The Democrats' Contradictory Wish List

And they certainly have one:

“He’s got to continue to concentrate on jobs,” Rep. Bill Pascrell said last week as the House was leaving town for a long, pre-election recess.

“I’m hoping he’ll do immigration reform,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

“We should get back to an energy policy – one that acknowledges that climate change is real,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

“The critical issues will be revenue generation … and … a concerted push on immigration reform,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

“I think he’d want his administration to start on healthcare,” said Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.).

The really laughable part of this is the juxtaposition on jobs and the economy with environmental legislation.  Reducing emissions of all kinds is impossible without contracting the economy and lowering living standards, and that’s what’s been going on the last four years.

The same problem exists with the debt issue and revenue generation.  Repayment of the debt we have without serious inflation is only possible with a stronger economy, which again goes against the environmental considerations.  If we inflate our way out of this debt, however, our credit–to say nothing of our currency–won’t be worth much.

Raising taxes to solve this problem will only put the economy in a downward spiral, which will again make the environmentalists happy but will make debt repayment even more problematic.

The blunt truth is, however, that if Obama is re-elected he doesn’t need Congress to do much of anything.  Taxes go up automatically at the end of the year, health care marches on (why any Democrat is stupid enough to revisit that monstrosity is beyond me) and he can always use his extra-legal legerdemain on an executive basis to deal with his enemies.

Sons Unto Glory: The Harvest is Ripe

(DSG-1) 1976

Coming from Aiken, SC (the state that produced Ark and Southern Joy), this is another one of those albums that pushed 1970’s Christian music in a more “rock” direction, a direction many wanted to avoid but none could.  And they do it in a magnificent, fun, Southern rock style that’s deeply evangelistic to boot.  The laid back might want to get saved with Fruit of the Spirit or Phoenix Sonshine, but for the rest of us this is what the situation calls for.

If you want more information about the album or the group, you can contact group member Bill Bentley. Also, the album is available from its artists and can be found here.

The songs:

  1. What The Lord Will Do For You
  2. I Love My Lord
  3. Whispering Wind
  4. You Must Be Born Again
  5. Let Him Cleanse You
  6. Lost In The Love Of Jesus
  7. Preach The Gospel
  8. The Harvest Is Ripe
  9. Resurrection Power

For more music, click here

Prolonged Detention, and the Way of All Revolutions

Of all people, Rachel Maddow, on of all networks, MSNBC, calls this one-speech volte-face by Barack Obama for what it is:

This country is, in many ways, in the course of a long revolution that started with the 1960’s.  (For a country always in a hurry, we can’t even get a revolution resolved in 40-50 years)!  But in this respect, all revolutions are the same: they start with a cry for freedom and end up destroying that freedom in the name of their own self-righteous view.  That’s what happened in France, it’s what happened in Russia and China, and it’s what’s happening now in this country.

The Guantanamo inmates should have been put in a military tribunal and processed.  It was the serious mistake of George W. Bush that he did not.  Barack Obama started out by promising to close Guantanamo, but he did not.  Then he wanted to try certain people in civilian court in, of all places, New York.  I think he wanted to do that to expose them to the technicalities of American civilian process, get them acquitted or off on one of those technicalities, and then use that as a justification to release the rest of them.

That didn’t work either.  In the meanwhile Barack Obama has found his “inner Lenin”, a person that the American left has, at no small cost to itself, tried to keep out.  Now he wants indefinite prolonged detention of those not to our government’s taste, and supposing that’s restricted to Muslim radicals is naïve.

We still have an electoral process to fix problems like this.  For the moment.  But revolutions have a way of getting rid of those also, don’t they?

Small Business: To Tell the Truth, I Wouldn't Start One

And neither would most people who are already there:

Fifty-five percent of small business owners and manufacturers would not have started their businesses in today’s economy, according to a new poll that also reports 69 percent say President Obama’s regulatory policies have hurt their businesses.

Much of the blame is heaped on Barack Obama, but let’s be fair: this mess has been a long time coming.  It’s been thirty years since Chuck Schumer got the bright idea of making environmental violators criminals.  Sarbanes-Oxley was passed under George W. Bush.  And we’ve had NIMBY and the insane tax code as long as I’ve been around.

