Categories
Christianity History Truth

Was Jesus a Socialist?

Several years ago, I was at a large luncheon function sitting next to the long-time editorial page editor at the paper where I worked as a special projects reporter. Right before the speaker arose, this editor turned to me and said, “I don’t understand how you can be a conservative and a Christian. Seems like by what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, you should be a liberal Democrat.”

Setting aside that this man was himself an atheist, and the Biblically clear moral issues surrounding abortion and homosexuality, did he have a point? It’s relevant because that train has traversed so far down the tracks that a recent trending topic on social media was that Jesus would be a Socialist or a Communist.

Now it’s great to see people reading the Bible. It’s less great to see people cherry-picking the Bible to support preconceived positions — which unfortunately all of us do too much.

Where the idea comes from?

So first let’s stipulate that Jesus certainly taught Christians to love one another, even to love our enemies. He taught us to feed the poor and clothe the naked. The New Testament letters expand on those teachings with caring for orphans and widows and the elderly. All of these things sound like a fit for socialism or communism.

Without going into the differences in the two — and the extraordinary miseries that have been brought to bear on hundreds of millions of people through those philosophies — let’s take socialism in its most pristine form on paper. Karl Marx, the primary promulgator of socialism in the 19th century,  popularized the phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Well that sounds just lovely. Alas, among the myriad flaws in socialism has always been its inability to account for human nature. People simply won’t work hard just to have it taken and given to someone who is not working hard. Simple truth. The apparently lovely concept always runs aground on the rocks of reality, spiraling into worse and worse living conditions for everyone except those at the very top. Every time. And the ensuing corruption!

The audience is key to understanding

But philosophically, would Jesus be a socialist? Here’s the rub, and the answer I sent to that editor in a note to which he never responded. Jesus was addressing his followers, future Christians. He was not talking to the entire world. And he most certainly was not talking about a role for government. The only thing he ever says regarding government is to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s but unto God that which is God’s. In the context of the attempted trick question by the Pharisees, it means: Pay your taxes.

It is the Christian’s responsibility, and by extension the church’s responsibility, to help those in need. And that is a major reason why there are so many orphanages, and soup kitchens and relief organizations that are Christian. Actually, an awful lot of Christians really do these things. We are to give sacrificially to those in need. We are not to use the force of government to take from one we deem has too much and give to another we deem has too little. There is no evidence — zero — that Jesus wanted his followers involved in any such earthly schemes. Jesus was always after the heart of man, not the policies of government.

Jesus’ disinterest in worldly governments makes clear that if he were alive today, he would not endorse any candidate, party or policy. His purpose for coming to earth as man was to save those who would believe in him.

We rate this claim about Jesus being a socialist as “Pants on fire!”

Categories
Economy Government Truth

4 Reasons the Government Cannot Run the Economy

We continually see the relative failure of government actions to manipulate the economy to function at just the right, optimal level. There is a reason. Even if government was peopled by actual experts with a deep and wise understanding of economics, such actions would remain doomed to failure.

It’s not that an economy as powerful as the United States’ cannot endure government meddling for some period. But the meddling inevitably is harmful and hamstrings the economy. Conversely, it does allow politicians and government officials to posture for voters, which, mixed with well-intentioned ignorance, is the point of the action.

Here are four reasons why such interventions are doomed to fail.

1) Top down is not how economies operate

The government approaches the economy from the top down, considering it a contained engine that just needs to cool off, heat up, be stimulated, etc. This totally misunderstands an economy anywhere, but particularly in a quasi free-market economy. In this type of economy, but in all economies to a degree, decisions are made by millions of people. In the interconnected global economy, by billions of people.

Millions of people making individual decisions in unpredictable ways is not how an engine works. Engines are defined and explained. Millions of individual decisions are like micro organisms that result in the creation of ever changing markets and economies.

2) The inevitability of cycles

Economies will always cycle. Allowing self-correction is what would happen if it was understood that millions of people are making decisions and politicians were primarily interested in what is best for the most. Alas, self-correction is verboten!

