What?! AT&T did something helpful?

Yes, but they haven’t gone soft or anything.  It was just one of the benefits of capitalism.  Yea for competition!

After a couple decades of hopelessly complex and painful billing methods schemes*, AT&T now has a group plan that actually helps you.  Instead of a separate data plan for every smartphone and tablet you own, you can combine them into one.  You actually save a little bit and have the flexibility of pooled data.

We were able to add my daughter and son-in-law and my parents to our plan.  We have a 10GB data plan for seven phones and an iPad.  It helped spread our data costs a little and literally cut their bills in half.

We also get unlimited minutes (and we already had unlimited texts), so we never have to worry about those again.

* Watch your bills closely whenever you make a change.  They have a habit of “accidentally” double-charging you for the first month.  Just call and ask about it and watch how quickly they fix the “mistake.”

Please read these timeless and simple investing tips

Yes, that is the most boring title ever, but please read anyway.  This is important.

The Sheep and the Wolves: Smart Investing Made Simple had some great advice for all investors.  There are always risks — especially in the economy we’re suffering through now where a major crash is possible — but this advice should work well regardless.  The risk of completely sitting out of the market is that inflation drives stocks up for a time and you miss out on those gains.

The odds of you timing the market perfectly or even well are extremely low.  Most experts can’t even do it.

Even picking individual stocks is a challenge for amateurs and pros alike.  When I used to work for Compaq / HP I sometimes had access to earning per share results and projections, the holy grail of investment information (no, I never abused it — I always invested steadily and could only trade in narrow windows each quarter).  But even with that knowledge I couldn’t guess where the stock would go, because we would sometimes see the stock dip even after record earnings.  Why?  Because of some comment about future earnings or even a misstatement by our CEO or CFO.  The lesson?  Don’t try and be an expert about market timing.  Even with the ultimate inside information I still wouldn’t have been sure to win.

I also saw how a company could drive up a stock price by mortgaging the future.  They would rush out a new product to hit quarterly earnings then suffer for years because of quality issues and customer dissatisfaction.  Or if times were tough they would consume financial reserves that had been built up in conservative years.  That gave the illusion that things were still going well, but eventually the reserves ran out.  In theory the Big 4 auditors would have done something about that, but their value is highly overrated (I say that as a CPA who used to be in a Big 8 firm, back before they started merging).

I was glad to see that two of the Vanguard Funds I’ve used for years were listed (VGSTX and VTSMX).  Vanguard is easy to use and their low cost model is crucial, especially in down years.  If your broker is churning your investments and charging you upwards of 2% over the course of a year, then in a year of 5% returns he has taken 40% of your gains, leaving you with nothing after inflation.  Buying a mix of mutual funds and holding them is the key.

The other key, of course, is to start early.  There are lots of ways to convey the benefits of compound interest, but no matter how much you make I urge you to start young.  If you save 10% per year for your career you will be fine in retirement.

Here’s a sample of the link.  I encourage you to read it all.

Stock-market investors are like these sheep farmers. Collectively, they enjoy investment returns of roughly 10 percent per year. Individually, however, things are different. Most investors suffer severe losses from the wolves of Wall Street. Wolves, by the way, who don sheep’s clothing to convince investors to trust them. (These investors also have a tendency to make things worse by selling their flocks when sheep prices fall and expanding them when prices rise.) If you want to be a successful farmer, you have to understand how farming works, and how to protect yourself from the wolves. Fortunately, it’s not as tough as it seems.

The financial industry wants you to believe that investing is difficult. If you buy into their message, if you accept the premise that you need help to invest wisely, they can charge you big bucks to handle your money. The truth is somewhat different. Investing is simple. In fact, it can be one of the easiest things you do while managing your finances. How simple? Let’s boil it down to just a few sentences.

Here’s how to invest wisely:

Set aside as much as you can in investment accounts. Prefer tax-advantaged accounts (like a 401(k) or Roth IRA) before taxable accounts.

