Catholics, Protestants, Church of England, the Kirk, Presbyterians, Puritans, Divine Right of Kings and Parliament

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 1st, 2014

Politics 101

(Originally published January 26th, 2012)

English Catholics and Protestants were Fiercely Religious and willing to Kill or be Killed for their Faith

To understand the founding political structure of the United States you need to understand 17th century Britain.  The run up to the 17th century.  And the Protestant Reformation.  When Christianity split into Protestants and Catholics.  And their beliefs and practices.

Catholics are born with original sin.  Protestants aren’t.  All Catholics have a chance to go to Heaven.  God sorts out the Protestant’s going to Heaven before birth.  Doing good deeds can help Catholics make it to Heaven.  They won’t make any difference for Protestants.  Catholics burn away their sins in Purgatory.  Then comes Judgment Day.  Clean souls go to Heaven.  Unclean souls go to Hell.  Protestants go straight to Heaven or Hell when they die with no layover in Purgatory or judgment.  Catholics believe priests have special powers and the Pope is infallible.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics have saints, altar rails, candles, pictures, statues and stained glass windows.  Protestants don’t.  Catholics believe priests change the wine and bread at Communion into the actual body and blood of Christ.  Protestants think they just represent the body and blood of Christ.

These are some significant differences.  Especially in a time when everyone was fiercely religious.  And did everything in this life to prepare for the afterlife.  Even buy an indulgence from the Catholic Church to buy their way through Purgatory and into Heaven.  One of the pet peeves of Martin Luther that he included in his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 Germany (which was then a collection of German princedoms).  This was serious stuff for the laypeople.  Who were willing to kill or be killed for their faith.  Which they did a lot of in Britain.

When Queen Elizabeth died King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England

King Henry the VIII hated Martin Luther.  Was a staunch defender of the faith.  But he wanted a divorce.  So he could marry a woman who would give him a son instead of more daughters.  But he needed the Pope to grant him this.  And the Pope refused.  Henry VIII also wanted to get the Catholic Church out of his affairs.  So he created an English church.  The Church of England.  With him as the guy in charge.  At first his church was going to be protestant.  Fully anti-Pope.  But he had Parliament pass the Act of Six Articles that made his Protestant Church very Catholic.  After Henry VIII died succeeding rulers pulled the Church back and forth between Protestantism and Catholicism.

Edward VI pulled it back to Protestantism.  Then that bread and wine issue came up again.  So they wrote a new prayer book that was deliberately vague.  Which caused the Catholics to riot.  When he died his sister, Queen Mary, took the throne.  An ardent Catholic.  Out went that new prayer book.  In came Catholicism.  And she arrested and burned Protestants at the stake.  Then she died.  And in came Queen Elizabeth.  A Protestant.  So the Church of England became Protestant again.  With a little Catholicism mixed in.  But it wasn’t Catholic enough.  So the Pope excommunicated her in 1570.  Angry, she oppressed the Catholics.  Yet the Protestants weren’t happy, either.  That little bit of Catholicism was just way too much for their liking.  Especially those hardcore Calvinist Protestants (the people we call Puritans even though at the time it was more a derogatory term).  Who Elizabeth then arrested and executed.

There was a Protestant uprising in Scotland and they, too, broke from the Catholic Church.  Without consulting their very important friend and ally.  Catholic France.  Which was home for an exiled Mary Queen of Scots.  A Catholic.  But she didn’t have the power to fight against the Protestants.  So she joined the fight against the Catholics.  But she had some Catholic baggage the Scottish couldn’t forgive and they forced her to abdicate anyway.  Her son, James VI, became king.  The Church of Scotland was Presbyterian (Calvinist Protestantism).  But Scotland had a lot of Catholics as well.  The Scottish Parliament made James the head of the Scottish Church.  The Kirk.  Which was a problem for the Presbyterians.  Because they said a king couldn’t be the head of their church.  When Elizabeth died James became King James I of England.  Changed the spelling of his name from ‘Stewart’ to ‘Stuart’.  And became the head of the Church of England.  Who the Presbyterians said was way too Catholic.

King James I believed in the Divine Right of Kings and Hated Parliament

When Mary Queen of Scots abdicated James VI was only a baby and raised by a Presbyterian handler.  His Regent.  Who ruled for James until he came of age.  Who must have been strict for James did not like the Scottish Presbyterians.  Who were very similar to English Puritans.  Elizabeth had oppressed Catholics and Puritans.  Who were now both looking for a little relief from King James I.  James met with some Puritans and Catholic bishops.  The bishops resented having to meet with Puritans.  And the Puritans wanted to do away with the bishops.  But James preferred Catholics over Puritans.  So he persecuted the Puritans.  Some of who embarked on a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to religious freedom in America.  Where they would allow anyone to practice any religion they chose.  As long as they chose Puritanism.

