Saturday, March 27, 2010

‘Binding’ Is Not Enough

"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." --Thomas Jefferson, fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798

Kent comments:

I am a big fan of some of Mr. Jefferson’s political ideas.  I am also not opposed to the spirit of this proposal.  People should not be trusted with political power, because people are riddled with the effects of sin.

A little aside:  This is one area where a theological consideration cannot be divorced from a political idea.  One major divide in political ideas is the matter of what you think of the moral perfectibility of human beings.  If you think people can rise above their moral flaws, you simply need to find those people and put them into power.  If not, you have to watch people in power carefully.  But either approach is a theological position.

Now, back to the main point . . .

I am generally in favor of ‘binding’ people with the ‘chains’ of a constitution.  But since Mr. Jefferson’s day one thing we have learned is that this is never, and not nearly, enough for the continued enjoyment of liberty.  What we have seen repeated throughout our history is this:  people in power will do much of what they want in spite of constitutions.

Sometimes our Constitution is simply ignored.  All that is required for this to happen is an un-Constitutional act by either Congress or the President, and the permission of a simply majority of the Supreme Court.  And this even presumes that such a matter makes it to the courts.  Ordinary people cannot even begin to afford access to the court system for such matters.

Sometimes our Constitution is simply twisted into meaninglessness by faulty interpretation.  In these cases, and there have been many of them, the system goes through the motions of working, but in the end liberty is not protected.

Our history is replete with examples in which the Constitution was unable to ‘bind’ those in power.  That is because liberty transcends constitutions and positions of power.  It requires a culture of individuals who both love and understand liberty to protect and preserve it.

If people prefer slavery to liberty, constitutions which erect the most wonderful and ingenious structures to protect it will be in vain.  If you don’t think that is the case, check the political news any day of the week.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Canada: the No Free Speech Zone

University of Ottawa's letter to Ann Coulter

March 22, 2010

Dear Ms. Coulter,

I understand that you have been invited by University of Ottawa Campus Conservatives to speak at the University of Ottawa this coming Tuesday. We are, of course, always delighted to welcome speakers on our campus and hope that they will contribute positively to the meaningful exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a great university campus. We have a great respect for freedom of expression in Canada, as well as on our campus, and view it as a fundamental freedom, as recognized by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.

You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed. I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind.

There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this university, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and urge you to respect that Canadian tradition while on our campus. Hopefully, you will understand and agree that what may, at first glance, seem like unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression do, in fact, lead not only to a more civilized discussion, but to a more meaningful, reasoned and intelligent one as well.

I hope you will enjoy your stay in our beautiful country, city and campus.


Francois Houle,

Vice-President Academic and Provost, University of Ottawa

The letter above, translated from elite-speak into English:

Dear Peon:

We are delighted to welcome speakers from all viewpoints to our campus. We have ideas we like, and we are always pleased when someone comes to remind us just how correct our ideas really are. Why, we even have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to prove it.

But you need to remember that not all viewpoints are created equal. Here in Canada, we have laws to make sure that you remember that. We’ll have none of that ‘First Amendment’ garbage here. After all, this is not pre-Obama United States up here. This is Canada. Here we have our Charter of the Freedom to Keep Your Mouth Shut.

Here in Canada, if you peons say anything that we can label as ‘hateful’ we will slap you in the slammer before you can say, “freedom of expression.” In fact, we would suggest you avoid that expression, as it does not comport with our Canadian customs.

You surely understand that our threats and intimidation are necessary to make sure you don’t say anything we know to be stupid. And we, of course, know much better than you what is stupid. (Hint: what you think is stupid.)

So just say things that we want to hear and nothing else. That’s the only civilized thing to do. And if you know what’s good for you, it’s what YOU will do.


