The Rational Bible: Exodus; a Book Review

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The Rational Bible: Exodus (ISBN 978-1-62157-772-0) is the first book in a series authored by religious scholar and talk show host Dennis Prager. Rather than starting with the first book of the Torah (Old Testament or the first five books of the Bible) he begins with Exodus.

Why Begin with the Book of Exodus?

Why not begin at the beginning? Good question. Genesis is the first book and it would seem to be the place for Prager to start. But Exodus really gets to the meat of the matter. It encapsulates the essence of the message. As Prager says, “the Torah: because its central message–that God is good and demands that we be good–is the only belief that will enable us to make a good world.”

It sounds simple and that is exactly what it is; it’s not rocket science. But, up until this point in human history religion had never embraced this simple concept. But this is what Exodus is all about. Monotheism and the system of commandments that are the foundation of a moral existence. Prager says the Ten Commandments are, “the most important moral code in world history, and the central moral code of the Torah.”

Face It; Reading the Bible is Hard

Most modern people have attempted to read the Bible and failed. The translations are ambiguous and the phrasing is cryptic. In this book, however, Prager does the hard work for us. He puts the actual passages in bold and then goes into excruciating detail to explain the meaning. He does so with reason, logic, and the experience of a life-long study of the material. It could be said that he takes a scientific approach to explain the mystical.

Since he works from the Torah rather than one of the many Christian translations, and the fact that he is fluent in Hebrew (where words and phrases can have multiple meanings) his observations are likely the closest thing to reality that a layperson can hope to attain. After all, he has been teaching the Torah verse-by-verse for eighteen years.

The Deeper Meaning of the Plagues Visited Upon Egypt

Exodus of course means  the departure of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses. This was quite a process since the Pharaoh was reluctant to let all this free labor go. One might wonder why God did not just “make it happen” rather to instruct Moses to visit the Ten Plagues upon the Pharaoh and Egypt.

God had to convince not only the Egyptians but also the Israelites that he was the one and only God. The Egyptians worshiped many nature Gods and each plague was directly connected with destroying the belief in one of them. 

The first plague turned the Nile water into blood; so much for the Nile Gods. The second plague, that of the frog infestation, destroyed belief if the frog God and Goddess. So on and so forth.

Moral Absolutes and Moral Relativism in Modern Society

Sam Malone coined the phrase “the Godless Alt-Left” and while it might be primarily click-bait, it’s not far off the mark. The modern left has not only become an anything-goes cult but in a contradictory way has become the intolerant that trumpets the virtue of all-tolerant.

Prager points out that moral truths by definition require God. Scientific truths can be proven or disproved but moral ones can’t. Why is murder wrong? Because it is right there in the Commandments. Keep in mind that there is a distinction between murder and killing which is where the opposition to capital punishment using a religious justification falls apart.

A Book that Warrants Re-Reading

While reading The Rational Bible: Exodus is revealing, instructive, and entertaining, there is so much food for thought in it that it is hard to digest it all in one setting. Like one of those favorite movies, you will find yourself asking, “How did I miss that the first time around?”

This book contains important lessons on politics, morality, religion, history, philosophy, and the direction society is heading.


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What is the Oxford Comma and Why Care?


Please use the Oxford comma
Please use the Oxford comma for clarity

This article was updated on 08/03/18.

It is often said that the English language is the hardest to master, at least as a second language. This is hardly surprising given the vast number of colloquialisms, spelling variants, accents, and word-construction options. (see, I just used the Oxford comma).

English is a fascinating language in that it has roots in many different languages and the origins of many words have been forgotten. For example, did you know that Baltimore is an Anglicization of the Irish Baile an Tí Mhóir, which means “town of the big house?” The same applies to grammar. Few people know that the ampersand character was once in the alphabet, but alas, it was banned long ago. More the pity.

But what is the Oxford comma? Oxford Living Dictionaries tells us, ” The Oxford comma is an optional comma before the word ‘and’ at the end of a list: We sell books, videos, and magazines. It’s known as the Oxford comma because it was traditionally used by printers, readers, and editors at Oxford University Press.  Not all writers and publishers use it, but it can clarify the meaning of a sentence when the items in a list are not single words: These items are available in black and white, red and yellow, and blue and green.”

