Monthly Archives: September 2010

Obama and Academic Freedom

This is a piece by Cal Thomas from 9/24/10. Food for thought.

“Raise your hand if you believe government has too little involvement in our lives. Put down your hands, members of the Obama administration.

During a previous political uprising in the 1980s, academic institutions managed to fend off conservative attacks on some of the subjects taught on their campuses — from “peace studies” to kinky sexual practices, to bad history — with cries of “academic freedom.” Where are those cries now that the federal government is on the verge of regulating the content of subject matter on college campuses and changing the way these institutions are accredited?

According to the Centennial Institute, http://www.ccu.edu/centennial/, a proposed new rule by the U.S. Department of Education “would place private colleges and universities under the ultimate control of state governments, rather than independent accrediting agencies. The notice of proposed rule-making was posted in the Federal Register on June 18 for a public comment period ending Aug. 2. It could take effect as soon as November.”
Former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, wrote a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on July 30. In it, he warned of an “all-out politicization of American higher education, endangering academic freedom, due process and First Amendment rights.”

The American Council on Education, in a letter of its own, warned of “heavy compliance burdens” and “regulations that appear to overrule state law.”

Armstrong says the attempt by the government to regulate curricula “is part of an unprecedented power grab in which government has already moved to dominate such industries as automobiles, energy, health care, banking, home loans and student loans — and now seeks dominance over the colleges and universities themselves.”

Two Colorado Republican congressmen, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman, have also sent letters to DOE in which they noted the proposed ruling would undermine “long-established independent accrediting agencies” (Lamborn) and potentially involve the government “in setting course requirements, quality measures, faculty qualifications and various mandates about how and what to teach.” (Coffman).

Imagine the outcry if someone identified with the tea party movement had made similar demands of a Republican administration concerning what is taught at Harvard or UC Berkeley. There would be protests in the quads and a lawsuit by the ACLU.

Conservatives have long believed that most universities are part of an “iron triangle” (along with big media and government) that keeps liberals and secularists in power. Controlling what is taught in schools, rather than encouraging true academic freedom, has been a successful strategy for shaping — some would say twisting — young minds and directing them in accordance with what statists and “living constitution” advocates believe.

If imposing outside agendas — from textbook content to course selection — is supposedly bad when conservatives do it (mostly in reaction to the liberal assault on any ideas that conflict with theirs), why is it not equally onerous when liberals push for state control and the dictation of course content at private colleges and universities?

It’s going to take more than one college president and two congressmen writing a letter to the secretary of education about this latest attempted government power grab. More members of Congress, other college presidents and newspaper editorialists must express opposition to this attack on the right of educators to teach what they believe to be essential courses that will result in a properly educated student who is fit for the real world.

This should not be confused with the liberal-secularist view of the world, which is what those behind this regulation apparently want to impose on students and their parents who, in many cases, are footing the bill and too often contributing to the destruction of young minds.”

Cal Thomas is a columnist with Tribune Media Services. His e-mail address is tmseditors@tribune.com.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20100924/OPINION04/309240012

This Fall on the Campus of New Geneva:
Biblical Economics 101, Christian Philosophy of Music, Christian History and Philosophy of Art From Creation to the 1400s. Look for Biblical Economics 101 via correspondence in the Spring.

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The Burning of Books, Pluralism, and Idolatry

The following post is from Prof. Steve Halbrook. Professor Halbrook is a teacher of Theonomy and Christian Apologetics at New Geneva among other courses he teaches. He is also a scholar of Biblical Law and is about to release his first major publication, (Watch for it here)

Before diving into his piece I wanted to make a simple comment about the Qur’an book burning controversy of which Professor Halbrook mentions. I believe that the reason for the Islamic response to either the burning of the Quran or the irreverent pictures of Mohammad reveals to us a deeper problem. For to be so violently offended at the burning of a book, is it not evident of the idolizing of the book? A book is merely ink and paper. It is not the actual ideology itself, but merely a representation of that ideology.

When it comes to the Holy Scriptures of the One True God, let the pagan and the infidel burn them to their hearts content. They cannot destroy the doctrine contained therein. The Word of God will never be destroyed. Christians should never bow to the ink and paper, but rather to the Theological tenants the ink and paper communicate.

