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Category Archives: Business/Economics

“Middle East Meltdown” Book Review by Tommy Davis

"Middle East Meltdown" Book Review by Tommy Davis.

 

Unsinking the Titanic: Repairing the Hole that is America’s Debt Dilemma – Part 1

by Providence Crowder

 The Problem

There is a war of ideologies being waged on the American political scene.  Those on the left and right sides of the political spectrum are simply unable to come to a viable compromise concerning prominent socioeconomic issues of today.  In the meantime, while the politicians in Washington fight, the director of the Congressional Budget Office—Douglas W. Elmendorf—warned in his 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook that the United States is headed towards the biggest economic downfall since World War II.  He testified:

Policymakers will need to increase revenues substantially as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches to keep deficits and debts from climbing to unsustainable levels.

The CBO reports that for 2011, the federal government faced a 1.3 trillion dollar budget shortfall—the third largest to date—continuing its trend since 1969 of spending more than it takes in.  Only in the years 2009 and 2010 were the deficits greater—those years produced the largest budget deficits in modern history.  Elmendorf recommended early action and more sacrifices “for the benefit of younger workers and future generations.”  Simply put, the U.S. economy is in BIG trouble!

America, the most prosperous nation in the world, is currently the biggest debt owner in the world.  This colossal debt is reprehensible and represents instability and insolvency to our lenders.  Our looming liabilities threaten to eliminate the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and the loss of this status would be catastrophic.  It would bring an instant devaluing of our investments, drastically drive up the cost of goods and services—hyperinflation—and create a radical change in American life as we know it.  All Americans would experience a significantly lower quality of life.  The idea of the American dollar collapsing should cause all Americans to take pause.

This Is What One Trillion Dollars Look Like

Jay Richards[1] explained that “Money has value only if trading partners believe it has value.  This is why currency quickly becomes stove fuel when people stop trusting it.”[2]  Our colossal debt is not the result of insufficient tax revenues because we are taxed at a level sufficient enough to pay for the necessary functions of government.  America’s problem is excessive and wasteful spending.  Any average American who has lived beyond his or her means could warn the federal government of the end result of its imprudence—reduce spending or risk losing everything.  At a whopping $13,561,623,030,891 of debt—according to the 2010 U.S. Treasury report—multiple years of deficit spending by the federal government has left our children to bear the burden of our irresponsibility and profligacy.  The interest alone on our nearly $14 trillion dollar debt make our meager attempts at debt solvency unrealistic.

The Cause

Many on the left, namely Democrats, choose to blame President George W. Bush for the economies troubles.  On the right, Republicans give President Obama the brunt of the blame.  Yet the administrations of both of these presidents, with their big spending and bailouts, and massive expansions of government have exacerbated the debt problem.  We also owe a huge debt of thanks to Democrat President, Bill Clinton, for our more recent recession and debt fiasco.  Back in 1995, the regulatory revisions made to the 1977 “Community Reinvestment Act” under the Clinton administration greatly weakened the housing market.  Initially the law was enacted to ensure that banks were fairly addressing the lending and banking needs of those people in low and moderate-income neighborhoods that they accepted deposits from.  Yet the Clinton administration’s 1995 revisions forced banks to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to people with little or no credit, and even people with bad credit—lending to these high risk borrowers under the guise of “the convenience and needs of the communities.”[3]

In other words, “if banks wanted to continue to indulge from the hand of government-created money and insurance (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), then they had to prove to government agencies that they were lending these indulgences to even the un-creditworthy in their community.”  The revisions to the Community Investment Act became a powerful mandate that reshaped lending practices.  This act was a recipe for economic disaster that the banks initially opposed because they didn’t want to be “forced” into bad lending.  Regardless, congress passed the initiative, alluring banks into lending big money to people with little or no credit.

To his credit, in 2003 President Bush attempted greater oversight of the two major government-sponsored lenders of the subprime, or risky loans—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—yet Democratic opposition shut his measure down, accusing Bush and the Republicans of all things, racism.  Shocking!  We know the end of this sad story—the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis led to the collapsing of a housing bubble that brought the banking and real estate industry to their knees.

