1/27/10

Tuition and the State of Union

How a Federal Solution For Rising Tuition Will Fail
By: Jonathan Harris

Obama's State of the Union address was admittedly a hard speech to digest for more reasons than one. First of all, after it was over I felt a bit confused. Is Obama the radical leftist he's made himself out to be, or is he a just a moderate who’s been grafted into a progressive establishment? His empathetic statements seemingly aimed at middle class America did not make a great deal of sense in the light of his vigor to continue fighting for health-care reform and now a second stimulus. I had a very hard time taking him seriously especially after lamenting over the fact that America is in a constant state of “campaigning.” Really Mr. President? Didn’t you write the book on the perpetual campaign, being on more interviews, taking more photos, and making more speeches than any president in history? Even the State of the Union Speech itself was in the style of a campaign. As columnist Charles Krauthammer commented immediately following the speech, "It was extremely in-congruent." Obama was acting as an outsider by mentioning the "Washington" establishment about seven times, when in reality he and his party are the Washington establishment. Towards the beginning of the speech he claimed that, “We cut taxes for 95% of working families. . .” Later on in the speech however he stated that he hadn’t raised any taxes. Which one is he more proud of, not raising taxes, or cutting them? While the most overarching issues were all addressed from progressive position, some solutions came from centerfield remarkably. Obama’s proposal to look into offshore drilling and build nuclear powerplants witnessed cheers even from Republicans. Everything from homosexuals in the armed forces (which Obama is in favor of now apparently) to college tuition rates was addressed. The seventy minute speech left me weary and in agreement with Bob McDonald’s GOP response in which he remarked, “The federal government is simply trying to do too much.”

One issue mentioned in the speech which jumped out at me as being especially of interest to the college crowd was Mr. Obama’s statements in regard to tuition forgiveness and government aid. During his anonymous blasting of President Bushes policies over the previous ten years, Obama claimed that income shrunk while tuition went up. As a solution to this imagined colossal nightmare our president proposed increased federal aid to students, tax credits for parents paying for their child’s education, tuition forgiveness after 20 years for students who choose to work in private enterprise, tuition forgiveness after 10 years for students who work in public service – and for good added measure he inserted a personal scold aimed at education institutions for increasing their prices. How dare they! Now while this may sound as comical as the caveman who throws more wood on a fire in an attempt to put it out, most Americans will fail to see the irony. As Neal McClusky from the Cato Institute said, “the more the government gives to student aid programs (in both loans and grants) the more colleges can demand in tuition.” McClusky continues,

“government student aid and tuition costs are running around in a circle: that as Governments offer more aid to help out students with college costs, schools increase tuition accordingly to get even more money.”

This seems like a reasonable proposal. If you were a small businessman, and non-profit paid for you to take on apprentices in the hopes that you would train them in your trade, you would charge the most you possibly could. It was called the “the invisible hand” by Adam Smith in the 1700s, and it’s still just as invisible to Keynesians like Obama. The Associated Press reported this fact in October of last year stating:

“In 2008-2009, 65 percent of the $180 billion spent on higher education expenses came via the federal government in the form of grants, loans and work-study programs, up from 58 percent the year before. Overall, the report estimated federal grant aid rose almost 11 percent last year. That trend will likely continue because the maximum Pell Grant — the government's main college aid program for low-income students — rose by over $600 this year to $5,350.”

This increase in government aid perfectly parallels the 6.5 percent increase in tuition from 2008-2009. In fact, since the 1940s tuition has been steadily increasing as government aid becomes more and more available (though the educational quality has greatly diminished. Hey, I wonder if there’s a relationship there too?). So as you can see, giving more money to students for college will just make tuition rates skyrocket even higher, despite the president’s chastising words to the greedy private schools who, “God-forbid” would ever want to receive a profit.

