Pharyngula

Some Christian fanatics are concerned, quite reasonably, about the economy, and have chosen, quite absurdly, to try and correct the problem with prayer. So far, so typical, but then … well, they picked a peculiarly oblivious way to do it. They prayed before a statue of a golden bull on Wall Street.

i-c907f786276859389a17080ae236c78c-nice_idol_you_got_there.jpg

We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems. While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.

Just a clue: there’s this book called “the bible” that these people claim to follow, but I suspect they’ve never actually read it, or they might have seen Exodus 32.

i-addb588ca83a4270e2d86f0ea61fefec-golden_calf.jpg

1And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

 2And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.

 3And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.

 4And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 5And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.

 6And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

 7And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:

 8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

 9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:

 10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.

They even made a movie of it, if cracking a book is too highbrow.

Trust me, this is one of those things in the Judeo-Christian heritage that never ends well. There’s this jealous god who does smitings.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    October 29, 2008

    Holy fuck.

  2. #2 Shaden Freud
    October 29, 2008

    Biblical fail.

  3. #3 Bardiac
    October 29, 2008

    You couldn’t make that up, you know?

  4. #4 Matthew
    October 29, 2008

    I didn’t know I was in the Twilight Zone. And I just bought my new irony meter, too. I have no words.

  5. #5 24fps
    October 29, 2008

    Luckily there isn’t a smiting god actually in existence — so the worst that’s likely to happen to this bunch is that they’ll look silly while losing their shirts.

  6. #6 Sven DiMilo
    October 29, 2008

    No statues of Baal were available, y’see…

  7. #7 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    October 29, 2008

    They should have focused on the south end of the north facing bull. It would be much more appropriate.

  8. #8 Emmet Caulfield
    October 29, 2008

    Holy fuck.

    No, holy cow.

  9. #9 jb
    October 29, 2008

    OMG, OT guys had earrings!! Just like today! We’re doomed to be smited!! So I expect the stock market to drop 2000 tomorrow, and I’ll never be able to retire.

  10. #10 Troff
    October 29, 2008

    Fantastic. Please, let me be the first to say:

    “BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!”.

    I needed that. I really did. Thank you.

    I know it’s off-topic, but I wanted to mention I found a method for scaring off JWs from your Saturday mornings (and since I had to close my blog, I couldn’t boast there). Just point out God’s evil nature as documented in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. They actually walked off saying “well, you have your opinion and we have ours”… as I was saying “wait, please! I want to understand why you still believe the things you do in spite of this new explanation…!”

    I’m hoping they didn’t hear, as they were leaving, my partner asking me “Tsk, did you break their brains?”

    We now return you to tonight’s episode of “Financial Idol”, the Christian Round…

  11. #11 The Chemist
    October 29, 2008

    My response as soon as I hit the words “golden bull”:

    You’re shitting me.

    You’re shitting me.

    You’re shitting me.

    You’re shitting me.

    No! You’re not shitting me! Hole-eee-Crap! That is seriously fucked up. I’m totally sending this to friends.

    Wow.

  12. #12 Larry
    October 29, 2008

    This is simply so unbelievably weird, I can’t even think of something really sarcastic to say about it. You just can’t make this sillier than it is.

  13. #13 Feynmaniac
    October 29, 2008

    LMAO!!! I am always amazed about how little Christians actually now about their whole religion.

  14. #14 Prillotashekta
    October 29, 2008

    Ha-Ha!

    Oh, the irony is just too rich!

  15. #15 sailor
    October 29, 2008

    Do you all remember when they were praying for oil prices to come down?
    Well they did along with the economy. I guess you have to be careful what you pray for!

  16. #16 Bob Carroll
    October 29, 2008

    No other gods before me? Golden calf? Folly to be wise!

  17. #17 Carlie
    October 29, 2008

    Oh no they didn’t.
    Seriously, I had one of those kids’ illustrated Bibles that specifically illustrated this exact story, and it did not end well. I knew this when I was 10.

  18. #18 Dave Lager
    October 29, 2008

    The New Testament makes it quite plain how Jesus views those who worship money. Don’t these people ever get beyond the bits that bang on about The Gays?

  19. #19 H.H.
    October 29, 2008

    That’s good.

  20. #20 S.Scott
    October 29, 2008

    LMAO! Oh – it hurts!! LoL!

  21. #21 John Morales
    October 29, 2008

    Language fails me – I am at a loss for a superlative to express the dramatic irony I find here.

    Unbe-fucken-lievable! doesn’t come close to it.

  22. #22 Monado
    October 29, 2008

    As a young person, I never understood why the people made a golden calf. Someone eventually made the point that cows are a fertility symbol and it was probably a reversion to a former religion or a borrowing of their neighbors’ religion.

  23. #23 Zombie
    October 29, 2008

    Man, you just can’t make stuff like this up…

  24. #24 The Chemist
    October 29, 2008

    I had to make the LOL.

    Enjoy.

  25. #25 Michelle
    October 29, 2008

    Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… Seems we atheists know the bible better than these pipes for brains do…

    They sure love pissing their god off.

  26. #26 Crudely Wrott
    October 29, 2008

    Oh, how quickly they forget.

    I can’t imagine anyone familiar with the Bible not knowing the story of the Golden Calf. And now these Mooncalf-worshipping interlopers actually think . . .

    Boggled. I am truly boggled.

    What’s next, Xtians promoting Egyptian gods as examples of being in touch with the natural world? I’ll wager three quatloos that this happens within the next cycle. Any takers?

  27. #27 Wowbagger
    October 29, 2008

    Christians who know nothing of the bible? There’s a shock. This shows not only ignorance of the OT – with the whole idolatry thing – but also the NT, with what JC said about how we shouldn’t hoard wealth.

    [Biblical] epic fail!

  28. #28 amphiox
    October 29, 2008

    I’m a little rusty on my bible, but is there really any substantial part of said book that actually “bangs on the Gays.” My understanding was that the strongest prohibition was actually found something like twenty-third on a list of fifty-something proscribed practices that served to distinguish the Hebrew tribe from their neighbours.

    In short of list of little things, all ethically on par with “thou shalt not eat shellfish on Tuesdays after 5:00pm”

    I should also point out that in this case it is a golden BULL, not a golden CALF. And therein lies the fundamental difference which makes it ok! (It is a subtlety that only an appropriately honed religious mind can ever hope to comprehend. This, in fact, is the fundamental purpose of seminary.)

  29. #29 Peter
    October 29, 2008

    Thanks. You made me spit soda all over my keyboard.

    It came out my nose and everything.

  30. #30 Paper Hand
    October 29, 2008

    Monado @ 22:

    The story of the golden bull was political. In I Kings chapter 12, King Jeroboam of Israel (there were two kingdoms at that point, Israel, in the north, and Judah in the south) set up two golden calves at the northern and southern ends of his kingdom. The probable reason for that was that the Ark of the Covenenant, which was located in Jerusalem, capital of the southern kingdom of Judah, had two golden statues on it. Jeroboam wanted to keep his people from worshiping at the rival Jerusalem, and so set up his own temples. So, the Jerusalem priesthood created the story of the Golden Calf to discredit Jeroboam’s act. Quoting from my 101 Myths of the Bible:

    The Judahite throne was a modest-sized chest with two golden statues on top to serve as a footstool [for God]. Located in the temple, few people had access to it. The Israelite throne [that is, the two statues at the northern and southern end of Israel] straddled the entire kingdom, bringing into its embrace everyone within Israel’s borders but pointedly excluding the territory of Judah.
    The Judahites could not allow such a rebuke to go unchallenged so they invented a story about Aaron sinning against God by building a golden calf. They took Jeroboam’s words about the golden calf and put them in Aaron’s mouth, but they forgot to edit the plural form and change it to the singular.

  31. #31 Mammon
    October 29, 2008

    From the good people who put “In God We Trust” on the dollar bill. Disgusting yet not surprising.

  32. #32 Blake Stacey
    October 29, 2008

    The Chemist:

    Ooh, ooh, let me play too!

  33. #33 Nerdette
    October 29, 2008

    Oh, the sweet sweet taste of irony in the evening. This makes me so happy.

  34. #34 I am so wise
    October 29, 2008

    In few decades, the director of Idiocracy will be hailed as a 21th century Nostradamus.

  35. #35 Kel
    October 29, 2008

    In few decades, the director of Idiocracy will be hailed as a 21th century Nostradamus.

    And Office Space will serve as a documentary…

  36. #36 noncarborundum
    October 29, 2008

    They even made a movie of it, if cracking a book is too highbrow.

    And an opera, in case the Bible is too lowbrow. And a movie of the opera. Something for everyone!

  37. #37 sabazinus
    October 29, 2008

    Now if there were a god, and he was angry about them praying near this symbol, the correct punishment would be for the statue to spring into life and trample them all.

    Now if it were an Elder God…then it would come to life and devour their souls or drive them mad with loud lip smacking noises and perhaps some light flute music. Oh, and numinous ichor, can’t forget that. Buckets of it.

    Either way, the market will continue to be strange until other economic issues settle down.

  38. #38 Doubting Foo
    October 29, 2008
  39. #39 Cuttlefish, OM
    October 29, 2008

    Ya gotta be careful with these Bull statues. Recall that earlier this year (late January), brokers at the Bombay Stock Exchange wanted their own bull statue… turned around.

    As I wrote at the time…

    [...]
    On January 12th this year,
    A statue of a bull was placed
    Outside the Bombay Stock Exchange–
    The steps, behind; the street, it faced.

    The sculpture is a work of art
    Expressing movement, form, and mass,
    But brokers in the building want
    To relocate the statue’s ass.

    The bull’s hind end is magic, see,
    And has the strange ability
    To influence the world, and cause
    The market’s volatility!

    That’s right–it’s not the sub-prime stuff,
    It’s not the housing market bubble,
    But a bronze bull’s butt in Old Bombay
    That must have caused the market’s trouble.

    Don’t fret about your stocks and bonds
    Investments now are clearly sound;
    Just get the Mumbai analysts
    To turn their magic bull around.

    And once you do, please be assured,
    The market will again be steady,
    And we can deal with other things–
    There’s far, far too much bull already.

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/01/now-thats-lot-of-bull.html

  40. #40 folk FAce
    October 29, 2008

    now THAt is funny shit. wish i had seen it first.

  41. #41 Hank Fox
    October 29, 2008

    Future sessions of this faith outreach effort will involve praying over a life-sized statue of Colonel Sanders to block future outbreaks of avian flu, and placing prayerful hands on the TV screen during Roadrunner cartoons to prevent falls during summer vacations at the Grand Canyon (and possibly exploding rocket skates).

  42. #42 Dale Husband
    October 29, 2008

    Maybe it was all meant as a blasphemous joke?

    Besides, Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and money.” Praying for economic recovery seems so anti-Gospel.

  43. #43 Grendels Dad
    October 29, 2008

    OK, so we have Mooby, where is “Buddy Christ”?

  44. #44 Paul Kuliniewicz
    October 29, 2008

    Actually, this has a sort of twisted brilliance to it. If the market goes up, that obviously proves there is a God and that prayer works. If the market goes down, that obviously proves there is a God punishing them for failing to read Exodus. It’s a win-win!

  45. #45 Dagger
    October 29, 2008

    Epic irony.

  46. #46 IasonOuabache
    October 29, 2008

    Oh.Your.Gods!!! That is the most hilarious thing I have seen all week. I just fell out of my chair laughing.

  47. #47 raatrani
    October 29, 2008

    @42

    But you forget – these are the “name it and claim it” insaneo fundies. Wealth is a right, not something to be earned through hard work.

  48. #48 Hairhead
    October 29, 2008

    Radical Christians are often the *most* ignorant of their source material, being that they put all of their faith in authoritarian preachers who rant on for hours and who basically put them into suggestible hypnotic states. As just one example: Stephen Baldwin, the youngest and stupidest Baldwin brother became an evangelical Christian after 9/11 and has been going around for several years preaching a gospel of violence (smite the evildoers, etc.). Last year, an interviewer questioned him on his faith and his knowledge of the Bible, that is, asked him to justify his bellicosity and violence with Bible scripture. He couldn’t. Then the interviewer asked him to recite the Ten Commandments. He couldn’t recite one.

    Get that? Prominent Star-Christian. Couldn’t. Recite. ONE. Commandment.

    So don’t expect any of the fundies you may show this to, complete with Bible testimony, to pay any attention, to think, or to reconsider. They minds (such as they have) have been made up for them by their chosen masters.

    Pod-people, all of them.

    Run! Run! They’re coming for you!

  49. #49 hje
    October 29, 2008

    I think it’s really about the bull representing virility and fertility. Part of the 21st century fertility cult of the religious right, epitomized by the sacred commandment of their newly ordained priestess: “Drill, baby, drill!”

  50. #50 Patricia
    October 29, 2008

    I am stunned.

    Really, this almost poleaxed me.

    Laying on of hands, on the Golden Calf.
    Note PZ’s art above. The calf is a bull calf. Notice also the bare breasted maenad dancing wildly. Pure paganism. The heathen sinners!

    I need a drink. I never thought I would witness this sort of thing being done by “christians” in my lifetime.

  51. #51 Danny Wool
    October 29, 2008

    I hate to tell them that it won’t help the economy. If they really want to help, they should sacrifice an infant to Moloch as well, just as the Bible warns them not to do.

  52. #52 Amanda
    October 29, 2008

    Thanks for the biggest LOL I’ve had in days.

    I can’t understand how they could be so oblivious to their own Bible stories as to go and worship in front of a golden bull.

  53. #53 hje
    October 29, 2008

    Caption: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty apes!”

  54. #54 ggab
    October 29, 2008

    Reading this post was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
    Have you ever seen something that is so staggeringly funny that you are incapable of laughter?
    I’m just sitting here with my mouth hanging open. I think it’s been about 4 minutes since I last took a breath.
    oxYgggen suppllllllly tto braaaynn getttngg dnngeruussly lowwwjhgyu//////////////////////////////

    God? Is that you?

  55. #55 BridgeDweller
    October 29, 2008

    This is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Especially given that the 10 Commandments is played every Easter surely they must have watched that scene at least once.

    How can these book worshipers not know one of the most commonly known stories in their own book? It boggles the mind. Especially given that these are the same people who whine about not being allowed to display the 10 Commandments in public. And they don’t even know the story?

    I think my capacity to enjoy irony has been destroyed. This is just one inanity too many. I mean the crackers, Palin, a multitude of other absurdities and now this…it is just too much.

  56. #56 Zeno
    October 29, 2008

    This is priceless. I’m going to bed with a smile on my face. I hope I can go to sleep instead of being kept awake by my constant chuckling.

  57. #57 Brandon P.
    October 30, 2008

    Reminds me of the people a while back who started a group to pray away rising gas prices. When will these people notice that their allegedly omniscient, omnibenevolent god is not paying attention to these crises?

  58. #58 Aquaria
    October 30, 2008

    I’m fucking speechless.

  59. #59 Kel
    October 30, 2008

    I always wonder what God could pragmatically do in a situation like this. Don’t these people realise that economic systems are wholly in the hands of men? OPEC controls the world oil price, is God going to fudge the numbers on them?

  60. #60 Mulder
    October 30, 2008

    The real scary thought is that these dumbass jesus-blowing fundie wackadoos will be ‘mainstream’ if the senile old fart and Caribou Barbie win the election.

  61. #61 Corydoras
    October 30, 2008

    There sons wore earrings?

