDs, emotional pain, or just general ill consequences).

Notice per the second reason, Paul does not say that Christians who have sex with prostitutes are no longer Christians. If that was the case, his analogy would fall apart.

Paul truly did belief that “all things are lawful.” In context, he lists fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners, and then he illustrates by exampling the sexually immoral. It is a bold and contextless claim to think that Paul suddenly starts talking about only ritual law in the middle of talking about a whole host of sin, before and after. Pauline theology can best be summed up by Paul himself: “All things are lawful… but all things are not helpful.”

When people arguing against “all things being lawful” by claiming that these teachers are teaching that people should sin, they miss the point. Paul’s critics literally made the same arguments against Paul, and Paul responds! Paul counters them by giving long lists of reasons that although something is lawful, it might not be expedient and people should not do them. “Losing your salvation” or “no longer being a Christian”, was not in his list of reasons. This should be very telling.

It is important for modern Christians to understand the workings of Paul’s theology and how it contrasted for the teaching of Jesus and the 12. This is particularly true, as Pauline theology took dominance in the Christian church after the destruction of Jerusalem. Attempting to explain Paul’s teaching as a continuation of Jesus’ gospel just is not a tenable position. Most modern Christians have given up Kosher food laws and observance of the Sabbath. Even circumcision is largely out of favor. Jesus and the 12 apostles never taught against these things, but affirmed them wherever they address the subject. Paul advocated against the law. It was Paul’s theology that revolutionized the ancient world.

Posted in Bible, Dispensationalism, Theology | 21 Comments

early hermetic mysticism

From a second or third century text of Hermes Trismegistus:

“If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like.

Leap clear of all that is corporeal, and make yourself grown to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time and become eternal; then you will apprehend God. Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and science; find your home in the haunts of every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are everywhere at once, on land, at sea, in heaven; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all of this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.

But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, nor what I shall be,” then what have you to do with God?” 

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Judas in Paul

From Bart Ehrman’s The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot:

and it is here that Paul may, in the opinion of some readers, make a reference to Judas Iscariot. Paul begins his recollection with the following (this is how the passage is sometimes translated):

For I received from the Lord that which I also handed over to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and after giving thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body given for you.” (1 Cor. 11:23–24)

The key phrase for us, of course, is the statement that this took place “on the night in which he was betrayed.” Surely this is a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, so even though the betrayer is not mentioned by name, it is clear that Paul knows all about the incident.

But in fact the matter is not so clear. The problem has to do with the Greek word that Paul uses when he says that Jesus was “betrayed” (Paul, and all the other authors of the New Testament, wrote in Greek). The word is common in the New Testament—Paul himself uses it over fifteen times in his letters, including one other time in the passage I just quoted. When Paul says that the information he is now relating is what he also “handed over” to the Corinthians, it is the same word he uses when he indicates that Jesus was “betrayed.” The Greek word is paradidomi—and it literally means “to give or hand someone or something over to someone else.”

Is Paul referring, then, to Judas Iscariot handing Jesus over to the ruling authorities for trial? Probably not, for in every other instance that Paul uses paradidomi with reference to Jesus, it refers to the act of God, who “handed Jesus over” to death for the sake of others.

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eternal security

1Sa 2:27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh?
1Sa 2:28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel.
1Sa 2:29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’
1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

man chooses

In 1 Samuel 2, there is an interesting scene in which God revokes His promise of an eternal house for Eli. This is fairly unambiguous by the wording of the text. God had “promised” but now that promise is “Far from” Him, and a new rule supersedes the previous.

Parallel concepts are found in God’s eternal kingdom, originally planned for Saul, but then given to King David. Through David’s life and through the lives of the following Kings, God warns that the eternal kingdom can be cut off if the recipients are evil.

When we reach the New Testament, we encounter claims of eternal life. Modern Christians claim that this means that individuals become robots. No longer can they sin, but they will forever be in heaven without a chance to rebel. Is this a warranted conclusion from the use of the word “eternal”? Did eternal take that meaning with Saul, David, or Eli? What discludes a conditional eternity rather than a deterministic eternity? Are there any eternal promises in the Bible of the type the deterministics can use as an example?