Christians should take note that they do not idolize the ink and paper. As for those who do, in this case the Muslim world, are they not showing themselves as idolaters? Furthermore, why are they so incensed over the physical destruction of their ink and paper? Are they so afraid that if the ink and the paper cease to exist so too will their doctrine? Mohammad never promised that his the ‘world may pass away but his words will never pass away’. That promise is reserved for the Truth, and can be spoken only by the Lord Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, Who is Truth Himself.

I offer this as food for thought. In the meanwhile you may be interested in William J. Federer’s new book, “What Every American Needs to Know About the Qur’an”. I heard him speak yesterday after noon and was absolutely blown away. I do not say this lightly. It was revelational. See the link at the end of this post for more information.

Christos Kurious…Christ IS the KING.

Professor S. Halbrook Writes:

“Regardless of the motives of the pastor who recently made headlines for announcing a Qur’an book-burning, only a wicked nation would take offense at burning Qur’ans—or, for that matter, any other book promoting a non-Christian (and thereby anti-Christian) religion.

God hates non-Christian religions, and so should we. Unfortunately, the following characterizes the attitude of many professing Christians:

“They are horrified by accounts of serial murder and child molestation, but relatively nonchalant when it comes to non-Christian religions and philosophies. They are greatly distressed over acts of racism and fraud, and some even weep over deaths caused by diseases and accidents as reported by the news, but they display no such reaction when someone introduces himself as a Mormon, when someone announces that she will marry a Muslim, or when someone uses the name of God with irreverence. Their morality is man-centered instead of God-centered, but biblical morality is centered on God, with right worship toward God as the foundation and prerequisite for right treatment toward man.”

Vincent Cheung, Presuppositional Confrontations (Boston, MA: Vincent Chueng, 2010), p. 17.

Christians are to have a high view of the First Table of the Law (commandments 1-4). They should naturally take offense at such things as idolatry, non-Christian “holy” books, irreverent use of God’s name, and Sabbath-breaking.

As such true Christians long for a day when all the non-Christian symbols are demolished and Jesus Christ is recognized as Lord of lords and King of kings.

(Before going further we must be clear that we are not calling on Christians to destroy books, symbols, or anything else that belongs to non-Christians. False religions are not to be respected, but private property rights are [see the Eighth Commandment]. Moreover, even when it involves their own private property, Christians must be discerning as to the extent they outwardly express their intolerance of false religions. We don’t recommend walking up to a group of Muslims in Saudi Arabia and burning a Qur’an in front of them.)

The desire for the destruction of non-Christian symbols is offensive to pluralistic humanists. To them, all religions should be treated equally. But this is irrational, hypocritical, and blasphemous.

First, it is irrational and hypocritical because religious pluralism is self-refuting:

-Religious pluralism says we should be “tolerationists.” But the tolerationist is intolerant towards the intolerant.

-Religious pluralism says that “one group cannot impose its views on others.” But this itself is an imposition. It imposes the view on others that says views shouldn’t be imposed on others.

-Religious pluralism says we should inclusivisitic. But inclusivism, by the nature of the case, is exclusivistic of exclusivists.

Second, religious pluralism is blasphemous because it considers all religions equal. The First Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) As such Scripture says, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)

God is not glorified by deity egalitarianism, the philosophy presupposed by religious pluralism, which says that society, including civil government, should treat all religions equally.

To consider false gods—which are worthless (Psalm 96:5), a snare (Psalm 106:36), and are conceived by fools (Romans 1:21-23)—on a par with God is utter blasphemy. (Religious pluralism, by the way, is simply a euphemism for polytheism, as religious pluralism holds to the polytheistic philosophy of “many gods, religions, and moralities.”)

Christians are being biblical when they are intolerant of non-Christian religions. While they should be respectful to non-Christians on a social level, non-Christian religions should be disdained. This should come naturally; thus Paul’s reaction in Athens:

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16)

Thus Christians will naturally be intolerant of religious pluralism. Consider what Christians did while living in a society dominated by paganism:

“Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” (Acts 19:18-20)

Notice how it ends: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” God’s word spreads not while Christians appease false religions, but when they are intolerant of them.”