  62. #62 Zeno
    October 30, 2008

    Our bovine,
    Who art in bull-pen,
    Merrill be thy name.
    Thy cash flow come,
    IPO done,
    On spec or perhaps on margin.
    Give us this day our daily dole
    And forgive us our overdrafts
    As we forgive those who shortchange against us.
    And lead us not into Chapter Eleven,
    Or worse yet, Chapter Seven.

    Amen.

  63. #63 ThinkingApe
    October 30, 2008

    Oh, Jesus Christ…..

  64. #64 Philip P.
    October 30, 2008

    1. @ 18, the anti-homosexual verse is in Leviticus, which comes AFTER Exodus, so they SHOULD be familiar with the golden calf story. Not to mention that yes, this is part of one of the most popular stories in the Bible and is a major scene in a classic movie that is run on network television every year.

    2. This is why, as a Christian, I put all my faith in God and nothing in other Christians. Yes, I’ll talk to other Christians and go to church when I’m in the mood, but I’m careful to avoid the people that see God as a genie or look for religion to justify what they want to be true, what they already believe. (I think the best sign of faith is when a person can list things they believe that they wish weren’t so; it shows they’re accepting a faith warts and all, and not just tailoring their religion to fit their personal views…but that’s a whole ‘nother rant)

    3. I’m not trying to stir anything up, I just want to ask, do you have to write ‘the Bible’ in all lowercase? I understand you consider it to be (all? mostly?) fictional, but it’s still a book. Any book’s title is supposed to be capitalized, it’s just the proper way. Seems petty to me that you’d presumably go out of your way to write it all lowercase just to underscore that you’re an atheist.

  65. #65 Rey Fox
    October 30, 2008

    Reality outpaces satire again.

    “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”

    Really? Come on, you never know what that capricious fucker’s gonna do! He might just throw a damn tsunami at lower Manhattan to teach you all a lesson in the perils of Mammon worship. He might incinerate all the world’s oil fields (spiriting the greenhouse gases away to Neptune) and send permanent gale force winds through all those wind farms by Palm Springs (thus not only increasing renewable energy, but messing up golf games, two things I favor). You might as well have a ferret market. And anyway, it’s my understanding that no matter if the market is up or down, someone somewhere is getting fucked.

  66. #66 engel306
    October 30, 2008

    I have been there before and I used to think that a secular place. Now my memory is tainted…

  67. #67 John Morales
    October 30, 2008

    Zeno @62, very very nice. Kudos.

    Philip P. @64,

    I just want to ask, do you have to write ‘the Bible’ in all lowercase?

    Well, obviously not, but you should allow oppressed minorities their little pleasures, petty as they might be – note also there’s a mixture in the comments.
    Now, the “wholy babble”, that’s probably intended to be offensive, as compared to “the bible”, which merely indicates that it’s considered no more than a book.

  68. #68 ad
    October 30, 2008

    I must be thick or something, but aren’t they praying to get rid of the bull? In other words, they aren’t actually praying to it, but against it. Never let the truth get in the way of a good public flogging though…

  69. #69 llewelly
    October 30, 2008

    Does CBN hire people with previous experience at The Onion ?

  70. #70 Gary Goldwater
    October 30, 2008

    I thought this must be a fake story. But read this!

    http://www.cbn.com/700club/guests/bios/cindy_jacobs102008.aspx

    Yes, this link is from the Christian Broadcasting Network that is so very popular amongst large numbers of fundamentalist Christians.

    Wow wow wow!

    I can’t wrap my mind around this. Ok…I don’t expect that a person whose main interest is religion is likely to be any kind of expert in biology. But I do expect him/her to have a knowledge of his/her religion’s “fundamentals”. This makes the CBN crowd look REALLY stupid in their own area of supposed expertise.

  71. #71 llewelly
    October 30, 2008

    I must be thick or something, but aren’t they praying to get rid of the bull? In other words, they aren’t actually praying to it, but against it. Never let the truth get in the way of a good public flogging though…

    Praying against nonetheless indicates a belief that the golden calf has power.

  72. #72 Crudely Wrott
    October 30, 2008

    ad, look closely at the picture. Some of them are actually laying hands upon the horns of the bull, er, golden calf.

    I was taught that a good child o’ god should rather lay hands upon the horns of the altar.

    On further reflection, maybe the statue (graven image) is their altar. Their alter altar. Too bad for them that they violate the very first of the commandments. sigh

  73. #73 John Morales
    October 30, 2008

    ad @68:

    I must be thick or something, but aren’t they praying to get rid of the bull? In other words, they aren’t actually praying to it, but against it.

    1. Look at the images at the top of this post.
    2. Read the words in the post:”They prayed before a statue of a golden bull on Wall Street.”

    “Never let the truth get in the way…”
    Well, you practice that, anyway.

  74. #74 Lago
    October 30, 2008

    You really didn’t need to explain the irony of it all PZ. I think it was rather apparent from he get go.

  75. #75 Crudely Wrott
    October 30, 2008

    I should have added, ala the old DoubleMint Gum commercials, “Two, two, two transgressions in one!”

    (An actual count by qualified experts may result is a different count.)

  76. #76 llewelly
    October 30, 2008

    On second reading, this quote from (NSFW) cbn
    indicates that ad, #68, is correct.

    “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems,” she said. “While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”

    The Christians are praying for the bull and bear markets to be replaced with an Aslan market.

  77. #77 Cimorene
    October 30, 2008

    Ok, I almost fell over laughing. That was hilarious.

    Thank you so much for the late-night lulz, PZ :)

  78. #78 N.B.
    October 30, 2008

    I wish I lived in NY so that I could get two large stone tablets with the Ten Commandments engraved on them and walk down the street to where these people were gathered and shout “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”

  79. #79 Wowbagger
    October 30, 2008

    I always thought christianity was bull…

  80. #80 amphiox
    October 30, 2008

    I really liked the original sites comment that this so-called Lion’s Market really boils down to socialism from space.

    I’ve always found it amusing/surprising/perplexing how so many of the religious far right are also fanatical market capitalists.

    If you consider that natural selection and the invisible hand are essentially the same concept applied to different systems, that Jesus basically preached socialism, and that the early Christians were the original communists (small c communist, as in living in communes, sharing all wealth, etc) the intellectual disconnect here boggles the mind.

    Or at least it boggles my mind, which admittedly is small and limited in many ways.

  81. #81 Jadehawk
    October 30, 2008

    Philip P. @64

    “the bible” is not a book title the same as “the lexicon” or “the dictionary” isn’t. “Geneva Bible”, or “KJV” or the “Skeptic’s Annotated Bible” are titles.

    that, plus a lot of us are just too lazy to capitalize stuff. :-p

  82. #82 natural cynic
    October 30, 2008

    @57
    Reminds me of the people a while back who started a group to pray away rising gas prices. When will these people notice that their allegedly omniscient, omnibenevolent god is not paying attention to these crises?

    Uh, have you noticed that prices of a gallon of regular are now almost $2.00 less than they were at the peak and that the price of a bbl. of oil has dropped ~50%.

    @28
    My understanding was that the strongest prohibition was actually found something like twenty-third on a list of fifty-something proscribed practices that served to distinguish the Hebrew tribe from their neighbours.

    The Halakha [Mosaic Law, talmudic law] contain 613 mitzvot or commandments, including many thou shalts and also many thou shalt nots. A lot of them are behavoirs to be observed and behaviors to abstain from – many of which are to separate the Hebrews from the Canaanites and other -ites that the Hebrews had to mix with. Others are daily habits and legal procedures.
    The specific one against homosexuality warrants death. Among the interpretations of that particular commandment [and, of course its translations and mistranslations] have included the idea that this particular one was a strict commandment to not participate in pagan fertility rituals which included female and male ritual prostitution.

  83. #83 Susan
    October 30, 2008

    This really is amazing. You’d think someone at the Magic Bull organizing committee meeting would have raised their hand and mentioned the probability of some negative PR and the great photo op for the atheists. It was such a bad idea, it seems deliberate.

    If god does somehow wrestle control of the economy away from the Golden Calf, though, do you think he and/or she will provide free checking and good rates?

  84. #84 llewelly
    October 30, 2008

    Look Susan. You were the first Two Kings and Two Queens to decide you were too ‘grown up’ to play Narnia games anymore. Aslan might treat you rather coldly, you know.

  85. #85 scooter
    October 30, 2008

    So they are christians, but don’t know one of their own all time classic frightwig stories, astonishing.

    But you would think that amonst christians, there would be some sort of ….
    ….instinctual
    or sub-conscious mechanism that whispers not to pray to things with horns, and hoofs, and all.

  86. #86 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 30, 2008

    I cannot add anything to the sheerest irony of this event. Instead, I hall offer up a tribute to Charlton Heston in song.
    The Golden Calf had been offended!

  87. #87 Raynfala
    October 30, 2008

    It’ll never work. God told me that He’s been heavily shorting small-cap and medium-cap stocks for several months now, and He’s not about to let Himself get taken to the cleaners.

    When His shorts are covered, I’ll let you know.

  88. #88 scooter
    October 30, 2008

    In the foreground of the photo above is someone holding up an irony meter, wearing a protective glove.

    My guess is, the photo was snapped just in time.

  89. #89 dave
    October 30, 2008

    I really never understood Exodus 32. Moses just gets finished receiving the ten commandments, one of which is “thou shallt not kill.” So what’s the first thing he does when he comes down from the mountain? He tells everyone to kill their their brothers, friends, and neighbors, saying that God told him to say it (Exodus 32:27):

    27 Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ ” 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.

  90. #90 octopod
    October 30, 2008

    Does anyone here live in New York and have ties with the Orthodox Jewish community?

    If so…are you in a mood to start some shit? I would, if I were there…

  91. #91 Magnus
    October 30, 2008

    Reality will run the Onion out of business any day now.

  92. #92 John C. Randolph
    October 30, 2008

    Actually, that bull is bronze, so they can avoid being smote on a technicality.

    -jcr

  93. #93 Clemens
    October 30, 2008

    I begin to get an idea of what you do when you study theology.

    You consult the Hebrew original of the Bible and try to figure out whether the “golden” in “golden calf” refers to the material of the calf or to its appearance so you can decide whether a bronze calf would be okay.

  94. #94 Rey Fox
    October 30, 2008

    “I wish I lived in NY so that I could get two large stone tablets with the Ten Commandments engraved on them and walk down the street to where these people were gathered and shout “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?”"

    They’d probably lay their hands on those tablets then. You can’t shame people who have none.

  95. #95 Andreas Johansson
    October 30, 2008

    Don’t these people ever get beyond the bits that bang on about The Gays?

    In all likelihood, they haven’t read the bits about Teh Gays either, just been told by their preacher that the Bible condemns gayitude.

  96. #96 Anonymous Coward
    October 30, 2008

    Does it really surprise you that fundamentalist christians don’t know what’s in the bible? If they really knew what was in it, they wouldn’t be fundamentalists.

    Many probably wouldn’t even be christians, because what’s in the bible is not only ludicrous, but also rather inconvenient. Share your wealth, turn the other cheek, if you call someone a godless fool, you’re going to hell (Read the sermon on the mount for that last one) – does this sound like something the religious right would accept?

    On second thought, many may just not care. Fundamentalism, as odd as it may sound, is not really about religion. If Jesus descended from heaven tomorrow, they’d call him a liberal hippie in league with Satan; no, religion is not followed in fundamentalism, it is just an excuse to feel morally superior while being as bigoted and immoral as you please. Justification, that’s all it is ‘good’ for.

    So if all that matters is the ability to claim some sort of higher on your side – Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Krishna, Thor, Zeus, Amaterasu, doesn’t matter – what’s a golden calf between friends?

  97. #97 WizardJim
    October 30, 2008

    Do you think it’s possible that there’s a secret brain-surgery procedure accessible only to the religious that removes the ability to detect irony?

  98. #98 386sx
    October 30, 2008

    Does it really surprise you that fundamentalist christians don’t know what’s in the bible? If they really knew what was in it, they wouldn’t be fundamentalists.

    Oh I’m sure they know all about the golden calf and all that. I think the preacher dude who organized that is a…

    … drumroll please…

    scammer!

    I don’t thinnk the irony escaped him at all.

  99. #99 Luger Otter Robinson
    October 30, 2008

    The one thing that amazes me is the internal inconsistencies of the bible. You have the Israelites seeing the power of Jehovah (inflicting the plagues on Egypt, parting the Reed Sea and drowning the Egyptian army, feeding the Israelites with manna from heaven for 40 years, etc), and at the first opportunity they start praying to another god. And then in Joshua, you have a prostitute in Jericho betraying her people by aiding two spies, just because she remembered the power of the Israelites’ god in parting the Reed Sea 40 years earlier. Can you think of anything that happened 40 years ago, 1n 1968?

  100. #100 Ryne Hatfield
    October 30, 2008

    fail.

    No question, just fail. This is where I beging to question the sanity of the the general public. Very sad.

  101. #101 386sx
    October 30, 2008

    Here’s the people behind the prayer thingymaboibthing:

    http://generals.org/flv/e-news/no-more-business-as-usual/

    Look how superstitious they are and everything. They say the lord gives them “words” and gullible people believe them. “The lord gave me a word the other day!” Woooooooooo…

    You see that all the time on fundie religious programs nowadays. The lord gives them “words”. And hey, who can argue with the lord.

  102. #102 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    Another response to the financial crisis, photographed on Wall Street (hat-tip to my sister-in-law, Kate).

    http://www.myconfinedspace.com/2008/09/29/jump-you-fuckers/
  103. #103 Wowbagger
    October 30, 2008

    Actually, hang on – they want a Lion’s market? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t Xians have a somewhat…unpleasant history when it comes to lions?

    I’m sure the lions won’t mind. There’s good eating on the average US Xian…

  104. #104 Karl Withakay
    October 30, 2008

    I really don’t get people who pray for lower oil prices or an end to stock market turmoil. Do these people believe in free will or not? Market prices are determined by market activity; buyers and sellers buying and selling- supply and demand. Do they think God is going to alter the free will of all the buyers and sellers in the markets to cause them to behave differently. Is this the same God who didn’t alter the free will of the Nazis that murdered millions of Jews during WWII to make them not execute a plan of genocide?

    There’s enough holes in the concept of a god that stirs the pot of the universe to divert hurricanes aways from cities if and only if people beseech it to, (or sends storms to smite a city of sin) but once a god messes with the free will of people, the whole bet of salvation and damnation is off, because we are no longer making our own decisions.

  105. #105 John C. Randolph
    October 30, 2008

    I tried to build an idol once, but I made it out of straw, and a big bad wolf came and blew it down.

    -jcr

  106. #106 inkadu
    October 30, 2008

    Hairhead:
    Last year, an interviewer questioned him on his faith and his knowledge of the Bible, that is, asked him to justify his bellicosity and violence with Bible scripture. He couldn’t. Then the interviewer asked him to recite the Ten Commandments. He couldn’t recite one.
    Get that? Prominent Star-Christian. Couldn’t. Recite. ONE. Commandment.

    No, what shocks me more is that a Christian can’t justify violence by using the bible. That shows an amazing level of ignorance. The Ten Commandments are in Exodus, but by the fifth chapter of Genesis God has firebombed two cities and drowned the entire world once.

  107. #107 AJS
    October 30, 2008

    Posted by: Rey Fox

    And anyway, it’s my understanding that no matter if the market is up or down, someone somewhere is getting fucked.

    My understanding too. The poor won’t get any richer without the rich getting a little poorer.

