Reflections on a Yard Sale

Yes, I confess.  I used to dread our biannual church yard sales, which are always on a Saturday, but take two days to set-up.  A lot of my distaste for them was the pressure of time while raising kids, the neglect of my own home and yard that would still have to be made up, and the tedium.  I’ve noticed a gradual and growing shift in my attitude over the years, and while my reflections are fresh in my mind from our most recent one today, I thought I’d share some of them.

We live in a consumption driven, acquisitively orientated society.  No doubt about it.  I lament it often—just ask my kids—while knowing full well I am implicated in it.  It’s tempting to look at all the donations we have at our yard sale and think “What a shame.  All this stuff people acquire and discard.  We live in such a disposable society, buying stuff we don’t need and then tossing it out.”

I used to do that, and maybe I’m just projecting onto others; maybe no one else looks at it that way.  Without a doubt there’s some truth to it.  I see it differently now, though.  I look around and I see a high chair parents used to feed their baby in.  I see couches people used to snuggle on as they rested at the end of the day.  I see kitchen tables that people used to fellowship around, pray around, laugh around and sustain themselves with daily bread.  I see toys and games a child once opened with delight under a Christmas tree or unwrapped for a birthday.  I see clothes that protected people and kept them warm or cool or dry as they worked, played, worshipped or even hurt, hungered and grieved.  I see exercise equipment that at least represented hope if not reality, cups that helped quench thirst, pictures that used to hang on walls and brighten a room and vases that held beautiful flowers that brightened a day.  I see books that educated, fascinated and entertained.

It’s all there, and more, much more.  Above it all I see love.  We all know that the most precious gifts we have to offer are not tangible.  But, being the frail creatures of the tangible world of sense that we are, when we freely and joyfully give tangible gifts to one another, we are able, by doing so, to also give them intangible gifts.

Not all, but some of the donations were once gifts given or received in love.  Some of them were probably things that used to belong to departed loved ones that their family is finally able to give away as they struggle to move through their grief.  Some of them were originally purchased as a way to care and provide for someone’s family.  Some were bought in hopes (perhaps misplaced, but who knows?) of being better people.  Some were bought to do good work, to better care for creation, to spend time in genuine activities of re-creation.  Some, yes even some, were probably bought wisely, on a budget, when something else nicer, better, lovelier, but more expensive, would have been preferred, but the person wanted to save more for generous, cheerful giving or necessary provision.   And now they have given them away, in hopes that others may find some value in them, rather than toss it in a landfill.

Of course some of the stuff was unneeded, was charged with money one did not have, was bought in an attempt to satisfy a selfish desire, or was put to bad use, but not all, probably not most.  Many of the donations we had to offer were bought by people seeking to fulfill real needs or to give as the best gift they could to someone they dearly love, and maybe even to save money to give more to God or to others, and the donations helped them to do just that.

On yard sale weekends, our fellowship hall is packed with shared humanity: our memories, hopes, generosity, longings and love as well as our greed, acquisitiveness, envy, discontent and self-inflicted pain.  It’s packed with the image-bearers of God and the fallen, broken, prideful rebels those image-bearers have become.

And it’s packed with another kind of humanity, too: the humanity of church family fellowshipping and serving.  I say serving because I believe most of the people who come are sincerely glad and genuinely needful of the things they buy, and knowing it’s not ideal, it truly helps our church continue to serve and worship God.  It would be nice to not have to use the proceeds for the budget, to give it all away to Lutheran Services for the Aging or ELCA World Hunger or Disaster Relief, or to Synod benevolence, and that’s a good goal worth striving for and remaining mindful about, but God knows our frame; He knows our need; and He understands our fears and weaknesses.

I’m not willing to concretely say that we have not been faithful in giving.  I only know that I haven’t always, so it’s likely in the abstract that others have sometimes also not been as faithful as they should.  But this too I know:  God is always faithful, and He provides in our unfaithfulness without ever approving of it, always prompting us to more faithfulness and more generosity.  We need, nay, we must move towards that with the help of God’s grace and the power of His Spirit, but we must also give thanks to God for His provision now.

