Saturday, November 08, 2008

Socialism: Medicine Worse than the Disease

An everyday fellow from Toledo, a workingman named "Joe the Plumber," stepped into the limelight in the last few weeks of the election. His brief conversation with Barack Obama about tax increases led to the "leaking out" of Obama's plan to "spread the wealth."

I don't know about you, but phrases like "spread the wealth" instantly raise a "red flag" with me. But with 63,000,000 Americans? Apparently not so much.

For those of us raised in the Cold War and practiced in some measure of discernment, "spread the wealth" is code for "socialism." And what's astonishing to me is that even the word "socialism" evidently does not seem to threaten a whole sector of our citizenry.

Perhaps a brief refresher course on the basics of socialism are in order.

Socialism is a set of ideas built upon the theories of 1. Central Economic Planning, 2. Collective Ownership of Property, and 3. Social Organization. The stated goal of socialism is the creation of an egalitarian society (ie: a society of equals). "Central economic planning" is code for the nationalization of industry. In other words, industry owned and managed by a centralized government, as opposed to individuals or privately held corporations.

1. Central Economic Planning. Little doubt exists that the goal of some in leadership at our national level is the nationalization of industry. Recently, in a perfect example of political theater, our Congress held hearings on the rapid rise in gasoline prices this spring. During the hearings, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) let slip the unspoken goal of nationalizing the oil industry. Watch it here.

But this is nothing new. President Roosevelt created Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association - FNMA) in 1938 to buy home mortgages from lenders in order to free up more money to loan to those who wished to buy homes. When the banks package their loans and sell them to Fannie Mae, they are freshly funded and able to keep loaning to new customers. To be able to sell loan "packages" to Fannie Mae, loans had to meet certain criteria set by FNMA. Loans meeting this criteria are referred to as "conventional loans." Loans not meeting this criteria and thus not available for packaging and sale to Fannie Mae are considered "non-conventional" loans.

Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation - FHLMC) was formed in 1970 to help handle the increasing load of new mortgages. Freddie Mac does essentially the same job as Fannie Mae. The nature of both of these entities has been hard to pin down. Prior to the "bailout" this summer, both organizations had been privately funded, and were considered to be a part of the private sector. And yet, like the Federal Reserve Bank, leadership in these two organizations is by federal appointment. Quasi private? Quasi public? No one can seem to pigeonhole these organizations.

They both fall under the heading of "Government Sponsored Enterprise" or GSE. GSEs are organizations that are privately funded but backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. They are not taxable, and they have an open line of credit with the U.S. Treasury. They are exempt from the oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The recent near collapse and subsequent bailout of these two entities paints a perfect picture of the ills of "central economic planning." Succumbing to pressure from the activist group ACORN, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Clinton administration agreed to loosen Fannie and Freddi's lending standards in order to help more people purchase homes. Proof of income, source of down payment, and credit history would no longer be required. This change was made in order to assist those unable to purchase homes under the old lending system.

We now know the result. Millions, previously unable to buy, bought. Housing prices soared. Borrowers over-extended themselves because lenders were making high risk loans that any common sense businessman would never have made. But they did it because they knew they could package and sell these loans to Fannie and Freddi.

But then the bottom fell out because the interest rates on Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) increased, and balloon payments came due. Borrowers defaulted. Foreclosures began. Housing prices plummeted. Borrowers in trouble seeking to refinance could no longer do so because they were now "upside down" in their equity (owe more than the home is worth).

Here we have the "perfect storm" of government intervention into private industry, and the subsequent debacle and bailout with taxpayer money. Rather than let the business community make loans based upon their own good judgment, assessing the risk themselves, politicians stuck their noses in, demanding that the underprivileged be given opportunities they were not qualified for, and created this disaster.

2. The Collective Ownership of Property. The idea of the "collective ownership of property" is bound up together with the concept of "central economic planning" as described above. The opposite of "collective ownership of property" is a "free market" system where individuals own both real property and other kinds of property. To understand this concept, one must understand the idea of "property" itself. Property can be many things: Land, a home, a car, clothes, all material things; money in the bank or other types of monetary assets; intellectual property such as an idea, or a copyright or a patent. And philosopher John Locke (1632-1704, at left, click to "embiggen") even wrote that our "conscience" is "the most sacred of all of property."

Collective ownership of property means public ownership of the means of production and distribution of all kinds of goods and products, and the elimination of private property ownership. In other words, it is the government who holds the power to control all material goods, how they are used, how and where they are sold and distributed, and how much they are valued.

