August 2009

27 Aug 2009

He doesn’t hit the target 100% of the time (who does?), but few writers land harder punches than Gary North. Here is yet another example.

“Keep your eye on the yellow buses.” Indeed.

25 Aug 2009

Most of you have probably heard that the Congressional Budget Office is predicting $9 trillion in federal deficits over the next 10 years. Politicians are kvetching about this. They won’t do anything serious about it, though. Too unpopular.

Understand something: You could create a comedy using CBO 10-year budget projections. They change constantly and they are almost always inordinately rosy. Some examples: In 2000, the CBO estimated a budget surplus of over $1 trillion for the next decade. In 2008, they projected that deficits would turn into a surplus by 2012. And now, in 2009, they are projecting steadily increasing revenues and economic growth beginning next year. If that sunshine happens, the deficits will only be $9 trillion over the next decade. Yee haw! You can revisit almost 35 years worth of “Budget and Economic Outlooks” here. Vast amounts of comedy.

Central planners always hope for the best. They think they can tinker with the economy and create a winner, but as Hayek explained long ago, central planning fails because bureaucrats do not have the knowledge of tens of millions of people making transactions in their various endeavors.

It’s hard to blame the CBO in the sense that no man can predict 10 years of the U.S. economy. No one can predict the future because no one knows the future. That said, all you have to do is look at what’s happened in the past and the economic trends (monetary policy, unemployment, debt and spending levels) and it’s evident that things aren’t headed in the right direction. When they tell you there will be $9 trillion added to the deficit over 10 years, it’s safe to hazard that the real number will be at least twice that. However, I think a crisis, perhaps even a collapse, is coming before that, which means that all bets are off the table.

When I ran a business, I had a woman ask me once if I paid a living wage. I replied that I paid a competitive wage. I wanted to tell her that if she were willing to pay me twice as much for the job, I could then pay my workers $25/hour. Many people are so clueless that they actually think that there’s a golden egg hidden somewhere– some vast store of wealth– that more regulations and taxes and righteous indignation at “profiteers” will uncover. Instead it just smothers the goose.

Similarly, politicians yearn for economic growth. They love to foster artificial booms using gimmicks like low interest rates. In times of prosperity, the populace isn’t as concerned about the government skimming more cream off the top. This suits the government just fine. The boom proceeds and everyone is rocking and rolling, and the government is expanding like Jabba the Hutt. Then the bust happens and there’s a mad dash to come up with more gimmicks. Politicians don’t understand– perhaps they don’t want to understand– what makes sustainable economic growth occur. They think borrowing and consumer spending and regulations, not production and savings and freedom, are what lead to sustainable economic growth. In their greed is the seed of destruction.

22 Aug 2009

Well, it looks like the foot-draggers have finally lost out. The mainline Lutheran church (ELCA) voted 559-441 to allow homosexuals in “lifelong” and “committed” relationships to serve as clergy.

At least until the next convention, it has been made clear that the sodomy must be monogamous sodomy. How’s that for a qualification? Could we actually see the spectacle of an “unfaithful” sodomite pastor being hauled before a church court to explain why he cheated on his “life partner?”

Monogamous sodomy makes about as much sense as monogamous bestiality or monagamous whoredom. It’s as if the monogamy lends an air of self-control and virtue to damnable perversity.

Nevertheless, the ELCA– the denomination I grew up in and that family members still attend– is further along than I thought. As usual, the move is accompanied by unbelievably ignorant lies like this:

“We live today with an understanding of homosexuality that did not exist in Jesus’ time and culture,” Tim Mumm, a lay delegate from Wisconsin and supporter of Lutherans Concerned, an gay-rights organization, said during the debate. “We are responding to something that the writers of Scripture could not have understood.”

20 Aug 2009

In case you want to keep track, here is the U.S. debt situation on one page. These figures are conservative compared to other estimates I’ve seen.

