We welcome guest writer Sam Webb to the PowerBlog with this review of If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty by Eric Metaxas (Viking, 2016). Webb is an attorney in Houston and studies at Reformed Theological Seminary. He also serves as an Associate Research Fellow for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.



Eric Metaxas’ golden triangle of freedom

By Sam Webb

Book Review: If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer in America. School’s out for summer (in most places). The pools are open. The grills are hot. The ballparks are full. Memorial Day is also the beginning of the American liturgical calendar of patriotic feasts and festivals over the summer months, reaching its pinnacle with Independence Day.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in 1868 to honor the fallen Union heroes of the American Civil War, a day set aside to decorate their graves and remember the “last full measure of devotion” given by these men. There was, of course, competing memorials in the former Confederate states. For instance, a group of women in Columbus, Mississippi, gathered in April 1866 to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers killed at Shiloh. Over the years, as the memories  of the war pitting brother against brother faded in the national memory and international wars brought brothers to fight alongside one another, the memorials celebrated veterans of all American wars. In 1971, Congress officially declared the last Monday in May a national holiday, a day to remember that the American Union is kept by great valor and courage. (more…)

lifehacksbibleNote: Please forgive the self-promotion, but since my new book — the NIV Lifehacks Bible — is being released today, I thought I’d provide an excerpt from Genesis.

Sold into slavery, Joseph is put in charge of Potiphar’s household. Potiphar “entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph” (Genesis 39:4-5).

The word stewardship comes from the Greek word oikonomia, which refers to someone who manages a household and is the root of the English word “economy.” Joseph began by controlling a household and would eventually control the entire economy of Egypt. In all of history, there have been few stewards who gained the status and power of Joseph.

Stewardship is an important concept in the Bible, since we are stewards in God’s household, his economy of all things. Here are three things we should know about stewardship:

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Proposed Payday Lending Rule Would Leave Borrowers Vulnerable
Nick Bourke, Pew Charitable Trusts

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed the first federal rules on payday loans, which 12 million consumers use every year. However, the proposal falls short because it would allow payday loans with 400 percent interest rates to flourish while locking out lower-cost loans from banks.

When Employers Compete, Workers Win; When They Can’t, Workers Lose
Donald J. Boudreaux, FEE

Labor regulations are inherently costly – to workers.

The US government’s new name for the sharing economy is the worst one yet
Alison Griswold, Quartz

The sharing economy is in. Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit, etc. So is coming up with new names for “the sharing economy.”

The Compassion of Capitalism
Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Despite the ravages of sin, the world is an amazing, awe-inspiring place. This should not be much of a surprise as we know the One who created the world. Sin is less powerful than God and his creation, or sin would have already destroyed everything.

johnoliverHave you ever watched HBO’s Last Week Tonight? It’s a show where British comedian John Oliver reads a teleprompter explaining to Americans what is wrong with our country. It’s also a show where smug, self-satisfied progressives who miss John Stewart can be entertained while thinking they are watching “smart” content.

In reality, Last Week Tonight is frequently one of the dumbest shows on cable (in the sense that watching it makes you less informed about the world). And yet it is almost inescapable if you have an internet connection. Even if you don’t subscribe to HBO you’ll find clips every Monday morning on left-leaning media sites, or someone who wants to feel self-righteous and pseudo-intelligent will slip it into your social media channels.

A prime example is the most recent episode where Oliver takes on the debt collection industry. A representative headline reporting on the show (from a site that should know better) is “Watch: John Oliver just topped Oprah with one of the largest giveaways ever on TV.”

Oliver didn’t top Oprah nor was he involved in one of the largest giveaways ever on TV. The actual amount of money that Oliver gave away wasn’t that significant — $60,000 — but he was able to fool people who don’t know much about economics into thinking he actually gave away $15 million.

I’m not kidding. There are a lot of people this morning who really think a third-tier cable talk show host gave away $15,000,000.

publicdefenderThe Atlantic published an article by Dylan Walsh about the growing fight in many states for the right to legal counsel. This article focuses on the state of Louisiana, and looks specifically the Concordia Parish along the Mississippi river. Like many poor, rural areas of the country the Concordia Parish suffers from drug problems and the local courts see a high volume of cases involving illegal substances. The district’s chief public defender’s office handles around 3,300 cases per year, three times what the state recommends. Therein lies the problem.

The spiraling problem in the arena of public defense is the growing number of cases and the parallel need for more lawyers and more funds to pay them. One example given in the Louisiana case claims that some lawyers were being paid $1,000 for 100 cases, or just $10 per case. With this level of income, public defenders in his parishes often need more than one job to cover costs and cannot live on their salary as a lawyer. In one parish, the office stopped representing some accused of certain misdemeanors because of financial needs and understaffing. Walsh quotes the Louisiana Public Defender Board (that oversees each district office) which predicts the “systemic failure in the public-defense system” this summer. The failure began months ago when New Orleans public defenders office announced it would begin refusing certain cases, even serious felonies involving murder and rape.

Blog author: jcarter
Monday, June 6, 2016

New evidence that even not-for-profit Obamacare plans are failing
Scott Gottlieb, AEI Ideas

The not-for-profit insurers that are planned to form the backbone of the Obamacare exchanges, including the Blues health plans, reported yesterday that they lost a lot of money in the first quarter of 2016.

Biblical Business — Engine Of Blessing

If you are a business person, let me suggest an addition to your list of most significant Bible passages — Deuteronomy 8:17-18. The passage occurs in the midst of Moses’ farewell address to the children of Israel.

Venezuela’s Crisis Is the Latest Example of Why Socialism Doesn’t Work
Gabriel Castro and Ana Quintana, The Daily Signal

It seems the “Socialism of the 21th Century” is really no different from socialism from the past.

Donald Trump Could Threaten U.S. Rule of Law, Scholars Say
Adam Liptak, New York Times

Donald J. Trump’s blustery attacks on the press, complaints about the judicial system and bold claims of presidential power collectively sketch out a constitutional worldview that shows contempt for the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the rule of law, legal experts across the political spectrum say.

paydayloansWhat just happened? 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the U.S. government’s consumer protection agency, has proposed new regulations that would affect payday lending in an attempt to end payday debt traps by requiring lenders to take steps to make sure consumers can repay their loans. 

What loans would the new regulation apply to?

The proposed regulations would cover two categories of loans. The first is loans with a term of 45 days or less. The second is loans with a term greater than 45 days, provided that they (1) have an all-in annual percentage rate greater than 36 percent; and (2) either are repaid directly from the consumer’s account or income or are secured by the consumer’s vehicle.

In other words, the regulation would cover almost all “payday lending” and “car title” loans.

What does the regulation do?