Wednesday, January 29, 2014

MORE Government???

According to the official labor statistics we have 12 million people currently unemployed in the United States who are looking for work. That doesn’t account for untold numbers who are “underemployed” or who have simply given up looking.  The President made an effort to push that issue as the major theme of his State of the Union Address yesterday, that and his concerns about income inequality. Will his ideas work and are they even reasonably logical?

I think one of the major things to recognize is that income inequality is a reality of life.  A doctor who spends 9 years and a quarter million dollars to prepare for his career is going to make much more than a high school dropout who often can’t make it to work because he is so hung over.  I think you’ll all agree with that.  When it comes to those who invest money to make money, the inequality is even more apparent and inevitable.  Do we require that those who gamble at the Casino and win give away their winnings to make others who lost not suffer?  Stock market investment works much the same as gambling in that the outcome is unpredictable.

So the rich who can invest are likely to get richer and the poor who buy lottery tickets are likely to remain poor.  Those in the middle will transition one way or the other depending on their life choices, most likely.  I know I am making huge generalizations here and engaging in stereotypes, too.  Sorry.  Still, there is validity to it all in some measure.

So with these depressing truisms, what is the answer?  Can government fix everything by taking money away from the rich and giving to the poor things they haven’t earned?  Will that ultimately bring about any long term change?  Will raising the minimum wage to ten or fifteen dollars an hour do anything but raise the price of goods that you have to buy with that same ten or fifteen dollars?

I think it is all foolishness.  We have built an economy based on producing products at the cheapest price possible and using machines (that we buy made with Chinese labor) rather than people to do the work.  Is it any wonder there are fewer jobs on farms and in factories?  The private sector small businesses are the ones creating the majority of jobs these days, and they depend heavily on skilled labor and attractive tax and cost incentives.

I think the answers to our problems are not in more government programs and interventions, but rather less of that.  We already have some of the highest business taxes of any of the developed countries in the world.  Perhaps government should think of getting out of the way, deregulating some and taxing less so private enterprise can grow and prosper.  As an example, requiring small businesses to provide health care to their employees, especially plans to unmarried males that offer abortion coverage is just plain senseless…and that’s only one example of your government in action.  Filing your personal income tax is a nightmare of conflicting regulation and bureaucracy, can you imagine what it is like for a business? The state of New York is trying a new approach by offering businesses a tax free zone to set up shop…of course it’s a limited time offer with more of the same old tax gouging down line a few years later, so it may not work.  Perhaps it is time to consider scrapping traditional taxation and putting taxes on some portion of your "consumption" instead.

What we really need are programs that result in educating people in jobs that are actually in need in the economy!  We need schools that are not just factories for politically correct opinion.  We need families that don’t impoverish themselves by multiple divorces and single parent households.  We need lower taxes that will help businesses flourish rather than creating ever more burdensome regulations that often don’t even make a lot of sense.  

“I’m from the government and we’re here to help” just isn’t always the answer anymore.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Don't Quote Me

I ran across a few more good quotes this week that I thought worth passing on:

Middle age is when you're faced with the two temptations, and you choose the one that will get you home by nine o'clock....Ronald Reagan

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations...Faith Baldwin

Whenever there is a vacuum in your life, you usually pick up dirt...author unknown.

There is some consolation in knowing that change, even difficult change, brings surprising gifts. Though the thought may be unappealing to us now, let's not shut the door too soon on something good that could be waiting for us in the the next room...Martha Whitmore Hickman

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Economics Of Marriage

Ever wonder why poverty is increasing so markedly in the United States?  If you take a really thoughtful look you’ll discover that it’s not just about the lack of jobs or the low wages…although I’m all for raising the minimum wage.  It’s not just about big greedy corporations or poor government policies either.

One of the biggest issues is that well over 50% of our marriages end in divorce.  We have huge numbers of single parent families raising children.  That is a huge economic dislocation.  If you couple that with the rising rate of high school dropouts and the disturbing trend in college to take degree courses that have no real hope of jobs upon graduation…you have a recipe for disaster.

Take a moment to think what just a divorce costs in a marriage.  Not only do you lose half your stuff and have to buy it all over again, but you also now have to pay twice the utilities, rent or mortgage, property taxes and the like.  These are some of the biggest outlays in your monthly paycheck.  If you’re a guy you are also likely paying alimony and child support on top of that.  If we simply learned to pick our spouse well and try to love them well, we’d make a HUGE difference in our standard of living…and maybe our kids would turn out better as well.

Then there is the huge increase in women having children out of wedlock and raising them alone…how cool is that?  NOT!  The statistics on single parent families headed by women are not economically encouraging at all.

Now lest you think I’m talking from my high horse of superiority…I’m not.  I raised my kids by myself for many years.  I know life isn’t perfect and neither am I, and I have great sympathy for those going through divorce and those raising children alone.  But I gotta tell ya, it ain’t the way it’s ‘spose to be…and for very good reasons.  God made us to be a family and to work hard at it.  Apply those same principles to finishing school and sticking to a job and you have a better recipe for success and economic stability.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The New World Order

Progeria syndrome is a disorder that manifest in children producing premature again.  Kids 14 years old can wind up having the aged body of an 80 year-old.  The disease is always fatal, usually by 12 to 14 years of age.  It is an interesting phenomenon that is mystifying to researchers and apparently caused by a mutation in the Lamin-A gene.  Promising drugs are being tested to provide a cure, but as yet no human trials have begun.

