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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Something About Christmas Time

An old pop-music song about Christmas goes, “There’s something about Christmas time, something about Christmas time that makes you wish it was Christmas everyday…” Now, most folks know why Christmas is celebrated, but as the author of the previous lyrics implies, the real reason is being lost, forgotten, ignored, or simply denied.

Many in the world today have put their own spin on what is special about Christmas. This should come as no surprise. Christmas is associated with time off from work or school, the giving/receiving of gifts, large gatherings with friends and family (accompanied by great feasts), as much as it is with the birth of Jesus, so what’s not to love? So what if you don’t believe in what/why Christmas is celebrated; you can still have a great time.

Governments, in the name of “separation of church and state,” and many private institutions, in the name of “tolerance,” have removed many direct references to Christmas. “Merry Christmas” has become “Happy Holidays;” Christmas trees are now “Community trees;” Christmas carols are now “winter carols,” and so on.

Nowadays phrases like “spirit of Christmas,” “spirit of giving,” “magic of Christmas,” are very prevalent in our culture. What do these mean?

One author I read recently describes the “hidden meaning” of Christmas as: “(a) festival of the human heart. It is a time of year when all the universe conspires to raise the vibratory level of consciousness on earth to one of peace and love toward ourselves and one another. This season resonates to the sweet, childlike innocence that resides in all of us. A time when the heavenly forces inspire us to shift our focus away from fear and toward one of joy, and healing.” Huh?!

Movies, music, poetry, and other forms of expression have attempted to inform us of what the “true meaning of Christmas" is. A cartoon we watched recently described “friendship” as what Christmas is all about. Other secular productions portray Christmas as a celebration of love, generosity, kindness, joy, peace, family, and so on. These, of course, are wonderful things, but none of them alone reveals the true meaning of Christmas.

“And it came to pass in those days...”, So begins the real story of Christmas: The story of God’s incarnation in the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. But Christians celebrating Christmas are celebrating more than just a birthday. Christians believe, as C.S. Lewis put it, that Christmas is the story of how “the rightful king has landed.”

Just prior to His death, as Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” After some discussion Pilate concludes to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered him saying, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world…”

But He was not just any king; He was a king with a holy mission. “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me?” Jesus was the Christ, the “Messiah,” the “Anointed One.” As the angel reported to the shepherds, “today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” Jesus was a king who was born to die; not only to die, but to rise again and rule forever.

His death was to “redeem” us, and to serve as “atonement” for us. Jesus came into the world so that the world, through Him, “might be saved.” And on the third day after his death, our King, born in a stable, conquered even death so that we could live forever with Him.

When Christians truly celebrate Christmas, we celebrate not just a birthday, but the beginning of a sequence of events that would change the world forever. He was born, He lived, He died, He arose, and now He is preparing a place for all of those who believe in Him. Just as sure as all of the other events took place, we who celebrate Christmas look forward to His return and we will celebrate for all eternity.

Just before handing Him over for crucifixion, Pilate asked the crowd, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus…?” That is the ultimate question that each of us must answer, and Christmas provides us with the beginning of the answer.

Have a truly merry Christmas.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiger Woods: "Man-Caused Disaster"

Tiger Woods: “Man-Caused Disaster.” (Or, if you prefer, a “Weapon of Vast Indiscretion.”) In a sad way, the greatest golfer in the world has done the Obama administration a service. He has clarified what is meant by this ambiguous (and ridiculous) phrase. With 12 mistresses now revealed, if there ever was a “man-caused disaster” it’s Tiger. 

Of course, none of this is funny. It is a tragedy played out far too often today, especially by celebrities who have the fame and fortune to attempt to pull off something like juggling 12 women along with a wife and children. Male athletes especially seem to have the penchant for this kind of activity. At least Woods’ many trysts did not produce children (that we know of). Consider former NFL running back and Tennessee Volunteer, Travis Henry. In August of 2007, the AJC reported that he was in financial ruin, having fathered 9 children by 9 different women across four states. Talk about a disaster! 

Tiger is just the latest (though perhaps the “greatest”) in a seemingly infinite line of public figures to have his indiscretions laid bare before a gawking public. Adulterous behaviors have brought down some of the most powerful men in the world. 

Glenn Richardson, Speaker of the Georgia House, recently resigned his position due to his adultery. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who had been mentioned as a strong GOP candidate for President, has seen his political career and personal life in upheaval because of his adultery. Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards saw his political career go up in smoke due to adultery. Bill Clinton, one of only two U.S. Presidents ever impeached, was put on trial as a result of his adultery. 

Truly, as Proverbs says, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” 

Undoubtedly, the consequences of adultery are far reaching, especially when it leads to divorce. As C.S. Lewis points out, divorce “is more like having your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.” Thus Woods’ children could end up as the most tragic victims here. 

The list of handicaps is long for children of divorce: They are more likely to experience mental and physical health problems, run away, commit suicide, engage in promiscuous sex, drop out of school, go to prison, etc. Woods’ marriage is certainly on shaky ground, as would be any marriage with such infidelities. If his marriage is broken beyond repair, the consequences will sadly play out most significantly in the lives of his children. 

Practically every one of us knows a marriage broken by adultery. This is just one of the consequences of living in a culture that is obsessed with sex. As John MacArthur concludes, “Within the moral realm in our society the conflict is almost exclusively about sex.” Abortion, fornication, homosexuality, divorce, etc., he adds, are all sexual issues. 

Writing on sexual morality, C.S. Lewis said, “Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’” However, Lewis adds that, “perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be obtained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help.” 

To truly straighten out his life, this is where Tiger (and anyone else in such a situation) must turn. No amount of therapy, etc. will produce the results that the Creator of the universe can. Just as with any other human being’s transgressions, there is redemptive hope for Tiger—even to the point of saving his marriage. Remember, nothing is too hard for God. 

