September 24, 2014

Today’s Picks: Sept 24

By In TRL's Picks from Around the Web

I read a lot of articles everyday. Many of which are worth mentioning above and beyond a simple share via Twitter.  I thought I might try to do something like this and see where it goes. Perhaps more than a couple of this site’s readers will be interested in what I read day by day. Below are some articles and blogposts I read today (not all were necessarily written today) that I considered worthy of mention.  I will be sharing some articles here and there that have been published months ago, simply because I never got around to sharing them. 

Theological and Philosophical

—> Tom Hicks at The Founders Blog discusses three points regarding justification: 1) Some of Today’s Confusions; 2) “The Historic Reformed Witness to Justification;” and 3) “Justification and the Second London Baptist Confession.”  Justification is the heart of the Christian faith. Without it, Christianity is worthless.  If you fail on justification, you fail on the gospel. And yet, everywhere we look, justification by faith alone is being challenged, both implicitly and explicitly.  Our justification is based on the work completed by our savior Christ Jesus and is not contingent on our future efforts in any way.

—> Daniel Hyde at Ligonier wrote a short piece on the benefits of Confessions and Creeds. Quote:

Thus, creeds and confessions are not statements of stuffy “dead orthodox” churches or Roman Catholic churches. Instead, Christians throughout the millennia have written and recited creeds to express the faith that lived in their hearts. The Bible teaches us that, as the people of God, we have something to confess to the world. The slogan “No creed but Christ” actually hinders the church because, as one writer has said, “A creedless church cannot long exist.” Without something to confess, our faith is empty and meaningless to a world in need of Christ and the answers He gives to our lives.

Political and Economic

—> John Tamny, a columnist at Forbes, is recently becoming a favorite of mine.  While I do have some minor disagreements with him (most notably, I support the full-reserve theory of sound banking, while he supports the free-banking doctrine), he is really a powerful voice to have at Forbes if only for the fact that he is completely unashamed to look to Mises and Hayek and the Austrian School for insight.  In this article, he lambasts the GOP for jumping on board the Democrat’s “income inequality” talking point.  The GOP claims to be the party of economic principle and yet, because of political pressure they are seeking to give credibility to the leftist theme of economic resentment.  The GOP’s problem is not that they ignore income inequality (which is what the liberals claim of them) but it is that they too see it as inherently problematic!  Quote:

[Income inequality is] a sign that enterprise is being rewarded, that investment is reaching the talented over the politically connected, and it also signals that major unmet market needs are being met; hence the rising net worth of successful entrepreneurs.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is worth nearly $30 billion precisely because his online retail innovations have given us one-click access to a world of goods once out of reach. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is rich not because he made access to movies difficult, but because he made the most rural of Montana citizens equal to the most haughty cineaste in Manhattan when it comes to viewing films. Dell Computer founder Michael Dell is worth billions not for making computers hard to get, but for having made ubiquitous, cheap and fast what was once obscure, expensive, and very slow.

To paraphrase Forbes contributor Harry Binswanger, would those who would be so silly as to demonize income inequality prefer that Bezos, Hastings and Dell had been layabouts? The wealth gap would surely be smaller if so, but so would all of us be living lives marked by a great deal more discomfort, expense, and boredom.

—> Justin Raimondo published part two of a speech he recently gave at the Casey Research Summit.  It really is a marvelous piece.  Keep in mind that he is not speaking as a Christian and thus is not quite accurate in some of the theological details when those come up (although there is certainly some truth to his discussion of the “Heaven on Earth” crowd –these are Progressivist Postmillennials).  That aside and though it is long (I put it in Sound Gecko here), I think this is a remarkable article on the recent history of the groups and politics leading up to today’s political cultural and power dynamic in Washington.  One of my favorite sections was his discussion of the roots of the neoconservatives:

The defectors from communism, both the official Stalinist variety and the various Trotskyite flavors, had become so numerous by the late 1940s and early fifties that they constituted their own political faction. Indeed, they had their own organization in Max Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, which later became Social Democrats, USA. Shachtman had been Leon Trotsky’s chief intellectual advocate in America at one point, but he broke with the Old Man over the nature of the Soviet Union. The old-fashioned Trotskyites still defended the Soviet Union, even during the Hitler-Stalin Pact, but the newfangled variety, headed by Shachtman, said the pact showed that the Soviet Union was no longer defensible from a socialist point of view. What existed in Stalin’s Russia wasn’t socialism, it was what they called bureaucratic collectivism – a danger just as deadly and even more oppressive than capitalism.

Shachtman’s tiny organization never had more than 1500 members, but it was vastly influential on the left and aside from that had top level connections in the labor movement, where Shachtman’s cronies acted as advisors to some of the biggest union bosses of the day.

The fabled creatures known today as neoconservatives came out of this milieu . Irving Kristol, the neocon “godfather,” spent his storied youth in a Trotskyite sect, and was no doubt well-acquainted with Shachtman, who loved to hold forth among his youthful followers. And Kristol wasn’t the only young Trotskyite to become an ardent anti-communist. Platoons of them flooded into the conservative movement starting in the 1950s, including among the founding editors of National Review – senior editor James Burnham was once an ardent Trotskyite. Frank Meyer, a close associate of William Buckley’s and a top editor at the magazine, was a former Communist Party theoretician and teacher at their Jefferson School. Willi Schlamm, former editor of the Communist party’s German newspaper, Rote Fahne, was also a founding editor. The transformation of Commentary magazine from a liberal journal to a neoconservative opinion organ limns the trajectory of a whole generation of “liberals who’ve been mugged by reality,” as one definition of a neoconservative phrases it.

In everyday usage the term neoconservative – neocon, for short – has become a synonym for those who advocate a foreign policy of aggressive intervention on a global scale. The neocons are all over the map when it comes to tax policy, social issues, and government regulation, but when it comes to foreign policy they are ruthless in their consistent support for military action, no matter what the context.

Although they started out as left-wing Democrats, and in many cases socialists of one sort or another, their evolving foreign policy views soon drove them so far to the right that they eventually left the Democratic party – after it was taken over by Vietnam war opponents – and joined up with the Republicans. They also moved into the conservative movement, which suffered from a lack of intellectuals, which they very quickly took over by, first, getting a lock on the money, and then getting a lock on the institutions. From there the neocons moved naturally into government, where, during the Reagan administration, they found a niche at the National Endowment for Democracy.

Cultural and Social

—> Gary North writes on the coming “Non-Revolution.”  Many libertarians are desirous of a revolution, or at least consider this the means to a better world. North not only states that this would be a dangerous and wrong move (I have touched on this here –my writing has matured since then=]), but also believes that the world is not tending this way at all. In fact, he sees the opposite happening: secession. The reader might detect some of North’s postmillennialism throughout the article, but even if we reject that, which I certainly do, North’s overall theme here is great.  His perspective that the world is being decentralized is supported by the insight provided by the same book that Bionic Mosquito has been reviewing.  Here is a quote from the North piece:

You don’t need a revolution to escape the system. You need secession. You need a withdrawal of support for the existing systems. You need to revoke the legitimacy which you extended to these organizations. You need to do it, and everybody else needs to do it. Nobody organizes this. People just learn, scandal by scandal, bureaucratic snafu by bureaucratic snafu, that the system is irreparable. It cannot be reformed. It must not be captured. It must be de-funded. The secret of liberty is not revolution; the secret of liberty is to de-fund the existing centralized order.

The secret of monetary stability and sound money is not to capture the Federal Reserve System. The secret is to pass a very simple law which abolishes the Federal Reserve System. The law revokes the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The secret is not monetary sovereignty by Congress; the secret is monetary sovereignty in the free market social order.

 

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com