Print it out!

I notice quite frequently the little notice on the bottom of the email of well intentioned individuals reminding me not to waste paper by printing the email. This admonishment, along with countless others coming from those who want to do their part to "Save the Planet" are sadly, in almost every case, taking steps to destroy it. Let me see if I can explain.

In the above example, we are encouraged not to print because it consumes paper, and consuming paper requires the use of trees which must be cut down, thereby stripping the land and destroying the planet. At least that is the logic. Here is the flaw in that logic:

Trees are a crop. Human beings grow them, harvest them, and sell them. There have been times in our history where that crop was harvested from open land not owned by the individuals selling the crop, so the case could be made that the land was being stripped and left barren. That isnt how it works any more. Today the land is owned by individuals who have decided to put that land to work producing trees. It is a business.

As a business, capital is invested to buy land, the tree crop is grown in such a way as to preserve and protect the land so that the capital investment is not lost, and trees are harvested and sold to produce a profit for the owners. The by-product of this business is 1) income for the thousands of people who are involved in the process, and 2) the wood itself, which is used in thousands of ways to make the lives of those who buy it better.

In a free market system people allocate their scarce resources in such a way as to maximize their satisfaction. When people do spend money, they do so because they've decided the the satisfaction they'll receive through that expenditure will be greater than the satisfaction they could have received by spending that money another way.

Markets respond to the above reality by trying to determine a better way to deliver greater satisfaction at lower cost so as to obtain a greater customer base and hence a greater income.

These two factors provide the two sides of the equation that make a free market economy possible. We all live on both sides of this equation. On the one side of the equation we attempt to maximize our income so that we can obtain greater satisfaction in our lives. On the other side we attempt to conserve our expenditures and get the most bang for our buck.

This works!

It produces wonderful products and services in ever greater abundance at ever decreasing costs. As markets solve human problems the world becomes a better place to live. We become healthier, we live longer, and we enjoy our lives more. This is a wonderful thing, a gift from God.

Furthermore, people who have their basic needs met go on to seek improvement in broader areas of their lives, such as in their local environments. Starving people don't care about the environment, they care about eating. Well fed and comfortable people do care about the environment. Inside each of us is a desire for beauty, but we don't seek after that desire until other more basic needs are met (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs)

Concern for the environment we live in sits at the top of that pyramid. As the free market exchange of free human beings solves the problems of life, more and people move into higher levels of that pyramid.

Freedom leads to prosperity, and prosperity benefits the environment.

The quality of a nation's environment is directly proportional to prosperity of it's citizens. Look at the relative cleanliness of a typical prosperous American City vs a typical city in any poor country. The difference is stark. North Korea is a wasteland, ravaged by communism. South Korea is a prosperous, beautiful country. Look at this image of Haiti vs. the Dominican Republic. On one side there is lush beauty, the other is barren.

Freedom is good for the environment. So is consumption. When we consume the products of our fellow human beings, we are all made better off.

In ignorance, some people, being convinced that a person selling wood is in some way destroying their planet, start trying to manipulate the buyers of that product into consuming less of it. They are trying to prevent others from buying and selling what they want, and add social pressure (and eventually laws) to stop them.

I say ignorance, because the person selling wood is in no way destroying the planet. As a crop those trees would not be there were it not for the wood market. If one human being finds that wood makes his life better, and another can produce an income for himself and others by producing that wood, they are both made better off - at at the same time, as a direct result of their exchange, the land is improved and the crop is increased. The circumstances are improved for the buyer, the seller, the land, and the trees.

So the pressure produced by the ignorant to stop this exchange has a negative effect on every aspect of this reality. The people producing and selling wood see their income reduced, the people using that product to in some way to improve their lives must go without that improvement, the land will no longer be maintained to the degree that it was, and the total number of trees will be reduced. Why take care of the land and plant trees if people aren't buying?

It might seem small, but it isn't. One man's expense is another man's income. Anything that reduces the exchange between them reduces the quality of life for both of them and causes neglect of the tools and resources involved in the process.

Environmentalism doesn't improve the environment as it is currently practiced. Environmentalism is a highjacking of the human desire for a beautiful world and puts that desire to work in the cause of socialism and the accumulation of power in the hands of government. Nothing destroys an environment more thoroughly than excessive government power. Freedom produces prosperity and the forces which result in the improvement of the environment. Powerful governments are by their very nature anti-freedom and consequently they produce poverty and bleak environments.

We all want to live in a beautiful world full of trees, clean air, and clean water. Prosperity produced by the market exchange of free people trying to maximize their quality of life is the most effective way to achieve that end.

So if you find that printing this out in some way improves your life, do it! It will be good for all of us, including the planet.

Restraining the Beast

The founders of the United States of America had a clear understanding of something that over the years has been largely lost, but that now, under the corrupt leadership of Obama they are rediscovering - government is a beast - and humanity's only hope for happiness on earth is the restraint of that beast.

Revelation chapter 13 describes a Beast as well. The book of Revelation is a picture of God's war against His enemy, Satan, and reveals that every Holy aspect of God has a counterfeit in the work of the enemy.