One last point. As we gaze upon this disaster, we must remember that without God, any of us is capable of terrible sin. None of us can truly trust ourselves, even in our best moments, to continuously live the life that we should. Everyone’s struggles and temptations are different. What is constant is the path to true joy and peace. Here’s hoping that Tiger finds himself on that straight-and-narrow way very soon. 

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blinded, not by Science, but by Ideology

I almost don’t know where to begin. I mean Al Gore (and the IPCC) won a Nobel Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge” about it. Al Gore also won an Oscar for his film on it. The U.S. House passed a 1,200 page bill which was predicated upon it. We’ve been hearing about how it has been settled for decades and anyone who thinks otherwise is a “denier” on the same level as a “flat-earther.”

“It,” of course, is anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW) and with the “Climategate” revelations, AGW enthusiasts have been excited to talk about anything but “it.” In case you’ve been on a two-week vacation searching for polar bears among the melting arctic ice, “Climategate” is a reference to the discovery that the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain has been manipulating the data regarding the temperature of the earth along with shamefully and devotedly seeking to suppress any information they didn’t like.

There are now investigations and calls for investigations into the highly questionable science, and the unscrupulous scientists, behind Climategate. There are even calls (by two Academy Award members) for Al Gore’s Oscar to be rescinded. Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia's CRU, has resigned his position. Michael Mann, designer of the famous "hockey stick" graph, is under investigation by Pennsylvania State University.

However, with liberals in control of the U.S. Congress, the White House, and the mainstream media (MSM), one would hardly know there is a scandal about. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is more concerned with the (perhaps) illegal access of the CRU data than with the data itself. (We don’t yet know if this was an outside hacker or an inside whistle-blower.)

Yet Boxer enthusiastically held hearings in 2008 so that an EPA “whistle-blower,” who accused the Bush administration of failing to address greenhouse gas emissions appropriately, could be heard. In 1985, then Congresswoman Boxer introduced the Military Whistleblower Protection Act which became law in 1988. The law has since been amended multiple times (see here) to extend protections to military whistleblowers. You get the idea: Boxer is usually a whistleblower’s champion.

Comedy Central has reported on Climategate, but the MSM hasn’t. As of December 3 (Thursday), according to the Business and Media Institute, “An examination of morning and evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC since Nov. 20 yielded zero mentions of the scandal, even in the Nov. 25 reports about Obama going to Copenhagen to discuss the need for emissions reductions.” (NBC finally reported on Climategate on Friday evening, December 4.)

Having claimed to have collected the most complete data on the Earth's temperature for the last 50 years, the CRU has been a leading organization in the study of global climate science. Its conclusions, which are almost exclusively in support of AGW, have been used by the U.N.’s IPCC, as well as countless media outlets, in reporting on the impending doom looming as a result of AGW.  In other words, the CRU is “too big to ignore” when it comes to a scandal of this size and scope.

Soon after Climategate broke, the CRU also revealed that most all of its raw temperature data, upon which its AGW predictions are based, had been deleted. This means that no one is able to check the CRU’s calculations when it comes to global temperature measurements and predictions.

This is a gross violation of the scientific method. As even Wikipedia notes, “Another basic expectation [of the scientific method] is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.”

On March 9 of this year, Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He also stated that he was furthermore issuing “a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making to ensure that in this new administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology.”

This latter statement was, of course, a criticism of the Bush administration. However, with a climate bill having already passed the U.S. House that, according to the Wall Street Journal, “will reach into almost every corner of the U.S. economy,” and which will also severely threaten our civil liberties, America literally cannot afford to have the Obama administration turn a blind eye to the real science of climate change.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

“Poisoned By These Fairy Tales”

John Adams once wrote, “A constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored; liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” Of course, this is the real danger with Obamacare (or any other such massive government program). As I pointed out in a July column ("Govern The Least"), once the government gets itself established in an additional part of our lives, another piece of our liberty goes out the window—perhaps never to return.

Those in favor of Obamacare, consider this. If government takes over healthcare, what recourse will there be when decisions are made with which you don’t agree? What happens when those in power suddenly turn against you? How can one stand against an institution that has the power of the police, the courts, the military, the Federal Reserve, and so on? As Gerald Ford said, “a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

President Obama was swept into office under the banner of “hope and change.” However, as Don Henley sang, “armchair warriors often fail and we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales.” Sadly, far too many Americans bought into the fairy tale that is Barack Hussein Obama.

The hope for America should never rest upon those who sit in government. Hope in government, of course, seems to be part of the DNA of liberals. However, this is a trap that many conservatives, and even Christian conservatives, have fallen into as well. As I pointed out just prior to President Obama’s election victory, in The Light and the Glory, Peter Marshall and David Manuel note that in seeking to put America on the right path many Christians have “hoped that electing a Christian President would do the job. But as Dwight Eisenhower once said, ‘Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.’”

In other words, replacing Obama with a conservative Christian, however desirable that may be, will not solve all of America’s problems. Certainly there would be benefits to this scenario, the greatest of which would (hopefully) be a retreat of government and an advancement of liberty.

For where liberty is greatest is where humanity is most resplendent. Granted, excessive liberty also can bring out the worst of humanity, but the tyranny of Big Government is far worse than the sins of free men.

God endowed humans with the great gift of free will. Of course this means that people can go right or wrong; they can do good or bad. If people are free, then they must be free to do good or evil. Liberty, therefore, as noted by our founders, is an inalienable right given by our Creator.

From time immemorial people have pondered the problem of evil in the world. The question often goes: If God is good, why must bad things happen? As C.S. Lewis points out, “Free will, though it makes evil possible, is the only thing that makes any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.”

Good government allows for this freedom. The problem with government overreaching is not that liberty is taken from all people, but that it is concentrated within a small group of people who are just as fallible as any other human. And when they have that kind of power, they generally want more, and the flow of liberty is slowly squeezed off. Finally, when things go wrong, and they will eventually go wrong, they will likely go terribly wrong and millions will suffer and perish.