Read Halbrooks Post also At: http://theonomyresources.blogspot.com/2010/09/on-burning-books-and-demolishing-idols.html

William Federer’s Book: http://www.AmericanMinute.com
wfederer@gmail.com


The European Crisis: The Next Phase

I have been subscribing to Dr. Gary North’s Email Newsletters since 1998. I have never been disappointed, nor have I ever been misled. For those of you who do not know of Dr. North’s expertise, it is in the area of Biblical Economics. He is very knowledgeable. But it is not his knowledge that makes him so unique; it is his ability to apply that knowledge to the real world.

For anyone that is interested in what God is doing, in light of His divine chastisement and judgment upon many nations in the economic realm, you must read North’s work. A reading of North will also assist you in the necessary preparations you need to make in light of the reality of what lies ahead.

The following posting is the Sept 14th issue of his “Reality Check” newsletter. Don’t beleive the media when they tell you we are coming out of a recession – the truth is; it has only just begun.
“The European banks are still in deep trouble. They are being protected only by the ability of the politicians of the PIIGS to persuade the public that they will be able to maintain interest payments in the near term.

Investors care nothing about long-term prospects. They assume that they can sell bad bonds to the next group of naive investors. Each group assumes that those who follow will be suckers. They regard themselves as sophisticated investors who know what will happen and who will be able to unload the bonds on really stupid investors.This is known historically as greater-fool investing. It always prevails in the final stages of a bubble.

Last May, I wrote of the crisis in Greek government financing that we should not expect much from the Prime Minister’s assurances that there would be tight austerity measures imposed on the nation, especially its government sector. In an article titled, “PIIGS Win. Bankers Win. Voters Lose,” I wrote:

As for cutbacks in Greek spending, ho, ho, ho. As for austerity in Southern Europe, ha, ha, ha. Once you owe the banks up north a trillion dollars, you will get the politicians up north to sell more debt, so that you can meet your interest payments to their banks, and then sell more debt at low rates.

Debt will rise. That is the inescapable reality of moral hazard. Bank profits will go on, because bank losses are transferred to sovereign governments. Nothing has changed. The same old system rolls on.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north842.html

On September 10, Greek trade unions began organizing another wave of riots in preparation for a speech by the Prime Minister. On September 11, the riots began — a Saturday. One British source recorded that at least 20,000 demonstrators marched to the conference center where the PM was giving his speech. The police used tear gas against the crowd.

The Prime Minister announced a reduction in the tax rate for businesses from 24% to 20%. He also promised to privatize the electricity company.

http://bit.ly/GreekRiotsSeptember

The country must reduce its deficit from almost 14% of GDP in 2009 to 8% this year. This, to put it bluntly, is impossible. Everyone knows it’s impossible. Nevertheless, he announced: “I have every confidence that, by the end of the year . . . we will have achieved the 40% reduction of deficit.”

“The [shortfall] in revenues is about 1.5 billion euros,” he said. “But with the pace at which we are advancing and with the measures we have already taken, we are confident we will reach the goal we have set for 2010.”

Budget figures released on Friday suggest that, despite various measures taken by authorities, tax revenues increased by only 3.3% in the eight months to August, well behind the 13.7% target for this year. On the positive side, however, public spending for that period fell by 12%, more than double the 5.8% target for end-2010.

He also assured his listeners that there is no need for further austerity measures. He also assured them that the measures already taken will produce a positive response from Western lenders.

http://bit.ly/NoAusterity

Not if they have read Michael Lewis’s article in “Vanity Fair” (Oct. 1), “Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds.”

PHONY FIGURES

Lewis became famous for his book on Wall Street, “Liar’s Poker.” His book, “The Blind Side,” told the story of a Memphis youth who was taken in by a Christian family, and from there made it into the National Football League. The movie pulled in a quarter of a billion dollars in American theaters, and won Sandra Bullock an Oscar.
Now he goes after Greek government finances. It is a story like nothing I have ever read about chicanery.

The are 11 million people in Greece. The nation has run up an operational deficit of $400 billion, plus a government pension fund obligation of $800 billion. That’s $1.2 trillion. This, for a nation with a population smaller than Los Angeles. This is a debt of $250,000 for every Greek.

