No. I don’t mean by the way they look. See if you can tell the difference. Take this quiz:

Quiz: Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie?

Here’s a great article that says, pretty much what I said yesterday – only much better and clearer (as usual). Operative quote:

“The Greeks would rather kill each other in the streets than work and pay taxes.” – the author quoting a friend.

Wow! I wrote that post yesterday just minutes before the news began leaking about a 500 billion euro bailout of ALL of the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain).

I should have guessed that socialists can’t allow failure even when it’s brought on by the willful ignorance of an entire populace that deserve the poverty that was looming over them.

Instead this action will socialize the pain by stealing from those that are productive. When the revolution comes … I hope I have a camera.

According to a few articles today the EU and the IMF (read “US”) are going to announce a new bailout of Greece. This one apparently is for immediate disbursement (read “no need to actually complete the austerity programs”). That means that the whiners and thugs that pass for the Greek populace have now intimidated the EU into submission.

Angela Merkel

All two year olds should learn a valuable lesson from this. If your mother is someone like Angela Merkel, tantrums work. This is a perfect demonstration of moral hazard.

Apparently the German people are not thrilled; Ms. Merkel is in danger of loosing her majority in Parliament.

Having spoken to several German’s about this issue, it seems to me they’re not ready to pay for the much better benefits, much more generous pensions, earlier retirement, much worse corruption, and a higher percentage of people working directly for the state.

Commenting on the issue in Greece, Charles Ortel said on Bloomberg on May 6th (I’m getting caught up):

Does the population (of Greece) have the internal will to actually make the tough collective choices that need to be made to get this state back on track. And I think the early returns from Greece are very distressing. We see, in that awful case in the bank [where three people were burned alive in the riots] signs that the population just doesn’t get it.

Comparing the experience of the UK under Thatcher to Europe, British economist Kit Juckes said on the same interview:

I don’t know if they [the rest of Europe] get the idea that the social structures in Europe are not affordable anymore, and that they have to change. When you look at Greece, clearly, the people think the bank’s to blame, banks caused all this problem, or foreigners, or the government. Not, ‘we all borrowed too much money and spent it […], and now we don’t want to pay it back’ that’s difficult for people […]

Let’s face it, the cowards in the EU blinked, kicking the can a little further down the road. The failure of European socialism may have been delayed a few days or months, but when it finally comes it’s going to be massive and now even more cataclysmic.

In keeping with the intellectual heights that this blog maintains, I offer the following bit of humor for reflection. I must warn you though, it may be a bit “high brow” for a few.

Seriously – it’s sheer genius!

Government spending per household

Hat tip: Mark Horne

When I begin to get frustrated over what appears to be the reigning ignorance on the socialistic tendencies of the current and former administrations, stories like the following help me remember that free market principles are not at all obvious to many.

I remember being told by an elderly Japanese that used to be senior in the foreign ministry, what a shock it was when they lost the war and the Americans came onto their island. And he said “the American’s said something quite remarkable. They said to us, ‘we’re not going to rebuild your economy after the war.'” And he said “that struck us as curious, because why should they? And then they said something even more curious which is ‘but we’re going to let you rebuild your own economy, through your own efforts, by admitting you into the world trading system.”

And this elderly Japanese said “that seemed crazy. Here we were desperately short of food, raw materials, building materials, pharmaceuticals, everything you needed; and these crazy Americans were telling us you got rich by shipping it abroad and selling it to foreigners.” He said “it made no sense to us and yet, we had to do it, so we did do it … and it did work.”

John Llewellyn, during an interview on Tom Keen‘s “On The Economy,” April 1, 2010.

… But then again, if these principles were obvious to most Americans 50 years ago, I wonder where that puts us in the next 50 years.

I doubt it will take that long before we look just like Greece does today.

My son Danny and I had a brief conversation about the sacraments and the covenant. I wish I had a recorder. When we were finished I typed in a rough outline of what was said. Here it is as best as I can remember with some minor insertions to preserve continuity.

Danny: How many sacraments are there?

Me: Well, it depends what you mean by “sacrament.” The word literally means “mystery” and there can be many mysteries. But the Roman Catholic church says there’s seven special mysteries they call sacraments. We say there’s two but we mean something more specific by the word sacrament.

But you tell me, what’s a sacrament?

Danny: It’s a mystery :-)

Me: But what is it?

Danny: I don’t know?

Me: It’s a means of grace. Do you know what grace is?

