Month: June 2007 Thinking 101::By Walter E. Williams

 We have been going through the truth project in our small group and absolutely loving it. In the very first session Dr. Tackett talks about assumptive language which is designed to be accepted without debate.

When I ran across this article by Dr Williams. I think he says it pretty well. Enjoy

Straight Thinking 101
By Walter E. Williams
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just about the most difficult lesson for first-year economics students, and sometimes graduate students, is that economic theory, and for that matter any scientific theory, is positive or non-normative. You might ask, “What’s this business about positive and normative?” It’s easy. Positive statements deal with what was, what is or what will be. Normative, or subjective, statements deal with what’s good or bad, or what ought to be or should be. Confusing the two leads to considerable mischief.

The statement “Scientists cannot split the atom” is a positive statement. Why? If there’s disagreement with the statement, there are facts to which we can appeal to settle the disagreement — just visit Stanford University’s linear accelerator and watch atoms being split. The statement “Scientists shouldn’t split the atom” is a normative statement. Why? There are no facts whatsoever to which we can appeal to settle any disagreement. One person’s opinion on the matter is just as good as another’s.

How about the statement “Gasoline prices are unreasonable”? If some think they’re reasonable while others don’t, the argument can go on forever without resolution because there are no facts to which we can appeal to settle the disagreement. However, there are facts that tend to back up the statement: Buyers of gasoline prefer lower prices while sellers prefer higher prices.

By the way, years ago, Mrs. Williams would arrive home complaining about unreasonable grocery prices. After airing her complaints, she’d ask me to unload her car full of groceries. Having completed the chore, I’d ask her whether she was unreasonable, suggesting that it was my opinion that only an unreasonable person would pay unreasonable prices. The conversation never went far in a pleasant direction.

Having explained the difference between positive and normative statements, I tell my students that in no way do I propose that they purge their vocabulary of normative statements. Normative statements are excellent tools for tricking others into doing what you want them to do. I simply caution that in the process of tricking others, there’s no need to trick oneself into believing that one normative statement is better or more righteous than another.

A related term that doesn’t make much economic sense is the term “need.” The implication of an absolute, crying, dying or urgent need is that one cannot do without the need in question. Students sometimes say they absolutely need a car or a cell phone. At that point I ask them, how in the world was it that Gen. George Washington could defeat Britain, the mightiest nation on earth, without a cell phone or a car?

The problem with the term “need” is that it suggests there are no substitutes for the item in question. Thus, people will pay any price for it; however, the law of demand says that at some price, people will take less of something, including none of it. In response, a student might say, “Diabetics can’t do without insulin” or “People can’t do without food.” I say, “Yes, they can; diabetics have been doing without insulin for thousands of years.” In some poor African countries, people do without food. Of course, the results of doing without insulin or food are indeed unpleasant, but the fact that the results are unpleasant doesn’t require us to deny that non-consumption is a substitute for consumption. Again, I tell my students not to purge their vocabulary of crying, dying and urgent needs; just don’t trick yourself while you’re tricking others.

You say, “Williams, it doesn’t sound like economics is a very compassionate science.” You’re right, but neither is physics, chemistry or biology. However, if we wish to be compassionate with our fellow man, we must learn to engage in dispassionate analysis. In other words, thinking with our hearts, rather than our brains, is a surefire method to hurt those whom we wish to help.

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well. Thinking 101::By Walter E. Williams

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Posted by Gary in Practical

A new homeless ministry in SLC « …for such a time as this


A new homeless ministry in SLC

My sweet Bonnie:)
Fresh food at Pioneer Park
Bonnie’s friends
Sunday we served with one of my best friends, Bonnie, down at Pioneer Park. Three years ago Bonnie started a ministry out of K2 The Church, feeding the homeless fresh food every week. She has about 300-400 people each week and fully relies on God to provide the volunteers, money and food.

Each week there are many people who help. There is no possible way Bonnie can know everyone, because of how this ministry has grown (Good problem).

This Sunday, a gentleman named Porter came. He was very helpful and excited at what he saw.

Porter asked Bonnie what church she is from. After she responded, he said, “Well, I am LDS”. Almost with an “Is this still okay for me to help” tone.If you know Bonnie, you can picture her bubbly and joyful personality saying “It does not matter, we are glad God brought you here to help!”

Porter enthusiastically joined in.

Ten minutes later, Porter asked Bonnie more questions. One question being “Who funds this each week?”

Bonnie replied: “Jesus!”

Porter proceeded to tell Bonnie that he is a bodyguard for President Hinckley. (That would be the Mormon prophet and president, President Hinckley)

Porter and Bonnie stayed in touch and Bonnie has had the opportunity to share with Porter the God-sized dreams she has for ministering to the “Least of these” in Salt Lake. Her most exciting vision in one of a “Homeless Day Center”- a place for homeless people to go during the day to eat, shower, rest and learn.

