Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Correction Please

The New York Times today (in Intervention is Bold But Has A Basis In History ) quoted Nancy Koehn, a historian at the Harvard Business School, saying,"'The goal [referring to bailout activity -PA] is to get the engine of capitalism going as productively as possible, ... Ideology is a luxury good in times of crisis.'”

Ideology according to my Random House Dictionary is "the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group."

Far from being a luxury to be reliquished, ideology is absolutely vital in a crisis. In hard times people are forced to make hard choices between A or B that reveal their true priorities and values. A crisis simply reveals ones true ideology.

What Nancy Koehn has just revealed is that she does not believe in the constitution, liberty, or the free market. To her these are luxuries. Her ideology is socialism, statism, and government managed lives. Far from being relinquished as a luxury in this crisis, it is being followed exactly.

Neither should the phenomenon on Wall Street today be confused with a free market economy. It much more closely resembles a government sponsored monopoly in debt tokens that also happen to be the government mandated medium of exchange.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wasted Third Party Votes

The intramural debate among Christians over third party candidates is underway once again. When I first voted outside the Demoblican party, I don’t remember any serious discussions about such things among Christians. Their response to my third party comments, if there was any at all, was simply, “Huh ???”

But over the 6 intervening presidential election cycles the debate has matured considerably. Now I hear Christians contemplating complicated electioneering strategies (like switching parties to vote for the other party’s worst candidate in the primary in the hope they will win the nomination and set up an easier race in the fall) or asserting that a vote for a good third party candidate is really a vote for the worst candidate. To which my response was, “Huh???”

So in an effort to catch up to my more articulate brothers and sisters on this quadrenially important topic, I sat down tonight, after spending the day painting a large sign for my favorite candidate which will be mounted on the main traffic artery through our town, and tried to improve my contribution to this discussion.
On voting for the candidate who can’t win …
  • Elections are not a horse race where voters try to pick the winning ticket.

  • Elections are a wheelbarrow race where voters make the winner.

  • Not voting for a good candidate because he is not expected to win is giving up before the wheelbarrow race is over.

  • Choosing the lesser-of-two-evils over a good candidate because no else is voting for him is being controlled by peer pressure like a junior high socialite.
On voting for the lesser of two evils …
  • If you vote for the lesser of two evils for President, you’ll always have an evil President.
  • You can’t expect God to provide you with a good President when you vote for an evil one any more than you can expect God to provide you with daily bread when you sleep all day instead of working.

  • Voting for the lesser of two evils disobeys the admonition in Exodus 18:21 to choose good men (i.e. able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness) to exercise civil rule.
  • A vote for the lesser of two evils is doing evil in the hope of stopping evil.
  • A vote for the lesser of two evils is a wasted vote in getting a good candidate elected.
  • Voting for the lesser of two evils in the hope of avoiding a greater evil is like stealing food in order not to starve.
  • Defining an election in terms of the lesser of two evils is like falling for the false dilemma of values clarification exercises where 5 people are stranded in a lifeboat with supplies for 4 and thinking that one person should be thrown overboard (regrettably, of course) in order to keep the other 4 alive.
  • Voting for a good candidate instead of the lesser of two evils is not a vote for the greater of two evils, anymore than keeping 5 stranded people on a lifeboat for 4 is choosing to kill 5 people.
A vote for a good candidate is, as should be obvious, simply a vote for a good candidate.