  108. #108 Moggie
    October 30, 2008

    #101:

    Look how superstitious they are and everything. They say the lord gives them “words” and gullible people believe them. “The lord gave me a word the other day!” Woooooooooo…

    Hey! I think the lord is giving me a word right now! It’s coming through… yes… it’s… “assclowns”. Praise be!

  109. #109 Mikael Hiort af Ornäs
    October 30, 2008

    What amazes me is that the Israelites not only managed to cast and erect a statue in record time, but that they also was able to learn a dance and perform that as if the golden calf was a Christmas tree. Oh, and one more reflection from the other side of the pond. This financial crisis, doing away with virtual money and leaving you Americans with only nickels and dimes was probably not what Sen. Obama had in mind when he coined his slogan “Change you can believe in” :)

  110. #110 Liberal Atheist
    October 30, 2008

    Surely they did it as some sort of ironic self-distancing sort of warped humour?

  111. #111 Fernando Magyar
    October 30, 2008

    First I laughed, then it hit me, a lot of the so called financial experts are probably Christians and are praying as well! Still, as others here have said, you really can’t make this stuff up…

  112. #112 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    Can you think of anything that happened 40 years ago, 1n 1968? – Luger Otter Robinson

    1968, 1968, now let me see…
    Ah, there was the “Prague Spring” and Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. “Les evenements” in France. Student uprisings in the USA, West Germany, other European countries, Japan, South Korea. The assasinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. The election of Richard Nixon as POTUS. The Tet offensive in Vietnam. Nah, nothing much.

  113. #113 Cuttlefish, OM
    October 30, 2008

    The photograph is worth a laugh–
    They’re praying at a golden calf?
    It might be nice if they’d think twice
    And offer it a sacrifice!

    The Ba’al Street Journal, in its turn’ll
    publish all their acts infernal

    Hmm… you think The Giver can deliver
    And maybe part the Hudson River?
    Give a sign that all is fine
    And part of His proposed design–

    That banks will bail and markets fail
    And senators will go to jail
    All by God’s hand, just as he planned
    And these folks just don’t understand?

    By logic’s rules we learned in schools
    The best bet is… these folks are fools.

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-bull.html

  114. #114 Julie K
    October 30, 2008

    Priceless. Once again proof that fiction can never equal fact for scope of lunacy and irony.

  115. #115 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    If you consider that natural selection and the invisible hand are essentially the same concept applied to different systems, that Jesus basically preached socialism, and that the early Christians were the original communists (small c communist, as in living in communes, sharing all wealth, etc) the intellectual disconnect here boggles the mind.

    I disagree on at least two of these points.

    If you consider that natural selection and the invisible hand are essentially the same concept applied to different systems… – I can see what you mean, but I think there’s a crucial difference. Within human society, natural selection would only occur within an anarchic environment, with no rule of law and no state protection for persons or property. The strong would prey on the weak, and the weak would die out. This would actually be a very inefficient way to run human society; it would prize one characteristic (the ability to deploy physical force) to the exclusion of all others. Since there would be no protection for property, there could be no trade and, therefore, no real specialisation or use of one’s abilities.

    In contrast, the “invisible hand” of the free market can only function within the framework of a stable society governed by the rule of law, in which persons and property, however weak or humble, are protected from interference by force or fraud. This allows attributes other than physical force to be prized, and guarantees the same rights to each individual, regardless of how strong or weak they are. Free, bilateral and non-coercive commercial transactions between people then allow more wealth to be produced – so people are not reduced to constantly struggling for finite, scarce resources. So, IMO, although natural selection and the free market might look superficially similar, they are fundamentally different.

    …Jesus basically preached socialism… – This is a very common misconception. Jesus preached certain personal moral values, which, yes, included sharing one’s wealth with the poor and needy, resting on the commandment of “love your neighbour as yourself”. He did not seek to challenge through political means the inequality in the society around him. There is a big difference between “you should choose to do this” and “the State should, via the threat of coercive force, compel everyone to do this”. Indeed, if you read the Gospel accounts, Jesus did not do what some of his followers wished, which was to lead a Jewish insurrection against the oppressive Roman government. Nor did he condemn the tax collectors or those who profited from others. Rather, he condemned the arrogance of the Pharisees, who were ostentatiously “virtuous” and sought to impose their own purported moral virtues on everyone else. As Mike Huckabee said when asked this kind of question, “The good Lord had the sense not to run for elected office.” Jesus was not a political figure, and he did not promulgate a political ideology.

    As a libertarian, I believe that the State should not seek to impose its own moral values on the populace as a whole – and that this should apply to all issues. Maybe a wealthy person ought to feel obliged to share his wealth with the poor; and maybe God will judge him if he chooses not to do so. Conversely, if he does choose to share his wealth with the poor, he has chosen a path of moral virtue. In contrast, if the State forces him to share his wealth with the poor, where is the moral virtue in his doing so? His free will is overborne, and so he is deprived of the chance to make moral choices for himself. Just as the state should not tell you who to marry or how to pray, it should not tell you what to do with your own money. That is a decision everyone has to make for themselves – and I’m fairly sure Jesus would not have wanted the state to impose his values on those who did not believe in them.

  116. #116 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    My understanding too. The poor won’t get any richer without the rich getting a little poorer.

    Complete and utter nonsense. Wealth is not a zero-sum game. A more efficient economy generates more wealth. Yes, the distribution of that wealth is unequal (as it must be, because (a) human beings themselves are inherently unequal, and (b) government does not have the moral authority to decide who “deserves” or “doesn’t deserve” to receive wealth). But that does not mean that, when a successful entrepreneur makes a profit, he is doing so by “taking” wealth from the poor. He is not. Nor does it mean that the only way to make the poor richer is to confiscate money from those who have earned it and to redistribute it amongst the poor. It is not.

    It’s often wrongly asserted that poverty grew during the Reagan-Thatcher era, and that “the rich got richer and the poor got poorer”. This is simply empirically wrong. The average real income of the poorest people in society actually grew throughout the period, albeit by a much slower rate than those of some other people. Relative poverty and income disparity did, indeed, increase, because, given new opportunities for wealth creation, some people took advantage of them and became very successful, making large profits. But absolute poverty decreased.

    Yes, some resources are finite; but this doesn’t mean that the creation of wealth is finite, or that A having more wealth means that B has become poorer. Let’s look at an example. Imagine A runs a car business, and employs a number of workers. He then develops a new, more efficient way of making cars, which takes less time and uses less energy and fewer resources. This means that, with the same number of workers and the same input of energy and resources, he can make more cars – therefore allowing him to net a bigger profit. He has generated more wealth; and he has done so not by taking wealth or resources from someone else, but simply through making a process more efficient. And A’s innovation is also good for everyone, not just A himself, in the long run. His competitors will be forced to adopt A’s more efficient methods in order to compete; so the price of cars will drop, allowing more people to afford them.

  117. #117 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    so the price of cars will drop, allowing more people to afford them. – Walton
    …and thus increasing traffic congestion, obesity, the confinement of children to their homes, acid rain, greenhouse gas emissions and the rate of oil supply depletion. Things are really not as simple as you’d like to believe, Walton. Those dreaded “externalities” are ubiquitous and huge. Aside from those related to resource depletion and pollution (which are in the medium term the really important ones), consider the current financial crisis. The banks took risks – but they were risking our welfare as well as their own, because of the risk of systemic crisis throwing millions out of work and/or their homes.

    Incidentally, since wealth is one form of power (not to mention status), enabling the rich to buy the best lawyers, lobby politically, buy up intrinsically limited resources such as land, etc., etc., an increase in relative poverty is, for those near the bottom, an absolute decrease in political power – because that is much closer to a zero-sum game. And of course, the rich have used this increased power to further cement their position.

    For that matter you’re wrong about absolute poverty, at least in the 1980s in Britain. Millions were thrown out of work, with devastating effects on the morale of whole communities, and resultant permanent harm to health and social wellbeing, particularly of the most vulnerable, such as children. You’re too young to remember, but pre-Thatcher, a beggar on the streets of Britain was a rare sight. Whenever you see one, remind yourself – there’s part of Thatcher’s legacy.

    Finally, a point you’ve repeatedly ignored: the policies of Thatcher and Reagan – deregulation, privatisation, increased inequality – have culminated quite naturally in the current crisis. How can you ignore the fact that the very policies you trumpet have ended so disastrously – forcing your fellow-ideologues into quasi-socialist solutions to the mess they’ve made?

  118. #118 negentropyeater
    October 30, 2008

    Walton,

    It’s often wrongly asserted that poverty grew during the Reagan-Thatcher era, and that “the rich got richer and the poor got poorer”. This is simply empirically wrong. The average real income of the poorest people in society actually grew throughout the period, albeit by a much slower rate than those of some other people.

    Not true. Average real income (net of inflation) from 1980 to 2005 grew by 25%, but as you well know, inflation does not take into account the increase in the cost of housing, which increased by a tremendous factor during that period (like all other assets such as shares), so that the 25% rise in real income did not translate at all in a rise in purchasing power for the average middle class American household, but actually a decrease.
    In the meantime the DJIA grew by a factor 14 !
    Which means that “economic freedom” and the invisible hand tansferred more than 100% of the growth of the economy in that period to the owners of capital, and a negative amount to labour.
    Nice one.

    Walton, how blind are you ?

  119. #119 Johnb300m
    October 30, 2008

    I find it kind of funny that right in the bible is states that the people said, “make us gods, we want to worship them.”

    I wonder if some others made up the current monotheistic judeo-christian god too?

    You think???

  120. #120 Mikel
    October 30, 2008

    In gold we trust? This is just too sweet :)

  121. #121 spyderkl
    October 30, 2008

    WTF is wrong with people down on Wall Street? Have they been sniffing the cleaning fluid in their offices for too long? Because it looks like they’ve all gone crazy.

    Having said that, I’m totally sending this link to my honey. If it gets past his firewall at work, he’ll have a badly needed laugh about this. Pretty much like I’m having right now…

  122. #122 Ian Smith
    October 30, 2008

    This is a bit silly, really.

    The story from Exodus is about replacing God with a golden calf, and worshipping the calf. The story from the other day is about praying to God, in geographical proximity to the statue of the golden bull on Wall Street which is very symbolic of the current problems. Those things are obviously different, to the point of being almost unrelated.

    You just look a bit silly, mocking someone for an inconsistency which in this particular case they’re clearly not showing.

  123. #123 Stwriley
    October 30, 2008

    First, this proves that irony is not only dead, but drawn, quartered, and thrown in bloody chunks to the crows.

    Second, it’s worth noting that if these good Christians are really trying to revive the luck of the Wall Street Bull, they might have wanted to consult it’s own legend. Traders don’t rub the horns for their luck, but aim a bit lower. It’s those great brass balls that draw the superstitious (or simply silly) to this little monument to market excess. If they really wanted their god to do something, they needed to lay hands on the working part of the beast (so to speak.)

  124. #124 The Chemist
    October 30, 2008

    @Blake Stacey

    You win.

  125. #125 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    Ian Smith,
    You need to look at the photo – people are reaching out to touch the golden bull. If they were actually opposing the idolatry of money, they’d be hacking it to pieces, or at least making clear their contempt for it in some way.

  126. #126 WRMartin
    October 30, 2008

    Poe anyone?
    Live performance art Poe all the way. Right? Please tell say “Yes”.

    Aw dang.

    El estupido grande. Muy grande.

  127. #127 woody
    October 30, 2008

    Ian sez: This is a bit silly…The story from Exodus is about replacing God with a golden calf, and worshipping the calf. The story from the other day is about praying to God, in geographical proximity to the statue of the golden bull on Wall Street which is very symbolic of the current problems.

    Ian, what’s silly is “praying to God” at all. Do a little “science”: Pray in one hand and piss in the other and report back on which hand got damp, will ya?

  128. #128 scooter
    October 30, 2008

    Wowbagger @ 103 : they want a Lion’s market? Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t Xians have a somewhat…unpleasant history when it comes to lions?

    Strictly speaking, once a christian is eaten by a lion, it becomes the lion, you are what you are eaten by.

    Formerly, I’m not sure when the christians stopped thinking of themselves as lion food, but as lions themselves, maybe just recently as in Chronicles of Nerdia.

    However, it does seem a classic example of internalizing the oppressor, as opposed to, in this case, the oppressor internalizing them.

    /pawlick

  129. #129 Dianne
    October 30, 2008

    Huh! I’m a second generation unbeliever and even I know enough about the Bible to know that the symbolism of this one is just screwed. What were they thinking?

  130. #130 Jeanette
    October 30, 2008

    Dave @ #89: No, of course it doesn’t make sense. That’s because it’s religion. It’s probably not even supposed to make sense, it’s just supposed to control people.

  131. #131 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    Lions. Take a look at some of the research on their “family values”: infanticide and incest figure prominently. Nice to know what the Christians have in store for us!

  132. #132 gunofsod
    October 30, 2008

    If the crowd looked younger, I’d swear this was a setup.

    Did anyone hear any whispers of an epic social hack from Anonymous/4Chan? What were they thinking.

  133. #133 shonda
    October 30, 2008

    Oh, this is rich, too rich.
    Perhaps we should tell them rather than praying before a golden calf, they could collectively endorse a candidate that knows his or her head from his or her ass.

  134. #134 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    Millions were thrown out of work, with devastating effects on the morale of whole communities, and resultant permanent harm to health and social wellbeing, particularly of the most vulnerable, such as children.

    They had to be. It was not Thatcher’s fault. The mines and other nationalised industries had long since become economically unsustainable. They were being supported and subsidised at taxpayers’ expense when they were no longer commercially viable. Ideally, they would never have been nationalised in the first place, meaning that they would gradually have closed down when they were no longer economically useful. But instead, the failed statist policies of the “post-war consensus” led to over-mighty unions demanding that their jobs be protected at the taxpayers’ expense. Industries are not social services. They are economic activities, and it is fundamentally wrong to protect specific industries with public money at the expense of the rest of the country’s economy.

    Finally, a point you’ve repeatedly ignored: the policies of Thatcher and Reagan – deregulation, privatisation, increased inequality – have culminated quite naturally in the current crisis. How can you ignore the fact that the very policies you trumpet have ended so disastrously – forcing your fellow-ideologues into quasi-socialist solutions to the mess they’ve made?

    Straightforwardly untrue. The present crisis is caused by a variety of factors. Although I’m aware that its extent is debated, I don’t think it can seriously be denied that the privileged position of the GSEs, and the pursuit by the US government of policies to make home loans more easily available to the poor, contributed to the growth of the subprime mortgage industry. For heaven’s sake, even George Soros said – years ago – that the GSEs were a disaster waiting to happen! Not to mention monetary policy errors, which play an important role in all financial crises. Central banks, like all central planners, make mistakes – and when they screw up, the consequences are dire. Furthermore, unfortunately, the Bush administration, and the New Labour government over here, were fond of replacing “tax and spend” with “borrow and spend”, maintaining low taxes while allowing profligate spending of public money. To do so is always popular in the short term, since it provides voters with better-funded services without the pinch of higher tax; but in the long run it’s inflationary, and very damaging (as you well know, having repeatedly criticised the Reagan administration for doing the same thing).

    In fact, deregulation has helped the present situation. The Gramm deregulation of 1999 allowed commercial and investment banks to merge – which has allowed some US investment banks to survive by being taken over by commercial banks, rather than requiring a government bailout.

