Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wear the Pants: The Dockers Campaign

Has anyone seen the new Docker's campaign about wearing the pants? It's for men, evangelicals and fundamentalists. Just to let you know. I assumed you thought "Wear the Pants" was for women. That was the signal you were receiving, but somehow Dockers missed it. Everyone knows that pants no longer are a symbol of masculinity and male headship in our culture, well, at least in evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Notice their campaign ad here. Evangelicals and fundamentalists men no longer wear the pants. They don't. And don't tell me you do. You've been mocking any separatist who still believes that men should wear the pants. If you aren't aware of fundamentalist and evangelical mocking, look here at about comment three to the end. Notice how the evangelicals circle the wagons---how sensitive they are.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists, I'll be expecting you to mock Dockers for the campaign. They obviously don't know what they are talking about. Evangelicals and fundamentalists, get those letters written. Send them off to Dockers. Let them know that the male garment is the cape or the baseball cap. Give them some of that important cultural awareness that you have.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rock and Rap Music Are Becoming a Non-Issue in Fundamentalism part 1

I graduated from high school in 1980. At that time rap music didn't exist. Rock music of different types and styles had been around for awhile. I attended Christian school between 1974 and 1980, 7th to 12th grade. I graduated from Christian college in 1984, an M.A. in 1985 and M.Div. in 1987. I counseled at a Christian camp the summers of 1980, 81, and 82. All of those were plainly main-stream fundamentalist institutions. So I'm talking about a time between at least 1974 and 1987, thirteen years. This is the time period that I'm relating my experience.

During those thirteen years in every one of the fundamentalist institutions that I attended, you would be expelled from, shipped from, or kicked out from those places if you were caught listening to rock music. Rock music was forbidden. We would pray for those who had to work in places with rock music playing. If we went to a restaurant that was playing rock music, on almost every occasion we would ask the owner or manager to either turn it off or turn it down in the section of the restaurant we were sitting. It was understood that those who listened to rock music were either not saved or had some major sin problem as a saved person that would likely result in chastisement. I didn't know one person personally in those places that I knew first-hand listened to rock music. I was never even around it. I didn't know anyone who owned rock music records, tapes, or eight tracks (CDs and mp3s didn't exist then).

During those thirteen years, we would hear testimonies from people who had been saved, and they often included: "I used to listen to rock music, and then I got saved." Change took place that included getting rid of the bad music. Sometimes there were young people who acted rebellious. They did not talk about the Bible or spiritual things. They scoffed at authority. I would often hear later, after they had left the church or been expelled from the school that they had listened to rock music.

During those thirteen years, rock music was called ungodly music. It was also called the devil's music. Rock music was not only bad itself, but it was considered to be something that would also turn people toward bad things. Listening to rock music was a sin.

Between 1980 and 1987, I traveled around the country to many different churches. For three years, I went to 60-80 churches each of those summers. I remember being in one church in which the youth department had Christian rock posters all over the walls of the youth room. I looked at them like I would be staring at an alien visiting earth. I just wagged my head in disbelief. I assumed that the church had turned away from the Lord. It was normal to think this way.

During those thirteen years, no one would apologize for preaching against rock music. No one would say that it was a difficult subject. Everyone would say that it was an easy subject to understand and discern. No one who was godly would get along with someone who listened to or played rock music. Everyone at that time knew that we weren't listening to rock music because the music would kill plants. We knew that was a kind of trivial side story. We didn't apologize for not liking rock music at that time. If someone liked rock music, we wouldn't be friends. We would be getting as far as possible from anyone who said that he liked rock music, that promoted rock music, that went to rock music concerts. Rock music had been around for a long time and it was consistent everywhere in my Christian experience that rock music was wrong, was bad, and that the people who listened to it and played it were bad too. No one apologized for that. You wouldn't dare say that you liked rock music if you were to have any credibility as a Christian.

During those thirteen years, rock music wasn't viewed as a racial issue. I had never heard that rock music had anything to do with race. I had never heard that we were against it because it wasn't European enough. I had never heard that it was wrong because it wasn't J. S. Bach music.

