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Monday, December 30, 2013

On Social Issues, Neal Boortz is Lost

While substituting for Sean Hannity recently, Neal Boortz went into another of his “libertarian” rants against “social” conservatives. Taking note of the recent flak involving Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, while pleading that the fate of the republic may depend upon republicans retaking the U.S. Senate, Boortz forebodingly predicted that republicans would fail in this task because, “they [republicans] simply cannot resist the urge, the impulse to get into this social conservatism.”

Long known for his disdain of the “social” (I prefer “moral”) issues, like many others, Boortz masquerades as libertarian while in reality being nothing more than a liberal on the moral issues of our time.

Contrary to what self-described libertarians such as Boortz and John Stossel would have us believe, if conservatives simply shut up about issues like abortion and marriage and focus on things like debt and fiscal responsibility, there’s no guarantee when it comes to election time. It is a long-held myth, typically perpetuated by self-described liberals in the mainstream media but also by self-described libertarians, that whenever the moral issues are prominent in elections, conservatives lose. As I have noted before, Jeffrey Bell in his book The Case for Polarized Politics helps dispel this myth.

“Social issues were nonexistent in the period 1932 to 1964,” notes Bell. “The Republican Party won two presidential elections out of nine, and they had the Congress for all of four years in that entire period. . . . When social issues came into the mix—I would date it from the 1968 election . . . the Republican Party won seven out of 11 presidential elections.”

Bell concludes, as have many others, that American social conservatism began in response to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Thus, it is unsurprising that all of the most significant “social” issues in America today are sexual issues. Abortion, homosexuality, marriage, contraception, and the like, are not hot political topics merely because they relate to people’s personal lives. They are hot political topics because they reside deep within the moral realm of our culture.

Whether liberals or libertarians admit it, somebody’s morality is going to govern us. Libertarians would do well to examine America’s history before ranting about the morality of today’s [Christian] conservatives. Like our founders, most conservatives today understand well that religion (especially Christianity) is an indispensible tenet of liberty.

America’s “Schoolmaster” Noah Webster bore this out in his 1832 History of the United States when he wrote that “our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.” Webster rightly concluded that, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles…to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.”

Additionally, and again contrary to popular myth and what pundits like Mr. Boortz would have us believe, Christian conservatives aren’t the aggressors in the so-called “culture wars.” It has been liberals with the aid of those like-minded in our courts and our media who have forced their moral views on our culture. Whether it’s abortion, the environment, public displays of religion, marriage, or other issues, liberals have taken the view of what is typically a small minority and imposed their will on the country.

In more ways than one, the results have been disastrous and (speaking of debt) expensive. As an example, consider the environment and the myth of man-made global warming. Starting out with a small minority, through judicial fiat and a relentless media campaign, liberals began preaching that through the use of fossil fuels, human beings were warming the globe and that (of course) drastic political measures needed to be taken to “save the planet.”

Though most Americans do not consider global warming a significant issue for our government, decades of propaganda have taken a toll on our nation. For too long, conservatives didn’t do enough to combat the tactics of liberals on this issue, and today far too many Americans believe the lie that the actions of humans are warming the planet. So much so that, the last republican-elected president, George W. Bush, signed a significant piece of legislation that was premised on the notion of man-made global warming.

After signing the Energy Independence and Security Act, President Bush declared, “Today…We make a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding production of renewable fuels and giving future generations a nation that is stronger, cleaner and more secure.”

According to the New York Times, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi echoed Bush’s sentiments by describing “the bill as groundbreaking because it would reduce oil imports, cut production of the gases that scientists blame for global warming and significantly increase the efficiency of the nation’s auto fleet.”

Boortz would do well to note that this is what happens when conservatives acquiesce to the positions of liberals. We get conservatives at the highest level parroting liberal speak and the government spending billions of dollars on a problem that doesn’t exist—even telling us what light bulbs we can use. However, this is nothing compared to the slaughter of tens of millions of children in the womb or the legal redefinition of the institution upon which our republic rests.

So-called libertarians like Boortz can moan and groan about the moral positions of “social” conservatives all they want, but it doesn’t change the facts. All law is rooted in some morality; thus somebody’s morality is going to “determine the fate of this republic.” Libertarians need to decide with whom it’s easier to live: those who share the morality of the vast majority of our founders, who gave us the greatest document for self governance ever created by men; or those who seek fundamentally to change this republic into something that conservatives and libertarians both will lament.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Why We're Raising "Duck Dynasty" Boys, and Not "Pajama" Boys

After Phil Robertson told the truth to GQ Magazine (though in a rather colorful way) about homosexuality, liberals went into their predictable hypocritical hyperventilations. While slamming Robertson’s (and essentially the Bible’s) views on homosexuality and sin (which are shared by ten-of-millions of Americans), liberals completely ignored (read: had absolutely no problem with) what were by far the most offensive things in the GQ column.

