Everybody hates the Big Guy

Big Government. Big Oil. Big Brother. This morning I even heard a story on the news about Big Whiskey (wasn’t that the setting in “Unforgiven”?). There is this distrust of anything or anyone big. Why?

Maybe it’s because of the fear that anything or anyone too big won’t play by the rules. The thinkings is that the Big Guy ignores the rules and overpowers the Little Guy — you and me. But what if the Big Guy makes the rules? Then what?

God tells us in the Bible “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3) For the average person in the culture I live in, that is a threatening statement. It threatens because it takes any kind of control I may have out of my hands. Like anything or anyone Big, we ask “But does he know what’s best for me?” “Can I trust him?” And, the big question whether we ask or not “What about my rights?”

Anyone who takes a moment to look at the world around them soon will realize that there is much that goes out of control. War. Weather. Relationships. But ultimate control rests in God’s hands, who created this world. The less we choose to believe this, the greater our distress in what looks like chaos in this world.

That is a battle I fight every day. A favorite passage of mine is I Peter 5:6-7, where it says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, for he cares for you.” Just prior to that, it says that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So, my battle is to be humble and trust the “mighty hand of God” — that is, the God who does spectacular things for his people.

So, the battle is to trust the ultimate Big Guy who makes the rules and does more than I could possibly do. And part of that battle is to not make myself the Big Guy, because I don’t have the authority or the power to run the world, even my own little one.

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The dissent of the populace: When does Romans 13 not hold?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for  he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. — Romans 13:1-7

Douglas Wilson, over at Blog and Mablog, is about to do a series of posts looking at Romans 13. It is hard to sit by and watch the way our government is working in ways that is highly objectionable. Indeed, in ways that seem criminal. Yet, as Christians, we are to look to God’s word as our guide. We are Christians first and then citizens. Wilson takes up the issue in part:

(Evangelicals) have come to believe that “not allowed” is the necessary meaning of — all together now! — Romans 13. When you get back to the Shire, whatever the sallow-faced thug leaning against the gate says you have to do, you have to do. He is leaning against the gate, isn’t he? I know there is nothing in the Constitution about that, but the Supreme Court said there was. And they are leaning against the gate too.

The doctrine is a convenient one, and it comports well with those who would make cravenness into a theological virtue. A great deal can be said about Romans 13 (which I hope to do, Lord permitting, in the weeks to come), but in the meantime, let this suffice.

Although the populations of different nations and cultures have different threshholds for what they will put up with, the consent of the governed is still a bedrock principle. At a certain point, it becomes obvious that the “consent of the governed” is not an ideal for democracies to strive for, but is rather an unalterable reality under every form of government.

Read the rest of Wilson’s post. I look forward to what he has to say. In the meantime, we will see which way our government proceeds with our business.

At best we are just men — and at worst

Thinking of the celebrity news of the past week and what it means in my life, I come away thinking that it is futile to put your trust in men because, in the end, they are just men. Men are fallible, born to sin and not perfect. Only Jesus is. The good words of Kevin DeYoung at DeYoung, Restless and Reformed are good to review and as he considers the case of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, although they apply across the board:

The person who thinks they are immune for the temptation, should read up on Romans 7. The flesh will sell us out in a heartbeat. Why do powerful politicians and pastors and pastor’s wives throw everything away for a few minutes of pleasure? Why did Esau sell his birthright for a mess of pottage? Because we are sinners, worse than we think, more capable of wickedness and stupidity than we imagine. You can have all the hedges of protection in the world, but without the gospel and the transforming power of Christ that comes through the word of God and prayer, we still have the same heart. “Lead me not in temptation, but deliver me from evil”–pray it every day. We all have the ability to be moral morons.
Do people who sin and are caught publicly look stupid? Sure, but they are just like us. Don’t be so proud. Pray for deliverance. And for mercy. Read the rest of DeYoung’s post and consider where you are at.

The times are a changin’ when it comes to public opinion

President Obama, barely in office four and one-half months, has brought tremendous change already. From Rasmussen Reports on Monday comes evidence:

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on six out of 10 key issues, including the top issue of the economy.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 45% now trust the GOP more to handle economic issues, while 39% trust Democrats more.

This is the first time in over two years of polling that the GOP has held the advantage on this issue. The parties were close in May, with the Democrats holding a modest 44% to 43% edge. The latest survey was taken just after General Motors announced it was going into bankruptcy as part of a deal brokered by the Obama administration that gives the government majority ownership of the failing automaker.

Voters not affiliated with either party now trust the GOP more to handle economic issues by a two-to-one margin.

Separate Rasmussen tracking shows that the economy remains the top issue among voters in terms of importance.