    I know leftists love to blame “deregulation”, “corporations” and “greed” for all the world’s problems. But this is simply self-delusion. Almost all major economic crises have been massively worsened by government mistakes. Look at Friedman’s analysis of the Great Depression; it would have been a momentary blip, had it not been for the Federal Reserve’s grievous monetary policy errors in 1930-31.

    As to the bailout, it’s a distasteful short-term solution. I don’t like it; it amounts to “lemon socialism”, subsidising failing industries and therefore providing a long-term disincentive to success. But we must remember that the government is cleaning up its own mess. This isn’t a failure of capitalism; it’s a failure of government policy.

  135. #135 mark lance
    October 30, 2008

    Folks, the issue isn’t irony, which we all know died with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger. No the casualty this time is parody. Can anyone even imagine how you would top this in an effort to parody these people?

    (re 28, in addition to the Levitican prohibitions on mixed fabric clothes, crop-rotation, and gay sex, Paul has some nasty things to say about gays, along with his demands that women not teach men and the like.)

  136. #136 Xavier Onassis
    October 30, 2008

    I’ll be honest with you, I could use a good smiting.

  137. #137 Natalie
    October 30, 2008

    Walton @ 115:

    If you consider that natural selection and the invisible hand are essentially the same concept applied to different systems… – I can see what you mean, but I think there’s a crucial difference. Within human society, natural selection would only occur within an anarchic environment, with no rule of law and no state protection for persons or property. The strong would prey on the weak, and the weak would die out. This would actually be a very inefficient way to run human society; it would prize one characteristic (the ability to deploy physical force) to the exclusion of all others. Since there would be no protection for property, there could be no trade and, therefore, no real specialisation or use of one’s abilities.

    Woah, woah woah. Natural selection does not mean prizing physical force above all other characteristics. “Fitness” =/= “physical strength”. And there is no reason to think that natural selection only occurs in anarchy – do you assume that natural selection isn’t acting on ants, or dogs, or other animals who live in structured groups? Natural selection has been affecting humans forever, and is happeing right now.

    Read a basic piece on natural selection. The Wikipedia article probably provides a suitable introduction to the subject, or talkorigins.

  138. #138 Miguel
    October 30, 2008

    Does this mean we’re going to be stuck in Iraq for 40 years?

    Goddamit.

  139. #139 Dave Wisker
    October 30, 2008

    Favorite comment: “moses sez: FAIL!”

  140. #140 Ouchimoo
    October 30, 2008

    ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!

    Nuff said

  141. #141 Raymond
    October 30, 2008

    Coming in late here, but I wanted to add a quick word about the bull statue itself.

    It’s not on Wall St, it’s nearby on lower Broadway. Right in front of the Standard Oil building.

    I had the pleasure of working in that building for a few years, and at the time, I was a smoker. So I’d spend a fair amount of time on smoke breaks, watching the bull and the people that it attracts.

    And an interesting split became immediately obvious. American tourists would take pictures of the bull, climb on its head, and have a jolly old time. Completely ignoring the (I assume) anatomically correct, large, and prominent genitalia near the bull’s backside.

    But foreign tourists, and especially European tourists (or at least, tourists that I could identify by their language and/or accents), would not only enjoy the front of the bull, but have a grand old time posing for pictures on the bull-butt side, often with their hands on the bull’s testicles.

    Seemed to me a pretty good metaphor for our different cultural prohibitions.

  142. #142 negentropyeater
    October 30, 2008

    Walton,

    Look at Friedman’s analysis of the Great Depression; it would have been a momentary blip, had it not been for the Federal Reserve’s grievous monetary policy errors in 1930-31.

    Geebus, you’re even repeating this old canard from Friedman and Schwatz, that the great depression was caused by the federal reserve ! There’s not a single economist in the world left who still believes in this bullshit but you keep repeating it ?
    Look Walton, between 1929-32, Physical currency INCREASED from $ 6.05 to $ 7.02 bill, despite this, total money supply drastically fell from $ 26.6 to $ 19.9 bill.
    So tell me how, the federal reserve, which increased physical currency, could have caused the decrease in total money supply ? It just doesn’t make any sense at all.
    What happened is that Friedman and Schwartz initially, and corectly, explained that the federal reserve and the treasury should have directly intervened and saved from bankrupcy hundreds of banks.
    But later, he simplified his message by stating that the federal reserve and the government’s monetary policy caused the great depression.
    Friedman’s monetarist and political agenda were now clearly pushing him in direct contradiction with his initial findings.
    Friedman has done some great things, but this is probably the most unanimously discredited point of all his carreer.

    Where did you learn such ridiculous nonsense ? I hope not in a serious university.

  143. #143 Ted H.
    October 30, 2008

    “Maybe a wealthy person ought to feel obliged to share his wealth with the poor; and maybe God will judge him if he chooses not to do so. Conversely, if he does choose to share his wealth with the poor, he has chosen a path of moral virtue. In contrast, if the State forces him to share his wealth with the poor, where is the moral virtue in his doing so?” -Walton

    Where is the moral virtue in doing something to avoid judgement? If a wealthy person shares the wealth to avoid hell, that’s not virtue, it’s self preservation.

    What is moral virtue anyway? If that wealthy person is an atheist, and decides to share wealth because ‘it’s the right thing to do,’ then fine. But how much wealth sharing is required to make it virtuous? Bill Gates gives away loads of money to charitable funds. However, he does not give away so much as to affect his own lifestyle. Is he virtuous? A hypothetical rich person who gives away everything and lives in a box on a streetcorner. Virtuous? Or just stupid?

  144. #144 blueelm
    October 30, 2008

    I still don’t get it though. If they’re praying the bull away why are they touching it? Why be there at all? The photo op alone seems like it should be enough to deter. What Christian would want to be seen laying hands on a giant bull? It seems like they would turn their backs to it… or some other gesture that doens’t look so much like begging the bull to go back.

    Remember, begging an angry God not to destroy crops by making sacrafice was an important part of many pre-Christian religions.

    Either way I don’t think it makes anyone look bad except the people in the picture. That may not have been their intent, but it sure is the image they created.

  145. #145 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    Where did you learn such ridiculous nonsense ? I hope not in a serious university. – Although I do attend a “serious university”, my degree is in law (which is an undergraduate degree in the UK; I’m aware that it isn’t in the US), not economics. I’m entirely self-taught in economics and have never formally studied the subject. So don’t blame British universities for any criticism of my perspective.

    What happened is that Friedman and Schwartz initially, and corectly, explained that the federal reserve and the treasury should have directly intervened and saved from bankrupcy hundreds of banks. But later, he simplified his message by stating that the federal reserve and the government’s monetary policy caused the great depression. – I don’t see how these two statements are qualitatively any different. The Federal Reserve, as you concede, made the wrong decision. A central bank, by its nature, has a responsibility to the public for the economy as a whole; therefore, in this particular instance, saying “they didn’t do what they should have done to prevent the economic disaster” is exactly the same as saying “they caused the economic disaster”. This isn’t an issue of placing moral blame; it’s an issue of determining what the economic causes were. You appear to be conceding that the Fed’s failure to take a specific course of action was a significant cause. (Obviously this wouldn’t hold true in other fields. But it stems from the inherent problems with central banking itself. We give a very small group of unelected people vast power over our currency and our entire economic system. Inevitably, they make mistakes, just like everyone does – and the more power a person or group has, the more potential there is for spectacular screwups.)

    What is moral virtue anyway? If that wealthy person is an atheist, and decides to share wealth because ‘it’s the right thing to do,’ then fine. But how much wealth sharing is required to make it virtuous? Bill Gates gives away loads of money to charitable funds. However, he does not give away so much as to affect his own lifestyle. Is he virtuous? A hypothetical rich person who gives away everything and lives in a box on a streetcorner. Virtuous? Or just stupid?

    Good questions, and I don’t know the answer. But, in fact, it essentially proves the point I was making. Morality is a personal choice. People disagree in good faith about moral issues; there is no easy answer to many ethical questions. Government cannot be trusted to decide what is moral and what is not, and to impose it upon individuals. Therefore, individual free will – both in the social and economic spheres – is very important. Government should intervene only when necessary to protect the rights and liberties of individuals, not to impose moral values.

  146. #146 FastLane
    October 30, 2008

    Please tell me the Daily Show is going to do a segment on this!

  147. #147 a christian
    October 30, 2008

    under the picture it says they were praying to God at the sight of the bull. At the see you at the poll ralleys, no one is praying to the poll, they circle around the flag poll and pray to God. Laying your hands on somthing while praying is what jesus did. Read the book, then review it. Educate yourselves then you opinion will have worth.

  148. #148 WRMartin
    October 30, 2008

    100 points for the Poe at #147.

  149. #149 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    Walton@134,
    Thatcher’s policies were without doubt a deliberate, conscious and highly successful attempt to increase and entrench inequality. They resulted, as a by-product, in the almost total destruction of British manufacturing industry – something which Germany, France and Sweden among other European countries avoided, because they were willing to provide state help for their industries to modernise, and negotiate with unions rather than crush them.

    You give no reason whatever why Friedman’s analysis of the Great Depression should be accepted – of course he can’t blame the inherent instability of markets and must find a gubmint scapegoat. It’s very easy for him to say that if his nostrums had been followed all would have been hunky-dory – but where’s the evidence?

    As for the current mess, it is absurd to propose that the crisis is merely the result of over-lending by the GSEs (which are of course private companies, and have existed in one form or another for more than 70 years – so why have they suddenly turned toxic now?). Most of the bad loans are from ordinary commercial lenders; and the worst phase of the crisis (so far) followed the collapse of Lehmann, when the Bush administration, in line with your nostrums, let it happen – so when their CDSs came up for settlement, banks started failing round the world. The crisis has spread worldwide because banks were allowed to develop ever more opaque “financial instruments” to boost their short-term profits by making money out of money. (CDSs are, in effect, insurance, but they are exempt from the usual regulations on insurance.) The total loans outstanding in CDSs and kindred instruments is reckoned to be around $55 trillion dollars – the amount in bad mortgage loans to the GSEs is trivial in comparison.

    Your point about borrow-and-spend is one I can partially agree on – but in the USA this was done precisely in order to allow tax cuts for the rich, and wars to spread “democracy”, a.k.a. US dominance. You were all in favour of those wars a few months ago – have you changed your mind?

    Above all, you have no reply to the simple point that this crisis, which could yet turn out to be worse than the 1930s, comes at the end of three decades in which monetarism and market-worship have swept the world; privatisation, deregulation, removal of tariff barriers, and tax breaks for the rich have been implemented on a global scale. If your ideas about the wonders of “free markets” are valid, why is the system so vulnerable? Your ideas have been tested as fully as any set of economic ideas in history – and have failed disastrously.

  150. #150 Pierce R. Butler
    October 30, 2008

    ad @ # 68: …aren’t they praying to get rid of the bull?

    No, they’re praying for a return of the bull, and against the bear (in this case meaning a shrinking stock market, not Teh Russians).

    It might be more apt if a few letters were changed: Wall St now prays for a return to the Bubble.

    Our host picked up this story from Wonkette, which found it on CBN:

    In January of this year, Cindy Jacobs was in a worship service when the Lord spoke to her, “Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington, DC – the strongman lives in New York City! Call My people to pray for the economy.”

    The Lord further said, “October 29 was Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed, and Satan wants to do it again.”

    In early August in her prayer time Cindy heard the Lord say, “There will be no more business as usual.”

    Cindy is encouraging prayer groups to intercede for banks and financial institutions in your area.

    “Don’t think you’re going to be in sin and that God will take care of you in these hard economic times. Holiness is key,” Cindy said. Each of us has a part to play and should not think that God will indiscriminately bless us without us dealing with personal areas that are wrong. We must repent of any misuse of money, think before we spend, get out of debt, etc., and allow God to do a course correction for us.

    Deeeeep (ahem) stuff.

    If only I could find a reference to “the strongman” in my Babble…

  151. #151 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    We give a very small group of unelected people vast power over our currency and our entire economic system. Inevitably, they make mistakes, just like everyone does – and the more power a person or group has, the more potential there is for spectacular screwups. – Walton

    You object to this, yet you would hand over untrammelled power to the unelected directors of mega-corporations. Strange.

  152. #152 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    You object to this, yet you would hand over untrammelled power to the unelected directors of mega-corporations. Strange.

    No corporation should have “untrammelled power” because they exist in a competitive market. The purpose of antitrust laws is to prevent monopolies forming, because a monopoly of any kind is inevitably inefficient. A competitive market is superior.

    If directors of a company screw up, the worst consequence is that their company goes bankrupt. Yes, this hurts their employees and possibly their customers. But it doesn’t leave everyone with no recourse. When a central bank screws up, on the other hand, people have few, if any, other options; they can’t stop using money.

    Unfortunately, a competitive market in currency is not possible (or at least not easily achievable). So we give our central banks a monopoly over the control of currency. But I wish there were a better way to do it – because most economic problems are either caused or exacerbated by the errors of central banks and their political masters.

  153. #153 Ian Smith
    October 30, 2008

    @125 Nick, I’m not sure that the contents of the photo are anything to do with the point that I’m making. My point was, and remains, that it is silly to draw a comparison between the worshipping of the golden calf in Exodus, and the praying from the other day, because the latter was certainly not directed to the bull. By all means, mock people for things they’ve actually done, but there’s clearly no parallel between those two things.

    @127 woody, Mock praying if it makes you happy, but I’m not sure how any of your comment to me was an answer to what I wrote. I wrote something about how the story from Exodus and the story from the other day are obviously not linked in the way that the original post was trying to link them. Your answer was about praying, which you say is silly. I’m pretty sure it gives more benefit to the people engaged in it, even if it is just inside their heads, than this blog post or discussion gives to science.

  154. #154 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    Sorry, “bankrupt” above should have read “insolvent” (in the UK at any rate, bankruptcy applies only to individuals).

  155. #155 MH
    October 30, 2008

    Jesus said, “and when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly”. (Matthew 6:5-6)

    Prayer: they’re doing it wrong.

  156. #156 Bill Dauphin
    October 30, 2008

    Walton:

    Morality is a personal choice.

    In saying this, you’ve separated yourself from vast hordes of right wingers, who seem to count “moral relativism” as the gravest of sins. (In the process, BTW, you give me hope for your eventual redemption. [g])

    Yet in another thread, you call out Bill Clinton for his “lack of moral integrity,” a claim I can’t understand as anything other than a sort of right-wing moral absolutism about sex. (Note that I’m not saying breaking one’s vows to one’s wife isn’t wrong; I’m just saying that alone doesn’t totally determine a person’s — let alone a president’s — “moral integrity” for anyone other than a moral absolutist.)

    I urge you to listen more to that voice within you that counsels situational decision making and a certain amount of rational moral relativism, and less to that voice that organizes the world according to reflexive moral or religious dogmatism.

  157. #157 ObscureReferenceWoman
    October 30, 2008

    Honestly, #147, I’d probably respect your education more if you used the right words. Site = location, not sight = something seen. Pole = tall upright stick, not poll = gauge of opinions.
    Educate yourself as to the proper use of the language we share, and you will be far less likely to appear ignorant in other matters.
    That said, you are technically correct in saying that the object around which a group rally is held is just a focus point in most cases. It is the choice of focus here that is blatantly askew, not just the bull statue, but the materialism of it all.
    So, in laying hands on this bull, are they trying to heal it? Do they believe that it has a life force that can be influenced or that can influence market forces? Seems to me that they’re just a bunch of deluded drama kings and queens trying to get a headline. Silly people, but essentially harmless in this small context. It’s when the fundies and their ilk start running the country that I get worried. That applies to fundies of any stripe, not just the religious ones who get the most press.
    I don’t pretend to understand all of what’s happening, but I have to agree with John Kenneth Galbraith when he said, “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

  158. #158 nick
    October 30, 2008

    great comment #147. i thought your point was sort of obvious but i guess PZ Myers is more interested in pretending to be an intellectual.

    the wonkette article makes a silly reference, this myers guy is trying to make people look dumb.

    i’m embarrassed for the University of Minnesota, Morris.