Should You Use the Oxford Comma or Not?

Ah, one of the great grammatical debates. There are writers on both sides of the fence and very few are convinced to hop over that fence of their own volition.

Largely it is a point of personal preference. I like to use it because it lends an air of clarity to the prose; no room for the reader to guess the writer’s intent. Opponents are likely to cite brevity as a reason to omit it. But seriously fellow scribe, how much real estate does one more comma consume?

Preferences aside, most of us write for money or grades and we must bow to authority. The Oxford comma is stylistic, which simply means some style guides and university professors require its use while others do not. For example, AP Style, the style guide that newspaper reporters follow, doesn’t demand the use of the Oxford comma. That said, your employer may demand it for the sake of publication consistency.

So, each writer must make up his own mind given the circumstances. Meanwhile, the great debate over the Oxford comma rages quietly on.


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The Case for National Soverignty

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Ineffective US/Mexico border wall
Ineffective US/Mexico border wall

This article was updated on 8/10/18.

National sovereignty has been a fundamental concept since mankind first began socializing and defining themselves into groups. It promotes and facilitates a structure of law, a common currency, an armed protection organization and a framework for the production and distribution of food.

Like anything else, the concept of national sovereignty can be used for good or evil. On one end of the spectrum witness a country like Switzerland. On the other end, consider Nazi Germany.

Case Study 1: The Porous US/Mexico Border

The border along the Rio Grande has long been a convenient gateway for smuggling operations. Today the commodity that gets a lion’s share of attention is human cargo, or, illegal aliens.

The political machine has been ineffective in establishing and implementing an effective policy to safeguard the border. Conservative Republicans favor strong control such as more agents and President Trump’s border wall.

Liberal democrats however, tend to favor an open-border concept. Parts leaders such as Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) see illegal immigrants as potential voters.

The effect of the influx of illegals from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala is obvious-crime, overburdened schools, hospital emergency rooms used as primary care facilities and gang activities from the likes of MS-13 who may pose more of a threat that domestic gangs like Antifa.

MS-13 gang member
MS-13 gang member

It is clear that the problems (crime, drug wars, unemployment) that force these illegal immigrants to leave their home countries to sneak across the border pose a threat to the social structure and sovereignty of the United States. Many of these immigrants, even after having been given safe harbor, refuse to assimilate with the host country by learning the language and participating in the community. Taken to its extremes, the eventual outcome is a loss of national identity and culture.

Case Study 2: The Failed Socialist Experiment of Venezuela

For years the South American country of Venezuela enjoyed a windfall profit from the drilling and export of crude oil. An abundance of capital from a natural resource easily acquired made it easy for strongman Hugo Chavez to implement his socialist paradise.

Things went swimmingly for years, even Chavez passed the baton of party control to Nicolas Maduro. Then, everything began to unravel. Venezuela crude oil suddenly had two strikes against it. Modern drilling methods in North America made it easier for countries like the United States and Canada to get at the gold (so to speak) domestically, and Venezuelan crude is very sour (high sulfur content) making it harder to refine. The product of choice, as dictated by the market, is now a no-brainer.

So when the one national commodity dried up, so did the economy. The currency is in the toilet. The citizens are getting hungry and need somewhere to go. With the loss of national stability goes the nation’s sense of national sovereignty. The citizens disperse, often on foot, and enter their neighbor’s countries.

Brazil has been hard hit by this diaspora and their sovereignty is being brought into question as they harbor and care for their neighbors. “We’re very fearful this may lead to an economic and social destabilization in our state,” said the governor, Suely Campos. “I’m looking after the needs of Venezuelans to the detriment of Brazilians.”

One destabilization leads to another.

Case Study 3: European Immigration

Whether one agrees with the European Union’s concept of open borders or not there is no denial that immigration has been detrimental to individual countries and to the EU as a whole since 2014.

