Notify the Parents

Penna Dexter
Twenty-two states, so far, have enacted restrictions on performing so-called “gender-affirming” medical interventions on minors. Many of these laws have faced court challenges and there’s good news: Two federal appellate courts have upheld these laws.
This legislation not only prevents young people from medical and psychological harm, it protects the rights of parents, who in many cases are not told by schools that their children are actively pursuing gender transitions.
Should a school ever keep parents in the dark when a child asks to be treated as a different gender? These 22 states said ‘no.’ In California, state officials say ‘yes.’ Some school boards are pushing back.
Orange Unified School District has become the sixth California district to require that parents be notified if a child takes steps toward identifying as a member of the opposite sex. This follows Rocklin Unified School District, near Sacramento, which passed a policy, by a vote of 4 -1 which requires that schools contact parents within three days if their child asks to use a name, pronouns, or single-sex facilities “that do not align with the child’s biological sex.”
These actions stand in opposition to Governor Gavin Newsome’s stance against parental notification policies.
In July, Chino Valley Unified School District, near San Bernardino, became the first California district to approve one of these common-sense parental rights policies. State Attorney General Rob Bonta recently obtained a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the Chino district’s policy. Lance Christenson of the California Policy Center told The Washington Stand, “Gov. Newsome and other state officials are on a mission to strip parents of their rights and give control over their kids to the government.” He said the attorney general is attempting to “scare other school boards that are considering adopting parental rights policies.”
This is a state government attempting to hide vital information from parents and to facilitate minors’ gender transitions without notifying their parents.  May additional school boards join the rebellion. 

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War on Meritocracy

Kerby Anderson
Jason Riley wrote about the war on meritocracy. In previous commentaries, I have discussed this disturbing trend to no longer evaluate students based on merit. Jason Riley, as an African American, adds an important perspective to this ongoing debate.
While so many are criticizing Governor Ron DeSantis for a few sentences in a 200-page black history curriculum, there is a bigger issue. Just a little over a third (39%) of Miami-Dade County fourth graders are proficient in reading. By eighth grade, the percentage (31%) drops even further. Jason Riley asks, “Who cares if kids have access to books by Toni Morrison or Jodi Picoult if most of them can’t comprehend the contents?”
He goes on to remind us that the problem in Miami isn’t an isolated educational problem. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (what I have frequently referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card”), scores for black fourth graders trailed that of white fourth graders by 29 points. After spending so much money and manpower, the report acknowledged that the “performance gap was not significantly different from that in 1998.”
Bureaucrats, educators, and activists have a solution. If certain minority students do poorly on tests, then get rid of the standardized tests and lower the standards. He quotes economist Walter Williams who lamented that we have been giving black students “phony grades and ultimately fraudulent diplomas.”
This war on meritocracy has been taking place throughout the educational spectrum. This isn’t just a problem in K-12 education, but Jason Riley talks about how the war is even being waged in our medical schools. We need to hold students to a higher standard of excellence and return to a foundation of meritocracy.

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Image of God

Kerby Anderson
Humans are created in the image of God. That is one of the foundational principles in developing a biblical worldview. Understanding that key insight provides a biblical perspective on issues ranging from abortion to race relations to artificial intelligence.
That is what you will discover by reading the new book, Created in the Image of God: Applications and Implications for our Cultural Confusion. The various essays are edited by David Dockery and Lauren McAfee. She was on my radio program to talk about the importance of the doctrine of human dignity.
Ben Mitchell writes about what it means to be human. A century ago, virtually everyone would know the answer to that question. But secular, progressive ideas have challenged the biblical idea of human nature. This has profound implications especially in the field of bioethics.
Scott Rae explains the sanctity of human life. This perspective has been under attack since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and has intensified with the 2022 Supreme Court decision to overturn that decision. He also explains how the devaluing of human dignity at the beginning of life has led to the devaluing of human dignity at the end of life.
Katie McCoy explains what it means to be male and female. This is an issue that would have seemed obvious to anyone a few decades ago. But we don’t live in that world today, which is why this essay was included in the book.
And there is also the question of what it means to be a person. Jacob Shatzer writes about artificial intelligence, transhumanism, and the question of person. Once again, this would seem to most people a few decades ago as obvious.
The biblical understanding of the image of God is so important, especially in our day. That is why I encourage you to get a copy of the book.

