RJ's Corner

Looking Back…

I have been thinking about it lately so wanted to post a picture taken from the restaurant on top of the World Trade Center in 1999. It was very strange to look down and see helicopters flying around. The enormity of the buildings that fell is hard to comprehend unless you have actually seen them.

History Is…..

History ain’t what it is. It’s what some writer wanted it to be.  – Will Rogers

Oh Will you sage!! How did so many wise things come from your lips?  Another way of saying this is that “history belongs to the victor. Will Rogers, like me to a lessor degree, was part native American. He grew up in Oklahoma which was where most of the native American tribes ended up by the early 1900s. So, I’m sure Will had his ancestry in mind when the wrote these words.

We native Americans have always been portrayed as those filthy savages in most of the history books. We were to be considered something, not someone, who needed to be cleared out in order for progress to happen. At best we were ignorant savages who needed to have their culture erased from our memories and replaced by their white European religions and ethics.

History belongs to the victor. The history of those on the defeated side is usually stifled in the memory of the victors. Fortunately, as the years pass a more complete version of history is usually written. Some of it is even based on victims point of view.  That is a good thing even if it is long in coming and usually after opinions on the matter are firmly established.

Being a contrarian I often seek the other side of most history accounts I read. For every story there is usually one version that is never heard. That is one of the major problems with the world today. Most of us accept the predominate view of what is happening today and don’t take the time to  see a different way to view it. We lock on to what version accommodates our current worldview and totally ignore other possibilities. Some how or another we need to always hear both versions of history. We need to listen to each other. There are lessons to be learned from both sides if only we took the time to learn them.

But what do I know….

Every Wrinkle Is A Picture….

Great artists say that the most beautiful thing in the world is a baby. Well, the next is an old lady, for every wrinkle is a picture. – Will Rogers

I guess some people are just not historians, either at the personal level or otherwise. When they begin to see a wrinkle or two on their faces they rush to a plastic surgeon. For those less affluent they make a panic trip to the drug store for the latest anti-wrinkle cream. The latest reports show that in the U.S. we spend more than $10 billion per year for Botox and the like. So many just refuse to accept the beauty of a wrinkled face.

Like my grey hair I pride myself on all the wrinkles I have. I have earned every one during my years on this earth. They make it clear that I am not some youngster who is naive in the ways of the world. I have been around and my wrinkles show you that maybe you can learn a little from what I have to say. No, that is not a picture of me in the photo here. I am not nearly as good-looking as that fellow. :)

I don’t know when becoming a mature person went out of favor. I certainly looked up to my grandfather even though he passed when I was about ten years old. I certainly enjoy visiting him on his pig farm and listening to all the stories he had to tell. He had a belly laugh for every time he told me to go collect the eggs and  then watched the old rooster chase me around the chicken coup. He was quite a character who I really loved.

Some cultures still show total respect for their senior members. The elderly are considered the patriarch of the family and no important decisions are made without first referring with them. But it seems that in the U.S. we now consider our aged a liability instead of an asset of knowledge and wisdom. We lament about how they are sucking up all the healthcare dollars at the expense of the rest of us. They say that the money we paid into social security was no more than an ordinary tax so we shouldn’t expect to get any of it back now that we are aged. I don’t know what happened to create this rationalization?

Irregardless of how others think I revel in my experiences, wisdom and the wrinkles that the years have given me. I am no longer jerked about by the latest fad or whim. I continue to wear what I wore two decades ago in spite of the fact that it is no longer in fashion. I don’t waste time on things that I see no value in. Call me eccentric if you want; I really don’t care. But if you care to listen I do have a thing or two to say that might help you in your passage through life.

So, Will here is to you. You got it right again. But I think I will add us guys to your quote. There is beauty in every wrinkle and each one of them is a story.

But what do I know

Permanently Geared To War…..

Source: Presidential campaign inevitably boosts war with Iran – latimes.com.

This should be a very somber topic for all of us but given the Republican presidential candidates it seems to be otherwise. The eagerness to go to war is far too dominant in those folks. One thing I am very disappointed in President Obama is his war stances. They were pretty much the opposite of what he campaigned on. He seems to be just one of the gang now; the change mantra has all but disappeared. Here are some stark words from the source article:

The truth is, Americans are not a peace-loving people. We pretend otherwise because it seems wrong to admit that the United States is a nation that has mostly benefited from war. We were not like the contented Canadians, who patiently waited for the Mother Country to bestow self-government. We went to war and tossed the British out. Through one war with Mexico and relentless wars with Indian tribes, we became a country that spanned a continent. The Spanish-American War and the First World War marked our arrival on the world stage. And the Second World War left us as one of the two preeminent powers on the planet…..