Now even though James preferred the Catholics there were a lot of Protestants in England.  And a strong anti-Catholic sentiment.  After all England’s two great enemies, Spain and France, were Catholic.  So he continued some Catholic oppression.  One Catholic took great offense to this and decided to do something about it.  Blow up Parliament.  And the king.  Robert Catesby planned the Gunpowder Plot.  But someone warned the government.  And they caught Guy Fawkes in the cellar surrounded by gun powder just before he could light the fuse.  They sentenced Fawkes and the other conspirators to death.

James was not a fan of Parliament, either.  It was different in Scotland.  There they did pretty much what he wanted.  But the English Parliament didn’t.  And this really bugged him.  For he believed in the Divine Right of Kings.  Parliament didn’t.  And they told him so.  Also, Parliament controlled the purse strings.  If he wanted money, and he did, he would have to work with Parliament.  Or find another means to pay for what he wanted.  He chose to find another means.  He forced people to loan him money.  And even sold a new hereditary title.  The baronet.  But it was never enough.  When he died the kingdom wasn’t as rich as Elizabeth left it for him.  Worse, he left a political mess for his successor.  King Charles I.  Who became the first king whose subjects put on trial.  And executed.  Following the English Civil War.  Which he, of course, lost.

The Radical New Ideas Sown in the 17th Century would have a Profound Impact on the American Founding Fathers

King Charles I ruled in 17th century Britain.  A momentous time of change.  In Britain.  The Old World.  And the New World.  A king would be tried for the first time by the people.  Religious scores would be settled far and wide.  Attempted, at least.  And new states would rise in the New World where they would live under the religion they chose.  Governed by representatives of the people.  Who governed at the consent of the people.  Radical new ideas.  That were sown in 17th century Britain.  And would have a profound impact on the American Founding Fathers.

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Scotland wants to Keep the Pound in a (somewhat) Independent Scotland

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 8th, 2014

Week in Review

The Greek crisis happened because there was a currency union without a political union.  The Eurozone set some pretty strict limits on deficits and debt to join.  Why?  Because people in the Eurozone would all be using the same Euro.  So they didn’t want one country running up deficits or their debt.  Because if they did they wouldn’t just be messing with their economy.  They would be messing with the entire Eurozone economy.

Well, that’s what Greece did.  They were spending so much money that they had large deficits that added to a large debt.  A euro-denominated debt.  Which meant a default would raise borrowing costs for other euro-denominated debt.  Raising the borrowing costs for the Eurozone.  So to avoid that required other Eurozone nations to help Greece with their debt.  Requiring higher taxes in the more responsible countries of the Eurozone to pay for the irresponsible spending of Greece.  Neither option (default or rescue package) being a popular option.  Especially for the Greek people.  For the rescue package came with strings.  And the big one was austerity.  They had to stop spending so much.  Which meant a lot of people lost some of their government benefits.  Making them very unhappy.  Leading to some rioting in the streets.

Had there been a political union this would not have happened.  For there would have been only one entity borrowing and spending Euros.  One entity taxing the Eurozone nations.  And one entity printing money.  Much like the federal government in the United States.  And London in the United Kingdom (see Scotland’s referendum: Salmond says independence will benefit whole UK posted 3/4/2014 on BBC News Scotland Politics).

An independent Scotland with a strong economy would benefit the whole of the UK, First Minister Alex Salmond has told a gathering in London…

“I believe George Osborne’s speech on sterling three weeks ago – his ‘sermon on the pound’ – will come to be seen as a monumental error.

“It encapsulates the diktats from on high which are not the strength of the Westminster elite, but rather their fundamental weakness.

“In contrast, we will seek to engage with the people of England on the case for progressive reform.”

But Tory MP Mr Mundell said that Mr Salmond was saying that a choice to leave the UK and become independent “means staying exactly the same as we are now”.

He added: “By definition, that simply cannot happen.

“No one should be under any illusion that voting for independence means getting independence, which means becoming a new country outside the UK.

If the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis has taught us anything it’s that a currency union without a political union is not a good thing.  An independent Scotland would eliminate the political union there is now.  And the reason why England does not want a currency union with an independent Scotland is because of what happened in the Eurozone.  It doesn’t work.  At least, it doesn’t work well.  Which begs the question why do they want independence but not complete independence (keeping the pound)?

One can only surmise so they can have more autonomy over their taxing, borrowing and, of course, spending.  Perhaps to spend more.  Creating larger deficits.  And a greater pound-denominated debt.  Which would be of great concern to other holders of pound-denominated debt.  The rest of the United Kingdom.

