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Archive for February, 2016

Creature from JekyllThe Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve, 5th Edition by G. Edward Griffin (Westlake Village, California, 608 pages, 2010), $19.44.

“The most boring question in the world,” announced the accounting professor to my B-School class, “is whether the government should have bailed out the financial system in 2008.” In his eyes, the answer was an obvious yes. End of story. But that struck me as a rather odd stance. For the question, to bailout, or not to bailout? seemed to me to be among the most fascinating topics imaginable in the field of finance and accounting. And in truth, any answer one could give would have to go well beyond finance and accounting, touching upon the basic philosophical disciplines of politics, ethics, and ultimately epistemology. Further, any answer given would go a long way to telling you something about the man himself. So no, it was not a boring question at all. That is, unless you’re interest is in perpetuating the status quo, in which case you would prefer that it not be asked at all.

I have elected to introduce my review of G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island [hereafter, the Creature] by way of this personal account, because it illustrates perfectly the sort of close-minded contempt that emanates from the financial mainstream toward anyone who dares question its reigning orthodoxies. Examples of these nostrums are: Central bank issued fiat currency is good, but the gold standard is a barbarous relic, the money supply cannot be left to the free market, it must be a function of a government appointed central bank; banks are not like other businesses, they must be chartered, regulated, and, if needed, bailed out by the government using taxpayer funds. None of these orthodoxies is true, for none can be supported from Scripture. Yet they are accepted by politicians, academics and ordinary folks alike almost without question.

G. Edward Griffin, on the other hand, is a man who does question these orthodoxies, concluding at the very beginning of his book that the Federal Reserve must be abolished. He provides seven reasons for this, namely:

  • It is incapable of accomplishing its stated objectives.
  • It is a cartel operating against the public interest.
  • It is the supreme instrument of usury.
  • It generates our most unfair tax.
  • It encourages war.
  • It destabilizes the economy.
  • It is an instrument of totalitarianism.

The remainder of the book is used to flesh out why these things are so. In Griffin’s words, the book is a who-dunit, which, in the words of USA Daily, “documents an organized and successful attempt to seize control over the U.S. monetary system by powerful American and European families.”

Eccles Building

The Eccles Building, the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Federal Reserve.

 

At this point one may by asking himself, why is it that Christians should care about the obscure workings of the Federal Reserve System [hereafter, the Fed]? Why not just leave banking to the bankers and get on with more important matters? After all, talking about money doesn’t seem very spiritual. And doesn’t the Bible say that money is the root of all evil? Wouldn’t it be best simply to leave the whole matter alone and focus on the Great Commission instead?

Taking these objections in reverse order, let us consider what Christ commanded in the Great Commission. What did Jesus say to his followers? Go into all the world and teach the five fundamentals? No. Christ called his disciples to go into all the nations and to teach, “them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The Great Commission includes all of Christ’s teachings. And since there is no field of endeavor not covered by Christ’s teachings,, all statements of all men in all areas of study, including banking, finance, and accounting, must be brought back to Scripture and judged by it. Therefore banking is a proper field of Christian study.

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100 dollar bills.jpgWhen Harvard Economics professor and wannbe Fed Chairman Lawrence Summers speaks, it’s usually a good idea to pay him heed. Mind you, not because pearls of wisdom fall from his lips as manna from heaven, but because what he says carries weight. He is among the very elite of the intellectual and financial elite. A true master of the universe, if you will. And if Summers writes in the Washington Post that he wants to grab your cash, you’d best be paying attention. Because if he’s saying it in the mainstream media, you can take it to the bank (bad pun intended) that the rest of the elite is thinking along those same lines.

Of course, he wasn’t so crude as to suggest he was just going to take your money. People of his ilk never do. They’re far too genteel for such talk. No, what they do is make the case for some small, seemingly innocuous move. The sort of thing that, not only seems downright reasonable, but actually appears to be the very essence of patriotism and upright thinking. I’m speaking here of Summers’ recent call to “kill the $100 bill.”

Now why would this economics professor think that killing a perfectly good Federal Reserve Note is so important that he would take the time to write a newspaper column on the subject? The better to fight crime and terrorism, he tells us. Besides, he adds, we don’t need that silly old $100 bill anyway.

Citing Peter Sands, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Mossavar Rahmani Center for Business and Government, whose recent paper on the subject of banning large denomination bills was the inspiration for his article, Summers writes,

The fact that – as Sands points out – in certain circles the 500 euro note is known as the “Bin Laden” confirms the arguments against it.

Cash, you see, means terrorism. But it’s not just terrorism that we can stop by banning large bills. Crime of the more ordinary sort can be reduced as well. Summers continues,

I confess to not being surprised that resistance within the ECB [European Central Bank, the issuer of the euro] is coming out of Luxembourg, with its long and unsavory tradition of giving comfort to tax evaders, money launderers, and other proponents of bank secrecy…

So, banning the big bills helps us catch crooks too. And on top of that, “technology is obviating whatever need there may ever have been for high denomination notes in legal commerce.”

If we take Summers’ at his word, there simply is no legitimate reason for large denomination notes to even exist at all. And if you think otherwise, you must be a terrorist or tax evader. And you wouldn’t want people to think that about you, now would you?