It is understandable why liberals seek solace in their government. It is very comforting to know that someone bigger than ourselves is looking out for us. However, there is only One who can truly fulfill that role and there is no king, congress, president, or parliament who can take His place.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, November 6, 2009

Same-Sex "Marriage" Meets Defeat Again

31 for 31. Now that Maine voters have rejected gay marriage, every state that has put gay marriage before its electorate—31 states now—has seen it rejected. At an average rate of 67.5%, voters in the 31 states have, at the very least, banned same-sex marriage. (Nineteen states have banned not only same-sex marriage, but also civil unions.)

The rejection of gay marriage has occurred not only in conservative states, but in some very liberal ones as well, such as MaineCaliforniaOregon, and Hawaii. Purple states such as OhioColorado, and Nevada have also soundly rejected gay marriage. Across the U.S., from the Deep South to the Northeast to the Midwest to the West coast, Americans have united behind biblical marriage.

All across the political spectrum, from Democrats (yes, a few) to Republicans to Independents, Americans have said a resounding “No!” to what is the number one item on the homosexual agenda.

With this type of sweeping plurality against gay marriage, it is hard to fathom how liberals can maintain any sense that the United States, in any significant way, is headed toward recognition of homosexuals marrying.

Yet, they persist. According to Gallup recently, 75% of self-identified liberals support same-sex marriage. Liberals control the White House, the U.S. House and Senate, and most of the mainstream-media. After their latest defeat, the L.A. Times lamentably asked, “If not in Maine, then where?” Declaring it a solid victory for those opposed to same-sex marriage, with false piety the Times boldly stated that “despite the moral right on its side, the fight for equality for gays and lesbians will be more difficult, more complicated and probably will take a good while longer than it should.”

Writing for the left-leaning website The Daily Beast, Linda Hirshman writes that it is time to “get gay marriage off the ballot.” Isn’t this something for the “life-tenured federal judiciary to decide?” Hirshman asks. Liberals are coming full circle. Defeat after defeat, it seems, have them yearning for their favorite battle ground: the courts. Why worry with legislatures and the ballot box when one, or a handful, of appointed liberal judges can give you what you want.

It is interesting to note that Maine’s rejection of gay marriage was not a rejection of their courts, but of their legislature and governor. It just goes to show that, politically speaking, even in liberal states the conservative position on social issues is (or at least can be) a winning one.

The Maine vote should further embolden conservative politicians all over the nation. The social issues of marriage, abortion, etc. are ones that many conservative politicians think they need to avoid or, at least, tip-toe around, especially if they are in “bluish” regions of the country. Maine’s voters have made it even more clear that, for a significant majority of Americans, biblical marriage is a winning issue.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Obamacare “Inevitable?”

Despite efforts by the Democrats and their media lapdogs to paint Obamacare as inevitable (Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said today that there is now a “sense of inevitability, the sense that, yes, we're going to pass health care reform, and it's going to lower costs, provide better health insurance coverage and cover ... and reform the health insurance market.”), the votes are just not adding up. On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he was going to push ahead on health care legislation with a public option included.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that health-care legislation that comes before the Senate will have a government-run health-insurance plan that states will be able to choose not to carry. Mr. Reid told reporters that, under the legislation, states would have until 2014 to ‘opt out’ of the public option. He cast aside questions of whether the measure can attract the necessary 60 votes to avoid procedural delays. ‘I believe we clearly will have the support of the [Democratic caucus] to move to the bill,’ Mr. Reid said.”

From CNN on Sunday:

“Conservative Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska told CNN’s John King that he has not committed to lend his vote to aid Democrats in avoiding a filibuster of health care reform legislation. ‘I’ve made no promise,’ Nelson said Sunday, adding that he can’t decide whether he should help stop a filibuster until he sees the substance of the Senate bill being crafted by Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid.

“Nelson also said that he does not support the latest proposal that Reid is considering – a national public health insurance option that would allow states to opt out. But Nelson said he might be able to support a public option where states are allowed, instead, to opt in.”

From the AP last week:

“Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces a potentially tough re-election race next year in Arkansas, where Obama lost to Republican John McCain by 20 percentage points. She says she will base her health care votes on what is best for Arkansans. Choice and competition among insurers are good, Lincoln said, but ‘I’ve ruled out a government-funded and a government-operated plan.’”

Also:

“Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana…said she might be willing to let some states try “fallback or trigger” mechanisms that would create a public option if residents don’t have enough insurance choices. But she told reporters, ‘I’m not for a government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plan, and never will be.’”

All of this gives weight to what George Will noted on Sunday:

According to NewsBusters, “Will on Sunday accused the media of manufacturing the return of government mandated healthcare to the current reform debate.

“Discussing the subject on the recent installment of ABC’s ‘This Week,’ Will said it was highly unlikely Democrats actually have the votes for what they call a ‘public option,’ but the media are assisting them in ‘cleverly and skillfully manufacturing a sense of inevitability that they hope will be self-fulfilling.’”

Now, according to Fox News, Senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind) has joined the chorus with serious concerns over Reid’s plans. Fox notes that, “Key Democratic moderates including Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Ben Nelson, D-Neb.; and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., also said they were uncertain how they'd vote, expressing deep reservations about the public plan.”

It doesn’t look or sound like the Democrats have anywhere near 60 votes in the Senate.
Significant numbers of House Democrats are not towing the party line either. According to The Hill “Rep. Bart Stupak said Speaker Pelosi is not pleased with his effort to change abortion-related provisions in the healthcare bill being crafted by the House.
“During an interview on C-SPAN's ‘Washington Journal’ show, Stupak (D-Mich.) said he is undeterred in trying to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions…The Energy and Commerce subcommittee chairman said he has been working with Democratic leaders on a compromise, but they haven't been able to strike a deal. Stupak pointed out that he and Democratic leaders have a fundamental disagreement on whether health plans that receive subsidies from the government should be allowed to provide coverage options on abortions.