Invest all of your money in a low-cost stock index fund, such as Vanguard’s VTSMX or Fidelity’s FSTMX.P

If the stock market makes you nervous, allocate some portion of your money to a bond fund. Or invest instead in a low-cost combo fund like Vanguard’s VGSTX or Fidelity’s FFNOX.

Continue investing as much money as possible. Never touch it. (Nothing makes a bigger difference to the size of your flock investments than how much you contribute.)

Ignore the news and ignore your fund.

That’s it. Seriously. That’s all you have to do to earn returns better than 90 percent of other investors.

There are scores of books and published research papers that support this strategy. It’s also the strategy that Warren Buffett (and other top pros) recommend for 99 percent of investors. If you’d like, you can spend days or weeks or months reading about why this works. Or you can trust these folks and do it.

Freakonomics’ double fail on abortion

Freakonomics Rev Ed: (and Other Riddles of Modern Life) is a fascinating book that makes a lot of valid and interesting points, but the authors had a double fail on the topic of abortion and crime.  (See the Amazon review at the bottom for more about the book, and also see their blog.)

First, while seeming to have cleverly uncovered the reason behind the dramatic 1990′s crime drop (they thought it was because Roe v Wade had reduced the number of potential murderers), it turns out that they missed some obvious race-based statistics and the impact of the crack cocaine explosion and recession.

Second, and more importantly, they ignored what abortion is: The unjustified destruction of an innocent human life, aka murder.  Yes, the Roe v Wade decision made it legal, but the act itself was unchanged.  So using their logic, if we legalized unjustified killings outside the womb then the murder rate would decrease.  Technically they would be right, but would that really be an improvement?

One of the charts from the book shows that by standard measures, homicides have gone down dramatically over the centuries and we are seemingly safer than ever.  And that is true — for those outside the womb.  But pre-born human beings inside the womb live in the most dangerous place on the planet — far more dangerous than a Chicago ghetto.

Simply put, even if the authors had been correct, murders outside the womb decreased because murders inside the womb were made legal. But that didn’t reduce overall murders, it increased them!  All they had done, ironically enough, was murder the future murderers before they murdered. Oh, and they also killed a bunch of non-murderers — tens of millions of them.  At least the book did get one thing right: Legalized abortion dramatically increased abortions.

This brings to mind Bill Bennett’s comments on this theory, when he noted that killing black babies would reduce crime while simultaneously noting how evil the abortions would be.  Of course, the Left still tried to brand his comments as racist, even though they are a mostly white group supporting mostly rich, white, male abortionists who kill black babies at a rate three times that of whites.  But they definitely aren’t racists . . .

All murder statistics should include abortions.  The real murder rate was decreasing until the 1970′s, when it spiked up dramatically.  We’ve just played word games to make it appear otherwise.

———-

Amazon review:

Economics is not widely considered to be one of the sexier sciences. The annual Nobel Prize winner in that field never receives as much publicity as his or her compatriots in peace, literature, or physics. But if such slights are based on the notion that economics is dull, or that economists are concerned only with finance itself, Steven D. Levitt will change some minds. In Freakonomics (written with Stephen J. Dubner), Levitt argues that many apparent mysteries of everyday life don’t need to be so mysterious: they could be illuminated and made even more fascinating by asking the right questions and drawing connections. For example, Levitt traces the drop in violent crime rates to a drop in violent criminals and, digging further, to the Roe v. Wade decision that preempted the existence of some people who would be born to poverty and hardship. Elsewhere, by analyzing data gathered from inner-city Chicago drug-dealing gangs, Levitt outlines a corporate structure much like McDonald’s, where the top bosses make great money while scores of underlings make something below minimum wage. And in a section that may alarm or relieve worried parents, Levitt argues that parenting methods don’t really matter much and that a backyard swimming pool is much more dangerous than a gun. These enlightening chapters are separated by effusive passages from Dubner’s 2003 profile of Levitt in The New York Times Magazine, which led to the book being written. In a book filled with bold logic, such back-patting veers Freakonomics, however briefly, away from what Levitt actually has to say. Although maybe there’s a good economic reason for that too, and we’re just not getting it yet. 