I also say fellowshipping because there’s a chance to get to talk to church family you may not get to talk to that often, the sharing of stories and memories, and even a good laugh or two.  Most get the chance to sit down and share a meal with someone.  There’s also the natural fellowship of shared labor, which doesn’t always include words, and the appreciation one gains for the willingness of others who do all the setting up and preparing.  To top it all off, it’s intergenerational fellowship!

One also meets members of the community.  Some of the same people come year after year, and many of them will stop and talk if you give them an opening.  In the slow part of the afternoon this past Saturday, I spoke to a man who seemed hesitant to say more than hello, but I pressed a little and the next thing I knew we had a 20 minute conversation.

It’s a different world for me than it was 5-6 years ago when I begrudgingly started working at them.  Go to one sometime and see for yourself.  Bring a fresh pair of eyes.  They really help!

Perseverance, or What’s It All About Alfie?

Sometimes I think the harder you fight the more resistance there is such that more energy is expended to accomplish the same amount.  It’s like jogging 3 miles, but every time you increase your pace the wind blows back in equal proportion, so that you still only jog 3 miles, and you do it in the exact same amount of time, but you’re more worn out and exhausted at the end.

Even if you increase in strength and stamina from the extra exertion, so that each time you jog you can run faster and faster, the resistance is just going to increase proportionally. Like Sisyphus pushing that damn bolder up the hill every day.  You gotta know by the 1000th year of that he was exponentially stronger than when he started.  Didn’t matter.  Push rock up; rock rolls down (lather, rinse, repeat, buy more shampoo).

Of course the analogy breaks down because we don’t move a fixed distance, and what looks like getting nowhere builds character and hope (if we have eyes to see), but that is hard.  Especially when most people in your life only have a snapshot of you.  You come into their picture only regarding specific expectations and needs.  For them, those expectations must be met in full, to their standards, on their timelines, and are all high priority, front burner, world-ending-if-not-done-right-and-on-time issues, and your value to them is based on how well you meet those expectations, no matter how unrealistic, and they do not see the depth and density of your life, care what else you’re doing or about healthy balance.

Our lives are motion pictures but we see one another in still frames.

Let us now praise Crony Capitalism and its offspring: rapacious consumption, driven workaholism, false identity, burn out and debased culture.

“I believe in love, Alfie.  Without true love we just exist.”

Greeks R Us

Over the last several days there have been violent protest in Greece, including several deaths, over the spending cuts the government is proposing.   From “The Wall Street Journal:”

The Greeks are giving the world a good taste of their modern politics. Periclean democracy, meet Athenian mob rule: Tens of thousands are rampaging through the capital and other large cities this week in protest against €30 billion in austerity measures needed to secure the €110 million bailout for the bankrupt country.

The nationwide strike—led by government-employee unions, which threaten further disruptions after parliament yesterday approved the rescue package—was a timely show for Greece’s prospective rescuers in Germany and at the International Monetary Fund. The medicine for Greece’s deficit and debt woes (at 13% and 124.9% of GDP, respectively.

I used to have a lot of affinity with the Democratic Party, but, besides moral relativism, this is the main reason why they are moving us in the wrong direction, fast.  In order to stay in power, their main tactic is to created dependent constituencies with an ideology of entitlement.  If you make people dependent upon cradle-to-grave government  programs and services, and fill them with the sense that they are entitled to it, that they have a right to expect it, then they will demand more and refuse to accept any limits.

Notice there are no protests in the streets of Germany over paying for the bail-out.  No, instead, in Greece, where despite the fact that other nations will be forced to finance their dependence in order to keep the contagion from spreading, they are  refusing, with violence and murder, to accept any cuts in in their entitlements.  Just like the NJ teachers’ union, which refuses to take a salary freeze so that programs don’t have to be cut.  From an op-ed at

The much reported “death curse” on Governor Christie and the teachers union’s response to it seem to prove the point that the leadership of the New Jersey Education Association is not thinking clearly. Christie’s demand that teachers forgo their wage increases is reasonable, based on the state’s tenuous fiscal situation.

