I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading.

Disclaimer: Reproducing an article here need not necessarily imply agreement or endorsement!

Misunderstandings around austerity economics

Adam Smith Institute - 6 hours 52 min ago

After the 2008/9 recession the coalition government famously adopted a set of contractionary fiscal policies with the aim to reduce national debt. Elements of this austerity programme included significant cuts to government spending, public sector job reductions, and changes to welfare programs. Various Keynesian economists claimed that such policies would be detrimental to the British economy, including Nobel prize winners Paul Krugman, and Joseph Stiglitz. 

In some sense they were right, but for all the wrong reasons. 

Austerity in the UK was harmful due to the impact which it had on total expenditure. The reduction in government expenditure caused a reduction in public sector employment, which had a knock on effect in the private sector as lower total spending in the economy led firms to layoff workers. Primarily through these mechanisms austerity policy led to rising unemployment, and a general reduction in standards of living. 

However, this is not inevitable. Following the recession the US adopted a very similar set of austerity policies to the UK, if anything they were slightly more radical. Just as economists did in the UK, a letter signed by 350 Keynesian economists suggested that this might push the US economy into recession. The US budget deficit was then reduced from roughly $1,050 billion in 2012 to $550 billion in 2013. Despite this, there was never an equivalent ‘double dip’ recession, as was experienced in the UK and EU.

This is because the Federal Reserve adopted sufficiently expansionary monetary policy to offset the impact of the reduction in government expenditure on NGDP (total expenditure). While government expenditure fell, this was negated by the increase in private sector expenditure, meaning there was no significant increase in unemployment. Had the Bank of England adopted similar monetary policy, the country undoubtedly would have fared far better during the austerity period. 

Austerity in the UK was not harmful because government expenditure fell, as many will often suggest, but instead because inappropriate monetary policy allowed total expenditure to fall. 

Categories: Current Affairs

Understanding Anti-Capitalist Fallacies

Mises Institute - 6 hours 55 min ago

Capitalism, defined as a form of social organization in which there are means of production such as private property and wage labor, is not the moral principle upon which liberalism is based. The reason for this is that there are nonliberal scenarios that capitalism, as a moral principle, allows for—for example: slavery, sexism, racism, and various forms of violence.

However, semantic compatibility does not imply a causal relationship between such variables. In this brief text, I will explain why certain anticapitalist arguments have fallacious inferences, showing the semantic relationships between different concepts that constitute the political economy and other similar disciplines.

Fallacious Inferences and False Statements

Sound arguments are those that contain only true statements and valid inferences. On the other hand, fallacious arguments are those that, regardless of the truth value of their statements, have invalid inferences. An example of such a scenario is as follows:

Premise 1: All married people are not single.

Premise 2: No single person is married.

Conclusion: Socialism is a form of social organization.

In this example, all the statements are analytical and, therefore, true. However, the conclusion is an invalid inference since its meaning is not contained in the meaning of the premises. Although both its premises and its conclusion are true statements, it is not a sound argument as it contains an invalid inference.

The definitions previously used do not indicate the impossibility of valid arguments about causal relationships. Valid arguments about causal relationships can exist if their premises indicate the existence of a certain causal relationship and if their conclusions are inferences whose meaning is contained within the meaning of their premises. An example of this would be:

Premise 1: All types of A are a necessary cause of B.

Premise 2: X is a type of A.

Conclusion: X is a necessary cause of B.

Therefore, it is indeed possible for valid arguments to exist concerning causal relationships. Some arguments with invalid inferences can become valid when one or more premises are added to them. As will be demonstrated in the following sections, many fallacious arguments exhibit structures in which conclusions are erroneously regarded as necessary or sufficient causes, even if their premises and conclusions are contradictory.

Some Fallacious Arguments against Capitalism

As explained in the previous section, fallacious arguments can contain true premises or conclusions. The use of certain technical terms or complex mathematical operations does not mean that a certain argument is sound or, at the very least, valid. Here are some examples of fallacious arguments:

  • From its inception, capitalism was riddled with racism, sexism, and slavery. Therefore, as long as there is capitalism, racism, sexism, and slavery will always exist.
  • The socially necessary labor time required for the production of a particular commodity determines its exchange value. Capitalists appropriate a portion of the value created by their workers. Therefore, capitalists are stealing from their workers.
  • There are poor countries that are capitalist. Therefore, free markets do not serve to alleviate poverty.
Is Capitalism a Form of Theft?

As mentioned at the outset, the definition of capitalism used here is compatible with slavery and violence. However, this does not mean that it is the only possible scenario. Semantically, there can be situations in which different individuals, in the absence of coercion and violence, enter into agreements for specific services at predetermined prices within defined timeframes.

Only if such an agreement is breached would the employer be stealing from the employee through such an employment relationship. An example of this scenario would be if there is a labor contract between individual A and individual B that establishes the payment of $200 per day for the provision of a specific service for five hours. Then, individual A does not provide that amount of money to individual B because he wants individual A to work another two hours despite individual A fulfilling all the agreed conditions. Otherwise, given the definitions used here, if the agreed-upon conditions of such a labor relationship are not violated, it is fallacious to infer that the employer is stealing from the worker.

If a state imposes limits on the contractual freedom of the individuals it governs, noncompliance with such limits does not mean that the employer is stealing from the employee. If a set of labor regulations is imposed, such as a minimum wage for hourly wage labor or mandatory severance pay, and such regulations are not part of the labor agreement, the noncompliance with these regulations does not mean employer theft from the employee.

Furthermore, even if it is assumed that the exchange value of a commodity is determined by the socially necessary labor time for its production, the existence of profits in a business activity does not mean that the employer is stealing from their employees. In a labor relationship where the agreement was to pay the employee thirty dollars and the employer pays the employee that amount, the profit margin does not determine whether such a social interaction was theft or not. Even in the absence of risk and opportunity costs, the accrual of profits would not constitute theft by the employer from the employees.

Free Market Capitalism and Business Freedom

Capitalism and free markets are two different concepts. There can be a region where, in the absence of state coercion or violence, only cooperatives exist. On the other hand, there can be a region where only capitalist enterprises exist, and due to the presence of certain interventionist economic policies, it may not be possible to buy or sell certain goods/services, set certain prices, or establish penalties for noncompliance with commercial contract terms.

Furthermore, a free market does not necessarily mean business freedom. This is because the free market refers to the absence of state restrictions on the exchange of property rights over monetary and nonmonetary assets, whereas business freedom refers to the absence of state restrictions on production, consumption, or property exchange activities carried out by a business. Therefore, a broader category than business freedom would be economic freedom, which encompasses not only businesses but also other types of individual behavior—for example, the freedom to cultivate a specific plant, regardless of whether it is for personal consumption or commercial purposes. In the presence of economic freedom, there are no price controls, monopolies through state coercion, or import quotas.

Lastly, the fact that country A has undergone a greater economic liberalization process than country B does not mean that country A possesses greater economic freedom. A country may eliminate more price controls than another during a specific period of time and still have a greater number of price controls, not to mention the existence of other interventionist economic policies.

Capitalism and Social Problems

Even if capitalism were to result in poverty, violence, sexism, racism, and environmental problems, this does not mean that this mode of social organization is the sole cause of such phenomena. Moreover, the fact that a certain form of capitalism generates certain outcomes does not imply that all semantically possible forms of capitalism will have the same consequences.

Categories: Current Affairs

David and Deception

Blog & Mablog - 9 hours 32 min ago

Over the years, I have sought to make the point that deception is to lying and bearing false witness what killing is to murder. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder. Murder is prohibited in Exodus 20:13, and capital punishment required in the next chapter (Ex. 21:12). And all false witness is deception but not all deception is bearing false witness. The rule of thumb, as we see in Scripture, is whether or not it is occurring in time of war, or in what is tantamount to war.

I just recently noticed a striking and very clear example of this. The apostle Peter says this about guile.