More on welfare than working: A design feature of Obama’s America, not a bug

Via More Americans collecting welfare than working full-time – you’d think this would be front page news and a cry for change, but Obama & Co. are getting exactly what they want.  If you aren’t familiar with the term Cloward-Piven Strategy or the philosophy of Saul Alinsky, then you really, really need to expand your media horizons.

When people see things that are obviously bad, like more people on welfare than working, they tend to think that the Leftist Obama/Democrat policies aren’t working.  But if you know how Obama, Hillary Clinton and others follow the philosophies of Cloward, Piven and Alinsky then you know that our Leftist leaders are getting exactly what they want: More dependence on government.  More crises designed to let them take more power.

If you think they are troubled by millions of people losing jobs, insurance, etc. and becoming more reliant on government then you are mistaken.  They are executing their agenda as planned.

I’m with Bono on this one.

Via Bono: Only Capitalism Can End Poverty.

This is a great day. For years, Bono has been something of a pain, banging on about the need for billions of dollars in Western foreign aid to Africa. I have criticized him for ignoring the real source of African poverty – lack of capitalism – on numerous occasions.

But, unlike many who hate capitalism without reservation, Bono is open to changing his mind. Here is Bono giving capitalism its due recognition during a recent speech at Georgetown University. As the musician put it, when it comes to poverty “free enterprise is a cure.”

Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming.

According to the World Bank, global poverty is declining rapidly. In 1981, 70 percent of people in poor countries lived on less than $2 a day, while 42 percent survived on less than $1 a day. Today, 43 percent live on less than $2 a day, while 14 percent survive on less than $1. “Poverty reduction of this magnitude is unparalleled in history,” wrote Brookings Institution researchers Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz in a recent paper. “Never before have so many people been lifted out of poverty over such a brief period of time.”

Yes, we should still share with the less fortunate — preferably out of our own wallets.  But we must use good discernment with giving to ensure that it isn’t counter-productive.  Know the charities you support and ensure that they are really making a difference and are run efficiently and effectively.  Use good discernment and pray for wisdom!  But don’t forget that making people more self-sufficient may be the greatest gift.

For example, one of the reasons we love and support the AIDS Orphan mission in Kenya is that it doesn’t just cost effectively (literally $10/child/month) feed, clothe and educate these orphans (and the widows who take care of them), it also gives them life skills.  We met many kids who baked bread, sewed, did hair care, planted trees, etc. and made such good livings that they supported themselves and their siblings.  Their joy was contagious.  We feel blessed to be a small part of that and feel confident in giving to the program because we’ve seen it first hand many times and have gotten to know the leaders well over a number of years.

Corporatism vs. Capitalism

This image makes excellent and foundational points about why increased regulations rarely solve problems.  Why?  Because when you peel back the layers, the large corporations turn out to be the authors and the beneficiaries of the regulations.

There are many ways to do that.  Even in business, requests for goods and services are often subtly tailored to steer purchases towards certain vendors.  The same thing happens in government.  The IRS exceptions or language for certain laws may not mention a corporation by name, but it just so “happens” that the preferred corporation is the only one meeting the criteria.

The winners are the large corporations and the politicians that they essentially pay off during the process.  The losers are the smaller businesses, the consumers and the taxpayers (of course those three overlap in places).

And once regulations are in place then two things are nearly certain: They will never disappear and they will continue to grow.

This also applies to the bailout / “too big to fail” nonsense.  What do you think would happen if you could go to Vegas knowing that you would get to keep any winnings but that taxpayers would pay for any losses?

When in doubt, always go with less government and less regulations.

