Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Administrative State—A Republic No More


There are three important tenets of American constitutionalism:

1)    The first is the principle of non-delegation. If the separation of powers means anything at all, it means that one branch of government may not permit its powers to be exercised substantially by another branch.

2)    The second tenet is a corollary of the first: There may be no combination of functions or powers within a single branch. In other words, the legislative branch must stick to legislation; the executive branch must execute and enforce the legislation; and the judicial branch must judge the legislation and executive functions in light of the Constitution. There is to be no overlap in these functions.

3)    The third tenet of the separation of powers is the responsibility of administration to the republican executive. The government remains "wholly popular," in the words of Federalist 14, because those who carry out the law (administrators, under the traditional meaning of the term) are directly answerable to the President, who is elected. 

United States government is today inundated with a plethora of agencies that operate independently of the executive and congressional powers that created them. This large group of agencies is quite rightly called the fourth branch of government. In addition to its being part of the government, in the first place, the whole batch of agencies realistically controls more government decisions and enforcement than the conventional branches of government, e.g., the Executive, the Congress, and the Judiciary.

This gang of agencies, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission), the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission), and hundreds more have their origins in political thought that arose in the late 19th Century under the impetus of leaders such as Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow.

Wilson, Goodnow, and others were reacting to the spoils system of appointing unqualified friends to government jobs, which had been going on since the 1820’s and the administration of Andrew Jackson.

Those leaders saw the Federal Government inundated with tasks that needed to be done (or…that the government desired to have done) and which were overburdening the elected officials of the government with administrative tasks. They also saw that many of these multiple tasks needed expert advice and management at the top of the bureaucracy. They believed the complexity of government mandated the creation of agencies headed by enlightened and well-motivated bureaucrats. They longed for a day when multiple government agencies would rule the nation through intelligent, thoughtful, benevolent, public-minded experts. They thought that agencies with leaders like that could rule the country better than it was being ruled along Constitutional lines. The ideas and organization of American Progressives were launched.

These ideas percolated through political minds for several decades. President Wilson used much of this new theory of government to manage his great task of motivating the U.S. population to fight World War II. During that war, President Wilson grabbed power at will. He set aside many Constitutional rights and privileges from the people. In fact, he acted much like an emperor or king in putting his ideas through.  He was extremely successful; Americans fought and 50,000 of them died sub serving the policies of President Wilson and, it must be admitted, the American people.

As a practical matter, however, the modern manifestation of Wilson and Goodnow’s ideas came with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, which launched a large bureaucracy and empowered it with broad governing authority. Also, as a practical matter, the agencies comprising the bureaucracy reside within the executive branch of our national government, however, their powers transcend the traditional boundaries of executive power to include legislative, judicial, and even enforcement functions. These powers are often exercised in a manner that is independent of presidential control and altogether independent of political forces.

Goodnow explained that this conception of administration was novel, considering as it did the sphere of administration to lie outside the sphere of constitutional law; indeed, this new conception is exactly what Wilson had given Goodnow credit for in 1894. He knew, as Wilson did, that such a concept was a novelty in the American political tradition. Modern administrative law, therefore, would take it for granted that the political branches of government had to cede significant discretion to administrative agencies.

In making his case for freeing administration from political influence, Goodnow did not speak of a strict or rigid separation between politics and administration; indeed, he noted that the boundary between the two is difficult to define and that there would inevitably be overlap. But this overlap seems to be in one direction only, in a manner that enlarges the orbit of administration; that is, Goodnow seemed to contemplate instances where administrative organs would exercise political functions but apparently did not contemplate instances of political organs engaging in administrative activity. He characterized the function of politics as "expressing" the will of the state, while the function of administration is to "execute" the will of the state; but he made clear that the overlap between politics and administration would come in the form of administrative agencies taking a share in "expressing" and well as "executing" state will:

The key to trusting administrators with the kind of discretion that Goodnow envisioned was his profound faith in the expertness and objectivity of the administrative class, just as it had been for Wilson. Administrators could be freed from political control because they were "neutral." Their salary and tenure would take care of any self-interested inclinations that might corrupt their decision making, liberating them to focus solely on truth and the good of the public as a whole.

