Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blessed are the Persecuted, Indeed

Thomas Frank sneered at conservatism yesterday in his editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Blessed are The Persecuted:

Historically speaking, conservatism is a movement organized and funded by society's most powerful members; politically speaking, it lusts for tax cuts and government rollbacks that will benefit those same fortunate folks at the top.

But what it really is, in its own mind, is a crusade on behalf of society's most abject members: the true Americans who are victimized, sneered at and persecuted for their faithfulness.

Here is a simple little example making its rounds on the internet that shows the lie of Mr. Frank's conclusion and his smugness. I think it is simple enough for even for even Mr. Franks to understand. But maybe not.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would gosomething like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you areall such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of yourdaily beer by $20.' Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.

But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could theydivide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it wouldbe fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued todrink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixthman. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I got."

''That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when Igot only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

''Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all ofthem for even half of the bill!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the mostbenefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might startdrinking overseas.

David R. Kamerschen,
Ph.D.Professor of EconomicsUniversity of Georgia.

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Congress Now Has its Scapegoat

Alan Greenspan appears to be the front runner for scapegoat in the financial crisis. The article reports in part:

Returning to Capitol Hill amid a financial crisis rooted in mortgage lending, Mr. Greenspan said he had been wrong to think banks' ability to assess risk and their self-interest would protect them from excesses. But the former Fed chairman, who kept short-term interest rates at 1% for a year earlier this decade, said no one could have predicted the collapse of the housing boom and the financial disaster that followed.

Lawmakers weren't buying his explanations. "You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime-mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others. And now our whole economy is paying its price," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.).”

Two things are worthy of note. First, during the time when Greenspan was Federal Reserve Chairman, he was part of the federal government. Second, as the Federal Reserve Chairman, he implemented the policies of the federal government. These are the key take aways. Pushing Waxman to the logical conclusion, he is claiming that Greenspan had the authority to overrule Congress and to restrict their efforts to manipulate the free market with Freddie and Fannie and other socialist programs. We should take Greenspan's admission that he could not forsee the banks inability to assess risk and their own self-interest in light of government excesses to heart. The conclusion is to remove government influences from the running of the free market. Only then will banks have the ability to assess risk and their own self interest. Thank you Mr. Greenspan for your judgment, but I fear Washington will not be understood it. They are looking for a scapegoat and not the truth.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Remember

In these trying times, remember that what man destroys Christ redeems for the sake of his faithful.

Monday, October 20, 2008

We Have Flawed Principles in the Nation

We have flawed principles in this nation. We believe that morality follows money. If you throw enough money at a situation, circumstances will improve and people will become better. This is a lie. The actual truth is just the opposite. Money follows good morality. You can see this throughout all of civilization. When the church cleans up the moral corruption in a culture, the culture thrives and the economy thrives. When the church fails to clean up culture or when government userps that authority from the church, corruption abounds and culture and the economy stagnate. In reality, immorality follows money. When you throw unearned money at a situation, corruption follows. When we learn this principle, we may be able to put our nation back on the right foot, but not until. Fortunately or not, that event may be coming in the not too distant future.

I Believe this to be True

"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

-- James Madison (speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 16 June 1788)

Reference: Bartlett's Quotations (352)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yes I am Right.

Oftentimes, the opinions I hold and those with whom I share my opinions are castigated by,"They think they are right." Well, dah. Yes, I consider myself to be right. What man worth his salt doesn't believe that his opinions are right? Even for those who fight for a plurality of opinion think that their opinion for plurality is right. Otherwise they wouldn't defend it so forcefully. The goal is to have charity for those who are wrong and to accept charity when you yourself are wrong. To do otherwise is to walk around like a deer caught in the headlights, not knowing what to believe.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of the dignity of man's nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God... Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments."

-- John Adams (Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1765)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

"[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few."

-- John Adams (An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, 29 August 1763)

Our founders hated democracy. They hated it because 51% of the population could impose their own self interest on 49% of the population. That is why they gave us a republic. Only by parceling out power to different factions in society could the founders protect the nation against the tyranny of the majority. See Federalist Paper No. 10. Only then would our lawmakers focus their efforts on executing justice. Over the past 245 years since this quote by Adams, we have increasingly become a democratic nation, where everyone seeks their own interests. The power has been concentrated in Washington, D.C. and our lawmakers continue to use that power for their own interests, financial gain through the taxes they can impose on us and the programs they can create for their self aggrandizement and profit. They no longer understand what justice is and focus instead on social engineering according to their own personal desires. What is particularly sad is that our people do not understand because our media has become likewise corrupt. This is no longer the country that was founded by such wise men as Mr. Adams. I grieve and pray for her.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Journal - Zephaniah

I may be becoming a bit redundant, but Zephaniah is a beautiful expression of how God’s true people are blessed and called to service through cursing. Zephaniah starts out his oracle with a proclamation of a covenant curse. Yahweh declares that he will “cut off” mankind from the face of the earth. (1:3) This term “cut off” is a classic expression of the punishment for a covenant violation. What is intriguing is that all mankind will be cut off because of the sins of Judah and Jerusalem. Indeed, all of creation will be swept away.