Francois “Goebbels” Houle
Vice-commandant and First Citizen, University of Ottasquat

More on ‘Social Justice’

from Jim Wallis at The Huffington Post

Private charity, which Beck and I are both for, wasn't enough to end the slave trade in Great Britain, end legal racial segregation in America, or end apartheid in South Africa. That took vital movements of faith which understood the connection between personal compassion and social justice. Those are the movements that have inspired me and shaped my life -- not BIG GOVERNMENT. And my allies in faith-based social justice movements have wonderfully different views on the role of government -- some bigger than mine and some smaller than mine -- but we all believe social justice requires changing both personal choices and unjust structures. Apparently Beck thinks social justice ends with private charity, but very few churches in the nation would agree with him.

Kent comments:

Jim Wallis – the socialist who thinks that is the central belief of the Christian faith – is still complaining that Glen Beck urged Christians to bail out of churches that preach ‘social justice.’  That should surprise no one.  Without so-called churches that make ‘social justice’ (which is neither social nor just) a key teaching, Jim Wallis would be out of business.  He could no longer jet around the world, in a life style that would be the envy of billions of people on earth, preaching that it is a sin for one human being to have more than another.

But that’s not the main point here.

It is nothing short of idiotic for Wallis to tell us that ‘private charity’ ‘wasn’t enough’ to do things like end the slave trade or racial segregation.  Only the straw men of Wallis’ warped imagination ever thought ‘charity’ could end slavery.

Slavery was unjust because it used the force of the state to coerce people into giving their whole lives to their ‘owners.’  Ironically, the ‘social justice’ Wallis constantly whines for does exactly the same thing to a lesser degree.  Instead of using the state to force someone to be the ‘property’ of someone else, Wallis wants the state to own only a part of you.  That part is the part that is taxed and regulated away from you, which in recent years is about half of you.  While that is not full slavery, it is a ‘partial slavery’ that has the added sinister feature of being disguised slavery.

But it is no more ‘just’ that was slavery.  And it is anti-Christian, which is exactly why any group that advocates ‘social justice’ is not worthy of the name ‘church.’

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Empty Words?

Question:  Does the proposal of Federalist #46, paragraph the third from last, first several sentences, ever “kick in”?  If so, what would be sufficient reason to do so?  Or, are these just empty words?

This is a serious question, especially given our current situation.  I hope people will respond.  To answer the question you will need to use the link above to read figure out just what I refer to here.

I asked one of my sons this question today and he quickly replied, “Those are empty words.”  Perhaps that is the case.  I would like to know what you think, and why.

After, or if, anyone responds I will probably offer some commentary on the matter.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

‘Easter’ and the Resurrection

Survey: Less than Half Link Easter to the Resurrection

Religion News Service reports that less than half of U.S. adults link Easter directly to the Resurrection of Jesus, even though most describe Easter as a religious holiday. According to a Barna Group survey, seven in 10 respondents mentioned religion or spirituality in their response to an open-ended question about how they describe what Easter means to them personally. But just 42 percent tied Easter to the Resurrection. At 73 percent, baby boomers (ages 45 to 63) were the most likely to describe Easter as a religious holiday, compared to two-thirds of those ages 26 to 44 and Americans 64 and older. The youngest group of adults (ages 18 to 25) were least likely, at 58 percent, to use that kind of description. "The Easter holiday in particular still has a distinctly religious connection for people but ... the specifics of it are really fading in a lot of people's minds," said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group.

Kent comments:

Even among those who make a connection between ‘Easter’ and the resurrection, it would be interesting to know what they mean by ‘the resurrection.’  Long before this connection faded in society at large, it was subverted in the church.

For many decades now, many mainline churches have redefined ‘the resurrection’ as being nothing more than a psychological event restricted to the ‘hearts and minds’ of the disciples.  It was something that might re-occur in our hearts and minds.  When you ‘believe’ (whatever that means in this context) Jesus has been ‘raised’ for you.

But in this way of thinking, it never happened in history, in time-and-space, so to speak.  Those who learned their ‘Christianity’ in these places don’t really accept the resurrection of Jesus as it is presented in the New Testament.

This perversion of the gospel formed a large part of the ‘theological hole’ by which much non-Christian garbage has been sucked into what used to be the church.

