In the U.K., you only have value if you are wanted


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BRITAIN’S GOVERNMENT: HELPING LONELINESS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Loneliness has become such a problem in the United Kingdom that the country now has a Minister of Loneliness. Prime Minister Theresa May announced the creation of the new position. May stated, “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.”   

DR. REEDER: There’s a number of things here, Tom, from a Christian world and life view, looking at this news report that Forbes has brought to us. Number one is, of course, the go-to now in Britain, fully-embedded, whatever the issues are in the nation, the government is our solution.

It’s really a totally different mindset than what is embedded in our Constitution and in our historic values in America, which was the government had a responsibility to maintain law and order and it had a responsibility for the general welfare in terms of commerce and upholding the rights that God had given to all of its citizens, but it wasn’t the go-to solution to the issues of the day.

It was supposed to protect society and its freedoms and then out of society would come the answers as people would address the issues, thus, the First Amendment which was the free practice of religion and free speech, assembly, etc.

However, in Britain, it’s automatically assumed, even on the conservative side and the conservative party there, that the answer is found in governmental provision. They had a survey that was done and the survey came back and showed that, throughout society, there was loneliness because of a sense of — now hear this word carefully — alienation.

And the two demographics that manifested it the most were the youth and teenagers and the elderly. The elderly, they felt alienated, lonely, abandoned and youth felt alienated and lonely. The roots of this issue of alienation has its roots in only one place and there’s only one solution to it but what are some of the contributing factors?

A PRO-ABORTION CULTURE JUDGES YOU ON WHETHER YOU ARE WANTED

In a culture that embraces death such as abortion and, at the moment, passive euthanasia but rapidly becoming active, the two segments of the demography is going to be the youth and the elderly who are sensing, on the one hand, “I’m not wanted,” and on the other hand, “The only reason I’m here is because somebody said, ‘Well, I think I want them,’ but I don’t have any intrinsic dignity other than somebody wanted me.”

Therefore, you set up this idolatry of affirmation and this idolatry of being wanted and, actually, you can never be wanted enough by people around you to feel that you are significant and that you have dignity.

Christian world and life view says, no, you don’t have dignity because you are wanted and you don’t have dignity because you are considered in the realm of perfection in society physically and mentally — you are wanted because you are made in the image of God and you have an intrinsic dignity that God has given to you and that God has granted to you by making you in His image.

That world and life view comes at it totally differently than the notion that your existence is dependent on the fact that you’re wanted. If you’re not wanted or if you’re not considered perfect — if we get a reading in your birth process that there may be some abnormality with you — then we are going to destroy you.

Recently, Tom, there was a pro-abortion advertisement and this lady is now suing them because they took a picture of her 9-year-old child with some challenging deformities and said, “If you pro-life people want to give birth to people like this, fine, but society’s not going to help you.”

In other words, “Society has determined that child was not worth living and, if you didn’t decide to destroy that child in the womb, then we’re going to cut you off from society because we have decided that those lives are not worth living.” That comes straight out of the eugenics movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

HOW DOES SOCIAL MEDIA TIE INTO ALIENATION?

There’s a second thing that’s at work here and I think it’s social media. Everybody is judging their worth by if I put something on Facebook, how many likes do I get? How many friends do I have? And, by the way, forget the notion that those people really aren’t friends — there is this desire to be connected to people and social media says we can do it.

It’s being marketed as, “You are somebody because you are liked by people. You are their friends. You are connected to them. You put something on the internet — some stream of consciousness statement — and then people are going to like it. And, see, that means people like you.”

Particularly, the youth are susceptible to that and this alienation issue is continuing. The elderly think, “We’re not wanted. We’re not considered desirable for society. We are a blight on society. We are a burden to society.”

Well, the answer is, according to Theresa May, we’ll get a Minister to Loneliness.

IS LONELINESS A LEGITIMATE CONCERN?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, to that end, Vivek Murthy, who was the former surgeon general of the United States, recently wrote, “Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”

DR. REEDER: As one writer said years ago in the book, MegaTrends, high-tech will be low-touch. Everybody’s got the high tech, but there’s no face-to-face relationships. There’s no getting in one another’s life — it’s all digital. Nothing sinful about media or technology — that’s amoral — it’s how is it being used and how is it being embraced? It’s one thing for it to be an instrument of communication, but it’s another thing that it is the source of your meaning in life and your significance in life. And so, what’s being found out is that, well, it just doesn’t work and I’m not sensing my worth in life. And then, on the other hand, somebody unfriends me and then there’s a sense of alienation.

Therefore, what do we do about this increasing alienation? Well, we need to understand that the foundation of it is that, apart from Christ, we’re alienated from God because of our sin. And what does our sin do? It leads us to idolatry — that we live in contradiction to the God that we were made for His glory and to enjoy Him forever.