It is unlikely that independence would lead to a stronger Scottish economy.  Or a stronger UK economy.  If it did then the whole point of the Eurozone would be a lie.  To create a larger economic zone to compete with the large economic zone that is the United States.  Because bigger is better.  At least in terms of GDP.  The British Empire was bigger than the United Kingdom is now.  And the United Kingdom is bigger than a United Kingdom without Scotland.  And an independent Scotland would be smaller than all of the above.  So if you want to maximize GDP you would want to maximize the size of your economy.  Not shrink it.  Which leads one to believe that the reason for independence is something other than economic.  Because the UK is too English?  Perhaps.  Whatever the reason let’s just hope everything works out for the best.  For the United Kingdom did make the world a better place.  With great people like Adam Smith from Scotland.  And John Locke from England.  To name only two of the greats to come from the United Kingdom.

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Britain and Scotland disagree over Scottish Currency in an Independent Scotland

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 16th, 2014

Week in Review

The Eurozone was a grand idea to make an economic zone that could compete against the United States.  A United States of Europe, if you will.  But the Eurozone has suffered a sovereign debt crisis that was unavoidable.  As many analysts have identified the problem causing the Eurozone all its sovereign debt woes.  The lack of a political union.

The solution they say is for member states to give up some of their sovereignty and allow a Eurozone government have more control.  Like the United States of America has.  Which means putting even stricter controls on member states when it comes to their spending.  Which, in turn, would limit their deficits.  And their borrowing needs.  Which brought on the sovereign debt crisis in the first place.  Excessive spending beyond their ability to pay for with taxes.  Normally not a problem for other countries when another country spends itself into oblivion.  Unless, of course, there is a currency union with that country.  Which makes their problems your problems.  Problems that are impossible to solve without a political union.

The Eurozone sovereign debt crisis illustrates that a currency union without a political union will not work.  Which makes the movement for Scottish independence very interesting (see Britain warns Scotland: Forget the pound if you walk away by Belinda Goldsmith, Reuters, posted 2/13/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Britain warned Scotland on Thursday it would have to give up the pound if Scots voted to end the 307-year-old union with England, declaring the currency could not be divided up “as if it were a CD collection” after a messy divorce…

The message was aimed at undermining the economic case for independence and one of the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) key proposals – that an independent Scotland would keep the pound…

The debate has intensified in recent weeks with Bank of England chief Mark Carney cautioning that a currency union would entail a surrender of some sovereignty…

The SNP [Scottish National Party] has indicated that if London prevented a currency union, an independent Scotland could refuse to take on a share of the UK’s 1.2 trillion pounds ($1.99 trillion) of government debt which Britain has promised to honor…

Osborne said the nationalist threat to walk away from its share of UK debt would mean punitively high interest rates for an independent Scotland and was an “empty threat”.

“In that scenario, international lenders would look at Scotland and see a fledgling country whose only credit history was one gigantic default,” Osborne said.

Currently there is a political union between Scotland and England.  The United Kingdom (UK).  And Scottish independence would go contrary to what some analysts say is needed to save the Eurozone.  Political unity.  The problem in the Eurozone is that no one nation wants to give up any of their sovereignty and have some distant power tell them what they can and cannot do.  The way some in Scotland feel about London.  That distant power that governs the United Kingdom.

The British pound is one of the world’s strongest currencies.  A product of the powers in London.  Because they have political control across the UK.  If they lose their political control over Scotland will it damage the British pound?  If the Eurozone is any measure of a currency union without a political union, yes.  So it will be interesting to see what happens between these two great nations.  Whose people made the world a better place.  People like the great Scotsman Adam Smith.  And the great Englishman John Locke.  To name just two.  So whatever happens let’s hope it’s in the best interest of both countries.  For countries everywhere enjoying economic freedom and human rights can thank these two countries for their contributions to the British Empire.  Which helped spread the best of Western Civilization around the world from the United States to Canada to Australia to Hong Kong.  And beyond.

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Catholics, Protestants and the Gunpowder Plot

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 5th, 2013

History 101

The East-West Schism of 1054 gave us the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church

Constantine the Great won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 AD) thanks to divine intervention.  Or so the story goes.  The Christian God communicated to Constantine and his soldiers in a vision on the eve of battle.  If they put the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek on their shields they would be victorious in battle.  So they did.  And they were.  Thus beginning Constantine’s transformation from paganism to Christianity.

Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire.  And persecuting Christians was a national pastime.  But Constantine changed all that.  By first decreeing religious tolerance with the Edict of Milan (313).  And following that up with the First Council of Nicaea (325).  Where Christian bishops met to resolve some of their differences.  And try for the first time to reach a consensus for the Christian church.

In time Christianity would spread throughout the empire.  Through northern Europe.  And all the way to Britannia (Roman Britain).  But things were a little different going east.  Where the eastern Christians did not see things the same way the western Christians did.  Leading to the East-West Schism (1054).  Giving us the Roman Catholic Church in the west.  And the Eastern Orthodox Church in, of course, the east.

