Global warming alarmism is big business. On one side you have Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, The Climate Project and dozens upon dozens of other non-governmental organizations who solicit hundreds of millions from private donors and from government, and who in turn award lucrative grants to further their agenda.
You also have the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, both Houses of Congress and many more government agencies, spraying global warming money at anything that moves and at staggering rates — billions of dollars.
And then you also have every major and minor university — with contributions from every department, from Critical Literature Theory to Women’s Studies — all with their hands out and eager to provide the support Greenpeace, the government and others desire. Add to that another two or three dozen think tanks which are also sniffing for grants or which support government intervention to do the impossible and stop the earth’s climate from changing.
Every scientific organization which is dependent on grant money has released a statement saying “something must be done” about global warming. They’re supported, fawned over and feted by just about every news and media agency. And don’t forget the leadership of most major organized religions have their own statements — and their hands out.
We’re not done: we still have to add the dozens of Solyndra-type companies eager to sell the government products, to get “green” subsidies or to support its global-warming agenda. Included in that list are oil companies. Oil companies?
How much money are we talking about? Billions:
Joanne Nova has documented the massive amount of money pouring from government into the pockets of individuals and groups associated with the environment. “The U.S. government has provided over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, foreign aid, and tax breaks.” $79 billion.
Now it’s important to note that when the government hands out money, they are not handing out part of their profits from the sale of useful products and services, the way a private company might. No. What government does is they borrow money from future taxpayers and add it to the national debt. That’s why our national debt has doubled under Obama and will be $20 trillion by the time he leaves office in January 2017. So, government is busy manufacturing support for government intervention and regulation of businesses and individuals using money that will be taken from future job creators and taxpayers.
Would you like to have your money back so you can support causest that you care about instead of global warming socialism? So would I. But that’s why people ought to support slimming down government and letting it only perform those minimalist duties that are laid out for it in the Constitution.
It is possible to go to college and get a degree that will prepare you for a job and to do it without drowning yourself in debt. I did it. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Biology, with a 4.0 GPA throughout, with no debt, and got a job right out of college. But I’m the exception. You can’t just do what everyone else is doing and expect things to work out well for you. You have to be smart and informed or you’re likely to end up an unhappy statistic, paying down enormous debt on a degree you never use.
She has 5 pieces of advice for you young people.
Here’s my favorite:
5) Remember that the proper amount of student loans is zero and any non-zero amount must be justified by careful study and number-crunching to make sure it is worth it. Your future is at stake. In my experience, the only time student loans are an acceptable investment is when you’re going into a high paying field (think doctor, lawyer, or engineer), have very high graduation and employment potential (good grades and some work experience), and your realistic (not idealistic) future income will be sufficient to pay for your total student loans in less than 10 years while also allowing you to cover all your living expenses. You have to crunch the numbers and make sure the investment, including the interest you will pay, is worth it in better job prospects and pay than you could achieve without the degree. You can’t rely on the system to check this for you. They are all too happy to mortgage your future for a degree you can’t afford and that won’t get you a job.
Straight talk from the Lindsay.
I guess I should say something about me. It’s hard for me to remember the numbers exactly, but I think I finished my Bachelor of Computer Science with $9,000 in the black, and then graduated with a Masters of Computer Science with $16,000 in the black. As Lindsay advises in her point #4, I worked in the summers and took two semesters off (in my BS) to work full time. I went to a very ordinary school in my home town for both degrees, and chose all programming courses as much as I could. I stayed away from anything theoretical, and even niche courses. (At least until graduate school – then I went crazy and audited 5 theoretical courses in addition to my programming courses and thesis). I do recommend working in some work related to your degree, at least in the summer, even if you don’t get paid. However, if you can’t find paid work in the summer related to your degree, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re not in a program that is going to pay for itself.
I mentor a lot of young Christian men and women about their educations and careers. Of all the other young Christians I mentor, everyone is in a STEM program, except for these two girls in California who just started working on. One got a job on Monday night, and the other one (who is shy) is investigating getting a promotion at her current job, as well as adjusting the courses she is taking now. Parents really need to be on top of the education and career situation of their children. And older Christians like me, well we need to be taking an interest in young Christians… making sure they study apologetics, apply themselves in school, study for jobs that pay – either in vocational training or in a STEM college program. Something where they can find a job that pays. This is especially important for men, because they are tasked with the role of primary provider.
What’s the ideal balance between work and missions? In this post, I will argue against going abroad to do full-time missions.