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Discipline Disaster

Kerby Anderson
Maintaining any semblance of discipline in the public schools is becoming harder and harder each year. Daniel Buck acknowledges that “schools always have had to and always will need to manage misbehavior, and some students will push any boundary you set for them.” But changes in policies along with problems that surfaced after the pandemic lockdown make the current discipline problems greater than ever.
One teachers’ organization reports that their members “have been kicked, hit, scratched, and had objects like globes or furniture thrown at them.” Another educators’ organization reports that incidence of classroom violence has doubled since the pandemic.
But even for teachers who do not face violence and other forms of misbehavior, there is the problem of chaos in the classroom. Students grow impatient with learning simply because they cannot hear their teacher over the classroom noise.
Significant changes in classroom policy began in 2014 when the Obama administration issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that threatened legal action against school districts if their discipline policies resulted in different outcomes. Put simply, if a significant percentage of minority students received punishment for misbehavior, the federal government will sue you.
I believe the bigger issue involves a false view of human nature. Administrators, educators, and bureaucrats often have a liberal, progressive view of human behavior. As Daniel Buck observes, “Misbehavior stems not from sin or human imperfection but from broken systems and root causes.”
To fix this problem we need to begin by recognizing that “misbehavior is inherent to children and to humanity in general.” We will never remove it, but we can demand discipline and institute punishments. We need to hold children and their parents accountable for classroom behavior.

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National Trends

Kerby Anderson
In one of her songs, Carole King asked, “Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?” It’s a good question. People in America move around even more than when she wrote that song. I have discussed these national trends in a previous Point of View booklet on “American Realignment.” Americans have been moving from high-tax states to low-tax states. Conservatives and Christians have been having more kids than liberals and secularists.
Those trends continue. For example, the states with the highest personal income growth are Texas, Idaho, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas. California ranked last along with Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Hawaii.
California’s food and accommodation growth was the second lowest in the country, likely due to the creation of a state council that dictates wages and work conditions at fast-food franchises. California employers may be struggling to find workers because so many have moved to lower-cost and low-tax states.
Yesterday, I talked about some global trends and explained that futurists guessed wrong about which nations would be dominant in this century. Those same futurists also suggested that mayors would be more influential in the world and this country because of the significant growth of major cities.
That has not happened. A professor at Columbia University has observed a “doom loop” in New York City. More people work from home, office space is less valuable, and the city gets less revenue from real estate taxes. People with money, whose work no longer requires them to be in the city, move out, taking their tax dollars and retail spending with them. In ten of the largest cities, half of all offices sit empty. America’s big cities lost two million people between 2020 and 2022.
This is not what the world futurists predicted, and we should take note.

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Global Trends

Kerby Anderson
Futurists attempting to predict our global future haven’t been very accurate. Last month while talking about the new book by Senator Marco Rubio, I mentioned the fact that a few decades ago various authors predicted the “end of history” where there would be a liberal global order.
Instead, we have a world that looks more like the book, The Clash of Civilizations, written by Harvard Professor Samuel Huntington. These nations do not share the same global worldview. Some are turned inward, while others are working to be the dominant force in the world.
Futurists assumed the world would be run by the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US). But its percentage of global GDP has dropped significantly over the last two decades. And it is unlikely that the woke policies of the current government and corporations are going to reverse that trend any time soon.
By contrast, the greatest percentage increase in global GDP has been among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). China produces more manufactured goods than Japan, Germany, and the US combined. There are more billionaires in Beijing than in New York City.
As I have mentioned in previous commentaries, China faces significant economic and demographic problems. It has the fastest-aging society in all of human history. Its working age population peaked in 2011 and is declining every year.
On the other hand, India is now the most populous country in the world. It is consistently ranked as the fastest growing large economy in the world. It does have a young population to make the country prosperous.
It is easy to see which nations are rising in influence and which ones are declining in influence. This isn’t what the futurists predicted.