For Goodnow, it is the connection to electoral politics that makes administrators corrupt, while the absence of accountability to the electorate somehow makes them pure. Politics, Goodnow explained, is "polluted" and full of "bias," whereas administration is all about the "truth."

Conclusion: The Legacy of Progressivism

A glance at the primary features of the modern state shows continuities between it and the main principles of Progressivism. In particular, the constitutional separation-of-powers structure that was designed to preserve individual rights and uphold the rule of law has been considerably weakened, and we can see the effects of Progressivism on the three key tenets of the separation of powers that were described at the outset of this essay. In essence, the separation of powers has been junked by Progressive ideas and the administrative branch.

The Supreme Court ceased applying the non-delegation principle after 1935 and allowed to stand a whole body of statutes that enact the new vision of administrative power. These statutes, to varying degrees, lay out Congress's broad policy aims in vague and undefined terms and delegate to administrative agencies the task of coming up with specific rules and regulations to give them real meaning. The executive agencies, in other words, are no longer confined to carrying out specific rules enacted by Congress, but are often left to themselves to determine the rules before seeing to their enforcement.

For example, securities legislation giving the SEC the power to proscribe the use of "any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors." The agency, on the basis of its expertise, and not Congress, on the basis of its electoral connection, is charged with determining the specific policy that best serves the "public interest." In another example, legislation on broadcast licenses directs that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shall grant licenses "if public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby."

More recently, the Supreme Court under William Rehnquist made clear that there would be no revisiting the abandonment of non-delegation. In the case of Mistretta v. United States, the Court upheld the statute that delegated to the U.S. Sentencing Commission the power to set sentences (or sentencing guidelines) for most federal crimes. If any case were going to constitute grounds for non-delegation review, it would have been this one. Congress created the Sentencing Commission as, essentially, a temporary legislature with no purpose other than to establish criminal penalties and then to go out of existence. But Mistretta simply served as confirmation that the federal courts were not going to bring the legitimacy of the administrative state into question by resurrecting the separation of powers.

Progressive liberalism has also succeeded, at least partly, in defeating the third tenet of the separation-of-powers framework by weakening the political accountability of administrators in the agencies and shielding a large subset of agencies from most political controls. Federal courts have recognized the power of Congress to create agencies that are presumably part of the executive (where else, constitutionally, could they be?) but are nonetheless shielded from direct presidential control. Normally, this shielding is accomplished by limiting the President's freedom to remove agency personnel. In Humphrey's Executor v. United States, however, the Supreme Court overturned the President's removal of an FTC commissioner by reasoning that the Commission was more legislative and judicial than it was executive. More recently, it upheld the Independent Counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act, concluding that even an office as obviously executive in nature as a prosecutor could be shielded from presidential control.

These rulings reflect the acceptance of a key tenet of the modern administrative state: that many areas of administration are based upon expertise and neutral principles and must therefore be freed from the influence of politics. That such a notion has become ingrained in the American political mindset was evidenced by the near universal outrage expressed over the Supreme Court's 2000 decision in FDA v. Brown and Williamson. In this surprising exception to its standard deference for agencies, the Court ruled that before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could promulgate and enforce regulations on tobacco, Congress first had to pass a law actually giving the agency the authority to do so. The decision, which simply upheld the rule of law, was denounced because it would subject tobacco regulation to the control of the people's elected representatives in Congress, where tobacco-state legislators might derail it, instead of giving FDA scientists carte blanche to regulate in accord with their own expertise.

The acquiescence in the realms of law, politics, and culture to the concepts of delegation, combination of functions, and insulating administration from political control is explained by what legal scholars call the victory of "functionalism" over "formalism," or what political theorists might loosely translate as "pragmatism" over "originalism." Simply defined, a functionalist or pragmatic approach begins not with the forms of the Constitution, but with the necessities of the current age, thereby freeing government from the restraints of the Constitution so that the exigencies of today can be met. As one scholar argues, "Respect for 'framers' intent' is only workable in the context of the actual present, and may require some selectivity in just what it is we choose to respect." This sentiment, elevating expedience and efficiency over the separation of powers, was expressed very clearly by Justice Blackmun in his opinion for the Court in Mistretta: "Our jurisprudence has been driven by a practical understanding that in our increasingly complex society, replete with ever changing and more technical problems, Congress simply cannot do its job absent an ability to delegate power under broad general directives."