Of course, I suspect the real issue is that lesser-of-two-evil voters do not really believe they are choosing the lesser to two evils. They believe they are choosing a basically good candidate who, while qualified for office, is simply not everything they might desire in an ideal candidate.
Whether someone is a qualified candidate (i.e. good) or an unqualified candidate (i.e. evil) who is simply less evil than another depends on the positions and records of each candidate and can‘t be answered by armchair logic. It requires digging into the gritty details. Let's look at main party options.
One option in this election is Barrack Hussein Obama.
There are some professing Christians who think Obama is the best choice for Pro Lifers (e.g., the Matthew 25 Network endorsed by Douglas W. Kmiec, a former assistant attorney general under President Reagen) because under an Obama presidency there would be fewer abortions than under a McCain presidency. The reasoning of these people is that free government health care would reduce the number of unsupported mothers who abort their babies because they are able to properly care for them. In addition better access to birth control would reduce the number of unwanted babies and thus reduce the number of abortions. This sounds a lot like the “A vote for a good third party candidate is a vote for Obama” logic. I don’t think I buy it here either.
A vote for Obama is a vote for someone who believes it’s okay to murder unborn babies.
Another self-professed pro-life, pro-Obama Christian is Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer. He thinks Obama is the best candidate for pro-lifers because he would lead the nation to where life is actually valued not just talked about. (See his article Pro-Life and Pro-Obama.) However, that seems hard to reconcile with Obama’s well known voting record on abortion legislation and his comments on the floor of the Illinois Senate against the Illinois born alive legislation that mandated caring for babies born alive despite efforts to kill them in utero (Transcript of Obama's verbal opposition to Born Alive on the IL Senate floor).
What ever else this man believes, he clearly condones the practice of murder and that alone disqualifies him from being a civil magistrate according to Exodus 18:21.
Another option is John McCain, regarded by many as the lesser of two evils.
Some Christians argue that we should vote for him, despite his many weaknesses, because he will appoint better judges. With McCain appointed judges, the argument goes, we’re more likely to maintain our freedom to homeschool, own guns, and evangelize, and there is a better chance Roe v. Wade could be overturned. People can say that our freedoms are safer with a McCain presidency just like Frank Schaeffer can say fewer babies would be aborted under Barrack Obama. But the question is, “What are the facts?
Here are a few for your consideration:
Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices were appointed by presidential candidates who were deemed the lesser of two evils (Ford, Reagen, Bush, and Bush). It hasn’t resulted in overturning Roe v. Wade. In fact, some of their appointees are even considered “Liberals.”
Under lesser of two evil presidents we have continued to fight unconstitutional and unbiblical wars, preemptively invading other countries for various reasons like possession of weapons of mass destruction. Of course, we have weapons of mass destruction too. Does that mean China is entitled to invade us because they feel threatened by our weapons of mass destruction? If not, then why is it any more right for us to invade Iraq simply because we feel threatened by their weapons?
War involves killing other people. This is Biblical when it is in self-defense. To say a war is not justified is to say we are intentionally killing people without Biblical justification to do so. That’s murder. If the invasion of Iraq was a response to 9/11, why had the President (a lesser of two evils candidate) completed plans for an Iraqi regime change 8 months before September 11, 2001? (See The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind, p75, 160.) Obviously the purpose for the war had nothing to with terrorists flying planes into American buildings.
Since McCain has the same foreign policy advisors as President Bush ( See Pat Buchanan's article None Dare Call It Treason ), there is every indication he intends to continue fighting unconstitutional wars.
Under lesser of two evil presidents the absorption of the US military, economy, and legal system into the global military, economy, and legal system has progressed at the same pace as under the “avoid at all cost” Presidents. In fact, if anything, it has proceeded at a faster pace under the Bush regimes than under the Clinton Presidency.

Lesser-of-two-evil presidents have increased the national debt faster than our avoid-at-all-cost President with Reagan and G.W. Bush being the worst offenders. (Graph courtesy of accessed October 11, 2008.)

What expectation is there that McCain will be any different?

A sampling of McCain’s senate votes shows:
  • March 6, 2003 – Roll Call 43. Voted to support the continuation of the decades-old U.S. program for “general and complete disarmament” originally proposed in the well known 1961 State Department document Freedom From War (Department of State Publication 7277). The ongoing goal of that plan is to disarm all countries, including the U.S., to “a point where no state would have the military power to challenge the progressively strengthened U.N. Peace Force.” You can read the complete document at the state department archives: Freedom From War.
  • May 23, 2003 – Roll Call 196. Voted against the tax cuts in the Conference Report of HR 2.
  • May 23, 2003 – Roll Call 203. Voted to raise the debt ceiling by $984 billion in H. J. Res. 51.
  • July 31, 2003 – Roll Call 318 & 319. Voted to support free trade agreements with Singapore and Chile, laying stepping-stones to full implementation of FTAA and the complete relinquishment of economic sovereignty (H.R. 2738 & H.R. 2739). For example, see Why say no to FTAA or John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
  • October 30, 2003 – Roll Call 420. Voted to impose restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases under the mistaken notion that global warming is the result of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Not only is this bad science (See ), it is also contrary to the constitution as such authority is not granted to the Congress anywhere in Article 1, Section 8.
  • November 6, 2003 – Roll Call 444. Voted to appropriate $80 billion for aid to farmers, rural development and nutrition programs. Essentially this is giving money to people for not working. It is not biblical (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12), it’s not constitutional, and it’s not fiscally responsible.
  • March 16, 2005 – Roll Call 52. Voted to remove language in S. Con. Res. 18 that would allow leases for oil & gas exploration in ANWR effectively preventing development of domestic energy resources. In November he voted a second time to prevent drilling in ANWR (Roll Call 288) .
  • June 30, 2005 – Roll Call 170. Voted for CAFTA. The goal of the Central America Free Trade Agreement is to create a EU style economic union in the Americas, bringing American people under foreign courts and trade rulings.
  • March 2, 2006 – Roll Call 29. Supported the continuation of the Patriot Act (H.R. 3199). See Wikipedia's Controversial Invocations of the USA PATRIOT Act for a few examples of the abuses allowed under this act. To be fair, many of these abuses could have happened before this act. The Act simply woke people up to the existing state of affairs. But that doesn't make his vote any better.
According to the Congressional Quarterly, Senator McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time. (see CG Voting Study)
Thinking McCain will be any different than Bush, is like Frank Shaeffer thinking that Obama will lead the nation to where life is valued not just talked about.
His senate voting grade, as best I can gather, is about 45-50%. So obviously he’s made a few good votes as well. But that’s not saying much. The same could probably be said of almost all felons. They’ve probably obeyed as many laws as they have broken. Students that are wrong 50% of the time are considered bad students and are flunked at most schools. Why is it any different for senators?
How about voting for a good candidate? Thankfully we still have that option.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Need Some Ideas for a Letter to Your Congressman?

