Staff Soapbox

‘Wealth redistribution’ is detestable

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I won?t discuss my voting decisions here, but I have to say I haven?t been particularly happy with either presidential candidate.

The ideal presidential platform, in my opinion, would combine fiscally conservative economic policies with secular, humanistic social values. Neither of the recent candidates, or their running mates, fit those views closely enough for me to get terribly excited about them. But of course a choice is necessary, for better or worse.

One concept brought up in the recent campaign?and one which I particularly detest?is wealth redistribution. I don?t think anyone?s success, assuming it comes by honest and legal means, should be punished, which is precisely the effect such a scheme would have.

Imagine if we could somehow pool all the money in the country, and then divide it equally among everyone. I don?t know the precise amount each person would get, but it would be be a lot. Those who work hard would soon be back to having large amounts of money, but those who act as though the world owes them a living would soon be back to where they were before, waiting to be spoon-fed.

I was wondering while wandering?

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I was wandering the streets of Hillsboro last week when I noticed a sign in the window of Paula Hayen?s pottery shop saying she was closed to care for a sick goat.

There?s no problem with that. There?s perks to being a CEO in the pottery industry, and Paula was only exercising one of them, taking care of a sick goat.

Science of ‘soul’ could reduce our ills

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There are two important areas of science that I think apply directly to a thorough understanding of human nature?neuroscience and evolution.

As the human species grows in its understanding of both of these, I believe we?ll find ways to combat a number of the societal ills with which we are currently beset. Not necessarily all, just some.

Not long ago I finished reading an excellent book by science writer Carl Zimmer, called ?The Soul Made Flesh.? Zimmer writes about the history of the study of the brain and mind and he covers a fair amount of English history that is intertwined with that medical history.

A moment ‘outside the box,’ please

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I?ve always enjoyed listening to former Marion County Commissioner Howard Collett because of his ability ?to think outside the box.?

For instance, I have heard Howard recommend planting the county?s dirt roads to buffalo grass to hold them in place from erosion and wear.

Such thinking requires a person to have the ability to leap from more commonly considered paths to those that usually are not thought of, but may end up having greater value.

But this article isn?t about dwelling on Howard?s merits, no matter how great they are. It?s about jumping out of the box to consider something new?and Howard?s buffalo-grass idea was an illustration.

This article is also not an opinion on whether the bond proposal based on a 1 percent sales tax to build a new county jail on the November ballot should pass or fail.

Facing a cruel universe with science

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Author Philip K. Dick once said, ?Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn?t go away.?

The best tool human minds have devised for understanding that reality is the scientific method. The greatest obstacle to increasing public understanding of that tool?especially in America?is that many people view the method itself as hostile to their way of thinking.

More often than not, it seems, people want to believe what they believe in spite of conflicting evidence or with no evidence at all. In those receptive to it, science works to pull back the reins on uncritical thinking.

WayneEnglerDadinUniform.jpg

Oh my Father (Veteran’s Day tribute from a son)

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WayneEnglerDadinUniform.jpg
Wayne Engler, a World War II veteran of the First Armored Division, currenly lives in a nursing home in Overbrook.

Oh my Father,
what am I to say
to you who woke
with the thousands of dead
around you many mornings,
so much so,
that you tell me,
being around the dead
doesn?t bother you.
I fear death
as I know we all do,
even with faith,
as you must too,
because you tell me
the Ten Commandments include
?Thou shalt not kill,?
so you must be going to hell,
you say.