Therefore, “No, I will make my own gods to give me my joy,” and so we embrace the idolatry of achievement, of academics, of athletics, or of social media or the digital world. We embrace the idolatry that there is my meaning, and strength, and significance, and security and life and it never delivers. It’s Ecclesiastes all over again: “Everything is empty; all is vanity.”

ALIENATION FROM GOD IS WHAT CHRIST OVERCAME FOR US

The answer is not to upgrade your use of social media, but the answer is to come to Christ.

I love the Gospel message in 2 Corinthians 5 that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself — that God was in Christ, reconciling. In other words, we were alienated from him because of our sin. God sends His Son, who goes to the cross and, when He goes to the cross, He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus Christ, at the cross, takes our old record of our life, our record of sin and He pays for it by taking the judgment that should have been due to us and He puts Himself in our place. I love that passage in 2 Corinthians 5 where it says, “God did not count our transgressions, our sins against us. He counted it against Christ and Christ paid for those sins.” So that, when you come to Christ, He takes your sins — they’re changed from you to Him — and He pays for them. And then He takes His righteousness and gives it to you with His blessings.

And you’re reconciled to God and you now have a life of reconciliation and you are reconciled to others because now I don’t look at my husband, my wife, my Facebook, my technology or any of that as my meaning in life because I have meaning in life — I am a child of God. I have a relationship with God and I can enjoy Him forever and God is right within me.

Therefore, I say to folks the minister to loneliness is not a cabinet position; the minister to loneliness is the one with the message of reconciliation and the Good News that Jesus saves sinners. And the minister to loneliness is Jesus Christ, Who will make you right with God and then send His Spirit so that He is now at work right within you and will never leave you, nor forsake you. Now you’re free to enjoy life for His glory because you enjoy Him and His glory. There is your minister of loneliness. Come to Christ.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

13 hours ago

VIDEO: Prisons could be built with COVID-19 funds, Shelby endorses Katie Britt for Senate, Brooks battles with Swalwell as a new poll shows big lead and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and political consultant Mecca Musick take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Alabama really use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons?

— Does Katie Britt’s entering of the U.S. Senate race shake things up, or has U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) already won this race?

— Can U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) keep the more radical members of the Democratic Party at bay?

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Jackson and Musick are joined by former U.S. Attorney Jay Town to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at those who want to use the illegally acquired tax returns of the uber-wealthy to push for higher taxes. He argues the released returns show that we should implement a flat tax and do away with all deductions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

16 hours ago

Auburn’s David Housel tackles more than sports in ‘From the Backbooth at Chappy’s’

When David Housel retired from Auburn University in 2006, after a legendary career as athletics director for the Tigers, it wasn’t long before his wife urged him to get busy again – and a deli on Glenn Avenue in Auburn was the beneficiary.

“Susan wanted me to do something to get out of the house,” Housel recalls. “I started going to Chappy’s to drink coffee, read the paper. Pretty soon, Kenny Howard would meet me there, and it just kind of grew from there.”

In short order, friends of Housel began to gather, first a few one day a week and then, just prior to the pandemic, 12-16 people nearly every day of the week.

They meet at Chappy’s, where a plaque commemorates Housel’s booth, and they talk – about sports, of course, but about pretty much anything that’s on their minds.

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Housel began to write essays about those mornings, posting them to Facebook. He’s now compiled more than 100 of those pieces into a new book, “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s: Stories of the South: Football, Politics, Religion, and More.” It’s officially released next week at a series of book signings at Chappy’s in the Auburn area from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day: Tuesday in Auburn, Wednesday in Montgomery and Thursday in Prattville.

“Consider this Housel unleashed,” the author says. “Most of the stuff I’ve written in my life has been about Auburn on an Auburn platform. Even after I retired, I was a representative of Auburn, even though I wasn’t working there. This is not an Auburn book. It’s about football, politics, religion and more.”

“From the Backbooth at Chappy’s,” with a foreword by Auburn graduate and acclaimed journalist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, evolved as Housel’s morning gatherings at Chappy’s evolved, though he began writing the essays fairly early in the process.

“When something is in your mind, in your heart, in your head, if you’re a writer, it just has to come out, and it just comes through your fingers,” Housel says. “Turns out people like to read it, so I got the Facebook page. I shared thoughts and essays and that kind of thing. It was not a planned thing.”

When COVID-19 came along, Housel decided to listen to a few folks who told him his musings would make a good book.

“I had been thinking a lot about it, and it was time to do it,” Housel says.

Housel has written six other books. Most have to do with Auburn sports history, but one, “From the Desk of David Housel,” is similar to “From the Backbooth at Chappy’s.”

“That one was primarily sports, but it had some other things in it,” Housel says. “This one is about the other stuff, but it has some sports in it.”

