Italy Has No Fiscal Discipline Whatsoever

European Union Under (Internal) Threats
Recently we raised the question as to whether the present Eurozone can survive.  Clearly the UK’s leaving will remove one of the major funding countries within the EC.  When Greece blew up, Angela Merkel was successful in persuading Europe to socialising the debts of Greece in exchange for far more fiscal austerity.  

But Italy’s problems are of a different magnitude altogether.  Italy has formed a government which has no fiscal discipline whatsoever.  John J. Xenakis explains why: 

Italy’s plummeting financial markets have mostly recovered and appear to be stabilized as the “populist” government that had appeared to collapse early in the week came to power, though with a different cabinet of ministers. 

The “populist” coalition is between the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League), led by Matteo Salvini. Although the two parties differ on many issues and distrust each other greatly, they decided to form a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU, and anti-immigrant policies, and particularly on the fact that they have no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Di Maio and Salvini had chosen as finance minister Paolo Savona, who in the past had raised objections to Italy being in the eurozone and euro currency. Fearing a financial disaster, Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, vetoed the selection of Savona, and the proposed government collapsed. Di Maio and Salvini claimed that Mattarella was catering to the demands of Brussels and Berlin, rather than to the will of the people of Italy.

For a couple of days, Italy’s government was in total chaos, and it looked like Mattarella had made a major political blunder. Despite the vitriolic political atmosphere in Rome, the chaos caused heads to cool, and Di Maio, Salvini and Mattarella reached a compromise, where Savona would be given a different job.

So now the European Union and the European Central Bank have to face the reality of dealing with Italy’s new government. On the immigrant issue, Salvini wants to deport half a million illegal immigrants living in Italy, and he is being criticized as xenophobic, as are far-right parties in other countries, such as Germany’s AfD and the National Front in France.

Economically, Italy is already a disaster, with public debt standing at €2.17 trillion, or 133 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This also could cause a major eurozone financial crisis, significantly worse than the one caused by Greece’s public debt.  But instead of looking for ways to reduce that debt, Di Maio and Salvini want to increase it by another €125 billion. Right-wing Salvini wants to cut taxes. Left-wing Di Maio wants to substantially increase public spending, including providing a guaranteed minimum income of €780 per month to each person.

So Italy’s government has stabilized for now, but few people expect that stability to last long.

Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }

20180709

Psalm 1:3b It bears it’s seasonal fruit.
Life runs in cycles. We cannot expect to have perpetual success in this age. It is not designed for that. This age has its seasons. The person whose life is centered around God and his word will persevere through each cycle in his life, And will bear some kind of fruit in it. Trust Him in the middle of the season.

{ 0 comments }

Douglas Wilson’s Letter From Moscow (About The Breakup of the Union)

The UnRoeveling of America

Douglas Wilson
Blog&Mablog

INTRODUCTION:

The American Civil War was actually a war between distinct regions. It was a clash of cultures, a war between the several states. There were certain regions—the border states like Maryland—where the populations within the same territory were truly divided, and where it was not uncommon for one brother to fight for one side and another brother to fight for the other. What we have boiling on the stove now contains the makings of an actual civil conflict, where the disruption that happened in just the border states two centuries ago is happening all across the nation.

With the nomination for the Supreme Court that Trump is poised to make, everyone appears to understand that Roe is on the table. Nothing is certain in terms of specific outcomes, but I would like to argue that if Roe is on the table, then America is also.

MAP READING


Red/blue maps are now fairly common in electoral analysis, and when you look at them state by state, the whole thing can be made to look like a regional conflict. But this is actually a false appearance. That is because, thanks to the Electoral College, we vote by states, and the overwhelming majority of our states follow a winner-take-all system of allocation. The only two exceptions are Nebraska and Maine. This means that when you have swing states, where the election really could go this way or that way (51/49), the whole enchilada goes with the 51. In this kind of analysis, Minnesota and Oklahoma can come out the same color . . . which is misleading.

