The question for this week’s blog hop is “What is the greatest story ever told?”
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In terms of literary reference, that would be the Bible. Themes from it can be found in pretty much every Western book published prior to World War I and a majority of them up to World War 2.
That said, the Bible is a huge source. There are literally hundreds of stories in the Bible. I always thought it was cliche for a writer who is a Christian to write stories based directly on the Bible, but a while ago a friend challenged me to do just that. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve found about a half-dozen that I like that haven’t been done yet … as far as I know … so it doesn’t seem so cliche.
If you’ve never heard of Japhthah before, don’t feel bad. He’s a second player in the Book of Judges. You can be excused for missing his story. I was teaching a Sunday School lesson on the Roll Call of Faith from Hebrews and his name appeared. I’d never near of him before, so I had to research him.
The story begins with Israel again forsaking God and failing to serve Him. In a twist of irony, the “gods” Israel was worshipping belonged to the nations that God’s people had conquered in battle because Yahweh had given them the victory. Instead of worshiping Him, Israel is worshipping their “gods”.
To teach them a lesson, God turns the idolatrous Israel over to be slaves of the Philistines and Amonites, which afflict Israel for 18 years. God loves His people enough to discipline them with the goal of bringing them back to Him. Eventually, Israel repents, which is the first time Israel acknowledges her sin in the Book of Judges.
Okay, could be a standard Bible tale right now. Israel drifts away from God, God disciplines Israel, Israel returns to God.
Even though the Israelites confessed their sin, their repentance is short lived. God had granted them victory in the past, but rather than asking Him for a battle strategy, the Israelites seek out a human leader, rejecting Yahweh’s authority over them.
Jephthah was the illegitimate son of Gilead. His half-brothers had driven him out of their community and gone to live in Tob where he became a warlord, surrounded by other aggressive thugs. Jephthah’s brothers are unaware that they rejected the man who would be their savior. God has a good sense of humor. Jephthah turns out to be the most gifted guy in the family. God chooses the weak and foolish people of this world to shame the wise and strong.
As the Israelites face off against the Ammonites, Israel realized they need a general to lead them into war, so they ask Jephthah to be their leader. Jephthah responded: “Why now? You dogged me out, and now that you’re in need, you come crawling back on bended knee?” Jephthah and Israel agree that if he destroys the Ammonites he will become their “head and chief”. In this dialogue, Jephthah shows a lack of faith and manipulates the elders with shrewd diplomacy. He uses his powers of persuasion to assure himself of leadership.
In an attempt to avoid war, Jephthah preaches an eloquent and persuasive sermon to the King of Ammon. Basically, he says:
- God gave Israel the land that they now occupy. Israel has lived on the land for centuries.
- If the Ammonites declare war on Israel, they will be fighting against the Lord, which will result in disaster and defeat.
Jephthah tries to reason with the King of Ammon, but in the end, the King disregards the message.
As the battle between Israel and Ammon begins, Jephthah makes a vow to God that if He delivers the Ammonites into his hand, he will offer the first thing that comes out of his house upon his return as a burnt offering. It was a totally unnecessary vow, given in an attempt to manipulate God. Jephthah is a loud-mouthed braggart who wanted to look good before other men.
They win the battle, so when Jephthah comes home to Mizpah, his only child — his daughter — comes out to greet him. He tears his clothes and mourns that his daughter will now be sacrificed. He sent her away for two months to travel about with friends. Her final fate is not entirely certain. Textual critics believe that she was pledged to God’s service rather than actually killed. The reason they believe this is the emphasis on her virginity. Jephthah sacrificed a lasting legacy. Since there are other places in the Old Testament with a strong opposition to human sacrifice, I tend to believe this version of the story, although I could write it either way and make it believable.
In later years, Jephthah turned on Israel. The tribe of Ephraim is insulted because he didn’t take them to fight the Ammonites, but Jephthah responded that he had called on them, but they didn’t show up. Jephthah and his men fight Ephraim, capture the land, and play a game of Bible Password. The death toll reached 42,000! Jephthah exacts revenge when offended and does not know the true character of the Lord or the content of His law.
I love flawed characters. They are so much more fun than perfect characters. I also like stories where God overcomes the flaws of people. To me, Jephthah is an example of how God uses flawed people to accomplish His purposes and then gives him credit centuries later, even though he remained imperfect.
