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Communique from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s bishops’ meeting, February 2020

Anglican Ink - Tue, 18/02/2020 - 00:18

To the beloved People of God,

Grace and Peace to you!

The regular February session of the Synod of Bishops convened in The Outlook Lodge at Kempton Park, Gauteng, in the Diocese of the Highveld from Sunday 9 February to Thursday 13 February.

Bishop of Table Bay

On Sunday, an Electoral College to elect a Bishop for Table Bay was constituted, during which the Bishops considered the unique challenges facing the Diocese of Cape Town. After discernment the Venerable Joshua Louw, Rector of St Paul’s Church and Archdeacon of the Waterfront in Cape Town, was elected as Bishop of Table Bay.

States of Emergency

The Synod of Bishops met from Monday 10 to Thursday 13 February. Formal sessions of the Synod were preceded by a unique first: a joint meeting of the Provincial Guilds and Organisations, Hope Africa, and Green Anglicans. This historic gathering reflected on ways to implement the resolutions of Provincial Synod 2019. We agreed to declare a “State of Emergency” with regards to Gender-Based Violence and Climate Change, which must be addressed by putting strategic programmes in place as a matter of urgency at Provincial, Diocesan and Parochial level.

Worship

Our worship, as always, was inspiring and challenging at the same time. We were made to think hard about the creation of “holy spots” in our churches (Mark 6:53ff); Then we were invited into the reality of “doubting certainty” as reflected in Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 8:23ff) and a consideration of the tensions between reason and faith, often being tested by hard questions requiring great wisdom to answer, just as Solomon was tested by the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10.1). Finally we were challenged both to recognise the power of humble faith to courageously break through barriers to reach those among the marginalised who are seeking healing, as in the case of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30, and to overcome our own prejudices by God’s grace to open the way for healing to take place.

Welcomes and recognition

The Archbishop welcomed everyone, especially the Bishop of St Mark the Evangelist and the Bishop of Mzimvubu, who were attending the Synod of Bishops for the first time as Diocesan Bishops. The Vicar-General of Kimberley and Kuruman, the Revd Canon Carol Starkey, and the Vicar-General of Natal, the Very Revd Ndabenzinhle Sibisi, were also especially welcomed. A moment of silence was observed in memory of Bishop Mlibo Ngewu.

After evening prayer on Monday, the Archbishop honoured Ms Tricia Sibbons with the Archbishop’s Peace with Justice Award for her service to the Diocese of Johannesburg spanning thirty years.

The Role of Women in the Church

We valued assistance given to us when we considered our role as transformational leaders. Findings arising out of the Archbishop’s Commission on the election of women highlighted the large number of ordained women in contrast to the few ordained women in senior positions. An appeal was made to the Synod of Bishops to forward more comments, suggestions and questions to the Commission to assist them in carrying out their work, to chart a more proactive way, subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of getting women elected as bishops. The Bishops concurred that gender equity is not about women but about justice.

The theology and vocation of the Episcopate

Synod spent some time reflecting on the theology and vocation of bishops. The physical endurance, depth of spirituality and mental strength required of the bishop was brought into sharp relief by exploring an example of surviving solitary confinement and complete reliance on God as the supreme source of hope and strength in adversity through a presentation by Mr Thabo Ndabeni. He highlighted the importance of self-care. Bishops were given time for personal sharing and asked to support each other in the exercise of the onerous responsibilities the episcopal office demands of them. Bishops were made to realise that weakness is not a sign of failure and to seek help when needed. The sharing gave rise to the adoption of a Mutual Accountability Pro-Forma to be shared at every Synod of Bishops meeting.

The Final Sabbath Call

The Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata addressed Synod on “The Final Sabbath Call” issued by the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations. Zimbabwe’s tortuous history has created deep insecurity within those with power who hold political office. This insecurity has led to years of oppression. The past has not been dealt with and all leaders are haunted by the past, resulting in a nation in pain.

Zimbabwe’s fortieth anniversary is seen as symbolic of Israel’s journey in the Wilderness. The Sabbath calls for a moratorium on all elections in order to create space for re-imagining a new future for the country and its people. Synod responded to the call for ACSA to stand in solidarity and support of the Sabbath Call by appointing a liaison Bishop to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches; by agreeing to make prayer and action a standing item on the agenda of Synod of Bishops, by participating in solidarity visits and by sponsoring an ordinand to attend the College of the Transfiguration.

Liturgical development

A discussion on the experience of using the revised Ordination Liturgies was engaged in. Although they were widely used and enthusiastically received, written responses requested by the Liturgical Committee were still awaited. The pressing need for succession planning to identify and train future liturgists was noted as an urgent need that must be addressed. The report from the Advisory Board on Theological Education highlighted the need for lifelong learning and ministerial formation. The key goal of the Board was the ongoing professional, ministerial and spiritual development of the clergy.

A new Lusophone Province

We were given a comprehensive overview of the vast Dioceses of Angola and Mozambique. The vision to multiply the number of Dioceses in Angola and Mozambique was motivated with conviction. This deep plea by the Portuguese-speaking Dioceses was enthusiastically received and endorsed by us. In time it is envisaged that growing the number of Dioceses in both areas will enable them to apply to form a united new Province. Significantly our agreement to set the process in motion comes when ACSA is celebrating its 150th anniversary as a Province.

Further Synod Business

Hope Africa

After an overview of the social development programmes and projects run by Hope Africa, and the dire financial situation within which Hope Africa finds itself, the Bishops were asked to consider proposing a Provincial Synod Resolution that all Dioceses contribute 0.7 percent of their annual income to Hope Africa, and making it a development resolution of permanent force.

Youth Ministry

The Bishops grappled with the funding of Youth Ministry after a comprehensive report on the challenges experienced by our Provincial Youth structures.

Resolution on Palestine

Resolution 4 of Provincial Synod 2019, declaring solidarity with Palestine, caused consternation in many quarters. A sobering presentation was given by Mrs Dudu Mahlangu Masango, World Council of Churches’ coordinator for the Southern African Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. She gave us a heart-rending description of what Palestinians go through as seen through the lens of the Accompaniment Programme.

Pastoral guidelines on human sexuality

The preparation of these Pastoral Guidelines is ongoing. A small committee was formed to do preliminary work to develop terms and references in line with last year’s Provincial Synod resolution.

Safe Church

Recognising the devastating detrimental effects of abuse, including sexual abuse, on the lives of vulnerable children and adults, the Bishops have spent a great deal of effort in recent years on putting systems in place to deal with this scourge. Apart from the overriding importance of ministering to the victims and disciplining the perpetrators of such abuses, the cost to the Church if found wanting in the case of a law suit could be crippling financially and reputationally. Ensuring that all churches in our Province are Safe and Inclusive Church compliant is a matter of great urgency. By September this year all ministers, ordained and lay, must be compliant or their licences will no longer be valid.

Clergy in political office

The Bishops have crafted a set of pastoral guidelines to apply when Clergy want to participate in party political activities. We agreed they were a work in progress and they will be published in due course.

Expropriation of land without compensation in South Africa

We were reminded that land expropriation without compensation is a burning issue potentially affecting our parishes. Dioceses must ensure that they have an up-to-date register of church properties and note whether they hold title deeds or permission to occupy these properties. Theologians will be requested to produce a theology underpinning Church ownership of land. We also need to develop practical guides on how to develop land which is owned by the Church.

Amendments to the Canons

The Bishops spent time making sure that the Canons amended at Provincial Synod are understood. These include Canons 4, 34, 35, 38, 39, and 42.

The Bible Society

The Bible Society, celebrating its two-hundredth anniversary this year, made a presentation to Synod detailing the impressive milestones they have achieved in their ministry of Bible translation and making Bibles accessible to more and more people. ACSA was thanked for its ongoing financial support and an appeal was made for us to continue our support of the Bible Society.

Inspiration

The leading South African social and business entrepreneur, Mr Isaac Shongwe, chairman of Letsema Business Management Consultants, gave an inspiring concluding presentation on “Journey on Management, Administration and Leadership”. It was stimulating, thought-provoking and challenging in terms of what is expected of Bishops and the roles they have to fulfill in the exercise of their episcopal ministry and the many demands on their time. It highlighted the need to be equipped with skills that high-level leadership requires to be effective and efficient, given the demands of the challenges we face in today’s world.

The Dean of the Province, Bishop Stephen Diseko, proposed a vote of thanks. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba gave the Benediction and declared the Synod of Bishops dissolved.

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you as long as I live. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.” – Psalm 63:2-4

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Two sexes, one flesh: A Commonsense Prophecy Awaiting Fulfillment

Anglican Ink - Tue, 18/02/2020 - 00:05

Twenty-three years ago, I wrote a book titled “Two Sexes, One Flesh: Why the Church Cannot Bless Same-Sex Marriage.” The first chapter was “What Are We Talking About?” in which I argued that in order to think biblically about the question of same-sex marriage, we had to think logically about the terms, including the term “sex.”  Here is what I wrote:

Sexuality is a word less than two centuries old. It can be understood in a neutral sense as “the constitutionally bipolar character of human nature” (N.B. sex from the Latin “to cut”).

I then referred to the 1986 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which states:

As a rule, male and female complement each other at all levels of organization: as sex cells; as individuals with either testes or ovaries; and as individuals with anatomical, physiological, and behavioral differences associated with the complemental roles they play during the whole reproductive process.

Sadly, the 1986 edition was the last in a grand tradition. However, even the latest online version continues to say:

Sex, the sum of features by which members of species can be divided into two groups—male and female—that complement each other reproductively.

I went on in my chapter to lay out the new “transformed” definition of “intimacy” which describes sex in terms of “plastic sexuality,” “confluent love,” and “the pure relationship.” This definition has become the new gender orthodoxy.

Some scientists, it seems, are fighting back. Two biologists from Penn State and University of Manchester are reviving the old orthodoxy. They write:

In humans, as in most animals or plants, an organism’s biological sex corresponds to one of two distinct types of reproductive anatomy that develop for the production of small or large sex cells—sperm and eggs, respectively—and associated biological functions in sexual reproduction. In humans, reproductive anatomy is unambiguously male or female at birth more than 99.98% of the time. The evolutionary function of these two anatomies is to aid in reproduction via the fusion of sperm and ova. No third type of sex cell exists in humans, and therefore there is no sex “spectrum” or additional sexes beyond male and female. Sex is binary….

The time for politeness on this issue has passed. Biologists and medical professionals need to stand up for the empirical reality of biological sex. When authoritative scientific institutions ignore or deny empirical fact in the name of social accommodation, it is an egregious betrayal to the scientific community they represent. It undermines public trust in science, and it is dangerously harmful to those most vulnerable.

One wonders how long before these researchers are excommunicated from their guild.

