How the no-consequences mentality gave us the financial crisis

Here is a good article that explains why we have a financial problem, who gave it to us, and what should be done about it:

It’s clear to me that our pathological aversion to personal responsibility has worked itself so far upward that our entire economy has become based on “no consequences for bad choices.”

But the Parents for the Children

2 Corinthians 12:14  Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.

As with any verse in Scripture, this one teaches many things. There is the direct application of what Paul was telling the Corinthians concerning his ministry to them, but what is striking me right now is one of the secondary truths Paul states here: that of laying up for the children.

While many Christians are busy claiming Matthew 6 and “taking no thought” of life, food, drink, and clothing, what are they doing to “lay up” for their children?  And what of providing for their own house?

1 Timothy 5:8  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

As believers in this Church Age, we are to consider Paul first (2Ti 2:7), so let us focus on what Paul tells us to do for a moment.

There is an effort right now that is indicative of the general spirit of the times in the United States. We are poised to elect the most Marxist candidate ever to the presidency, in so doing transferring more responsibility off of the individual to the State. The nation is on the verge of demanding the nationalization of the health care services industry. These are certainly not “providing for his own.” We demand from our government new handouts in the forms of economic stimulus checks and home finance bailouts, and our politicians happily oblige us by borrowing more money from our children and grandchildren — the children laying up for the parents.

While we (and I speak to those of us who are Bible believers) may not have a strong influence on our government, we can certainly do more in our own lives to take ownership of our God-given responsibilities. Paul’s writings in Scripture are not suggestions, so let us take consideration of what we are doing and be sure to line up ourselves with Scripture:

  • Do you look to the government or other people for your basic provision, or do you do everything in your power to “provide for your own?”
  • Do you put your hopes in a ponsi scheme for retirement (Social Security) that requires your children and your children’s children to “lay up” for you, or do you make provision for your own welfare in the future?
  • Do you hope for the government to care for your health, or do you care for your own health?
  • If you have children, have you planned for their care in the event of your death? (Lay up for the children!)
  • Do you “lay up” for your children by ensuring they are learning strong character, independence, and honesty, or do you leave their training up to other people who are not even allowed to teach such matters?

We do not live in a world where doing everything above is easy or necessarily possible all of the time. However, the Bible does not leave us room for apathy on these things. In fact, Paul’s comments here would be regarded as heartless by today’s humanistic standards:

2 Thessalonians 3:10  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

When you go before Christ to give an accounting for your life as a child of God, are you going to have to answer for not abiding by the precepts?

Don’t misunderstand me — we have a responsibility to care for those among us who can not care for themselves. That’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about our Biblical duty to care for our selves and not force our children to lay up for us.

Living by the Truth is hard. These precepts are hard and go against the grain of so much modern teaching on the subject that even bringing these truths up can get you shunned by other Christians. But they are there nonetheless.

Are you doing everything you can to live by them?

Of Populsim, Envy, and Identity

The debate last night showed Edwards and Huckabee getting ready to try to win the presidency on typical class-warfare, envy politics. Edwards is the worst, but he’s only being honest about his goals where his Democrat counterparts are being quiet. But Huckabee isn’t much better. Both are running on the notion that the middle class is being oppressed and that the government needs to “balance” the economy and classes. Central to both of their campaigns is the tenet that the “rich are getting richer” while the poor and middle class pay the price.

However good that is for votes, it’s not reality. As George Will points out:

Economist Stephen Rose, defining the middle class as households with annual incomes between $30,000 and $100,000, says a smaller percentage of Americans are in that category than in 1979 — because the percentage of Americans earning more than $100,000 has doubled from 12 to 24, while the percentage earning less than $30,000 is unchanged. “So,” Rose says, “the entire ‘decline’ of the middle class came from people moving up the income ladder.” Even as housing values declined in 2007, the net worth of households increased.

What I think both of these candidates have in common is the recognition that acknowledging prosperity for the country hurts them as politicians. After all, when you’re doing well and know it, who needs a politician to pick someone else’s pocket on your behalf?

Huckabee’s envy, populist politics is more insidious than Edwards’, though.  Whereas Edwards is simply a Marxist and easily identified as such, Huckabee is counting on his identity as a conservative Christian to really ratchet things up for his populist message. Huckabee is running on the platform that he should be the one to reform the federal government in order to facilitate “Christian Duty.”

