#160 The Truth Shall Make you Free
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THE Truth, as mentioned in John 8:32, means we should seek objective agreement about economic measures. Accepting THE truth gives freedom, while multiple truths removes freedom.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Economics
That’s a rephrasing of the old quip attributed to Mark Twain. In the original version it reads “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned lies and Statistics.”
Just a few of the economic mistruths stated by President Biden in his recent state of the union speech.
- “We created more new jobs in two years than any president did in their entire term.” First, the government does not “create” jobs in the private sector. They could help “Create” them in the public sector, but those are paid for by taxing the private sector. And, technically, more people found jobs, but that’s because we were on a recovery from the pandemic. We count the PERCENTAGE change, and the percentage is nowhere near the best in Presidential history. Here’s how the New York Times explains it, “By percentage, Mr. Biden’s first two years still lag behind the job growth of his predecessors’ full terms. The economy added 8.5 percent more jobs under Mr. Biden so far, compared with 8.6 percent in President Barack Obama’s first term, 10.5 percent in President Bill Clinton’s first term, 11.2 percent in President Ronald Reagan’s second term and 12.8 percent in President Jimmy Carter’s four years in office.”
Oh, by the way: If the President is taking credit for creating every new job, is he also taking credit for every job that was destroyed?
- The President mentioned the term “Fair share” again: I’ve written and spoken about this many times. It’s a clear violation of the tenth commandment: Don’t covet. 57% of Americans pay no income tax. What would be their fair share? How can paying nothing be fair? The President said confidently, “By the way, there’s a thousand billionaires, and they pay an average of 3 percent in taxes.” The New York Times points out that the 400 richest families paid 8.2%. Almost triple what the President said. To get to the 3% figure the President quoted, you have to include, as income, stocks and other assets that the wealthy own that they did NOT sell. So the president is complaining, “The rich only pay income tax on their income”, which is the tax code. As someone who spent his entire adult life in politics, he’s had time to change this if he wanted.
- “We’ve reduced the national debt, so far, $1.7 trillion in two years.” He said debt, but he meant annual deficit. There’s a big difference. The New York Times points out, “Total debt has actually increased from $27.8 trillion on his inauguration to about $31.5 trillion as of today. His former boss, Barack Obama made the same claim some years ago. Annual deficit was bumping along at about $500 billion a year. President Obama doubled it to $1 Trillion, then when it went back to $500 billion he looked straight into the camera and stated, “I cut the annual budget deficit in half.” Uh-huh, just AFTER you doubled it. Same thing with President Biden: He doubled it to $3.1 trillion, then cut it about in half to $1.4 trillion. Even CNN corrected the President’s error. Goodness, I’m finding all kinds of new sources for citations today.
- He accused his opponents, saying “Those who want to use the debt ceiling as leverage to reduce spending are causing chaos and catastrophe. So being $31 trillion is debt is NOT chaos and each man, woman and child having $94,000 of that debt is NOT a catastrophe? Matter of fact, according to the President of the United States, ADDING to the $94K avoids chaos and catastrophe. In the State of the Union speech, he told an emotional tale about a four-year-old who survived kidney cancer. Let’s connect the dots: He wants the share of the debt of that four-year-old to increase above $94,000.
- The President said of Republicans, “They want a 30 percent sales tax on every single thing.” Factually wrong. Business expenses, food, and many other items would be exempt. And, it’s pretty simple economic behavior: You should reward what you want: Income, and punish what you don’t want: Spending. Income tax punishes work and rewards spending. Sales tax rewards work and punishes spending.
- Counter to Mr. Biden’s claim that “we paid for everything,” referring again to my new favorite source to cite, the New York Times, where they point out “Coronavirus stimulus funding added nearly $1.9 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The budget agency also estimated that the infrastructure package added $256 billion to the deficit.”
- Sorry for saving inflation for the last, because this one really harms the poor, whom we Christians care about. He bragged that inflation was down to 6.5%. That’s from a high of 8.5%, highest in forty years. He didn’t point out that it was below 2% when he took office. And, he blamed inflation on supply chain disruption from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Really?! So fiscal and monetary policy DON’T cause inflation? Because I’ve told my sophomores at Dallas Baptist University that increases in fiscal spending and monetary expansion cause inflation.
