Archives For Getting Serious

2015-03-29_09-31-18

In quick succession, the U.K., France, Italy, and Germany all agreed to become founding shareholders of the AIIB, a sign that they are eager to cozy up to Beijing and its $4 trillion in foreign reserves. Once upon a time, “the world was said to bow down before the mighty dollar. These days, even many of America’s closest allies have renminbi signs in their eyes.”

This is an impressive “soft-power victory for China,” said the editors at Bloomberg View, and “Washington largely has itself to blame.” The U.S. has long called on China to take more of a role in international financial institutions, “without making room for it to do so.” Congress has repeatedly “blocked efforts to dilute U.S. dominance of the World Bank” or give China more influence at the IMF, where Beijing’s voting share is just 4 percent versus Washington’s 17 percent. Republicans have also shot down President Obama’s attempts to increase U.S. funding for the World Bank and IMF, said Charles Kenny at Bloomberg, leaving those institutions “undersize compared with the demands they face.” But if the Obama administration can’t persuade the GOP to put up the cash needed to underwrite development projects that will save lives and foster global growth, “it should at the very least get out of the way of other countries willing and able to lead.”

SOURCE:  China’s latest power play comes at the expense of America.

Everyone needs to learn that actions have consequences, even countries and that is what is beginning to happen to the U.S. For all of this millennium we have increasingly turned over our industrial production to China because of their lower labor costs. Too many people just focused on getting things a little cheaper and failed to look at the bigger picture.  Now, the consequences of these actions are starting to manifest themselves.

Of course we know that those actions have resulted in a severe reduction in the middle class of America. Due to constantly lower wages being earned by so many American families we have come to depend on getting our “stuff” cheaper. The second consequence is that China now has trillions of our dollars in their banks and that is resulting in them taking over the financial matters of the world. We have always been a debtor nation but never so much to just one country. Our past actions this millennium have consequences and I’m not really sure that is a bad thing.

Yes, it is fearful to see a country that is driven by a very different mentality gaining more power. Lets face it, communism is a very scary matter to capitalist nations. But if this current consequence results in our country to step back and look at what is going on with us lately maybe good will come from it. We need to realize that our very dysfunctional government is doing us grievous harm. We are ignoring things that need to be fixed because we refuse to get along together. We spend soooo much more on our military than anyone else in the world and that is draining our economy and making enemies throughout the world. We will learn that one country with less than 5% of the world’s population and, and really shouldn’t, be the policemen of the world. It is time to share that responsibility.

Maybe good things will come from us no longer being “The” political and economic power in the world….

A little humility is a good thing….

 

It’s All A Game….

March 16, 2015

2015-03-02_20-40-42I have been blogging for about eight months now over at InSearchOfAmerica. It is quite different from this one in that it is dedicated to looking at all the great things about this country that I have discovered throughout my many years. Over there I talk about what is right about America. I continue to be amazed by how great this country is in so many ways. I am now in the process of putting in somewhat detailed travelogues documenting my many trips around this great country. It is fun posting there even if my visit count is only 10% of here.

I love America and wouldn’t have wanted to be born anywhere else.  I love America but it is not perfect and that is more or less a major theme for RJsCorner. It is about trying to get a better understanding of things we do and don’t do. I know I often get somewhat critical of America when it comes to not doing things we should be doing and not learning lessons from the rest of the world where they get it right.  I have been in a hyper-reflection mode in these thoughts for most of the current year.

I have come to the conclusion lately that one of our major problems in why we can progress in some areas is that life has just become too much of a game for us. It is about winning and as Vince Lombardi said we rationalize that is the only thing that matters.  I am afraid that we are throwing the moral high ground of our founding fathers out the window in favor of winning at all costs. It’s all a game to many of us and that mentality has throughly soaked into way too many of us in the country.

If you believe in any of the hype put out by all the lawyer/police shows that permeate our airways, lawyers don’t really care that much about “justice for all”. It is about winning and that means beating the other side at all costs. So those who chose to be Republican fixate on beating those who chose to be Democrats. We rationalize that since we are the good guys they must be the bad guys. Common good is not much of a player when it comes to lawyers it seems and since the majority of our government representatives are lawyers that has polluted the entire system.  It’s all about the game…

When a leader of the opposition party does something we must do everything to defeat that idea no matter what it is or who it affects. It’s all about the game.  We as a society are just to fixated on us vs. them and the word “compromise” has as a result become a dirty word to be avoided at all costs. No one likes ties. Everything is black/white, win/lose, good guy/bad guy; there is no middle ground. It’s all “about the game…

Is it even possible to reverse this trend in order to accomplish some levels of forward progress? I simply don’t know the answer to that question right now. Maybe just recognizing the problem is, well, half the problem. There is just too much spite and hate going through the country right now. It seems to have almost snuffed out any common bonds we might have had in the past.  It greatly saddens me to see this happening. It’s all a game to too many of us. Win at all costs; beat the other guy. NO COMPROMISE!!  It’s all a game.  When will we ever come to realize that fact?

