Markets, Not the Governing Elite, Secure Life, Liberty, and Prosperity

A recent article by the Niskanen Center tries to make the case that regulations should be considered beneficial unless proven otherwise.

The thing is is that we don’t need data to understand whether the effects caused by regulation are on balance good or bad. Liberty tells us that the cumulative effect of regulations will be harmful because they interfere with voluntary Image result for governing eliteexchange in the market. Humans act in their own perceived self-interest. Regulations seek to replace the outcomes of the billions of transactions and interactions market by millions of people with the outcomes preferred by a few hundred or thousand regulators and rent seekers.

Von Mises and Hayek both demonstrated the problem with that; in addition to the violence of forcing people to accept outcomes they do not want, regulation eliminates the vast majority of available information within a market, thus making the outcome much less efficient. That’s why socialism doesn’t work, and why the Soviet Union collapsed.

The opposite of the position of this paper is what is true: regulations should not be adopted or maintained unless it is proven there is a need for them. And determining the need for them should be based on whether they secure life and liberty. Then people–rather than a few intellectual elites–can use markets and courts can figure it out from there.

Eliminating Renewable Energy Subsidies is Key to Boosting Prosperity

Residential electricity prices have steadily increased for years, up more than 15 percent in the United States (not including Texas) since 2004. A newly released U.S. Department of Energy report on electricity markets and reliability makes it clear that renewable energy subsidies are contributing significantly to the increasing cost—and the decreasing reliability—of the national electric grid.

Yet the report stops short of making the most obvious recommendations to address this challenge—eliminating the subsidies and forcing renewable energy generators to pay for the costs they impose on the grid because of their intermittency and unreliability.

Unless the federal government and the states eliminates these policies, we will find ourselves suffering through energy poverty—a sharply reduced standard of living caused by high energy costs—in the future.

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Why I am Not Voting for Trump

I am not going to vote for Donald Trump for president of the United States. This has caused consternation among some of my friends stuck in the binary choice paradigm that voting for anyone besides Mr. Trump or not voting at all is essentially a vote for Hillary Clinton.

I am comfortable with the decision to support and vote for Trump by those who believe that there is at least the possibility that our country will be better off with Donald as president because with Hillary we know what we will get—and it won’t be good. However, this is not a position we should attempt to impose on the consciences of others; the deliberation of both conservatives and Christians over who to vote for should be informed by a broader perspective than the “Clinton or Trump” paradigm the political and religious moderate elite want to trap us in.

America’s contributions to liberty and prosperity are unparalleled in human history. Today, however, we are best described as the “greatest failure in self-government.” We murder over 1 million of our children every year, trailing only China, Russia, and Vietnam—countries that have made every effort to eradicate God from the culture. Not to be outpaced by the communists, America is rapidly moving toward replacing God with government as the supreme authority in the land. Along with this has come the inevitable anathematizing of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square and denial of the existence of inalienable, i.e., God-given, rights such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Amid this decline, many Republican and Evangelical moderates tell us that if we don’t vote for Trump we will be throwing our vote away, increasing Clinton’s chances of being elected, and contributing to the decay of our nation.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It should, because this is essentially what conservatives and Christians have been told every four years since 1984 when we last voted for Ronald Reagan. The bottom line has always been: “Vote Republican because Republican X is better than Democrat Y.”

Unfortunately, the difference has often been marginal at best; one must look closely at times to discern that there have been any Republicans in Washington during the last 28 years. Our votes for moderate Republicans within the binary choice paradigm have led us to a choice for president between two life-long supporters of liberal Democratic politicians and policies. Yet the moderate elite tell us if we follow their advice this time the outcome will be different.

Perhaps a more credible perspective would be, as Doug Wilson puts it, that this is “the least important election in our lifetime.” Where will electing Trump over Clinton make a difference? Not with abortion. Despite his proffered list of Supreme Court nominees, as a longtime pro-abortion supporter Trump is unlikely to appoint someone who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And even if he does, our previous votes for president guarantee that Trump’s appointee will not be able to find four allies on the bench to join him. Can you imagine Roberts or Kennedy voting to overturn Roe v. Wade? Neither can I. The same will be true whenever Trump is persuaded to overcome his liberal beliefs to do something conservative; it will all be around the margins.

Taking a different tack, other Republican and Evangelical elites have exposed their ideological and theological weaknesses by announcing they are going to vote for Hillary, or by insinuating that their constituencies or congregations should be comfortable voting for her—much like they did with Barak Obama in 2008.