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Maternity Deserts

Penna Dexter
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that: “More hospitals are getting out of the maternity business.” Maternity wards are closing across America, especially in sparsely-populated or aging communities.
Hospital executives report difficulties recruiting enough staff to safely operate. It’s hard to attract doctors and nurses to hospitals where births are declining.
Order of St. Francis Healthcare, which operates in Illinois, is finding it necessary to close certain maternity units. According to OSF’s chief operating officer, “There’s just not enough babies to be had.”
The March of Dimes defines maternity deserts as counties that have no hospital or birthing center, and that lack O.B.s and nurse midwives. As of 2020 there were 1052 counties on the March of Dimes’ list — 70 more than 4 years earlier. These counties were home to approximately 2.2 million women of childbearing age.
This is a dangerous situation. The Journal cites research showing that women who do give birth in remote, rural areas that have lost maternity wards are more likely to deliver too early or to encounter serious complications, such as acute kidney failure.
The growth of maternity deserts reflects our declining marriage rate, which translates to lower birth rates. A new study shows that 25 percent of Americans are turning 40 without ever having married. This is up from 20 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 1980.
Married couples are having fewer children. Or no children. Some cite global problems like “climate change.” Others say they can’t afford kids.
Author Rod Dreher highlighted the Journal’s story in a recent blogpost, stating, “I have never understood how it is that every generation in the West had much more materially difficult lives than we do today, and yet they all chose to have families.”
Thomas à Kempis wrote of those “always searching for ease and not the things of Christ.” Let this generation not be, as Rod Dreher described them, “too rich and comfortable to want kids.”

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Generation Isolation

Kerby Anderson
I imagine that every older generation complains about the younger generation. But something is different. The youngest generation in America is desperately worried about themselves. That is the conclusion Mary Wakefield draws from the latest research done by Dr. Jean Twenge in her book, Generations.
She says we are right to be concerned. “Almost 30 percent of American girls have clinical depression and it’s the same across the Anglosphere. The suicide rate for ten-to-24-year-olds has tripled.” These are staggering statistics.
In previous commentaries, I have quoted Jean Twenge, who noticed major shifts in attitudes and behaviors starting in 2012. She wrote about this in her book, iGen, which identified the problems that surfaced due to the smartphone. It is clear, “The more hours a day a teen spends on social media, the more likely it is that he or she is depressed.”
Here is an interesting irony. Young people spend lots of time communicating online, yet they are lonely and isolated. According to her book, Generations, Twenge concluded that “One of the eye-popping facts is that teens are much lonelier now than they were 15 years ago.”
Why is this true? She explains, “Interacting face to face tends to be more co-operative and more emotionally close. It’s more honest but it’s also more agreeable. People have a very strong tendency online to say cruel things that they would never say to someone’s face.”
Mary Wakefield asked Jean Twenge if her kids have social media. Even the oldest of her three daughters does not have social media. They seem to be doing fine without it, believe it would be a waste of time, and consider it like junk food.
We know why teenagers are unhappy. Parents and grandparents should take note.