  159. #159 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    Bill Dauphin@156,

    I think you’ve missed Walton’s conversion. When he first appeared here, he was more-or-less a neocon – socially conservative and gung-ho militarist. He’s now calling himself a “libertarian conservative”, and worships at the feet of Hayek and Friedman. So I imagine he would now regard Clinton’s blow-job as a private matter.

  160. #160 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    In saying this, you’ve separated yourself from vast hordes of right wingers, who seem to count “moral relativism” as the gravest of sins.

    I’m not exactly a moral relativist (I realise my statement was ambiguous in that regard). I do personally believe, in strictly hypothetical terms, in an objective and universal standard of morality (albeit one that has nothing to do with any particular religion). However, I also acknowledge that rational and decent people can disagree in good faith about how to apply moral standards to any given situation; and I don’t think that a government, being composed of fallible human beings, has either the moral authority or the wisdom to decide what is “moral” and to impose it on individuals.

    Just as we should separate church from state, because decent people can honestly disagree about religious and philosophical questions and should have a right to do so, so too should we separate morality from law. Law outlines individual rights and freedoms, and delineates the boundaries of those rights and freedoms; morality, in contrast, involves the personal choice of how one ought to exercise those rights and freedoms.

    I think Jefferson said it best: “It is often said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. How, then, can he be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him?” Substitute “legislators” for “kings” and you have the essence of today’s problems.

    Both the American left and the American Christian right are equally guilty. The Left seek to deprive individuals of their free choice concerning their private property, wealth and economic activity; the religious Right, all too often, seek to deprive individuals of their free choice concerning personal relationships, sexuality and religious belief and practice. Both kinds of free choice are important, and both should be upheld – hence why I am a libertarian.

    Yet in another thread, you call out Bill Clinton for his “lack of moral integrity,” a claim I can’t understand as anything other than a sort of right-wing moral absolutism about sex. (Note that I’m not saying breaking one’s vows to one’s wife isn’t wrong; I’m just saying that alone doesn’t totally determine a person’s — let alone a president’s — “moral integrity” for anyone other than a moral absolutist.)

    I don’t see this as a question of being “right-wing” at all. I do happen to personally believe that breaking one’s marital vows is wrong – not for any religious reason, but because it is a betrayal of another person’s trust. That affects my view of Bill Clinton, just as it would affect my view of any other person – and that, in turn, inevitably affects the question of whether I trust him to lead a nation.

    I don’t, of course, think that a person’s sex life is the government’s business, in the sense of being a proper matter for the law to investigate. The impeachment of Clinton was a ludicrous partisan farce, and should never have been attempted. Adultery is a personal matter, and should fall outside the domain of the law.

    But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect my judgment of a person’s character – and if it affects my judgment of a person’s character, that in turn affects my political judgment regarding him as a candidate. Politics is not law; and just because something is not illegal doesn’t mean it’s something that a good leader ought to get away with doing. For instance, personally attacking one’s opponent in a campaign (provided one’s attack isn’t defamatory) is not illegal, nor should it be; but I imagine it would inevitably affect your view of the attacker, and might well affect your vote (and rightly so).

  161. #161 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    No corporation should have “untrammelled power” because they exist in a competitive market. The purpose of antitrust laws is to prevent monopolies forming, because a monopoly of any kind is inevitably inefficient. – Walton

    But, but, anti-trust laws are quite clearly an interference with the “free market”, and the right of people to do what they want with their own wealth (such as driving their competitors out of business or buying them up)! You damned socialist, Walton! Seriously, you make the very point I was pressing on you just days ago, that “free markets” are a myth. If you reduce regulation enough, you get monopolies as sure as night follows day.

    If directors of a company screw up, the worst consequence is that their company goes bankrupt. Yes, this hurts their employees and possibly their customers. But it doesn’t leave everyone with no recourse.

    It depends how big the company is and how it is linked financially to other companies – see recent failure of Lehmann Bros.

    Unfortunately, a competitive market in currency is not possible (or at least not easily achievable). So we give our central banks a monopoly over the control of currency. But I wish there were a better way to do it – because most economic problems are either caused or exacerbated by the errors of central banks and their political masters.

    First, you seem to have missed the fact that the most important central banks these days (of the USA, EU, UK) don’t have political masters (or to put it another way, are not under democratic control). Oddly enough, the current financial crisis waited to happen until this was the case. More fundamentally, you have to deal with capitalism as a system. As you say, a competitive market in currency is not feasible, so central banks are an ineradicable feature of the system, and their failings are its failings. This parallels what I’ve been trying to din into your head about the states-system ever since you reappeared here as a “libertarian- conservative”. to link this up with another point we’ve been discussing, it is the existence of multiple states that enables big business to avoid democratic control – any attempt to raise taxes, for example, can be met be upping sticks, as you’ve pointed out yourself. (In the case of weak states, of course, more drastic measures are possible, such as supporting military coups or campaigns of murder against trades unionists.)

  162. #162 nick
    October 30, 2008

    Ian Smith, well done.

  163. #163 Jez
    October 30, 2008

    I was having a cup of coffee when my friend sent this to me…and I spit out laughing at Christians praying at the Bull on wall street.

    Sigh

  164. #164 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    this myers guy is trying to make people look dumb. – nick

    In your case a wasted effort – you’re managing to look dumb just fine by yourself, by your illiteracy if nothing else.

    Nick, I’m not sure that the contents of the photo are anything to do with the point that I’m making. – Ian Smith

    I’m absolutely sure it does. Show that photo to anyone who didn’t know the context, and I’ll bet they would think this was veneration of the golden bull. Actions speak louder than words.

  165. #165 Jim
    October 30, 2008

    So we can now conclude prayer does work. Fundies prayed for lower gasoline prices: we now have lower gas prices. I guess they forgot to include some fine print in their request, something about stocks not tanking during the price drop. Hope they were more careful during this current god begging session…so food does not become unaffordable while the market goes back up.

  166. #166 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    it is the existence of multiple states that enables big business to avoid democratic control – any attempt to raise taxes, for example, can be met be upping sticks, as you’ve pointed out yourself.

    OK, imagine your socialist utopia… a single world government with a uniform tax rate, and centralised control of industry and the economy.

    Your punitive tax rates, quotas, tariffs, price controls, subsidies and other government interference would still curb business and hold back the creation of wealth and economic prosperity. Government bureaucracy would still be inefficient and bloated. Industrialists would spend their time and resources petitioning government for permission to produce things and make money, rather than actually producing things and making money. And the worst of it is, there wouldn’t be an outside world to show people that a better life is possible.

    You keep going on about “democratic control” of the economy. It simply doesn’t work – because no centralised planning, however democratic and accountable it is, can ever replicate the supply-and-demand mechanisms of a market. So government still won’t produce consumer goods to meet the people’s needs and demands, however ostensibly “democratic” it is.

    A “democratic” socialist state, ruled by majoritarianism, suffers from the same problem as free markets, but to a much greater degree. People are capable of making irrational, crazy or uninformed decisions, as we all know. In a free market system, they make decisions about their own life and their own wealth and property; and when such decisions go wrong, it doesn’t screw life up for everyone else. In a democratic socialist system, the majority makes decisions about everyone’s life, wealth and property – and when such decisions go wrong, as they often do, they go very, very wrong.

    I don’t know why you seem to think that popular control is a panacea. It isn’t. Populism is often bad. Democratic majorities have, in the past, under the influence of demagoguery, often subscribed to blind hatred and bigotry, damaging economic policies, or sheer lunacy. The only way to moderate this is to ensure that, as far as possible, individuals are in control of their own lives and their own property, and that their rights and freedoms are protected even against the will of the many. That way, you can screw up your own life and that of your business if you make bad decisions, but (most of the time) you won’t screw up everyone else’s life.

  167. #167 JJR
    October 30, 2008

    Ignoring the comments for now, responding directly to the original post.

    HOL-EEE CRAP, that is FUNNY. If I weren’t at work I’d be ROFLMAO.

    “Biblical Fail” indeed. Christians having no f*cking clue what’s in their own book…naw, that never happens, right?

    Priceless, just priceless. Thanks for the find, PZ!

  168. #168 SC
    October 30, 2008

    Wow, Walton – remarkably low “I”-count in #166. Still idiotic and utterly lacking in empirical knowledge, of course :), but with a relatively low narcissism rating. Well done.

  169. #169 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    When he first appeared here, he was more-or-less a neocon – socially conservative and gung-ho militarist. He’s now calling himself a “libertarian conservative”, and worships at the feet of Hayek and Friedman.

    I was never “socially conservative”. As to the rest of it, I think you’re drawing a false dichotomy, and mistaking a change of emphasis for a “conversion”. I believe, consistently, that everyone should have control of their own life and their own private property, and that individual freedom is the most important core political value. This means low taxes, abolition of tariffs and subsidies, free trade, and personal freedom (including relationship freedom). But I also acknowledge that freedom needs to be defended, sometimes through the use of military force. As Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must from time to time be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Or that great libertarian, J.S. Mill: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling that thinks nothing worth a war is worse. The man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight… is a miserable creature and can only be made and kept free by the exertions of better men than himself.”

    There will always be criminals – ranging from your local neighbourhood mugger, to global terrorist groups, to Hitler or Saddam Hussein – who believe themselves entitled to restrict another’s freedom, or to take another’s property, by force, whether for ideological reasons or out of sheer personal greed. And it is emphatically the duty of the state, via the police and military forces, to protect the life, liberty and property of all people from deprivation by force or fraud.

    Libertarianism != pacifism. Nor need it equal isolationism. I don’t just want freedom for the US and UK. I want freedom for every person on earth; and, morally, what happens in other nations emphatically is our concern.

  170. #170 Ian Smith
    October 30, 2008

    Oh, come on Mr Gotts… @164

    Show that photo to anyone who didn’t know the context, and I’ll bet they would think this was veneration of the golden bull.

    I think you’re being just a tiny bit disingenuous. Out of context, you wouldn’t even know that they were Christian believers. Out of context, it’s just a funny picture – the reality is that nobody in this discussion is looking at the picture out of context.

    That’s because the context is clearly shown – there’s a frame with the picture, and words in it that clearly apply to the picture. The words say that the people are “[going to] intercede at the site of the statue of the bull”.

    Actions speak louder than words.

    What you seem to be saying here is that if you took the picture out of context, then your imagined view of what the people in the picture were doing would be of more significance than your in-context knowledge of what they’re actually doing.

    You’re not really saying that, are you?

  171. #171 negentropyeater
    October 30, 2008

    Walton,

    therefore, in this particular instance, saying “they didn’t do what they should have done to prevent the economic disaster” is exactly the same as saying “they caused the economic disaster”. This isn’t an issue of placing moral blame; it’s an issue of determining what the economic causes were. You appear to be conceding that the Fed’s failure to take a specific course of action was a significant cause.

    You really are rather dolt ! Saying that the fed and the treasury could have, by taking the right measures (note : a posteriori) prevented it is not the same as saying it caused it. It’s as if you said that your doctor caused your virus infection becaused he didn’t give you the right medication to treat it.

    Do you realse how completely illogical what you write is ? So not only the bubble is caused by the failure of govt to intervene when needed, but also, this proves govt is incompetent therefore govt should never intervene !

    If the fed and the treasury had intervened and saved from bankrupcy hundreds of banks (as they have now, contrary to your Friedmanian laissez-faire libertaran ideals), the great depression, which was caused by a preceeding period of nonsensical deregulation and hypergrowth, could have been avoided.

  172. #172 Bill Dauphin
    October 30, 2008

    Walton:

    I do happen to personally believe that breaking one’s marital vows is wrong – not for any religious reason, but because it is a betrayal of another person’s trust.

    On this we agree, and on the notion that the impeachment was a “partisan farce”; on this…

    That affects my view of Bill Clinton, just as it would affect my view of any other person – and that, in turn, inevitably affects the question of whether I trust him to lead a nation.

    …not so much. And this is exactly the sort of moral dogmatism I was trying to point to: The notion that a person’s moral worth is broadly determined by a single moral failing in a particular corner of his/her moral life. The only moral failings that have been reasonably proven against Clinton boil down to him being something of a horndog (by no means a unique, or even rare, human flaw, BTW)… which is not sensibly related to his trustworthiness in deploying military force or managing the economy, nor to the essential moral quality of his positions on healthcare or poverty. Yet you seem ready to dismiss him as broadly lacking in “moral integrity” based on this discrete (albeit indiscreet) flaw.

    And I do think this notion that a person’s morality is a singular binary attribute rather than a diffuse and situational thing is essentially right-wing. It’s part of the fundamentally conservative reduction of the world to black and white, and the coincident demonization of all shades of grey. Further, to the extent that the “immoral” behaviors most often referenced as the reason for declaring individuals broadly immoral are typically personal (usually sexual) matters rather than issues of public morality, I also insist that there’s a religious underpinning to this position, even when it’s espoused by people who aren’t themselves religious. That is, it’s all about redemption and salvation, rather than anything a secular person would recognize as rational public ethics.

    (BTW, IMHO the only thing Clinton did wrong was break a promise to his wife. If he’d been single, he could’ve had sex right on the Oval Office desk with a different woman every day he was in office, and it wouldn’t have bothered me a bit. IMHO, any sexual behavior involving adults is morally acceptable, as long as it’s truly consensual and does not harm uninvolved third parties. I’ve never heard an argument to the contrary that wasn’t based on purely arbitrary [and almost always religious] external rules for behavior.)

  173. #173 Fred Mounts
    October 30, 2008

    Bill @172:

    Not to jump in out of turn, but I might be more inclined to agree if the activities had taken place in a residential area of the White House. I’ll even agree that I’m nitpicking here, but something about the sexual adventures taking place in the office itself bothers me. Probably that I’ll never have the chance to get freaky at my place of employment. Yup, I’ll readily admit to jealousy, but still…

  174. #174 Dave
    October 30, 2008

    BTW, IMHO the only thing Clinton did wrong was break a promise to his wife. If he’d been single, he could’ve had sex right on the Oval Office desk with a different woman every day he was in office, and it wouldn’t have bothered me a bit.

    The fact that she was an intern bothered me. I do think sex with an employee raises some moral issues.

  175. #175 leo charre
    October 30, 2008

    I think he’s dead. Isn’t he? I mean- Is he?
    Do Christians die- though?

  176. #176 Linnea
    October 30, 2008

    Holy mother of pearl. I fear for humanity … not because they’re praying to a golden bull, but because it seems humanity as a whole is dumbing down instead of wising up.

  177. #177 Ian Smith
    October 30, 2008

    I swear I’m going to end up like him if this goes on much longer —> http://xkcd.com/386/

  178. #178 Walton
    October 30, 2008

    And this is exactly the sort of moral dogmatism I was trying to point to: The notion that a person’s moral worth is broadly determined by a single moral failing in a particular corner of his/her moral life. The only moral failings that have been reasonably proven against Clinton boil down to him being something of a horndog (by no means a unique, or even rare, human flaw, BTW)… which is not sensibly related to his trustworthiness in deploying military force or managing the economy, nor to the essential moral quality of his positions on healthcare or poverty.

