Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just Musing Is All


It seems to me that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit imposing and collecting taxes from the annual income extorted from the citizens by the many organized religious institutions. After all, the first amendment in the Bill Of Rights states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Taxing money collected by a Church does not impinge upon the free exercise of church goers to practice their religion.

I recently read somewhere that in 2007 Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) was reported to have given $10 million to The Church of Scientology. That is surely a mere drop in the bucket when so many wealthy celebrities call themselves Scientologists (John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and others) and who probably also donate huge 'tax deductible' amounts to the organization.

If I Ruled The World is the title of a short piece by Steven Pinker wherein he decrees the following rule on pundits: No one may bemoan a decay, decline, or degeneration without providing a measure of the way the world is today...

This decree would, first of all, eliminate tedious jeremiads about the decline of the language. The genre has been around for centuries, and if the doomsayers were correct we would now be grunting like Tarzan. But not only do we see vast amounts of clear and competent prose in everyday outlets like Wikipedia and Amazon reviews, but a gusher of superb writing appearing daily, as anyone who has lost a morning to sites like The Browser and Arts and Letters Daily can attest.

This is an entertaining and (in my opinion) informative article and most thinking people will enjoy reading it.

Steven Pinker is professor of psychology at Harvard University.


Memento mori

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