Anyway, it is strange to think that such an understanding of human nature in the image of God needs be prophetic rather than commonsensical, but since it is, I’ll utter another prophecy: the time will come when the 1986 Britannica definition will be restored to honor and the transformed definition will be as ludicrous as the Emperor’s New Clothes. How many people in the meantime will suffer confusion and loss, and not just academic, God only knows.

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Jihadists attack church gatherings in Burkina Faso and Cameroon

Anglican Ink - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 23:52

Jihadist terrorists stormed an Evangelical church in Burkina Faso during Sunday worship services killing 24 people. On 16 Feb 2020 gunmen riding motorbikes entered the village of Pansi in the Yahgha province in northern Burkina Faso, and attacked the villagers as they were gathered for worship. Eighteen people were wounded in addition to those killed, while the pastor and several elders were taken captive. 

This week’s attack follows a 10 Feb 2020 attack on the nearby city of Sebba. Seven people were kidnapped during a house church service. Three days later, five of the captives including the pastor, were found murdered. Two women captives were found unharmed.

Since 2015, about 750 people have been killed in Burkina Faso, and about 600,000 people have been forced from their homes. Christians are frequent targets of persecution in the north of the West African country.

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on 17 Feb 2020 condemned the attacks in Burkina Faso, and a second jihadist attack in Cameroon. 

“I am profoundly sad that people who are gathered to worship suffer from such a senseless act of hate,” said Dr. Tveit.

“These acts of violence are attacks on our one human family and we must continue to work together for justice and peace,” he said.

In Cameroon, according to the UN, 14 children were among 22 people killed by armed men on 14 February in Ntumbo, a village in northwestern Cameroon. At least 600 villagers have since fled the area. In the past several months, some 60,000 Cameroonians have fled to Nigeria amid escalating violence.

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Tim Terrell on Misleading Cross-Country Health Care Statistics, and Why Big Business Supports Environmental Regulations

Mises Institute - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 18:15

Economist Tim Terrell explains why the common rankings of "health outcomes" are so often biased against the United States, and why big businesses often support certain environmental regulations. Hint: it's not for reasons progressives will like.

For more information, see BobMurphyShow.com. The Bob Murphy Show is also available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and via RSS.

Categories: Current Affairs

Evangelical elected Bishop of Connor

Anglican Ink - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 18:06

The Ven George Davison, Archdeacon of Belfast, has been elected Bishop of Connor.

Mr Davison was appointed by the Episcopal Electoral College for the Diocese of Connor, meeting in the Alexander Synod Hall, Armagh.  He succeeds the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy who retired in December.

The Bishop-elect is currently rector of St Nicholas Parish Church, Carrickfergus, in the Diocese of Connor, and Archdeacon of Belfast. He is an Honorary Secretary of the Church of Ireland’s General Synod, and was previously Archdeacon of Kilmore and rector of Kinawley, in the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh.

The Rt Rev Patrick Rooke, President of the Electoral College and Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, said: ‘I congratulate Archdeacon George Davison on his election as Bishop of Connor. I am confident that he will be a popular choice and a wise and caring leader in a diocese he knows well.

“I look forward to working alongside him in the wider Church and wish him well as he prepares for this new phase of ministry.’

Bishop-elect Davison said: “The members of the Electoral College for the Diocese of Connor have done me a great honour in electing me to serve as the next bishop of the diocese.

“I am very conscious of the great responsibility that is being entrusted to me. I am immensely thankful for the gifted colleagues who serve the Church in Connor Diocese and look forward to serving with them as we seek to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the years ahead.”

Following approval by the House of Bishops, the bishop-elect will be consecrated as a bishop on a date to be determined.

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Bernie Sanders's Long History of Pushing Government Takeovers of Private Markets

Mises Institute - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 17:00

Socialist ideas have taken a hold on some of the more progressive members of the Democratic Party, namely Senator Bernie Sanders. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, however, may provide Senator Sanders with a reason for concern. Although 40 percent of Democratic primary voters express positive views of socialism, only 19 percent of all voters express the same positivity. The Vermont senator may be able to stand out in the crowded Democratic primary, but the general election voter will likely be cautious of some of Senator Sanders’s proposals.

As many readers are aware, socialism provides for the “governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods,” according to Merriam-Webster. That is, it's not just a vague notion that the government should do more. Socialism is a system of government ownership.

Through Senator Sanders’s lengthy career in politics and even in recent years, he has advocated the nationalization, or government ownership, of numerous industries. Throughout the 1970s, Senator Sanders was an avid proponent of the nationalization of utilities, the federal takeover of the energy industry, and the public ownership of banks and major industries.

According to the Wall Street Journal, as late as 1987 Sanders conflated democracy with the “public ownership of the major means of production.” His proposals are often blanketed by calls for a host of positive rights, or rights entitling one person to have another person act in their interest. Such positive rights include the right to healthcare, education, a living wage, affordable housing, and “a secure retirement.”

Senator Sanders has been remarkably consistent. During his long political career, he has called for the nationalization, or "democratization," of the following industries:

  1. Senator Sanders’s plan to tackle climate change includes a $16 trillion initiative to transition the United States toward renewable energy sources. This plan consists of dramatically increasing funding to administrations overseen by the Department of Energy and utilizing the regulatory force of the Environmental Protection Agency to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Sanders’s EPA would enact much more stringent emissions limits than those enacted during the Obama administration, resulting in the retirement of coal and gas plants. Only private renewable energy producers and federal utilities would remain. Back in 1973, Sanders wrote to Vermont’s then senator Robert Stafford, “the oil industry, and the entire energy industry, should be owned by the public and used for the public good—not for additional profits for billionaires.”

  2. Although Senator Sanders has focused on nationalizing utilities, he has placed special emphasis on high-speed internet access as “a basic human right.” His contention is that tax revenues assist in building the internet, so it must be a public good for all, “not another price gouging profit machine,” writes the Seattle Times. His plan 1) requires internet service providers to provide a “Basic Internet Plan,” 2) redefines “minimum broadband speeds” in order to set an internet speed floor of 100 Mbps for downloads and 10 Mbps for uploads, 3) allocates $150 billion to create modern infrastructure for “widely accessible” and “affordable” high-speed broadband, and 4) imposes net neutrality on internet service providers, which ends throttling, a business tactic that hinders the usage of data consumption by users.

  3. The most contentious of all of Sanders’s plans, Medicare for All, would completely overhaul the entire healthcare system. Medicare for All would create a single-payer, national health insurance program to provide comprehensive coverage to all. Sanders’s plan goes further than most other progressives’ plans by effectively eliminating private insurance. Vox notes a feud between progressives as to whether or not a federally funded public option should compete with private insurance. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sanders “plays down the radicalism of Medicare for All…by arguing that we are only ‘talking about expanding the most popular health-insurance program in America.’” Aside from the dubious economics behind a universal healthcare program in a country of 320 million people, Sanders and his colleagues have been at war over the real cost of these plans. Sanders has conceded that middle-class Americans will pay more in taxes, but the tax increases, he contends, will be far less than the cost of buying private insurance. In addition to universal healthcare, Sanders has called for “public ownership of the drug companies and placing doctors on salaries [a form of price control].”

  4. Along with Sanders’s proposal to overhaul the healthcare industry is a plan to replace for-profit credit reporting agencies with a public credit registry. Public credit registries are common throughout the world, albeit sometimes used in collaboration with private credit bureaus. The argument is that credit reporting agencies have become utilities in that consumers have no direct involvement with the agencies, writes Vox, but that the agencies’ product has a significant impact on an individual’s day-to-day life. Credit reporting agencies receive information from various data furnishers, or data providers, and in turn use scoring models, or algorithms, to determine a credit risk score. Sanders and other prominent progressives view the discrepancies in credit scores and access to credit as systematic racial discrimination, and thus they believe the only alternative is for the federal government to create its own public credit registry. Sanders’s plan to overhaul the credit reporting system stems in part from his efforts to decrease the relevance of medical debt to consumers’ credit scores.

  5. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders endorsed the concept of postal office banking, which requires the United States Postal Service to “engage in basic banking services.” Postal banking is thought to be a potential solution to the issues of payday lending. As the argument goes, Senator Sanders and a large portion of the Democrat Party seek to cap the interest rate that payday lenders can charge to consumers to end the cycle of poverty perpetuation. The Intercept argues that the nation’s thirty-one thousand post offices issuing “simple bank accounts and even short-term loans” would solve the issue for those one-in-four American households with little or no access to banking. Voila! A government “solution” to a government-created problem; a problem that can be solved by financial technology (fintech) or credit unions.

  6. As I have written extensively, Sanders and his colleague Senator Elizabeth Warren have proposed to “cancel” student loan debt and to guarantee tuition and debt-free public colleges. On Sanders’s campaign’s website, he outlines the details of his plan. Although most public colleges are funded by state governments or state-led scholarship programs, these institutions also accept federal funding, as well as tuition revenues from federally guaranteed student loans. Sanders’s plan intends to use federal taxes to cover the cost of tuition. This plan will result in further federal requirements, possibly similar to the requirements under Title IX, and enlarged administrative costs. It is not clear how Senator Sanders’s plan would coexist with state funding for universities. Would state governments continue to fund higher education at all?

  7. As if Senator Sanders had taken a cue from Senator Warren’s campaign, he has proposed a high-cost government plan for nearly every major issue. His housing plan consists of 1) investing $2.5 trillion to build “10 million permanently affordable housing units,” 2) expanding Section 8 vouchers under the Fair Housing Act to make rent affordable to all eligible families, and 3) combating gentrification, exclusionary zoning, and restrictive zoning. This plan does not call for the nationalization of housing per se; however, rent control and zoning laws are typically regulated by states and localities. Federal intervention in housing would send federal resources to predominantly urban areas and undermine the benefits of decentralization. The lone bright spot for libertarians is Sanders’s call to reform zoning laws to “allow for more construction in the priciest neighborhoods and markets.” Even Vox finds issues with rent control: “the issue with rent control regulations is that while they generate large benefits for tenants who stay put in hot markets, they tend to make it a lot harder for people to find a new place to rent.” Rent control restricts the supply of rental housing by discouraging investment in real estate with the reduction of the rental price below the market rate, and it encourages “the conversion of potential rental properties into Airbnbs or office space.”

  8. Sanders’s laundry list of socialist proposals culminates in an idea he pitched in 1974. During his 1974 campaign for the Senate, he sought to make it illegal to “gain more wealth than [a] person could spend in a lifetime and have a 100% tax on incomes above this level.” He determined $1 million per year to be that level. On his campaign website, Sanders now proposes 1) establishing a progressive estate tax on multimillionaire and billionaire inheritances, 2) removing the income cap on Social Security payroll taxes, 3) to “substantially increase the top marginal tax rate on income above $10 million,” 4) to close tax loopholes, or deductions, 4) to establish an annual wealth tax for the top 0.1 percent of households, a plan which I discussed at the Foundation for Economic Education website, and 5) to introduce a more progressive tax rate system for companies with “large gaps between their CEO and median worker pay.”

