Make to yourselves friends. Christ…teaches us that by acts of charity we obtain favor with God, who has promised, that to the merciful he will show himself merciful, (Psalm 18:25.)…
The Lord looks not to the persons, but to the work itself, so that our liberality, though it may happen to be exercised towards ungrateful men, will be of [benefit] to us in the sight of God. […The depravity of men does not prevent the Lord from placing on his records all that we have expended on the poor.]
…Our kindness to the poor will be a seasonable relief to us; for whatever any man may have generously bestowed on his neighbors the Lord acknowledges as if it had been done to himself.
Calvin’s explanation makes me reconsider the make-up of my own giving.
To the parts I did understand, Calvin says:
When you fail. By this word he expresses [our] time of death, and reminds us that the time of our administration [of riches] will be short, lest the confident expectation of a longer…life should make us take a firmer grasp. …Many squander what they have on superfluities; while others…deprive both themselves and others of the benefit…
Of the mammon of unrighteousness. By giving this name to riches…Christ justly represents them as worthy of our suspicion; just as on another occasion he called them thorns, (Matthew 13:7, 22.)
[…Christ intends, by way of an unstated contrast,] that riches, which otherwise, in consequence of wicked abuse, polluted their possessors, and are almost in every [case] allurements of sin, ought to be directed to a contrary object, to be the means of procuring favor for us. [This is] a warning given to believers to keep themselves free from unrighteousness.
Key to the right use of riches, then, is to neither squander nor hoard; using it not as an occasion for sin but, instead, for righteousness.
Clarifying what our attitude should be when giving, the Apostle Paul cautions:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (ESV)
In 1814, during the first revolutionary period, John Adams said: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” He also said: “It is vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than autocracy or monarchy…” The authors of The Fourth Revolution contend that the secret of good governance lies in checking human desires, not letting them run free.
America’s founding fathers also worried that democracy would crush individual liberty. The majority would use pressure and regulation to press the minority into conformity. The authors say few examine these issues now. In the vacuum, voters regard the practice of democracy as corrupt and inefficient. And yet they won’t question the theory. Their contempt delegitimizes government and turns setbacks into crises.
Democracy is overloaded with obligations, overburdened with unfulfillable expectations, and distorted by special interests. The population’s dependency forces government to continuously expand. During the second revolution, nineteenth century liberals in Great Britain reformed both the state’s machinery and its form of representation. The authors suggest today’s politicians should trim the state and renew democracy.
The rise of the Beijing consensus’s top down modernization and meritocratic governmental institutions makes the west’s democratic alternative seem regressive. America demonstrates too many of democracy’s vices and Europe too few of its virtues.
America’s checks and balances, though successful in the past in preventing the tyranny of the majority, has been subverted to become a political tool that decreases efficiency, compromise, and justice. America’s gerrymandering voting districts entrench special interests, extremism, and mediocre representation for a lifetime. America’s lobbying by special interests awash in money begs the question of graft and favoritism.
Europe, in an effort to stifle popular passions that caused two world wars, has sacrificed national sovereignty to technocratic governmental, financial, and trade bodies and, in the process, are vivifying national populist movements.
Economic inequality is putting western democracy to the test. Quoting Louis Brandeis, “we can have a democratic society or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.” In the era of financial crisis with less to go around and a bloated but inefficient welfare state, the West must stop democracy’s decay or risk their people’s ire.
The authors call for limited government that constrains itself through self-denying ordinances. In the process, three government dangers must be overcome: liberty encroaching expansion, surrender to special interests, and making unfulfillable promises.
As remedies, the authors propose balanced budgets over the economic cycle, fully funded and means tested entitlements tied to life expectancy, and sunset clauses for laws and regulations. Handing some economic power to technocrats and independent commissions and pushing decisions to the states and cities are ways to limit centralized power.
Micklethwait and Wooldridge say that the cost of inaction is high—unreformed, the welfare state will collapse under oppressive debt. The opportunity is great—the rewards to states that revive democracy and reduce the burden of the state will sprint ahead of its peers economically and in life satisfaction. History will be on the side of the nations that promote individual liberty.
We in the West are polarized politically. Our leaders pander to special interests instead of providing for the common good. How much longer can we mortgage our children’s future to pay for our pensions and health care? We are getting less benefit from and paying more for our educational system. We’re transferring tax revenues to the middle classes and crony capitalists in agriculture, defense, finance, etc. at the expense of caring for the truly poor.
The world is looking to the East as the model for economic advances and a better life at the expense of individual liberties. We in the West must become serious about reforming our systems or be left behind in the rubbish heap of history. Some western states, provinces, and cities are becoming more efficient through experimentation. There are lots of ideas to try, if only we were willing to start.