Do apologetics ministry in your spare time, and work full-time
A full-time job and part-time ministry makes the most sense from a cost-benefit point of view. I have friends who are software engineers who studied enough science, history, and philosophy part-time, who are able to do public debates with atheists, which influence many more people than one-on-one interactions. One of my friends has several Masters degrees, and is in a PhD program, but his full-time career is in software and network management. He is 100% self-funded. He has worked in a successful apologetics career with a full-time career in technology, and he is debt-free. This is the best option . Your debts get paid off. Your resume stays gap-free. You bring a nest egg to your future spouse. You can afford to have children. You can afford a stay-at-home mom. You can afford either homeschooling or private schools, should you decide to go that route.
You have to start saving and investing early if you want to be independent in your old age. With full-time work and part-time ministry, you still make a difference for Christ and His Kingdom over time, while avoiding a financial crisis that could cost you your family, your friends, and even your faith. This is an especially wise way to proceed, given the economic struggles we are likely to face from housing bubbles, student loan bubbles, rising interest rates, entitlement crises, state pension underfunding, environmental regulations, the ever increasing national debt, demographic crisis, etc. Read the culture and be cautious about the future.
Use the Internet to make a difference in other countries for free
One cost-effective way to make a difference is by using the Internet to reach other countries. You can work full-time, and then use your spare time to blog. This blog gets an average of 24,000 page views per week. About 45% of that traffic comes from NON-USA countries. If you keep working full-time and just start a blog for free, then you can maintain your gap-free resume and have a much easier time marrying and raising children.
The university next door is a great place to have an influence
I do think full-time ministry is OK in two cases: if you don’t go abroad, or if you go abroad with a full-time job or full-ride scholarship. My friend Eric Chabot was able to host Frank Turek at Ohio State University last night (see photo above), for example. He got a great crowd. He is donation-driven, but he runs a lean operation since he lives near the campus where he serves. When it comes to having an impact, the American university is the place to make a difference. We have enough trouble in our own country, especially in the universities, where so many young people lose the faith of their childhood – there’s no need to travel and incur heavy expenses. I think it also makes sense financially to go abroad for missions, if you get a scholarship that pays your way or if you have a job offer where you can work full-time and do missions part-time. What does not make sense is sending an unskilled missionary to a foreign country at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars that could be used much more efficiently in smaller, effective Eric-Chabot-style operations.
Your feelings and desires are not God speaking to you
Now some people who want to go into overseas missions will tell me that they feel led to go. This method of decision making is not Biblical, as I explained in one of my previous posts. If you believe the Bible, then feelings are a pretty poor way of determining what God wants from you. In fact, left to themselves, humans typically choose what feels best for them, not what does best for God. If God really calls you to do something, like he called Jonah, then you probably won’t feel like doing it. Missionary work is especially suspect when God is supposedly calling you to go to a country that you always dreamed of traveling to while you were a non-Christian. Normally, conversion causes you to have different desires – not the same desires you had as a non-Christian. Unless you hear an audible voice, like an Old Testament prophet would, then it’s best not to think that God is speaking through your feelings and desires. A good book to read on this is “Decision Making and the Will of God“, by Garry Friesen.
Don’t go into missions in order to have fun or go on an adventure
I am suspicious of people who try to turn Christianity into a mechanism for achieving the same goals that non-Christians want to achieve. These days, it seems as if everyone wants to travel to exotic places. If there is evidence of hedonistic, fun-pursuing, thrill-seeking behavior in your past, then consider that you may just want an “adventure”. I have a friend who went to Russia for a year just after graduating college, and she admitted to me that she just went “to have an adventure”. To me, that’s not a good reason to spend thousands of dollars, and put gaps in your resume. It’s not a cost-effective way to make a difference, given the other alternatives. Your goal should be to make yourself defensible so that you can put out a sustained effort that lasts, not burn out and then be ineffective for the rest of your life. Think about what J. Warner Wallace says about living wisely and prudently so you position yourself to make a steady contribution in the second half of your life. Don’t wreck your long-term impact for short-term fun. God will not honor that.
Don’t go into missions to make up for an immoral past
Anyway, if you look in your past and see lots of wild behavior – drinking, drugs, premarital sex, cohabitation, abortions, gambling, divorces, etc., then consider that you may be interested in missions for the wrong reasons. You don’t need to go on a missions trip to dramatically declare to everyone that you are now completely reformed from your wild party days. I actually managed to talk a friend out of a short-term missions trip who felt that it was a good way to do something meaningful to “make up” for her past. By being responsible with her job and saving money, she’s managed to avoid burning out, and to instead put out a steady stream of effective activities. And she was financially stable enough to get married and have children, as well – another excellent way to make a difference.