Danny: It’s God’s liking someone.

Me: Right. It’s God’s favor. Grace is favor. So saying the sacraments are a “means of grace” is like saying they’re a means by which God shows us His favor. And can you earn God’s favor?

Danny: No.

Me: The Roman Catholic church believes that when Christ died, he filled up this big reservoir of merit. According to them, when he shows us His favor, He gives us some merit from the reservoir, but then we need to add our own merit to that. They believe there are some people who obey so well that they merit more than they need to have to get to heaven so that extra merit goes back into the reservoir to be used by more people. … Do you know what ‘merit’ is?

Danny: It’s following what God wants you to do.

Me: Well, it’s the “earning.” When you “merit” something, someone “owes” you like wages that should be paid. … Let me ask you this: since God created Adam, was Adam obligated to obey God?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Then, if Adam HAD obeyed God perfectly, would God have owed Adam eternal life? Would Adam have *merited* eternal life?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Would God have *owed* Adam eternal life like a boss owes wages to someone that does work for him?

Danny: Well … yes.

Me: Why? God made Adam so Adam is bound to obey God. But does God OWE Adam anything?

Danny: No, I guess not.

Me: So God would have been within His rights to condemn Adam to hell, even after perfect obedience, if He wanted to. Not that He would, but He wouldn’t violate any rule if He “made Adam for common use,” would He? Doesn’t the potter have the right to do as He pleases with the clay?

Danny: Yes. I guess so. So I guess God wouldn’t have owed Adam anything, even if he obeyed perfectly.

Me: So Adam can’t merit God’s favor. Now, what’s a covenant?

Danny: An agreement that can’t be broken?

Me: Well, not exactly. A covenant is a solemn oath, made by two parties, with promises (and therefore obligations), with blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Blessings for keeping the promises or fulfilling the obligations and curses for failing.

Now, what if God created Adam, and entered into a covenant with him? What if God, in a covenant, promised Adam eternal life if He obeyed Him perfectly, but cursed him with death if he disobeyed?

Now if Adam obeyed perfectly would God have been obligated to reward him with eternal life?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Why?

Danny: Because He promised.

Me: So it has nothing to do with Adam *earning* it. God is obligated by His own promise in the covenant, not by Adam’s obedience.

Danny: Yes!

Me: So did God have to make the promise to Adam?

Danny: No.

Me: So when God made the promise he was showing ‘favor’ to Adam. He promised Adam eternal life because He wanted to, not because He owed him anything, and not because of anything Adam did or could do?

Danny: Yes.

Me: Well, that’s God’s grace. Do you see how God’s grace is bound in the covenant and ‘merit’ cannot have anything to do with it?

Danny: Yes.

Me: So the sacraments are a signs of the covenant we have with God. In them His favor, or grace, is shown to us because in them His promises are reiterated. They are like an official *seal* on a letter than contains the covenant promises. That’s what Jesus meant when He said “This is my blood in the new covenant, which is shed for the forgiveness of sin … Do this as a memorial.”

We talked more about baptism and being in the covenant community. About “common grace” and how it applies to unbelievers in the covenant. And the covenant curses. And then about the development of doctrine (Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda) and the unfolding or the history of the rediscovery of the covenant. But I guess I’ll save that for another time

“Do nothing and get something! That’s the best thing that’s happened since oreos!” Say the P.I.G.S..
-Danny, my 13 year old, commenting on the European situation

While sipping a Margarita (and watching Doctor Who) and wondering when the book that I ordered, James West’s “Drinking with Calvin and Luther”, will arrive, I just received a response to an email I wrote to the local teaching elder of the Free Presbyterian Church of North America. The original email:

Dr. *******,

A friend of mine has introduced me to your teaching through your MP3 sermons (he listens to you on the radio on Sundays at 1). I’m just beginning to go through your Ephesians study – a book we have been covering in our recent men’s study.

I have a question regarding the FPCNA’s stance on abstinence that is not dealt with in the documentation on the site.

Since Jesus commands us to drink wine as part of the sacrament of communion, abstaining, even as a choice, is an outright refusal to keep the sacrament the way that it was instituted.

If the WCF is a standard of the FPCNA, do you explicitly take exception to 29.3 and 29.4?


Update: And then I get up first thing this morning (Sunday, April 25, 2010) and put on the latest Cato Daily Podcast, which is a discussion about the legacy of prohibition with respect to distribution channels for wine.

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