Monday, June 30, 2014

A conversation between two Christians on government supported by videos

An argument between two devout Christians went like this:

Me:  Biblical government would be so small.

Friend:  Yes, but I don't think the secular public wants a biblical government. And I (a Christian) don't want really overly religious government either. They are bad at times.

Me:  I don't care about religious governments. (I don't defend general religion or general theism.)** And you don't believe in all religions anyway.  If you're saying that the kind of government that your God prescribed is not good enough, then what is?

Friend: I think a limited one is good. And you are just assuming that all the people in the country would want our God's government. That's why we formulated the original version of this government -- to prevent tyranny in all forms, secular and religious.

Me: The problem with that is that the U.S. Constitution itself was always an assault on Christianity -- a coup d'etat on our decentralized, overly Christian (religious) federation.***  I'm not the one defending tyranny here, although what you have in mind as our original government is admittedly a step up from what we have now. But so is tea in comparison to soda. That still doesn't make it water.

Friend: I don't see the Constitution as an assault on Christianity. I see it as a resistance to religious tyranny like radical Islam and the Inquisition of the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages.
I then sent him the above video. I should have sent the one below too.

*This was a text conversation that I edited for grammar.
**Words in bold were added for clarity. In fact, the text original read: "I don't care about relgious governments. U don't believe in all religions anyway. If your saying that the kind of government that your God prescribed is not good enough, then what is? (spelling preserved)
***By this I mean in the same way Gary North meant it.  Gary North puts it this way:
"In 1787, the states, with one exception (Rhode Island), were explicitly based on faith in God. In most cases, elected state representatives were required to swear their belief in the Trinity. The new Constitution made all such oaths illegal for Federal office (Article VI, Clause III). By means of the 14th Amendment (1868), the U.S. Supreme Court has applied this prohibition to state governments, completing the transformation in the case of Torcasso v. Watkins (1961)."

Video: N.T. Wright on the definition of the Gospel

N.T. Wright makes similar comments in the foreword of Scot McKnight's "The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited." Pick it up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My initial thoughts on David Brat: The Cantor-burier

So about that "rejoicing" that I was talking about....

...came from the little part of me that likes seeing the establishment upended in the way I wanted to see it upended: at low cost.

...but David Brat, is a mixed bag in the same way Rand Paul is a mixed bag: Good on some things, bad on others, never someone I can truly support. He's against indefinite detention, NSA spying, IRS targeting, and against runaway executive power. Good things. He's pro-life and pro-religious liberty. Also good things.

We are also in agreement on what I believe is the #1 issue of our time: "deficits without end, debt over $17 trillion and unfunded entitlement liabilities are over $125 trillion." (Source: His campaign site)

But upon further investigation, he's not too fond of my economic school of thought. He's a self-described "free-market, Milton Friedman economist." I'm opposed to Friedman because in all things he was not free-market.

Now he isn't bad as Eric Cantor for sure on war. But he believes that U.S. "Projection of power" is important without which there would otherwise be "chaos." (MSNBC 6/11/14).

That is very troubling indeed.

Nevertheless, I hope for the best. Put it this way, if elected, if he just focuses on what I agree with him on, it will be as if I never disagreed with him at all.

H/T to Lew Rockwell's blog for the Canter-bury title. It was their innovation; not mine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Big businesses are "fine" with Minimum wage; Mom and Pops struggle with compliance in Seattle

“The business owners are delaying new construction, suffering losses, and raising prices to comply with Seattle’s new $15 minimum wage.” ~The Bastiat Institute

Main Points

  • Higher prices are the symptoms of a much bigger problem: the expansion of the money supply by the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, and the subsequent lower purchasing power of the U.S. dollar.
  • The states are laboratories of democracy.
  • Mainly the Democratic Party, and a few Republicans support the minimum wage. In fact, raising the minimum wage was on the Democratic Party's 2012 Platform.
  • This is a traditionally “progressive” policy.
  • Corporations like McDonalds and Walmart have already admitted they can cope with this policy.
  • Smaller businesses however will have a much harder time coping with this, such as those in Seattle, Washington where a $15 minimum wage has been implemented and took effect this week. 