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile”

1 Peter 3:10 (KJV)

If you want a blessed life, in other words, keep your mouth far away from deceitful speech. This is a citation from Psalm 34:12-16.

And what was the occasion for the writing of this wonderful psalm, and its celebration of truthfulness? It was when David feigned insanity before the king of Gath, who uttered one of the great sentiments of Scripture—”did you think I had a shortage of lunatics? It looks to me as though I am running a surplus.”

Now either David was a hypocrite with a huge blind spot, or those Christians who take an absolutist position about every form of deception . . . have a huge blind spot.

How would the author of Hebrews put it?

“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets”

Heb 11:32 (KJV)

Time would fail us, all right. Gideon, mentioned above, who tricked the Midianites into thinking there were a whole lot more of them than there were. The Hebrew midwives, who were blessed by God with large families for deceiving Pharaoh. Rahab, who was justified by a faith that testified to its reality when she said that the spies went out in a different direction than they had actually gone.

And in pick-up basketball, it is no sin to fake left and drive right.

The post David and Deception appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

Libertarianism and the Importance of Understanding Causality

Mises Institute - 9 hours 55 min ago

A bedrock of Austrian economic thinking is the notion of causality. A libertarian worldview also requires the understanding of causality.

Original Article: Libertarianism and the Importance of Understanding Causality

Categories: Current Affairs

The abortion lobby’s proposals would harm women

Christian Concern - 11 hours 21 min ago
Independent health consultant Kevin Duffy analyses pro-abortion campaigners’ priorities for legal reform

In June 2023, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) published a position statement from a coalition of 33 organisations calling for reform of the abortion law in England and Wales.

The two amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill (CJB), tabled on 28 November 2023 by Dame Diana Johnson and Stella Creasy MP, are consistent with the action plans outlined in the position statement.

In an earlier post, I outlined why we think these amendments, which call for abortion decriminalisation, are the wrong solution.

The RCOG’s position statement outlines six priorities for reform, which are listed below with our responses.

1. Women must be removed from the criminal law for ending their own pregnancies.

The CJB amendments proposed by Johnson and Creasy are intended to do exactly this, to ensure that no woman faces prosecution or jail time for ending her pregnancy, at any gestation, outside the provisions for legal abortion in a healthcare setting. In our response last week, I noted that the recent prosecution of Carla Foster would not have been necessary had she attended an in-person consultation with BPAS before the abortion pills were prescribed. We think the law should stand, that women need to know boundaries exist and they should feel the threat of prosecution, though we might expect the courts to show compassion in such cases.

2. Healthcare professionals must be able to provide abortion care without the threat of criminal sanctions which do not apply to any other healthcare procedure.

Healthcare professionals must comply with all relevant laws and regulations; they should feel the threat of sanctions when considering stepping beyond these proper boundaries. As an example, when they are prescribing abortion pills-by-post, they are legally obliged to have enough evidence to justify forming a good faith opinion that a woman’s pregnancy is below the 10 week limit. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has warned doctors that failing to meet this requirement could be a criminal offence.

3. The requirement for two doctors’ signatures to authorise an abortion should be removed.

It is worth noting that last week, Dame Diana Johnson stated clearly that her proposed CJB amendment would not mean any change to the existing abortion laws and regulations, including the 24-week time limit, the requirement for two doctors’ signatures and the grounds for abortion provision. This either means that the RCOG position paper needs to be updated or, more likely, that they intend to pursue these other changes after they first win a change in the law removing women from the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929.

In any case, it is essential to retain the safeguard of having doctors certify that women are giving their own fully informed consent and that abortions are medically safe and compliant with all laws and regulations. Doctors should continue to be required to complete and submit the abortion notification to the Chief Medical Officer.

4. Women should be able to make their own decisions about accessing an abortion.

In practice, abortion is already available on the simple request of the woman, up to 24 weeks’ gestational age. She is not asked to reveal any intimate details that she wishes to keep private or to justify her abortion decision. We know from our Mystery Client Investigation that a woman can give any reason, or none, and the abortion provider will facilitate her request by selecting Ground C as the legal reason.

The proposed Criminal Justice Bill amendments would mean that a woman who self-manages her abortion after the legal time limit of 24 weeks would not face prosecution. However, is this what Johnson and Creasy are asking for, are they really supporting self-managed late-term abortions? Do they not recognise or not want to acknowledge the trauma that these later medical abortions inflict on women, never mind the developing baby who is now beyond the age of viability? Are they deaf to recent polling in which only 17% of the UK public are in support of abortion on demand after 24 weeks?

5. Women’s personal data should stay private.

Any personally identifiable information recorded on the medical notes already remains confidential, and rightly so. BPAS states one of the reasons why it needs to share either the woman’s NHS number or some of her personal data with the NHS is to “identify NHS funding and process the payment for services”.

Is this position paper suggesting that providers should not be required to submit identity and demographic information on the abortion notifications that they must send to the Chief Medical Officer?

From the 85 calls we made during our Mystery Client Investigation, we know that the abortion providers do not insist on women giving their NHS numbers. The RCOG and its co-signers on this position paper want abortion to be regulated as healthcare, in the same way as any other medical procedure. If this is the case, they should include the NHS number as they would do for any other medical procedure. Doing so would enable anonymised, comprehensive longitudinal studies into the long-term impact of abortion on women’s health; or is that something that these activists are trying to avoid?

6. NHS-funded abortion care must be supported by adequate funding and resourcing.

99% of all abortions in England and Wales are funded by the NHS.

BPAS, the largest private provider and a co-signatory on this position statement, now manages 95% of all its abortion clients by telephone only. Recent analysis showed that the average fee paid to it by the NHS was higher in 2022 than in 2018, even though there is little doubt that its operating costs are now significantly lower than before the move to pills-by-post.

Many of these contracts come up for renewal in 2024, presenting an opportunity for those managing procurement for the ICSs (integrated care systems) to ensure that future fees reflect the lower cost of providing telemedicine abortion.

These reforms do not stand up to scrutiny

Those who have signed this position paper are working together. They share strategic plans and have agreed tactics that include private members bills, amendments to government bills, parliamentary questions and legal challenges. In similar fashion, we must take every opportunity to lobby and work with MPs and Peers to strengthen the abortion laws and regulations, ensuring better care for women and their developing babies.

These reform priorities do not stand up to basic critical scrutiny. They will not help women – they will harm women. Women deserve better from the co-signatories, the Royal Colleges and national organisations that were established to serve and protect women.

The post The abortion lobby’s proposals would harm women appeared first on Christian Concern.

‘If you can’t challenge someone’s beliefs … what’s the point of education?’

Christian Concern - 11 hours 38 min ago

Bernard Randall joined Camilla Tominey on GB News to explain why he has launched legal action against the headteacher of a Christian school that sacked him for a sermon he gave in a chapel service.

He pointed out that Trent College could have taken the opportunity to educate students on freedom of expression. This would in turn cultivate resilience going into adulthood.

“I’m Christian wholeheartedly, and that allows you to be wholeheartedly whatever your belief system is. If we say you cannot challenge someone’s beliefs in an educational context, what is the point of education?”

GB News
3 December 2023

The post ‘If you can’t challenge someone’s beliefs … what’s the point of education?’ appeared first on Christian Concern.

A Rising Stock Market Does Not Drive Economic Growth

Mises Institute - 11 hours 55 min ago

Many people believe that a general increase in stock prices is an important factor in economic growth. However, this is a questionable observation.

The view that the stock market drives economic growth originates from the observation that changes in stock prices precede changes in economic data. We suggest that various economic indicators are heavily influenced by money supply, which also drives stock prices.

The price of something is the amount of money asked for per unit. When an increased money supply enters a market, more money is being paid for those goods, which means the prices of those goods have increased. Furthermore, when money is increasing in supply, it does not move instantly to all markets. Instead, it moves from one market to another with time lags. Furthermore, the time lag for changes in stock prices is shorter than the time lag from changes in money supply and economic activity.

Consequently, after a time delay, the effect from changes in money supply is manifested first in the changes of stock prices even before changes in economic activity emerge.