During those thirteen years, the hatred of rock music, the separation from rock music, and the castigation of rock music was practiced by the rank and file of the institutions I was in, not just the leaders. The leaders were those who maintained the prohibition on rock music. The leaders were those who preached against it. The leaders were those who expelled those in the institutions who chose to go ahead and listen to it. Rock music was not tolerated by leadership.

Things have changed.

Were these institutions wrong then? Have we grown in our understanding of culture and aesthetics and art and meaning since then? If it was wrong then, a sin then, and prohibited then, then were we wrong then or are people wrong today? The difference is so stark that there really is no middle ground.

I know that the change must have occurred while I have been out in the world evangelizing and pastoring from 1987 to 2010. Our church has not changed, but while I have been out working for the Lord, something has been happening everywhere else. I didn't even know that it was happening until the internet came on the scene. It was then that I found out that the institutions had changed. It was now acceptable to affiliate with rock music. Rock music is now a non-essential issue. If someone wants to use it, it isn't a separating issue. It doesn't stop anyone from being friends. Some even consider the people that listen to it to be superior in their Christianity than those who don't. Rock music is not only not unChristian in many institutions, but it can be something good for those institutions.

I found out about evangelicalism after I got out of school. I went to Christian book stores and the music section and it was almost all rock music. I knew I was way different than evangelicals. The institutions I had been a part of and affiliated with were much different than evangelicals. They were a kind of Christianity that was false. You could see that easily by the music they listened to. They were worldly. They weren't separated from the world. I learned that there was the Christian rock music industry, which has now turned into all kinds of Christian music, including grunge style music that is called Christian by many.

That bridge between evangelicalism and fundamentalism has shrunk and perhaps even disappeared. The music isn't much of an issue any more, or it is at least becoming a non-issue. You can be fine with people who listen to rock music. You can listen to it yourself. That isn't going to be an issue any more. You'll even be more well-liked if you show your interest in rock music. That is the way that it is now. This has been a surprise to me.

What happened and what is the evidence that I see that says that it is becoming or already is a non-issue in fundamentalism?

I'll answer these questions in part two.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Remember the Mortgage Crisis? It's Still Here

Here's an article in the Wall Street Journal today that reminds us of how we got into the mortgage crisis. I recognize who was president in 2005 and who had the majority in the Senate, but it's also important to see who supported and who opposed what. We don't want to get into revisionist history, which the White House right now would really like you to do. Then Senator Obama opposed regulation of the home loan industry, Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac. He received the third highest amount of contributions from these sources. He was influenced by special interests. This article will help you remember.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Scrambling for an Explanation: The LXX Argument

The Bible teaches the perfect preservation of Scripture. That's why the people in the pew of churches all over the country believe it, despite the pressure from academics and elitists. They read their Bible and that is the plain reading of the text. It really is like the public schools drowning the nation in evolution, but still only convincing a minority of Americans. And then most people that do use new versions do not know that they are studying a different text of the Bible. They think it's just updated English. And most new or multiple version advocates don't mind that myth perpetuating itself. The following verses are just a few of what convince Christians that they should expect to have all the Words God inspired in the original manuscripts:

Isaiah 59:21, "As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever."

Matthew 5:18, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Matthew 24:35, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

Matthew 4:4, "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Psalm 12:6-7, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."

These aren't all, but they are a sampling of what people have seen and then depended on as a basis for a belief in the perfect preservation of Scripture. It has seemed plain to your average Christian that this is what God has said.

You have those who have read about textual variants and textual criticism and superior or older manuscripts, and their faith is shaken in these promises of God. They've had to react to men preaching these verses to them. They didn't approach their view of preservation beginning with exegesis, so now they are scrambling for an explanation for what they believe from Scripture. The best they can come up with, besides revising the meaning of verses like those above or just attacking the already developed and historic doctrine of preservation, is "The LXX Argument" or "The Septuagint Argument."

Here's how the argument goes. Many of the quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament do not match up with the Hebrew of the Old Testament. They match up more word for word and in more places, however, with the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the LXX (the Septuagint). So Jesus and the Apostles must have been relying upon the Septuagint, an inaccurate or corrupt translation, as an adequate version of the Bible to use. In so doing, they validated or justified an inaccurate or corrupt text as permissible.