The rise of the administrative state that is such an integral feature of modern liberalism thus required the defeat of the separation of powers as a governing principle, at least as it was originally understood, and its replacement by a system that allows delegations of power, combination of functions, and the insulation of administration from the full measure of political and legal control.

The above blog was excerpted from a paper by Ronald J. Pestritto, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale College and a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. The original paper was published by the Heritage Foundation Nov. 20, 2007.

The problems posed by the development of the administrative state is the prototypical problem described in the recent book by Jay Cost—A Republic No More and the Rise of Political Corruption.

 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Administrative State—A Republic No More


American government has been markedly changed since the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, who instituted the New Deal. A plethora of autonomous agencies have been organized and have served to manage governmental affairs without adequate executive or legislative supervision. Hundreds of these agencies are active today.

The rise of the administrative state that is such an integral feature of modern liberalism and Progressive policies has required the defeat of the separation of powers as a governing principle, as it was originally understood, and its replacement by a system that allows delegations of power, combination of functions, and the insulation of administration from the full measure of political and legal control.

I have written an extensive paper on this subject, which I am not going to post on my blog, because it is a bit too long for the usual reader. Anyone interested in this subject is welcome to write to me; and I will gladly send you my more complete description of this problem. My e-mail address is enmanring@hotmail.com 

The problems posed by the development of the administrative state is the prototypical problem described in the recent book by Jay Cost—A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption. Mr. Cost has repeatedly pointed out in his book that our American polity has developed without adequate structural change to keep up with the functional requirements to justify these administrative changes.

 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

To Marry or Not to Marry

In our recent 59th annual high school reunion, Nancy and I heard a recurring anxiety among our friends: Those old friends of ours have made a common observation about their grandchildren. Young adults, who are in what has been called the millennial generation (18-31 years of age), are not marrying. They seem cut off from traditional social and spiritual values. They live to actualize their lives without any external guide posts to tell them what is right and what is wrong. They do not volunteer, go to church, pray, or vote, for the most part. (From Souls In Transition by Christian Smith)

The Pew Research Center reported in 2012 that 36% of millennials were still living at home with their parents. The explanation of this revolves around three factors: 1) Only 63% of these young adults were employed in 2012. This figure has decreased from 70% in 2007. 2) In the younger part of this cohort, many are still in college and live at home as a way to afford higher education. 3) The marriage rate is declining; only 25% of people in this age cohort are married. This figure is down from 30% in 2007.

Emerging adults live in a world that believes in individual autonomy, unbounded tolerance, freedom from authorities, the affirmation of pluralism, the centrality of human self-consciousness, a skeptical view of the advantages of human knowledge, and an instinctive aversion to anything “dogmatic” or committed to particular moral beliefs. These values do not build strong organizations or constructive families with children. It must be allowed that these young people emerging into adulthood are often tolerant of those who believe in the practical value of moral religion; but they are loath to adopt those values as having any transcendent qualities.

These manifest values have been adopted in the culture largely from modern-day Protestantism. The main line Protestant churches are experiencing falling attendance; but their philosophies are firmly established in the modern culture. For this reason, emerging adults see no reason to go to church to learn more about these attitudes. Truth and reality are considered unreal facts in the world of emerging adults. One thing that hampers them from adopting constructive attitudes is the slavish obsession imposed on them by the culture encouraging them to establish private material comfort and personal possessions—this seems to be primary driving force in the motivation of the millennial generation.

This generation seems well on its way of becoming the most educated generation in history.19% of young adults between 18 and 31 years of age have college degrees. In the next generation before them, i.e., those between the ages of 32 and 54 years of age (Gen X, or those children of the baby boomers), has earned college degrees 35% of the time. But, unfortunately, many of the millennials seem to prefer to participate in the drug or “hook-up” culture. (Incidentally, “hook-up” is a term that may indicate a wide variety of relationships—anything from casual conversations to sexual intercourse.) Devotion to this hedonistic way of life interferes with the establishment of marriage and family.