King Henry VIII was no fan of Martin Luther and he defended the Catholic Faith

The schism between east and west would prove to be a costly one.  The Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) went to free the Holy Land from Islam.  The European Crusaders were from the Latin Catholic Church.  Who never made it to the Holy Land.  But they did sack Constantinople.  Where the Latin Crusaders slaughtered Orthodox Christians.  Weakening the Eastern Roman Empire.  Opening the door for Ottoman conquest (1453).  And making the way clear for Islam to spread into Europe.  So instead of freeing the Holy Land from Islam they brought Islam into Christian Europe.  But that wouldn’t be the last Christian-on-Christian fighting.

In 1517 Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses attacking the Roman Catholic Church.  In particular its selling of indulgences to buy your way into heaven.  A funding scheme by Pope Leo X to pay for the rebuilding of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Thus kicking off the Protestant Reformation.  A schism in Western Christianity.  Splitting up Christianity in Europe between the Catholics and Protestants.  Leading to centuries of warfare.  Especially between Catholic Spain & France and Protestant England & Germany.

In England King Henry VIII was no fan of Martin Luther.  And he defended the Catholic faith.  But he had a problem with the Pope.  For he wanted a divorce from his queen.  Katherine of Aragon.  So he would be free to marry Ann Boleyn.  Well, the Pope said ‘no’.  So Henry said goodbye to the Roman Catholic Church.  And set up the Church of England.  With Henry himself as the head of the church.  Soon England was full of Catholics and Protestants.  And they fought each other to maintain the true faith.  Bitterly.  And cruelly.  The Church of England would swing between Catholicism and Protestantism through these turbulent times.  From Henry VIII to Edward VI to Queen Mary to Elizabeth to James I.

James continued Elizabeth’s Persecution of Catholics which led to the Gunpowder Plot

James I was King James VI of Scotland.  On the death of Elizabeth he moved south and took the English throne.  Becoming James I of England.  Scotland was Presbyterian (which fell in the Protestant camp).  The Presbyterians did not like the Church of England for they felt it was virtually Catholic.  Something the Catholics would disagree with.  The Puritans (basically Protestants) also criticized the Church of England for being too Catholic.  Which annoyed Elizabeth.  So she persecuted both Puritans and Catholics.  James was raised a Presbyterian but he hated Presbyterians.  And Puritans.  Who he thought were nothing more than Presbyterians who spoke more eloquently.

So the Puritans were a thorn in James’ side.  This animosity between the Puritans and James would lead to the Puritans leaving England and eventually landing in the New World.  James hated Puritans so much that he preferred Catholics over them.  However, Elizabeth had taken England into a very anti-Catholic direction.  And he did not want to appear to be soft when it came to Catholics.  So he made life unpleasant for them.  Even banished Catholic priests.  Sick of this persecution of Catholics someone did something about it.

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The gunpowder treason and plot
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

Robert Catesby planned the Gunpowder Plot.  To rid England of anti-Catholic rule.  The plan was to blow up Parliament by filling a cellar beneath the House of Lords with barrels of gunpowder.  But someone tipped off Lord Monteagle.  Authorities arrived in the cellar to find Guy Fawkes surrounded by barrels of gunpowder, a fuse in one hand and a match in the other.  Leading to a new holiday in Britain.  Guy Fawkes Day.  Where people burned effigies of the Pope.  To celebrate the Protestant victory over the ‘Catholic’ plot that tried to topple the government on the 5th of November in 1605.  And providing even more animosity between Protestants and Catholics in England.  Which would later erupt in the English Civil War (1642–1651).  But today Guy Fawkes Day is just about fireworks and celebrations.  Without the religious overtones it once had.

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Is the NHS Computer System Crash in Scotland a Harbinger of what is to come with Obamacare?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 5th, 2013

Week in Review

One of the keys to making health care better under Obamacare is by digitizing our medical records.  To allow the swift sharing of our personal information with medical providers.  A one-stop-shop, if you will.  Where everything you would ever want to know about someone (income, Social Security number, home address, names of family members, embarrassing medical conditions, etc.) is but a click away.  All sitting nice and tidy in one massive database.

Hmmm, wait a tic.  Isn’t that kind of dangerous?  I mean, is there anything more frustrating when you can’t get your balance at the bank because the computer is down?  But that’s only a banking system.  I’m sure that would never happen with a national computer system for Obamacare that is guarding our most private and personal information (see NHS IT staff hopeful about fix for Glasgow health board area posted 10/3/2013 on BBC News Glascow & West Scotland).

