The Exploiting Deficit

The Congress recently passed and the President signed into law a 2,2 trillion dollar spending bill to provide for businesses and individuals to survive the terrible measures that had to be taken to stem the advance of the COVID 19 virus.  It also includes massive spending to support health services. I agree that it was necessary though sadly some, mostly Democrats, added spending that had nothing to do with the problem. Thankfully that is a very small percentage of the bill. It almost seems ungracious to look at the issue of deficit spending during this time.  However, the issue of the deficit is an important one, and the growing deficit could lead to devastating consequences. It is important for disciples of Yeshua to know something about this issue. In my book Social Justice, I argue that deficit spending is a social justice issue.  Believers in Yeshua should be biblical justice warriors but on a sound basis of evidence. 

 

When I was majoring in philosophy at Wheaton College, I considered those interested in business and economics to be inferior to those of us who cared about the important issues of life.  I was so foolish. The business people created the wealth that paid the bills that enabled me to study philosophy. I was a left-leaning returning to faith student. I actually called myself a Christian socialist in the early 70s.  Then I studied a few books on economics. What an eye-opener. I actually learned how money is created and how economies expand. My socialist views simply would not hold up since the expansion of wealth would not take place long-term in a socialist economy.   In this study, I learned something about deficits. The theory is that a nation should keep a surplus, balanced budget or an almost balanced budget unless there is a recession. Deficit spending in times of recession would lift the economy, but in times of economic expansion, the deficit can be paid down.  There are reasons why this is a social justice issue. Mainly the big reason is that deficits compromise the possibility of the government being responsible in taxing, spending and social programs. 

 

  1. An expanding economy is necessary to increase wealth for the mass of the population.  A shrinking economy increases poverty. As President John Kennedy said when approving a massive tax cut to spur business expansion, “A rising tide lifts all boats.”  There is a social justice issue in business expansion. It is that the expansion has to really benefit the average employee. As such, tax incentives should be motivating business expansion for all, and limiting tax shelters and executive compensation packages that are given to those who do not really expand businesses for all.
  2. Taxes provide necessary services for the public; infrastructure, transportation, national defense and more.  
  3. Taxes also provide social services, including welfare payments when needed, support for job training, education, health care, social security, and more.  Welfare needs to have incentives for people to go to work or get trained so that welfare does not create a perpetual poor or underclass. I am one that does believe in social services and am not a libertarian.  However, I want those services to lead to greater self-sufficiency. 

 

Basically, a deficit is produced when the government takes in less in tax revenue than what it spends.  The government then prints more money. The idea is that the amount of money created is justified by the size and expansion of the economy.  It is able to print more money because it sells bonds or obligations to finance the deficit. The deficit is not only on paper but is a real obligation to pay those who hold the debt.  It can be individuals holding government bonds or even nations that buy our debt. People are willing to do this for the return they get and until maturity, the bond can be sold. The government can issue new bonds to pay off the old bonds that mature.  The government is not obligated to pay the principal of the debt but only the interest. When the government continually increases debt, more and more of the budget goes to finance the interest. We also have a problem of future commitments to legally mandated spending for such things as social security and Medicaid etc. (Entitlements) These programs are perpetual and take up the largest share of the federal budget.  The projections of revenue and these mandated obligations are such that economists project a huge deficit as well for these programs, even if not a present deficit. 

 

Economists generally agree that if you take too much out of the private sector to finance government programs, business expansion slows down. The growth in the wealth pie can even shrink.  More people become poor. The big debate is among economists who have differences as to where that point of too much taxation is. However, a growing deficit adds another big challenge. A point is reached (as with Greece) where the interest is so large that the Government no longer has the funds for its spending for the public good including social welfare programs.  Higher taxes are no longer an option. As such the expanding deficit at some point can destroy social welfare.  

 

Why does this happen?  It is because politicians spend for the immediate future and for their own re-election.  Taking the long-term view is not to their personal benefit. Politicians lack self- control at a huge level.  They want the program for their constituents now and will increase the deficit to achieve this. It also is to their political benefit.  Deficits are too abstract an issue for most voters. Who votes for fiscal responsibility? People vote on the basis of their immediate prosperity.  However, slowing the expansion of government so that the government lives within its means, will over the long haul produce much more funds for social spending.  But social spending is squeezed when so much goes to the deficit. There would be so much more to spend today if politicians did not pile on deficit after deficit in the past.  The end result of all this is either cutting benefits or massive inflation to continue to pay the face amount in money that is of much less worth.  It can lead to national bankruptcy, and no country wants to default on its obligations or there would be deep depression. Deficit spending ultimately will destroy justice-social welfare spending ability.  This has happened in other nations. This can then lead to social upheaval and disintegration. 