Authored by Drew Magary, the column is replete with dripping sarcasm along with plenty of vulgar and foul language. In the very first paragraph, referring to Mr. Robertson’s large crossbow, Magary says “It looks like you could shoot through a god—mn mountain with it.”  Of course, if one doesn’t believe what the Bible says anyway, what harm is there in swearing with God’s name?

Just two sentences later, Magary writes, “The bow is cocked and loaded, just in case a deer stumbles in front of us and we need to do a redneck drive-by on the poor b-stard…” The f-bomb is dropped more than once, along with several other foul words and crude references. Seemingly, none of this bothers the left. No, they are offended by Scripture quotations that contradict their liberal worldview.

As Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller points out, such a worldview much prefers “Pajama Boy” to the boys of Duck Dynasty. As Lewis noted in his column, “There is a huge schism between red state America and blue state America, and these two stories seem to symbolize the yawning chasm.” However wide this chasm, as a father of four, three of whom are boys (ages 5, 9, and 11), one thing is clear to me: I’m raising “Duck Dynasty” boys, not “Pajama” boys.

Now, my boys love their cozy pajamas and hot chocolate, but they are also learning to shoot (guns and bows), hunt, and fish. Last Christmas I gave my two older boys junior compound bows. This year they have fished for and caught crappie and trout. My two older boys also won a “Turkey Shoot” with BB guns—the prize being a frozen turkey—at a local fall festival this year. Below is a recent photo of our boys with our only daughter Caroline, which my wife proudly posted on Facebook along with the caption shown.


"You may come calling boys, but you must meet my brothers first."

Don’t worry, libs, along with our children’s outdoor exploits, our home has an extensive library of hundreds of books. My wife, who is in charge of homeschooling our four children, has made sure of that. Each of our three older children, including our daughter, also takes karate and piano classes. So along with learning how to clean a trout, this year Caleb, Jesse, and Caroline learned to play a “Mozart Themed” Sleigh-ride.

I have an undergraduate degree in physics and two graduate degrees in mathematics education. I have taught mathematics in public and private schools for 20 years. My wife has an undergraduate degree in sociology, graduated summa cum laude, and was valedictorian of her college class. She has also recently authored a book. Our children will receive one of the best K-12 educations of any child in the country.

I’m not nearly the outdoorsman that the Robertsons are, and my wife can’t stand camouflage, but whether my children prefer sipping hot chocolate (like Uncle Si, I prefer sweet tea) or shooting a gun, most importantly, our children are being taught from a Christian worldview.

Yes, that means that among other things, they are learning that, along with adultery, fornication, and bestiality, homosexual behavior is sin. They are also learning that they are created in the image and likeness of God, and that all human life, from the moment of conception, is especially precious. And they are learning that in the world today, both abortion and homosexuality are uniquely heinous.

Why the focus on these two particular issues? Because the greatest lie ever told is that there is no God. The second greatest lie ever told is that the devil does not exist. The third greatest lie ever told is that your sin (and mine) is not really sin, and this is exactly what is happening with homosexuality and abortion.

For decades in the U.S. there has been a movement spearheaded by many well-funded organizations devoted to preaching the value and legitimacy of abortion, homosexuality, and a redefining of marriage. In other words, tens of millions of Americans have been preached the lie that homosexual behavior and killing a child in the womb are not sin. My children are learning the truth in these grave matters.

As Joel Belz of World Magazine noted several years ago, it is time for conservative Christians to “stop apologizing” for the attention we give the issues of homosexuality and abortion. Like Phil Robertson, it is time for more Christian celebrities to take on these issues. Time and again we see homosexuality portrayed in music, movies, and television as nothing but normal, acceptable behavior.

There is virtually NOTHING in the secular media that portrays the other side of homosexuality and similar issues. Such absence impacts our culture. There is no doubt that public opinion on homosexuality and same-sex marriage has been swayed toward a more liberal view of these matters in no small part due to the media campaign that favors them.

If we stay silent, what happens? Television networks will pull the Phil Robertsons (and the Craig Jameses) from the air. Of course, supposedly networks such as Fox and A&E have the “right” to make such decisions, but photographers, bakers, and florists with Christian views on homosexuality and marriage don’t. Such small businesses are sued and even held liable by our courts for refusing services to same-sex couples.

