Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I hate socialism

"I am opposed to Socialism because of its inhumanity; because it saps the vitality of the human race which has no vitality to spare; because it lulls to indolence those who must struggle to survive; because the theories of good men who are enthralled by its delusions are made the excuse of the wicked who would rather plunder than work; because it stops enterprise, promotes laziness, exalts inefficiency, inspires hatred, checks production, assures waste and instills into the souls of the unfortunate and the weak hopes impossible of fruition whose inevitable blasting will add to the bitterness of their lot."

-- Edward F. Adams (1913)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Stand fast!

God judges nations in time, but will judge individuals in eternity. Nations are judged by God and His judgment is executed against those nations by other nations (e.g., Babylon carrying Israel away into captivity), through natural forces (e.g., plagues and famines), or by forces within the nations themselves (e.g., the American Civil War). God also uses nations as His instruments in time, regardless of whether the nation or its leaders are God-fearing or godless or idolaters. Consider the fact that, in Isaiah 45:1, God calls King Cyrus His “anointed” (~ “christ”) to execute certain task in the judgment of Babylon. God is, in these last days, separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations and executing His just judgment.

In our Lord Jesus’ first coming, the scriptures declare that He came “in the fullness of time.” Apparently, “the fullness of time” was in the heyday of the Roman Empire (an idolatrous nation). But it was this very idolatrous nation that also provided the proper environment for the going forth of the gospel. Pax Romana was enforced across a huge expanse of Europe, the Middle East, and into portions of Asia. A common language was used across much of this empire for commerce (i.e., Latin), common coinage made trade simpler, and the Roman Roads made travel easier. All of these environmental forces working in concert made the extension of the gospel across Europe and the Asia Minor much easier than if each geographic area had its own unique government with varying laws and abilities to enforce those laws with regard to travel, trade and transportation.

The scriptures are very clear: a collapse of catastrophic proportions will come, and this collapse will affect every nation on the globe. Such calamity will certainly contribute to the rise, the power and the authority of the antichrist for, even as we have seen in the last 60 days in this nation, perceived calamity will cause people to accept government actions that under any other circumstances would have been inconceivable.

However, my prayer, and the prayer of the saints with whom I gather, has been that there would be no collapse in the U.S. before God’s appointed time; that Satan and his cohort would not have their way, but rather that God would shame His enemy and plunder his house!; and further, that the economy and strength of this nation would yet revive and survive to provide an abundance for the sake of the work of the gospel (economically) and peace and safety (practically) for the going-forth of the gospel to other nations in these last days.

With Muslims moving to the U.S., Canada, and many European nations, the children of Ishmael -- the faith that declares "God has no son!" -- at last are in an environment where they have opportunity to hear the genuine gospel of the Son of God and His glorious saving grace. May God have mercy on the children of Ishmael in these last days!

My faith is fully confident toward God in this matter despite all of the evil reports in the present hour. As the Roman Empire was divinely appointed in the first coming of Christ, so also (I believe) this nation has been appointed to stabilize the world for the running of the gospel horse in the days preceding Christ’s second coming.

May wickedness and deceit be exposed in these days before the election, and may righteousness and integrity be lifted up for all to see! The saints are given authority to bind kings with fetters and nobles with chains! The prayers of the saints are “the tracks” on which God has liberty to move in the earth. (Psalm 149:8, 9)

Stand fast!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Character

“The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the ‘little’ choices of years past—by all those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of temptation, [which was] whispering the lie that ‘it really doesn’t matter.’ It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises seemed far away—the decision that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness; habits of self-sacrifice or self-indulgence; habits of duty and honor and integrity—or dishonor and shame.”
-- Ronald Reagan

[Found on PatriotPost.US]

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Election Guide

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate—look to his character.” -- Noah Webster

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gamble with Social Security?

In my mail when I got home today, there was a political advertisement from the Minnesota DFL State Committee. The front page headline read, "Do you want to take a gamble on Social Security?" The back cover showed a Dow Jones Industrial Average chart covering the dates 22 September through 3 October 2008. The headline reads: "What if Bush and McCain invested your future Social Security savings in today's plummeting stock market?"

