Monday, September 22, 2008

Economic Regulation

The financial crisis on Wall Street has caused a number of people to call for new regulations. The problem however is that we have lots of regulations already. But they didn't work. In some cases it was political pressure. In other cases it was personal corruption. Those who were supposed to have oversight either had no authority to call the guilty to account or chose to turn a blind eye as a matter of policy. In some cases, the rules themselves caused the problem.

The solutions are not more regulations, but the right regulations. Many of the current rules need to be used to roast marshmallows. Then new regulations need to be put in their place. These rules need to be few, clear and effective.

At the heart of this this is human nature. We are corrupt beings. Men, left to their own devices will act dishonestly. We can't have this when people are entrusting their life savings and fiscal security to these people. So we have to, on some level, legislate honesty. That's why we must have some rules for our financial industry. But we must not over regulate it either. Bad rules not only fail to protect us, they might even contribute to the industry failing.

Sermon for September 20-21

The Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost
September 20-21, 2008
Text: Matthew 20:1-16

Dear Friends in Christ,
Pastors are sometimes accused of preaching about what they did all week. Jack Preus was notorious for this. Having been cued in to this tendency, I try to avoid doing that. My life isn’t all that interesting to talk about in any event - though I find living it interesting enough. But this week I’m going to break this rule and talk about my week. First I must say that pastors of very small churches are often not all that busy. I have summer weeks where I do nothing extra. This week was certainly different. Monday was my slow day. Didn’t do too much, other than get ready for our pastor’s conference. Tuesday was our pastor’s conference. Before I left for the conference I got a call that Dick Dahling was in the hospital in St. Paul. I was hosting our conference so I had to lead the service. We had an adventure when Wilma Fink passed out at the communion rail. Wilma’s fine. Just a momentary bout of low blood pressure. I was also volunteered to be chairman of our pastor’s conference. I’ll continue as secretary for a couple more months but we have plans for pass that job on to another pastor shortly. Then on Wednesday morning I had to run into the cities to see Dick. Then there was Bible class and confirmation class. I must say both classes were really good and on task this week. Then I got a call about Gene Bender in the hospital in Eau Claire. I had heard he was in, but hadn’t followed up. I fell down on the job a bit there. I thought at first I was going to have run down Wednesday night. But it wasn’t quite that urgent. I went down to see him Thursday. All this is to say it was a busy week. I shouldn’t complain. For many of our pastors this is a normal week, or even a slow week. But compare this now to some of the weeks this pastor summer. Once when I was vacancy pastor, there were so many calls you had to visit the hospital and several shuts every day, just to keep up. But here there is not so much work to do. As a pastor you have to do the work God sets before you. God doesn’t always give you the jobs you like. God doesn’t always give you the jobs you’re good at. Often times you get a task and look up to heaven and say, “What do I do with that?” Sometimes there’s not so much work. Sometimes there’s a great deal. But every task is a gift from God.

Our text is another of Christ’s parables. It is the story of a man hiring day laborers to harvest his crop. But the point is usually lost. Some background is needed. This is a wealthy farmer. He has a large farm. He also probably has servants to tend his fields. He could go out and harvest. He could send his men out to harvest. He doesn’t have to hire extra help. So too for God. He has His armies of angels. God could have them do anything that He wants. I’ll just bet there are angels waiting in line to preach a sermon - and they could surely do it far better than I can. There is nothing that God needs us to do. God doesn’t need us to preach, teach, help the sick and the poor, aid disaster victims and the like. God could have the angels do all this. And they’d be more than happy to do it.

In the story, the man goes and hires workers for the harvest. These are poor, unskilled laborers. They don’t own land of their own. Without some assistance, they and their families would probably starve. In our world, they would be like migrant farm workers. I remember as a child having migrant workers come begging for work. We were small farmers and didn’t hire any help. Dad was farming to put us kids to work. For workers like those in the parable, just having work at all was a gift.

This is the point of the parable. The work we do for God is a gift of grace. We are privileged to be given tasks for God. It should be our honor to do this work. Sometimes it’s not the work we would choose. But it is the work that God knows to be good for us to do.

