Category Archives: Politics

If free, why authority?

I have been thinking about the nature of freedom and authority. How do they relate to each other? Where does freedom stop and authority begin? It seems that true freedom recognizes the need for authority while just authority allows for the existence of freedom. Of course that sentence could take a book’s worth of pages to unpack. The British philosopher John Locke sums it up proficiently.

If man in the state of nature be so free, as had been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom? Why will he give up this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power?

To which it is obvious to answer, that though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and constantly exposed to the invasion of others: for all being kings as much as he, every man his equal and the greater part no strict observers of equity and justice, the enjoyment of the property he has in this state is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates, which I call by the general name, property.

The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property. To which in the state of nature there are many things wanting (Two Treatises, Sections 123-24).


Ron Paul’s Farewell Speech

Ron Paul gave a 48 minute farewell speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I can’t help but wonder what may have happened in a match up between him and President Obama. He may be the template of what the Republicans need to gravitate towards in the coming years. Some of his comments raised my eyebrows and I can’t say that I whole-heartedly agree with them, yet they are things no one else is talking about and are worth beginning a conversation on.

What I respect about this guy is that he has remained steadfast over the years. He has given thought to his positions and I trust him. I never had that notion with Governor Romney and certainly not with President Obama. To me he appears as the John Piper of politics- an old guy with grey hair who is articulate and passionate and frail looking and full of wisdom. Here are some snapshots from his speech.

  • Our nations problems can begin to be solved simply by following the restraints we have in the Constitution.
  • The Republicans need to be willing to cut military spending and the Democrats need to be willing to cut welfare.
  • The appetite for liberty has been quite weak but has a grassroots movement among young people.
  • The rule of the market will extract its pound of flesh and the result will not be pretty.
  • We don’t need more “isms” we need more liberty.
  • We need to have more trust in ourselves then in the government.
  • The immoral use of force is the source of our political problems.
  • “Why is it morally okay for someone with a badge to go into a house to tell someone what they can smoke, eat or drink?”
  • Sacrificing a little liberty for more security is never good.
  • The financial crisis is a moral crisis.
  • Free society depends on a virtuous, moral people.
  • We have fictitious wealth eft over from another time.
  • The internet and homeschool culture will lead a revolutionary movement.

He closed with a list of dangers that he sees are looking America straight in the eyes.

  1. Continuos attacks on civil liberty.
  2. Violence through undeclared wars that creates anti-Americanism.
  3. The ease in which we go to war.
  4. Excessive debt.

He closed by saying that liberty and peace are achieved through love, compassion, tolerance and free markets. Envy and intolerance are the undying enemies of it.

President Obama, God’s Servant

I am fascinated with politics. I podcast conservative radio talk shows and liberal public radio talk shows. I check FOX and CNN. I remember growing up with Rush Limbaugh on the radio and going to a college that inundated me with liberal and even socialist philosophy. Until I was about 25 years old I was a Republican first and a Christian second. Unknowingly I was fitting my ideas of being a Christian into my political philosophy. A college professor said I was in lock step with “W” and was using the American flag as a blindfold. That was a little more on target than I wanted to believe.

This is to say, I have to make sure I am constantly putting my faith above my politics. Do I look at the world of politics in a way that would honor God? That is to say, do I pray for these political leaders more than I criticize them and ridicule them. I am afraid I often do not. Are we as Christians to quick to belittle and name-call President Obama yet slow to pray for him? Nebuchadnezzar was a wicked king yet God called him “my servant” in Jeremiah 25:9. I have heard Christians  call our President an idiot and a dummy. I think we would do better to bite our tongue and instead fold our hands. After all, he is God’s servant.

Open Letter to North Branch City Council

Last week I read an article on the Star Tribune’s website about Wal-Mart’s proposed expansion in Minnesota. They are poised to spend $1 billion in this state and build more than 50 stores over the course of the next 5-8 years. Here is a link to this article.  I implore you to strongly consider and aggressively pursue having Wal-Mart include North Branch in this expansion. The benefits to having this store built in our city far outweigh any negative factors that may coincide with it.