Put in less idealistic terms, our country is a national security state built on the vast military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about. Our government and our economy are permanently geared up for war, and very few Americans can remember a time when this was not so. It’s hard to imagine any president resisting the temptation to use this awesome force and even harder to imagine that a majority of Americans would ever elect a man who would.

These are very somber but true words about our country that we all need to recognize. President Eisenhower, who was one of the most famous generals in our history warned us in the 1950s that if we did not fend it off we were headed toward an uncontrollable military-industrial complex. It seems that very few of our leaders since that time have heeded his words. Our military has eaten up a large portion of our tax dollars.  The vast majority of it goes to the weapons providers, not the kids who are din uniform. It doesn’t seem to matter if we are in a full scale war at the time or not the Pentagon constantly insist that to “keep us safe” they must have more and more.

The best thing that was done after defeating Japan in World War II was to dictate to them that they could not have a standing army.  The perhaps unintended consequence of that action was to allow them to put that money into their civilian industry that would  a mere twenty years later threaten our economic dominance. Most countries in the world realize that if they spend on a war machine they have to take the money from somewhere else to make that happen.  Instead of spending on weapons most other industrialized countries have chosen to spend it on their citizens, many in the form of universal healthcare among other things. We could have done likewise but chose a different more destructive path. It is not too late to change our minds…

But what do I know…

An Ode to Capitalism…..

Source: Drugmakers have paid $8 billion in fraud fines – USATODAY.com.

The nation’s largest drugmakers have paid at least $8 billion in fines for repeatedly defrauding Medicare and Medicaid over the past decade, but they remain in business with the federal government because they are often the sole suppliers of critical products, records show.

This is one of those cases where “you can’t live with them can’t live without them”. Drug companies definitely have improved the quality of life for all of us. We should all be thankful that they are around. But greed, that seems almost ingrained in the capitalist process pollutes their contributions to society. I am sure that as usual  the fines are a small fraction of what the companies raked in profits. When you can easily make a million bucks by “misreporting” what you provide and in the future only pay $50,000 fine, fraud become an unwritten part of your business plan.

My Republican friends are constantly saying government is impeding the “free market” and all we have to do is to free them from regulations and any government intrusions and our economy will flourish beyond imagination. But to those of us who are less naive know that at capitalism’s core is greed and we also know that greed without limits is a deadly proposition.

Contrary to what my Republican friends think I am a firm believer in the capitalist system but a critical part of that system is someone to protect us from the greed of the primary players. We rational people look to our government representatives to do that job for us via regulations.  If no one reigned in the overwhelming obsession of profits they would soon bring down our country instead of rising it above imagination. Just look at Greece as an example.

We depend on  the checks and balances of our government to protect us from power abuses within our democracy. We also depend on our regulators to protect us from the abuses of our capitalist system. Anyone who thinks that unfettered capitalism is a good thing just hasn’t learned the many lessons in our past history. You need look no further than four years ago to see what  stripping regulations did to our financial system and the resulting costs laid on each of us taxpayers.  If that doesn’t convince you then go back to the 1980s and see an almost exact same thing happen to our savings and loan industry.  Oh, by the way it was also a Republican administration, namely Mr. Reagan,  who bailed out the S&Ls. Why we seem to make the same deregulation mistakes over and over again is a mystery to me.

But what do I know…

Welcome To The Future?

Source: Mooresville School District, a Laptop Success Story – NYTimes.com.

The district’s graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, up from 80 percent in 2008. On state tests in reading, math and science, an average of 88 percent of students across grades and subjects met proficiency standards, compared with 73 percent three years ago. Attendance is up, dropouts are down. Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of dollars spent per student — $7,415.89 a year — but it is now third in test scores and second in graduation rates.

I know change is difficult for all, especially us seniors sometimes. So, to read this article and learn that students are learning from applications on their MacBook Airs in addition to a live teacher can be very disconcerting. But as a retired information technology engineer I can understand why it works. The internet has opened up the information superhighway to just about anyone with a connection. There is almost nothing that we can’t start learning with just a few keystrokes. What used to take hours researching in a twenty four volume encyclopedia now takes seconds with a keyboard.

