Monday, 3 October 2022

Restrain The Baals

Image: Unsplash

I think it's funny for Christians to believe in God and then also assert that the free market can solve our issues. There really is no such thing as a free market. Never has been. There are only people, and people are a combination of good and bad, and some are evil, corrupt and powerful, and will throw that power around. The "free market" is people making decisions, and most people are selfish, and will make decisions which enrichen them, and enslave or impoverish others. At times this tends more freely, at others it tends to monopoly. 

What we call "free markets" work for a time, then get overcome by monopolies, and then those monopolies dominate people, and the key way they dominate people is through buying political influence and power, so they can corner the market. 

A lot of what people call "government interference" is business leaders aka "capitalists" directing politicians by donations and offers of jobs after they leave politics, to enact policies that help their part of the market flourish. In other words, in a "free market" system government becomes a primary place for the wealthy to invest (donate), because they can use their capital to direct the people who can give them an advantage. 

So thinking in terms of government vs private enterprise is not correct. Because both those aspects of society congregate power, they will both be influencing each other, seeking to dominate each other, and at times controlling each other, because they know in utilising each other, they can best benefit themselves. So what you really want is business to be strong enough to oppose big government, and government big enough to regulate business so it doesn't just become government (like in company towns). 

All this to say, a relatively free market can serve people in certain contexts. But it's not an ultimate good, it is prone to corruption, as is any other human endeavour, and the conservative's faith in it is misplaced. Anything that involves people, but does not regulate their behaviour, will be corrupted by those people and turned into a means of enslaving (endebting) or controlling others. Because most people are slaves to sin. If your theology knows Luther or Calvin, you know how depraved the human heart is. 

So, it's thoroughly unChristian, anti-history, and against reason to say that sinners just given licence will solve all our economic issues. Which is what you are saying when you say the free market will solve it. Sometimes it will. Sometimes it will create worse problems. Because humans abuse freedom as much as they cherish it. 

So much Christian politicial and economic thought is unbiblical in many ways. God's ideal economy set limits on how wealthy people could get, whose property they could buy, and what could be done with it, and allowed people freedom within those boundaries. He also mandated resetting the economy once every generation so that wealth never became entrenched with the few. 

Our system does the opposite, it sets no limits on wealth, no limits on who can buy what (unless your country is being sanctioned), some limits on what can be done with property, rejects the idea of resetting in a biblical way, and therefore guarantees that wealth will become entrenched with the few. 

Trusting in free-market is akin to trusting in Baal. It's a system that goes against God's principles. It can create prosperity in certain conditions, but it will ultimately tend to oligarchy and monopolism, and that is where our free market system has gotten to, because it could never have gotten anywhere else. People are not equal, some are richer, smarter and more capable, and therefore they will dominate. 

A system with boundaries, periodical jubilees, and an acknowledgement that all humans are corrupt, and most are not wise and abuse freedom often, will allow people to flourish better. Because if the Bible teaches us anything, it teaches us humans need wise boundaries to flourish, too little boundaries and we'll corrupt everything. 

We should not reject our system completely, but renew it by applying wisdom from God's word, that teaches us to restrain the Baals, which, if you recall, Baal was the god of success and prosperity. Think about that. 

Sunday, 2 October 2022

The Science Is More Broken Than You Thought

Image: Unsplash

Science is a powerful tool for solving crimes and discovering facts about this world. Unless of course the science is neglected. 

Over the last two years Queenslanders were told to trust the government's science, trust our scientific institutions, and not question their integrity or dillegence. You were made out to be the bad guy if you did. 

Then we read that some of these institutions were even less trustworthy and reliable than we thought:

"Queensland DNA testing inquiry public hearings begin, forensic scientist 'quite scared' about extent of lab failures

A forensic scientist has described Queensland's commission of inquiry into forensic DNA testing as the "most important event" the state's criminal justice system has ever seen.

The inquiry has started its first day of public hearings after a damning interim report was released last week by retired judge Walter Sofronoff found the state-run forensic crime laboratory had issued "untrue" or "misleading" statements to courts about crime scene samples with very small amounts of DNA.