The top section of the site shows the national debt. It also shows the current year deficit which is added to the debt. The section at the very bottom is equally important. It shows the total unfunded liabilities. That is, this is what the government is short now to meet promises of future payment for entitlements.

I’m reminded of something Dennis Miller said 25 years ago (as the figures will indicate):

Federal deficit figures are in for the last decade, and the deficit for those ten years topped the trillion-dollar-mark. A trillion! And it goes up all the time. You know what that means, somewhere out there, there’s somebody who still insists on lending us money. I don’t know about you, [but] somebody runs up a tab like that on me, [and] I get a call from him hitting me up for more, I think I’m gonna go, “Hey, my man! You got that trillion you owe me!”

19 Aug 2009

It seems like The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and other mainline denominations have been debating sodomy forever. While some ELCA pastors are correctly saying that the debate is about the authority of the Word, that ship sailed long ago for the ELCA and the other mainline denoms. It sailed even before they decided that “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man” didn’t really mean “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.” Sodomy is just the next exit down the highway.

I’ll hazard a guess that all of the mainline denominations would have capitulated on this issue years ago but for one reason: money. Namely, the dollars that older folks throughout small-town America give to the church. The hicks have sadly made their peace with egalitarianism– most don’t even know that it’s a Biblical issue any longer– but they won’t accept sodomy.

Their leadership knows it. They know it’s best to deny the faith at a subdued volume, using measured tones and well-starched collars. Better yet, let’s just talk about unity and teamwork and caring and skip the controversy altogether. How it must annoy these moderate modernists when the loudmouths on both sides start riling things up! Let us have peace, friends.

The mainline churches will continue shrinking. At some point they’ll reach that critical mass where the political activists in the leadership will finally outnumber their foot-dragging modernist brethren. And then the stragglers who still stand on a modicum of Biblical authority will see their leaders get the boot. And that will be that.

18 Aug 2009

This is the best definition I’ve seen, courtesy of some guy on Lew Rockwell’s blog. It’s fitting for progressives inside and outside the church:

Progressive: A self-congratulatory word used by the lemming at the front of the pack to describe himself, as he and his fellows “progress” toward the edge of the cliff.

14 Aug 2009

A recent blog post notes that people cherish coronations. I’m reminded of being in London ten years ago. Before we entered the dark room in the Tower of London to see the crown jewels, they played a video of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on a large screen. The music, the sights… unforgettable and glorious. We went in to see the jewels and I remember going several times across the conveyors to see them again and again. They were a hint of far greater things. It was one of those moments that make an entire vacation.

Men desire a king. The Israelites desired one (1 Sam 8:5) despite God’s warning. Although we live in a (mostly nominal by now) republic, when you listen to people cheer lawless politicians you would think we were a nation of men, of great kings expected to do Great Things, rather than a nation of laws. There is something more romantic about the former. Of course, there is something far more sinister to it also (1 Sam 8:11-18). As Tolkien noted, “[T]he most improper job of any man, even saints… is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit to it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.”

Still, there is something deep within us that makes us desire a great coronation. You see one at the end of the original Star Wars. You see another (beautifully shot) at the end of Return of the King. My theory is that all earthly coronations either wickedly imitate or weakly point to the return of our Lord to whom every knee will bow (Phil. 2:10).

07 Aug 2009

The only politician in Washington who is really worth listening to is Ron Paul. I think he may be the greatest single politician of my lifetime. Ron’s son Rand is now happily running for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky. Father and son are both physicians. Listen to them talk about health care.

Ron Paul makes a point in this video that I think is key: the entire government is broken. Barack Obama is attempting to apply a wrecking ball in the form of Obamacare and Cap and Trade, but the edifice has already crumbled. If John McCain had won the election (or if a “Ronald Reagan conservative” had won it), the “reforms” wouldn’t be as disastrous as those proposed by Obama, but at best they would be no better than the status quo. The status quo is unsustainable. We have the colossal and unpayable debt I’ve written about ad nauseum. We have a central bank (the Fed) that steals our money and has doubled the monetary base in one year. We have a massive system of taxation. We have states all over going bankrupt. We have a massive federal bureaucracy. We have a deficit that will probably be at least $2 trillion this year. The entire system militates against prudence and fiscal soundness. It’s way too big. There’s just no lipstick that’ll make the pig attractive.