A friend of mine tells a story from when he was in high school. He was traveling with his father, a cop, on a commuter airline when a hijacker pulled a gun and demanded to be taken to Cuba (that was a thing in the 1970s.) Mark and his father were considering what they could do about this idiot when the stewardess talked him into allowing her to calm the passengers by plying them with alcohol. The hijacker agreed. Convinced that she was on his side, he turned his back on her and Mark watched as the stewardess turned from pouring wine into a passenger’s glass, kicked her shoes off, stepped up onto the edge of a seat and broke the bottle across the back of the hijacker’s head. Bleeding and dazed, he was pretty compliant as Mark and his dad disarmed and handcuffed him so he couldn’t cause anymore trouble. The news tried to paint them as the heroes, but they were clear that the stewardess who barely came up to Mark’s chin was the real hero.
Sometimes the most unlikely people use the most unusual means to protect and preserve others. I think that’s true of the preaching ministry of the local church. The ministry of preaching is conducted by unlikely people through an unusual means to protect and preserve God’s people.
Preaching Jesus Christ is one of the foundational tasks of the church. Few Christians will disagree that preaching is essential, offering up an internal “Amen,” followed immediately by a yawn will slip out, after which they tune out. Most of us don’t consider ourselves preachers, but the sobering reality is that God calls all of us to be preachers of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:14).
In the opening chapter of 1Corinthians, Paul demonstrated that God deliberately chooses foolish and weak methods and messengers to shame those who are wise and strong. Then, Paul used himself as a prime example of foolishness and weakness.
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God. 1Corinthians 2:1-4
Paul began by reminding the Corinthians how he did NOT preach. Paul had not dazzled his listeners with his rhetorical or philosophical prowess. He had simply proclaimed the truth about God.
This was certainly unusual in 1st-century Corinth. In Paul’s day, Greek orators followed certain well-established conventions when they entered a city. Great crowds flocked to hear them because they spoke in the style of traditional Greek rhetoric—with extensive quotations, literary allusions, and a refined style that made them seem brilliant, witty, charming, and entertaining.
Paul utterly rejected this approach to preaching, although he could have done it himself. As a well-educated rabbi, he knew Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin. Trained at the feet of Gamaliel, he could hold his own in any argument. If Paul wanted to show off his intellect, he certainly knew how to do it. But he rejected that approach, instead proclaiming “the testimony of God.” The word “testimony” is a legal word that refers to something one presents in a court of law. Paul was conscious that God is a Judge. He was speaking in the presence of the Judge, presenting His witness (2 Timothy 4:1). He knew what the truth was and announced it boldly. Paul didn’t preach his testimony about God. Instead, he preached God’s testimony about God (“the testimony”). His message came from God, not himself.
For many today “proclaiming” is a bad word. They say, “Don’t preach to me!” Many preachers, afraid of being thought arrogant, avoid talking about preaching. They prefer to think of what they do as “sharing.” They’re making suggestions, offering their opinion. That’s arrogance. My opinions are no better than yours and, frankly, neither are my pastors or even Paul’s. My pastor is not and Paul wasn’t declaring their opinions.They were declaring God’s very words (see 1 Petet 4:11a).
Preaching isn’t just for pastors. You too can preach with authority to people in your life. I was a Sunday School teacher for about 15 years, leading a weekly Bible study for the church’s teenagers. I simply taught through books of the Bible with the goal of seeing those young people grow in Christ. Here in Fairbanks, there is a women’s Bible study during the lunch hour that people from all over town flock to. Whether we believe it or not, there are people who are looking for a man or woman to preach God’s Word with authority. For a while, Brad used to lead a Bible study in his truck at a construction site. You can preach wherever God has placed you to serve Him, if you’re willing to answer His call and proclaim His testimony.
In 2:2, Paul explained why he preached as he did: “For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The word translated “I decided” means Paul made a conscious choice to do things a certain way. He didn’t fall into it by chance or by force of habit. Paul preached as he did because he chose to do it that way. That same choice confronts every Christian messenger. It’s so easy to be sidetracked by good and worthwhile things. We can preach about social issues, the political debates of our day, the crisis in the Middle East, or the decline of the family. We can tackle Bible prophecy or we can major on predestination or the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is a place for all those things, but that place is never at the center. For Paul the choice was clear: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He started there and that became the center of his preaching, every other truth could be arranged around it. But Jesus must be in the middle of all things and all other topics must be properly related to Him.
This verse cannot be taken absolutely, as if the only doctrine Paul taught on was the crucifixion, but refers to its centrality in his preaching. It is not enough for us to say that Jesus was a great moral teacher. He was, but the world largely believes that already. And it is not enough to say that He came down from heaven. Many already believe that. It’s not even enough to say that He was born of a virgin. We must go all the way and declare that God Himself came down to earth in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We must say that when He died on the cross, He paid the ultimate penalty to deliver us from our sins.