One of their favorite Old Testament quotations is the one in Luke 4:14-21:

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

They often testify that the reading of Jesus here is much closer to the LXX than it is the Hebrew Masoretic text. And they also make a point that Luke says "it was written" and that Jesus "stood up for to read." They conclude that Jesus was using and endorsing the Septuagint, based on this passage. And if He was, He was also showing that some differences in wording of the text of the Bible are insignificant as long as the same message is found in the various readings.

Alright, so what about this argument, the LXX argument. Is it correct? Is there anything wrong with it?

First, we interpret the possible implications from a passage in light of plain statements, explicit teachings, that are made elsewhere. This is a corollary to "interpret Scripture with Scripture." It is to interpret the obscure in light of the plain. Wouldn't a doctrine that God would allow Scripture to change or be lost or be altered be a doctrine that we would find somewhere else in the Bible, if that is what is to be implied from Luke 4:14-21? That would seem to be an important doctrine, the one about the Words of God being amended or modified. But that idea flies in the face of the preservation passages already written.

What we see happening in Luke 4 and other places like it, we should interpret based upon the plain teaching found elsewhere. This is how you come to true doctrine. The Bible will not deny itself or contradict itself (2 Tim 2:13). God will not contradict a teaching about perfect preservation, especially when there are zero passages that tell us that God would allow or that it would be permissible for the Words of Scripture to change. Whatever implications might be made about the preservation of Scripture from Luke 4:14-21 should be made in light of the plain statements that the Bible already makes on the subject.

Second, nowhere does the Bible say that Jesus or the apostles are quoting from a translation. We read nothing about a translation anywhere in Scripture. That teaching must be put into the text in order to get it out. One would think that a translation would be mentioned if one of the apostles were depending on it. Not one time in the gospels or the epistles does a writer ever allude to the Septuagint. It isn't in there.

Third, there is tremendous Scriptural evidence that Jesus and the Apostles were using the Hebrew text. Even in the passage in question, we should consider what kind of scroll would be used in a Jewish synagogue. It would not have been a Greek one. By saying, "It is written," Jesus would not have been referring to a translation. "It was written" (v. 17) is perfect passive, so it is a past action with ongoing results. What Moses had written was still written to that day, which is why Luke would have used that word.

When Jesus refers to Scripture, He refers to the three fold division of the law (Luke 24:27, 44). which was not the case with the Septuagint. The Apostle Paul does the same in Acts 26:22. The Hebrew text had the three fold division. Also we should see exactly how Jesus uses the Hebrew text of the Old Testament in Luke 11:51, moving from the first book, Genesis, with the example of Abel, to the last book, 2 Chronicles, with the example of Zacharias. If you were looking for the last book of the Old Testament in the Septuagint, you would look in Malachi for Zacharias. He isn't in there. 2 Chronicles is the last book of the Hebrew Old Testament.

Jews knew Hebrew. They didn't need a Greek translation at that time. Pilate included Hebrew as one of the languages in the signage he placed over Jesus on the cross (John 19:20). In Acts 21:40, Paul spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem in "the Hebrew tongue." Jesus talked to Paul in the Hebrew tongue in Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:14). The Torah was the basis for teaching in the Jewish synagogue in that day (Acts 15:21). We should assume that Jesus and the Apostles spoke to the Jews in Hebrew. We don't have a basis to believe otherwise. We have a strong exegetical basis to believe that they did.

Fourth, the words from Jesus in Luke 4:14-21 do not fit the Septuagint word-for-word either. The words there allude to more than just Isaiah 61, but also to Isaiah 58:6. The actual words Luke penned obviously were not the exact equivalent of any text, Hebrew or Greek. You have definite problems with wording if you think that Jesus was quoting from the Septuagint. The words aren't the same in the Greek of Luke 4 and Isaiah 61.

Fifth, Luke 4:16 does say that Jesus stood up to read. He did read. However, as we move along, it doesn't say that he read the words that begin in verse 18. It was normal for the synagogue rabbi to read and comment, to read and targum. It is the equivalent of my saying, "In John 3:16 we have written that if we believe in Jesus we'll have everlasting life, but if we don't believe in Him, we'll perish." I'm teaching the truth of the verse and using some of its words to do so.

