Tag Archives: Socialism

Abortion debate: a secular case against legalized abortion

Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old
Unborn baby scheming about being only two months old

Note: this post has a twin! Its companion post on a secular case against gay marriage is here.

Now, you may think that the view that the unborn deserve protection during pregnancy is something that you either take on faith or not. But I want to explain how you can make a case for the right to life of the unborn, just by using reason and evidence.

To defend the pro-life position, I think you need to sustain 3 arguments:

  1. The unborn is a living being with human DNA, and is therefore human.
  2. There is no morally-relevant difference between an unborn baby, and one already born.
  3. None of the justifications given for terminating an unborn baby are morally adequate.

Now, the pro-abortion debater may object to point 1, perhaps by claiming that the unborn baby is either not living, or not human, or not distinct from the mother.

Defending point 1: Well, it is pretty obvious that the unborn child is not inanimate matter. It is definitely living and growing through all 9 months of pregnancy. (Click here for a video that shows what a baby looks like through all 9 months of pregnancy). Since it has human DNA, that makes it a human. And its DNA is different from either its mother or father, so it clearly not just a tissue growth of the father or the mother. More on this point at Christian Cadre, here. An unborn child cannot be the woman’s own body, because then the woman would have four arms, four legs, two heads, four eyes and two different DNA signatures. When you have two different human DNA signatures, you have two different humans.

Secondly, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the unborn that is not yet present or developed while it is still in the womb, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, it does not deserve the protection of the law.

Defending point 2: You need to show that the unborn are not different from the already-born in any meaningful way. The main differences between them are: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependence. Once these characteristics are identified, you can explain that none of these differences provide moral justification for terminating a life. For example, babies inside and outside the womb have the same value, because location does not change a human’s intrinsic value.

Additionally, the pro-abortion debater may try to identify a characteristic of the already-born that is not yet present or developed in the unborn, and then argue that because the unborn does not have that characteristic, that it does not deserve protection, (e.g. – sentience). Most of the these objections that you may encounter are refuted in this essay by Francis Beckwith. Usually these objections fall apart because they assume the thing they are trying to prove, namely, that the unborn deserves less protection than the already born.

Finally, the pro-abortion debater may conceded your points 1 and 2, and admit that the unborn is fully human. But they may then try to provide a moral justification for terminating the life of the unborn, regardless.

Defending point 3: I fully grant that it is sometimes justifiable to terminate an innocent human life, if there is a moral justification. Is there such a justification for abortion? One of the best known attempts to justify abortion is Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “violinist” argument. This argument is summarized by Paul Manata, one of the experts over at Triablogue:

Briefly, this argument goes like this: Say a world-famous violinist developed a fatal kidney ailment and the Society of Music Lovers found that only you had the right blood-type to help. So, they therefore have you kidnapped and then attach you to the violinist’s circulatory system so that your kidneys can be used to extract the poison from his. To unplug yourself from the violinist would be to kill him; therefore, pro-lifers would say a person has to stay attached against her will to the violinist for 9 months. Thompson says that it would be morally virtuous to stay plugged-in. But she asks, “Do you have to?” She appeals to our intuitions and answers, “No.”

Manata then goes on to defeat Thomson’s proposal here, with a short, memorable illustration, which I highly recommend that you check out. More info on how to respond to similar arguments is here.

Here is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view.

For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

New study: Biden’s tax hikes hit 80% of Americans, $6,500 less median household income

These people are all voting for Joe Biden - are you?
These people are all voting for Joe Biden – are you?

This study actually appeared in the Wall Street Journal, but since they have a paywall, I am linking to The Federalist instead. This new study comes from the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. The Biden campaign is claiming that middle-class households won’t feel any effects from these tax increases. But the study is clear. Not only will 80% of Americans pay more, but many jobs will also be lost.

The Federalist reports on the study, which has some very prestigious authors:

A new study shows that Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s proposed economic plan would significantly hurt the long-term American economy if implemented.

While many mainstream media outlets claim Biden’s plan will target the wealthy and save the middle-class money, the 50-page study released by the Hoover Institution shows different results.

“Economists have paid too little attention to the economic effects of the Biden plan,” said Casey B. Mulligan, professor of economics at the University of Chicago. “Our report, which focuses on taxation, health insurance, regulation, and energy policy, suggests that these effects are potentially very large indeed.”

The study conducted by a group of financial and economic experts including Mulligan, former Chief Economist of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers since 2017, demonstrates how Biden’s plan will hurt everyone.

This is the bottom line: higher unemployment, lower household income for the average household:

“We conclude that, in the long run, Vice President Biden’s full agenda reduces full-time equivalent employment per person by about 3 percent, the capital stock per person by about 15 percent, real GDP per capita by more than 8 percent, and real consumption per household by about 7 percent,” the report stated.

If Biden’s proposed changes are implemented, the economists warn that, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s projections, 2030 may yield “4.9 million fewer employed individuals, $2.6 trillion less GDP, and $1.5 trillion less consumption in that year alone.” The economists also note that the median household income in 2030 would fall by $6,500 despite Biden’s promises to prioritize the middle class.

