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  1. expiated


    How Does the American Inauguration of a President Compare to the British Coronation of a Monarch?

    (The following consists almost entirely of the text from a transcript conveying the words expressed by Dr. Albert Mohler during a podcast he shared on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.)

    When viewing the American inauguration of a president, one is witnessing a peaceful transfer of power.

    As of the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of Delaware, the 46th President of the United States (the 59th presidential inauguration scheduled in the history of the United States of America) the oath of office was given 78 times to 45 different people.

    Since Donald J. Trump was the 45th President of the United States, one might wonder how Joe Biden became the 45th man to hold the office. The reason is that Grover Cleveland served as both the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States, and thus, he is counted twice.

    So, before Biden, only 44 men had ever taken the oath of office. Hence, Joe Biden became only the 45th separate individual to serve as president, though this was the 46th time there was a change in the person filling the office.

    Now, we need to step a good deal further back than just considering the fact that this is a part of our constitutional order. We need to go back to the fact that every single government and every single government leader of considerable power has to be understood as holding power by some authority. The question is, by whose authority?

    Well, if you go back to the divine right of kings, you understand, just to give an example, that the British monarch rules and reigns, in so far as the British monarch currently rules and reigns, by the divine right of kings or queens as it is known. It is a divine sanction that is claimed, and that's made very clear in the coronation of a British monarch, but the president of the United States is not a monarch.

    The president of the United States does not gain legitimacy by the divine right to presidents. There is no such thing, but in the view of God and the entire nation, the President of the United States, having been elected to office, takes office on behalf of the governed. It is the consent of the governed that is at the very center of the American constitutional order, but let's go back to Britain. Let's go back to England for just a moment. What does it mean that a British monarch is crowned in the process of what is known as a coronation?

    The word "coronation" actually only means crowning. It's the official commemorative crowning of a British monarch. It has taken place over and over again in England, now Britain, down through the centuries, and it follows a very traditional majestic pattern.

    Now, as you're thinking about the coronation of the British monarch, the crowned monarch also makes an oath, the coronation oath, and it takes place not in view of the entire British people but actually, behind a screen in which the only participants are limited to the monarch whose coronation is taking place and the head of the church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury or whoever the church has deputized to undertake this responsibility. Following the example of Samuel with Saul in the Old Testament, the monarch is anointed with oil, invoking not only a political and regal but a ministerial duty on behalf of the people.

    In recent coronations, the music that has been played and sung in the background to the most intense moment in which the coronation oath is given and taken, it is William Frideric Handel's Zadok the Priest, making an intentional, even musical connection between the kings of Israel and the monarchs of the United Kingdom.

    What is invoked is a biblical solemnity and the divine right of kings, God's anointing through a priest of the monarch. It is a very meaningful event, and it is central to the identity of the United Kingdom. It is central to the history of England, but it is against that monarchial pattern that the American experiment and constitutional self-government was devised, but how would there be an American transfer?

    In the British system, there is a great deal of pageantry, and the coronation actually takes place in Westminster Abbey, which is a place of worship, one of the most historic places of worship in all of Christendom. The music that is played during a British coronation is some of the most beautiful in the entire English language. As a matter of fact, one of the central anthems that is used in a coronation and recently in royal weddings is a piece that is drawn from the 122nd Psalm, which is known as "I Was Glad," as in, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord."

    The most spectacular arrangement of that Psalm is by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry in the anthem that was written for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. Similar arrangements for coronations had been done by composers William Boyce and Henry Purcell. In any event, the music is absolutely majestic, and the context is worship.

    I am an American. I am not British. I am not a monarchist, but I do love the music of the English church and in particular, the majesty of the biblical language that is put to tune and to anthem for the context of ceremonial occasions in Britain such as the coronation of a monarch, but the British coronation of a monarch is in the background.

    In the foreground is, how we would, in the United States in a constitutional Republic, how we would commemorate the investiture in office of the nation's new chief executive, the new president of the United States? Would it be a service of worship? No. Presidents have generally participated in worship services, but the inauguration ceremony itself is not a worship service although in every single inauguration, some kind of prayer has been given.

    There is formality. There's a certain kind of secular liturgy, a constitutional liturgy that has been involved, going all the way back as so many things presidential go all the way back, to the nation's first chief executive, George Washington around whom, frankly, the founders at least partly invented the office of president of the United States.

    It's also interesting to watch the nomenclature, a British monarch is crowned in a coronation ceremony. An American president is merely invested in office in what is known as an inaugural or an inauguration ceremony. Inauguration in this sense just means the beginning of the term.

    Now, behind that is also a great deal of interest because as a matter of fact, until 1937, presidents of the United States, having been elected back before the end of the previous year, were not inaugurated until March the 4th of the year following their election. Now, how did that work?

    Well, it was not by accident. March 4 of 1789 was the first operational day of the new constitutional republic known as the United States of America, and thus, the day, March the 4th, 1789 becomes day one of America's constitutional government, but it created a problem that became very apparent by the early 20th century. That was that the period of time that a newly elected president had to wait to enter office was simply too long.

    It made more sense back in the horse and buggy age when it took some time for a newly elected president even to know that he had been elected, much less to assemble a government, but by the time you get to the 1930s, the problem is the opposite.

