Archives For April 2012

Source: A rich guy’s case for higher taxes.

To give you a little background on the rich guy this article talks about here is a quote introducing piece.

Like Warren Buffett, David Levine — retired executive, student of the federal tax code and very rich man — is begging the government to raise his taxes. Here, he explains why.

David Levine spent his life in the corporate world studying the federal tax code. If anyone knows about its effect on the prosperity of the country it is probably him. He retired in his forties and flatly states he might have worked longer and produced more if he had been taxed more.  Here is one of the most telling quotes from the article.

It would be one thing, Levine says, if the economy had performed so much better after taxes on the rich were cut. But it didn’t. Some of the fastest economic growth of the post-war period came in the 1950s, when the top tax rate was above 80 percent. The slowest growth came in the 2000s, when the top tax rate was 35 percent. So the fastest income growth for the top 1 percent has come under the low-tax regimes, while the fastest income growth for the median American came when taxes on the richest Americans rose.

My Republican friends love to constantly state that if we dare to raise rates on the rich we will shut down our economy. One of the experts in this field says that in not true and history proves him out.

This is a continuation of a post I did in March 2009 on my blog at RedLetterLiving.net

This is a continuation of the last post where I covered George Washington’s religious beliefs. I will conclude this topic by talking about Thomas Jefferson.

 Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson was undoubtedly the strongest advocate for religious freedom of the Founding Fathers. This was quite evident when he composed the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1777. Jefferson was definitely raised in a Christian household. He seemed to have also been brought up in the rituals and customs of the Anglican Church as it existed in colonial Virginia which was much less a high church institution than its England counterpart. He later took up the Deist mantle as was the dominant theology among intellectuals in the English speaking world at the time. Jefferson’s revolving attitudes toward religion was one of the driving forces behind his staunch beliefs in freedom of religion.

In his later years, that is after his presidency, he spent quite some time thinking about his faith. During that time he went back to his Christian roots but rejected the Trinitarian concept of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost saying it was Platonic mysticism. From his many letters to John Adams it is evident that he took to heart the “doctrine that flowed from the lips of Jesus himself” and wrote extensively about the “Morals of Jesus”. He wrote two books during this period about his faith. The Philosophy of Jesus and The Life and Morals of Jesus. Many Christians today don’t know that he even wrote his own version of the New Testament. In that work he systematically eliminated all references to miracles and the supernatural saying they were unnecessarily added to the actual accounts. He believed that these and other distortions, took the simple message of Jesus and unnecessarily complicated it. He believed this fault was not due to the simple fisherman who were for the most part his apostles. He instead blamed the sophisticated, well educated including and most obviously Saul of Tarsus (St. Paul). He obviously did not include any of St. Paul’s writings in his version of the New Testament.

So it is true to say that the person who wrote our Declaration of Independence began and ended his life as a Christian. But, he was very much unlike any Christians we run across today.
Another very interesting person also covered in the book was Benjamin Franklin. He also had a very interesting concept of religion. I will leave it to those more curious to get the book and read about him. I will conclude here by paraphrasing what President Obama has been saying lately. We in the United States are not unique because we are a Christian nation but instead we are unique because of our diversity of religious views and tolerance. The diversity of our founding fathers beliefs were pretty much as we are as a country today.

When a fellow don’t have much mind it don’t take him long to make it up. – November 3, 1935  Will Rogers

As Will mentions here it doesn’t seem like many today have much mind and what they have is most often closed. They are fixated on one tunnel vision world view and absolutely nothing will shake them from that view. They have made up their minds long ago that their view of the world is the only valid one. It is almost like that guy about one hundred years ago that tried to shut down the U.S. patent office because he was totally convinced that everything had already been discovered. I’m sure to that poor stifled soul the pace of invention was dizzying and therefore would soon come to an end. He couldn’t imagine it unfolding any other way! He was very closed minded about that.