Sanders's benevolent perspective towards government-run institutions goes back decades. In fact, in his book Our Revolution, he explains his long-standing adherence to the ideas of democratization of resources. Although one cannot doubt his conviction towards these ideas, these proposals are at best dubious. The downstream effects of nationalizing industry and placing the burden of operating these institutions on taxpayers will inevitably lead to unintended consequences.

Categories: Current Affairs

Social Security Is a Terrible "Investment"

Mises Institute - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 12:00

Social Security, the primary retirement savings tool and biggest tax for millions of Americans, is a bad deal, critics contend.

They argue that mandatory Social Security is a poor investment because it only provides an average annual income of some $17,000. This is a lousy return on the decades of tax payments, critics contend. They say most would obtain superior returns with private investments.

“Americans would be better off keeping their payroll tax contributions and putting them into private retirement accounts than having to sacrifice them to the government’s broken Social Security system,” according to “Is Social Security Worth Its Cost?,” a study by the Heritage Foundation.

Social Security officials reply that the program provides value because it includes disability as well as retirement income coverage. They question how well the average person would do with a private retirement account.

Social Security taxes are the biggest tax most younger and low- and middle-income workers pay. Critics argue that younger workers with decades to invest miss the opportunity to amass significant assets because of high Social Security taxes. “Having reduced the incentive to save for retirement, Social Security now represents a significant portion of most workers’ retirement savings,” according to the study.

Social Security payroll taxes are 6.2 percent each for the worker and the employer. But the worker pays the entire bill if an independent contractor.

The average Social Security recipient receives some $1,461 a month, although most now pay a tax on these payments. They were untaxed until the 1980s, when the program faced a funding crisis.

The Heritage Foundation found that many workers paying into the program end up with a negative annual rate of return, somewhere between minus –0.04 and –14.53 percent depending on one’s age. Younger workers with the most years to pay into the system and groups with below-average lifespans are the ones who have the poorest returns, a Heritage Foundation official says.

“We are telling young people to put money into this program that guarantees zero or negative returns,” says Rachel Greszler, one of the authors of the report.

Greszler notes that this is in comparison to a 4.76 percent annual return for those who have conservatively invested: half in large cap (capitalization) stocks, half in government bonds, and assuming an expense ratio of 0.7 percent. Greszler concedes that the long-term results of private investments are likely better than 4.76 percent. “We wanted to use a conservative investing model,” she says.

Indeed, long-term stock returns are just under 10 percent a year according to the book Stocks for the Long Run. Bonds usually earn between 2 and 5 percent a year depending on the kind of bond and its term.

And in fact the Heritage Foundation study slightly overstated Social Security’s returns, because it only included those aged 66 and above, and only those who live long enough to collect full benefits. The numbers would have been smaller if they had averaged in those who die before age 66 and receive little or nothing in retirement benefits.

Whether an investor’s portfolio is bond or stock heavy, it is clear that the consistent investor does much better than someone depending on Social Security, critics argue. Indeed, retirement advisors warn clients not to overrely on these payments.

“I tell people to be very conservative about Social Security payments in building a retirement plan,” says Ronald Roge, a Bohemia, New York, advisor. “It should be no more than a third of your income.”

Charles Hughes, a longtime advisor in Bay Shore, New York, who writes many retirement plans, warns that

if a client is expecting to get most of his income from Social Security, then there is very little I can do to help them achieve a secure retirement.

Still, Social Security officials defended the program as comprehensive. They said it is more than just retirement income.

“Rates of return on Social Security are complicated because these benefits include disability and survivors protection as well as CPI-indexed life annuities for retirees, something not offered in the commercial market,” according to Stephen Goss, Social Security chief actuary.

“The value of such insurance protection,” he adds, “goes beyond just the average benefit payments, as indicated by the premiums charged for commercial insurance.”

Goss argues that accumulation in private accounts “can vary widely based on timing and investment choices. As a result, serious proposals for providing some portion of Social Security protection in the form of individual accounts have generally provided some form of guaranteed return to eliminate the prospect that some individuals will have poor experience.”

Social Security itself, of course, should never be confused with a real trust fund, or a real saving or investment program, as can be seen in the program's dicey trust fund accounting identified by economist Murray Rothbard about a half century ago:

For the government does not invest the funds it takes in taxes, it simply spends them, giving itself bonds, which must be later cashed when the benefits fall due. How will the cash be then obtained? Only from further taxation and or inflation.

A Program in Trouble

But beyond the debate over private accounts, almost everyone agrees on this: the current Social Security system is in the red—today more is paid out than is paid in, a deficit that is expected to get worse as people live longer and birthrates decline—and Congress must act over the next fifteen years. Benefits must either be reduced or taxes raised again, or the system’s two trust funds will reduce payments by about a quarter.

The Social Security Trustees project that the retirement and disability funds, “will be depleted in 2035.”

Goss, in a sentiment shared by Social Security critics, says, “Congress must act.”

Social Security’s returns, taxes, and benefits have been much debated, especially over the last fifty years as the program has gone through numerous crises. Taxes have been raised and benefits cut several times.

The problem of how to fund Social Security has persisted over decades. Both Presidents Carter and Reagan, in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively, signed Social Security reform packages that called for higher taxes and benefit cuts.

Carter said his package would make the system “sound.” Reagan said his changes would “protect the financial integrity of Social Security.”

Neither happened.

William “Tip” O’Neill, a former speaker of the House of Representatives and a key player in the Social Security debates of the 1970s and 1980s, hardly touches on them in his book “Man of the House,” except to say how he and his allies prevented benefit cuts.

They didn’t. And more are likely on the horizon.

These failed Social Security solutions resulted in the shaky finances of the current system. However, sometimes in its history Social Security has been billions of dollars in the black. But that money was never used to shore up the program. Instead, Greszler says, the extra revenue "allowed governments to spend a lot more on other things.”

Categories: Current Affairs

We'd better get on with abolishing the BBC tax

Adam Smith Institute - Mon, 17/02/2020 - 07:01

The Chairman of the BBC tells us that if the licence fee tax is abolished and the institution moved over to a subscription fee arrangement then:

He argued that a move to a subscription model would mean a loss of earnings for the BBC that would lead to popular programmes being axed and that the introduction of Netflix-style payments could result in the loss of public service programming in a race to attract paying viewers.

We are being told two contradictory things. That the BBC would stop producing unpopular things in order to chase ratings and also, at the same time, that the BBC would stop producing popular things which bring in the ratings.

Looks like we’d better get on with the subscription model then. Who wants to leave several billion pounds a year of public money in the charge of someone so terminally confused?

Categories: Current Affairs

The government's agenda

Adam Smith Institute - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 17:00

Commentators have speculated on what might be the ideology that drives Boris Johnson’s government since its December election victory. They ask if it will be pragmatic, free market, or ‘one nation’ Toryism. Most seem convinced that it will strive to consolidate the support of the new Tory voters who ‘lent’ their votes to deliver Brexit, and maybe to reject Jeremy Corbyn and what he stood for, and to help Boris Johnson break through Labour’s ‘red wall’ by doing so.

Even though we are still early into the new government and the new cabinet, there are clear signs that point to the direction it will take. It will be tightly controlled from 10 Downing Street. Not since Peter Mandelson established total control of Labour's output in the 1990s have the actions of individual ministers been subject to such close oversight. The No. 10 machine has objectives it seeks to achieve, and wants to control the levers that must be pulled to successfully bring them about. The PM's top adviser, Dominic Cummings, knows where he wants the country to go, and is putting in place the mechanisms that will enable it to be taken there.

The ideology that can deliver on its election promises and help the government to be re-elected is one calculated to improve the country and the lives of its citizens. It is a problem-solving approach that will attempt to put right as many things that are perceived to be wrong in modern Britain as it can. It will identify the areas in which what happens falls short of what is sought or expected, and introduce measures designed to fix those shortcomings.

Commuter train journeys are in some cases overcrowded, unreliable and expensive, so the government will bring in. measures to improve them. Many young people cannot afford to start on the pathway to home-ownership because there are not enough affordable homes in places where people want to live. The government will take steps to redress this by increasing the supply of housing to address the shortfall. NHS waiting times, whether for GP appointments, A&E treatment, or hospital treatment, are seen to be too long. The government will act to shorten them. Parts of the UK have not shared in the economic success of Southeast England. The government will seek to have them participate in the economic expansion of the nation.

There is a whole series of problems, most of them real, but some perceived rather than real. If the government is to address these systematically and successfully, it needs to avoid virtue-signalling, showy initiatives that sound good and attract media coverage, but which fall well short of what is needed to fix the problem. What are needed are real, practical solutions that work in the real world, ones that enhance choices and opportunities rather than attempt to impose grandiose top-down schemes.

The UK does have problems, and could use a government whose ideology is to fix them. It now falls upon right-thinking people to research policy initiatives that can enable them to do that successfully.

Categories: Current Affairs

We do hope the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is better at his sums than this

Adam Smith Institute - Sun, 16/02/2020 - 07:01

This is slightly alarming:

Crucially for his upcoming Budget, he found a “natural ceiling” on the amount of tax the Government can rake in, and said he sees that as the ceiling for spending too.

“Since 1955 tax receipts, with limited variation and remarkable consistency, have averaged 36pc to 38pc of GDP. In spite of the vast differences between Labour and Conservative members in our approach to setting tax rates, the average tax take has been remarkably similar under Governments of both parties,” he said.

“There appears to be a natural ceiling to what any Government can extract from the pockets of its hard-working taxpayers.

“That to me suggests a simple conclusion: in normal times, public spending should not exceed 37pc of GDP. That is the best estimate of our income as a Government and therefore the best guide to what we can afford to spend.”

The basic idea - there’s only a certain amount of plucking the geese will not hiss at - we agree with. That number being rather more socially determined than by anything else. Different societies do have different amounts of government going on after all. We also agree that the UK hisses at a lower level of government than some other places.

It’s the sums there that worry us more than a little bit. For the tax to GDP ratio isn’t 36 to 38% of GDP, nothing like. Since 2000 it’s been running at 32 to 34%. It is total government receipts which runs at that higher rate, not taxes.

A difference that we’d rather hope the person doing our communal sums understands.

Categories: Current Affairs

The Conquest of the US by Spain

Mises Institute - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 20:00

The year 1898 was a landmark in American history. It was the year America went to war with Spain — our first engagement with a foreign enemy in the dawning age of modern warfare. Aside from a few scant periods of retrenchment, we have been embroiled in foreign politics ever since.