Therefore, given that situation, the common belief is that the stock market drives the economy. If, however, the money time lag were shorter with respect to economic activity versus the stock prices, then one would have concluded that the economy drives the stock market, not the other way around.

Clearly, observing is not explaining. Despite the observation that stock market changes lead changes in the economy does not mean that the stock market drives economic activity.

Can a rise in investors’ optimism because of stock price increases cause a further strengthening of stock prices? In the absence of increases in the money supply, an increase in stock prices will divert money from other assets, thus pushing the other asset prices’ momentum lower.

Could an increase in stock prices facilitate the strengthening of the economy? For this to occur, increases in the stock prices must cause an expansion in the economy’s capital infrastructure, which would enable the increase in the production of goods and services. According to Ludwig von Mises in his book Human Action, “Stock speculation cannot undo past action and cannot change anything with regard to the limited convertibility of capital goods in existence.”

Hence, when experts claim that a particular factor is important in lifting economic growth, one must examine that factor’s relation to the pool of savings. Does the factor provide support or undermine savings? Following this reasoning, we can suggest that a rising stock market does not expand the pool of savings and, therefore, cannot generate positive economic growth.

What about the view that a stronger stock market makes individuals more optimistic about the future? This in turn, it is believed, strengthens the demand for goods and services and strengthens economic growth.

It is not individuals’ psychological disposition that determines whether their demand can be fulfilled, but whether they possess an adequate quantity of means. Someone can be very optimistic about the future, but without enough means, he cannot obtain the goods he desires. Improved psychology does very little to lift economic growth without the support of savings.

Furthermore, central bank monetary policies undermine the pool of savings which, in turn, will undermine wealth generation and real economic growth. Notwithstanding the popular view that increasing the money supply accelerates economic growth, money by itself cannot do this. More money cannot replace savings and anything that depletes savings undermines economic growth.

According to Richard von Strigl in his book Capital and Production,

Let us assume that in some country production must be completely rebuilt. The only factors of production available to the population besides laborers are those factors of production provided by nature. Now, if production is to be carried out by a roundabout method, let us assume of one year’s duration, then it is self-evident that production can only begin if, in addition to these originary factors of production, a subsistence fund is available to the population which will secure their nourishment and any other needs for a period of one year. . . . The greater this fund, the longer is the roundabout factor of production that can be undertaken, and the greater the output will be. It is clear that under these conditions the “correct” length of the roundabout method of production is determined by the size of the subsistence fund or the period of time for which this fund suffices.

Increase in the Money-Driven Stock Prices and Wealth

Some economists believe that an increase in stock market prices due to easy money policies increases wealth. This increase in wealth then helps boost overall spending in the economy which, in turn, supposedly expands overall production of goods and services.

However, increases in stock market prices because of easy monetary policies cannot boost the overall wealth in the economy. On the contrary, the easy monetary policy weakens the process of wealth generation by depleting the pool of savings. When these policies increase the money supply, they set in motion an exchange of nothing for something, savings from wealth generators to non-wealth-generating activities.

Central Bank Policies Cause Investors to Commit Erroneous Decisions

Historically, the market selected money such as gold, and in the absence of central banks, an increase in stock market prices will reflect the increase of the pool of savings and lead to economic growth. Note, however, that the increase in economic growth is not because of higher stock market prices but because of the growth in savings.

This is not the situation regarding the present surge in stock prices. The emergence of the bull-bear markets within the present monetary system is in response to the central bank monetary policies that set the menace of the boom-bust cycles. Any monetary policy, whether easy or tight, is bad news for the process of savings generation. Central bank policies inhibit the investor’s ability to distinguish wealth-generating activities from non–wealth generators, creating financial bubbles and resulting in erroneous investment decisions.

By being unable to identify genuine wealth generators, investors become gamblers with the stock market as a casino. Theories such as the efficient market hypothesis argue that it is futile for investors to attempt to identify wealth generators versus non–wealth generators. In fact, Burton Malkiel, one of the pioneers of the efficient market hypothesis, has even suggested, “A blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper’s financial pages could select a portfolio that would do just as well as one carefully selected by the expert.”


Popular thinking claims that a rising stock market increases economic growth, something that is questionable. Without improvement in the capital infrastructure irrespective of the state of the stock market, it is not possible to strengthen the economy.

The disruptive fluctuations of the stock market labeled as the bull-bear markets are the result of the monetary policies of the central bank. These policies undermine the process of savings generation and turn the stock market into something resembling a gambling casino.

Categories: Current Affairs

We think this is probably a very good idea indeed

Adam Smith Institute - 17 hours 54 min ago

Not, particularly, about KFC and or fast food near schools, but:

Anti-obesity policies designed to stop takeaways being opened near schools are being thwarted by challenges made by the fast-food giant KFC.

At least 43 local councils in England and Wales have had their anti-obesity policies challenged by KFC since 2017, The Times has found.

In more than half of these cases the fast-food giant has succeeded and town hall bosses have either abandoned their plans or significantly watered them down.

The supposed justification of these policies is that child obesity - the thing that Chris Snowden has proven does not, in fact, exist - spiced up with a post-rationalisation:

The findings come after an analysis found this week that Britain’s weight problem is costing the state almost £100 billion a year. Henry Dimbleby, the government’s former food adviser, found that the effect on national productivity from excess weight was nine times bigger than previously thought.

As we’ve pointed out that Dimbelby number is abject nonsense. And The Times doesn’t even manage to quote it correctly either. As the fishfinger sandwich salesman actually says, more than £60 billion of that cost is private, individual, costs, not costs to the state at all.

But let us assume, just for the sake of argument here, that everything said about fast food, childhood obesity and the costs to us all is correct. We still support such challenges and such watering downs. For:

Officials said that after they submitted their plans to improve children’s health, KFC has argued in some instances that the measures were “unlawful” because they had not been through all the correct processes, or that there was not enough evidence of links between obesity and the proximity of fast food outlets to schools.

We are in favour of the rule of law. It’s a basic and absolute requirement for a free and liberal society. Whatever it is that may not be done must be written down, passed through the legislature and be a rule, not a matter for the discretion of whoever is currently occupying the corner office.

Local authorities create unlawful plans? Then local authorities should be - must be - challenged about their plans until they manage to bestir themselves into producing something that is actually legal. They’re swift enough to impose that duty upon us, the citizenry, so fair is fair, no?

That is, the O Tempora, O Mores, complaint here is not that obesity is not being attacked, it’s that we now have to rely upon a fried chicken joint to preserve the most basic of civil liberties, the primacy of the rule of law.

Categories: Current Affairs

A Seven-Point Calvinist

Blog & Mablog - 21 hours 55 min ago

“Some have interpreted the FV as thought it were some form of Arminianism or semi-Pelagianism. So early in the book [RINE], I set aside a chapter to demonstrate that I wish that the Synod of Dort had promulgated a couple extra points so I could believe them too.”

The Auburn Avenue Chronicles, p. 380

The post A Seven-Point Calvinist appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

Preserving the Statist Quo: Creating a Generation of Welfare-ing, Libertine Narcissists

Mises Institute - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 20:00

Not only is Washington in political turmoil, but the policies emanating from the Beltway are more incoherent than ever.

Original Article: Preserving the Statist Quo: Creating a Generation of Welfare-ing, Libertine Narcissists

Categories: Current Affairs

Israel: A Rich Nation Receiving the Bulk of US Foreign Aid

Mises Institute - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 17:00

Why is Israel a primary benefactor of United States foreign aid? Is Israel a proxy for US imperialism in the Middle East? Does American aid to Israel benefit constituencies other than the defense industry? The ongoing feud between Israel and Palestine has raised these questions to the forefront of public debate. Israel is the leading recipient of American foreign aid, despite its wealth. In 2022, The Economist ranked Israel as the fourth most successful economy in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

A prosperous country such as Israel should hardly be a contender for America’s benevolence; hence, America’s commitment to sponsoring Israel strikes people as odd. However, some observe that Israel plays a critical role in bolstering American hegemony in the Middle East by curbing the extremities of Islamic movements. Like earlier European imperialists, who recognized the strategic value of Palestine as a trade route linking Europe to the Far East, commentators opine that America’s aid to Israel is motivated by economics and geopolitics.