We live in an information saturated age where we can follow thousands of channels for secular information, but if you want to know how to be right with God, how to have your sins forgiven, and how to go to heaven, you need the message Paul preached:
Jesus Christ and Him crucified
Note that Paul used the perfect tense here for “crucified” (also 1Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 3:1), which suggests that his focus was not as much on the historical event of the cross but on its ongoing effect for those who believe in Jesus. This event provided us with personal justification, redemption, and sanctification (1:30). The death of Jesus Christ covers everything. Jesus is the one person that fixes everything!
To give people what they need sometimes means you must not give them what they want. Most parents learn this early on. When your daughter is sick she may want another cookie, but what she needs is the medicine the doctor prescribed. If you love her you’ll give her what she needs, not what she wants. The same is true as we speak to others about Christ. They may want to hear other things, but we must tell them about Jesus, for He alone can save them. We have to stay on topic.
Paul used his own personal example again. “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.” Paul did not come to Corinth with any degree of self-confidence, but “in weakness and in fear and with much trembling.”
Corinth was a hard city for a minister. Paul’s reception there had discouraged him to the point that preaching was difficult. He responded to the local hostility in a totally human fashion, which I personally find encouraging. Like Paul, we live and serve in a difficult society. We want to serve Christ and speak up for Him but sometimes it can be downright scary. But God doesn’t give us the option to be silent. Even when we find ourselves tongue-tied or just plain forget what we were supposed to say, we must strive to proclaim the gospel.
Paul was all about the power of the Spirit. In 2:5, Paul explained that the power of God is the word of the cross (1:18). What a striking contrast—the wisdom of men versus the power of God! If you build on one, you cannot have the other. Paul’s concern throughout this passage is self-reliance. It’s not that he didn’t want us to preach to the best of our ability. He just didn’t want us to rely on our own gifts and strength.
To be foolish preachers for Christ, we 21st-century Christians need the following:
Pray for a prepared heart. Ask the Lord to supply you with opportunities to proclaim His Word. Pray for boldness to be willing to walk through an open door (Colossians 4:3). Pray that those you speak to will be receptive.
Meditate on Scripture. As you read God’s Word, ask the Lord to speak to you. Pray for insights into the text. Think about this Scripture continually. Let the Word sit, soak, and simmer in you. This will ensure that you are always prepared (1 Pet 3:15).
Listen to people. When we listen to people’s hurts we can learn a lot. Often the felt needs of people will well up sermons within us. God will actually bring a Scripture passage to mind that we can share.
Focus on the essentials. Don’t get lost in the minutia of theological details. Instead, focus on the testimony of God and Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul says that the power is in the gospel. Make sure that you keep the main thing the main thing.
So one of my socialist (oops, social worker) friends is trying to convince me that the “Resistance” movement against Trump is the same (or at least very similar) to the Tea Party movement eight years ago.
Carlene, aside from the fact that they are both protest movements against the policies of the current president, there is no political, moral or even structural equivalency.
First, the Tea Party was an overwhelmingly peaceful and legal movement. They gathered in parks with permits, waved signs, shouted slogans and then went home to work their jobs. They weren’t firebombing cars, smashing store windows or blocking traffic. Even the famous “racial slur” on the Capitol steps was never proven with any evidence, despite the fact that the TV cameras caught 100s of cellphones recording the event. They also started as a grassroots movement, partially flowing from the 2008 Ron Paul candidacy, but then spontaneously galvanized by the Obamacare fight. It started out without much of a budget and had to play catchup to fund its goals, while the current “Resistance” is heavily funded by existing liberal progressive outfits.
Moreover, the teaparty were regular patriotic Americans who started out arguing against a policy that would increase the size of government astronomically and reduce everybody’s freedom. When their immediate anger had been vented and they realized they couldn’t win by peacefully waving signs, they turned to looking inside the Republican Party to challenge those Republican leaders who had never practiced what they preached … free markets, lower regulation, lower spending, limited and smaller government As they did this, they were physically attacked by Democratic operatives, verbally smeared by the biased media and castigated by the Republican Party leadership as miscreants and idiots who should just go home and be led by their betters.
But they didn’t give up.
The tea party went to political town halls in 2009 and said:
- we want government out of our lives
- we want you politicians to adhere to the Constitution
- we want less government, limited government
- we prefer freedom and liberty
- we’ll take care of ourselves if you get out of our way.
The “resistance” movement, instead, is demanding more government that intrudes more deeply into our lives, which require less adherence to the Constitution and they are absolutely opposed to freedom and liberty. They scream “do your job” and demand Congress:
- to control people
- give us more government
- give us more handouts
- give us more taxes
- give us more regulation
- take from others to give to us, so we don’t have to take care of ourselves
The “Resistance” are resisting the Constitution. They do not seek liberty, but tyranny. They claim they are “the People”, but they are not the people the Constitution was meant to govern. Ben Franklin warned us in 1789 that we had “a republic, if you can keep it.” Ben was prescient. We’re at the moment he predicted. The Constitution was more durable than he probably thought, but it’s about to go down into the dustbin of history if we don’t wake up and resist “the Resistance.”