Of course, this is nothing more than a scare tactic on the part of the Democrat party that wholly conceals the facts about the true state of the Social Security system altogether.

More than eight years ago, President George W. Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security (a commission headed by liberal Democrat and former Senator Patrick Moynihan) proposed three specific reform plans. Even so, it has been primarily liberal Democrats -- like those that populate Minnesota's DFL Party -- that have made certain that no real reform comes to the system that is already in worse shape than Wall Street is today!

The real secret concealed by Democrat demagoguery about Social Security and their unconscionable scare tactics at every election cycle is that it is the Democrat leadership that has no real plan to deal with the impending collapse of the Social Security financial system.

Allow me to remind you that it was Democrat party-line votes that quashed every attempt over the last several years to do anything about the mounting crisis being fostered by Democrat-instituted policies and Democrat-appointed leadership at Fannie-Mae and Freddy-Mac. This despite warnings from policy think-tanks as long ago as 1997 -- more than a decade -- indicating that policies and procedures at these two quasi-governmental agencies would invariably lead to serious economic consequences.

It was the Democrat party's unwillingness to take any action to protect our economy from happenings at Fannie-Mae and Freddy-Mac that contributed in large part to the very market collapse they, in turn, depicted on their political flyer opposing John McCain.

So, which is worse? Gambling your retirement funds on Wall Street, where at least you have a hope of some gain, or leaving your Social Security in the hands of the Democrat politicians that already know the system is destined to collapse and they are unwilling to muster the courage to do anything about it?

Maybe it's just that "doing something about it" means two things that Democrats are loathe to do:
  1. Surrender any part of their control to the public sector, and
  2. Admit what they've done to damage Social Security as an "investment" over the years that they have administered it.

Think about it.

-- Richard

Operating according to principles - Part I

Some have charged that liberal politicians "have no principles." The charge is usually stated something like this: "How on earth can so-and-so do such a thing? Doesn't he have any principles?"

However, I beg to differ with those that allege such things against liberals in our government!

Liberal politicians, in general, act according to a solid set of principles with an history dating back to the 19th century (at least).

In this post, I will try to bring forth some quotations out of the past that might shed some light on just how principled are the actions and words of those defamed liberal politicos. Let us begin.

On the Matter of Classes, Races, Minorities, and Their Struggles

While the American conservative approach to classes, races, minorities and the challenges they face is to give equal opportunity to them all insomuch as it lies within the government's power to do so, the liberal politicians in this nation seem to operate by another principle.

So much of the liberal politicians' rhetoric, so many of the liberal politicians' public policy, appears to be predicated upon pitting "rich" against "poor", "Black" against "White", "the minority" against "the majority", and so forth. They do this to obtain leverage, votes, and (of course) power.

On the one hand, the conservative principle was well articulated by Abraham Lincoln when he said, "That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and, hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise."

On the other hand, the principle that most clearly articulates the apparent thought processes behind liberal rhetoric and political action is this: "The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles."[1]

Obama draws the following distinction as the the difference between the "rich" and the "poor": "Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other...."[2] Another way he positions this dichotomy is as the struggle between "Wall Street" and "Main Street." You will find that rhetoric used by other liberals in Congress, like Barney Franks, Chris Dodd, or Joe Biden is similar.

It was a Republican -- Abraham Lincoln -- that first freed the slaves from individual ownership.

It is ongoing liberal Democrat public policy that keeps minorities in the U.S. today enslaved, by and large, to programs that reduce their incentive to industry, commerce, and self-improvement. It is a further shame that such public policies and such ongoing "class warfare" is frequently encouraged by liberal-minded, power-hungry leadership within the minority communities themselves.

On Free-Trade and the Free Market System

Here, too, liberals have a general principle to which they adhere: "...Free Trade. In one word, ...exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation."[3]

Liberals, unfortunately, believe that in a market exchange, there must a "winner" and a "loser". They believe that the market exchange is a zero-sum action. If the "seller" gets a +1 out of the deal, the "buyer" must have gotten a -1 out of the deal. Indulge me in recounting an incident that, I believe, shows this is not the case.