The Middle East is a key reservoir of energy resources and contains trade routes of global importance. Therefore, America uses Israel as a watchdog to safeguard its interests in the region. Empowering Israel to act as a deterrent to Arab radicalism enables America to exert greater influence in the Middle East by weakening the Arab states. Scholars think that Israel’s strength protects friendly Arab states, thereby ensuring easier access to oil from the Middle East. However, in a powerful critique, Elizabeth Stephens undercuts the argument that America funds Israel for strategic purposes.

Stephens explains that despite US-Israeli cooperation during the 1970 Jordan crisis, America is aware that collaborations with Israel can adversely affect America’s relations with amicable Arab states. As a result, America refrained from using Israeli troops in conflicts with Arab states, as was demonstrated during the 1990–91 Gulf War. Citing government reports, she highlights deficits in the economic argument for supporting Israel by concluding that such sponsorship poses a financial liability to America.

Stephens identifies domestic politics as the prime factor engendering support for Israel. According to her analysis, the American Jewish lobby and the pro-Israel lobby wield enormous influence on American foreign policy in the Middle East. Although she exclaims that American politicians have not uncritically engaged Israel, the power of lobbyists ensures the consistency of America’s approach to Middle Eastern politics: “As a result of domestic and congressional pressure, a president will generally not be overtly anti-Israel. It is this generally high level of public support for Israel and popular distrust of the Arab states that has set the tone for America’s Middle East policy.”

Noted scholar James Petras reveals that Israel’s relationship with America has conferred the former with unique privileges; therefore, Israel can be described as a lesser power extracting tribute from the American empire. Yet, the image of Israel as a skillful ally is being overturned by intellectuals contending that America has been using foreign aid as a tool of manipulation. Jacob Siegel and Liel Liebovitz complained in a recent article that whereas old rules allowed Israel to allocate 26 percent of aid to the domestic military market, new provisions will eventually require Israel to spend aid in the US.

Quoting figures from Israel, Siegel and Liebovitz purport that the policy change will cost $1.3 billion for Israel, gut twenty-two thousand jobs, and make Israel reliant on American technology. In their view, greater dependence on American technology curtails the ability of Israel to innovate, thus making it susceptible to the machinations of aggressive neighbors. Others posit that foreign aid rules undermine Israel’s autonomy because military transactions with other countries require America’s permission. Fiercer critics believe that foreign aid imperils Israel’s security by enslaving the country to the whims of America.

Caroline B. Glick reminds readers that America and Israel have competing interests, but receiving aid forces the latter to sacrifice national goals to appease America. Using the example of Hezbollah, Glick illustrates that reliance on American aid increases Israel’s vulnerability to extortion:

Consider for instance, the IDF’s support for the U.S.-dictated maritime border agreement with Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon last October. The deal is a strategic disaster for Israel. It gives Hezbollah a share of the Mediterranean gas industry. It limits Israel’s offensive options and maneuver room in a future war with Hezbollah. It threatens Israel’s northern coast from the sea. It presents Israel as a paper tiger who succumbed to Hezbollah extortion.

There is a burgeoning consensus that America should cut aid to Israel. Doing so is a practical policy, but it cannot be achieved without confronting the defense industry. Players in the industry will say that they are crucial to job creation; however, reports show that the defense industry has been shedding jobs even in periods of employment growth. While lobbyists tout the benefits of the defense industry, researchers from Brown University declare that military spending is crippling investments in education, healthcare, and infrastructure. The researchers also indicate that spending in areas such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure would create more jobs. So, evidently, the benefits of military spending are not diffused throughout society.

Addressing issues raised by the current conflict is crucial because people should be dissuaded from believing nonsense. The myth that modern-day Palestinians are indigenous to Palestine is being widely circulated, but it is absurd. Contemporary Palestinians are not the descendants of the Philistines who occupied Gaza, and the Philistines were not indigenous to the region.

Although Palestine has always existed as a place, modern-day Palestinians are the descendants of people who migrated to the region and are not its original inhabitants. Furthermore, the notion of a Palestinian identity is quite recent. When the partition of Palestine was suggested by the Peel Commission in 1937, local leader Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi remarked: “There is no such country as Palestine. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented. . . . Our country was for centuries part of Syria.”

This opinion is even reinforced by the scholarship of mainstream historian Daniel Pipes, who affirms that Palestinian identity emerged in response to Zionism: “Ultimately, Palestinian nationalism originated in Zionism; were it not for the existence of another people who saw British Palestine as their national home, the Arabs would have continued to view this area as a province of Greater Syria.”

The plight of Palestinians is indeed unfortunate, but facts don’t change. Sympathizing with Palestinians is understandable, yet this does not alter the reality that Hamas is a terrorist group known for using its people as human shields to blackball Israel. Propagandists are seizing the present conflict to legitimize lies so we must neutralize their campaigns with facts before the lies become official history.

Categories: Current Affairs

Group - Less critical - Access bypass - SA-CONTRIB-2023-054

Drupal Contrib Security - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 16:16
Project: GroupDate: 2023-December-06Security risk: Less critical 8∕25 AC:Complex/A:User/CI:Some/II:None/E:Theoretical/TD:UncommonVulnerability: Access bypassAffected versions: >=2.0.0 <2.2.2 || >=3.0.0 <3.2.2Description: 

The Group module has the ability to make content private to specific groups. When viewing a list of entities, e.g. nodes, a visitor should only see those entities that are either not attached to a group or that they have group access to.

The module doesn't sufficiently enforce list access under the scenario where two users have the same outsider and insider permissions, but are members of different groups without any individual roles being assigned to said memberships. In such a scenario, the permissions hash for both will be the same even though it should differ.

This vulnerability is mitigated by the fact that an attacker must have the same hash as someone else, which is quite rare yet not unthinkable.


Install the latest version:

Reported By: Fixed By: Coordinated By: 
Categories: Technology

NQN Game Film 2023

Blog & Mablog - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 15:30

It has become our custom—and why shouldn’t it have become our custom?—to review the month of November once we turn the page of the calendar, and all the pieces have fallen out of the sky. And the drone. The drone too.

In short, how did it go? Did the month of November live up to expectations? Were we happy with how things went? And the answer comes back as a solid, resounding yes. Best November ever.

The trick is to learn how to take the truth seriously without taking yourself seriously at all. This is the reverse of the strategy urged upon us by Anthony Bradley. He is big on dignity, and all this horsing around comporteth not with the kind of dignity he has in mind. Ah, well. If we can’t horse around and have the approval of Anthony Bradley, then it appears we shall have to continue to horse around.

Of course, you do want to be careful with the high jinks. If there is too much of that, you can draw the reproach of those who would quote the great James Denny.

“No man can give at once the impressions that he himself is clever and that Jesus Christ is mighty to save.”

But there is more to this principle. We really need to think it all through. Denny’s observation is quite true, but because we live in the kind of world we do, quite a number of words can be substituted in for clever, and the spiritual lesson remains every bit as valuable. For example, try pious. Or scholarly. Or censorious. Or dignified.

The great danger is in the phrase give the impression, and not actually in the characteristic you are seeking to project. It is not bad to be clever, or pious, or dignified. But if you are striving to be known for whatever it is, then that is where the trouble is. In short, it is awfully difficult to proclaim that Christ is mighty to save if you have one eye on your own reflection. It doesn’t much matter what part of your fetching good looks has captured your attention while you were presenting the gospel, it is still a distraction.

Some really are distracted by their own cleverness. But others are distracted by their own fastidious rejection of anything clever at all. Some are distracted by how wide their phylactery is, while others can’t stop glancing at their bare forehead—no phylactery at all. Some are distracted by the title the Rt. Rev. Murphy, while others want to cop a humble posture and insist on being called Brother Murphy.