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Resistance to Adoption

Kerby Anderson
When we look back at the history of new technologies, we find a similar pattern. First, there are the early adopters, then a majority adopt the technology, finally you have the skeptics, often referred to as the luddites.
Often the biggest problem with technological adoption is the fact that the government or entrenched interests fight the adoption and even engage in scare tactics. Before we look at some current examples, let’s look at some history.
It is hard to imagine now, but there was not only resistance but significant fear about bringing electricity into homes. One headline said: “Man picks up telephone, dies from shock.” You can see sketch drawings of people dying merely by walking near a power pole.
When Karl Benz brought out the first automobile, there wasn’t much of a threat to existing industries. But as more cars were produced in America, you could see ads worrying that the nation was making “sacrifices to the modern Moloch,” which was a reference to the Canaanite deity who demanded child sacrifices. And there were the warnings of an increase in what were called “motor killings.”
More recently, we have had a long list of warnings about the Internet along with so many commentators that dismissed it as a fad. One headline observed that the “Internet may be a just a passing fad as millions give up on it.” Even Wired magazine concluded, “Most things that succeed don’t require retraining 250 million people.”
By the end of this decade, we will see more innovations in areas ranging from artificial intelligence to digital currency. We will need biblical wisdom to evaluate the impact of so many of these and would be wise to learn from lessons from the past about technological adoption.

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Record High Suicide Rate

Kerby Anderson
The latest statistics from the CDC are disturbing. The US suicide rate hit a record high in 2022. That is why many experts are calling it a “silent public health crisis.” Nearly 50,000 Americans committed suicide last year. That is the highest number on record. To put that in context, that amounts to one suicide every ten minutes.
The suicide rate grew fastest among older Americans. The suicide rate for adults 65 and older grew by 8 percent, and the rate for adults 45-64- years old was up 7 percent. In the past, we have talked about suicides among young people affected by social media and the pandemic. That is still the case, but the rising suicide rate among older Americans is also becoming an issue.
Most Americans (9 in 10) believe our country is facing a mental health crisis. These statistics illustrate that this perception is correct. And there are a multitude of factors ranging from genetics to finances to social isolation. As we have discussed in previous commentaries, the latest reports once again link time spent in social media to suicidal thoughts among teenagers, particularly girls.
It is also fair to say that we don’t know all the reasons for the increase in suicides. But if you link suicide to other “deaths of despair” that include drug overdoses and alcohol abuse, you can see a pattern. In our increasingly secular society, people have less to live for. Suicide becomes an option when life is sterile, superficial, and soulless.
We are living amid a suicide epidemic. Families, churches, and social groups can provide a biblical answer. And each of us should be watching people of any age crying for help and attention.

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Debt and Debasement

Kerby Anderson
Each year the federal government adds more to the national debt, causing serious concerns about how the president and Congress will deal with it. Many of the social and cultural issues facing us are unprecedented. At least with the national debt, we do have some historical examples provided by economist Kevin Hassett.
When Rome began the First Punic War, its coins contained 12 ounces of metal. After the war, Rome reduced the metal content of its currency to 2 ounces. By the end of the Third Punic War, coins only had a half ounce. This is a classic example of currency debasement.
Sometimes massive debts lead first to debasement and then default. After World War I, the allies extracted heavy reparations from the Germans. Over time the deutschmark dropped in value and eventually was worth a trillionth of its initial value. When Germany was no longer able to pay its debts, it defaulted.
One historical review of 176 sovereign nations found that there have been 248 defaults. But will the US become one of those nations? Kevin Hassett reminds us that has happened in the past and might happen again in the future. If default is not an option, then debasement of the currency is the only other option.
He believes the flight from dollars to other commodities (like gold and bitcoin) illustrates those concerns. He reminds us that, “At the start of the previous administration, the price of gold was about $1,200 per ounce. Today it is closing in on $2,000.” In 2017, Bitcoin “was trading at $1,000 per coin” and now is trading at nearly 30x that amount.
As the US debt continues to climb, the government has the only option that is available to other countries: debasement of the currency.

