Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Net Neutrality

When comedian Al Franken became Senator Al Franken, he brought a lot of new ideas along with his new title. His first week in office was an historic one; as he was able to question newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. Specifically, he questioned her on net neutrality. Keeping the Internet from becoming like cable television is a major battle that will be waged after the health care debate.

John McCain, who calls himself computer illiterate, has recently introduced a bill trying to destroy net neutrality. Ironically named the Internet Freedom Act, the bill seeks to allow major corporate ISPs to slow or block bandwidth from sites. In true "health reform" like fashion, McCain is calling the FCC's attempt to keep the net neutral as a "government take-over of the Internet." This coming from a man who claims he has no idea how to send an email. It is obvious, however, that he knows exactly how to take a hand out from big business.

Political Atheism is obviously opposed to this legislation, as this small blog could hardly handle zero readers (there are currently at least 3). And it isn't just this measly blog that should be of concern, but the entirety of the web that isn't wholly owned by major corporations. Unless you think paying money to access Google or Youtube on top of your normal internet fees are cool, net neutrality should be on your short list of "things to make sure your elected officials don't try to screw you over on." Thanks for reading Mom, Dad, and anyone else that actually clicks on the Facbook links I post. Stay skeptical.

The Political Atheist

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Federal Reserve System

The central bank of the United States is so ingrained in our society that most people don't even question its existence. However, few realize the Federal Reserve is as much a part of the government as Federal Express. The rest of this article will be dedicated to how the Fed came into existence, why no one talks about it (in mainstream media), and what people are actually doing to get rid of this ridiculous system.

On a dark and stormy night...
Okay, it wasn't dark or stormy, but Woodrow Wilson's election sure was ominous. Wilson should go down as the worst President in the history of our country. Yes, seriously. He literally signed a pact with the banking industry stating he would create the Fed if he was elected in turn for massive campaign donations. JP Morgan, who happened to be alive at the time, and own major newspapers in NYC (think Huffington Post AND Drudge Report), decided he would create a false financial crisis in order to consolidate the banking power in the US. He published fake reports in the papers he owned and numerous bank runs ensued. The public demanded a solution to this crisis, and the banking industry already had their pre-planned answer in the Federal Reserve; a private, for-profit system of economic slavery.

The Federal Reserve operates like this: they print ( or simply type in any amount of dollars, as the Treasury technically prints money) and loan it to the US government. They loan the country's own money to the country itself. So basically, the Fed makes up money and then gives it to the US with the expectation that the government will give more of that money back to the Fed, as any loaner would expect of any payee. The only problem is that the total money supply has to come from the Fed directly, meaning the government needs to continuously borrow more money from the Fed in order to pay the Fed back (or from countries like China). This borrow to pay system has led to the 97% devaluation of the dollar since the inception of the Federal Reserve system.

The dollar has become so devalued that the Federal Reserve doesn't even publish M3 anymore. M3 is the total supply of US currency (dollars) in circulation. Add that to the fact that the Fed doesn't allow itself to be audited, and you have a recipe for an absurd centralization of wealth that has nothing to with politics or the true state of the economy. And it gets worse. The Fed has the power to regulate interest rates, meaning how much money (in interest) it costs banks to borrow from the Fed.

You see, banks themselves profit off of this system because of a term called "fractional reserve." This means that if a bank borrows ten million dollars from the Fed, it only has to keep a fraction of that ten million ( one million to be exact) and is allowed to loan that money remaining out to consumers. On the surface, this sounds like a great idea, but don't judge a book by its cover. Because once you open it, the veil is lifted, and the true practices are revealed. The banks don't keep the 10% they are supposed to as the reserve, but instead (through a process of loaning out the money to other banks and spreading the wealth as thin as possible with their branches and subsidiaries) use that entire loan of (hypothetical) ten million dollars as their whole ten percent fractional reserve. Meaning that some bank just got a loan for ten million and turned it into one hundred million dollars, simply by loaning it out to other banks.