Evangelicals and the NRA

February 12, 2015

I think everyone knows that a significant part of the NRA are evangelical Christians. To me that association seems to be a Jekyll/Hide thing. How can you be so irrationally in favor of all guns without ANY restrictions and the resulting violence that it brings and be a follower of Jesus who was anything but a violent man?  It is hard for me to fathom that association but I have to accept that it is there.

SlipperyOne thing that Evangelicals and NRA members hold very much in common is the idea of the “slippery slope”. It is very much engrained into the basic culture of both those groups.

The slippery slope for the NRA is that “if we allow any control/regulation of guns then we will slide into a total restriction of them and then the “State” will come in and take them away from us so as to make us powerless in resisting their demands.  In my mind this is a very dark view of our country. To think that they fear our government who does the people’s business so much that they are willing to accept any number of Newton tragedies  rather than allow any regulations on how and to who guns are sold.

The evangelical slippery slope goes something like this.  If any part of the Bible is not considered absolutely true and without the possibility of error then that will cause us to fall down a slippery slope that makes all of the Bible questionable and therefore it becomes a worthless document.  I personally went through an extensive round of discussions with a clergyman who espoused this idea. He simply would not begin to accept the idea that since the Bible was written by men it was therefore open to error. He simply refused to believe that with all the scientific evidence of the history of the earth that is was more than 6,000 years old.  To him and many like him if the Bible is not 100% true then it is worthless.

The slippery slope is very much a black/white thing. There is no grey area in that concept for its believers. Either you are for guns without any restrictions whatsoever or you are for the total ban of guns. Either the Bible is absolutely true and without any possibility of error or it is a worthless document.

Black/White, Either/Or, No Middle Ground.

But I do celebrate the fact that most who call themselves Christians realize that things are not that simple. There are grey areas of the Bible like there are in all other things of human creations.  To most Christians including me the Bible is a very cherished document but we recognize that it was written by men and therefore some in it is likely just stories/myth, some of it is allegory and meant to relay a message and some of it is likely very man-made. Yes it was inspired by God but was not tossed down from heaven by him.

The slippery slope is a dangerous concept for our society and for our spiritual beliefs….

2015-02-01_11-52-53We spent the last two posts reviewing an article entitled “The Six Worst Things About American Christianity” from RedLetterChristians by Steven Mattson. Now that I have had a few days to digest these words I want to turn the article’s six points around to imagine them as lessons we U.S. Christians should learn. Here they are:

1) We must realize that no one has an exclusive connection with God  —  Much of what we know about early Christianity is the result of  a scribe writing down Christian stories that had been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years and even those original manuscripts have been lost to us. What we have now are copies of copies. Men throughout the ages have been penning their interpretations of what those original messages might have been.  This almost infinite list of opinions spreads from King Constantine and his council and Augustine in the fourth century to Luther and the other reformers in the 16th century all the way down to thousands of theologians at work today.

We must realize that none of these various man-made beliefs about God are without error. They might have been inspired by God but they were without question, even to the literalist, penned by men. The best thing that could happen to U.S. Christianity is that we would finally quit our “us” vs. “them” mentality of the various opinions of Christianity. We need to go back to kindergarten and learn to play nice with others. We need a little less bravado and a lot more humility.

2) We must not confuse our dedications to Jesus’ teachings and our political affiliations. – Neither U.S. political party at its roots are Christian. They are both mainly power based organizations currently just wanting to force their worldviews on each other. The early Christians were very aware that God’s kingdom is not of this world. We need to re-learn those lessons. Don’t allow your Christianity to be hijacked for political purposes.

3) Christianity is counter-cultural — Christianity is not like the latest fad that is determined by our current cultural trends. We in the U.S. mostly live in very shallow lifestyles. The teachings of Jesus are often very counter to what we endear in this country.

4) We don’t hold a “special” status with God — We in the U.S. have got to get it out of our minds that somehow God loves us more than he does others. God has agape love for all of his creation and by definition that is an infinite amount for each of us. How can some of us have more than an infinite amount of God’s love?  We may be at least currently biggest military and industrial force in the world and therefore have more than our say in what goes on in the world but that does NOT infer special status with God.

5) Remember, we Christians are meant to “march to the beat of a different drummer”.  — Jesus clearly told us again and again “don’t cling to your stuff”.  We in the U.S. are totally obsessed with consumerism. That is clearly not where Jesus wants us to be.

6) There is no such thing as a “power-hungry” Christian. — Jesus told us to have a servant mentality, not a master; that is very different from the U.S. culture teaches us. For us Christians it should never be about control or influence but instead about loving and caring.