    I take your point; it is possible, certainly, for a person to compartmentalise, and to be simultaneously ethical in his public life and unethical in his private life. (Indeed, ironically, John McCain is a good example; he endured great hardship fulfilling his oath to his country, yet he broke his marriage vows to his first wife and ran off with a wealthy heiress.)

    And I do think Clinton was, in some respects, quite a good president, albeit that he suffered from a lack of a firm ideology. He was far from being a doctrinaire leftist; he was quite willing to sign solidly conservative (and necessary) reforms when faced with the Gingrich Congress. His intellect was and is beyond question, and I do think he understood the practical value of the free market in a way that Obama, perhaps, does not (though one can’t easily tell). He was also very astute, and often absolutely right, on foreign policy. (He deserves some credit for intervention in Serbia, for a start.)

    I would have voted for Dole in 1996 (Perot, being a protectionist, would be out of the question for me), since Dole was a dedicated tax-cutter and committed to free market economics. But if Pat Buchanan (a raving lunatic, IMO) had won the 96 GOP primaries, I would have certainly voted for Clinton in the general election.

  179. #179 Nick Gotts
    October 30, 2008

    OK, imagine your socialist utopia… a single world government with a uniform tax rate, and centralised control of industry and the economy. – Walton

    Wrong, Walton, wrong. Democratic control of industry and the economy. In some respects this would be at global level – for example, the control of greenhouse gas emissions and other such pollutants; but as far as possible, devolved to lower levels.

    because no centralised planning, however democratic and accountable it is, can ever replicate the supply-and-demand mechanisms of a market.

    This is an assertion, not an argument. However, I do not advocate centralised planning, but negotiated coordination – which actually operated to a considerable extent in WWII Britain, and without which, we wouldn’t be here. Nor do I by any means exclude the use of market mechanisms where appropriate.

    In a free market system, they make decisions about their own life and their own wealth and property; and when such decisions go wrong, it doesn’t screw life up for everyone else.

    Obvious crap, as the elephant in the room, the current financial crisis, shows. I agree majorities should not have the right to enforce whatever they want – in particular, to exclude their opponents from the political process – but democratic systems can and do legislate to prevent this.
    The point is, your system gives enormous power to a few – the rich – and since wealth buys influence, they can increase their relative power indefinitely; in democratic socialism (and my preferred version would maximise the use of direct democracy), so far as possible, power is equalised.

    I was never “socially conservative”.
    so what were you doing praising Ann Coulter? From wikipedia on Coulter:
    “In a May 2007 article looking back at the life of the recently deceased evangelical Reverend Jerry Falwell, Coulter commented on Falwell’s statement after the 9/11 attacks that “pagans”, abortionists, feminists, and gays and lesbians, among others, helped make the attacks happen. In her article, Coulter stated that she disagreed with Falwell’s statement, “because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and ‘the Reverend’ Barry Lynn.”

    As Jefferson said
    You mean the well-known slaveowner, hypocrite and rapist?

    There will always be criminals – ranging from your local neighbourhood mugger, to global terrorist groups, to Hitler or Saddam Hussein – who believe themselves entitled to restrict another’s freedom, or to take another’s property, by force, whether for ideological reasons or out of sheer personal greed.

    Prominent among them, of course, George W. Bush. As Alan Greenspan and Scott McClellan have both said, the invasion of Iraq was fundamentally about oil. The documents of the PNAC make it abundantly clear that the invasion of Iraq was planned even before Bush lost the 2000 election and became President, and that it was about the power of the US elite, nothing more.

    I don’t just want freedom for the US and UK. I want freedom for every person on earth

    Yes! Both rich and poor, in Walton’s libertarian utopia, will have the freedom to buy private jets, and the freedom to starve.

  180. #180 Ted
    October 30, 2008

    If Charlton Heston was alive he’d show up with two stone tablets and an AK-47 and do some smiting for sure.

  181. #181 Bill Dauphin
    October 30, 2008

    Dave:

    The fact that she was an intern bothered me.

    That bears on the “truly consensual” part of my formulation: If there was any element of coercion, it changes everything. IIRC, though, Lewinsky herself never made any such claim, nor did anyone else make it on her behalf. Further (and again, IIRC), Clinton was not even close to being her direct supervisor (although, of course, you can make the claim that he was in some sense the “boss” of every executive-branch employee).

    Regardless of the details of this case, though, the point I was trying to make is that I reject the notion — implicit in so much right-wing criticism of folks’ “morality” — that sexuality per se is immoral outside of a single narrowly defined relationship. “Sexually based offenses” [chung-chung]1 should, IMHO, only be considered “offenses” based on non-sexual criteria; sexual behavior that does not otherwise directly harm anyone or violate anyone’s basic rights is not, by my lights, immoral, nor would any such behavior be illegal if I had my way.

    1 For those of you who don’t have access to (or otherwise don’t watch) U.S. TV, this is a purely gratuitous reference to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show about detectives who work on cases involving sexual offenses and crimes against children (which too often overlap).

  182. #182 MickyW
    October 30, 2008

    This is priceless ! I also now have a suggestion for PZ. I used to read a literary agent’s blog where a “beverage alert” was given at the top of posts like this. From reading many of the comments above concerning coffee spat on keyboards etc, I think this might be prudent!

  183. #183 ChrisB
    October 30, 2008

    Okay, this would be hugely ironic *if* these people were actually
    praying to the bull statue. Clearly, they are not, so this is no
    more ironic than someone wearing a Chicago Bulls t-shirt while they
    happen to be praying.

  184. #184 Dave
    October 30, 2008

    Bill:

    That bears on the “truly consensual” part of my formulation:

    Yes, I recognize that, I brought it up in contrast to your assertion that the only thing wrong in what he did was breaking the vows to his wife.

    If there was any element of coercion, it changes everything.

    I would take it a step further: there need not be actual coercion. The disparate power in their office relationship can obscure a determination of “truly consentual” and as a result, I feel that the moral choice is not to engage in a sexual relationship under those circumstances.

    IIRC, though, Lewinsky herself never made any such claim, nor did anyone else make it on her behalf.

    She did not, by my recollection either, but under my moral compass, she need not for the issue to rise. Additionally, others did raise it implictly when arguing that a CEO who did something similar would be fired. (An incorrect claim, in my opinion, most senior executive contracts would not permit firing without significant penalties absent a claim of harrassment.)

    Further (and again, IIRC), Clinton was not even close to being her direct supervisor

    No he was not, but he could have easily gotten her fired or moved to less desireable duties, so the implicit threat of the power disparity is still there.

  185. #185 and-u-say
    October 30, 2008

    “Okay, this would be hugely ironic *if* these people were actually praying to the bull statue. Clearly, they are not, so this is no more ironic than someone wearing a Chicago Bulls t-shirt while they happen to be praying.”

    Ummmmm… No. A shirt is what you wear and serves a purpose and goes along with you. These people did not have to go to this statue. What… god won’t listen if you aren’t in some sepcific location in reference to the problem you are praying about???

    And… they are laying hands on this stature. They are reaching for it, touching it… Why?

    I’m sorry, but all that does indeed make this image ironic.

  186. #186 Bill Dauphin
    October 30, 2008

    Dave:

    Points well taken. I wasn’t really arguing for sex with interns1, but against endemic right-wing demonization of sexual behavior. Clinton’s case is admittedly not the best example of my point, but Walton’s reference to Clinton as being totally without “moral integrity” was the occasion for the whole line of conversation.

    <rumsfeld>You comment with the example you have, rather than with the example you wish you had!</rumsfeld>

    1 I’ll note without further comment I’ve also heard some feminists complain that, absent a charge of sexual harrassment from Lewinsky herself, any taking up of the cudgels on her behalf (esp. by men) is objectionably paternalistic.

  187. #187 CHB
    October 30, 2008

    Too bad the entire story of Moses and the Jews being slaves in Egypt was a totally ficitonal story to begin with.

    Religious people are, bluntly put, retarded.

  188. #188 tracieh
    October 30, 2008

    Nothing to really add to this, just to join the throng to say this is HYSTERICAL and made my day. It’s just beyond belief!

  189. #189 april
    October 30, 2008

    The people who wrote the article and those who responded need to get their heads out of their asses and look at what is happening in the pic on Wall St and what was happening on the other. It’s not the same thing.

    In the bible story, they prayed *to* the bull.

    The people in the pic on Wall St, they were praying for the economy, using the bull as the symbol of the economy…laying hands on it is symbolic of laying hands on one who is ill and using your own connection to God through prayer to help the one who is ill. So, they were focusing their connection to God during their prayer to focus their prayers onto the object that symbolizes the economy.

  190. #190 Ranxerox
    October 30, 2008

    April @ 189

    And then…

    They are still praying aren’t they?

    Stupid is as Stupid does

  191. #191 tara
    October 30, 2008

    i love how you can see the Flip camcorder in the photo

  192. #192 Steve_C
    October 30, 2008

    hehe.. yeah ok april, doesn’t make it any LESS silly.

  193. #193 Cuttlefish, OM
    October 30, 2008

    The true story, of course, involves zombies. (pics and video at the link)

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2008/10/rest-of-story-sweet-zombie-jesus.html

    It started so simply–they’d meet and they’d pray
    And perhaps join each other in song
    How could they have known that this beautiful day
    Would so soon go so horribly wrong?

    Their prayers went unanswered–well, no, it was worse,
    They were answered by God up above
    The Old Testament God, of the famine and curse
    Not the wimpy New Testament love.

    When God saw them gathered, it looked like a calf
    They were worshipping, not their Creator–
    And as Yahweh is more prone to smolder than laugh,
    It’s smite first, then ask questions later.

    But God’s getting old–He’s not right in the head,
    And His aim’s not the same since the Flood
    So now these good christians are Living Undead
    With a craving for brains and for blood.

    So heed the examples on Wall Street this week
    As they struggle to shuffle and moan–
    Count your blessings, although the economy’s bleak;
    No more praying–just leave God alone!

  194. #194 windy
    October 30, 2008

    In the bible story, they prayed *to* the bull.

    To the physical statue? They didn’t think that it represented or symbolized any god or spirit? Seems unlikely. “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”

  195. #195 Qwerty
    October 30, 2008

    I started reading this and began to hear the music from the movie in my head along with the narrator’s voice. WOW! Wall Street brokers better watch out as I sure GOD will smite them for worshipping a golden bull. (I guess if he doesn’t then the sky fairy’s book is a bunch of BULL!)

  196. #196 mika may
    October 30, 2008

    this is ridiculous, they had to know what they were doing, didn’t they? up to a point, I can understand praying for a bull market, but praying for the bull on wall street is absurd. it’s a symbol, you don’t pray for the P.O.W. flag if you want good things for the p.o.w.s themselves. crap, who thought that one up?

  197. #197 John C. Randolph
    October 30, 2008

    Clinton wasn’t impeached for banging the fat chick, he was impeached for lying about it under oath.

    -jcr

  198. #198 John C. Randolph
    October 30, 2008

    Geebus, you’re even repeating this old canard from Friedman and Schwatz, that the great depression was caused by the federal reserve !

    It was. The Fed provided the inflation that made the stock bubble of the 1920s possible, and the Fed dramatically deflated the currency in the 1930s. The Fed caused the crash, and the Fed together with Hoover and FDRs interventionist policies made the crash into a depression that lasted until their policies were reversed in 1946.

    There’s not a single economist in the world left who still believes in this bullshit but you keep repeating it ?

    Ben Bernanke has admitted that the Federal Reserve was responsible for the first great depression. You can argue that Bernanke is no economist, but do you want to go down that path?

    -jcr

  199. #199 Kagehi
    October 30, 2008

    Praying to, or around, same thing, they are using it to symbolize what they want, which is real damn close to worshiping the thing itself. If it was perceived to work, how long do you honestly think it would take before it went from being mere “symbol” to an “idol” to be gone to “specifically” to pray about monetary matters? Second, the very act, as a few have tried to point out, betrays of Christ is supposed to have told people to pray, is directed at making them rich hoarders of wealth, which he also condemned, and then, if neither of those are enough, the only “fix” for the current crisis is to bail out a lot of fracking money lenders, without, apparently, holding them to task for their mistakes, limiting their ability to do the same again, or preventing them from continuing to making outrageous claims about how “well off” you will be if you let them lend you gobs of money you can’t pay back.

    Yes, the specific focus of their acts is not, for now, directed at the bull. But it is directed at a lot of wishing for things that their own faith supposedly warns them against, in a situation that, oddly, they see no irony in at all.

  200. #200 monkeybutt
    October 30, 2008

    I am soooo sick of the Jesus people–and other religious nuts, for that matter. It’s just that you can’t get away from the bible-thumpers ’round these-here parts.

  201. #201 Dave
    October 30, 2008

    Bill,
    I did get your main point, and I agree with it. I was arguing down a side path, mostly because I felt you phrased it too strongly, with, “the only thing Clinton did wrong . . .” I thought there was something else, however minor, that Clinton did wrong. Hey, what would the internet be without nitpickers?

  202. #202 Able Spacer
    October 30, 2008

    So many comments, so I’m sure somebody’s mentioned it already: irony meters are exploding worldwide.

  203. #203 Ryan
    October 30, 2008

    I think it’s a bit more ironic that no one seems to be catching the fact that these people are praying “over” the statue as a symbol of the economy and not “to” or “before” the statue as an act of worship.

  204. #204 Feynmaniac
    October 30, 2008

    The people in the pic on Wall St, they were praying for the economy, using the bull as the symbol of the economy….So, they were focusing their connection to God during their prayer to focus their prayers onto the object that symbolizes the economy.

    Most Protestants take the view that even worshiping God through an object is a form of idolatry. Given this is US it is very likely these people were Protestants.

  205. #205 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    Walton, you are the biggest party pooper on this blog.

    This is one of those “moments in history”. The christians are laying on hands, in public, on the golden calf, the sacrificial bull, and praying. It’s a jaw dropper – and now party time.

    If you can’t at least TRY to say something witty – then drop this thread, let the rest of us wahoo, pleeze!

  206. #206 Jeanette
    October 31, 2008

    Ah, look at this! Over two hundred posts and we atheists are still getting along! We’re not arguing about what’s funny or calling each other stupid, or anything along those lines!

    These worshipers have stumbled across the one true god, and generated peace on earth! All hail the sacred Golden Bull!

  207. #207 Yokel
    October 31, 2008

    Silly mindless Christian idol worshippers

  208. #208 Johnny P
    October 31, 2008

    What can i say, morons will be morons.

  209. #209 Greg
    October 31, 2008

    I don’t believe in god..nor in greed and capitalism, but have a lot of yanks really lost touch with reality. I respect the right of the indivdual to worship what they want, but this is the same nation that burned Beatles records because of John Lennons flippant “we’re bigger than Jesus” remark..
    The word Wankers comes to mind (Note..not found in bible..well maybe in the appendix at the back)!

  210. #210 Forzanaut
    October 31, 2008

    HOLY EPIC FAIL! THAT MADE MY NIGHT! ROFL

  211. #211 Rey Fox
    October 31, 2008

    “I think it’s a bit more ironic that no one seems to be catching the fact that these people are praying “over” the statue as a symbol of the economy and not “to” or “before” the statue as an act of worship.”

    Read the comments, plenty of pedantic prayer mongers are pointing that out. Doesn’t diminish the picture or the irony therein one bit.