Though the three topics in his book’s title – football, politics and religion  – are often the subjects people are warned not to bring up if they want to keep the peace, Housel and his friends don’t shy away from any of them. Housel especially gravitates toward religious topics.

“I like the ones that I hope make people think,” he says of his essays. “The good Lord gave us a mind, and we’re supposed to use it. Too few people who call themselves Christians do what the Lord said and use their minds. … Faith has got to be built not on challenging God but questioning God. I think God likes that, because it shows we’re engaged and that we care.”

Now that the pandemic is ending, the Backbooth at Chappy’s events are slowly but surely returning to normal. On Mondays, Housel eats two eggs scrambled, lean bacon and a helium biscuit; on Tuesdays maybe a parfait with granola; on Wednesdays, it’s blueberry pancakes, and Fridays a waffle.

What remains constant is the conversation. And the writing.

“I’m still writing the Backbooth, and since the first of the year, I’ve written a couple I think are book-worthy,” Housel says. “I started out doing maybe one a week, but I’m old enough that I don’t have to meet a self-imposed deadline. When the spirit moves me, I write.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 hours ago

State Rep. Pringle pushes to ban critical race theory in public schools — ‘Woke culture indoctrination,’ ‘Needs to be stopped in its tracks’

Last week, Florida’s Board of Education banned so-called “critical race theory” from its public schools, and it is a move State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) hopes to follow in Alabama.

Critical race theory, a belief that racism is ingrained in some of America’s sacred institutions, is widely panned by critics because it distorts and weaponizes history for political gain.

Friday, Pringle discussed his prefiled bill for the Alabama Legislature’s 2022 regular session to prohibit critical race theory from being taught in Alabama’s public schools.

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“It’s simply a bill that says in public education, you can’t teach or indoctrinate our children with critical race theory,” he said. “People are waking up all around the nation to how bad this stuff is. I mean, this is woke cancel culture gone completely amuck. They want to completely disregard our 14th and 15th Amendment rights, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act. If you don’t agree with them — here’s what’s crazy: They want to send you to a reeducation camp. Think about that, a reeducation camp. Don’t they do that in China, Russia and North Korea?  That’s how bad this stuff is. Either you agree with them or you have to be sent off to a reeducation camp.”

“This is just indoctrination — the woke culture indoctrination of our children,” Pringle continued. “That’s all it is and it needs to be stopped in its tracks. I mean, our children need to learn history and we ought to open a frank discussion about history — the good, the bad. But this is not about good or bad. This is teaching our children that our nation is a bad nation, is an evil nation and is not the great country that we live in. We are the safest, freest people in the world and that’s what our children need to learn.”

“Do we have problems? Yeah,” he added. “Have we done bad things? Yeah. But we’re still the greatest nation in the history of the world.”

According to the Mobile County Republican lawmaker, the response to the effort thus far has been positive and supportive.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

21 hours ago

Why Sylacauga marble is known around the world

If you’ve ever visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and stared up at the translucent marble ceiling, you’ve witnessed a piece of Alabama history. The ceiling is made of white marble mined in Talladega County’s Sylacauga (appropriately known as the Marble City).

In addition to lending its natural treasure to some of the nation’s most notable buildings, Sylacauga also holds the title for having the longest deposit of marble in the world. The bed of stone runs 32 miles long, a mile and a half wide, and more than 600 feet deep. The marble found in this quarry is especially desirable for two key characteristics: its purity and its durability. When paired together, these distinct qualities make Alabama marble some of the most desired in the world for large-scale buildings and monuments, as well as homes and sculptures.

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The History of Alabama Marble

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The Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Marble is formed when limestone is subjected to extreme pressure and heat. In Sylacauga, the conditions are perfect for the formation of metamorphic marble. Sylacauga’s massive deposit was first discovered by Native Americans, but it wasn’t quarried until 1834, 20 years after army surgeon Dr. Edward Gantt stumbled upon the vein while passing through with General Andrew Jackson’s army.

In the years that followed Gantt’s discovery, Sylacauga’s marble business thrived. More quarries popped up, mining the marble for everything from funerary monuments to building projects to sculptures. By the 1960s, the use of the quarried marble shifted toward the utilitarian. Rather than being mined in huge chunks for building material, the marble was being ground down for use in products like cosmetics, diapers, magazine paper, fertilizer, fiberglass, toothpaste, and chewing gum. In 1969, marble was named Alabama’s state rock.

A Timeless Treasure

Sylacauga Quarry (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

Today the charge for Alabama marble is being led by the Swindal family, who own Alabama Marble Mineral & Mining Co. (AM3). AM3’s 50-acre quarry in Sylacauga is the world’s only supplier and leading distributor of Alabama marble. Owner Roy Swindal’s goal is to reintroduce the world to Alabama marble, once again marketing it as a prized material for both commercial and consumer construction. According to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, around 30 million tons of marble have been pulled from the ground in Sylacauga since 1900. The Swindals hope to add to that number by continuing and improving upon the state’s tradition for many years to come.