“Stupak wants a vote on the House floor to strike the language, and predicts he would have the votes to pass such an amendment. ‘This has been federal law since 1976,’ he said, noting that President Barack Obama has vowed not to allow healthcare reform to pay for abortions. ‘We have to have a vote,’ he said.

“If he doesn't get one, Stupak said he and as many as 39 other Democrats will vote no on a procedural motion to bring the health bill to the floor. A House vote on healthcare reform could be taken next week.”

It doesn’t appear that Obamacare is getting done anytime soon, if at all.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, October 23, 2009

Obama Wins Peace Prize?!

This one even had liberals scratching their heads. (For example see hereherehere, and here.) Just when the folks at Saturday Night Live (SNL) decide to mock Obama for not accomplishing anything, the Nobel committee decides that 12 days in office was enough. (Peace Prize nominees had to be postmarked by February 1st.) Can you imagine the punch lines now?! 

With the aiding and abetting of the Nobel committee Obama has now accomplished at least one significant thing. He has clarified for liberals what most conservatives have long known: that the Nobel Peace Prize is a joke. Conservatives had it figured out by the time Yasser Arafat won in 1994 (if not before). The joke certainly became clear to conservatives after Al Gore won. Perhaps now the folks at SNL can help make it clear to liberals. 


Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Obama's a Radical, Who Knew!

In 2006, after blowing a 23 to 3 fourth quarter lead against the Chicago Bears and losing the game, former Arizona Cardinals’ head coach Dennis Green, in the post-game press conference, uttered his most famous words: “They (the Bears) are who we thought they were!” (The 43 second YouTube video of the rant currently has nearly 700,000 views.)

These are exactly my sentiments when it comes to President Obama. He is precisely who I thought he was: a radical liberal. This is reflected in his administration’s policies and its personnel.

His self-portrayal as a centrist and a post-partisan duped many people during the campaign and the election. In their lust to elect our first black president, many Americans were blinded to who Obama really was. With his political record, as brief as it was, and his personal past, aligning himself with the likes of Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, things should have been more clear for a majority of Americans. Perhaps more can now see that Obama is doing nothing but being true to his real nature.

As proof of his radicalism, consider a few of the long list of deep-seated left-wingers that Obama has placed in his administration. Kevin Jennings, the Safe School Czar, was in Obama’s Presidential campaign as its Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual fund-raising co-chair. For Jennings, a “safe school” means a pro-homosexual school.

Jennings, a homosexual himself, founded the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which seeks to indoctrinate children at every grade level in every state in the pro-homosexual agenda. In his book, Always My Child, Jennings demands a “diversity policy that mandates including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) themes in the curriculum.”

In another of his books Jennings tells about a young male sophomore who confessed a sexual relationship with an older man. Jennings never reported the incident and only told the boy, “I hope you knew to use a condom.”

John Holdren, Obama’s chief science advisor, better known as the Science Czar, coauthored a textbook (“Ecoscience”) in the late 1970s which advocated bizarre population control methods. According to Fox News, those methods include “forcing single women to abort their babies or put them up for adoption; implanting sterilizing capsules in people when they reach puberty; and spiking water reserves and staple foods with a chemical that would make people sterile.”

Ecoscience states that, “Several coercive proposals deserve discussion, mainly because some countries may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birth rates are rapidly reversed by other means. Some involuntary measures could be less repressive or discriminatory, in fact, than some of the socioeconomic measures suggested.”

Obama’s Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, has declared that “representatives of animals should be able to bring private suits to ensure that anticruelty and related laws are actually enforced. Of course, any animals would be represented by human beings, just like any other litigant who lacks ordinary (human) competence…If getting rid of the idea that animals are property is helpful in reducing suffering, then we should get rid of the idea that animals are property.”

These are just a sampling of the many loony leftists who occupy Obama’s administration. Along with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, it is as if the inmates have taken over the asylum. Clearly, extreme liberals are now firmly in control of the leadership of the Democrat Party.

If you doubt this, consider why, with a significant majority in the House and a filibuster- proof majority in the Senate, Democrats are struggling to pass either of their signature pieces of legislation, health care and climate control. Part of the answer to this lies with many of the freshmen and sophomore Democrats who swept into the House in 2006 and 2008. Because of the make up of their districts, many of these Democrats are significantly more conservative than the heart of their party. Many of these will lose in the next election (2010) if they are seen as too liberal.

It is as if Obama and his ilk are aware of this but unmoved by the prospect. They seem so desperate to seize the moment and reshape the country that they are blind to the electoral (or any other) consequences.

Now that Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, it is as if his radical liberal credentials are complete. All that is left to do is make the United States into the socialist nation that liberals crave.

This liberal dream can be defeated. There are certainly signs that a majority of Americans are waking up to what is really happening. I just hope that it is not too late.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Darwinian Evolution is not compatible with Scripture

Darwinian evolution is in direct contradiction to what the Bible reveals about creation. An atheist who completely denies God and the Bible and holds molecules to man evolution up as absolute truth has a more logically defensible position than the Christian who wants to mix evolution and Scripture. 

Given that we have had decades of Darwinian evolution and millions/billions of years preached in the public (as well as the private) school system, it is not surprising that even spiritually mature Christians want to compromise Scripture with evolution in this sense. Many sincere and well-meaning believers (including me at one time) have taken this erroneous approach to God’s Word. 

I’m afraid many people, on both sides of the issue, are making the same mistake in this debate: believing that evolution is only about science and that creation is only about religion. This is nonsense. The information in this debate is the same for all of us; what is different is the framework through which the information is interpreted. One way to frame this is not as “science-versus-religion” debate, but rather a “religion-versus-religion” debate. 

I can see why nonbelievers would totally disregard what the Bible has to say about creation, so let me speak to those who call themselves Christians. Try, for a moment, reading Genesis chapter 1, putting aside any outside influences. Looking at it in this way, one would have to admit that we cannot deduce millions/billions of years from a straightforward reading of this passage. 