In short, the ego is like a little cracker. It can serve as the delivery platform for all kinds of dips. There is the clever dip, and the pious dip, and the sanctimonious dip, and so on. What many in the pietist camp don’t realize is that the common usages and customs of their subculture have conspired to make their sanctimony invisible to them. But it is not invisible elsewhere. It is not invisible to others.

The key is to point to Christ, magnify Him, and sometimes this is best done if you can just let yourself unbutton a little.

Giveways & Stats

We are most grateful to everyone who took advantage of our giveaways. Here in our quaint little Mablog Shoppe, we were pleased to give away almost 3,000 books. They were all made out of ones and zeros, so the boxes weren’t that heavy, but that is still a lot of content for a little operation like this one.

Over on the Canon side of things, that publishing powerhouse, we gave away over $400K worth of Kindles to hungry and inquiring minds. We have received reports that some people are reading them.

Over the years, you have heard us mention the embargo that has been deployed against our Moscow content, and I think we can mark this year as the time when we can now run the blockade with impunity. There will be more on this in the next section, but here are some stats related to the embargo. The NQN 2023 Flamethrower video had 590K views across all platforms, which is four times more than last year. Our little talk show, Doug and Friends, garnered over 159K views over the course of the month. We are not claiming that every last one of these folks are friends exactly, but we know that at least 144,000 of them are. On top of that, a full dozen fine American homes will be receiving their very own their NQN flamethrowers in time for the twelve days of Christmas (11 purchases + 1 giveaway).  These worthy citizens will be able to melt all the snow in their driveway in about two and a half minutes, and at the same time become the talk of the neighborhood for the next two and a half years.

And of course . . . because we called to show honor to whom honor is due, it should be noted that Nancy’s spanking advice received 3.1 million views during the month of NQN, and was taken up as a newsworthy event by Newsweek. The rest of us here can only aspire.

The Strategic Level

In previous years, we would do our thing, and you guys watched, ordered books, and enjoyed it right along with us. We kept taking shots at the regnant follies, but the regnant follies rarely shot back. Oh, there was some behind the scenes stuff, and I did get a visit from the FBI that one time, and it wasn’t like we were yelling into a can or anything. We did get some feedback.

But this year there was, as the diplomats would put it, an open and frank exchange of views. An altercation on X occurred between Karen Swallow Prior and Joe Rigney about empathy, and this helped us to make the point we never tire of seeking to make. This also helped to highlight what our point was in flaming Disney princesses in the November trailer. The zeitgeist catechism of our day is a “follow your heart” catechism. This is all tied up with the empathy nonsense, and the whole thing is a deadly poison. You can tell how much you have been affected when “follow your heart” seems kind of innocuous. But it is toxic folly. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: But whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26).

And then, some of the assiduous worker bees who have been combing through our archives released a video clip of Nancy, Mistress of the Paddywonking, describing how more people in future YouTube comment threads needed to have been treated in their nonage. But they weren’t, and now here they are, driving around in public with a Bernie sticker on their car. As mentioned above, that video clip shot up into the Ionosphere. This helped to start a national discussion about where the seat of wisdom is actually located.

There is one good thing about about all this research that the Intoleristas are conducting as they come after us. As they pour through our material . . . they are getting a lot of good teaching. And the Lord can do wonderful things. I just got an email the other day from a gent who was among our adversaries back in the day. “I searched your blog to find more evidence of racism, and I accidentally found the Gospel. I had never heard the Gospel before. It took me by surprise, and I came to Christ in 2008.” So thank the Lord for Andrew, and pray for others like him.

And then . . . Kevin DeYoung’s article came out right at the end of November, and helped us to create something of a grand finale. That was the whipped cream on the frappacino.

A Brief Word to Christian Institutions

We live in a time when Christian institutions—colleges, churches, schools, parachurch ministries, publishers—must learn how to be antifragile. Antifragility in this troublous time is a survival necessity. If you are looking at the controversy swirling around Moscow—and other potential controversies like it—as something of a PR and marketing nightmare, then by definition you are not antifragile. If you are having executive council meetings on how to manage all of this, you are not antifragile. If you are constantly activating all your response teams, you are not antifragile.

So if a major sleaze magazine like Vice were to drop a hit piece on some close friends of yours today, what should you call it? You should call it Wednesday.

Submarine Evangelism

We are coming up on a transition point, and I think it is coming soon, and so I need to mention this next principle.

This is a phenomenon I first observed during various evangelistic imbroglios in the Navy. As many of you know, I did a hitch in the submarine service which, let us be frank, is not a bastion of righteousness. Given the fact that I was an open Christian and interested in sharing my faith, there would be occasions where a conversation in the crew’s mess would grow to a substantial size, and it was almost always a case of “me against everybody.” This was fine, because while most of the sailors were rank unbelievers, only a few were openly hostile and/or blasphemous. In fact, I only remember one guy who was like that. I think he was a machinist’s mate, but we shouldn’t generalize from that too broadly.

But that is not where the lesson was. I would regard these apologetic embroilments as a positive thing, and was grateful for them. The thing that was instructive was that, when it was all over, various sailors would come to me privately in order to encourage me. “Don’t let them get you down. I’m with you. Thanks for standing up. I agree with you.” But it was privately, and after the big conversation was over.

There was another lesson, a corollary to the first. This tendency of some Christians to hide out, refusing to dive into the fray while it was going on was not a permanent state of affairs. On the second submarine I was on, a number of men either became Christians, or became much more open about their faith, and this happened over the course of a year and a half or so. When I was discharged, on my way out I had an exit interview with the captain (who become a Christian later), and by that time about ten percent of the crew were open Christians. The captain told me that the tenor of the entire crew had been transformed, and in a positive direction. The morale of the whole boat was better. One of the reasons it had not been safe to come out is that people had been acting like it was not safe to come out.

There are two lessons in this. Don’t be surprised or offended at private support. It is easy to think something like “you know, it would have been really nice if you had spoken up earlier.” And of course, some people who sympathize with you stay in hiding permanently. That happens too. But others don’t remain there. Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews, came to Jesus by night (John 3:2). It really was risky for someone in his position to be seen in deep conversation with Jesus. But this same Nicodemus stood up for Christ later, and at a time when the feelings around him were running hot. However it is noteworthy that the apostle John made a point of identifying Nicodemus by his earlier nocturnal visit. “Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them) . . . ” (John 7:50).

There are people who will try to encourage you privately, and that is all they will ever do. Keeping their head down is a way of life for them. There are others who are trying to be strategic, and they know there is a moment coming when they are going to fly the flag. And perhaps they misjudge the moment, and perhaps they delay longer than they needed to. But this is still the kind of person that makes up a preference cascade, and we should thank God for them. Gideon won a great victory, but Ephraim still joined in the pursuit.

Then there are those who are called upon to take a lonely stand. They are the ones who set things in motion. The lesson for these people is the lesson that the Lord graciously gave to Elijah. That position felt a lot more lonely than it actually was.

“But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.”

Romans 11:4 (KJV)

The post NQN Game Film 2023 appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

America the Obese: How Taxpayers Are Forced to Ruin Their Health

Mises Institute - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 14:00

Since the original sugar tariff of 1789, US government policy has been to subsidize sugar, a policy that has led to serious consequences, including a health crisis of obesity.

Original Article: America the Obese: How Taxpayers Are Forced to Ruin Their Health

Categories: Current Affairs

What Would Happen If the US Stopped Supporting Ukraine?

Mises Institute - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 12:00

Over the weekend, border-policy negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans fell apart. The talks were meant to firm up Republican support for the president’s massive $105 billion military support proposal ahead of Wednesday’s vote by including additional funds for border security in the spending package. Now, with no imminent approval of further aid to Ukraine, hawks in government and the media are trying to stoke panic about what will happen if Kyiv is cut off from US support.

In a letter to Congress Monday, White House budget director Shalanda Young told Congress the funds will dry up by the end of the year:

I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stocks. There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money—and nearly out of time.