    There are urgent matters of national attention that need movement, and that movement in presidential leadership can't happen if you have a lame duck president for a matter of long months. The same thing was true of Congress. There was a lame duck Congress in office for far too long, so the United States passed what became known as the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, moving the opening day of the new Congress to January the 3rd and the first date of a new presidential administration to January the 20th and not only January the 20th, but January the 20th at exactly noon, Washington time.

    At noon Washington time, a new presidential term begins, but it doesn't begin with the newly elected president or the re-elected president merely serving in a passive role. Rather, the one singular focus of the Constitution ceremony has to do with an oath of office. The one thing that must happen in a presidential inauguration is that the president must receive and must respond to the oath of office. He must, to use the language, take an oath.

    That oath of office is just a few words. It comes down to this. The president must state, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God."

    Now, the words so help me God are not in the constitutional language, and furthermore, the updated constitutional language allows a president to affirm rather than to swear the faithful execution of the office of president of the United States and the entirety of the oath of office, but nonetheless, no matter what verb or noun may be used here, it is indeed an oath of office.

    It is required of the president of the United States, and without that oath of office, the president is not invested with constitutional responsibility. That's very interesting. That is the one thing that must happen in an American presidential inauguration, and it is the one thing, which is common to both the coronation of a British monarch and the inauguration of an American president. It is the giving and the taking of an oath.

    In early years of the American presidency, the president could merely say I do, but now, as is the case also in most formal wedding ceremonies, the vow must be not only affirmed but repeated so that the words have particular import, and the words are coming from the President of the United States himself.

    Now, just to go back to the math for a moment, there have been 77 administrations of the oath of office, but there are only 45 presidents of the United States including Joe Biden who will be the 78th to take the oath of office. Why is the one number so much larger than the second? Well, it is because those presidents who have become presidents because of the death of the president when they were vice-president, they have not been inaugurated, but they have taken the oath of office.

    Similarly, the same thing was true of Gerald Ford in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, and Ford became the new president of the United States. By the way, as a footnote, the only individual to become president having been elected neither vice-president or president of the United States.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
    #41     Jan 22, 2021
  2. expiated


    A Lesson On Minimum Wage
    From the podcast delivered by Dr. Albert Mohler on Thursday, February 4, 2021.

    PART I

    Should the Minimum Wage Be Raised to $15? Understanding the Moral and Economic Issues at Stake as the Debate Unfolds

    Should the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour? Should we have a minimum wage? If we should have one, where exactly should it be set? How should it be set? Who should set it? These are huge moral issues, and it's really interesting that even as there is a very important national conversation going on, indeed a national argument about the minimum wage, there are far too few people who've actually thought it through in moral terms or understand it in economic terms. So this is a big issue. It's right on the headlines of the newspapers. It's very much a part of the agenda of the new president of the United States. President Biden and his administration is being driven by figures such as Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States Senate, now a Democratic Socialist Head of the Senate Budget Committee.

    It is likely to be something that actually takes the form of legislation. It's likely to be coming before Congress. The big question among the politicians is whether or not it will pass. But the worldview issues are really interesting. If you take a biblical worldview, you come to understand that the Bible values labor, and it values the tie of labor to reward. This is made abundantly clear over and over again, not only in the narratives of scripture, in other words, if you plant a crop, you can expect to have a harvest. If you don't go to the work of planting it, don't expect to harvest. You have labor and reward tied together in the Proverbs. You have it in the warp and woof of scripture. It's just very, very clear. Labor is good. God made us to work. He made us to understand that work is tied to reward.

    And it goes the other way too. As the New Testament tells us, the one who will not take care of his family is unworthy of being called a brother. Or as we also find in scripture, if he will not work, let him not eat. And it's very clear, there should be a tie between work and investment and reward. A sane society, rightly ordered, honors that linkage between labor and reward. But then the question comes down, what about a just system of labor and reward? Who should decide if it's just? Who decides how much anyone gets paid? Now in classical free market economics, it comes down to the principle that people as free human beings should be able to make free contracts with one another for anything that is not illegal. In other words, it should be illegal for either one of us, if the two of us enter into a contract to do something that is illegal. Just consider a murder for hire, for example, by definition, that's not only illegal, it is morally wrong. That is an invalid transaction.

    But when you look at other kinds of contracts, the reality is government by a classical economic analysis should involve itself as little as possible. But by the time you got to the early decades of the 20th century, there was a very strong pressure for something that would be legalized or mandated as a minimum wage. In the United States, that legal minimum wage did not come until the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The U.S. minimum wage was first set in 1938 by national policy. And just in case you're interested, it was set at a quarter an hour, 25 cents an hour. Other labor regulations came along with the establishment of the minimum wage. And of course, all this came in the midst of what was known as the Great Depression.

    The argument was that the federal government had to step in to set a minimum wage. Now, how was that wage to be set? Well, the idea, going all the way back to 1938, is that the minimum wage should establish an adequate full-time pay, weekly or monthly depending upon how it was allocated, for someone to live above the poverty line. So the minimum wage should be set so that someone who had an hourly job working, say, 40 hours a week should have a minimal expectation of an income above the poverty line. Now, the minimum wage has changed over the years, and so have the number of hourly workers who are covered by the policy. I think most Americans hearing about raising the minimum wage, we think that that's going to affect millions and millions and millions of Americans.

    Actually, when you look at the hourly wage structure right now, as reported in the most recent completed year, that will be 2017 in most reports, the percentage of American hourly workers who are paid the minimum wage is 2.3%. That's 2.3%. Which means the vast majority of those who are being paid an hourly wage are being paid at least something, even if it's a few cents an hour, more than the minimum wage. Now that means that the percentage of those who are actually paid the minimum wage has been going down in the United States. That percentage was 13.4% in 1979, again, 2.3% in 2017.