 

If this is not dealt with, there will be a day of harsh reckoning.  There may be coming a day that only private help and mutual help in the community and family will be available.  We no longer have politicians even talking about this. It hardly seems recent any more (2010) that one Democrat Erskine Bowles, and one Republican Alan Simpson, were shouting the alarm and were leading a commission to deal with this.  The day of reckoning will come. Had the United States been responsible then we could have swallowed the 2. 2 Trillion bill just past without much difficulty. However, with the deficit we have, now everything in the future will be squeezed.  As many say, our children and grandchildren will pay for it. That is why this is a biblical social justice issue. I hope that many of you will obtain my book, Social Justice.  

 

The End of the Blue and White Party

In an unbelievable end to the saga of the Israel government stalemate, Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White decided to join with Likud in a new unity government and allow Benjamin Netanyahu to continue as the Prime Minister.  This is a stunning development.  It has led to the breaking up of the Blue and White Party.  Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapide, and Moshe Yaalon are angry and disappointed, but they did not have a path to a government with two of the Blue and White members refusing to vote for a Gantz government if it depended on getting the votes of the Arab Party, the Joint List.   Lapide will go into the opposition.  This is less like a unity government than Gantz joining a Netanyahu government.  I think that Gantz did this due to the emergency situation with the virus and the danger of being discredited for not seeking unity at this time.  Bibi has promised him that he would become the Prime Minister in 18 months.  It appears that in this arrangement the Ultra Orthodox will keep their power, but with Gantz’s faction and Labor joining the government is it possible that the power of the Ultra-Orthodox will be less.  I don’t think it is likely. The only possibility Gantz had, and it was a very slim chance, was that he would have stuck to his guns and voted in the new parliament to pass a law that a person could not serve as Prime Minister if under indictment.  Then he would hope that Likud without Bibi would not carry out its threat of no unity government if they did this.   He could then keep have kept Blue and White together.   Gantz decided to not take this chance.  Bibi survives again, the cat of nine lives.  Will he survive his trial for bribery etc.?

I have lived in ambivalence through this whole time.  I saw Bibi as the better candidate re: the Land, the Trump peace plan and annexing the settlements.  Now the settlements have to be taken off the negotiating table with the Palestinians.  Removing the West Bank Israeli cities and towns is no longer possible.  Bibi is stronger on this.  Gantz had qualified his support for the Trump plan as needing international support.  If this was the standard, you could kiss the Trump plan goodbye.  Trump has indicated that Israel can annex the territories of the settlements and the Jordan valley if the Palestinians do not come to the negotiating table.

However, my other issue was the Ultra-Orthodox control and oppression in Israel.  Bibi is in their pocket. If Lapide and Avigdor Liberman of Israel Batainu had been in the government, the power of the Ultra-Orthodox, who bleed the state of needed funds, and who control immigration to the detriment of qualified people, would have ended.  This control will not likely be ended soon.  I voted for Blue and White so they would be large enough so that in coalition with Bibi the Ultra-Orthodox would have to give up power.  I also hoped for equal spending for the Arab Israelis for hospitals, roads,  police and education.  Defunding the Ultra-Orthodox welfare society where men don’t work and only study Talmud all day could be key to this justice.   But this looks like it is not to be at this time.

Well, stay tuned.  We have not heard from Liberman, but he is not needed at this point and will probably go into the opposition.  What will the government be like in 18 months.  Bibi has said, no tricks and he will keep his word.  Time will tell.  It is possible that there are not enough Knesset votes to fund the welfare society of the Ultra-Orthodox. Let’s hope so.

Corona Virus: More Questions & More Political Intrigue in Israel

Some in Israel are questioning the national restrictions to fight the Corona virus.  Are they really based on science or alarm which goes too far?  For example, who is it dangerous for someone to take a walk outside for more than ten minutes if they keep six meters away from those they pass?  How is ten minutes safer with this two meter rule than 30 minutes?  We are allowed to go to the grocery store or to take out stores, other food stores and pharmacies. That is more dangerous than a walk outside.  Some people are required by their health conditions to go for walks. 