According to the National Review, “European Council president Donald Tusk admitted that most of the people coming in have no right to do so: ‘In most of the cases, and that is actually the case on the central Mediterranean route, we’re talking clearly and manifestly about economic migrants.’ He added, ‘They get to Europe illegally, they do not have any documents which would allow them to enter the European soil.’ In other words, these primarily aren’t refugees fleeing war, they’re economic migrants, who are coming in to countries along the southern Mediterranean that already suffer massive unemployment.”

Germany, the UK and France garner the most press about the problems that Muslim immigration is causing. The influx of immigrants over the past decade seem to have taken these countries by surprise although the result of lax policies should have been easy to predict.

Whenever immigrants refuse to assimilate with the host population and the immigrants go so far as to import their own law system (sharia law), the unfortunate and predictable result is the loss of national sovereignty.

What happens then? A breakdown of society and the framework of civilization as we know. You can certainly live under a different social paradigm, but do you want to?


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Why the American Liberal Wing of the Party has the Democrats Floundering


Liberalism defined by Norman Thomas
Liberalism defined by Norman Thomas

Post updated on 01/10/19

The policies and philosophies of both the Democrat and Republican parties are always in flux. At times this is such a slow process that it is hardly noticeable except in retrospect. The Republicans still identify as  conservatives but in action they have become Republicrats. They still talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk. Both John Boehner and Paul Ryan rolled over and gave President Obama everything he wanted.

And the Democrats? They’ve lost their way as well. They have lost the White House, the Senate, most of the state governor slots, and many seats on the municipal level. They have regained the House during the mid-term election and promptly reinstated the delusional Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

The party today is disjointed, comprised of the mainstream sheepls, the liberals, and the truly unrealistic liberals (socialists) such as Bernie Sanders. Well, he’s not technically a Democrat but he ran as one and caucuses with them so the point is moot. It doesn’t help that Hillary Clinton’s illegal chicanery cost him the nomination, something the mainstream party’s faithful and the fickle millennials choose to ignore. Those rules don’t apply to us. Hint, hint, nod, nod.

The Democrat Party Players Have Outlived Their Usefulness

One of the reasons the Democrat party has been experiencing a meltdown is that there are few new players of any caliber. And the old guard is hanging on like frayed bookmarks. They are old and it shows.

Take Nancy Pelosi for example. She has lapses of memory leading to stuttering or mumbling, “Uh, uh, uh.” She has taken to giggling like a 5-year old at the most inappropriate and solemn moments. And when referring to the sitting president Trump she had this to say, “There’s nothing I can work with President Bush on.” Um Nancy, that was over eight years and two iterations of Obama ago?

And Maxine Waters seems to have some neural synapse issues as well. Speaking of the Russians she said, “They have hacked our D-triple C, uh, DNC.” Maxine, it’s your party’s infrastructure; you should know the acronyms by now.  And continuing she said, “As Putin is advancing into Korea.” If she ever had a grasp on basic geography or international politics, it’s faded away like the morning dew.

And let us not forget Sheila Jackson Lee saying, “I stand here as a free slave.” If memory serves, all slaves were freed before her time. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg but they demonstrate that no young guns are stepping up from the ranks.

Societal Changes Have Morphed the Democrat Party

It can be said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies ushered in the age of American liberalism. His New Deal put those policies into practice. This spirit of liberalism embodied the philosophy that citizens were united in a collective enterprise. They banded together to construct a strong nation and protect each other. The mantra they marched to was, “Solidarity, opportunity and public duty.”

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Both sides of the isle will admit that this construct served the country well in its time of need. But times change, technology advances, citizens embrace new concepts of self-identity and relationships, and American liberalism has hardly had feet of clay.

Things really began to change when Reagan ushered in the concepts of self-reliance and small government. The country flourished economically and suddenly traditional liberalism lost its sheen.

The days of all working together for the collective good were gone. The various groups of progressive activists splintered off and began to direct their efforts away from mainstream party politics and toward a broad range of single-issue social movements that provoke liberal anger. The politics of identity is now the name of the game.

