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Is There a Line Anymore?

Judges 21:25 says “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Historians will tell you that we must never forget the past, for when we do, we will surely repeat the mistakes of old. Have you ever personally done this? I know we can look through history and see example after example of people and countries trying to do the same thing that had already failed them once before. Maybe you know of some specific examples?

Today I’m challenged considering how over history, when people abandon God’s plan, they always end up coming back to God and begging for forgiveness. It does not fail. Over and over the Israelites went through this crazy cycle. Many people also personally go through this cycle of fighting God’s plan in their lives only to come to the foot of the cross in repentance when they realize the folly of their “own plan”.

So, how does this statement, “everyone did as he saw fit” from Judges, which is the very last verse of the entire book, become relevant today? In the USA I see this mentality becoming the norm. Don’t you? Nobody is allowed to tell anyone they are wrong. There are riots over the simplest things. The Satanic Temple is suing over a Nativity Scene, really! (1) Where is the line to be drawn? It must be drawn! We know this from history and we delude ourselves if we think it will not keep moving.Crossing-the-Line-300x191

The government in the USA is by the people, for the people and of the people. Too many of us do not care, and we are seeing the results. Believe it or not LAW is not TRUTH. Law is made my man; Truth comes from God. Laws change, truth does not. Argue about this fact all you want, but it’s true.

Everyone does as they see fit, and if they cannot, they throw a tantrum. So many of us are like whiny, undisciplined kids! Think about it! No one acts as a parent anymore, we all just run around with not an ounce of self-control and look where we are today. If you are thinking that things are great and so much better, you are one of those undisciplined kids who has truly missed the big picture. I’m so sorry.

When Israel got done whining about not having a King like all the rest of the countries around them (envy), God relented so they could learn a lesson. Israel ended up being split into 2 kingdoms, Judah and Israel, wars were aplenty, then came Persian and Babylonian enslavements, and the list goes on and on. All they had to do was trust in the Truth God presented. It IS that simple.

Is there a line anymore? Absolutely, so many of us just can’t see it, or chose to ignore it. It’s not okay to think everything should be okay; lines must be drawn or else everyone will continue walking off the cliff of ignorance.

(1) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/04/07/satanic-temple-sues-indiana-county-over-courthouse-nativity-scene/

School Lunch Standards, what?

Congress fighting the proposed healthier school lunch standards to save money is very shortsighted and typical of a government who cannot see the big picture.  What is so difficult to understand? Unhealthy lunches have contributed to childhood obesity.  Healthcare costs for children will only increase and we know how cheap healthcare is today!  Oh, but wait, we want the government to help cover our healthcare.  Let’s think about this paradox.  The government wants to save money by continuing to feed unhealthy food to our kids AND the government wants to SPEND money to help pay for their healthcare.  Do you see a losing battle here? Ridiculous.  Let’s just burn money.

Here’s want needs done.

First, we need to permanently declassify tomato paste/sauce as a vegetable.  It’s a fruit, right?  Cheese pizza has no vegetables on it!  Second, we need to immediately adopt the higher school lunch standards which include the increased use of whole grains, fresh veggies, etc.
To pay for this perceived increased cost, buy in bulk and do the Wal-Mart thing.  Negotiate the price that you want. It’s simple economics…AND, best of all, once this program is in place healthy food prices will start to drop!  Again, it’s economics 101.  If people want to buy it, then they will buy it at the lowest cost available.  Companies will want their business, thus they will work to reduce costs.  Hopefully, we will then soon see processed, artificially enriched, no nutritional value food prices increase! (I’m not holding my breath)
Finally, here’s the diamond in the rough.  In ten years we can look back and see just how much money we have saved on healthcare.  We will potentially see much healthier kids actually running around instead of rolling around.  I can’t believe the number of little kids I see every day that are simple morbidly fat.  We can do better and it’s not that difficult to understand.

Acknowledgements:

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Debt, Debt, we all scream for Debt

As I head off to teach a class on Simplicity, I think of my crazy week of dealing with a credit card disputed charge, insurance for a roof replacement, a seven year old, duties associated with Cub Scouts, and many other little life issues.  Then, I read about the USA debt situation, yet again.

It’s the news of the day, isn’t it?  Debt.  We need the okay to go into more debt.  Does this seem odd at all?

First, I want to clarify that as a family the only debt we have is on our home.  We pay off our credit cards on time, we paid off our cars and that’s it.  No real debt.  Quite frankly, I would probably be insane dealing with life in general if I also had to deal with a lot of debt.  On that note, most Americans are in severe debt!  Hence, I think many Americans are probably slowly going insane.  What’s my proof?

Let’s look at the US government!  Ya know, if they hadn’t gone into huge debt in the first place, they wouldn’t have these problems, period!  Debt is bad.  We must live within our means.  That’s to say, don’t spend more than you make.  DUH!  They are nuts.