No, no.  Endless spending is an entitlement.  Give us 10 years, Greece; we’ll catch up.

Greatest Salesman in the World?

There’s a story in “The Washington Post” this morning about President Obama’s meeting with House Republicans yesterday.

As the president met with House Republicans yesterday in the Capitol basement, Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) got out his BlackBerry and started to Twitter. “President Obama is speaking to House Republicans right now on Democratic stimulus bill,” he wrote on the social networking Web site. “Good salesman, bad product.”

Flake, stopped in a basement corridor as he departed the room, expanded on his Twitter report. “He’s reaching out, he’s genuine about it,” he said of the new president, but “it’s like trying to sell a Ford Pinto.”

That’s an apt description.  Obama is an exceptional salesman pushing a horrible product and millions are lining up to buy it.  In politics, the losing side is always claiming that they didn’t do a very good job of communicating their message.  It never seems to occur to anyone that we understood the message loud and clear; we’re just not buying.

That’s because in our over-commercialized society we believe everything is about sales.  I can’t count the times in my life when I mentioned to others that I am not interested in Sales and they say something to the effect that “Everything is Sales.”

Some years back I got into a heated debate with a friend in Sales who told me that if a product failed it was the fault of the Sales team.  I agreed that it could be but that it didn’t have to be.  VCRs didn’t die out because of an ineffective marketing strategy, for example.  In fact, VHS beat Beta in the video format war for a variety of reasons, some having to do with marketing strategy, but it wasn’t marketing that caused VHS to decline; it was for the same reason you don’t see buggy whip factories anymore: Obsolesce.

Superior salesmanship will only bolster a bad product for so long.  In our everything-is-sales world there is a phenomena that doesn’t fit.  It’s like “the structures of scientific revolutions” in which anomalies that don’t fit the model add up and eventually lead to a paradigm shift.  How do we account for the fact that sometimes growth happens with bad salesmanship?

While there is much that is useful in the various movements that help church growth using more modern techniques, the church is in desperate need of a paradign shift.  The Gospel never becomes obsolete, and it’s not a product to be sold.  It is a relationship to be lived.

Witness John the Baptist.  People flocked to this gaunt, bearded, wild looking man of the desert dressed in camel hair.  What was his message? “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matt 3:2)  He goes on to say in Matt 3:11-12  “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Speaking of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, the Messiah, not the Great Salesman, what was His message?  In Luke 14: 26-27 Jesus proclaims “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Whoever does not hate his family can not be my disciple!  Whoever doesn’t carry his cross—keeping in mind that in the context of Roman occupation, this meant going to your death—whoever does not carry his cross can not be my disciple!  Whoever doesn’t give up all of his possessions can not be my disciple! (14:33)  Give up the things you love, the people you love and go die.

No wonder G.K. Chesterton once observed that “Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried.”  Give up the things you love, the people you love and go die.   Maybe we should put that on our marquee and watch the crowds come pouring in.

But the thing is, if we take a look at the verse before all this (14:25) we find: “Now large crowds were traveling with him.”  This is a jarring incongruity to the modern media and market driven mind.  Can you imagine a Nike campaign that said “Our latest shoe will pinch your toes, rub your heels and cost a lot of money”?  No one would buy it, and yet people flocked to Jesus.

What was Jesus offering that was so good that people wanted to follow Him if that was His message?  He was offering them nothing less than Himself.  They wanted to be near Him.  They wanted to hear Him.  And they wanted to be like Him.

In the words of Bruce Carroll: “Wounded people everywhere, and when they look at us, do they see Jesus there? Who Will be Jesus to them? Who’ll show the love that restores them again?”

Let us not forget that it was through a rag-tag band of fishermen, tax collectors, lowly outcasts that Jesus changed the world, not a crew of highly trained executive account managers and salesmen.

Obama can pitch a bad product with style and poise, charisma and charm.  Let the Church keep pitching a Carpenter for King no matter how awkward, ugly, incompetent and old fashioned we may be.

