Tag Archives: Socialism

Wayne Grudem debates Richard Glover on the Bible, poverty and foreign aid

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!

A great episode of the Unbelievable podcast. This is a great debate. I really enjoyed it. All three speakers were excellent putting forward their points. It’s nice to hear an American voice, a British voice and an Australian voice debating an important issue. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Wayne Grudem is a theologian known for his conservative approach to both doctrine and economics. His new book “The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution” (co-authored with economist Barry Asmus) makes the case that pouring aid into developing countries is a failed strategy. Grudem debates whether the Bible supports free market, capitalist economics with Australian economist and theologian Richard Glover who wrote a critique of the book for the Australian Bible Society.

 The MP3 file is here.



  • The Bible speaks to all of life, including economics, stewardship, government
  • The study of economics helps us to understand how to take care of the poor
  • My job is to apply the teachings of the Bible to all of life


  • What’s your thesis in the book?


  • A good system is one where the poor have the opportunity to earn and save from their labor
  • Book is a response to a Kenyan couple Grudem met at a London conference on business and Christianity
  • Book is not concerned with how individuals and groups can do charity to help the poor
  • Our church already does that and we support individuals and groups doing charity
  • The book is concerned with how should nations be transformed in order to grow economically
  • What should the laws, policies and cultural beliefs of a nation be in order for it to not be poor?
  • The book lists factors that have moved nations from poverty to prosperity in different times and places
  • The thesis of the book is this: government should set their people free to be able to produce more
  • We advocate freedom in economics: freedom to work, freedom to save, freedom to start businesses
  • We believe that this free enterprise view is consistent with the Bible in a number of places
  • E.g. – private property is good for prosperity (thou shall not steal) but forbidden by communism


  • What about the church sharing in communities in Acts 2 and Acts 4?


  • That is not redistribution of wealth among individuals and businesses by a secular government
  • Those passages showed that there was voluntary sharing among Christians, which is not communism


  • What’s wrong with Grudem’s book?


  • The book emphasizes the Bible and the goal is to help the poor in poor countries
  • Criticism 1: the book doesn’t engage with non-free-market perspectives on economics
  • Criticism 2: the book doesn’t survey all that the Bible says about economics


  • For 1) what is one of the views that is not considered?


  • Jeffrey Sachs says that nations need a leg up before they can grow economically
  • Ha-Joon Chang says that free enterprise was not how the wealthy nations became wealthy


  • We do engage with other points of view, especially Jeffrey Sachs in the book
  • The trouble with leftist views on economic development is that it does not work in practice
  • NO COUNTRY has even been lifted out of poverty by foreign aid
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the wisdom literature: we have 64 citations in the index
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the gospels: we have 42 citations in the index
  • He says we don’t cite enough from the epistles: we cite 22 of 27 epistles in the index
  • Some economists won’t criticize cultural and moral values that hurt prosperity
  • As Christians, we think that moral and cultural values are part of the problem that needs solving


  • What about foreign aid?


  • Foreign aid doesn’t help: a lot of the money goes into government and rulers can be corrupt
  • Instead of encouraging people to start businesses, it tells people to go into government to get aid money
  • Economists (lists 3) are saying that foreign aid entrenches corrupt government in power, does no good


  • If it’s not working, should we keep doing it?


  • When there is an immediate need, we should do it, even if it is not a long-term solution: we need both


  • Should we stop foreign aid completely?


  • Voluntary charitable giving from individuals and churches to help poor countries is good
  • Me and my co-author are both active on our church board that helps poor countries with urgent needs
  • Food and doctors are urgent needs, and we should help, but it doesn’t lift countries out of poverty
  • We need a long-term solution that helps poor countries produce their own food and doctors
  • We are criticizing 1) government to government aid and 2) IMF/World bank to government aid
  • We have had pushback because 500,000 people make a living from this foreign aid industry
  • No country has ever been lifted out of poverty into sustainable prosperity
  • That’s the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing that has never worked


  • Does the Bible support free enterprise as a way of creating sustainable prosperity?