I don’t think Trump was what most tea partiers wanted when they began their protests in 2009. He’s a strong man who is promising to fix stuff with more government. There are a few things I like about his policies … reducing regulation and installing reformers in his cabinet, but he’s at best an interim relief from the strangling power of the statists. I know when I talk to my tea party friends, many of them thought if they just got an outsider into the White House things would be better. Some of us knew that it would take more … years of education, thousands of conversations, and no rest for our minds. We cannot become complacent now. This is just the first step on a very long and arduous journey.
Let’s not forget that the Republican Party still has a lot of progressives dug into the structure. These are the weak links who want to go along to get along, who have no spine to resist the tactics of the far left who demand they “give the people what they want. Recent history should have shown us that some Republicans have an ideology not far removed from the goals of the Left.
Have you asked yourselves what the resistance movement is protesting? It’s sort of hard to pin it down, right. The marches have included thousands of different issues, resembling uncoordinated mobs with every cause represented from transgender rights to population control and environmental extremists. They are protesting America as founded under the Constitution. How do I know that? They argue the Constitutional election results should be set aside to conform to the media fantasy of a national popular election that has never existed. They protest biological truth and individuality. They protest private property and capitalism. They argue for socialism and communism and the institution of fascism.
Fascism, among other things, involves government control of private enterprise and abrogation of individualism into the collective and that’s what they’re arguing for. That’s the very thing the tea party argued against. If you go back and study it, you find the tea party mobilized to stop crony capitalism … to stop government from picking private business winners and losers. That’s why they objected to the “stimulus”, the unAffordable unCare Act and green-energy examples like Solydra. All these are crony-capitalist ventures.
I think a lot of tea partiers lost their way during the Trump campaign. They didn’t want to admit that he agrees with the left-wing belief that government should pick the winners and losers. No, we shouldn’t join the protests in the streets, but yes, we cannot be complacent. We need to keep going in the direction that we started.Take a deep breath, fellow
Take a deep breath, fellow tea partiers. Face the fact that pulling things back into the Republican wheelhouse is just one partially successful battle. There’s still a long way before the real war is won. I’m a nonpartisan, so I see that the Republican party is not going to be the salvation of the country. Neither is Donald Trump. We the People are the sovereigns according to the Constitution. Those tea partiers must come back to where we stood in 2009 and face the fact that there must be a stark difference between us and “the Resistance.” Their goal is to drag the country back further to the left as Obama attempted to. Our goal is to return to the Constitutional Republic we were founded to be. Understand that the spineless Republicans will cause more damage to the republic if we allow it. Personally, I’m going to continue to vote for Libertarians in an attempt to hand the revival over to people who actually understand the goal.
So what do we do over the next three years until the next presidential race gets underway?
Don’t sit down to rest. Yeah, I know, it’s been a tough eight years and we’re happy to see some movement in the right direction. It’s not over yet. Trump likes government. He’s not the savior you’re looking for … although I find him very entertaining, in a soft horror movie kind of way. Republicans are in charge of 32 states and in partial control of 37. That’s good. We really could thank Barack Obama’s tyranny and tea party activism for that. While Democrats gleefully gloated about how they were the “new majority” in the country that could not be beaten, Republicans quietly took over the states and ignited a conservative grass fire. We’ve had a highly successful eight years while the Democrats gloated. We should learn from that. Don’t gloat! This is a move in the right direction, but the battle continues. We have to plan our next steps.
Our first step starts with a recognition that there is a vast difference between us and “the Resistance” and that the Republicans in Congress are spineless and easily hijacked because they too believe in big and growing government that will continue to damage the republic if we allow it.
Communism is the logical conclusion of socialism as represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The Democratic Party is this weekend deciding if that will be their mainstream for the future. Socialism hasn’t really worked out well for us. Social Security is bankrupt. Medicare isn’t far behind. The federal government is $21 trillion in debt. But the socialists want more. The tea party protests managed to stop Congressional Republicans from expanding Medicaid, but Republicans in several states did it anyway, which may make it impossible to repeal Obamacare, forcing Congress to replace it with something that will be just as liberty-killing, but will have a less hateful name.
We need to understand that this is a war for the direction of this nation. It won’t be won with one election and probably not with a dozen. We can’t sit and wait while the “Resistance” claim they are the same as the tea party. They’re trying to make a case that they should sweep Congress in the midterms in 2018. The “Resistance” is not the same as the “Tea Party”. They are resisting the Constitutional Republic of America. We can’t allow them to continue to claim equivalency. We need to make it clear in intelligent and respectful tones that “the Resistance” is out to destroy America as we know it.