To add insult to injury, the Federal Reserve Board’s response to the mortgage crisis was grossly irresponsible and unethical.  Wayne Grudem noted that “The Federal Reserve decided to pump reserves into the financial system by purchasing $1.2 trillion in assets, including $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities from companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac . . . leading to increased inflation and thereby robbing everyone in society of the value of their dollars and their contract.”[4]  Simply put, the government rewarded reckless and irresponsible behavior by loaning hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bailout the big banks and the mortgage agencies, with more than half of  the money going to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Economist Thomas DiLorenzo described that the current financial debacles are simply the “chickens coming home to roost after more than 30 years of progressive government interference and artificially deformed markets.”[5]  The current crisis is not a sudden or surprising occurrence, but the eventual result of salvation politics.[6]

No one is innocent in this scandal of magnificent proportions, not even the voters.  The recent political protest movement, Occupy Wall Street (OWL), self-righteously protest the “Wall Street” bankers and the “1%” of the rich.  Yet these crooks are the ones who knowingly elect politicians who extort money from others to subsidize irresponsibility and greed—they vote for big government.  OWL’s voted for crony capitalists who afforded political favors and preferential treatment for their friends at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Many of them voted for our current president, Obama.  He handed over a trillion dollars in taxpayer funds to bailout Fannie and Freddie, and the auto-industry and banks they now protest!

These OWL’s are the same who continue to vote for increased government spending on federally funded entitlements—the biggest debt busters of all.  Currently, the federal government is scrambling to fund its existing entitlements in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, retirement pensions, and welfare.  The funding of future entitlements is an even greater concern.  If the Federal Reserve continues the practice of pumping dollars into the system to keep up with government expenditures, Wayne Grudem asserts that “we can soon expect to see record high interest rates and/or inflation, coupled with the collapse of many entitlements.”[7] According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, entitlement spending as a percentage of GDP has now doubled that of U.S. spending on national defense.  An increase in entitlement spending and a decrease in spending on national defense, a core constitutional function of government, indicates clearly—our government’s priorities are misguided.[8]

Stay tuned for Unsinking the Titanic-Part 2, Ethical Implications.  Excerpt: “Spending of this sort is immoral; it is sure to hurt the poor and others who are dependent upon the government for their livelihood.  America’s reckless entitlement spending has baited many American’s into dependency and has promised future payments that won’t be worth the paper they are printed on.”

 

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The Problem of Evil

by Dr. Tommy Davis  revdrtommydavis@gmail.com

There is an unavoidable dilemma that the world has had to contend with since the beginning of humanity.  It is clearly defined and noticeable, but there is little consensus as to its purposeful origin.  No suitable explanation of the origin of evil has ever been formulated.   The problem of evil is a reality that affects every segment of our society.  Natural evil concerns the devastation, suffering and loss caused by tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, fire, disease, famine, to name some; moral evils that reflects the underlying philosophy of the culture; and social evils, which deals with ethical relationships between humans.    As a metaphysical entity, evil is entirely opposed to good in nature and function.  Perhaps it is necessary to point out the person behind all the forces of evil.

One of the most misunderstood characters in the history of the world is Satan himself.  There are many assumptions concerning him.  Some people believe that he does not exist, and some believe him to be a powerless personality; and some people go to the far extremes and place the devil everywhere which gives him the status of omnipresence.  We will examine the Scriptures to see how the Bible describes the devil.  It is crucial that this subject matter be analyzed from a biblical perspective to dismiss the false assumptions and portray the reality of this spiritual being.

One need only to look around at the calamitous events that takes place daily in the world to notice that some form of adversary exists.  Hopefully we can conclude that all contributions of evil are a result of Satan’s fall from heaven.  It should also be noted that Satan does not desire to be identified as the culprit.  While he seeks to hide his identity, God rather exposes him!  Satan exists because God created him and later determined (as opposed to being good) that Satan was evil.

In the book of Ezekiel, Satan is described as being the most beautiful of angels.  The prophet wrote:  “ You were the anointed cherub who covers;  I established you; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire, thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:14-15 KJV).  Again, it is important to establish that only God can determine the nature of a thing.  During the week of creation, it was God who said that it “was good” (Genesis 1).  God alone reserves the right to determine all things (see Isaiah 45:7).