However, Yahweh interjects a new theme in chapter 2, verses 3, 7 and 9. “Seek the Lord, seek righteousness, seek humility,” and “perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of Yahweh.” Then “the seacoast shall become the possession of the remnant of the house of Judah.” And “the remnant of my people shall plunder [the nations].” These short promises are interspersed with continuing curses on the nations.

The oracle returns to a cursing of the oppressing city, Jerusalem, but in the end it declares a change. Yahweh proclaims that he has cut off nations for Jerusalem's benefit, but they were all the more eager to make their deeds corrupt. (3:7) Therefore, Yahweh will change things. He will change the speech of the priests and bring all of the nations to him.

This speaks to the church today. The church has become a bit weary today in seeking justice. Yes, it is now the king’s role to execute justice. We no longer have a theocracy. However, it is the priest’s role to advise the king on matters of morality and justice. The church, as an institution, has abandoned this role, seeking instead to gnosticize itself in seeking instead spiritual advancement. The king has taken up the task of mercy in all forms of socialized give-aways, medicare, welfare, food stamps, soon-to-be health care. This should not be. True spirituality consists in helping the poor and seeking justice. This is the church's job. Our king today seeks to oppress those who come to him for help by making them dependent on him. The church should fight against this ungodly oppression and free the oppressed. Yahweh will not allow this to continue. Whether the financial conditions now before the country are a curse imposed by Yahweh to make his church take up justice and mercy, I can not say. Whether the church will take up the call for justice and mercy, I can not say. Only God can, but he will be faithful to his word.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers."

-- John Adams (Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law, 1765)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

“Reformed Worship in the Global City,” by Timothy Keller

Comments by David Linton

Keller’s article is truly a gem of a presentation of the theology of worship. I was impressed with the development of his discussion of the historic distinction between Zwingli and Calvin and of the three results that occur from that distinction: doxological evangelism, community building, and a character for service leading to “all of life” worship. He concludes his analysis with a sequence of worship consisting of a praise cycle, a renewal cycle and a commitment cycle. This is an excellent discussion tying the concepts of Dalby’s “Gospel-Centered Worship” and Meyer’s “Covenant Renewal Worship.” Keller explicitly focuses on the grace of the gospel and the renewal of the people for Christ.

Keller handles the doxological evangelism role of worship well in the context of the community building aspect of worship. My question for him is the placement of his discussion of doxological evangelism. My reaction isn’t so much in what he says about doxological evangelism as it is his title and its placement in the first of priority. I think he overemphasizes Acts 2 and I Corinthians 14. I suggest that Acts 2 and I Corinthians 14 should be read in light of Deuteronomy 4:32-40. Worship of God’s people should cause the nations to ask what other people has God drawn out of the nations and separated unto himself. Obviously, worship must be comprehensible to an unbeliever. Otherwise it would be incomprehensible to a believer, such as a mass in Latin would be. So my question for him would be to assess how raising the community building principle in the priority would affect the watching world. His sequence of worship is yet a little too individualistic focused. If he stressed community building a little more and focused the culmination of worship on the communion fellowship (“the love feast”) with Christ and then sending the people out to the hurting world, worship would become more comprehensible and lovely to not only the believers, but also the unbelieving onlookers. Doxological evangelism would then become a very important footnote to community building.

This is an extremely practical article. It gives a well balanced discussion of the principles behind worship and applies them to a well thought out sequence and goal in worship. For me, it provides a good tie to Dalby and Meyers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What financial problems?

I know that this sounds like a heartless question. It is not intended to be addressed to those who have their retirement savings in the stock market or others who are legitimately affected by the financial problems that the government has brought about by its reckless play with Fannie and Freddie. The question is directed to those government officials and their cronnies who recklessly played in their financial playbox called Fannie and Freddie and carelessly ran it into the ground.

In the last month, I have taken out a car loan. I have also been solicited by a bank to receive an equity line of credit on my home. I did take out that equity line of credit. I have not used it, but I have it to even out the cash flow in my business.

My point here is that we are supposedly in a financial crisis. I am no wealthy tycoon. How is it that I can enter into debt when we are in a financial crisis? Money is tight. It is so tight that the government thinks they have to take billions of dollars from us taxpayers to keep the financial markets liquid. I don't see it. What is really going on is that the government is trying to fix problems that they caused with their policies on Fannie and Freddie. Why is it we Americans look for answers from the people who caused the problem to begin with?

How many people must be corrected on this point?