It has raised major concerns about potential miscarriages of justice if police investigations were weakened or abandoned by a lack of DNA evidence, when it might in fact have been available with further testing.

Two senior staff members at the laboratory were last week stood down pending the outcome of the inquiry while the Together Union raised concerns about staff shortages and budget pressures.

Queensland police have established Task Force Helix to investigate potentially thousands of cases between early 2018 and June 2022 where DNA samples had not met the laboratory's threshold for further testing."

Of course, the government would not get anything else scientifically so wrong would it?

What's even more important is the admission by some scientists that they were ignored when they raised concerns

"On day one of public hearings on Monday, Ms Rika said she voiced concerns about changing the threshold at which samples received further testing in 2018, but was ignored in a "toxic" working environment.

Today Ms Rika was questioned by Matthew Hickey – the lawyer representing two managers at the laboratory.

Mr Hickey asked if her perceptions of how she was treated by the managers Catherine Allen and Justin Howes were potentially incorrect.

Ms Rika responded she had been "ignored" and "excluded".

The whole point of science is that peers are supposed to review their colleagues, and improve the processes under which they research. To ignore concerns like this, is an admission that science was never the goal, ticking process boxes was. 

It is now on the public record that a governmental scientific institution has been run at a substandard level that stopped it from doing proper scientific testing. If you just blindly trust such institutions, because they have an authority by virtue of their holding the reins of power currently, you are really acting foolishly. 

A society cannot reject God and remain scientifically astute. Science is the honest inquiry of nature. The rejection of God leads a society into a thicket of lies and a thicket of foolishness. Expect such revelations to become the norm going forward. 

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Restitution: Just Law and a Good Idea

Image: Unsplash

I could get behind a law such as this

"It's been more than a year since Cecilia Williams lost her son, his fiancĂ© and her grandson to a crash police say was caused by a drunk driver, but she's reminded of them every day...

...It's a pain that's all too common. In 2020, 11,654 people were killed in DUI crashes in the U.S.—that's one person every 45 minutes—leaving thousands of children without a parent. "I talked to so many people who'd say the same thing: The person that killed their family member didn't go to jail. When [the case] went to court, they would spend zero time, and they'd just get probation," Cecilia says...

So she decided she needed to do something to make would-be drunk drivers feel the lasting anguish of the loss of a loved one. She created Bentley's Law, a proposal that would force offenders to pay child support for kids left behind when a parent is killed in a drunk-driving crash. "Some people love money more than they do life. So the way to teach a person and to prevent them from becoming a repeat offender and putting another family through this was to create something where they will have to pay," she says.

"I want offenders to see how families truly suffer, how their actions affect everybody," she adds. "I'm hoping that it makes people think twice."

Restorative justice is an area that is lacking in our modern system. There are elements of it, but this sort of thing should happen more. We see it advocated for in the scriptures: 

"7 “If a man gives to his neighbor money or goods to keep safe, and it is stolen from the man's house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor's property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor" (Ex. 22:7-9). 

Paying back more than what was stolen is just. It returns to the owner what was taken and punishes the offender. 

When a drunk driver kills someone, they should be treated harshly by the law, jailed for the death they caused. But just putting them in jail does not help the family who lost a provider, or a beloved wife, or treasured children. A wife has been stolen, a provider has been taken away, a loved one now lost. There must then also be some restitution. Bentley's Law is a good step in this direction. 


Friday, 30 September 2022

Send Them Home

Image: Unsplash

Is it not a government's job to serve their people rather than make life harder for them? Our government, as well as previous governments, appear to not believe this is so. They appear to be very happy to drive your cost of living up to create the illusion of growth in the economy, even if that growth makes life harder for our people. 

Australia is in the midst of a housing cost crisis, both rents and the cost of buying are at phenomenal levels. And what is the plan of our government? To force you to compete with more potential renters and buyers, driving up rental costs and the cost of buying a house:

"International students drive rents into stratosphere...