Well… are you ready for this?

Porter just called Bonnie. He informed her that they (Take a guess on who that is ladies and gentlemen) have a twenty-one thousand square foot building for her to use. They have gotten her a 5 year lease. It will be $1 a month (Yes that is one dollar). IN ADDITION, they have a construction company for her that will renovate it however she wants. (You might want to re-read this paragraph, I know)

THE LORD WHO PROVIDES, is he not? What a MIGHTY GOD we serve! He blesses His people!

I think I may need to rename this blog: “WOW, God, WOW!”

A new homeless ministry in SLC « …for such a time as this

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Posted by Gary in Faith

The Church

I have been struck by the unity in the church I saw while in Salt Lake City and what can happen when we all come together for a common purpose.

I believe that now more than ever we need to be kingdom minded. I am more and more convinced that a great move of God is right before our eyes and that God is putting people and resources in place to make it happen.

Pray Colossians 1:9-11 over yourself and make sure that you are in the will of God. you don’t want to miss it.

This clip will get your heart pounding and give you a vision for the global church.

Thanks for the heads up Chuck. I love you.

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Posted by Gary in Worship

Salt Lake City Trip

What an amazing experience!

Esther Fleece, remember that name because you will see it again. She is one of the most amazing people you will ever meet. A few months ago she was at our home talking about, among other things, her vision for the Mormon Church. My family and I were members of the Mormon Church in Mesa AZ when I was in the 1st through the 5th grade and was baptized in the temple in Mesa. I don’t remember specifics of the religion other than they were there for us when we really needed them. So I expressed my heart for the church to her at that time.

A few weeks later she called and invited me to go on this trip and I told her I would pray about it. Later I wondered why I needed to pray this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I told her that if we were going to go to tell them they were wrong and we had the answer I wasn’t interested. She told me her heart was to be the aroma of Christ. Now that is something I can get behind!

The trip was so far and above what I expected it honestly humbled and amazed me time after time. On Thursday we spent the day volunteering at the Salt Lake City Dream Center. Pastor Alfred has such a passion to serve the poor and needy, specifically refugees that have come to Salt Lake from the most horrible conditions including slavery and polygamous families. We were blessed to take about 100 of these children to the zoo. In spite of the weather, 50 degrees and raining, we were so blessed. Over 90 languages are represented with roughly half of them Muslim and many do not speak English. In the afternoon we sorted donated clothes and household items. Every week they supply fresh food, clothing, and other necessities to hundreds of people in desperate need. Pastor Alfred said “feed them fresh food and they will come. Anyone can give away canned stuff we only give the best”. He was talking about physical needs but he had that twinkle in his eye that said there was a spiritual parallel. What an amazing privilege.

I was so amazed at the unity in the body of Christ in that city. Everyone was working together to further the Kingdom. To meet physical and spiritual needs. God has the right people there leading these ministries.

On Thursday night we were on our way to a high place above the city to pray when Esther received a phone call telling her that our meeting with the LDS leaders was cancelled. She was not convinced. We had prepared ourselves and God had given us such a unity in the team and a passion to be His aroma that we knew God had other plans. So we prayed until very late believing that He would bring things together. We got up in the morning and prepared for the meeting, you know the one that was cancelled and on our way to the tour of temple square the phone rang again this time saying the meeting was on!

We were met at temple square by Cody, who is in Public Affairs/Relations for the LDS church. I was blessed to really connect with him. He is a very good man. After the tour we were welcomed into the parlor of the Lion House to meet with Dr. Bob Millet (Dean, Professor at BYU), Elder Todd Christofferson, who is in the First Presidency of the 70, three other members of the Public Affairs/Relations team, as well as Rev. Gregory C.V. Johnson, director and two of his team from Standing Together who’s vision is to unite Christians for greater spiritual impact.

It was such an amazing meeting I felt as if we were with old friends. We laughed and talked about where there is common ground without ignoring the major differences in theology. I have never been in such a meeting in my life. What a great God we serve.

On Friday night and Saturday we were privileged to attend The Truth Project, an initiative of Focus on the Family led by Dr. Del Tackett. Dr. Millet attended the conference with us and I was stunned by his desire to sit with our team. I expected him to come Friday out of courtesy and then not come back on Saturday. However he was in his seat waiting for us before every session. I have such a deep love and respect for him.

On Saturday we attended K2 the church and heard a great message entitled “What does God do all day?” and then helped feed the homeless in the park before heading home.

I know that I will be back to Salt Lake City. God has birthed something in me. I’m still working it out but I am confident that God is at work and I don’t want to miss a thing!

Here are some related links:

There are some pictures here.

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Posted by Gary in Personal