Tuition forgiveness, the solution Obama spent the most time stressing, will bring tuition levels to a level I hardly want to even think about. Pretend you’re that small business owner once again who’s just taken on some apprentices being sponsored by a non-profit which doesn’t really care how much you charge. Now pretend that a certain percentage of your students are borrowing money to learn from you, but they don’t want to borrow too much. Now you have an incentive to lower your prices because you want their business. But lets say that no matter what, after 20 years that apprentice will have whatever money he borrowed simply forgiven, so he doesn’t ever have to worry about paying it back (because chances are he won’t). Now you’re free to charge whatever you want. The same goes for Yale University and every other educational institution.

Two last observation concerning tuition forgiveness: Obama cuts the waiting period for forgiveness in half for those who want to work in the public sector. This harkens back to his overriding agenda of increasing the public sector at the expense of private industry. It presents a tempting prospect for students who’ve taken out 150,000 dollars to get a degree to work in government. Also, what will happen to the loan companies if the money they expend to students is forgiven or reimbursed by the government? It’s something to ponder.

Despite emotional appeal that “No one should go broke because they decided to go to college,” the obvious question is, “Should the government go broke because they decided to go to college?” because that’s the proposal. He’s asking you the taxpayer to fund other people’s children to go to school through the means of an agency (the federal government) which is already broke. Shouldn’t Obama “Answer history’s call” by fixing that first?

1/26/10

Isaac and Rebekah: 4 Principles for a Prosperous Partnership

Why Every Christian Marriage Should be Arranged
By: Jonathan Harris

During my daily devotional this afternoon I happened to descend on Genesis 24 – the “romantic” story of Isaac and Rebekah. Of course, anyone who is semi-familiar with the story of Isaac and Rebekah knows that it was anything but “romantic,” at least compared to the sappy stories Hollywood creates such as every Christian girl’s favorite, “A Walk to Remember.” Is there a feeling of disappointment after the avid romance enthusiast finishes Genesis 24? I may not be the most authoritative person to speculate considering I don’t frequent the romance section of Barnes and Nobles, but I do suspect that such is the case whether it’s admitted or not. I attribute this to the false view of romance that has been elevated to the point of idolization in our culture. In Christian circles, finding a husband or wife means there must be chemistry (translation: he/she must make me feel good about myself). It is of little surprise that the divorce rate between evangelicals and everyone else is none existent. Our perception of what marriage should be, and the criterion which should be placed on any potential suitor are frankly the products of Cupid and his error- I mean arrow- dipped in heavy doses of self-esteem. This isn’t to say that relationships are to be emotionless and cold – on the contrary, they should be so much warmer than the world-system makes them! Relationships should be driven by a common passion for God, with a purposeful intention of fulfilling God’s plans with and through the marriage partner.

As college students, a point in life in which many marriage relationships start, it is of the utmost importance to have serious discussions and meaningful studies in this area. To someone just out from under the direction of parental figures, perhaps half a country away from all the familiar institutions and structures they respect, a new and fresh kind of attitude formulates – an attitude of freedom. For most of these Christian students, responsibility still (even after leaving the house) hasn’t entered their lives. They may be away from personal authority figures, but their living situations, classroom settings, transportation arrangements, and friends are still provided to them through an educational institution (being paid for by either daddy’s money, scholarships, or most likely hefty loans). This attitude of freedom can be a best friend if in its testing ground temperance, self-restraint, and maturity emerge. If excess, carelessness, and immaturity develop however, it may not be until three divorces down the road that they realize the error in their ways.

I’m not attempting in one short piece to solve all of life’s relationship issues, or for that matter explain in depth what marriage should be, or where the best places to look for a wife are. But I do want to get the discussion started. I believe Scripture offers some basic principles that must be followed if we are to be responsible toward suitors of the opposite sex. Hopefully this will serve as a motivation check for everyone including myself. (Note: For the sake of time I’m assuming that the reason a Christian would want to get into a relationship is for the reason of potentially marrying their suitor. This is not meant to preference dating over courting, or vice versa. I’ll save that for another time.)