Ivy League school doesn’t accept Advanced Placement credits — good news or bad?

Via U News: Ivy League school no longer accepts Advanced Placement credits. Will this be a trend? – They tried to rationalize it from an education standpoint, but that is a joke.  The AP tests are standardized, which would mean that it wouldn’t matter what high school someone went to.  They either knew the material or they didn’t.  And the college pretends that they have something special to offer in basic classes like history, English, etc. that no one else has access to. Sure.

This is about money: They want you to pay $50,000 per year to take basic courses, which is ridiculous.

I highly encourage people to take dual-credit classes at their local community college.  The community colleges cost a fraction of the state schools, and if you are a high school student they cost almost nothing.  If you home school you can graduate high school with almost a year’s worth of credits.

The good news is that the college model is starting to crack.  It simply can’t stand another 10-20 years of cost increases that are multiples of inflation.  It is a bad move that they are taking away AP credits, but good news that they may drive people to more cost-effective solutions.

When Liberals unwittingly apply conservative economic principles . . .

The principles of capitalism work and have raised more people from poverty than Communists and Socialists ever dreamed of.  And even though Liberals literally fail at basic economics, every now and then they accidentally get one right. See Official: NY tax breaks would apply to ‘Tonight’:

The bill expected to be voted into law in coming days would provide a 30 percent tax credit for a “relocated television production.” Past and current tax credits have gone to new productions starting in New York, such as “Law & Order.”

Hmmm . . . so if you lower taxes, a business will be more likely to come to your location. Shocking.  And it stands to reason that if you raise taxes then more will leave.

Are the NY officials being irrational by offering the tax break?  No, because they realize that luring the Tonight Show will have all sorts of other benefits.  Too bad they don’t apply that across the board.

When you consider how the same behavior applies to countries you can see why jobs get outsourced (it isn’t just the wages).

How “food stamps” are helping to destroy the country, and how to fix the problem

I am all for helping the truly poor, but the current food stamp program is out of control and being systematically abused.  It is hard to conceive how much the program has grown under Obama, and we all know it would be a 24×7 news item if it occurred under a Republican administration.

The cards are basically treated like cash and can easily be converted to buy tobacco, alcohol, drugs — anything!  It was originally a program to help the truly needy but is now a thinly disguised vote-buying scheme.

We’ve all got examples of abuse.  My most recent one was a shoe salesman describing how his ex-girlfriend had literally thousands of dollars of tattoos while being on these programs.

The government could easily track the spending of these cards, but chooses not to.

The Kenyan hospital we visited on many mission trips has a worthwhile “food stamp” program.  Women walked long distances to get basic commodities and carried them back themselves.  Yet unlike most U.S. recipients, these women were extremely grateful and would dance and sing when they got the food.

The U.S. should go back to giving real food instead of cards.  Then the truly needy would get food and the fakers would skip the process entirely.  And the food would be healthier and less expensive: oatmeal, bread, apples, bananas, rice, pasta, butter, milk, OJ, peanut butter & jelly, corn flakes, sugar, flour, etc.

Oh, you don’t want those?  Tough!  That is proof that you don’t really need them.

And there should be drug and/or polygraph tests.  Have you gotten a tattoo or been on drugs while on food stamps?  Then you are cut off.

Enabling people to abuse the system harms the abusers, their children and those forced to pay for them.

Car buying tips

If you are in the market for a Honda in the Houston area, I highly recommend contacting Ali Fard at Russell & Smith Honda. We just replaced our 10 yr. old Honda Odyssey with a CRV and couldn’t be happier with it. I was dreading the car buying process because of all the games the salespeople typically play. I know how to get good deals but that doesn’t mean the process is enjoyable.

But this was different. Ali was extremely responsive, gave me a detailed drive-out quote via email with the best offer in town and took a lot of time to show us all the features of the new vehicle. It was, by far, the best car buying experience I’ve had.