Republicans claim the minimum wage hurts businesses.
But McDonald's CEO supports the minimum wage. Why?
Because it will squeeze out the competition. The truth about the minimum wage is that it won't hurt the biggest businesses as much as it will hurt their smaller Mom-and-Pop size competitors.
In other words, "progressive" support for the minimum wage harms the "weak and the vulnerable" and benefits big corporations -- the very opposite of what they intend.

Cities, counties and states are “laboratories of democracy.” We are supposed to see what doesn’t work in this city and that city and learn from them – not turn around and advocate the same thing nationwide.

Higher costs of living are due to inflation and a declining currency. Declining currency comes from the expansion of the money supply (inflation).  Inflation comes from the Federal Reserve.

If you need any proof of the decline of the U.S. dollar, then play around with this inflation calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and see how much a dollar was worth in 1914 versus what it is now.

As an example, $100 in 1913 is $2,394.67 in 2014 money. But the opposite is true: $2,394.67 in 2014 is $100 in 1913 money. In other words, it takes a lot more of today's cash to match the purchasing power of our American ancestors.

In short, higher prices are the symptoms. The Federal Reserve’s monetary policies are the cause. We should not be going after symptoms with legislative medicine because they, like real corporate medicine, have all different kinds of harmful side effects, namely, unemployment, higher prices, and a delay in business expansion by entrepreneurs.

The people who will see this and support this idea anyway will stop us and say “no, we just wanted to slowly increase the minimum wage just a few cents or dollars more each year.” But all that really does is price out the jobs below that price floor incrementally, and delays the inevitable.
The fact that the law provides an exception to businesses with under 500 employees proves my point.

According to a CNNmoney article:
"One point of controversy prompted the International Franchise Association to threaten to sue the city within hours of the bill's passage.
Under the law, businesses with fewer than 500 workers are given more time to comply. That would be fine with the franchisees, if they were considered one of those smaller businesses.
Instead, the law states that a business owner has to count all employees in the U.S., likely putting those affiliated with a national franchisor in the large-business category."
How in the world do the people who passed this law know what time individual business owners will be able to afford the minimum wage increase?

Companies such as Walmart and McDonald’s say that they are fine with the increase. That’s because they have the structure in place to do so unlike small mom and pop shops.

Watch the wonderful explanation of this point here.

So yes, year over year legislators will have worked to bump up the minimum wage and to price out jobs below $0.50, $1.40, $4.50, $6.25, $7.25, $10.25, and $15.00.

Those kinds of jobs aren’t meant for anyone to “live” on. They’re usually reserved for teens, children, and low-skilled adults. At that age, they’re not getting paid in money alone but also in skill, responsibility and reputation.  Kids and teens could use jobs in the summertime and all year round.

Adults, on the other hand, need higher wage jobs to take care of themselves and their children. But the jobs and wages they desire are being squandered on a massive federal debt and are confiscated through taxes.

Let it be known that this is a policy that has the Democratic Party’s, including President Obama himself, and even a few Republicans’, hands on it and they should be held accountable.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kreeft on the link between faith and humility

These two things naturally go together: belief in God and humility. These two things also naturally go together: skepticism about God and pride. For if there is no God, then man is the highest and wisest of all beings. But if there is a God or gods, then human wisdom, now judged by a higher standard, is relatively tiny. However proud and arrogant some religious believers may have been, humility is inherent in the very logic of religious belief. And however humble some unbelievers may have been, lack of humility is inherent in the very logic of unbelief.
No one saw this connection between humility (before truth) and belief (in God) more clearly than philosophy's most passionate atheist, Nietzsche. If there is no God, no eternal mind, he reasoned, then there is no eternal truth. Truth is only God without a face. Nietzsche dared to ask "the most dangerous question … why truth? Why not rather untruth?"
 ~Peter Kreeft, Philosophy 101 By Socrates: An Introduction to Philosophy Via Plato's Apology (Forty Things Philosophy is According to History's First and Wisest Philosopher)

Book Review Forthcoming. Check back here in a week or two for a link.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Review - Lessons for the Young Economist - Lesson 9

Entreprenuers are considered to be the "driving force" of the market economy because they see things that others do not and then use their resources to offer goods and services to fill in that gap. As someone who wants to be an entrepreneur, I see that there is an opportunity, a gap, in the education system in my county. In turn, I can offer my tutoring services (my product) to potential customers (consumers), which are students and parents.