We are sinners. We have no right to expect anything from God. In fact, Christ would just in condemning us. We should have no place at all in the kingdom of God. But Christ takes our sins upon Himself and carries them to the cross. He bears the punishment that should have been ours. Then He doesn’t just let us sit around, but puts us to work in His kingdom.

Why are there different levels of work and different times of employment. This represents two things. First, some are lifelong Christians. Some become Christians late in life. The task that the Lord assigns to each Christian will relate to when they became a Christian. Obviously, a person who becomes a Christian late in life, will not labor as long for the Lord as a life long Christian. Second, even among Christians, there are different tasks assigned by the Lord at different times. But these tasks are given in love for the good of each Christian. Christ knows what each Christian needs to be doing to strengthen their faith and the faith of those around them. He doesn’t give us tasks that are too hard for His purpose. Does God ever give us tasks that we will fail to accomplish? All the time. But that doesn’t mean that they are aren’t for our good. The tasks given to us will accomplish God’s purpose one way or the other, some by our success and some by our failure. But in each case, the task was given to us by God as a gift.

In the end, all true Christians, that is those who trust in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, go to heaven. Rewards beyond that are not revealed to us. Scripture seems to speak of higher honors in heaven for some, such as the martyrs. But it is not revealed to us how this works. So we cannot even seek a higher reward. We don’t know what it would be or how God will award such things. All we can be concerned about is getting to heaven. So in the end, from our earthly perspective, all believers get the same reward. We get the same reward, a place in heaven, because this is a gift of grace. We don’t earn it by our work. In fact, even the tasks God assigns to us are gifts of His grace. They are a mark that we are His child. They are given to strengthen us in the faith and to show us how God intends us to live. I suspect that such lessons might still be useful in heaven. So we as Christians should embrace the tasks we are given. We should not grumble. Nor should we even concern ourselves with the tasks given to others. That’s between them and God. We keep our focuse on Christ and the salvation He has given to us. That keeps everything in perspective. It reminds us that even our labor for the Lord is a gift of God’s grace.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Yeast Infection Crowd

The most pro abortion political organization is EMILY's List. They support only Democratic female candidates who are radically pro abortion. They want no restrictions on abortion up until delivery. They represent the most radical fringe of the feminist movement.

Where do they get their name? EMILY is actually an acronym. It stands for "early money is like yeast." Considering their political agenda, I think it completely appropriate to rewrite that - early money is like a yeast infection. Thus we shall dub them the yeast infection crowd.

Considering the fact that life begins at conception, this group can only be seen as pro murder of the innocent. God is the author of life, it is not our place to take it except in very narrow circumstances involving those with blood guilt. For Christians who ought be placing a high value on the life of the unborn, an EMILY's List endorsement should be the kiss of death.

Locally, our state assembly woman, Ann Hraychuck is an EMILY's List candidate. She received money from them in 2006. She also is quoted in a recent story on their web site stating how much EMILY's List helped her. Let's hope and pray that people become aware of this fact and vote her and this hellish agenda out of office.

The Biggest Lie of All

In this political season, as usual, we need shovels to dig through all the rhetoric. A great deal has been made about all the lies being told about Sarah Palin. But underlying this is an even greater lie that has been sustained for about 80 years.

The lie is this: The democratic party stands up for the little guy. Newsflash: That never was true. I understand where it comes from. In the 1920's the Republican party was so in the tank for big business that that nearly ran the country into the ground. In 1932 the new dealers came into power and passed all sorts of social programs that appeared to help average Americans. Never mind the fact that Roosevelt's economic policies were so disastrous that they extended the great depression several years beyond what it would have been if they had done nothing. Just think of how that extended our national nightmare.

