Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Principles by John Taylor

I read First Principles by John Taylor because the book came recommended by Amazon based on my ratings. While I agree with its premise, it’s a little too wonky for me. I had hoped that politicians were reading and ingesting his book and principles. When I found out that John Taylor was an advisor to Mitt Romney, I felt heartened by the fact that he is apparently making headway into the top political circles. 

His Five First Principles are as follows:
Predictable policy framework
Rule of Law
Strong incentives
Reliance on markets
Clearly limited role for government

He goes on at length with an historical discussion of policies and administrations that have violated these principles and the resultant failure. Interestingly, it’s not always Democrats - bad and Republicans - good. The results directly correlate to an adherence to the first principles no matter which party is in power. 

His solutions include tax reform aimed at reducing our debt, reforming the Fed to follow sound monetary policy, not discretionary policies, end crony capitalism, reform entitlements, and rebuild American economic leadership.

The book details many specific policy prescriptions. I would love it if we could just hand this book to the Congress and say, “Do this!” We’d certainly be on the road to success if we are not already over the hump.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Implosion by Joel Rosenberg

Implosion by Joel Rosenberg makes the case that America will implode one way or another. Our economic and political problems are simply too entrenched to believe they will just go away or work themselves out. Although he presents both the pessimist’s case and the optimist’s case that we have faced tough times before and have always weathered the storm, because we must look at the problems we face spiritually to understand that America will, in fact, implode.

We are living in what the Bible calls, “the last days.” Jesus could return at any time and the rebirth of Israel was a very important sign that the time of the gentiles is coming to an end. However, America is not specifically mentioned in Biblical prophecy in the end times, so then, we have to ask, “Why not?” Joel lists four reasons he believes America may no longer be a world player in future prophetic events: 

1. Economic Implosion
2. Terrorist attack
3. Natural disaster
4. The Rapture

One has only to read Broke by Glenn Beck or any number of other books on the subject to see that America is quite possibly already too far gone economically. Serious economists are now calling for America to default on a debt it cannot possibly repay. Even if a solution is on the horizon, the fact remains that I believe we have very little time left on God’s timeline to repair the damage relying on government over God has caused. So possibility number 1 becomes a real likelihood.

The world is full of nations wanting to destroy America and they smell blood in the water. Americans are war and terror weary and are ready to let down the guard. A major attack by a hostile nation is certainly being planned and certainly possible. Even if we are not militarily attacked directly, we may become too isolationist and withdraw ourselves from a leadership role in the world. So possibility number 2 is also a strong contender.

The third possibility of a natural disaster knocking America off its perch is also a very real scenario. We have seen catastrophic disasters caused by earthquakes, storms, tidal waves and volcanos unleashed all around us in the last few years. Even Hurricane Sandy was said to be the “perfect storm” occurring as it did at the time of a full moon. California is ripe for “the big one” and such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

However, my prayer is that the United States is not a powerful player in the last days because we are decimated by the Rapture. Regardless of what else happens, the Rapture will severely disrupt life in America. Despite our spiritual failings, the Lord has preserved a vibrant remnant of His people. More people will disappear in single moment than have been lost in all our wars and natural disasters combined. The panic and hysteria caused by such a cataclysmic event cannot be understated. 

No matter which scenario plays out and no matter which order they occur, for I believe all to be likely, the fact is is that God is trying to get our attention. He is using economics, terrorism, and natural disasters to remind of us our absolute dependence on Him. The church is largely asleep and God is shouting, “Wake up!”

Our hope then, is a Third Great Awakening. Rosenberg traces the history of the First and Second Great Awakenings. The First led to our Revolution and the devotion of the people to a Biblical worldview. The Second led to a rebirth of our nation as it prepared the country to fight for its very life in the Civil War. Each began in dire times where God had been largely forgotten and the national sins were great. Each followed a period when devotion to God had tapered off considerably from earlier eras. We are ripe for a Third Great Awakening!

But will we experience God’s love and mercy poured out one final time before His return? I don’t know. I pray we will. It starts with me. I must first experience revival in my own spirit before I can participate in bringing it to the nation. 