Bruce Walker writes:

…as a Christian, Huckabee can be a witness to Christian behavior; he can exhort others to themselves become a witness to Christian behavior; but he cannot demand the enslavement of others to do those things which, as a Christian, he feels that he should do. The term “enslavement,” of course, is relative. Americans are comparatively free. But everything that Huckabee feels government should do requires a loss of freedom for every American. Moreover, Huckabee is not just asking for the greater enslavement of Christian Americans, but he is asking for the greater enslavement of all Americans. This is most un-Christian. Does my verdict sound extreme? Substitute “Rome” for “America” and substitute “publican” for “tax dollars.” […] Despite the ways in which Roman power could be used to improve the world, Christ never looked to Rome to bring paradise or earth or even to be the agent of doing good in this world.

Both Huckabee and Edwards share the same basic philosophy of government: use it to make everyone do what you think they should be doing.  Or to at least make everyone pay for those things.

What was really missing in last night’s debates, both Republican and Democrat, was a sense of individuality and freedom as the underpinning of what made our country great. The closest anyone came was Fred Thompson, but the fact is, I just don’t think many people are interested in hearing about personal responsibility (because that is what freedom means).

It’s All About Entitlements

Robert Samuelson writes in Newsweek:

“The aging of America is not just a population change or, as a budget problem, an accounting exercise. It involves a profound transformation of the nature of government: commitments to the older population are slowly overwhelming other public goals; the national government is becoming mainly an income-transfer mechanism from younger workers to older retirees.

“Consider the outlook. From 2005 to 2030, the 65-and-over population will nearly double to 71 million; its share of the population will rise to 20 percent from 12 percent. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that serve older people—already exceed 40 percent of the $2.7 trillion federal budget. By 2030, their share could hit 75 percent of the present budget, projects the Congressional Budget Office. The result: a political impasse.”

Samuelson is pointing out a problem that we’ve known about for a long time now. FDR’s creation of the massive Social Security entitlement and ponzi scheme set this in motion and made it inevitable. However, Samuelson’s proposal is, to say the least, overly optimistic:

“As an antidote to this timidity, I propose that some public-spirited sugar daddy (the MacArthur Foundation? Warren Buffett?) sponsor a short book. A possible title: “Facing Up to an Aging America.” Six leading think tanks would be invited to participate: three liberal—the Brookings Institution, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Urban Institute—and three conservative—the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.”

I’ve seen no evidence that good books are capable of getting a significant number of people to face up to reality. The Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation are both good think tanks, but most people just couldn’t be bothered.

The fundamental problem is that solving the looming entitlement crisis is going to require people to take on more personal responsibility. Too many people just aren’t interested in having to worry about their retirement, health care, and other things that are “tough choices.”

Emotions Trump Reality

A brain researcher is advising Democrats that they need to focus on voters’ emotions in order to win debates.

There’s nothing surprising about this. I’ve always thought that the liberal line is based entirely on appeal to emotion, rather than a rational view of factual evidence.

What’s more cushy to say: “everyone deserves health coverage” or “the free market economy is the best system for ensuring advanced health care and coverage in the long term.” That one’s easy. If you don’t know anything about economics, research and development, and the private sector, then the guy who denies that there should be “universal health insurance” is just an evil conservative.

Or how about this: “We must raise the minimum wage so everyone can have a living wage!” or “minimum wage requirements do nothing to improve the buying power of low wage earners, since the market must adjust to compensate for the increased pay with higher costs across the board.” Again, easy: The guy arguing for higher minimum wages “cares” about the “poor,” and the guy who understands economics, inflation, and the fact that there are jobs that simply do not warrant a “living wage” is “cruel” and “detests” people who “earn” their income.

The fact is, it’s usually easier for Democrats to win the “hearts” of voters because their arguments appeal to emotional responses rather than realities. In my view, a capitalistic policy is in fact more compassionate on the whole because it rewards hard work and innovation, whereas a more socialistic approach punishes achievement and encourages mediocrity. And since people are not taught basic economics or about market forces in public school, they tend not to care about the realities of socialism verses capitalism.

And it’s easy to say “tax the rich” to pay for whatever you want to “give” voters, like “free” health care or other forms of welfare, because most people aren’t “rich.” The guy trying to argue for personal freedom and responsibility — the freedom to fail or succeed — always has the tougher fight because, well, people just don’t care. They’re not that interested in freedom, if it means they have to be personally responsible for their own welfare.