Closed minds has been a top of conversation for years. One thing about closed minds is that they always come with in-born prejudgment that are almost impossible to break. Here are some famous quotes about that

  • A closed mind is a dying mind.   – Edna Ferber
  • Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.  ~Albert Einstein
  • Prejudice is the child of ignorance.  ~William Hazlitt
  • If only closed minds came with closed mouths.  ~unknown
  • What is tolerance?  It is the consequence of humanity.  We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.  ~Voltaire
  • Judge me all you want, just keep the verdict to yourself.  ~From a Winston advertisement
  • Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.  ~Oscar Wilde

Dealing with people who have long ago made up their minds about almost everything is like beating your head against a wall. What does it take to reach people like that? Or is it even possible? Maybe the best thing to do is simply walk away. But then again maybe that is just the easiest thing to do…..
But then again what do I know…..

Source: NYT: NRA gathers amid storm over gun laws – US news – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

Simply put gang, when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns. You will NEVER take mine. I am NOT the enemy. I stand WITH the police and have NEVER discharged my weapons. BUT if someone comes to harm me, wife or my doggie, that is a different story. The second amendment exists for a very specific reason. The Obammy admin is not only trying to destroy the second amendment but the US Constitution in total. He is a dangerous Marxist. Read your history of his family gang. Sorry libs but those are the facts.

The above quote is not actually from the cited article but is instead one of the many comments that followed it. Yes, I actually did go below the bottom of the article to look at the comments. I was hoping to see maybe a few that were meant to generate some meaningful dialog. Of course my hope was dashed at usual.

Here is a typical radical right commenter who manages to get in a racial slur of our president and of course says that he is intent of bringing down the constitution.  He says these are the facts but in reality they are facts only in the minds of the totally demented (ha).

Moving on to the general topic of the source article the NRA, like a typical radical right organization, is using fear as their primary tool in their battle against anyone who disagrees with them.   I recently saw an interview of a British correspondent who attended the NRA convention where Mr. Romney spoke. He, like most British, is totally dumbfounded by the fixation with guns in this country. Britain has one of the lowest murder rates of any nation and of course also has the lowest private gun ownership so I can understand his confusion with this fixation.

But the most interesting thing of this interview was his statement that almost every one of the attendees at the convention were “old white men”. He saw almost no people of color among the crowd. Correspondingly he speculated that maybe these folks were not so much into guns as they were actually just afraid of the coming demographic make-up of the country.  It will soon be that the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant will be a minority in this country and that terribly troubles many of these folks. They are used to having almost absolute power and losing it strikes terror in their hearts. They are lashing out against this inevitability. I can certainly see this interviewees’ view as a possibility.

Of course, most NRA members are also radical right Republicans who I imagine also see their party and its beliefs under attack. At a most basic level I can understand their fear of the future. They feel threatened and rightly or wrongly will vehemently strike out at those who they see as the enemy and they see enemies all around them. These types of battles remind me of the racist southern views I saw during the civil rights era of the 1960′s  The typical white southerner saw his world being turned upside down and like today did almost anything to prevent it.  The hatred shown in the quoted area above is somewhat typical of many and show this to be somewhat true.

Some of the things we celebrate tend to be a double edged sword.  I recently say a TV program celebrating the multi-million dollar restoration of a home at Newport Rhode Island.  Newport was one of the areas known as a playground for the robber barons of almost one-hundred years ago. The home in particular was actually a summer home build by Edward Berwind. His wife for several years spent about six weeks there during the summer months.  The mansion as shown to the right was about 86,000 square feet and will filled with utter opulence. The TV show proudly announced how they brought this home back to its former elegance.

I personally have problems with this sort of thing because I know some of the history surrounding the person involved. Edward Berwind came to wealth in the coal mining industry.  He was famous at the time for absolutely refusing to negotiate with his workers. He dictated what they would earn, how long they worked and where they lived. As a result the workers spent about eighty hours per week in very dangerous conditions (many were killed each year in mining accidents). They also were pretty much forced to live in the “company” town where Mr. Berwind took back all their wages for overpriced food and housing.