When the Greek words of an Old Testament reference used in the New Testament by the Lord or by an Apostle are the same or similar to the Septuagint, but not the traditional Hebrew text of the Old Testament, what is happening?

This is a question to be answered. Even in the consideration of the question, however, one should understand that we are talking now about an extra scriptural argument with the LXX argument. Above we have scriptural arguments. They should stand as a basis for the position we take, since the Bible is our authority for faith and practice as Christians. If we use an extra scriptural argument to take a position, we are depending on human reasoning for our position, not faith. That isn't acceptable for a Christian and it doesn't please God.

One who depends on the Septuagint argument should also consider this. He is using a translation as a basis for determining what is the Old Testament text. Isn't this a Ruckman argument? Don't those who support a critical or eclectic text position have a problem with using a translation to amend or correct an original language text?

To answer the question, first, we have a plausible explanation for why the Septuagint may match up with Greek quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament. Septuagint experts have posited this as a reason and John Owen gave it as one in his Biblical Theology in the 17th century. This is a position presented in Invitation to the Septuagint by Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silva, a standard work on the Septuagint. Owen wrote this view (p. 544): "Christian users and copiers of the Septuagint would naturally adapt their quotations to those given in the New Testament." What we use today, called the Septuagint, was amended out of respect of Christ to match the words of Christ in those locations in the Greek New Testament. This is a historical explanation for a historical argument that allows the actual exegetical arguments to stand. It is an argument that harmonizes with Scripture.

Second, the words that we read of Jesus and the Apostles do not match the Old Testament text exactly because they were not exact quotations. They were referring directly to the text of the Old Testament, but they were in the nature of targuming. In Luke 4, Jesus referred to what "was written," when He opened the scroll. However, He didn't quote it word for word. He was doing what Jewish teachers did, that is, comment on the text on the fly, using His own words. Thomas Strouse writes about what Jesus did in His targum:

Christ’s expanded and inspired interpretation of Isa. 61:1-2a not only becomes part of the canonical Scripture, but is also an object lesson in bibliological interpretation, enhancing one’s understanding of the Lord’s eschatology. Dispensationally, He divided up Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming of the Lord into the first coming and the second coming (cf. Lk. 4:21). The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecy of Isa. 61:1-2a with His first advent, and will fulfill Isa. 61:2b with His second advent in connection with the conclusion of “the day of vengeance” (Isa. 61:2b; cf. 34:8; 35:4; 63:4). Christ’s employment of targuming OT Hebrew texts gave further complementation to the interpretation of these texts and additional contribution to the whole of Christian theology.

We should take our positions about the text of Scripture from Scripture itself. Jesus wouldn't have used or quoted from a terribly corrupt text of Scripture. He would not have endorsed it. It was the position of Jesus that God would preserve His Words for every generation (Matt 24:35). Jesus Himself testifies at the very end of the New Testament as to the perfection and the settled nature of the text, which we read in Revelation 22:18-19:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Friday, April 09, 2010

God Is "Hyper-Fundamental"

Evangelicals are afraid of being considered hyper-fundamental. Hyper anything sounds bad to most today. When Isaiah got into the the throne room of God (Isaiah 6), did he think that God would not take absolutely seriously everything that He said? Of course not. For instance, is it bad to be "hyper-biblical"? Of course not. Is God tolerant of anything but strict adherence to what He said? No. We're tolerant of that. He isn't. People who are not tolerant are considered to be "hyper." They want to be like God wants them to be, but evangelicals want them to calm down. Don't. Listen to God.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Richard Muller and the History of the Preservation of Scripture pt. 1

For the sake of the readers here, I want to provide some quotations that relate to the doctrine of preservation from Richard A. Muller's Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology. Muller holds the P. J. Zondervan Chair for Doctoral Studies as professor of historical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. His Ph.D. is from Duke University.