Young goes on to forecast disaster for Ukraine if more money isn’t allocated. But is that really accurate? Are the Ukrainian people doomed if Washington stops funding the war?

If we’re going to understand what might happen in the absence of US involvement in Ukraine, we must first understand Washington’s actual effect on the war, the true nature of which has been laid out brilliantly in a series of recent columns by Ted Snider.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began with a bombardment of cruise missiles on February 24, 2022. Later that day, infantry and armored divisions rolled in from Russia, Belarus, and Crimea while paratroopers dropped in around the capital city of Kyiv.

Days later, as the shock and confusion of the initial offensive began to dissipate, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky attempted to set up indirect talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Zelensky called then–Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett and asked him to contact Putin and to serve as a mediator. Bennett agreed.

Over the next week, Bennett had a series of phone calls with Putin before traveling to Moscow and Berlin to help organize diplomatic communication channels. His effort culminated in a March 10 meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Turkey.

In the series of talks that followed, Bennett described both sides as making “huge concessions” in pursuit of a ceasefire.

But Kyiv’s Western backers were resistant to the truce. At a special summit on March 24, NATO decided not to support or approve the peace negotiations. Still, Zelensky and Putin kept at it. And on March 29, the two sides reached an agreement.

According to a draft unsealed this past June, Russia had agreed to pull its forces back to prewar boundaries. In exchange, Ukraine had agreed it would not seek NATO membership.

So why didn’t it happen? Well, it may have started to. In early April, Russia withdrew its forces from northern Ukraine, around Kyiv—an action Putin later said was related to the Istanbul agreement.

But then, according to Bennett, former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and the leader of the Ukrainian delegation to the talks, David Arakhamia, the West pressured Zelensky to abandon negotiations and fight.

Assuming the best intentions, it’s possible officials in Washington and Brussels believed the Ukrainians could win enough battles to improve their leverage in future negotiations. But that is not what happened.

Instead, Washington bankrolled a horrifying twenty-one-month war of attrition that has cost the people of Ukraine greatly in land, lives, and limbs. After talks broke down, Russia laid permanent claim to tens of thousands of square miles of Ukrainian territory that it had earlier agreed to relinquish.

Last summer, Ukrainian forces began attempting to retake this land by force in the so-called counteroffensive. But they have since lost more territory than they have gained. Ukraine keeps its casualty count classified, but by the end of August US estimates had put it north of two hundred thousand. And it has likely climbed substantially with the ongoing struggle to break through heavy Russian minefields.

As their supply of military-aged men has dwindled, the average age of a Ukrainian soldier has climbed to forty-three. And now there is a push within the Ukrainian government to lower the draft age to begin conscripting those who have so far been too young to be eligible.

The Ukrainian people are being put through hell. And now even senior Ukrainian military officials admit there is no military path out.

If the purpose of stifling the Istanbul agreement was to help the Ukrainians gain more leverage, the West must admit failure before Ukraine loses even more.

And if Washington’s intentions were more nefarious—as comments from officials like Mitch McConnell, who have framed the war as an easy way to burden Russia without spilling American blood, suggest—that’s all the more reason to call off this horrific project.

That brings us back to the original question. What would happen if the United States stopped supporting Ukraine? We already know. Ukraine and Russia would work toward a deal. It won’t go as well for Ukraine as it did almost two years ago when they were stronger. But it’s not a path to fear. Because the alternative is that the White House gets its way and this brutal, unnecessary war carries on. And that’s so much worse.

Categories: Current Affairs

One reason we don't believe certain economic claims about climate change

Adam Smith Institute - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 06:01

Geoffrey Lean - yes, yes, we know - tries to tell us about climate economics.

The Cop28 president told a shocking lie about fossil fuels – and he’s wrong about climate economics too

Wrong, eh?

Study after study has revealed the immense potential. One, by Deloitte for the World Economic Forum, concluded that a transition to net zero could benefit the world economy by $43 trillion over the next five decades.

A commission of some of the world’s top businesspeople and financiers decided that similar measures could create 380 million jobs.

Jobs are a cost, not a benefit. Having to direct human labour to some task reduces the amount of such human effort that can be devoted to sating some other desire - it’s a cost. So that boast is that dealing with climate change would add 380 million costs to the global economy. Yes, obviously, this is an opportunity cost but if you’re not doing opportunity costs then whatever you’re doing it’s not economics.

The Deloitte claim is here. The “bad” outcome they’re testing against is SSP2 6.0. That’s a target we’re already going to hit, we’re - roughly, you understand - on RCP 4.5 or so at present. But rather more importantly:

$178 trillion in global economic losses Net present value terms to 2070 in US dollars

Ah. So, divide by 50 years (yes, ignoring discounting, aren’t we such terrors?) to give $3.4 trillion a year. Perhaps 3% of global GDP currently. And very much more like 1 to 2% in 2070 - yes, all these forecasts assume that the global economy will continue to grow over the decades. For the loss being detailed is the cumulative loss, not the annual.

So, one thought is that this is a fraction of the Stern Review loss of 5% (an annual number off in that future) and so Deloitte is telling us that climate change is very much less of a problem than Stern did. Which is interesting.

Rather more apposite we think is that we don’t, in fact, know current GDP to within 1%. Whether or not we add drugs and commercial sex or not moves the number by that much. Imputed rents (what people don’t pay for living in the houses they own) is multiples of that. The difference between the first estimate of the monthly GDP numbers and the final count 6 or whatever months later can be 0.5% of GDP. Claims about a few percentage points 50 years out strike us as little more than a demonstration of a sense of humour.

As with Peter Lilley we’re fine with what people tell us about the physics of climate change. But the economics of it all is much more marginal. Leave aside the deluded who think that job creation is anything other than a cost. The reason that the Nordhaus and Stern analyses insist that we must do this the cheap and efficient way is that the difference - absent a Venus-syle runaway - is marginal. It’s a few percent either way. Therefore the efforts cannot, logically, be more than a few percent either way for if they are then the costs will be greater than any possible benefits.

The actual economics of climate change does tell us that avoiding disaster is a pretty good idea. After that it’s all rather a marginal issue.

Categories: Current Affairs

Red and Blue

Blog & Mablog - Wed, 06/12/2023 - 02:00

“If I say that I believe in the Westminster Confession’s red use of the word election, but that I also believe that the Bible in various places uses election in the blue sense, I am not maintaining that blue is red. This is not redefinition; it is an additional definition.”

The Auburn Avenue Chronicles, p. 380

The post Red and Blue appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

The Older Son

Peter Leithart - Tue, 05/12/2023 - 23:46

Our telling of the Prodigal Son parable usually (and rightly) focuses on the runaway younger brother: the lost son returns, and his father joyfully and graciously receives him. But the full story has an additional element: an angry older brother. Jesus uses the older brother to rebuke the religious leaders of His day for their stuffy self-righteousness. Today, the older brother also highlights the incredible opportunities that God has given to the Western Church in our post-Christian culture.

Let’s look a little more closely at the older brother. He comes in from the field, and he’s so angry at the celebration that he won’t even enter the house. When his father comes out to plead with him, the older brother accuses him: “Look, I have served you many years; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him!”

On the surface, it sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Imagine you’re down at the corner pub, and all you’re hearing is the older brother’s side of the story. You might be tempted to wonder if he has a point. Maybe dad has been taking him for granted. 

But hear his father’s response: “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” Notice this: “All that I have is yours.” Son, you could have thrown this same party anytime. All of this, everything you see, is your half of the inheritance. It’s all yours. But there’s been a real lack of parties since your little brother left town, you know? 

That puts a different complexion on things. At any point, the older brother could have chosen to kill the fatted calf and throw a party for his friends. Dad wouldn’t have batted an eye. Did he ever do it? By his own admission, not even with a kid goat, let alone the fatted calf. Little brother had his problems, but to give him his due, the man knew how to party. Older brother, not so much. 