But if you look at the red and blue breakdown county by county, or even precinct by precinct, the picture changes dramatically. The map I posted here is telling—it is a county-by-county breakdown, but the colors are only apportioned when the presidential candidate won that county by twenty points or more. In other words, you are looking at territory where it wasn’t even close.

A HOUSE DIVIDED:

Now as some may have surmised, I am not a big Lincoln fan, but I do admire his ability to grasp the nature of an inconsistency. Here is a little something from his famous House Divided speech. 

“‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”

The reason this observation was cogent is that Lincoln was making an application to politics, taking as his illustration something that Jesus took from the realm of politics. 

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matt. 12:25).

Lincoln was talking about the momentous doctrine of chattel slavery, and he said that such an issue would be enough to tear the country apart. Now, in the present time, we are being torn apart by two issues that are every bit as important as that one.

SCOTUS AND FAUX UNITY

In a federal system, it makes sense for some states to do it this way and others to do it that way. That is kind of the whole point. Some states have this drinking age and others have that one. Some have Live Free or Die on their license plates, like New Hampshire, and others have Drive Carefully, like Maryland. Some torment business owners with heavy fines if they successfully create jobs and others welcome entrepreneurs. Some apportion electoral votes in a winner-take-all fashion and others don’t. Some states, like Colorado, have the columbine as the state flower, while Texas chose a different state flower (as the fellow said) in the filet mignon.

What Lincoln was saying was that federalism was not elastic enough to handle some states that allowed for slavery and other states that did not. It was not the kind of issue—like when you are allowed to get your driver’s permit—that can just be accommodated. The event proved him to be correct, at least on that point.

Now it is apparent, at least to me, that the Supreme Court of the United States has taken the view, on at least two modern occasions, that the great sexual issues are just like the slavery issue, at least in this respect.

Our system of federalism is not elastic enough to accommodate diversity on the two sexual issues of abortion and same sex mirage. All the states must do it the same way, or the states will eventually go their separate ways. This is why legal abortion was jammed down the throats of most states, and this is why the same thing has been done with same sex mirage. This is also why most of the states (that didn’t want abortion) put up with this power move. They had to choose between the unborn and a united America. Up to this point, pro-lifers have sought to fight for both—they want to outlaw abortion and they want to keep the country together.

The Supreme Court, in imposing one law on the entire country, did not expect the house to fall, but they did expect that it would cease to be divided. In fact, they were so certain of it that they demanded that the nation cease being divided—abortion must be legal everywhere and unnatural unions must be permitted everywhere.

What the ongoing presence of an active pro-life movement has done is this—it has kept the possibility of a divided America on the table. This is not what was intended, but it is what has happened. The progressives are far more consistent in their thinking on this than conservatives have been.

UNRAVELING ROE:

I am not predicting that Trump’s next appointment to the Court will necessitate that Roe will in fact be overturned. I am simply saying that it is a functional possibility. The president himself has been saying that it is a possibility. The Left is certainly taking it that way. And because it is now a real possibility, pro-lifers need to work through our game plan, and in addition to that, we need to weigh and consider the potential ramifications.

In short, to get straight to the point, we need to count the cost. 

“Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” (Luke 14:31).

This applies to civil wars as much as to the other kind.

The most obvious thing about an overturned Roe is that the issue would be kicked back to the states. But what would happen if a bunch of states outlawed abortion immediately and other states kept things the way they are now? What if Lincoln was right? What if that ancient messiah figure that he was quoting was right? Suppose that a kingdom divided against itself—on issues of this magnitude—really cannot stand? What if Blackmun, who wrote Roe, was correct? What if it is not tolerable that it be legal to chop babies into pieces in this state, and against the law (because it is murder) in the state right across the river? What if Kennedy, the author of Obergefell, was shrewder than the children of light when he assumed that a country could not be the same country from coast to coast with radically different definitions of what the institution of marriage is?