Do not go into missions if your resume and balance sheet do not demonstrate maturity
We already talked about the need for sound planning in the Bible study we did with Wayne Grudem. The Bible praises hard work, stewardship, prudence and wisdom. And this is especially true for people who are getting older and need to be thinking about marriage, children and retirement. It’s not a good witness for Christians to be financially unstable. When you are able to stand on your own two feet financially, and help others from your earnings, you gain credibility with non-Christians. We don’t want people to think that we are doing this for the money. The best option is to be self-funded, like Paul and his tent-making-funded ministry.
I am not sure if I really explained the importance of Scott Walker’s plan to rein in public sector unions in my last post.
Basically, public sector unions generate a lot of money from forced collection of union dues, and they turn around and use that money to donate to politicians who are in favor of growing government. Unions want bigger government, because they make more money if government grows.
Corporations and their employees… tend to spread their donations fairly evenly between the two major parties, unlike unions, which overwhelmingly assist Democrats. In 2008, Democrats received 55% of the $2 billion contributed by corporate PACs and company employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Labor unions were responsible for $75 million in political donations, with 92% going to Democrats.
So how much money are we talking about?
To see how much unions control government, take a look at this story from National Review, written by economist Veronique to Rugy.
The top campaign donor of the last 25 years is ActBlue, an online political-action committee dedicated to raising funds for Democrats. ActBlue’s political contributions, which total close to $100 million, are even more impressive when one realizes that it was only launched in 2004. That’s $100 million in ten years.
Fourteen labor unions were among the top 25 political campaign contributors.
Three public-sector unions were among the 14 labor groups: the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the National Education Association; and the American Federation of Teachers. Their combined contributions amount to $150 million, or 15 percent of the top 25’s approximately $1 billion in donations since 1989.
Public- and private-sector unions contributed 55.6 percent — $552 million — of the top 25’s contributions.
“Nearly all of labor’s 2012 donations to candidates and parties – 90 percent – went to Democrats,” the report from CRP concluded. “Public sector unions, which include employees at all levels of government, donated $14.7 million to Democrats in 2014.”
But someone has a plan to do something about this: Scott Walker.
This Investors Business Daily article by economist Veronique de Rugy explains what he would do to the unions if elected President in 2016.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just proposed a plan to overhaul the country’s labor laws, called “My Plan to Give Power to the People, Not the Union Bosses.”
It would do that by expanding employee choice and holding unions accountable to their members.
One of the main underlying themes of the Republican presidential hopeful’s private-sector reforms is transferring power and decision-making from unions to their members.
For instance, the plan would guarantee employees’ rights by strengthening secret-ballot elections. Under current law, unions have ways to work around the protections, making such elections less than secret. The change would protect workers from retaliation by not disclosing their choices to unions during workplace elections.
Though federal laws outlaw extortion, the Supreme Court has ruled that they usually do not apply to unions. Walker’s plan would change that to protect workers from threats, violence and extortion from unions.
Similarly, his reforms would protect whistleblowers who report wrongdoing on the part of a union from being fired or discriminated against.
[…][Public sector unions]… also make the government less effective and more expensive.
That’s why a President Walker would work with Congress to prohibit public employee unions altogether. Meanwhile, he would implement taxpayer and paycheck protections.
As Heritage Foundation labor economist James Sherk explained for National Review, “Walker proposes cracking down on the use of ‘union time’ — that is, allowing federal employees to work for their unions at taxpayer expense.
“He also wants to stop unions from using federal resources to collect the portion of dues that they spend on political causes and lobbying.”
Walker’s plan also would establish a nationwide right-to-work law, making voluntary union dues the default option for all private- and public-sector workers. It would give workers the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a union or not.
States that want to take this freedom away from their workers would have to affirmatively vote to opt out of right-to-work status.
[…]The Walker plan includes many more reforms, such as a repeal of the Davis-Bacon wage controls, which alone could save taxpayers nearly $13 billion over the next 10 years. If implemented, it would be a giant step toward freeing businesses, employers, workers and taxpayers from the incredible burden imposed on them by federal labor laws and union bosses.
Why should we believe that he’ll really do it? Well, unlike some of the talker candidates, Walker has already done it in his state. And it worked – a $3.6 billion dollar deficit was erased.
If you are concerned about the growth of government, and all that that entails, e.g. – higher taxes, massive spending, bloated welfare state, huge levels of corruption, government waste, abortion, gay marriage, etc – then you should know that all of that is driven by the political donations of unions.
And I don’t want anyone to think that union workers are the same as union bosses. In Wisconsin, as soon as the union workers got the right to work without having the pay union dues, the vast majority of them chose not to pay union dues.
A practical lecture on money – spending, saving, charitable giving – from famous pastor Wayne Grudem.