Barack Obama is just the current darling of a Luddite élite who not only has no idea how to manage a productive economy, but has a real horror of one ever arising, for both environmental and personal reasons.  They’ve been working on making it impossible to legally operate a viable business in the United States and they’ve just about succeeded.

When you combine that with our financial “wizards of Bubbleland” who have created a credit allocation and monetary system increasingly divorced from economic reality, you have the makings of what we have: stagnation.  And the prospects of that changing in the foreseeable future are slim.

Public vs. Private Colleges and Salaries: Of Course You Can't be President, But…

At last, someone compares the investment to the salary received, and

With help from PayScale, a Seattle-based compensation-data company that maintains 35 million salary profiles, we collected median pay figures for two pools of each school’s alums: recent grads (out of school for an average of three years) and midcareer types (an average of 15 years out). For each group, we divided the median alumnus or alumna salary by tuition and fees (assuming they paid full price at then-current rates), averaged the results and, finally, converted that result to a percentage figure. The outcome: a measure of return on investment that we’ve dubbed the Payback Score. For example, a hypothetical alum who spent $100,000 to attend college and now earns $150,000 a year would have a personal score of 150. Just as with the SATs, the higher the score, the better.

The result: of the fifty schools tested, the top 17 scoring schools on investment vs. salary return were state schools.  The highest rated private school was Ivy League Princeton (I guess it doesn’t hurt to have ETS across town, does it)?

At the bottom were many of the “tonier” non-Ivy League Northeastern liberal arts colleges, with outliers like Tulane.

One key to success is an institution that is turning out large numbers of science and engineering graduates, which help to boost the salary potential.  (To my Christian friends: hint, hint…)  Here at UTC, everyone complains that the College of Engineering and Computer Science costs the most per credit hour to educate our students.  My response?  No guts, no glory…and we are well down the cost scale.

Some will complain that we should not be so mercenary in our evaluation of college education costs.  So how else do you plan to pay back your student debt?

Sad to say, this silver lining has a cloud: you can’t be President of the United States graduating from the likes of Georgia Tech or the University of Florida.  Both parties have nominated their Ivy League champions this time, taking the issue off of the table for the next four years.

Leonhard Euler on the Creator and Mathematics

Quoted in S. Timoshenko’s History of Strength of Materials:

Since the fabric of the universe is most perfect, and is the work of a most wise Creator, nothing whatsoever takes place in the universe in which some relation of maximum and minimum does not appear.  Wherefore there is absolutely no doubt that every effect in the universe can be explained as satisfactorily from final causes, by the aid of the method of maxima and minima, as it can from the effective causes themselves…Therefore two methods of studying effects in nature lie open to us, one by means of effective causes, which is commonly called the direct method, the other by means of final causes…One ought to make a special effort to see that both ways of approach to the solution of the problem be laid open; for this not only is one solution greatly strengthened by the other, but, more than that, from the agreement between the two solutions we secure the very highest satisfaction.

Very few people on the earth have contributed to the basics of mathematics and mechanics than Euler.  Living in the “Age of Reason” Euler pushed science forward while remaining a Christian all of his life.

What the Britons Thought of Pelagius and Grace

To be called a “Pelagian” is about the worst insult that a Calvinist can hurl at you.  So who was Pelagius?  And how did his contemporaries react to it?  Specifically, Pelagius was from Roman Britain; what did they think of it?

Let’s start with this, from Peter Salway’s Roman Britain:

One incident, in which the indisputably historical St. Germanus of Auxerre appears in person, gives us a glimpse of influential Britons of the time.  Already, possibly in 403, Victricius, bishop of Rouen, had visited Britain at the request of his fellow bishops in Gaul to restore peace among the clergy here: it has been suggested that this may have been due to controversy over the Pelagian heresy.  Dr. J.N.L. Myres has pointed out the possible political overtones in this heresy (itself the creation of a Briton), which turned on the doctrine of Grace.  Unfortunately the term gratia was only too well known in the context of the immense web of patronage and favour.  Certainly by 429 Pelaginaism was a real issue in Britain, whether religious or political or both.  In that year Germanus and his colleague, Lupus, Bishop of the neighbouring see of Troyes, were chosen, at a meeting of the bishops of Gaul which was influenced by the Pope, to visit Britain to combat the heresy.  One may perhaps speculate that both of these bishops had had experience of dealing with difficult situations in regions on the fringe of direct Roman power.  Their chief clerical opponent in Britain was a leading Pelagian named Agricola, himself the son of a bishop and clearly backed by a powerful party of local magnates.