Starting in the 1880s, a group of Cubans agitated for independence from Spain. Like many revolutionaries before and after, they had little real support among the mass of the population. Thus they resorted to terrorist tactics — devastating the countryside, dynamiting railroads, and killing those who stood in their way. The Spanish authorities responded with harsh countermeasures.

Some American investors in Cuba grew restive, but the real forces pushing America toward intervention were not a handful of sugarcane planters. The slogans the rebels used — "freedom" and "independence" — resonated with many Americans, who knew nothing of the real circumstances in Cuba. Also playing a part was the "black legend" — the stereotype of the Spaniards as bloodthirsty despots that Americans had inherited from their English forebears. It was easy for Americans to believe the stories peddled by the insurgents, especially when the "yellow" press discovered that whipping up hysteria over largely concocted Spanish "atrocities" — while keeping quiet about those committed by the rebels — sold papers.

Politicians on the lookout for publicity and popular favor saw a gold mine in the Cuban issue. Soon the American government was directing notes to Spain expressing its "concern" over "events" in Cuba. In fact, the "events" were merely the tactics colonial powers typically used in fighting a guerrilla war. As bad or worse was being done by Britain, France, Germany, and others all over the globe in that age of imperialism. Spain, aware of the immense superiority of American forces, responded to the interference from Washington by attempts at appeasement, while trying to preserve the shreds of its dignity as an ancient imperial power.

When William McKinley became president in 1897, he was already planning to expand America's role in the world. Spain's Cuban troubles provided the perfect opportunity. Publicly, McKinley declared, "We want no wars of conquest; we must avoid the temptation of territorial aggression." But within the US government, the influential cabal that was seeking war and expansion knew they had found their man. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge wrote to Theodore Roosevelt, now at the Navy Department, "Unless I am profoundly mistaken, the Administration is now committed to the large policy we both desire." This "large policy," also supported by Secretary of State John Hay and other key figures, aimed at breaking decisively with our tradition of nonintervention and neutrality in foreign affairs. The United States would at last assume its "global responsibilities," and join the other great powers in the scramble for territory around the world.

The leaders of the war party camouflaged their plans by speaking of the need to procure markets for American industry, and were even able to convince a few business leaders to parrot their line. But in reality none of this clique of haughty patricians — "old money," for the most part — had any strong interest in business, or even much respect for it, except as the source of national strength. Like similar cliques in Britain, Germany, Russia, and elsewhere at the time, their aim was the enhancement of the power and glory of their state.

In order to escalate the pressure on Spain, the battleship USS Maine was dispatched to Havana's harbor. On the night of February 15, the Maine exploded, killing 252 men. Suspicion immediately focused on the Spaniards — although they had the least to gain from the destruction of the Maine. It was much more likely that the boilers had blown up — or even that the rebels themselves had mined the ship, to draw America into a war the rebels could not win on their own. The press screamed for vengeance against perfidious Spain, and interventionist politicians believed their hour had come.

McKinley, anxious to preserve his image as a cautious statesman, bided his time. He pressed Spain to stop fighting the rebels and start negotiating with them for Cuban independence, hinting broadly that the alternative was war. The Spaniards, averse to simply handing the island over to a terrorist junta, were willing to grant autonomy. Finally, desperate to avoid war with America, Madrid did proclaim an armistice — a stunning concession for one sovereign state to make at the bidding of another.

But this was not enough for McKinley, who had his eyes set on bagging a few of Spain's remaining possessions. On April 11, he delivered his war message to Congress, carefully omitting to mention the concession of an armistice. A week later, Congress passed the war resolution McKinley wanted.

In the Far East, Commodore George Dewey was given the go-ahead to carry out a prearranged plan: proceed to the Philippines and secure control of Manila's harbor. This he did, bringing along Emilio Aguinaldo and his Filipino independence fighters. In the Caribbean, American forces quickly subdued the Spaniards in Cuba, and then, after Spain sued for peace, went on to take over Puerto Rico as well. In three months, the fighting was over. It had been, as Secretary of State John Hay famously put it, "a splendid little war."

The quick US trouncing of decrepit Spain filled the American public with euphoria. It was a victory, people believed, for American ideals and the American way of life against an Old World tyranny. Our triumphant arms would guarantee Cuba a free and democratic future.

Against this tidal wave of public elation, one man spoke out. He was William Graham Sumner — Yale professor, famed social scientist, and tireless fighter for private enterprise, free trade, and the gold standard. Now he was about to enter his hardest fight of all.

On January 16, 1899, Sumner addressed an overflow crowd of the Yale chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He knew that the assembled Yalies and the rest of the audience were brimming with patriotic pride. With studied irony, Sumner titled his talk "The Conquest of the United States by Spain."

Sumner threw down the gauntlet:

We have beaten Spain in a military conflict, but we are submitting to be conquered by her on the field of ideas and policies. Expansionism and imperialism are nothing but the old philosophies of national prosperity which have brought Spain to where she is now.

Sumner proceeded to outline the original vision of America cherished by the Founding Fathers, radically different from what prevailed among the nations of Europe:

They would have no court and no pomp; nor orders, or ribbons, or decorations, or titles. They would have no public debt. There was to be no grand diplomacy, because they intended to mind their own business, and not be involved in any of the intrigues to which European statesmen were accustomed. There was to be no balance of power and no "reason of state" to cost the life and happiness of citizens.

This had been the American idea, our signature as a nation: "It is by virtue of this conception of a commonwealth that the United States has stood for something unique and grand in the history of mankind, and that its people have been happy."

The system the Founders bequeathed to us, Sumner held, was a delicate one, providing for the division and balance of powers and aimed at keeping government small and local. It was no accident that Washington, Jefferson, and the others who created the republic issued clear warnings against "foreign entanglements." A policy of foreign adventurism would, in the nature of things, bend and twist and ultimately shatter our original system.

As foreign affairs became more important, power would shift from communities and states to the federal government, and, within that, from Congress to the president. An ever-busy foreign policy could only be carried out by the president, often without the knowledge of the people. Thus, the American system, based on local government, states' rights, and Congress as the voice of the people on the national level, would more and more give way to a bloated bureaucracy headed by an imperial presidency.

But now, with the war against Spain and the philosophy behind it, we were letting ourselves in for the old European way, Sumner declared — "war, debt, taxation, diplomacy, a grand governmental system, pomp, glory, a big army and navy, lavish expenditures, political jobbery — in a word, imperialism."

Already, it seems, the global meddlers had come up with what was to be their favorite smear word: "isolationist." And already Sumner had the appropriate retort. The imperialists "warn us against the terrors of 'isolation,'" he said, but "our ancestors all came here to isolate themselves" from the burdens of the Old World. "When the others are all struggling under debt and taxes, who would not be isolated in the enjoyment of his own earnings for the benefit of his own family?"

In abandoning our own system, there would be, Sumner freely admitted, compensations. Immortal glory is not nothing, as the Spaniards well knew. To be a part, even a pawn, in a mighty enterprise of armies and navies, to identify with great imperial power projected around the world, to see the flag raised on victorious battlefields — many peoples in history thought that game well worth the candle.

Only — only, it was not the American way. That way had been more modest, more prosaic, parochial, and, yes, middle class. It was based on the idea that we were here to live out our lives, minding our own business, enjoying our liberty, and pursuing our happiness in our work, families, churches, and communities. It had been the "small policy."

There is a logic in human affairs, Sumner the social scientist cautioned — once you make a certain decision, some paths that were open to you before are closed, and you are led, step-by-step, in a certain direction. America was choosing the path of world power, and Sumner had little hope that his words could change that. Why was he speaking out then? Simply because "this scheme of a republic which our fathers formed was a glorious dream which demands more than a word of respect and affection before it passes away."

This article is excerpted from "American Foreign Policy — The Turning Point, 1898–1919," The Future of Freedom Foundation, February 1, 1995.

Categories: Current Affairs

Coerced Confessions: How the Plea Bargain Replaced Physical Torture

Mises Institute - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 17:00

In 2010, Chicago police commander Jon Burge was convicted on counts of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Although he was convicted of lying under oath, his real crime was what he was lying about. Over the course of his career, he participated in or oversaw the torture of hundreds of suspects to coerce confessions for violent crime. The stories of Burge’s tortures—involving electroshock and suffocation, among other things—showed enough similarities between otherwise unconnected inmates that he went to trial in 1989. After a hung jury, the judge ordered a retrial, which never came. Over the course of the 1990s, more information about police torture under Burge’s leadership surfaced, but the district attorney refused to move forward with a new trial. Finally, after the statute of limitations had expired on Burge’s original indictment, the city brought in a special prosecutor, who pressed charges against Burge for perjury during his original trial.

After a short stint in prison, Burge retired to Florida, where he lived on a $4,000-a-month pension until his death in 2018. The legacy of his methods of extracting confessions still plagues Chicago, however, as cases continue to be reexamined—Shawn Whirl, the first of his victims to be exonerated after twenty-five years in prison walked free in 2015. In 1990, Whirl was arrested after his fingerprints were discovered in the back of a cab whose driver had been murdered (hardly damning evidence against a man who had no prior criminal record). When his case was finally reopened as one of the hundreds of victims of Burge’s police department, prosecutors refused to press charges as the original case had entirely been built on Whirl’s coerced confession.

“The Third Degree” and Adversarial Justice

Coerced confessions have a long history in American policing. In 1845, several urban centers began the transition away from private law enforcement with the establishment of city-run police forces and district attorneys. This change marked a transition out of the traditional justice system, in which disputes were brought by private citizens and prosecuted by private lawyers, and order was maintained by voluntary citizens serving as night watches or constables, not unlike a modern neighborhood watch.

Over the ensuing decades, government-run police forces and prosecutors spread throughout the country, and a new system of criminal justice developed. Unlike in the previous system, police were charged with bringing people to trial for crimes regardless of whether or not another citizen initiated the dispute. To gain a conviction, the police had to gather evidence—a job previously left to the private attorney serving as prosecutor—but forensic science was in its infancy and police obtained their jobs through political connections and patronage rather than qualification. The easiest way to obtain a conviction, then, was to extract a confession. Since few criminals are willing to confess voluntarily, police began to resort more regularly to beatings and other tortures until a suspect signed a confession. By the 1880s, accusations of police tortures were widespread.

With coerced confessions more common, new language emerged to describe the methods. One early euphemism for police torture was “sweating,” which originally referred to a specific—and popular—method of torture in which a person was confined to a small sauna and deprived of water, though the term “sweating” eventually came to refer to general methods of violent interrogation in the police lexicon. The slang failed to stick, though, as a softer euphemism—the “third degree”—gained greater currency.