The only solution to is to drastically cut spending, let interest rates rise to market levels, eliminate regulations, and let the market restructure the country through a painful depression. However, the Republican Party, our supposed party of limited government, whose liberal members even claim to be “fiscal conservatives,” has no will whatsoever to cut spending. They never have. Spending always increases. It went up throughout the Reagan administration. It went through the roof when the Republicans controlled both the presidency and Congress during Bush’s first term. Nothing has changed. Many Republicans voted for the stimulus programs. One-third of House Republicans voted to extend Cash for Clunkers this week. Meanwhile, the utterly reprehensible Democratic Party has the fiscal soundness of a young child.

It’s amazing to hear people say that they support “bipartisan solutions.” How do you think we arrived at our current state of bankruptcy? It took two to tango.

Both parties are just looking for soundbites and leverage over the other one to get the upper hand in the polls. Since neither party will do the right thing, all they can both do is look to escalate the borrowing and spending, and put off the collapse as long as possible. That is what’s going on right now. While anyone with sense should hope that the Republicans stop Obama’s lunacy, understand that Republicans will continue to refuse to take the revolutionary steps needed to replace our house built on sand. Just as they always have.

Nothing will change until the collapse.

01 Aug 2009

“…instead of having both a window and a suit he must be content with the window and no suit.” -Henry Hazlitt

I don’t like to overwrite about this topic, but few Christians write about economic issues. This Cash for Clunkers program announced by the government is just too rich to pass up. It is a classic example of Bastiat‘s “Broken Window Fallacy.” This fallacy was restated concisely by Henry Hazlitt. If you understand the Broken Window Fallacy, you’ll understand the majority of the economic errors made by the government. In fact, Hazlitt’s classic Economics in One Lesson should be read by every child and adult. It should be read by elders and deacons. It helps you to understand how to think about economics.

Cash for Clunkers allows people to take in their old cars to a dealership in exchange for a maximum $4,500 credit toward a new, more fuel-efficient car. The old car must be crumpled up and destroyed. People take an old car that likely works and is likely paid-for and affordable, and exchange it for a new car that costs a lot more money. Most people will go into debt. They won’t be able to purchase something else. They won’t be able to save and invest the money that they spent on a car (I haven’t looked at car prices, but I’ll bet they are going up as a result of this policy, much like college tuition or anything else subsidized by the government). After each transaction, the government goes that much further into debt and society as a whole has one fewer, functioning car, and as a result is that much poorer. It’s a persistent fallacy that prosperity comes through destruction (e.g “World War II got us out of the Depression!”). Need I go on?

The media reports on this numbskull plan as if it’s a pretty swell idea. It’s working! Look at all the people in the showrooms! In reality, Cash for Clunkers is really nothing a handout to political interests (car companies and unions) and a bone for thoughtless consumers. It’s corrupt corporate welfare. It is an attempt to “goose” one sector of the economy. Since sales will fall off if it is discontinued, expect it to continue for a long time. The government doesn’t have any money and is going further into debt to pay for this handout. Its costs, like all the other debt the government is taking on, will be paid through the debasement of the dollar.

When you hear of a government program like this, it’s wise to ask questions like: Does the government have the Constitutional right to do this? What does it cost? How will it be paid for? Does it really benefit everyone or just a small number of people? What powers is the government assuming, and will it lessen my political and economic freedom? The last question is particularly important to get us beyond looking at immediate self-interest (“hey, I need a car, this is great!”). It’s easy to be corrupted by the state.

Everyone complains that the government spends too much and bureaucracies overregulate us. They do this inch by inch, program by program.