Even worse, once the homosexual agenda (which, we must not forget includes those who are “transgendered”) has the full force of the law behind it, public schools will teach that homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage are good and right. In school systems like Los Angeles, it’s already happening. Likewise, schools (certainly public, probably private as well) will be forced to accommodate “transgendered” children.

What’s more, state constitutions that have amendments defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman are proving to be not enough to stop the homosexual agenda from progressing on the marriage front. Just days ago, a federal judge ruled Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Like almost all of the 28 other states with similar bans, in 2004 the citizens of Utah passed the ban by an overwhelming 66% to 34% majority.

If America wants to stop this madness where good is called evil and evil is called good, we must change our culture. This fight begins with our families. Liberals know this. This is why almost exclusively the “culture wars” being fought in the U.S. are an attack on the family. In other words, if we want to change our culture, we better start raising our kids with a worldview like that of the cast of Duck Dynasty instead of the worldview that govern “Pajama Boy” and his big sister, Julia.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Polygamy and the Left

With the ruling of a federal judge last week that declared part of Utah’s anti-polygamy law unconstitutional, the left finds itself torn. Of course, with their ever-wavering consciences that are willing to go along with whatever seems the latest fad that tests our moral bounds (especially in the sexual realm), some liberals say that it is time that we take a closer look at plural marriage. After all, if consenting adults want to enter into such relationships, what is the problem? In other words, as I asked over five years ago, what’s wrong with polygamy?

However, some liberals took comfort in the fact that the federal judge’s ruling in the Utah case was somewhat limited in its scope. So don’t worry, declares Jay Bookman of the AJC, (in spite of where the redefining of marriage will eventually lead us) judge Waddoups' ruling “does not in any way require government to recognize a polygamous marriage.”

Haven’t we heard something like this before? No need to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman; the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is sufficient. For over a decade (and marriage has only been an electoral issue for little more than a decade), the vast majority of elected U.S. democrats were for biblical marriage, until they were against it. In 1996 DOMA passed by a 342 to 67 margin in the U.S. House, and an 85 to 14 margin in the Senate, and was signed by President Clinton.

After DOMA, until 2003, only three U.S. states (AK, NE, NV) saw fit to amend their constitutions to limit the legal definition of marriage to a union of one man and one woman. And just as they now have with polygamy, the liberal courts struck. In Lawrence vs. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 6 to 3 ruling (reversing itself from the 1986 Bowers vs. Georgia) overturned the Texas anti-sodomy law and thus invalidated similar laws in the 12 states that still had them on their books.

Of course, as liberals now point out with polygamy, the Lawrence ruling in no way granted gays the legal right to marry, but it did give legal (and inevitably cultural) legitimization to homosexual activity. Then the liberal courts struck again, as they almost certainly will do (if they follow their own liberal logic) in the case of polygamy. Later in 2003, the state Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

These two events set in motion of a torrent of activity among U.S. states to amend their constitutions to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Conservatives and liberals alike rushed to declare their support for biblical marriage. In other words, in the late 1990s and early 2000s same-sex marriage did not poll well.

As Carl Cannon of Real Clear Politics (and a supporter of same-sex marriage) put it, “Although ‘marry the person they love’ is a talking point, it’s also a noble sentiment. But ‘fight like hell’ is not what Barack Obama or his political party did on this issue. Quite the contrary: ‘Headed for the hills’ is a more apt description.”

According to Cannon, as late as 2004, Bill Clinton himself (who earlier this year “bravely” announced that “It’s time to overturn DOMA”) privately urged then presidential candidate John Kerry to “outflank George W. Bush from the right on gay marriage.” Once the polling changed, liberals in the democrat party were very willing to “evolve” on the issue of same-sex marriage. In his Op-Ed in March of this year, President Clinton stated that DOMA was “discriminatory” and “should be overturned.”

Those who support polygamy are simply following the same play book used by the homosexual agenda to obtain full legal recognition of same-sex marriage. First, get legal recognition of the behavior. Then use the rulings of the courts along with allies in the media to sway public opinion. Finally, use the courts again to further erode whatever elements of Christian morality that remain in the U.S. legal code.

But currently, the left does face a quandary: on the one hand, their ever-evolving morality says that there really can’t be anything wrong with polygamy, but on the other hand, the line for marriage must be drawn somewhere. Thus, since liberals really don’t want to defend the inevitable myriad of consequences of a legal redefinition of marriage, and since polygamy doesn’t yet poll well among Americans, and democrats don’t yet want the political burden of supporting polygamy, right now at least, liberals are willing to “discriminate” when it comes to marriage.