Scotland’s largest health board has said its IT system is working again after a two-day crash saw hundreds of appointments and procedures cancelled.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it still does not know what caused the problem which affected 11 hospitals.

The health board said no patient information had been lost and data gathered during the crash would be manually added to update the system…

Mr Calderwood said the “unprecedented” systems crash related to the health board’s computer network and the way staff connected to clinical and administrative systems.

“The situation is that as users log on they go through a system called Microsoft Active Directory, a router system which recognises users and allows individual access to our clinical and administrative support systems,” he explained.

“This was corrupted over the weekend which became apparent when staff logged on to the system on Tuesday after the holiday weekend.”

Although the problem has been resolved, NHS GGC still does not know what caused it.

“You know, Mrs. Smith, I’m not happy with the grade you gave me for my paper.  That could hurt my scholarship chances for college.  So let’s make a deal.  You fix my grade and I won’t tell anyone about your HPV and your vaginal warts that you contracted when you were in high school, you filthy whore.”

In this day and age do we really want to make it easier for people to steal our identities or extort us?  They said no patient information was lost but how much was copied?  Which is a rhetorical question as they could never know.  Something happened.  But they have no idea what.  But there is nothing to worry about they insist.   Just because kids can hack into some of the most secured computer networks in the world what are the chances that someone hacked into theirs to steal most private and personal information we have in our lives?

Obamacare did not get off to an impressive start.  With the whole system going offline for repairs within the first week.  It would be sad if we remember these as the good days of Obamacare.  Before hackers began stealing our most private and personal information.

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FT177: “For democracy to work you need responsible citizens who will temper their wants with knowledge and experience.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 5th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The British Subjects were bothered by their Protestant King having a French Catholic Wife

King Henry VIII had a falling out with the Pope.  And broke away from the Catholic Church.  Putting England on the path to becoming Protestant.  Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Protestant Reformation the resulting conflicts between Catholics and Protestants were really horrible.  And bloody.  Some of England’s greatest enemies during that time were Spain and France.  Both Catholic.  But this Catholic-Protestant animosity was not limited to her foreign enemies.

Religion played a large part in the English Civil War (1642–1651).  In fact, it started it.  When King Charles I tried to impose an English prayer book on Presbyterian Scotland.  To have a singular religion in England and Scotland.  Which the Scottish didn’t embrace.  And pushed back on King Charles.  Who then wanted to teach the Scottish a lesson.  With an army.  But to raise an army he needed money.  Which meant he had to call Parliament.  And when he did they weren’t all that keen on spending money for another war.  Then one thing led to another.  Resulting in a war between supporters of the king.  Cavaliers.  And supporters of Parliament.  Roundheads.

But there was another religious element.  The king’s wife.  Henrietta Maria.  Of France.  Who was a proud practicing Catholic.  This bothered a lot of people.  The king having a French Catholic wife in a Protestant country where they were still executing Catholics.  For practicing religion wrong.  And now the king had a Catholic wife.  Who they believed was turning the Protestant king Catholic.  In fact, they thought that English churches even looked too Catholic for their liking.  And they did something about it.  They smashed idols.  Altars.  Vestments.  Stained glass.  Etc.  Anything that you might find in a Catholic Church they destroyed.  Believing their churches should be properly Protestant.  Plain, boring and dull.

When Hostilities broke out the Anti-Catholic Sentiments among these British Americans were as Strong as Ever

About a hundred years later we come to the American Revolutionary War.  Another war between the British people.  Great Britain.  And the American colonists.  Who had grown into their own people.  And did not like the mother country treating them as second class citizens in the British Empire.  They didn’t like the taxation without representation.  Or their mercantile economic policies.  Which limited the colonists to raw material suppliers.  That they had to sell to Britain.  Ship on British ships.  Then buy only British goods.  Shipped on those same British ships.  Goods often manufactured from their own raw materials.

When George Washington settled his accounts with his British agent he didn’t like what he saw.  The British mercantile house was profiting more from his labors than he was.  And it pissed him off.  For George Washington was an astute businessman.  One of the few planters that actually made a profit in Virginia.  And the current system with Great Britain was just bad business.  So when talk of independence came around he was quick to sign on.  Both for principle.  And for business.  For he was an old man.  Who knew a lot.  And experienced even more.  One of the privileges of being an old man.

When hostilities broke out the anti-Catholic sentiments among these British Americans were as strong as ever.  And when General Washington’s soldiers expressed those sentiments publically the general quickly put an end to it.  For the memories of the English Civil War were not that distant.  He did not need to make his task more difficult by adding in that Catholic-Protestant animosity to the current struggle.  Especially when there was an attempt to get Canada to join their cause.  Which was recently French Canada.  A colony of Catholic France.  Before the British defeated the French in the Seven Years’ War.  Making French Canada British.  So the Americans were counting on cashing in on Canada’s anti-British sentiments.  And hopefully France’s anti-British sentiments.

