Archive for government

Jan
07

Hack Back Against the State

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The past 100 years of mostly free markets have witnessed unprecedented advances that allow millions to enjoy life in ways our ancestors could not fathom. From communications to transportation, we live in a world with much greater potential than ever before.

Take our smart phones, for example. My wife and I listen to any lecture, talk show, audiobook, or genre of music we can think of, anywhere and anytime. We video chat with friends in Japan. We capture video of our children playing in the snow and immediately display the video on our TV before they’ve taken off their snow clothes. My wife virtually runs her business from her iPhone!

We learned to lay and grout tile, install and trim doorways, caulk stairs, and properly paint our basement.  All for free.

Even things like microwaves, lawnmowers, refrigerators, automobiles, or anything digital are plentiful for even the poorest in many countries. Take anything that is electric, powered, or even plastic, and it was not even invented when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Welcome to the Jetsons World.

Most of us delight in the benefits of technology. Yet for all the luxury around us, there is often a lack of excellence in goods that have been around for much longer. We can video chat with somebody around the world, but bandages won’t stick to our skin. We have constant weather information at our fingertips, but our washed clothes are still dirty. Fuel containers spill everywhere despite newfangled engineering “improvements.” Wiper fluid is hardly better than water. Mowers and trimmers take forever to start. And most importantly, our showers are no longer satisfying!

Until I started reading Jeffrey Tucker, these mildly annoying features of my day were, as they say, “the way things are.” But Tucker has a knack for recognizing and writing about the little evils spawned from the government that makes our lives a little (sometimes a lot) less pleasurable. I call them “little evils” because few people care enough to notice. There are no activists lobbying the government to reverse the cause.

When ignorance is bliss, knowledge like this can feel like hell.

I first learned about my shower head. Then I learned my “hot” water isn’t above a temperature suitable for killing bacteria! Next I discovered that my clothes and dishes aren’t really clean because the active ingredient in detergents has been removed! My kids learned that their bandages won’t stay on for longer than a few hours because the government regulated away effective adhesive glue. Most recently I learned how windshield wiper fluid is diluted.

For me, the worst are those new gas cans that have only one opening, for both ventilation and pouring. Why only one? As expected, it’s all in the name of safety and environmental concerns. Trouble is, I’ve spilled more gasoline in the short span of time I’ve owned the new can than with all of my other containers combined! To top it off, nobody I know has said anything good about these gas cans! Wait, no, there is one. A pilot I know who relishes that he can completely turn his can upside down without holding it while he fills his Piper Cub. Well, at least we can thank the government for fixing that problem!

Egregious or not, this occurs because government bureaucrats want to regulate our lives into despair. It’s why the cliché, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” rings true. What is most troubling is that the source to these problems is so opaque. Most people just shrug and move on.

What are we to do? Thankfully, Jeffrey Tucker has, of course, given us the necessary ammunition to fight back against the state’s insistence on making my life a little worse off every day: hack your shower head, tweak your hot water heater, and stock up on soon-to-be-banned items.

Here’s the big list. This is worth reading. And sharing.

If you are unconvinced by how important this is, ask yourself, “When was the last time I enjoyed a really good, hot shower?”

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Here is a great quote from Rob Bell (via azspot), with a generous hat-tip to our friend Bonnie Kristian.

“Most of the Bible is a history told by people living in lands occupied by conquering superpowers. It is a book written from the underside of power. It’s an oppression narrative. The majority of the Bible was written by a minority people living under the rule and reign of massive, mighty empires, from the Egyptian Empire to the Babylonian Empire to the Persian Empire to the Assyrian Empire to the Roman Empire. This can make the Bible a very difficult book to understand if you are reading it as a citizen of the the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. Without careful study and reflection, and humility, it may even be possible to miss central themes of the Scriptures.”