Budget deficits are often in the media spotlight. The budget deficit is defined as the difference between what the government spends and what the government collects. When the government spends more than it collects, a budget deficit exists. When the government collects more than it spends, a budget surplus emerges.
The conventional view is that one can show that budget deficits reduce national saving. National saving is typically defined as the sum of private saving (the after-tax income that households save rather than consume) and public saving. When the government runs a budget deficit, public saving is negative, which reduces national saving below private saving.
By generating surpluses, so it would appear, the government creates real wealth, thereby strengthening the economy’s fundamentals. This argument would be correct if government activities were of a wealth-generating nature.
Government Spending Doesn’t Create Wealth
This is, however, not the case. Government activities are confined to the redistribution of real wealth from wealth generators to wealth consumers. Government activities result in taking wealth from one person and channeling it to another.
Various impressive projects that the government undertakes also fall into the category of wealth redistribution. The fact that the private sector didn’t undertake these projects indicates that they are low on the priority list of consumers.
Given the state of the pool of real wealth the implementation of these projects will undermine the well-being of individuals since they will be introduced at the expense of projects that are higher on the priority list of consumers.
Let us assume that the government decides to build a pyramid that most people regard as low priority. The people who will be employed on this project must be given access to various goods and services to sustain their life and well-beings.
Since the government is not a wealth producer it would have to impose taxes on wealth producers (those individuals who produce goods and services in accordance with consumers’ most important priorities) in order to support the building of a pyramid.
Whenever wealth producers exchange their products with each other, the exchange is voluntary. Every producer exchanges goods in his possession for goods that he believes will raise his living standard.
The crux therefore is that the exchange or the trade must be free and thus reflective of individual’s priorities. Government taxes are, however, of a coercive nature: they force producers to part with their wealth in exchange for an unwanted pyramid. This implies that producers are forced to exchange more for less, and obviously this impairs their well-being.
The more that pyramid-building that is undertaken by the government the more real wealth is taken away from wealth producers. We can thus infer that the level of tax, i.e. real wealth, taken from the private sector is directly determined by the size of government activities.
Observe that by being a wealth consumer, the government cannot contribute to savings and to the pool of real wealth. Moreover, if government activities could have generated wealth then they would have been self-funded and would not have required any support from other wealth generators. If this were otherwise then the issue of taxes would never arise.
The Effects of Surpluses on Inflation and the Money Supply
The essence of our previous analysis is not altered by the introduction of money. In the money economy the government will tax (take money from wealth generators) and disburse the received money to various individuals that are employed directly or indirectly by the government.
This money will give these individuals access to the pool of real wealth that is the total stock of goods and services. Government-employed individuals are now able to exchange the taxed money for various goods and services that are required to improve their lives.
What then is the meaning of a budget surplus in a money economy? It basically means that the government’s inflow of money exceeds its expenditure of money. The budget surplus here is just a monetary surplus. The emergence of a surplus produces the same effect as any tight monetary policy.
On this Ludwig von Mises wrote,
Now, restriction of government expenditure may be certainly a good thing. But it does not provide the funds a government needs for a later expansion of its expenditure. An individual may conduct his affairs in this way. He may accumulate savings when his income is high and spend them later when his income drops. But it is different with a nation or all nations together. The treasury may hoard a part of the lavish revenue from taxes, which flows into the public exchequer as a result of the boom. As far and as long as it withholds these funds from circulation, its policy is really deflationary and contra-cyclical and may to this extent weaken the boom created by credit expansion. But when these funds are spent again, they alter the money relation and create a cash-induced tendency toward a drop in the monetary unit’s purchasing power. By no means can these funds provide the capital goods required for the execution of the shelved public works.
Government Spending — Not Surpluses and Deficits — Is What Matters Most
Thinking that government spending is a wealth generator in itself, some will argue that the proper response to a government surplus shows there is no need to reduce spending, and that taxes should simply be reduced. But, a budget surplus — i.e. a monetary surplus — does not “make room” for lower taxes. Only if real government outlays are curtailed (i.e. only when the government cuts the number of pyramids it plans to build) can tax effectively be lowered. Lower government outlays imply that wealth generators will now have a larger portion of the pool of real wealth at their disposal.
On the other hand, if government outlays continue to increase, notwithstanding budget surpluses, no effective tax reduction is possible; the share of the pool of real wealth at the disposal of wealth producers will diminish.
For example, if government outlays are $3 trillion and the government revenue is $2 trillion then the government will have a deficit of $1 trillion. Since government outlays have to be funded this means that the government would have to secure some other sources of funding such as borrowing, printing money or new forms of taxes. The government will employ all sorts of means to obtain resources from wealth generators to support its activities.