  • When I said the Bible was absent from his book, absent was a bad choice of words
  • But the hundreds of references he listed were not dealth with *in depth*
  • In the Scriptures, God is the one who provides (e.g. – in Ephesians, Sermon on the Mount)
  • The Bible is less focused on his people making money, and more focus on sharing basics, like food
  • Secular governments should just take it from people who have food and give it to hungry people
  • In 2 Cor 8-9, Paul talks about voluntary sharing so everyone will be equal


  • Does 2 Cor 8-9 undermine the free enterprise system you champion in the book?


  • The sharing in the Bible solves cases of urgent need, it does not lift countries from poverty to sustainable prosperity
  • Some older translations say “equality” in 2 Cor 8:13-14, but newer translations (e.g. – ESV) say “fairness”
  • The Greek word is translated as “fairly” the only other place it appears in the NT (Col 4:1), in every translation
  • God uses the means of human work and productivity to provide (daily bread is baked, doesn’t just fall from Heaven)
  • In general, there’s no provision in Scripture for a person to be dependent on donations for their entire lives
  • God promises Israel fields and mountains to tend and mine, but prosperity is from work, not depending on others


  • Does the Bible support this focus on work?


  • Working is highly praised in Scripture, (lists Bible passages that favor work over dependency)
  • Countries that were exposed to this notion of work and productivity have been more prosperous


  • Jeffrey Sachs and other development economists don’t say you can be prosperous through dependence
  • They say that it is a necessary part of leading to nations out of poverty into poverty


  • It’s never worked. What nation has become prosperous through foreign aid?


  • There are lots of nations, especially in Africa, where foreign aid has helped lift them out of poverty


  • Name one country in Africa where foreign aud has lifted them out of poverty into sustainable prosperity


  • I can’t think of one right now.


  • Our book contains a map of Africa and we looked at every nation’s per capita income
  • No nation has been able to rise out of poverty through dependence on foreign aid
  • The only close one is Botswana, but they have abundant freedoms, Christian morals, less corrupt government
  • So Botswana is the best case and they became prosperous through becoming productive, not foreign aid


  • Is he right to say that charity is a short-term solution, but that it’s not good long-term for prosperity?


  • Yes, and work is a very important focus in the Scriptures as he says.
  • But since the Fall work has been much harder, and may not have the outcomes that we would like


  • I also believe in emergency aid for when catastrophies happen, like floods and famines
  • But dependence on foreign aid enriches corrupt rulers and does not create the productivity that leads to sustained prosperity


  • Can foreign aid be used to give poor nations a leg up on becoming prosperous?


  • Dambisa Moyo, Oxford-educated economist from Zambia, says stop the aid, it’s doing more harm than good
  • Jeffrey Sachs’ view is that foreign aid hasn’t worked yet, but just keep trying a bit more
  • What works: limited government, rule of law, fair courts, documented property rights, low taxes, stable currency
  • People are creative and want to work, we just have to get government out of the way and let people work, earn and save


  • Is this free enterprise system supported by the Bible?


  • The wealthy nations of the world did not become wealthy through productive work and free enterprise policies
  • Ha-Joon Chang: free enterprise policies have never brought a country from poverty to wealth
  • E.g. – wealth is created through tariffs (not by innovating and by economic freedom?)


  • I’ve read Ha-Joon Chang’s book, and his examples are very selective and limited
  • Index of Economic Freedom: the freest countries are the most prosperous, the least free countries are the most poor
  • When you look at macro data, instead of very selective examples, the free enterprise system is best for prosperity


  • The book doesn’t do enough to engage with leftist economists (he doesn’t say which ones)
  • Just because nations who are free are rich, doesn’t mean freedom causes productivity
  • There are parts of the Bible that doesn’t support the free enterprise system (he names none)


  • The Bible is focused on work not dependency, and charity not government redistribution
  • The best way to help the poor in other countries is by encouraging work and productivity

CBS Democrat debate: global warming causes terrorism, take in 65,000 Syrian refugees

What difference does national security make?
What difference does national security make?