Whether or not you like Rob Bell – I think he can be a mixed bag at times – you have to appreciate the insight of this quote regarding empire in Scripture. We frequently discount from our 21st century Western perspective just how dire things often are for the people of Scripture, and just how much they had to depend on God for providence and protection. We can thank God for how blessed we really are with the amazing operations of free market capitalism (NOT government!) and reflect upon how the Bible continues to speak to the oppressed today. Thanks for the tip, Bonnie and Rob!

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This guest post is by Joel Poindexter.

Christians who identify with a Left political ideology frequently appeal to state intervention in the market as a means of promoting the common good. This is especially true as it relates to many Christians who place an emphasis on promoting social justice. Having attended a Jesuit University where progressive politics were dominant and social justice was held in very high esteem, I can readily attest to this. For examples beyond my personal anecdotes, see the anti-libertarian conference Erroneous Autonomy at The Catholic University of America, and note some recent trends among protestant Christians.

I assume that proponents of such government action often have the best of intentions. I believe they act in good faith, both as Christians and as individuals dedicated to caring for the less fortunate. I also happen to agree that social justice can even be a worthy goal for Christians, provided it is confined to voluntary arrangements. However, a state-based approach to caring for those in poverty is especially problematic for the Christian.

Among favored government regulations of such social justice advocates are minimum wage laws and welfare programs intended to reduce poverty, including food stamps and medical subsidies. These aid programs are widely viewed as benevolent merely because of the surface results. After all, we can see the poor child who is fed and clothed through welfare payments.

However, the libertarian cannot help but see that what undergirds this regime is coercion. The state, by definition, applies force to achieve compliance. Hence, individuals in society face threats of imprisonment or financial penalties should they fail to abide by the law. This utilitarian approach has a host of negative consequences. Read More→

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This entry is part 42 of 42 in the series Christian Theology of Public Policy Course

cobin_christian_theologyI have long respected the work of Dr. John Cobin in the field of Christian libertarianism. His two books Christian Theology of Public Policy and Bible and Government have influenced my own exposition of Romans 13 and have affected many others in the Christian libertarian movement. You can read LCC author Doug Stuart’s review of Bible and Government here.

I occasionally receive emails from people trying to find his books for sale. Ordering one from Amazon.com or your local bookstore is rarely easy. However, I am very pleased to extend an offer from John Cobin himself to order these two incredible books at his main website. Right now, you can get a copy of Christian Theology of Public Policy (hardback) for $14.99, and a copy of Bible and Government (paperback) for $6.99 – and those prices include shipping to the continental United States. Plus, LCC readers can get a discount on any of his other materials as well.

Cobin’s works I consider nearly essential to a Christian libertarian’s education, as I have stated in various book lists. You can also read some of Cobin’s essays here at LCC in the Christian Theology of Public Policy short course. The article series covers some of the material in the book with less detail. The full book, as you might imagine, is even better.

Christian libertarians do not have quite as vast a literature to draw upon than the general libertarian movement. Add these books to your library and you will not regret it.

Click here to go to John Cobin’s website and order Christian Theology of Public Policy and Bible and Government.

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Jul
02

The Religion of Statism

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An image has been making the rounds on Facebook recently suggesting that statism is not much different from a religion.

Strangely enough, the United States federal government (and pretty much every other government in this world) actually claims more power than God generally chooses to wield. The state says it can birth you, clothe you, feed you, educate you, house you, comfort you in psychological stress, protect you, make you well when sick, provide you a job, give you meaning beyond yourself (i.e. nationalism), take care of you in old age, and even bury you. By golly, they sometimes even claim they want to control the weather.

But God, besides his general providential actions, does not even say he will do all of this for you. He actually expects you to do some work. Unless you happen upon a few loaves and fishes at a mountainside sermon seminar, “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” (Salvation excluded, naturally. Thank God we don’t have to work for that!)

Check out the image:

religion-of-statism

Thanks to http://facebook.com/MuhFlag for the image.

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