The Hebrew word for day used in Genesis chapter 1 is yom.” A number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used for each of the six Days of Creation. In Scripture outside Genesis 1, yom is used with a number 410 times. Each time it means an ordinary day. In Scripture outside Genesis 1, yom is used with the word “evening” or “morning” 23 times. “Evening” and “morning” appear in association, but without yom, 38 times. All 61 times the text refers to an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception for the use of yom

Also, Darwinian evolution declares that all life, including mankind, came into being after billions of years of death and struggle. However, the Bible teaches us that “in the beginning” God made everything “good,” and there was no death. Death did not come into the world until mankind sinned and God cursed all of His perfect creation. 

Many Christians want to declare Genesis, or at least parts of it, as allegory. Those who claim to be champions for science and reason seem to want to abandon it when it comes to interpreting Scripture. There is nothing within Genesis, the other books of the Bible, or the universe itself that would logically allow for the first book of the Bible to be allegorical. 

If Genesis is a “metaphor,” then all the rest of Scripture is in question. There is much evidence throughout all the rest of Scripture to support the fact that Genesis is literal history. Many other books directly refer to Genesis and its characters in a way that shows they were regarded as nothing but historical people and events. Consider how often the New Testament refers to Genesis and its characters. Dozens of times Adam, Eve, the Serpent (Satan), Cain, Abel, Noah, the Flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lot, and so on, are directly (and indirectly) referenced. They are spoken of as real historical characters, not mythological beings. 

In Romans chapter 5 Paul refers directly to Adam and compares him to Christ as “a pattern of the one to come.” First Corinthians 15:22 states, “For as in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive.” This refers to all of humanity being under the same curse of death that was placed on Adam, because we all are his descendents. Second Corinthians 11:2 says, “…just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning…” thus making a direct reference to Eve, Satan, and The Fall. 

The gospel message of Jesus has its roots firmly planted in Genesis. Consider what is said in Romans chapter 5: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men…Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness (Jesus’ atoning death) was justification that brings life to all men.” Jesus came to save all people. Save from what? From sin and death. How did sin and death come to all people? By what is revealed in Genesis. 

If we don’t have a literal Creator, a literal creation, a literal Adam, a literal Eve, a literal serpent, a literal garden, a literal tree, a literal fruit, and a literal fall, why did Jesus have to come and die for our sins? It all goes back to Genesis! 

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Flood

The recent torrential rains that have fallen on Georgia sparked my interest in other significant floods in American and world history. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Floods are the result of a multitude of naturally occurring and human-induced factors, but they all can be defined as the accumulation of too much water in too little time in a specific area. Types of floods include regional floods, flash floods, ice-jam floods, storm-surge floods, dam- and levee-failure floods, and debris, landslide, and mudflow floods.”

Going back to 1889, the U.S. has seen over 30 significant flood events which resulted in thousands of deaths and many billions of dollars in property damage. Also according to the USGS, during the 20th century, floods were the number-one natural disaster in the United States in terms of the number of lives lost and property damage.

Excluding hurricanes, 1889 saw the worst flood in U.S. history. The Johnstown Flood saw over 2200 deaths. It was the largest loss of U.S. civilian lives at that time. The flood was a result of a storm that formed overNebraska and Kansas on May 28, 1889.  The storm strengthened as it moved east towards the Johnstown (Pennsylvania) area. Six to ten inches of rain fell in 24 hours in the Johnstown-South Fork region.

As a result of the downpours, the South Fork Dam, located about 14 miles upstream from Johnstown, burst, sending 20 million tons of water (about 5 billion gallons) hurdling toward Johnstown and other smaller towns. As the wall of water tore downstream, huge masses of debris accumulated in the water.

Nearly an hour after the collapse of the South Fork Dam, the flood hit Johnstown. Moving at nearly 40 miles per hour, the wall of water and debris was 60 feet high. A witness upstream on high ground noted that the water was nearly obscured by the debris and resembled “a huge hill rolling over and over.” (Smaller towns hit upstream were struck with such force that afterward only bare rock remained.)

The most significant flood events are usually the result of hurricanes. According to Time magazine the top 15 most costly weather events in U.S. history were all hurricanes and floods. Of course, hurricane Katrina tops the list with a price tag of $85.5 billion.

I say all of this to note that every flood, tsunami, or any other natural disaster the world over, pales in comparison to the world-wide flood recorded in the book of Genesis. The account of Noah and his Ark is one of the best known events described in the Bible. As devastating, disruptive, and destructive as the natural disasters mentioned above were, imagine the massive ruin that a world-wide flood would bring.

In spite of our familiarity with the Flood event, the reality of it is almost incomprehensible. Much of the artwork depicting the Flood treats it in a rather trite and childish way. The reality is that after Creation week, it is the greatest physical event the world has ever known.

The Flood brought, among other things, earthquakes, volcanoes, and geysers of molten lava. It carved out canyons and river beds. It pushed up mountain ranges and separated continents, and most likely ushered in an ice age. The Flood physically changed the world in ways we can barely imagine.

Also, notably, the global Flood as described in Genesis is a significant event when it comes to explaining (from a biblical perspective) much of what is held up today as evidence for Darwinian evolution. Most of the fossil record, layers in the earth, canyons, mountain ranges, etc. can be explained by the Flood. Of course, evolutionists will scoff at this, but when we see with our own eyes what devastation a local flood can bring, it should be less difficult to understand the possible results of a global flood.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Resetting Georgia's Budget Cycle

In these tough economic times, much has been reported on the difficulties that local, state, and federal governments have had setting their budgets. Even with layoffs, furloughs, pay-cuts, tax increases, and so on, politicians at all levels are still facing some very difficult budget decisions.

The financial problems for governments show no immediate signs of letting up. This is especially true for U.S. states. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that, “On July 1 — the start of the fiscal year in most states — an unusually high number of states were still struggling to adopt budgets for fiscal year 2010. Most states have adopted budgets that closed the shortfalls they faced with a combination of federal stimulus dollars, service reductions, revenue increases, and funds from reserves. But these budgets are already falling out of balance as the economy has caused state revenues to decline even more than projected.”

