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Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Recommended: Architects of Ruin

I would love to give Architects of Ruin: How Big Government Liberals Wrecked the Global Economy and How They Will Do It Again if No One Stops Them a full review, but the more I contemplate it, the more it seems like the work of hours. The story it tells is simple enough. Alinsky-influenced radicals started out by using various forms of pressure--like, for example, getting hundreds of people to open up savings accounts with only a buck, and then coming back the next day to close those accounts, which more or less shut those banks down for real business--to induce banks to lower their lending standards so people less likely to be able to pay a mortgage could get one. Then they managed to get law passed that made it necessary for banks, before they could do things like mergers, open new branches, and so forth, to get the community to agree that they'd been properly socially conscious, which ultimately led to banks committing more funds to risky loans in order not to have their applications for such business moves stymied by activist groups. Then the Clinton administration came along and very aggressively implemented that law, going as far as to threaten perfectly good banks with all sorts of investigations and suits in order to pressure them to make such loans. Then people started packaging those bad loans into various kinds of securities and selling those. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were hip deep in this sort of thing. Then the Clinton administration kept bailing out Wall Street investment firms--I believe Goldman Sachs got bailed out three or four times during the Clinton administration, if I recall correctly--which encouraged more and more investment in those bad, but politically correct, socially conscious loans. Then a Republican congress failed to ride roughshod over Barney Frank and Maxine Waters, which they certainly should have done, but apparently they were afraid of being called RAAAAAAAAAcists, to get those laws repealed, and the whole mess festered until it all imploded and threatened to take down the world's financial system with it.

Like I say, the story itself is pretty simple. But I have rarely run across--how shall I put this?--so fact-dense a book. If you pull quotes from the book, you are almost inevitably going to find that you need to quote something else explaining some term or some bit of history. It's hard to review a book like that in any detail, so I'm going to just point out one thing and give you one quote.

Ever since President Obama--and yes, this book will give you some interesting information on just what being a shakedown artist community organizer meant to him--started aggressively pushing the statist takeover of the health care system that he calls "reform," I can't tell you the number of people who--blogospherically speaking, nobody says this sort of thing to my face, at least not yet--give an exasperated shrug of their shoulders, place their hands on their hips, and sigh, and say, "I just don't see what you could possibly have against us helping poor people with their medical care! I mean, wouldn't that be tragic if we did that!" They act as if the simple fact that I do understand what would be tragic about that means I am some kind of amoral monster.

Well, the people that started the problems that caused that financial meltdown were prone to the same sort of thinking. Many of them started out saying, "I just don't see what you could possibly have against us helping poor people get mortgages! I mean, wouldn't that be tragic if we did that!"

Well, it did turn out to be tragic--ironically most hurting, as liberal social and financial policies usually do, the very people that were supposed to be helped. And the health care fiasco, which, I assure you, is not dead, but only sleeping, will do the same thing. So will "green energy." If you have not previously understood how this sort of thing works, Architects of Ruin will go a long way to helping you understand. It's only 184 pages; you can almost certainly check it out of your local library.

Go get it. Your time won't be wasted.

The quote? It's this, which I wish everyone, conservative or liberal, would take to heart, for too few understand it:
It's important here to draw a critical distinction: there is an enormous difference between being probusiness and pro-free market. The former position, which the Clinton administration embraced, is concerned primarily with the health of large businesses, in this case the big financial houses. Being pro-free market means being concerned with the health of the capitalist system as a whole and its underlying principles of profit and loss, risk and reward.
Too few putative conservatives understand this, too. Too many of them assume that what's good for business--and they often mean corporate giants--is good for America. What they often fail to appreciate is that there is more than one way to get, or to stay, big. A business may get or stay big by efficiently serving the needs or desires of many people. They may also--sometimes--get or--more often--stay big by working to rig the system by actually trying to make their field more regulated (so as to freeze out smaller competitors) or rigging the tax system, or, as in the case of some of these big financial houses, accepting a horrid alliance with government that leads to foolish risks being taken on the assumption that government will bail them out when the risks prove fatal.

That's not capitalism anymore.


  1. I like that quote. I think that it is safe to saw that W was also guilty of being pro-business and not pro-free market. I too wish that more people understood the difference.

    A lot of times my eyes glaze over when it comes to books like this because they seem to almost always be exercises in finger pointing instead of being constructive. Some of the things that you’ve quoted from this book fall into that category IMHO, but this quote was good.

  2. Hello, from a Texas Okie,

    You wrote:
    "They may also--sometimes--get or--more often--stay big by working to rig the system by actually trying to make their field more regulated (so as to freeze out smaller competitors)"

    We actually studied this in college -- how to use PR, the tax system, and legislation to your business' advantage. Quite a shock to me to find that all this had been institutionalized many moons ago, so much so that students were required to study it in biz school.

    Iechyd da