“Our people went in and couldn’t believe what they found,” a senior I.M.F. official told me, not long after he’d returned from the I.M.F.’s first Greek mission. “The way they were keeping track of their finances — they knew how much they had agreed to spend, but no one was keeping track of what he had actually spent. It wasn’t even what you would call an emerging economy. It was a Third World country.”

This is a nation that entered the European Currency Union as an equal a decade ago. This means that banks around the world have bought the bonds of a nation that cannot possibly repay the loans.
This week, an IMF commission is in Greece to look over the books. There seems to be no concern in international markets. His summary of the degree of mismanagement and universal corruption leaves the reader stunned.

The national railroad system generates revenues of 100 million euros. Its wage bill is 400 million, plus 300 million in other expenses. The average railway employee earns 65,000 euros a year.

The public school system is among the worst in Europe, but it employs four times as many teachers per student as Finland, the nation with the best system.

Then there is retirement. For arduous occupations, the retirement age is 55 for men; it is 50 for women. “As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than 600 Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, waiters, musicians, and on and on and on.”

Then there is the tax collection system. Almost no self-employed worker pays income taxes. Physicians accept cash only. Two-thirds of them report only 12,000 euros per year, on which no taxes are owed. One whistle-blower told Lewis that if the law were enforced, every physician in Greece would go to jail.
The easiest way to launder cash was to buy real estate. Conveniently for the black market — and alone among European countries — Greece has no working national land registry. “You have to know where the guy bought the land — the address — to trace it back to him,” says the collector. “And even then it’s all handwritten and hard to decipher.” But, I say, if some plastic surgeon takes a million in cash, buys a plot on a Greek island, and builds himself a villa, there would be other records — say, building permits. “The people who give the building permits don’t inform the Treasury,” says the tax collector.

And so it goes, in every field. Only salaried people pay the income tax.

As for bribery, it is universal. If someone gets caught cheating, he pays a small fine. One of the two whistle- blowers who spoke with him turned in a company that had earned 15 million euros. It paid no taxes. The whistle- blower was demoted. The firm paid a fine of 2,000 euros.

The man had evidence of so many similar cases that Lewis stopped him. It would take all night to view them.
In Athens, I several times had a feeling new to me as a journalist: a complete lack of interest in what was obviously shocking material. I’d sit down with someone who knew the inner workings of the Greek government: a big-time banker, a tax collector, a deputy finance minister, a former M.P. I’d take out my notepad and start writing down the stories that spilled out of them. Scandal after scandal poured forth. Twenty minutes into it I’d lose interest. There were simply too many: they could fill libraries, never mind a magazine article.

This is the nation that persuaded the world’s most sophisticated investors to lend it hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Greek government bonds at Germany’s interest rates. Nobody bothered to check the books. There were no books to check.

The man in charge of totaling up the bill last fall, when the new government came into power, could not get the accounts for a week. Every day, there were new revelations. One government pension fund was running a deficit of a $1 billion a year. There was no record of it. It was off-budget. In one week, the annual deficit went from 7 billion euros to 30 billion. No one had ever counted it before.

Lewis’s summary is persuasive.

The structure of the Greek economy is collectivist, but the country, in spirit, is the opposite of a collective. Its real structure is every man for himself. Into this system investors had poured hundreds of billions of dollars. And the credit boom had pushed the country over the edge, into total moral collapse.

Will the Greek government default? He doesn’t answer directly, but indirectly, it is clear that he thinks it will. He sees this as a moral collapse. He does not try to argue that it is possible for the government to avoid default. The more interesting question, he says, if whether the Greeks can reform themselves. He ends his article with this.

It behaves as a collection of atomized particles, each of which has grown accustomed to pursuing its own interest at the expense of the common good. There’s no question that the government is resolved to at least try to re-create Greek civic life. The only question is: Can such a thing, once lost, ever be re-created?
The moral collapse is only marginally related to the willingness of voters to look out for their own interests. The moral collapse came when voters trusted governments to tell them the truth. Voters trusted government promises to fund the majority in old age at the expense of the rich. This is a widespread moral collapse.
Default will follow. “The wicked borroweth and payeth not again” (Psalm 37:21).