Satan, which means adversary, is mentioned quite often in the Bible.  He is referred to by every New Testament writer and cited at least 13 times by Christ Himself in the New Testament.  Satan has many names in Scripture.  He is called Beelzebub (Matt. 12:24), the deceiver (Rev. 20:10), the dragon (Rev. 12:7), a liar (Jn. 8:44), the accuser (Rev. 12:10), the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5), the ruler of darkness (Eph. 6:12), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), and Belial (2 Cor. 6:15).  What did Satan do that God would find iniquity in him? Most scholars agree that the prophet Isaiah records the fall of Lucifer.  He writes,

“How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut to the ground, You who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14 NKJV).

Lucifer was so beautiful and powerful that he wanted to usurp God’s authority.  Therefore, his chief sin was pride.  It is evil because God said it was.  The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).  Thus, as we see, Satan has characteristics that identifies with rationality and deceit.  Such actions are emulated by humans.  Our ignorance and rejection of the truth is contradictory to God’s standard.

Various perspectives have been formulated in an attempt to identify the origin of evil.  Dr. Norman Geisler wrote:

“Although every worldview has had to deal with the problem of evil, it is an especially acute problem for theism.  Of the three major worldviews, Atheism affirms the reality of evil and denies the reality of God.  Pantheism affirms the reality of God but denies the reality of evil.  Theism affirms the reality of both God and evil.  Herein is the problem; how can an absolutely good Being (God) be compatible with evil, the opposite of good?”[1]

In respect to Dr. Geisler’s quote, the major worldviews at least allows for the word “evil” to exist in their vocabulary.  Thus, those who would actually deny that evil exists still incorporate the term as a concept.  To be more clear, if the skeptics, who deny evil, really believe it does not exist, then they would not even indicate the term!  The moral wickedness that humanity experiences involve sickness, misery, self-centeredness, folly, and crime in revolt against God.  People who deny that evil exist often have complaints when they are offended!  Take for example, social evils, which can be identified as corrupt politics, drunkenness, cheating, and racial discrimination.  Do we redefine these problems, or call it what is— vice?

God is omnipotent (all powerful); omniscient (all knowing); and omnipresent (everywhere).  Since God is all powerful, evil can only exist at His pronouncement.  At some point in time when evil was brought forth, it had already taken its toll before mankind was created.  In Genesis 1:4-31, God had proclaimed at least seven times that what He created was “good.”   Why do the Scriptures record this?  There had to be an opposing idea—-something contrasting with good.   Since God is all knowing, He was aware of evil or there would have been little reason (logic) to make pronouncements by calling His creation good.  God is not subject to rules and regulations because he is God.  Therefore, even if God created evil, He would still be a just God.  This is a prerogative that we fail to attribute to an all-powerful God. He writes ALL the rules!  He is NOT subject to them!

When God created man, He gave him direct instructions and said to him: “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil….” (Genesis 2:16-17a).  In his sinless position before God, Adam obeyed naturally.  Perhaps he asked himself what good and evil was.  One cannot be recognized apart from the other.  At this point, evil was a nonrepresentational perception.  Adam would only know “good” after the Fall.  Only God was aware of the distinction.  After the Fall, evil became a problem for mankind because the consequences was now physical (see Genesis 2:17b).  The aftermaths of sin now saturated the thoughts of humanity which influenced our desires.  The only antidote to such evil is the cleansing work of Christ.

In Ephesians chapter six, the Apostle Paul gives vivid illustration how we can guard against and overcome satanic influences.  In his letter to the church at Ephesus, he encouraged them to put on the whole armor of God;  not some of it, but all of the armor of God.  Paul wrote,  “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10).

It is significant to note how we go about doing this.  First we have to recognize that we are fighting a spiritual enemy.  After taking up the whole armor of God we have to resist Satan by taking a stand against him and receive the truth of God’s Word (v. 14).  Then, believers are instructed to “put on the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14).  This tells us that we have to be sure we believe in the righteousness that only comes through Christ alone.  We are justified and made righteous by grace through faith.  It is God’s Word that matters—not our presuppositions.