The most eternal promise found within the Bible is the unilateral promise to Abraham to make of Him a great nation. Malachi 3 claims of this promise that God will not change on it. Hebrews 6:18 claims that in this promise it is impossible for God to lie. The Jews were confident that this would mean they would never be cut off completely, but John the Baptist counters otherwise:

Mat 3:9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

Even if every son of Abraham rebelled, God has innovative options that are not reliant on mankind’s continued obedience. With this being the case, there is no reason to think that both mankind is granted eternal life and that the eternal life cannot be revoked if mankind chooses to rebel. John is under the impression that mankind still has the ability to reject God even if it threatens God’s promises.

There is no reason to think that there is no free will in heaven. The closest the Bible comes to this concept is the description of the new earth in Revelation:

Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

God is wiping away tears. No one is dying. No one is crying. Does this mean that there is no free will? Is this a hyperbole meant to illustrate the greatness of the Kingdom? Or is this a testament to God’s kingship and judgment? Is there any reason to default to a loss of free will?

Revelation also contains an idea of evil people still alive and functioning in the new Earth:

Rev 21:24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
Rev 21:25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).
Rev 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
Rev 21:27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The nations that are saved enter the city, except for those who are unclean. Why are these passages worded as such if there can no longer be sin? Would this suggest that the natural understanding of “no more tears” in the same chapter is due to the wicked not being allowed entrance? We have every reason to believe in heaven, rebellion is possible.

Also from the book of Revelation:

Rev 12:4 His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

Rev 12:7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
Rev 12:8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
Rev 12:9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

In this passage, there appears some sort of heavenly war. Inhabitants of heaven are disenfranchised and cast to Earth. This suggests that these actors all had the ability to rebel.

With all these facts in mind, the position that eternal life precludes a heavenly rebellion is just untenable. Eternal life, like God’s other eternal gifts, are more likely conditional on continued obedience.

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making sense of the Bible

Cowboy Bebop Plays His ComputerDon Boudreaux observes that theories are narratives that we tell to make sense of the data. This is true for any discipline:

Each semester I teach my freshman students that theories are simply stories that we tell in order to make sense of observed reality. And if story X does a better job than does story Y of making sense of reality, then story X is the better theory of the two. Compared to story Y, better-story X makes those who hear it go “Ah, yes! That makes sense! Now I understand reality better than I did before!”

This definition and function of “theory” holds regardless of discipline. It’s true for physics no less than for biology; it’s true for chemistry no less than for economics. It’s true for the most formal, purely mathematized story no less than for the most casual, purely verbal story. A theory that does not cause Jones to sense that she better understands reality is not a theory that Jones accepts. Put differently, for Jones to accept a story as a valid theory of that aspect of reality that the story is meant to explain, Jones must like (by her own lights) what she perceives to be the correspondence between the story’s logic (and its implications) and reality as Jones understands reality.

Boudreaux goes to quote an author who attempts to explain the origin of Facebook “likes”:

So in spite of its interactive patina, the digital economy continues the industrial practice of preventing real people from participating in the growth economy – at least as its beneficiaries. We still get to work, and we still end up living and socializing in a landscape that feels more like business than pleasure. There’s just no money.

In fact, the digital landscape so effectively monopolizes economic activity that most people have almost nothing left to be extracted. That’s why in order to maintain some semblance of growth, Internet companies had to find a way to monetize something other than cash from its users. Something measurable, countable, and attractive enough to shareholders to justify their real cash investment in the companies’ stock.

That’s right: “likes.” ….

Likes are a new way to stoke that growth furnace.

Boudreaux responds:

The above quoted passage is stuffed with error enough for several long blog posts. But I’ll content myself now only to ask if you find Rushkoff’s theory of “likes” likable. Does this story he tells make you go “Ah ha! Now I get it! Now I better understand why ‘like’ buttons exist and why so many people like (!) to use them”? Does Rushkoff’s theory of ‘likes’ cause you say to yourself “Until now, I thought that ‘likes’ emerged in order to, or because of [fill in the blank]. But now I see that, as Rushkoff explains, ‘likes’ instead are the last possible crumbs of value that digital monopolists such as Facebook can extract from ordinary people – ordinary people who have been utterly impoverished by the past couple of centuries of industrial capitalism. Rushkoff’s explanation has torn the blinding curtains from my eyes! I see now that clever monopolists are raising the market values of their firms to astronomical heights by getting the impoverished masses to ‘like’ in droves the monopolists’ webpages and web-featured products. I like that explanation!”

