November 2008

29 Nov 2008

How about this hard-hitter?

The Obamas represent a welcome change as an openly affectionate and romantic couple for many Americans. Some experts say that the soon-to-be first couple embody the ideal healthy relationship, and that they can stir up love around the country. The New York Daily News even predicted a baby boom attributed to election night friskiness inspired by the Obamas.

“Michelle and Barack are so obviously in love it’s actually helping me to believe in love again,” Washington, 25, wrote on her blog.

“Not only does [Barack Obama] love his wife, he respects her,” said Hendricks. “The model of harmony, shared humor and easy communication that the Obamas reveal really is a new model — if ordinary citizens practiced this each day, our world would transform very quickly in positive directions.”

28 Nov 2008

Returning from a wonderfully pleasant Thanksgiving gathering, my lovely wife and I discussed something Peter Schiff wrote in his The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets. Namely, the basic uselessness of most college degrees. Liberal arts degrees are little more than an expensive job screening mechanism. A huge education bureaucracy benefits while countless middle class families take on a boatload of debt.

We lamented how much useless stuff was involved in our own education. The typing and computer classes were certainly useful, but we sure spent lots of time learning junk like social studies instead of dirty-fingernail things like home repair, construction, appliance repair, car repair, hunting, gardening, survivalism, etc. Why aren’t practical things considered part of education instead of just theoretical (and perhaps effeminate) pursuits? The practical stuff will prepare people for any economic environment, including a forthcoming depression that appears more likely with every massive Keynesian attempt to avoid it.

Schiff is blunt. As a liberal arts major, I have to say the “ouch” that one says when the truth hits close to home:

In the past 30 years or so, our government and business leaders collectively shot the U.S. economy in the foot by encouraging a major transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based one. Today, more than two-thirds of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is produced in the service sector.

Many U.S. residents see this as a good thing, and no wonder. A service economy has many lifestyle advantages for the people living in it. There are no smokestacks to interfere with the view from million-dollar-mortgaged homes, and no need to follow a demanding factory schedule. College graduates with useless humanities degrees can always find work pushing pencils in an accounting, legal, or financial firm. Best of all, no more calluses on hands or aching muscles from the physical labor many factory and agricultural jobs require. Plus production jobs are capital intensive, requiring major investments in plant and equipment; service sector jobs, by contrast, require relatively little in the way of capital– perfect for a nation devoid of savings. It sounds like a good deal, but there’s a basic problem. Just as an individual can’t survive by only consuming and never producing anything, so the United States in the global economy must produce as well as consume. The only way to do this is to export, and services, for the most part, can’t be exported.

… As Americans are forced to curtail their spending, demand will fall sharply for services like manicures, therapy sessions, and legal advice. p.189-191

During the years that the United States was dominated by a service economy, it didn’t really matter if students graduated with degrees in political science, communications, or other liberal arts. There was always some sort of clerical or administrative work to be found. With the service economy withering and the US. job market shrunken, those options will not longer exist by the time today’s students become graduates. For some, trade school might offer a more useful– and much less expensive– alternative. For others, a degree in a practical field such as engineering, geology, animal husbandry, or computer science will provide a fighting chance at a good job in the tough years to come. In addition, don’t neglect the foreign languages portion of your education. p. 202

22 Nov 2008

Most remember today as the day JFK was assassinated, but I remember it as the day a far greater man died: C.S. Lewis. I was not alive in 1963, but the events of that day probably made Lewis’s death nothing but a passing notice.

I’m guessing Clive would’ve wanted it that way.

20 Nov 2008

As I said in a recent post, let a thousand puff pieces bloom now that Mr. Obama will soon ascend to the imperial throne. Here is just one example of such puffery. How about that opening line:

Many women recoil at the thought of baring their arms in sleeveless dresses or blouses, but not Michelle Obama — half of the fabulously fit new first couple.

A writer with time on his hands may want to create a compendium of such pieces chronicling the beauties and the deep thoughts of the president-elect and his wife. The perfect storm has arrived for the most courtier-like press coverage in history: a very liberal and attractive candidate, a milestone presidency given American fixation on race, and the disappointment of the Clinton years. The press had such high hopes for the Clintons, who of course played up the association to JFK. Does anyone remember president-elect Clinton walking through Arlington Cemetery and then ostentatiously kneeling in prayer at Kennedy’s grave? Or the Clinton-Gore tour of Monticello? These were moments worthy of Swift. Alas, the Clintons turned out to be the same shady characters they were in Arkansas, and the dream died.

There’s such pent-up liberal desire for a new Camelot; never mind that the first one was a fraud. The mainstream press thinks itself so sophisticated, but, shorn of religious belief, my theory is that much of it awaits a prince in which to believe. And now the god to the godless has arrived on stage, and they rapturously rise to applaud.

19 Nov 2008

Ah yes, the freeing breeze of coercion. Liberal tolerance always involves an iron fist.

It’s amazing that eHarmony, founded by a supposed evangelical, would agree to such a damning idea. Better to shut down than to connive.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification:that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. -1 Thess 4:3-7

13 Nov 2008

Sean Hannity’s straight-faced summary of Deepak Chopra’s new novel reminded me of Muggeridge’s hilarious comments on journalism’s view of Jesus as Newsmaker. Except here it’s Jesus as Rebel. It’s amazing that one could read the Gospels (not to mention Psalm 2 and Hebrews 1) and see Jesus as little more than James Dean. An Indian workmate, a lapsed Hindu, told me a few years ago how incredulous he was that anyone listened to guys like Deepak Chopra. My workmate’s theory was that people still saw Indians as exotic bearers of great mysteries.