It would be interesting indeed if Barna asked the question, “What do you mean by ‘the resurrection’?”  The range and content of the answers would probably be shocking.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Madison

I would like to wish everyone a happy “James Madison’s Birthday” anniversary today, March 16.  Mr. Madison is the fellow who said, among other things:

Hitherto charters have been written grants of privileges by Governments to the people. Here they are written grants of power by the people to their Governments.

Government is instituted and ought to be exercised for … the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

Laws are unconstitutional which infringe the rights of the community … government should be disarmed of powers which trench upon those particular rights.

The powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.

There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied … than … that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong … nothing can be more false … it would be the interest of the majority in every community to despoil and enslave the minority of individuals … reestablishing … force as the measure of right.

The legitimate meaning of [the Constitution] must be derived from the text itself.

The real measure of the powers meant to be granted to Congress by the Constitution is to be sought in the specifications … not … with a latitude that, under the name or means for carrying into execution a limited Government, would transform it into a Government without limits.

With respect to the words, "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the details of power connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution … not contemplated by the creators.

I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.

If Congress can employ money indefinitely … the powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.

Would it be wonderful to have someone like this in Congress right now?  Unfortunately, dead guys cannot run for high office – expect in Chicago.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beauty and the Music of the Church

I have for quite some time been working on a little paper exploring the connection between beauty and church music, and some implications of that connection.  Here is the most recent version.  If you care to wade through it, I would welcome your comments.  Use this link:

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Great Glen Beck ‘Social Justice’ Debate

Glen Beck is an interesting guy.  I have listened to him sporadically over the last several years.  When I first heard him he was a kind of talk show funny man.  He did some very funny political parody and satire.  But he was normally very (very) light on substance.

Something happened to Beck a little over a year ago.  It was clearly linked to the election of Obama and the radical statist group that took over Congress.  It seemed to awaken Beck from his humorous slumbers.

It’s not that he is no longer funny – he is, very much so sometimes.  But he seems to have begun to study political history, some economics, and a few related topics.  Over that last few months it has been intriguing to hear – when I have the opportunity – Beck ‘discover’ all sorts of things that some of us have known for a long time.  He seems so genuinely surprised by his discoveries that it is, in a way, cute.

Beck has discovered things like the following:  the so-called “progressives” of the early 20th century were in fact statists whose ideas were the precursors to modern “liberals” of the “leftist” variety.  He discovered that the great dividing line in political ideas is statism vs. liberty, and that both communists and fascists are on the statist side of that line.

Glen Beck has been doing lots of homework lately, stumbling upon all sorts of things in the process.  Just this week he seems to have discovered that “social justice” as it is usually conceived is neither social nor just.  When callers talked about their churches advocating “social justice” Beck told them that “social justice” is not compatible with Christianity and that good people should abandon “social justice” churches.  (Christianity Today published a nice account of all this.)

This has launched a firestorm of criticism.  As you might expect, Jim Wallis of Sojourners fame was irate, saying:

Glenn Beck says Christians should leave churches that use the word “social justice.” He says social justice is a code word for communism and Nazism.

Of course, Christians may disagree about what social justice means in our current political context -- and that conversation is an important one -- but the Bible is clear: from the Mosaic law of Jubilee, to the Hebrew prophets, to Jesus Christ, social justice is an integral part of God’s plan for humanity.

Beck says Christians should leave their social justice churches, so I say Christians should leave Glenn Beck. I don’t know if Beck is just strange, just trying to be controversial, or just trying to make money. But in any case, what he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show. His show should now be in the same category as Howard Stern. Stern practices pornography and Beck denies the central teachings of Jesus and the Bible. So Christians should stop watching the Glenn Beck show and pray for him and Howard Stern.

Glen Beck is a Mormon who thinks Mormonism is a version of Christianity, while Jim Wallis is a statist socialist who thinks socialism is the essence of Christianity.  But on the point of “social justice” being at odds with the Christian faith, the Mormon gets it right, while the statist socialist gets every so wrong.