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Financial Fragility

Kerby Anderson
American families are facing a state of financial fragility that is worse than they have ever experienced. Earlier this year, Bankrate issued its annual report. They found that a sizable majority (57%) of US adults are currently unable to afford a $1,000 emergency expense. They also found that two-thirds (68%) were worried they wouldn’t be able to cover their living expenses for one month if they lost their primary source of income.
Many years ago, the Federal Reserve Board conducted a similar survey of Americans. They found that nearly half of the respondents said that the only way they could cover an unexpected expense would be by borrowing or selling something. They could not come up with the money any other way.
At that time, Neal Gabler, writing in The Atlantic, asked: Who knew? He then answered that he knew because he was one of the people. He knew what it was like to dread going to the mailbox because it usually had more new bills and rarely a check to pay for them. He knew what it was like to tell his daughter that he may not be able to pay for her wedding.
His point was you wouldn’t know this by looking at him. You could look at his resume as a writer and conclude he was doing fine. He is in the middle-class with five books and hundreds of articles to his name. That is why he wrote about what he calls, “the secret shame of middle-class Americans.”
He represents so many US adults who are financially fragile and “living close to the financial edge.” And it is worth mentioning that this is not just a liquidity problem: they don’t have enough ready cash in their checking and savings accounts. They are living in a world where the cost of living is rising faster than their wages.
When we say that American workers are hurting, it is much worse than we might suspect.

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Saw It Coming

Penna Dexter
Here is a real life story of one of the unjust repercussions of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down the marriage laws of every state. According to Obergefell, states cannot deny marriage licenses to same sex couples.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion, allowed that some people oppose same sex marriage for “decent and honorable” reasons. These folks still have First Amendment Rights, he promised. Consider the Burkes:
Michael Burke served in Iraq as a Marine. Kitty Burke worked as a paraprofessional helping special needs children. The Burkes sought to adopt a child through the state of Massachusetts’ foster care program. In their application, they said they were willing to adopt children of any race or ethnicity. They’d take siblings and even kids with certain special needs.
The Burkes are devout Roman Catholics. They frequently work as musicians at local churches. Wall Street Journal columnist William Mc Gurn wrote of the Burke’s faith: “Once upon a time that would be an endorsement. Today it’s an indictment.” The Burkes were rejected as unfit to be adoptive parents. The author of their license study was concerned regarding LGBTQ issues. She noted: “their faith is not supportive and neither are they.”
Justice Samuel Alito saw this coming.
In his dissent in Obergefell, Justice Alito wrote that the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.”
Sure, people can think what they’d like about same sex marriage. Justice Alito argued, “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers and schools.”
The Burkes’ lawyer at the Becket Fund describes this “new orthodoxy” as a government-imposed “replacement ideology.” Christians must refuse to accept this. The Burkes’ lawsuit should help.

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The Price of Greatness

Kerby Anderson
Two of the founding fathers that deserve more attention are Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. While the Hamilton musical provides us with some perspective and entertainment, I would recommend the book by Jay Cost, The Price of Greatness: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the Creation of American Oligarchy. Jay was on the Point of View radio program to talk about his book.
These two men belonged to a political movement with three fundamental foundations. The first was the commitment to liberal government that emphasized the protection of individual rights. The Declaration of Independence argued that “governments are instituted among men” in order to secure certain “unalienable rights.” That idea, written by Thomas Jefferson, was influenced by the writings of John Locke.
The second foundation was a belief in self-government, often referred to as republicanism. A republic allowed the citizens to be governed by laws that they actually had a hand in creating. A monarch did not hand down these laws. They were established by “we the people.”
The third foundation was nationalism. The 13 separate colonies agreed to bind themselves together in a national union of 13 states. This is where there was the greatest division between the Federalists and the Antifederalists. And they ended up dividing Hamilton from Madison.
Hamilton emphasized national vigor and was eager to promote the Bank of the United States and other programs that would grow the national government. Madison, on the other hand, wanted to pursue what could be called “republican balance.” He feared that Hamilton’s policies favored the wealthy.
In reading this book by Jay Cost, I was struck by the reality that many of the debates in the founding of this country continue to this day. Many of the ideas put forward by Hamilton and Madison are still debated today in the halls of Congress.

