Economic growth vs. economic justice

One of my biggest concerns is the blatant inequality of wealth in many societies and how that often translates into total injustice. Those who are raised in wealthy families tend to remain wealthy. And where there is wealth, there is also power. Meanwhile, those who come from poor families tend to remain poor. Because there are a finite range of resources in any society, those who already have wealth also have access to the highest technologies sooner than others, thus enabling them to maintain and even increase their wealth still further at the expense of the impoverished. And I’m not just talking about individuals, but about nations as well. The United States is far, far richer than Afghanistan  and will probably always remain so. Thus, while America is on the cutting edge of technology, the people of Afghanistan still live largely like they did a century ago, because they simply cannot afford the latest computers, cars, or private jets.In a capitalist economic system without any restraints, the rich will get richer and the poor remain poor until finally you have a few ultra rich and masses of the poor that will never have a chance to get better. And because cash flow then drops to minimal levels due to the tendency of the rich to hoard their fiances while the poor cannot even spend much money, the capitalist system collapses under its own weight.Karl Marx forsaw this. His mistake was to assume there was no way to prevent this and it was actually a good thing. Wrong! A restrained capitalism in which the government taxes the rich highly to prevent them accumulating too much wealth for themselves and does not tax the poor at all is both just and more productive in the long run. That is why I cringe whenever I heard about President Bush taking credit for his tax cuts for the wealthy helping the economy grow. Such growth will not last forever, of course. I’d rather have economic JUSTICE and STABILITY rather than merely GROWTH.

Why did Communism fail?

When I look at Communism, I see a system that had entirely good intentions in the beginning but also had flaws that became more and more obvious as it was put into practice. It is ironic to me that the proposed solution to the abuses of capitalism, resulting as they did from the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a few, was to take that wealth and power and transfer it all to the GOVERNMENT! That’s a bit like treating a burn by putting the burn victim into boiling water. So the whole point of Communism was a farce from the start, but those who followed it acted like religious fanatics, never allowing its contradictions to really impact their minds until it was too late. Yet they claimed to be atheists? What HYPOCRITES!!!

Communism failed because it had the same results as extreme capitalism, concentrating power in the hands of a few elitists. If the cure is as bad as the disease, why bother?

A critical test of common descent (evolution)

While there are ways to experimentally test the process of evolution, known as natural selection, by mimicking it artificially, ways to test the historical issue of evolution, known as common descent, must rely on making observations and making predictions of the outcome of those observations.Inside the cells of all Eukaryota (plants, animals, fungi, and protists) are organelles called mitochondria. Likewise, inside the cells of plants are organelles called chloroplasts. Both mitochondria and chloroplasts have their own DNA and are thought to be descended from bacteria that took up residence inside the larger cells. In any case, the DNA in those organelles are completely different from the DNA in the nuclei of those same cells.

We can take the DNA of cell nuclei and check them to see if the differences between those of various organisms can enable us for build a family tree of those organisms. The more similar their nuclear DNA is, the more closely related they are. But since mitochondria and chloroplasts also have DNA, we could also take them and check to see if we could build up a family tree that is the same as the one we would build up with the nuclear DNA.

Indeed, there is no reason, if all life was produced by a single recent act of creation, for the DNA of the mitochondria of all animals to be significantly different from each other. So if I was a Creationist, especially of the young Earth kind, I would predict that it would be impossible to make a family tree from mitochondria DNA, or if I did, it would be completely different from the nuclear DNA. But if I was testing the theory of common decent, I would predict that the readings in animals of both their nuclear and mitochondrial DNA would produce the SAME FAMILY TREE in all cases! This would make perfect sense if the mitochondria and the rest of the cells have been evolving together ever since they first came together over a billion years ago.

Mitochondrial DNA is already used in forensics to determine who the mother of a child is, while nuclear DNA must be used to determine the father of that same child. This would only be an extension of that function, since the parents of the child must be of the same species, or at least very closely related, to even produce offspring at all.

A Real Skeptic vs. a Denialist

A skeptic is defined as someone who reserves judgement on an issue until enough evidence is found to support a claim beyond a reasonable doubt and also clearly defines what would make him disbelieve a claim. This is scientific thinking.

By contrast, a denialist has no such defined limits, either of belief or disbelief. The denialist starts from a position of dogma, asserting opposition to an idea by presenting a contrary idea as absolute truth and interpreting all evidence according to that unalterable dogma, rather than draw conclusions based only on the evidence. This is the opposite of scientific thinking, although denialists often use scientific terminology to make their positions seem legitimate to fool the ignorant.

Denialism vs geuine skepticism is found in debates over evolution vs. Creationism, global warming, religion, and politics. If there were no denialists, most of those debates would have either ended long ago, or would be a lot more cordial than they tend to be.