So why should you get a boyfriend or girlfriend? This is perhaps the most important question a college student can ask him or herself. Is it to stifle insecurity? To reach a level of social status? To become physically or emotionally intimate? What’s the motivation? So many individuals get this part wrong, and as a result their whole relationship falls apart in the long run – because no matter how emotionally “strong” the guy is, he possesses weaknesses, no matter how “beautiful” the girl is, she ages and has bad hair days, and no matter how popular either of them are, a day will come when dance floors become quiet and the only audible sounds are babies crying down the hall. If this portrait of marriage disturbs you, there’s a good chance your motives may be off. Enjoying social gatherings and youthful vigor and beauty are wonderful things, but they are second to the main purpose of marriage. Abraham understood this.

Fighting to Be Equally Yoked (It’s More than Meets the Eye!)

In Genesis 24:3-4 we see Abraham instruct his servant to “go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac." We find later in the narrative that the Canaanites, among whom Abraham and his son lived, were depraved in their pagan practices. No evangelistic dating going on here! Both Abraham and Isaac (as we see from his later reaction to the wives of Isaac’s son Esau) understood that God’s principles needed to be followed. The “unequally yoked” principle of 2nd Corinthians 6 is the New Testament parallel. Most Christians interpret 2nd Corinthians 6:14 to mean that it’s forbidden to “date” a non-Christian, but is this really what the passage is saying? Let’s take a look at verses 14-18.

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?”

It sounds like Paul is going much farther than saying “Don’t marry a non-Christian.” He’s saying don’t be “bound,” or “yoked” (as the KJV says), with an unbeliever. This is not meant to exclusively apply to romantic relationships. It can be applied to business partnerships, close friends, etc. But it definitely does apply to marriage and dating relationships, however, it is in a much deeper way that a mere prohibition. To understand this we must first understand what a “yoke,” is. In agrarian societies up until recently, cattle or other animals were used to plow the fields. A yoke is what kept them bound together so that they would accomplish their purpose of tilling the ground. In order for the yoke to be successful, the cattle had to be going in the same direction. In the same way, a relationship must be going in the same direction intent on one purpose - becoming more like Christ. This leaves no room for non-Christians, but more than that, it leaves no room for Christians who aren’t growing in their walk or who lack a true passion for God. One member of the partnership can’t be dragging the other member by their feet. That just makes for a crooked path, and the yoke becomes negative factor instead of its intended purpose. Both members must have a strong relationship with God, and complement each other’s spiritual gifts (now there’s true chemistry for you!).

Forming No Provision for the Flesh (More than Sex out of Marriage)

In our modern way of thinking, arranged marriages seem stupid almost. Shouldn’t we marry for love, and not because something works on paper? We almost have an attitude that if it’s arranged there can’t be any love involved. Of course, this wasn’t the case for Isaac. As the text says in verse 67 “and she became his wife; and he loved her.” Of course, it helps when God is the one directing the choice through special revelation. As Abraham said, “He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.” But why didn’t Abraham merely tell his son, “Isaac, you’re getting older and it’s time for you to find a wife, therefore I want you to journey to the land of my father and find a wife?” I attribute this to another principle– Making no provision for the flesh. Abraham knew the possibility of sexual deviancy was greater if he sent his son on such a long journey by himself to find a woman. Instead, he wisely sent one of his servants to bring back a wife for Isaac under the direction of the Lord. The New Testament in several places warns against sexual deviancy, but I think 2nd Timothy 2:22 buts it best when Paul states, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Again, youthful lusts doesn’t solely refer to sexual practices, but the principle certainly does incorporate them. He’s in essence telling Timothy, “Get as far away as you can from youthful lusts. Don’t go near the edge, don’t try to tough it out. Flee them!” When Paul talks about fighting spiritual forces he instructs Christians to put on the full armor of God, but when he talks about the lusts of the flesh he simply says, “Run!” That should be a wake up call for all of us – a reminder of the serious nature of temptation. Instead of telling yourself not to fall prey to sin, tell yourself to not even enter a situation in which you could potentially fall prey.