Methods of giving suspects the third degree varied widely between police forces. Some methods were more physical, ranging from simple beatings to electric shock (when the technology became available). Other methods were more psychological, usually aiming to induce fear, such as when police officers doused a fifteen-year-old suspect in gasoline, lit a match, and threatened to light him on fire if he did not confess his crime. Other psychological methods, usually imposed on the spouses of suspects, was to traumatize people with the brutalized remains of murder victims or other similar experiences. One suspect in a dual murder case was compelled to stand silently for twenty minutes while wearing the blood-drenched vest of the male murder victim while holding the blood-stained dress of the female victim in his left hand and the bible in his right.1

These methods were conducive to the new “adversarial” system of justice, which placed primary value on a guilty verdict and, by extension, on the confession. Traditional inquisitorial justice—common in European history—considered more than mere guilt when deciding the fate of a criminal, and this tradition remained in private community judicial systems. With the formalization of government-run police and prosecution, however, objective guilt in violation of uniform law took primacy and confession simplified the process of obtaining evidence and presenting a case. Torture was the easiest way to obtain a confession.

Reform and Centralization

Eventually, people came to question the reliability of coerced confessions and the ethicality of such methods of interrogation. Police defended their tactics by raising the specter of rampant criminality. When state supreme courts began to occasionally overturn convictions based on coerced confessions, police defenders raised accusations of “shyster” lawyers who made easy profits taking advantage of legal “loopholes” to free criminals, returning dangerous people to respectable society. References to a “criminal class” entered the debate, and the proliferation of cheap fiction fanned the flames with sensational tales of violent criminals.

Municipal and state prosecutors and judges, of course, had little incentive to push back against coerced confessions. Just as with modern plea bargains, confessions lightened their workload considerably. Even when states passed “anti-sweating” laws and other statutes against coerced confessions, judges routinely ignored them and prosecutors refused to press charges against cops who violated the law.

Alcohol prohibition dramatically increased these problems, as local police and state courts were tasked with enforcing a sweeping federal law that, overnight, turned millions of previously law-abiding citizens into felons. With courtrooms packed and police facing a larger criminal population, the efficiency of coerced confessions spurred a greater toleration of the practice. This led to a greater outcry against the criminal justice system, compelling prohibition advocates to pressure the new president, Herbert Hoover, to fix policing before it undermined prohibition. Hoover responded with the Wickersham Commission.

The Wickersham Commission—formally titled the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement—was part of Hoover’s larger ambition of centralizing and modernizing law enforcement in the United States. One important outcome of the Wickersham Commission was the collection of national crime statistics. National statistics, which mostly reflect large urban areas, were a tool that demagogues and politicians would use to inflame scares of “criminal epidemics” and consequent increases in the carceral state by giving the impression of crime epidemics in otherwise peaceful communities.

But the commission also devoted a full report to police torture, titled "The Third Degree." In this report, the commission excoriated local police forces for their common recourse to torture to obtain confessions. Although the report recommended reforms to state and city laws to prevent coerced confessions, many politicians resisted. When New York passed an anti-third-degree law—one of the few states to do so in response to the commission—New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia said that the law was a “Magna Carta” for “punks, pimps, crooks, gangsters, racketeers and the shyster lawyers.”2

To help nudge local police forces in the right direction, J. Edgar Hoover set up the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory for his Bureau of Investigation (soon to be renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation) and set the example for modern policing with forensic science. With the use of new technologies, the third degree could be rendered obsolete. Of course, the use of these new methods of investigation required training, equipment, and staff, and this meant substantial increases in police budgets. In this way, the outcry against police torture inadvertently supported the growth of police at both the national and local levels.

Prosecutors and Plea Bargains

The use of the third degree did not die with the birth of forensic science, as the case of Jon Burge demonstrates; however, it did mark the end of any public defense of police torture. States were no longer so reluctant to pass antitorture laws, and the federal supreme court issued a series of rulings that extended the Bill of Rights to the states, including the 1936 case Brown v. Mississippi, which ruled coerced confessions unconstitutional and inadmissible even in state criminal trials. The federal government now claimed regulatory power of state and local criminal justice systems.

But even if violent confessions declined, coerced confessions have merely taken a new form. As state legislatures took over much of judges' sentencing power, they set guidelines for sentencing that constrain judicial discretion. Because prosecutors retain discretion over what charges to file—complete with an expansive list of felony categories that did not exist during the early days of coerced interrogations—district and state attorneys can threaten harsher charges against a defendant in order to convince him to take a plea deal. Although this may not be as visually shocking as dousing a teenager in gasoline and threatening to light him on fire, the use of fear to obtain criminal confessions continues the long tradition of the “third degree.”

  • 1. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018), 212–13.
  • 2. Fiorello La Guardia, quoted in Brundage, 241.
Categories: Current Affairs

Socialism: A Brief Taxonomy

Mises Institute - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 12:00

There are myriads of words written about socialism, and yet lots of misconceptions about it still exist even in the minds of those who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum. The most striking and frequent blunders are the identification of socialism exclusively with Marxism, the confusion between the concepts of socialism and communism, and the claim that fascism and National Socialism belong to the right, to name a few.

It is necessary to give a comprehensive definition of socialism, determine the principal attributes that indicate belonging to socialism, and to classify the socialist trends on these grounds to clarify the concept once and for all.

The contemporary meaning of socialism often runs along the lines that it is a politico-economic theory in which the means of production, wealth distribution, and exchange are supposed to be owned and regulated by the community as a whole. This characterization of socialism emphasizes its important economic features; however, it cannot be considered a comprehensive definition. The wording implies a narrow understanding of socialism from the point of view of materialist and positivist currents of socialism but does not fully encompass the features exhibited in antimaterialist, anti-Cartesian, and Kantian members of the socialist family.

It seems to me that the most inclusive definition of socialism is as follows:

Socialism is a set of artificial socioeconomic systems that are characterized by varying degrees of collectivization of property, or consciousness, or the redistribution of wealth.

Notice that socialism is designated as an artificial entity, meaning that it does not occur naturally during the evolution of human society but is imposed on nations coarsely through the actions of activists.

This definition derives from the parsimonious solution of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) of the twelve most relevant currents of socialism, and it meets the criterion of necessity and sufficiency. In other words, socialization of property, collectivization of consciousness, and wealth redistribution are necessary and sufficient causative factors that taken separately or in combination unambiguously define an ideology as socialistic and designate preferred paths to socialism.

Given these three main causative conditions, it is easy to identify and classify socialist movements in the universe of political philosophies. The nuanced distinction between socialist movements is explained by attributes that seem essential but not general enough to influence the grouping of political philosophy in one direction or another. At the same time, any of the following ideologies has at least one causative factor that fully characterizes the doctrine as socialist.

The generic realm of socialism comprises several ideologies, which, more often than not, have historically been hostile to each other:

Marxism is the particular and extreme case of socialism named communism. Marx did not invent the notion of socialism. The ideas of socialism were known long before Marx and indisputably influenced his worldview. Instead, Marx created the theory of “scientific communism.” Communism is characterized by the complete socialization of property and the total collectivization of consciousness. The orthodox Marxism has never been materialized.

Marxism-Leninism, also known as Bolshevism, is a revision of Marxism regarding the scope and driving forces of the communist revolution. If, as according to Marx, the revolution should be brought on simultaneously in developed industrialized countries by the mass proletarian movement, then, for Lenin, the Bolshevik revolution might take place in a single agrarian country under the leadership of the vanguard of revolutionaries. Nevertheless, the goal of Marxism-Leninism was communism, implying total collectivization of everything and everyone. A Bolshevik coup succeeded in the Russian Empire, and the communist regime existed from 1917 to 1991.

Trotskyism is, in essence, genuine Marxism-Leninism, which tries politically to preserve its theoretical purity. Trotsky was a founder of the theory of “permanent revolution,” which posits that a proletarian revolution in one country should spread to neighboring nations until communist revolutionary transformations embrace the whole world. He criticized Stalin’s policy from the left, arguing that building communism in one separate country was a deviation from the original intent, that the expropriation of peasant property should have been completed immediately, and that the proletariat had been deceived and continued to be exploited but this time by the Soviet nomenclature. In general, Trotsky accused Stalin of betraying the ideals of the proletarian revolution.

Anarcho-communism also implies the complete collectivization of property and consciousness. However, the doctrine does not accept the Marxist idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the appointment of the working class as the sole agent of the revolution, and two stages on the path to a communist society. The anarcho-communists hoped to build a stateless communist society as soon as they gained power during the revolutionary war. Anarcho-communism was briefly institutionalized on the free territory of southeastern Ukraine from 1918 to 1921, during the revolution and the civil war in the Russian Empire.

Reformism or Social Democracy (Europe), also known as Democratic Socialism in the USA, is a significant revision to Marxism, which practically does not leave even the foundation of genuine Marxist principles. Reformism has been a mainstream form of socialist ideology and practice since the end of the nineteenth century. Redistribution of wealth and partial socialization of consciousness are the main paths being utilized by the doctrine. Socialism is supposed to be gradually built within a capitalistic society by methodically changing the socioeconomic laws of the land using parliamentary procedures. Great importance is also attached to the mental transformation of members of the society through the indoctrination of the population in educational institutions and the propaganda of the socialistic ideals in the mass media, social networks, and materials of pop culture.

Revolutionary Syndicalism (in Italy, France), Anarcho-syndicalism (in Spain), and Guild Socialism (in Great Britain) are non-Marxian currents of socialism, meaning that they did not adhere to the tenets of scientific communism. The main path to socialism is the expropriation of private property from its rightful owners, with its subsequent collectivization and transfer to the management of the labor collective. It was assumed that the fruits of labor would be exchanged in the market between various producers as well as between the villages and the cities. Anarcho-syndicalists managed to gain political power in Aragon, Andalusia, and Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War (1936–39).

Fascism (Italy) is a non-Marxian, antimaterialist, antipositivist current of socialism. Italian fascism envisioned a new type of society that would supersede both communism and classical liberalism; it was conceived as neither on the right nor the left. However, the practical implementation of fascism was the complete socialization of the consciousness, the partial collectivization of the means of production, and unprecedented wealth redistribution. The means of production de jure remained in possession of the owners, but de facto they could not freely dispose of them. Fascism was imposed on Italian society from 1922 to 1945.

National Socialism (Germany) is a non-Marxian flavor of socialism, based on the racial and pseudo-scientific theory of the superiority of Aryans. National Socialism pursued complete collectivization of the consciousness, partial socialization of the means of production, and aggressive wealth redistribution as a method of achieving a socialist paradise for das Volk. As in any other totalitarian society, the state was the ultimate owner of the means of production, despite a de jure allowance of private ownership. Contrary to fascism, National Socialism did not believe in the antagonism between labor and capital and insisted on the unity of the nation in the face of socioeconomic and military challenges. National Socialism materialized in Germany and lasted from 1933 to 1945.