Peruse the Sojourners website and newsletters, and one thing becomes very clear very quickly:  to Jim Wallis, “social justice” necessarily includes statist coercion.  The link Wallis includes for the “heart of our Christian faith” (above) will take you to an online reference to Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus talks about His mission to “to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”  Where, pray tell, is there any reference here or anywhere else in New Testament urging Christians to lobby the government for ever more statist programs of legalized theft and wealth redistribution?

If “social justice” simply meant Christian charity of material goods, this should not be controversial.  But the “social justice” crown never means that.  In fact, they typically hate the idea of Christian charity.  Christian charity implies individual ownership and gifts by willing individuals to the needy.  “Social justice” people despise that whole idea.  They begin with the Marxist assumption that the mere fact of an uneven distribution of wealth means that the ‘haves’ have exploited the ‘have nots’ to get what they have.

Jim Wallis and his friends never even attempt to hide this assumption, and it is the key assumption through which they filter everything in the Bible to get their theological views.  These views are very theological, but not at all Christian.

These views are not Christian because they are not at all non-violent.  When you first realize this, it is a bit surprising in light of the fact that the “social justice” crowd loves to proclaim their commitment to “non-violence” when it come to things like civil defense and capital punishment.  But when it comes to redistributing wealth, the “social justice” people are ever ready to have the state impose by force their latest scheme of wealth redistribution.  Of course, to redistribute wealth you must first take it from people – something the Bible condemns as theft, a most important form of true injustice.  Historically speaking, state-imposed theft leads to a destruction of economic society.  Thus, “social justice” is neither social nor just.

This is something that Glen Beck understands, but Jim Wallis does not.  The extent to which anti-social injustice views have infiltrated many churches is shameful.  Just browse the websites of most mainline denominations and you will find things like this from the United Church of Christ website:

Churches are already doing a lot to take care of needy people directly through charity work. . . But Christians devote much less effort to influencing what governments do.

God, however, requires both charity and justice, and justice can often be achieved only through the mechanism of government.

Government is not the only or always the best instrument to deal with injustice. But it is one of the institutions created by God part of God's providence for the welfare of people. Because we live in a democracy, a nation with a government "of the people," we have a special privilege and responsibility to use the power of our citizenship to promote public justice and reduce hunger.

If you give of what you have to feed the poor, and urge your neighbors to do likewise, that is a Christ-like action.  But if you lobby the government to force people to redistribute wealth to the poor, that is a Chairman Mao-like action.  The fact that it is “for the poor” is morally insignificant if the means is legalized theft.

Even though Glen Beck is part of something (Mormonism) that is not a Christian church, he has discerned that Christians should abandon groups that advocate anti-social injustice.  Good for you, Glen Beck!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Academic Biases

Religion News Service reports that college graduates are more likely to consider the Ten Commandments irrelevant than those with no college degree, according to a recent study. They are also more likely to reject the Bible as the word of God. A "distinct shift" occurs after college regarding beliefs and opinion, said Richard Brake, director of university studies at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. The ISI surveyed 2,508 Americans on questions intended to measure the impact of a college degree on people's beliefs. The study also found that people with college degrees were more likely to support same-sex marriage, as well as abortion available at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason. Graduates were also more likely to believe that public school teachers should not be allowed to lead prayers in schools. The shift may be attributed to the unpopularity of strong religious views in academia, Brake said. "I think one of the reasons you see this shift is the people that work in academia share these same views," he said.

Kent comments:

While it was nice of ISI (a good and useful organization, visit their website to see what they offer), the study only confirms what anyone who ‘hangs around’ campus these days knows from talking to students.  While the situation will vary from campus to campus and even among departments on a given campus, you can expect a solid majority of academia to hold views that are:

1. Opposed to historic Christianity in some degree or other

2. In favor of almost any statist program or policy you can imagine

3. In favor of ‘ethics’ but in the end unable to decide on the content thereof, yielding some version of moral relativism

While this list could become longer and more precise, these are a few of the main points I have noticed.  From my experience, these points and others like them are more likely to be represented more strongly in departments of education and some of the ‘social sciences’ – especially fields like sociology.  Next to or perhaps tied with departments of education in the matter will be religion and philosophy.  (One of the most anti-Christian departments at many universities is, ironically, the ‘religion’ department.)