Republicans now hold a six-point lead on the issue of government ethics and corruption, the second most important issue to all voters and the top issue among unaffiliated voters. That shows a large shift from May, when Democrats held an 11-point lead on the issue.

Medicare has a gun to your head

John Stossel at Townhall.com reports on how Medicaid is a drag on our economy that is only going to get worse:
“The government spends around $6 on seniors for every dollar
it spends on children, and yet the poverty rate among children is far
higher,” said Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute
(www.aei.org).
The federal government stiffs the young in favor of the old.
So I told the La Posada seniors that the kids called them
“greedy geezers.” They said, “We’ve paid our dues.” Money was taken
from every paycheck they earned.
But, in fact, the average Medicare beneficiary today collects two to three times more money than he paid in.
“I would argue that this is not only unfair, it’s downright immoral,” says billionaire Pete Peterson.
Peterson is a rarity: a senior who decided he cannot in good
conscience accept Medicare. He and his foundation (www.pgpf.org) worry
about the looming fiscal disaster. When Medicare began in 1965, six
working-aged people paid for each Medicare recipient. Now the figure is
four. It will get worse as baby boomers like me retire.
Medicare is unsustainable.
“There is $34 trillion sitting off the balance sheet, waiting for future generations to pay,” Herzlinger said.
That’s how much more Medicare money government has promised than it has budgeted. It’s the price of about 30 Iraq Wars.
Stossel says that calls to lower health care costs won’t have much effect, according to figures by the Congressional Budget Office. And there is fat chance it will be changed by vote, since seniors are a much more cohesive voting bloc than younger people.

John Stossel at Townhall.com reports on how Medicaid is a drag on our economy that is only going to get worse:

“This program, Medicare, is essentially ripping my generation off,” Zach Hadaway said.

Policy experts say the kids are right.

“The government spends around $6 on seniors for every dollar it spends on children, and yet the poverty rate among children is far higher,” said Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute (www.aei.org).

The federal government stiffs the young in favor of the old.

So I told the La Posada seniors that the kids called them “greedy geezers.” They said, “We’ve paid our dues.” Money was taken from every paycheck they earned.

But, in fact, the average Medicare beneficiary today collects two to three times more money than he paid in.

“I would argue that this is not only unfair, it’s downright immoral,” says billionaire Pete Peterson.

Peterson is a rarity: a senior who decided he cannot in good conscience accept Medicare. He and his foundation (www.pgpf.org) worry about the looming fiscal disaster. When Medicare began in 1965, six working-aged people paid for each Medicare recipient. Now the figure is four. It will get worse as baby boomers like me retire.

Medicare is unsustainable.

“There is $34 trillion sitting off the balance sheet, waiting for future generations to pay,” Herzlinger said.

That’s how much more Medicare money government has promised than it has budgeted. It’s the price of about 30 Iraq Wars.

Stossel says that calls to lower health care costs won’t have much effect, according to figures by the Congressional Budget Office. And there is fat chance it will be changed by vote, since seniors are a much more cohesive voting bloc than younger people.

Spread the wealth doesn’t work: Why socialism is a failure

Pat Lenconi, writing at The Simple Wisdom Project, answers the question “What’s so bad about socialism?” especially in light of the fact that the Bible points to ideals like caring for one another , sharing with those in need and avoiding materialism. I think his answer is helpful:

I must admit that, as a youngster, I often wondered why people were so down on socialism, and its cousin, communism. In fact, I thought those sounded like the best ways to run a society because sharing and caring and compassion are the right ways to live.

As I became a young adult, I began to understand how the reality of socialism radically differs from the theory, and that even the theory itself has fatal flaws. When it comes right down to it, I think there are two big reasons why socialism is a really, really bad idea.

First, it just doesn’t work. At least not for very long. That’s because people are flawed and, outside of a family, a religious order, or a small group of friends, they will not continually work hard for the ‘greater good’ if they do not receive the fruits of that work themselves. As an economics major in college, I learned that this theory had a name: ‘the free-loader effect’. It is the natural tendency of people to do less and less work when they realize that they won’t see a proportionate decrease in what they can get for it.

Over time—and this is an inevitable consequence of the free-loader effect—socialist societies experience decreasing productivity, risk-taking, and innovation, along with increasing tax rates, promises of government programs, and expectations from citizens about what they can get from those programs. When the economy inevitably falters under its own weight, those expectations cannot be met.

Unfortunately, by the time enough citizens realize this is happening it is often too late for them to go back and try a different approach because there are more people in society who expect benefits from the government than there are people who pay for them. And thus begins the long, gradual descent to economic and motivational malaise. Ironically, the class of people who socialism is supposed to help—the poor—only grows because they are joined by more and more people who drop out of the shrinking middle class.

Go here to read the rest of his article.

 

HT: Matt Perman