    But here's something else that's very important when you think about the minimum wage. When you look at a wage scale system and you raise the lowest wage, the lowest hourly wage, then what happens is it ratchets up the entire system. So when you're talking about a raise in the minimum wage, you're not just talking about going from the current minimum wage to some higher figure, by the way, the $15 is effectively more than doubling the current minimum wage, but if you look at increasing the minimum wage, you're actually looking at increasing all hourly wages, if any kind of sense is going to be maintained in the salary and wage structure. Now it's easy to understand the logic behind the minimum wage. You should be able to expect, according to this theory, a wage on an hourly basis that it at least keeps you out of poverty. That would include rent and food and some other expenses, but then, of course, you get into all kinds of calculations about what exactly is the poverty line, how far above the poverty line the minimum wage should be set.

    But there is at least a moral logic to this, but that doesn't mean it is the correct moral logic. I mean, this gets to a host of other questions that people generally don't want to talk about, especially politicians. If a government does decide that it's going to start setting policy like wage policy, then it is going to take responsibility for an incredible number of both predictable and unpredictable effects in the economy. Now, one thing to keep in mind is this, every time the wage structure goes up, there's an immediate change in the job availability. When the wages go up, the number of jobs tends to go down, and that's because employers often have a finite amount of money that they can pay people. And so if they're paying fewer people more money, they're doing that in exchange for paying more people less money. That's just the way mathematics works.

    Now, the other thing to keep in mind is that when you have a shift in the minimum wage, the greatest danger is that the jobs you're going to eliminate are the jobs that are actually covered by, well, maybe you guessed it, the minimum wage. Which is to say that the people who are paid the minimum wage tend to be people who lack the skills to qualify for a job that pays more. Now, if you're looking as an employer at your business model, you recognize that if the cost of labor is going to go up at that entry level, then you're probably going to cut the number of entry level jobs.

    Now, there's something else to keep in mind here. We're living in an age of increased automation. There are more businesses that are looking at some tipping point as to whether they're going to have a function fulfilled by a machine or by some kind of technology or by a human being. Now here's the thing, the machine costs money, but the machine can't demand an increase in their minimum wage. If you're looking at the minimum wage, which since July the 24th, 2009 has been $7.25 an hour, then what you're saying is right now, then of course the proposal is to more than double that over the next five years, but if you're saying just $7.25 right now, that doesn't sound like a lot of money. But the question is, what are the employers getting in terms of return out of that $7.25 wage. That's where employers will have to make the calculation as to whether or not they're willing to pay the wage. And that means they're actually going to have to make decisions as to how many paid positions they can afford.


    Who Decides What Is or Is Not a Just System of Labor and Reward? Who Decides What Is Fair? Big Questions Raised by the Proposed Increase to the Minimum Wage

    But in a Christian worldview perspective, there's more to consider here. For example, who decides what's fair? Now, one of the principles of classical, conservative, free market economics is that free people should be able to establish free contracts based upon mutual self-interest. Now, again, you look at that and you say, "That makes perfect sense. How does it work?" Well, it means someone wants a job done, say a bunch of trees cut down. Now, that person decides it is worth $1,000 to have all those trees taken down and removed from the property. Let's say that that works out on an hourly wage to less than $7.25 an hour. Well, let's say the person who wants to do it actually wants that $1,000 and is willing to actually take a smaller hourly wage simply because the job seems like exactly what he or she wants to do. The established terms are met. The contract is satisfied. Both parties are happy. But not the federal government which says, "You've got to pay $7.25 an hour." Or it's about to say, according to the efforts by the Biden administration, "About $15 an hour within the next five years."

    So when you're talking about a minimum wage, and again, there are arguments for and against it, both of them follow a certain logic. Just recognize that if you're for it, you are saying, "We don't want free people to be free to establish contracts, mutually agreeable contracts based upon their mutual self-interest. The government's going to come in and tell both, "Here's what interest you have to keep in mind." There's another moral issue that comes into this, and that is the fact that a minimum wage is basically what in economic terms is called an unfunded mandate. The government says, "You're now paying 7.25 an hour, within five years you're going to have to pay $15 an hour." That is a mandate of cost, that's a mandated payment.

    But the government has the easy part in this, all it has to do is pass the law. It's the employers who have to pay the money. This is an unfunded mandate, and in general, there should be grave moral concerns about unfunded mandates. If I tell you, "You're going to have to pay this," the easy thing for me is to tell you you have to pay it, the hard thing is for you to have to pay it. As I said, there are intended and unintended consequences. There are some predictable and unpredictable consequences.

    Now, there's a matter of honesty that should also apply here, will increasing the minimum wage raise the incomes of Americans who are paid the minimum wage, and by ratcheting up the system just about everyone else? Well, yes, that's likely to happen. People are likely to make more money. Will they actually be able to have then an economic gain from this? Well, not if the costs of consumer goods, say rent and groceries, goes up at an equal or greater rate than the wage scale. And that's something you're going to have to watch. That's why if you go back to the inflationary spirals of the 1970s, you had to have both wage and price controls if you wanted to have any meaningful control over the economy. But Americans should immediately understand and resist the idea of control in this sense, where the government's saying what you can charge for a bag of sugar, what you can charge for an hour of your time.

