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Archive for December, 2011

Newt Gingrich went and did it. After several months of bluster, boasting and nonsense – he’s a historian, by golly, and don’t you forget it – he finally managed to say something interesting. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, the former speaker admitted that if he had to choose between Ron Paul and Barak Obama in the general election, he’d go with Obama. For what it’s worth, Gingrich later hedged his language, but the cat’s out of the bag.

This should surprise no one given the fact that when it comes right down to it, Gingrich and Obama have far more in common with each other than either one does with Ron Paul. Both love welfare at home, warfare abroad and neither cares a whit about the Constitution.

Now that one hypocritical, statist Republican has shown his true colors, perhaps more will have the courage to follow. Rush Limbaugh. Paging Rush Limbaugh. Has anyone seen Rush Limbaugh…

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Financial Outlook 2012

Jim Rogers is one of my financial heroes. Not only is he one of the most successful investors in the world, he’s also that ever so rare highly placed individual who 1) knows what he is talking about, and 2) is honest and brave enough to publically speak the truth. I had heard of him years before the 2008 financial crisis, but only as the events of that fall unfolded did I really pay attention to him. What impressed me so much was that as the whole financial system was coming unglued, Jim Rogers was one of the few calm, sane voices on Wall Street. Unlike the entire financial and political establishment, he denounced at every opportunity and to anyone who would listen the morally indefensible bailouts of Wall Street, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac in clear language a normal person could understand. Imagine that! A financial guy who speaks clear English.

Another nice thing about Jim Rogers is that he does a lot of interviews. He is a regular guest on American and foreign financial television shows, and he recently did an interview for an Australian TV network in which he discussed his financial forecast for 2012. I don’t know whether Rogers is a Christian, but his views on monetary policy, taxes and government are certainly consistent with the Bible.

Consider what Rogers says to a question posed by interviewer Lelde Smits regarding his outlook for global economic growth in 2012 ,

“Well Lelde, I’m not too optimistic about what’s going to be happening in the world in the next two or three years, and maybe even longer. We have serious problems in the United States. you know, in 2002 we had an economic slowdown, 2008 was even worse because the debt was so much higher. The next time around the debt is going to be staggeringly higher. So, the problems are going to continue to get worse until somebody solves the basic underlying problem of too much spending and too much debt.”     

This is exactly right. The 2008 financial crisis was brought on as a result of too much spending and debt. To cure this debt and spending problem, our dysfunctional political leaders – with intellectual cover provided by quack academic economists – decided to send the nation further into debt by a combination of money printing and deficit spending. It was Keynesianism on steroids.

The book of 1 Kings records a confrontation between the prophets of Baal and Elijah. When Baal did not heed the cries of the false prophets to consume the sacrifice on the altar, the Baal worshippers doubled down on their foolish leaping, shouting and gashing themselves, somehow desperately believing that Baal would hear them if only they could shout loudly enough. In the end, they just looked ridiculous.

And as is was with the prophets of Baal, so it is with our contemporary high priests of Keynesianism. They demand ever more money printing, government boondoggle spending and debt, hoping against hope that somehow the absurd act of piling more debt on top of an economy already being crushed by too much debt will fix things. But in the end, just like the prophets of Baal, the Keynesian quacks in charge of our monetary and fiscal policies will just end up looking ridiculous. Of course, they may bring the whole economy crashing down around us too, a feat well beyond the power of any mere prophet of Baal.

To read more of Jim Rogers’ cogent economic and investing forecast for the coming year, please click here.

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Q. How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?

A. Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fullness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with diverse circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.

 

How different is the mind of Christ from that of fleshly man! From all eternity, the second person of the Trinity had agreed to humble himself. He freely chose to be born of a woman, to be born under the law, to suffer and to die. And that, not for those who loved him, but for his enemies.

Who would do such a thing? Certainly not I. In my flesh, I would react with anger at the merely slight to my personal dignity, forget about humbling myself for someone else. But Christ willingly laid aside his glory and died to save me, a child of wrath by nature.

Glory to God in the highest! For he who has the preeminence willingly emptied himself that he might redeem us, who were dead in our trespasses and sins.

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The Cult of Complexity

In a recent piece, I commented on an article in Time by Joe Klein. For a mainstream media writer, I thought Klein was reasonably fair to Ron Paul, and was in fact more open to Paul’s free market ideas than many leading conservatives. I also mentioned that the article had a number of errors in it as well. I dealt with one of those already: Klein’s conflation of popularity and constitutionality. For Klein, it seems, if legislation is passed by Congress and is popular with the people, it must be constitutional. It was on this basis that he defended Social Security. This, of course, is fallacious. A law is constitutional if it is in agreement with the Constitution; it is unconstitutional if it is not. This has nothing to do with popularity.