 

<<<Originally Posted on June 3, 2013 by me at RedLetterLiving.net>>>

Kingdom of Hate…

February 2, 2015

American diplomats pay lip service to human rights while tens of billions of dollars in arms are shipped to the Kingdom of Hate, where you can be executed for ‘sorcery’ or tweeting about Islam….

2015-01-21_18-59-43Intolerance is Saudi Arabia’s greatest export. The country’s highest religious authority called to burn down all churches in Arabia. Saudi textbooks call Jews the decendents of “apes and pigs.” Christians are forbidden from wearing crosses, building churches or bringing in Bibles.

How does the world react? Total surrender and utter appeasement. Diplomats pay lip service to human rights while tens of billions of dollars in arms are shipped to the Kingdom of Hate. The King is lavished with praise.

The Saudi government, meanwhile, could not get more condescending. They lie through their teeth, confident that no one will lift a finger against them. The Saudi ambassador to the UN, Walid al Muallami, told hundreds of students at New York University that his country had no repression at all and is a “land of opporutnity” for everyone. Sure, as long as you’re not gay, a woman, secular, Christian, Jewish, Shiite, liberal, dissident, atheist or a democrat.

No Saudi diplomat should be able to leave his embassy without being confronted with Badawy’s name.

One of the main excuses for supporting Saudi Arabia is that they are needed to combat Iran. Relying on one hate-mongering, xenophobic tyranny to combat another is a very bad bet. Iran is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous regimes on Earth and the free world must apply enourmous pressure against it, but backing Saudi Arabia is not the answer. Iran can be undermined without relying on the Kingdom of Hate.

SOURCE: Our Ally Saudi Arabia Beheaded 10 People This Month – The Daily Beast.

David Keyes, who is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights is the author of this article says things that many are afraid to say. Of course we all know how Saudi Arabia gets a free pass from so many of their obnoxious human rights abuses. It is the plain and simple fact that they are the number one producer of oil in the world. If they were to suddenly turn off the spigot as they most certainly can, there would be turmoil in  much of the world.

I would highly suggest to anyone who is not up on this topic to read the entire article by clicking on the source above. There surely must come a time when we will no longer send billions of dollars of our military equipment to a government who would like nothing more than to see us go down in flames.

It is sad to see all the damage that our dependence on fossil fuels does to our world. That technology has been around for over a hundred years now. It is time to replace it and let the Saudis keep all their oil.

I Can’t Do It For Them….

November 10, 2014

2014-11-06_09-28-42This is going to be an extremely soul-searching post for me. It has been a week since the GOP route in the mid-term elections and I have been thinking about my philosophical and political leanings. Two things seem now apparent to me that were not so just a few short months ago.

The first epiphany  is that I am not so much a Democrat as I am anti-Republican. There is just too much weight amongst the current Republican party in favor of the elite and so little for the average guy and almost nothing for the guy down on his luck. In my mind too many who currently represent the party believe in the mantra “I’ve got mine so screw you”. They seem to think that if you can’t do what they did then it is your own fault. Too many, like Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, just have no empathy for others..

The Republican brand is quite simply tainted too much for me. I call myself a social progressive and a fiscal conservative. If only the Republican party would stick to their strengths of being a watchdog of the purse and get away from trying to enforce, or you could say mandate, various versions of 19th century morals on the rest of us. By the same token if only the Democratic party would get over the idea that throwing money at any situation will solve it.

The second epiphany is that I have come to understand that “I can’t do it for them”. That is I can’t help people who won’t help themselves. The majority of those who bothered to get out and vote recently were old and white like me. The young, the disenfranchised, the guy working one or maybe minimum wage job stayed home. He/she didn’t see it worth their time to make an effort to vote for the change makers.

I am probably a typical “bleeding heart liberal” in that most of the change I would like to see in this country would not affect me very much:

I want to see everyone have healthcare while I currently have very good coverage via Medicare and an affordable supplemental policy.

I want to see everyone who works full-time be paid a living wage while I am fortunate enough to have Social Security, a good pension from thirty years with the same company, and a savings account beyond most my age.

I want to see a strong safety net under those who might fall on hard times. I want to see that their families don’t get severely punished for something they had no control over while I, at least in my adult life, have never needed a safety net.

I just overflow with empathy for others where it seems most in this country are more into the survival of the fittest mode. Maybe empathy is a condition I need to overcome, I don’t know. I’m sure that many that I advocate for think they are helpless in changing things. They just can’t seem to realize that in the end their vote  has as much weight as the billionaires who they presently allow to control the money.

Maybe it is time for me to get off my empathy horse and not worry about all this stuff so much. I simply don’t know the answer to that right now. I imagine I have about one more decade on this earth. Maybe I should spend it differently than I have been up till now?

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….