Nowhere is this more obvious than on college campuses across the nation. Liberal, tenured professors mold the young minds not with Roosevelt’s all of us together attitude, but encouraging separation along identity lines. Rather than encouraging these young adults to grow up and take responsibility, they provide “safe spaces” where they can play with Legos and finger-paint. And some of these spaces are segregated.

These are the snowflakes that the Democrat party is inheriting. And encouraging, as the mindless bots that they are.

Democrats Have Contradictory Bias Issues

Not long ago the alt-left folks were having fits because a Christian baker would not betray his convictions by baking a wedding cake for a gay couple. Fair enough; it is his business even if Obama would have said, “You didn’t build that.”

But now the tables have turned. Sarah Sanders and her family were forced out of the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia (540-464-4401 comments@redhenlex.com if you would care to opine).

“I was asked to leave because I worked for President Trump,” she said, adding, “We are allowed to disagree but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm, and this goes for all people regardless of politics.”

Yeh, and the Democrats rejoice. Unlike the Christian baker, under liberal rules a bigoted Democrat restaurant manager has the right to refuse business. Because business is their religion? Perhaps. Despite the restrictions they put on them.

No wonder the Democrat party is floundering. They have no rudder, they have no clear direction, and their “leaders” have dementia.


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So Much Hypocrisy, So Little Time

OK, just to get this started, I do not always or often use this blog as a bully pulpit. But, perhaps the time has come. There is so much insanity in the news today. It might be that my advanced age or my meds are having a subtle effect on me, but I think it is time to tell some people to put on their big-girl panties and SHUT THE HELL UP.

  1. Kathy Griffin’s juvenile stunt with the President’s decapitated head. OK, you were more than a idiot for doing it, but now you portray yourself  as the victim of your pathetic stunt? Even CNN fired you. How much more of a loser can you be? Where were you when Obama was trampling on the constitution and illegally surveying citizens without a search warrant? Moron award #1.
  2. The black community criticizing Bill Maher for using the dreaded “N-Word” saying,” Senator, I’m a house n—-a.” Black entertainers and celebrities and rappers and regular black folks on the street delight with using this term to describe their friends. Yo. And it is totally cool with the martini-sipping inner-city hipster types. But if you want to criticize Bill, clean up your own act first. And while I’m at it, drop the term “ho.” Your moron-ness is showing more than your undies on your sagging britches. Moron award #2.
  3. Hillary Clinton not calling it quits. Ok, she lost; get over it. She was so in love with herself she thought she had it in the bag. After all, she was a woman so it was her turn, qualifications and felonies be damned. Now she is blaming the DNC who conspired with her to cheat against Bernie Sanders in the Democrat primaries. Moron award #3.
  4. The “good Muslims.” Well, this is the story that won’t go away. Refugee Muslims in Germany defecating on lawns and raping citizens. The ones in London first raping children and now mowing people down with a truck and stabbing as many as they can “for allah.” Yet the “good Muslims” still welcome terrorists into the mosque and refuse to turn them in. You are complicit. Clean up your own house. Take a stand and drop the “religion of peace” crap. Moron award #4.

Well, these are just a few of the things that have me juiced up and most other writers are afraid to mention. Let me not be the last to remind you: laying down and saying , “la-la-la-la” is your own choice.


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Is Physical Cash and Currency Coming to an End?

There has been a lot of speculation lately over the fate of physical cash (folding money as Grandpap used to say). Many self-appointed seers have stated that it is no longer needed because we have a plastic card with a chip, by golly!

Folly, I tell you. To rely on electronics and fancy machines for making our transactions is convenient. Yes, I will give you that. I do it myself. But a problem arises when the grid falters; everything electronic grinds to a halt. And woe to the Captains of Complacency.

The problem becomes more severe in an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack. Everything digital or electronic (other than things which have been properly shielded) go bye-bye.

The Government’s Interest in a Cash-Free Economy

The government has a huge interest these days in a cash-free marketplace. Every transaction by strip or chip can be recorded and made accessible and recordable since those freedoms against intrusiveness have been eroded. So long, Bill of Rights.