I’ve noted elsewhere–and Salway did also–that the whole Roman system was driven by patronage.  When Christianity broke out of its Jewish beginnings and became a Gentile religion, it came into a world where peoples’ mindset was geared in this direction.  It was virtually impossible under those conditions that the whole idea of grace would not get tangled up with it.

Roman Britain had an interesting history, both a key part of the Roman world and aside from it at the same time.  Reconstructing that history can be problematic, but the evidence shows that, by the end of the fourth century, brutal characters like Paul the Chain and the endless upheaval of revolting emperors and barbarian invasions were inspiring the local aristocracy to at least consider an alternative.

Between the first contact mentioned about in 403 and Germanus’ expedition in 429 came a momentous event in British history–the “independence” of Britain from Rome.  This was partly due to the Emperor Honorius’ loss of control of the island around the time of Alaric’s sack of Rome in 410, and partly due to the fact that the Britons saw a clear way to the exit.

For those Roman officials whose loyalty remained with the Emperor, the results were, to put it mildly, unpleasant, as this passage from Fastidius’ De Vita Christiana attests:

We see before us plenty of examples of wicked men, the sum of their sins complete, who are at this present moment being judged, and denied this present life no less than the life to come…Those who have freely shed the blood of others are not being forced to spill their own…Some lie unburied, food for the beasts and birds of the air.  Others…have been individually torn limb from limb…Their judgements have killed many husbands, widowed many women, orphaned many children.  They made them beggars and left them bare…for they plundered the children of the men they killed.  Now it their wives who are widows, their sons who are orphans, begging their daily bread from others.

In any case by the time Germanus met with the “best and brightest” of British aristocracy the latter very much “large and in charge” as Salway goes on to describe:

The confrontation between the Roman bishops and the Pelagians took place at a public meeting. The religious and political importance that was clearly attached locally to the issue is underlined by the huge crowd (immensa multitude) who came to hear the episcopal visitors. The Pelagian party at the meeting is described in words that make one think immediately of the proud, elegant Gallo-Roman nobility we have earlier noted. We are told that they were ‘conspicuous for riches, brilliant in dress, and surrounded by a fawning multitude’.’ That fawning multitude puts one in mind of the ancient Roman aristocratic tradition of the clientela. The conspicuous wealth is characteristic of the Roman world, perhaps particularly so in the fourth and fifth centuries. The brilliant costume reminds us of that period’s taste for splendid multicoloured dress, as seen for example on the fourth-century wall-paintings of the Lullingstone villa in Kent, and at its height in the imperial splendour of Justinian’s court portrayed in mosaic in San Vitale at Ravenna. We have already seen in the Gallic context how luxury and display among the Roman provincial nobility in the fifth century cannot be equated with the political system under which they were at any particular moment living. It is at least clear that here in Britain in 429 we are observing not a ruined class living in bondage to savage barbarian masters, nor even a few fortunate survivors, but a substantial body of men of influence who carry weight both with their personal following and the community at large. The pride of the Pelagian party, moreover, is underlined by a rescript from Honorius in 418 which, while it applies to the heretics of this persuasion at large, fits well with this picture from Britain. The emperor there accuses the Pelagians of ‘considering it a mark of common vulgarity to agree with opinions that everyone else holds’. The superciliousness and magnificence, to which the Latin word superbus was applied, will be met with again in examining the ruling elements of post-Roman Britain.

