Sunday, June 26, 2005

Michael as Saver

Michael is a saver. He has put a large chunk of the money he receives in taxation into a supernnuation fund. He has employed several funds managment companies to watch over this next egg and make it grow. When the babyboomers reach retirement and have to be supported by a shrinking workforce, the fund will be there to make up the shortfall, and Michael will kick in as saviour.

Michael has established his fund, because he believes that people cannot be trusted to prepare for the future. He has decided to save for them. Michael believes that if the fund was returned to those he took it from, they would just eat drink and be merry (because tomorrow they die, I presume) and the opportunity brought by our current prosperity would be lost.

In a world without the true saviour, maybe people do need Michael to save for them.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Michael on Culture

According to a recent report, Michael spends nearly a billion dollars of other people's money on culture. Why should Michael decide what culture we spend our money on?

More New Zealanders listen to "Hip Hop" than enjoy orchestral music, but those who want Hip Hop have to buy it themselves. On the other hand, not enough people want orchestral music to pay for the cost of providing it, so Michael subsidizes the Symphony Orchestra with money taken from people who do not listen to it.

There is something wrong here. Michael spends other people's money on culture that they are unwilling to spend their money on themselves. If they will not spend their own money on it, why would they want him to spend their money on it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Good Saviour is Hard to Find

When disaster strikes, humans always cry out to their gods, often in anguish. In Matata a flood victim spoke to a Television reporter saying, “The government should be doing something. Why is it so slow to act? It should be doing a lot more than this.”

Roman emperors took the title saviour, but it was just a title. They looked after their loyal elite, but treated the ordinary people as slaves. The modern government does not take the title saviour, but it has taken over the role. When tragedy strikes, modern people expect the government to rescue them. Not surprisingly, it sometimes treats them as slaves.

Jesus claimed the title saviour. He also claimed the role by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. He proved that he was saviour by healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead. His church outlasted all the Roman emperors, proving that he truly is the saviour. Unfortunately his people do not understand the scope and subtance of this salvation.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Improving the World

Do-gooders who want to make the world a better place should go into business and find out if people are willing to buy their solution. If the solution is value for money, people will buy it. This is more honest than going into government and forcing people to accept their salvation.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Competition between Salvation Providers

The state and the church both offer salvation. The problem in the modern world is that the salvation of the state appears to be better than the salvation of the church.

  • The church no longer delivers healing.
  • Church schools mostly educate the elite.
  • Churches run food banks, but deacons no longer rescue the poor from their poverty.
  • The church no longer has a distinctive approach to justice or defence.

When we offer salvation from sin, we think only of forgiveness. We have forgotten about salvation from the effects of sin, which is equally as important. Before the church can win the battle of the "salvation providers", it will have to rediscover a much broader salvation. The salvation offered by the state is pretty shonky. Unfortnately, most people in the world see ours as little better.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pragmatism Rules

Evidence based politics is the latest fashion. Politics and policy is now an issue of what will work. Politicians and policy makers are longer interested in what is right and wrong.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

State Salvation

The government has gradually taken responsibility for more and more aspects of life.

  1. Education
  2. Healthcare
  3. Roads and Highways
  4. Poverty
  5. Crime
  6. Defence.

In most of these spheres into which the civil government has expanded, the gospel can do better.

  1. The state is hopeless at education, turning out mediocrity and failure. God has given parents responsibility for educating their children. (Deut 6:6,7). They can delegate that responsibility to a school with teachers who are called, but if they pay for it they will value quality education.
  2. The state health system is trying to turn back the curse of sin; and that it is an impossible task. When it gets rid of one sickness or disease, another that is worse pops up in its place. The only truly effective solution to sickness is the cross of Jesus. The key is the gift of healing.
  3. Most city streets are built by property developers as they open up new subdivisions. They are well built, but the maintenance done by city councils is not so well done. Highways can be built for by private companies and paid for by tolls. Private companies have to build the roads that will be used before they can can collect any tolls. The government collects the money before it builds any road. Paying for something before it is delivered is not a good practice.
  4. The state cannot resolve poverty, because it creates dependence. Despite 70 years of increasing taxation and hundreds of new programmes during a time of unprecedented economic growth, the state has failed to solve poverty. Deacons, poor loans, gleaning, sharing and discipleship are the best way to deal with short term poverty. The gospel is the best solution to poverty.
  5. The state is responsible for justice, but it is not really interested in solving crime. Despite enormous advances in technology, crime is now worse than it was fifty years ago. The police often refuse to investigate crimes they consider to be insignificant. However, they are always significant to the victims.
  6. The state is responsible for defence, but is not seriously interested in defence either. There are very few votes to be obtained from better armed forces. The state only defends those who support it. Many innocent people are being harassed by the state.