In all, we have one central bank literally making money up out of thin air, and then loaning it to banks which, in turn, create ninety percent more money out of thin air. This isn't even including the interest payed on all of these loans! That interest on the money the Fed loans to the government is called your income tax. Our taxes pay nothing more than the interest on the loans created out of thin air simply because our country doesn't own its own currency. How absurd is that?

An atheist spin...
Your head may be spinning, but don't fret. Texas Congressman Ron Paul (R), has introduced HR 1207 "Audit the Fed" Bill into Congress and it is actually receiving major support. Call your representative and find out if he or she supports it. The atheist take on this has been well laid out in this article but simply not called as that. This system of fiat currency is literally a way to enslave the population to serve the banking industry for no purpose. Whatever tax bracket you fall in, that percent of your work year goes directly into the pockets of bankers.

Now, the only way for the government and the Fed to keep this system going is by printing more money every year. That is called inflation; inflation devalues the currency and widens the gap between rich and poor. Buying power goes down every year. There are a few solutions to this problem but the atheist view has one.

The government needs to take control of its currency back from the banking industry. There needn't be a system backed by gold or silver, just simply a constant supply of money. No more, no less, every year. If the supply of money in the market is steady, prices will be steady, and the buying power of consumers will actually go up. This may seem a difficult, if not impossible, task of righting our monetary system, but if the government can easily take control of failing banks and other companies, then hopefully the entire banking system isn't completely out of reach. Thanks and remember to question everything, even the suggestion that you should question everything.

The Political Atheist

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Educational System of the United States

In case you have read the previous post on the current health care debate, I'd like to inform you that it only gets worse from here. The educational system of this country is one of the worst in the entirety of the civilized world. The math, science, and reading scores of US students are in the twenties; based on current rankings of countries done by numerous measures. Humans in America are more concerned with American Idol than American IQ. They would rather watch Sunday Night Football than the daily news. The state of our educational system is only the tip of the cultural iceberg of America. An education lacking in science, math, and the arts has lead to nation filled with reality stars and creationists. We are not being taught the basic fundamentals of our universe in America, and it needs to change.

There have been numerous experts in every field, especially math and biology, that have rallied against our current educational system. Mathematicians suggest the glossing over of statistics in high school in favor of calculus has been a gross mistake. If stats, which have everyday-real-life situations, were taught in place of calculus our populace would be more capable of making informed decisions in their daily lives; based on probability or chance. Biologists like Richard Dawkins, retired Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, claim that evolution should be the first aspect of biology taught. Obviously religious opponents fight hard against the teaching of evolution, especially in America. Dawkins also points out that, although he thinks it does, understanding evolution doesn't necessitate an atheistic world view. He points to numerous English clergymen. However, Dawkins also welcomes this challenge, as if all he had to do was show the mountains of evidence for evolution and people would stop believing. Science and math form the foundation of our society, whether you believe it or not, you can still text your friend on your iPhone.

There is no debate between evolution and creationism. Evolution is correct and a mature understanding of it leads to the fact that God is unnecessary and irrelevant in the entire process. This is all that needs to be said on this subject, save a few pokes at other non-existent "teach the debate" arguements. Stork theory of reproduction, for example, is rife with hilarious simmilarities to this creationist garbage; it literally is a shame people do not accept evolution. The atheist viewpoint is once again, very clear; there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for evolution and those who deny it are completely incorrect.

The Political Atheist is not claiming to have every answer to the educational crisis facing our country, but here are a few proposals that could be covered more in future posts. Teach the fundementals of math sooner. Children should be exposed to complex math at a younger age, before they reach high school. Math is the language of the universe and our country is practically mute. Teach the fundementals of physics freshman year of high school. Physics is the base for chemistry, which forms the basis of biology and from these overviews of the sciences students should delve further into the theories and facts these subjects investigate and discover. Discovery is the most exciting process man partakes in; interacting with the far east, Columbus sailing to the West Indies, Armstrong walking on the moon, all of these events are lauded (rightfully or not so) by humans as major points in our history.