Americans were able to Win the Peace because they didn’t Need Government to tell them how to Live

The Canadians didn’t join the Americans.  But the French did.  And General Washington avoided defeat for 8 years.  And won the American Revolutionary War.  Against the mightiest empire in the world.  A remarkable feat.  Then Washington won the peace.  Which was even more remarkable.  For revolutions rarely end in peace.  Because these conflicts are typically civil wars.  Where brother fights brother.  And when brother fights brother the fighting gets especially brutal.  With bitter feelings of animosity.  Like those between Catholics and Protestants.  Which they often just can’t shut off after the fighting is over.  But the Americans could.  And did.  Which is why their democracy worked.  When so many others have failed.

America’s experiment in self-government worked because of men like George Washington.  Responsible citizens who tempered their wants with knowledge and experience.  Who saw the bigger picture.  Who knew when to stand on principle.  When to compromise.  And when to leave things the hell alone.  Not acting on passions.  Or emotions.  Not acting like children.  But adults.  Who knew they couldn’t have everything they wanted.  And went without a lot of the things they really wanted.  For with liberty came personal responsibility.  You were free to do pretty much whatever you wanted to do.  But that personal responsibility kept you from doing a lot of the things you shouldn’t do.  By exercising restraint.  Which our Founding Fathers exercised after winning the Revolutionary War.  There were no reprisals.  No vengeance.  Only law.  Where justice was blind.  Something that didn’t happen during the French Revolution.  Fought but 5 years from the close of the American Revolution.  But unlike the American Revolution the streets of France ran with blood.  Where vengeance ruled the day.  And justice wasn’t blind.

This is what makes the American Revolution different.  It was the character of the men fighting it.  Men of the Enlightenment.  Selfless men.  Who put the country first.  Instead of settling old scores.  Helped in part by a short history in the New World.  And a long history in the Old World.  As they were able to learn the lessons of history.  Without having centuries of wrongs to right inflaming their passions.  Exceptional men.  And exceptional circumstances.  Something the French just didn’t have.  Which is why the streets of France ran with blood.  And why there were many fits and starts to their republic.  While the Americans were able to make theirs work from the beginning.  Because of the character of its people.  Who were not used to a ruling power subjecting them.  Who expected no one to take care of them.  And just wanted their government to leave them the hell alone.  So they could work hard.  And provide for their families.  And their ideal form of government was one that let them do just that.  Not one that was a big part of their life.  Or one that provided for them.  Made them dependent on it.  The Americans were able to win the peace because they didn’t need government to tell them how to live.  They chose to live harmoniously together.  Thanks to a character honed by their religious beliefs.  And having exemplary men to emulate.  The Founding Fathers.  This is why the Americans were able to win the peace.  Why the French were unable to win theirs.  And why the Egyptians are struggling to win theirs.

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Environmentalists are Killing Birds with their Big Spinning Wind Turbine Killing Machines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 29th, 2013

Week in Review

Wind turbines are bird killers.  As their large blades slice through the air.  Chopping anything that is unfortunate enough to get in the way of those large, heavy, rotating blades.  Birds die flying into these killing machines whether they’re part of a large wind farm.  Or just one solitary wind turbine providing green energy to save the planet (see Rare white-throated needletail bird dies after flying into wind turbine off coast of Scotland by Euan Stretch posted 6/28/2013 on the Mirror).

Hundreds of twitchers travelled the length of the country to see the “bird of the century” – only for it to fly into a wind turbine and die.

Bird-spotters were ecstatic about the first UK sighting of the rare white-throated needletail since 1991.

But their excitement soon turned to horror when it hit the 120ft structure’s rotating blades…

The bird’s body has since been handed over to local conservationists.

James, 38, was joined by fellow twitcher Mark Batten, 49, who said wind turbines were a serious danger for birds.

He added: “This wasn’t even a turbine on a huge wind farm, it was a solitary turbine to provide power to a small community.

“There is huge concern in Scotland about plans for big wind farms and the danger they would pose to big birds of prey like golden eagles and sea eagles…

Website Rarebirdalert.co.uk recorded the death today and said it was “widely dubbed the bird of the century”.

It’s rather ironic, really.  The environmentalists won’t let firefighters cut firebreaks in forests because it may disturb the forest habit of the spotted owl.  Or the kangaroo rat.  And farmers can’t irrigate their land in California’s Central Valley because delta smelt are getting sucked up into irrigation pumps.  So they shut the pumps down.  And interrupt our food supply.  So something else way down the food chain can eat and procreate.  For these are endangered species.  Protected by the federal government.  So forest habitats burn down.  Killing these forest dwellers wholesale.  Destroying homes.  As well as killing people.  Just so we don’t disturb their environment.