Of course, no state has seen more financial difficulties than the great liberal experiment that is most commonly called California. Given the Golden State’s financial crisis and its current gubernatorial race, some interesting economic ideas are being proposed.

California republican gubernatorial candidate, Tom Campbell, has a particularly interesting budget plan. According to columnist George Will, Campbell “favors resetting the budget cycle so that the state would accumulate one year's revenues to be spent the following year, when precise knowledge would replace wishful thinking about available revenues.”

Campbell is no economic novice. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, where Milton Friedman was his faculty advisor. Campbell has served as a California State Senator, has been elected to the U.S. Congress five times, and has served as Director of Finance for the State of California.

According to Campbell’s Web site, under current law, California’s legislature and governor set a budget based on what they expect revenue to be. Instead, Campbell notes, “they should set the budget on the lower of: 1) what they expect revenue to be, or 2) what the revenue actually was in the previous fiscal year. When revenue is growing, the extra amount will earn interest. When revenue is falling, the legislature will have one year’s lead time; they can spread the necessary cuts over two years. It will take some years to phase in this proposal. To be conservative, let’s give it 10 years. After 10 years, we will collect money in the current year, put it in an interest bearing account, and not spend it until the next year. What’s in that account is what we have to spend.

Like many other states, Georgia’s constitution requires that it operate under a balanced budget. Also, like virtually every other state (according to my research), to determine the size of its budget, Georgia must make a revenue estimate. According to the Legislative Budget Office, “The Governor, who is the Budget Director, is responsible for making the official revenue estimate. He is assisted in this responsibility by a state economist under contract as a consultant with the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, which manages the budget for the Governor. The basis for making revenue projections is a computerized econometrics model. From this model, a range of estimates is provided to the Governor by this economic consultant.”

Georgia is currently among at least 15 states which already have new shortfalls in their 2010 budgets. Trying to nail down accurate budget numbers is, to say the least, an inexact science. Why not remove the guesswork and let the previous year’s revenue fund the following year’s budget?

After all, isn’t this how it works with virtually every family, church, and business that operates with a budget? The previous month’s (or week’s) earnings pay for the next month’s expenses. Is it so far fetched to think that our government would budget as do most other institutions?

As U.S. Senate candidate, Rand Paul, (Congressman Ron Paul’s son) puts it, “People think that there is a different logic for an economy than there is for an individual.” In other words, what doesn’t make sense in a family or business budget should not make sense for the government.

Georgia will elect a new governor next year. Almost certainly the economic plan for each candidate will be the foremost issue throughout the campaign. I would like to see at least one of the candidates have the forward vision of Dr. Campbell and put the state of Georgia on an economic path that brings us into to an era of more financial accountability and less uncertainty.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

The "New Religion of the First World Elites"

Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming (AGW) skeptics have an unusual ally from the land Down Under. Recently, by a vote of 42 to 30, the Australian Senate rejected their version of cap-and-trade.

In a speech opposing the bill, Senator Nick Minchin stated, “this whole extraordinary scheme, which would do so much damage to Australia, is based on the as yet unproven assertion that anthropogenic emissions of CO2are the main driver of global warming.... The Rudd government arrogantly refuses to acknowledge that there remains a very lively scientific debate about the extent of and the main causes of climate change, with thousands of highly reputable scientists around the world of the view that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are not and cannot be the main driver of the small degree of global warming that occurred in the last 30 years of the 20th century.”

Leading Australia’s march away from AGW is its most eminent geologist Ian PlimerPlimer is a Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (University of Adelaide) and Emeritus Professor in the School ofEarth Sciences (University of Melbourne). He has authored six books and 60 papers and has twice (1995 and 2002) won Australia’s Eureka Prize, science prizes awarded in the fields of scientific research & innovation, science leadership, science communication & journalism and school science.

His latest book, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science, is the product of 40 years’ research containing over 2,300 footnotes. It sheds light on many of the false claims of man-made global warming. As Robert Tracinski and Tom Minchin recently noted, “The influence of Plimer's book is particularly interesting because it is not a light introduction to the topic. It is a thick book, chock full of science…If the book is comprehensive in its scope, that is because everything science has discovered about ‘history, archaeology, geology, astronomy, ocean sciences, atmospheric sciences, and the life sciences’—Plimer's list—refutes the global warming dogma.”

Interestingly, Plimer is also an ardent atheist and evolutionist. In other words, he is normally a darling of the political left. Australia’s 1995 Humanist of the Year, Plimer has been arrested and taken to court for disrupting meetings by creationists. One of his books is Telling Lies for God: Reason vs. Creationism.

As vehemently as Plimer has gone after Christians, especially those who take a literal view of the Bible, he has gone after the AGW crowd. He calls global warming “the new religion of First World urban elites,” adding that “Environmentalism has many of the hallmarks of failed European socialism and Western (failed) Christianity. It has a holy book which few have read (IPCC reports), has prophets (Gore) who cannot be challenged, relies on dogma, ignores contrary evidence, has armies of wide-eyed missionaries...; imposes guilt, has a catastrophist view of the planet, and seeks indulgences.”

Now, of course, I could not disagree with him more when it comes to Christianity, the Bible, and Creation. I also find it highly ironic that, even though Plimer possesses a worldview that in almost every way agrees with those who have turned their eyes toward “Mother Earth”—worshipping and serving “created things rather than the Creator,”—he remains an “unbeliever.”

After all, evolutionary philosophy teaches that, since all life sprang from the same single celled source, all living things are “related.” Darwinian evolutionists see humans as a product of nature and natural processes. Therefore, to see humans on equal footing with all other life and owing our very existence to the earth are very logical conclusions for such a philosophy.