Believers are also instructed to have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace (v. 15).  Thus, we have to be ready at all times to present the Gospel. We have to make sure that we are feasting on the Word of God and be quipped to preach the Gospel.  Also, the shield of faith (v. 16) protects us from the satanic influences like doubt, discouragement, and the zodiac (false prophecies).  These are things that CANNOT penetrate our armor, but we will not lift our armor if we don’t recognize this as an attack (opposing ideas).  Wayne Grudem wrote, “In thinking about God using evil to fulfill His purposes, we should remember that there are things that are right for God to do but wrong for us to do: He requires others to worship Him, and He accepts worship from them.  He seeks glory for Himself.”[2]

Evil is real; and the effects of it will surround us whether we acknowledge it or deny it.  Since God is ALL powerful (omnipotent), ALL knowing (omniscient), and present everywhere (omnipresent), it is impossible for Him to be unrighteous because He is the One who wrote ALL the rules!  Whatever God says—GOES!  Good and evil exists because God defined the terms.


[1] Norman Geisler,  Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 219

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994) 329

 

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The Healthcare Question—America’s Mixed Bag

by Providence Crowder

What is Healthcare?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this healthcare question. And if I am honest with myself, I’d say that there is no easy fix. People on both sides of the debate, the right and the left, oversimplify the problem by debating whether or not healthcare is a “right.” Healthcare has been defined as the diagnosis, treatment, preservation and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans through services offered by the health profession (www.thefreedictionary.com). Good health is a desired physical and mental state; every person wants good health. But, through the passing time, lifestyle choices, accidents, heredity, and other factors, good health throughout life is not guaranteed. Even in receiving healthcare services, good health is not guaranteed.

In America, our liberty to make bad choices concerning our health has been costly. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other ailments are symptomatic of a free nation that is enslaved to its deadly habits (smoking, drinking, promiscuity, overeating, etc.). Yet, we Americans demand comprehensive AND low-cost healthcare services to aid us in regaining and maintaining good health when our lifestyles or other factors cause our health to fail us.

Identifying the Problem

Talks of rights are somewhat unproductive. When it comes down to it, everyone has a right to almost everything except to infringe upon the rights of others. So naturally, some will tout their right to healthcare services because “Everyone has a right to life and human dignity!” Others will say, “You absolutely have the freedom and the right to obtain healthcare services if you so choose, but not with MY money! You do not have the right to force me to pay for your healthcare services.” We must look beyond this talk of rights and look at the real issue: everyone wants good health and a quality of life. When a person’s health fails, no one, regardless of class or ability to pay, deserves opportunities for improved health over and above another. So here lies the problem: How do we in America help the most citizens obtain access to quality healthcare services regardless of class or ability to pay?

Looking at what we have already done, we have used free market, government control, and charity/volunteer based solutions within our current healthcare system. All have benefited some group of Americans in some way because each has some attractive quality about it. That is why all three have found their way into the current system. Yet, the system is broken and is in need of reform.

Finding a Solution

Among those who identify themselves as liberals, moderates, and conservatives, reforms have generally been sought using one of two solutions— greater government control or increased free market solutions. Besides these two, I suggest allowing volunteer agencies, such as charities and faith based initiatives, to play a greater role in the reform debates. They have not been excluded from the talks, but by and large, the other two have dominated the talks. Volunteer and faith based agencies were the leading healthcare services providers in this nation in times past, before talks of Medicaid and Medicare. They have advocated on behalf of the poor and those with no ability to pay from the beginning. They have ensured that the “least” in society have had access to quality care during a time when the government’s job was to govern. With greater support from local communities and government at all levels, we can encourage volunteer activity and contributions through a variety of means, including educational and tax incentives for volunteers, medical professionals, medical supply companies, etc. Faith-based and volunteer agencies can once again take a leading role in healthcare services in America.

Brief History of Public Health

The emergence and ideas of public health and health services are not new; they were birthed out of necessity. Without going into the whole history of public health, I will mention that epidemics such as the bubonic plague, influenza, smallpox, malaria, yellow fever and syphilis, were catastrophic events that helped move communities all around the world towards public health solutions. Governments, communities, and health boards struggled to find remedies for treatment, containment, and prevention. As well, great industrialization and an overall increase in urban living (largely due to the industrial revolution) have caused problems with the spread of germs and disease, and have caused great unsanitary conditions for people living in overcrowded areas. Again, communities and health boards responded by developing hygiene and environmental regulatory systems and public health laws. Because health maintenance is so wide-ranging, the health profession has become one of the largest and fasted growing professions in modern times.

Blessed are those who live in nations where healthcare professionals are abundant, because the people in these nations have greater access to treatment and medication that is often lifesaving. Poor nations struggle to give their citizens the safety net of services that are provided by wealthier nations. Because good health is so important, and the risk of accident, illness, or disease is high for all, healthcare insurance has become a viable solution for citizens in many nations to supplement the costs of receiving treatment and medication, should it be needed.