Obama, Oil and Politics as Usual

The primaries have come to NC, and I have to tell you, I never thought I’d pull for a Clinton, but if I weren’t for McCain I’d have to vote for Hillary. Obama is slick, inexperienced and elitist. He’s like one of those infuriating Sprite ™ commercials that tell you “Image is nothing” while using the image of sports stars to sell it to you.

He models “politics as usual” with his empty rhetoric of “run against Washington,” and “vote for change” that uses sound bytes, charm and slogans to pander to voters who think a president can solve all their problems. (Frankly, I already have a Messiah. )

Let’s look at oil, for example. One of his ads claims:

“Since the gas lines of the ’70s, Democrats and Republicans have talked about energy independence but nothing’s changed — except now Exxon’s making $40 billion a year and we’re paying $3.50 for gas. I’m Barack Obama. I don’t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won’t let them block change anymore.”

As reported at the “Chicago Tribune’s” blog this “ad is factually correct. He does not take money from oil companies. A 1907 federal law bars all corporations from giving money to political candidates. However, oil company employees can make donations.” Further, “Obama has taken at least $263,000 from oil company executives, family members and employees since entering the presidential race last year, including $46,000 last month. At least $140,000 has come in chunks of between $1,000 and $2,300, the maximum permitted under federal law.”

He is perfectly willing to take oil money and then dumb down the debate about energy while attacking an easy corporate target. This is the worst sort of political maneuvering. He points to an “enemy,” grossly oversimplifies and distorts the issue and says “They are to blame for your problems, and I am the solution.”

I am not a fan of giant multinational corporations. I am way more Paleo-conservative than neo-conservative, but the oil companies are not responsible for the high cost of gasoline at the moment. Anyone who really wants to education himself on the subject should visit the Energy Information Administration, and especially read their Primer on Gasoline Prices.

According to professor of economics, Mark J. Perry, oil companies only receive about 10% profit per gallon, and he says that figure comes from the EIA itself . By contrast, the government received about 20% in taxes. According to economist Thomas Sowell “The government collects far more in taxes on every gallon of gasoline than the oil companies collect in profits. If oil company profits are ‘obscene, as some politicians claim, are the government’s taxes PG-13?”

Another “lie” by misrepresentation is the unquestioned assumption that oil companies make all their profits from the sale of gasoline. The fact is that gas profits are not “windfall” or out of balance with profits by other industries. The factors that really drive the cost of gasoline, like increased demand, global turmoil, commodity speculation and supply are mostly outside of any one government’s control.

To the extent that our government has any influence, Congress has the greatest, but that body is currently controlled by Democrats hoping to get a Democrat elected President. If you listen to the House Energy Independence & Global Warming Committee’s ” Hearing on Oil CEOs and Price Issues,” you’ll get a real feel for the complexity of the issue and the limitations of government. Even so, Congress still has a bigger role. They are participating in Obama’s “politics as usual,” though, and sitting on their hands to help him win the election.

Imagine for a moment that oil prices became stable overnight. Imagine further that oil companies began selling gas at cost. How long would it take them to be broke? If you look at the EIA’s page for petroleum, Americans probably consume about 400 million gallons of gas a day. That’s 146 billion gallons a year. That’s 14.6 billion dollars in profit, from gasoline sales.

If, suddendly, they did not have that revenue, and did not try to recover it by increasing prices on other products, in about 10 years or so, there would be no oil companies, besides OPEC. In the meantime there’d also be no R&D, no investment in refining capacity, no exploration for new supplies and no investment in alternative energy, all things oil companies spend profits on.

The point of this is that the oil companies are not Satan and Obama is not Jesus Christ. By acting as if this issue is really very simple and characterizing the oil companies as the “enemy” Obama is engaging in the worst sort of typical election-cycle pandering.