Getting back to my original point, the average age for marriage has increased since 1990. At this time the average female marries at age 27; and the average male marries at age 29. In 1990, women married at 23 and men at 26. This trend portends unfavorable things for families. As a physician, I have learned that the best age for a first pregnancy is in the early 20’s—there are far fewer complications of pregnancy when babies are born to women in that age bracket.

Marriage in the early 20’s makes for more happiness. According to the National Marriage Project’s 2013 “Knot Yet” report, the highest percentage of people ages 20 to 28 who consider themselves “highly satisfied” with their lives are married, as opposed to single or cohabiting. What’s more, the largest number of women who described their marriage as “very happy” tied the knot when they were 24 to 26. A 2010 study found that “the greatest indicated likelihood of being in an intact marriage of the highest quality is among those who married at ages 22–25.”

An analysis of American Community Survey data from 2008 to 2010 revealed that among men in their mid-30s, those who married in their 20s had the highest levels of personal income. Economists have found, in general, that married men earn more than single men — even when you control for other factors like age and education.

Couples who marry in their 20s tend to have more frequent sex than those who marry later. In a 2011 paper, Dana Rotz of Harvard University wrote that “a four year increase in age at marriage is associated with a couple having sex about one time less per month.” What’s more, married people as a whole have more sex than their single counterparts. The sooner you marry, the more time you’ll be spending between the sheets.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that married and engaged young adults reported lower frequency of drunkenness than those who are not in a serious romantic relationship. “Marriage and engagement likely carry with them a heightened sense of responsibility and obligation and a less active social calendar, which leads to less drunkenness,” the study’s authors wrote. Laying off alcohol has many health benefits, including weight loss, better sleep, better skin and a reduced risk of some cancers.

There is nothing to be gained from waiting a long time before marrying. Research says there’s no advantage to delaying marriage just for the sake of delaying it. A 2010 study by sociologists Norval Glenn and Jeremy Uecker states that “A 25-year-old person who meets an excellent marriage prospect would be ill-advised to pass up that opportunity only because he/she feels not yet at the ideal age for marriage. Furthermore, delaying marriage beyond the mid-twenties will lead to the loss during a portion of young adulthood of any emotional and health beneļ¬ts that a good marriage would bring.”

One thing I have learned about parenting and family building is that the best parents begin that journey in their early 20’s. Waiting until later for marriage does not help one’s adaptation to child raising.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

. A GERMAN FEMALE DOCTOR WRITES...

This article was forwarded to me by an ethnic German PhD, our former pastor in Del Norte, Colorado. It outlines a terrible situation in German medical facilities incident to Muslim immigrants.


   ... A GERMAN FEMALE DOCTOR WRITES...


Some more stuff media doesn't seem to want to cover


A female physician in  Munich, Germany sends a message to the World

*Yesterday, at the hospital, we had a meeting about how  the
situation here and at the other Munich hospitals  is unsustainable. Clinics cannot handle the number of  migrant medical emergencies, so they are starting to send everything to the main hospitals.*

*Many Muslims are
refusing treatment by female staff and we women are now refusing  to go among those migrants!  Relations between the staff and  migrants are going from bad to worse. Since last weekend,  migrants going to the hospitals must be* *accompanied by police  with K-9 units.*

*Many migrants have AIDS, syphilis, open TB  and many exotic
diseases that we in Europe do not know how to  treat. *

*If they receive a prescription to the pharmacy,  they suddenly learn they have to pay cash. This leads  to unbelievable outbursts, especially when it is about  drugs for the children. They abandon the children with  pharmacy staff with the words:  So, cure them here yourselves!

*So the  police are not just guarding the clinics and hospitals, but also  the large pharmacies.*

*We ask
openly 'where are all those  who welcomed the migrants in front of TV cameras with signs at  train stations?' * *Yes, for now, the border has been closed,  but
a million of them are already here and we will  definitely
not be able to get rid of them.*

*Until now,  the number of unemployed in Germany
was 2.2 million. Now it will  be at least 3.5 million. Most of these people are completely  unemployable. Only a small
minimum of
them have any education.  What is more, their women usually do not work at all. I estimate  that one in ten is pregnant.  Hundreds of thousands of them have  brought along infants and little kids under six, many emaciated  and very needy.  If this continues and Germany re-opens its  borders, I am going home to the Czech Republic. Nobody can keep  me here in this situation, not even for double the salary back  home. I came to Germany to work, not to Africa or the Middle East!*

