The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “government”

Government Free Childrearing

by Luke Welch

gluten free

Imagine you have celiac disease, you and all your children. You live in a land that demands that your children eat glutenous meals everyday. You are old enough to do what you want, but growing up you experienced the torment of being given shredded wheat every day, and you don’t want your children to suffer. But the land doesn’t care for your plan to feed them at home – they have to go to the public feeding centers, by force of law. The land says, “Celiac disease is a figment of your imagination.” So one day, you leave the land and go to a place that will allow you to serve completely gluten-free meals.

You thought you were safe, because everyone in the land of the gluten-free is free to be gluten-free. But after a while the GF country starts pushing you to go back home. “Sorry Folks, just because WE protect people with celiac, doesn’t mean you have a right to have that same protection, since you came from Gluteny.”

In the case against you, someone even says, “Come on! Your kids are free to eat gluten free all they want! Right after they come home from the gluten meal! So what are you complaining about!?”

But that’s not the point, is it? You aren’t hoping to get to give them SOME gluten free. You are trying to get them completely gluten free. Gluten-somewhat-free is not actually free.

Napp Nazworth, at the Christian Post, writes, “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit heard arguments Tuesday in a case, Romeike vs. Holder, that could Read more…

“Gay Marriage”… A Closer Look at the Rhetoric, Part 1

Guest Post by Ben Rossell
We need to reverse these outdated and unfair laws! My sister steals things because she is a clepto. She was born a clepto and she will die one. For her it’s the same as being tall or fair-skinned. For her, NOT stealing would be unnatural … even borderline immoral! Calling her theft “wrong” is naive, judgmental, and cleptophobic! Why don’t these people understand this! Our nation’s laws and our societal stigmas have persecuted robbers for far too long! I stand on the side of love and equality with my sister and every burglar like her! Stop the ignorance and stop the hatred!

This Holy Week*, our Supreme Court is considering whether sexual acts performed between two people of the same gender is something that the United States has an interest in endorsing so much so that it should officially overturn four centuries of legal precedent on this continent, not to mention millennia of cultural norms and moral consciousness as well as to contradict the uniform historic testimony of each of the three major monotheistic faiths.

It is here we see the chink in Libertarianism’s armor .   Read more…

Is the Bible a Panacea for Poor Government?

What is the role of the government? To be sure, this question is answered in different ways by different people.

Libertarian: to get out of the way.

Conservative: to protect and defend us, our property, and our rights.

Liberal: to protect us from ourselves.

Bible: to punish evildoers and reward the righteous.

At first glance, these seem to be mutually exclusive, especially when we consider what each group means by those statements. Read more…

What if Church and State Aren’t Separated? A Comparison

I spent eight days in Ireland recently, and while I was there I was struck by the way the Irish people approach their government–along with similarities I’ve seen in my travels in other European countries. What follows is an overly simplistic description of that approach. I want to compare it to the approach we take in the States. The result will be not so much a judgment of which is better or worse, but rather what the ramifications of each are.At the Crossroads

The United States is a nation of people whose identity is defined by two things: Read more…

Why Drug Decriminalization is Central to Liberty

Stigmatize Liberty

This past week alone I’ve seen two attempts by mainstream conservative pundits to stigmatize liberty by portraying it as some obscure liberal ideal. It goes like this: somehow liberty is great, but the drug stuff takes it too far. They suppose that freedom is a value that must be reined in by the government, because if we go too far with that dangerous idea – like in the area of drugs – society could be negatively affected if the state stopped regulating certain drug commerce. That there would be no negative effect on society if the state regulated drug commerce, is presumed. Read more…

Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes: two things of which we can be absolutely certain we will experience.

Yesterday, I filed my taxes. As has been the case of late, I had to pay above and beyond what was collected from me throughout the year. I’m sure it’s simply a case of needing to perform some basic arithmetic so that more is collected with each paycheck and less, if any, will be due as a lump sum in April.

That is hardly the point, though, is it?