He writes concerning the Westminster Confession of Faith (p. 81):

If the Westminster confession argues the necessity of translation and the propriety of the use of Scripture by the unlearned, it also insists upon the priority of the Hebrew and Greek originals of the books of the Bible and ultimately lodges all authority in the text as preserved in the ancient languages. The Hebrew and Greek texts are the "authentic" Scriptures that were "immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages." "Final appeal" in all religious controversy, therefore, must be to the text in the original languages rather than to translations. The detail there, is once again greater than that of previous confessions, but it cannot be claimed that we have entered the realm of dogmatic system. There is no elaboration or discussion distinguishing between "words" (verba) and "substance" (res) such as appears in the systems of the day and no discussion of the autographa. The emphasis of the confession is simply upon the original language texts currently known to the church.

Muller quotes the Formula Consensus Helvetica on p. 84:

God, the supreme Judge, not only took care to have his word, which is the "power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes" (Rom. 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care ever since it was written up to the present time, so that it could not be corrupted by the craft of Satan or fraud of man.

Muller comments then:

The position is very similar to the one taken at the beginning of the Westminster Confession, although more detailed, and it is little different from statements concerning the gift and preservation of the Scriptures in Reformed dogmatics as early as Calvin's Institutes and Bullinger's Decades.

He's saying that this was long time the position of believers on the doctrine of preservation. And you can see that there was a connection in their minds between inspiration and preservation. Both of them were Divine.

He writes concerning John Owen on p. 134:

He (Owen) had not, it is true, predicated his doctrine of Scripture as Word on his ability to prove the perfection of the text. Rather, like Turretin and the other orthodox, he had done precisely the opposite: he assumed the authority, infallibility, and integrity of the text on doctrinal grounds.

On p. 231, he writes concerning the divinity of Scripture:

It ought be clear that the Reformers assumed a divine power at work in the writing and preservation of Scripture that, in concert with the efforts of the human authors and with scribal preservers of the text, had assured the availability of and authoritative Word of God in and for the life of the church.

He writes on p. 294 concerning the miracle of preservation:

On a lesser level of significance but nonetheless useful to the defense of the text against its detractors are the "extrinsic" arguments, which are divided by Leigh and others into two basic categories: miracle and testimony. The miracles can be miracles of "confirmation" as those performed by Christ and the apostles to manifest the truth of their words, or miracles of "preservation" like the providential care by which God preserved Scripture from all efforts of tyrants and evil men "to suppress and extinguish the word."

Muller gets to a section on the doctrine of preservation of Scripture. He writes on p. 433:

By "original and authentic" text, the Protestant orthodox do not mean the autographa which no one can possess but the apographa in the original tongue which are the source of all versions. The Jews throughout history and the church in the time of Christ regarded the Hebrew of the Old Testament as authentic and for nearly six centuries after Christ, the Greek of the New Testament was viewed as authentic without dispute. It is important to note that the Reformed orthodox insistence on the identification of the Hebrew and Greek texts as alone authentic does not demand direct reference to autographa in those languages; the "original and authentic text" of Scripture means, beyond the autograph copies, the legitimate tradition of Hebrew and Greek apographa.

At the end of that page he writes:

The case for Scripture as an infallible rule of faith and practice . . . . rests on an examination of the apographa and does not seek the infinite regress of the lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility.

In that last part of that sentence, which I wanted to draw your attention to, Muller is speaking about what A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield did with the Westminster Confession. They are the ones who use the "lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility." He has a long footnote documenting and commenting on that statement, which reads:

A rather sharp contrast must be drawn, therefore, between the Protestant orthodox arguments concerning the autographa and the views of Archibald Alexander Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. . . . Those who claim an errant text, against the orthodox consensus to the contrary, must prove their case. To claim errors in the scribal copies, the apographa, is hardly a proof. The claim must be proven true of the autographa. The point made by Hodge and Warfield is a logical leap, a rhetorical flourish, a conundrum designed to confound the critics---who can only prove their case for genuine errancy by recourse to a text they do not (and surely cannot) have.

He writes on p. 435:

Turretin and other high and late orthodox writers argued that the authenticity and infallibility of Scripture must be identified in and of the apographa, not in and of lost autographa.

He continued on p. 437:

The Reformed orthodox insisted on the providential preservation of Scripture in its integrity and the consistent care taken by the church throughout history to care for the text. This assumption of integrity refers, moreover, not to the versions but to the Hebrew and Greek sources on which all versions must be based.