A few years ago, I had two young sons. These boys wanted to earn some money, so they took on a couple of newspaper routes. They worked diligently -- getting up at 4:30 AM day after day -- for many months and saved their money. (This, by the way, is called "creating capital.")

When each of them had saved somewhat more than $100, they wanted me to take them down to let them buy new bicycles. Of course, I did so.

They shopped and shopped until each had found the bicycle that suited them and their budget. After they had made their purchases -- swapped their hard-earned cash for the bicycles of their choice -- I asked them: "Who just 'won' in the deal you just transacted? Did Pep Boys (where they had made their purchase) 'win', or did you?"

They both took a moment to think, then the younger of the two (maybe 10 or 11 at the time) replied: "We both 'won'."

I replied, "You're right! You each wanted the bicycle more than you wanted the cash. That is to say, you placed a higher value on the bicycle than the cash. However, Pep Boys wanted the cash more than they wanted the bicycles. They placed a higher value on the cash than on the bicycles. Everyone involved got their own view of higher value in the transaction."

There was no "exploitation" occurring in this transaction!

"Free trade" simply assumes that there is an equally powerful self-interest on each side of a given transaction. As long as there is no force and no coercion involved in the transaction, then each of the participants will (logically) make the decision that they believe is in their own self-interest. Self-interest is to take the option that gives the choosing party the maximum value as a result of the exchange. That decision could be, for example, to not accept the deal offered by the other party. That, too, may be a "free trade" or "free market" outcome.

Of course, if liberals could not define "free markets" and "free trade" as exploitive, how could they find the fodder they require for creating and renewing antagonisms between classes, races, and minorities? This redefinition of the "evils" of an unfettered economy is essential to their creation and maintenance of a "power base" predicated on "class warfare."

On Too Much Success

Back in the late 1990's, when Microsoft Corporation was being pursued by various state prosecutors for alleged abuses in the marketplace, one of Microsoft's lead product engineers was quoted with regard to the charges. I cannot now quote him exactly, but allow the liberty of paraphrasing his statements:

Apparently, success in the U.S. is like a dog race. At the beginning of the race, the goal of all the dogs is to catch the rabbit. However, if anyone actually catches the rabbit, they want to stop the race and start it over again.

One of the things that liberal principles cannot countenance is too much success! Their principle is captured as follows: "...there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. "[4]

"Too much civilization" means to liberals that Americans should not be allowed to have, through their own sweat, toil and sacrifice, an economy that causes other peoples to be envious. This thought persists even though no nation in the history of the world has spent more of their own son's precious blood nor put more of their own nation's capital at risk for the liberty of other peoples.

"Too much means of subsistence" is construed by liberals to mean that Americans should not be permitted to have and maintain an industrial and economic infrastructure that consumes 25% (or whatever number) of the world's present active supply of petroleum-based energy. More than this, the liberals have carried this further to say that we do not even have the right to use America's own known energy reserves to supply our needs.

And, "too much industry, [and] too much commerce" is the liberal principle to be applied any time they want to apply confiscatory taxes to tear down industry and commerce.

It has been a good year for Exxon-Mobil, there's no doubt about it! They are one of the companies that happened to be in the right industry at the right time to make better-than-average profits. The liberals appear to be appalled at the $11.7 billion reported on the firms 10Q.

However, allow me to point out some other numbers that the liberals do not talk about when they discuss Exxon-Mobil:

  • Exxon-Mobil has nearly $267 billion invested in their operations. Many of these assets are at risk world-wide because they must work in nations with tenuous or even hostile governments. With this investment at risk, their present profits represent a 19% return-on-assets.
  • In the three-month period reported on their 10Q, Exxon-Mobil paid $10,526,000,000 in income taxes. That breaks down to: $115,700,000 per day in income taxes; $4,800,000 per hour in income taxes; $80,000 per minute in income taxes; or $1,334 every second in income taxes! Still, the liberals want to extract more and more from this and similar companies while driving them to take additional capital risks by spending more money further exploring areas with doubtful reserves or investing heavily in "alternative energy" development.