  212. #212 tom
    October 31, 2008

    Holy cow! What a load of bull! They’re trying to steer the economy back on track – I don’t have a beef with that, but does it behoove them to try what-heifer nonsense this is?

  213. #213 The Cheerful Nihilist
    October 31, 2008

    Turns out, Charlton Heston and all of you never were.

    Nothingness begets the same.

  214. #214 Carol
    October 31, 2008

    I saw a group of fundamentalists standing outside the Planned Parenthood building in my neighborhood last week praying. Almost stopped and got out of my car to ask them what about the poor innocent children that suffered and died in Iraq.

  215. #215 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    AH! FINALLY! NOW we can see what The Nameless One looks like and even how to spell His Name:

    $$$

    It makes absolutely perfect sense. What took ‘em so long?

  216. #216 Ba'al enthusiast
    October 31, 2008

    I keep a sakbut in my briefcase just for those occasions when I come across fellow Ba’alists worshipping golden calves in the middle of Manhatten, which happens more than you might think. I’m the sakbutist at my local temple. Can’t have a decent virgin sacrifice without a sakbut wailing.

  217. #217 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    PZ, forgive them, for they do not f*cking know what they f*cking do.

    Hey, it’s a fair excuse, isn’t it?

    isn’t it?

    no? it’s not?

    never mind.

  218. #218 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    This is hands down THE Most Hilarious Post I’ve seen here.

    Absolutely STUNNING.

    Guess it’s is in full swing now….

    Wonder what other delights of…intercession…will pop up in the days ahead?

    For the first time in my life I’m learning to love Bozo the Clown.

  219. #219 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 31, 2008

    Linnea #176: “Holy mother of pearl. I fear for humanity … not because they’re praying to a golden bull, but because it seems humanity as a whole is dumbing down instead of wising up.”

    Don’t worry. There aren’t any humans in that picture.

    I don’t know what they are, but I’m pretty sure they’re not humans.

    Wait, lemme make sure and look again…Yep, I was right. They’re definitely something else.

    WHAT THE HECK IS THAT anyway???

  220. #220 Walton
    October 31, 2008

    Nick Gotts: Note John Randolph’s reply at #198, which is better-informed and more articulate than what I was going to say.

    Monetary policy is not my area of expertise; but just because I personally can’t always reply in detail to your claims doesn’t mean that no one can. In areas where I am qualified to dispute your radical leftist assertions, I have done so point-by-point.

  221. #221 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    the Fed together with Hoover and FDRs interventionist policies made the crash into a depression that lasted until their policies were reversed in 1946. – John C. Randolph

    Randolph keeps up his record of never knowingly acknowledging reality. US GDP rose by 7.7% in 1934, 14.1% in 1935, 8.1% in 1936, 5% in 1937 (
    http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/connections_n2/great_depression.html). That’s a depression? Admittedly GDP fell 4.5% in 1938 (after a period in which Roosevelt, politically weak and worried about the deficit, was unable to continue his wicked interventionism), but then rose again. From 1939-41, US manufacturing output rose by 50%.

  222. #222 Walton
    October 31, 2008

    Nick Gotts – I’ve replied to some of your comments at the end of this thread:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/08/krazy_kansas_kook_wants_to_eli.php

  223. #223 Nick Gotts
    October 31, 2008

    Walton@219,
    That’s feeble; and if you rely on John C Randolph for “expertise”, you’re stupider than you generally appear. He’s so far out of touch with reality, one wonders how he manages to find his mouth when he wants to eat – see my #221. If you look at the same URL I pointed to there, you’ll find that – well I never – the 1920s were a period during which tax rates fell, economic inequality increased enormously, and laissez-faire policies were followed consistently. There was a stock market bubble, followed by a great crash. Sound familiar?

    Incidentally, on the evils of high taxation. From 1945-63, the US top rate never fell below 88%. This period coincided with the country’s greatest ever economic boom.

  224. #224 knot jake
    October 31, 2008

    Wow! Did they learn NOTHING from “The Ten Commandments”?

  225. #225 Well Well Well
    October 31, 2008

    OMG LOL now that is CLASSIC! They can’t clue in to what they are doing?:)

  226. #226 Natalie
    October 31, 2008

    The Fed caused the crash, and the Fed together with Hoover and FDRs interventionist policies made the crash into a depression that lasted until their policies were reversed in 1946.

    No competent historian dates the end of the Great Depression to 1946. It ended between 1939 and 1942. There were fears that the US wuold reenter a depression after WWII, but that did not actually happen.

  227. #227 alphaman
    October 31, 2008

    The author of the article (and the responses listed here) are being a bit presumptuous. The article said “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems. While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.”

    So in essence they weren’t praying to the statue, but praying against what the statue stands for. This would seem to be an example (quite frankly, another example) of people not understanding how people who live by faith, exercise their faith.

  228. #228 Ba'al enthusiast
    October 31, 2008

    I understand, Alphaman, how people who live by faith exercise their faith. I’ve seen the blood and rubble.

  229. #229 Zeemanb
    October 31, 2008

    I can’t stop laughing! I literally CANNOT stop laughing! Please, sweet Nascar baby Jesus, help me stop laughing! I’m going to get fired!

  230. #230 John
    October 31, 2008

    I’m a Pentacostal Christian and even I feel this is absurd…

  231. #231 HolierThanThou
    October 31, 2008

    Looks like they are worshipping the bull god to me…

    http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/egypt/apis-the-bull-god.html

    Still funny as hell. Like the old saying goes:

    “Those whom do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

    And here’s a prime example;)

  232. #232 Sara Anderson
    October 31, 2008

    @97: I had it! Didn’t we learn sometime this summer that sarcasm detection occurs in some part of the frontal lobe? I had a major injury in that area of my brain last winter and have since had a hard time distinguishing The Onion from reality. This isn’t really the year to be calibrating your irony detectors, though, is it?

  233. #233 Monk-in-Training
    October 31, 2008

    When I saw this photo this morning I was shocked, and not because of the nature of the picture, but because of what I had just read in todays Gospel from Luke:

    Jesus says …”‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

    and also “…do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. 30For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things”

    What a contrast.

  234. #234 JeffF
    October 31, 2008

    A few years ago I had a chuckle at the existence of fundamentalist christian banks. They market themselves to these people.

    To me the immediate thought was “money changers in the temple”.

  235. #235 KingChase
    October 31, 2008

    Have you ever heard of “Meet Me At The Pole”? We used to do it at my High School. Once a year all the Christians at school would go to the flag pole and pray for the school and for our country. We weren’t praying to the flag, it was just something tangible to remind us of what we were praying for. I hope it’s the same with these guys and their bull.

  236. #236 Deirdre Saoirse Moen
    October 31, 2008

    So, if they get smitten, then that proves their god does exactly what they say.

    I think they should give up their faith if they don’t get blasted to bits.

    Just a thought.

  237. #237 anna
    October 31, 2008

    in their defence, they aren’t praying TO the bull, but FOR the bull. the photo is quite frightening, though, and might suggest otherwise.

    can i recommend a very liberal christian’s perspective and suggest you check out the book Jesus For President by Shane Claiborne? no, he isn’t suggesting that the US should become a theocracy. he instead challenges the average conservative christian’s political paradigm by revealing some interesting historical context surrounding the life and teachings of Jesus.

  238. #238 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    Posted by: KingChase | October 31, 2008

    Have you ever heard of “Meet Me At The Pole”?

    No. But it amuses me that you did your meet up at the base of a phallic symbol.

  239. #239 Dave
    October 31, 2008

    this is a farce of proportions one would think possible only by Simon Moon or his compatriots. cograts and props to whoever was the mastermind behind this. and if no one was, well… GOD BLESS KARMA

  240. #240 Watchman
    October 31, 2008

    If I didn’t know any better, I would have bet my first-born that this was from The Onion.

  241. #241 The joke is on you!
    October 31, 2008

    Good article, thank you for sharing.

    Ignorance is a bliss, but stupidity should hurt!

    If anyone is able to see beyond this act, you’d understand that these are not Christians; real practicing Christians (believe in Jesus Christ) read the scriptures’ and know better!

    For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. -Matthew 4:10

    …Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. – Deuteronomy 4:15-18 (New International Version)

    However, some call themselves “Christians” to confuse or fool others; (So I see!)

    The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel… 2 Corintios 4:4 (New International Version)

    “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time! – Mark 13:21-23 (New International Version)

    God bless & forgive ignorance!

  242. #242 Teresa Nielsen Hayden
    October 31, 2008

    I just ran across this on Boing Boing, and am amazed. How is it that people who supposedly spend so much time reading their Bibles haven’t noticed that they’re praying to Wall Street’s version of the Golden Calf?

    I’m not buying the explanation that they’re actually praying to God, asking him to replace the reign of the Bull and Bear with that of the Lion. Nuh-uh. They’ve made a big point about how they’re specifically praying at this image, and they’re laying their hands on it. Sure looks like idolatry to me.

  243. #243 Emmet Caulfield
    October 31, 2008

    If anyone is able to see beyond this act, you’d understand that these are not Christians; real practicing Christians (believe in Jesus Christ) read the scriptures’ and know better!

    If they’d used a slightly wider angle lens, we’d be able to see that they’re not even wearing kilts.

  244. #244 Owlmirror
    October 31, 2008

    The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel… 2 Corintios 4:4 (New International Version)

    Does it really say that? Looks like it does.

    ? http://bible.cc/2_corinthians/4-4.htm

    Checking the commentaries below the different translations… Yup! We have polytheism! Satan is [a] God!

    The more I read of the bible, the less sense it all makes.

  245. #245 windy
    October 31, 2008

    I think it’s a bit more ironic that no one seems to be catching the fact that these people are praying “over” the statue as a symbol of the economy and not “to” or “before” the statue as an act of worship.

    They are praying “to” God “before” the statue!! What do you think idolatry is, anyway? In the context of the Bible story it’s most likely that the Israelites were also praying “to” Yahweh (or possibly another god) “before” the golden calf.

  246. #246 F.Y.I
    October 31, 2008

    For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus! (1 Timothy 2:5)

    ‘God’ (with a capital) means the one deity in the monotheistic religion in question, while ‘god’ (without a capital) is a common noun that refers to any deity from any religion or set of religions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God
    Just in case you need it a little more facts!

  247. #247 Owlmirror
    October 31, 2008

    ‘God’ (with a capital) means the one deity in the monotheistic religion in question, while ‘god’ (without a capital) is a common noun that refers to any deity from any religion or set of religions.

    Hi there!

    Koine Greek did not use lowercase.

    This has been your clue for the day, which I hope even polytheists can appreciate!

  248. #248 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 31, 2008

    I use “god” when I am feeling too lazy to call it “big sky daddy”. If I were to use the uppercase “G”, I would be paying more respect to the idea of a deity than I want to give.

  249. #249 Serafina
    October 31, 2008

    *jaws*

    *blink drop*

    My irony processing units just got short-circuited. I can’t even laugh about it, it’s just too mind-boggling.

    *walks around in a stupor till meeting the doorframe head on and descending into sweet unconsciousness*

  250. #250 Nerd of Redhead
    October 31, 2008

    Serafina, you need to put a delicate fuse on the input to your mental irony meter. Otherwise, such blowouts of the mental circuits are inevitable.

  251. #251 Wowbagger
    October 31, 2008

    I’ve pretty much given up on irony meters after the last few weeks. I reckon I put the local sales rep’s kids through college.

  252. #252 ba'al enthusiast
    October 31, 2008

    Just a reminder for when the hoards of locusts get here:

    4 tablespoons peanut oil
    1 bunch spring onions chopped
    3 cloves garlic minced
    1 lb fresh grasshoppers
    1/2 cup soy sauce

    To a large wok at medium heat, add the peanut oil and allow to heat til bubbling. Add onions and garlic. Saute, stirring constantly until light brown. Increase heat and add grasshoppers. Stir fry until golden brown. Reduce heat to low, add soy sauce. Stir and then remove from heat. Serve warm over steamed rice.

  253. #253 Patricia
    October 31, 2008

    While I appreciate recipes, I think I’ll pass that one by. Ewwww!

  254. #254 John Morales
    October 31, 2008

    John @230:

    I’m a Pentacostal Christian [...]

    But you don’t know how to spell the name of your own sect – or do you mean you have five ribs? :)

  255. #255 Bluespidereyed
    October 31, 2008

    I wonder how many of them actually read their book….

  256. #256 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    Bluespidereyed @ 255 – Why honey I have read the good book forwards and backwards, my well filled blouse is covered in Scripture Knowledge medals. I can challenge Berty Wooster!
    Can you? Or are you just wondering?

  257. #257 Jeff S.
    November 1, 2008

    I can no longer call myself a Christian since these fundamentalists have tarnished the name.

    To see what “Followers of Jesus” did on Wall Street a few years back, see:
    http://www.thesimpleway.org/love_dollars/index.html

    THIS is what the Bible REALLY teaches!

  258. #258 Jeff S.
    November 1, 2008

    Here is a YouTube video of the Jubilee event on Wall Street:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ETBMhEzYKU

  259. #259 Jim G
    November 1, 2008

    We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems. While we do not have the full revelation of all this will entail, we do know that without intercession, economies will crumble.

    Don’t they know?

    Jesus saves
    Allah invests
    But only Buddha pays dividends.

  260. #260 Ba'al enthusiast
    November 1, 2008

    Is it HOARDS or HORDES?

    Patricia, you no likey grasshoppa? Full of crunchy goodness.

  261. #261 Jason
    November 1, 2008

    Wow, they are gonna be in for a rude awakening when the economic crisis really sets in. So far, this was just the tip of the iceberg; things are going to get mcuh much worse very quickly.
    Also, as a cautionary note to those of you who might be interested, you might want to look up ‘Peak Oil’ (and really understand the implications), because it looks like when we finally start crawling out of this recession/depression we are going to be facing an energy crisis the likes of which we have never seen.

  262. #262 Mike
    November 1, 2008

    Well, must have been a boring Oprah show that day.

  263. #263 David Marjanovi?, OM
    November 1, 2008

    Rather, he condemned the arrogance of the Pharisees, who were ostentatiously “virtuous” and sought to impose their own purported moral virtues on everyone else.

    No. The Gospels condemn their hypocrisy, with Jesus being in full agreement with the values themselves (“not one jot nor tittle”…).

    Conversely, if he does choose to share his wealth with the poor, he has chosen a path of moral virtue. In contrast, if the State forces him to share his wealth with the poor, where is the moral virtue in his doing so?

    On the part of the legislators instead. Why does there have to be moral virtue in his doing so? The result counts.

    His free will is overborne, and so he is deprived of the chance to make moral choices for himself. Just as the state should not tell you who to marry or how to pray, it should not tell you what to do with your own money.

    But who is “the state”? In a democracy, it’s you. You, Walton, and a few tens of millions of fellow citizens. You (plural this time) get together and decide what to do together. Perhaps you decide that you don’t want allow anyone to become poor, whether for altruistic motives or for egoistic ones (like “who will by my products”). And in the improbable case I need to explicitly mention it, this “you” includes the hypothetical rich guy. He, too, has the right to vote and the right to run for office.

    All this libertarian talk is so 18th-century! As if we were still in the very beginning of the enlightenment! Whenever they say “the state”, they mean “the absolute monarch”.

    (And if they’re Americans and say “the government” instead, they really mean King George III.)

    How can you ignore the fact that the very policies you trumpet have ended so disastrously – forcing your fellow-ideologues into quasi-socialist solutions to the mess they’ve made?

    “Quasi-socialist”? Isn’t nationalizing the banks outright communist?