One of the main advantages of this type of process is that each student can learn at their own pace.  I can still remember my grade school days (yeah even that  long ago :) ) when I would get quite bored because the teacher had to go through the same lesson several times in order to make sure every kid in the class understand. I was an impatient kid, something I have never grown out of I guess, so sitting there with nothing to stimulate me drove me to boredom beyond my imagination. Wouldn’t it have been great if I could have, on my own, moved on to the next lesson. I think I would have gotten much more out of the classroom time.

But, just like everything else involving change, especially paradigm change as this story approaches,  it will be resisted quite adamantly by some in the educational community. Change just comes harder for some than for others. Of course there will always be lessons that must be learned that can’t be put on a computer screen. Those lessons will continue to require a passionate well informed mentor teacher. But the daily grind stuff that students can learn at their own pace is better done by other methods.

So many kids today are much more fluent in this sort of thing than their parents ever dreamed. I think the parents and especially grand-parents will have a harder time accepting this new way of learning than the kids ever will. According to the article the kids at Mooresville take it in stride.

If God is Love… Part 3

This is the third of five posts I made on the book If God is Love by Philip Gulley. I have slightly modified it from when it was written over at RedLetterLiving last July.

This is a continuation of my expose of the book by Philip Gulley entitled If God Is Love. In this post he talks about Dualistic Theologies.

Dualistic theologies reduce the questions of life to one: Are you saved? Nothing else matters. The purpose of life it to answer that single question. Of course, simply saying “yes” is not enough. You confirm your salvation by accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, getting baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit. Until you have done these things, your life has no meaning.

When salvation is defined so narrowly, it too easily becomes a status rather than a process. It becomes a contractual agreement between an individual and God….  Too often, God’s desire to transform us into mature, responsible, and gracious people was obscured. When religion factored in the fragility of life and the threat of eternal damnation, the product (a spot in heaven) rather than the process (becoming an authentic person) became the priority.

Growing up, I was asked repeatedly, “If you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?” I was never asked, “If you live tomorrow, what kind of life will it be?”

Some call this supposed contract between you and God fire insurance. We sign the papers and then put it on the shelf until it is needed. That is NOT what being a follower of Jesus Christ means to me nor should it to anyone else. This is another instance where I believe men have fashioned a god who pleases them; not the other way around. Yes it is nice to I know where I will be spending eternity but equally important, if not more so for our times,  is how I will live my life tomorrow and all the tomorrows I have left. If they do not reflect God’s love then is the fire insurance policy still valid? I have deep reservations about the answer to that one.

My Best Friend…

Seeing a fellow blogger talk about his new pet reminded me that I have been getting too serious on this blog lately. So I thought it was time to kick back on this post and show you one of my best friend. Best friends seem to be hard to come by in my senior years. :) She has been with us for about  four years now. Although she weighs in at over sixty pounds she thinks she is a lap dog. This picture was taken a few months ago during our only snow storm that lasted more than a day on the ground. This one took four days to disappear.

Albert You Are Safe, For Now…..

Source:  Cosmic Log – Flaw found in faster-than-light setup.

Months after researchers reported that they measured neutrinos traveling faster than light, they’re finding that the incredible result may have been due to a bad connection rather than a violation of Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

A while ago I made a post about how scientists today disproved Einstein’s theory of relativity. It was reported that they had been able to measure the speed of a neutrino that was faster than light. According to Albert when things approach the speed of light they end up as pure energy. Well it looks like the scientists needed to kick their equipment as a loose connection caused an error .

Whenever my internet connection goes down, and it goes down quite frequently in my rural area, I usually give it a virtual kick in the pants otherwise known as a reset to get it re-booted. I haven’t had to do that with my new LCD TV yet but I imagine that day is coming as it is approaching warranty expiration. Maybe that is what happened to these scientist’s equipment? It get got out of warranty and therefore is going on the blink?

Why don’t they make things like the did in the “good old days”? That is a question I hear often especially from my wife and the other old people I encounter ;)  The good old days are always thought to be better than today. I’m afraid that is a result of “selective memory”. Sometimes we seniors just have the malady. I remember the good old days of the 60s and 70s when it came to automobiles. Looking back I would actually call them pieces of junk. We had to get a new car about every three or four years if you wanted reliable transportation.  Few cars in those days lasted more than 100,000 miles. After the car was a year old the repair season began. Usually it started with a new fuel pump, water pump, alternator or a number of other failures. Then came the exhaust and brake systems. The good old days were just not the good old days when it came to our cars. Cars are infinitely more reliable now than they were in the good old days.