It seems apparent that Exxon-Mobil is better managed than Fannie-Mae and Freddy-Mac, which were run mostly by liberal Democrat appointees. One thing we have not witnessed in those two firms is "too much success".

[To be continued]

-- Richard

[1] Karl Marx and Frederich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1888
[2] Marx and Engels, ibid
[3] Marx and Engels, ibid
[4] Marx and Engels, ibid

Monday, October 13, 2008

On Racism -- falsely so-called

Several months ago, one of my co-workers told me that he and his wife had been enjoying their subscription to NetFlix. As part of that enjoyment, he went on to say, they had watched together a documentary concerning the lack of fresh vegetables in a Black neighborhood in some major city (I do not now recall the specifics).

The creators of the piece documented what seemed to be a long and arduous trip from this Black neighborhood to the "nearest place" from which to buy good quality "fresh vegetables." The clear intent of exploring the details of the bus ride, encompassing multiple transfers from bus to bus, was to show just how tragically difficult it was for anyone living in this nearly all-Black neighborhood to get any quality fresh vegetables.

After telling me this story, my co-worker suggested -- as was clearly the intent of the documentary -- that there must be some kind of "conspiracy" to deprive this Black neighborhood of quality fresh vegetables.

I was taken aback with incredulity: I could not believe that my bright young co-worker had really been taken in by this apparent masterpiece of deceptive reasoning.

"Do you mean to say," I asked, "that you actually believe that somebody -- or some group of somebodies -- really decided that no one was going to sell fresh vegetables in this particular neighborhood simply because the neighborhood is predominantly Black?"

"Look!" I proclaimed, "This was no racist decision that businesses would not sell fresh vegetables in this particular Black neighborhood. If there were a market for fresh vegetables in the neighborhood covered in the documentary, then someone would be meeting the demands of that market. Clearly, the reason there are no quality fresh vegetables available in the Black neighborhood depicted is because there is no market for quality fresh vegetables in that particular neighborhood."

I find it amazing how readily charges of "racism" can arise. More significantly, I find it amazing how gullible many are to believe these charges of racism without giving careful consideration -- or any consideration at all -- to the underlying facts leading to the accusation.

There is a parallel here: In this current election cycle, McCain and the Republicans have been, on numerous occasions, charged with "racism" without the slightest consideration for the facts underlying the statements or circumstances that led to the charge. This charge arises, often from Barack Obama himself, simply because the Democrat candidate is Black, and for no other apparent reason.

It would bode well for our nation, and show signs of considerable maturity, if members of the press (particularly) and (more importantly) individuals who plan to VOTE would consider the facts at hand before latching onto that "racist" alibi for that to which they have no legitimate reply.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

On scarcity versus plenty

In one of his speeches, president John F. Kennedy once said that we "now" have the technology to feed the world, as though this ability was something new and amazing. The truth of the matter is that we have always had the technology and ability to feed all the inhabitants of the world. As the world's population has grown, even so have technologies -- driven by market demand -- arisen to assure that there was sufficient food to feed everyone.

Of course, localized famines or disasters have sometimes caused reductions in the food supplies in various regions -- even to the point of starvation. But these localized incidents do not overthrow the fact that, as a general rule, there has always been a sufficient food supply to feed all of this globe's inhabitants.