Lest we forget history, as those that do are doomed to repeat it. History is the study of how few people can have major impacts on human society, culture, and devolopment. This includes positively and negatively impacting the species as a whole. An understanding of history allows humans to learn from past mistakes and successes, and gives way to a whole new "vitality" of ideas, a pseudo-recycling process of the human experience through the ages.

A few words on physical education are a must as well. America is obese. The country is filled with humans that over-eat and under-excersize, and are not pushed hard enough in the physical classroom. They aren't fully immersed in a healthy lifestyle, or shown how big of a difference staying healthy can have on their lives. Sports build comradaree and competitive spirit amongst children, and a healthy appetite for success is a must.

The atheist point of view is that knowledge is power, more specifically the power to increase the awareness of other human beings, with respect to their life experience. We have the ability to maintain a collective intelligence through books, the internet, and other digital media. Imagine what an overall lift of the average educational level could do for this country, and then think about how we can make it happen. Thank you for reading and think freely.

The Political Atheist

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Health Care Debate

Health care reform is the hottest new fashion on Capitol Hill, and there's no better reason why it should be one of the very first posts on Political Atheist. Before this post gets into the details of the debate, an overview of the United States' current political climate is necessary. Who the major players are, what they want, and why they want it that way, are important as the health care debate itself.

And the People Merely Players...
The Senate, House, and Presidency are all controlled by Democrats. The Republicans are obviously the minority party, but they have resorted to some ridiculous tactics to try and regain control of the government. Fox News has recently been called out as "a wing of the Rebublican Party" by the White House of all places. Which, to no suprise, has garnered ratings boosts and free press for the cable news network. Sean Hannity now calls his show, Hannity's America, "not White House approved." Glenn Beck, recently challenging Rush Limbaugh as the craziest right wing-nut, is telling people that the government purchased GM so it could listen to your conversations through GM's OnStar systems.

Now this would all be fine and perfectly acceptable ratings grabs, until you see the actual elected Republicans resorting to these antics. Just in case you've been living under a rock since Barak Obama has taken office, here is a short run down Republicintoxication. Our country has seen Republicans in Congress ask if Obama was born in Kenya, going as far as to create a bill that would require all Presidents to have their birth certificates verified. A Republican, Joe Wilson from South Carolina, has heckled the President of the United States at a joint session of Congress. Numerous Republicans have said that the Democrats' bill has "death panels," including their Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin. Republicans have held town hall meetings in which they have cheered on their constituants calling Obama Hitler for his plan to extend health care to more Americans; if you can wrap that around your head. And I'm only fitting in the few absurdities I can in a post. In the end, the Republicans are practically bought and put into office by the health insurance companies. They are not coming up with any plans, options, or choices other than to say no to everything.

The Democrats haven't been all sunshine and roses either. They literally have the power to push through any legislation they want, and yet their leadership is too busy trying to please everyone; or so it seems. The majority of the Democrats, around thirty in the Senate and much more in the House, are solidly behind a very robust, almost universal, health care bill. However, there a few Democrats, neatly called "Conserva-Dems," that hold tremendous power in the outcome of the debate. Senator Max Bacchus is one; head of the Senate Finance Commitee, he had the best chance of putting in a robust public option or making the insurance companies accountable for who they insure. However, he pretended to push for bi-partisanship and basically stripped the bill of its guts in order to get one Republican vote; Senator Olympia Snow. That vote, which was cast to vote the bill out of committee, was totally unnecessary as the bill passed 14-9. Senator Bacchus literally played on the side of big insurance and called it bipartisanship. Obama hasn't called him out, instead, he put Bacchus in charge of drafting the entire bill in the first place during the August recess. Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate, has the ability to apply major pressure on other Dems to vote in favor of a strong public option (government option, Medicare Part E, etc) in the bill, and has yet to do that. This has sparked political ads in his home state of Nevada questioning his leadership ability and demanding he support a public plan.