I, as usual, got off topic here but that is one of the rights of passage into maturity I guess. Getting back on subject it looks like E=mC 2 is safe for now. But disappointingly that put the Star Trek warp drive back on the back burner. You were indeed a brilliant guy Albert but I hope someday to see your theory is proved wrong so we can get on with “traveling where no person has gone before……

Pentagon – a 10% Budget Cut Is Out Of The Question…..

via Why Pentagon, facing ‘doomsday’ spending cuts, refuses to plan for them – CSMonitor.com.

Pentagon brass say they won’t even brook the possibility that $487 billion in mandated spending cuts – their ‘doomsday’ scenario – will actually come to pass. But if Congress doesn’t blink, say analysts, the Pentagon will be in dire straits.

I have always believed that those Pentagon folks are the most arrogant batch of people on God’s Green Earth. As stated above they absolutely refuse to even consider the possibility of cutting their budgets! I’m sure if push comes to shove they will say that a budget that is 10% lower than now will result in our country being taken over by terrorists! They will claim that this is imminent the same way as it was imminent that Iraq had WMDs and were going to use them on the world immediately if we didn’t invade that country.

Is there anyone out there that can stand up to our military monolith?  We ordinary folks face 10% budget cuts on a regular basis lately. With the cost of healthcare, fuel and even food now days on an ever-increasing spiral it seems we have to give up more and more in order to just stay in place.  We in the U.S. are five percent of the world’s population spend more on our military than the other ninety-five percent of the world combined!  How can we get some sanity in this process and make a “real” cut in our war machine spending?  The only thing the Pentagon folks want to is consider is maybe a “cut in the increase” in military spending once in a while.

Of course there are congressmen on both sides fo the aisle who will always pander to the generals. They are currently preaching gloom and doom if we dare to cut even a small percentage of our war making budgets. One of the best parts of our Constitution is that it made a private civilian head of the military establishment. That was intended to put a different perspective on things military. I know I use the phrase frequently but if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. In that light I expect all our generals and such who have spent their entire adult lives concentrating on killing the bad guys see only an absolute necessity for military force wherever they look at most any conflict around the world.

I wish our present “commander and chief” lived up to his rhetoric of the campaign trail in regards to our military establishment. Instead it seems that he has succumbed into the hammer mentality too. It is probably hard to disagree with all those guys, and for the most part they are still guys, with all the medals on their chests when they tell you something.  It is also time for we in the U.S. to tell the rest of the world that we can no longer be the policemen in every corner of the earth. We must tell them that they need to take responsibility for the neighborhoods where they live. We can no longer afford to spend more than the rest of the world combined on a war machine. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to get out of the idea that we must spend more and more each year on our pentagon budgets. It is time to “just say no”…..

Employers say they can’t find workers

Source:  Life Inc. – Role reversal: Employers say they cant find workers.

“Employers are getting pickier and pickier,” Holmes said. “We want the perfect person to walk through the door.”Other experts also are seeing evidence that employers just aren’t working as hard to recruit workers, either because they can’t afford to or they don’t feel like they have to. Employers may not be looking far afield because they cant afford moving expenses. Employees may be less willing to move because of the housing bust.

I guess I am just showing my age here but at the beginning of my working years it seemed like employers hired and then trained their workers to match the job. Now days they seem to expect you to come on-board fully loaded and ready to fire.  Certainly there are many jobs that require an extensive education. Nuclear physics and fields like that come to mind in this area.

But many jobs can be learned with just a few weeks or maybe months of training. Why aren’t employers willing to hire and then train their workers anymore?  I think one answer to that is the idea of loyalty. They don’t think they will stick around after being trained. When I started working as an engineer for a “large communications company” in 1970 the workforce I entered contained many loyal workers. They knew that if they did their job their employer would take care of them and their families. Most expected to work their entire life for the company because they knew their employer cared for them.

Somewhere along the line this type of thing went out the window. It seemed to happen when companies started treating their employees as liabilities instead of assets! When that happened the basic relationship between workers and their bosses changed dramatically and as a result loyalty quickly disappeared.  This was about the time that the MBA (Masters in Business Administration) degrees became the hot jobs. I like to blame everything bad that has happened to the Reagan administration so I will also put part of the blame on their deregulation fever. :)

Loyalty is just not part of the job description any more in the U.S.  We all see it everyday when we encounter “people behind the counter” of most businesses. Most really don’t care whether you like their product or service; they just want to get through the day and get their paycheck. If another job comes up that pays a little more they will quickly dump the job they have for it. Fortunately there are exceptions to this general trend. I try to go out of my way to praise someone who goes the extra mile for me. They need all the encouragement that can get it today’s world.

