The Family and Christmas

It’s always good for Christian families to get together at Christmas and celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Saviour. Yet it is interesting that we rarely consider some of the circumstances of His birth, which are of great significance.

What are they?

Jesus was born into Joseph and Mary’s godly family. While His birth was acknowledged by a surprise visit from the magi, along with a bunch of angelically-directed shepherds, not everyone rejoiced at His birth. Herod was of course king, and the notion of a ruler from Bethlehem “who will shepherd My people Israel” (Mat.2:6) did not go down so well with him.

The Lord knew that Herod would respond murderously. He sent an angel who “appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him’” (Mat.2:13).

Why is this significant today?

The godly things you want to do with your children will not be universally popular. Just today I had a man in the work-place sneering at the notion of home-schooling, because (he said), children will only get “brainwashed.” Like Joseph and Mary (and Moses’ parents 1,500 years earlier), you may need to protect your children from those who oppose them receiving a godly upbringing at your hands.

Jesus didn’t get special opportunities in growing up. His Father placed Him in a family, not that dissimilar to yours. And it was in that family that He learned to be under authority. The Bible tells us that in relation to Mary and Joseph, Jesus “…continued in subjection to them…” (Luke 2:51). In another place it says that “…He learned obedience from the things which he suffered” (Heb.5:8). No special passes for Mary’s son.

This teaches us something else. Children’s obedience in the home and family is very important. Jesus learned it, (and Mary had a graphic lesson in the importance of submission/ obedience when she followed her husband to Egypt, after he had been awakened by an angel), and so even though it requires a painstaking effort on our part, training in obedience is a vital part of a child’s education.

The Bible tells us “the wise of heart will receive commands…” (Prov.10:8), and so it is essential to teach children to be command oriented people, in the first God-ordained place of hierarchy in the community, the family.

Why?

Well, that’s what God requires of us. He requires that we give great diligence to obeying His Word, and promises us great blessing in the process. Speaking of His Heavenly Father, Jesus said that “…I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (Jn.8:29). Later on, Jesus exhibited what He had learned in the home of Mary and Joseph, when He ignored the shame and suffering of the cross, to die in obedience to our Heavenly Father.

Lots of people want to have authority, but a lot less people realise that in order to be in authority, you have to be first under it. (This is one of the reasons Jesus commended the Roman centurion in Mat.8:10). But if a Private won’t submit to the Sergeant’s commands, he may stay a Private for a long time.

One day, our families will be celebrating Christmas, and we won’t be there. But there is a grand, God-given opportunity today, to leave behind an impact on your children (just as Joseph and Mary did) that they could well be appreciating more than fifty years from now. And that’ll give you another reason to be celebrating in heaven, at some Christmas time in the future.

We’ve Stopped Thinking

I’m not opposed to a Royal Commission into institutionalised child sex abuse, though the practicalities look pretty challenging. It could bring out of the closet all manner of criminals who need to be prosecuted. And though it’s painful, it is good that it will reveal the negligence and culpability of supposedly Christian organisations (and others) that have failed to protect children.

What’s been happening? Well, we may find out, soon. What is evident is that Christians have gone AWOL for a long time. A long time ago, we stopped thinking about what it means to be responsible in the care of children. We stopped considering what could occur if individuals were left alone with defenceless people, and now that irresponsibility is going to come back to bite us.

That’s hard, but it’s good. Why is it good? Because “it’s time for judgment to begin with the household of God…” (I Pet.4:17). Abuse of children has been endemic within church circles, and perpetrators haven’t been brought to justice.

But let’s think about it. If we’ve been irresponsible about the legitimate protection of children in our care, what about other issues. What else haven’t we been thinking about?

I think the church is getting a massive wake-up call in all of this. It’s time to start thinking, and especially, to start thinking Biblically, something that’s been absolutely neglected in the modern era.

What does it mean to think Biblically? It means to think like God thinks. It means to ensure that we begin to think along Biblical lines. That takes time. It means putting aside the newspaper (if anyone reads them now) and the TV, and reading the Bible, to find out how God thinks, and to make every effort to emulate Him.

That is something that’s possible. It is something God actually requires of us. It means a Christian education, and I’m not referring to religious activity, unrelated to the Bible.

There is a lot to do. There are a lot of changes to make in how we think, because we’ve gone off -site up till now. We have a job to do, and it is a massive one. Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Mat.28:19-20).

Not everything religious is Christian. Sleeping in a garage doesn’t make you a car, and being in church doesn’t make you a Christian. Furthermore, the Bible shows us that the devil knows how to quote the Bible out of context. He tried that little stunt with Jesus (Mat.4:5-6). So we have a lot of sorting out to do separating wheat from chaff, all of which is absolutely necessary.

Fortunately, there are genuine Christian scholars around who will help us think Biblically. Go looking, and you’ll find them. But before you start that process, begin with the Bible itself, which should be every Christian’s text-book, always.

Genesis 1 teaches us a lot. It teaches us that God made everything in six days (v.1). It wasn’t an evolutionary process; Darwin was totally wrong. It also teaches us that God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (v.26).