*Even the professor who heads our department told
us how sad it makes him to see the cleaning woman, who has cleaned every day for years for 800 Euros and then meets crowds of young men in the hallways who just wait with their hands outstretched, wanting everything for free, and when they don't get it they throw a fit.*

*I really don't need this! But I am afraid that if I
return home, at some  point it will be the same in the Czech Republic. If the Germans,  with their systems, cannot handle
this, then, guaranteed, back  home will be total chaos..*

*You -  who have not come in  contact with these people have absolutely no idea what kind of  badly behaved desperadoes these people are, and how Muslims act  superior to our staff, regarding their religious accommodation.*

*For now, the local hospital staff have not come down with
the diseases these people brought here, but with so many hundreds of patients every day this is just a
question of time.*

*In a hospital near the Rhine, migrants attacked the staff
with knives after they had handed over an 8-month-old on the brink of death, who they'd dragged across half of Europe for three months. The child died two days later, despite having received top care at one of the best pediatric clinics in Germany. The pediatric physician had to undergo surgery and the two nurses are recovering in the ICU. Nobody has been punished - what ???*

*The local press is forbidden to write about it, so we can
only inform you through email. What would have happened to a German if he had stabbed the doctor and nurses with a knife?  Or if he had flung his own syphilis-infected urine into a nurses face and so threatened her with infection? At a minimum he would have  gone straight to jail and later to court. With these people so  far, nothing has happened - WHY?*

*And so I ask ... where  are all those
greeters and receivers from the train stations?  Sitting pretty at home, enjoying their uncomplicated, safe  lives.* *If it were up to me I
would round up all those greeters  and bring them here first
to our hospitals emergency ward as  attendants !   Then in to one of the buildings housing  the migrants, so they can really look after them there  themselves, without armed police and police dogs, who, sadly  today, are in every hospital here in Bavaria.*

*Is this "situation" coming to your country ??? 

 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The “Condition of America” Question



Are you sick of hearing about how America is going to the dogs in lots of ways? Well…so am I. But…the fact that it actually is doing just that must still be faced and dealt with in a constructive way.

An article in the Weekly Standard of 8-15-16 by Matthew Continetti under the title I have given above http://tws.io/2anbX0E accurately points out the problems and suggests some workable, but secular, solutions. Death rates among middle-aged non-Hispanic White Americans between 1999 and 2013 have been increasing. The increase in death in this population has been positively correlated with suicide, liver disease and cirrhosis, drug and alcohol poisoning, and other related effects of drug and alcohol abuse. These correlations are all caused by behavioral practices in our population. The disturbing increases in the death rate have mostly been among those men who have had no college education. It has also been noted that real family income of people in the bottom half of the income distribution has not increased since the late 1960’s, further adding to the general discouragement in this population.

It seems to me, as well as to Mr. Continetti, that the distress being experienced in this poor population of White males is largely due to deterioration in the four character-building institutions of our society, i.e., the family, vocations, community, and faith.

FAMILY: More than 25% of our population lives alone. Men and women marry later in life and have fewer children. The percentage of children living at home with two married parents in their first marriage has fallen from 73% in 1960 to 46% in 2014. The explosion of single parenthood has coincided with the growth of means-tested welfare spending such as food stamps, housing assistance, cash payments, the earned income tax credit, disability insurance, and Medicaid.

VOCATION: For more than 60 years, the share of White American men between the ages of 25 to 54, or “prime-age men,” in the labor force has declined from 96% in 1968 to 79% in 2015. This fall has been most pronounced among men without college degrees. The fall in workforce participation rates has been even more marked among African-American men.

The White House has ignored the obvious positive correlation between this fall in workforce participation and the diminution of the work requirement for welfare, as well as the relation between policies the government supports—increases in the minimum wage, unionization, and low-skilled immigration.

COMMUNITY: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that deaths from heroin overdoses increased 286% between 2002 and 2013, with a nearly 40% increase between 2012 and 2013.

The percentage of adults who volunteer for various community services dropped four points over the last decade.