3. Social Organization. The "social organization" component of socialism is complex. The goal is to reshape the thinking and behavior of the populace to produce a certain kind of result. Social engineers (like the politicians noted above reshaping the housing market) use several means to achieve their goals. Education is a primary means and we can see it at play at just about every level. Mr. Obama's plan to "require" community service of American youth is another clear example of "social organization" or "social engineering" as it is sometimes called. The now public video of Diatha Harris, an elementary school teacher in Cumberland, NC bullying a young student because of her support for John McCain, is a clear representation of how "social engineering" works. Such bullying is far worse in higher education. I shall not take time to document that here, but recommend the films Indoctrinate U and Expelled, No Intellegence Allowed. The prodcut review for Indoctrinate U offers this description:

"Speech codes. Censorship. Enforced political conformity. Hostility to diversity of opinion. Sensitivity training. We usually associate such things totalitarian regimes, not with the American universities that nurtured the free speech movement."

Another force for "social organization" is the media. The media in today's America consists of news and entertainment including film, television, music, and literature. Through media, ideas are disseminated conveying the accepted norm. Television in its early years showed separate beds for Rob and Laura Petrie, husband and wife characters on the Dick Van Dyke Show. Today on television, unmarried people pop in and out of bed nearly naked all the time. The message is that premarital sex (we used to call it fornication) is perfectly normal. More recently, the homosexual lifestyle has become more and more normalized via this same means. Our society is slowly being "re-engineered" by those whose goal is the conversion of our Judeo-Christian American culture into a secular, humanistic, socialist culture.

All societies experience peer pressure. But in "social organization" or "re-engineering," peer pressure is done deliberately and with the specific purpose of reshaping society. Acceptance by others is a strong, human need. Few have the internal constitution to resist it.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Post Election Thoughts

It's finally over. I don't know about you, but I am emotionally drained and needing a recharge.

Of course I am disappointed by the outcome. I am tempted to worry about the future of my country. But, I have chosen to trust God because He knows best. After all, millions upon millions prayed for a different outcome in this election, and it did not happen that way. To me this means that God heard our prayers (He always does), and for some reason yet unknown to us, declined to give us the outcome we sought.

What does a Barack Obama Presidency really mean? There are several roads this question might take us down. The most obvious road is that we have, for the first time in our nation's history, elected a black man to the highest office in the land. And that is not a bad thing. I join others in celebrating this historic first. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Mr. Obama is an extremely poor choice for that honor, one whose credentials are unclear, whose past associations leave many serious questions still unanswered, and whose motives appear to be very, very suspect. I am afraid before all is said and done, that many will suffer from buyer's remorse.

But right now, I do not want to go down that road. Many questions (for those who were willing to ask) were raised during his campaign. Still, we do not know much about this mysterious man named Barack Obama, where he came from, and how he came to be chosen as the one to occupy the most important office in the world. As the next four years unfold, I am sure we will learn more.

Instead, I would like to look at the meaning of this election's result from a different vantage point. And to do that, I'd like to take you, the reader, down a unexpected trail for just a few paragraphs.

It has been nearly twenty years now since my friend John Jenkins and I penned and brought to market our novel Bloodlines. In that story, a fellow named Sam MacDonald captured the angst of his own generation by writing in his personal journal. It is through the mechanism of Sam's journals that our readers were able to glimpse briefly into another tumultuous time in America's past.

In June of 1856, sitting at his window overlooking the streets of our nation's capital city, Sam recorded his concerns regarding the rising tensions between our nation's political leaders. Battle lines over slavery and states' rights were being drawn. Newspapers had reported that congressmen and senators were now bringing knives and guns into the Capitol building. And a Southern Congressman had attacked a Northern Senator on the floor of the U.S. Senate, opening his scalp and nearly bludgeoning him to death with his cane.

Sam's journal for that day also included his recounting of and reflections upon a personal message he had received from a friend in Kansas. A pro-slavery woman by the name of Mrs. Doyle had written Sam to tell of the murders of her husband and two sons in Osawatomie. John Brown, that wild-eyed lightning rod of a figure, along with a small band of violent followers, attacked and butchered these three men with their swords, leaving them to die meaningless deaths.

Both of these fictionally reproduced accounts are based upon real, historical events. Thankfully, in our current war over the nature and direction of our nation's culture, little blood has been shed. Nonetheless, Sam's words capture my own personal feelings about the state of our country following the election of Mr. Obama, and the real meaning of his victory over John McCain. Sam deftly identified the challenge of his era:

"Madness has seized the hearts and minds of my countrymen."

Why would I equate the choice of over 63,000,000 Americans with madness? To answer this very real question, I pose a rhetorical one. Why would anyone in their right mind choose slavery over freedom?

Right mind or Madness?

Biblically, "madness" is equated with insanity.

Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?" (John 10:20 NIV)

And they were filled with madness and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:11 KJV)

Noah Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language defines the word the following way: 1. (n.) The condition of being mad; insanity; lunacy. 2. (a.) Frenzy; ungovernable rage; extreme folly.