Or here is another question.  Why wouldn’t it be more prudent, once there is sufficient testing to know virus location spots, to put the strict restrictions on cities and towns that have the virus and allow those within a town without any cases to have freedom, but to not leave the town except to commute to a safe workspace.  We know where the hot spots are.  There are places with no infections.  Within those enclaves, there could be more freedom.   In the United States, why wouldn’t this work really well for small cities and towns with no cases, rather than restricting the whole country?  In Israel there are places with no infections.  Should they be under the same standards as the areas where there are infected people?

In the midst of all this the political chaos in Israel continues to be even more amazing.  I am asking my Facebook constituents to be praying for us, especially this week.   Here is a little summary.  Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu’s (Bibi) justice minister (Ohana) unilaterally postponed the trial of Bibi until May 24th.  The corona virus was the given reason.  However, many pointed out that at this point the trail would be sharing information and dealing with preliminaries that could have been done safely.  It seems that this will not be challenged in the Supreme court.

The second amazing thing is the speaker of the Knesset (Parliament), Yuli Edelstein, shut down the Knesset.  The virus was given as the reason.  However, most believe that the reason was political.  If the parliament meets, though there is not yet a new executive government with the ongoing stalemate, the Knesset can vote to remove Edelstein and choose a new speaker that is not Likud.  There are probably 61 votes, a one vote majority, to do this.  The big issue then would be to form an arrangements committee.  If the anti-Bibi 61 have require a one vote majority on this committee than they can arrange for laws to be voted on.  The big fear from Bibi and Likud is that they will then arrange the passage of a law stating that an indicted person cannot serve as Prime Minister.  President Reuven Rivlen (Likud) has called on Edelstein to open the Knesset and said democracy is at stake.  The legal advisor to the Knesset has given the same opinion.  Blue and White lead by Benny Gantz says that they will go to the Supereme Court to see that the Knesset is open. Now Edelstein is relenting and says he will open the Knesset on Monday.

In the midst of all this, the Times of Israel says that Gantz is now open to serving in a unity government with Netanyahu leading for either an emergency 6 months or in a three year unity with Bibi serving 18 months, but then having to relinquish leadership to Gantz after that.  This would have to be made law so Bibi could not back out.  However, two of his Blue and White partners, Boggie Yaalon and Yair Lapid, say they are against this, and if Gantz does this, it will break up the party. 

All this is going on in the midst of the virus plague. I think Gantz is seeking to be a stateman and wants the best for Israel in this plague situation.  He is willing to give up his pledge to not serve with an indicted Prime Minister for the sake of Israel’s present need.  Of course, if Bibi is found guilty (who knows how long the trial would take) he would have to step down.

Israel is now in a terrible situation politically and economically.  Sectors of the government can not function without a normal government.   Major sectors of the economy are shut down.  People are in isolation.  Businesses are going out of business and many people do not have back up funds to survive.  We have people in our own congregation who are in very difficult straits.  Meanwhile we, in our connected network, pray for revival.  Do pray much with us!

Israeli Politics and the Coronavirus 

It is most amazing to note that Israel is in the midst of its third political stalemate after inconclusive elections.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud, is already talking about another election!  At the same time, Israel has embraced the most severe restrictions of any country to try to manage the threat of the virus.  The planes are not flying, and the schools will now be closed. Closing the schools will be a terrible trial for working parents!  There are to be no meetings of over 100 people.  The hotels are mostly empty. Israel’s tourism industry is suspended.  The economic consequences are terrible.  All this is happening at the same time as the United States is holding its presidential primaries.  History may note them as the virus primaries. The United States itself is embracing greater and greater restrictions.  Even the National Basketball League has suspended games!!

What is God up to in allowing this terrible situation worldwide? Could revival follow?  Some are praying for this.

It seems amazing that in the midst of such a plague that Israel is in political limbo.  We really need to see our helplessness and our need for God, for we cannot even form a government.  It is not only that the vote failed to put either the Likud or the Blue and White, the two largest parties over the top.  A government could be formed but for the rigid positions taken by some politicians, an amazing stubbornness.  My two favorite Israeli English language newspapers, the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel are in agreement, and I agree with them. Just where are the points of stubbornness?