...Record low rental vacancy rates.

The worst is yet to come, too, given the Albanese Government has committed to driving-up immigration to its highest ever level, including via:

Lifting the permanent non-humanitarian migrant intake to a record high 195,000 a year;
Turbo-charging temporary migration by expanding work rights for international students via:
- Uncapping the number of hours international students can work while studying for another year; and
- Extending the length of post-study work visas by two years."

This can only be described as wickedness, and short-sighted foolishness. There are businesses that want more cheap workers, and there are businesses that want to rely on employees who have been trained overseas, rather than training new employees at home in Australia. But solving these issues via immigration fixes one short term problem and creates many other long term issues, like sky-rocketing living costs. 

Australians are predicted to face increasing mortgage problems in the coming months: "There are fears many Australians will experience mortgage stress by Christmas as interest rates continue to rise." This is already happening to many families, and it will get worse, as interest rates are predicted to rise by quite a bit still going forward.

This will cause house prices to slump

"Australian house prices could fall by at least 15 per cent after an aggressive series of interest rate hikes, the Reserve Bank has said."

In April, the central bank suggested house prices could slump by about 15 per cent over a two-year period, should interest rates rise by 2 percentage points.

Since then it has rapidly increased rates from a historic low 0.1 per cent to 2.35 per cent." 

Now, while we do need house prices to go down, part of the reason they will drop in price is families will be forced to sell in the coming months. The last thing these families need is to be forced to sell, and then to compete with foreigners in the rental market. At the very least the government could do what it can not to cause this problem to get worse, like not allowing more people into an already competitive market. 

Send them home, and stop bringing in more people. It is already costing too much for Australians to live in our own country. And the downsides of cost of living increases, outweigh the small benefits of mild economic growth. 

Our government exists to serve our people, not give opportunities to other peoples. 

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Unviable Technology


We live in a fascinating time where unviable technology is being sold for ideological reasons. Electric cars are not fit for purpose, as Hoovie demonstrates in this short video. Not only are they not fit for purpose they have other problems. They do not help the environment in anyway. They are also very expensive. For the price of a comfortable electric car, you can buy an old V8 and pay for fuel for years, and have money left over. 

Your electric car might be reasonably cheap to charge now, but once demand on electricity increases, and more infrastructure is built to service this demand, prices will go up. In fact, they already are"The cost of charging an electric car using public charge points on a pay-as-you-go basis has risen by 42% in just four months, according to the RAC."

But for ideological reasons companies are getting rewarded by government to sell these energy inefficient vehicles, that in many cases cannot even fulfil their design purpose. In a sane society people would not go near such products. But we do not live in a sane society. We live in an increasingly ideological self-harming society. 

You see this throughout history, societies technologically or socially hamstringing themselves for religious/ideological reasons. Some of them realize their mistakes and survive, some disappear from the face of the earth. 

The Greenland Norse lived in a cold climate where food was hard to grow. They had abundant fish, but they refused to eat it. We don't know why. We just know that the Greenland Norse saw fish as taboo. In the face of starvation they stuck to this taboo, right up until their entire society just disappeared. Some societies don't come back from stupid, because the driving views of much of its culture is that even if a certain taboo hurts them, it is better to do it, then break their taboos. There are of course wise taboos, which strengthen a society, I am not challenging those. Some things should be avoided. But there are also foolish ones, like the apparent Greenland Norse taboo of not eating fish.  

Fossil fuels are the engine of civilisation, there is no current viable replacement. None. Nada. Zip. But the whole trajectory of our society is to reject them anyway. Which is crazy. Some western societies will wake up from this stupor. Some will go the way of the Greenland Norse.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Samwise The True Hero

Image: Unsplash

This will not come as news to most fans of Tolkein, many of whom saw Samwise as the noblest of the fellowship. But it is kind of cool to see that the man himself considered Samwise to be the true hero of the movie:

"It is perhaps for this reason that even J.R.R. Tolkien himself considered Samwise Gamgee to be the true hero of "The Lord of the Rings" (via The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). Though Frodo Baggins selflessly takes on the task of bearing the One Ring to Mount Doom, he begins to falter over the course of his long journey, even deciding to take the ring for himself when it finally comes time to destroy it. Meanwhile, Sam's time with the ring sees him single-mindedly devoted to saving Frodo, and he never even considers keeping the accursed object for himself.

