Boorishly Provincial: Penalising Capital Flow In and Out of the U.S.

More worried about tax cheats than prosperity:

Capital, and all of its blessings, flows to where it is treated best. The recently passed Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010 (the “HIRE” Act) imposes new obstacles to the flow of capital into and out of the U.S. While ostensibly limited to “reporting” requirements to address offshore tax evasion by U.S. persons, at some point U.S. investors will balk at the level of reporting and forego profitable investments in the world at large, and foreign investors will simply move on to greener pastures and avoid the U.S. in making capital available. While such enforcement legislation may be considered to be tax revenue enhancing, the lost national revenue from reduced capital investment and tax compliance costs doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar screen – indeed, there is almost a complete absence of attention to the new rules in the national media. Once upon a time, U.S. tax policy was influenced by the impact of the tax code on U.S. economic growth and capital development – sadly for the U.S. economy, such concerns have taken a backseat in the ongoing campaign to root out tax dodgers.

This will also encourage talented younger people with no money but great potential to decide to bail on the U.S. and seek greener pastures (pun intended) elsewhere.  Except that most other money in the world isn’t green…

Latin America, the Fertile Field, but for Whom? and Richard Dawkins Defends Christianity

It’s been difficult to “do Holy Week” on this blog because of events, and Ruth Gledhill’s blog entry only makes it harder.

First, we have this, a part of the running fiasco of the Roman Catholic paedophile scandal:

Meanwhile, the Sacramento Bee has published a post with horrific details of a case surfacing in Brazil. If even the fertile fields of Latin America are being laid waste by this paedophile pestilence, then the Church really is in trouble. ‘In Brazil, where more Roman Catholics live than in any other country, a television network aired a video that purported to show a priest in the northeast state of Alagoas having sex with an altar boy. That priest and two others have been suspended by the church and are under investigation by police,’ writes Eugene Robinson.

Latin America has been a “fertile field” for years, but not necessarily for Roman Catholicism.  Latin American Pentecostal churches have had explosive growth, and things like this will only accelerate that.  It’s yet another opportunity for my Hispanic and Brazilian brethren (and I have many) to add to their numbers.  And with God’s power, they will do it.  And in doing so, they will change not only Latin America but Evangelical Christianity itself.

And there’s this from Richard Dawkins:

It comes to something when even Richard Dawkins is defending Christianity. He told me yesterday why he had mixed feelings about a putative end to Christianity: ‘There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.’

Dawkins and other New Atheists should have thought about this before launching their fanatical campaign to drive Christianity out of existence.  But they didn’t.  The US’ Founding Fathers agreed on the benefits of religion (and in their time that meant primarily Christianity) without necessarily embracing its doctrines (the level of that varied with the individual.)  That’s a concept that goes back to Cicero, which means it pre-dates Christianity.  But the New Atheists thought they were smarter than Cicero and the Founding Fathers because they are “scientific.”

Personally I think they are neither.

When you’re confronted by a religion like Islam which fuses religion and politics (and public and private morality) the way it does, you have a game changer, for the West at least.  But New Atheists have been spoiled by Christianity, whose view of the role of itself in the state is so nuanced that most of its followers are better at following it than understanding it.

If this reality starts to sink in both to Christianity’s adherents and opponents, then it will be a very Good Friday indeed.

Nicholas Kristof Discovers Sun Tzu

It’s a story I’ve brought up on this blog (and elsewhere) but Kristof finally puts it in front of the “right” people:

Some 2,400 years ago, a Chinese king invited a legendary military strategist named Sun Tzu to give a demonstration in military training — using women from the palace.

Sun Tzu agreed, organizing 180 of the king’s beautiful young women into two companies. He made the king’s two favorite concubines officers in charge, and explained the principles of marching.

The women treated this as an uproarious joke. An ancient account explains that when Sun Tzu beat the drum to signal “right turn!” “the girls only burst out laughing.”

So Sun Tzu patiently repeated the instructions and beat the drum to signal “left turn!” Again, the women simply burst into laughter. So Sun Tzu seized the two favorite concubines, accused them of failing to maintain discipline — and beheaded them. Now the other terrified women followed orders perfectly.

That’s the kind of historical tale that members of China’s Politburo absorbed while growing up — and reflect today. In battles over Google and the currency exchange rate, they model the hardheaded Sun Tzu, accepting that making omelets will require breaking eggs.

He goes on with the usual American blather than the core failure of the Chinese is to institute “democratic” institutions.  But it’s just that: blather.

First, the relationship between Chinese and their government is vastly different here than in the US.  The Chinese may “want” democracy, but sustaining it in their culture is another ball game altogether.  (The Russians put on a more easily understood display of this problem in the 1990’s.)

Second, if there’s an “egg breaker” in this deal, it’s Barack Obama.  The health care passage shows that Congress and the opinion of the American people are, in his idea, positive nuisances when it comes to doing the “right” thing.   There’s no doubt in my mind that Obama looks on the absolutism of the Zhongnanhai with envy, and that someday he or another of his idea will attempt to replicate that on this soil.

We’d better start worrying about sustaining democracy here rather than throwing rocks at the Chinese.

Blast From the Past for Maundy Thursday: Reflections on an Orthodox View of the Eucharist

For this Maundy Thursday, I’m going back to the obvious topic (obvious to me, at least): the institution of the Eucharist, which I went on at length about in 2008 with this series.  You can access it as follows:

  1. Part I
  2. Part II
  3. Part III
  4. Part IV

Those of you who are advocates of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist will enjoy this.