Before taking their advice, though, remember that both factions disliked Trump in the Republican primary and had a chance to derail Trump when it became obvious that Ted Cruz was the only candidate with a chance to beat Trump. Yet they refused to rally around Cruz. They decided that it was better to turn the Republican Party over to Trump—or the United States of America over to Clinton, than it was to let a conservative win the Republican nomination.

Both the pro-Trump and the anti-Trump moderate elite are stuck in a secular binary trap. Though they may have different political and theological beliefs, when confronted with the problems of the world today they too often turn to government for a solution. When dealing with the economy, the culture, or the poor, they can’t cope with what they see as the chaos of voluntary association outside the control of government. This is true even for many Evangelical leaders who still hold to Christian orthodoxy but have been enticed into supporting the progressive social gospel.

Much of this is born out of a lack of toleration of pain and suffering. None of us like pain and suffering and we want to relieve it in ourselves and in others, whatever the cost—for many even if the cost is more oppressive government. Yet while Scripture tells us time and again that we must suffer, it also informs us that suffering isn’t the end: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” Instead, there is a purpose in our suffering. We suffer for Christ’s name’s sake because it is “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” and “reign with Him” in eternity. Sometimes, despite our objections, suffering is the pathway to prosperity and hope.

It certainly was in the case of Israel. God’s chosen people found themselves in a long-term cycle of sin, misery, repentance, and deliverance that spiraled down to the point of no return. God finally brought his judgment upon Israel on the day of the Lord in 70 A.D. by destroying it and its system of worship though the Roman devastation of Jerusalem and the temple.

Yet the hope of all of us grew out of this suffering. Through the destruction of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the people of God have been reborn as the New Israel, the church, citizens of God’s kingdom in heaven and on earth with Christ enthroned as our King. God used the sin and suffering of Israel to advance His kingdom and ease the suffering of His children. And the Father calls to everyone to come join Him in His kingdom.

We don’t know what path God has chosen for America. It might be marginal improvement in our civic institutions or it might be the total collapse of liberty. Because of this uncertainty, and the failure of both candidates to meet biblical or moral standards of leadership, it is wrong to press others to vote for either candidate. It should be a matter of individual conscience.

We do know one thing, however; God calls us to repentance and to trusting in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. What we can do together, then, is issue a call to repentance. Americans as individuals must repent. America as a nation must repent. We must repent of idolatry. We must repent of abortion. We must repent of fornication and adultery. We must repent of theft through government taxation and regulation. We must repent of despising our neighbors—particularly our black and poor neighbors—through welfare and various “consumer protection” laws.

It is unclear to me how electing Donald Trump is going to move this country toward repentance. In fact, there might be a clearer path toward repentance with Hillary Clinton as president. Perhaps the suffering she and her administration impose on Americans will be enough for us to stop pretending there is no King in the land so that we can do what is right in our own eyes. Perhaps it will be enough that we will stop whoring after other gods and bowing down to them. Perhaps it will finally be enough that we will cry out to the Lord.

Of course, we don’t know this either. That is why I am fine with anyone campaigning, supporting, or voting for Donald Trump because the alternative is Hillary Clinton. But we are not restricted to a binary choice between the two; we can choose based on our understanding of a future that is not determined by the outcome of this election.

So vote for The Donald. Vote for a third-party candidate. Vote for a write in. Or, for president, don’t vote at all. However, please don’t vote for Hillary, especially out of the belief that she is somehow better than Donald or that she will serve as an adequate placeholder until we can replace her with the latest crop of moderate Republicans; in this you would be sorely mistaken and misguided.

This is not a call to disengage from the political process. Just the opposite. It is a call to engage the culture and the political process by refusing to operate within the parameters of the elite. While the presidency, Congress, and the federal courts have violated biblical precepts, natural law, and the United States Constitution, these standards are still available for the states, local governments, and people to make use of. Our hope for the future doesn’t have to be constrained by the lawless elite.

What we are constrained by is the call of God on our hearts. So, please, join me in praying that God would work in my heart and your heart and the hearts of all Americans a revival that would spread throughout our country “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In the end, we all have only one binary choice: we will either worship God the Creator or we won’t. May He move our hearts and minds so that we all make the right choice. Amen.