It should be noted that if a socialist current of any flavor is given sufficient run time, then, regardless of the chosen path, all causative factors will reach their maximum value. That is, in the limit, as mathematicians say, all means of production will inevitably be socialized, and the individual will be coercively subjugated to the collective. In this sense, such a seemingly mild current like democratic socialism is just as dangerous as all the other members of the socialist family.

Categories: Current Affairs

Three Reasons Why Decentralization and Secession Lead to More Open Economies

Mises Institute - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 09:15

When we hear of political movements in favor of decentralization and secession, the word "nationalist" is often used to describe them.

We have seen the word used in both Scottish and Catalonian secession movement, and in the case of Brexit. Sometimes the term is intended to be pejorative. But not always.

When used pejoratively — as was the case with critics of Brexit — the implication is that the separatists seek to exit a larger political entity for the purposes of increasing isolation, throwing up greater barriers to trade, and pursuing a more autarkic economic policy. In other words, we're supposed to believe that efforts at decentralizing political systems leads to states becoming more oppressive and more protectionist.

But there's a problem with this claim, and with connecting protectionist nationalism to decentralization and secession: the act of breaking up political bodies into smaller pieces works contrary to the these supposed goals of nationalism.

That is, when a political jurisdiction is broken up into smaller independent units, those new units are likely to become more reliant on economic integration and trade, not less. This dependency increases as the country size becomes smaller. If the goals of the nationalists include economic autarky and isolation, nationalists will quickly find these goals very hard to achieve indeed.

This is true for at least three reasons.

One: Economic Self-Sufficiency Is Costly and Difficult

Economic self-sufficiency — i.e., autarky — has long been a dream of protectionists. The idea here is that the population within a given state benefits when the residents of that state can cut themselves off from other states while still maintaining a high standard of living. Fueled by the false notion that imports represent economic losses for an economy, protectionists seek policies that block or minimize the importation of foreign goods.

Large countries can pull this off — for a little while. For countries with vast agricultural hinterlands, large industrial cities, and innovative service sectors, it is possible to move toward economic reliance on only domestic food stuff, domestic raw materials, and domestic industry.

Over time, however, protectionist states begin to fall behind the rest of the world which is presumably still engaging in international trade. It will become increasingly clear that the protectionist states are not keeping up in terms of their standards of living. This will have geopolitical implications as well, since protectionist countries will become relatively impoverished and relatively less innovative compared to other states. Protectionist states thus lose relative power both economically and militarily. We saw this at work in Latin America, for instance, when it was in the thrall of "Dependency Theory" during the mid-twentieth century. The idea was that countries could become wealthier and more politically independent by reducing trade. The strategy failed miserably.

The process is the same with small countries, but the effects of protectionism become more apparent more quickly. After all, a small country that lacks a diverse economy or a large agricultural sector will quickly find itself running out of food, skilled labor, and raw materials. Moreover, a small country without close ties to other nations will quickly find itself in a very dangerous geopolitical position.

Perhaps not surprisingly, empirical studies have found that small countries tend to be more open to international trade than larger countries, and that "[c]eteris paribus, small nations ... become more trade-focused than large ones."

Indeed, this is the only way for them to prosper. As Gary Becker noted during the period when new post-Soviet states were entering the global marketplace, "[s]mall nations are proliferating because economies can prosper by producing niche goods and services for world markets."

Small countries can't offer the world a wide variety of goods and services. But they can specialize and offer at least some goods or services for which there is global demand. Without this, small states have little hope of raising their standards of living. This is why economists Enrico Spolaore and Alberto Alesina concluded in 1995 that "smaller countries will need more economic integration." in order to benefit from independence.

This all suggests the need to integrate becomes greater the smaller the state, and the need for economic openness and integration are even greater for microstates — the smallest of the small states. William Esterly and Aart Kraay found in 1999, for example, that in spite of the "widely held view that small states suffer from their openness," financial "openness may help microstates insure against the large shocks they receive." This is in part due to the fact financial openness "allows countries to share risks with the rest of the world."

The impetus for small states to pursue open trade policies exists even in the presence of potentially threatening larger states. As noted in his study of how trade is affected by state size, Stephen Krasner notes "[s]mall states are likely to opt for openness because the advantages in terms of aggregate income and growth are so great, and their political power is bound to be restricted regardless of what they do."

Two: Smaller Countries Seek Tax Competition and Tax Arbitrage

Trade barriers aren't the only place where small states look to lessen regulatory burdens and tax burdens.

Smaller states also have a habit of competing with larger states by lowering tax rates. As recounted by Gideon Rachman in The Financial Times, numerous small states were integrating into the European economy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Accoridng to Rachman:

Small and nimble nations slashed taxes and regulation to attract foreign capital and business. The Irish set some of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe; the Balts and Slovaks went for flat taxes; Iceland became an improbable financial centre. International capital flooded into the smalls."

Did this mean smaller states in general — at least those with easy access to Europe — tended to embrace lower tax tax rates? The answer appears to be yes. In a 2012 study author Franto Ricka concludes "capital tax rates in the EU countries are positively related to their size partly because small countries "choose a lower tax on capital than larger countries, with which they compete." While large states can rely on economies of scale to keep capital from defecting in response to tax incrases, small states have no such advantage. Thus, small states, must be, as Ricka puts it "tougher competitors for scarce capital."

Moreover, Ricka found that the presence of small countries — and the tax competition they provided — drove down tax rates in the larger countries.

Not surpringly, large states have attempted to pressure small states into raising tax rates and embracing so-called "tax harmonization." In early 2019, for example, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker pushed the idea of ending the ability of EU members to veto changes in tax policy so as to make tax rates across EU countries more equal. The relatively small states of Ireland and Hungary have long opposed such efforts . Malta has vehemently objected as well.

Europe isn't the only place with small states looking to attract capital with low tax rates. Small island nations in the Caribbean also function as tax havens and have earned the ire of the European Union's leadership.

When it comes to tax rates, it's the large states — and especially unions of large states like the EU — that are the drivers behind efforts to raise global taxes worldwide.  The efforts threaten to end the havens offered by smaller states looking to attract capital that would likely ignore small states otherwise.

Three: Small States Actually Perform Better

Finally, as an added motivation to small states to lower trade barriers and tax rates, there is the empirical evidence showing that small states can achieve higher growth rates and higher standards of living through more liberal economic policy.

Economist Gary Becker noted in 1998, " since 1950 real per capita GDP has risen somewhat faster in smaller nations than it has in bigger ones ." Becker concluded that "the statistics on actual performance show that dire warnings about the economic price suffered by small nations are not all warranted….Smallness can be an asset in the division of labor in the modern world, where economies are linked through international transactions." Of the fourteen countries with populations over 100 million, only the US and Japan are wealthy .

Moreover, Easterly and Kraay write:

controlling for location, smaller states are actually richer than other states in per capita GDP. ... microstates have on average higher income and productivity levels than small states, and grow no more slowly than large states”, the only “penalty of smallness” being the relatively higher GDP growth rates volatility due to trade exposure.

Nor are the indicators favoring small states based only on numbers like income and productivity. Nick Slater at Current Affairs observes

[People] tend to live longer [in microstates]: out of the top ten countries in terms of life expectancy , nine could be considered microstates (of these, Switzerland is a bit of a stretch, but its population is still smaller than New York City’s). It can also be good for your bank account: the quality of life in European microstates like Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, and San Marino is perhaps the highest in the world.

Now, this isn't to say smallness is a foolproof strategy for economic success. There's a reason Easterly and Kraay control for location in their comparisons. Other research suggests that small and remote countries tend to be uncompetitive.

But even in Africa, small states outperformed large states in economic growth. According to a 2007 report from the World Bank, the resilience of small states was likely due to greater economic flexibility observed in small states, and thanks to political stability. This stability, it is believed, stemmed in part from the fact smaller African countries are less "ethnically fractionalized."

Unilateralism Doesn't Mean Protectionism

All too often, opponents of decentralization and secession insist that whenever a region, member state, or nation is allowed to go its own way, it will immediately raise trade barriers, raise taxes, and pursue forget the benefits of international cooperation. Yet, in recent decades, there is scant evidence to suggest this is a likely outcome in practice. It appears far more likely that seceding countries and territories are more likely to move away from economic nationalism and toward a more open economy.

Categories: Current Affairs

The numbers in climate science really are quite amazing

Adam Smith Institute - Sat, 15/02/2020 - 07:01

A couple of days back we noted that the WWF presented us all with some truly remarkable numbers. Or rather, in their report about the costs of climate change, didn’t present the numbers which mattered:

We’re fine so far. They also say that higher emissions will cause more damage than lower. We’re fine with that as a logical assumption, something internal to the case being built. Then they say that higher emissions will cause damage to ecosystem services, these damages will lead to a reduction of GDP from what it would be in the absence of those emissions/damages. All of this is equally fine as a chain of logic. Sure, it may or may not be true but it’s logically valid.

Then they do something absurd. Remember that SSP5 gives higher GDP growth in the first place. That’s the bit they don’t account for. The thing they never do tell us is whether that final, net, outcome of more growth and more emissions is higher or lower than the slower growth and no emissions damage pathway.

This intrigued sufficiently that we’ve carried on chasing them for an answer. Just to recapitulate what we’d all like to know. Faster economic growth, with emissions and damages, leaves us better off or not than slower economic growth without emissions and damages? That is, after all, the information we need to be able to make a decision - assuming that we’re using being better off economically as our tie breaker on the decision.

We’ve asked this in the following format:

1) Using SSP5, deducting the damages from emissions caused problems with ecosystem services, what is global GDP in 2050? Or, if you prefer, global per capita GDP?

2) Using SSP1, not suffering those damages to ecosystem services as a result of emissions, what is global GDP in 2050? Or, if you prefer, global per capita GDP? 

Our own assumption is that this must already have been calculated. For how can anyone claim losses in GDP if it hasn’t been? After 72 hours since we first started asking the response is, so far, this:

This query is straightforward but is not trivial to calculate.

They don’t in fact know. Yet not knowing is good enough to claim damages? This is not a recommendation for how people do climate change science these days, is it?

Categories: Current Affairs

Piecing Together Anglican Identity: More questions for Gafcon and the Global South

Anglican Ink - Fri, 14/02/2020 - 22:38

“Did the Archbishop of Canterbury really say that it doesn’t matter what you believe as an Anglican so long as you are in relationship with the See of Canterbury?”

I received this question in response to the article I wrote on January 28, “How can two walk together” in our last International Update. And the answer to the question is YES, that is exactly what the Archbishop of Canterbury seems to be saying following his meeting with the Primates in Jordan. Let me explain.