So, man was created to rule. But to rule according to the Bible, we are to be moral creatures, subject to our Creator. That means learning from Him, and it means obeying Him.

The world began to believe Darwin in the nineteenth century, and in the twentieth century his followers like Stalin, Hitler and Mao mustered enough influence to put in place political policies that showed how destructive his beliefs really could be. More innocent people died in the twentieth century (about 150 million), than in all other centuries combined. Thankyou Mr Darwin.

The great reformers of the church have been teachers. Think of Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Knox. They all recognised that for the church to be all that God wants it to be, people have to be taught. That means doctrine, instruction and growing in understanding. It especially means changing our attitudes about responsibility.

And it means applying what we know from scripture to every aspect of life. It means social reformation (not revolution), and reconstruction. A lot of work and responsibility for Christians, as we pick up tasks we’ve been ignoring for way too long.

Now quite frankly, it’s time for us to grow up. A lot of things have been neglected, and it’s been to our detriment. We look and are considered to be incompetent, because we are; there’s no point in denying it.

Now it’s time to get off our backsides and begin to master a Christian world-view. The world is waiting for it to happen; in fact it’s tearing itself to pieces while it waits for us to find our feet; sleeping church-smashing world.

We haven’t been thinking Biblically, but we can. God requires it of us, as individuals, as families, as churches. Our loss of authority has been commensurate with our loss of a Christian world–view.

Let me give you one good example of what can happen. The Magna Carta was written by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who used it to confront King John of England in 1215, saying, effectively, “Sign this, or it’s all over.” John knew the Archbishop had integrity, along with social and political influence, a Biblical world-view, and most of all, authority. He signed.

Find your area of God-ordained activity, the place He has called you to serve Him, and go for it. You can expect to be graced of God, as you do. Yes, it will require time, work, dirty hands and possibly tears, but the outcome could be remarkable. And when the whole church is doing this, we really will see some great things happening, and the world will benefit.

From Bad to Worse to Catastrophic? (VII)

A world-transforming gospel is not one that offers a religious way of life whose visible positive effects are strictly confined to family and church-hearth and home-because people demand more from a world-and-life view than the promise of a safe place of temporary retreat when the work day or work week is done. What people insist upon is a system for their life’s work that really does work. What they demand, in short, is a system for dominion.

We Christians have got some time. Time for what? To get our act together, to prepare for what is coming.

The answer for what’s coming financially doesn’t lie in heading for the hills. What’s really needed, is responsible people who will be around and be prepared to take up the load, when things go really pear-shaped. But taking up the load requires preparation, and initially this is preparation of heart and mind.

It is a fact that “power flows to those that take responsibility.” People want to help others. That’s good. But what we must do, is understand what God requires of us, what kind of help people really need, and how to conserve our limited resources so that they are used wisely.

When people are in crisis, the first people they should be calling on is their family. Yes, the church has a measure of responsibility, but the family has always been the basic institution for welfare in society, and it is very personal.

The Bible says, “…while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal.6:10). So, we have a Bible-taught priority: God’s people come first, and then others.

Even among God’s people, there are requirements. “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (II Thess.3:10). When there is something available for nothing, it often won’t be there for long, because a long line of people will come for it. It is widows, orphans, the fatherless and aliens who we are firstly responsible to care for, and even widows themselves are to be subject to some restrictions (see I Tim.5.3-16).

When there are resources available in a crisis, lots of unprepared people want to receive handouts. We have to be prepared to say “No” to some. Why? Because if we don’t, those who should be really entitled to receive, will miss out.

Saying “No” for some people is something they find hard. They feel guilty, thinking, “I could never do that.” This is why mental preparation is essential for a crisis, so that people are able to face up to these kinds of personal crises, having faced them already, beforehand. And if they can’t deal with that, they are in the wrong place and will be subject to abuse.

When needy people in the community figure out in a crisis, that resources are available for church people, they will sometimes do what people have done since the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:3-5). They say in effect, “We’re in need. We’re one of your lot. You have to help us.” This should remind us that it is important to have Church Rolls, so that all sorts of people do not turn up making the grandest claims of church membership, we believe them, and open up the storehouse.

The storehouse will soon be empty, if we aren’t smart.

There is much more. A local Food-Bank (set up like a massive warehouse) is about 30 km away from where I live in Brisbane, and it is accessed by a number of community organizations, which make arrangements and come with their trucks to take away loads of food (room temperature, refrigerated and frozen), daily. Some of the food is simply excess, such as day-old bread, along with fruit and vegetables. Other food is nearing its Use-By date, and needs to be distributed fairly quickly or be disposed of.

Some food is given away, while other food has a price attached (perhaps half or less, than retail).

Community groups need a truck, possibly a fork-lift, shelving for storage of room temperature food, along with refrigerators and freezers, and the space for some kind of shop. Some churches could run a truck between themselves: each benefiting, each contributing.