In each area where the state has expanded power, it is not performing well. It provides only very average salvation. The gospel can do better in most areas of life where it is challenged by the state.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Alan sets the Price of the Future

In March, Alan Bollard, the governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (our own Alan Greenspan) raised the official cash rate to 6.75%.

interest rate is the price of the future. It is the price we have to pay to bring purchases out of the future into the present. From the other side, it is the price that people get for postponing their spending to the future. By raising the interest rate, he made the future cheaper and the present more expensive. But how can a banker who cannot predict the future set its price?

In medieval times, the church set the price of bread (the so-called just price). This caused enormous problems, as at times the price was set to low and there were bread shortages. At other time they set the price of bread to high and there was plenty of bread but people could not afford it. One of the benefits of the Reformation was that the church got out of the price-setting business and let the market set the price of bread.

The communists in the Soviet Union missed the lesson and attempted to control the price of bread for most of the twentieth century. The result was enormous shortages and people queuing for hours to get a loaf of bread.

If bishops and presidents cannot set the price of bread without making mistakes, how can a banker, no matter how clever, determine the price of the future. A truly wise man would leave the people of New Zealand to make their own guesses about the future and decide what price they are willing pay to bring it forward.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Social Welfare is not...

Anthony Mueller wrote:

Social security is neither social nor secure. It is not social because the
transfer system provokes the very dependency it is said to heal, and it is not secure because the comprehensive modern welfare system undermines economic prosperity. As a coercive system of transfers from the active to the inactive, from the saver to the consumer, and from the producer to government, social security systems have an inherent tendency to destroy the formation and transformation of capital and to inhibit the division of labor. Social security severs the link between savings and investment for the individual and puts both into the hands of government.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Inflation Robs the Poor

Most central banks concentrate on controlling inflation. They assume that they have succeeded, if inflation stays under one or two percent per year. This is not true, as they are aiming at the wrong target.

Overtime prices should gradually fall as technology and improved productivity gradually reduce the cost of things that people buy. With the growth of imported goods from China, prices should have fallen even faster, as we benefit from their cheap production costs.

The big benefit of slowly falling prices is that everyone is gradually made better off. People can increase their standard of living without having to push for wage increases or pressure the government for increases in benefits.

By keeping inflation above zero, central banks are robbing their citizens of an improved lifestyle. Gradually falling prices, benefit everyone, whereas inflation benefits those who can invest in assets that will appreciate in value. Inflation assists the rich, but hurts the poor, because their incomes are fixed. Inflation also asists the government, because it gets more tax revenue.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Kingdom and Church

Howard Snyder said,

Kingdom people seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice; church people often put church work above concerns of justice, mercy, and truth. Church people think about how to get people into the church; Kingdom people think about how to get the church into the world. Church people worry that the world might change the church. Kingdom people work to see the church change the world.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Taxation or Tyranny

The Old Testament prophet, Samuel told the people that a king would take a tenth of their income to pay for his officers (1 Sam 8:10-18). He warned that they would cry out for relief under the stress of supporting the king’s entourage.

Samuel would be amazed the people would be paying thirty to forty percent of their income to the government. If ten percent was oppression, thirty percent must be tyranny

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Then There Was Dick

Dick has decided that "shoebox apartments" should be banned from Auckland City. He knows better where people should live. They will not be allowed to live in apartments that are smaller than a certain size.

Dick says that these small apartments have been built by "bad developers". There are good developers and bad developers. The good ones will be encouraged and bad ones will be banned. Dick will decide what is good and what is bad. As I recall, the snake said Dick would be able to decide the difference between good and bad. Except the snake was wrong!!!

What seems odd is that these bad developers have been able to sell their apartments. The price must not be too high, or they would not have sold. No one has been forced to buy them. If they are so "bad", why have sensible people have chosen to live in these apartments. No one has forced people to live in them, not like in Russia, where Stalin decided what that everyone should live in awful communal apartments.

Are the people who have freely chosen to live in these shoebox apartments not as wise as Dick? Does he know better than they do how and where they should live? He must be a very Clever Dick.