Instead we get constant interference from centralized planning agencies in Washington, D.C., or Brussels, Belgium. Rather than the free market elevating what people want and dumping what people do not want so resources are allocated accordingly and efficiently — a process called “creative destruction” — government involves itself and makes the situation worse.

3) Bubbles and troubles

Bubbles are good and natural. Well, the natural ones are good. Bubbles happen organically in industries where there is creative destruction going on. New technology spawns a lot of competing companies, but only the best survive and thrive and the weaker are dumped. This is determined by millions of consumers’ decisions, not by government. Computers and smartphones are examples of how this worked fairly naturally, and the economy’s resources went to Apple and Samsung and away from Nokia and Motorola.

Some bubbles are government created. The real estate bubble that popped in 2007 happened when the government created laws requiring banks to lend to people who could not afford a mortgage so they would have the opportunity own a house. Great politics. Terrible policy. Naturally this generated a huge bubble in housing prices because of all the increased demand. When the economy cycled down, many of those people who should not have received a mortgage in the first place defaulted and we saw a downward spiral effect in which nearly everyone was hurt.

But there was a predictable compounding effect as government interfered further to fix what it had broke. After the housing bust, politicians such as George W. Bush and on a greater scale, Barack Obama, instituted more and more policies that made things worse and worse. Each step laid the groundwork for less market freedom, meaning less individual freedom, and consequently more government interference and control. The result was a historically long recession now called the Great Recession — mimicking in name, dynamics and causation the Great Depression.

4) Mixing in conflicting goals

Government works at odds with itself when trying to keep the economy humming — another engine metaphor. It is constantly issuing hundreds and thousands of new rules that businesses must learn and live under. These usually use up some resources that could be better deployed, and the actions ends up dampening the economy. They also consistently collide with the law of unintended consequences.

Minimum wage laws are an example of hurting those people they are intended to help. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is another example as costs have skyrocketed and the system is crumbling. And bringing this around, the Dodd-Frank financial reform act that was aimed at avoiding the financial fall-out of another real estate bubble and bailing out banks has had the perverse effect of creating even larger banks — banks too big to fail.

Government cannot run an economy because no one can. The economy that most prospers everyone is one in which individuals have maximum freedom in their consumer choices and in starting and running businesses. The economy the government runs most benefits those in government.

Categories
Race relations Truth

Black Lives DO Matter! Therefore Promote Faith, Family

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It’s impossible to get away from the decimation going on in black communities in major American cities. The rioting and looting, the astonishing and unabashed lawlessness, the bitter racist hatred by some, and the overall lack of hope in the American dream.

The natural question is: Why? What in the world has happened?

The ugly legacy of slavery is often cited, followed by the Jim Crow laws in the South. There may well be remnants of those injustices, but American blacks were moving further away from those remnants until about 50 years ago. Walter Williams, an esteemed black economist at George Mason University, points to something much more recent, with compelling statistics and his life story.

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He was brought up in the projects in Philadelphia in the 1940s and 1950s, a time when racism was certainly more rampant and Jim Crow laws enmeshed in the South. But he writes the projects that were all black were so safe that people left windows open and often went to bed with doors unlocked. He never saw a cop inside his schools the whole time. Within two generations, doors were locked and bolted and windows were barred in the very same project, and 400 police officers now patrol the hallways of Philadelphia schools. Crime stats similarly reflect this nose dive in the black community.

The wrong turns

Williams and many others point the finger of culpability at the disintegration of the black family and waning influence of the church. When faith and family fall apart, society falls apart. The advent of federal programs that take the place and responsibility of fathers through welfare combined with a societal revolution against Judeo-Christian moral norms to wreak havoc.

Since the heavy advent of both of those dynamics, the black family has gone from solid and strong to an endangered species. Illegitimacy in 1938 was 11 percent for blacks and 3 percent for whites. Today it has soared to 73 percent for blacks and 30 percent for whites. This epidemic alone creates catastrophic forces, not the least of which is young black men with no male role model, no example of what it is to be a responsible man, and just enough money from the government to keep them from having to work — stealing their purpose and hope. This toxic brew is everywhere, but shows up most in the depressing crime and prison stats for young black men.