    Something else to keep in mind is that if you're going to have a minimum wage, you're probably going to have to come up with some exemptions, that is to say they're probably going to be some people you're going to say don't have to be paid the minimum wage. Now, the largest group of those who are probably covered by an exemption in the United States are those whose primary income come by tips, say waiters and waitresses in restaurants. Here's the thing, if most of those persons in the wait business are told that they can have a choice between tips or say the minimum wage, most of them will choose the tips. Why? Because, number one, they're likely to be able to make more money. Number two, there's a rather instant connection between their performance and the income that comes. And there are people who know they can really make that work.

    Under the current rate set back in 2009, tipped employees are to be paid a minimum of $2.13 an hour. $2.13 an hour, that's a long way from $7.25. It's likely to be a commensurate kind of gap under the proposal the Democrats are now considering. But how does that work? Well, it means that there are individuals who take the wage of $2.13 an hour, because most of their income is going to come by tips and they expect to come out ahead.

    Here's what you need to note. Once a government decides it's going to extend some exemptions, it generally has to come back in and complexify the matter even further. And that's exactly what the federal government has done. Because now the federal government's tried to hedge the bets on even those who are paid by tipping by saying that the employer must pay $2.13 if the person is betting on a greater income by tipping. And if the tips don't actually come in to the level of the minimum wage, then the employer has to add to the income whatever's needed to equalize up to their minimum wage. Are you seeing a lot of math involved here?

    But there are two other considerations that we need to bring into our thinking before we leave this subject. One of them has to do with teenagers, teenagers entering the labor market. I entered the labor market as a hourly-wage earner in the year 1973. It was the very day I turned 14 years old. I got a job the day I turned 14, and I started making the minimum wage, which in 1973 was $1.60 an hour. I got to work 10 hours the first week, I got $16 pay. I thought I was a rich man. By the way, that very first paycheck I got was also an instruction in why I became a political conservative. It is because I didn't actually get a paycheck for $16, I got a paycheck for $16 of earned wages, minus taxes withheld, social security, you name it. It wasn't $16 I got to take home.

    But I also learned another lesson. If I did well at my job, I didn't stay at the minimum wage. If I did well at my job, my employer said, "You're worth more to me than the minimum wage," and began to pay me more than the minimum wage. So at that point I really didn't care what the minimum wage was, I cared what I was able to make as a contract with my employer on an hourly basis about what my contribution to the firm was. My contribution, by the way, started with bagging groceries and taking those groceries out to the customer's car. As I did so, I worked with the legion of teenagers who were involved also in their very first jobs. We were basically a band of happy hourly workers, bagging groceries, taking the groceries out to the car, thanking the customer, bringing the cart back in, getting to the next counter, starting the process all over again.

    But here's the bottom line, we need to recognize that every increase in the minimum wage, certainly anything where the minimum wage is now much less where it is projected, cuts out an awful lot of teenage opportunity. To put the matter bluntly, employers have to come to the conclusion that hiring a 14-year-old... Well, that was legal back when I was hired in 1973. Let's say hiring a 16-year-old right now might not be worth it if that 16-year-old's not going to produce more than, a lot more than, $15 of income in that hour.

    If it's an expensive proposition beyond that, the teenager's not likely to get a job. Teenage jobs are likely to be the first jobs to disappear, and that has lifetime consequences. I'm not talking about lifetime wages so much as I'm talking about the lack of work experience for teenagers and adolescents, which I believe is very injurious morally and in terms of personal maturity as you look to the future. Here's something I can tell you that it's very well-documented, young people who began jobs as teenagers and learned a work ethic in that sense tend to have better jobs to do better at their jobs and to be economically ahead of their peers who didn't.

    That's one of the problems with the minimum wage, it's especially a problem when you look at ratcheting up the minimum wage as much as the Biden administration is looking to do. You're basically saying, "No luck, teenagers. This is going to drive out an awful lot of jobs that teenagers could have, but you'll just have to find a way into the workforce at another level." That would be the minimum wage level, which is likely to mean you're going to have to get some skills before someone's going to give you the job.


    Is the Minimum Wage Right or Wrong? Are Some Jobs Expendable in Order to Raise the Minimum Wage?

    But this is where Christians understand the biggest issue in all of this, it's the moral question, is the minimum wage right or wrong? Again, I want to concede intellectually, in Christian worldview analysis, that's an arguable proposition. You can argue that the minimum wage is right. You can argue that the minimum wage is wrong. There are consequences to both of those positions, to both of those arguments. I would argue that in the main the minimum wage is wrong, because I think it leads to less justice rather than more, is because I believe it doesn't serve society as well, certainly as is promised. I believe that at least the most basic issue here is that it eliminates the freedom of free individuals in a free society to freely contract with one another for what each sees as mutually agreeable. That should be just basic. That should be a given.

    But the argument that is for the minimum wage is that without it workers will be exploited. Now, again, that's not a stupid argument, because in a society you're going to have some vulnerable people, and they might not have the kind of social standing or social power to resist that exploitation. That is possible. That was the argument that was made by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and others going back to 1938. The question is, once government does this, is the government going to do it well? My argument is that once the government decides to intrude in an economy this way, it generally does it badly. But this is one of those issues in which we just need to say to one another as Christians, "There are arguments for, there are arguments against. You have to come up with which one based on upon both the principial issues and also the practical effects turns out best for you beings."