Market-Based Health Insurance: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

In capitalist societies, citizens have a variety of health insurance companies to choose from among those in the marketplace and these insurance companies offer a range of services. Because in the free market, competition drives down costs, citizens can often find low-cost coverage plans that are tailored to their individual or family needs.

Some argue that the capitalist model leaves too many people uninsured and unfairly reduces access to quality healthcare for the poor. They maintain that access to quality healthcare should not depend upon class or income status. For the uninsured, a trip to the hospital may push some into bankruptcy. For these individuals, trips to the emergency rooms ultimately drive up healthcare premiums after hospitals redistribute the costs of providing services to them (in America, federal law prohibits hospitals that participate in the Medicaid program from denying urgent care to the uninsured).

Additionally, greedy insurance companies take advantage of some citizens by denying coverage to some elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Opponents argue that Insurance companies should not be allowed to decide who lives and who dies.

Government-Run Health Insurance: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

In some socialist and communist societies, the government either provides a government run-option or is sole provider for healthcare services. Some argue that the socialist model ultimately leads to less access and poorer health services than in the capitalist model. Wayne Grudem has stated that “Government is never an efficient provider of economic goods because it does not have to face the competitive incentives of the free market . . . Federal government control of health care will inevitably mean a steep increase in costs, a decline in quality, a decline in freedom of choice, and a decline in the availability of certain kinds of medical care.” Additionally, “If a nation’s government controls health care, then some rationing system will be necessary to decide who gets treatments and who does not; and there will be widespread instances of denial of care; for a government simply cannot provide an infinite supply of care for everyone who asks for it.”

The current government-run healthcare systems in America, (Medicare and Medicaid) are expensive and highly problematic. According to a 2009 study done by National Center for Policy Analysis:

The 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports show the combined unfunded liability of these two programs (Social Security and Medicare) has reached nearly $107 trillion in today’s dollars! That is about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and 10 times the size of the outstanding national debt. The unfunded liability is the difference between the benefits that have been promised to current and future retirees and what will be collected in dedicated taxes and Medicare premiums. Last year alone, this debt rose by $5 trillion. If no other reform is enacted, this funding gap can only be closed in future years by substantial tax increases, large benefit cuts or both . . . Medicare’s total unfunded liability is more than five times larger than that of Social Security. In fact, the new Medicare prescription drug benefit enacted in 2006 (Part D) alone adds some $17 trillion to the projected Medicare shortfall – an amount greater than all of Social Security’s unfunded obligations . . . More than one-third of the wages workers earn in 2054 will need to be committed to pay benefits promised under current law. That is before any bridges or highways are built and before any teachers’ or police officers’ salaries are paid.

Those figures are catastrophic! America simply cannot afford another government-run health care program; the costs to run the current programs are unsustainable. Doctors and healthcare professionals have already felt the pinch every time the government has reduced their reimbursement payments for services. Expanding government control of the healthcare industry is sure to make doctors, healthcare practitioners, individuals with chronic illnesses, high risk employment, and the elderly among the biggest losers. Opponents argue that the government should not be allowed to decide who lives and who dies.

Furthermore, the American government has not yet figured out how to provide a means for each citizen to receive basic needs such as adequate food, shelter, and clothing, so they lack credibility in promising the poor yet another entitlement that they cannot deliver on. With the billions of dollars spent each year fighting the War on Poverty, and with “free” money, housing allowances, and medical insurance provided for the poor, why has poverty worsened? Kenneth Blackwell has noted that “The Democrats War on Poverty has failed.” He then quoted a 1998 State of the Union address from Ronald Reagan:

My friends, some years ago, the Federal Government declared war on poverty, and poverty won . . . Today the Federal Government has 59 major welfare programs and spends more than $100 billion a year on them. What has all this money done? Well, too often it has only made poverty harder to escape. Federal welfare programs have created a massive social problem. With the best of intentions, government created a poverty trap that wreaks havoc on the very support system the poor need most to lift themselves out of poverty: the family. Dependency has become the one enduring heirloom, passed from one generation to the next, of too many fragmented families.

Again, government is never an efficient provider for goods and services as evidenced with government-run healthcare and other government-run programs.