These same environmentalists are pushing to reduce greenhouse emissions to save the environment.  So their beloved creatures can frolic on a pristine planet.  Unspoiled by man.  So they push for more wind energy.  Things with moving parts that can and do kill birds.  While the coal-burning power plants sit there with no moving parts that are a hazard to flying birds.  It is even not that uncommon for a bird to enter a power plant through a broken window to build a nest out of the elements.  That’s how dangerous these plants are to the birds.

There is no manmade global warming.  At least none that we can’t explain away by other means.  The environmentalists have been predicting since the Nineties that if we don’t act right now it will be too late to save ourselves from manmade global warming.  That the dying would only be years away.  And here we are.  Some 3 decades away and still living strong.  Even going through a cooling period.  Thanks to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).  Warming and cooling cycles of the oceans (due to sunspot activity) redirecting the low-level jet stream.  Which real scientists have actually found the historical record supports.  Unlike those models that project doom and gloom if we don’t act right now.  Because 5 minutes from now will be just too late.

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The Problems in the Eurozone may Influence Scottish Voters in their Independence Referendum

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 27th, 2013

Week in Review

During the Roaring Twenties the American economy was giving the economies of Europe a run for their money.  The Europeans, accustomed to running the world for so long, looked at the economic prowess of America with concern.  And began to talk about a United States of Europe to compete with the economic juggernaut across the pond.  But when Calvin Coolidge chose not to run for a second term the progressives got back into power.  And Herbert Hoover put an end to that surging economy.  Causing a stock market crash.  And throwing the country into recession.  Which FDR turned into the Great Depression.

So there was no United States of Europe.  But there would be a European Union one day.  And after that, a currency union.  The Eurozone.  To compete against the economic prowess of the United States.  But a currency union without a political union.  Without a single fiscal and monetary policy to support that currency union.  Which turned out to be a problem.  For without that political union the currency union was only as strong as its weakest state.  In the Eurozone that state was Greece.  Whose unrestrained government spending caused a debt crisis that threatened to bring down the entire Eurozone.  Unless the other members stepped in to bail out Greece.  Which they have.  But the crisis hasn’t gone away.  For the central governing authorities can only ask Greece to cut their spending.  Which there is a lot of opposition to in Greece.  Putting a lot of pressure on the Euro.

Greece isn’t the only problem.  There was Ireland.  Spain.  Portugal.  And Cyprus.  All sovereign nations.  Sharing a common currency.  Making it all but impossible to maintain a uniform fiscal policy throughout the Eurozone.  Like they can in the United States.  Because the United States of America is a political union.  With one central government.  One central fiscal authority.  And one central monetary authority.  Making it hard for any one state to undermine the currency.  (Though California is making a valiant effort.)  Which is the problem they’re having in the Eurozone.  Many of the states are threatening to undermine the common currency.  Making a very strong case against future currency unions without a political union.  Which is something they are considering with an upcoming referendum on Scottish independence (see UK says “no clear reason” to let independent Scotland use the pound by David Milliken posted 4/23/2013 on Reuters UK).

The euro zone’s experience of countries sharing a currency but not a government shows there is no clear case for an independent Scotland to use the pound, the Treasury said on Tuesday.

The nation of 5 million will hold a referendum on September 18 next year to decide whether to split from the United Kingdom, at the instigation of the Scottish National Party that runs the country’s devolved government.

Pro-independence campaigners want Scotland to keep sterling, at least in the early years of independence, and then to decide later whether to switch to its own currency.

But in a report on Tuesday, the Treasury said there was no clear case for the United Kingdom to agree to a formal currency union with an independent Scotland, which would have an economy of a similar size to New Zealand’s…

“The recent experience of the euro area has shown that it is extremely challenging to sustain a successful formal currency union without close fiscal integration and common arrangements for the resolution of banking sector difficulties,” it added.

Scotland and England have a long history.  Not all of it good.  But if we’ve learned anything from history it is that large economic blocs do better than smaller counties.  As the United States demonstrated.  And as the Eurozone tried to duplicate with their currency union.  But as that experiment showed us a currency union without a political union is a recipe for disaster.  If Scotland breaks from the United Kingdom they will have to go all of the way.  And leave sterling.  Which will make independence more difficult.  Having to set up a new currency with everything else they will have to do.  (Such as dealing with separating their military forces from the UK’s.  And providing for their own defense.  Or forming a military union with the UK.  Which will tie them closely to the UK.  Something many Scots no doubt will consider before voting in the referendum.)