What matters here is that government outlays are $3 trillion, not that the deficit is $1 trillion. For instance, if government revenue on account of higher taxes were $3 trillion then we would have a balanced budget. But would this alter the fact that the government still takes $3 trillion of resources from wealth generators?
We Must Build Wealth Before We Can Spend It
The critics of a smaller government will react that the private sector cannot be trusted to build up and enhance the nation’s infrastructure. For instance, the US urgently requires the building and upgrading of bridges and roads.
There is no doubt that this is the case. However, can Americans afford the improvement of the infrastructure? The arbiter here should be the free market where individuals, by buying or abstaining from buying, decide on the type of infrastructure that is going to emerge.
If the size of the pool of real wealth is not adequate to afford better infrastructure then time is needed to accumulate real wealth to be able to secure better infrastructure. The build-up of the pool of real wealth cannot be made faster by raising government outlays. As we have seen, an increase in government spending will only weaken the pool of real wealth.
The government can force various non-market chosen projects. The government, however, cannot make these projects viable. As time goes by the burden that these projects will impose on the economy through higher ongoing levels of taxes is going to undermine the well-being of individuals and will make these projects even more of a burden.
Spending Reductions Must Come With Tax Cuts
What about the lowering of taxes on businesses – surely this will give a boost to capital investment and strengthen the process of real wealth formation? This is what President Trump is being rumored to be considering. As long as this lowering of taxes is not matched by a reduction in government spending this will encourage a misallocation of capital.
The emerging budget deficit is going to be funded either by borrowings or by monetary pumping. Obviously, this amounts to the diversion of real wealth from wealth generating activities to non-wealth generating activities. Various capital projects that emerge on the back of such government policy are likely to be the equivalent of useless pyramids.
We have seen that one of the ways of securing the necessary funds by the government is by means of borrowing. But how can this be?
A borrower must be a wealth generator in order to be able to repay the principal loan plus interest. This is, however, not the case as far as the government is concerned, for government is not a wealth generator – it only consumes wealth.
So how then can the government as a borrower, producing no real wealth, ever repay its debt? The only way it can do this is by borrowing again from the same lender – the wealth-generating private sector. It amounts to a process whereby government borrows from you in order to repay you.
We can conclude that the only meaningful contribution the government can make to the pool of real wealth, and hence people’s living standards, is by focusing on a reduction in real outlays – not whether there is a surplus or a deficit. This in turn means the government must remove itself from business activities and permit wealth generators to get on with the business of wealth generation.
Source: Why Government Spending Matters More than the Size of the Deficit
The Trump administration blocked some liberal media outlets from a press conference and the blocked ones are freaking out as if this has never happened before. Apparently, they’ve forgotten that the Obama administration routinely blocked access of some media outlets.
Note these articles are dated 2013 and 2014. The both center on the opacity — the lack of transparency — of the Obama administration.
Trump is incredibly transparent. Just read his tweets — though I wouldn’t believe everything he tweets. If you don’t feel him tweaking your strings, you’re really not that sensitive. Reporters from some media outlets don’t like that they are no longer the gatekeepers of information. They don’t get to manipulate the message and put their own spin on it and then claim that anyone else with another take on the message is not a legitimate news source.
The Trump administration has moved the liberal media’s cheese and they’re so busy protesting that it’s been moved that they don’t seem to be seeking where it might have gone.
May I make a suggestion? Try being balanced. Instead of presenting your opinions and the half of the facts you like and screeching about how the sky is falling, try presenting the entire story, leaving your opinion at the door and digging for some actual evidence rather than just dealing in half-truths.
I think if you did that for six months or a year, you might get your press passes back.
Someone on social media said I had “fascist leanings” a few days ago, which sort of made me laugh, but then I sobered up and realized that he really meant the use of the word, but he was using the term completely incorrectly.
It’s sort of remarkable that we use that term “fascism” all the time these days, but we have no idea what it means. Yes, this term is omnipresent these days, shouted by furious young people on college campuses, on the floor of the Irish Senate, and used just about daily at the Huffington Post. If we’re going to use a word that much and use it against people on social media I think we really ought to know what it means.
George Orwell wrote a landmark 1944 essay “What is Fascism?” lamenting the transformation of fascism as a system of government and economics into little more than a swear word.
“You will find that there is almost no set of people- certainly no political party or organized body of any kind- which has not been denounced as Fascist during the past ten years.”
You hear the word, but it really isn’t used to mean a specific system of government or economics. It’s more of a way of saying we disagree with whatever the other person is saying. It’s like shouting “racist” at anyone who disagreed, no matter how briefly, with President Obama or like little kids screaming “doodoohead” on the playground.
When Orwell wrote his essay in 1944, much of the free world had declared war against fascism, but even then, most people didn’t have a firm definition of who or what was fascist. Why?