    One illustration on this issue that I want to bring to fore comes from a state in that was made by a former Secretary of Labor of the United States. During the Clinton administration, the most well-known Secretary of Labor was Robert Reich. He's a well-known economist long before he became the Secretary of Labor. In 2015 he wrote an article back then, so that's five years ago, a little bit more than that now, entitled The Morality of a $15 Minimum. Let's be clear, he is for it. He's writing from the progressive left. He is for raising the minimum wage. He is for doing it though in a way that he concedes means that there will be fewer jobs. This is rare. You rarely have an economist argue this honestly, acknowledging that raising the minimum wage is going to eliminate some jobs, some jobs are going to disappear.

    This is what he said, he acknowledges in his own words, "Yet maybe some jobs are worth risking if a strong moral case can be made for a $15 minimum." Very interesting. "Yet maybe some jobs are worth risking if a strong moral case can be made for a $15 minimum." The next sentence he writes is this, "That moral case is that no one should be working full time and remain in poverty." Now, that's an argument we can understand. The problem with that is that when the minimum wage was established in 1938, it was established on the idea that you would have a family, and you'd have one major wage earner, and that wage earner ought to be paid a minimum wage that would keep the family above the poverty line. Once you sever all of this, given the breakdown of the family, the argument becomes a lot more complicated and much less persuasive.

    But again, just think about the fact that Robert Reich had the honesty to write, "Maybe some jobs are worth risking if a strong moral case can be made for a $15 minimum." Now, let me tell you to whom that argument is going to make sense, those who after the minimum wage is raised keep their jobs. To them that argument is rightly going to be moral, it's going to make sense. Let me tell you those to whom that argument will appear to be not moral, but immoral, and that is those who will make nothing after the raise in the minimum wage, because their job disappears.

    Earlier this week, we were talking about the GameStop issue and that story about a crazy development on Wall Street. I mentioned at the time that stock prices eventually tend to fall to exactly where the market thinks the company is worth or will be worth in the future. The kind of speculation that led to a 1700% increase in GameStop's stock over a brief period of time is going to fall to earth. Indeed, it already has fallen to earth. Eventually a company stock comes down to what people think the company is worth.

    My point in concluding this about the minimum wage is that eventually employers decide what labor is worth. If they don't decide that on the basis of what they pay, beginning with the minimum wage and going up, then they will make that decision based upon how many they will pay. One way or another, they'll make the decision, "We're going to pay this much for labor." And then they're not going to pay anymore. It may be a greater number of people, it may be a lesser number of people, but basically it's just not possible for a labor cost to expand the way politicians believe they will expand or promise they will expand. But it's also true that if you're going to have a minimum wage, then eventually the political debate is going to have to be over what that minimum wage should be, and that does become a political question.

    As you watch the political debate that's coming on this, and it's likely to come pretty quickly because the Biden administration's trying to put this in the stimulus bill as a response to COVID-19, more to talk about that, but the timing is coming fast. Watch the most interesting debate, which is likely to be in the United States Senate, where you're going to find senators representing states where the effect of an increase in the minimum wage would be quite different. The outcome of a mandated raise in the minimum wage is likely to look very different if you're in one state than if you're in another. Some senators are going to want to get the political credit for doing what the people say they want, raise the minimum wage. Other people are afraid they're going to get the blame for the loss of jobs that will almost assuredly follow.

    I'll admit, I have to think about this in somewhat personal terms. If you were to go back to the 14-year-old me and say, "Would you like to have a higher minimum wage?" I would have said, "Yes, you bet I do." I was paid that then glorious $1.60 an hour, I would have been glad for it to have been more. But here's the point, had the government said that the entry wage had to be 2.50 or $3 an hour, 14-year-old Albert Mohler probably wouldn't have had that job in the first place.

    #42     Feb 8, 2021
  3. expiated


    I recently commented in another thread that when we start messing around with God's natural order, there are almost sure to be unexpected negative consequences. However, in a world that I think has become all too delusional, many are purposefully hiding the truth in an effort to continue advancing their "woke" agendas.

    This I believe to be morally reprehensible. At the very least, we owe it to others, especially to young people, to tell them the whole story, and then let them decide for themselves what they believe to be true or false, right or wrong, wisdom or folly.

    With this in mind, I'd like to archive the following article as a possible resource for a secondary school curriculum on human sexuality and/or psychology.

    OPINION article that appeared in
    We Need Balance When It Comes To Gender Dysphoric Kids. I Would Know
    ON FEB 9, 2021 AT 7:30 AM EST

    I am a 48-year-old transgender man. I was thrilled when the medical community told me six years ago that I could change from a woman to a man. I was informed about all the wonderful things that would happen due to medical transition, but all the negatives were glossed over. Since then, I have suffered tremendously, including seven surgeries, a pulmonary embolism, an induced stress heart attack, sepsis, a 17-month recurring infection, 16 rounds of antibiotics, three weeks of daily IV antibiotics, arm reconstructive surgery, lung, heart and bladder damage, insomnia, hallucinations, PTSD, $1 million in medical expenses, and loss of home, car, career and marriage. All this, and yet I cannot sue the surgeon responsible—in part because there is no structured, tested or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care.

    Read that again: There is no structured, tested, or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care. Not for 42-year-olds, and not for the many minors embarking on medical transition in record numbers. It is not transphobic or discriminatory to discuss this—we as a society need to fully understand what we are encouraging our children to do to their bodies.