What Atheism has to Say...
The health care debate is a clear no brainer. Every American gets one chance at life, and it should be a basic right to not have to suffer through treatable diseases or go bankrupt trying to stay healthy. The US is the only modern country without universal health coverage for its citizens. A recent TV ad is claiming that 94% of US markets are non-competitive. This week the US Congress finally got around to getting rid of the health insurance sector's Anti-Trust Exemption, something only the MLB shares. The question that still remains is whether or not the Democrats will actually do what they said they would do, and whether or not it will work.

Political Atheism is very strict on this debate; health care should be a basic right of every American citizen, and not a gigantic profit-off-suffering cartel it is currently. The US, its citizens to be exact, are constantly claiming our country to be the best in the world. But in health care we rank 39th. Even lower in infant mortality. These are appalling statistics and the battle is being waged between ideals and dollars, but it appears that more people are choosing to be on the right side of history rather than the full side of their wallets. The debate is still months from over, but it appears the United States will receive some form of reform, even if it takes ten years.

Thanks again for reading, and there will be plenty more about this topic in the coming weeks. Next post, however, will discuss a breif overview of the United States' educational system, which thankfully is not as messed up as our health care system, but not by much.

The Political Atheist

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Atheist Viewpoint

This blog is intended to present a view of politics from the atheist perspective. That is not to say that everything in the entire political spectrum falls under the atheist umbrella, rather that atheism can be used as a launch pad for rational thinking; an idea sorely lacking in the majority of politics. Political Atheism is not left or right; but it can be applied as a base to argue with logic, reasoning, and the knowledge that each of us only gets one chance at life.

Before we dive into politics, an explanation of atheism needs to be addressed. Atheism usually carries a negative tone with it. This is because atheism is of course the non-belief in anything supernatural. It is unfortunate that this term has not only been accepted into popular culture and its meaning well understood, but that there appears to be no way out of using the word altogether. Richard Dawkins puts it fantastically by saying "we don't call ourselves a-teapotists" when discussing the non-belief of an orbiting teapot around Mars, so why should we have to call ourselves atheists? Again, because of the lack of a better, more well understood term. And because my mother told me words will never hurt me.

It isn't all negative. Atheism frees the mind from jumping to ridiculous conclusions when sudden or strange events happen. Even the more mundane parts of life; thanking God for a touchdown you scored or the meal you are eating, become utterly absurd when thinking from a rational standpoint. Atheism, in this sense, promotes critical and creative thinking, and self-awareness. The knowledge that all can and hopefully will be explained, without the interjection of something spiritual or mystical, is the greatest power known to man.

Evolution has shown that the human brain is the key to our biological success. Humans can out-think every other animal on this planet. And in the not-too-distant past, evolutionarily speaking, humans had some very real and closely related competition. It is our enlarged frontal lobes and lowered voice box that form the basic components of creative expression; spawning culture and identity, and they drove the progress of the human race over all other hominids. Humanity is not the end of evolution however, and we should not think that our lives have any more or less meaning because of these facts. Instead, we must understand that our environment and sexual tendencies have allowed us to reach far beyond the top of the food chain and into the realm where, for lack of better words, we are able to play God.

Political Atheism can, in a few ways, be seen as a reaction to the religious right, but it is more broadly represented as the promotion of education, science, and reasoning in every aspect of life. This is not to say that atheism denies the literary value of religious texts, or that people are stupid for believing such myths. Atheism is simply the conclusion people should reach if and when they choose to investigate religion. Donald Morgan states it plainly as "a thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to Atheism."

In the next few posts, Political Atheism will tackle the health care debate, our educational system, and the Federal Reserve. Thank you for reading and continue to think critically and independently.

The Political Atheist