Whenever and wherever scarcity of food has been an ongoing problem, the factors causing the lingering shortages have always been political -- not technological.
  • When people were starving in Bangladesh, food supplies sent by relief organizations from around the world were rotting on the docks and being eaten by rats because politics kept them from being distributed.
  • When the October Revolution led to collapse of Russia into a communist state, the politics of communism managed to take the world's largest wheat exporter and turn it into the world's largest wheat importer in the matter of a few short years.
  • On the reverse side, as the Soviet Union was emerging from the darkness of Soviet control, new glastnos policies allowed the collective farm workers to keep the profits for themselves from the produce grown on five percent of the land. Within one growing season, more than 80% of the produce reaching Soviet markets was being grown on five percent of the land -- and the produce was of higher quality.
  • When Ethiopia fell to the Communists in the late 1970s, the Workers' Party of Ethiopia excelled even the Soviets in their ability to destroy capital and markets. They managed to turn one of the wealthiest nations on the African continent into the poorest nation on the African continent in about 17 years.
  • As recently as 2009, the ruling junta in Myanmar first refused aid from the outside world, then later recanted and allowed the aid to be delivered to its shores. However, the junta reportedly relabel the aid products with the names of their military leaders before distribution in order to take credit for "saving" its people.
I use these examples of scarcity of food because that seems to be the one shortage that strikes home the strongest; however, many, many shortages of other kinds are caused by wrong-headed policies.
Take for example the current energy shortage in the United States. Why are we shipping (now) about $600 billion a year off to other nations to purchase petroleum?
The answer is simple: The wrong-headed policies of our federal government have placed most of our known oil reserves off-limits for further exploration and drilling.
Known petroleum reserves in the U.S. and Canada (our friendly neighbor to the north) could meet all of our petroleum-based energy needs (at current rates) for an estimated 160 years. If we were to adopt the plan presented by T. Boone Pickens to convert all of our truck transportation equipment to compressed natural gas, that would free up considerably more capacity. The conversion of truck transportation equipment could begin immediately and be essentially 100% complete within three years, according to Pickens' estimates.
There is no shortage of oil in North America. It's just that simple!
The scarcity of petroleum-based energy products is purely the product of politics and not based on any actual shortage of reserves. Unfortunately, Barack Obama and most of the Democrat party is sold-out to the wrong-headed policies that have led us to our current condition. Therefore, if Obama is elected, there will be no relief in site and energy costs will likely continue to rise.
After all, Obama wasn't unhappy that gasoline prices approached $4 a gallon, he just wished it wouldn't have happened "so quickly." I suppose he has "the frog in the boiling water" concept in mind: If the rise happens slowly enough, maybe Americans won't realize that their economy is being "cooked" by bad politics.
-- Richard

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On the Lack of High-Mindedness

In my last post I discussed the lack of wisdom displayed by liberal Democrats in this ill-conceived attempts to achieve "equality of outcomes" (instead of equality of opportunity) in the U.S. mortgage market through the influence of such creatures of the state as fannie-mae and freddy-mac. In this post, I will touch on the lack of high-mindedness that accompanied these actions.

First of all, however, let me clarify that the actions of which I speak have not been entirely the purview of liberal Democrats. Certainly it has been the mindset of liberal Democrats that has "carried the water" for programs like FNMA and FHLMC, but it has not been utterly without the support and collusion of some Republicans (who really ought to know better).

Now, to the matter of the lack of high-mindedness leading to the most destructive kind of folly.

As late as yesterday (07 Oct 2008) Congressman Barney Franks (D-MA) was arguing in the mainstream media that any challenges to what fannie-mae and freddy-mac were doing in the subprime mortgage markets was "racist." Furthermore, he and his liberal Democrat allies were still blaming McCain and the Republicans for being against regulation, stating that it was this anti-regulation sentiment that was to be blamed for the current economic crisis.

This certainly exposes a lack of high-mindedness by Franks and his ilk. These Democrats know that it was McCain and Bush (not Obama) who were raising questions and seeking additional regulation to rein in what was happening at FNMA and the mortgage market in general. McCain and others were raising the spectre more than two years ago of such a collapse as we are now experiencing. All of their attempts to bring about regulatory changes were thwarted by votes that fell almost entirely along party lines (with a few renegade Republicans voting with the Democrats). The Democrats want nothing to do with additional regulations on FNMA and the subprime mortgage industry while the Republicans (by and large) were fighting for such changes.

Why were the Democrats opposed to such new regulation? In all likelihood it was because the Democrat party and Democrat members of Congress and the Senate were frequent recipients of favors, special treatment, and financial contributions that originated from within FNMA and FHLMC or elsewhere in the financial industry. This utter lack of high-mindedness has, as we have seen, produced the "most destructive kind of folly." Capital markets in the U.S. have surrendered more than $7 trillion in equity (losses) to the folly foisted upon us by liberal Democrats.