The government databases can record your purchases, your preferred stores and websites, your personal demographics, oh, and your bank balance and credit card info. Feel all snuggly and warm now? Didn’t think so.

Is there an upside? Sure! Organized crime and drug dealing will have to scramble to find new ways to keep up business as usual. But you know that they will so to assert “not” is a straw man argument.  However as a citizen, where do you draw the line between personal anonymity and “We’re just here to help?”

Public Acceptance?

To this writer it is amazing how many people are willing to give up their personal rights to the state for convenience at Starbucks. According to Reuters.com, “Overall, 34 percent of respondents in Europe and 38 percent in the United States said they would be willing to go cash-free, according to the survey conducted by Ipsos for the ING bank website eZonomics.”

I suppose that most of the respondents never went through the aftermath of a natural disaster like a hurricane when there were no electronic transactions for basic necessities for weeks. Cash is king, baby. Be ready for cash or bartering.


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Japan Slaughters Over 300 Whales

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This article was updated on 8/18/18.

The Japanese are known for all manner of odd things — quirky cartoons, schoolgirl fetishes, and more. But by far the most curious is their tradition of slaughtering whales. Certainly the Japanese consume their fair share of seafood, but their whale meat consumption is way down since the aftermath of WWII so it hardly justifies their current hunting tradition.

What is the Japanese Fascination with Slaughtering Whales?

So why do they do it? Just this year they indulged in an annual Antarctic hunt that killed more than 300 of the mammals. It’s not for the meat and it is probably not for perfume (ambergris is produced by sperm whales and valued as an ingredient for women’s perfume for some reason).

No, the Japanese Fisheries Agency says the annual slaughter is really, “research for the purpose of studying the ecological system in the Antarctic Sea.”

Wow, didn’t see that coming. But then hey! I’m not a highly-paid Japanese press agent, right?

According to Yahoo News,  “Under the International Whaling Commission (IWC), to which Japan is a signatory, there has been a moratorium on hunting whales since 1986. Tokyo exploits a loophole allowing whales to be killed for ‘scientific research’ and claims it is trying to prove the population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting.”

Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds like crappola in all its glorious splendor.

The History and Future of Whales Slaughtered by Japan

Te Japan Whaling Association to have begun around the 12th century However, Japanese whaling carried outon an industrial scale began in the 1890s when Japan started to participate in the modern whaling industry, at that time an industry in which many countries participated. Japanese whaling activities historically have extended far beyond Japanese territorial waters and even into whale sanctuaries protected by other countries. So nothing about their behavior is benign or even scientific and it is not in the realm of national sovereignty, it’s an international issue.

They also go so far as to claim that opposing their practices has nothing to do with being green. Ironically, they call their activities “capture surveys.”

Today, Japan is on board with Norway’s arguments on its own whaling activities. The thin argument is that it’s entitled to continue whaling because of the place whaling holds in its cultural heritage, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The whale meat from these hunts is consistently sold in shops and restaurants, which negates the “scientific” justification. To take the charade further, it is showcased at an annual food festival that, in some cases, features the butchering of a whale for onlookers.

As far as the future is concerned, Japan claims that as it is simply conducting ongoing research on whale maturation. It affirms that in the absence of “verified” non-lethal sampling methods, whales would continue to be slaughtered until the feasibility of non-lethal techniques is established. It seems that the motto of the Japanese whale slaughtering industry is, “We must eliminate them to find out how to conserve them.” That sounds like Nancy Pelosi, also a windbag.

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Sorry Bernie, Socialism Doesn’t Work

America’s Democrat Fascination with Socialism


Hungry Venezuelans queue up for food scraps after socialist government collapse.
Hungry Venezuelans queue up for food scraps after socialist government collapse.

This article was updated on 03/06/19.

Bernie Sanders was a strong contender for the Democrat party nomination during the last presidential election. In fact, there is much (well-deserved) speculation that he only got edged out by Hillary Clinton and the DNC’s dirty tricks.

Bernie’s issue with middle America was that he is a Democratic Socialist. Most folks in flyover country don’t want free stuff; they want jobs. Of course the youth want free college and forgiveness of student loans but for those of us that actually have to foot the bills, that is not such a promising prospect.