You’re not going to be immune to this, even if you’re poor:

While Biden and his VP Nominee Kamala Harris previously promised that they will not “raise taxes on anyone who makes less than $400,000,” they have also promised to repeal the tax cuts made by President Trump, which gave 80.4 percent of all taxpayers a cut and 91 percent of the middle quintile a cut.

I don’t like numbers like this. It’s not just that I have to work the same amount for less take-home pay, which reduces my freedom. It’s also that the pressure on “the rich”, i.e. – MY EMPLOYER, causes companies to ship jobs overseas where labor costs are lower. Did you know that higher taxes causes outsourcing of jobs? The more that business owners have to pay, the more likely they are to pick up and move somewhere else – taking their jobs with them.

I don’t like this. It’s hard enough for me to make a living without the government taking more of what I earn. I’ll have to work longer in order to make up the difference – assuming I can even keep my job.

The rights of parents of children with gender dysphoria during a Biden presidency

Enraged Joe Biden howls out his hatred for Bible-believing Christians
Enraged Joe Biden howls out his hatred for Bible-believing Christians

This week, Democrat candidate for president Joe Biden answered questions from Democrat supporters at a town hall run by a sympathetic Democrat. There was an interesting question from a Democrat mother about transgenderism. Biden was asked what his opinion was of childred aged 8 being able to transition from their birth sex to a different sex. His answer will shock you.

The Daily Wire reports:

Answering a question at the ABC News-hosted townhall on Thursday night, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stated that an eight-year-old child should be able to decide that they are transgender.

[…]After telling a story about his father, Biden answered, “The idea that an 8-year-old child or a 10-year-old child decides, ‘I decided I want to be transgender. That’s what I think I’d like to be. It’d make my life a lot easier.’ There should be zero discrimination.”

Watch:

The majority of children outgrow gender identity issues by the time they hit puberty, but that’s not a popular scientific fact to raise with Democrat voters. So, Biden told them what they wanted to hear.

It’s important to understand that the wishes of parents who DO NOT WANT their child to receive drugs or sex-change surgery will not be respected by a government that is beholden to LGBT activists.

Let’s look at an example from a country that pushes transgender ideology from their government-run classrooms, government-run hospitals and government-run courtrooms.

The Federalist reports:

For the past 11 months, Robert Hoogland, a father in Surrey, British Columbia, has been forced to watch as his 14 year-old daughter was “destroyed and sterilized” by court-ordered testosterone injections. After losing his legal appeal to stop the process in January… is making a desperate attempt to bring his case into the courts of public opinion, even though it breaks a court order demanding his silence about the case.

“I had a perfectly healthy child a year ago, and that perfectly healthy child has been altered and destroyed for absolutely no good reason,” Rob said in an exclusive interview. “She can never go back to being a girl in the healthy body that she should have had… She won’t be able to have children…”

[…][T]he courts judged his daughter competent to take testosterone without parental consent… [and] he was convicted of “family violence” by the BC Supreme Court for his “expressions of rejection of [his daughter’s] gender identity.” He was also placed under threat of immediate arrest if he was caught referring to his daughter as a girl again.

[…]Rob remains under a strict gag order forbidding him from speaking about his daughter’s case in public and requiring that he “acknowledge and refer to [his daughter] as male” in private.

The Canadian “Democrats” didn’t want anyone to know what they were doing to this father, so they took action to silence him:

[…]Rob granted two video interviews to Canadian YouTube commentators about his case… [T]he commentators who granted them quickly found themselves under threats of litigation. Rob’s first interview was immediately taken down. Rob’s second interviewer… faced similar threats, but initially refused to take her video (not currently available in Canada) down.

[…]Justice Michael Tammen of the British Columbia Supreme Court ordered that Thompson’s interview and various social media posts be taken down. When Thompson stalled, trying to keep a rapidly sharing copy of her interview available to Canadians on Bitchute, the police were sent to her house to demand she take the video down.

Tammen also harshly reprimanded Rob for speaking about his case to the media, warning him that if he broke his silence again, he would likely be cited for contempt of court.

You can check out this story from Mass Resistance, where they have photos and names of all the people who attacked the father’s right to parent his child.

And by the way, American public school teacher unions want the exact same rules in place as in this Canadian case, as the Daily Signal reports. Which is why you should support school choice.

Lest you think that this is just one rogue province, the Canadian legislature has actually introduced a bill (C-8) that allows the government to jail parents who refuse to approve their child’s gender transition for up to 5 years:

Under C-8, parents could spend up to five years in jail for trying to help their son accept himself as a boy, or for helping their daughter to accept herself as a girl. Bill C-8 also would impose prison terms up to five years for doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists and other paid professionals whose treatment for gender confusion departs from politically correct orthodoxy. Parents would be punished if they do anything other than encourage a confused child to “transition” to the opposite gender. Transitioning is an extreme form of intervention that includes taking puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and undergoing permanent surgical sterilization, including the removal of healthy organs such as breasts and testicles.