  1. Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) bears responsibility by insisting on remaining the head of his party though under indictment.  The trial procedures begin on March 17th.  There are several things that could be negotiated.  Blue and White would be in a unity government with Likud if not led by Bibi due to the indictment.  They say they will not be in a government led by him due to the indictment. Several solutions could be found.  Likud could choose a new leader and even say that after his trial, if found innocent, Bibi could return to leadership through a new party vote.  Likud could commit to this.
  2. Benjamin Netanyahu insists that all his right-wing partners be included in any government.  This is a non-starter.  This right wing includes the Ultra-Orthodox who have a stranglehold over the government.  I have written many times on how their welfare state within the state is bleeding the government.  They also say that they will not be in a government with Blue and White.  My view on this?  Good.  Let there be a unity government without them.  This would be very helpful.
  3. There are two Blue and White Party members and one Labor-Gesher member who will not allow a government to form through the votes of the Joint List Arab party because the Arabs are not Zionists but want a bi-national state.  This seems really foolish on the part of these three members, since after the vote, Bibi will be gone and there could be a unity government. At any rate, the Joint List will not be part of the government but only give the vote to end Bibi’s reign.  All they are asking is parity in government services spending.  Indeed, this coalition could pass a law that a person under indictment could not serve. 
  4. Blue and White could change their position and accept Bibi in a rotation for Prime Minister with Benny Gantz due to the very bad situation of not being able to form a government and to avoid a fourth election.  It seems dire enough to defend such a change.  They could promise pardon to him for allowing General Gantz of Blue and White to lead the government in the first rotation.  Bibi can lead again if found innocent.  For this to happen, Bibi has to let the Ultra-Orthodox go.  Shas cannot control the interior department.  There has to be a cut in welfare for men to study Talmud and Rabbinic arguments all day! 
  5. The Joint List, including Balad, the more anti-Israel faction, could vote to form the government with Blue and White and accept that only some of their demand can be met since the budget will cannot immediately provide all their demands.  The government can take significant steps. How about a cut in Ultra-Orthodox welfare to finance classrooms, roads, police and hospitals in the Arab areas!  Balad refuses to support a government and has an all or nothing stand.    

There are many possible solutions, but so many are being stubborn.  It is amazing!  And some speak of a fourth election which again would likely be inconsequential. Can Bibi stay in power by having elections forever?    

Meanwhile, the country is in turmoil not only in politically but with the virus.  What a time for us to pray, exercise faith, heal the sick and share the Good News!  What a great time for the Spirit to be poured out. 

The Bizarre Israel Political Situation

On the night of the Israel elections, the exit polls and early counting gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party and the other parties that would join his coalition 60 Knesset (Parliament) members.  It looked like he would be able to flip one vote somewhere to gain the 61 votes necessary to form a government.  With these results, we went to sleep that night.  The next morning Bibi had slipped to 59 and then the next day to 58.  These are now the official results.  The certainty that he would form the next government evaporated.  Amazing! 

Now another new and strange twist is taking place.  With the Arab Joint List Party, the opposition has 62 votes.  They will not form a government together since the centrist Blue and White Party will not join with the Arab Party in a government since they are not Zionists.  However, they are now putting forth the idea that they might vote to pass legislation to preclude Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government.  Blue and White under General Benny Gantz has said they are willing to form a government with Bibi’s Likud Party but not with him as the leader because he has been indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.  They could pass a law stating that an indicted Prime Minister cannot form a government.  If this happens, it could solve the dilemma for many Messianic Jews.  I will explain.

Messianic Jews in Israel are ardent Zionists.  They like the idea of annexing the towns in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).  They think that Bibi can now do this because the Trump peace plan has been rejected by the Arabs and negotiations are rejected as well.  This opens the door for unilateral annexation.  The right parties are correct that the old two state solution making the ‘67 armistice lines the border is no longer possible.  The Zionist left is not facing reality.  Yes, their rational position of separation and two states is reasonable in that it seeks to keep a large Jewish majority though a separation of populations and the elimination of the many towns except for the larger cities.  They hope that the Palestinian Arabs would accept such a plan but they have proven by the past peace offers that they would.   The Trump plan does this separation but with Israel keeping the West Bank towns and cities.   Some still oppose even the limited state that Trump proposes.  Since the Arabs have rejected the plan some other solution for the West Bank Arabs needs to be found.  Some still wait for them to have citizenship in Jordan and residency in Israel.  This is unlikely in the near future.

