Archive for March, 2011

Hugo Chavez Thinks Capitalism Destroyed Life on Mars?

Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday. “I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet,” Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day. Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world’s problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up.

This quote stimulated a Facebook conversation that I thought I’d share excerpts of. The conversation started off innocently enough, 

D.K.”He could be right. Capitalism sure does work on overdrive to destroy our planet.(and he continued that since it is our planetmore reason that the people fighting over resources have no reason to claim it as theirs. All while the poorest people in the world pay for the rich’s catastrophe.

After reading the Chavez story, thinking this was hilarious, I deeply opined “Wow P. That is hilarious. More evidence that leftists are morons.” An unkind choice of words to be sure, but to which D.K. respondedCan you prove him wrong?

My comments prefaced with “J.M.”

J.M. “If they think capitalism destroyed Mars….. Seriously in all the history of the world, this is the most affluent society we have ever seen and they (leftists) have such a lack of insight to blame capitalism for destroying a planet! The lack of logic is stunning.

[A leftist] is a good thing not to be, so I hope you are not. Sorry if the term moron offended you. I just think it was apropos of an ideology void of logic.” 

D.K. “He said “may” have ended life on Mars not that it definitively happened or that there was a civilization there.

But even if you ARE a capitalist you can’t deny the astronomical amount of waste and environmental devastation that it has brought on the planet.” 

J.M. “I have seen the waste and devastation under tyranny. Capitalism is the best allocator of the planets resources. Socialism, leftist statist control is a disaster. Look anywhere in the world and at anytime in history and an honest person would have to agree.

Regarding your defense of Chavez, that is pathetic. He is a man oppressing his people and destroying his country and with a theory like he proposes he should be laughed off the stage. Unfortunately too many people like dictators and give him an audience. That includes our President. It is shameful.”

D.K. “All of them are bad, but capitalism allocates whatever makes the most money no matter what the impact is. It allocates resources away from the poor. There is a reason we get things from the southern countries for so cheap. It’s because …they are getting screwed over! It may be better at allocating resources, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t massive waste involved.

No I’m not saying that State Socialism is the answer it shouldn’t even be called socialism.

As for our president being a dictator, he’s as much a dictator as any other president we’ve had”

J.M.I did not say our President was a dictator just that he gave an audience to Chavez. That may not have been clear. Actually though his actions are far more dictatorial than any President we have ever had. He has ignored court rulings when he did not like them and he is appointing many unelected and unconfirmed policy czars to implement policies that do not reflect the will of the people or other branches of government. Many people would call him a dictator. I would not but he is far closer to acting like one than we have ever seen.”

Of course no system is perfect in a fallen world but it is wrong to say the poor have resources allocated away from them. There are other factors involved other than ‘what makes the most money regardless of the impact’. That is an overly cynical view.

This is also the kind of thinking that gives rise to a strongman to stop the greed. The poor in the U.S. are rich to most of the world and that is because of the resource allocation enabled by a free capitalistic society. Much of the world’s poverty is due to corrupt governments in those places not exploitation of greedy corporate interests.

Now I don’t mean to be harsh. It is normal for folks to see greed and oppose it and to see poverty and want to relieve it and some kind of government control seems appropriate but it just never works.

It is better to advocate for a change to the greedy mans practices rather than a confiscation of his property and to implement programs and economic and government systems to enable the poor to work their way out of poverty {see America at its founding} than to just give them handouts which is what socialism does.

P.K. “John, I must say that a socialist, meritocratic, communist, or capitalist economic system is void due to the world we live in.

I also concur that regardless of a nations government or the economic policy they apply, that capitalism is the only way in which people are given a freedom to choose. The fallacy is in the unchecked allowance to have money beget money for the sole purpose of accumulating wealth by means which are legal but probably not the most ethical.

I consider capitalism the way in which people have the freedom to choose; now whether you utilize that freedom to take bread from the mouths of the masses for no other reason than to pad your own pockets is legal, but ultimately your Ebineezer type ways will be judged…whether it be a court of law, personal relationships or whatever God you believe in you will eventually be judged in life.

My point in all this is that I defend D. not because I always agree with him but I do not attack him for what he believes. I think at the root of it all the left-right argument is probably ill-conceived and used as nothing else than to pit the middle class against one another utilizing ideologies that are stereotyped about each other to the point of hatred, as is evidenced in your “moron” statement.

Is Chavez a strange one? Yes, but even Marx was not a raving lunatic. I don’t agree with him, but I can recognize by reading his work that he was a very intelligent man. It is when the socialist-capitalist complex is driven into us by way of self interested politicians, media, unions and corporations that any economic system fails due to the duality of man; both evil and righteous about 50% of the time, throughout time.

