Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Ryan T. Anderson’s commencement speech at Regent University

The full text is up at National Review. I wanted to highlight a couple of points.

First, the importance of marriage and family for raising children:

As a graduate of Regent University you know that the obligations we have to our neighbors are not dependent on race, or sex, or social class. Neither are those duties dependent on age, or size, or stage of development. Or whether someone is wanted or unwanted, planned or unplanned, healthy or sick, “perfect” or disabled.

This starts with you and me. We need to love our children. Graduating class, if you have a daughter with Down syndrome, love her. If your son is conceived “by accident,” love him. As my late mentor Fr. Richard John Neuhaus explained, we have the responsibility to see to it that every human being is protected in law and cared for in life.

The best care comes from the family. Some of you may have already started your families. Most of you will start one in the next decade. And as you welcome children into this world you will experience firsthand that the best way to ensure that children are cared for in life by the man and the woman who gave them life is to unite that man and woman as husband and wife in marriage.

We are created male and female. And marriage unites a man and a woman permanently and exclusively as husband and wife to take responsibility for their children as father and mother. That’s what marriage is all about. And our marriage policy should respect these truths. So, too, should our churches and our own lives. Graduating class: Live lives of fidelity and service to your spouse and your children.

Your children will be educated in this society. And as mothers and fathers you have the responsibility to care for and educate your children. Government should empower you to fulfill those duties. It shouldn’t interfere or indoctrinate. Nor should it use healthcare laws or anti-bullying programs to promote a sexual ideology at odds with the values that responsible parents try to instill in their children.

Second, the free market and the need for job creation:

Our responsibilities extend beyond our families. One of the best ways to care for our neighbors is by serving them in our professional callings, performing quality work at a fair price. Creating wealth and value for our neighbors. Who among the Class of 2013 will be the next David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby? Who will be the next Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-a? Who will improve our lives with new technology or medical devices? Who will create new jobs that pay decent wages? This is your responsibility as future business leaders and entrepreneurs.

We know that the market economy—along with families headed by married couples—has done more to lift people out of poverty and into a flourishing life than any other institution. But it only works if people of good character and upright morals are at the helm. Markets are inert apart from the values that actors bring to them—and you have responsibility for your market action.

Look at leaders like David Green and Truett Cathy. They run their businesses in accordance with their Christian beliefs. There’s a simple reason why: They know that they have duties to serve God—and not just on Sundays, but also on the other six days of the week, when they enter the workforce and marketplace. Remember, you can’t check your faith or morals at the door.

It’s worth a look. The actual speech can be seen here, starting at 41 minutes in.  It goes on for about 19 minutes.

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Are people who vote Democrat smarter than people who vote Republican?

Video from Neil Simpson’s round-up.

The Pew Research Center, a liberal organization, actually did a study on this uninformed voter problem.

Excerpt:

So Republicans are more knowledgeable than Democrats, contrary to what many would like to believe.

According to whom?  None other than the Pew Research Center, a left-of-center organization.  Moreover, Pew’s latest survey only reaffirms previous surveys demonstrating the same result.

In fact, the results weren’t even close.

In a scientific survey of 1,168 adults conducted during September and October of last year, respondents were asked not only multiple-choice questions, but also queries using maps, photographs and symbols.  Among other subjects, participants identified international leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, nations on a world map, the current unemployment and poverty rates and war casualty totals.

In a 2010 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with one tie and Democrats outperforming Republicans on just 1 of the 12.  In the latest survey, however, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions.

[...]Those Pew results are confirmed by some surprising other sources.  According to a New York Times headline dated April 14, 2010, “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.”  Shattering widespread myths, that survey revealed that Tea Party supporters were more likely to possess a college degree than their counterparts (23% to 15%), and also more likely to have completed post-graduate studies (14% to 10%).  Tea Partiers were also more likely to have completed “some college” by a 33% to 28% margin, and substantially less likely to have not completed high school than non-supporters (3% versus 12%), or to possess only a high school degree (26% versus 35%).

Previously, I posted about how Democrat voters understand very little about economics, whereas Republicans understand more.

Excerpt:

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics.

The first question was “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” The unenlighted answer for that one is “disagree”, since restrictions on development reduce the supply of available housing. Demand stays the same and so there is a shortage, and prices rise. D’uh!

Here are the others:

The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).

And the results:

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

It’s true, the majority of Democrat voters are people who don’t work at all, or they “work” for government, or they “work” in education, or they hold picket signs while on strike, or they are in prison, or they are chasing ambulances, or they are Hollywood celebrities. No economics knowledge is required for any of that. Republicans work in private industry, and many of us own small businesses. So we actually have to work to earn money, because we have competitors to watch out for and consumers to please. Many of us are married and many of us have to get along with our spouses and raise children. Republicans don’t need the government, we do fine making our own decisions, and making our own way without help from the government.