A Letter To My Representatives On Oil Prices

Dear Senators Burr and Dole and Representative Jones,

Last week I listened on C-SPAN to the testimony of oil executives from the big five oil companies. As a father of five who is forced to drive a large van, this issue is of great concern to me. I recognize that there are things that I as a consumer can do, and I have been trying to do them. I combine trips, make as few trips as possible, and use one of our more fuel-efficient vehicles when I can.

However, you know there is very little consumers can do when they have to get to their jobs and they have long commutes. America is not laid out like Europe. We often have long drives to church, grocery stores, jobs, and extended family. This is especially true of rural Americans of whom I am one.

There also seems to be very little that citizens can do. The political process has become so layered and policy issues so complex that many Americans feel the best they can do is to get through their day-to-day lives and hope that their leaders are wise enough, diligent enough, and courageous enough to do something about national and global issues that lie way outside the average citizen’s grasp or control.

It seems the only thing that we can do as citizens is write the occasional letter to our elected representatives and give them our input. Here’s mine.

I do not now remember if the hearings were held before the House or the Senate, but one of the Congressional questioners said that we need short-term, medium-term, and long-term approaches to this very difficult problem. Score 1 for wisdom.

I am a Republican and an evangelical Christian, and I am also a student of history. Capitalism was built on a foundation of integrity, frugality, and standards. Large corporations often provide a lot of jobs, a lot of economic growth, and a lot of innovation, and free trade is not the bugaboo it’s often made out to be. (Auto mechanics, teachers, doctors, lawyers, grocers, dentists, and a host of other jobs are quite safe from the threat of being moved to India.) However, a corporation’s final loyalty is to the shareholder, and the shareholder thinks short-term.

In the early days of capitalism, religious and cultural standards and personal integrity helped offset the desires of personal gain at all cost. Early corporations understood that they had obligations to their employees, their community, and their nation. Today, unfortunately, large multinational corporations need incentives to do what it would have been unthinkable not to do in the past.

With that in mind, Congress needs to realize that while the free market ultimately brings increased prosperity, innovation, and opportunity there is a place for judicious political oversight on behalf of the citizenry.

It seems clear that America must lead the way in searching for, developing, and utilizing alternative energy sources. It also seems clear that a much needed short-term solution to the current rising cost of gas is an increase in supply. How can that be accomplished while encouraging the oil companies to not merely focus on short-term profit? I think Congress needs to immediately pass legislation to allow greater access to American oil sources such as those in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and in the Pacific Ocean.

If you do that, however, what is to stop the oil companies from just exploiting those resources for the short-term gain of their shareholders? I suggest that in the legislation that opens those resources it be mandated that any corporation that develops those resources be required to put 20% of the profits made on those resources into developing alternative energy sources and the infrastructure to accommodate them. Continue reading

Reducing Families to Economics

I was just browsing the position papers at the National Youth Rights Association, where, under the topic of entertainment, they write:

While we understand the need to warn viewers about the content of a show, movie or game, we feel that age-based ratings systems not only fail to do so properly, but deprive young people of the ability to choose their own entertainment with their own money based on the whims of secret ratings boards, accountable to no one.

The National Youth Rights Association supports efforts by young people to use our economic strength to bring about an end to age-based ratings systems. We call for strict enforcement of antitrust and fair business practice laws to prohibit any group from strong-arming any business into following an age-based ratings system.

I see several objections here. First, the language is intellectually dishonest and falsely characterizing. The ratings aren’t based on ‘whims’ nor is the board ‘secret,’ nor is there any ‘strong-arming.’

Secondly, besides the fact that the movie theater can’t be asked to determine who earned what money, those under-18 teens who may actually be paying with money they earned probably don’t realize that if someone else weren’t paying for their food, housing, utilities, health insurance, car payments (most of the time), car insurance (most of the time), etc. that they wouldn’t be able to pay for that movie.

No one has true “economic strength” who is dependent upon others for most of his or her real income, measured in those things received but not paid for.

Finally, “age-based ratings systems” are sub-sets of a general philosophical position that one can only assume they take as axiomatic based on their desire to also lower drinking, driving and voting ages; that is, that there is no sound basis for “age-based” anything. They give a wink and a nod to the idea that there is a justified “need to warn viewers,” but they don’t really expound upon that, nor do they bother to support their conclusion that “age-based ratings systems… fail to do [that] properly.”