Everyone knew this principle at one time—it is why the Mormons had to come up with a “revelation of convenience” that ditched polygamy before Utah could be admitted to the union. The country looked at the polygamists and determined that our federal system was not that elastic. And in Idaho, our state constitution closed off any public office to anyone who believed, like the Mormons, in “celestial marriage.” This embarrassing vestigial reminder of another day remained in our constitution down to (I think) the eighties, where it was removed in a public referendum. And at that time, about a third of Idahoans, myself included, voted against removing it.

Some people can eat blackened catfish and other people can eat kale, and we can deal with that. But we cannot deal with not having a shared understanding of what boys and girls are. If we don’t have that common ground, we cannot have lasting common ground in any other areas of our commonwealth. This is because, as Jesus taught, a house divided cannot stand.

And incidentally, for those who want to say that Jesus was teaching a “spiritual truth,” he was actually taking a political maxim and applying it to the spiritual realm. So while it is true that the kingdom of God grows like a mustard seed, it remains the truth that a mustard seed grows like a mustard seed. While it is true that spiritual kingdoms cannot stand when they are divided in a fundamental way, this is true because it is true of all kingdoms. It is the case for all commonwealths.

If you don’t know what a girl is, if you don’t know what a boy is, how on earth are you able to tell what an American is? If you can’t see the big E on the eye chart, don’t bother trying to read the bottom line.

SO WHAT IS THE COST WE ARE TO COUNT?

I want to come to the conclusion, and state it briefly. It needs much more development, but we are entering an era where there will no doubt be many more occasions to debate and discuss this.

If the red and blue map I have posted here were three dimensional, we would see another reality. The blue areas are a lot thicker, with some areas like LA and New York towering up like skyscrapers. And some of the red areas, particularly in places like South Dakota, are just one layer of paint thick, and that paint is a thin red primer. The leftists are fond of pointing out that Hillary won the popular vote, and that all that Trump territory includes more than a little bit of sagebrush. The point is taken, granted. We are a house divided. But it is worth paying attention to the fault lines.

There are other (thought experiment) three dimensional maps that can be utilized as well, and if we run those experiments, the skyscrapers move and change color. Where are all the guns located?

We are so divided that we have come to the point where we don’t accept the results of elections anymore. That is how you can tell that all common ground has disappeared from beneath our feet. When Abraham Lincoln was elected, South Carolina did not accept the results of the election, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If Roe is overturned (as I hope and pray that it will be), then Alabama and Idaho and Oklahoma will promptly outlaw abortions. Will California and New York accept this? No, they will not, and the only alternative at that point, over such an issue, will be civil rupture. They will hate the presence of pro-life states more than Christians hated the (pre-Roe) presence of pro-abortion states. This trait of ours was a mix of endearing naiveté and a deeply troubling national idolatry. We wanted America to stay united more than we wanted to save the lives of children.

Just know this. If you pray for Roe to be overturned, and for the issue to be returned to the states, you are praying for the eventual crack-up of the 50 state union. It may happen with a whimper or a bang, but one thing is sure and certain. Respect for life and love of death are incompossibilities. We cannot vote them into a mutual respect and acceptance any more than we can vote to have water flow uphill. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13), and hatred of wisdom loves death (Prov. 8:36). Can these two get along?

In short, if we held a national referendum which resolved that it was the will of the American people that a house divided could too stand, it still wouldn’t matter if the referendum were approved in a landslide. That house would still fall. We have someone’s word on it.
Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }

Daily Meditation

Rejecting False Assurances

If we think the Bible teaches universal salvation, we may arrive at a false sense of assurance by reasoning as follows: Everybody is saved. I am a body. Therefore, I am saved.
Or, if we think salvation is gained by our own good works and we are further deluded into believing that we possess good works, we will have a false assurance of salvation.
To have sound assurance, we must understand that our salvation rests on the merit of Christ alone, which is appropriated to us when we embrace Him by genuine faith. If we understand that, the remaining question is, “Do I have the genuine faith necessary for salvation?”
Again, two more things must be understood and analyzed properly. The first is doctrinal. We need a clear understanding of what constitutes genuine saving faith. If we conceive of saving faith as existing in a vacuum, never yielding the fruit of works of obedience, we have confused saving faith with dead faith, which cannot save anyone.
The second requirement involves a sober analysis of our own lives. We must examine ourselves to see whether the fruit of regeneration is apparent in our lives. Do we have a real affection for the biblical Christ? Only the regenerate person possesses real love for the real Jesus. Next we must ask the tough question, “Does my life manifest the fruit of sanctification?” I test my faith by my works. 