Messianic Jews, however, are ambivalent about Bibi for other reasons.  It is that he is fully in bed with the Ultra-Orthodox and especially the Sephardic Shas Party that controls the Interior Department and opposes Messianic Jews.  The Ultra-Orthodox control conversion, weddings and Jewish status issues which makes life very hard for 400,000 Russian Jews who are not accepted as Jewish by Rabbinic law. They make their conversion too hard, and they cannot marry in Israel!  Plus, the Ultra-Orthodox do not serve in the army.  Most of their men do not work.  They receive welfare so they can split hairs on Rabbinic discussions and arguments in the Yeshivas.  This will someday lead to bankrupting the country, and it presently undercuts funds for services and salaries in Israel.

However, if Likud has a new leader who would apply the same policies on the Trump plan and could join with Blue and White, and Liberman’s  Russian Jewish anti-Ultra Orthodox but conservative party, Yisrael Bateinu, then we could see policies that most Messianic Jews would support.   This includes both the issue the Land in Judea and Sumaria, and on the issue of the control of the society by the Ultra-Orthodox.  This is a possibility but not at all certain.

I for one was disappointed by Gantz saying that he supported the Trump plan but would want international support plus support from Jordan and Egypt to implement it.  Well, that would be the end of the plan.  But if Likud leads the next government without Bibi, it could solve the problem.  Bibi’s indictment is not political as he claims.  How do we know this?  Because the indictment comes from his former supporter who did not want to do this, Attorney General Mendelblit.  This Likud conservative did not want to do this, but the evidence forced him into it. Bibi has served his country well, and I believe he would get a pardon from the Knesset if he stepped down before such a law would pass.  This is where things stand this evening.  Amazing! What a saga!

Two Populist Leaders: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

There is a possibility that two populists will be running against each other for President, one in his later 70s and one in his early seventies, Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.  Aside from the issues of abortion, religious freedom and Israel’s right to the West Bank towns, the issues dividing President Trump and Senator Sanders are mostly about economic policies.  

 

Few note the agreements between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.  While Bernie Sanders rails against Wall Street, the big bankers, and greedy corporations it should be known that the super-rich are more in the Democratic column than the column of Donald Trump.  Why? Because the crony capitalism that favored these big corporations and the high-tech monopolies were as much connected to the Democratic politicians as the Republicans. Both parties were fostering some very negative policies for the people in general but very good policies for corporate greed.  One of the biggest policy areas was trade. The argument that free trade would enable the nations to do what they do best and that new opportunities would come to Americans though we ship jobs overseas is counter-intuitive. Eventually, skilled workers in Hi-Tech would be found in India and would work for comparatively very low wages.  Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders agree on how terrible it is to ship jobs overseas. Both also agree that the monopolistic practices of big pharma, Insurance companies, and more have been very bad for America. However, though there is agreement on some of the issues, the ways to solve the problem differ vastly.  

 

Yes, they part ways in their solutions.  How does Bernie Sanders respond to the middle class and their need to see income growth?  Also, how does he respond to the lower classes? It is by income redistribution programs though super high taxes, more government ownership of big corporations (he is not a total socialist but would have some private enterprise).  It is by making rules for companies to preclude them from going overseas. The problem with these solutions is that they never work. They do not grow the economy and destroy the incentives for risk and investment that produces growth.  For health care, it is for the government to take over. For wages, it is to set minimum wages. The solution is in big government. Big government wastes huge amounts of money and leads to more corruption.

 

President Trump sees the same issues.  However, his solution is to break the crony capitalist bond with the government, the favoritism.  It is to level the playing field for businesses that stay in the U. S. by requiring fair trade. It is by incentivizing corporations to invest in poor areas of the cities.  It is by making tax shelters unattractive compared to investments that grow the economy. If the economy has very low unemployment, then wages rise without government requirements for wages.  In health care, it is to have disclosure of prices, real competition, and multiple health plans. It is by tort reform that is a huge cost to doctors, and the patients pay this. It is to end the crony capitalism in health care.  

 

I wonder if people really do understand the difference between the two populisms.  