Trucks need a driver, fuel and maintenance. Refrigerators and freezers draw power. All of this takes planning, forethought and lots of money, both for initial purchase and for ongoing costs. It also requires the establishment of procedures.
What do we charge?
Who do we charge?
On what basis?
Do we employ people? How much do they get paid? Why?
Do we want to make a profit? (Is it even possible to make a profit?)
Do we accept donations?
What is the goal of all this work we are going to do?
Is it just good PR for the church, or is there more?
How do we publicise this?
If people have no money, do we let them have anything?
What do we do with those that say they have no money, and may be good at playing the sympathy card? (“My children haven’t eaten for 2 days.”)
What if people have no money, but are willing to help and work?
Should staff members be left in the shop alone? Why not?

I’m sure there are more issues to deal with, along with this one:

When an institution is beginning something new and potentially exciting, a lot of enthusiasm is generated. People think, “This is great! We’re ministering into the community. God is using us. This has great potential.”

But three years later, some of the enthusiasm has waned. The costs keep coming. There’ve been some disappointments, perhaps some sad things happen. Then there are some people saying, “Is this really worth it? It’s costing so much! Where are the benefits?”

It is good to consider this, well before the starting date. Jesus spoke of the importance of “counting the costs” of a plan before starting (Luke 14:28-30). Without this, any plan will be liable to fail.

Conclusion:
In the likely event of great international financial hardship in the future, the church will have some significant opportunities to minister to people. These should be preceded by a careful study of what we should be doing, and how we do it, according to the scriptures.

This will require careful thought and planning, along with consideration of what we want to achieve. These will not be without cost, along with possible benefits.

From Bad to Worse to Catastrophic? (VI)

Today in the United States, the Federal government (when the “on-budget” and “off-budget” amounts are put together) owes 222 trillion dollars. This grows at around 1 trillion each month.

What happens when the creditors stop lending?

In the United States, the baby–boom generation (born from 1945-1964) is beginning to retire. Let’s say that this group (which numbers 76 million) discover that the payments for their retirement which were supposedly “safe,” have been ransacked by a government running short of cash.

Almost 50 million Americans are on food-stamps. What happens when that many people (who generally don’t keep a lot of groceries in the house) who were planning to use their fortnightly Social Security payments for their grocery shopping, find that their payment hasn’t arrived?

What happens in a nation of 315 million people, when ALL of the government Social Security and medical payments stop going out, overnight? For an unprepared nation, the result will be catastrophic. Declaring that there might be a lot of angry people, would be an understatement.

None of this is out of the ball-park in the next decade, for the United States. You thought that Americans lived in “the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Well, you gained your definition of freedom from somewhere other than the Bible, and you have a tragic misunderstanding of how things are in the US. When around half of the nation is dependent on Social Security payments, it is no longer the land of the free, but the land of the dependent.

All this is ugly, and all this will probably have to happen. If there isn’t sufficient political will in a nation to address the real issues, you can only postpone a crisis temporarily. It will arrive.

The solutions?

Independence, godliness, responsibility, hard-work, personal saving, frugality, flexibility. These are the things that have characterized successful nations over the centuries. They will have to come back, front and centre.

What has to go?

Foolish expectations of what government can do, or that there are political solutions for personal problems. The government is not your savior. It never has been. It never will be. It cannot be a savior, and when it tries to be one, all these awful things come along to give us the nasty reminder.

Governments have been trying this Savior State routine since the Caesars, and it always finishes up the same. God sends His judgment, the whole thing falls in a heap, and we have to start again with the fundamentals of a godly society.

Christians everywhere, had best get themselves ready.

Inherit the Earth (8)

III. Ethics-Dominion

 The third principle of a Biblical covenant is the principle of ethics-dominion. The basis of long-term authority is obedience to God’s law. This principle of dominion through moral obedience is related to economics in numerous ways, but nothing is clearer than the Bible’s prohibition against theft. The eighth commandment (seventh, if you’re a Lutheran) prohibits theft. This unquestionably is the basis of a defence of the idea of private property.

More important, as we learn in the tenth commandment, God’s law requires the protection of family property. The tenth commandment prohibits coveting anything that is our neighbour’s. It prohibits the mental origin of grasping, greedy evil. The eighth commandment prohibits theft – a visible manifestation of this coveting process. It establishes for all time that it’s illegal and immoral for an individual to steal property which belongs to someone else. As we shall see, it’s equally illegal in God’s sight to get the State to steal for you. The commandment doesn’t say, “You shall not steal, except by majority vote.”[1]

 All of God’s law witnesses to the fact that Biblical ethical behaviour is critical for the Christian. This was the first point of conflict that Adam and Eve faced in the garden. God’s Word to Adam and Eve was “do it my way,” but Satan contradicted this. He effectively said, “Oh no, Adam and Eve. God’s keeping something from you, can’t you see? Do it my way!” Their decision to follow Satan led to them being guilty of theft, and their expulsion from the garden.

When the devil sought to tempt Jesus in the wilderness, his strategy was no different. He sought to subvert God’s Word, and introduce a different plan for Jesus to follow.