In my life time, neither party has been consistently for the little guy. The dems have been class warfare demagogues and the Republicans have often been the tank for big business. But one area does stand out. The Republicans have consistently supported policies that promote wealth creation. One of the most basic ways this is seen in the desire by Republicans to lower tax rates. We must here distinguish between those who are already rich and those trying to become rich. Income tax is not really a tax on wealth. It is a tax on wealth creation. If you're already rich, you don't mind high tax rates. You don't pay them anyway. You shelter your money. You can afford to do that. And what the heck, if high tax rates keep others from becoming rich, you don't have to add on to the yacht club. But if you are tying to become rich, you don't have as much flexibility. If the rates are too high, wealth creation simply becomes impossible.

This is why the Republican party is the pary of the middle class while the dems are the party of the very rich and the very poor. The middle class desires wealth creation. The rich do not. They're already rich and therefore invested in the status quo. Then the rich convince the poor that only they really care for them. Neat trick. It's a lie, but somehow they've gotten away with it for eighty years.

Sermon for September 13-14

The Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost
September 13-14, 2008
Text: Matthew 18:21-35

Dear Friends in Christ,
In the past few weeks we have been reminded of the great power of nature. We have watched the power of hurricanes Gustav and now Ike hit our gulf cost. Another storm, hurricane Lowell came in off the Pacific and caused flooding in west Texas. In preparation for these great storms, warnings were issued and people were ordered to evacuate. In fact, the fears leading up to Ike were so great that the National Hurricane Center stated that anyone remaining in Galveston would face certain death. Such is the power of a hurricane. It can blow buildings over, wash them away in floods, roll them over with storm surge.

Why do we have such storms? Why do we have terrible blizzards in the winter? Thunderstorms and tornados in the summer? You might get the idea that someone doesn’t like us - that someone is angry with us. And you would be correct. Nature lashes out at man on account of sin. This is part of the curse that God placed upon this world when mankind fell into sin. Nature is no longer benign. It is an enemy to be conquered and restrained. But in the end, one or the other, nature always wins. It is a fruitless struggle.

Now we must be careful here. It not this or that sin that causes some event. Or if it is, this is hidden from us. I cannot say that Galveston was hit because there’s brothel there. God has not revealed this. What we do know is that all nature groans under the weight of sin. (Romans 8:21-22) So because this is a fallen and corrupted world, because this world is no longer perfect as God first created it, we struggle against the forces of nature.

We can from nature deduce that God is angry over the sinfulness of mankind. We can deduce that we need to repent of our sins. Yet, nature can never tell us if there is any hope. Nature calls us to repentance, but it cannot tell us if there is any value in repentance. If all we have from God is the witness of nature, we would be driven to despair.

This bring us to our text. It is a continuation of the conversation Christ had with his disciples in last week’s text. Peter poses the question of how many times we are to forgive others. Here we might look at Peter’s question like this: How many times should I forgive the same person for the same sin? Christ quickly changes the focus. It is though Christ countered with the question: Well, how many times does God forgive?

Christ uses a parable. As we have noted parables are stories that use common imagery, but have a sort of startling improbability to them. It’s like you think that you’re watching “Little House on the Prairie” but you suddenly realize no, you’re watching “Battle Star Galactica” and Cylons are attacking Walnut Grove.

In the parable a man is brought before his master and ordered to pay a debt he owes the master. The man is a tenant farmer in a feudal system. He is bound the land. It’s rather like a sharecropper, but with no option to relocate. It was a form of slavary. In this case the man had borrowed money from the landowner. In our terms it would be like several million dollars. It is a sum greater than a man would hope to earn in a life time. The ruler orders that the man and his family be sold at the slave auction along with all his possessions. As bad as the man’s situation is, to be sold at auction would be even worse. He would be separated from his family. He would lose all his possessions. He would be in the lowest state of servitude. He would be on the same level as a galley slave. He would have no hope of freeing himself. For to free himself, he would have to pay the debt. But even after the sale of himself, his family and his possessions, it would still be an impossible task. Compounding this, literally, would be interest on the original debt. In short, the man was screwed.

The man begs for mercy. Does he deserve mercy? No. He deserves to be sold into slavery. But the landlord forgives him this incredible debt. Here is the point of focus for us. This is where our attention needs to be. The odd thing in this parable is the grace and mercy of the master. This is the thing that should not have happened.