 

The Trump, Kushner, Gold, Greenblatt, Deal of the Century

So much ink has already been used by commentators on the recent Deal of the Century proposed by Donald Trump that I hesitate to write about it.  Despite that, I am doing so because I think I have some things to say that I have not been reading in the press.

 

I have included Dore Gold and Jason Greenblatt (Trump’s Middle East Coordinator) as playing a major role in the creation of this deal because it is now reported in the press that they were major players and by their own profession. Dore Gold is an esteemed Israeli diplomat with years of experience and with roots in the conservative Likud Party.  In Israel, the great majority of Israeli leaders and the Israeli public is in favor of the Trump plan. The important thing is that it explodes the 23 year plus consensus on the parameters of what would bring peace in a two-state solution.

 

The old two-state proposal assumed that Israel would withdraw to the ‘67 armistice lines and that these lines would become the border.  It assumed that Israel would keep the major settlement blocks and give land swaps for them. These Jewish towns would have been totally within Palestine.  East Jerusalem would have been given to the Palestinians for their capital. Finally, there would have been a limited right of return to Israel proper for descendants of the 48 war refugees.  Ehud Barak gave almost this much, and Ehud Olmert gave all of this. The Palestinians rejected this offer.

 

The Trump administration is the first to reject these parameters as unrealistic and dangerous to Israel’s securityIsrael today would no longer accept the Barak/Olmert proposals. They are not realistic today.  Trump’s plan breaks the received paradigm and offers a new one.  It is a limited demilitarized Palestinian state on 70% of the West Bank plus Gaza.  Israel keeps control of all the settlements and the Jordan valley for its needed security.  It can eventually annex 30% and keep security control overall. It is a more limited two-state solution plan.  The key now is that the onus is on the Palestinians since Israel will accept the Trump plan. The Palestinians can only claim they are occupied if they do not choose independence with disarmament.  It totally changes the narrative on the situation. This is Trumpian, and a new and out-of-the-box proposal!

 

I want to speak to one thing that is not usually noted.  This is the issue of Israel being in violation of international law in its occupation of the territories.  This is made up law from some interpreting Israel’s control of the West Bank as if there was a Palestinian State.  But international law as written gives no basis for claiming an occupation against land that is not part of a recognized state.  International law is also wrong in one regard. It requires all land to be returned to the aggressor after there is peace. This is contrary to all historic laws of war.  The loss of territory and expansion for defense was always considered legitimate if the defender could somehow win. The change from this principle now brings loss of deterrence.  A nation can be aggressive again and again and lose nothing. This is exactly the situation we face here in the Middle East. In each situation of the refusal of peace, the Arabs lost more opportunities.  The U. N. partition plan was rejected, and the Arabs went to war. Therefore 700,000 refugees fled. The armistice lines with slight changes are what we call the ‘67 lines. The aggression in ‘67 and ‘73 however, led to Israel taking and keeping the Golan territory (now annexed).  It also led to settlements. Only one time did the Palestinians get a better offer after rejecting a peace proposal, and that was when P. M. Olmert offered more than P. M. Barack. They rejected that offer and today are offered less again but with much money for business development.  The Oslo parameters are finished. If they reject this offer, and from both history and their initial response it seems certain that they will, they will be offered less the next time. My own view is that the Palestinians should have residency in Israel and Jordanian citizenship. The Jordanian government does not want this because it could be the end of their monarchy since they are not Palestinians and the majority in Jordan are Palestinian.  The elephant in the room that no political leaders will assert is that Jordan is the Palestinian State. They want to preserve a more moderate regime led by King Abdullah and prevent a violent Palestinian state in Jordan. It seems to me that the Palestinian resistance is like God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. It is as if Israel is not able to cede the land to the Palestinians. They block it!  

 

I think that God is involved in all this at very significant levels!

Can A Democratic Republic Government Survive in the Internet Age?

The Founding Fathers of the United States created not a democracy, but a Democratic Republic.  The difference is that in a democracy the majority decides through vote whatever the majority wants.  The founders feared the corruption of both the rulers and the masses and rejected the idea of democracy.  The vote of the majority was only one part of the checks and balances to limit power and to give great freedom to the citizens.  Democracy is restrained by the separation of powers, among the judiciary, legislative and executive. Many state governments follow the same checks and balances.  There is also an electoral college that limits the power of the populous states. There is a Senate whose diversity from different states does the same. Then there are the limits of the constitution which constrains popular voting.  It is hard to change the constitution. The newly formed government was called a republic, not a democracy.  