One of my favorite films is Will Ferrell’s Stranger than Fiction. In the film, there is a scene where Ana Pascal (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) explains to Will Ferrell (or Harold Crick, as he is known in the film) why she knew she’d be audited. She explains that she paid her taxes, but withheld a percentage of it, and attached a letter explaining that the percentage she withheld was withheld because she was not interested in supporting those particular government expenditures. Miss Pascal, as Harold addresses her, explains that she only paid 78 percent of her taxes because she’s not so big a fan of “national defense, corporate bailouts, and campaign discretionary funds.”

While I’m certain Miss Pascal is appropriately named “Pascal”–think Blaise Pascal–it is a different point to be made altogether. The point here is that Miss Pascal is identifying what we all seem to know: there are things for which we each believe the government to be necessary or at least desirable. And insofar as they work within those constraints, we are willing–generally–to support them financially. Miss Pascal is fine with potholes, swing sets, and shelters, but she is opposed to the government funding the other endeavors previously mentioned.

I, on the other hand, would oppose even what she supports, but I suppose I’d be less inclined to fight them if the only thing they wanted my taxes for were potholes and shelters. Instead, they want our money for everything, and so I am inclined–rightly or wrongly–to fight them on everything.

If only the government operated on market principles. If I believe them to build the best and safest roads, then I voluntarily give them tax dollars instead of another firm attempting to build roads. If I believe them to provide the best security services for my family, then I I voluntarily give them tax dollars instead of another firm. If I don’t, I withhold those dollars and give them to someone else.

Some might say this is untenable. Others wouldn’t compete for my money to provide those services because too many people could take advantage of the services without having paid for it. Miss Pascal, for example, lives in a country that is safe precisely because others are paying for the national defense she objects to. But is it true that companies wouldn’t compete for those funds anyway?

The objection, while seemingly sound, isn’t necessarily so. Men have written multitudes of books explaining how the most necessary and basic governmental services could be offered by the market. Books like Chaos Theory by Robert Murphy or Anarchy and the Law by Edward P. Stringham explain quite effectively how it could work.

The question shouldn’t be whether the government is the only one who can do it, but rather if the government has the duty to do it. Rights, after all, exist only insofar as they are connected to our duties. I have a duty to protect my family, therefore I have the right to bear arms. I once heard a Constitutionalist explain: I have the duty to protect my family, therefore I have the right to either perform it myself or delegate it (along with my neighbors) to an organization–the police department–to do it in my stead. I have the duty to feed the poor, therefore I have the right to perform it, but I do not have the right to make someone else do it for or with me. My question to the Constitutionalist is, “Why, though, do I have the right to make my neighbors help fund the police department to which I am delegating my duty to protect my family, but not to make them help me feed the poor?”

What are the government’s duties and what rights does it have in order to execute those duties? This is the question of the hour. So long as we aren’t answering that question–and maybe even if we do–the government will continue to assert its duty and right to do whatsoever it chooses. And so long as that continues, it will be death and taxes for us.

Homeschooling: A Fundamental Human Right?

Thomas S. Kidd is special contributor to the Kuyperian Commentary

A remarkable political asylum case has raised questions about whether the U.S. government should defend the right of families to homeschool.  The case concerns the Romeike family of Germany, where homeschooling is illegal, and where families who attempt to homeschool their children can face heavy fines and even have their children taken from them. An American immigration judge granted the Romeikes political asylum in 2010, but the Obama Justice Department has been working to overturn their asylum status and have them returned to Germany. Administration lawyers say that the German law does not represent any kind of specific religious discrimination (which would warrant asylum), but only a general legal requirement that all children attend public or state-supervised schools. Thus, in the administration’s view, German authorities punish families like the Romeikes not because they are Christian homeschoolers, but because their children are not attending a governmentally-sanctioned school.

I understand that this issue is more complex than whether Attorney General Eric Holder likes homeschooling or not. And I very much hesitate to designate a political good as a “fundamental human right,” because such notions have become distended and overused in modern American politics. Furthermore, it is not “homeschooling,” per se, that is a fundamental human right. What is fundamental, however, is the right of parents to raise their children according to their consciences, without interference from the state. The Obama adminstration hopefully has no inclination to infringe upon this right in America, but in this case they obviously have more sympathy for Germany’s rigid education policy than the rights of parents, including parents of dissenting religious sensibilities.