The guy who did the paperwork didn’t try to high pressure me on any additions or extended warranties. I was in and out of his office in about 10 minutes.

Top three tips to get your best deal

1. Do your homework on Edmunds. They have great information on what people are really paying. The “True Market Value” prices are good to aim at and you can even beat them.

2. Go through the Internet salesperson at the dealership.

3. Be very clear about what you want. I always emphasize that all I care about is price (a Honda is a Honda, and I get my service done at Christian Brothers Automotive, not the dealership) and that I don’t like surprises. They are heavily rated and compensated based on customer satisfaction ratings so I make it clear that price and a lack of surprises will yield the highest satisfaction for me.

Some other things to think about

Unless your current car is costing too much in terms of repairs, seriously consider holding onto it.  It is the least expensive car you’ll ever own.

Consider getting your current car detailed.  For roughly $150 (typically much less than a monthly payment), it will look like new and help curb your craving for a new car.

Don’t just buy a new car to get better gas mileage.  Do a little math and you’ll find out that it will take years to pay back your investment.

Buy low maintenance cars and hold them a long time.  We aim at 10 years.

Check out Dealer Rater to understand who you’ll be dealing with.

Don’t buy high-tech extras like DVDs and GPS systems.  They cost 4-5 times what portable versions do and will be outdated quickly.  They cost a lot to fix if they break.  You also can’t transfer them to other vehicles.

Don’t look too eager when talking to a salesman.  You must be ready to walk away.  They get serious about negotiations when you are walking out.

Make your best deal on the price, then tell them you don’t like surprises and you’re sure that they won’t add in any charges such as “advertising fees” when they do the final paperwork.  Those should be part of the negotiated price, but they often sneak them in later.  A guy did that to me and I told him the deal was off unless he removed the $250 charge.  He did.

Don’t let them tell you they are “only” making $25 (or whatever) on the car.  That is a silly partial truth they use to describe the intercompany profit when one division of Honda, for example, sells to another division.  It is meaningless, especially when they try it on a CPA / finance executive with 25+ years of experience.

Go through the fleet dealer at the dealership if you can.  Most dealerships have a sub-group that sells to businesses who buy multiple cars.  Those buyers don’t have time for the gamesmanship of spending a whole day negotiating over each car.  The prices tend to be lower and non-negotiable.  Individuals obviously don’t buy a whole fleet of cars but sometimes a group like a credit union will combine the purchasing power to get fleet deals. You can submit what you want on the web and within an hour you’ll have lots of quotes.

Save up and pay cash.  When you tell them you’re ready to write a check when they agree to your price it gives you negotiating leverage.

The real outsourcing

Barack Obama is trying to appeal to people’s concerns about job outsourcing by making distorted attacks against Mitt Romney’s business record.  But I hope this backfires on him as his other attacks have thus far.  Consider these facts.

1. GE, one of Obama’s non-tax-paying cronies, is moving its x-ray division headquarters from Wisconsin to China. That’s one of many examples.

2. Tax rates are often bigger drivers than wage rates.  When Compaq shipped tons of jobs to Singapore in the 90′s it was because of Singapore’s tax rates.  I know, because I did many of the financial analyses.  Democrats have done nothing to make our tax rates more competitive.

3. The real problem with outsourcing isn’t that the jobs shift geographies but that they shift from citizens/taxpayers to non-citizens/non-taxpayers.  Therefore, illegal immigration is the ultimate catalyst for losing jobs.  Yet Obama has done everything he can to buy more votes by losing more jobs for his citizens.

4. Unions make U.S. businesses less competitive and foreign goods more attractive.

5. The anti-drilling Democrats send countless high paying jobs overseas, and most “Green” jobs have gone to other countries.

6. Oppressive and unworkable regulations like the Dodd-Frank bill and Obamacare make it more enticing for companies to move jobs.

Vote Republican to keep more jobs here.  More jobs here = less unemployment = more taxpayers = less people receiving benefits.