Can we ever get back to company/employee loyalty? Probably not to the extent that it was in my early working years but I think that if employers dumped a few of their MBAs and started treating their employees as assets again things might just change. There are a few companies out there that do that but they seem to be far and few between.

But what do I know…

Deserves a Second Showing….

I am bringing back one of my favorite posts for January of last year. It seems appropriate given all we have learned from the twenty-odd, and I mean odd, Republican debates we have had to endure so far. I’m sure that if the topic had come up during one of their debates they would all have throughly backed this theme.

From January 11, 2011

Source:http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20110118/cm_csm/354973;_ylt=At28KK0Z7OndNM3vfaeRt82s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFlZW4ybXNuBHBvcwMyMTcEc2VjA2FjY29yZGlvbl9vcGluaW9uBHNsawNiYXJyaWVydG9iZXQ-

The first words of this article caught my attention today.  Let’s pull a few quotes from the article; they are in blue below. If you want to see the original article by Anthony Schlaff click on the link above.

“If traffic lights were invented today, the Republican Party would be against them. After all, aren’t traffic lights a perfect symbol for government imposition on individual freedom? The government takes our money to build and maintain them, and then uses them to tell us when we can stop and when we can go.”

If I didn’t know better I would have bet that the above quote was from Will Rogers. Congratulations Anthony for getting him down pat.  The people who currently have control of the Republican Party, and I do mean control,  don’t seem to believe there is anything called social responsibility! They think everything should be left up to each of them (only the radical right) to determine. Put that belief to its fullest extent and get rid of all stoplights! If they do get rid of stoplights than I guess police are next. After all what do police do but keep people from doing what they want to do :)

What kind of freedom do we really want? The answer becomes clear when we consider the kinds of “freedom” that the status quo – a lack of such government involvement – imparts. How many of us want the freedom to face medical bankruptcy, or the freedom to be denied coverage (and care) because of a preexisting condition? And how many of us see dying, due to lack of insurance, from a treatable or curable disease as an acceptable cost of individual liberty?As with traffic lights, there is a trade-off; we cannot get something for nothing. The only way to have a system that guarantees necessary care for those in need – to give us the freedom to live our lives without that fear – is to make sure everyone is included in the system. Many of us, after all, choose to marry. This decision substantially restricts us and increases our responsibilities. Yet the responsibilities marriage entails also give new meaning to our lives. Liberating ourselves from every commitment and every shared responsibility would not be freedom. It would leave us each isolated and unfulfilled: freedom as truly nothing left to lose.

According to the simplified notion of personal responsibility [as espoused by many Republicans], people should take it upon themselves to get educated, keep their water clean, and properly dispose of household waste. It sounds good in theory, but would you live in a town that had no schools, and no water or sewer treatment, but gave every household the “freedom” to manage these concerns on their own? Probably not. Thankfully, citizens across America have the freedom – through government – to manage these problems collectively. A century ago, that is what they did, and we are all the freer for having school, water, and sewer systems run by our cities and towns.

If public schools or public drinking water and sewer systems were invented today, would Republicans oppose them, along with the traffic lights?

Let’s all get on the Radical Right bandwagon. Look at all the money we can save by eliminating all this “social responsibility” stuff. Everyone should have a right to die young if they don’t “choose” to have any money to do otherwise. To the RR government has no place in our society except to protect their guns and their seemingly never ending wars to use them. Let’s don’t tell them but all this has been already tried; it’s called anarchy. But what do I know. This type of thinking would all be very funny if it were not so tragically sorrowful.

All I know is what I read in the headlines……

Late Deafened Culture??

I have had some questions and some search engine links to my blog about a “late deafened culture” so I want to talk a little about that here. As I mentioned on other posts I have been deaf for the last twenty-five years or so. Anyone who went deaf after acquiring the ability to speak is considered late deafened so I am obviously one. We make up about 1.5% of the current population in the U.S.

The other deaf group is the pre-lingually deaf.  They typically have been deaf since birth or at a very early stage.  They make up about 0.5% of the current total population. Many in that situation are part of the Deaf culture (with a capital “D”). They associate primarily with other deaf and maintain that their deafness is not a negative in their lives but a positive.  Many come to celebrate their deafness and consider restoring hearing, via cochlear implants, in children as child abuse.

Those of us who are late-deafened usually maintain their identity in the hearing world. We, for the most part do not identify our deafness as a beneficial part of our lives but instead treat it as getting in the way of our day-to-day living. Many, like myself, seldom come across someone else who is deaf in our daily encounters. For all of the above reasons we do not have, per se, a culture that is unique to us. We are more likely to identify with the culture of our heritage (Italian, Irish, etc) than that associated with our handicap.