On the top of p. 443, summarizing a section, he writes:

The Reformed orthodox do, thus, engage in a concerted textual effort to maintain their doctrine of the purity and perfection of the text of Scripture.

Muller talks about the Johannine Comma, the text of 1 John 5:5-8. Here are sentences in favor of this trinitarian text:

Of the early sixteenth-century editions of the Greek text of the New Testament, the Complutensian Polyglott (1504-1514) includes the phrase. . . . Later editions [of Erasmus] (1527 and 1536) also include the "comma." Erasmus' third edition was followed on this point by both Stephanus (1546, 1549, 1550) and Beza (1565; with annotations, 1582). . . . Reformed theologians, following out the line of Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza, tended to accept the text as genuine and, indeed, to use it as an integral part of their trinitarian theology. . . . In the theological works of the seventeenth-century orthodox---on the model provided by Calvin and Beza---the Johannine "comma" appears frequently, without question or comment, as one Johannine text among others cited in a catena of texts from the Gospel, the Apocalypse, and the epistles as grounds of the doctrine of the Trinity. Often the phrase is simply cited without comment as a supporting text, while some of the high orthodox writers note that it was cited by Cyprian---thus, by implication, refuting the arguments concerning its extremely late date. . . . Turretin noted that Erasmus had located the passage in a "most ancient British codex" and that "most praiseworthy editions, the Complutensian, the Antwerp, Arias Montanus, R. Stephanus, and Walton, which have all utilized the best codices, have the phrase.

At the very end of the book on p. 541, Muller makes this very interesting statement that is tell-tale for today:

All too much discussion of the Reformers' methods has attempted to turn them into precursors of the modern critical method, when in fact, the developments of exegesis and hermeneutics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries both precede and, frequently conflict with (as well as occasionally adumbrate) the methods of the modern era.

I especially include the last quote because of the common extrapolation that the 16th and 17th century theologians were actually involved in textual criticism. This is sheer revisionist history.

West Point in the News

As an Indiana boy, I have to support Butler for tonight's championship, but Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a West Point graduate, and 2009 inductee into the Army Sports Hall of Fame, brings the USMA into the news again. He played basketball for his four year cadet career at West Point under Coach Bob Knight, and later returned to coach Army basketball for five years.

We also read much about General David H. Petraeus, West Point graduate, and commander of the United States Central Command. He's all over the place in the news. One was a lengthy Vanity Fair article about his life, including several West Point moments. The London Telegraph wants to recruit him to run for President. The blogosphere has gone wild with a Petraeus presidential run, even though he has flatly denied it.

Of course, these two recent events comes upon Forbes announcing West Point as the number one college or university in America and my son entering his first year there as a cadet.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

From the Same Crowd that Brought Us Global Warming (I Mean, Climate Change)

WOW. Especially at 1:20. Make sure you have no beverages in your mouth near your keyboard at that point during this non-April fool's joke.

More on the Healthcare Fiasco

I read this article by Ann Coulter, which will be a great help to cut through Democrat deceit on this healthcare issue, especially when you hear that they are saying that they are being misrepresented. But almost more interesting were some of the comments to her column. I've chosen a few of the best ones I scanned:

#1 was the NY Times columnist, "economist," Paul Krugman's slip-out on the death panels. Now that the bill is passed, he easily admits that the death panels are reality. Here's the comment:

Death Panel? YES! Death Panels.
N.Y. Times columnist: Death panels will save 'a lot of money'.

"Paul Krugman tells 'Roundtable' economists agree it's 'going to be major.''

"Left-leaning New York Times economic columnist Paul Krugman says the so-called 'death panels' established by President Obama's trillion-dollar nationalized health-care plan will end up saving 'a lot of money' for the government.

"The comments from Krugman, who also writes on the New York Times blogs, came during a discussion of "Obamacare" on the ABC News Sunday program 'This Week.'

"People on the right, they're simultaneously screaming, 'They're going to send all the old people to death panels,' and 'It's not going to save any money,'" he said.

"Another panelist interjected, 'Death panels would save money,' to which Krugman responded:

"The advisory panel which has the ability to make more or less binding judgments on saying this particular expensive treatment actually doesn't do any good medically and so we are not going to pay for it. That is actually going to save quite a lot of money. We don't know how much yet. The CBO gives it very little credit but, but most, most of the health care economists I talk to think that's going be a really, uh a really major cost saving."