Good doom.

In fact, the best doom I’ve heard of in a long time — Governor Walker’s Victory Spells Doom For Public Sector Unions – Forbes.

In 1959 Wisconsin became the first state to allow collective bargaining by government employees. The projected cost of supporting Baby Boomer union retirees now threatens to bankrupt the state, as it does many others. Scott Walker ran for office promising change. The fiscal medicine he is administering may be bitter, but it looks like it is starting to work.  The state budget has been balanced.  The unemployment rate has been dropping and is now below the national average. Property taxes are down. Fraudulent sick leave policies—which allowed employees to call in sick and then work the next shift for overtime pay—have been ended. The government has stopped forcibly collecting union dues from workers’ paychecks.

It gets better:

Best of all, the myth that union bosses represent their members’ interests has been exposed as a lie. Now that union dues are voluntary, tens of thousands of union members have stopped paying them.  Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME) has dropped by half. Membership in the state’s American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is down by over a third. Given unions’ influential role in most elections, the national implications of this trend are staggering.

Walker’s message is clear: The key to bringing balance back to public sector labor relations and balance state budgets is to break the iron triangle of closed-shop mandatory unionization, compulsory dues collection, and oversized campaign donations to politicians that promise to do the unions’ bidding. If other governors take his cue and take up the cause, that giant sucking sound you hear will be the air coming out of union bosses’ bloated political action budgets.

. . .

The power of private sector unions was long ago broken by many heavily unionized companies going bankrupt. While this was painful for both workers and shareholders, the economy motored on as nimbler non-union competitors picked up the slack. This approach is problematic for the public sector because bankrupt state and local governments cannot be replaced by competitors waiting in the wings. Yes, citizens can always vote with their feet, emptying out cities like Detroit, leaving the blighted wreckage behind. But isn’t Walker’s targeted fiscal retrenchment less painful than scorched-earth abandonment?

Chicago machine candidate Barack Obama rode into office to the tune of Hail to the Chief, promising the unions that backed him the gift of card check elections, ending the secret ballot that shields employees from union intimidation. He may well ride into retirement to the tune of On Wisconsin as the era of closed shop unionism comes to an end.

Hopefully this will embolden other governors to scale back the ridiculous, unsustainable union wages and benefits. If other states will follow the Wisconsin lead all at once then the unions won’t be able to channel all their $$ to just one state. Public sector unions should be illegal. You shouldn’t be able to donate a small amount to your boss so he can take a large amount from your ideological foes to give to you, and then repeat the process over and over.  And remember that many of those public sector union employees are indoctrinating the students in their Liberalism.

Greetings from Mount Perspective, executive pay version

I worked at a Fortune 50 company for 17 years and saw a few executives that were grossly overpaid.  But many people were very talented and worked extremely hard to be outstanding in their fields.

But when you hear the class warfare rhetoric about executive pay, along with the ridiculous notion that the government should have any say in the issue, then think about these figures via A Little Perspective, Please.  The only problem is that they left off people like Al Gore, who have made outrageous amounts of profits peddling lies, aided and abetted by our government and public schools.

