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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

America Gets a Makeover

We are witnessing the complete transformation of America in our lifetimes. This is cause for rejoicing to some; mourning to others. There is no doubt that the current administration and Congress is eager to re-make our nation in the image of European nations, complete with foreign policies that appease those who hate us and domestic policies which re-order the citizens' relationship with government.

To me, the way our government is treating Israel--and then claiming that we are unbreakable allies--is unthinkable. Here is the perspective of Charles Krauthammer, as quoted by NRO's The Corner:
On Israel:
We have already had a year delay in talks because of Obama interjecting the settlement issue in the first place.
Remember, for 17 years the Palestinians and Israelis negotiated, ever since Oslo, directly in the absence of a freeze in settlements. Palestinians never demanded it as a precondition.
In comes Obama, and he demands a freeze of settlements. The Israelis say, why should we make preemptive concessions in advance? Palestinians haven't made any. And the Palestinians answer and say, "Well, if the Americans are demanding a settlement freeze, we are going to demand it as well. And in fact, we won't even speak with the Israelis until there is a settlement freeze."
This is absurd. That's why we have had a year of the Palestinians essentially in a boycott of these negotiations.
So, then, Netanyahu works out a fig leaf, a compromise in which he agrees to a ten-month moratorium outside of Jerusalem for a freeze. And then all of a sudden Obama re-imposes a new condition now of a freeze in Jerusalem, which no Israeli government will ever accept.
Jerusalem is the Israeli capital. Everybody understands that in a [final peace] settlement, these neighborhoods of east Jerusalem — the ones that we are speaking about and where the construction is occurring, as well as the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem — are going to be in the Jewish state under any understanding or settlement.
For example, in the Clinton parameters of the negotiations a decade ago [at Camp David], they would be incorporated into Israel.
So, no Israeli is going to accept a preemptive concession that Jews can't live in this area of east Jerusalem. So unless Obama changes position, talks again are at a standstill because of a blunder on the part of this administration.
Everybody wants negotiations. This inadvertently undermines them.
On how Israel was treated by President Obama during the Netanyahu visit:
There's a striking oddity here. This is a president who bows deeply to the king of Saudi Arabia, who's in a photo-op with the dictator of Venezuela, and will not allow the press in when he has a meeting with the prime minister of the only democracy in the Middle East and the strongest American ally in the Middle East.

It is odd, indeed.

On the question of repealing Obamacare:
The first question is, will the courts act on this. I think there is a very good case, a very strong case, you can make that the commerce clause has never been used to force an individual to engage a contract with a private institution, i.e., an insurance company, here.

Although — so I think there is a strong case. But I cannot imagine that the courts will overturn a piece of legislation this large. So, just as a practical prediction on this, I think it's unlikely. Although I would like to see Justice Alito write the overturning opinion.

But then I think there is a larger issue here. I think ultimately Obama understands that he has just added an unbelievably large entitlement onto a country drowning in debt. He is not stupid. I think he anticipated this, and I think he, from the beginning, had a plan.

And the plan is he is going to use the deficit reduction commission, which will report only after November — and I'm absolutely sure it will recommend something new in American history, a national sales tax which is called a VAT [value-added tax] in Europe.

All the Europeans who have the kind of entitlements America is now going to have — health care and all the others — need the VAT, because it's a gusher of income for the government. And once you have that — even the very small level of one percent or two of a national sales tax — that's how the liberals think they will be able to fund this new, very expanded entitlement state.

It's the way it's done in Europe. It's going to have to be done here. And that, I think, is going to be the argument in the presidential election of 2012.


Sharon said...

It will be interesting to see if what these pundits predict will come true. From an Australian perspective, where public healthcare has been free (I have never paid to attend a hospital in my life, and my GP doc visits are also all subsidised, and the children go for free, paid for by the government), I find this whole debate quite remarkable. I don't understand why people wouldn't want a basic standard of health car provided free to the general public, paid for through taxes. I understand that there are cost issues, but there surely are also cost issues from having people out of work because they can't afford to go visit their doctor and get a simple script for medicine or whatever.

As to the issue of a VAT, there was huge negativity over that when the GST ("Goods and Services Tax") was introduced several years (maybe a decade?) ago here in Australia as well. At the time, I remember the threat being that the 10% was sure to be raised almost immediately as soon as the initial legislation was thru' parliament. It hasn't been, and there has been no discussion that that would happen, to my knowledge, anyway. At the same time as the GST was introduced, payroll tax was reduced significantly and certain other taxes were abolished completely. So we went from a country that charged people for working and contributing to the economy (in effect, through payroll tax) to one that charged people for what they used from the economy, what they took out of it (via the GST). Personally, I thought then and still think that this was a good change, for Australia. (Oh, and did I mention we didn't get into a recession like the US has? Not sure if that has anything to do with the GST, but I'll mention it anyway, even if it is a red herring it sounds rather positive towards any economic argument.)

In the US you have many variables that differ from us, so I do understand that the arguments are different for your country. That whole tipping thing, for instance... thanks for that very helpful email. You have no idea how clueless Jeff and I are about these things.

See you soon! - and I hope you don't want us NOT to visit now I have written all this!!

Mrs. Edwards said...

Since I really know next to nothing about Australian politics (although I did know about your public health care and almost expected some sort of comment from you about this), I shouldn't give much of a response.

However, I do feel safe saying that there are two big differences in play here: 1) The United States government is not in a good macroeconomic situation and cannot afford to take on more debt--which is mostly held by foreign nations, namely China--in order to give more entitlements to its people. We are on the brink of terrible inflation, triggered by the low interest rates and government borrowing. There are reasons to believe that we are taking steps that would bring us Japan-like financial problems.

2) America was established upon principles of liberty: a government that derives its authority from the people, a government that is limited, and a government that seeks to foster the right environment for a thriving private sector of business and industry. There is a shift under way that is stepping back from this and suggests that people are beginning to prefer a government that is more paternalistic, providing for the needs of citizens rather than safeguarding freedoms to allow citizens to pursue their "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness." In some ways I see this (in a literary parallel, not a theological one) as the Israelites begging for a king so that they could be like other nations. There are many here, Pres. Obama among them, that openly admire the social democracies of Europe and disdain our own Constitution.

As for your visit, I can't wait to see you! I'm not the least bit bothered by your comments because I know that it isn't nations and governments that matter, but the Church. Whether or not they know it, nations and governments serve the purposes of God and His Church. May His Kingdom come!

Sharon said...

Thanks for these answers. Jeff and I talked about it some as well. It is good for me to read your opinions on all this, not just the quotes from other people that you pass on via the blog. I think I am looking forward to discussing the second point you made above with you in person. I don't think I quite understand it, mostly because my culturally-shaped understanding of liberty is different to yours. I think perhaps my idea of paternalism in government is different to yours because I have been de-sensitised to government actions that you have not, through my being brought up in Australia. I think, any way.

I too feel like I cannot wait. I just printed off all my BSF questions for while I am away to take with me and do on the trip. Now I only have six beds to make with clean sheets and a suitcase or two to sort and pack and a house to clean and ... well, quite a bit, actually. I had better stop reading your blog! xtxS

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