And while the percentage of people saying they regularly attend church in the black community remains high, the church itself has become such a politicized institution that the media seek out black pastors to speak on political issues, while political candidates always make the rounds to those churches during election season. This dynamic of political involvement is true in white churches (alas, that they are thusly separated) but like the illegitimacy rate, at a lower level. Such politicization undermines the spiritual authority and power of the Christian church.

Williams is far from alone. Similar stories are told by many older, successful blacks such as Thomas Sowell, a black economist at Stanford University who grew up in poverty in rural North Carolina; Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins who grew up in of poverty in Detroit’s inner city; Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court justice who grew up in poverty in rural southern Georgia; Condoleeza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State who grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama; Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza who grew up in poverty in Atlanta; Larry Elder, lawyer, author and radio host, who grew up in poverty in South Central L.A., and many others.

Enter human nature

But we humans are loath to blame ourselves for our circumstances. It’s a universal truth. We all look for someone else to self-righteously blame. The rich. The boss. Bad schools. Terrible parents. And so on. And there are those who will seek to take advantage of this human nature and provide avenues for blame outside ourselves. In the case of the plight of inner city blacks, the blame has most recently fallen to cops — interestingly, including black cops. This has benefitted politicians and movement leaders while actually enabling the poor behavior. But even though there are a few bad cops, it is irrelevant to the root causes.

This explains how a city like Chicago can have 500 murders in a year, almost entirely black on black, with nary a peep from the black-supported politicians and black leaders — including the nation’s first black president. And yet Milwaukee up the road will spiral out of control with riots and violence when a black police officer shoots an armed black man trying to get away. It makes no sense — except through the lens explained above.

It also makes the solutions to the problems blacks face radiantly obvious — but politically punishing.

However, the price of doing nothing is not the occasional black man killed by police, it is the thousands of blacks killed by other blacks, a gut-wrenching number of them children. It is the absence of avenues to better lives. It is the loss of hope among so many inner-city blacks — perhaps the greatest loss to the human soul.

If Black Lives Matter and politicians will not address these root causes, then others need to.

(The cover picture of Tyshawn Lee, a young boy murdered in gang violence, represents the true, massive violence against blacks: That done by other blacks, including to children.)

 

 

 

Categories
Truth

BONUS: Questions for a Moderator from a Different Worldview

Tonight’s debate is being moderated by ABC News’ Martha Raddatz and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. So there is no real hope of fairness and objectivity as both have a history of listing politically leftward in their journalism — like practically every other journalist. There will be gotcha questions for Donald Trump (Lester Holt asked four) and none for Hillary Clinton (Holt asked zero.)

So in the spirit of providing a little help for the liberal side, The Revolutionary Act is offering some questions that could help the moderators balance their debate performance. These are suggested from a former journalist who covered presidential campaigns, but who lists politically rightward.

We know the first question will be based on the latest brouhaha — the video of Donald Trump using vulgar language in talking about women 11 years ago. Fair enough. It is dominating the news and social media. But this actually offers the opportunity to ask Hillary Clinton a similar question. The moderators need no help in asking tough questions of Trump, so this list is just for Clinton.

Here we go:

  • Secretary Clinton, Continuing on the question of character and sexual misconduct, the mistreatment of women has become an issue in this campaign. You are a strong defender of women’s rights. But your husband, former President Bill Clinton, has admitted to having sexual affairs and is alleged to have sexually abused women in the 80s and the 90s. In a recent, powerful interview, Juanita Broderick details what she calls your husband’s rape of her. Kathleen Willey recently reiterated that your husband sexually assaulted her. Many other women came forward over the years. While he is not running for office, it has been widely reported that you were part of what was called the “Bimbo Eruption” unit engaged in discrediting and intimidating these alleged victims into silence. Can you explain this, and how it lines up with your defense of women and stance that women should always be believed when reporting sexual abuse?
  • Secretary Clinton, Wikileaks has released a new batch of emails it alleges you sent that include speeches you gave to Wall Street firms for large payments. They allege that you dream of a day when there is “open trade and open borders.” Do you believe the United States should have open borders and open trade.
  • Secretary Clinton, Would you support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales and what will you do to protect American’s Second Amendment right? And does protecting the Second Amendment play into who you would appoint to the Supreme Court?
  • Secretary Clinton, Criticisms of the criminal justice system stem from your husband’s time in office — including the expansion of the proactive “broken windows” policing nationwide and the passage of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. We now have the highest incarceration rates ever. You have apologized for using the word “superpredator” to describe gang members in the 1990s. Why did you change your mind and what reforms from the 1990s would you reform now?
  • Secretary Clinton, The Associated Press reported that Clinton Foundation’s donors made up more than half of your meetings as secretary of state. Can you explain that? And can you also explain for the average American voter why you had a separate, unsecured email server, multiple Blackberries and then wiped the server clean and had the Blackberries destroyed with a hammer before FBI investigators would examine? Was there any relationship to the Clinton Foundation?
  • You are proposing seven weeks of government-mandated paid family leave for parents, expanding Social Security, expanding early childhood education and so on. Each of these programs expand the size and the scope of government involvement that many Americans already say is too large. Do you believe that the federal government is not big enough now? Are there any areas of government you would cut back on or eliminate, or are all your proposals to expand government
  • You ask that the rich pay their fair share and you propose increasing the tax rates on the nation’s wealthiest individuals. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that the top 20 percent of income earners pay an average of $57,700 in federal taxes; the next 20 percent pay $2,600 and the 60 percent rest of Americans receive net transfer of payments to them of between $8,000 and $12,000. Are you saying that the wealthy are not paying their fair share? And if so, what is the ideal amount more for them to pay to be fair?
  • You want to make college debt-free? But several studies have shown that one of the primary drivers of college tuition and fee increases has been the guaranteed payments of the federal government through loans and grants. Would your proposal make college even more expensive and be burdensome to taxpayers?
  • Like most political leaders, you oppose banks being too big to fail. But the Dodd-Frank bill reforming the banking system seems to have created even fewer, larger banks, potentially meaning that the risk is greater now than before the financial collapse. Do you support Dodd-Frank?

Below are three legitimate issue questions Lester Holt could have asked in the first presidential debate based on Hillary Clinton’s “experience,” but could be asked tonight. Any one of these would suffice.

  • As Secretary of State, you chose to put a diplomatic mission in Benghazi when it was a known hotspot for Al Qaeda terrorist. And then it was given minimal security. Why was Ambassador Stevens operating there and not in the security Embassy in Tripoli? A great tragedy resulted. Does this bring into question your judgment on foreign policy?
  • Now that we see that the Syrian War has turned into a genocide, created a spawning ground for ISIS, given Russia a strong toehold in the Middle East, and resulted in the displacement of millions of refugees to surrounding countries, Europe and the United States, did you and the Obama Administration make the right decision to do nothing early on in support of the rebels against President Assad? And does this bring into question your judgment on foreign policy?
  • As Secretary, you were the architect for the Russian reset to improve U.S.-Russian relations. Yet by any measurement, our relations with Russia are at their worst since the Cold War, with part of the Crimea gone and troops in Syria. Given the apparent failure of this policy, does this bring into question your judgment on foreign policy?

 

Categories
History Truth

Why The Revolutionary Act? To Tell the Truth

Do you sometimes feel like we live in an upside down world, where right is wrong, good is bad, bad is good and truth is this illusory shadow we can longer grab hold of?

You’re not alone. Truth today is avoided like the black plague. That brings grave consequences and most Americans innately sense this. It why a paltry 29% of Americans think we are headed in the right direction.

As J.R.R. Tolkien’s character, Galadriel, said in the prologue to Lord of the Rings: “Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.” Tolkien was one of many who saw the cost of deceit in the real world, and fictionalized it.

Without truth, our lives are a meaningless series of lungings from deception to deception. But truth is driven underground as an array of cultural forces combine to suppress it and promote deception.