Here’s a re-cap of the Democrat debate from Saturday night on CBS News.

On terrorism:

DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, you said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?

SANDERS: Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world — this is what the CIA says — they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops ask you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.

On Syrian refugees:

O’Malley proposed allowing 65,000 Syrian refugees into the country, more than the 10,000 proposed by Obama, though he said they need “proper screening.”

Clinton also argued for a higher number, adding “I said we should go to 65, but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine.”

On amnesty and wages:

9: 53: Hillary is asked how she could “go further” than Obama on executive amnesty after the administration’s setback this week. She insists, according to her reading of the law and the Constitution and not the court’s, Obama has the “authority” to exercise his executive amnesty. She “any parent” would be “proud” of DREAMers and America should make it possible for illegal immigrants to come of of the shadows. No talk about the crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

9: 52: Democrats asked about immigration. O’Malley is asked if he is willing to compromise to focus on border security first to keep America face. O’Malley says that if more border/security and deportations were going to bring Republicans to the table, it would have happened a long time ago. He blasts Trump as  an immigrant-bashing “carnival barker.” O’Malley says giving amnesty to illegal immigrants would raise wages even though illegal immigrants would then be competing with Americans for jobs.

The pro-Democrat “debate” moderators were very careful to steer the discussion away from all of the Clinton scandals… nothing about the Clinton Foundation taking foreign donations, nothing about the hacked e-private homebrew e-mail server, nothing about Benghazi, nothing about Clinton’s war in Libya, etc.

Liberal moderators

CBS moderator John Dickerson is a radical left-wing Democrat.

CBS moderator Nancy Cordes is a radical left-wing Democrat.

Dickerson also met privately with each of the candidates prior to the debate.

Syrian refugees

In case you’re concerned about the refugees, in light of the Paris terrorist attacks, here’s the current Democrat plan for that:

The United States will take up to 100,000 refugees a year in 2017, a more than 40 percent increase that comes as growing numbers of people flee conflicts in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced the plans Sunday in Berlin, where German officials are scrambling to deal with a massive influx of migrants and where he met with some Syrians who had fled their country’s civil war. He said the U.S. cap on refugees would be lifted in stages, going from 70,000 now to 85,000 in 2016 and 100,000 the following year.

Nothing to be concerned about, nothing to see here.

IPCC lead author: 25 years of failed global warming policies have made us poorer

Atmospheric temperature measurements though Sept 2015
Atmospheric temperature measurements though Sept 2015

I found this article on The Stream, it’s about environmental economist Richard Tol.

It says:

Environmental economist Richard Tol wants the world to deal with global warming, but his data shows the past 25 years of climate policies in rich countries have done nothing to fundamentally tackle the issue.

If anything, Tol argues, current and past climate policies have only served to make most people a little poorer while benefiting those in politically favored industries or with connections to powerful politicians.

“Twenty-five years of climate policy has made most of us a little poorer,” Tol told an audience gathered at the libertarian Cato Institute Friday, adding that such policies also made “some of us a little richer” — referring to those getting green energy subsidies and government grants.

In Tol’s view, climate policies have been more about “rewarding allies with rents and subsidies rather than emissions reduction.”

Tol, no skeptic of man-made global warming, argued current policies to cut emissions have done nothing to change the trend in carbon dioxide emissions reductions over the past 25 years. Basically, U.S. and European climate regulations have not caused emissions to be reduced any faster.

“CO2 intensity in the economy has come down,” Tol said, “but you can’t really see a trend break in 1990. It just seems that the last 20 years were a continuation of the trends of the 20 years before.”