Primarily because, then as today, the definition of fascism has been perverted to suit the agenda of the moment to such an extent that Orwell wrote,
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies something not desirable.
But fascism had a meaning when it was first used. Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in Italy and invented the word himself. Mussolini was THE fascist, and his essay, the Doctrine of Fascism, lays the definition out. Here is one excerpt:
“Anti-individualistic, the Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with those of the State.”
In other words, individualists (for example libertarians with anarchist leanings) are not fascists because we strenuously oppose collectivism and the State, things THE Fascist strongly believed in.
Historian Martin Kitchen explains that fascist totalitarianism incorporates six main features:
- an over-reaching ideology
- a single political party
- a state terror apparatus
- a government-controlled media
- a monopoly on arms
- a centrally-directed economy
Anyone who has read my blog knows that I don’t hold with any of those concepts.
So, how did it come to mean nothing? Yes, the answer is found in history.
The American progressives of the 1920s and 30s liked fascism a lot! Rexford Guy Tugwell, one of the chief architects of the New Deal (which is the foundation of modern “liberalism”) remarked that fascism, “[is] the cleanest, neatest most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen. It makes me envious.” In fact, at the time the New Deal was underway, the radical left thought this was America’s own experiment with fascism and they were quite excited about it. This was going to remake their world as they though it should be. Go back up to those six features. American progressives had read Mussolini’s essay and they subscribed to its ideals. We have to remember that Mussolini hadn’t yet gained a reputation as a butcher, so “for the radicals of the twenties the whiff from Italy carried no foul ideological order.” (John Patrick Diggins). It just seemed like the best way to put the “right people” in control of society.
Once Mussolini and Hitler’s reputations began to change, fascism’s American admirers worried for their own reputation, so they began cursing anyone on their political right with the questionable label of “fascist”. That mostly worked. Historian John Lukacs remarks “the overall application of ‘fascism’ to all right-wing, and strongly anti-communist parties and practices and phenomena was very useful for international communist and left-wing rhetoric and practice.” Since communism has mostly disappeared from the world state in the last 20 years, today’s progressives have shifted their animosity to American conservatives and brand anyone who doesn’t agree with them as a “fascist” because this sometimes results in those who disagree with them being too flummoxed to answer their foolish arguments.
The attempts to liken American conservatives to fascists, then and now, have gone to some absurd lengths. Economic liberty is even deplored as fascist, with Marxist ideologues like Leon Trotsky insisting that capitalism is the same thing as fascism and that Marxism must stand opposed to it.
Although the outward trappings of Communism have mostly faded, it really isn’t historically accurate to ignore the deep influence marxism has had on today’s liberals.
A more modern example comes from Brian W. Kulik:
“We live in a democracy, after all, and is that not the very antithesis of fascism? But even democracy is not without its limitations. We may have a choice of what car to buy and what designer clothes to purchase, but we have little choice but to be a consumer.”
To a committed Marxist-influenced social liberal, even freedom is fascist because it is protected by the law. The Doctrine of Fascism, however, clarifies itself on the issue, “It is not the people who make the state but the state that makes the people.” The free market does not make that claim. In fact, it’s entirely opposed to such a sentiment.
Of course, democracy is not free market capitalism, as Kulik seems to suggest. Hitler’s rise was completely democratic, but Hitler’s Germany was an engine of national socialism, not capitalism.
What the left refuses to talk about is that corporatism and capitalism are not the same thing. Corporations (called corporazioni, in fascist Italy) weren’t and still aren’t creations of individuals. In Mussolini’s Italy, they were creations of the fascist state itself. Mussolini wanted a “return to the guilds.” He opposed private companies. The Doctrine of Fascism says:
“We are, in other words, a state which controls all forces acting in nature. We control political forces, we control moral forces, we control economic forces, therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state.”
There is no escaping the historical fondness progressive economists have had for fascism. Mussolini liked them a lot too:
“Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (1926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”
Leftists who are not focused on economics simply have a tendency to conflate America’s right, or La Pen’s National Front, or British conservatives, with what was once, in 1933, known as “the right,” simply because they bear the same moniker. This is an illusory correlation akin to thinking today’s liberals have something in common with the classical liberals of early America. Co-opting a title or having it pinned on you doesn’t mean you share the same values.
Fascism shares an extricable relationship with statism, which could also be called “collectivism”, so it cannot rightfully be applied to people who focus on reducing state interventions in favor of individual liberty. Seeing the benefits of capitalism is not the same thing as being a fascist.
It is regrettable then that the word “fascism” continues to be applied to those who oppose fascist systems like American Republicans and conservative. If you did a bit, you find the real meaning and learn that the American right, particularly libertarians, are the antithesis of fascists.