Naturally, these views get passed along to many students to some extent.  There are always strong exceptions among students – the sharp, independent thinkers sometimes go against the grain.  But most students are usually sucked into a system where the assumptions of academia have tacitly set the terms of discussion in a way that excludes the truth of the Christian faith, assumes the value of some version of statism, and will tolerate no version of ‘intolerant’ ethical absolutism.

It is not that those who lead academia always make a point of drilling these things into the heads of students.  I have seen examples of that, but it is not the usual approach.  Instead, alternatives to current academic orthodoxy are simply never given serious consideration in the discussion.

I have seen small pockets here and there of exceptions to this situation, but they are isolated.

As long as academia remains what it generally is today, we can reasonably expect those who spend time there to absorb these views to some extent.  That means that ‘higher education’ will produce anti-religious, pro-statist, moral relativists.

This will be interpreted to mean that ‘education’ reveals these positions to be true.  What it in fact shows is the nature and extent of the biases that currently infect academia.

If we ever hope to change the downward spiral of our culture, we will need to change the very fabric of academia.  This will not be done easily or quickly.  But in the long run, this is much more important than anything else that could be done to save our civilization.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The BIG Question

A recent, excellent little piece at Christianity Today online is titled “We’re All Theologians.”  The article ends with a quote from Joshua Harris, “We're all theologians. The question is whether what we know about God is true.”

Strictly speaking, we cannot know what is not true.  So I would tweak that last sentence of the quote to read, “The question is whether what we ‘know’ about God is true.”

Small points aside, that is the question of the year, of the decade, of the century, or the millennium, and even (and especially) of eternity.  Everything that is anything hinges on that question, and that question alone.

That is why the attack that our culture has mounted to blunt that question is so ingenious, so serious, so devious, and so very sinister.  Our culture has propagated the biggest lie of all, the lie that says, “We cannot be sure what ‘true’ means.”

If you can convince people to be unsure of the nature and existence of truth, that question-of-questions can appear to melt down and flow through the cracks of life, never to disturb us again.  I say ‘appear’ because it never goes away – we just become more comfortable ignoring it.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Dear Mr. Madison . . .

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." --James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792

Kent comments:

If I could bring Mr. Madison back for questions (wouldn’t that be fun!) I would ask in response to the above, “You mean like the one we have now?”

Sometimes when I read history I get a bit upset with the Founders.  I start to think that they did not make the fact of limited, enumerated powers clear enough in our Constitution.  I start to muse about how they could have made the matter more clear.

I do that in light of the fact that almost no one from any party today really believes that the powers of Congress are limited by their enumeration in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.  That one clause of the Preamble - ‘promote the general welfare’ – is taken to mean that all bets are off for whatever might come in the body of the Constitution.  Congress, it is often said, can do anything it thinks proper to promote ‘welfare’ – whatever that might be.

As Mr. Madison says above, this effectively gives Congress political omnipotence.

So I often wonder why the Founders didn’t, for example, add a clause to the Preamble saying, “This is just an introduction to the overall purpose of this document.  The allowable means to these ends is stated in the body of the document.”

Well, (I answer myself) for one thing, that would make the Constitution sound stupid.

Then I remind myself that pieces of paper can never hinder people from anything.  When people no longer wish to abide by the terms of the Constitution, they will not.  It’s not just those evil politicians in Washington who are to blame for trashing the Constitution.  (There is plenty of blame for them, of course.)  Most Americans want what they want.  Many of them have no idea what the Constitution says.  Many more of them do not care what it says.