“And this is true for the United States, where there has been some climate policy, but it’s also true for some of the countries — Germany, Japan, United Kingdom — who have consistently claimed to be in climate policy and claim to have done a whole lot to reduce their emissions,” Tol said. “It’s just not visible in the data.”

Tol is probably the world’s leading environmental economist and a lead author of a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group, but that hasn’t stopped him from being criticized for his unorthodox opinions.

Tol lashed out against the IPCC last year for exaggerating claims about global warming, by comparing it to an “apocalypse.” The economist also authored articles debunking the “97 percent” consensus claim often touted by environmentalists and politicians.

To be fair, though, he’s not a skeptic like me:

On the other hand, Tol is no skeptic of man-made global warming. He favors taxing carbon dioxide emissions, but has admitted that global warming could initially result in economic benefits from enhanced plant growth, lower heating costs and fewer deaths from the cold.

It never ceases to amaze me how my secular leftist friends believe whatever they want to believe, because they want to believe it, regardless of evidence. I suppose that they will even reject this guy as being “in the pay of the Big Scary Oil Companies”.

Seven policies that conservatives oppose, because they cause poverty

Women for bigger government, higher taxes
Women for bigger government, higher taxes

The list is from John Hawkins, who runs Right Wing News. It’s posted at Townhall.com, though. (H/T Lindsay)


Keeping Americans poor in a prosperous country like America is not as easy as you think. After all, this is the “land of opportunity.” Legal immigrants pay tens of thousands of dollars and wait years for the opportunity to come legally and illegal immigrants often risk their lives just so they can get here and do menial work. This is the country that made Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even OPRAH into billionaires and it’s a nation where you can have everything from hoverboards to medicine for your pet delivered right to your door. So when there’s so much wealth and opulence everywhere, how do you lock Americans out of that success?

No matter what you do, there will always be a few poor people around, but to really maximize those numbers there are very specific government policies abetted by a few cultural attitudes that will make all the difference.

Here’s the list of policies that make people poor:

  1. Making Sure Taxes And Regulations Are Sky High
  2. Encouraging Dependency
  3. Encouraging People To Have Babies Out Of Wedlock
  4. Demonizing Success
  5. Screwing Up The Education System
  6. Having Massive Immigration
  7. Ratcheting Up Their Expenses

I partially disagree with him on #6, where he goes after skilled immigrants. I think it’s right to go after unskilled immigrants, and immigration through family sponsors, since those people may use more social programs than they pay for in taxes. I don’t mind if they come, so long as they are barred from social programs. Failing that, we should only allow skilled immigrants to come – they pay in more than they use up.

However, if he was talking about illegal alias, and not skilled workers, I agree 100%. Everyone who is here should be here legally with a work permit, and there should be enforcement to punish employers who cheat.

Here’s the one I really like, though – the one I think my Democrat co-workers would not be surprised by:

7. Ratcheting Up Their Expenses: Of course, if you want to create more poor Americans, it’s best to tax the middle class as much as possible, but in a country where they can vote you out of office, you have to be careful about directly reaching into their wallets. So, how do you take their money without their realizing that you’re responsible?

Have the Federal Reserve print money non-stop, which drives up inflation. Over time, that reduces the purchasing power of the middle class as the cost of everything seems to creep up. It’s also important to go after cheap sources of energy like oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Not only does that drive up the cost the middle class pays across the board for products, it also hits people directly when they heat and cool their homes. Exploding medical costs are also helpful and Obamacare has done an amazing job of this. Medical costs are skyrocketing for the middle class and helping to drive them towards poverty. As an extra added bonus, middle class Americans who can no longer afford to pay for their medical care because of Obamacare will also be hit with a tax penalty. If your goal is to hurt middle class Americans financially, you could not do much better than Obamacare.

There are many ways to impoverish working people more than just raising their taxes. Just make them pay more for everything by regulating and taxing the people who create the services and products that people buy.

European leftists want to welcome in refugees, but can they handle it?