Our citizens trust one another less and less. The Boston Globe reports “The greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work in community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings.”  

FAITH: The number of Americans with no religious affiliation is increasing rapidly.

WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO THESE PROBLEMS? Continetti points out that one approach is more New Deal programs, but without overreach by the government. That is a pipe dream and nothing less than a myth. A recent book by Jay Cost, “A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption,” strongly implies that there is no governmental program which does not predispose to corruption. Politicians will always figure out some way to get around the interests of the people to line their own pockets with cash and insure their personal increase in political power.

The answers to the “Condition of America” is nothing other than the infusion of Christian principles and true Christian religion into our society. Without faith, America will continue on its same path. Christians need to have more influence in government and social affairs. Our government is doing everything possible to squelch Christian principles; and our two candidates for presidential office do not epitomize any Christian character. They are both godless power seekers. Our job at the present is unfortunately to pick out the one who is the least unrighteous and vote for him/her. If we elect to vote for neither, we will be effectively voting for the one most unrighteous.

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How Important is Death?

Death for the Christian is the portal through which the Christian will pass into eternal fellowship with God—we are assured that a life of following Christ and obeying his will, results forever in a life of joy and fulfillment in heaven. But…is it true for everyone or even for many? Not according to the Scriptures. To the eternal discouragement of non-believers, only a few will ever attain that happy outcome.

This question stated in the title of this paper seems strange to many; but, is it a strange question to ask? Just how seriously and realistically does the average man on the street actually consider the prospect of his own death and the death of others around him? I would posit that most people largely disregard the ultimate dangers and blessings of physical death. To hear the ordinary funeral sermon, one would think that everyone on earth is assured of a blissful, eternal life in a wonderful heaven where nothing offends or ever goes wrong. I think that most people today underrate the possibility of entry into hell instead of heaven after they die.

How many times have you heard from the funeral pulpit, these words: “He has now gone to a better place.”? Or, “His was a life well-lived.” These words are mostly lies at the usual funeral. They are spoken to comfort the bereaved relatives and friends. But are they the truth? Those who speak those words should be ashamed of themselves. The Bible clearly says in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Yes, “…only a FEW.” We should all think long and hard about that principle of biblical living and physical death.

Nevertheless, multitudes continue to look at their death thinking that since they have been pretty good people in life, God, who is loving and just would never ever send them to hell. I will admit that they are partly right about that: God is not sending them to Hell; they are going there by their own free will. Yet, they continue to fool themselves into a false sense of security about their own deaths.

The fact, according to Jesus is that he is the way, the truth, and the life. The apostle Peter said “…there is no other name given among men by which we should be saved.” The way of salvation is no secret. So, should we wonder how the Bible should make such an absurd statement as that quoted above in the third paragraph from Matthew seventh chapter? Well, to answer that question, just ask yourself some of the following questions about our fellow citizens. How many times have we heard them talking about Jesus in public? How many hours in a typical week do they read his word, the Bible? How often do they go to church? What kind of language do they habitually use? How often do you think they pray; do they pray before meals? Where are their priorities in life? Do their life goals magnify the person and work of Christ?

I would suggest that it seems that most people don’t give a hoot about the Christ—at least, there is no evidence of it in life. So, why should we think that suddenly, after physical death, God is going to honor them by awarding them with adoption into his very family?

The Bible issues a clear call to everyone. The way to eternal life is repentance of sins and faith in the Christ. This obviously means the way to heaven is a public demonstration of a life changed from its natural way of living, which is a sinful life. A life that evidences true belief in Jesus should be the object of our life on planet Earth. Those who would try to excuse their godless behavior by the trite statement, “Just like everyone else, I sin every day in thought, word, and deed.” needs to rethink that lame excuse for bad behavior. Instead, they should be saying in all honesty, I magnify my Savior every day in “thought, word, and deed.” This life is a moral testing ground—its main object is the determination of which way we want to go, i.e., to heaven or to hell. The Bible and the entire Christian life tells us that the object of living is to inform us and encourage us about how to please God by our behavior and how to attain adoption of children into God’s family.