The Democrats have already passed a bill in the House called the “Equality Act”, and you can read about what it does here at the Daily Signal. If the Democrats win the Senate and White House, this will become law.

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.

Details:

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.

Summary:

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

  • What’s your thesis in the book?

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

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

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

  • What’s wrong with Grudem’s book?

Glover:

  • 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

Brierly:

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

Glover:

  • 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

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

  • What about foreign aid?

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

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

Glover:

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

Brierley:

  • Should we stop foreign aid completely?

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

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

Glover:

  • 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

Brierley:

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

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

  • Does the Bible support this focus on work?

Grudem:

  • 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

Glover:

  • 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

Grudem:

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

Glover:

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

Grudem:

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

Glover:

  • I can’t think of one right now.

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

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

Glover:

  • 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

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

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

Grudem:

  • 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

Brierley:

  • Is this free enterprise system supported by the Bible?

Glover:

  • 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?)

Grudem:

  • 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

Glover:

  • 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)

Grudem:

  • 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

Should Americans vote for the Democrat Green New Deal in November?

Should you support the Democrats' Green New Deal?
Should you support the Democrats’ Green New Deal?

Why did so many people vote for communist regimes in the last hundred years? Communist leaders – who had no demonstrated achievements in economic policy – simply promised voters all sorts of free stuff, e.g. – a guaranteed job, free health care, paid retirement, etc. When the expected benefits didn’t appear, the communist leaders blamed others for their failures, and naturally, those others had to die.

Think that couldn’t happen here? Well, a lot of leading Democrats sure sound like communist leaders. Promising to confiscate legally-owned firearms. Promising to abolish private health insurance. Promising to nationalize private retirement accounts. And promising to replace our current energy industry with a new government-controlled green energy industry.

Let’s look at that last one: the new government-controlled energy industry.

The Federalist reports on the Green New Deal plan.

A number of Democratic Party presidential hopefuls — including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, and Beto O’Rourke, for starters — have already endorsed or expressed support for the “Green New Deal” (GND). Today, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward J. Markey dropped details about her plan.

[…]While some of the specifics need to be ironed out, the plan’s authors assure that this “massive transformation of our society” needs some “clear goals and a timeline.” The timeline is ten years. Here are some of the goals:

  • Ban affordable energy. GND calls for the elimination of all fossil fuel energy production, the lifeblood of American industry and life, which includes not only all oil but also natural gas — one of the cheapest sources of American energy, and one of the reasons the United States has been able to lead the world in carbon-emissions reduction.

  • Eliminate nuclear energy. The GND also calls for eliminating all nuclear power, one of the only productive and somewhat affordable “clean” energy sources available to us, in 11 years. This move would purge around 20 percent of American energy production so you can rely on intermittent wind for your energy needs.

  • Eliminate 99 percent of cars. The authors state that the GND would like to replace every “combustion-engine vehicle” — trucks, airplanes, boats, and 99 percent of cars — within ten years. Charging stations for electric vehicles will be built “everywhere,” though how power plants will provide the energy needed to charge them is a mystery.

  • Gut and rebuild every building in America. Markey and Cortez want to “retrofit every building in America” with “state of the art energy efficiency.” I repeat, “every building in America.” That includes every home, factory, and apartment building, which will all need, for starters, to have their entire working heating and cooling systems ripped out and replaced with…well, with whatever technology Democrats are going invent in their committee hearings, I guess.

  • Eliminate air travel. GND calls for building out “highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.”

  • A government-guaranteed job. The bill promises the United States government will provide every single American with a job that includes a “family-sustaining wage, family and medical leave, vacations, and a pension.” You can imagine that those left in the private sector would be funding these through some unspecified “massive” taxation.

  • Free education for life. GND promises free college or trade schools for every American.

  • A salubrious diet. The GND promises the government will provide “healthy food” to every American.

  • A house. The GND promises that the government will provide, “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for every American citizen.

  • Free money. The GND aims to provide, and I am not making this up, “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work.

  • Ban meat. Ocasio-Cortez admits that we can’t get zero emissions in 10 years “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” The only way to get rid of farting cows is to get rid of beef.

Have any of these ideas been tried in any states? Trains seem to run over budget when they are built, and they fail to turn a profit afterwards. But most of these have not been tried anywhere, so how are we supposed to know how much they will cost to implement, and whether they will actually work?

The cost of the Green New Deal has been figured at $49 trillion over the first 10 years. (And that’s in addition to the government takeover of healthcare “Medicare for All”, which costs $32 trillion over 10 years).

Can the money come from “the rich”?

Just one problem with that:

The plan itself seems to insinuate that billionaires can pay for the whole thing. Of course, best case scenario, it is estimated that instituting a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent would raise a little more than $700 billion over that decade.

If the money for the Green New Deal can’t come from the wealthiest 1%, then where will it come from? It will come from your company. It will come from your boss. It will come from you.