While all the evidence suggests the implosion of America is imminent, we must pray that God will have mercy once more, though we do not deserve it. Until God tells us, like He told the prophet of old to stop praying for the country, because He has judgement planned, I will pray that the Lord will open the hearts and minds of my fellow Americans to their sin and folly. But first He must reveal my own sin and folly to me. 

Revival is our last, best hope.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Nation of Moochers by Charles Sykes

I read a lot of books, but no book has made me as angry as A Nation of Moochers by Charles Sykes. In fact, I finished the book quite hopeless and feeling quite taken advantage of. I felt like a sucker for not mooching. Apparently everyone else has their hand out!

We, as a nation are becoming addicted to OPM (Other People’s Money). In fact, more and more people are taking from fewer and fewer makers. This appears to be increasing and we may, in fact, be near the tipping point of unsustainability. But in the mean time, we continue to transfer more and more money under the irrational belief that  it is all being taken from someone else. At some point, those who are not moochers will realize they are suckers and simply walk over and join the takers. Then what?

The first kind of moocher Sykes discusses is the dependent class created by feel-good liberals. When the underclass rioted, liberals gave them money. They bought them off to keep them from becoming violent, but instead created a permanent dependent class. And the pay off has skyrocketed. Forget basic needs. Cell phone, flat screen TVs, X boxes are all necessary to avoid “relative deprivation” in which the poor do not have have all the stuff the “rich” have. This very materialistic view of humanity, that stuff is what matters to a good and happy life, has led to dependent, miserable people. We have created incompetent people who learn helplessness. When a disaster strikes, and the government cannot help them (i.e. Katrina) they are ill-equipped to deal with the situation. 

But the moochers are not just low-income Americans feeding at the government trough. Corporate America has pulled up a seat as well. Hollywood, “farmers”, owners of beach-front property, General Electric, Realtors, the U.A.W. green energy firms, Archer Daniels Midland, and countless other business suck up sweetheart deals and tax breaks from the government to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars. 

Moochers are also public sector union workers. Sykes details in a maddening way why it’s good to work for the government. The salaries and benefits eclipse equivalent private sector work. The job security is almost unbreachable, and the pensions are bankrupting other workers who have nothing similar to fall back on. Once again, many of us are taken for suckers to be mooched off of. Interestingly however, when a state like Indiana made union dues voluntary, 95% of all workers opted out. That’s the death knell for unions and a way to introduce sanity into our public sector.

Then he moves on to the bailout moochers. Whether it is big banks, investment firms, or homeowners who bit off way more than they could chew, lots of people lined up for government handouts. Remember, it’s the frugal and prudent who are paying off the losses of the greedy risk-takers. They win, we lose.

At this point, Sykes zeros in on the “Middle Class Suckers.” We are the ones who play by the rules and get punished for it. In fact, in many ways, our country punishes work. He gave example after example of how it would actually make sense NOT to get married or NOT to take a better paying job when government benefits would be reduced. It would almost seem the system is designed to discourage work and self-reliance. Or rather it’s designed to encourage government reliance! Even the middle class of the future are a bunch of suckers. We are already mooching off them and they aren’t even born yet. We are sticking them our $16,000,000,000,000 debt. Suckers.

How to fix it? I don’t think his suggestions are realistic. He basically suggests changing the culture and making a fast cutoff of wealth transfers. No one wants to be the first to back away from the trough. Politicians need to learn to say, “No.” Maybe in an alternative universe, but here on earth, that will never happen. 

My solution is to return to the Constitution. Our government was founded by God-fearing men who knew the propensity for human failings. They recognized from the very beginning the desire of man to mooch. That’s why they severely limited the role of the government. All of the bailouts, crony capitalism, transfer payments, Social Security, Medicare, welfare, tax favoritism, all of it, all the moocher’s tools are unConstitutional. Until we return to self-governance under God, with a firm reliance on Him and not the government, we will continue to mooch and continue to head down the path of implosion. And we who are self-reliant and trust God and make wise decisions consistent with a Biblical worldview will continue to be treated as... suckers.