What interests me about this disease is that we live in a world of opposites.  Black and white, yin and yang, old and young, etc.  The bible teaches that many people in the Old Testament lived hundreds of years.  I’ve certainly struggled with that idea, as I suspect you have, and non-believers have used it for centuries to ridicule the Bible as a book of fairy tales. 

So I ask you this question:  If a mutation caused aging that kills at 14, why couldn’t there have been a mutation that kills at 80 that occurred long ago?  And furthermore, since we are so fond of manipulating genes these days, what will happen when they discover how to mutate that gene back?  There is an isolated tribe of people living in the jungle that has been looked at recently and they are believed to be extraordinarily long lived…on the order of 150 years.  Now, the lack of record keeping in that primitive society has made positive claims unsupportable, but I’m keeping an open mind.

So the big question becomes do we want a society where no one dies, or where they live to be 1,000.  Can the earth support the number of people that would result?  (Can we even support the ones we have with the current average life span and birth rate?) 

It will certainly be a different world.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This Means War!

You often hear that religion is the cause of all wars.  Unfortunately, that is often propagated by atheists who wish to discredit religion.  When you actually check the facts, most wars are secular and not religious in nature.  Only about 7% of the historical conflicts are religiously motivated.  Also the total numbers of people killed in wars is vastly more successfully accomplished by non-religious wars.

Yet religious wars still fascinate me.  History is littered with them.  Christians fighting Muslims, Catholics killing Protestants, Jews fighting most everyone.  Whether it’s the Crusades in the 11th century or the Thirty Years War in the Reformation Period or King Henry the VIII against Catholics or World War II or the 6 Day War or the Iraq War, it’s no different.  Yet, what is most interesting it that these faith based battles are waged between peoples who worship the very same God.  Their faith expression of that God varies considerably in the details, and their various prophets and figureheads are different.  Yet, they all are rooted in the God of the Old Testament…the God of love.  How dumb is that!?!?   It’s like saying, I’m going to kill you because you wear blue jeans instead of polyester slacks.  They are both pants for crying out loud!!!

I suspect we annoy God considerably with our stupidity and childishness.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is Anything Real?

I heard two discussions yesterday that caught my interest.  The first was about global warming.  Now before you click to a new page, hear me out.  This one is interesting.  Apparently, the polar ice melt statistics they are using to formulate much of their opinion about global warming started in 1979.  This happened to be one of the wettest and coldest seasons in a very long time and the ice caps were huge.  So the question arises, “were they larger than normal and now we are seeing them get back to normal?”  Also, the temperature gauges around the world they are using since 1979 have been discovered to be giving higher than normal readings because more cement and development has grown up around them and the readings have had to be “adjusted,” whatever that means.  All of this adds questions to the process and conclusions.  Then when you consider that we are looking at a very small slice of world history, who knows how ordinary and typical this kind of fluctuation might be?  We do know we have had four major periods of “ice age” development before we were even around to put on our winter coats.

The second discussion I heard was about whether the Satan is real.  Unknown to me, apparently the Methodist Church doctrinal position is it’s up to you whether Satan (as a fallen angel) is a metaphor or a real being.  Heck, I’m not the one to prove this, but it seems the Bible certainly implies he is real and Jesus himself said he saw Satan fall like lightning (Luke 10.18.)  Now was he speaking metaphorically about human evil.  I can’t buy it.  I think the passage makes more sense as a comment about a real being who was vying for power with other beings against God as is stated (Revelation 12.9)  We are told angels visited the shepherds in the fields at Jesus’ birth.  I just can’t see how the concept is a metaphor for human evil.  You've gotta throw an awful lot of the Bible out if you accept that line of reasoning. He’s no pointy tailed guy in a red suit, but my take is he is real.

I guess we’ll always have these controversies, whether it’s global warming or textual interpretation of whether Satan or even God real.  We take a lot on faith. The nature of our limited perspective on reality is one tiny speck in the continuum of time. 

I look forward someday to knowing the answers because I’ve got a lot of questions for God.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Taxation Without Representation???

You know, I find it really interesting when I listen to various political pundits and “experts” give their opinions on how we should pay higher taxes for more government services.  I pay about 40% of my income in local, state, federal, sales, and special district taxes.  Yet the government doesn’t provide my power, heat, food, or maintain the roads to my house.  Law enforcement does not patrol my area, though a couple of times in ten years I have seen them out here to arrest someone.  The fire department does respond, I know that because I work for them and am one of the volunteers who responds. 

So the big question is what am I paying most of those taxes for?