Formulating Wise Council (and No, not from Peers Only)

We see in the narrative that Abraham, his servant, and Rebekah's family are the primary decision makers in event of Isaac’s marriage. Of course, they were being led by God, and Abraham had the privilege of receiving direct revelation which made things perhaps a bit more simple in one way (although he didn’t have the complete Cannon of Scripture to get guidance from like we do today) – but at the same time, there is a principle to be learned. I strongly suspect Isaac was part of the decision. We notice that it was Isaac who, “brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah. . .” He could have said, “I appreciate all that you did father, but I don’t like her.” However, we see that he valued the council of his father, his father’s servant, and Rebekah's family as authoritative, because God was followed each step of the way in their decisions. That’s the intriguing thing about Genesis 24. God is really the one who guides each step of the process through the humble faith of those parties involved in the decision. Proverbs says, “a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Truly council is important in making such vital a decision, and even more important is to obtain such council from those who have faith in God. That’s what Isaac did. He didn’t merely go to all his friends and say, “Hey, what do you think about her.” It was only after his father’s servant told him the entire story that he accepted Rebekah as his wife.

Finding God’s Purpose

Isaac’s need for a wife was obvious. God was going to make Abraham a “great nation,” and Isaac was known to be the son of promise. In order for Isaac to procreate he needed a wife. His children needed an influence who was godly, or else the line would become corrupt. God orchestrated their relationship to accomplish His purpose. The same should be true of us. We need to know God’s purpose(s) in our lives. Obeying the biblical mandate to be “fruitful and multiply,” mirroring Christ’s relationship with the church, growing in spiritual maturity and helping your partner grow as well in deepness with God, enjoying your spouse and the pleasure he/she brings you as only coming from God, etc. are all great reasons to pursue a relationship. But what do they all have in common? The fact that God is at the center. You can be an orphan and still have an arranged marriage if God is the focus. Allow God’s principles to guide your decision making and your relationship will be arranged by Him. We may not all have Divine intervention in the same way Isaac had, but we have an advantage he didn’t. We have the written word of God by which to measure all things.

I hope the four principles above at the very least have caused you to seriously think about your relationship (or your desired relationship) and how it matches up to the Biblical standard. There are many Christians romantically involved for selfish reasons, and there are many potential suitors who are actively looking for the wrong characteristics in persons of the opposite gender. Praying to God for a marriage partner who fits His characteristics for you is the first step. Obeying him in the small things will help demonstrate greater responsibility for larger areas. It’s hard to believe, but doing your daily devotions and using your spiritual gifts are vitally important and essential for a future marriage, and the process of finding a wife/husband. I pray the Lord directs your decisions as you demonstrate faith in Him.

1/23/10

Glenn Beck's: Live Free. . . or Die


The Revolutionary Holocaust

What you didn't learn about socialist regimes in your history class.

Included Information:
* Progressive's and Fascists
* Hitler, Marx, and Stalin
* Stalin's Forgotten Holocaust
* The Truth About Che Guevara
* The Atrocities of Mao


1/20/10

48 Liberal Lies About American History: A Review

Recasting A Generation Into the Mold of Progressivism
By: Jonathan Harris

Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh often times uses the phrase, “young skulls full of mush,” to describe how mandible the minds of children and ignorant people are to the manipulations they are exposed to by both the media and liberal teachers. No event thus far has done more to verify this term than perhaps the election of Barack Obama, in which college professors made his case, the media followed their orders, and high school teachers sung his praises. The documentary "Indoctrinate-U" by Evan Coyne does an excellent job exposing this bias on college campuses.

While most parents are aware that some bias exists, they often will take hope in the idea that, “At least my child has the textbooks to tell him/her the truth.” Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. In the book “48 Liberal Lies About American History” with the sub-caption, “That you Probably Learned in School,” Larry Schweikart helpfully appeals to the very words and ideas espoused in the nations major textbooks to prove the gross inaccuracies which exist for the purpose of feeding false information to “young skulls full of mush.” Schweikart maintains that:

students get a distinctly slanted view of American history – one that portrays the United States as oppressive, imperialistic, and evil. The slant lauds socialist efforts of wealth redistribution, criticizes American military success, and laments the punishment of anti-American traitors.

Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton and frequent regular on “Fox and Friends,” supports his premise by using word searches to compare the amount of time devoted to certain historical figures over others, pictural analysis to demonstrate the themes being presented, and also raw quotes to contrast the textbook with the truth. Each chapter usually begins with a segment from either one or multiple history books, then proceeds Schweikart’s well researched debunking, complete with sources.

On the whole, I was in complete agreement with 46 of his chapters, finding many things new and surprising regarding my own bias to the left on some important issues. Both his chapters on the War Between the States were slightly slanted to the left in my opinion, but even these weren’t on the whole radical or inaccurate (they merely focused on some facts to the exclusion of others).

So if you still think the Sherman Anti-Trust Act saved the free market, or that the Buffalo was wiped out because of white trophy hunters, or that the transcontinental railroad could only have been built because of government aid, you should definitely give this book a read. I plan on keeping it on my shelf as a reference guide for the rest of my life. Don’t let your skull be “full of mush.” Fill it with the facts. Pick up a copy today! Simply click on the book icon to the left to purchase yours.

1/14/10

Avatar and Mother Earth

8 Reasons to Reject Revering Mother Nature
By: Jonathan Harris

The question of whether Avatar endorses a “nature-worshiping” message or whether that message is accurate are two entirely different inquiries. The following eight reasons to NOT worship nature are written under the assumption that Avatar does endorse such a message. Regardless however, even without Avatar such reasons are still relevant given the “Back to Nature,” “Mother Earth,” and “Global Warming” movements. I believe there are a great many reasons to reject the worship of nature – And by worship I’m referring the idolization, attributing god-like status, and honoring by prescribed “redemptive” actions. I’m not referring to conservation (although nature worship motivations can play a part in some people’s minds.)

1. It Contradicts Biblical Truth.
The Bible has been shown to withstand the most careful scrutinizing and the most aggressive skeptical attacks. There are many passages which forbid, show the error in, and pronounce consequences on nature worship and its adherents. As the apostle Paul wrote concerning “unrighteous men who suppress the truth,” “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”

2. It Personifies Inanimate Objects
A tree will not congratulate you for picking up litter, a rock will not withhold its wrath because you are “telepathically connected,” and a seagull won’t stop to think about relieving itself on your hair simply because you don’t eat meat. In the realm of fantastical literature we refer to “personification” as the literary element used to place human characteristics on non-human entities. There’s a reason this only occurs in fantasy novels.

3. It Misdirects Its Efforts
“Nature’s God” as referred to by Jefferson is the source of “rights.” Not nature. The privileges we possess don’t come from nature. To assume that they can be taken away by nature is to concede to pantheism or atheism, both logically impossible positions to defend in the light of reason. It furthermore ascribes a moral code derived from nature, which precludes charity --“The Law of the Jungle” as they use to call it. “Nature’s God” deserves reverence, not nature itself.

4. It Mistakes the Physical for the Spiritual
If you blow up a gold mine, you may set off an earthquake. If you stand under a cliff, a rock may fall on your head. If you jump into the sea, you may get eaten by a shark. All these are examples of physical relationships. There’s no ultra-spiritual component to them. Nature does not posses the power to avenge itself or place benevolence on its worshipers. It simply acts and reacts to the laws of physics set up by “Nature’s God.”

5. It Ascribes Morality to an Amoral System.
This is could be a sub-point to any one of the above points, but I believe it deserves some attention all to itself. As stated before, nature is guided by physics. Physics has no moral component. (For instance, a scientific experiment will never tell you whether the Nazis or the British were right in WWII) Therefore nature has no moral component. Evil people have used it for their advantage, and good people have used it for theirs. However, morality does exist. (As evidenced by self-evident truths such as the conscience, and observational truths such as the universal moral order) Therefore, in order to find out how to “ethically” treat nature, we must look for our answer outside of nature. Unfortunately, if you treat nature as a god, there is no “outside the system.”

6. It Presupposes Communications From Nature
Many who worship nature assume that it somehow wants to be treated “right,” according to the dictates of our conscience. However, where did this information come from? How are we to know that nature doesn’t want us to abuse it? There’s been no communication, nor is there a verifiable means by which we can communicate with it. It certainly is a “blind faith” in the truest sense of the word to suppose nature wants to be treated favorably, when it has not made those intentions clear.