The effect of Germany’s law (which, thankfully, is almost unique in western Europe) is to ban parents from taking primary responsibility for educating their children. The most common reason parents would want to do that is religious conviction. This is certainly the case with the Romeikes, so they deserve political asylum as refugees from religious persecution by the government of Germany. Other German Christian homeschoolers have already been fined, and even jailed, for acting according to their conscience with regard to schooling, and the Romeikes can reasonably expect similar treatment if the Obama administration forces them to return. Reasonable fear of such persecution is clear justification for political asylum.

Originally posted here.

For more coverage, see:

Joseph Knippenberg, “Federal Government Tries to Block Homeschooling Refugees,” First Things

Mary Jackson, “Christian homeschoolers losing deportation fight,” WORLD Magazine

Napp Nazworth, “Homeschooling Not a Fundamental Right, Justice Dept. Argues,” Christian Post

Joe Carter, “Homeschooling Not a Fundamental Right Says Justice Department,” Acton Institute

Michael Farris, “Sobering Thoughts from the Romeike Case,” Home School Legal Defense Association, which is representing the Romeikes

Rod Dreher, “Romeikes as Canaries in Coal Mines,” American Conservative

What’s the most important economic lesson Americans need to learn?

By Kuyperian Commentary Special Contributing Scholar, Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.

There are any number of appropriate ways to answer this question. I have for years now affirmed that the most foundational economic truth is that God owns everything. We need to learn that, down to our toes. I have also affirmed that the first law of economics is that consuming more than we produce leads to poverty, consuming less than we produce leads to prosperity. Grasping these truths would go rather a long way in fixing what ails us, economically speaking.

Having barely survived another election season, however, and mourning the end of Twinkies, I’m tempted instead to start with this lesson- governments cannot create any wealth, though they can and usually do destroy wealth. On both sides of the aisle we had voters demanding and candidates promising more jobs, better health care, rising home values. Government, however, is a parasitic institution rather than a productive one. That is, the government doesn’t actually produce anything. Everything that it has it first must take from someone else. If it “invests” in infrastructure, it does so with money taken from others who would invest where there was market demand. Federal loans (or guarantees which amount to the same thing) to green companies happen because people investing their own money don’t think it a wise investment. Turns out people were right, the government wrong, again. The key point, however, is that they had to take money from you and me first.

Please remember this when the left complains of corporate greed supplanting human need. What these folks mean is, “I know better what to do with the wealth of stockholders than they know. I should have control over the wealth of others.”  Every dollar directed by the state is a dollar that once belonged to someone else, who would make market decisions, rather than political ones.

Which brings us to the other side of the coin. The state cannot create wealth, but they certainly can destroy it. The notion that businesses can just pass tax burdens on to consumers is patently false. Suppose for a moment that Michelle Obama successfully lobbies for a Twinkie Tax of $10 a Twinkie. How many Twinkies will Hostess be able to sell? Demand for a given product or service goes down when prices go up, even if prices go up because of an increased tax burden. Lowering demand is generally bad for business.

Governments also destroy wealth by inflating the money supply. This is a tax on savings. My $1 can buy a loaf of bread in an economy with x paper dollars. Double the number of paper dollars to 2x and dollars to donuts my dollar will now buy only half a loaf. The government, without taxing me, without breaking into the bank, has stolen half a loaf of bread from me. Inflation isn’t businesses being greedy, but governments being devious and destructive.

Finally governments can destroy wealth by regulating businesses. Requiring companies to provide health insurance to its employees, or pay them a wage above some arbitrary standard may seem like a good idea. Until we realize that wages are actually determined by supply and demand. If it costs me $10 an hour, because of government mandates, to hire someone for a job that I value at $9 an hour simply means no one gets hired to do the job. Multiply that principle across the board at a given business and it will go out of business.

God gave the state the power of the sword, to punish evildoers. That’s what they are to do. When they step outside their calling hardship comes, every time. Economies create wealth. Governments punish evildoers.

(Original piece can be found here. Also visit R.C. Sproul Jr. at his new website)

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