When I wrote on January 28, I was citing the Press Conference in Amman immediately following the Primates meeting in Jordan. In addition to Archbishop Welby, two other Primates answered questions from the press: Archbishop Michael Lewis (Jerusalem and the Middle East) and Archbishop Justin Badi (South Sudan). You can find the link to the press conference here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHAhdgF_TBo

At 16:19, a reporter from overseas asked the following question of Archbishop Welby: “We’ve seen the formation of new churches such as the Church of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand. Was this discussed in terms of how the Instruments of Communion should respond?”

At 16:30, Archbishop Welby replied: “We didn’t specifically discuss the formation of churches like that church. No, we didn’t at all. We discussed how in partnership with other Christians we grow the church of Jesus Christ, and that was at the very heart of our discussion. Church planting we discussed. Funny enough there was very little discussion or desire to discuss some of those negative aspects.”

So despite the formation by Gafcon of the new Church of Confessing Anglicans in New Zealand, precisely for doctrinal reasons-including dissent from the approval of same sex marriage by the “recognized” Anglican Church of New Zealand—neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Gafcon and Global South Primates present discussed this matter, much less even “desired to address such negative aspects.”

But there’s more. At 17:00 Archbishop Lewis added that the primates had engaged in “considerable and deep talk about Anglican identity, spelling out Anglican identity in a way that is clear and honest.” Archbishop Lewis went on to say that Anglican identity is rooted in specifics—including faithfulness to the Scriptures, the “unfolding tradition of the Church,” reason and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (which states that the essentials of the faith include Scripture, the two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the historic Episcopate locally adapted, and the Creeds). But at 17:54, Archbishop Lewis hastened to add that “Anglicans are those who are in communion with the See of Canterbury” and complimented Archbishop Welby on his “inspiring efforts” to have the Primates think more deeply on the issue of Anglican identity and “how to be as generously inclusive of all who would claim the name of Anglican within the framework just outlined.”

At this point the Archbishop of Canterbury could have added a note of correction to Archbishop Lewis’s citation of the great Anglican theologian Richard Hooker for the often misstated maxim that Anglicans believe that equal weight should be given to Scripture, reason, and “the unfolding tradition of the Church.” Scholars and readers alike know that Hooker never said anything of the sort, that he always maintained the priority of the Holy Scriptures over reason and tradition, and in fact strongly asserted that “one word from the mouth of God” outweighs 10,000 councils of the Church that say otherwise (Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, vol. 1, book 2, ch. VII.5).

In the correct spirit of Hooker, Archbishop Welby could have noted that the doctrinal foundations of Anglicanism which Archbishop Lewis cited as “clear and specific” essentials of Anglican identity are at least as important, if not more important, than a geographic relationship with the See of Canterbury. Instead he thanked Archbishop Lewis for the compliment. Then he waited for Archbishop Justin Badi (S Sudan) to add his remarks (beginning at 18:38). Here is what Archbishop Badi said in response to the question:

“My understanding for our coming for the meeting was not to discuss the formation of new churches. The main thing was to discuss how we move forward as an Anglican Communion, to prepare ourselves for the Lambeth Conference, and also to have our fellowship together. We strategized how we can plant more churches so that we expand and take the Gospel forward.” To which Archbishop Welby replied at 19:22: “And I should say that the agenda was put together by the consultative process with the Primates. It was not fixed by anyone, it’s just no one brought up those subjects,” with Archbishop Badi nodding in agreement.

So there you have it: a Communique and a press conference which ignored the crisis of false teaching in the Anglican Communion. Taking the words of Archbishops Welby, Lewis, and Badi at face value, it would appear that no one bothered to address the crisis of false teaching because such issues were “negative.” Instead, there was considerable discussion about Anglican identity without any “negative” discussion about differences of doctrine. According to the Primates press conference, “biblical faithfulness” is one factor in Anglican identity—but such faithfulness is only one factor to be balanced against reason and the “unfolding tradition of the Church.” In the end, there is an endorsement of a framework for Anglican identity which is uncompromising only in relationship to the See of Canterbury as being an essential marker.

“Generous inclusivity” within this framework is only for those who are in relationship with the See of Canterbury, which means Canterbury promotes the following notion: so long as you are in relationship with him, you can believe whatever you want, as long as you can make a case that what you believe squares with an interpretation of the Bible equally balanced with reason and “the unfolding tradition of the Church.” We know, in an ever-secularizing Western culture, what the shape of that “reason” and “unfolding tradition” looks like: the blessing of same sex unions and other innovations, which appeal to the “reason” of our times.

By their continuing silence and assent to the Jordan Primates Communique and this press conference, isn’t it fair to ask whether the Archbishops and Primates from Gafcon and the Global South are saying the same thing—that Anglican identity is based ultimately on relationship with Canterbury rather than on what we believe?

As I have written elsewhere [https://americananglican.org/featured/decides-membership-anglican-communionnot-secretary-general-acc/] the requirement of relationship with the See of Canterbury may have been important when the Churches of the Anglican Communion were colonies of the British empire, but we are past that colonial era. Today, what unites Anglicans in the global communion of Churches is the doctrine we share from our Reformational roots. For this reason, the largest Church in the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria, in 2005 changed its Constitutional definition of membership in the Anglican Communion from “relationship with the See of Canterbury” to relationship with those who uphold the historical formularies of the Anglican Communion (The Bible, the 39 Articles, and the BCP 1662 and Ordinal). It was a long overdue signal that Anglican identity and membership is in fact based on a common confession– and not geography or mere “bonds of affection.”

This in turn shaped the definition of membership in the Anglican Communion in the Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (London: Anglican Communion Office, 2008). According to Principle 10.4 of the PCLCCAC, “the relationship of ecclesial communion within the Anglican Communion is based on the communion of a church with one or more of the following (a) the See of Canterbury…; or (e) all churches which profess the apostolic faith as received within the Anglican tradition.” (emphasis added).

Three years later, in June 2008, over 1000 Archbishops, bishops, clergy and lay leaders from Anglican churches all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for Gafcon. These Anglican leaders from the majority of Churches in the Anglican Communion reaffirmed the historic doctrine and “formularies” of Reformational Anglicanism as the basis for true communion. In the Jerusalem Statement (2008) they stated without hesitation, “While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.” In the Jerusalem Declaration (2008) they drove the point home even further: “We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed. We pray for them and call on them to repent and return to the Lord (para. 13).”
Ten years later, Gafcon 2018, one of the largest global Anglican gatherings, brought together in Jerusalem 1,950 representatives from 50 countries, including 316 bishops, 669 other clergy and 965 laity. From that gathering of the Church came a direct appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Gafcon 2018 Letter to the Churches:

• to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and
• not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has refused both requests. Only those Churches in relationship with the See of Canterbury will send their bishops to the Lambeth 2020 Conference, regardless of what they believe and teach about human sexuality, marriage, and leadership in the Church.

How then can the Gafcon Primates who participated in the Primates meeting in Jordan turn back to a colonial definition of Anglican identity based on relationship with Canterbury? How can they walk away from their own Gafcon Jerusalem Statement and Jerusalem Declaration (2008) and Letter to the Churches (2018)? How can they walk away from the very principles and reasons for which they recognized and authenticated biblically-faithful Anglicans and their Churches in North America, Brazil, and now, New Zealand (NOT in relationship with Canterbury), in favor of walking with false teachers?

Likewise, how can the Global South Primates, led by the new President of the Global South Steering Committee, Archbishop Justin Badi (S Sudan), turn away from the doctrinal foundations of the new Cairo Covenant (October 11, 2019) as the basis for Anglican identity, and turn instead to walking with false teachers?

Last week the Gafcon office created “The Anglican reality-check” website [https://www.gafcon.org/sunday/timeline], which sets out the facts in an easily accessible way to empower faithful Anglicans. It reveals how predominantly Western church leaders have relentlessly sought to undermine the authority of Scripture and its teaching on marriage and sexuality as reaffirmed by the vast majority of the world’s Anglican bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. It is a very helpful and up-to-the-minute timeline of why we must urgently address both false teaching (the “gospel deficit”) and the lack of consequences (the “ecclesial deficit”) within the Communion of Anglican Churches.

If only the Gafcon and Global South Primates themselves would use this resource in their meetings with the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders. Clearly, the current Gafcon and Global South Primates who met in Jordan did not use these well-documented facts in their conversations. Will there need to be another generation of Gafcon and Global South leaders who will use this resource to reaffirm Anglican identity on the basis of our historic Anglican faith? Will there need to be another generation of Gafcon and Global South leaders needed to use this resource to challenge false teaching and un-biblical practice among the leaders and churches of the Anglican Communion—including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself and the Church of England?

Or will that be too little, too late?

The post Piecing Together Anglican Identity: More questions for Gafcon and the Global South appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

New massacres of Christians in Nord Kivu

Anglican Ink - Fri, 14/02/2020 - 22:26

Muslim terrorists believed to be part of the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) have murdered 30 Christians in attacks on four villages in the Nord Kivu province of the Democratice Republic of the Congo. The new massacres follow attacks 29 Jan 2020 that left 36 dead, including the Anglican Archdeacon of Eringeti, who was martyred after he refused to renounce his Christian faith.

The Congolese NGO, the Center for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO), reports that on 7 Feb 2020, 8 civilians were murdered in the village of Sibe by ADF militants. The next day 12 more people were killed in a neighboring village, and in the early hours of 9 Feb 2020 three were killed in the village of Toko-Toko.

The ADF descended on the village of Makeke later that day and killed three women and four men with machetes. One of the ADF terrorists was captured by the police. However the ADF returned in force to the village and attacked the police post freeing their comrade. They left the village with 9 captives to transport their loot. 

Agenzia Fides reports upwards of 20,000 have fled the area surrounding the villages to take shelter in the city of Beni. However, with 200,000 IDPs already housed in refugee camps outside Beni, many had to be turned away to find shelter in the forest, CEPADHO reported.

On 29 Jan 2020 the Ven. Ngulongo Year Batsemire, the Archdeacon of Eringeti, and his wife were captured by ADF terrorists as they were walking to their fields. They demanded the archdeacon Ngulongo tell them where they could find other pastors and demanded he convert to Islam. When the father-of-ten refused to renounce Christ, the jihadists martyred him. His wife’s life was spared. The ADF entered the villages of Manzingi, Mebendu and Mayabalo later that day, going door to door, killing and robbing as they went.

These new massacres bring the number of civilians killed by the ADF in the Beni region to 312 since 30 Oct 2019, the date of the start of the latest government offensive by the FARDC against the rebels in Beni.

The post New massacres of Christians in Nord Kivu appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Questions in Parliament: Lord Carey asks if Britain will increase the number of Christian refugees permitted to enter the country from Syria

Anglican Ink - Fri, 14/02/2020 - 21:52
Lord Carey of Clifton

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to increase the proportion of Christians accepted under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.

Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

(13 Feb 2020) Our resettlement schemes prioritise the most vulnerable refugees regardless of race, religion or ethnicity – we do not discriminate in favour of, or against, any particular group. This is why we work closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has well-established procedures and criteria for identifying and resettling the most vulnerable refugees. Apart from the criteria we set for each scheme, we do not seek to influence which cases are referred to us by UNHCR.

However, we recognise how important it is that UNHCR is accessible to the most vulnerable refugees, including members of minority religions, and this is why we are working with UNHCR and their partners to intensify their outreach to groups that might otherwise be reluctant to register. This includes people in formal refugee camps, informal settlements and host communities. The efforts undertaken by UNHCR include mobile registration teams, outreach teams, and helpdesks for areas where different minority groups are concentrated to facilitate registration and access to services.

Citation: HL Deb, 13 February 2020, cW

The post Questions in Parliament: Lord Carey asks if Britain will increase the number of Christian refugees permitted to enter the country from Syria appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

Anglican Unscripted 574 – The Carbon Neutral Racist Synod

Anglican Ink - Fri, 14/02/2020 - 20:56

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Three Amigos. So, this week Kevin Kallsen, George Conger, and Gavin Ashenden tackle Justin Welby’s White Privilege and the CofE’s desire to be Carbon Neutral before they go out of business in 2030.

The post Anglican Unscripted 574 – The Carbon Neutral Racist Synod appeared first on Anglican Ink © 2020.

How the Fed Rules and Inflates

Mises Institute - Fri, 14/02/2020 - 20:00

[From chapter 23 of The Case Against the Fed.]

Having examined the nature of fractional reserve and of central banking, and having seen how the questionable blessings of Central Banking were fastened upon America, it is time to see precisely how the Fed, as presently constituted, carries out its systemic inflation and its control of the American monetary system.

Pursuant to its essence as a post-Peel Act Central Bank, the Federal Reserve enjoys a monopoly of the issue of all bank notes. The U. S. Treasury, which issued paper money as Greenbacks during the Civil War, continued to issue one-dollar "Silver Certificates" redeemable in silver bullion or coin at the Treasury until August 16, 1968. The Treasury has now abandoned any note issue, leaving all the country's paper notes, or "cash," to be emitted by the Federal Reserve. Not only that; since the U.S. abandonment of the gold standard in 1933, Federal Reserve Notes have been legal tender for all monetary debts, public or private.

Federal Reserve Notes, the legal monopoly of cash or "standard," money, now serves as the base of two inverted pyramids determining the supply of money in the country. More precisely, the assets of the Federal Reserve Banks consist largely of two central items. One is the gold originally confiscated from the public and later amassed by the Fed. Interestingly enough, while Fed liabilities are no longer redeemable in gold, the Fed safeguards its gold by depositing it in the Treasury, which issues "gold certificates" guaranteed to be backed by no less than 100 percent in gold bullion buried in Fort Knox and other Treasury depositories. It is surely fitting that the only honest warehousing left in the monetary system is between two different agencies of the federal government: the Fed makes sure that its receipts at the Treasury are backed 100 percent in the Treasury vaults, whereas the Fed does not accord any of its creditors that high privilege.

The other major asset possessed by the Fed is the total of U.S. government securities it has purchased and amassed over the decades. On the liability side, there are also two major figures: Demand deposits held by the commercial banks, which constitute the reserves of those banks; and Federal Reserve Notes, cash emitted by the Fed. The Fed is in the rare and enviable position of having its liabilities in the form of Federal Reserve Notes constitute the legal tender of the country. In short, its liabilities — Federal Reserve Notes — are standard money. Moreover, its other form of liability — demand deposits — are redeemable by deposit-holders (i.e., banks, who constitute the depositors, or "customers," of the Fed) in these Notes, which, of course, the Fed can print at will. Unlike the days of the gold standard, it is impossible for the Federal Reserve to go bankrupt; it holds the legal monopoly of counterfeiting (of creating money out of thin air) in the entire country.

The American banking system now comprises two sets of inverted pyramids, the commercial banks pyramiding loans and deposits on top of the base of reserves, which are mainly their demand deposits at the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve itself determines its own liabilities very simply: by buying or selling assets, which in turn increases or decreases bank reserves by the same amount.

At the base of the Fed pyramid, and therefore of the bank system's creation of "money" in the sense of deposits, is the Fed's power to print legal tender money. But the Fed tries its best not to print cash but rather to "print" or create demand deposits, checking deposits, out of thin air, since its demand deposits constitute the reserves on top of which the commercial banks can pyramid a multiple creation of bank deposits, or "checkbook money."

Let us see how this process typically works. Suppose that the "money multiplier" — the multiple that commercial banks can pyramid on top of reserves, is 10:1. That multiple is the inverse of the Fed's legally imposed minimum reserve requirement on different types of banks, a minimum which now approximates 10 percent. Almost always, if banks can expand 10:1 on top of their reserves, they will do so, since that is how they make their money. The counterfeiter, after all, will strongly tend to counterfeit as much as he can legally get away with. Suppose that the Fed decides it wishes to expand the nation's total money supply by $10 billion. If the money multiplier is 10, then the Fed will choose to purchase $1 billion of assets, generally U.S. government securities, on the open market.

Figure 10 and 11 below demonstrates this process, which occurs in two steps. In the first step, the Fed directs its Open Market Agent in New York City to purchase $1 billion of U.S. government bonds. To purchase those securities, the Fed writes out a check for $1 billion on itself, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It then transfers that check to a government bond dealer, say Goldman, Sachs, in exchange for $1 billion of U.S. government bonds. Goldman, Sachs goes to its commercial bank — say Chase Manhattan — deposits the check on the Fed, and in exchange increases its demand deposits at the Chase by $1 billion.

fed1

Where did the Fed get the money to pay for the bonds? It created the money out of thin air, by simply writing out a check on itself. Neat trick if you can get away with it!

Chase Manhattan, delighted to get a check on the Fed, rushes down to the Fed's New York branch and deposits it in its account, increasing its reserves by $1 billion. Figure 10 shows what has happened at the end of this Step One.

The nation's total money supply at any one time is the total standard money (Federal Reserve Notes) plus deposits in the hands of the public. Note that the immediate result of the Fed's purchase of a $1 billion government bond in the open market is to increase the nation's total money supply by $1 billion.

But this is only the first, immediate step. Because we live under a system of fractional-reserve banking, other consequences quickly ensue. There are now $1 billion more in reserves in the banking system, and as a result, the banking system expands its money and credit, the expansion beginning with Chase and quickly spreading out to other banks in the financial system. In a brief period of time, about a couple of weeks, the entire banking system will have expanded credit and the money supply another $9 billion, up to an increased money stock of $10 billion. Hence, the leveraged, or "multiple," effect of changes in bank reserves, and of the Fed's purchases or sales of assets which determine those reserves. Figure 11, then, shows the consequences of the Fed purchase of $1 billion of government bonds after a few weeks.

Note that the Federal Reserve balance sheet after a few weeks is unchanged in the aggregate (even though the specific banks owning the bank deposits will change as individual banks expand credit, and reserves shift to other banks who then join in the common expansion.) The change in totals has taken place among the commercial banks, who have pyramided credits and deposits on top of their initial burst of reserves, to increase the nation's total money supply by $10 billion.

fed2

It should be easy to see why the Fed pays for its assets with a check on itself rather than by printing Federal Reserve Notes. Only by using checks can it expand the money supply by ten-fold; it is the Fed's demand deposits that serve as the base of the pyramiding by the commercial banks. The power to print money, on the other hand, is the essential base in which the Fed pledges to redeem its deposits. The Fed only issues paper money (Federal Reserve Notes) if the public demands cash for its bank accounts and the commercial banks then have to go to the Fed to draw down their deposits. The Fed wants people to use checks rather than cash as far as possible, so that it can generate bank credit inflation at a pace that it can control.

If the Fed purchases any asset, therefore, it will increase the nation's money supply immediately by that amount; and, in a few weeks, by whatever multiple of that amount the banks are allowed to pyramid on top of their new reserves. f I it sells any asset (again, generally U.S. government bonds), the sale will have the symmetrically reverse effect. At first, the nation's money supply will decrease by the precise amount of the sale of bonds; and in a few weeks, it will decline by a multiple, say ten times, that amount.

Thus, the major control instrument that the Fed exercises over the banks is "open market operations," purchases or sale of assets, generally U.S. government bonds. Another powerful control instrument is the changing of legal reserve minima. If the banks have to keep no less than 10 percent of their deposits in the form of reserves, and then the Fed suddenly lowers that ratio to 5 percent, the nation's money supply, that is of bank deposits, will suddenly and very rapidly double. And vice versa if the minimum ratio were suddenly raised to 20 percent; the nation's money supply will be quickly cut in half. Ever since the Fed, after having expanded bank reserves in the 1930s, panicked at the inflationary potential and doubled the minimum reserve requirements to 20 percent in 1938, sending the economy into a tailspin of credit liquidation, the Fed has been very cautious about the degree of its changes in bank reserve requirements. The Fed, ever since that period, has changed bank reserve requirements fairly often, but in very small steps, by fractions of one percent. It should come as no surprise that the trend of the Fed's change has been downward: ever lowering bank reserve requirements, and thereby increasing the multiples of bank credit inflation. Thus, before 1980, the average minimum reserve requirement was about 14 percent, then it was lowered to 10 percent and less, and the Fed now has the power to lower it to zero if it so wishes.

Thus, the Fed has the well-nigh absolute power to determine the money supply if it so wishes.1 Over the years, the thrust of its operations has been consistently inflationary. For not only has the trend of its reserve requirements on the banks been getting ever lower, but the amount of its amassed U.S. government bonds has consistently increased over the years, thereby imparting a continuing inflationary impetus to the economic system. Thus, the Federal Reserve, beginning with zero government bonds, had acquired about $400 million worth by 1921, and $2.4 billion by 1934. By the end of 1981 the Federal Reserve had amassed no less than $140 billion of U.S. government securities; by the middle of 1992, the total had reached $280 billion. There is no clearer portrayal of the inflationary impetus that the Federal Reserve has consistently given, and continues to give, to our economy.

  • 1. Traditionally, money and banking textbooks list three forms of Fed control over the reserves, and hence the credit, of the commercial banks: in addition to reserve requirements and open market operations, there is the Fed's "discount" rate, interest rate charged on its loans to the banks. Always of far more symbolic than substantive importance, this control instrument has become trivial, now that banks almost never borrow from the Fed. Instead, they borrow reserves from each other in the overnight "federal funds" market.
Categories: Current Affairs

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