Here’s what bothers me: That was a prepared speech. I would estimate that about 50 people have to approve a formal speech, like the State of the Union. All fifty of them looked at these eight statements and agreed that the President should lie to the American people. He could just as easily have said he was 6-foot-2 inches tall. He’s not. You see, just like we have objective measures for people’s height: We also have objective measures in economics.
The Truth Shall Make you Free
The assumption of this scripture is that there is only ONE truth. It does not say, “TruthS will make you free.” Matter of fact, multiple truths take away your freedom. But if there is only ONE truth, then there is freedom. Here’s why…….
I was fascinated by a presentation I attended in Hong Kong titled Chinese Wisdom. With the ppt behind him stating the Noble Eightfold path: Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right concentration, right mindfulness, the seminar leader stated emphatically, “There is no RIGHT in China.” Hold it, there were eight of them on the ppt behind him.
Maybe I had just read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey and was applying “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” So, I took a deep breath and listened…..and learned. And here’s what I learned, and I wrote it: Biblical Economic Policy, “There are no rights in China, because there is no RIGHT in China.” You see, when there are competing truths, the obvious question is: Which one wins? Well, that’s easy, in China, it’s the guy with the most power.
I’ll make the philosophy short, because it’s not my specialty. The world was full of multiple pagan gods, everyone had their own. Then the Greeks came up with the idea of reason. Then Jesus came along – you know the New Testament was written in Greek, right? So Jesus used this reason in many of his arguments. He was an Asian, making what we now would call Western arguments. In Western thinking, we use reason: If it’s A, it can’t be B. But in Eastern thinking, there are multiple A’s and B’s and they can all be right at the same time.
Your Own Truth
When Oprah Winfrey said on the stage of the Golden Globes, “The most valuable thing you have is your own truth,” she was using Chinese Wisdom. That is: Everyone has their own truth. When Carl Trueman wrote in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, about expressive individualism, he was criticizing Chinese Wisdom.
But in Chinese Wisdom and expressive individualism, you can’t run a communal economy. We have to have agreements on terms like GDP, inflation, spending, taxes, debt and the value of the dollar. If I say this piece of linen is worth two dollars and you say it’s worth one, how do we run an economy? It’s either worth two or one. It can’t be both.
Josh McDowell warned us about this way back in 1994 in his book titled Right from Wrong. He was way ahead of his time. He saw the emergence of this multiple truth society, and warned us about it. Well, as of the State of the Union speech recently, it’s here. The President declared there are no longer objective truths, there is “Your own truth.”
You see, that’s why I’m the CHRISTIAN Economist. A Chinese economist would not understand the basis of objective truth. He would pull together a number of philosophies and religions and use the yin-yang to find balance: Oh, some of President Biden’s truth, some of President Trump’s truth…..let’s have balance. But, when God told Abraham there was only ONE god, the world changed, and it’s not gone back….until now. By the way, the context of the statement from Jesus in John 8:32 “The Truth shall make you free,” is the discussion about being the descendants of Abraham. They were so afraid of accepting Jesus as truth, at the end of the chapter, they tried to stone him to death. That’s how people respond when you challenge them with objective truth.
TELL THE TRUTH
EARN A PROFIT
READ ALONG WITH THE CHRISTIAN ECONOMIST:
- Biblical Economic Policy https://amzn.to/3nn8inO
- Economics and the Christian Worldview | https://amzn.to/3tIsYYM
- John 8:32 | https://bit.ly/3lzh8js
- Fact-Checking Biden’s State of the Union Address | NYT | https://nyti.ms/3RTNtxE
- How the US Government Amasses $31T in Debt | NYT | https://nyti.ms/3K6cdkA
- Proposed Tax on Billionaires Raises Question | NYT | https://nyti.ms/3E3Gbla
- Debt Over Time | https://bit.ly/3Yqcy5Z
- Estimated Budgetary Effects | Congress | https://bit.ly/3E4gdOE
- Inflation Over Time | https://bit.ly/3XxJW9j
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People | https://bit.ly/3HX8Eub
- The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self | https://bit.ly/3gbcSo7
- Right from Wrong | https://bit.ly/3E42ffB
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