28 April 2019

Milton Friedman: Understanding Inflation

Milton Friedman, one of the greatest economists of the 20th century, explains inflation in simple terms that anyone willing can understand.

In case you were wondering the breakdown of Bob Crawford's tax situation, we can use a nifty inflation calculator to find out just how much he's being screwed.

Wages between 1972 and 1978 did not keep up with inflation*, and Mr. Crawford's buying power was lower even though he was making more. His wages did increase from $12,000 a year to $18,000 a year, an increase of $6,000 nominal dollars. However, adjusted for inflation, he was making just under $1,000 less in inflation-adjusted dollars. $12,000 in 1972 would be equivalent to $19,000 in 1978. While his company (which was in bed with the politicians, just as they all are today) did give him more money to make him think he was getting ahead in life, they conveniently gave him less in real terms than he was making before he had gotten the raise. Governments and corporations are demonic bedfellows. And, as if that wasn't enough, he was kicked into a higher tax bracket because his on paper earnings were higher.

Also, $18,000 in 1978 is equal to $70,000 today, and $12,000 in 1972 is equal to $73,000 today. The average wages for tool and die (Bob Crawford's profession) today is $49,000 a year, only 2/3 of what the equivalent job paid in 1972. Nominal wages may have quadrupled, but real wages have been cut nearly in half.

*Wages have not kept up with inflation to this day. In fact one study from the Pew Research Center indicates that real wages have been stagnant for the past 40 years.

22 April 2019

The Last Months of Jesus?

Just watched "The Last Days of Jesus" on PBS, a piece of tabloid propaganda by radical Jewish biblical conspiracy theorist Simcha Jacobovici, who sets out in every single thing he creates to "prove" that literally everything about Judaism is true and literally everything about Christianity is fake. He is willing to spin total yarns to "prove" even the most outlandish things to say some Jewish story absolutely happened exactly as it is written, and will go to the same lengths in the opposite direction to paint Jesus as a scheming political opportunist who had children, founded a dynasty in France, died, and rotted in a tomb. It is co-produced by biblical conspiracy theorist James Tabor, who has worked with Jacobovici and naytheist James Cameron before in the past on fantastical tales of biblical revisionism.

The story, like most of the yarns he spins, appears convincing if you don't think about it, but when you apply even the slightest bit of scrutiny it falls apart.

Just one example dismantles the entire central thesis of the program - that Jesus was colluding with Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate, and Praetoria Prefect Sejanus, in an attempted coup against Tiberius to put Sejanus on the throne of Rome and Herod on the throne of Judea, and to remove Caiaphas from the position as head priest with Jesus taking his place (I kid ye not, that conspiracy theory the central thesis of the program). Allegedly it makes no sense for Jesus to be arrested, tried, and executed in a couple days. That never, ever happened, we are told. It had to take place over six months, because news has to travel across the Mediterranean that Sejaus was executed for treason, which caused Pilate and Antipas to waiver in their scheme. Ten minutes later we are told that Sejanus is arrested, tried for treason, and executed in a single day, as if they hadn't just went to great lengths to explain that these single day show trials never happened and could never happen and that the Gospel accounts had to be wrong.

It also says that the Gospel writers never mentioned Sejanus because "it was extremely dangerous at the time to do so", despite the fact that we know Sejanus existed because at least six contemporaries of the Gospel writers wrote about him. The more likely explanation as to why the Gospel writers don't mention him is because they had no idea who he was because why would they?

The film also includes bull face lies that Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist (he was not), that he took over John the Baptist's movement when John was executed (clearly he did not), that Jesus had no reason to dislike the Pharisees because they all believed in the same things (which they did not), that John the Baptist sprinkled water on people's heads instead of immersing them in water, that first century Jews believed there would be two messiahs* - one a political ruler and one the chief priest.

The film also lies about the Last Supper and even the purpose behind Christianity. They say Jesus wanted us to remember his death, and that this was the foundation of Christianity, when, in truth, it is his resurrection and conquest of death that is the central point of the religion. If Jesus died and rotted in a tomb Christianity would be meaningless and Jesus, who said he would rise again and rise us to eternal life as well, would be a liar. The resurrection IS Christianity. It is the singular event that proves Jesus is who he says he is and that he can free us from sin and death.

*I should point out that the word “messiah” has two different meanings within Judaism, and the producers of this film are suggesting otherwise. The “normal” messiah was any high priest or king who was anointed with holy oil, and even included the gentile Cyrus the Great, who ordered the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Messiah as we know it today, who will appear at the End of Days, descend from the line of David, free the Jews, and preside over the millennial reign was one man who would quite literally appear a the End of Days. There were not going to be two men ruling at the same time, one a priest and one a king, there was just one final liberator of the Jewish people. The confusion arises among people who don't know that the one word can be used in two different ways in two different contexts. The producers of this program are deliberately misleading the public (James Tabor has even written a book offering a different misrepresentation, where Jesus is the king and John the Baptist is the priest!).