The Silence Is Deafening…

January 28, 2015 — 5 Comments

2015-01-16_08-20-07

One of my resolutions for this year is to be more tolerant of other people’s beliefs. I do believe that Islam and those who follow it have a right to believe what they want about God. I also know that all the nuts out there today killing in the name of Islam are only using the religion as an excuse for rationalizing their ingrained hatred of so much of the world. I believe they no more represent the billions of Islamic followers than the KKK represents Christianity.

But the problem with that is very much as shown in Paul Combs editorial cartoon above. Radicalized Islam is quite literally destroying the mainline religion by its actions. Or maybe more appropriately the real Islamic leaders are destroying the world view of Islam by their silence. They need to renounce all those who kill in their religion’s name MUCH more adamantly than they presently do (if they do at all?) . Failing to do that is a quasi endorsement of killers actions. Islamic leader please reign in your rouges before it is too late for you….

 

About Those Greeks…

January 27, 2015 — Leave a comment

I see where the Greeks elected a new government this week to help them reduce austerity that was forced upon them by the European Union bailout.  This reminded me of a book I read a few years ago entitled “Boomerang” by Michael Lewis. One chapter in the book was about Greece. The book is very enlightening and well written. Here are some selected snippets about Greece.

2015-01-26_11-43-52The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job. The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses. The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a year….

The Greek public-school system is the site of breathtaking inefficiency: one of the lowest-ranked systems in Europe, it nonetheless employs four times as many teachers per pupil as the highest-ranked, Finland’s. Greeks who send their children to public schools simply assume that they will need to hire private tutors to make sure they actually learn something. 

The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as “arduous” is as early as fifty-five for men and fifty for women . As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than six hundred Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, waiters, musicians, and on and on and on….

The Greek people never learned to pay their taxes. And they never did because no one is punished. No one has ever been punished. It’s a cavalier offense— like a gentleman not opening a door for a lady.” The scale of Greek tax cheating was at least as incredible as its scope: an estimated two-thirds of Greek doctors reported incomes under 12,000 euros a year— which meant, because incomes below that amount weren’t taxable, that even plastic surgeons making millions a year paid no tax at all….

The problem wasn’t the law there was a law on the books that made it a jailable offense to cheat the government out of more than 150,000 euros but its enforcement. “If the law was enforced,” the tax collector said, “every doctor in Greece would be in jail.” I laughed, and he gave me a stare. “I am completely serious.” One reason no one is ever prosecuted— apart from the fact that prosecution would seem arbitrary, as everyone is doing it and that the Greek courts take up to fifteen years to resolve tax cases. 

Lewis, Michael (2011-09-28). Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World – Norton. Kindle Edition.

The quotes above give you an idea as to why Greece might be in the troubles it is. As the book implies actions have consequences and Greece apparently needs to learn that lesson.

Greece is the birthplace of democracy so let’s end this post with a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Isocrates:

“Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.”

Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it?

Republican proponents insisted the new legislation would reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and spur creation of new jobs.

SOURCE:  Houses passes bill easing rules regulating Wall Street – Yahoo News.

RegulationsI think every one of those GOPers in this new congress need to have the words above tattooed on their foreheads. Ok more realistically written on a Post-It note and stuck on the foreheads. I’m sure that mantra is going to be their reason for every bill they pass in the coming two years as it has been for the last couple of decades. But as usual there is a big difference between rationalization and reality.

It’s funny that when they are in power Wall Street almost always does worse than when the Dems are there. When Mr. Bush came into office the stock market was at 11,000 when he left eight years later it was at 8,000 mainly due to GOP decisions made while he was in office. Then came Mr. Obama and the stock market went from 8,000 to almost double that in six years. I don’t know when the 1%ers who control more wealth than the rest of us combined are going to realize that the GOP are just not that good for them.

The “Regulatory burdens” that this new GOP majority want to eliminate are what was put in place to reign in the worst capitalistic greed. It doesn’t seem to concern these yahoos that the lack of regulatory burdens is what caused the near complete collapse of our entire economy just six short years ago.  To me, and I hope many of you, regulatory burdens are the necessary rules for living in a people centered democracy but yes I do realize that we have become much less people centered in this new century. I pray that we can turn that around.

Eliminating taxes and therefore government is the goal of much of Republican’s action. They seem to do a good job of listening to their rich donors but not so much in listening to those who elected them.  I know I have spent a lot of words here hitting on the GOP majority now in congress but that doesn’t mean that I think the other party did much better. All those yahoos need to learn some basic lessons about representing us. A democracy is about all the people not just about those who finance the political campaigns. They are there to do the people’s business not to blindly follow whatever their leadership or even more so the monied interests tells them to do. It is a shame that one of the first things they wanted to do as the new majority was to give more power to those who almost put us down. But maybe even more shameful was the second thing and that was to start whittling down Social Security. Shame on all of them for that mentality… and shame on us for not taking them to task for not doing the people’s business….

Why did God go to all the trouble to create the universe? By any standards that was a massive undertaking. I am one who believes in the day age interpretation of the Bible.  In the last century or so God has given us the scientific understanding to know that the creation of the universe took millions if not billions of years to complete. Why did he go through all that trouble? But for God a billion years might only be a day. Who know?

One explanation for God creating the universe including the infinitely small corner of it called the Earth was that he intends it to be a proving ground for what kind of person we choose to be. We all start out on this earth in basically the same conditions; that is we come naked from our mother’s womb. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a caring family and someone who can give us a life that will allow us to live up to our full potential. Many unfortunately are also given a life of day-to-day desperation.  But it is up to each of us to decide via our actions just what type of human being we want to be.

One story in the Bible is that some of us become sheep and some of us become goats and in the end times Jesus will come back and separate us into those two categories. I don’t really understand the difference between sheep and goats; I kind of like them both but that is another story. :)  Anyway there are several other stories about how God will come in the end times for the “final” judgment.  How many of these stories are just allegory I don’t know but I know when I leave this earth, as all of us must, I will meet my Maker. When he judges me I am absolutely sure he will bring up the words of Jesus to compare what Jesus told me to do verses what I eventually did. Will that judgement make me a sheep or a goat? That seems to be totally up to me.  Will the judgment have an effect on whether I am with God or not from that time forward?  There are numerous places in the Bible where God seems to put conditions on that happening. There are also a few where St. Paul seems to say otherwise.  But in some ways it really doesn’t matter to me. I will spend my life studying Jesus’ words and trying to live my life by them. Whether that gets me in heaven or not is totally up to God; I will not spend much time fretting over that. I will spend the time I have on earth enjoying his creation and living my life by the words of Jesus. I do this because I must; I do this because he is my creator and told me what he expects of me and that is to be my brother’s keeper.

<<This post is a re-blog from one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net from April 20, 2011>>