Coram Deo

What is your response to the questions posed in this reading: Do you have the genuine faith necessary for salvation? Do you have a real affection for the biblical Christ? Does your life manifest the fruit of salvation?

Passages for Further Study

Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }

When All Else Fails . . .

Temper Tantrums

It appears that the Left these days has lost its credibility.  It seems as though any action, any words, any opposition immediately calls down the Left’s dreaded indictment: Racist!

Nowhere does this appear more the case than in the United States.  The Left cannot seem to get through a twenty-four hour news cycle without shouting “Racist” at someone, or some thing or other.  “Racism” would appear to be the unforgivable sin.  Once hurled at an opponent there is nothing more to do or say.  It’s all over, Rover.  The accusation is the verbal equivalent of taking careful aim and fatally shooting someone.

Take the matter of immigration rules, regulations, and policies.
  We hold the view that if a nation cannot control its own borders, its sovereignty is thereby–at least to some extent–voided.  But these days if one dares to put forward that proposition he or she risks being called out as racist.  It’s no great matter, since we will keep on saying what we believe to be true.  But the chance of reasonable discourse with opponents from the Left has long gone.

The Left screeches daily that President Trump’s immigration policies and the policing of the nations borders are racist.  That’s it, then.  No further argument, evidence, or reason is required.  It’s deeply ironic that Trump’s immigration policies are not that far removed from those of  his predecessor, Obama.  Clearly, however, Obama was not racist.  Trump is.  So, the Left can hug Obama–actually begging him to run again because there ain’t nobody else.  And in the same breath it can imprecate all kinds of evils upon Trump because his policies are Racist! despite those policies imitating those of the Great Obama.

Using this kind of invective New Zealand would have to qualify as one of the most racist countries in the world.  Our borders are strictly controlled.  Sure, migrants can enter; they can even live as non-citizens in this country forever, enjoying the complete package of human rights and privileges, except they cannot vote.  But, getting in is controlled.  This is not to say that there are no “illegals” living in New Zealand.  There are.  But if and when they come to the attention of the authorities, they fairly quickly end up in the pokey and are deported soon thereafter.

In other words, New Zealand is applying roughly the same kind of immigration policies that Trump is seeking to apply in the United States.  Yet no-one in New Zealand thinks that such careful control upon migrants and immigration is racist.  Well, it’s possible that a few Left-wing folk might, but Down Under no-one takes them too seriously.

It is sad that the Left in the United States appears so bereft of reasonable argumentation to put its case forward that it resorts to incoherent irrelevancies like branding their opponents as “Racists!”
Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }

20180708

Psalm 1:3a He is like a tree planted opposite irrigation channels.
You can tell the difference between trees planted in the right place and those improperly planted. The water source ensures that the tree can thrive. God’s instructions are our water source. If we stay in God’s word, just living our lives will lead to ultimate success.

{ 0 comments }

20180707

Psalm 1:2b and he keeps thinking about the LORD’S instructions daily and nightly.
The person who focuses on permanent things does not have room for trivial pursuits. His daily thoughts center on what God says, and he keeps the theme as he rests at night. In fact, the word of God invaded his dreams.

{ 0 comments }

"Free Speech For Us; Censorship For Them

Why Liberals Have Flip-Flopped on Free Speech

Thomas Williams
BreitbartNews

In a remarkably honest exposé, the New York Times acknowledged Saturday that “liberals who once championed expansive First Amendment rights are now uneasy about them” ever since conservatives realized they should apply to them as well.