One of the facts about late-deafness is that the majority of us are senior citizens. That is many, but not me personally, go deaf due to aging. Therefore for many of us the loss of the ability to hear is a devastating occurrence. It often leads to very severe isolation for those seniors. Some could be helped to varying degrees by hearing aids and other tools but refuse to acknowledge that they need any. Being a senior with the corresponding loss of many of our working world relationships is hard enough without having to cope with no longer being able to hear.

So, to answer the initial query there is really nothing called a late-deafened culture but maybe there should be? There are support groups around to help the late-deafened. One of those is called ALDA (Association of Late Deafened Adults). I was a member of this organization for some time but it is really more of a social club than an advocates group. The NAD (National Association for the Deaf) does advocate for both pre-lingual and late-deafened but, in my opinion they are much more slanted toward the former rather than the latter.

Book Review – If God Is Love (Part 2)

This is the second post of five about the book by Philip Gulley entitled If God is Love. Like the first installment last Sunday this one was also pulled from one of my other blogs at RedLetterLiving.net  I made a few minor modifications to the original post.

Post from RedLetterLiving March 2009

This is a continuation of my collection of snippets from the book by Philip Gulley entitled If God is Love.

The Psalmists boats, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hate. I count them my enemies” (Psalm 139:21-22). Hatred, when directed at those we have judged wicked, becomes a sign of religious devotion rather than a grievous sin. The enemy is not loved, but destroyed, not prayed for, but preyed upon.

We can protest religious hatred and violence are sins of the past, but to do so we must ignore current Christian visions of the future. How do we explain the tremendous popularity of the “Left Behind” series of books? These books, which have sold millions of copies have spawned two movies, portray a future in which Evangelical Christians are saved while everyone else is destroyed. They proclaim a Jesus with a sword in hand atop a charging steed, initiating a violent end. Our violent religious past and expectations of a wrathful future impinge on Christian behavior today. David Beneke, a leader in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, discovered this reality shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He was suspended for eighteen months from his duties and required to defend himself before a variety of denominational panels.

His sin was not something as radical as believing in the salvation of all people. His crime was joining with Muslim, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, and Sikh religious leaders in a prayer service at Yankee Stadium. He was accused of praying with “heathens”. He said “This ordeal reveals the hard side of Christianity”. In fairness, similar stories abound in other religious traditions. This arrogant exclusivity plagues all the great religions. Adherents of each faith hate the “other” — Christians hate heathens; Muslims hate infidels; Jews hate Gentiles. For many, religion is how we decide who to love and who to hate.

As I have said many times Jesus melted down the Old Testament laws into just two: Love God and Love your fellow man. Hate was not in this mix. Why do so many current day religious institutions base so much of their practices on hate? Maybe hate is too strong a word for the practices of current Christian denomination but then again maybe it is not. One thing I love about reading Philip Gulley is that he doesn’t pull any punches. Mr. Gulley certainly didn’t pull any punches in this example. :)

I Enjoy Cooking With Wine….

I enjoy cooking with wine and sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.  – Julia Childs

I have always enjoyed cooking. After Mom abandoned my brother, Dad, and me I did most of the cooking. That was when I was about 10 years old. Of course at that time I didn’t know about cooking with wine but I did make pretty good biscuits and gravy among other things. Dad was the son of a pig farmer so we ate lots of pork. :) It would be years later before I discovered things like Coq Au Vin. This reminds me that I haven’t made that dish in years. I need to put it on my list.

I enjoyed Julia Childs before it was popular for guys to watch that sort of show.  I guess I was supposed to be watching baseball and such but that never appealed to me. I think that if I, like kids today, had been given the option of culinary school I would probably have had a more fulfilling career. It is not that I didn’t enjoy the career I ended up in but the grass is always greener…

Cooking is still very much a part of my life. Besides cooking about three hundred meals a week at the soup kitchen where I volunteer I also prepare most of the meals for my wife and I. So, here is to you Julia. I enjoy cooking with wine also. Just as you taught me….

Raving Lunatics…..

I always try to see the best in people and try not to attack anyone personally but sometimes it seems necessary to do so.  This is one of those times.