In the real world, all capitalists are entrepreneurs.  This is because capitalists, or people who control financial wealth, and often large amounts of financial wealth, put their money to use to produce goods and services that consumers will benefit from using. The classic example of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett will serve us here. They both had to acquire their wealth offering consumers things that they wanted. Also, capitalists serve their fellow entrepreneurs by offering them goods and services that will make their business run smoothly.

Xerox sells machines that make corporate office life easier. The huge machines that you see on the television shows Ax Men and American Loggers aren't -- to my knowledge -- made by those companies that chop down and move trees. But the entrepreneur that made them also had to have a large amount of money (savings, borrowed capital) to produce their machinery.

Competition regulates and motivates entrepreneurs to be honest, to offer quality products at the lowest price. When a competitor enters the market  -- let us take our Xerox example -- and begins to offer $800 copy machines that does exactly what the $1,000 Xerox machine does and more, Xerox will have to figure out how to offer a better product at a reasonable price. Otherwise, Xerox will find itself bleeding revenue, which will be going to the new market participant that's selling the $800 copy machines. This accounts for the regulation side because the product costs are regulated.

The competitive process unfolds through "imitation and innovation," as the book puts it, through various ways. Let's say I am the owner of a Chop't salad restaurant that's located next to an Olive Garden. We both sell similar products, namely salads. The reason I set up shop was because I thought I could offer better tasting salads at a faster rate and a better price. And to my credit, my vision paid off. I begin to attract customers to my shop. Olive Garden in return sets up a "to go" service in response to our competition to give customers great tasting salads "on the go." This back and forth keeps going and in the process the customer is ultimately the one who benefits.

Because of the competition between the two salad sellers, customers are getting healthy greens at a much faster pace than they were before and at a lower cost (both in terms of dollar value and time "time is money").

In short, as the Teacher's Manual puts it, "no entrepreneur starts from scratch.  He or shoe first sees what others are doing, and then tries to make improvements in order to attract customers from others."

But there is another beneficiary of all of this: the worker. Workers who apply for jobs in this competitive market will find that one employer offers a wage for one job, and the other employer offers a wage for the other job. Workers have the choice between what kind of work that they want to do and at what price.

If a worker finds that Chop't is offering a job at $10/an hour and Olive Garden is offering work at $8 dollars an hour for similar work, that worker will probably choose the higher paying job.  What can't happen though is Chop't paying $10/an hour and Olive Garden paying their workers $4/an hour. Olive Garden workers will tend to care that they are getting, subjectively speaking, "underpaid" for such work and have the option of leaving for higher paying work -- which will benefit Chop't.

Again, as the Teacher's Manual puts it, "if a particular worker is being paid less than his or her marginal product, there is an opportunity for a competing entrepreneur to offer a higher wage and pocket the (smaller) gap.

This is an ongoing review of books. Look for reviews of chapters or entire books in various topics ranging from theology, English literature, philosophy, monetary policy, black history, economics, political history, American history, philosophy of religion, self-improvement, and poetry. Basically, I'll cover whatever I feel like reviewing at the time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Decoding Washington: Obama's Trip to Poland

On Obama visiting Warsaw, Poland on June 4th:

"This June 4th in Warsaw, I had the dubious pleasure of trying to ignore two nauseating events in one day: the Orwellian holiday called “Freedom Day”, a new initiative of the current Polish government, and the appearance of President Barack Obama in Warsaw, whose presence cannot but remind Americans such as myself that their country is now a bankrupt administrative state whose policies resemble the little third world nations which Americans once pitied.

Mr. Obama was here to do what American foreign policy does best: promise other countries billions in taxpayer dollars in order to buy imperial allegiance, and help the local magistrate pretend to look powerful and important." ~Peter Strzelecki Rieth, "Freedom Day" vs. "Truth Day" (2014)

Decoding Washington: On the term "Stability"

"The dire threat of Iran is widely recognized to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. General Petraeus informed the Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 2010 that "the Iranian regime is the primary state-level threat to stability" in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the Middle East and Central Asia, the primary region of US global concerns. The term "stability" here has its usual technical meaning: firmly under US control." ~Noam Chomsky, The Iranian Threat (2010)

WCF Chapter One "Of Holy Scripture" Sunday School (Sept.-Oct. 2021)

Our text for Sunday School (also "The Confession of Faith and Catechisms") Biblical Theology Bites What is "Biblical Theology...