 

J.M. “Paul you probably do not intend it but you are leaning toward a moral equivalency argument, neither is perfect, there is some good in both so let’s just try to be nice to each other. I reject moral equivalency arguments. There is right and wrong and good and evil – you even spoke of judgement so you obviously agree with that.

The fact there is no perfect system in a fallen world does not then mean that all systems are equally flawed. Someone who hates his neighbor may be in the wrong but he is not the same as someone who oppresses and kills his neighbor. Likewise a economic system that allows for the private ownership of goods {knowing some will abuse that} is far better than giving control to an authoritarian government where individuals have little or no control over goods and services.

Evil people can be intelligent from an IQ perspective – see Marx, but their ideas are diabolical and should be called out as such. Those ideas have led and will lead once again to the deaths of 100’s of millions worldwide. There is nothing to be civil about. The term moron might offend your senses but it is mild compared to the results these ideas lead to.

Way too many young people and especially Christians are toying with these ideologies and they should be called out. I hope I do not offend you or D. but these are important issues and our ambivalence is handing power in this country, and by extension around the world, to people who are very dangerous. Much better to deal with the abusers of free market capitalism in this country than the despots in control of guns tanks and bombs etc around the world and if we are not careful right here in our own backyard.”

At this point the back and forth ended, but I think it is important to end this by underscoring again that our toying or experimenting or dabbling in socialist or leftist thinking is extremely dangerous. The gulags in Russia, the concentration camps in Germany, the killing fields in Cambodia and the purges in China were all undertaken on behalf of statists who wanted to control private property. We foolishly entertain this kind of thinking.

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A TRILLION $! – What is That?

I don’t know about you but I get lost with all the talk of federal budgets in the Trillions and proposed budget cuts of Millions or Billions and deficits and national debt, etc. I happen to like math and although I could not be mistaken for a math genius, I generally have a good idea of budgets and what not, but I must confess to being so often lost when I listen to discussions regarding our national spending habits. I suppose I could just ignore it and hope someone smarter than I will make sure we don’t go bankrupt, but that seems irresponsible for a voting member of the Republic. I guess it just seems to be the responsible thing to try to understand what is really happening and not just listen to left or right sound bytes.

With that in mind I thought I would try to break down the federal budget to the level of a family budget to see if it would make more sense to me and maybe to you as well. The first thing I did was to decide to convert the current proposed budget to $100,000. That seemed like a round number that I could get my hands around. So the conversion looks like this:

$3,834,000,000,000 ($3.834 Trillion)              =          $100,000

That is the simple part, but there are currently battles going on about cutting this budget because although we are planning to spend $100,000 this year, we only anticipate that we will have $67,023 in income. WOW, that is a huge shortfall. I don’t know about you but I would not be able to run my family finances like that for any length of time. That shortfall of almost $33,000 is the annual deficit. That is obviously not good, but when you consider that the country has pretty much run it’s finances like this for years you realize that each years deficit has added up to a very large national debt. I will convert that do dollars relative to the calculation above and it looks like this:

$10,498,000,000,000 ($10.498 Trillion)          =          $274,099

What this means is that we expect to have income of about $67,000 this year but plan on spending $100,000 and part of that expenditure (about $6,500) is to pay interest on the $274,000 that we have borrowed. That is really scary.

Since we think we need to spend $100,000 this year I wondered what was so important that we needed to spend this money so I found the following budget chart on the Heritage web site, from the Office of Management and Budget, which shows the following:  

Budget Category Amount Spent % of Budget
Social Security $20,571 20.57%
National Defense $19,780 19.78%
Medicare $13,203 13.20%
Income Security Programs $8,791 8.79%
Medicaid and SCHIP $7,484 7.48%
Net Interest $6,479 6.48%
Veterans Benefits $3,343 3.34%
Federal Retirement & Disability $3,294 3.29%
Unemployment Benefits $2,584 2.58%
Education $2,039 2.04%
Highways & Mass Transit $1,923 1.92%
Health Research & Regulation $1,728 1.73%
International Affairs $1,690 1.69%
Justice Administration $1,574 1.57%
Natural Resources and Environment $1,145 1.15%
General Science, space, and technology $866 0.87%
General Government $835 0.84%
Other Mandatory Health $812 0.81%
Other Spending offsetting receipts $1,858 1.86%
  $100,000 100.00%

 

This really is not too helpful and I don’t know if I would have any idea where to cut money, but I do think it is instructive to look at these numbers and then compare these numbers with what the Republicans and Democrats are proposing for cuts to this budget.

Before I get to the proposed cuts, I do want to make an editorial comment about our Presidents desire to be fiscally responsible and to see the budget cut. This budget of $100,000 that he has proposed is compared to the last budget of the Bush administration (no paragons of fiscal restraint) of about $78,000. We thought he was borrowing too much money to balance his budget.