    Does this mean we’re going to be stuck in Iraq for 40 years?

    Goddamit.

    ROTFL!

    I still don’t get it though. If they’re praying the bull away why are they touching it? Why be there at all?

    Because the bull symbolizes rising stocks, and the bear falling ones. That’s also what “bull-and-bear market” alludes to. (And in this contrast, it becomes even more obvious that “lion market” must mean “neither rising nor falling but stable prices guaranteed by Enver Hoxha God Himself”.)

    Government cannot be trusted to decide what is moral and what is not, and to impose it upon individuals. Therefore, individual free will – both in the social and economic spheres – is very important. Government should intervene only when necessary to protect the rights and liberties of individuals, not to impose moral values.

    See above: moral values don’t even necessarily enter the question of wealth redistribution at all.

    You keep going on about “democratic control” of the economy. It simply doesn’t work – because no centralised planning, however democratic and accountable it is, can ever replicate the supply-and-demand mechanisms of a market.

    Strawman. Nobody here is advocating a planned economy. The issue here is that the USA should adopt something like the EU regulations and its Competition Commissioner in order to protect the free market from itself — to keep competition alive, which is always artificial.

    People are capable of making irrational, crazy or uninformed decisions, as we all know. In a free market system, they make decisions about their own life and their own wealth and property; and when such decisions go wrong, it doesn’t screw life up for everyone else.

    Depends on how big the corporation is that “goes wrong”.

    Isn’t the Fed a (strange kind of) private corporation?

    I don’t know why you seem to think that popular control is a panacea. It isn’t. Populism is often bad. Democratic majorities have, in the past, under the influence of demagoguery, often subscribed to blind hatred and bigotry, damaging economic policies, or sheer lunacy. The only way to moderate this is to ensure that, as far as possible, individuals

    know what they are doing. Education. Condorcet, not Friedman.

    “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling that thinks nothing worth a war is worse. The man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight… is a miserable creature and can only be made and kept free by the exertions of better men than himself.”

    Put in Comic Sans because it’s stupid to completely neglect the possibility of running away. And I haven’t even mentioned violence-free resistance yet (though that tends to be even more dangerous than fighting, albeit even more successful).

    Indeed, ironically, John McCain is a good example; he endured great hardship fulfilling his oath to his country

    …or rather, trying to make himself at least comparable to his father and his grandfather. When that finally failed in spite of his father’s protection, he decided to try something else and surpassing them by becoming POTUS…

    I’m a Pentacostal Christian

    While we’re on the topic of “fail”: If you were one, you could probably spell “pentecostal”… :->

    But you don’t know how to spell the name of your own sect – or do you mean you have five ribs? :)

    Oh no, that’s not what it would mean. It would probably mean that five ribs are missing (-a- “not”, “un-”, “without”) or something.

  264. #264 Nagatha
    November 1, 2008

    The beginning of this delghtful tale only intensifies my strong belief in THE GODDESS…SHE knows how men screwed up the universe!

  265. #265 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    But who is “the state”? In a democracy, it’s you. You, Walton, and a few tens of millions of fellow citizens. You (plural this time) get together and decide what to do together. Perhaps you decide that you don’t want allow anyone to become poor, whether for altruistic motives or for egoistic ones (like “who will by my products”). And in the improbable case I need to explicitly mention it, this “you” includes the hypothetical rich guy. He, too, has the right to vote and the right to run for office.

    All this libertarian talk is so 18th-century! As if we were still in the very beginning of the enlightenment! Whenever they say “the state”, they mean “the absolute monarch”.

    I disagree. Yes, this is the era in which libertarian thought originated. But if one reads the great libertarian thinkers – Mill et al. – it is clear that they did not believe the replacement of monarchy or aristocracy by popular rule to be sufficient to secure liberty. Rather, the power of government – however it is governed – must be limited.

    Human beings – whether one individual, a ruling class or a mob, and however educated and selected – are inherently fallible. Even when properly informed – and however educated they may be – they are susceptible to making decisions that are either venial, stupid or irrational, or all of the above.

    Jefferson’s dictum – “It is often said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can, then, he be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him?” – could just as easily be applied today, with the word “legislators” substituted for “kings”. Popular approval alone does not make a decision-maker infallible.

    Just as a king or a tyrant has no moral right to impose his ideology and his values on you or me – whether it be Christianity, Islam, fascism, Hinduism, paganism, atheism, Marxism, or any other philosophy of life – so the majority also has no such right. Think. If you lived in a state or district in which 99% of the populace were Falwell-style hardline evangelical Christians, would you want them to be entitled to impose their political and religious values on you? Likewise, you have no right to impose your values – however objectively enlightened you may be – on them. Each person has a right to make his own decisions, free from state control or coercion.

    And that applies in the economic sphere too. Each person has a right to liberty of his own person and property, and to use and dispose of both how he wishes, within the bounds of the general law. Sometimes he will make stupid decisions; but that is an inevitable pitfall of humanity, whatever its form of government. But is he, together with his neighbours, entitled to make stupid decisions and impose them on everyone else?

    You assert that, in a democracy, the state consists of all its voters. It does not. “The people” is a meaningless abstraction. The United Kingdom consists of 60 million distinct individuals, bound together at most by common language and allegiance (and sometimes not even by that) – each with their own individual interests, values and preferred personal and economic choices. “The people” is not a distinct entity capable of making decisions, nor is it any less fallible than an individual person.

    Don’t get me wrong. I support democracy as the least bad of all the bad systems. Where government has to do anything at all, it should be done by popular mandate. But the powers of government should be very severely limited. The individual should be sovereign over his own life and his own property and possessions; and he should be free to enter into commercial transactions with others, on negotiated terms for mutual benefits, without control or coercion by the state.

  266. #266 John Morales
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,

    Just as a king or a tyrant has no moral right to impose his ideology and his values on you or me [...] so the majority also has no such right.

    This claim is predicated on the existence of “moral rights”, which I consider are human constructs. You’ve elsewhere stated you believe there’s some objective, extermal morality; this claim is no different to that of the Divine Right of Kings.

    Or, more succintly, I think you’re basing that argument on a personal belief.

  267. #267 Walton
    November 1, 2008

    You’ve elsewhere stated you believe there’s some objective, extermal morality

    Objective yes, external no. I think there’s an objectively correct morality accessible to, and formulable by, human reason. For instance, we can justify objectively why murder is wrong, or why rape is wrong. It isn’t a precept that we have to justify as “God-given”, but nor is it a purely cultural value. Rather, it’s a principle that’s inherently and intuitively correct. Murder would not become morally right simply because a majority of society declared it to be right.

    There are, of course, purely relative values as well – homosexuality is considered wrong in some cultures and not in others, for instance – but the most important moral values are the objective and universal ones, and these, while arguably “human constructs” in the sense that they are constructed by human reason, are not mere social norms.

  268. #268 John Morales
    November 1, 2008

    Walton,

    I think there’s an objectively correct morality accessible to, and formulable by, human reason.

    Well, that seems reasonable – though I’d still argue that claim, but shan’t since metaethics is a bit beyond the scope of brief comments.

    For instance, we can justify objectively why murder is wrong, or why rape is wrong. [...] There are, of course, purely relative values as well – homosexuality is considered wrong in some cultures and not in others, for instance

    You might wish to examine that claim – “murder” (wrongful killing) and “rape” (forced sexual activity) – are no less culturally dependent ideas, e.g. “state execution” and “child brides”.
    I suggest we don’t expound further on this thread, but I think you might wish to try to determine where this line separating relative and absolute moral truths lies. :)

  269. #269 John Morales
    November 1, 2008

    PS I hasten to add that I consider the concept of moral rights a most excellent one, lest I be accused of being Moral-less.

  270. #270 Patricia
    November 1, 2008

    Ba’al – Eewwww! NO! I no likey grasshopper.

    Hoard is to gather and keep.
    Horde is a large group.

    I do like your name though. ;o)

  271. #271 Charles
    November 1, 2008

    ______________________________

    What makes anyone think these people are Christians?

  272. #272 Owlmirror
    November 2, 2008

    PS I hasten to add that I consider the concept of moral rights a most excellent one, lest I be accused of being Moral-less.

    <slaps John Morales upside the head>

    Puns are absolutely objectively evil.

  273. #273 John Morales
    November 2, 2008

    YIPE! yipe yipe …

  274. #274 Wowbagger
    November 2, 2008

    What makes anyone think these people are Christians?

    Do you mean do we think they’re True Christians?, or are you asking if we’re just assuming they’re christians? Neither option is making you look very good – try reading the linked article.

  275. #275 Sauceress
    November 2, 2008

    Perhaps there was maybe something a little more sinister behind that gathering…

    at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.

    Palin’s Movement Urges ‘Godly’ To ‘Plunder’ Wealth of The ‘Godless’

    “God has declared through His prophets that the wealth of the wicked will be released to the Kingdom of God,” and declared, threateningly, “the enemies’ camp will be plundered.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-wilson/palins-movement-urges-god_b_139987.html

  276. #276 Nick Gotts
    November 2, 2008

    Nobody here is advocating a planned economy. – David Marjanovi?, OM

    Well I am actually, although not in the sense Walton thinks of it; democratically and heterarchically planned, or “negotiated coordination” to use another term.

    Walton is quite happy, of course, for the minute “libertarian” minority to impose their view that democracies should not have the right to determine property law on everyone else. Walton, you seem to have forgotten you’re supposed to be a “consequentialist libertarian” (perhaps because it’s been so clearly demonstrated here that the consequences are not what you’d like to think), and gone back to the deontological stance. Can you really not get it into your head that the absolute property rights deontological “libertarians” espouse are themselves a culturally highly specific value?

  277. #277 John C. Randolph
    November 3, 2008

    Nick,

    You cite growth figures during the depression without any context. Take a look at the unemployment rates from the same period, not to mention the loss of international trade due to the Smoot-Hawley tariff, and the destruction of goods in misguided attempts to drive prices higher. If you want to pretend that the depression was over in 1937, then you’re rather bolder in your claims than even FDRs propagandists ever were.

    From 1939-41, US manufacturing output rose by 50%.

    War production isn’t wealth. You can’t eat grenades or battleships.

    -jcr

  278. #278 John C. Randolph
    November 3, 2008

    negotiated coordination” to use another term.

    If you’re in favor of negotiation to decide what should be produced, then you should be for the market economy. We vote on production every day with our choices of what to buy or not buy.

    -jcr

  279. #279 John C. Randolph
    November 3, 2008

    I think there’s an objectively correct morality accessible to, and formulable by, human reason.

    I’d say that it proceeds logically from the non-aggression principle. Freedom requires no justification.

    -jcr

  280. #280 Nick Gotts
    November 3, 2008

    John C. Randolph,
    Unemployment fell as GDP rose:
    1932: 23.6
    1933: 24.9
    1934: 21.7
    1935: 20.1
    1936: 16.9
    1937: 14.3
    1938: 19.0 (after Roosevelt took his foot off the pedal)
    1939: 17.2 (when he put it back on)
    Of course an economic disaster of the magnitude of the Great Depression takes years to recover from; your original comment was highly disingenuous in suggesting no recovery was happening.

    I can’t find figures for how much of the 50% 1939-41 increase in manufacturing was weaponry. While it’s true you can’t eat weapons, you can buy more if you’re being paid to make them than if you’re unemployed; and rearmament was paid for by borrowed money. I can’t find anyone but you who denies that the Depression ended duringWW2 rather than in 1946 – and of course, the war was fought on deficit spending by all participants. My “Call that a Depression?” should have been “Call that failing to recover from a Depression?”.

    The Fed undoubtedly contributed to turning the recession into a depression, but did so by its inaction – failing to increase the money supply enough when bank crashes had slashed it. In 1930, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon said that the Fed would stand by as the market works itself out: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate real estate… values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wreck from less-competent people.”In other words, exactly the same crap we’re hearing from “libertarians” now. This thumb-twiddling ideology led to years of disastrous economic decline until reversed in 1932 – too late to save Hoover and the Repubs from well-merited defeat by Roosevelt and the Dems.

    Smoot-Hawley, passed in 1930 under Hoover and with a Republican-dominated Congress, probably made little difference in the USA as trade accounted for only 6% of US GDP, somewhat more in Europe, but the basic reason the Depression spread was Europe’s post-WWI dependence on American investment, which dried up.

    Sweden was the first country to emerge from the Depression, in 1934 – it followed a policy of Keynesian deficit financing, before Roosevelt was willing to do so. So, in effect, did Hitler’s Germany, and Britain, somewhat later – and they were next to emerge. Coming off the gold standard also helped, of course.

    Since WWII the USA has largely followed a policy of “military Keynsianism” – large-scale state military spending – because it’s ideologically unacceptable to invest the money in more productive industries, which would be much more effective economically, but of course would not support US imperialism in the same way.

    Of course deficit spending can be pushed too far, as GWB has done in trying to fight two wars and give tax cuts to the rich. But the basic cause of the crash has been the aggregate decisions of banks to create a vast shadow economy of financial instruments in order to boost their profits, and the directors’ bonuses. The existing deficit just makes it harder to counter the threatened slide into a second Great Depression.

    If you’re in favor of negotiation to decide what should be produced, then you should be for the market economy. We vote on production every day with our choices of what to buy or not buy. – John C. Randolph

    Three objections:
    1) This means the rich get many more votes than the poor. I’m sure from the “libertarian” point of view, that’s a great advantage.
    2) Moreover, many people affected by our consumption decisions have no say at all. This is the problem of negative externalities, which Walton is at least prepared to acknowledge.
    3) Planning, and specifically long-term planning are required – at a global scale now that so many of our activities have global implications. If this is not done at all, environmental disaster is as certain as anything empirical can be. I want it done democratically, by negotiated coordination (the word you disingenuously omit), not dictatorially.

    Freedom requires no justification. – jcr
    This would only be so in the “libertarian” dream-world where there are no negative externalities.

  281. #281 Kris Verburgh
    November 4, 2008

    Gives another meaning to the word irony…

  282. #282 Steve P
    November 11, 2008

    yeah, wow…

    sad that I’m NOT surprised by this, yet another example of humans forgetting history, but are we doomed to repeat it in this instance? I can believe that some of the OLD symbols, like those to Sumerian gods, still find their way into our society, but it was true then that the god of the Jews was an angry and vengeful god. I sense a great wrongness with the picture, a sadness in humanity when they are so dupped by their will to possess that they forget or ignore all those signs around them or the lessons they SHOULD HAVE learned in life. I myself have so very far to go, but I KNOW I would never be counted among THAT lot.
    Thanks to the IGPS for sending the link.
    Gabriel

  283. #283 Wiley
    March 13, 2009

    Dude, it’s bronze, brass, copper, or some other mixture. I’m not sure, but it’s not gold. They know that; Give the people some credit. Yes, those inclined pray for the economy along with the fund of all things great and small. Now, lets all pray for my 401k.

  284. #284 Feynmaniac
    March 13, 2009

    Dude, it’s bronze, brass, copper, or some other mixture. I’m not sure, but it’s not gold.

    So praying to idols is okay if it they are made from “bronze, brass, copper, or some other mixture”?

  285. #285 niuzai033
    December 23, 2009

    Lrg prdcts whlsl sl, prvds cstmrs dmnd

  286. #286 niuzai033
    December 23, 2009

    Lrg prdcts whlsl sl, prvds cstmrs dmnd

  287. #287 hery
    January 26, 2010

    I think the best sign of faith is when a person can list things they believe that they wish weren’t so