March 2010

25 Mar 2010

Gary North wittily discusses Jim Wallis’ cheap shot against Glenn Beck. Wallis is Barack Obama’s friend and “spiritual advisor.”

Beck’s turrets are now rotating toward Jim Wallis.

The Mormon could provide a useful service here.

22 Mar 2010

As a side note to the “Pharisee” post from a few days ago, I’m thankful for pastors like Matt Timmons who engage the culture where it is. The majority of people aren’t reading N.T. Wright. However, lots of people are reading The Shack. They’re slyly being indoctrinated in feminism and homosexuality. They have a poor understanding of why doctrine matters. They’ve bought the Church Growth Movement’s ideals hook, line, and sinker. And so on.

Peter Brown said this in his biography of Augustine:

His letters are marked by an inspired fussiness, and by a heroic lack of measure when it came to the care of endangered souls… [They] catch the barely suppressed sigh of a tired old age, characterized by constant quiet acts of self-sacrifice as Augustine lent his pen, again and again, to the defence of his Church, at the expense of intellectual projects that engaged him more deeply.

21 Mar 2010

Well, that was a nauseating debacle. I hope Bart Stupak enjoys his mess of pottage.

We might call this the day that private insurance died. I doubt that the imperial throne will need to fight like this again to complete the move to single-payer health care. Economics will do the dirty work. That is, private insurers will exit because they can’t cover pre-existing conditions (imagine selling fire insurance and being required to take people whose house has just burned down. It’s not the best business model). The government will enter in its usual role as the “lender of last resort” (aka. savior), using its printing presses of course.

I predict that we’re 5-6 years away from the health care system being on the verge of collapse. The revenues will be spent (in fact, they’re already spent) long before the “benefits” of this disaster are implemented in 2014. As Massachusetts discovered, it’s a pretty short trip to insolvency.

The people who are going to lose the most in all of this will be the baby boomers. As Gary North has said, expect a hard retirement. If you’re not in shape, think about getting in shape.

Has there ever been an instance in all of history where government involvement in something led to increased quality and lower costs for all? Think public education. The government provides direct funding, cheap credit for student loans, and other forms of subsidy (by the way, artificially-low interest rate loans are a boon for the seller, not the buyer). These actions increase resources. Demand explodes. Prices rocket upward (prices are a form of rationing). The bureaucracy expands, employees get raises, and empowered unions secure large pensions and are able to provide time and money for the reelection campaigns of their benefactors. Meanwhile, students and their parents go heavily into debt. Taxpayers pay through the nose (for example, the Cato Institute notes that public schools cost $25K/yr per student in some cities). High prices increase calls for more gov’t help to make education “affordable.” And so the government responds with more funding, and prices go even higher. Lather, rinse, repeat. One government intervention begets another.

You have to wonder if people will ever figure it out.

I think the U.S. health care system will be on the verge of collapse by 2017 (several years after the “benefits” kick in), but that optimistically assumes that the U.S. economy avoids collapse under the weight of unsustainable debt it has already accumulated. All the money that will be collected is already spent, unless the U.S. can use the revenues as collateral of sorts to borrow even more money at low rates.

Which leads to death panels. I’m not a huge fan of Sarah Palin, but she’s right that death panels are coming. There’s no getting around it, just as I see no way (short of repeal) around the fact that this bill is pretty much the death of private health care. Care will have to be rationed because the money eventually will not be there. This bill’s astronomical cost makes it worse.

The government isn’t going to ration fairly or humanely, it’s going to ration politically. I’m guessing that working-age taxpayers will eventually get first dibs, while old timers with extended problems are going to see their plug pulled. Economic malaise, the lack of free market competition/incentives, the addition of millions of people to the system, and government subsidies are going to make health care even more expensive. The stifling effect of the government on the economy is going to make things even worse, because it really is true that a prosperous society materially benefits all in that society. A poor society does not. You cannot build a prosperous society by attacking production and savings, and that is exactly what big government attacks through its spending, its debt, and its costly regulations.

You can’t legislate away economic reality.

19 Mar 2010

It never fails. A pastor writes an article defending Scripture against the latest piece of bad theology (in this case, The Shack). Angry people respond with the charge: “Pharisee!”

“Pharisee” is the evangelical version of the word “racist.” It’s usually just a cheap way to attempt to end debate. The words “Pharisee” or “judgmental” in a letter or popular article have become likely indicators of a lousy argument.

If doctrine doesn’t matter, why would Paul warn of the false teachers with tears (Acts 20), or to equip the saints so they are no longer tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14)? He warned the Roman church against those who cause divisions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine they had been taught (Rom 16:17). He discussed “warning and teaching everyone” (Col 1:28). Paul told them to see to it that people are not taken captive by human philosophies (Col 2:8). He tells Timothy and the church to rebuke those who teach false doctrine (1 Tim 1:3), to keep a close watch on his teaching (1 Tim 4:16), to guard the good deposit (1 Tim 6:20, 2 Tim 1:14), and to preach the word and rebuke falsehood (2 Tim 4:2). Why? “To save himself and his hearers.” (1 Tim 4:16). Doctrine is a matter of life and death.

If the accusers are non-Christian, the “Pharisee” argument usually shows a poor, grab bag understanding of Scripture and their hatred of God’s law and authority. If the accuser is Christian, ask him if one should judge Mormons by their piety or their doctrine. He’ll usually say the latter. So, doctrine does matter. He’s really saying that you’re getting caught up in areas of Christian liberty and focusing on inessentials. The more the person has an affinity for the book, the more the person protests.

I have several responses for these folks. First, The Shack‘s perversions of the Trinity and promotion of feminism are both attacks on the Godhead. This is heresy, not inessentials. It is deadly error. Second, Paul did not tell pastors to limit their teaching to the facts of salvation, but to preach all the Word and do so rightly. Third, you seem to think that something that is sweet to your eyes, your ears, and your feelings is “spiritual.” In such cases, perhaps we should be most willing to say to ourselves: Is this really Biblical? Compare it to the Word. Remember, Satan poses as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) and Paul warns us away from teachers who tell us what we want to hear rather than the truth (2 Tim 4:3). Fourth, don’t buy the “it’s only a work of fiction” line used by every popular author who writes books filled with bad theology (see Brown, Dan). This is a lame cop out. You can bet that the same author will proudly and pretentiously talk up how he is constantly told that the book “helped expand my understanding of Jesus/God/my faith.” The reviews on Amazon will verify this.

13 Mar 2010

It’s baffling to see how much conservatives direct fire at Ron Paul on abortion. Ron Paul has been pro-life his entire career. Consistent with his views on federal power, he wants to overturn Roe and send it back to the states. He notes that laws can be passed by Congress to restrict the courts using Article III, section 2.

Let’s not kid ourselves. There is no political support nationally to outlaw abortion. The Republicans did nothing when they held the legislative and executive branches. Tactically, Ron Paul would rather get power out of federal government’s hands. Why isn’t this acceptable? Extending federal power over the abortion issue is every bit as likely (and probably more likely) to work against abortion opponents. Sure, the federal government could one day outlaw abortion (and do so constitutionally), but its track record has been to extend abortion. That’s what it did by judicial fiat in 1973. Federal courts have also overturned modest state restrictions.

Furthermore, the explosion in federal entitlement spending has also been the backbone of the abortion industry in so many ways. Ron Paul is also the lonely voice in Washington who wants to eliminate all entitlement spending.

What’s really amazing is how many conservatives have thrown in their lot with Mitt Romney. Have a listen to “pro-lifer” Mitt Romney from 2002. At best, the guy is a phony.