Yet, this is exactly the point. What we owe to God on account of our sins is insurmountable. Further, it’s like the company store in the old coal mining towns. The debt is passed down to one’s children. We call this original sin. So we are held accountable to God for our sins and our father’s sins. Do we not say this in the close of commandments? “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation...” (Exodus 20:5) Nevertheless, God, in Christ, forgives us our sins, as black as they are. Sin is not winked at. Christ pays the price that we could not pay, in our place. Again, here is the odd part of the story. We are forgiven. That shouldn’t happen. But it does. All who are in Christ, who plead Christ before the judgement, have their debt paid.

What follows is almost a distraction, but needs some comment nevertheless. Each person either gets it or they don’t. Those who understand what has been done for them will reflect this in their life. For a person to understand this, they must first see their own sin in relation to God’s demand. When they understand this, they also understand what has been forgiven. Then whatever sin one has endured from their fellow man seems trivial. Some treat forgiveness casually. They have no fear of God because they don’t see their sins. Such as these will see the sins of other as though through a magnifying glass. They will have no forgiveness for others. So the actions of the ungrateful servant are actually normal for one who never saw the magnitude of their sin in the first place. In just the same way, one who sees their own sins will naturally be forgiving. This is normal. What remains bizarre is that the master would forgive. He gains nothing. He does so purely out of love.

A final note about the fear of God. What happens to the ungrateful servant? He loses his master’s forgiveness. He is condemned and punished. We serve a fearsome master. He is absolutely just. It is right and proper that we should always fear His wrath. We never fear as much as should. All to often we are like the ungrateful servant with no fear of our Lord. He has the right to condemn us. He is righteous and just in doing so. But in Christ, there is forgiveness and life. We can come before our master and plead Christ. We still fear. For our Master is fearsome. But we can also love and trust in Him because His grace and mercy are just as total and complete as His righteousness and justice.

In the forces of nature unleashed upon our world, we see a clear sign of the wrath of God. He is angry over sin. God is to be feared always. But in God’s Word we learn that there is more to the story. We learn that we have a God who also loving and forgiving of sin. And so we do not flee from God. We come before Him with fear and trembling and plead Christ. For He has born our punishment and paid our debt. And seeing this reality changes who we are. We are set free from our sins to live and free others from sin.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sermon for September 6-7

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 6-7, 2008
Text: Matthew 18:1-20

Dear Friends in Christ,
What does it mean to be great? Both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are considered great speakers. But what does that mean? Many people will say that this or that president was a great president. We hear names like Reagan, Kennedy or Roosevelt. But I actually I consider only two presidents to be truly great - Washington and Lincoln. I guess I have high standards. Lyndon Johnson was president when I was born. In the time since, there is a growing consensus that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president of this era. Of course there are some who still consider Reagan to be the devil. But it is a great country where an actor who played second fiddle to a chimp can become a union leader, governor, then president.

The question of greatness is brought before Christ. Christ’s response is law. A lot of people don’t realize this. In fact, most of what Jesus said in His earthly ministry is law. People think if Jesus said it must be Gospel. But this is not the case.

Christ uses a child as an object lesson. According to tradition, this child would grow up to be Ignatius of Antioch - one of the earliest of the church fathers. But this is little more than trivia. The identity of the child is of no real import. The disciples asked about greatness, but Christ changes the subject. He says that they must humble themselves like a little child to enter heaven. What Christ is in essence saying is that you’d better first make certain you’re going to get to heaven before you start to think about being great or important in heaven. What does it mean to humble oneself like a child? A child is helpless. It needs the help of others. So too for us. We are born in sin. We are born enemies of God. We need to be washed by someone else to make us clean before God. Jesus does this in our baptism. We need to have our sins forgiven. We need to be raised from the death of sin to life in Christ. So a child is one who lets someone else take of them and raise them up. So also we need Christ to raise us up. In short we need to enter heaven the same way as a small child, through faith created in baptism.