Yes, whether they would admit it (and they almost never do), liberals do take moral stands and they do discriminate. All of us do. Yet, liberals (and even some confused conservatives) would have us believe that it’s wrong to “legislate morality.” CNN’s Mark Goldfeder ignorantly concludes that in the light of the Lawrence ruling, morals based legislation is “unconstitutional.”

In his dissent of Lawrence vs. Texas, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote “State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of…laws based on moral choices.” Scalia later concluded that the Court had effectively decreed “the end of all morals legislation.”

Maybe the “Court” has so decreed, but not the Constitution. And of course, by “morals” what Scalia and Goldfeder are both referring to are Christian morals. As I have often noted, all law is rooted in some morality. It is illogical, ignorant, and hypocritical for liberals to rail against laws that are rooted in Christian morality, all the while preaching a morality of their own making. Americans simply need to decide by whose morality we want to be governed.

(See this column on American Thinker.)

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Confronting Christmas

As godless secularism becomes more and more entrenched in our culture, the Christmas season is one of the most contentious times in our calendar. Every year there are stories in the news of banned Christmas trees, or of atheists protesting nativity scenes (or trying to get them removed). Christmas concerts at public schools are without “religious songs,” and U.S. Congressmen are barred from wishing their constituents a “Merry Christmas” in their official mailings. Last year, even Charlie Brown created controversy.

Actually, when it comes to A Charlie Brown Christmas, there was controversy from the beginning. In 1965, just as the culture wars were heating up in the U.S., the “enlightened” executives at CBS balked at the Peanuts classic containing Bible passages. Most every American has heard Linus, in teaching Charlie Brown the true meaning of Christmas, perfectly recite the King James Version of Luke 2:8-14. Of course, the Scripture reference is what was “controversial.”

Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts (the most popular and influential comic strip of all time), was insistent. As Lee Habeeb of National Review puts it, “[Schulz] knew that the Luke reading by Linus was the heart and soul of the story.”

Today children (and adults) are bombarded with deceptive (but alluring) messages about “Christmas Spirit” and how Christmas is about “spreading joy throughout the world,” and “a time for warmth and brotherly love” (as a recent TV cartoon declared). Even Dickens’ iconic A Christmas Carol is bereft of the complete message of Christmas.

One author I encountered a few years ago foolishly described the “hidden meaning” of Christmas as a: “festival of the human heart. It is a time of year when all the universe conspires to raise the vibratory level of consciousness on earth to one of peace and love toward ourselves and one another. This season resonates to the sweet, childlike innocence that resides in all of us; A time when the heavenly forces inspire us to shift our focus away from fear and toward one of joy, and healing.”

Of course, peace, brotherly love and spreading joy are not bad things, but they are far from the “heart and soul” of Christmas. Schulz was right. The “heart and soul” of any Christmas story is “[B]ehold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, Christmas is the story of how “the rightful King has landed.” Just prior to His death, as Jesus stood before the Roman governor Pilate, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” After some discussion Pilate concludes to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered him saying, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world…”

So Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior King. “Hark! The herald angels sing; glory to the newborn King!” This is the reason for the all of the conflict and contention when it comes to Christmas time. This is why so many fear a Nativity scene, a Christmas tree, or even a meek “Merry Christmas.”

Who wants to be confronted with the idea that maybe they are ignoring the most significant event in human history? Who wants to be reminded that perhaps Jesus Christ really was (and is) a King?

And He’s not just any king, but a king with a holy mission. “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me?” Jesus was the Christ, the “Messiah,” the “Anointed One.” As the angel reported to the shepherds, “today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” Jesus was a king who was born to die—not only to die, but to rise again and rule forever.

His death was to “redeem” us and to serve as “atonement” for us. Jesus came into the world so that the world, through Him, “might be saved.” And on the third day after his death, our King, born in a stable, conquered even death so that we could live forever with Him.

When Christians truly celebrate Christmas, we celebrate not just a birthday, but the beginning of a sequence of events that would change the world forever. He was born, He lived, He died, He arose, and now He is preparing a place for all of those who would believe in Him. Just as sure as all of the other events took place, we who celebrate Christmas look forward to His return and we will celebrate for all eternity.

Just before handing Jesus over for crucifixion, Pilate asked the crowd, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus…?” That is the ultimate question that each of us must answer, and Christmas provides us with the beginning of the answer.

Have a truly Merry Christmas.

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Saturday, December 7, 2013

When Will the Catholic Church Learn?