The same sorts of questions should be used for Biblical interpretation. Does the story have explanatory power? For example, when a Calvinist explains Exodus 32,Genesis 18 or Genesis 22, does a reader jump out of their seat and proclaim “Ah ha! Now I get it! Now I better understand why the text was written like it was”?

Here is Matt Slick on Genesis 22:

Since we can see that it is not consistent with Scripture and logic to say that God did not know what was in Abraham’s heart and that God did not know what Abraham would do, we can conclude that God was speaking to Abraham in terms that Abraham was familiar with. This is not at all foreign to Scripture. In Gen. 3:9, after Adam’s sin, God calls to Adam and asks, “Where are you?” Are we to say that God did not know where Adam was in the garden? Of course not. God makes statements often designed to reveal to us a truth that needs to be presented. In fact, God often asks questions He already knows the answer to. In Adam’s case, the “where” was dealing with spiritual condition, not physical location. In Abraham’s case, God was simply relating to Abraham in terms consistent with what Abraham would understand, particularly after the actual event with Isaac on the altar…

God was doing two things. First, God revealed the gospel in hidden form. Second, God was speaking for Abraham’s benefit, that is, it was Abraham who needed to hear that God was acknowledging that Abraham feared Him. The test was not for God but for Abraham, and the words, “Now I know,” were not for God but for the man who needed to hear God affirm His faithfulness. Abraham is a man locked in time. The act of sacrificing Isaac was important prophetically, but it is also important to us as a testimony of faithfulness to God.

Does a reader automatically respond: “Now it makes much more sense!”?

Posted in Bible, Economics | 3 Comments

on hypersensitivity


One of the primary causes of the Trump phenomenon is hypersensitivity in modern America. The victim class continually threatens, intimidates, and shames people into silence. One cannot have a normal conversation without having to worry that people will explode randomly over the most trivial of comments. The people being triggered may not even have direct reason to be triggered. Say the word “retard” and people who have no real relationship with any mentally challenged people (or whatever the phrase is these days) will spring to their defense. And the victim class is endless, so there is no limit to people being outraged on behalf of strangers they never know.

Even if someone has direct experience, they might claim offense. But this is still most likely overreaction by hypersensitive individuals.

In my own life, I have had to deal with my oldest child having leukemia. We spent countless, sleepless nights in the children’s ward. Our hopes have been shattered time to time, and we have been plagued with uncertainty. How many tears have been shed? How many times have we had to watch our child being put under in order to inject needles into his spine?

When I hear a cancer joke, my natural reaction is to evaluate the humor in the joke, and laugh if it is funny. When people make cancer jokes (and the like), they are not truly targeting people with cancer. This is not hate speech designed to destroy people with legitimate problems. Most often, if they know their audience is a cancer patient, they will refrain from making the joke. If someone who knew my child had leukemia continually tried to anger me by making cancer jokes intended to hurt me, I might take a little offense. Alternatively, if someone who knew me made cancer jokes knowing I am a grown adult and understand basic concepts of humor, then I most likely would laugh along no matter how many cancer jokes they tell.

Jokes and humor, especially, are designed to press the limits of what is deemed politically correct. Their very nature calls for building absurdities and hyperbolic nature into their delivery.

Attacking non-malicious people over how they communicate is beyond civility. This type of non-civil outrage should not be dignified unless we want more of this behavior over a wider scope of speech. Economics 101: if you want more outrage over non-malicious speech, then praise and defend it. If you want more civility, shut down those who wish to use hypersensitivity to silence others.

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why income taxes cannot be targeted

Supply and Demand

See also: https://mises.org/library/new-confusion-about-taxes

Posted in Econ 101, Economics | 1 Comment

minimum wage

minimum wageThis graphic accurately represents the effects of minimum wage. Like all good or services in the economy, the higher the cost, the less people purchase. This is the basic law of supply and demand. As prices increase, less is purchased. It does not matter if the item is Doritos, or plumbing services, or even minimum wage labor, the laws of Economics are absolute.

If plumbers suddenly doubled in price, America would suddenly find itself with a new surge of do-it-yourself plumbers. People would hire fewer plumbers and either let small problems slide or figure out alternative ways of getting their plumbing needs met. Certainly not all people would resort to these alternates, but the effect would be visible. The more expensive that plumbers become, the more profound the effect.

Whether plumbers make more money or not depends heavily on if the increase in payment per job outweighs the loss in job opportunities. If it doesn’t, in a free market, plumbers would then lower their prices to recapture that lost income. If the government prohibits plumbers lowering their wages, the plumbers lose out on possible income.