 

Today, there is more and more of a desire to overcome the checks and balances.  There are ideas to pack the Supreme Court by the Democratic Party (so they can have their will), to eliminate the electoral college, to have a popular election of the President and to limit the involvement of corporations in politics and issues, though they are one check in the system.  (I have written before on a way to limit big money and also to ensure real competition in my book, Social Justice.) 

 

In my recent posts on narratives, I raised the issue of how dangerous this age is since narratives that interpret aspects of our life in the 21st century are based on little real evidence but are the power assertions of the imaginations of leftists.  This ranges from human sexuality, to the support of abortion, to socialism as a solution to injustice in society, to the claims of racism and colonialism as defining America and Israel as well.  History is re-written from leftist imagination with only partial information to create the new story. What is alarming is how rapidly the society changes, from Barak Obama supporting only traditional marriage and California passing Proposition 8 forbidding gay marriage, to today.  In ten short years since then, anyone who does not support the total LGBT agenda is hounded and vilified as a hater, as phobic and are to be shunned and protested. The hard ball power tactics are stunning. Leaders in corporations have even been fired.  

 

How did this happen so quickly? The issue is really the power of the mass media to vastly change public opinion.  We are now at a point were a few large hi-tech companies through search engine setups and the control of speech can vastly influence the culture.  They overcome the checks and balances and like a ramrod, destroying the protections of historic cultural norms. However, they now also have the power to create narratives and to control information to swing votes.  Robert Epstein Ph. D., a liberal Democrat, is the Senior Research Psychologist of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. He testified before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee. He made the stunning claim that the leaders of the big Hi-Tech companies, and especially Google, can swing 15 million votes.  The vote is still very important and with the wrong people in charge, the checks and balances can be eroded. This power in the hands of a few is like nothing we have ever seen in our society before. Unless people are informed from another source of information that protects them (alternative media, the Bible?) they vote according to the molding of public opinion and skewed information.  Those who would be elected form the far left believe in shutting down debate and having a totalitarian control from the left. Generally, they reject free speech and open debate. Notice how conservative speech is now shut down on campuses in the United States.

 

Of course, the way to fight back is massive media campaigns based on truth and exposing the lies of the false narratives, but this is hard to do with the left in control of the press, mainstream media, the internet and even still has the largest internet news followings in spite of conservative gains.  This fight will likely require the decentralization of the Hi-Tech companies, of those in power over our internet sources of information. 

 

Can a Democratic Republic overcome the onslaught?   It will be difficult. And of course, a religious revival that sweeps millions into the Kingdom can be a game-changer.  But who will take on this fight and tame the tech giants? Along with abortion and the LGBT agenda, this is probably the defining issue of our age.  

 

An Iranian Strategy

Killing Kassem Soleimani, the leader and General in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Al Quds forces, brought a sense of justice and closure to many.  This was especially so in Israel. There is not really any push back here, unlike among the Democrats in America. Just about all leaders, left, right and center, think this was the right thing to do.  

 

Many here hope for more. They would like to see Iran provoke the United States into a massive retaliation.  It is possible that a massive retaliation would take out Iran’s air force, missiles and missile bases, navy, oil fields and ultimately their nuclear facilities. Some think this could lead to the collapse of the regime (but would Iran’s military permit this?)  (Is this John Bolton’s hope?) We can think of a world without this terrorist-sponsoring nation that seeks to dominate the whole Middle East and to bring about domination from the Shiite form of Islam. 

 

Iran does serve one positive purpose.  Their existence has broken down the united front against Israel in the Sunni Muslim world.  In a kind of unspoken and loose secret alliance for pragmatic reasons, Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, United Arab Emirates, and others now join Israel in opposition to Iran. Could this even lead to diplomatic breakthroughs?  May God have a purpose in mind for allowing Iran’s present regime to continue? Israeli geopolitical strategists do see how Iran has pushed Israel and some of the Arab nations into cooperation. 