There is another common, mistaken idea in Klein’s article based on the unstated assumption that complexity is good and simplicity is bad. Klein wrote, “This is a complicated society, undergoing an ever more rapid transformation in the midst of a potentially long economic slump…It’s these sorts of times that raise up people with simple answers: ideologues and demagogues. Paul is an ideologue and – we’re lucky – an entirely honorable one.” Klein, like many people, assumes complexity is good and normal, simplicity is not.
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In a article in Time, political writer Joe Klein spotlights Ron Paul in a not too negative fashion. In all honesty, I Klein’s piece was much better than I would have expected out of the MSM. It’s funny, but in some ways the MSM is less hostile to Paul’s ideas than many prominent voices in the conservative media. Limbaugh regularly bashes Paul as do the fine folks in the flagship conservative political magazines. Not that Klein quite gets it. I doubt he’d ever count himself as a Paul supporter, but stranger things have happened.

One area where Klein could improve is in his view of Social Security. Klein writes, “On an even more basic level, it would be nice to believe that people could take care of themselves without government help, but it just hasn’t proved true: programs like Social Security and Medicare – with run directly against the Jeffersonian-libertarian tradition – were necessary because people couldn’t take care of themselves. The elderly, especially, had trouble paying medical bills after their working days ended. The American people, through their government, decided to make a rudimentary deal, to make sure their parents didn’t starve or sleep in the streets and were able to get medical care.”

Of course, this raises the question, how did people take care of themselves before Social Security? They or their families did. If that wasn’t adequate, there were many charities that assisted people. When the Republicans won the House in 1994, Newt Gingrich put out a list of books supporting limited government. On that list was a publication titled The Tragedy of America Compassion. In it, author Marvin Olasky effectively refuted the notion that before the modern welfare state – including the advent of sacred programs like Social Security – people were starving in the streets. Socialists would have you believe that were it not for government “charity,” there would be none. That idea is simply false.

Klein continues, “There was nothing unconstitutional about that – just as there’s nothing unconstitutional about requiring people to have medical insurance now. The deal was made with the consent of the governed. In the real world, these are the most popular programs the government offers – about 80% of the American people are happy with them.”

Here, Klein shows he himself to be well off base. He seems to confuse popularity with constitutionality. And while I won’t deny that many government programs have popular support, this is very different from saying they are constitutional. The logical rule is that if it is not granted in the Constitution, the federal government is prohibited from that activity. The Constitution does not authorize Social Security, therefore it is unconstitutional for the federal government to provide Social Security benefits. The logic is simple to understand, but hard to face.

The Apostle Paul stated the Christian position on charity when he wrote, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim.5:8). Christians are to provide for their own households – including aged parents – out of their own resources, not use the government gun to do so. Charity starts at home. Ron Paul’s voting test – he will not vote for a bill unless it is authorized in the Constitution – is logical, constitutional, and in accord with Christian ethics. Would that there were many more like him in Congress.     

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Clueless!

This morning I was driving to work on the interstate, minding my own business, and sipping a nice, hot, oversize mug of coffee. It was a pretty typical morning commute. Nothing particularly noteworthy or interesting. At least not until a Volkswagen Jetta passed me on the left. The Jetta itself wasn’t remarkable. It was like hundreds of others I’d seen before. But something about it caught my eye and caused me to do a double take. Much to my surprise, the car had a gas pump nozzle still inserted in the gas tank sticking out the side of the car. Even better, the six feet of hose still attached to the nozzle was dragging on the road surface well behind the rear tire. I couldn’t help but laugh. “Clueless!,” I thought to myself, “How could anyone be that oblivious to what’s going on around him?”

Of course, we can all be clueless at times. When I was in grade school, I used to fill up the lost and found with gloves and hats and coats. I could have outfitted half the third grade with all the stuff I misplaced.

And to tell you the truth, I’m still that way. Those who know me are well aware of my bad habit of putting things in odd places and completely forgetting about them. I recently lost my eyeglasses for a week and had no idea what I might have done with them. I finally figured out they were in the pocket of my new hoodie, but not after overturning the house and making special trips to two restaurants, thinking that I had left my glasses at the table.

Some people think that my writing is clueless too. I hope that’s not the case, but maybe they have a point. No doubt I have several cords worth of wood in my eye. A man should never judge his own case. Whatever.
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Atheist Bullies

Christopher Hitchens now believes in God. I can say this with certainty, because the noted journalist and outspoken atheist died this week. News of his passing prompted me to skim through an anthology he put together a few years ago called The
Portable Atheist. And even though I haven’t made it very far, I have a few thoughts on what he wrote.

Hitchens isn’t the first writer of the “new atheist” school whom I have read. A number of years ago I read a book by Richard Dawkins called The Blind Watchmaker, in which Dawkins claimed to have overthrown the Biblical doctrine of creation, or at least intelligent design (they’re not the same thing, but that’s another article). As a Christian, I approached the book with a bit of fear and trembling, concerned that the Oxford scholar would offer some brilliant, irrefutable argument in favor of evolution that would utterly devastate my faith the Bible.

I read and read. I waited and waited.

Nothing.
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