Volunteer-Based Solutions: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Many nations have felt the moral obligation to care for its poor and sick. America is no different. American citizens by and large have agreed to have their earnings taxed for the purpose of providing some state and federally funded insurance for its poor and elderly (Medicare and Medicaid), but many warn that the government has overreached its constitutional authority in forcing some citizens to pay for the healthcare premiums of others.

Throughout most of America’s history, citizens of good conscience volunteered their time, money, and skills to build and work in hospitals and care centers for the purpose of caring for its sick, poor and elderly. They were the founding and leading providers of healthcare services in America! Christians in this nation built schools and hospitals and cared for men, women, and children of all races, classes, and cultural backgrounds. This was in response to the Christian call to “heal the sick” and “care for the poor.” The role of Christians in responding to a variety of human needs, especially those of the poor, has been marginalized in recent times by the broadening role of the American government. As noted in a recent article by Evangelical and Catholic Christians, “It is increasingly the case that wherever government goes religion must retreat, and government increasingly goes almost everywhere.”

Like government welfare, charity (another means of welfare) too has had some adverse effects. For those with no ethics of responsibility to self and community, charity alone may have the unintended consequences of removing the incentive for these individuals or families to save for instances of illness and make healthier lifestyle choices. It has had the effect of creating an entitlement mentality that cannot soon be reversed. Benjamin Franklin, on The Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766, noted:

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavors to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burden? On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.

The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness. In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners.

President Franklin observed that too many provisions for the poor has had the adverse effect of creating dependent and irresponsible citizens.

Americans Will Decide

The wisdom of America is that the American people decide how they want to be governed. The healthcare safety net in America provided through the free market insurance companies, the abundance of hospitals and healthcare professionals, the volunteer agencies and free clinics, and the government subsidies for the poor and elderly make the United States healthcare system a mixed bag. Everyone agrees that reforms to the current system are needed. Ultimately, the American people will decide whether those reforms lead America towards more government control or towards a freer market; added with that choice, Americans would be wise to re-visit the reasoning and power behind volunteer and faith based initiatives to alleviate the debacle caused by the healthcare dilemma.

 

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Two Kinds of Promiscuity

By Star Parker

Last week the House passed with bipartisan support the Protect Life Act, which amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to assure that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund abortion. It also assures that health-care providers that do not wish to provide abortions are not forced to by government.

The bill’s Republican sponsor, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa., had co-sponsored essentially the same amendment along with then-Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., when Obamacare was in the making in 2009.

Because a similar provision was not in the Senate version of the bill, and had no prospect of making it through the Senate, Stupak stood as a major obstacle to the passage of Obamacare.

In the end, the ways of Washington prevailed, and Stupak caved to pressure from the White House. He agreed to support the health-care bill without his anti-abortion provision, in exchange for President Obama issuing an executive order prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for abortions in health care provided in the framework of Obamacare.

An executive order is a flimsy substitute for law; thus Rep. Pitt found another pro-life Democrat, Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., to co-sponsor his amendment, which has now passed the House 251-172.

However, Pitt’s new bill faces the same prospects as the amendment that he cosponsored with Stupak in 2009. Its chances of passage in the Senate are remote.

So why bother?

After the bill passed, I was asked on a PBS talk show, “To the Contrary,” if Republicans were being frivolous in taking up congressional floor time to deal with abortion when what Americans want today is congressional action on the economy.

My response was “no, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and actually in light of Obamacare, it is critical for lawmakers to protect health-care workers and hospitals with a conscience clause.”

In fact, the attention the bill has gotten in the short time since it passed the House indicates that the level of interest in abortion, and the potential use of taxpayer funds for it, remains high.

Two high-post Democrats – former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Democratic National Committee chairwoman – issued statements criticizing the bill shortly after it passed.

According to Pelosi, the provision assuring that health-care providers, including hospitals, are not forced to provide abortions, even though they receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, means “that women can die on the floor and health-care providers do not have to intervene.”

Wasserman Schultz said, “This extreme legislation is dangerous for women’s health and does nothing to address the jobs crisis facing American families.”

Liberals love to frame the killing of developing humans as being about women’s lives, health and rights.

But, according to the Center for Disease Control, about 3 percent of abortions are performed for reasons of a woman’s health. Abortions that are performed because a woman’s life is in danger amount to a fraction of 1 percent. That leaves more that 96 percent for convenience with some 50 percent repeat customers.