Viewed with Old Testament eyes, the sin runs much deeper than the older brother’s crankiness about his brother’s return. Going all the way back to Torah, the commands to celebrate and rejoice are frequent throughout Scripture (see Lev. 23:40, Deut. 12, Deut. 14:26, Deut. 16). In fact, failing to serve God with joy for all He has given is a serious sin, and the occasion for a covenantal threat: “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything….” Likewise in the wisdom literature, Ecclesiastes encourages us to enjoy God’s good gifts fully while holding them lightly. 

What about the New Covenant? Jesus gives us the first clue with His rough treatment of the older brother. Far from steering us away from the Old Covenant practice of celebration, the New doubles down on it. Jesus Himself famously enjoyed a good feast (Luke 7:32-34), even going so far as to provide the best wine (John 2). Not content with that, He also taught us to celebrate when we suffer: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

James follows in Jesus’ footsteps: “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” We rightly interpret those commands to require a joyful heart even in circumstances of material privation, but too often we don’t think beyond that: if we rejoice on a bad day, how much more on a good one? If we should cultivate joyful hearts when we don’t have enough for a feast, what should we be doing when we do? 

Paul speaks along similar lines: Not only do we “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance,” but God “gives us all things richly to enjoy.” “Everything God made is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving, for the word of God and prayer make it holy.” Paul can be content in any state, he tells the Philippians, because he knows how to be abased and how to abound

The older son has everything, except the ability to enjoy it. He knows how to be abased in his father’s service, but unlike Paul and Jesus, he does not know how to abound. 

Our culture, the West as a whole, is the younger son. After a thousand years of Christendom, the West ran away from home with a bunch of Dad’s accumulated wealth. It has been frantically squandering the capital for centuries, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the spree can’t go on forever. The bills are coming due, and the principalities and powers circle like hungry sharks. 

But the Western church is much closer to the older son. We haven’t run away from home, we’ve stayed loyal to Dad. So let’s ask ourselves: what should be happening back on the homestead while we pray for little brother to come to his senses? 

Remember, all the father has also belongs to the older brother. Did he gratefully enjoy all that his father had laid up for him? Did he throw a party and share with his friends and neighbors? By his own admission, not even once. Let’s not be like him.

In the church, we are the children of the King of the Universe, the Father from whom the whole family in heaven and earth derives its name. The Father has committed everything to the Son, and we are complete in Him. The wisdom and wealth of our Father are available to us. The Spirit guides us. The Scriptures school us in ways of living that fit the world God made. All this wealth that we possess creates a striking paradox as our surrounding world departs from reality and becomes correspondingly impoverished.

On the one hand, we look dangerously retrograde. They have moved from being at war with morality to being at war with reality, and we look and sound like all the things they’ve been catechized to hate. On the other hand, even in an age where lying about basic realities is universal practice, the realities themselves do not go away. Their game of socially constructed make-believe has created a society where we who can deal with those “invisible” realities have superpowers. Their project is socially constructed; ours is not. They can’t afford to even admit the existence of the stepping stones we dance on. The minute they do, their whole project falls apart. 

Behold the superpowers: we know that God’s created gifts have a particular character no matter what language games people play. Pine and hickory are not the same, and only one of them makes a good sledgehammer handle. Constraints are built into the world; God made different things different, and it is the glory of kings to search out all the variety God has given us. Your most extreme and consistent secular neighbor—the pink-haired member of the throuple that lives down the street—will probably not try to use pine for a hammer handle…not literally. But in a thousand metaphorical ways, he will do exactly that.  

We, on the other hand, deal in reality. We know what a woman is, and what a man is. We know why we’re different, what that difference is for, and how to enjoy it for a lifetime. Our people, relating to men as men and women as women, know that sex is no more socially constructed than gravity. We understand that even the parts of gender relations that really are socially constructed rely heavily on created realities that are good gifts given to us by a loving Father: “All I have is yours.”

We don’t deny those realities; we celebrate them! They, on the other hand…the younger generation not only doesn’t get married and have kids, they’re having less sex than any generation in recent memory. Facing fewer sexual constraints than Caligula, they just can’t be bothered. It turns out, when you suck all the created difference out of the sexes, you suck all the joy out of relating to one another. Stuck in a world of arbitrarily complicated, commercialized, and joyless sexuality, told that they’re really just interchangeably androgynous meat legos (Mary Harrington’s term), young adults are opting out, and who can blame them? We, on the other hand…we have kids. Jeepers, do we have kids! As in Isaiah’s time on the eve of the Assyrian invasion, having children is a sign and a wonder, an overflow of joy and an embodiment of hope that can’t be faked (Isa. 8:18 and Heb. 2:13). We’re taking what the Father gave us, and throwing a party.

Let’s invite our friends and neighbors to the party! Despite the best consensus-manufacturing efforts, nobody actually is an androgynous meat lego, because that’s not what God made. Our neighbors are exhausted by their attempts to live in high defiance of reality. There’s a wide gap between the visible, obvious truth and what they’re allowed to think and say. Maintaining pretenses is just exhausting. And they are, in fact, exhausted. No wonder they give up.

In the face of that exhaustion, we offer respite that they can enjoy well before they begin to understand why they enjoy it. We should be savoring everything about the delicious sexual polarity between husband and wife, the constant movement and holy noise of our children, and our rambunctiously fruitful households. We should be inviting the lost and childless wanderers of our culture to come over on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy God’s good gifts with us. 

And then think: in how many other domains do we have similar superpowers, if only we will live into the richness of what God has already given to us? 

  • We know that we were put here as the image of God to have dominion over the earth, to rule it wisely. We know that satisfaction in meaningful work is a gift from God, and so we embrace competence in everything we touch. Why not invite our neighbors mired in “b——t jobs” to join us in the satisfaction of meaningful work? 
  • We know that materialism and gnosticism are lies; humans are made of dust and breath. Our healthcare providers should be embracing the whole person as a creation of God, as ready to address a broken heart as a spasming muscle, poorly functioning organ, or broken bone, able to see the connections between them, and praying as they treat. 
  • We know that sin is more than just a social construct; warranted guilt is a moral injury, much too heavy a burden for anyone to carry. We know that Jesus handled it all on the cross, God is about the business of reconciling the world to Himself, and He has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. He commissioned us through the Spirit to forgive and retain sins (John 20:22-23). 
  • We know that our external, social struggles are artifacts of the lusts at war in our hearts (James 4:1). We know that changing structures can help but never solve social conflicts; conversely, we are in a position to address the real poison, which is in the human heart. 

Many of these things come naturally just as we go about our obedient lives. We gather in worship, we sing the Psalms, we confess our sins and receive absolution from them. We love one another tangibly, in music and food, in word and touch, in care and kindness and forgiveness. We engage in meaningful work in the world, build houses and households, and embrace competence in everything we touch. These are things that human beings were made to need, and when we follow God’s instructions, those needs are met. 

In Christendom, many of those needs were met by the general culture, which had been shaped by generations of Christian obedience to revealed truth. As our post-Christian culture rejects more of reality, it loses more common grace and becomes less able to meet, or even recognize, human needs. But within the Church, all that the Father has is ours in Christ. We should be relishing all of it, and the more publicly, the better. 

Practically speaking, what does that look like? I can’t tell you exactly what you’ll experience, but here are some of the things that I’ve seen in my town: 

  • A pansexual neighbor took me aside one day to thank me for my marriage: “Thank you for just being together and being yourselves. You two give me hope.”  
  • I look around at my close community and see expertise in skills that matter: car repair, video editing, locksmithing, graphic design, carpentry,tree trimming, teaching reading, bodywork, tax preparation, nursing, crochet, baking, sewing…you name it. 
  • Compromised evangelicals envy the robust families and close communities: “I can’t work out whose kids are whose—it seems all the adults know all the kids, and any of your kids can go to any of the adults for help. It’s weird, but it’s a good weird.”
  • Disease-terrified neighbors (yes, still!) will peek longly out their windows at your front yard feast or music night or church service: “It’s so life-giving to see the kids singing and dancing and you guys hugging and eating together and just not afraid.”