    Throughout transition, I second-guessed my decisions, but each counseling session and doctor's appointment amounted to one more push convincing me I could be cured of being born in the wrong body. The truth was that I didn't fit in as a dominant, aggressive, assertive lesbian. The dream of finally fitting in dangled like a carrot: The idea that I could fit in catapulted me to a time much like adolescence, with its drive for acceptance, inclusive peers and the fantasy of being normal.

    During my post-operation 17 months of sheer survival, I discovered that transgender health care is experimental and that large swaths of the medical industry encourage minors to transition due, at least in part, to fat profit margins. I was gobsmacked. Each day I researched more and became increasingly appalled. As I jumped from ER to ER desperately seeking help, I realized that nobody knew what to do. Each physician told me to return to the original surgeon. I was trapped like a child with an abusive parent.

    My recurring bladder infection not only demolished my body; it started to ravage my mind, too. I stopped being able to problem-solve, and then lost my health insurance when I couldn't work. I spent many nights in the bathroom in too much pain to even make it to the toilet, forced to urinate on the floor, screaming as what felt like razor blades left my body. Rest came only in 45-minute increments that I induced with four shots of vodka, six Benadryl pills and a handful of melatonin—with only sleep-deprived hallucinations for my trouble.

    One night I simply couldn't take it. I wanted to die. I crawled to bed and had another hallucination. My children's lives flashed before my eyes, and I saw the devastation my death would cause them. Right then, I made a deal with God, the universe, whatever you call it, that if my life were spared, if I were allowed to be here for my kids, I would help other kids by ensuring people knew what the experimentation of transgender health care really entails. I remember my whimpers: "God, an eye for an eye—in reverse. I will fight with a mother's passion for others if I can be here for my kids."

    So here I am, a trans man, sifting through my good and bad decisions, and for the first time embracing who I am—what I have created, and the life I now lead. It took me 48 years to realize I transitioned because I never wholeheartedly accepted being a lesbian. Our children don't have a prayer to embrace the reality of something it takes a lifetime to understand. That's our job, as parents: to protect them from foolish, lifelong mistakes.

    Here's what I could not comprehend before transitioning and what I honestly believe no child is capable of consenting to:
    • Decreased life expectancy
    • Increased risk of premature death from heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms
    • Bone damage
    • Possible liver damage
    • Increased mental health complications
    • Increased chances of mood-syndrome symptoms
    • Higher suicide rates than non-trans population
    • 12 percent higher chance than non-trans population to develop symptoms of psychosis
    • Chance of stunted brain development
    • Much reduced chance for lifelong sexual pleasure
    • Higher chance of sterility and infertility
    • No improved mental health outcomes
    • Not completely reversible
    Trans activists tout studies that say medically transitioning gender-questioning children improves mental health. But those studies have often been retracted (and those retractions underreported by the media).

    Moreover, no long-term studies have been conducted on children who grow up without the benefit of natural puberty. No studies at all have been done on de-transitioners (people who return to identifying as their natal sex). What are the psychological effects? No one has a clue, and researchers are too often shut down by cancel culture for even raising the questions.

    Peer-reviewed studies show a shocking correlation between gender dysphoria and autism, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other co-morbidities. Additionally, it seems that many of these children are simply gay. Could pushing people on a one-way path to medical transition be a different form of "conversion therapy?" We need to ask and study these hard questions—for the good of all children. But we're not—not in the mainstream media, and certainly not in President Joe Biden's new administration.

    America is proceeding down its path of total affirmation just as other countries are restoring greater balance. This past December, the U.K. High Court of Justice ruled that puberty blockers for minors are both experimental and a one-way ticket to permanent transition. Finland in 2020 completely overhauled its approach to treating minors with gender dysphoria, prioritizing psychotherapeutic non-invasive interventions and recognizing adolescence as a time of major identity exploration. Sweden is conducting a systematic literature review of the scientific basis of the long-term effects on physical and mental health of puberty blockers and hormones. The researcher who championed the "Dutch protocol" recently called for a rethink, while other research is beginning to show that the current one-size-fits-all status quo is too limited.

    So if we are now waking up to the fact that gender dysphoria is over-simplistically conflated with transgenderism, medical treatments have understudied long-term consequences, some are getting rich off transgender medicine and de-transitioners are speaking up in skyrocketing numbers, why are we only making it easier for children to unquestioningly transition?

    We now have the obligation to work together to slow trans medicalization of minors until they are adults and have the capacity to truly understand the lifelong consequences of transitioning. As a former lesbian and current trans man, I maintain this is not transphobic. It is actually sensitive and caring to recognize that not just one treatment or pathway is right for all kids.

    Therefore, I am currently building a bipartisan army to protect our children, hold the medical industry accountable and educate our president and the rest of society about the dangers of transgender extremism. We must throw our differences aside for a moment; I promise you, once children are safe, we can resume fighting. But until children are safe, nothing else matters.

    So, endocrinologists and pediatricians, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans, radical feminists and evangelicals, lawyers and psychologists, parents and teachers: My hand is out. I will grab yours and turn down no one. Together, we can build a circle around our most precious resource: our children. Help me fulfill the promise I made on the night I almost gave up, to be here for my children—and now yours. Who's with me?

    Scott Newgent is active with Trans Rational Educational Voices ( Twitter: @ScottNewgent.

    The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
    #43     Feb 11, 2021
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    The Origins of Indian Reservations:

    #44     Feb 22, 2021
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    What is the difference between a Christian and an atheist?