Socialists are religious people, and they believe in ethics too: their kind. The Bible tells us that “…there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc.1:9), and the socialist’s vision has come straight from the garden, and is one of theft: theft from people by government. The socialist says to the community, “We really care for you. In fact, we care so much we are willing to take extra money in taxes from those people in the community who are making a lot, and give it to the marginalised and the underprivileged in the community. And this will solve so many problems and make life for the community so much easier.”

 This also is a form of subversion; an attack on God through an attack on people whom God made. This form of government requires increases in taxation, or government debt, or both.

Socialism has never made a community more prosperous, because it relies on coercion, it restricts individual choice, restricts the profit incentive for individuals and business people through increased taxation, and then has to pay a whole army of bureaucrats to ensure there is an “appropriate” distribution of the wealth in the community. As a result, the community is poorer.

The Christian would rather be able to use his gifts and talents as he chooses, because the Bible instructs us to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil.2:13). He would rather be able to make individual choices rather than be coerced, and he wants to see the poor cared for in the way that God has ordained, namely through individuals, the family and the church.

Every other form of government is a form of theft, is harmful to society, and is cursed of God.

 The following Biblical economic principles are essential if we are to exercise effective, God-honouring dominion:

 1. God is the absolute owner of property.

2. Adam’s rebellion was displayed as an act of theft. It began with the desire for something that was not his.

3. Tyranny always involves theft (Pharaoh).

4. The best cooperation is voluntary cooperation.

5. Self-interested people cooperate voluntarily.

6. Beggars don’t exercise dominion.

7. Appeals to charity are not to become the primary basis of gaining other people’s cooperation.

8. Theft by ballot box is not to become the basis of gaining other people’s cooperation.

9. Socialism and Communism are religions of humanism, for they are based on the belief in political man (rather than God) as the supreme ruler.

10. Men’s view of time affects their view of life.

11. Present-oriented people suffer from poverty, both of the spirit and the pocketbook.

12. Present-oriented people are lower-class people.

13. Future-oriented people are upper-class people.

14. Christianity is a future-oriented religion.[2]

 


[1] Gary North, “Inherit the Earth,” 1987.

[2] ibid, p.48.

From Bad to Worse to Catastrophic? (IV)

…all popular resolution of the European monetary crisis is nonsensical. It is nonsensical because Keynesianism is nonsensical. It is nonsensical because republican government, when not grounded in the morality of the Bible, which prohibits theft, is nonsensical. When people use politics to steal from each other, and they do it on a massive scale, baptized by Keynesianism, baptized by the political morality of the day, they are going to destroy their own economic futures. The politics of plunder undermines economic growth.[1]

Over the last three weeks I have been explaining how the policies of government debt, (particularly in the US but also in other countries) have become tragically irresponsible over many years. As a result there will be some very unpalatable outcomes.

Because the Bible warns us that “the prudent sees the evil and hides himself” (Prov.22:3), it is only being sensible to plan ahead and make some contingencies on the strong possibility that financial irresponsibility of governments of the past may very well continue. The track form of governments if followed in future, will lead to disaster. No sensible jockey continues at full gallop, if he’s warned of a deep and wide ditch 100 metres ahead.

The Christian and Precious Metals Today:                                                                

One of the things that is happening today, is that governments all around the world are doing foolish things with money. There’s nothing new about that, but this means that currencies everywhere are being steadily debased. Paper money is printed, but none of it has any gold backing. That means that governments can print a million dollars and put it into circulation, and never have it in the bank. The U.S. government in this (in cohoots with its Reserve Bank) is being more irresponsible than the Australian government. This is one reason why the U.S. dollar has been steadily devaluing against the Australian dollar.

You may hold a hundred dollar bill in your hand today, but will it have the purchasing power in three year’s time, that it has today? You probably know that it won’t. $100 today, will probably have the buying power of about $90.00 in three year’s time. And in historical terms, that’s mild inflation.

In fact, the lesson of history is that all paper currencies end up being worth … nothing. Over the last hundred years, a U.S. dollar has lost about 95% of its value, and every part of that has been a direct result of government policy. An item worth a dollar today, was worth about 5c a hundred years ago. So, a prudent person begins to consider (as I hope you have), “how can I protect my fixed assets? What can I do to stop the value of my money being consistently eroded through inflation?”

Anyone reading this article today has resources. You probably have a computer, possibly a house and a car, and a bank account. Almost everything we buy today, depreciates when we take it out of the shop.

But the precious metals (silver and gold) are different. The price will certainly fluctuate due to variations in supply and demand, but the precious metals have enduring value.

Right from the beginning, God placed value on gold and gems, having created them as reflections of His own glory and beauty. The original value of precious metals and stones was therefore aesthetic rather than economic; their economic significance grew out of the fact that they were valued for their beauty. Aesthetics is prior to economics.[2]

At present, there are two factors driving the price of precious metals consistently higher over time.

The first is international uncertainty and suspicion among investors about the wisdom of the government borrowing and spending programs, which are endemic in the western world. Many countries are thus teetering on bankruptcy, especially in Europe. U.S. government spending is essentially out of control, and there is no real likelihood that this will change before there is some form of financial calamity.