Bernie Sanders is not alone in his desire to control every aspect of our lives and sweep the Constitution away like so much rubbish. Upstart first-term congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) is busy making waves. Her antics and lack of knowledge about all things economic and otherwise are beginning to rankle even her fellow Democrats. The first term is supposed to be about learning from established colleagues but she will have none of it.

Her outlandish ideas are exemplified by her proposed “Green New Deal” which aims to allow the government to regulate bovine flatulence (cow farts), eliminating air travel (although she doesn’t mind using it), and a government-enforced retrofit to her green standards of all buildings across the country. That’s right; the property owner doesn’t get a say. This, people, is what Democratic Socialism has in store for you.

What is Socialism?

Socialism is defined as a range of economic and social systems that are characterized by social ownership and worker’s self-management of the various means of production as well as the political theories and the movements that are associated with them.

Social ownership is a broad term. It may refer to forms of public, collective, or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity There are a number of varieties of Socialism and there exists no single definition encapsulating all of them, however, social ownership is the common thread woven throughout its various forms. The problem is human nature. Why should I work hard if most of the resulting gains are to be distributed to those less disposed to do so? The incentive is removed, society stagnates. Entrepreneurs and visionaries fade away. All that’s left is a glut of worker-bots and government central planners.

Welcome to Venezuela

A recent Foxnews report tells us that, “a new nationwide survey shows that in the past year nearly 75 percent of the population lost an average of 19 pounds for lack of food.”

This in a country that should be enjoying riches from its oil reserves. But looking deeper there are two issues. First, and most problematic, is that Venezuela has a fondness for socialism rather than a free market.

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Yes, free stuff works fine when the oil is flowing but basing your economy on just one commodity is dangerous, nay, it is suicidal. The problem with their oil, as abundant as it is, is that it is extremely sour crude. This simply means that the sulfur content is so high that hardly any refineries will process it. It just costs too much to refine and the extracted sulfur itself is dangerous and difficult to dispose of.

It’s Simple Economics

It is no secret that the market today is flush with sweeter crude due to shale sands, fracking, and other technologies. So why import and refine Venezuelan crude at higher prices? The issue will only get worse since President Trump approved the Keystone Pipeline. There is no prospect for any improvement for the common Venezuelan citizen. People will starve and medical care will stay on its downward spiral.

So there you have it. Socialism, a reclusive and closed country, a reluctance to develop agriculture, manufacturing and tourism; it is simply a recipe for disaster. The common people suffer. We see it not only in Venezuela but also in countries such as North Korea. Socialism has only worked in one place as far as I know. That would be the Panama Canal Zone before President Carter gave it away. Ironically, it was a federal agency run by that bastion of free enterprise, the USA. So yes Bernie, you were wrong from the get-go.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” — Winston Churchill

But the problem is that Bernie is a Utopian. He sincerely believes socialism is the way to “govern” society. Here’s his take in his own words:

Bernie wants to mold America after the (former) Soviet Union and the impoverished Cuba. Both are failed states, which is a fact that he will not acknowledge. Democratic Socialism in America would be no different.

How Socialism Destroys Societies

By its very nature socialism destroys society; no intent is needed. This has been proven over and over. Unfortunately, zealots such as Bernie Sanders always think they can make it work. The previous attempts just didn’t do it the way Karl Marx envisioned it. But, history has proven that…

  • It destroys economic growth. It penalizes success and rewards failure. When the government confiscates money from successful people and redistributes it to the less successful, the successful have no incentive to build businesses and create jobs. Why should they? Just look at Greece today. Once socialism bottomed them out, rather than rethink their economic system, they simply turned to the European Union to keep them afloat. An entire country asking for redistribution from the EU. That might be called macro-socialism.
  • Free speech goes out the door. Just look at the extreme speech codes in Canada. Speak out against the government in China and you are going to jail. Socialist governments can’t abide honest, informed debate about its merits between citizens (or, comrades if you will) who are free to choose or reject it. So they stifle it with regulation.

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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.