Christ continues His law teaching warning against leading others into sin. At the heart of this is the teaching of false doctrine. False doctrine or false teaching leads people into sin. That’s part of what defines it as false. If someone taught something that was of no consequence, even if it proved to be false, no one would be overly concerned. This is a charge to pastors, but also to parents and grandparents. Here is your responsibility to your children and grandchildren: Teach them who God is, what God has done, and what God has promised, so that they would be led away from both sins of unbelief and sins of vice.

Now here’s the problem. We all sin much, every day. Everything, even our best works are stained with sin. Our faith is at best like that of the man who says to Christ: Yes Lord I believe, God help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24) Christ’s words would condemn us, because we cannot live up to them. We all fail. I am not the pastor that I should be. You are not the parents, grandparents, teachers and the like that you should be. Sin destroys everything that we do. No matter how hard we try to do right, we don’t do it. All too often we do lead others into sin.

The law of God condemns us. We can never fulfill it good enough. It’s not like a race where if you come in first or break a world record, it’s good enough. Michael Phelps, with his chest full of gold medals, is good enough at swimming. He has the medals to prove it. But God’s standard is objective and unbending. It is perfection. No human being in this fallen world could ever live up to God’s standard. Christ preaches the law to us so that we see our sins. This is the point, at the end our text, in going to our brother. We are to go so that they see their sins. Christ considers this crucially important. Now, we never do see all our sins, or see our sin perfectly. But it is crucial that we see some of our sins. The law is a mirror. It shows us our life in the light of God’s standard. Nor is this just about doing better. Because being not good enough, but better, is still not good enough. It’s like the difference between getting forty percent and sixty percent on a test in school. They’re both still “F”s. So Christ’s purpose is something quite different.

“If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Here Christ gives us a clue what this is really all about. When one sees their sins and comes to repentance, Christ is there to forgive our sins and place us into fellowship with Him. That fellowship extends to each other on the basis of the forgiveness of sins. You are all my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we have had, and continue to have, our sins forgiven by Christ.

The Church is not a social club. It’s a gathering of the forgiven. It’s rather like a group of cancer survivors. They first had to know that they have cancer and seek treatment for it. The Church is a gathering of those who know that they are sinners who need forgiveness. Knowing that we are in need of forgiveness is the work of the law. Now something should be said here about the idea of gathering. Christ speaks here in the passive. People are gathered. They don’t gather themselves together. They are called together by the law showing them their sins and the promise of forgiveness. Christ gathers them. Christ does not promise to be present where we choose. But He does promise to be present, in grace, where He has gathered His people together. He does that gathering through Word and Sacrament. He brings us through the Church door through the waters of baptism.

What does it mean to be great in the kingdom of heaven? I don’t know. It’s not really something for us to know. It’s hidden in God the Father. We need to focus ourselves simply on getting there in the first place. The problem with that is twofold. We are sinners, enemies of God. Second, we don’t get ourselves to heaven. And so we become like the child. We turn to the promises Christ made to us in our baptism and trust in those promises. We trust in that washing of regeneration. We trust in the forgiveness of our sins. Trust is what a child does. We are children of God. He is our true Father. Christ is our true brother. In this trust, we find the kingdom of God, already here on earth. For it is, first and foremost a kingdom of people convicted of sin by the law and led to the forgiveness won for us by Jesus Christ.

Sermon for August 30-31

The Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost
August 30-31, 2008
Text: Matthew 16:21-28

Dear Friends in Christ,
Jesus wants you to be rich. We hear this from the televangelists. If we’re really Christians we should be able to use God to get whatever we want as though God were a vending machine. Insert one prayer, get one blessing. This is sometimes called name and claim it theology. But if material possessions and earthly success are marks of God’s blessing, then what about the Mormons? There are many wealthy Mormons like Mitt Romney. What about wealthy atheists and agnostics? If we go back to the movie “Rosmary’s Baby” Mia Farrow’s husband makes a pact with the devil for success in his acting career. So which is it? Is earthly success a mark of God’s blessing or Satan’s blessing?