Maybe I haven’t seen it yet, but at some point they’re going to have to address the general questions of if and when the state has a legitimate basis for passing laws based on age. They seem to be avoiding that general philosophical line drawing. Either there is to be no line drawn ever or a line is justified. If it’s justified, they have to argue why, say, 16 is better than 18.

But it’s in those kinds of specific, concrete arguments that they’d need something besides high-minded Obamaesque rhetoric.

If a 16 year old–with or without–a job wants to go see an R-rated movie all she needs to do is take her mom with her. Philosophically, they’re trying to reduce family and citizen relationships to ones of mere economics, hoping to cut parents out of the loop. However, if that’s the case, they undermine their very objective, because those who pay for all those others silly things like medical insurance (i.e. ‘parents’) will always have the upper hand economically.

They need some other grounding for the position. If “it’s my money” is the best they have then they have nothing.

Thank God That I Am Not Like The (Re)publican

In Jesus’s day, publicans were often tax collectors, and Scripture lumps them in with sinners as in Mark 2: 16: “When the teachers of the Law, who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors [publicans]… ” They were despised and looked down upon as corrupt and greedy.

Jesus tells The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Today it is no longer Thank God I am not like that Publican, but Thank God I am not like that Republican. In “Bleeding Hearts But Tight Fists,” columnist George F. Will exposes the harsh truth behind liberal rhetoric. It turns out that, according to Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, “liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives.” Here are some of the data:

• Although liberal families’ incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

• Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.

• Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.

• Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.

• In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

• People who reject the idea that “government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality” give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

Will concludes that “using public office to give other people’s money to government programs,” is “charitable, as liberals increasingly, and conveniently, understand that word.” Indeed, this is the new Pharisaism, the belief that an ideology of spending is the same as loving one’s neighbors, giving lots of alms publicly so that you can get on your high horse and proclaim how wonderful, kind and giving you are, saying I thank You that I am not like the Republican.

“The single biggest predictor of someone’s altruism is religion,” and those who are familiar with Jesus’s model of giving in Matthew 6 know that giving that honors God is done in secret. Looks like the secret is out.

Of course, some will say much of that “charitable” giving is to the church instead of directly to the poor, but so what? Most churches have excellent outreach programs and service projects, not to mention poor people go to church and churches minister to their members. Charities have overhead, just like churches: buildings, staff and utilities, among others.

The sad truth is that the media characterize Republicans as greedy and heartless and Democratics as saints. If you were bit by a snake who’d you want to help, the one who talked about taking you to the doctor or the one who picked you up and took you?

Apparently conservatives are putting their money where the liberals’ mouths are.

Of Markets and Men

When are we going to realize that if men are not moral markets can’t be. The idea of markets, of freedom in general, are moral, but their operation will only be as moral as the people who use them. Free markets don’t make men moral; moral men make free markets.

I support free markets, but just because we are a capitalist country doesn’t mean we are fated to allow the market to dictate all our choices, or that we should leave God’s work up to the “Invisible Hand.” “We are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ.” He called us, His disciples, to be his hands in this world, not a system. We can do that by establishing an economic and political system that maximizes freedom, but not by pretending the system creates morality.

The moral life is not one of striving; rather, it is one of surrender, surrender to the Lordship of Christ, over men and markets.

This does not mean government has to replace markets. There are other, self-imposed, alternatives to government intervention, but the advertising paradigm and profit maximization are so pervasive and accepted that no one will seriously consider challenging them.

I listen to a listener supported radio station; Hillsdale College which refuses to accept any government money; bookstores that refuse to sell porn even though it would sell well, a small businessman who refuses to take the money and run when a big company wants to buy him out and close him down, there are many examples of people voluntarily not doing something even though doing so would turn a bigger profit.

Once people stop making choices based on principles other than profits then they cease to be free markets and we become slaves to them.