I think maybe we messed up whenever we shifted from paying in cash to using credit.  Used smartly credit can be a good thing.  I’ve eaten many a free meal, flown in some planes and stayed at some 5 star hotels for free all because I was willing to use a credit card.  The key was that I paid it off and have only paid what I actually spent with no interest charges.  I admit I’ve messed up and had a late payment or two, but that was simply because I’m not perfect and I forgot to pay on time!  I’m a guy after all.  Automatic payments have since eliminated that problem!  In the end, cash is the best way to go if you’ve struggled with debt!

I can’t say the same for the US government.  Spend within your means.  Save up for what you want to buy.  These are foreign concepts to our government nowadays.  It sets a horrendously bad example.  Think about this scenario.  I want to go to war.  I don’t have enough money.  So what!  I want to build a new fighter jet.  I don’t have enough money!  So what?  I want to pay for everyone’s healthcare.  I don’t have enough money!  So what?  NOW, replace those items with something from your life…  I want to put in a security system and hire a body guard.  I don’t have enough money!  So what?  I want to buy a new car.  I don’t have enough money!  So what?  I want to buy everyone in the restaurant dinner.  I don’t have enough money!  So what?

Would you really say, SO WHAT?  If not, then why in the world is it acceptable for the US government to say it?  Our debt problem has sunk this country.  It’s not imminent, it has already happened.  We are in a heap of trouble.

Our government is supposed to be “For the people and by the people”.  So what?

Do we really accept that?  Really?

All I know is that I will never again finance anything.  Once the house is paid off, the plan is to pay cash.  The good book is right in saying: “…the borrower is servant to the lender. ” (Prov 22:7 NIV)

Think about that.

P.S.  I love this country.  I can write how I feel and not live in fear.  I care deeply about this country and this whole debt issue has me very concerned.

Acknowledgement:

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Political Game

“With great power comes great responsibility” – Various

I like the version Jesus uses in Luke 12:48, but in the end the idea is the same.  If we have a lot more than someone else, is there not some type of expectation or moral obligation to help?  The question is “Of what does this help consist?”

As the most powerful and, arguably, richest nation in the world, we have resources and technology that are unsurpassed on many levels.  Do we toss thisaside in the light of some ill timed words we spoke in the past?  I’m speaking of President Obama and his assessment of his predecessor, President G.W. Bush.  I will paraphrase since much of this rhetoric is public knowledge and has been beaten to death.  Obama contends that we overstepped our bounds in Iraq, we didn’t have a clear mission, we aren’t the world’s police etc.  Yes, with the current situation in Libya, it seems Obama has traveled the road of a turncoat.  It is the correct road though.  The problem is that Obama has already created a political precedent that is hindering his decisions.

In Libya, the President Obama has jumped in and apparently saved the day.  This time the actions were done without congressional approval and Obama is in a bind.  At least G.W. Bush went through the proper channels (as did Clinton RE Kosovo).  Now, Libya is a much smaller campaign than Iraq, yet it is still a campaign.  I listened to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton speak out of both sides of their mouth the last few weeks.  Yes, they added to their 2008 ramblings against Bush with waffling comments about Gaddafi.  Now it comes down to: To get rid of Gaddafi or to not get rid of Gaddafi, that is the question.  Where’s Joe Biden when you need him?  What is our mission?  Why are we in Libya again?  What?  That’s not what you said yesterday, nor the day before!  To use the power we have been blessed with, he just might have to eat his pre-election words (yet again).  In the end, I feel helping Libya is the right thing to do so I hope he figures it out!

I am reading now that we are destined to fall back and let NATO take control of the “mission”.  For those of you that feel this action is good, think about it.  It’s a joke.  Come on!  The USA is pretty much the backbone of NATO!!!  We run the show.  We are stepping back on paper only!  We will still be using our planes, our technology, our intelligence and our commanders (for the most part).  Don’t be fooled.  It’s still our responsibility for good or bad.  Not only should the USA be leading this venture, we are the only ones who CAN lead this venture.  To my delight, Obama’s failure to make a decision and stick with it will end up being his political downfall.  At least Bush never wavered and always stuck to his mission statement, no matter how the plan may have initially failed.

President Obama is having to make BAD decisions in order to not look like a heel.  His strong language in the past speaking out against Bush’s actions is coming back to bite him.  He can’t do what he needs to do for fear of political and personal embarrassment.  Too bad, even kids can see the hypocrisy.  Where is Obama’s plan for Libya?  He sure was in a huff about Bush not having a so called plan!  Where was Congress in all of this?  Obama sure was in a huff about Bush’s “lies” to Congress and yet Obama just ignores Congress all together!  Hmmm.  Somebody is having a bad day.  Hey, where’s the EXIT STRATEGY?