Regarding abortion, the liberal agenda is really about two things – 1) an alleged right to sexual promiscuity and, 2) an alleged right to have others bear social and financial responsibility for that promiscuity.

Fortunately, a sizable part of the American population doesn’t see things this way. And, fortunately, a sizable part of our population remains in awe of the miracle of life and our responsibilities toward all aspects of life, both in and outside of the womb.

It doesn’t take that much thought to realize the fallacious thinking that suggests that matters of economy and matters of morality have nothing to do with each other.

The “right to abortion” culture is simply a subset of the entitlement culture, the culture that says your life is about making claims on others rather than personal responsibility.

Disrespect for life and disrespect for property go hand in hand. We can’t divorce our sexual promiscuity from our fiscal promiscuity. Restoring personal responsibility in both areas is what we need today to get our nation back on track.


Star Parker is president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, and author of the recently re-released “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It.”

 

Politics over policy

ECONOMY | President Obama’s plan goes after the wealthy while leaving entitlements alone | Edward Lee Pitts

 WASHINGTON—House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama have now delivered two speeches in five days seemingly aimed at targeting our nation’s economic woes. But what did the two party leaders really accomplish? They bluntly threw down their policy gauntlets ahead of next year’s crucial election.

Obama delivered his speech on Monday in the White House Rose Garden before just as many laughing partisans as reporters. Like a well-trained sitcom studio audience, they chuckled at all the right lines—at least from a Democratic perspective.

In unveiling his $1.5 trillion in new taxes, the president lectured Republicans that raising taxes on the wealthy “is not class warfare. It’s math.” He then threatened to veto any deficit reduction plan that does not include new tax revenue.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

“We can’t just cut our way out of this hole,” Obama said. “It’s only right we ask everyone to pay their fair share.”

But rewind to last Thursday when, during a speech to the Economic Club in Washington, D.C., Boehner laid down his own marker. Tax increases, Boehner said, “are off the table. It is a very simple equation. Tax increases destroy jobs.”

These strong lines in the sand place in a pickle the joint congressional committee now meeting to find, by Nov. 23, at least $1.5 trillion in mandatory deficit cuts over the next decade.

“The good news is that the joint committee is taking this issue far more seriously than the White House,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement released soon after Obama’s speech Monday. McConnell attacked the president for the “massive tax hike” and for “punting on entitlement reform.”

Obama’s plan to reduce the deficit by a little more than $2 trillion during the next decade would increase revenue by $800 billion just from letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for families making more than $250,000. It also adds more revenue to the federal coffers by reducing tax deductions and loopholes available to wealthy earners and corporations.

Republicans have signaled a willingness to pursue an overhaul to the tax code. But Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is his party’s go-to budget guy, warned on Fox News Sunday that “permanent tax increases on job creators doesn’t work to grow the economy.”

Ryan continued, “It’s actually fueling the uncertainty that is hurting job growth right now. And don’t forget the fact that most small businesses file taxes as individuals. So, when you are raising these top tax rates, you’re raising taxes on these job creators where more than half of Americans get their jobs from in this country.”

Republicans also criticized Obama’s plan for largely neglecting mandatory spending.

The plan does reduce spending by $580 billion in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. But these cuts go after the medical providers and not the growing rolls of beneficiaries.

Conservatives warn that reimbursement cuts to doctors treating Medicare and Medicaid patients may harm the needy by driving medical providers away from high need areas.

Obama’s plan does not touch Social Security and does not propose erasing the eligibility age for any entitlement beneficiaries—something his own deficit reduction panel last fall suggested.

Republican lawmakers are calling for a greater focus on reforming an open-ended benefit system that does not foster efficiency.

“In a three-and-a-half-trillion dollar budget, two–thirds of which is entitlements, there is enough slop in the system that you can find a trillion and half in savings,” said Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., who also sits on the new super committee. “People kid about waste fraud and abuse. But it’s real.”

Obama’s plan has vitally no chance of passing a Republican House. And the president and his White House staff obviously know that.

So Monday’s proposal and speech became more about bolstering Obama’s chances for a second term by reassuring his liberal base. Democrats believe that their storyline of going after the wealthy and protecting entitlements will resonate with voters next fall.