The following was printed in the newspaper “
The Nation” on August 9, 1900. Special thanks to the Molinari Institute for preserving this essay.
Found on Foundation of Economic Education (FEE.org)
As the nineteenth century draws to its close it is impossible not to contrast the political ideals now dominant with those of the preceding era. It was the rights of man which engaged the attention of the political thinkers of the eighteenth century. The world had suffered so much misery from the results of dynastic ambitions and jealousies, the masses of mankind were everywhere so burdened by the exactions of the superior classes, as to bring about a universal revulsion against the principle of authority. Government, it was plainly seen, had become the vehicle of oppression; and the methods by which it could be subordinated to the needs of individual development, and could be made to foster liberty rather than to suppress it, were the favorite study of the most enlightened philosophers. In opposition to the theory of divine right, whether of kings or demagogues, the doctrine of natural rights was set up. Humanity was exalted above human institutions, man was held superior to the State, and universal brotherhood supplanted the ideals of national power and glory.
These eighteenth-century ideas were the soil in which modern Liberalism flourished. Under their influence the demand for Constitutional Government arose. Rulers were to be the servants of the people, and were to be restrained and held in check by bills of rights and fundamental laws which defined the liberties proved by experience to be most important and vulnerable. Hence arose the demands for Constitutional reform in all the countries of Europe; abortive and unsuccessful in certain respects, but frightening despots into a semblance of regard for human liberty, and into practical concessions which at least curbed despotic authority. Republics were established and Constitutions were ordained. The revolutions of 1848 proved the power of the spirit of Liberalism, and where despotism reasserted itself, it did so with fear and trembling.
To the principles and precepts of Liberalism the prodigious material progress of the age was largely due. Freed from the vexatious meddling of governments, men devoted themselves to their natural task, the bettering of their condition, with the wonderful results which surround us. But it now seems that its material comfort has blinded the eyes of the present generation to the cause which made it possible. In the politics of the world, Liberalism is a declining, almost a defunct force. The condition of the Liberal party in England is indeed parlous. There is actually talk of a organizing a Liberal-Imperialist party; a combination of repugnant tendencies and theories as impossible as that of fire and water. On the other hand, there is a faction of so-called Liberals who so little understand their traditions as to make common cause with the Socialists. Only a remnant, old men for the most part, still uphold the Liberal doctrine, and when they are gone, it will have no champions.
True Liberalism has never been understood by the masses of the French people; and while it has no more consistent and enlightened defenders than the select group of orthodox economists that still reverence the principles of Turgot and Say, there is no longer even a Liberal faction in the Chamber. Much the same is true of Spain, of Italy, and of Austria, while the present condition of Liberalism in Germany is in painful contrast with what it was less than a generation ago.
In our country recent events show how much ground has been lost. The Declaration of Independence no longer arouses enthusiasm; it is an embarrassing instrument which requires to be explained away. The Constitution is said to be “outgrown”; and at all events the rights which it guarantees must be carefully reserved to our own citizens, and not allowed to human beings over whom we have purchased sovereignty. The great party which boasted that it had secured for the negro the rights of humanity and of citizenship, now listens in silence to the proclamation of white supremacy and makes no protest against the nullifications of the Fifteenth Amendment. Its mouth is closed, for it has become “patriot only in pernicious toils,” and the present boasts of this “champion of human kind” are “To mix with Kings in the low lust of sway, Yell in the hunt, and share the murderous prey; To insult the shrine of Liberty with spoils From freemen torn, to tempt and to betray.”
Nationalism in the sense of national greed has supplanted Liberalism. It is an old foe under a new name. By making the aggrandizement of a particular nation a higher end than the welfare of mankind, it has sophisticated the moral sense of Christendom. Aristotle justified slavery, because Barbarians were “naturally” inferior to Greeks, and we have gone back to his philosophy. We hear no more of natural rights, but of inferior races, whose part it is to submit to the government of those whom God has made their superiors. The old fallacy of divine right has once more asserted its ruinous power, and before it is again repudiated there must be international struggles on a terrific scale.
At home all criticism on the foreign policy of our rulers is denounced as unpatriotic. They must not be changed, for the national policy must be continuous. Abroad, the rulers of every country must hasten to every scene of international plunder, that they may secure their share. To succeed in these predatory expeditions the restraints on parliamentary, even of party, government must be cast aside. The Czar of Russia and the Emperor of Germany have a free hand in China; they are not hampered by constitutions or by representatives of the common people. Lord Salisbury is more embarrassed, and the President of the United States is, according to our Constitution, helpless without the support of Congress. That is what our Imperialists mean by saying that we have outgrown the Constitution.
I suspect Godkin would send a copy of this essay to the current editor of “The Nation” were he alive today. Lela