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War on Humans

Kerby Anderson
Are humans the enemy? Should animals have constitutional rights? Should peas be granted personhood? These questions may sound ludicrous. Nevertheless, professors and leaders in environmental rights groups are asking these questions and providing bizarre answers.
Wesley J. Smith was on Point of View radio talk show to discuss his documentary “The War on Humans.” You can watch it on YouTube and also order the companion e-book. You will quickly see or read that these questions are not satire or science fiction. There are people who believe that humans are the problem, and the only solution is to grant legal rights to animals and plants. Some go so far as to suggest that we find some way to reduce the human population by 90 percent.
Smith documents these claims in his video and e-book. Anti-human activists want to place all our valuable natural resources (from oil to land) off limits for human use. Farmers could be held liable for plowing new fields because it might lead to the death of rodents, snakes, and even weeds.
These ideas do not spring from the biblical concept of having dominion over the earth and being a good steward of God’s creation. Instead, the environmental movement of the 1960s portrays humans as a “disease” or as “parasites” or as a “cancer” hurting Mother Nature. It then evolved into the “nature rights” movement that desires to give fauna and flora “the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles.” We end up with a pantheistic idea that eliminates any distinction between humans and other life forms.
These ideas don’t just surface in academic settings or environmental rallies. They end up in our laws. That is why we need to counter these erroneous ideas and defend the biblical principle of human dignity.

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Great Relearning

Kerby Anderson
Jonah Goldberg reminded his readers of a famous essay by Tom Wolfe entitled “The Great Relearning.” It was an essay about the Summer of Love in 1968 in San Francisco. It had great significance to me since I grew up in the San Francisco area during that time, but it also has significance to all of us concerned about our culture.
He said that doctors at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic “were treating diseases no living doctor had ever encountered before, diseases that disappeared so long ago they never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scruff, the rot.” He concluded that this happened because “the hippies, as they became known, sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes and restraints of the past and start out from zero.”
They rejected everything from modern society, including basic hygiene. They had lots of sex with each other and shared everything from bedsheets to toothbrushes to food utensils. They were the beneficiaries of centuries of scientific investigation and wise application of sound medical and scientific knowledge. But they decided to tear down some fences and paid a heavy price.
Supposedly G.K. Chesterton warned, “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” Unfortunately, we had a counterculture in the 1960s that was willing to tear down fences of civilization without giving much thought to why those moral, medical, and sexual guidelines were created in the first place.
Does that sound like our world today? Moral anarchy reigns. Our society mimics Judges 17:6 where “everyone does what is right in his own eyes.” Sexual morality is now based on doing what each person feels is right for them. And marriage has been redefined by divorce and same-sex marriage. All of this suggests that maybe it is time for another “great relearning.”

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Robots and Jobs

Kerby Anderson
Will robots destroy jobs and put all of us in the unemployment lines? Some futurists seem to be predicting this scenario. Jay Richards disagrees. He says it is an old argument that is new again. He is the author of the book, The Human Advantage: The Future of American Work in an Age of Smart Machines.
One report predicts that; “The future of robots appears to be a dystopian march to rising inequality, falling wages, and higher unemployment.” A number of books warn of the “rise of robots” and even suggest this new technology will lead to the death of capitalism.
Jay Richards acknowledges that we have a coming disruption that could be as abrupt as the Industrial Revolution. But looking back, we can see that previous revolutions didn’t lead to the end of employment. They often provided new jobs without the boredom and danger of the past. At the founding of this country nearly 95 percent of Americans got by on farming. Today, the American population is ten times larger while only 1 percent of the US population work on farms.
If it is true that technology leads to permanent unemployment of the masses, the history of the last few centuries would be a history of joblessness. That is not true. But some politicians accept the faulty premise that jobs will be scarce, and therefore have proposed the idea of a universal basic income that would essentially put millions more on welfare.
One obvious problem would be money. The government is going broke right now with various entitlement programs. Expanding that is economically unrealistic. Do we really want to pay millions more in this country to not work?
The lesson for government and education is to stop training kids to do jobs that robots will be doing in a few years. The lesson for parents and their children is to focus on developing skills a robot could never take away from them.