    What Do Christians and Atheists Think about Authority, Loyalty, and Sanctity? The Moral and Theological Distinctions of the Christian and Atheistic Worldviews


    [We're going to look at] some recent scientific research, that has incredibly important worldview significance. In this case, the research is reported at the site Live Science. The editor and reporter in this case, is Laura Geggel, and the headline is this, "Atheist and believers have different moral compasses." That's very interesting. Atheists and believers we're told, have different moral compasses.

    Now, we as Christians understand that that's the very issue of the importance of worldview. The clash of worldviews between belief in God and disbelief in God, has to be so massive that of course we would be operating respectively with different moral frameworks, the most basic fundamentally different moral frameworks. But this is presented as scientific evidence of the fact that it's been discovered, that atheists and believers have different moral compasses. The report says this, "In some respects, the moral compass was incredibly alight between the two groups, they both highly rated fairness and protecting the wellbeing of vulnerable people, for instance, and both highly endorsed liberty but not oppression. However," the report says, "the group diverged when it came to matters of group cohesion, such as valuing loyalty and respecting authority."

    The next sentence is very interesting, "The research shows that contrary to public perception, atheists do have a moral compass, but compared with believers, their compass is differently calibrated, possibly," according to the report, "due to factors such as how they were raised and whether they are highly analytical thinkers." That according to one of the lead researchers in the report. Now, the interesting thing here, is the fact that we're told that contrary to public opinion, atheists do have a moral compasses but it's different than that of believers in God.

    Now, here's what we need to know...

    We have never made the argument, and we should never be caught making the argument, that anyone does not have a moral compass. The reality is, we understand that everyone has a moral compass, because everyone being made in God's image, has a moral knowledge and is driven by a basic moral sense that's going to take some kind of structure, some kind of ethical shape.

    Everyone of us is going to operate by some moral compass. But the discussion is often about whether or not atheists, or unbelievers, can be moral. And of course the answer is, of course. By a human comparison, they can live quite moral lives.

    Now, not by a biblical understanding where we understand that we have all sinned, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but we do nonetheless understand that the basic issue for Christians is not that atheists can't be moral, but that atheism can't sustain any authentic morality. And that's also something that is basically within the intuitions of most Americans, who have made very clear they're not eager to elect atheists to public trusts, such as public office.

    But nonetheless, the differences that are articulated in this report, also turn out to be extremely interesting. The researchers tell us that virtually everyone, and includes atheists and believers, agree on the moral importance of issues such as caring and fairness, but there are differences, key differences. We're told that the differences between believers and disbelievers, come down to three values. Now, this is going to be really interesting. What three values mark the critical distinction in this research, between the moral compasses of believers and the moral compasses of non-believers, or atheists?

    Well, the three differences come down to three words, authority, loyalty, and sanctity. Here's how the report tells us. The differences between believers and disbelievers, were found on authority, which is described as respecting authority figures such as police, parents and teachers. Loyalty, which is defined as being loyal to one's group, such as a perceived country, not burning a country's flag for instance, and sanctity, which means not doing anything perceived as degrading, usually in the sexual sense such as being promiscuous. So look at those three terms, authority, loyalty and sanctity.

    Now here's one of the most important things we need to see. When you look at those three words, authority, loyalty and sanctity, at least the first and the third are really explicitly theological. The word authority is actually extremely theological, because we believe that the creator God, the sovereign over the universe, the self-revealing God of scripture, actually is the only ultimate authority and he wields all authority. All earthly authorities, are actually created by him, and are subservient to him. His word, the Holy Scriptures, is authoritative precisely because He is the author. You understand that authority can't be pressed back in an entirely atheist frame beyond a human being, and that means there's not much real authority there at all.

    So in that distinction, which is reflected in this research, between the worldviews of believers and atheists, yes, it's perfectly understandable why believers would have a much higher interest in and commitment to authority than unbelievers, why authority would function in a much larger way in a believers worldview.

    That last word was sanctity. Now wait just a minute, it's defined in this research as having to do with things perceived as degrading, that is avoiding them, and as mentioned in a sexual sense, that would mean sexual morality. But here's what we need to note, in its very essence, sanctity means holiness. Sanctity goes back to the Latin sanctus, which is the translation of the word holy, which is found both in the Old and New Testaments.

    The point is, when you're talking about holy, you're actually talking about God. No wonder there's a very low score of sanctity among atheists as compared to believers, because you really don't have any sanctity in the truer sense if you don't have the sacred, the sacred one, the sacred God. The God who reveals himself as the prophet Isaiah came to know as, Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord of Hosts.

    So as we look at this list of authority, loyalty and sanctity, authority and sanctity are actually theological terms, although neither the reporter for this particular science source, nor the researcher seems to know that, or at least to acknowledge that, but we do.

    But the second of the words was loyalty. Now, loyalty is defined in this research as being committed to a country or a group, and that would mean not burning a country's flag. Loyalty would mean concrete acts of association with the people to whom you belong.

    Now, loyalty is absolutely necessary to any kind of human society. If we don't have a basic loyalty to one another, human society can't happen. And I would argue that in a biblical worldview, by common grace, loyalty is pretty much distributed around, well, human beings wherever you find any kind of human society.

    But it would be tempting to say that's not a theological category, but actually, rightly understood, it is a theological category because loyalty, if rooted simply in self-interest, doesn't last long. It's loyalty that is rooted in some form of love, well, that's a very different thing. But if you are talking about love, well, you are talking about a theological category. Hallmark and American Greetings might not recognize that, but Christians had better.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2021
    #45     Feb 26, 2021
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    An example of the insanity of the secular left...