At the root of this is an increasing ignorance of the Bible. Recently, one very large evangelical mega church did a survey of their members. They were shocked to realize that most of the members of their church were not really Christians at all and knew so little of Scripture that they couldn’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. They instituted a new and revolutionary program to correct this problem. It’s called Bible study. (Where’s a rim shot when you need it?)

When we study the Bible it becomes clear that blessings and curses often come in different forms. Sometimes one man’s curse is another man’s blessing. Pastor Mueller likes to tell this Chinese fable: A peasant woke up one morning and found that a horse had wondered into his farm yard. All the neighbors came by and said what a blessing! The farmer replied: “Is this a blessing or a curse.” The farmer and his son trained the horse and yes they were able to do more work and were more prosperous. Then one night the horse disappeared. The neighbors all came by and said what a curse, you lost your horse? The farmer said: Is this a blessing or a curse?” A day later the horse was back with whole herd of horses. The neighbors came by and said what a blessing, you have a whole herd of horses. The farmer said: “Is this a blessing or a curse?” Then his son was thrown from one of horses as he was training it and broke his ankle. The neighbors all came by and said, what a terrible curse your only son is now a cripple. The farmer replied: “Is this a blessing or a curse?” Then a warlord came by and took all the horses and conscripted all the able bodied young men into his army. The farmer was blessed to still have his son. The point of this is that sometimes things that appear to be curses, end up being blessings.

Our world seeks a sort saccharine, banal existence. Blessings are usually seen in very superficial terms. In out text Christ deal decisively with false notions of what is good. He tells the disciples about His upcoming suffering and death. He is plain about it. He is going to Jerusalem to suffer, die and rise from the dead. Now Peter, like most of us, doesn’t see suffering and death as a good thing. How can this be part of God’s plan? Peter tries to turn Christ from this path. But Christ rebuke’s Peter, calling him Satan. He tell’s Peter to get behind Him. This is significant. Peter can be Satan’s agent, standing in the way of what must be done, or He can follow behind Christ, as a disciple. Christ is telling Peter to get out of the way and take the place of a disciple. Peter still had to learn what was truly good, what was truly a blessing.

The victory of the Christian is fully realized in heaven. The most victory that we can have in this life is peace of heart and confidence that in Christ’s death and resurrection our salvation is secure. Material wealth and success could be a blessing or a curse. It is a curse if it takes us away from our Savior. We know from history that some Christians have had peaceful lives. Some Christians have had great material wealth. But many have not had either peace nor wealth. And even those who have had outward peace, often have inner struggles with their own sinful hearts. This is the normal state of affairs. We must give up ourselves and our own sinful ambitions if we are to follow Christ. Many Christians over the centuries have had to literally put their lives on the line. It is a struggle to be Christian even in the best of times. In the worst, it is down right deadly.

We must be careful with our use of language here. We do not struggle against sin and worldliness of our own power. In fact, we have no power to do so. It is only to that degree that Christ lives within us that we can struggle against our own sinfulness. It is the Holy Spirit who installs Christ in our hearts. So we speak of the Holy Spirit as preserving us in the faith. And again we must resist the ways of the evangelicals. They would first make the power to struggle our own instead of the Holy Spirit. Second they would codify this as though we were making progress toward some goal. Some would go so far as to say that if we are mature enough in our faith we can stop sinning. Far from this, true maturity of faith is when we fully see all of our sins. Most Christians, I would dare to say even myself, only see the tip for their own sinfulness. God limits us so that we would not be driven to despair. But as our faith becomes stronger He shows us more fully how truly sinful we are. There is no code or grading system for this. Since we cannot fully see our own hearts, we cannot grade ourselves. And others see even less. So only God truly sees. All we can do is continue our life in Christ and struggle on.