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Labor Day

Kerby Anderson
Today is Labor Day. Although this day was set aside to honor trade and labor organizations, I believe it is a day when Christians can also consider how they view work and labor. The Bible has quite a bit to say about how we are to view work, and so I devote part of a chapter in my book, Making the Most of Your Money, to a biblical view of work.
First, we are to work unto the Lord in our labors. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” We may have an earthly master (or boss) but ultimately, we are working for our heavenly Master.
Second, work is valuable. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 to “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” He also warns in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”
The Proverbs talk about the importance and benefits of work. Proverbs 12:11 says, “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense.” Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is made fat.” And Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
The Greeks and Romans looked upon manual work as a menial task that was only for slaves (or else for people of lower classes). The biblical view of work changed that ancient view because work and labor were combined with the idea of vocation and calling.
These ideas were reinforced in the Middle Ages through the gild movement and even expanded during the Reformation. Martin Luther, for example, taught that all work can be done for the glory of God. John Calvin taught that all should work because they were to serve as God’s instruments on earth. This led to what today is called the Protestant work ethic.
Let’s use this Labor Day to teach and reinforce biblical ideas of work.

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Arrogant Opposition

Penna Dexter
Our American culture is rich with gifts God has given for human flourishing. Sometimes we take these gifts for granted. Sometimes, tragically, we reject them. One of these good gifts is the family.
Growing up in a coastal suburb of Los Angeles, I couldn’t articulate God’s beautiful plan for the family as a moral and economic unit for the raising of the next generation and the perpetuation of society. We just lived that way. We knew work brought the money to meet life’s needs. We assumed you married first before having children. It was normal to respect authority figures and obey the law. Whether or not we saw these as Christian values, we knew they worked. When the government’s policies incentivized something different, the society began to show cracks.
One of those cracks was something called “the generation gap.”  Families of faith often avoided the gap. But faith was declining in America. The generation gap was not simply due to normal teenage rebellion. Everything in society seemed to be pushing the generations apart: drugs, free sex, music, Hollywood, even higher education. California state universities were teaching students to hate and rebel against America, capitalism, ‘the patriarchy, and the traditional family. The hard leftist ideology at certain universities drove some students to violence and led others — the peace-loving ones — to live in drug-infested streets as hippies.
The US Supreme Court handed down decisions banning official prayers in public schools and upholding abortion rights. Feminists’ were unsuccessful in passing the Equal Rights Amendment. But their effort, along with the enactment of a national no-fault divorce law, served to undermine marriage and the traditional family.
Then, in 2015, the High Court redefined marriage.
To “be fruitful and multiply” means to have children and form families. Families lead to the creation of other forms of government — cities and nations — in which we organize ourselves to use God’s gifts to flourish on the earth.
We have arrogantly rejected this foundation.

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Complex Systems

Kerby Anderson
Does it seem like so many important systems aren’t working the way they are supposed to be working? Just think of the problems associated with airlines, supply chains, and electrical grids.
We live in a complex society where so many interconnected parts need to be working efficiently. And we need competent people running them. Harold Robertson persuasively argues that “Complex systems won’t survive the competence crisis.”
He explains, “America must be understood as a system of interwoven systems; the healthcare system sends a bill to a patient using the postal system, and that patient uses the mobile phone system to pay the bill with a credit card issued by the banking system.” He concludes that, if one part of this complex system fails, you have cascading consequences for it and all adjacent systems.
The reason for these failures, he believes, is due to the changing political mores of society. We have established a system of promoting unqualified people and sidelining the competent. “By the 1960s, the systematic selection for competence came into direct conflict with the political imperatives of the civil rights movement.” For many institutions (universities, corporations) diversity is more important than competence, Therefore, we have a competence crisis. Put another way, the weakest link is often the person in charge.
We shouldn’t be surprised that formerly stable systems are having accidents at a rate higher than the system can adapt. Unless we once again select people based on meritocracy rather than diversity, the problem will go from bad to worse.

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