Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Freedom of Choice

My freedom to swing my arm ends before my fist hits your nose. Why? Civilized people regard unprovoked violence as immoral. So, we enact laws to protect innocent people from assault. The government is God's agent for restraining evil in the world, and civil governments do this through legislation. The conventional wisdom that "you cannot legislate morality" is flat wrong. Laws are indeed moral statements. We have laws against rape, murder, theft, etc. because those are immoral acts that should be restrained.

Human life begins when the fusion of egg and sperm produces a new, complete, living organism — an embryonic human being. The fact that life begins at conception is not a matter of opinion or religious expression. It is a biological fact. The scientific evidence is too overwhelming for there to be any debate on this point. The abortion debate is really about whether we ought to respect and defend human beings in the earliest stages of their lives. In other words, the question is not about scientific facts; it is about the nature of human dignity and the equality of human beings.

Abortion is a massive injustice which systematically destroys the most innocent and helpless members of the human race. Unborn human beings are fully qualified to be recognized as persons under the law and should therefore be protected from any assault that might befall them. A woman's right to choose ends when a sperm fuses with her egg. Why? Civilized people regard unprovoked violence as immoral, and abortion is an assault on a defenseless human being's life.

Protecting people who are weak and defenseless is a moral obligation of any civilized, democratic, and moral government. This is why the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is a reprehensible and despicable piece of legislation. It removes all protection for the defenseless people who have not yet crossed the birth canal and disguises this under the banner of "Freedom." It is not freedom, and it is not about choice. The FOCA is an effort to codify into federal law the undemocratic and immoral act of abortion on demand. President Elect Barak Obama has promised to sign this heinous legislation as his first official act as president. God help us!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Truth about Change (and Bailouts)

I hope the "CHANGE" Obama talks about means that we will CHANGE our foolish and UNconstitutional policies of bailing out the private sector and stop the inexorable slide to socialism. That would be CHANGE that I could support. Unfortunately, the pattern I've seen is that Democrats pass legislation that get the opposite results of what they intend because FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOESN'T WORK as an agent of (good) change. Republicans (at least in election years) agree to bail out these foolish programs. Utter nonsense. We know better. History proves it. We're doomed to repeat it if we don't learn from it.

WE THE PEOPLE are the agents of change, and the Obama folks should realize their success was in the GRASS ROOTS efforts at the LOCAL level. Federal Government isn't the solution. Local volunteers doing good at the local level is a good solution. That's what got Obama elected. What frightens me is now that Democrats are the ruling party, they will forget what made the Obama campaign the most effective presidential election bid in American history.

In this article from the April 24, 2008, Wall Street Journal we read about Republicrat collusion in bailing out the student loan fiasco. This was several months before the heinous and UNconstitutional bailout of Wall Street. When will the lunacy end?

Bailout of the Year

Guess who's asking Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for a bailout now? Hint: They are members of an exclusive club who bet wrong on the credit markets last fall. No, it's not a cabal of Wall Streeters, but Democrats in Congress.

We're referring to the "student loan crisis" now appearing in a media outlet near you. In September, Congress vowed to make education more affordable by passing the "College Cost Reduction and Access Act." The law reduced the interest rates borrowers pay on federally insured student loans. Backed by the Federal Family Education Loan Program, these loans account for more than 70% of education lending. Taxpayers will fork over $7 billion by 2012 to pay for the rate cuts.

But Congress didn't stop there. Convinced that the private lenders who make these loans were reaping too much profit, Congress also cut the yield on each loan. The return on the popular Stafford loan for undergrads was reduced by 70 basis points. For loan consolidations, Congress cut returns by 65 basis points. In a vibrant market, banks might have absorbed these hits and continued to lend. But the combination of legislative fiat and fewer investors willing to buy asset-backed securities amid the credit crunch has put the squeeze on lenders.

What's now clear is that Congress didn't merely wring the profits out of student lending. It's blown up the entire student loan market. Market leader Sallie Mae says it now loses money on every new federal education loan. Sallie continues to lend in hopes of a change in D.C., or increased investor demand for securitized loans. Others can't wait. A third of the nation's top 100 lenders to students in 2007 have temporarily suspended new loan originations or exited the business altogether. Citibank subsidiary Student Loan Corporation cited "unprecedented federal legislation" in announcing its recent withdrawal from much of the market.

Usually, the law of unintended consequences takes so long to reveal itself that no one remembers the culprits. But the speed at which Congress's student lending changes have gone south is raising political danger for Democrats, if Republicans had the wit to point it out. (They don't; that's why they're Republicans.)

Democrats would thus like to clean up the mess they created before May, when a flood of college-bound seniors will seek loans. But the pols can hardly repeal their autumn blunder mere moments after taking credit for it. No doubt many of them are still sending out taxpayer-financed mail bragging of their "achievement."

The result is that the same man who authored last year's bill to cut lenders' returns has crafted a new bill to subsidize those same lenders. Last week the House passed Education and Labor Chairman George Miller's latest foray into collegiate finance. The bill gives the Department of Education new authority to purchase loans directly from lenders.

To summarize: Congress mandated a return on student loans that is too low to attract private capital in the current market. So Congress will now use your money to create artificial investor demand. Taxpayers will bear more risk so that Congress can fashion a new business model to replace the one it just destroyed. The Bush Administration, unwisely but typically, has endorsed this approach.

Oh, there's more. Mr. Miller's allies in the Senate understand that legislation moves more slowly on their side of the Capitol. There may be too little time before the angry phone calls from parents target the 202 area code. So the same Senators who gave us the autumn accident have begun a letter-writing campaign to request that bailout we mentioned earlier.