At least we now know he DOESN’T want to take down Gaddafi or at least that is what his latest headline reads.  Talk about a flip-flopper.  Oh wait, he does want to take down Gaddafi, just not militarily…Obama needs to quit playing the political game and get serious about using the resources the USA has been blessed with to use.  He needs to stand up tall instead of cower to political fear.  He is the President of the United States of America.  Yes, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.  He needs to watch Spiderman or reread the Gospel of Luke and be reminded, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Politics needs to be shoved under the table, that game is worthless here.

Acknowledgements:

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Simplicity?

“It was my desire to maintain about the White House as far as possible an attitude of Simplicity…” -Calvin Coolidge (30th President of the USA)

Why do I post this quote? Because as a nation I fear many of us have completely missed the boat regarding what it is to live a simple life. I contend that many of us don’t even know what it is. Do we have time to spare? If not, then we do not have simplicity. If a President can expect this knowing how busy a President is, then so can we.

And before you go and say that Coolidge was President in a time when things weren’t so busy, think again.  Read his Autobiography and you will see that things were quite the opposite.  For instance, try being President when traveling is not fast, you have to write your own speeches (and you want to), and you have just as much work, yet only have the technology of the 1920’s.

Have any of you readers out here ever thought someone was lazy.  I know I have and I’ll tell you about it.  I used to watch Hispanic workers here in the State and I would judge them.  They would seem to only work until around 1pm if that.  Stupid me.  They grew up working in Mexico or some other hot climate.  You don’t work when it’s hot because you can’t.  You MUST rest.  I contend that we MUST rest no matter what the temperature is.  AND we wonder why healthcare is such a big issue!!!  Stress, lack of rest, and the rapid lifestyle we have turned into the new normal are huge factors.  Or in other words, it’s a lack of Simplicity.  Prove me wrong!

The Art of Democracy

Egypt, Libya?  Nope.  I’m sticking to good ole Indiana politics.

I love it that I can say, “I think the Democrats are ridiculous to be walking out of an active session in both WI and IN.”  I also love to say, “I think it’s great that the Democrats (and past Republicans) CAN walk out of open sessions to make a point.”

Before I go on I must share that I have had experience working WITH Unions.  I must say it was suffocating.  As an engineer, my experience with Unions showed me:

1)      I had to have my hand held in order to go out on the shop floor.  I could not go out and look at inventory on my own.  I was told that I had to have a Union member help me or “I would be taking away his/her job.”  What about my job?  I can’t tell you the sum total hours I wasted having to “wait” on something that I could have grabbed and taken a look at in seconds.

2)      Working tax related inventory counting was the closest I got to Union work.  My experience showed me that people don’t work hard (forgive me if you work hard).  I heard over and over about the adage, “Don’t work hard or they will expect it of you all the time!”  Think about that….pure laziness.  I did work on the floor a while when we were cross training engineers with line workers so we could better communicate.  I think I spent more time being taught how to swing a gold club than getting questions answered.

3)      The benefits afforded to Union members were country “clubish” in my opinion, they worked slow as molasses and no one called them out on it.  That’s not what I call beneficial.  That’s what I call highway robbery and manipulation.

There was a historical NEED for Unions back in the days of child labor and deplorable working conditions.  People had no power.  Well, now people DO have power and in my direct experience the Unions of today are simply used to get comfy working conditions, overblown job security and benefits that are overly extravagant.  If this corruption was fixed, and Unions were much simplified, then yes, go for it.  As an engineer, I had no lifetime benefits and I knew I would have to work hard in order to continue in my career.  There were no guarantees and that produced a much better work ethic.  A job is earned and kept, NOT guaranteed.  Life is not fair, period.

As for the “Right to Work” bill in Indiana, what it’s all about?  It’s more about being free to work independently in Indiana, than in Wisconsin’s struggle which is apparently more aimed at Collective Bargaining.  For me the real questions are as follows:

1)      How much are Union dues, really?

Doing a little research on the web, you will find any number of Unions.  Typically, they charge dues based on monthly wages.  This fee seems fair enough.  The dues seem to range anywhere from close to 4% to around 1.5% of income.  Logically, the dues usually decrease as a percentage of your income as your income rises.  So for a $5000 a month wage, you could pay $75 or so.  Other Unions require a payment of 3x your hourly salary once a month.  [$20/hr = $60 a month].  Upon research, you will find a wide range of calculation methods.    Union dues are also apparently tax deductable.

2)      How are Union dues used?

Now comes the tricky part.  How do we figure this out?  Let’s look at the actions unions promote.  I see a lot of politics.  Unions are known to support political candidates etc.  How do they choose who to support?  Democratically?  – Sometimes.  Do some union members get paid to be in Union associated positions?  – Sure.