Marble Mania

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Sculptor Enzo Torcoletti at the Sylacauga Marble Festival (Sylacauga Marble Festival/Facebook)

It’s only fitting that a town built on marble pay tribute to the stone that brought its success. For the past 13 years, the city has celebrated its marble mining heritage with the 12-day Magic of Marble Festival. The festival, typically held in April, features several activities and events that are all free and fun for the whole family. Festival participants can take a tour of operational quarries and visit the Gantts/IMERYS Observation Point that overlooks the town’s historic first quarry. The creative side of marble is put on display at Blue Bell Park, where 25 sculptors create original pieces made entirely of marble. On the final day of the festival, the finished pieces are displayed and sold at nearby B.B. Comer Library. Other activities include a 5K run and a scavenger hunt.

If you can’t wait for next year’s festival and you want to see Alabama’s famous white marble in action now, there are several locations around the state to see it put to good use. In Birmingham, try the John Hand Building, Wells Fargo headquarters, City Federal building, or the Chamber of Commerce. If you’re in Montgomery, don’t miss the “Head of Christ” sculpture at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. It was created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti, who also happens to be the artist behind Birmingham’s Vulcan.

(Courtesy of SoulGrown)

21 hours ago

The economics of paying ransom

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the hacker group DarkSide disrupted gasoline supplies across the Southeast. The company caused a stir by paying a 75 Bitcoin ransom to DarkSide. America historically has been opposed to paying evildoers, as reflected in the slogan, “Millions for defense, but not one cent in tribute,” and President Jefferson sending the Navy and Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates.

Ransomware raises many economic issues. A first question is, do hackers ever give the data back if paid? DarkSide provided Colonial Pipeline a key to decrypt their data. According to Proofpoint, this is the norm: 70% of ransom payers got their data back, 20% never got their data back and 10% received a second ransom demand.

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From an economic perspective, this is not surprising. About two dozen groups, identifying themselves by name and known to insurance companies, carry out most of the sophisticated attacks. Insurers would never recommend payment in the future to a group which has reneged. The hackers must deliver as promised to make money.

Some have suggested making payment of ransom for cyberattacks illegal. If no one ever paid ransom, the hackers could not make money. Refusing to pay ransom though faces two significant economic challenges.

The first is time consistency. Kidnapping illustrates this concept. Before an event, the incentive exists to say, “We will never pay ransom.” If the bad guys believe this, they will never invest the time, effort and expense to stage a kidnapping. Once they hold hostages, however, our incentive changes; negotiating just this one time now makes sense. Our policy to never pay ransom is not credible.

Collective action poses the second challenge. Businesses collectively have an interest in not rewarding cybercrime, yet individual businesses suffer these attacks. A business which does not pay ransom benefits other businesses, creating the challenge. Why should Continental Pipeline suffer losses to make other businesses less likely to be attacked?

Why do businesses pay ransom? Reports mention several factors. A business may face a closure of unknown length and cost. Customers’ personal information will be sold if ransom is not paid, leading to fines and bad publicity. And the hackers might sell proprietary information to competitors.

Good economists know better than to second guess business managers’ decisions. Decisions to pay ransom often involve the business’ executives, its insurance carrier and tech security experts. They know the options and likely costs and should make a good decision, despite the pressure of a crisis.

Insurance companies and government regulations reduce organizations’ vulnerability to hackers, which is good. But what about channeling President Jefferson and going after the hackers? Most of the hacker groups operate in Russia, which provides Safe Haven as long as the hackers do not target Russian companies. Some law enforcement options may exist. Federal prosecutors apparently recovered most of the Bitcoins paid to DarkSide.

Crime is a very costly way to transfer wealth. Stolen merchandise typically sells for one-third (or less) of market value. A criminal might have to steal thousands in property to net $1,000. Ransomware appears much more wasteful than traditional theft. Consider just the value of the time Americans spent searching for gas during the disruption. Remember then that the ransom was about $4.4 million.

Cybercrime makes us poorer. The hackers and defenders at tech security companies are highly skilled computer programmers. But instead of making new apps or games, they are hacking or defending existing computer systems. Add to this the service disruption during cyberattacks, the reduced use of technology for fear of being hacked and the time spent on security training. The costs may be $1 trillion annually, or one percent of global GDP.

We must guard here against comparing the real world to an imagined utopia. We cannot costlessly protect our property from thieves or our computers from malware, or make people no longer willing to steal from others. Economics teaches that there are no perfect solutions in life, only tradeoffs. Vigilance, antivirus programs and backup are the tradeoffs we face with cybercrime.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.