DEEPER, NOT DIFFERENT

Lewis’s article shows in scary terms the extent of the chicanery and corruption of Greek civil life. But it is clear that all modern governments are heading for the Great Default. All of them play games with their versions of Social Security and Medicare. The accounting systems of all modern nations are exercises in deception of the public. Everyone inside the top echelon of governments know this. This has been written about in the intelligentsia’s media for years.

There is no political will to resist the voters, who want something for nothing. There is no willingness of voters to listen to the truth. The politician in any nation who trots out the figures and says, “There will be a default,” loses at the next election.

The problem is universal. The deferral of dealing with it is well-developed. We are told in the United States that the system can be saved with just a few minor adjustments. Congress never makes these minor adjustments. Why not? Because they are not minor. They are politically suicidal.

Just now the global financial system is consumed with the question of whether the Greeks will default on their debts. At times it seems as if it is the only question that matters, for if Greece walks away from $400 billion in debt, then the European banks that lent the money will go down, and other countries now flirting with bankruptcy (Spain, Portugal) might easily follow. But this question of whether Greece will repay its debts is really a question of whether Greece will change its culture, and that will happen only if Greeks want to change.

http://bit.ly/GreekBondBust

The error of the article is to single out the Greeks as if they were fundamentally different from the voters in the rest of the industrial West. They aren’t. They are just farther down what Lewis correctly calls the road to perdition.

The European banks are creditors to a government that completely bamboozled them. The bankers look like fools, which they surely are. They are also creditors to governments of only marginally more solvent governments. They are trapped.

The reality is this: the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund intervened in May to put up more credit because they believed that a Greek default would undermine the credibility of the banking system.

None of this matters in the opinion of Western lenders. They have extended so much credit to governments that will default that they do not bother to attempt to escape. There is no escape hatch. There are no buyers. So, they pretend, as Greece pretended for a decade, that the debt system is not smoke and mirrors. Anyone who blows the whistle threatens the entire system. Such a person will find his career ended.

No one wants to believe any of this, any more than Greek voters want to believe it. If it really is true, then a Great Default is coming. The banks will be left holding IOUs from bankrupt governments. So, central banks will inflate to save the largest banks.

But at some point, reality will intrude. The central bankers will have to decide: do they want monetary stabilization, interest rates doubling or tripling, government defaults, and worldwide depression? Or do they want hyperinflation? If the can save the largest banks, they will stabilize. Hyperinflation destroys the economic system.

Governments can nationalize central banks, turning their nations into Zimbabwe. This has not happened to any peacetime Western nation since the aftermath of World War II, and only in the defeated nations.

Ludwig von Mises called hyperinflation the crack-up boom. It is a destructive force. But the alternative is an open default. Politicians fear this. If they nationalize the central banks and force them to buy government bonds, we will bet the crack-up boom.

CONCLUSION

Greece is the tip of the iceberg — a Mediterranean iceberg. There is no way that the government will not default. But investors want to believe obvious lies today and face reality tomorrow. They are just like voters and politicians. ” G. North
If you are interested in a practical Biblical approach of preparation for the coming economic crisis, you can subscribe to my 6 part economic report for $14.95. Email me at pastor@hisglory.com.


Christian Civilization

Professor Steve Halbrook of New Geneva has just launched a Theonomy Resource site and The Christian Civilization Forum. Below is the introductory statement and mission. Please review it and use it for the advancement of the Crown Rights of King Jesus.

“The goal of the forum is to ask hard questions about, and work out the details of, Biblical law as it applies to various civil situations and aspects of civilization.

The exegetical and philosophical foundations for theonomy are settled; it is time to begin fleshing out the details. It is not enough for theonomists to say that the answer is God’s law when they don’t know how to apply it to many aspects of civil government and civilization. It is now time to do the hard work.

Members must adhere to classical Reformed soteriology (“5-point Calvinism”), which excludes adhering to baptismal regeneration (which some high-church “Calvinists” might hold to), and redefinitions of historic Reformed soteriology, such as the Federal Vision (which holds that works are an essential aspect of saving faith, instead of holding that works result from saving faith). Heresy in any form will not be tolerated, whether it be Federal Visionism, kinism, hyper-preterism, etc.”

Christian Civilization Forum

Theonomy Resource Blog