Chopra is yet another in an endless line of false teachers mouthing the same old drivel that Jesus was a man who became divine, and you can be divine too if you buy my book. There’s even an appearance by my own favorite: the Sermon on the Mount as guide for liberal do-gooders. Instead of being terrified by the great sermon, liberals are inspired. They never mention the ending (“Depart from me…”), nor are they inspired by by parable endings like Luke 19:27: “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.”

What’s with Deepak’s glasses, by the way? When you’re listening to a guy who’s wearing specs from the Bootsy Collins collection, maybe it’s time to find a new guru.

11 Nov 2008

There’s an episode of Star Trek where people on a planet walk about like zombies. Then the clock strikes 6pm and the zombies… go nuts. This is what our nation seems to be doing right now. The government is responding to a crisis it created by just… going… insane.

So GM, you snowed yourself under with absurd labor contracts and bad management? Have some money. AIG, you need another 40 billion? Here you go. Today we learned that the Fed refuses to identify the receipients of two trillion in bank loans. That’s two thousand billion.

I never expect Democrats to have sense, but that almost no one in the Republican party (other than Ron Paul) gets WHY all this is happening, and I just have to think that this is mass delusion. Is God bringing America to heel as he brought Nebuchadnezzar to heel?

We’re headed toward major inflation. It’s already way understated, which is pretty obvious when you look at how much more even stuff like fast food costs when compared to how much purchasing power you have. I’d rather be holding gold than dollars now.

I suggest everyone go out and buy a wheelbarrow. You may eventually need it to cart around your worthless dollars. Also, this book may help as you consider how to react.

People are finally cutting back and beginning to save, but the government is making up for that by spending an unbelievable amount of money that it does not have. Any savings people gain by prudence is being destroyed by government counterfeiting (what you save will purchase less because the currency is being devalued). It’s a like a guy who has five maxed out credit cards, and he says to himself, “I need to stop charging stuff. It’s time to start working and saving.” And our government, bearing stimulus checks and artificially low interest rates, responds: “No, don’t be irresponsible, we’ll give you another credit card, just keep the party going. Keep spending.” It’s like a national impoverishment wish. The government is slowly and effectively destroying this nation’s wealth. The Keynesians will never get it: spending doesn’t create prosperity. Instead, it’s savings and production, both of which enable you to spend money you actually have, that create prosperity.

And now we have Obama and all his brilliant ideas to look forward to: card check, more “stimulus,” more spending, fully nationalized health care… just what we don’t need. Change apparently means “more of the same on steroids.” (And more abortions). George W. Hoover seems to be making way for Barack Delano Roosevelt. Despite what the history books tell you, that’s not a good thing.

My pastor — perhaps the most thoughtful person I’ve ever encountered– believes, I think rightly, that the utterly irresponsible policies this government continues to pursue will have repercussions for the next 30 years. He believes that we may be entering a period where the church will not be a collection of free agents, but a community who will– out of economic necessity– have to really rely on each other. And that this may well used by God to empower the church’s internal unity and its witness to the world.

05 Nov 2008

Oh look, they are ringing the bells. They shall soon be wringing their hands. -attributed to Sir Robert Walpole

Tonight’s only consolation is that we’ll never see a President McCain.

Sarah Palin, despite her initial stunning entrance onto the scene, turned out to be not much more interesting than, well, Barack Obama. Deborah she definitely wasn’t. She turned out to be a vaguely “Christian feminist” (an oxymoron) and just another dull shill for the McCain campaign; perhaps she was just reading the script presented to her. The laughably biased mainstream media shot her down, but she didn’t help her own case much by showing any ability to engage the opposition.

Barack Obama will be an awful president. His votes and his philosophy are both evil by Biblical standards. Nothing in the last year has changed my opinion of him as an empty-suit power-seeker and basically a bad man. He’s about as intellectually interesting as a piece of cardboard. Like JFK, he’s the kind of slick, hollow man who liberals periodically elevate to the status of Secular Messiah.

Let the curtains go up on Camelot II. Journalists, sit down at your keyboards and let a thousand puff pieces bloom.

Like Nero, FDR, Caligula, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, Barack Obama is who God has apparently ordained to lead. We see God’s providential will in the rearview mirror. But we see His future will too. He will still break the nations with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces (Ps 2). He is with us though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea (Ps 46). The gates of Hell will not prevail against His church.

In the light of eternity, this election is a blip.

03 Nov 2008

When I attempted, a few minutes ago, to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends or as the landscape loses the celestial light. … For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world. Now we wake to find that it is no such thing. We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. -CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Expanding on my recent post, consider the creation. In our yards, countless worms burrow every morning. Bugs fly around. Birds seek food. Perennials drop their leaves to hunker down for a long winter. All of it happens whether I exist or not. It happens whether I feel good or ill. No government program can stop it.

The world goes to work on Monday morning– without calling me first. My wife and family do countless things throughout the day that I never hear of. Our cat jumps on our table when we’re not in the room (she’s too dumb to know that the fur gives it away).

The point: none of it has anything to do with me. Or you. We’re not even in control of our own lives. All around us, economies rise and fall, elections and layoffs happen, people die, etc. Even in the things where it seems we are masters of our destiny, like where we work, upon a little reflection it turns out that our control is an illusion.

It’s all about Him. And when He returns, when the King comes, everything will vanish before His throne. The loftiest sports stars and politicians and nations will be as nothing– how could they ever have been a big deal? All will be clear. The eyes of all creation, which often seems robotic and yet waits with longing (Rom 8:17), will be on its Maker.

If we believe this, maybe it should inform how we live now.