 

However, from my point of view, in spite of the secondary benefits, with Iran’s actions in many nations and not only the Middle East, and with the danger of Iran’s nuclear bomb, it would be best that the intention of the United States and the West would be to eventually carry out the full attack.  It would not take a ground war. It could be very quick. Israel would probably have to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon in its one last desperate action. It is best not to depend on Iran to gain good relationships with the Gulf Muslim countries. 

 

The Democrats say that they do not want to see us at War.  President Trump says the same. But we have been at war for many years. It is an asymmetric war and is based on both radical Shiite and Sunni ideologies that seek to use violence and conquering through war to gain their objective of Islamic world conquest.  It begins with the Middle East and Pakistan. Turkey is with the Islamists now. (We are deluded to think they are a NATO ally.) Then it is the struggle for Africa, as we see in Somalia, Sudan, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Kenya, and so many more nations. The world war has begun, but as yet the West will not admit it.  Politically correct people won’t see the problem. Russia and China play with Islamic tyrants and think they can control it while devastatingly crushing their own Muslim populations. 

 

We speak of strategy from a geopolitical point of view.  How do we fit this into the Biblical accounts about the last invasion of Israel being mostly described as from what are today Muslim nations?  More and more writers are taking the last invasion to be Muslim led. (W. Shoebat and J. Richardson). Nations cannot base their policies on such biblical pictures of the last days.  God can bring long delays in the process that eventually leads to the end. Acting for national self-interest and only secondarily for justice will guide even relatively good nations. The Biblical exhortation to rescue the perishing being led to death (Pr. 24:11) is not heeded by political leaders even if the cost is not high. (eg. Rwanda genocide, Syria chemical bombing).   We hope for policies that do two things. One is policies, even if inadvertent or unintentional, that will bring the greatest mercy and justice to the largest number. Secondly, we desire policies that will lead to the greatest spread of the Gospel. 

Israel’s New Year and the Political Dilemma

It is somewhat strange to be in Israel during New Years Day.   The world change of calendar is not a holiday in Israel. It is a normal workday.  Our family in Israel, all from America, did gather for a New Year’s celebration. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, food and the rukus of the younger of our 11 grandchildren. 

 

However, there is no break in the political perils in Israel.  The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been indicted for fraud and breach of trust.  He has not asked for immunity from the Knesset. The last Prime Minister before Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, resigned when he was indicted.  The Parliament (the Knesset) can grant immunity for good reasons, but if the reasons are not good, the Knesset can be overruled by the Supreme Court.  Then the Knesset can change Israel’s basic law so the Court cannot overrule them on these kinds of issues (but that is highly unlikely).  Hope you are not confused at this point! Basically, his asking for immunity will likely delay the court filing by the attorney general until after the March 2 election, the third election.  Then the new Knesset after that election would have to decide. It is still unlikely according to the polls that Netanyahu would get 61 votes necessary to pass the immunity request and unlikely that he will be the Prime Minister and get 61 votes for that.  I have given my reasons for supporting Blue and White re: religious freedom and the persecution of Messianic Jews, the dangers of the non-working welfare supported Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Netanyahu’s camp, the marginalized status of so many Russian Jews, and the greater economic distributive justice for Israeli Arabs in government programs.   

 

It is amazing that the Prime Minister of Israel is in danger of being convicted of crimes and removed from office while at the same time the American President has been impeached and will probably have a trial in the Senate if the impeachment papers are turned over to the Senate.  However, the key person in Israel for this indictment was a Netanyahu supporter, the Attorney General Mendelblit of Israel. He is accused of clearly defined crimes according to criminal law. Whereas in the House of Representatives, it is the super partisan Democratic Party that impeached the President (this is like an indictment).  There is no clear violation of any criminal statute. In Israel, since we do not have a New Year Holiday, the political process is continuing as I write. Issues of when to convene the Knesset committee that would hear the request could assure delay until the election. In the United States, Congress will reconvene next week. Stay tuned for a roller coaster ride in both countries.   Is there something spiritual whereby both countries are in such political upheaval? Some want to compare it as two really good men chosen by God who are being under political attack. This is far too simple as this essay shows.  

 

In the midst of all this, my biggest issue in Israel is the freedom of Messianic Jews to continue to share their faith, build their congregations and to receive citizenship when they make Aliya.  This seems like a small issue to the world. Like the Chinese, we pray, “Lord, give us the government which will best enable the Gospel to go forth.”