Daniel Akaka, Bob Casey, Tom Carper, Chris Dodd, Tim Johnson, Bob Menendez and Jon Tester are desperately seeking a bureaucrat with a large checkbook to rescue them from their self-made political disaster. Last Thursday they wrote Mr. Bernanke asking him to accept student loans as collateral under the Fed's new Term Securities Lending Facility. They sent a similar letter to Treasury Secretary Paulson asking him to order the Federal Financing Bank to buy student-loan-backed securities.

So having raised solemn alarms when the Fed began to accept dodgy mortgage-backed securities as collateral, the Senators are now demanding that the Fed accept dodgy student-loan paper too. The Senators helpfully note in their letter that a virtue of their proposals is that they can be implemented quickly. Indeed, November is just around the corner.

Needless to say, none of this legislative history is appearing in the multiple media sob stories about students who can't get loans. But like airline passengers stranded this month due to panicky inspections, the current student loan "crisis" didn't have to happen. It is entirely a product of Congress.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Sin is Additive, not Multiplicative

When you add two negative numbers, the result is always another negative number. Sin is the same way. My mom taught me this when I was a little boy with the aphorism, "Two wrongs don't make a right." I couldn't do math at the time, but I learned this principle at an early age. As I grew up and became a Christian I discovered the truth of this saying. Sin is additive. So is good.

I continue to be astonished by how many Christians buy into the idea that the lesser-of-two-evils can somehow overcome the greater evil. Apparently these Christians are unfamiliar with their Bibles where in Romans 12 the truth is clearly stated.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
It seems that Christians today have a mistaken notion that sin is multiplicative. By the magic of moral relativism or "situational ethics" they desperately cling to the mistaken idea that multiplying a little evil with greater evil will somehow overcome all evil. It simply won't work, but they keep trying. Alan Keyes eloquently explains how this results in Christian voters denying their faith. The result of multiplying even a little evil with other evil is much greater evil. That's how sin works. Stop it! Avoid all evil, even the lesser-of-two-evils, particularly when you vote. Do the math!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obedience unto Relationship

Howard Hendricks, speaking in terms of spiritual knowledge, says the opposite of ignorance is not knowledge but obedience. His point, I think, is that God wants to move us from ignorance, to knowledge, to obedience which hopefully leads to salvation along the way. There are dangers if we try to take short cuts around knowledge or worse yet stop short of applying the truth we possess by never actually living it out in our daily lives.

The short cut from ignorance directly to obedience by skipping knowledge is risky because you really don't know if your behavior is true obedience if you have no actual knowledge of the truth. However, this isn't nearly as problematic or as common as people who get stuck on knowledge without application. With a few rare exceptions, most modern Christians have far more knowledge of the truth than we have application of the truth. That's why the world views the church as being full of hypocrites.

James tells us that knowledge without application is like a man who looks in a mirror then goes away and forgets what he looks like. Self-knowledge is lost when theoretical knowledge is not applied. Spiritual ignorance that blossoms into spiritual knowledge without the requisite obedience results in hypocrisy and spiritual pride. The Apostle Paul addressed this problem when he wrote "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Apparently, the antidote to puffy knowledge is love. But what is love?

Love in the biblical sense has very little to do with romance, sex, or feelings. Love is a decision to submit my own desires to the needs of another. Love in its purest form is submission. What does this have to do with obedience and relationship? By submitting our lives in obedience to the Truth, we discover who God is and who we are and how we can be rightly related to the Creator of the Universe. This is where true happiness is found.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ultimate Truth Fighting

My 12 year old son is about to earn his black belt in Taekwondo. I'm quite proud of him, and lately we've become fans of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting, particularly the UFC octagon. For the uninitiated, UFC MMA fighting has exploded onto the sports scene as the most popular form of professional prize fighting. It is the ultimate display of unarmed man-to-man combat.

There is no such thing as throwing in the white towel during a UFC competition, and pretty much anything goes. Kickboxing, wrestling moves of all kinds, knees & elbows, and submission holds are all fair game. There are essentially two ways to win the fight while in the ring: knock out or tap out. If neither fighter has knocked out or submitted (tapped out) his opponent by the end of the fight, it goes to the judges for a decision.

Ultimate fighting is exciting but brutal. Good manners are not rewarded. Pummeling your opponent into the ground is the name of the game. I've started to wonder if my enthusiasm for ultimate fighting might be a vicarious representation of how I engage in spiritual warfare. Even more disturbing has been my discovery that I may have misidentified my opponent in the spiritual ultimate truth fighting octagon.

I'm designed by God as someone who is highly motivated by truth, and I have a burning desire to exhort others toward truth. Truth be told, other people are not the opponent. The enemy is the Father of Lies, and too often I misidentify the POWs in his prison camp as my opponent. These POWS need to be saved, not savagely attacked. They need liberation not libel. I'm too easily frustrated with how comfortable many POWs have become in their prision of lies. Sadly, I'm much too slow to apologize or even recognize when my zeal for apologetics offends or overwhelms a POW in the camp of lies.

Recently, I have been putting a choke hold on one of my best friends who is about ready to tap out. I've been blind to the truth myself in that my all out war against untruth was directed at him instead of our common Enemy. I've been meditating on the fruit of the spirit in order to redirect my battle. This has led me to a change of heart. In Ultimate Truth Fighting, the path to power and victory comes from ones own submission to Truth.

I pray God will give me the wisdom and skill to refocus my zeal on the real opponent so I can take the war to the proper battle front and fight the right opponent. The white towel of victory is nonsensical in worldly Ultimate Fighting, but in Ultimate Truth Fighting power is found through grace, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and even gentleness. I need to stop using so many knees and elbows on the spectators and POWs and save the submission moves for the real enemy.