Furthermore, Sam overcomes his humble beginnings to face off against a gigantic spider and defeat it single-handedly. He also slays a tower full of Orcs to rescue Frodo and is so formidable an opponent that the Orcs believe him to be a legendary Elven warrior. Finally, when Frodo can no longer even walk, it is Sam who carries him up Mount Doom so that he can complete his task once and for all. Still, there's even more to Sam than this."

The Four Hobbits, as the true heroes, were honoured as nobler than Kings in The Return of the King. Tolkien masterfully weaved into his story the theme of "the least of these" shall be the greatest. His tiny heroes set to shame many other men in Middle Earth, because their stout hearts and grand courage enabled them to achieve things much mightier men could not. 

As the least of the Hobbits, Sam is by nature the less notable. But he is by action and character the most noble. The moment where he carries Frodo up the mountain is a powerful example of his noble stature. When he says, "Come, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well." The power of his loyalty shines through. Whether you are reading the book or watching the movie, this is one of the most powerful moments, where all of Tolkien's themes of friendship, sacrifice, love and heroism reach their pinnacle, but in a simpler form than Aragorn's military bravery, or Legolas' skill. We see greatness in Sam, in the devotion a friend and servant has for his master and his master's cause

Sam is not just the hero of the movie. He is the hero we need. Simple men, devoted to their duty, who are willing to sacrifice what they must to see theur duty fulfilled. These are the heroes that make the world work for good. These less notable men, who prove to have a nobility even the great men should marvel at. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

No Housing Supply Issue

Image: Unsplash

One of the most repeated comments made by fiscal conservatives about the housing price increases is that really it's a supply issue. Just get rid of red tape, and allow for more houses to be built. But have they driven through the outer suburbs of any major city lately? There's housing developments everywhere. Indeed, Australia wide there is a surplus of houses. There is no housing supply issue, that is a mistake that some people make, and a lie that others make who should know better. 

There are about 1 million empty homes in Australia. Think about that.  

Houses are not limited by supply, they are limited by investment ownership. Some of those houses are empty because people are about to move between homes. Some houses are vacant because they are part of deceased estates. So, some of these homes are vacant for unavoidable reasons. But others are empty because some are being kept to be sold in better conditions, and others are empty because they are second, third or even fourth homes, and many of these vacant homes are investment homes, owned by moderate, to very wealthy people, and some are even holiday homes of the reasonably well off. 

But for whatever reason they are vacant, 1 million empty homes shows there is no supply problem. There is a logistics problem. We have a problem getting the homes to those who really need them. Many are being hoarded creating excess demand. 

In an economy where wealthy investors have the most money to buy, releasing a lot more land and lowering building costs will not solve many housing issues, because those with investment capital will just by more homes. Plus, there are excess homes already and the housing costs are still increasing. What needs to happen is that governments need to make laws which disincentivize people from investing in homes. As long as there are good incentives to invest, house prices will remain artificially high. Taking the incentive to invest away is the only real solution. Though making it hard to borrow large amounts of money to help people invest would also help. 

You know who doesn't want someone saying that? Investors, which includes many of the people in government positions and positions of influence. That's why so many of them are freaking out about the Queensland government's tiny move to get more tax from investors with houses on other states. House investors have been a privileged class who have ridden off the backs of the poorer people for too long. They do not like their gravy train being challenged even if ordinary families suffer as a result of their hoarding of homes. 

#isaiah5verse8 God told us this first, that a land where some people buy up all the land is a cursed land. We are in the process of finding out, again, why God is right. 

Breaking the hold of investors on properties and getting rid of the constant pressure of immigration on house prices, would make owning a home more affordable for the average Aussie family. This should be a priority if governments in Australia.