Here’s a brief list of how dues are sometimes used:  Paying the salaries and/or benefits of full-time or part-time union leaders and/or staff; union governance; legal representation; legislative lobbying; political campaigns; pension, health, welfare, and safety funds; and/or the union strike fund.

Much of this seems reasonable on a lot of levels, however, what if you were diametrically opposed to the political agenda of your union?  I’ve read many comments from union members across the country that indicate “dues are automatically deducted after 30 days on the job”.  Copy and paste that into Google if you want a reference.  There is no choice in many states and in many unions.  Some unions give you the choice to be in or out.

These are the questions I had, and I hope you may have learned something from reading them.  I didn’t go too deeply into it since I’m not a Union member and it doesn’t affect me too much overall.   For me, I would personally be very disturbed if I had to pay dues to a group that supported a pro-abortion candidate.  Again, that’s my preference and I feel very strongly about it.

In summary, I’m not a huge fan of Unions.  I’m told many Unions are ethically run and are truly beneficial within reason.  But, back to the politics, IF the “Right to Work” bill would give me the option to still work, but not have to unwittingly support an agenda I am against, then I would support it.  IF there are other aspects to the “Right to Work” bills out there that damage Unions, then I don’t think that’s a good path to take.  If losing some dues is the problem that is getting everyone in a huff, then the Unions need to figure out how to deal with it.  Voluntary leadership may be necessary…it works in many other settings VERY well.

I understand all the negative statistics out there like lower wages, healthcare issues, job safety, etc.  In the end, I don’t understand why a large group of workers couldn’t have the same impact as an officially bankrolled union.  Do people really need paid to stand up for job safety?  Help me understand that one.  Do people really need a guaranteed job?  No one in my family has that.

For me, I don’t have to pay my government representatives directly (outside of my taxes) in order to let them know how I feel.  If they ignore me, then that’s their problem.  It’s their job to NOT ignore me.  I can only imagine that big companies should work the same way…I know many do not, however.  So, it comes down to the fundamental question, “Can a workforce that is not unionized have a similar impact on the workplace if they choose to voluntarily approach their employer?”  Let me know your thoughts.

The World is not Enough

The American Dream, a great and wonderful philosophy.  Or is it?

“The top 1 percent [of income earners] earned 23.5 percent of all income–more than the entire bottom 50 percent. That is apparently not enough. The percentage of income going to the top 1 percent has nearly tripled since the 1970s. In the mid-1970s, the top 1 percent earned about 8 percent of all income. In the 1980s, that figure jumped to 14 percent. In the late 1990s, that 1 percent earned about 19 percent.”Recent quote from Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont. (1)

Okay, I added the emphasis to the quote above.  It insinuates that those “people” in the top 1% are utterly greedy, selfish individuals.  Earning money and actually getting to spend it is apparently something we should not expect according to Sen. Sanders.  Many of you out there also believe this load of crap if you think that the “rich” should be taxed more heavily.

What happened to freedom and living the American Dream?  How about this one:

It’s “a giveaway to the very rich” noted a Senator from the Democratic Party regarding Estate Taxes not being raised or kept extremely high. (2)

Now, this insinuates that estate value was given to these “rich” people by the government.  A giveaway, huh?  I’m thinking that whoever owned the estate, earned the estate.  To try and explain away and twist the meaning of someone’s life long earnings into a greedy, government giveaway is flat out sick.  “Rich” people worked to get where they are and to secure their families’ futures.  They lived the American Dream for goodness sakes!  It’s crazy to demonize that!

A giveaway to the very rich it is not.  What estate taxes are is the government stealing from those who have successfully lived the American Dream.  Now, doesn’t that sound depressing?  And to think, we have many, many citizens fighting for this very sick idea.

Please come to America, the land of the free, work hard, become successful!  BUT, read the fine print!!!!

The fine print goes something like this:

Warning: As soon as you become successful, you will be taxed at levels that far surpass the general public.  This taxation is done in the name of “you have too much money”.  This taxation is done in the name of “if you don’t let us take it, you are simply greedy”.  By the way, after we unfairly tax your income, as soon as you die we will tax you again since your estate was obviously built up to serve the American Government!  Please understand, we are just looking out for all the future American Dreamers out there!  Stay poor, or you will lose out on the free ride.

It may sound harsh, but truly this is what is occurring.  So, what’s the solution?  First, the government needs to be a good example to the general public.  Our government is the worst example on the face of this earth when it comes to money management!  Debt, debt and more debt.  The flawed solution is to punish those that are successful!  Yep.

Do the citizens that agree with all these taxes still feel like this is reasonable? If so, WHY?

(1)    http://www.scpr.org/programs/patt-morrison/2010/12/16/sanders/ (various souces)

(2)    http://www.wtop.com/?nid=111&sid=2204385