Edward Berwind was the epitome of what a robber baron was.  He spent very lavishly on himself and his family while forcing his workers to live and work in absolutely dreadful conditions.  I know there are some of you out there, particularly my Republican friends, who don’t have a good understanding of these times and you are probably saying “well the workers could have worked for someone else”. But the reality of the time was that people one hundred years ago pretty much died in the same place they were born and in the Appalachians that mean working in the mines in your area.

So, here I am deeply troubled by the fact that millions are spent restoring a robber barons opulence that was built on the back of his workers. I can’t understand celebrating that fact.  To me I would almost prefer that the home was torn down.

All there is to politics is trading. That’s why politics is not as good as it was years ago. They don’t have as many old-time horse traders in there. These we got are just amateurs. They’re crude with their trades. There is really no “finesse.” You might not get that. “Finesse” is a French word and it means sneaking it over. — Will Rogers

Maybe Will, as usual is on to something here. Maybe our problems with politics today is that all the current office holders are just amateurs at horse trading.  An alternative way I might mention on this problem is that the current office holders just never learned to “play well with others”.

Maybe some scientific study group can go back into all these yahoos kindergarten report cards to see if this is a common occurrence. If this proves to be true, and I suspect it will, then maybe we need to demand that all future political candidates provide  us with copies of the kindergarten report cards.  Maybe with that info we can cut the polluted political environment at its roots.

Another possibility is to go to Will’s assumption and require all future political candidates to have a certificate of auctioneering as part of their resume.

At any rate we need to get rid of all these amateurs that are now in office and get some properly trained folks in there.

But what do I know….. ;)

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.  – Thomas Jefferson

These are powerful words for today and it is absolutely amazing that they were actually spoken more than two hundred years ago! It is no secret to those of us who are studied in American history that Thomas Jefferson was not a big fan of corporate interests. He believed in giving the power to the people; he was the first real Democrat in that regard.

I think Mr. Jefferson’s words have finally come to pass in this country. Especially with the recent Supreme Court decision that corporations are people and therefore have an unlimited right to spend whatever they want in our electoral processes.  At least they haven’t “yet” given corporations the right to vote. It is yet to be determined the full extent of corporate pollution in our democratic processes but I fear the result will be ugly indeed! Will the upcoming flood of negative ads put out by the corporate interests turn a whole generation away from the management of our country?

Is the Republican Party insuring its own demise by it continuing to focus on a narrower and narrower core group.  I want to believe this is the case as the alternative is that we as a country are now dominated by exclusion.  Being against things, particularly different groups of people, is what has been driving the Republican primaries lately. It has pushed their final candidate over to the extreme right of the political spectrum. Can the Republicans maintain a party that far off the center of American Politics?

It seems like everyday the Republican party members alienate yet another group of voters.

  • They are for rounding up all the people in this country without the proper papers and shipping them out of the country.  They seem to have no compassion for those who are just trying to provide for their families. This is alienating most Spanish-speaking voters.
  • They are against birth control. This is alienating many women voters.
  • They are against continuing to fund Medicare. They want to turn it over to the private insurance companies. This is alienating many senior citizen voters (and they are the most active voters around)
  • They are against providing medical care via Medicaid to the poorest of the poor.  Even though this group is not a strong voting block there are those who do vote and have compassion for this group.
  • They are against religious diversity. They say this is a “Christian” nation. By this they are alienating Muslims, Hindi, Buddhists, and other non-Christian religious groups.
  • They are against Social Security. They want to make each person entirely on their own during their senior years. This is a double whammy for us seniors.

The Republicans seem to be against so much and for so little how can they maintain a Republican base? It seems that one of the only groups they are not alienating are white evangelical Christians , particularly those ironically who lack compassion for their fellow-man. Someday this group might even take to heart the commands of Jesus, their founder, and at least some a minimal amount of compassion for the “least of these”.