Constitutions are no barrier to tyrants unless a significant number of the people understand liberty and love it.  In our situation, you can certainly expect to get what we’ve got.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Totalitarian ‘Gays’

D.C. Catholic Charities Drops Spousal Benefits in Gay Marriage Dispute

Religion News Service reports that the Archdiocese of Washington's social service branch will stop offering benefits to spouses of new employees. The move is an attempt to balance the District of Columbia's new same-sex marriage law with Catholic opposition to homosexuality. Edward Orzechowski, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington, informed the group's 850 employees of the change in a letter on Monday, two days before gay marriage is scheduled to become legal in the city. "We sincerely regret that we have to make this change," said Orzechowski, "but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith."

Kent comments:

It was a case of let’s-make-‘gay’-legal vs. a group’s religious principles.  And as many suspected would happen, religious principles lost.  (‘Gay’ used to mean ‘care free’ – didn’t it?)

I, for one, do not want to make homosexuality (assuming it’s between consenting adults) illegal.  I live in a state where the practice used to be prohibited by law.  I was not completely comfortable with that idea.  Several years ago I told a state legislator friend of mine what I thought about that.

He urged me to reconsider.  He predicted that without a law against homosexuality, homosexual activists would use that situation as an opening to push for ‘gay’ friendly school curricula, even homosexual ‘marriage’ and many other such things.  I was not completely convinced, but that was a long time ago.

I’m still not convinced that legal penalties for homosexual practice are a good idea.  But I must say that the ‘homo’ lobby makes it ever more difficult for me to maintain my composure on this matter.  Not content with legal tolerance, the open, active ‘gay’ crowd demands ever more legal approval of their vile behavior.

It is vile.  But vileness alone is still not enough to put someone in jail or worse.  Homosexuality is the kind of behavior best dealt with by social, not legal means.  Christians individually and together as the church should proclaim the fact that it is wrong.  This means that we, at a social level, should warn people of its dangers.  We should counsel people to avoid it, and try to help them do so.  We should call on people to repent of it.

And when some insist on practicing homosexuality openly, we should disassociate ourselves from them.  A religious group that refuses to pay benefits to a homosexual ‘spouse’ is doing just that.

When the law now requires that a religious group violate its own principles in this regard, the religious free exercise clause of the First Amendment has become a joke.  You might say that it has been sacrificed on the alter of the activist homosexual agenda.

I would prefer an open society on matters such as this.  That would mean people are free to practice homosexuality, while the rest of us are free to discourage its practice in peaceful, social ways.  But if the homosexual activists are going to infringe upon my freedom to disapprove of their practice, they should not be surprised to find their freedom in jeopardy also.

By the way, don’t be surprised if very soon, groups like Catholic Social Services are forced to pay for their employee’s abortions.  Oh, wait – I think that’s called ObamaCare!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Three – or more – Cheers for Jim Bunning!!!

Reporting on Republican Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning blocking spending legislation over deficit concerns at the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Congressional quagmire. Democrats blame one Republican senator for preventing thousands of federal workers from working."

In a later report, White House correspondent Chip Reid continued to assail Bunning: "The White House is pointing its finger at a single Republican senator who they say is standing in the way of federal aid for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans....he is single-handedly holding up a routine piece of legislation."

Kent Comments:

On Monday morning I called Jim Bunning’s Washington office.  I wanted to thank him for his willingness to stand up to the big-government-should-be-routine that is now just expected in Congress.

The fellow who answered the phone was very polite, but he seemed fatigued.  “I bet you haven’t received many calls like mine today.”  He assured me he had not.

Mr. Bunning is just about finished with his Senate term.  While he is not completely free from the influence of the big-Republican machine, he has often voted in generally liberty-increasing ways, both in the Senate and when he was in the House of Representatives from our district.

I was very proud to have Mr. Bunning as MY Senator as he refused to go along with the no-debate ‘unanimous consent’ route to a few more billions of government spending.  Yes, it was a small thing in the big picture of really big government under which we now suffer.  But the symbolism was heroic and wonderful.

If I were you, I would not be worrying about some federal bureaucrats who had a few days off work.  (We would be much better off if many of the feds found private employment.)  I would be wondering why more members of the Senate have not done what Bunning did more often.