UPDATE: I think this ad says a lot about who votes Democrat:

Their great plan is to borrow money from our children in order to provide contraceptives to unmarried college students. Is that something to vote for? Remember the Life of Julia? Their vision is cradle-to-grave government dependency, with husbands and fathers made completely unnecessary.

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Arthur Brooks: true fairness means rewarding merit, not spreading the wealth

Arthur Brooks is an economist, a Christian and the President of my third favorite think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. He has been making a push lately to convince conservatives to become more articulate when making the case for the free enterprise system. One of his major ideas is that happiness is not related to the amount of money you have, but it’s related to how well you can achieve your own prosperity and independence by your own labor. His research shows that people are happiest when they feel in control of their own prosperity, even if they have less wealthy than people who depend on the government to take money away from others so they don’t have to work.

Here’s an article he posted on AEI entitled “True fairness means rewarding merit, not spreading the wealth”.

Excerpt:

There are two main ways to define fairness: fairness in terms of opportunity, and fairness in terms of outcomes. The first means leveling the playing field, and the second means spreading the wealth around. The first means lifting people up on the basis of merit, and the second means bringing successful people down.

[...]In a 2005 Syracuse University poll, researchers asked a cross-section of Americans if they b14elieve that “everyone in American society has an opportunity to succeed, most do, or only some have this opportunity.” Some 71 percent of respondents said that all or most Americans can get ahead.

This is consistent with most of our experiences. It’s almost impossible to argue that American success is not earned. We can all think of times when our hard work has gotten us ahead or when we’ve been punished at work or in life for making poor decisions. Even if America’s not perfectly meritocratic, we all see how hard work pays off.

Now, of course, America is far from perfectly fair. But that‘s because life isn’t fair. For instance, all other things being equal, taller men and prettier women make higher salaries than their shorter, plainer counterparts. Believe it or not, there are studies that show these things (as if we needed them). More seriously, some people have substandard elementary education or childhood nutrition, which creates a lifelong disadvantage. Worse still, some children are born into families that don’t emphasize the values that beget opportunity: honesty, hard work, and education.

We need to address these inequities. Still, we shouldn’t abandon the idea of meritocratic fairness just because not everybody has completely equal opportunity. But this is what the president appears to be asking us to do.

America is built around the shared values and aspirations of mobility, opportunity, and merit. Even if only, say, half the outcomes in our life are due to merit, that’s still the half within our control. We should focus on increasing the role of merit, not dismiss the idea because it’s imperfect. Without a belief in meritocratic fairness, we have little incentive to work hard, be honest and optimistic, and create value in our lives and the lives of others. Fatalism and envy are simply not American values.

We need to make the case for the free enterprise system now, using moral arguments like this, otherwise we are going to find ourselves treading the path of countries like Greece, where almost no one works and almost everyone depends on the government to take care of them. It’s not sustainable.

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Should Christians be socialists?

Philosopher and theologian Jay Wesley Richards discusses Christianity, the Bible, capitalism and socialism in the leftist Washington Post. He is responding to someone who thinks that Christianity is somehow socialist.

Excerpt:

His assertion that Jesus and Christianity are inherently socialist fares no better. Although he refers to Jesus as a socialist, the only biblical texts he appeals to are from the book of Acts (chapters 2-5), which describes the early church in Jerusalem (after Jesus ascension into heaven). The central text is worth quoting:

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. . . . There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it as the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Act 4:32-35)

Mr. Paul insists, “Now folks, that’s outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx-who likely got the general idea from the gospels.” No serious biblical scholar, or economist, would mistake the practice of the early Jerusalem church for Marxism. First of all, Marx viewed private property as oppressive, and had a theory of class warfare, in which the workers would revolt against the capitalists-the owners of the means of production-and forcibly take control of private property. After that, Marx thought, private property would be abolished, and the state would own the means of production on behalf of the people. There’s none of this business in the books of Acts. These Christians are selling their possessions and sharing freely.

Second, the state is nowhere in sight. No Roman centurions are breaking down doors and sending Christians to the lions (that was later). No government is confiscating property and collectivizing industry. No one is being coerced. The church in Jerusalem was just that-the church, not the state. The church doesn’t act like the modern communist state.

Mr. Paul completely misreads the later text in Acts 5, in which Peter condemns Ananias and Sapphira for keeping back some of the money they received from selling their land. Again, it helps to actually read the text:

Ananias . . . why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the lands? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God! (Acts 5:3-4)

Mr. Paul asks, “Does this not sound like a form of terror-enforced-communism imposed by a God who thinks that Christians who fail to join the collective are worthy of death? Not only is socialism a Christian invention, so is its extreme communistic variant.” The only problem is that the text says exactly the opposite. Peter condemns Ananias and Sapphira not for failing to join the collective, but for lying about what they had done. In fact, Peter says explicitly that the property was rightfully theirs, even after it was sold. This isn’t communism or socialism.