Muslim populations in Europe
Muslim populations in Europe

Let’s just take a look at a couple of European countries in this post, Germany and Sweden.

First, Germany.

Breitbart News reports:

Germany will import 1.2 million completely unskilled migrants this year, many of whom will go straight onto unemployment benefits, according to a leaked government document.

The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA) October migration estimates document outlined a number of key statistics previously not in the public domain.

Among the revelations is that fact over 80 per cent of migrants have no qualifications, the majority are under the age of 45, and the agency expects 400,000 new benefit claimants next year to be migrants.

[…]As the document explains, the sheer number of new unemployment benefit applications that will need processing and managing means the agency will have to employ 3,500 new staff.

The new claimants and the staff come with a cost, estimated to stand at €855 million next year (£620 million) in addition to the €35 billion already budgeted for 2016. The additional cost includes €640 million for benefit payments and €65 million for new staff — convenient empire building for the agency at a time of national crisis.

[…]Just eight per cent of migrants have any kind of academic qualification, while 81 per cent have none at all. If Germany received 1.5 million migrants, as the present — if rapidly ascending — figure has it, that means some 1.2 million people will arrive in the country without a level of education even as high as a school leavers certificate.

Wow, everything is awesome! There will be lots of hiring of new government workers to process all of the new 400,000 people on welfare. See, letting in unskilled immigrants who cannot speak the language and do not accept Western laws and values pays for itself – it creates jobs! What could go wrong? Well, I guess someone has to pay for the welfare for all these people… but we can just add that to Germany’s national debt, right?

Well, that’s Germany, now on to Sweden.

Breitbart News again:

Sweden is facing collapse thanks to the recent huge influx of migrants into the country, the Swedish foreign minister has said. As 190,000 migrants this year alone pour into the country, law and order is beginning to break down as the country plays witness to numerous arson attacks, stabbings and gang rapes.

The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom has warned that Sweden, a country of just 9.8 million people, cannot continue to take migrants at the present rate without services breaking down. In an interview, Mrs Wallstrom said: “I think most people feel that we cannot maintain a system where perhaps 190,000 people will arrive every year – in the long run, our system will collapse.

[…]Once thought of as one of Europe’s most peaceful nations, Sweden is rapidly becoming a fragmented nation, at war with itself. Almost 26.8 per cent of the population is now foreign born or has at least one foreign born parent. With no way to assimilate such large numbers, the outcome has been the creation of ghettos in which crime and extremism are allowed to flourish.

Malmo, which just two years ago played host to that most unifying of events, the Eurovision Song Contest, now has “no-go zones.” Last month, retired Chief Superintendent Torsten Elofsson told Breitbart London: “We have a number of no-go-zones in Sweden and they are expanding… police can go to these places, but you have to take precautions.

“Years ago you could go with two officers, no problem. Now you have to send four officers and two cars – if the fire brigade want to go, they have to take a police escort. They throw stones and try to stop the fireman from putting out fires.”

He added: “Of the number of people arrested and dragged into police stations, the majority are of foreign origin to be honest. There is an over-representation of violent crimes committed by people from other countries”.

The city has also seen grenade attacks similar in style to those seen in the middle east,gang rapes, and fatal shootings.

Two similar knife attacks, each of which claimed two victims, open a window into the cancer of liberalism eating away at the heart of Sweden: while a random stabbing of a Swedish mother and her son in Ikea by an Eritrean migrant who was angry at having his asylum claim refused was swept under the carpet by the establishment; yet the deaths of an immigrant teaching assistant and student by a native Swede frustrated by immigration were lamented by the media, politicians, and even the King, and labelled racist terrorism.

I am really glad that we have such wonderful, compassionate people in charge of spending our tax money. Obama has done a particularly good job of spending taxpayer money – it’s just been reported that his new budget deal will drive the national debt up over $20 trillion before he leaves office! What a hero he is, especially to the young millenials who will be stuck with the bill.