Actors Earnings (Millions)
Leonardo DiCaprio $77
Johnny Depp $50
Adam Sandler $40
Will Smith $36
Tom Hanks $35
Ben Stiller $34
Robert Downey, Jr. $31
Mark Wahlberg $28
Tim Allen $22
Tom Cruise $22
Actresses Earnings ($Millions)
Angelina Jolie $30
Sarah Jessica Parker $30
Jennifer Aniston $28
Reese Witherspoon $28
Julia Roberts $20
Kristen Stewart $20
Katherine Heigl $19
American Athletes Earnings ($Millions)
Tiger Woods $62.3
Phil Mickelson $61.2
LeBron James $44.5
Peyton Manning $38.0
Alex Rodriguez $36.0
Kobe Bryant $34.8
Kevin Garnett $32.8
Matt Ryan $32.7
Tom Brady $30.0
Dwight Howard $28.6
Dwayne Wade $28.2
Sam Bradford $27.3
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. $26.6
Darrelle Revis $25.8
Jim Furyk $25.3
International Athletes Earnings ($Millions) Sport
Roger Federer $52.8 Tennis
Manny Pacquiao $52.5 Boxing
Fernando Alonso $45.0 Auto Racing
Lionel Messi $43.8 Soccer
Cristiano Ronaldo $38.8 Soccer
Yao Ming $35.7 Basketball
Rafael Nadal $31.5 Tennis
Valentino Rossi $30.0 Motor Sports
Wayne Rooney $29.2 Soccer
Kaka $27.3 Soccer
David Beckham $26.8 Soccer
Ronaldinho $25.8 Soccer
Ichiro Suzuki $24.0 Baseball
Reality “Stars” Earnings ($Millions)
Kim Kardashian $6
Lauren Conrad $5
Bethenny Frankel $4
Audrina Patridge $3.5
Kate Gosselin $3.5
The Situation $3

The budget and the “Christian” Left

In God’s Federal Budget Priorities? Mark Tooley does a good job of analyzing the problems of the religious Left, specifically the views of the Sojourners group led by false teacher Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis.  The allegedly Christian portion of the “religious Left” routinely denies the deity of Christ, his exclusivity for salvation, the authority and accuracy of the Bible and so much more. We have a term for people who hold their views: Non-Christians.  We aim to share the Gospel with them at their earliest convenience, and we aim to remove them and their false teachings from real churches as soon as possible.

But in the Religious Left’s surreal universe, all persons are intrinsically good but victimized by oppressive social systems, for which they are entitled to endless redress by a mammoth, centralized state, controlled of course by the enlightened Left.

So many serious problems are caused by ignoring the truth of original sin.  And it never occurs to the Religious Left that those systems had to have been designed by all these “intrinsically good” people.

Sanctimoniously, the Sojourners mobilizer bewailed that the “vulnerable” may lack super PACs and “gangs of lobbyists . . .

Sadly, the most vulnerable — innocent human beings in the womb — have the Sojourners and the rest of the religious Left either ignoring or advancing the ultimate social injustice of abortion. They love to quote the “least of these” part of Matthew 25 while ignoring that they all want taxpayer-funded abortions. That means they think one of our problems is that we aren’t killing enough unborn children.

But how can there be “advantage” for future generations if the U.S. federal government is straddled with tens of trillions in unredeemable debt, crippling taxes, bankrupting entitlement programs, an enervating Welfare State, and crippling regulations? The Religious Left’s faithful budget prophets do not explain.

. . .

Traditional Christianity envisions a world of balance in which all persons are called to contribute towards the common good with their own God-given talents.  Traditional Christianity sees all persons as moral agents responsible for their own decisions.  And traditional Christianity sees all persons as sinners who often need rewards, punishments and incentives as well as ongoing challenge and accountability.  But in the Religious Left’s surreal universe, all persons are intrinsically good but victimized by oppressive social systems, for which they are entitled to endless redress by a mammoth, centralized state, controlled of course by the enlightened Left.

. . .

How to pay for all these additional expenses?  Cut nuclear weapons, submarines and aircraft, along with prisons, and immigration law enforcement.

What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

Christianity is a very earthy, no nonsense faith embodied in St. Paul’s admonition, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”  The early church fathers and sensible churchmen ever since have believed that governments are ordained mainly to defend their people with armies and police, to punish the criminally wicked, and to sustain public order so that honest people can exercise their virtues freely to the glory of God.

But the Religious Left chooses to see Big Government almost as a replacement for God, the church, the family, and virtually all other human institutions.   They ascribe to the federal Welfare and Regulatory State powers and mysteries that even the most zealous of ancient pagans never ascribed to their favorite golden idols.