The whole Western Church has an opportunity here. Let’s not waste it!  

Tim Nichols is a minister, teacher, bodyworker, martial arts instructor, and the co-author with Joe Anderson of Loving: Spiritual Exercises in Tangibly Loving Your Literal Neighbors, the Victorious Bible curriculum, and the forthcoming book Boniface in the Front Yard. He lives with his wife Kimberly in Englewood, Colorado.

Categories: People I don't know

Progressive Interventionism Is Ruining American Healthcare

Mises Institute - Tue, 05/12/2023 - 20:00

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is at it again: demanding government intervention in the nation's healthcare system to deal with problems caused by earlier government intervention.

Original Article: Progressive Interventionism Is Ruining American Healthcare

Categories: Current Affairs

The Money Supply Continues its Biggest Collapse Since the Great Depression

Mises Institute - Tue, 05/12/2023 - 18:15

Money supply growth fell again in October, remaining deep in negative territory after turning negative in November 2022 for the first time in twenty-eight years. October's drop continues a steep downward trend from the unprecedented highs experienced during much of the past two years.

Since April 2021, money supply growth has slowed quickly, and since November, we've been seeing the money supply repeatedly contract year over year. The last time the year-over-year (YOY) change in the money supply slipped into negative territory was in November 1994. At that time, negative growth continued for fifteen months, finally turning positive again in January 1996. 

Money-supply growth has now been negative for twelve months in a row. During October 2023, the downturn continued as YOY growth in the money supply was at –9.33 percent. That's up slightly from September's rate decline which was of –10.49 percent, and was far below October 2022's rate of 2.14 percent. With negative growth now falling near or below –10 percent for the eighth month in a row, money-supply contraction is the largest we've seen since the Great Depression. Prior to this year, at no other point for at least sixty years has the money supply fallen by more than 6 percent (YoY) in any month. 


The money supply metric used here—the "true," or Rothbard-Salerno, money supply measure (TMS)—is the metric developed by Murray Rothbard and Joseph Salerno, and is designed to provide a better measure of money supply fluctuations than M2. (The Mises Institute now offers regular updates on this metric and its growth.)

In recent months, M2 growth rates have followed a similar course to TMS growth rates, although TMS has fallen faster than M2. In October 2023, the M2 growth rate was –3.35 percent. That's down from September's growth rate of –3.35 percent. October 2023's growth rate was also well down from October 2022's rate of 1.42 percent. 

Money supply growth can often be a helpful measure of economic activity and an indicator of coming recessions. During periods of economic boom, money supply tends to grow quickly as commercial banks make more loans. Recessions, on the other hand, tend to be preceded by slowing rates of money supply growth. 

It should be noted that the money supply does not need to actually contract to signal a recession and the boom-bust cycle. As shown by Ludwig von Mises, recessions are often preceded by a mere slowing in money supply growth. But the drop into negative territory we've seen in recent months does help illustrate just how far and how rapidly money supply growth has fallen. That is generally a red flag for economic growth and employment.

The fact that the money supply is shrinking at all is remarkable because the money supply in modern times almost never gets smaller. The money supply has now fallen by $2.8 trillion (or 13.1 percent) since the peak in April 2022. Proportionally, the drop in money supply since 2022 is the largest fall we've seen since the Depression. (Rothbard estimates that in the lead-up to the Great Depression, the money supply fell by 12 percent from its peak of $73 billion in mid-1929 to $64 billion at the end of 1932.)

In spite of this recent drop in total money supply, the trend in money-supply remains well above what existed during the twenty-year period from 1989 to 2009. To return to this trend, the money supply would have to drop at least another $3 trillion or so—or 15 percent—down to a total below $15 trillion.  Moreover, as of October, total money supply was still up 32 percent (or $4.6 trillion) since January 2020. 


Since 2009, the TMS money supply is now up by nearly 186 percent. (M2 has grown by 141 percent in that period.) Out of the current money supply of $18.9 trillion, $4.6 trillion—or 24 percent—of that has been created since January 2020. Since 2009, $12.2 trillion of the current money supply has been created. In other words, nearly two-thirds of the total existing money supply have been created just in the past thirteen years. 

With these kinds of totals, a ten-percent drop only puts a small dent in the huge edifice of newly created money. The US economy still faces a very large monetary overhang from the past several years, and this is partly why after eighteen months of slowing money-supply growth, we are only now starting to see a slowdown in the labor market. (For example, job openings have fallen 22 percent over the past year, but have not yet returned to pre-covid levels.) The inflationary boom has not yet ended. 

Nonetheless, the monetary slowdown has been sufficient to considerably weaken the economy. The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index is in recession territory. The Leading Indicators index keeps looking worse. The yield curve points to recession. Temp jobs were down, year-over-year, which often indicates approaching recession. Default rates are rising. 

Money Supply and Rising Interest Rates

An inflationary boom begins to turn to bust once new injections of money subside, and we are seeing this now. Not surprisingly, the current signs of malaise come after the Federal Reserve finally pulled its foot slightly off the money-creation accelerator after more than a decade of quantitative easing, financial repression, and a general devotion to easy money. As of early December, the Fed has allowed the federal funds rate to rise to 5.50 percent, the highest since 2001. This has meant short-term interest rates overall have risen as well. In October, for example, the yield on 3-month Treasurys reached 5.6 percent, the highest level measured since December 2000. 


Without ongoing access to easy money at near-zero rates, banks are less enthusiastic about making loans, and many marginal companies will no longer be able to stave off financial trouble by refinancing or taking out new loans. Commercial bankruptcy filings increased sizably during 2023, and continue to surge into the last quarter of the year. As reported by Monitor Daily

The bankruptcy filing by WeWork in November propelled November commercial Chapter 11 filings to 842, an increase of 141% compared with the 349 filings registered in November 2022, according to data provided by Epiq Bankruptcy.

The case filed by WeWork on Nov. 6 included 517 related filings, according to analysis from the American Bankruptcy Institute, representing the third-most related filings in a case since the U.S. Bankruptcy Code became effective in 1979.

Overall commercial filings increased 21% to 2,252 in November, up from the 1,864 commercial filings registered in November 2022. Small business filings, captured as Subchapter V elections within Chapter 11, increased 79% to 181 in November, up from 101 in November 2022.

There were 37,860 total bankruptcy filings in November, a 21% increase from the November 2022 total of 31,187. Individual bankruptcy filings also registered a 21% year-over-year increase, as the 35,608 in November represented an increase over the 29,323 filings in November 2022. There were 20,250 individual Chapter 7 filings in November, a 23% increase compared with the 16,421 filings recorded in November 2022, and there were 15,280 individual Chapter 13 filings in November, a 19% increase compared with the 12,862 filings last November.

Lending for private consumption is getting more expensive also. In October, the average 30-year mortgage rate rose to 7.62 percent, the highest point reached since November 2000. 

These factors all point toward a bubble that is in the process of popping. The situation is unsustainable, yet the Fed cannot change course without reigniting a new surge in price inflation. Although some professional economists insist that price inflation has all but disappeared, the sentiment on the ground is clearly one in which most workers believe their wages are not keeping up with rising prices. Any surge in prices would be especially problematic given the rising cost of living. Ordinary Americans face a similar problem with home prices. According to the Atlanta Fed, the housing affordability index is now the worst it's been since 2006, in the midst of the Housing Bubble. 

If the Fed reverses course now, and embraces a new flood of new money, prices will only spiral upward. It didn't have to be this way, but ordinary people are now paying the price for a decade of easy money cheered by Wall Street and the profligates in Washington. The only way to put the economy on a more stable long-term path is for the Fed to stop pumping new money into the economy. That means a falling money supply and popping economic bubbles. But it also lays the groundwork for a real economy—i.e., an economy not built on endless bubbles—built by saving and investment rather than spending made possible by artificially low interest rates and easy money. 

Categories: Current Affairs


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