- God Himself is counterfeited by Satan, represented in the book of Revelation by the Dragon (Rev 12:9)
- The people of God, the Saints, represented throughout the Bible as the Bride of Christ, are counterfeited by those who reject God, and worship the Beast, represented in Revelation by the Prostitute, the woman who rides the Beast (Rev 17:3-4)
- The Holy Spirit is counterfeited in the book of Revelation by The False Prophet. (Rev 13:11-17)

And finally, the Beast is the counterfeit of Christ Himself. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the Christian, the One to whom we look for life, for comfort, for wisdom, for counsel, and for salvation.

So who is Christ's counterfeit? What agency (or "power") on earth serves the "Prostitute" (those who reject Christ) in the same capacity as Jesus Christ serves His Bride?

What power rises up out of the sea, which Rev 17:15 says is the clamoring multitudes of humanity, promising to give them what only God can give, and deceiving them into trading their souls for a crust of bread?

I believe the answer is found by considering what it was that the Founding Fathers were trying to chain. What is it that promises prosperity, promises to save the world, promises to protect you from those who would hurt you, promises to meet all your needs, promises to take care of your health?

What force on earth is nearly irresistible? What agency has the strength of armies, the power to take wealth, the power to limit freedom, the power to accomplish "great things" for it's supporters, and the very power to chose life or death?

To whom do the huddles masses turn? Where is their hope?

What is the nemesis of nearly every business in America? To whom must they pay allegiance? What agency holds the power to shut you down, or lift you into the stratospheres of success? Who is it that must be stroked and padded with lavish gifts by our lobbyists?

At some points in history, it was a King, such as Saul (1 Samuel 8), whom the Israelites believed would keep them safe and provide for them. At other times it was represented by Emperors like Nero of Rome. At other times it was a dominating dictator like Stalin, Khrushchev, or Hitler to whom a nation turned in hopes of victory and worldly success. And at other times, it was a charismatic leader who promised a chicken in every pot, a victory in times of war, a job for every worker, a safety net for the down-and-out, or a doctor at your disposal.

Yes, the Beast of Revelation, whom our Founding Fathers tried to chain and limit, against whom we fight even now on a daily basis and has become a very present threat to our prosperity, our freedom, and our lives is the seductive power of human government.

Revelation reveals that humanity will worship the beast and bow down to it, and surely we do (Rev 13:4).

It grows in response to every crisis. It consumes wealth of this generation and the next. It promises life, but delivers only slavery, fear, and death.

America as founded was a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope to a dark and brutal world - proof that life on earth could be worth living. It was our faith, our freedom, and the limitation of government power that made it so.

The worst of history's experiences came as a result of power accumulated in the hands of a few. Great human power cannot be director for good, for very long, for the Beast grows within it. At first it looks appealing and we fall for it's seduction, but in the end it utterly destroys.

Will we decide again as a nation to chain the Beast? Will we return to our First Love, to the Creator who does give life, to living by faith and not by sight, and to the Constitution which formed the only chains the world has ever known capable of restraining the Beast?

Trade Deficits are Meaningless

I decided to buy Crash 2.0 the other day to see what the author had to say about possible investment strategies during what I believe will be a very challenging few upcoming years in the US. Our government is on a deliberate path of self-destruction and their efforts are succeeding. I do not believe our economy will be able to withstand the consequences of deficit spending, an unstable dollar, and hi taxes. These next few years are going to suck for the average American, especially the ones dependent on employers for their security.
I expected to find in Crash 2.0 some good advice about how to invest, and maybe the author's advice investment advice is good, but the advice was immediately suspect to me because his concern for the economy was based on his alarm for the "trade deficit".
He is not alone in his concern. Everywhere I look I see fear about the looming trade deficit and how all this spending overseas will seal our doom.
This fear is completely misplaced. Completely. There is nothing to fear from trade deficits. Nothing. Let me try to convince you.

When an individual buys something, he does so because he has determined that his life is better off with the purchase than it is with the money he'll be using to buy it. When we buy things our lives and circumstances are improved. Buying a car makes it possible to drive to work, buying a computer makes it possible to email, work, shop, and do research. Buying a tool makes it possible to do things you couldn't do without that tool. These things make us more productive and better off.
You may think this not to be the case when considering what other people buy, but these are personal choices, it doesn't matter what you think, it matters what the buyer thinks.
If a person chooses to buy something made in China, both he and the person in China say thank you at the conclusion of the transaction. They both walk away happy. It is irrelevant that the individual now has less cash, he has weighed his options and decided he is better off spending the money. Furthermore, though he might have a personal trade deficit with the Chinese individual, he doesn't care, he isn't depending on the Chinese person for income, just for the product that he wanted. The individual has a source of income independent of the Chinese merchant.

What is true for the individual is also true for the group. If ten people individually buy something from China, they have all decided that they are better off and that their lives are improved by the purchase. If it is true for 10 it's true for millions. Millions of people buy things from China and each person doing so has decided that their life is better off as a result.

So yes, we run a trade deficit, but our wealth has increased because we now own the things that make us more happy, effective, and prosperous.