The differences between the two parties are now clear to anyone still confused after nearly three years of Washington partisanship. Obama’s economic-plan-turned-campaign-speech on Monday hammered home the sentiment that solving the nation’s job problems will play second fiddle during the next 14 months to the top goal for all lawmakers, from the White House to Capitol Hill: protecting their own jobs.

Copyright © 2011 WORLD Magazine
Articles may not be reproduced without permission
Published September 19, 2011

 

Democrats Should Know Jim Crow, They Created Him

Jerome Hudson by Jerome Hudson (7-10-11)

With a bit of Chicago-machine swagger about him, Bill Clinton, a “war room” veteran, is back in the spotlight and stumping for Obama.

Speaking to Campus Progress last Wednesday, Clinton asked the crowd of young progressives, “Are you fighting?”  Taking talking points almost directly from the mouth of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D.-Fla.), the former President asserted, “There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the voter Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit a franchise that we see today.”

Likening Republican policies aimed at preserving voter integrity in states from Florida to California to poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow era proves Democrats are desperate.  Obama’s tax-and-spend agenda stinks on ice.  So his segregation mudslingers—in this case, Clinton—must rely on shopworn clichés that stir racial animus to fire up his left-wing base.

Are Clinton and Shultz insinuating that minorities, college students and the elderly are all born Democrats, that they are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates?  Is this what Democratic elites think of their constituents?  Do Democrats believe blacks and Latinos, old people and youngsters, are too stupid to acquire a photo I.D. by next November?

Moreover, decrying all Republicans as racists is a Democrat article of faith.  But why dredge up Jim Crow?

In 1832, the phrase “Jim Crow” was born.  By 1900, every former Confederate state (including Wyoming, Missouri, Ohio, Utah, Kentucky, Kansas and Oklahoma) had enacted “Jim Crow” laws prohibiting everything from interracial marriage to racially integrated public school systems.  These state laws served to place blacks back on a virtual plantation.  Similar to the “Black Codes” that came before them, Jim Crow laws were numerous.  However, one denominator codified their sound support in Southern states:  They all resulted from Democratic legislators of the “Solid South.”

When Bill Clinton was 18, his future vice president’s father, Sen. Al Gore Sr., was locked arm-in-arm with other segregationist Democrats to kill the Civil Rights act of 1964.  Clinton’s “mentor” and “friend,” klansman J. William Fulbright, joined the Dixiecrats, an ultra-segregationist wing of Democratic lawmakers, in filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and in killing the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Clinton, now 64, in his dotage, probably forgot (or was too embarrassed) to mention to the far-Left crowd of youngsters that his party is the party of segregation.  Or as Congressman Jessie Jackson Jr. (D.-Ill.) explained in an interview with Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan in her book Bamboozled:

“There is no doubt that the Democratic Party is the party of the Confederacy, historically, that the Democratic Party’s flag is the Confederate flag.  It was our party’s flag.  That Jefferson Davis was a Democrat, that Stonewall Jackson strongly identified with the Democratic Party, that secessionists in the South saw themselves as Democrats and were Democrats.  That so much of the Democratic Party’s history, since it is our nation’s oldest political party, has its roots in slavery.”

How did the same Jim Crow Democrats who fought tooth-and-nail with segregationists to keep blacks on a virtual plantation become the party that now wins 95% of the black vote?  Republicans passed Civil Rights laws, Democrats wrote revisionist history.

Nevertheless, deception—what all warfare is based on, according to ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, won’t work with independents.  Obama’s reelection strategy of slander and defaming all conservatives and Republicans as racists won’t win him that all-important center.

With a “recovery” missing 8.5 million jobs, unemployment going in the wrong direction and no perceived end to our economic misery in sight, Obama obviously doesn’t see winning a second term without getting down in the gutter to inspire his bulwark leftists.

This latest attempt to stir up Obama’s base by former President Clinton is just the beginning.  Digging up the ghost of Jim Crow Past may have worked before, but the political landscape has changed.  And Americans are seemingly ready to vote their wallets in 2012.

This contest will be a battle between the Democrat Party of higher taxes, more spending and backbiting, and the Republican Party of lower taxes, job creation and solving America’s problems.


Jerome Hudson is a member of Project 21 a sponsorship of the National Center for Public Policy Research. He is the editor of OurLastStand.com and can be reached at Jeromehudsonspeaks.com.

 

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