Bully for you, Mr. Bunning.  Good job.  Well done.  Do it some more of the same in what is left of your term.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

No Laughing Matter – the Laffer Curve

[excerpts from Some Thoughts on Supply-side Economics, by Richard M. Ebeling from Mises Daily]

An additional ingredient in the tool kit of some "supply-side" theoreticians, however, is the concept of the "Laffer Curve," named after Arthur Laffer, a USC economist.

Laffer argues that there are two possible tax rates that will generate the same level of government revenue. If taxes are zero, government revenue is zero and the people retain 100 percent of their income. If taxes are l00 percent, government revenue would again be zero because, Laffer says, nobody would bother to work if they were not allowed to keep any of what they had earned and produced.

If the rate of taxation is lowered from l00 percent, individuals would have an incentive to work, since they could now keep some of what they had produced and government revenue would rise from zero to some positive number. Every lowering of the tax rate would continue to induce more and productivity, with greater government revenue besides.

Greater government revenue, that is, until some point at which any further lowering of the tax rate would, in fact, generate less of a government take rather than more. Hence, the "Laffer Curve" . . .

But even more important than the theoretical difficulties of determining the position and shape of "The Curve" is the assumption that the goal of fiscal policy should be the maximizing of governmental revenues.

Kent comments:

This little survey of so-called supply-side economics is worth reading in full.  This is the view that some derisively refer to as ‘trickle down’ economics.  What these critics would prefer, because they are statists of some sort, is that those who have anything be taxed as much as possible so that the state will have more to redistribute.  In their view, only the state has the wisdom and fair-mindedness to distribute wealth ‘properly.’

If you love freedom, you naturally oppose this whole idea.

But as Ebeling points out in the article above, the proponents of the ‘other’ view have a very similar problem.  This is especially ironic because they are typically self-professed conservatives of some stripe who claim to be opponents of ‘big government.’

I have no doubt that some of them are in many ways.  Perhaps they have just not considered this matter carefully.  For examples, you can often hear radio talk show folks like Rush Limbaugh extol the virtues of the Laffer curve.  They often argue for lower tax rates based in part on the idea that it will, in fact, generate more revenue for governments.

I always want to ask (but I refuse to spend enough time on hold to do so):  “Exactly why would conservatives every want to generate more revenue for any government?”  And I want to ask this poignant question in a very loud and forceful voice!

If a conservative is someone who wants to conserve individual liberty, the goal should be to keep governments on a very (very) strict diet.  When fed very much, they always grow from helpful servants to horrible masters – which make us their slaves!  Those who love liberty should never give as a reason for anything the thought that it might supply more revenue to governments.

Governments always tend to spend at least as much as they collect, and almost (?) always much, much more than that.  Revenue to government is power to government, because almost anything governments do beyond discouraging us from murdering one another and stealing from one another will result in less liberty.  My desire is just enough government to preserve liberty, and no more.

So even if Laffer is right, I for one do NOT want to implement policies that take advantage of his ‘curve.’  I don’t want governments to have more revenue, because I don’t want governments to have the power to do very much – which is usually too much.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Regulated Freedom?

from: Breakpoint with Chuck Colson

Hope for Health Care Reform
What We Can Do

March 1, 2010

“On the one side, the Democrats seem intent on reform through increasing government’s role in health care. The Republicans, on the other side, are firm in their belief that reform should come through better regulated free markets.”

Kent comments:

This illustrates perfectly the problem with many Republicans, and many Christians who think about political economy.  I admire Mr. Colson for much of his work.  He is, no doubt, a much smarter guy than I will ever be.

But the phrase ‘better regulated free markets’ is just so much non-sense.

A regulated market is not free.  A free market cannot be regulated and remain free.  The lack of economic freedom is the root cause of 90% of most economic problems.

People who are free to work, produce, give, trade, save, invest, etc. as they wish will almost always have most of the things they wish to consume.  It’s not a perfect system.  It’s not a ‘system’ at all.  It’s freedom.

And if you try to ‘regulate’ freedom, of necessity, you must destroy it.