“Investors are frustrated with US monetary policy. They’re saying the heck with the dollar, the heck with currencies and they’re buying metals,” said Ira Epstein, of the Linn Group.[3] Like an alcoholic who ransacks his wife’s purse to steal her new credit card for another drinking binge, the U.S. government keeps finding new ways to borrow, slap the extra loan on top of the other unpaid loans, and say “Who cares?” This cavalier attitude, resulting in rapidly growing debt has been continuing for thirty years, with no concern of the future. It will lead to a crisis.

Debts must be paid. The alternative is default. The U.S. government’s debts cannot be paid. Yet voters cannot bring themselves to face the reality of default. There has always been a way to delay the day of reckoning. There has always been another central bank rabbit to pull out of the fractional reserve hat. There has always been a way to move the decimal points to the right on the asset side one more time, and move the liabilities off budget. There has always been a way to persuade lenders to lend the drunken government enough money for another night on the town.[4]

The Chinese government appears to be seeing some of the writing on the wall in relation to the folly of the West, and is reportedly buying hundreds of tons of gold annually in response.

The second factor is that the Chinese and Indians populations are moving into forms of middle-class capitalism, and their demand for precious metals both for jewellery and saving (especially gold), has been rapidly accelerating now for years. Australia is the second biggest gold-mining nation, producing 261 tonnes of gold in 2010, but we could only supply the start of the annual gold demand for these two nations. For jewellery alone, they needed over 1,100 tons of gold in 2010.[5]

Furthermore, these nations’ communities have historically been investors in precious metals: Indian fathers traditionally give their daughters gold as a dowry at their wedding.

What is a person to do?                                                                                                        

a) Make wise choices, based on what you know about God and His dealings with people, human nature, and history. Accountability before God is a fact of life for all of us.

b) Don’t trust in government promises. There is no “quick-fix” to our international economic and financial problems. They have been building for two generations.

c) Prepare for further severe international economic upsets: they will come, and many will be caught short. The Bible teaches us that “the prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it” (Prov.22:3).

d) Gold and silver have been considered precious, ever since the Book of Genesis. They have been genuine stores of wealth throughout history.

e) Consider how to fit precious metals into your investment portfolio. Individuals should consider having some of their cash assets in silver and gold.[6] Demand for precious metals is partially seasonal, so they are generally cheaper mid-year, and more expensive in December.

f) Seek to preserve and grow your assets for your old age, and the sake of others, so you are not dependent on government promised taxpayer-funded pensions. The government pensions of today may not be with us forever. “A good man leaves his inheritance for his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” (Prov.13:22).

The future is uncertain. The Bible warns us about this. Man cannot know everything perfectly. He cannot know the future perfectly. Yet he has to deal with the future in terms of his knowledge and his resources today. Men must count the cost of reaching goals in the future. And what we know is that we all, constantly make mistakes when we try to estimate future costs and future rewards.[7]

Conclusion:

Most people only learn some things the hard way, and few today remember the pains of the Great Depression. But Christians are remarkably privileged people: we have the Bible to guide us, so we know that human nature is fallen, we understand the shocking results of large-scale abuse of power which are apparent everywhere today, and we understand how God brings everybody, everywhere, to judgment.

This is why I think people should buy gold and silver coins. This is why they should buy currencies other than their own domestic currencies. This is why they should live in a town where there is some sense of civil order, and that order comes from the moral character of the people in the community, which is not imposed by the police department.[8]

We also know that when God’s people have a properly balanced attitude to money and possessions, and we are acting obediently and faithfully towards Him, He is willing to bless abundantly. He said that “you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deut.8:18). Gold and silver have historically been evidence of His blessing.

 


[1] Gary North, “Political Leadership and Gold,” 24/8/2012.

[2] David Chilton, “Paradise Restored,” 1999, p.35.

[3] Quoted in ‘Gold, Silver rise to Record Highs,’ “The Weekend Australian,” 17/4/2011.

[4] North, G., “The Billion Dollar Loser,” 15/4/2011.

[5] Reuters, Factbox, “Gold and Silver Trends in 2010,” 15/4/2011.

[6] Precious metals in Australia are available at http://www.ausbullion.com.au

[7] Gary North, “Unconditional Surrender,” p.263.

[8] Gary North, “Political Leadership and Gold,” 24/8/2012.

The Continuation of Economic Insanity

This is what Mises wrote exactly a century ago in The Theory of Money and Credit. Once the central bank inflates, it cannot cease inflating without causing an economic contraction…That was what Mises taught. The capital market will require ever-greater infusions of fiat money in order to keep it from going into what we call a depression.[1]

Anyone willing to learn something about economics today, is living through a learning opportunity. The West has a love affair with the manipulation of money by central banks, and it will end tearfully. We’ve been riding this train since before the Great Depression, and even after ninety years, only the Austrian School economists have got the message.[2]

What is it? The free-market will always be the best. When central banks try to mess with the money supply, it only creates greater economic problems. They crank up the supply through loose monetary policy, create a boom, and a series of bubbles. They turn off the supply, and then risk a bust-a Depression. We head for 1929’s experience, all over again.