If you’re like me and you struggle with Bible study and church sermons unless you get something practical out of it, then these Bible studies are for you. You’ll like the way that Grudem navigates the Bible finding the passages that tell you who God is, so that you can make better decisions by analyzing alternatives and choosing the one that gives your Boss a maximum return on investment.
Christianity does not teach asceticism (= don’t enjoy anything in this world), Paul condemns it in 1 Timothy 4:1-5
When you buy nice things, even if it is a little more expensive, it’s an opportunity to be thankful for nice things that God has provided
Even being rich is OK, but don’t let it make you haughty and arrogant, and don’t set your hopes on your money (see 1 Tim 6:17)
It is important for you to earn money, and you are supposed to use it to support yourself and be independent
It is possible to overspend and live recklessly (Luke 15:13) and it’s also possible to overspend and live too luxuriously
Increasing your income through career progression is wise, because it allows you to give away more and save more
God gives us freedom to decide how much we spend, how much we give away, and how much we save
every choice a Christian makes with money will give him or her more or less reward in his or her afterlife
Do not spend more than you have – you should make every effort to get out of debt as quickly as possible
Saving money is wise so you can help yourself and others, and have money in your old age when you will not be working
If you do not save your own money, you end up being dependent on others (e.g. – family or taxpayers)
Not saving money for the future is a way of “putting God to the test” (Matt 4:7)
You are to “be dependent on no one”, to the extent that you can (1 Thes 4:12)
We don’t know the future, that’s why we should prepare for an emergency, and buy insurance to guard (James 4:13-17)
It’s right for us to learn how to save to be able to buy bigger assets, like a car or a college education
Saving and investing in stocks and bonds lets people in business start and grow companies, creating jobs and new products
Don’t over-save, trusting too much in money more than you trust in God (Ps 62.10; Matt 6:19,24; Luke 12:15-21)
it is required for the people of God to give something out of what they earn, but no percentage is specified (Deut 26:12-13)
you do not give money to become right with God, you can’t earn your salvation
a Christian gives to show God that you trust him to take care of you, and to experience trusting him through your giving
the quality of your resurrection life with God is affected by giving you do for the Kingdom (Phil 4, Matt 6:19-21; 1 Tim 6:18-19)
when you get involved in the lives of others and give to them, you have the joy of experiencing caring for others (Acts 20:35)
it’s possible to give too little, but it’s also possible to give too much – be careful about pride creeping in as well
The first part of this lecture made me think of my treat for the week, which is to go to an Indian buffet on Wednesdays, if I can. It costs $10, which is more than my usual $3.50 for a frozen meal for lunch and another $3.50 for a frozen meal for dinner. Spending a little more on a yummy plate of my favorite food makes it easy for me to remember to say grace, which is what Grudem said about spending making you thankful.
I was so happy listening to this talk because he was condemning bad stewardship, which I see in a lot of young people these days. I was happy until he got to the part about trusting in your savings for your security, and then I thought – that’s what I do wrong! I save a lot but it’s not just for emergencies and to share with others, like he was saying – I want a sense of security. This was more of a temptation in my 20s than it is now in my 30s, though.
Ironically, I woke up Wednesday morning and was singing this song in the shower:
It’s a song about being wanting to be righteous, and yet being unable to attain it on your own. I must think that being justified by faith in Jesus is more important than money, because I never wake up singing about the security I get from my savings. Still, I consider myself warned.
I can remember being in my first full-time job as a newly hired junior programmer when the 2001 recession struck. I would cry while signing checks to support William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith ministry, because I was so scared. I had no family or friends where I lived to help me if anything went wrong, and that’s been the story of my working life. If anything goes wrong, there is no backup. But it’s that experience of crying when I gave that allows me to say today “that’s when I became the man I am, that’s what a man does when he is a follower of Jesus”. If you are not doing the actions of charity, then you will not having the experience of trusting God and letting him lead you. There is more to the Christian life than just saying the right things – you have to do the right things.
If you’re scared about giving when you are young, then do what I did in my 20s: work 70-hour weeks, get promoted often, and save everything you earn. I volunteered every Saturday for 9 months in order to get my first white-collar part-time job when I was still in high-school. The faster you increase your savings, the easier it’s going to be to take a genuine interest in caring for the people around you. Read Phil 1 (fellowship), Phil 2 (concern for others), and Phil 4 (charity). Turn off your emotions and desires, and put Philippians into practice. Note that your freedom to give is very much tied to the quality of your decisions of what to study, where to work, how much you spend on entertainment, and so on. That’s why you need to turn off your feelings and desires and do what works, even it it’s not fun, and even if it involves responsibilities and obligations.