Rush Limbaugh is in the center of it once again for his outrageous comments. He is indeed a raving lunatic!  But he is also a very rich raving lunatic because of his behavior. That in my mind is a major cause of where we are in the political sphere in this country today. It is reported that Mr. Limbaugh made about $30 million last year from his rantings.  I’m sure all my conservative friends listen to him weekly and applaud his ability to rake in the big bucks with his bitter words.

I am also sure there are literally millions of radical rights who dream of someday being the next “Rush”. They prowl the web to find anyplace where they can put in a bitter and spiteful message that others might notice. Who knows who might be reading their words? Maybe some producer who will make them famous like their buddy Rush. The more outrageous they are the more likely they will be noticed.  This is one of the reasons almost everything on the web that is open to comments gets almost exclusively viral comments. After all who wouldn’t like to make $30 million a year!!

I’m sure my conservative friends are yelling that there are also some pretty radical left-wing commentators out there too.  They will mention that guys like Bill Maher who can spit out the spite almost as well as Rush. Bill’s reported net worth is only $23 million (only??) so he probably also looks on Rush with a certain amount of envy. There are a handful of others, both male and female, who profit from their vitriol actions but none of them as successful money wise as Rush. He seems to be the king of spite and a royal prince of the Republican party.

It amazes me that so many look up to these folks as heroes. It also amazes me that so many publishers open up their articles to allow comments. Don’t they realize that all of us normal folks have long since quit trying to put an actual productive comments among all that hate! Maybe if some would shut down the comments sections they would find that it really doesn’t affect their readership and then others would follow. The old saying about everyone wanting their fifteen minutes of fame is certainly true to one extent or another. But it would certainly be nice to see that fame accomplished by good deeds instead of hateful and spiteful words. But I guess it is easier to be spiteful than good.

My first encounter with the current type of U.S. politics was the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. Even as a young boy I could see that all the hateful words that came out of those senators was not a good thing. It only took one phrase to eventually shut down that process and it was “Have you no shame!!!”.  I wish we could find the magic words to shut down support and envy of Rush and the people like him but “Have you no shame..” won’t do it this time because they don’t.

But what do I know…..

What Is An Altruist??

I am going to put on my teacher’s hat now.  Although I have never been an official teacher I have taught at several seminars in both the professional arena and the religious arena. So here is a lesson about altruism.

On the right side of my blog I proudly proclaim that I am a passionate altruist. But what does that really mean? As usual there are varying definitions of the term. Here is what Dictionary.com defines as an altruist:

altruism  (ˈæltruːˌɪzəm) 1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others

2. the philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others

While this short answer gives you an idea of what altruism is let’s look at Wikipedia for a longer explanation.

Altruism /ˈæltruːɪzəm/ is a concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of ‘others’ toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism is the opposite of selfishness.

Altruism was central to the teachings of Jesus found in the Gospel especially in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.

Some Christian denominations use altruism as the very foundation of their beliefs. Quakers are one example of that and Catholics to one degree or another. Other Christian denominations very much downplay altruism and instead favor personal salvation, human unworthiness and helplessness as their foundation. From personal experience I believe Lutherans are part of that group but they are by no means the only ones in that category.

It may surprise some of you to learn that in Buddhism altruism is also a foundational item. Here is Wikipedia again on that topic:

Altruism figures prominently in Buddhism. Love and compassion are components of all forms of Buddhism, and both are focused on all beings equally: the wish that all beings be happy (love) and the wish that all beings be free from suffering (compassion). “Many illnesses can be cured by the one medicine of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and the need for them lies at the very core of our being” (Dalai Lama).

So to be an altruist is to care about others as much or even more than you care about yourself. I’m not sure that a person can learn to be an altruist. I think maybe you have to have that in your soul or at least your DNA :) . Here is a study about the neurological origins of altruism/selfishness.

An experiment funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted in 2007 at the Duke University in Durham, North Carolina suggests a different view, “that altruistic behavior may originate from how people view the world rather than how they act in it”. In the study published in the February 2007 print issue of Nature Neuroscience, researchers have found a part of the brain that behaves differently for altruistic and selfish people.

Why some have it and others don’t is a mystery to me. As mentioned above the opposite of altruism is selfishness. It is not hard to find examples of selfishness almost anywhere you look. The current political arena is gushing with it.

Are you also and altruist? If so have you always been one or did some life event push you in that direction?

We’re Number One……

Most people, especially those in the U.S. like to proudly proclaim we are number one. We shout it from the rooftops. We scream it about our favorite sports team. We are often caught with that silly large rubber hand to show our pride. We as a country are number one in several areas.