  1. Education
  2. Welfare
  3. Health and Human Services
  4. Social Security payments.
  5. Medicare
  6. Police, Fire and other government personnel
  7. Military
  8. Paying the debt on money we borrow from other countries
  9. Capital Project budget expenditures
These nine amount to most of the ongoing expenditures by government. I get nothing from most all of those services.  Someone does.  The Chinese get a lot in interest payments on what we owe them.  The 45% or so percent of Americans who pay no income taxes get those benefits.  The kids who are quitting our public schools with an ever increasing dropout rate and leaving our country in the bottom of the list of well educated people get a huge chunk of that money.

Yes, I know…My kids went to public schools and I get to drive on roads built and maintained by the government and a bunch of other things, but they really are a small chunk of what government takes in and spends compared to the “big nine.”

Is it any wonder that so many Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo?  When you add to all that the scandalous waste of public funds that actually surfaces and we accidentally hear about occasionally as frosting on the cake, it just frosts me, too! 

I heard recently that the government will create another 45,000 regulations this year.  Nothing special.  That’s the average promulgated every year actually.  They will be created by agencies with little or no knowledge or oversight by our elected officials. We will have to abide by them, and I guarantee many of them will cost you more money in fees and taxes.  One great example is the Environmental Protection Agency.  Did you know that they fined a couple in Idaho for building a house in a county approved and platted lot.  EPA said it was a wetland…just that lot and none of the others.  It didn’t matter than it was not a wetland and had no wetland species anywhere near it.  What the EPA map said goes!!!  It took years and a U.S. Supreme Court decision to whack the EPA in the head and tell them to get some sense.  It all worked out in the end so that the folks didn’t have to pay the $80,000 per day fine that the EPA slapped on them for building their house.  This was one of those regulations that was established that no elected representative has input on…which means that you the people have no input.

Taxpayers revolting created this country.  I wonder if it will re-create it?  People make fun of the TEA party.  I’m not a member, but I can certainly relate to what they have to say.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

More Meat In Your Stew...And A Chicken In Every Pot!*

I recently heard that the USDA is now allowing more meat and grains to be used in the school lunch program.  I’m all for meat and grain, but I am concerned that an agency of the federal government makes decisions on what to feed our children.  And it’s not just the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it’s every government agency that makes regulations that control our life and what we can eat, say, believe, and what we are taught, etc.  They do it through the power of the dollar.  “If you don’t do it our way, we won’t give you our money.”  They routinely do it through regulatory bodies and agencies that have no oversight in particular by elected officials.

You see, the government believes the tax dollars they collect are their monies.   They don’t much listen to what we the people think in their insulated and corporately elected offices--that is if we the people even get off our duffs and tell them what we think (I’ve spoken before here about how only one person in ten in this country is actually responsible for who is elected.)  So when we get politicians who tell us an unmarried man must have abortion coverage in his health insurance, or a mayor who says big soft drink cups are illegal, we get exactly what we deserve.  Even the President seems immune from any oversight by Congress or the people.  He routinely makes executive orders that nullify parts of laws (like the Affordable Care Act) that was passed by Congress.  What he is doing is unconstitutional, and yet no one makes him accountable for that.  Not us the people, and not the Congress that a handful of us elected.  It’s like the law is his own personal property that he can do with as he wishes.  They even call it Obamacare as if he owns it.  (By the way, can you imagine what would happen if Bush had said he wasn’t going to enact part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?)

Whatever happened to being responsible for oneself in this life?  We are supposed to learn wise behavior in families that teach that.  I suppose we could talk about the disintegration of the family here, but I’ll save that for some other time.

*Herbert Hoover promised everyone a chicken in every pot...and look where that got him.

Friday, January 3, 2014

I'm Leavin' On A Jet Plane...or not...

Ever notice how people just whine and complain so much when the flights are canceled at the airports during a monster snowstorm.  I wonder how many times they consider their one day or two day delay in terms of a historical perspective?

Step back 150 years.  Most people lived and died within 10 miles of where they were born.  A trip to the store on foot or horseback took most of the day in many cases.  You went in the open, not in a dry, heated and enclosed automobile…with your favorite I-Tunes playing.  A trip to somewhere else by wagon, horse or on foot was months of grueling hardship, and a lot of times you died doing it.

We are so spoiled.  We want everything right now, no failures and no delays.  We have no back up plan because we have become dependent on the system.  It’s hard to be wholly sympathetic if you view it in terms of early travelers.  Would you rather sleep on a padded cushion in the airport lounge right next to the bathroom, restaurant and the bar…or would you rather sleep on the frozen prairie with the rocky ground and the bugs and the predators.

What really tickles me are the people who are complaining that the airline isn’t flying in spite of the conditions.  They blame the airline for not figuring out how to fly in spite of mother nature burying them all in snow and ice.  They blame the airlines for not putting them all up in hotels.  Sure it’s all annoying to have to go through, but buck up travelers, be a little tougher.  Those same pioneer genes are in you still, aren’t they???

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


.Two quotes I thought might be good to share for today as we start a new year

Life...the art of drawing...without an eraser.

I do believe that for every door that closes, another will open...but the hallways are really a drag!