It’s just the way it is.

But it’s not the way it must be.

As George Orwell said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

It should not be revolutionary to speak the truth. But today it is.

As we are not alone today in realizing the enormity of disinformation being sown and fertilized throughout our culture, so we are not alone historically.

Throughout history, there have been voices calling in the wilderness, pushing back against the rushing tide of falsehoods. From Pythagoras to John the Baptist to Augustine to Martin Luther to Thomas Jefferson to Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to George Orwell to Martin Luther King, millions have pushed back peacefully, intellectually and invariably with words of truth against the prevailing myths and deceptions of their times.

Today, falsehood is easily spread through mass media in all of its technological iterations. These fictions are more easily disseminated and absorbed as truths than ever before. They can be countered with truths through the same mass mediums.

But as Orwell said, we need to start the revolutionary act of standing up and speaking out truth. It can cost, as any revolutionary act does. But the cost of not doing so is far greater, for us and for our offspring.

Hence, TheRevolutionaryAct.com.

The truths are known. They have not been totally forgotten as Galadriel recorded. This means we also live in times that call for telling the truth — foundational, well-defended, grounded truth that has been a part of America’s greatness, and is remembered still.

These truths are not always red, white and blue, but they are always firmly established.

We’re glad you are joining us here to help push back against the sea of falsities and fabrication.

For more background on The Revolutionary Act, go here.

Categories
Truth

Making Sense of #NeverTrump vs #NeverHillary

There is a principled conservative opposition to Donald Trump that has nothing to do with being sore losers or finding Hillary Clinton acceptable.

First, there is no denying that this is a binary race. Not voting for one candidate in the party you would normally support is giving aid to the candidate from the other party. Bernie Sanders’ supporters have coalesced around Hillary Clinton, so why can’t the supporters of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and others get behind Trump? Well some have.

That is where #neverhillary comes from. They may not like or trust Trump. He may have been their 18th choice out of the 17 GOP candidates. But they know exactly what the country is getting with scandal-ridden Clinton and so they will vote Trump as the lesser of two poor choices.

But some conservatives simply cannot have their hands on a Trump presidency. This is not an invalid position. Here’s why.

The reasonable argument by Trump supporters and conservatives who will vote for him is that not voting for him — voting for someone else or no one — is essentially a vote for Hillary Clinton. So when #nevertrumpers choose not to vote for him, #protrumpers make the case that they are casting a non-vote in favor of Hillary Clinton. Therefore, they argue, they are in part responsible for a Hillary presidency. That is a compelling case.

However, just as compelling is that by voting for a candidate, there is the sense in which your fingerprints are directly on their presidency. You have more direct responsibility for their actions than does someone you did not vote for. Also compelling.

Think of it this way for the #nevertrumpers. Your choices are Hitler and Stalin. (Neither of these are Hitler or Stalin, so let’s not lose focus.) Stalin is your party, Hitler the other party. You’d never vote for Hitler. But how can you vote for Stalin? How can you have your fingerprints on the deaths of millions. But if you don’t, and Hitler wins, then are you partially culpable for his deeds? This is what #nevertrump conservatives face. They don’t find Clinton acceptable at all. They aren’t sore losers. They just cannot make themselves vote for Trump.

This has resulted in an open civil war in the GOP — one that will not end after the November election. There was the obvious split during the primary, when people supported different candidates. But many Trump supporters figured the party would unite behind him after the nomination.

But it has not, at least nothing like happened in the Democrat Party. #NeverTrumpers include conservatives such as Mark Levin, Bill Kristol, Ben Shapiro and Jonah Goldberg and libertarians such as Glenn Beck, along with several members of Congress and the Senate. They are attacked mercilessly by conservative Trump supporters such as Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich and others for torpedoing Trump’s candidacy and potentially aiding in the election of Clinton. And they may be right; it could be the practical result. But it stems from a principled stance. They don’t find Clinton acceptable. They just cannot be directly responsible for Trump.

This is not a small rift. This could change the GOP in completely unpredictable ways.