The Times cites First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams who noted that whereas the left once led support for First Amendment protections, they are now “at least skeptical and sometimes distraught at the level of First Amendment protection which is being afforded in cases brought by litigants on the right.”

The difference between then and now? Many of the ideas currently being protected by free speech rights run contrary to progressive ideology. Over the last 13 years, the Supreme Court “has been far more likely to embrace free-speech arguments concerning conservative speech than liberal speech,” the Times said.

One law professor at Georgetown, Louis Michael Seidman, who used to defend free speech now sees his prior position as a mistake.
  “When I was younger, I had more of the standard liberal view of civil liberties,” Seidman said. “And I’ve gradually changed my mind about it. What I have come to see is that it’s a mistake to think of free speech as an effective means to accomplish a more just society.”

Catharine A. MacKinnon, a law professor at the University of Michigan, goes further still, declaring that free speech reinforces and amplifies injustice because it is now being used to defend ideas she finds distressing.  “Once a defense of the powerless, the First Amendment over the last hundred years has mainly become a weapon of the powerful,” writes MacKinnon, who teaches such courses as “Evolution of Gender Crimes” and “Sex Equality.”

Whereas free speech used to be invoked to defend “radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed,” MacKinnon laments, it has now become “a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers and corporations buying elections.”

In other words, the left was much quicker than the right to understand the power of free speech protections. In a curious irony, however, most conservatives today would be quick to defend even Ms. MacKinnon’s adolescent name-calling, which compensates for a lack of serious arguments.

Speech does not need to be intelligent or compelling to be worthy of protection.

In reading through the New York Times piece it becomes abundantly clear that many liberals really never cared about “free speech” as such, but rather sought protection specifically for progressive ideas and behaviors. As soon as conservatives started demanding the same protections for their speech, it no longer seemed like such a good idea.

The Times titled its article “How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment.” Perhaps a more accurate title would have been, “How Conservatives Learned from the Left and Started Using Their Own Weapons Against Them.”

Or, more simply, “What Goes Around, Comes Around.”
Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }

Daily Meditation

When Will I Be Satisfied?

“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26)

John Piper

Imagine being able to enjoy what is most enjoyable with unbounded energy and passion forever.

This is not now our experience. Three things stand in the way of our complete satisfaction in this world.

  • Nothing has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest longings of our hearts.
  • We lack the strength to savor the best treasures to their maximum worth.
  • Our joys here come to an end. Nothing lasts.

But if the aim of Jesus in John 17:26 comes true, all this will change.

If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth. He will never become boring or disappointing or frustrating. No greater treasure can be conceived than the Son of God.

Moreover, our ability to savor this inexhaustible treasure will not be limited by human weaknesses. We will enjoy the Son of God with the very enjoyment of his Father.

God’s delight in his Son will be in us and it will be ours. And this will never end, because neither the Father nor the Son ever ends. Their love for each other will be our love for them and therefore our loving them will never die.
Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }

Napalming Charter Schools

When Success Becomes a Serious Threat 
Sir Toby Curtis has made a plea to all New Zealanders to stand up and speak out against the napalming of charter schools in New Zealand at the behest of the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins.  

We certainly wish to stand with Sir Toby and join him in speaking out.  Sir Toby Curtis chaired the Iwi Education Authority for tribal immersion schools, was instrumental in establishing Māori broadcasting, and served on the Partnership Schools/Kura Hourua Authorisation Board.  He has had a good deal to do with New Zealand’s “toe in the water” introduction of charter schools in New Zealand.

We will reproduce his appeal to Hapless Hipkins:

My preference as a Māori would be to discuss the Government’s unilateral decision to close partnership schools Kura Hourua, kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) with them.  However, the Government denied us that opportunity.  It is my fervent hope that through this medium, the Minister of Education might be appraised of the concerns I raise on behalf of many Māori.