I have attached a PDF including some of the economic opportunities that Wal-Mart brings to a city. I know a concern among some people is that a Wal-Mart will destroy small business. Bloomberg released a report in 2008 stating that this was not true. The Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis stated this and the article in Bloomberg cites it. Furthermore, a Harvard Business study found the Wal-Mart increases the economic pie, saves consumers $18 billion a year, and provides rural poor with much needed savings.

Also, a Wal-Mart would provide increased travel into the city of North Branch and potentially increase business to local stores that provide products that Wal-Mart does not. An average store provides 150 to 350 jobs and provides “substantial sales tax and property tax revenue for the county in which it locates”. This study provided at the link given cites other advantages to having a Wal-Mart in our city.

North Branch is in great need of retail, chain stores. The residents of North Branch will either go to Forest Lake or Cambridge for these services or they could stay in North Branch if these stores were here. It is unrealistic to expect the citizens of this city to “shop locally” when the prices are dramatically increased. Our city missed this economic expansion in the 1990’s and I believe we are reaping the consequences of it now with a poorly funded city. This could be the beginning of a second chance if the mayor, council and city employees that make the decisions are aggressive in pursuing stores like Wal-Mart.

Thank you very much for your time and for the work you do for the city of North Branch.

Kyle Puelston

Less Religion Means More Government

Alexis de Tocqueville cautioned in his 1835 reflections on Democracy in America, that the pursuit of liberty without religion hurts society because it “tends to isolate [people] from one another, to concentrate every man’s attention upon himself; and it lays open the soul to an inordinate love of material gratification.” In fact, Tocqueville says, “the main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.” Religion makes us other-regarding.

Anthony B. Bradley, Ph.D.

You can find the link to this whole article here.

On Secular Authority Part III (Politics and the Gospel)

To try to rule a whole county or the world by means of the Gospel is like herding together wolves, lions, eagles and sheep in the same pen, letting them mix freely, and saying to them: feed, and be just and peaceable; the stable isn’t locked, there’s plenty of pasture, and you have no dogs or cudgels to be afraid of.

There fore care must be take to keep these two governments distinct, and both must be allowed to continue their work, the one to make people just, the other to create outward peace and prevent evil doing.

Here Luther expounds on what God intended for the Gospel to do and what he intended the government to do. Government is to keep a cap on chaos. It will never change the heart and should never be used to try and change the heart. Its role is to restrain violence and not save sinners. The Gospel does that.

I believe much of Christian America has conformed the Gospel to its politics. They try to fit Jesus into their political philosophy. An honest reading of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will blow to pieces any box one tries to fit Jesus into. Five years ago I was a conservative first and a Christian second. I am now thinking that church and state should be separate and allowed to fulfill their very different functions.

Health Care Hell

I was disappointed like most Americans last night when I saw the vote on the U.S. House floor. It is a great departure from freedom and individual responsibility that has kept this country quite different from Canada, Great Britain, etc. It takes more more money (with the threat of force) from  people and redistributes it to other people. It is theft and it is morally wrong to do.

Yet my freak-out meter isn’t going off. It doesn’t need to. Isaiah 40 has been massively comforting to me in the midst of my frustrations in the past. Unfortunately I have failed to rest in the promises of God many times. He tells us though that kings and rulers are in his hand. They can do nothing without him allowing it, and in the vast expanse of history they are but a plant that will quickly wither.

A couple weeks ago my county board voted down an agreement to allow a power plant to be built in our county that would have helped bring in more revenue that we desperately need. I freaked out about it and fumed for at least 24 hours. Wrong response, Kyle. This time will be different. I will pray for our leaders. Let them know respectfully about how you feel. God has appointed them to these positions and he will remove them in due course.

25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.

Isaiah 40