This view of the “Church of Environmentalism” is summed up by the monk, Phra Paisal Visalo, who, in the Bangkok Post recently stated that, “Humans fail to realize that they're part of nature. They can survive and maintain their race throughout the passage of time, simply because of nature's mercy and hospitality. Humans should be grateful to nature.”

There you have it. Leave it to an atheist such as Plimer to recognize a religion when he sees one.

This would all be just interesting and sad if we weren’t staring at climate legislation that threatens to cripple our economy further and is based on such nonsense. However, there is still hope that, just as happened in Australia, the Senate here can stop the legislation. After all, if an atheist can help reveal the light of the truth Down Under, anything is possible.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Feds Should Heed the Lessons of GM and Chrysler

Forget Obamacare. Forget stimulus plans, government bailouts, cap-and-tax, or any other recent or imminent spending legislation. The current level of government involvement in pensions (Social Security) and healthcare (Medicare/Medicaid) alone could soon bankrupt this country. General Motors and Chrysler provide the lesson here.

General Motors’ and Chrysler’s obligation to nearly 700,000 retired employees’ healthcare and pension funds was the most significant contributing factor to their bankruptcy earlier this year. Do you think this conclusion is far reaching? Roger Lowenstein, columnist for Bloomberg News and author of the 2008 book While America Aged, doesn’t think so (see column here)—at least when it comes to GM.

The thesis of Lowenstein’s book was that “many decades of inflated pension and health-care benefits forced the company to redirect its free cash flow to retired workers. As a result, there was little or nothing left for the shareholders.”

Lowenstein notes that, “In 2003, GM sold $13.5 billion in bonds—one of the biggest debt offerings ever—and plowed the money into its pension fund. Then in 2007, after the UAW went on strike, GM agreed to funnel more than $30 billion into a special trust for retiree health care.”

He concludes, “It was as if the company had secretly been sold and now belonged to the retired workers and their dependents.” Of course, with the Obama administration’s takeover of Chrysler and GM, Lowenstein’s “as if” proved all too literal. With the companies restructuring, the UAW now owns 17.5% of GM and 55% of Chrysler.

With its current level of indebtedness (and the prospect of even more), the dilemma that faces the U.S. government is very similar to what broke Chrysler and GM. The former GM was roughly a microcosm of the U.S.government: large, powerful, wealthy, leader of its industry, and so on. For 77 consecutive years, from 1931 to 2007, GM led the world in sales of automobiles. This streak, of course, is by far longer than any other automaker in history. If there ever was a company that was “too big to fail,” it was GM.

The twentieth century saw the U.S. flex its industrial, technological, military, and economic might to the extent that, with the fall of the Soviet Union, America now stands as the world’s lone military and economic super-power. With only 4.5% of the world’s population, the U.S. represents 23.6% of world gross domestic product.

However, like GM and Chrysler, but to an even greater extent, the U.S. is staring at an economic reckoning unlike anything the world has ever known. Before its bankruptcy, GM lost money on every car it made. Currently, the U.S. spends $2 for every $1 it takes in. GM’s losses weren’t nearly this drastic.

Also, according to the 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Report, the combined unfunded liability of these two programs has reached nearly $107 trillion in today's dollars. Medicare and Social Security trust funds will be exhausted in 2017 and 2037, respectively.

Is the United States “too big to fail”? Some think so. Certainly most of the world shares an interest in not seeing economic ruin come to the U.S. However, unlike G.M. and Chrysler, there will be no bailout for the U.S. No one could afford it.

As with the U.S., the automakers were warned before disaster struck. For example, an Institutional Risk Analytics column from 2005 concluded that, “Even [if] GM and Ford [were] to suddenly produce products that were superior to those of the various foreign competitors, and at a lower price, the accumulated retirement and health care liabilities to current and retired workers would still threaten their solvency.”

Moody’s has warned the U.S. that if it doesn’t clean up its act, America stands to lose her Triple-A credit rating (first issued in 1917). In other words, the U.S. would be downgraded like a bad company.

America literally cannot afford its current level of federal spending, and it especially cannot afford the spending increases the Obama administration seeks. Unlike the automakers, congress and the president must heed the many warning bells being sounded by the experts and by everyday common-sense citizens all over the country. From Moody’s to the TEA parties to the town halls, Americans are saying ENOUGH! Stop this spending madness!

Will congress and the president listen? Time will tell, but time is running out.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Who's Laughing Now?

On Rush Limbaugh's radio program yesterday he took issue with Democrats such as Nancy Peolsi, comparing those showing up at town hall meetings and opposing Obamacare with Nazi's. On Pelosi, Rush said, "Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House. She is very powerful, one of the most powerful people in the country. This is what I mean by unraveling. She's running around now claiming that we're Nazis, that not only are we an unruly mob but that people are showing up wearing swastikas..." 

Rush continued, "They accuse us of being Nazis and Obama's got a health care logo that's right out of Adolf Hitler's playbook. Now what are the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi party in Germany? Well, the Nazis were against big business. They hated big business and, of course, we all know that they were opposed to Jewish capitalism. They were insanely, irrationally against pollution. They were for two years mandatory voluntary service to Germany. They had a whole bunch of make-work projects to keep people working one of which was the Autobahn." 

Following Rush's program, later in the day, Chris Matthews on Hardball took issue with Rush. Watch below: 


Now a simple Google search on "smoking ban" gives a link to, of course, a Wikipedia article, which states the following: "The first modern, nationwide tobacco ban was imposed by the Nazi Party in every German university, post office, military hospital, and Nazi Party office, under the auspices of Karl Astel's Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research, created in 1941 under orders from Adolf Hitler. Major anti-tobacco campaigns were widely broadcast by the Nazis until the demise of the regime in 1945." 

So, the question is who's laughing now? I mean we're talking "Google" and "Wikipedia" here. Matthews, Shrum, and/or their staffs either need to study up on their history, or at least spend more time online. 

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Govern the Least

“Why be afraid of government?” a Princeton professor writing for CNN recently asked. Touting the need for Obama’s healthcare plan, disappointingly the professor added that, “Democrats are still scared about defending the value of government.”