Here’s a related lecture that Jay Richards did for the Family Research Council, on the topic of Christianity and Economics. It’s a very good lecture that discusses some basic economic principles and some common economics myths. You can also listen to the MP3 file, but it’s 60 megabytes.

I really recommend the following books for Christians trying to understand economics:

  • “Intellectuals and Society” by Thomas Sowell
  • “Money, Greed and God” by Jay Richards
  • “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell
  • “Politics According to the Bible” by Wayne Grudem

These are all must-reads.

Related posts

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How do job creators perceive Obama’s anti-business policies?

Here’s an interview with Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, from Investors Business Daily.

Intro:

Bernie Marcus co-founded Home Depot (HD) in 1978 and brought it public in 1981 as the U.S. was suffering from the worst recession and unemployment in 40 years. The company thrived, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and redefining home improvement retailing.

But Marcus says Home Depot “would never have succeeded” if it launched today due to onerous regulation. He recently helped launch the Job Creators Alliance, a Dallas-based nonprofit of CEOs and entrepreneurs dedicated to preserving the free enterprise system. IBD recently spoke to him about jobs and the economy.

Excerpt:

IBD: What’s the single biggest impediment to job growth today?

Marcus: The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we’d tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It’s become stifling.

If you’re a small businessman, the only way to deal with it is to work harder, put in more hours, and let people go. When you consider that something like 70% of the American people work for small businesses, you are talking about a big economic impact.

IBD: President Obama has promised to streamline and eliminate regulations. What’s your take?

Marcus: His speeches are wonderful. His output is absolutely, incredibly bad. As he speaks about cutting out regulations, they are now producing thousands of pages of new ones. With just ObamaCare by itself, you have a 2,000 page bill that’s probably going end up being 150,000 pages of regulations.

IBD: If you could sit down with Obama and talk to him about job creation, what would you say?

Marcus: I’m not sure Obama would understand anything that I’d say, because he’s never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn’t know how to make a payroll, he doesn’t understand the problems businesses face. I would try to explain that the plight of the busi nessman is very reactive to Washington. As Washington piles on regulations and mandates, the impact is tremendous. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I just think he has no knowledge of this.

And Bernie is not the only one – we saw the recent rant from a Democrat CEO named Steve Wynn.

Excerpt:

And I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration.And it makes you slow down and not invest your money. Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America.

You bet and until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it’s not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America.

The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest, their holding too much money. We haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody’s afraid of the government and there’s no need soft peddling it, it’s the truth. It is the truth.

But there are many more CEOs saying the same thing.

Excerpt:

Wynn’s remarks echo those on a lengthening list of CEOs including:

  • 3M’s George Buckley, who blasted Obama last February as anti-business. “We know what his instincts are,” Buckley said. “We’ve got a real choice between manufacturing in Canada or Mexico — which tends to be more pro-business — and America,” he told the Financial Times.
  • Boeing’s Jim McNerney, who in the Wall Street Journal last May called Obama’s handpicked National Labor Relations Board’s suit against his company a “fundamental assault on the capitalist principles that have sustained America’s competitiveness since it became the world’s largest economy nearly 140 years ago.”
  • Intel’s Paul Otellini, who told CNET last August that the U.S. legal environment has become so hostile to business that there is likely to be “an inevitable erosion and shift of wealth, much like we’re seeing today in Europe — this is the bitter truth.”
  • Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who observed to radio host Hugh Hewitt last month that Obama “never had to make payroll,” that “nobody has ever created a job in this administration” and that the president is “surrounded by college professors.”
  • GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, one of Obama’s biggest supporters, who hit out at the president last year. “Business did not like the U.S. president and the president did not like business,” the FT reported him saying. “People are in a really bad mood. We have to become an industrial powerhouse again, but you don’t do this when government and entrepreneurs are not in sync.”
  • Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, another Obama backer, who blasted Obama’s bank tax in January 2010 as a “guilt tax,” once called Obama’s carbon tax idea “regressive” and this month denounced Obama’s obsession with corporate jets.

These aren’t the only ones. CEOs of battered oil companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil, media companies like Fox News and Forbes, and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce have also spoken out. When the creators of jobs and wealth are saying the same thing, isn’t it time for the White House to listen up?

When will the American people realize that you can’t support tax increases for the rich, and then be surprised when they just stop hiring – or worse they outsource jobs to more business-friendly countries. Obama’s anti-business economic policies cause outsourcing. The only reason for job creators to take a risk by trying to expand their businesses is because they might be able to make a profit. Take away their profit, and there is no reason for them to hire anyone. The profit motive is what creates jobs. Obama is attacking the profit motive, and that’s why no one is hiring. Anyone who understands economics understands that.

And it’s not just Obama’s anti-business rhetoric that is to blame for the high unemployment rate. It’s higher regulation of job creators and job-killing leftist boondoggles like Obamacare.

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