In a few days’ time a colleague and I will meet the Education Select Committee in support of our submission opposing the closure of these schools and the kura hourua model. But even before the Committee has heard submissions, the minister has terminated the contracts of 10 of the schools.

To compound the injustice, the Government has silenced the schools by holding over them the prospect of joining another state school status.  The arrogance of this is breathtaking. These are schools where hundreds of Māori students are experiencing educational success, some for the first time in their lives.

The large majority of the kura are being run by Māori for Māori, some by Pasifika for Pasifika. All have close relations with their whanau and families who send their children there. Sometimes that’s the first time a family has had the chance to make a considered choice about their child’s education, and it’s the beginning of becoming empowered.

Some of the schools are providing classes for whanau and parents to help them learn how to support their tamariki with their school work. The kids, some of whom had dropped out of school, are going to school and are eager to learn. Iwi have actively invested in the schools.

In my role on the authorisation board for the schools, I’ve visited every one of them.
I’ve talked to the whanau, the teachers and the children. I’ve seen what they are achieving and studied the evidence of their performance.  The schools report on their educational achievement and the students’ attendance and engagement at school. Most are performing well above national averages and some are far above the rest of the country, in particular in results for Māori students. Attendance is high.

But the Government ignored all this. They refused to visit the schools or study their results or talk to any of the people involved in them. Does the minister think we can’t be trusted to take responsibility for building our own capability to do things for ourselves?

I’ve seen this happen countless times. Governments have decided to do things “for” us, rather than let Māori do things for ourselves. I’ve watched billions being spent on government and NGO initiatives designed to fix our problems. But things keep getting worse.

The state school system has largely failed Māori and is now failing Pasifika. A majority of Māori are leaving school without qualifications. On an average school day around half of all Māori and Pasifika secondary school pupils are truant. The truancy rate in my home town of Rotorua is one of the worst.

My plea to the minister is to stop this injustice. My plea to all New Zealanders is to speak up against it. Hold our politicians across all parties, Māori and Pakeha, to account for it. And stop the cold-hearted removal of a model that is giving 1300 young New Zealanders, and hopefully many more to come, a better chance at life.

We are hoping that, like us, your blood is coming to a slow boil around about now.  We do not quibble over the Ministry of Education closing schools down for sound reasons.  Failing to educate would be one.  But in this case it is the very success of the charter schools which has stirred the hostility and ire of Hapless.  He would have loved to see them fail.  Their roaring success increased his bitterness and resolution to shut them down now, quickly–lest their influence and results spread throughout the country.

We need to remember that Hipkins has a fundamental loyalty to the all powerful teacher unions.  He made a solemn promise to them that he would shut down charter schools, no matter what.  Why do the unions hate charter schools so much?  Simple.  Because they represent an implicit condemnation of the failing state education system.  Behind this failing system are the teacher unions who effectively control the present Ministry of Education.  Charter schools were indirectly exposing the uselessness of many of the state schools. The failure of the government education system is ultimately an indictment of the unions.  Therefore, Hipkins made a Faustian bargain with the unions: in return for their support, he would shut down the hated charter schools, no matter what.

We expect that in a secret closet of the collective mind of Hipkins and the teacher unions there is a skeleton of racism.  They need to see Maori and Pacifica (and Pakeha in South Auckland) failing.  It secures their positions, their jobs.  It enables them to live in a world of professional blame-shifting: “if only we had this, or that; if only the government spent more money on teacher salaries; if only . . . –and then we would see real progress in education!”   That, dear reader, is why charter schools had to go–because they were succeeding and their very success was exposing the lie, the false narrative, about why the state education system is failing.

That’s why Hapless had to shut down the charter schools before the Select Committee had completed its consultation on whether they ought to be shut down.   He fears the truth.  He did not want the success of charter schools made public.  Therefore, he had to act swiftly, so ensure that everyone thought it was a done deal.  His Faustian bargain with the teacher unions required it.
Go to Source to Comment

{ 0 comments }