Take up your cross and follow Me. These are hard words. They require us to surrender our life to God’s design. For indeed either we are standing in Christ’s way or following behind Him. Most people don’t want to struggle. Even many Christians will turn from the struggle. For in the end we are wrestling with ourselves and our own hearts. It would be worthless, but for Christ. For why should we struggle against sin if there is no hope. In fact, if all there is were hope, there would be no point in the struggle. For we are not strong enough to defeat our own hearts for some vague hope. No, we do not struggle for hope. We struggle because Christ has won the victory by dying on the cross for our sins. He has washed us clean and made us His brothers - fellow sons of God the father. And here we must use sons, because in Scripture, a son is an heir. This is what Christ has made us, sons and heirs whether we are male or female in this life. We are the heirs of the kingdom of God. This is not a vague hope but a battle already won, a peace treaty already signed with Christ’s blood. So we can follow after Christ and take up our crosses. For this struggle is the smallest matter compared to what Christ has already done for us.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ideas that Kill

The other day, a guy came up to me as I was speaking with a local candidate. (He wasn't coming to to speak with me.) In the opening salvo he made the statement that everyone wants universal health care. I shot back, "I don't." The guy didn't know what to say.

Socialized medicine sounds good, particularly to people who pay, as my church does, $7000 per person for medical coverage. But it's really a deadly idea. Socialized medicine would kill the drug development pipeline. Let's take one new drug - PTC 124. (I'm sure it will soon have a more exciting name.) This drug, more or less, turns off something called mis-sense mutations. This would be an defacto cure, at least as long as someone was taking the drug, for 70% of Cystic Fibrosis patients, a number Hemophilia patients, a certain percentage of Muscular Dystrophy patients, and so forth. Literally dozens of medical conditions will benefit from this revolutionary drug. It's about 2 years from final approval, but all indications are that it is both safe and effective. In socialized medicine, new drugs are often not covered for several years. The bureaucracy will always lag behind. In some cases, because a drug is very expensive, it may never be approved for coverage. In addition, many times, laws are put into place preventing people from seeking their own care at their own expense. So even if we could get the drug someplace, regulations would prevent people from getting it. Further, since the bureaucracy would control prices, it would become impossible for a corporation to recoup the millions if not billions of dollars it takes to develop a new drug. So companies will simply halt all trials and research.

Nor should we see this as simply a political or social issue. It's a religious issue as well. The Seventh Commandment (Thou shalt not steal) teaches us each person has the right to the fruit of their labor. A corporation is a legal person and many of the same moral laws apply. So when a corporation invests in developing a new drug, which includes a great deal of risk, they have a moral right to the fruit of their labor. Socialized medicine would steal the fruit their labor from the drug companies. This makes it also a moral and religious issue as well.

1968 and 2008

In a very real sense this presidential campaign is a battle between 1968 and 2008. Obama's message is final culmination of the work of Abby Hoffman, Bobby Seal, et. al. And there is a sense that they have been working for this for forty years. Bill Clinton offered a little hope, but Clinton was really with ideals. When push came to shove, he signed on to Republican ideas because it gave him a positive legacy.

In contrast, Sarah Palin is a child of the Reagan era. It's hard for people to grasp the effect of Reagan on a generation, unless they are just that age. I'm two months older than Palin. So I think I know the national milieu in which she came of age. Our parent told us about the great victories and accomplishments of our nation. My grandfather would puff out his chest and talk about building sub chasers and destroyer escorts at Defoe shipyard, so we could win World War II. Yet, we had a generation of radicals on the news determined to lose the war we were currently fighting. Yet, every person I knew personally supported our war in Vietnam. Then we went though Watergate. People were pretty demoralized. But we got a reprieve with the Bi-Centennial celebration. But the respit was short. The economy tanked. My father was one of the few adults I knew that wasn't laid off from their job. I knew of no young people that had a job. Then came this guy from California. Standing with the Statue of Liberty in the background he said something that made us laugh and sent chills up our 16 year old spins at the same time: "A recession is when your neighbor is out of work, a depression is when you are out of work, and recovery is when Jimmy Carter is out of work!" I got that same feeling when I heard Sarah Palin say: "I guess a small town mayor is a little like a community organizer, but with real responsibilities." This was a Reagan like zinger, delivered with charm and a smile.

The time is running out on 1968. That set of ideas, which was bad to start with, is aging fast and without much grace. But the Reagan babies area just coming of age. 2008 is the year for the Reagan revolution to burst back on the scene with a new generation of inspiring leaders.