The princes of Zoan are mere fools; the advice of Pharoah’s wisest advisers has become stupid. How can you men say to Pharaoh, ‘I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings’? Well then, where are your wise men? Please let them tell you, and let them understand what the Lord of hosts has purposed against Egypt (Isa.19:11-12).

What should happen to central banks? The employees should all be sacked and the institutions closed down.

This is unprecedented action from a central banker [Ben Bernanke] and it will no doubt have unprecedented and unintended consequences. Nothing good can come from a policy of unlimited money printing. Longer term, this policy will prove to be a disaster.[3]

There really aren’t a lot of people in the West who really believe in a free market. They may say they do, but when it comes to the money supply, the so-called free-market people (like the late Milton Friedman) generally turn to water. “Give us those Reserve Banks,” they proclaim, “so monetary policy can be manipulated (sorry, controlled) intelligently. Then we will have economic prosperity.”

But central banks are not independent. They represent a banking cartel, and to claim that they are in the business independently “for the good of the country,” is an absolute furphy.

Not only that, they are not experts. Ben Bernanke (the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve) prides himself in being an expert on the Great Depression, but he learnt nothing from it. The Great Depression was preceded throughout the 1920’s by a loose monetary policy in the US. Reckless lending by banks to doubtful individuals and companies. “Happy days are here again!”

When the stock-market collapsed in 1929, those reckless lending policies were exposed, and there was a massive correction. Unemployment rose, and people who had borrowed foolishly were in trouble. And what did the governments do. Why, they meddled of course! All of it was counter-productive, and prolonged the agony.

This is what has been happening in the US this time around, for 5 years. True, there isn’t a Depression yet, but unemployment is at 8% and won’t diminish.

Bernanke’s solution? “Stimulate the economy!” But economies don’t need stimulating. They need to be left alone, and to grow with the normal processes of the free-market’s supply and demand at work. They don’t need manipulation by so-called “experts,” who meddle with the fundamentals of the free-market.

…we do not have a market economy. We have a rigged economy through central economic planning by central banking. The system is failing, it was doomed to fail and we have to wake up to that fact.[4]

The hardest thing to get governments and central banks to do in the modern era, is to get them to leave economies alone. They all want to meddle. They all want to help, and then say, “we fixed it, vote for us.” And their “help” is always counterproductive. You cannot solve a debt problem with more debt.

Another stimulus package becomes like another heroin shot for a drug addict. Yes, it seems to solve a problem temporarily, but at the end of the day he comes back for another shot; he’s got to have more. Continuing the process will ultimately kill him.

I think Ben Bernanke has lost his mind.[5]


[1] Gary North, “Bernanke Admits Defeat. Mises was Right,” 14/9/2012,  www.garynorth.com

[2] The most famous of these were Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) and Friedrich von Hayek (1889-1992).

[3] Greg Canavan, “Sound Money. Sound Investments,” 14/9/2012.

[4] Ron Paul, (US Congressman), quoted in ‘The Country Should Panic over Fed Decision,’ Tim Brown, “Freedom Outpost,” 14/9/2012.

[5] Dan Denning, “Australian Wealth Gameplan,” 14/9/2012.

Law and Society (XIV)

restoration of a culture will be marked by restoration of marriage as a source of joy and a cause for celebration…this renewal must be heralded as divine renewal has always been, by ‘the voice of bride and bridegroom.’ The church cannot experience a full or valid renewal unless it once again embraces the Biblical pattern of marriage.1

A church nearby puts on what they call “The King’s Table” every Thursday lunch time. People come for a free meal, where they will hear a brief presentation of the gospel, while they sit and mix with Christian people for an hour or so. I like to help them, and it seems to be an enjoyable opportunity for 20-30 people (few of whom belong to the church), each week.

Recently I sat down there with a couple in their late seventies who have one daughter, now in her early 40’s. They told me she met a man whilst in her early thirties, and though her parents didn’t like him and told her he was a liar, she ignored their advice and married him. The man had told her that he’d been married, but his wife had run off with another man.  She believed him. The new wife immediately fell pregnant, and her husband told her that it would be best if they bought a house in his name, as it would be easier to get a mortgage that way. She agreed.

Before they’d been married long, she came to the conclusion her parents had been right. Her husband soon threw her out of the house, and brought in his mistress. The aggrieved wife suffers from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) in her forearms, which means she cannot work, and survives (with her son) on a pension. She got a modest payout from their divorce, but it was all swallowed up in the resultant legal costs.

The aggrieved woman somehow met the first wife (whom she gets on well with), and now has a little more understanding of what had happened to her, what sort of man she was really married to, and why her parents’ advice was wise. The man now has three children to different women, and a fourth woman is pregnant to him.

According to this woman’s parents, he has made threatening remarks about coming to get anyone who bothers or upsets him, and this can mean only one thing to her: he is a licensed firearm owner with many weapons, and a crack shot. She fears for her life.

I got to thinking: how widespread is this sort of thing? Setting aside the extra issue of threats to life, how many cases of divorce like this (whether it be an aggrieved wife or husband) are occurring? I guess (bearing in mind Australia has a population of 23 million), it could be a couple of million. Maybe it’s much more.