    Ryan Anderson
    New York Post op-ed

    The Equality Act would sacrifice the hard-won rights of women, while privileging men who identify as women. If it becomes law, such men would have a right to spend the night in battered-women's shelters, disrobe in women's locker rooms and compete on women's sports teams—even at K-12 schools….

    Under the Equality Act, religious schools, adoption agencies and other charities would face federal sanction for upholding the teachings of mainstream biology and the Bible, modern genetics and Genesis, when it comes to sex and marriage…. Outrageously, the Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Pope Francis would be treated as the legal equivalent of a Jim Crow segregationist.

    It gets worse. Medical doctors, secular and religious, whose expert judgment is that sex-reassignment procedures are misguided would now run afoul of our civil-rights laws. If you perform a mastectomy in the case of breast cancer, you will have to perform one on the teenage girl identifying as a boy. All in the name of equality….

    The icing on the cake? The act treats any refusal to offer abortion as "pregnancy" discrimination. Decades of conscience protections against abortion extremism at the federal, state and local levels would be undermined.
    #46     Feb 26, 2021
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    The Nature of Truth
    Excerpted from a March 9, 2021 podcast delivered by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. on The Briefing

    Oprah Winfrey has become the great living prophetess of "your truth." Now, if you go back to 2018 in the Golden Globes speech Winfrey's speech in that text celebrated what she referred to as "her truth." She said this, "What I know for sure is that speaking 'your truth' is the most important tool we all have." Now, what makes that language so strange? Just think about the English usage of truth. The pronoun "my" before "truth" is something that begs a lot of questions. How would "my truth" be different than "your truth" or "his truth" different than, well, let's just cite the gender confusion of the day, "their truth?"

    The reality is that what we're looking at here is the aftermath of what's now culturally accepted postmodern conception of truth, objective truth, historical truth, the correspondence theory of truth that says that a statement is true if it corresponds to external reality. Well, that's just basically gone. We need to recognize that don't jump from postmodern theory in France to Oprah Winfrey. There's an entire cultural process that gets you from the postmodernist of the mid-20th century in France to Oprah Winfrey. But it's Oprah Winfrey that influences the hundreds of millions, not the French post-structuralists.

    But again, I want to go back to that 2018 Golden Globes speech in which Oprah Winfrey talked about her encouragement to others to speak your truth. But I remembered an article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer back when that happened because of a couple of quotes that simply stand out for their value in our understanding.

    In the article that ran in The Inquirer by Anna Orso, and that was back in January of 2018, referring to Oprah Winfrey's understanding of her truth, my truth, your truth, a woman named Alex Crispino is identified. The article tells us, "Alex Crispino similarly described what her 'truth,'" and the word truth is put in quotation marks here, oddly, tragically enough, "what her 'truth' means."

    The article goes on, "She's a 27 year old who works in learning and development at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and also runs a network for women alumni of Temple University. For her, a personal truth means authenticity—'whoever you are being your full self.'" Now, whatever that means that has never had anything to do with an English language definition of truth before, but it does now. In the age of Oprah, it makes perfect sense.

    But Christina went on to say this, "You can't to verify someone's truth. You can't verify someone's journey and it shouldn't have to be verified. It's theirs." Now, once again, we understand that there are different memories of events. There are different experiences of events. That's a part of being a person. It's a part of being an individual.

    But the reality is that truth is something that is external to us and our responsibility is to come to know it and then to affirm it, to believe it, and then to pass it on as truth.

    If we're living in an age in which all we're saying when we make truth claims is, "This is 'my truth,'" then we're sunk. I don't want to be dependent upon "my truth" for the results of a CAT scan. I want someone who knows how to read a CAT scan to tell me what it means. I don't want to have someone who believes in "his truth" piloting a plane that I'm flying in at 33,000 feet. What if his or her truth isn't 33,000 feet?

    But we are looking here at a major loss to our civilization. If there is no truth and truth is simply Oprah's truth and Meghan's truth and Harry's truth, if truth isn't even susceptible to being verified or not verified, if that's not even important, then we're doomed in terms of any understanding of truth.

    This is where Christians have to understand, we really are perhaps the last people around who know that truth is something that is prior to us, our responsibility is to know it. Truth is not something that is dependent upon us for its truthfulness. When Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life," he wasn't saying, "I am 'my truth.'" He said, "I am 'the' truth." It's really important that Christians understand that.
    #47     Mar 9, 2021
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    #48     Mar 13, 2021
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    Believers should of course be in God's word on a daily basis. But, having read the Bible perhaps three times, the thought of simply reading it a fourth does not exactly excite me. At this point, I'm looking for something more. This is in part satisfied by listening to daily podcasts by deep thinkers, such as Al Mohler and Michael L. Brown, but the latter has gotten a bit too political for me lately, and in any case, this is not really enough.

    However, the following website seems like it might be just what the doctor ordered...


    It's a little slow, but when the information finally appears, it's very good. For example, out of curiosity, I accessed Psalm 119:18 and this is just one of the many commentaries it presented:


    Undoubtedly, this site will assist me in receiving nourishment from the richness of Scripture on a daily go through the entire Bible afresh and to appreciate all it has to offer more fully than a dry reading would do.
    #49     Mar 16, 2021
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    Marxism at its core...

    #50     Apr 17, 2021