7. It Supposes Diametrically Opposed Attributes
Suppose for a minute nature wanted to be treated right, and conserved. If it wasn’t conserved we would “suffer the consequences” as so many environmentalists would have us believe. If nature is so intelligent that it can somehow know who its culprits are, and thereby handle its own justice, why can’t it communicate its intentions? Either it’s not powerful, or it’s not intelligent. Either way, we have no reason to worship it.

8. It Distinguishes Between Man and His Environment
How come it seems those advocating a “return to nature” think we’ve somehow “left” it? If nature’s language is physics, and we are within the bounds of physics, what is the distinctions between us and our surroundings? Are we not part of our surroundings? And by the “survival of the fittest” mentality that naturalists tend to posses, it would seem logical that we should be able to “rape” the earth for all its worth and still be considered within the bounds of natural law (note: I’m not referring to Jefferson’s natural law but rather Darwin’s). Environmentalists make a distinction between man and his environment but never give a logical reason for this. Are we not all products of the same primordial soup (by their logic)?

There may be more reasons, but I pray this will suffice to point out the drastic inaccuracies and logical fallacies innate in those who advocate a “return to nature” and “worship for mother earth.”

1/6/10

Liberal Lie: The Constitution Requires Secularism

The Constitution's Christian Requirement for Elected Officials
By: Jonathan Harris


Article VI Section III of the U.S. Constitution states, "The senators and representatives before-mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." I find it interesting that many atheist and aggressive secular groups attempt to use this portion of the Constitution, coupled with the "Establishment Clause" to try to tear down Christian convictions from the realm of governance. Most Christians are quick to say, "Well, you misunderstand. Separation of church and state is meant to protect the church from the state, not vice-versa." But in reality, I'm not 100% convinced of this. In the years preceding the American Revolution, the colonialists were very concerned that Great Britain would allow Canada to be officially Catholic. The majority of Americans did not want Britain to warm up to the idea of mandating its colonies to the submissive jurisdiction of any church, especially the Episcopalians (which was the official church of England). So, yes, Jefferson, in his letter to the Danbury Baptists (in which the phrase “wall of separation” is applied to the “Establishment Clause”) was speaking in favor of protecting the church from the federal government. However, at the same time, we cannot separate the historical context from the words used in our founding document. A state-sponsored denomination was forbidden.

This typical Christian catch phrase loses a couple teeth when we understand the times in which the Constitution was forged, but it in no way concedes our foundation to atheism. In John Henry Hopkins document, “Christianity, The Only Religion Constitutionally Allowed in These United States,” this brilliant businessman, lawyer, professor, and Episcopal minister, explores the Christian foundation inherent in our Constitution. The document will impress you with its thorough logic and impressive rebuttals to contradictory arguments. Born in 1792, Hopkins possesses a unique look at the founding fathers, their intent, and the world they created. He uses Article VI Section III as well as Article II Section I to point out the “oath” inherently required by all elected officials. Using the very criteria of Blackstone, he sets out to prove that within the historical, social, and religious contexts, the Constitution itself requires a Christian oath. In other words, all elected officials in the United States were required to be adherents to the Christian faith in the most basic form at the very least. Another argument at Hopkins disposal is the establishment clause, which although forbidding a federally run state denomination, did not forbid the states themselves to have official denominations (of which many did). In fact, the very term “religion,” signified “denomination,” and not “faith” as some suppose today. Therefore, the founders themselves being Christian (as Hopkins explains, even taking the time to write about Jefferson’s faith which is most often attacked), and drawing upon Divine guidance in the process of instituting their document, were not openly endorsing an anti-Christian message. On the contrary, they were securing the principles of their faith.
There is much more to say about Hopkins work, especially regarding his rebuttals to atheists who sought to tear down the document even in his day, but I don’t want to give away the whole thing. I encourage you to pick up a copy here. It’ll help you truly defend your convictions in a much stronger way!
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