Nay, it is too generous to call this a "lack of high-mindedness"; this is the depth of corruption! For a bowl of pottage our liberal and otherwise corrupt politicians have sold the U.S. economy down the proverbial "river" without a second thought. Worse! They are still defending their actions today.

In this election cycle, it is high time to ask: Are there any real men (or women) remaining in Congress to take a stand against such corruption? Are there any that still understand "wisdom" or act with "high-mindedness" and not the basest of human cravings?

Now is the time to elect some who stop offering promises about what the government can do for you and, instead, stand up to say that it is time to put the nation ahead of personal gain and personal interests!

May God preserve this great nation for it remains today the world's last and best hope!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What has Congress done to us?

Former president Theodore Roosevelt, writing in the introduction to The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1, said "[Abraham Lincoln's] life teaches our people that they must act with wisdom, because otherwise adherence to right will be mere sound and fury without substance; and that they must also act high-mindedly, or else what seems to be wisdom will in the end turn out to be the most destructive kind of folly."

Surely the Democrat party, with all its intent to do good, has failed to act with either wisdom or high-mindedness with regard to FNMA and FHLMC (fannie-mae and freddy-mac). Government meddling in the free market economy is virtually never wisdom and there is more than 40 centuries of recorded history that clearly establishes this as fact. Therefore, the attempt by liberals to somehow force housing to be "more affordable" or "more available" to those in our economy who may or may not value real property was likely ill-fated from the outset.

On the one hand there are those who live within our economic framework that will simply take advantage of any government handout for their own benefit. They may do so legitimately or they may do so through some deceit or fraud, but they have they view government support as an "entitlement" and not as "a hand up" from their current situation. Indulge me in a personal anecdote.

Back in the 1980s, I worked as vice-president for a builder-developer in a major metropolitan area. We were involved in the Section 8 housing market (i.e., federally subsidized housing for the elderly and poor). We built several large projects, and in the eleventh month after occupancy of the project, one of my responsibilities was the "walk-through" with the HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) inspector before the conclusion of the warranty period. By the eleventh month, our projects were virtually always 100% occupied. Therefore, this "walk-through" was a walk through people's occupied residence.

To the best of my recollection, I would say that some 60% to 80% of the project residences (for the so-called "poor", not so with the "elderly") we walked through in these inspections had one thing in common -- things that I could not afford to own! There were cars in the driveway that I couldn't afford. They were grilling steaks on patio grilles that I could not afford. They had televisions or stereo systems that I could not afford. What government-subsidized housing had done for many of these people was to free up cash that they could spend on tricked-out cars, fancy gadgets, and a home menu that was beyond my means as VP of the company that built these homes "for the poor."

From another perspective, there are those that simply should not hold real property (real estate) because they have no care nor concern for the value they hold. They allow such properties to fall into disrepair, thus destroying economic value for themselves, their neighbors, and the whole economy. Value is created and destroyed by our actions, and some persons simply do not understand -- or care to understand -- these matters. One of my own children, a son of 22 years age, is one such individual. He should not be permitted to own real estate in his current state of mind and a normalized credit market (not a "subprime" credit market) would rightly preclude him from such ownership position. This very appropriate denial would properly help to protect the value of all real estate.

The great thing about the United States as the bastian of capitalism and free-market economics is equal opportunity. Every American should have the "opportunity" to buy a home, but not every American should be able to buy a home. The ability to buy a home should be dictated, not by government regulation or some creature of the state (e.g., FNMA), but by free-market economics driving the availability of credit and the proposed buyer's own credit worthiness.

The liberal Democrat's ill-conceived attempts to create equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities will always lead to imbalances in the market place and will always be costly to rectify. The costs will be paid by every citizen through the (more or less) painful and always unavoidable shaking that shows that a market correction is in progress.

May God rescue us from well-intentioned men and women who lack wisdom and high-mindedness.

More on the matter of "high-mindedness" in my next blog.

-- Richard