#2 is actually several comments by someone named John, who broke down the issues of this healthcare bill in an excellent way.

Economic Reality #1
The fact is that all scarce commodities (a commodity for which the demand outstrips the supply) are rationed in one way or another. A pricing mechanism is the only rational way to ration any scarce commodity as it is the only rationing system which is self-correcting in that not only does a pricing system determine where resources are directed but it also, unlike any other rationing system I'm aware of, encourages the development of substitutes for the commodity being rationed and the creation of additional supplies of the commodity being rationed in response to the price, leading to a reduction in the price of the commodity over time.

A quick review of the (unrepealable) laws of supply and demand. The law of supply states that at higher prices, producers are willing to offer more of a commodity for sale than at lower prices, that the supply increases as prices increase and decreases as prices decrease and that those already in business will try to increase productions as a way of increasing profits. The law of demand states that people will buy more of a commodity at a lower price than at a higher price, if nothing changes; that at a lower price, more people can afford to buy more goods and more of an item more frequently than they can at a higher price; and that at lower prices, people tend to buy some goods as a substitute for others that are more expensive.

Economic Reality #2
In the real world where we live, there are many commodities that are rare. But rarity does not necessarily equal scarcity and a high price. I haven't seen an 8 track player in years and I would bet they are pretty scarce. But if I had 1,000 of them I think I would have a hard time even giving them away. There's no demand. For the finite commodity of health care, however, there is an almost unlimited demand. If you apply the laws above to health care and make it essentially "free" (ie, the individual receiving the health care is not required to directly exchange any resources of their own for it) demand will skyrocket. We've already seen this with Medicare and Medicaid. These are the programs that are driving health care costs up because the government does not reimburse doctors and other provides for the full costs of the care they provide so those of us not on the government programs pay extra to cover the "free" care received by those in these programs.

Extend that phenomenon to the entire health care system by eliminating all private health insurance and forcing everyone onto a government run, monopoly (why is a monopoly good when the government has it but bad when a private company has it? Are government bureaucrats really so much more worthy of trust?) single payer "public option", the stated goal of Barak Obama.

Economic Reality #3
Once health care becomes "free" for everyone, there is no incentive for any individual to limit their consumption of the resource. On the contrary, there is every incentive to use as much of the resource as possible before it runs out. And since the government sets the price it pays for the commodity it is providing "free", government reimbursement rates will be set artificially low as they already are in the Medicaid/Medicare system. Thus there will be no incentive for anyone to provide more of the scarce commodity, health care, nor to search for substitutes for any of the components of health care (ie, new drugs, new surgical procedures etc.). There certainly will be no incentive for anyone to undergo the long education and preparation to become a doctor when all that means is being an overworked, underpaid flunky in a government bureacracy leading to a shortage of doctors. This will probably at least be partially rectified by an influx of non-native doctors (Indians and Pakistanis as has happened in both Britain and Canada) who will still be willing to work for the lower wages because at least they are in the US. But for everyone of them that comes here we leave a hole in the health care system of their home country. How moral is that?

What the plan does is eliminate any incentive at all for anyone to participate in the health care system as a producer of any of the components.

Economic reality #4
I see people with signs saying "Get the profit out of healthcare". OK, fine. But why stop with health care? Isn't food an even more basic need than health care? We all need food every day. Why should farmers be making a buck off of my need? That's just plain immoral! We need to have a government run food supply system that will reduce cost and make sure everyone gets all the food they need, even if they can't pay. You know, create some competition with the big agribusinesses to "keep them honest". Maybe we can merge all the farms into big collectives and have the government manage them.....just like the USSR used to do. After all, it was fair wasn't it?

So government rationing, unlike rationing by price, will not lead to the introduction of more resources into the system but will actually lead to the removal of resources from the system leading to even greater shortages and more rationing, rationing that would be conducted not by merit but by how well you know or can manipulate the health care bureacrats who will control access to care. To paraphrase Cicero, when the government bureaucrats control health care, the first ones to get health care will be the bureaucrats.