A higher wage per hour sometimes leads to less wages overall. If the person becomes unemployed, this wage is then reduced to zero.

Firms are not magically immune to the laws of supply and demand. In the case firms hiring of labor, labor is only hired when the expected returns outweigh the cost. No one will be hired for a greater cost than they bring benefit to a firm. If a worker only brings $50,000 annually in services to a firm, then spending more than that $50,000 (in salary, taxes, insurance, etc.) results in a net loss for that firm. The firm is better off not hiring that individual.

When minimum wages are established, those who cannot bring at least that much value (the cost of wages, benefits, and overhead costs) to the firm cannot be hired. If these people (who produce less than the value they bring) retain a job after the minimum wage is implemented, they will soon find themselves without a job. Sustained losses are hard to maintain, especially in competitive low end labor career fields.

The great thing about this illustration is that there is one minimum wage house who has the tip of the house above water. In order to become employable, some workers are going to have to become more productive (work harder). Either that, or they might forgo some benefits (costs to employ them). Maybe they lose hours from their work schedule. Maybe the firm stops giving employee discounts or other fringe benefits. Maybe the managers are allowed to treat the employees worse. After all, work environment leads to workers wanting to accept lower wages. My wife worked for a place that would let employees sleep on their down time. Sure, they were only making $6 per hour, but they often got paid to sleep.

Labor costs are not always felt in terms of per hour wages. Focusing on per hour wages above other labor factors is dangerous and short sighted. Note, when minimum wages are government enforced, people cannot make their own decisions on the type of work environment they wish to have. These people, even if earning more money, are made worse off.

All government meddling in the market leads to unintended consequences. The government cannot improved people’s lives by fiat, so can only hurt society as a whole with their laws. Those that they purport to help, are hurt the worst.

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the trump phenomenon

82Ou8PGThere is a strange wind brewing in the American political scene. The Republican nomination is quite likely to be given to a complete political outsider, who is garnering massive grassroots support. This individual is none other than the continually bankrupt and crass Donald Trump.

His speeches seem not to advocate any particular policy except broad statements about making Mexico build a wall on the border and threats against trade with China. On all the issues he stakes a position that is forever changing. His position seems to be whatever is on his mind at the time a question is asked. Literally, Trump appears to come up with positions on the spur of the moment, no matter how ludicrous those answer are.


So why is Trump massively popular? Sargon of Akkad points out that Trump is being attacked in full by the media. They call him racist, sexist, and everything in between. Sargon’s video was in response to an episode by John Oliver which is expressly
dedicated to attacking Trump. But Trump’s polls remain unaffected. As Milo Yiannopoulos points out, even after being called racist, Trump polls better among minorities than any other historical Republican candidate. Trump also polls well with Democrats.

Reason.com cuts to the heart of the matter:

The crowd at Rutgers—and at Yiannopolos’s other appearances—certainly suggests that some students are sick to death of the liberal orthodoxies being drilled into them during every waking moment of their time in school. What if millions of Americans feel the same way?

“Nobody votes for Trump or likes Trump on the basis of policy positions,” Yiannopoulos told me. “That’s a misunderstanding of what the Trump phenomenon is.”


This has a lot to do with why people support Trump. They know that the academic elites despise them and their culture, and are going to try to educate their children into hating themselves and their culture. Can Trump stop AU or any other university from doing this? Of course not, and we would not want to live in a country where POTUS has that kind of power. But a vote for Trump is a vote against the class that’s doing this p.c. indoctrination. They know that Trump doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about p.c. — and they love that about him.

Cheering on the likes of Trump and Yiannopoulos might just be one way for them to cope with that perceived reality. Trump’s naysayers claim—with good reason—that his candidacy is a disaster for the Republican Party: his election to the presidency would destroy the country. But that’s a selling point for his supporters—not because they love destruction, but because they’re suffering under the status quo, too. At least with Trump, they can enjoy the show and collect some small measure of vengeance against their PC overlords.

The Trump phenomenon is not about issues. It is not about taxes or immigration or guns or abortion. When people attempt to attack Trump on these fronts, they are misunderstanding what he represents to Trump supporters. Trump represents a victory by the common man (Trump polls best among the least educated) against the social justice warriors and liberal elite.

*This article is in no way endorsing Trump, but instead explaining his popularity.

Posted in Human Nature | 4 Comments