Quote of the Week – Mises on the Religion of Government Spending and Credit Expansion

“No one should expect that any logical argument or any experience could ever shake the almost religious fervor of those who believe in salvation through spending and credit expansion.” – Ludwig von Mises, in his book, Planning for Freedom: Let the Market System Work : a Collection of Essays and Addresses.

Let’s Break Up Tiger Woods

In the aftermath of Tiger Woods’ dominant victory in the recent American Express Championship golf tournament, a number of Wood’s competitors announced they will be asking the U.S. Department of Justice to file suit seeking the breakup of Woods for violating federal antitrust laws.

“He’s dominating the game,” said Adam Scott, who finished second, eight shots back of Woods. “It’s not the first time he’s done it, either. We need to take steps now to ensure that the game remains competitive.”

After finishing in fifth place, Ernie Els, one of golf’s top players, joined in with those who said something must be done.

“Tiger just doesn’t understand how abusive he is of his monopoly position,” said Els. “He unduly pressures and intimidates competitors and potential competitors.”

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Inflation, Money Creation, and the Gold Standard

“In a social order that is entirely founded on the use of money and in which all accounting is done in terms of money, the destruction of the monetary system means nothing less than the destruction of the basis of all exchange.” – Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit, p. 202.

In a recent email chain, some of my friends said the gold standard was crazy and wrote of the need for the Federal Reserve to manage our money supply—relying on appeals to “experts” to make their case. I wrote the following to try explain the problem with central banking. I hope you find it informative:

The fact that most economists and “experts” think returning to the gold standard to be crazy should be another reason to support such a move, given the competence of most economists these days.

But lest I rely too heavily on ad hominem attacks against them to make my case, let’s look at the facts.

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Today’s Digest

The Right Kind of Bright in Your Eyes

Doug Wilson gave the commencement speech to the graduating class of New Covenant Schools. Lots of good stuff, here is a sample:

Scripture teaches us that to the pure all things are pure. To the defiled, all things are defiled. The principle can and should be extended. To the dullard all things are dull. One of the central reasons why G.K. Chesterton is such a wonderful thinker and writer is that he had the gift of making us see how extraordinary all ordinary things are. He would cock his head sideways and describe the living room from that vantage, and all of us would learn new things about a place where we had lived for years. The simpleton thinks that ordinary things are ordinary. The faux-mystic drops some acid—a weird custom you may have heard about in your history classes—in order to find out that extraordinary visions are extraordinary. But only a healthy soul can see how remarkable every unremarkable thing actually is.

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Happy 100th Birthday Ronald Reagan

“I never thought it was my style or the words I used that made a difference: it was the content. I wasn’t a great communicator, but I communicated great things.” – Ronald Reagan, in his Jan. 11, 1989 farewell address to the American people (text)

“The biggest misunderstanding about Reagan’s political life is that he was inevitable. He was not. He had to fight for every inch, he had to make it happen. What Billy Herndon said of Abraham Lincoln was true of Reagan too: He had within him, always, a ceaseless little engine of ambition. He was good at not showing it, as was Lincoln, but it was there. He was knowingly in the greatness game, at least from 1976, when he tried to take down a sitting president of his own party.” – Peggy Noonan, in her column on Ronald Reagan during this season of his 100th birthday celebration.

“We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, “Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters.”” – Ronald Reagan, in his October 27, 1964 “Time for Choosing” speech

“Reagan understood instinctively that modern liberalism represented a rejection of the constitutional premises of self-government. … Hence the core of Reagan’s political purpose was recovering an appreciation for the Founder’s understanding of the principles and practices of American government. This was central to his rhetoric to a much greater extent than it was to that of any other modern day president of either party. … ‘We’re for limited government,’ he said in his 1988 State of the Union speech, ‘because we understand, as the Founding Fathers did, that it is the best way of ensuring personal liberty and empowering the individual so that every American of every race and region share fully in the flowering of American prosperity and freedom.’” – Steven F. Hayward, in The Age of Reagan, 1980-1989: The Conservative Counterrevolution.

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TX v. CA – Texas Wins Again: Less Taxes and Spending Lead to Economic Growth

The Texas Public Policy Foundation released some great research today by Dr. Art Laffer explaining why Texas is doing so much better than California—or just about anybody else for that matter. In case you didn’t know, it is because we have lower taxes, spend less and regulate the economy less than most other states. No surprise here–we didn’t really need to do a lot of research to understand this. But not everybody gets the free market approach, so sometimes we have to do research to prove that it is true. Click on the link to see the whole report.