Mr. Obama and his triumvirate counterparts in Congress are not our problem. They are but the latest manifestation of a nation that took a wrong turn a while back and is now careening down a road toward its own demise. No, the "madness" of which I speak resides in many of the millions who pulled the lever for Obama on November 4th. I say many and not all because of course the other "many" did make their choice out of core beliefs and an identification with Mr. Obama's agenda. But from what I have seen and heard in the campaign leading up to election day, I must conclude that countless millions do not have a clue about what they have just done.

A scant three days have passed and we already have a slight glimpse into how real power affects this man. Look at this!

This morning (Friday November 7th) a little bit more of Mr. Obama's personna leaked out. Obama is not yet our president. The electors we chose on November 4th have yet to vote. He is not yet sworn in. Nevertheless, he is already trumpeting his present position as "The Office of the President Elect."

Apparently, there is such an "office." It was created in 1963 under The Presidential Transition Act of 1963. But I had never heard of this office before now. I don't recall any press conferences by previous "presidents elect" with a sign and a seal. Maybe I just missed it. Ostentatious?

On his new website,, he posted this announcement:

Click on America Serves and read it for yourself.

"The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start."

Now community service is a good thing. But REQUIRE? I don't believe anyone in government has that kind of authority, do they? Did I miss something? Was a new amendment to the Constitution just passed granting this kind of authority to the president? Is this The Audacity of Hope? Or just plain old audacity?

This would be funny if it weren't so troubling.

We already have a window into this man's soul, don't we? Apparently he thinks that he can just order the everyday citizen to do stuff and that will be that. Wow.

Here is where the madness lies my friends. There are millions upon millions of our countrymen who don't even see a problem with this. They have become so accustomed to the government running our lives, telling us what we can and cannot do, where we can and cannot smoke a cigarette, what we can and cannot eat, or drink, or drive, that ordering us into community service seems perfectly OK.

This is the madness of which I speak, the insanity that has gripped our nation, the evidence that many Americans are no longer in their right mind.

The trickery is so subtle, so "under the radar." Americans are like the proverbial frog being parboiled in a slowly heating pot. We can't even see that our death is just a few more notches up that mercury-filled meter.

63,000,000 Americans bought into Mr. Obama's righteous platitudes, his slick, smooth delivery, his "coolness," his promise to restore America's reputation in the world. 63,000,000 Americans just sold themselves - nay sold every American - into a dreadful bondage to our entrenched, elected elites, and their fearsome horde of busybody bureaucrats.

Lost to most of these 63,000,000 Americans, our countrymen, are the fundamental principles that made our nation strong. I identified them here, and later here. Abandoning these historic American precepts for "required" community service, for "universal" healthcare, for mortgage bailouts, for the promise of higher taxes on the rich and those greedy businesses and a spreading of the wealth, is suicidal narcissism. How many of these 63,000,000 voters could actually explain why their values and ideas are better than the core principles captured by our founding fathers in our nation's founding documents?

Eric Rauch of American Vision calls the Obama phenomenon The Californication of the ObamaNation. Every election, America bears less and less resemblance to that industrious, independent, self-directed nation we used to be. Now, we just want our stuff. And we want it now. We appear to give little thought to the real cost of our selfishness, nor to the world we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren. Barack Obama is just the latest artfully packaged product we have been sold.

As Benjamin Franklin so deftly observed,"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

We are dancing precariously along the edge of a cliff. And so, with fear and trepidation, and with an acknowledged need of my utter dependence upon God, I am thoughtfully and prayerfully stepping slowly into a deeper commitment to my God, my family, and my country. I am making it public here.

I want to be used of God to inspire others with hope and vision, and to do what I can to provide weapons for fighting in this war of ideas, and some tools for planting, building, and restoring our Judeo-Christian American culture.

Many years ago, God gave me the following verse from the book of Jeremiah:

"See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10 NIV)

Our work is cut out for us. The ultimate battle is not political. It is spiritual. It is intellectual. It is emotional. It is cultural.

I do sincerely believe that "madness has seized the hearts and minds of my countrymen." It is the kind of madness that insanely thinks only of the now and not of the future, only of the self and not of others, only of pleasure and not of the price of liberty and freedom.

The hearts and minds of many of our countrymen are held captive by the state, the media, and the schools. But God wants these hearts and minds. Those of us with the ability to see through all this foolishness must devote ourselves to freeing our neighbors from their bondage.

Joe Biden said that paying higher taxes is patriotic. Barack Obama intimated that to equate his desire to "spread the wealth around" with socialism, was to call "selfishness" a virtue. In my next blog I will examine the basics of socialism, explain why it's bad, why it isn't Biblical, and how our next president is planning to foolishly prescribe a socialistic, bureaucratic medicine for a "selfishness" that can only be remedied on a private, individual and personal level.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Update (11/08/08 11:30 PM):
Someone re-worded Obama's statement on his website to eliminate the word REQUIRE and add the words "setting a goal." Obviously they caught their mistake. But it is interesting to note the arrogance behind their original statement.