In the coming weeks we’ll cover how Beatrice and Sidney Webb laid the foundations for the welfare state in the third revolution, how Lee Kuan Yew created the Asian Consensus, and how the Nordic states point the way to the future.
Please forgive this Hollywood conceit: “The arrogance of man is thinking nature is under our control, and not the other way around.” Actually, the Lord Jesus Christ is in control but we don’t even believe the Hollywood metaphor, so…
Godzilla – Asia Trailer [HD]
It’s not as if there was some gathering storm on the horizon.
5/18/14 Wright to Newcastle, WY Supercell Time-Lapse
Of course, that’s not what some would have you believe.
A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable…
Glaciologists use the word “collapse” to describe a shift towards an irretrievable loss of an ice sheet. There is, reckons Dr Joughin, probably nothing that can now be done to save the Thwaites glacier. Much of the coverage of the new studies, though, suggests there will be a collapse in the everyday, imminent sense of the word.
Dr Joughin’s models predict that once the loss of ice from the Thwaites glacier really gets going, it may be enough to raise sea levels by a further 1mm a year by itself. But they also predict that this will not start to happen for at least another 200 years—and perhaps much longer than that. Bad news, then, but not quite a collapse—or at least, not on human timescales.
But what’s the worst that can happen?
Quoted in a WSJ opinion article, Secretary Kerry said, while addressing graduates of Boston College,
If we make the necessary efforts to address this challenge—and supposing I’m wrong or scientists are wrong, 97% of them all wrong—supposing they are, what’s the worst that can happen? …We put millions of people to work transitioning our energy, creating new and renewable and alternative; we make life healthier because we have less particulates in the air and cleaner air and more health; we give ourselves greater security through greater energy independence—that’s the downside.
The WSJ opinion author says:
The “worst that can happen” is that we spend trillions of dollars trying to solve a problem that we can’t do anything to stop; that we misallocate scarce resources in a way that slows economic growth; that slower growth leads to less economic opportunity for Boston College grads and especially the world’s poor, and that America and the world become much less wealthy and technologically advanced than we would otherwise. All of which would make the world less able to cope with the costs of climate change if Mr. Kerry is right.
And 97% of scientists are agreed so, from a postmodern perspective, it must be settled. I bet 99 and 44/100 percent believed in the Aether before Einstein’s special relativity was verified (Aether is on the march again, though; a relativistic Aether this time).
However, let’s not forget: Truth does not depend on man’s theories, only his theories do.
The climate change controversy seems to be a case of agnotology, the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Quoting from the abstract for ‘Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change’
Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.
Under the rule, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states would be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems — by installing new wind and solar generation or energy-efficiency technology, and by starting or joining state and regional “cap and trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.
Under the draft rule, the EPA would let states and utilities meet the new standard with different approaches mixing four options including energy efficiency, shifting from coal to natural gas, investing in renewable energy and making power plant upgrades. Other compliance methods could include offering discounts to encourage consumers to shift electricity use to off-peak hours.
Republicans are using the proposed rule to assert that Democrats will raise energy costs and kill jobs, and that carbon restrictions are futile in the absence of similar action by China and other large polluting nations…
While Democrats are more vocal than Republicans in saying that man-made climate change is a problem, some in energy-producing states are wary of backing a government response…
Additional WSJ commentary claims large adverse economic impact for small climate improvement:
The EPA claims to be targeting “polluters,” but the government is essentially creating an artificial scarcity in carbon energy. Scarcities mean higher prices, which will hit the poor far harder than they will the anticarbon crusaders who live in Pacific Heights. The lowest 10% of earners pay three times as much as a share of their income for electricity compared to the middle class. If you want more inequality, this is an ideal way to ensure it.
The irony is that all the damage will do nothing for climate change. Based on the EPA’s own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired power plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero-carbon sources would reduce the Earth’s temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years.
And, of course, China is following suit with their own climate change measures. At least, that is, until their people rebel at the resulting deprivations.
Then there’s the whole issue of blatant racism. Caleb S. Rossiter explains in his opinion article ‘Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change.’
…Each American accounts for 20 times the emissions of each African. We [America] are not rationing our electricity. Why should Africa, which needs electricity for the sort of income-producing enterprises and infrastructure that help improve life expectancy? The average in Africa is 59 years—in America it’s 79. Increased access to electricity was crucial in China’s growth, which raised life expectancy to 75 today from 59 in 1968.
“For the vast majority of the world’s population,” Mr. Bryce argues, “the cheapest and most reliable forms of energy are, and will continue to be, hydrocarbons.” Anyone who thinks that he is doing the world a favor by compelling the switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar is consigning billions of people to a life of poverty and darkness.