Here's a letter I sent to my Congressman, who voted for the bailout the first time. He obviously won't be getting my vote in November. This is that big of an issue to me.

Right click here to download the pdf file. Sample letter to congressman

Rescue to the "Rescue to the Rescue"

Stirred enough about the bailout to fire off a few letters editors and congressman? I was and here's one of them I wrote to Thomas Friedman after reading his op-ed in the New York Times, Rescue to the Rescue.

Dear Mr. Friedman,

My stocks and 401k are down tens of thousands of dollars, my stock options are so far under water I expect they will take up permanent residence in Davy Jones' locker, and, according to many of your fellow journalists at the Times (Trying to Avoid Economic Calamity, Lawmakers Grope for Resolution, In Bailout Vote, a Leadership Breakdown, Revolt of the Nihilists), the House leadership of both parties is stunned, but for me Monday was a good day in America. In fact, I can't remember a day I've had as much fun and as many spontaneous, knee-slapping "Hoorays" reading the news as I had the following morning. But I agree with you that it was an unprecedented moment - at least I'd have to go back quite a ways to find a similar time.

Now we are both reasonable, articulate, well-traveled people - I've read The World is Flat - why are we seeing this from such opposite viewpoints?

You think this is a confidence crisis ("This is a credit crisis. It’s all about confidence. What you can’t see is how bank A will no longer lend to good company B or mortgage company C. Because no one is sure the other guy’s assets and collateral are worth anything, which is why the government needs to come in and put a floor under them. Otherwise, the system will be choked of credit, like a body being choked of oxygen and turning blue." Rescue to the Rescue) and I agree.

What we disagree on is whether this liquidity crisis and loss of confidence is a good or bad thing. You are assuming a loss of confidence is a bad thing. I think this loss of confidence is a good thing because you can't fix a problem until you recognize that you have a problem. This loss of confidence is the first step in recognizing that "Houston, we have a problem."

I have no particular desire to see the "fat cats" of Wall Street turn blue. But I do have a desire to see the Main Street economy put on the right footing. The question thinking people should be asking is "Where did the Federal Reserve get the $85 billion for the last bailout?" and "Where are they planning to get the $700 billion for this bailout?" According to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors they had $905.7 billion in assets as of September 3, 2008. By the end of the month it had increased by $308.2 billion dollars. That's an increase of 34% in less than a month! Where did that capital come from if there is a liquidity crisis and the capital market is frozen? Even if there was no liquidity crisis, that is more than the market capitalization of all but the largest Fortune 500 company. How could it be raised in only 1 month?

Obviously, as you and I know, they don't raise it by capital campaigns, as do other companies. They create it from nothing. Every dollar they create is debt - debt on which US taxpayers will have to pay interest. At least this is what Mr. Eccles of the Federal Reserve told Congressman Wright Patman according to the Congressional Record, 77th Congress, House Committee on Banking and Currency, September 24, 1941, page 1338, 1342. There are many other Federal Reserve publications, e.g. "Two Faces of Debt" or "Modern Money Mechanics," one could cite which say similar things.

This isn't just theory. The $308 billion dollars the Federal Reserve created out of nothing last month will cause real harm to our economy. It provides the capital on which all these derivatives that everyone is talking about are based. The Federal Reserve, with their ability to create dollars out of nothing through the creation of debt, created the excess funds that made the housing bubble possible in the first place.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, the estimated face value of derivatives floating around the world is 1.144 Quadrillion dollars (BIS Newsletter Released June 8 Accessed Oct 2, 2008 - I added the $548 Trillion notational value of listed derivatives to the $596 Trillion OTC as of Dec 2007 ). The combined GDP of the world's economies is just under $70 Trillion. With all that extra money swirling around, no wonder property values were rising so fast.

America is high on Federal Reserve Notes. Allowing the Federal Reserve to inject $700 billion of new debt into our economy to prevent pain from the collapse of the housing bubble is like giving massive doses of cocaine to a crack addict to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Federal Reserve Notes are not the solution to the problem; they are not oxygen to a choking patient. Federal Reserve Notes themselves are the problem. They are like cocaine to a crack addict. To fix the problem we need to remove them from the economy just as one would remove cocaine from the addict.

Yes, it is and will be painful. No doubt about it. I'll suffer from the losses like everyone else. But I'd rather be "addiction free" than high on the Federal Reserve's notes - and so would all the other thinking, liberty-loving Americans who have been pouring their letters and calls into Washington.

The real leaders in the House were the members of both sides of the isle who, despite intense arm twisting from party leadership, voted in the best interests of main street and just said, "NO!"

I think they deserve a standing ovation.

Peter Allison
Houston, TX

Revised Oct 2, 2008