Another group who they are not presently alienating are those that see governments only role in society is to provide for our war machine.  Everything else to this particular group is deemed unconstitutional. We have a female who is running for congress in my district who proudly announces that she is home schooled on the constitution. She basically says after her self study she has determined that the federal government’s only role is to provide for defense. Everything else, according to her, is unconstitutional!

The last and maybe the biggest group of supporters to the current Republican party are those that just want the government out of their pocket books.  Today they are known as the “Tea Party” but have had many other names through the years. They don’t see  “providing for the general welfare”, as a necessary role for their government to be involved in. They seem to care little about anyone but themselves.

Where will future Republicans come from? If they end up having no core support can they even exist?

This is a post I did in March 2009 on my blog RedLetterLiving.net related to whether we are founded as a Christian nation as so many conservatives seem to say. I will finish it up next Sunday.

There are a lot of different views of what the Founding Fathers of the United States believed when it came to God. Many evangelicals like to say that we were founded on Christian principles and that is what makes us so unique, some would say superior, but I definitely don’t buy into that. I found the book entitled The Faiths of Our Fathers, by Alf J. Mapp Jr. to be very helpful in discerning truth from myth about this topic. The book goes into quite some detail about 10 of the most prominent Founders and just what they believed. To sum up the overall conclusions of the book I will cite the following quote from it:

“There is no monolithic national faith acknowledged by all the Founding Fathers. Their religious attitudes were as varied as their political opinions….. One famous political leader generally regarded as a red-hot radical became essentially a fundamentalist. Another famed for common sense and hard-headed realism viewed creation as composed of many solar systems, each with its own God. Once celebrated for conventional piety created a mystery by refusing to take communion. One of the most prominent Founders, a man popularly regarded as materialist and dissolute, attempted to found an organization of Christian conservatives to promote the elections to political office of “like minded men”.

For those who are truly interested in this I suggest you read the book. I won’t go into detail about each person covered. I will leave that up to you. But, I will comment on a couple of the most famous Founders.

George Washington — Most of us know that George Washington was a deist, not a Christian but in his early life he worshiped with an Anglican congregation. So much like many today he rejected basic doctrine but occasionally attended anyway.The Anglicans, at that time, believed in a strong link between church and state. Of course that is the opposite of our United States’ principle of separation between the two. Historical researchers have, to date, found no evidence that Washington ever received communion. Mapp makes the point that over the years many authors have tried to paint Washington with a large variety of religious brushes. The general consensus is that Washington was a deist. That is a person who believes in God as an omnipotent being who generally guides humanity but does not interfere with it. His frequent references to “Divine Providence” in his correspondence seems to tip to that belief. Therefore contrary to what modern day evangelicals want us to believe George Washington was definitely not one of them.

Next time we will investigate what Thomas Jefferson’s beliefs were and whether he was a Christian.

Source: AT&T sheds directories, advertising business | Mobile – CNET News.

The assets that AT&T is selling include the Yellow Pages directories…

Things are in constant change now days. Sometime the pace is dizzying indeed.  Of course telecommunications is one of those things that is probably changing the fastest.

  • In the 1960s you could find a public telephone booth on almost any city street.
  • In the 1970s the Trimline telephone was being made at a rate of one million a week. Picture phones were available but at a $2,000 per month rate.
  • In the 1980s almost every household finally had a landline telephone and a very few had a “mobile” telephone which at time cost around $300 per month.
  • In the 1990s  cordless phones were replacing the corded version in the typical American home and cellular service was just beginning.
  • By 2000 cellular phones were becoming common place.
  • By 2020 it is speculated that the country will be pretty much converted from landline to completely cellular service.

So I guess AT&T giving up its Yellow Pages is just a minor nick in the change but it just won’t seem the same without “letting my fingers walk through the Yellow Pages. :)   But then again, I don’t think I have opened last years version of the Yellow Pages. I now look up everything on the Internet.

Goodbye my Yellow Pages friend. You served me well but your time  like so many things now days has come to an end.