As an example of “the value of government,” the good professor went into significant details about the massive government program known as Medicare. Declaring Medicare a resounding success, the professor concluded that, “The program succeeded. Government worked.”

It is true that governments do many things well. I’m no anarchist. I certainly believe there is a role for good government in our country.

Consider some of the many areas of our lives that government currently occupies: healthcare (Medicare/Medicaid), retirement (Social Security), mail service (USPS), education, transportation, recreation (state parks), public utilities (power, water, sewer), and so on. As does the Princeton professor, many folks, liberal and conservative, see the government’s current role in these various institutions as a positive thing.

Of course, recently government got even more of a boost. With its foray into the automobile, insurance, and banking industries, there seems to be no institution into which the government (at least the current one) will not interject its mighty self.

Also, as there supposedly would be with Obamacare, some of those in support of big government will note, there is successful “competition” with government and private industry in many of the aforementioned institutions. FedEx and UPS compete with the U.S. Postal Service, private schools compete with public ones, private transportation competes with public transportation, and so on.

However, government, even when it has competition, never plays fair. For example, consider the mail. By law, UPS and FedEx are prohibited from offering to deliver First Class mail. Therefore, the government has a legal monopoly on a significant part of mail delivery.

When it comes to transportation and recreation, the government has the right to eminent domain. And, of course, the government has the power to tax to support everything from education to transportation. Also, the government can print money, make law, and has the power of the police and the military to enforce the law.

In addition, government programs don’t have to turn a profit, nor do they have to pay taxes. In other words, private industry competing with government is like a local high school football b-team heading down to Athens to take on the Bulldogs. It is simply no contest and it is ludicrous to think otherwise.

Furthermore, once the government gets involved, to end its participation is like finding an NFL team that wants Michael Vick. Entitlement programs, such as Social Security, are the classic example of this. These programs are massive: As of 2008, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up 42% of the federal budget. Medicare alone has $36 trillion in unfunded liabilities. As president Bush found out, it is practically impossible to reign in and reform these beasts.

Once the government gets itself established in an additional part of our lives, another piece of our liberty goes out the window—perhaps never to return. This is the real danger. Even the folks over at CNN have recently (see here) pointed out five significant freedoms that would be lost under Obamacare: 1.) Freedom to choose what’s in your plan 2.) Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs 3.) Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage 4.) Freedom to keep your existing plan 5.) Freedom to choose your doctors.

Undoubtedly, there are real problems with our healthcare industry—or more appropriately with the health insurance industry. (One of the great myths in this debate comes from confusing the word “care” with the word “insurance.”) Most of these problems are a result of the role that government already plays in the matter.

For example, currently many state governments mandate that insurance companies cover all sorts of services—from chiropractic care to hair transplants—that many people don’t want or need and that should be paid for out of pocket. This practice alone is a major cause for increased health insurance costs. The current version of Obamacare in both houses would impose such “standard benefits packages” on every plan offered.

Whatever the shortcomings of our current healthcare industry, more government is not the solution. “That government is best which governs least,” said Thomas Paine. In this succinct, but profound proverb, lies the heart of the solution to the healthcare debate. Congress and the president would do well to begin and end with this in mind.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Founders Understood the Nature of Man

I have found common ground for liberals and conservatives. In general, most liberals have a significant distrust of corporate America, as well as a somewhat healthy distrust of capitalism. As a recent rather liberal blogger noted, “Industry after industry after industry and within them big corporation after big corporation after big corporation has acted recklessly and with only their narrow interests and avarice in mind. Often killing, maiming and poisoning tens of thousands of people without consequence or justice. That is why we have an EPA. That is why we have a CPSC. That is why we have federal oversight (supposedly) of the crooks and thieves on Wall Street and Main Street.”

Similarly, on the whole, conservatives have considerable distaste for big government and are rather suspicious of government in general. Attorney/writer Tommy De Seno highlights this in his definition of conservatism: “Conserving the rights of the individual against the trespasses of government, and the trespasses of others.”

These institutional misgivings are not without merit and they are very much rooted in the Christian view of human nature. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Christianity teaches that it is in the basic nature of each of us to be selfish. I submit to you that this take on humanity was well understood by our founders, is reflected in the founding documents of the United States, and thus is further evidence of the Christian heritage of our nation.

“There is a degree of depravity in mankind,” wrote James Madison in The Federalist Papers, “which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust.” Over a period of 11 months between 1787 and 1788, to persuade the state of New York to ratify the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay authored The Federalist Papers.

In Federalist 51 Madison summarized the misgivings of both today’s liberal and conservative: “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

The first governing documents in this nation, the Mayflower Compact (1620) which united the Pilgrims, and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638), considered the first Constitution written in America, both were contracts adopted by Christians and were predicated upon the Christian view of mankind.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was such a significant work that it served as a model of government for the other colonies and eventually as a model for the U.S. Constitution. As noted in The Light and the Glory, “the (U.S.) Constitution…was constructed on the realistic and Scriptural assumption that the natural self-interest and self-love of man has to be checked. The checks and balances were ingenious: there would be three separate branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial.”

For further evidence of the influence of Christianity on U.S. government, consider the work of French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville. In the early 1830s, Tocqueville toured the U.S. seeking to discover why the representative democracy present in America was so successful here while failing in so many other places. His efforts produced Democracy in America, an early classic account of the democratic system of U.S.government.

Tocqueville devoted a significant portion of his work to the effects of Christianity on American life. Upon his arrival in the United States he declared that, “the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention.”

Having noted the direct influence of religion upon politics in America, Tocqueville concluded that “In the United States the sovereign authority is religious…there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth…The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.”

Human beings are cursed with a sinful nature that, while yearning for freedom, requires significant accountability. Our founders understood this well and gave us the finest documents ever produced by man for his own self government which has resulted in the most enduring form of government that the world currently knows.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com