As a writer, little is more flattering than to have someone (especially another good writer) examine your work and say, “That’s exactly what I would have written.” Or even better, “I wish I had written that.”

Not that any professional writer would be very flattered to receive my praise (I mostly get paid to teach mathematics), but after all of the recent hoopla over the second major teaching document issued by Pope Francis (but the first written by him), Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), I sat down to pen my thoughts on the matter. Then I came across this piece by David Harsanyi of The Federalist. “No need for me to continue,” was my thought after reading his take on the Pope’s criticisms of modern capitalism.

Some of my favorite lines: “As fascinating as the context of [the] Pope’s message might be, there is—or seems to be—something new about this rhetoric. You could always detect a pinch of socialistic seasoning in the Church’s theological stew…In this case, the Pope didn’t simply point out that the wealthy weren’t doing enough to help alleviate poverty. He used the recognizable rhetoric of the Left to accuse free-market systems of generating and nurturing that poverty. And these platitudes—things that run wild in the liberal imagination like unfettered capitalism and ‘trickle-down’ economics—were clearly aimed at the United States.”

And: “[I]s it really true that ‘absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation’ are the driving reasons for poverty and inequality? People in places like Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Malawi, or Mozambique live under corrupt authoritarian regimes where crippling poverty has a thousand fathers — none of them named capitalism. The people of Togo do not suffer in destitution because of some derivative scheme on Wall Street or the fallout from a tech IPO.”

There are many other good points in Harsanyi’s piece (on trickle-down economic theory, federal economic regulation, abortion, and more), and a full read of the piece is well worth your time. There is one thing in particular that I would have added.

As a part of his solution for addressing the “economy of exclusion and inequality,” Pope Francis bemoans the rejection of “the right of states” to exercise properly “any form of control” over financial markets. While criticizing trickle-down economics, the Pope also expresses frustration in what he perceives as a “crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

The Pontiff later adds that, “A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determi­nation and an eye to the future…” Besides the blatant falseness of “any form of control” in U.S. markets (As Harsanyi notes, “The Federal Registry of the United States regularly comes in over 60,000 pages.”), why does the Pope express such “crude and naïve trust” in our secular government to regulate properly U.S. markets? When will the Catholic Church learn its lesson? Big Government can never fix immorality.

Was Obamacare not lesson enough? The Catholic Church teaches that health care is “a basic human right,” and true to the Pope’s Big Government ideas on financial reform, has been very supportive of efforts in the U.S. to implement universal healthcare. Enter Obamacare. For months leading up to the final passage of Obamacare, Catholic Bishops lobbied heavily for its passage—minus federal funding of abortion. Once House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to add the Stupak amendment to the House version of Obamacare, the Bishops were onboard.

Though the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the version of Obamacare that passed (because of the removal of the Stupak amendment), they did not support GOP efforts to repeal it once republicans took control of congress. Also, some Catholic leaders supported Obamacare in spite of the lack of the Stupak amendment.

Of course, it wasn’t long before the Catholic Church was in an all out war with the Obama administration over contraception. Again, why the “crude and naïve trust”? Why does the Pope lament the lack of angels in the boardrooms of large corporations but ignore the demons patrolling the halls of Big Government?

In other words, as is typical with almost every elected liberal in the U.S. government, there was no reason to believe that Obama was going to be anything other than a radical liberal on social issues. The time for “war” with Obama was BEFORE he was elected leader of the free world. However, in partnering with democrats and liberals, it seems that many within the leadership of the Catholic Church have for far too long been willing to violate my proverb that, “It is no act of charity to be generous with someone else’s money.”

Or, as Paul Rahe put it in early 2012, the American Catholic Church decades ago “fell prey to a conceit that had long before ensnared a great many mainstream Protestants in the United States—the notion that public provision is somehow akin to charity—and so they fostered state paternalism and undermined what they professed to teach: that charity is an individual responsibility and that it is appropriate that the laity join together under the leadership of the Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor.”

The contraception mandate is a classic example of “state paternalism.” It is exactly what one gets when the people surrender that kind of power to a secular government led by those determined to ignore God’s laws. If such liberals remain in power, the result will be no different when the issue comes to economics or marriage or any other matter precious to Christians and other like-minded Americans.

Left unfettered, the slow creep of liberalism knows no bounds. Elections have consequences. If the Catholic Church continues to preach a willingness to surrender more liberty in order to receive another entitlement, or to “spread the wealth around,” we will even further embolden those, who, while claiming to serve us, are seeking to become our masters.

Copyright 2013, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World