The Late Roman fancy for “bling” and gaudy display reflected their insecurity (sound familiar)?  Although their adoption of Pelagian theology sprang from their aversion to the gratia of Roman patronage, I think there were other factors at work.  Adoption of Pelagian theology differentiated the Britons from their Continental counterparts, which was especially important when connected with political independence.  It was also an affirmation of the “hometown boy made good”.

By the time Germanus visited Britain, almost twenty years had passed since the break.  The evidence indicates that breaking with the Emperor was, like the Act of Supremacy, first and foremost the moving of headship from an external source (Rome again)! to an internal one, not a major systemic change (at least not in the short term).  With the break secure, did the British aristocracy consider it less necessary to differentiate themselves?  In any case Germanus’ oratory was convincing enough that at least a major part of his audience swung back to a more Augustinian idea.

Unfortunately the subsequent course of post-Roman Britain wasn’t very inspiring.  Still in a dangerous neighbourhood of barbarians, the British nobleman Vortigern got the bright idea of bringing in the Saxons to help defend the island.  They turned on their patrons, devastated the island, and basically the history of Britain had to start over again.

What Are the Theological Differences Between the 1928 and 1979 Book of Common Prayer?

Recently received the following in the “electronic mailbag”:

Is there an essay, site, or book that describes the theological differences between the 1928 and 1979 prayer books? I have found one reference, “How Episcopalians Were Deceived,” but not much else.

I was raised (and remain) a Methodist. I developed an interest in the history of the Church of England & Episcopal Church as a result of my studies as a lay reader (similar to a deacon) almost 20 years ago. I have copies of three prayer books (Church of England, 1928 Episcopal, 1979 Episcopal) and have found each of them to be useful. Yet I know that the growing Anglican movement in North America has very strong opinions on the subject.

Just curious.  Thanks for the work you’ve done on your site. It is very interesting.

I certainly have some opinion on the subject, but I thought I’d put this out to the Anglican blogosphere; many of you are more knowledgeable on this than I am.  Any takers?

Preserving God's Reputation With the Heathen

This, from Peter Freuchen’s Book of the Seven Seas:

Hans Egede, that holy man who became the apostle of Greenland after some very immoral earlier adventures, tells how his prayers stilled a storm which took him to the faraway island in 1721.  The wind was so fierce and the waves so strong that the crew gave themselves up for lost until Hans addressed the Lord with what strikes us as a surprisingly worldly argument.

The expedition was going to Greenland, Hans informed God, in His service to convert the Eskimos, and it would give Christianity a bad name if people could say that Heaven did not protect its own servants.  Hans argued that he did not so much want to save his own life as to preserve God’s reputation with the heathen.  This common-sense appeal, he said, was very effective, because the gale calmed at once, and the ship went on safely to Greenland.

Now He Tells Us: Mike Oxley "Fesses Up" on Sarbox

It’s not easy to get a legislator to admit that he or she made a mistake, but former Ohio Rep. Mike Oxley finally gets around to it:

“No law is perfect.” True words. But not exactly what I expected to hear from Mike Oxley, the former Republican congressman who penned the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation with former senator Paul Sarbanes, a Democrat. A decade after enactment of the eponymous regulation, created in response to the Enron and WorldCom scandals, Oxley came on Squawk Box to reflect on its effectiveness. His surprising regret? “I would have initially had more of a scaled-down provision that would have treated smaller companies different from the larger, Fortune 500 companies.”

No kidding!

Sarbanes-Oxley was and is one of my least favourite pieces of legislation, as I noted in my (originally) 2005 piece A Punch in the Face for Capitalism.  But why, after all of these years, does it finally dawn on its author that small businesses got the shaft with this?

It always amazes me that Congress–the opposite of progress–never has enough regard for the simple fact that small businesses don’t “amortise” (to use the polite term) the cost of regulation as well as large ones do, the regulation being equal.  But Congress goes on passing legislation like this, and our current Executive Branch, no fan of small business to say the least, is more than happy to accommodate and follow-up on such stupidity.

All large businesses started as small ones.  That simple statement of the obvious, however, eludes those who own and operate our society, and who see small business people as power challengers.  Laws like Sarbox, however, have and will over the long haul drain the dynamism that has characterised the economy of this Republic since its inception.