Nobody should become discouraged about these ideas. Today is the day of salvation. It is possible for all of us living on Earth now to come to Christ in a life-saving way. Let’s rethink our self-designed idea that we are all going to heaven when we die. There is a way we can all have a realistic opportunity for true salvation. That way is Christ!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Evolving American Politics


American politics have changed—that’s no news. The angry lamentations of Donald Trump’s outbursts without remedial measures is interesting, but not productive of constructive changes to come from a Trump presidency. He makes strong points about how terrible the present state of “progressive” ideas have been; he makes good observations of how the Obama administration and a possible Hillary administration would be, seeing that her election would be a continuation of the ruinous policies of her predecessor. But…there are no forthcoming ideas of what should be done to reconstruct the American republic economically and socially. He makes remarks off the cuff, designed to throw red meat to erstwhile conservatives; but I can see no real substance to his appeal to conservatives and those who would improve our society.

 Both Democrats and Republicans have a strong feeling that our country is in decline—but the decline is different from the viewpoint of the two parties. For the Democrats, society is declining from its former height in the 1960’s when cultural liberalization seemed to coexist with a highly regulated economy. For Republicans, they see our nation’s decline beginning from its high point in the 1980’s when economic liberalization was accompanied by a resurgence of national pride and an emphasis on family values.

Trump’s message of recovery has been characterized by vague, nostalgic tropes promising an end to globalization, illegal immigration and other modern trends. But he fails to flesh out how his nostalgic ideas would give lasting hope to the American decline. His blandishments against “politically correct” speech appeals to the emotions of American superficial thinkers; but seldom do his ideas seem to have long-lasting benefits to those who would look at political consequences.

 On the other hand, the desires of the progressive left are exhausted and wistful. We have not seen all the wonderful results of change and hope promised by candidate Obama. Our economy is still limping along without any improvement in household income over the last 8 years, and our foreign policies have not produced peace anywhere in the world. America’s prestige has been lost. The post-World War II consensus of trust in the basic goodness of large labor and business institutions, accompanied by admiration for family integrity decayed after the post-war years. Political consensus fractured gradually; and polarization of warring camps took its place. Now, the social and political beliefs of Americans have polarized to such an extent that Democrats and Republicans can barely speak to one another.

The above changes have increased the diversity within our nation. And this has produced economic gain for some and loss of wealth for many—a split between the rich and the poor. Some have felt liberated from old bonds on personal liberty—others see nothing but moral decay. Racism is reportedly rampant according to the media and political elites in Washington. Violence and homegrown terrorism seem to be on the upswing. Anyone with a beef against someone else seems willing to take up a gun and start shooting.  

Liberals/progressives of the Hillary Clinton type think that more of the same kind of administration is what is needed. Thoughtful conservatives should think carefully about this. Now may be the time true conservatism might make a comeback—but…changes must be made in the conservative agenda. There must be a new right for a new America.
 
There is no way to undo the past for America. We must make the most of our recent experience. Our world is a world of individualism and fracture of old and familiar social modes. We must use the changes to forge a new union, a new way of relating to one another. The Republicans of today look at the world through a nostalgia of the old days. Democrats cling complacently to the anachronism of social democracy as their vision of the future. Neither will work.
To my mind, conservatives seem better positioned to work the changes that are needful in America. They need to bring to public policy the dispersed, incremental, bottom-up approach to progress that has pervaded every other part of American life while reviving community and civil society to combat dislocation and isolation. More government regulations will never help obtain this goal. We need local problem-solvers to mix resources, advice, experience, and moral leadership in a continuing process of bottom-up experimentation. The government must get out of the way and let this process develop.
The government should abandon the model of centralized, technocratic industrial economy in favor of today’s decentralized, consumer-driven, postindustrial economy and use public resources to encourage constructive experimentation with public services rather than to impose tired dogmas from above. Those “tired dogmas” include the philosophy of Hillary Clinton, which would regulate our society to death.
Social conservatives should concentrate on the development of vibrant sub-cultures that offer alternatives to the demoralizing chaos of the permissive society. Older models of traditional morality and social construction will not be accepted by today’s diverse population; but they must be demonstrated for the benefit of those who can see their way out of rampant individualism and selfish ways of living for the moment.
Some of this blog post was taken from a book by Yuval Levin, “The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism.”