Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hunger in America?

It seems there are a lot of people in this country that the government believes can’t feed themselves sufficiently. Here’s some figures for you:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a total of 101,000,000 people currently participate in at least one of the 15 food programs offered by the agency, at a cost of $114 billion in fiscal year 2012.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics BLS, there were 97,180,000 full-time private sector workers in 2012.

That means the number of Americans receiving food assistance has surpassed the number of full-time private sector workers in the U.S.

The population of the U.S. is 316.2 million people, meaning nearly a third of Americans receive food aid from the government.

Of the 101 million receiving food benefits, a record 47 million Americans participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.

via 101M Get Food Aid from Federal Gov’t; Outnumber Full-Time Private Sector Workers | CNS News.

This is troubling regardless of how you read it. If a third of the people in this country are receiving food aid it means that either

  1. food prices are way higher than they should be,
  2. the economy is still doing lousy regardless of the employment figures — or
  3. there is a hell of alot of fraud taking place.

I take comfort in none of those explanations. Personally I think the answer is 1. Ever since we started promoting biofuels it has raised the price of all foods and food prices will continue to remain high until we stop the subsidies for this form of energy.

“Why did you shoot me? I was reading a book”: The new warrior cop is out of control – Salon.com

Maybe I do still live in a free country but with my government monitoring what calls a make, where I make the and to whom I make them and where they are and also storing all my electronic communications like emails and text messages just in case they need to get a warrant in the future to look back at all of this I start wondering. Then I’m reminded I can still choose where to live in this country so if I don’t like the rules I can move to Montana or some other rural place where there are fewer restrictions on my activities. 

Okay, I may still be free.

Unless I invite my buddies over for poker and maybe bet on a football game.

Thanks, Dan, for finding this.

Finally Some Truth from a Congresswoman on Gun Control

I have no problem supporting common sense gun legislation but often what is passing for common sense these days is just knee jerk reactions. Congresswoman Robin Kelly is getting past the knee jerk reactions and is asking congress to pass a bill requesting an annual report from the Surgeon General on the impact of gun violence.

Kelly is asking her colleagues in Washington D.C. to revisit gun control legislation by introducing a bill that would require the Surgeon General to make an annual report to Congress on the public health impact of gun violence.

“When you have the proper data, it helps you with putting together the proper policy recommendation,” said Kelly.

via Rep. Robin Kelly Calls For Stricter Gun Control In Wake Of Violent Weekend « CBS Chicago.

Some of you may think this is just a waste of money on a study but I believe it will show us where we need to place our attention on curbing gun violence and will actually tell us whether the entire nation has a problem with gun violence or just certain predictable pockets. This statement has me knowing that Congresswoman Kelly really understands where the problem is.

The Democratic Congresswoman adds the big picture solution to gun violence involves better job opportunities and community involvement.

via Rep. Robin Kelly Calls For Stricter Gun Control In Wake Of Violent Weekend « CBS Chicago.

Gun violence is most prevalent in urban areas of high unemployment. This is the first time I’ve heard a pro-gun control politician admit that is where the problem is.

 

What Can Go Wrong?

The government wants us to believe that whatever data the NSA is collecting on private citizens is safe from abuse because of a number of checks and balances they have in place to prevent their data from being stolen or misused. They tell us this in response one of their contractors allegedly stole and misused their data in an attempt to warn us of the NSA spying on us.

That’s bad enough but it actually gets worse:

The AP reports that “authorities have accused a Memphis police officer of using the NCIC database to leak information to a confidential informant about a watch dealer who the informant believed had stolen a Rolex; a reserve patrolman in Clarkston, Ga., of running names and license plates for marijuana dealers; a Montgomery County, Md., officer of running checks on cars belonging to a woman who later reported that the vehicles had been vandalized; and a Hartford, Conn., police sergeant of supplying database records to a woman who used them to harass her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend.”

via Here’s what can go wrong when the government builds a huge database about Americans.

And it goes on and on. I think every one of us can think of a news report about people with access to the NCIC files misusing their access for their own gain. How can we trust such a system not to be abused when it is going to be run by humans?

Atheist are a diverse group; just like the rest of us.

The Raw Story has an article on a study done about atheism. The first thing I found interesting is that the study was conducted at my home town university, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The second thing I found interesting is that my friend, tom kunesh, was not one of the authors of the study.

The gist of the study is that there isn’t just one type of atheist. The study easily  identified six distinct types of non-believers: Intellectual Atheist/Agnostics (IAA), Activist Atheist/Agnostics (AAA), Seeker Agnostics (SA), Antitheists, Non-theists and Ritual Atheist/Agnostics (RAA). I’ll let you read the article to understand how these classifications differentiate from each other. In fact, I urge you to read the article because I think its important to understand that these same types of division exist within the community of believers and within each community of believers.

Dan pointed out an article by a Christian woman stating that “Christians aren’t called to have amazing sex.” This article is also interesting in its treatment of abstinence but more interesting to me is his comment:

I don’t know where the problem lies, but my reaction to that article was one of “this is consistent with many interpretations of Christian theology and philosophy, although many of those wouldn’t explicitly point out that connection, and I’ve no idea if that’s a majority or not”.

I have, over the years, come to think that confirmation bias was the source of much of my earlier anti-religious fervor, and that the perils and flaws of religion are largely the perils and flaws of humanity, but I do think that the saner branches of modern Christianity could be doing a better job of presenting a positive view of the religion.

The problem is that it isn’t just the atheists who have been pigeon-holed. I think we all are. Atheist, Hindu, Protestant Christian, Catholic Christian, New Age, Pagan…. all of us are expected to believe the same thing. The problem is that while we may all have our pigeon-holed religious, or nonreligious, beliefs we also all have our own personal spiritual beliefs that is who we each are.

With some of us our spiritual beliefs and our religious beliefs are closely in tune but with others those two types of beliefs are violently conflicting and there is a range with others from sort of in tune to mildly conflicting. And it is in this conflict or lack of conflict that we see the types of religious personalities found in study of atheists that I first referenced.

The saner of us will recognize that we have to be true to our own spiritual beliefs and adapt our religious beliefs to them.