Then I began to think: what is the cost of divorce to the nation, overall? Of course, there are direct financial costs (which would run now to billions annually), along with personal and emotional costs: the costs to the community in increased police and legal work, the domestic violence, the dreadful outcomes for children that result from a family breakup, the turmoil for grandparents, and the reduction in inheritances children receive as a result.

There are many more costs: children not doing as well in their studies and work because of grief that they are facing through family breakup, and not achieving as well later on. The need for increased security for women who are afraid of their former husbands. The loss of parental instruction, example and leadership because one parent is not present, and much, much more.

Research during the last decade continued to show that children with divorced parents, compared with children with continuously married parents, score lower on a variety of emotional, behavioural, social, health, and academic outcomes, on average.[1]

I pointed out to the couple that the Family Law Act was amended by socialists in 1975, so that “No-Fault Divorce” was legalised. (Previously, the innocent party in a divorce gained the bulk of the money. Now, regardless of “fault,” the money and property are split down the middle.) This has had a huge impact on the number of divorces (which has gone through the roof) and the consequences for innocent spouses have been devastating.

My wife and I know eight Christian men whose wife walked out on them, with it seems, little fault on the part of the man. Do we really know the full story? No. But what is painfully evident is that marital breakup causes tremendous heartache for numbers of people.

What a mess, what a disaster. It does not reflect well on the Church, because most of us took no notice when the law was passed, and in 1979-80, when the controversial law was reviewed in Parliament, most of the Church still had little to say.

This sort of outcome should show us how critical Christian responsibility really is in the community. If we had acted firmly in 1979-80, and put consistent pressure on those responsible for the Parliamentary review, the law could have been amended to reflect a more Christian view of marriage. The prevalence of divorce today in the community shows us that Burke was right: “evil triumphs when good men do nothing.”

What if 95% of divorces today were unnecessary? And what if the innocent spouse in the small percentage of cases where divorce became necessary, got the majority of the settlement? The shift to the Biblically oriented notion of victim’s rights would result in the dramatic improvement in the lives of thousands of children, and the subsequent transformation of society.

The Bible says that God hates divorce (Mal.2:16), and there is still hope for change. But we will have to talk about it in the Christian community and act in a unified way, otherwise our families and our society as a whole will continue to suffer needlessly.

The God hating, life hating (Prov.8:36), family hating socialists had their legislative way in 1975, and an earthly hell descended into millions of Australian households as a result. Let’s hope and pray this evil can soon be reversed, and marriage and family can be restored to a God honouring, Biblical position in the community.

It’s our job.


1 Derek Prince, quoted in “Charisma,” August 1986. (Quoted in Pride, M.,“All the Way Home,” 1989, p.3.)

[1] Quoted in Professor Patrick Parkinson, “Fragile Families and the Looming Financial Crisis for the Welfare State ,” in “Viewpoint: Perspectives on Public Policy,” issue 8, February 2012, p.43.

Inherit the Earth (7)

A continuing theme in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is the danger of debt. The Bible is clear: the borrower is servant to the lender. This principle of debt-free living is an aspect of the second principle of a Biblical covenant. The second principle of a Biblical covenant is the principle of authority-hierarchy. There is no escape from authority and hierarchies: the dominion of some men over others according to their ability. Hierarchy is an inescapable concept. It’s never a question of hierarchy vs. no hierarchy. It’s only a question of which hierarchy. It’s a question of who rules over whom in which spheres of life.

  In the field of applied economics, the principle of authority applies in several areas: employer-employee, master-servant, teacher-apprentice, and so forth. The Biblical response to God in the field of personal economics is the tithe: God is to be honoured by a payment of ten percent of our increase after taxes. (God does not expect us to pay Him for any increase which has been eaten by locusts or the modern equivalent of locusts, tax collectors.) We acknowledge our obedience to Him by paying Him His tithe.[1]

Dominion and hierarchy are facts of life. The important first question is, “Whose dominion?” The Bible shows that God owns all things, and He wants to use His people in places of authority and responsibility to serve Him. But they cannot do this effectively, if they are tangled up in debt.

Why? The Bible says that “…the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Prov.22:7). A person’s ability to serve God is compromised if they have to pay back their debts. No man can serve two masters.

The Christian should always follow the “Good” principle-Get Out Of Debt, and then stay out of debt, so that his service to God is not compromised. That simply means that he does not borrow money, and learns to make do with what he has.

Should the Christian make every effort to increase his income and productivity? Of course. This is one aspect of what it means to be a diligent person: “the hand of the diligent will rule, but the slack hand will be put to forced labour” (Prov.12:24). That way he has money set aside for unforeseen events, and is able to plan for future expenditures, without needing to borrow money and pay it back, with interest.

Modern governments have laughed at this idea. Their attitude has commonly been, “Spend till the End,” and the outcome of this attitude has been disastrous for communities, who then have to pay back foolish government borrowings that were used to finance foolish government schemes. Furthermore, this indifferent attitude of governments to debt could very well lead to another financial calamity, similar to the Great Depression.