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Pope Francis_Juarez

Pope Francis speaks at the Bachilleres College in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on February 17, 2016. Background image is Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Gabriel Bouys, AFP

 

 

“The Romanists have very cleverly built three wall around themselves,” observed Martin Luther in his treatise To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation. “Hitherto,” he continues, “they have protected themselves by these walls in such a way that no one has been able to reform them. As a result, the whole of Christendom has fallen abominably.

In the first place, when pressed by the temporal powers they have made decrees and declared that the temporal power had no jurisdiction over them, but that on the contrary, the spiritual power is above the temporal. In the second place, when the attempt is made to reprove them with the Scriptures, they raise the objection that only the pope may interpret the Scriptures. In the third place, if threatened with a council, their story is that no one may summon a council but the pope.”

In this way they have cunningly stolen our three rods from us, that they may go unpunished. They have ensconced themselves within the safe stronghold of these three walls so that they can practice all the knavery and wickedness which we see today.” Thus Luther.

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The Building of Noah's Ark_1675

The Building of Noah’s Ark, c. 1675.

Prepping has interested me for several years, but it has been only recently that I felt compelled to write on the subject. Prepping – I would define prepping as, in light of God’s Word, foreseeing possible political, economic and social crises and taking precautions to protect oneself against them – is seen by some as a bit negative, a bit antisocial. After all, if you’re building an ark, you must be rooting for a flood. Because if nothing happens, you’re just going to look foolish.

But while it may be common for people to look down on prepping and those who practice it, preppers actually have a good Biblical basis for doing what they do. As Proverbs tells us, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (22:3). When one considers the massive and unpayable debts of the Western nations, the geopolitical tensions that seem to be growing all the time, and the spiritual and moral decline seen all around us, it is hard to believe that the current decrepit system can long continue. It has been the position of this author in this series 1) that serious shocks to the West’s political and economic systems are coming in the near future, 2) that most people – and even most Christians – are unprepared materially, physically and spiritually to deal with them, and 3) that the Bible provides an almost embarrassment of riches on the subject of how to get ready for and endure extreme economic, social and political crises.

This series on prepping is not about finding the best type of food to store or how to protect your savings in the event of large scale bank runs. These are important subjects. I do not deny that. But there are other who are better positioned to talk about them. It has been my aim in writing these posts to make the Biblical case for prepping. To show from the pages of Scripture that not only is prepping consistent with the Christian faith, but that it is actually a Biblical imperative.

In particular, this study has looked at the case of Noah, a man faced with a quite literal end-of-the-world-as-he-knew-it scenario. Last week, we looked at the basis of Noah’s salvation from destruction: God’s grace. Noah was not a perfect man. He was a sinner, just like all the others on the earth in his day. But God purposed to save him. Not for anything in Noah or because God was under any obligation to save him, but because the Lord freely, sovereignly elected to do so. This week, I would like to take a closer look at Noah and consider just what sort of man he was.

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The Building of Noah's Ark_1675.jpg

The Building of Noah’s Ark, c.1675.

The prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on an are punished.Proverbs 22:3

 

In the first two parts of this series it has been my goal to set forth a few basic ideas. First, Western Civilization, our civilization, is in an advanced state of decay and likely to suffer significant financial and political shocks in the not too distant future. Western Civilization began with the Reformation in the 16th century and was built by the widespread preaching of and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the West has largely turned its back on Christ, and there is no reason to suppose that the Lord will spare it any more than he has spared other civilizations that have done likewise.

Second, I have argued that the coming difficulties, when they occur, should not come as a surprise to Christians. We have the Word of God at our disposal, and a wise application of its teaching to the world around us should open our eyes to the precarious state of our civilization. When disaster strikes, if we are just as surprised and confused as everyone else, this will reflect poorly on us, showing we do not take the Word of God seriously.

Third, not only is it prudent for Christians to prepare to survive what in my opinion are unavoidable and serious economic and political troubles, but that doing so honors God and puts us in a position to serve as a witness to his grace and goodness to those who badly need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fourth, it has been my contention that Noah provides for us an ideal model prepping. Typical of God’s goodness is that he not only lets us know in clear terms what is right and what is wrong, but he also provides for us many examples of what happens to those who heed his Word, as well as those who do not. In Noah’s case, we how God acted through one believing individual to preserve the human race from complete destruction.

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Obama

Obama to propose $10-per-barrell fee on oil,” blared the CNBC headline. Surprise, surprise. Obama wants a new tax. The Obama administration claims the funds generated by this proposed energy tax will be used to fund clean transportation research, high-speed railways, autonomous cars and other such like. (Sigh)… Can Obama just leave office already? The economy is teetering on the brink of a recession, and possibly something much worse, and all the president can think to do is gin up more government spending. I guess Nixon was right, we really are all Keynesians now.

It’s fascinating how statists such as Obama try to portray themselves as of the people, by the people, and for the people, but in reality they are anything but. In truth, he is more like of the statists, by the statists and for the statists. There is nothing that he does that is not all about growing government. And that’s what gives the lie to this and to his other proposals. But government is the problem, not the solution. Growing the state does not make us better off. It’s a drain on our wealth. More power in Washington means less freedom for Americans. And yet, almost like a cuckoo clock, out pops Obama to to announce yet another government spending initiative.

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