Of course if they do and they devalue their new currency it would make their exports cheaper to those nations with a stronger currency.  But that weak currency will make anything they import more expensive.  As Scotland exports and imports a lot of stuff they won’t get a clear advantage in devaluing their new currency.  So they may peg their new currency to sterling.  The next best thing to keeping sterling.  Which will tie them closely to the UK.  Something many Scots no doubt will consider before voting in the referendum.  Perhaps choosing to stay in the UK.  As Quebec chose to stay in Canada in their past referendum.  Who had less in common with the rest of Canada than the Scots have with the UK.  For they don’t even speak the same language.

They could join the Eurozone.  But recent events in the Eurozone does not make that option as appealing as setting up a new currency.  Or staying a part of the UK.  It would probably be best for the rest of the world if Scotland remained part of the UK.  For the world will need at least one strong reserve currency.  As the Euro is making itself less attractive by the day.  The U.S. dollar may hit the wall soon with the amount of debt the Americans are racking up.  And the Chinese are likely to go the way of Japan before the decade is out.  And have their own Lost Decade with all their malinvestments.  The ultimate cause in the fall of state-capitalism.

Now the UK has its problems.  But their decision to stay out of the Eurozone was clearly sound as a pound.  And pound sterling may grow even more attractive as a reserve currency as these other countries continue to rely on easy credit and debt to pay for their burgeoning welfare states.  And/or their malinvestments.  But one thing the UK is doing that none of these other bloated states are doing is making real cuts in spending.  Even in their venerated NHS.  Giving the UK the edge in responsible governing these days.  And really making a strong argument against Scottish independence at this time.  Even for those who hate England.  For it is better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.  Especially during uncertain times.

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Scottish Woman with Swine Flu airlifted to an English Hospital 250 Miles Away

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 24th, 2013

Week in Review

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been suffering from the costs of an aging population.  People are living longer into retirement thanks to extensive medical care.  While fewer people are entering the workforce to pay the taxes that pay for that extensive medical care.  Resulting in longer wait times.  Shortages of doctors and nurses.  Rationing.  And the closing of hospitals.  Or transferring specialties to centrally located hospitals to achieve some economies of scale (see Scottish flu victim airlifted to Leicester hospital posted 2/24/2013 on BBC News South Scotland).

A Scottish woman is in intensive care at a specialist hospital in Leicester after contracting a suspected form of swine flu.

Jennifer Scott was transferred by helicopter from Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary after she was diagnosed with a serious “flu-type illness”…

A spokeswoman for University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said the patient had been flown to Glenfield as it was one of a limited number of hospitals in the UK that had specialist equipment required for her case.

Note that they transferred this Scottish woman to an English hospital.  Where one of the limited hospitals with specialist equipment was located.  But this wasn’t just a stone’s throw over Hadrian’s Wall.  Dumfries, Scotland, and Leicester, England, are about 250 miles apart.  Boston and New York City are just a little closer to each other.  Can you imagine a patient coming down with swine flu in Boston having to be airlifted to New York City?  To a hospital with the appropriate specialist equipment?  Of course not.  But, then again, you haven’t lived under the fully implemented Obamacare yet.

There’s a reason why they had to airlift this woman some 250 miles.  The cost of national health care just doesn’t permit building hospitals like Glenfield Hospital in all of their cities.  The U.S. has an aging population, too.  And will follow the NHS example to cut costs under Obamacare.  Where there will be an ongoing effort to do more with less.  Which will lead to moving specialties to fewer hospitals.  For what is a few hours of travel compared to the cost savings?

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Scotland considering Introducing a Local Income Tax and a Wealth Tax

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 23rd, 2012

Week in Review

The UK is a social democracy.  Which means high taxes.  To pay for all of those government benefits.  Including that national health care.  Exactly the kind of thing a lot of people want for the United States.  Who hope that Obamacare will evolve into a national health service just like they have in the UK.  But there is only one problem with a generous social democracy.  It’s expensive (see John Swinney to consider new local income tax by Simon Johnson posted 6/22/2012 on The Telegraph).

The Scottish Finance Minister said he will examine how to replace council tax with a new levy “based on the ability to pay”, a phrase that has previously been synonymous with the SNP’s argument for a local income tax…

This could see residents taxed on the basis of their savings and share dividends rather than just their income. However, it is not expected that any firm proposals will emerge before the independence referendum in 2014 for fear of angering voters.

This is where Obamacare will lead us to.  To a costly social democracy.  And such a costly welfare state that they will raise our income taxes to pay for it.  And add a wealth tax.  Just like they’re talking about doing in Scotland.  Taxing our savings accounts.  And our investments.  Including our 401(k)s. 

You see, free stuff is expensive.  And is a great disincentive to work hard.  For who wants to work hard and save for their retirement while they will be taxed every step of the way?  Where they’ll tax the income we earn.  Tax the money we save for our retirement.  Tax the inheritance we pass on to our heirs.  And tax the pennies on our eyes. 

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