Now to the proposed cuts! Can you say disingenuous? Are these guys really serious? The Republicans proposed cuts of about $61,000,000,000 sounds like a lot, but it is comparable to $1,593 on a budget of $100,000. They should be able to do that while sleepwalking. Before getting too upset with the Republicans though, at least they are proposing those cuts and not whining like a bunch of school boys about Cowboy poetry festivals. The Democrat counter proposed cuts? They proposed $6,500,000,000 in cuts. Again sounds like a lot of money, but this is only about $170 in the $100,000 budget. That is not even coffee money for a year. This is pathetic.

Ok, so now I am seriously irritated with these politicians, but then, where is the leadership? Why Does President Obama propose this budget in the first place and then have the temerity to lecture the congress about getting serious about making budget cuts. This is the kind of leadership that gets company CEO’s thrown in jail. Why do we let these guys (term used in a generically neutral way) get away with this stuff? This is immoral.

USA – A Christian Nation, or is that a Myth?

In his provocative book “The Myth of a Christian Nation” on the Kingdom of God and the Kingdoms of the world, Greg Boyd argues that the United States is not a Christian nation. When I read his book, I felt there were a lot of good and fairly obvious points, but I did not think he was really addressing the core issues.

Pastor Boyd was stimulated to write the book because he felt that so many Christians were involved in politics to obtain political power, but I think that was a misreading of the intentions of most Christians that I knew and that I read. Although there always is the danger of getting too closely aligned with a political movement, I believe his well intentioned warning was an over reaction and therefore harmful rather than helpful in assisting Christians in finding the right note vis a vis the political process.

I think this corrective was skewed because of a false premise regarding the foundation, purpose and source of the nations of the world and a Christian’s proper role in interacting with those nations.

The title of the book is problematic to begin with, because it states a false premise and then proceeds to debunk that premise. By definition, a Christian is an individual who has confessed their sin to Jesus, repented of that sin and committed their life to Christ as Lord and Savior. It is not possible for a nation to do those things. Moreover, nations were never intended to be “Christian”. Nations are devised to maintain civil order. I will concede however that maybe that is not what Pastor Boyd intended by the title. Maybe this was just a recognition that many people call our nation a Christian nation in a sense different from what an individual Christian is. Regardless the title sets up the book to discredit the United States and set it on a morally equal plane with any other nation. This is a dangerous concept.   

Beyond the title there are other specific areas where I believe Pastor Boyd goes astray. Two of these areas I will address in this piece. The first and most glaring was when Boyd used Satan’s claim to have all authority over the kingdoms of the earth as a primary source to claim that all kingdoms of the world were therefore demonic. The second area of concern was when he repeatedly used the made up term of “power over” as a pejorative to describe any authority.

First in regard to using Satan’s claim to have had all authority over the nations of the earth delivered to him, Wayne Grudem, in his excellent book “Politics According to the Bible” points out the obvious and that is that Satan is a liar. Jesus says in John 8:44 that “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” The fact that Jesus did not rebut Satan’s claim, does not make the claim true, especially in light of so many other scriptures that indicate Jesus or the Father actually rule over the kingdoms of the world. In Daniel 4:17 it says “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” and Jesus says in John 19:11 in response to Pilate “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”  

There are many other scriptures that indicate pretty clearly that the Lord of all the earth is God and not Satan. With that being said, I do recognize that it is also indicated in scripture that Satan does have influence and in some instances authority among the nations. Acknowledging that however does not prove Boyd’s point, but at best clouds the issue. It does not allow for Boyd to state unequivocally that all civil government is demonic.

The second point of Boyd’s that I would like to address is that all governments are “power over” organizations and since the Kingdom of God is a “power under” model Christians can not really have anything to do with them. Wayne Grudem again has done excellent work in clarifying the error in this position. Boyd’s assertion that all “power over” is part of the demonic kingdom of the world is clearly incorrect in the light of references from Peter (I Peter 2:13-14) and Paul (Romans 13:4). If civil governments are Gods instruments for good, how can they be part of the demonic kingdom of the world? I think Boyd is wrong and the error leads to dangerous ideas.

If we take his argument that all governments are under the authority of Satan and that they are part of the demonic kingdom of the world then what should we conclude? I think this kind of thinking is really an argument of moral equivalency for all nations of the world. This is dangerous. Are we really to believe that? Is North Korea the same as Canada? Was Nazi Germany the same as England? What about the government of Rwanda? If they are,  what is the reason to try to affect the type of government that a nation is ruled by?

Greg Boyd may have been uncomfortable with the approach of the Moral Majority or the approach of Christians involved in the political process today, but his solution is not better than the problem he was trying to provide a corrective to.

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