When Christians are prepared to work hard, avoid debt, plan for their future, save their money and tithe to their local church, they can have confidence to ask God for His blessing on what they do. This approach is one of the key aspects of being free, self-motivated people under God. These kinds of people are rewarded with dominion by God. “…You have given me the inheritance of those that fear Your Name” (Ps.61:5).

 

 Conclusion:

1. There is no escape from servitude: we either serve God or Mammon.

2. The debtor is servant to the lender.

3. Christians are to serve God.

4. This service to God is manifested by our tithing to God through His church.

5. The debtor has mortgaged his future.

6. He has thereby announced that he can see the future.

7. The Old Testament limited debt to no more than seven years (Deuteronomy 15).

8. The New Testament says that we should not be in debt at all (Romans 13:8).

9. This applies to all institutions.

10. Usury is Biblically defined as any interest payment from a charitable loan.

11. Usury is not defined as “high interest.”

12. Lending to “foreigners” is a means of bringing them under God’s yoke.

13. Politically controlled money gives debtors a means of defrauding creditors and bringing them under Satan’s yoke.

14. Widespread long-term debt leads to political pressures for monetary inflation.

15. Monetary inflation is a form of theft.[2]


[1] Gary North, “Inherit the Earth,” 1987, p.86.

[2] ibid, p.97-98.

From Bad to Worse to Catastrophic?(III)

If we understand Kotlikoff’s figures, there is no possible way that the United States can avoid the bankruptcy of the federal government. We don’t know when it is going to happen, but we do know that it is going to happen. This is a matter of political leadership. There is none. The politicians have promised more than the economy can possibly deliver. Then the goal of the politicians is to survive in office long enough to collect their pensions, maintain their power, seduce their secretaries, or do whatever it is they want to do because they possess power, or at least the trappings of power.[1]

In my view there is probably an 80% chance of the world entering a Depression, in the next ten years. Anyway out of that? Yes, but because the way out involves almost instant pain and significant hardship for hundreds of millions of people, the chances of the way out being adopted politically throughout the world community would be under 5%.

That means it’s a good idea to look carefully at what’s probably going to happen, and make plans accordingly. If your yacht is heading into a storm, and there is a strong likelihood there will be big seas washing over your decks, you don’t leave people or important items sitting on the decks, or hatch-doors open. You secure all valuable items, ensure people are below and away from threat, and batten down the hatches. This could get very ugly and dangerous.

It is the essence of the crisis today that international leadership is virtually nonexistent here. There is not a single political leader anywhere in the world today who has the confidence of his own people, let alone the confidence of people across the border. There is no Ronald Reagan, no Margaret Thatcher, and no Deng Xiaoping.[2]

That doesn’t mean we become pessimistic. Yet we must be ruthlessly realistic about international economics in future, and individuals making proper preparations will make a big difference.

Some of those preparations are intellectual ones. For instance:

a) Are you debt free? If you aren’t, what steps will you now take to get out of debt?

b) In order to economise, how could you reduce your present costs?

c) How would you cope if you had a brief period (say, 6 weeks) out of work?

d) What if this was extended to say, 12 months?

e) Could you supplement your present work with other work?

f) Have you considered your present job security, in the context of 15-20% national unemployment?

g) If you lost your present job, would you be prepared to move to another location?

h) How would other members of your household/family deal with points a-g)?

i) If you are receiving regular Social Security payments, how would you cope if these were reduced, or even cut off?

There are other issues to consider. For instance, if I were in the market to buy a house today, I would probably wait for a number of years to do so.

Why? Because housing values in 5-10 year’s time in Australia, will probably be less than what they are today. We all like getting bargains wherever possible, and I suspect this will be the case in most of the world. In times of high unemployment, there are lots of distressed sellers, which means perhaps twenty times as many sellers than buyers- a buyer’s market. Today, there are many, many houses in the US for sale at $30,000. There will be more.

Economic stress reveals community needs. In times of personal hardship, people realise they need to deal more with their neighbours. This may be new for many people, and thus a bit of a challenge, but it is a good thing. If it’s difficult to get to the shops because there simply isn’t money for petrol in the car, people then turn to their neighbours so they can work things out between themselves and travel together, or get groceries for one another.

If there are concerns about security, people can quickly learn to work together.

Australia presently has around 5% unemployment, and this can be seductive. People can say, “there aren’t real economic problems. What’s he worrying about?” But low unemployment is dependent on having profitable employers, who in turn are dependent on buyers for their products.

Every society has a built-in interdependence, and if one link in the chain goes down (for instance, wide-spread employer profitability), it affects everyone. Employment becomes much more difficult to find.

We cannot expect to be warned about this by government. The Australian Federal government has enough problems of its own trying to be re-elected, to be concerned about and warning people of serious international difficulties ahead.

They want to be projecting optimism, not fear. So, we have to become properly informed ourselves, and act accordingly.


[1] Gary North, “Political Leadership and Gold,” 24/8/2012.

[2] North, ibid.