  • We’re number one when it comes to our war machine. Heck, you could combine all the other war machines in the world together and that would still not knock us out of first place. We spend many times more in this country than in country in the world on our war machine.
  • Because of the above item we are also number one when it comes to our debt load.  No other country in the world has borrowed as much as we have from our children and grandchildren to finance our way of life.
  • We’re number one in global weapons sales. That is probably our number one export. We sell more weapons of mass destruction than anyone else in the world.  We sell to our neighbors, even those who eventually become our enemies and use them against us (take Iraq for example, or Iran as a future example).

We pride ourselves that we are number one. But let’s look at some of the areas where we fall very very short of being number one.

  • We’re number 34 in the world when it comes to educating its citizens. Finland, which many here call a socialist country claim the number one mantle in education. As a matter of fact almost all industrialized countries are ahead of us in education. This fact does not bode well for our future citizens.
  • We’re number 16 when it comes to infrastructure. We just don’t do a good job of keeping up in this area. Everything except for our military establishments are in decay.
  • We’re number 37 when it comes to healthcare for its citizens. We are the only industrialized nation that does not provide healthcare for all its citizens. Yes if you have the money, and it takes a lot of money, you can get very high quality care in the country. If you don’t have the resources for a typical 6 figure surgery cost then you are pretty much out of luck.

Maybe I am just a naive soul but I would rather be number one is just about any of the items in the second list as opposed to be number one on all of the first. Until we somehow get our priorities aligned we will continue to slide down the lists of things that are really important.

But what do I know…..

War is NOT the Answer…

Since we seem to be on the verge of yet another long war, this time with Iran,  I thought I would do a short post here from my friends at FCNL. Please tell your senator and congressman that we don’t want to go through another senseless war.

War is not the answer. We are the answer. All of us. All of us who are weary of turmoil and conflict… who seek a world free of war and the threat of war… who seek a society with equity and justice for all…who seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled… who seek an earth restored.

These words are from Friends Committee on National Legislation.

See them at http://www.FCNL.org

My Dirty Little Secret…

Psst…. I want to let you in on my dirty little secret. Don’t tell any of my Republican friends but sometimes I agree with what they say! I don’t often say it but I will whisper it here. Although I am a social progressive down to my soul I am also a fiscal conservative. I think we should all live within our means and that certainly includes our federal institutions.

Source: Federal Workers Face ‘Unprecedented Assault’ in U.S. Budget War – Businessweek.

“People who are government servants, public servants, should not be paid more than the taxpayers who are paying for it,” Romney said during a Jan. 8 candidate debate….

There may be little sympathy for federal workers among the general public, where pensions with set benefits have become scarce and U.S. unemployment hovers at 8.3 percent. Studies of government salaries show benefits outpace the private sector.

So those working in the public sector make more money and have significantly better benefits than their private sector equivalents. It has also been shown that salaried workers in the private sector work an average of 10% more hours without pay than government employees.  I know federal workers get many times more holidays off with pay than the rest of us. Call me what you want but I believe that if the private sector is suffering then so too should the public sector.  Our taxes should not be used to enhance federal or State workers when everyone else is suffering.

Being a fiscal conservative means I believe that our representatives in government should be diligent watchdogs over the money we send them.

  • They should not be using it for their own benefits when the rest of us are suffering.
  • They should not be spending my hard-earned dollars on million dollar bombs when its citizens are suffering.
  • They should not be able to buy future benefits for pennies on the dollar that are almost impossible to pay down the road.
  • They should not be giving huge tax breaks to those who already have so much.
  • Just because we declare holidays in recognition of exceptional people does not mean that they must take the days off work while the rest of us are working.
  • They should spend our tax dollars as if it were coming out of their own pockets.
  • When there are only so many dollars available it should be spent on enhancing our lives, not killing our current-day enemies.
  • When there are only so many dollars available it should be spent on helping secure prosperity for all, not just a privileged few who already have too much.
  • When there are only so many dollars available it should not be given to corporations who already have massive profits.

It seems that too many in the public sector think that there is an endless stream of resources available to them. Being a social progressive I am also a firm believer in the old saying from the Bible that “for those who much has been given, much should be expected”. Don’t tax the rich as a lower rate than the rest of us.  That is not only wrong it is immoral.

Many have little savings as retirement looms

Source: Many have little savings as retirement looms – USATODAY.com.

Ravages of the stock market. The people Redmond encounters most who are lacking sufficient retirement savings weren’t necessarily delinquent or negligent. Many had money saved but were wiped out by the sour stock market in the past decade and poor investment strategies, Redmond says.

That’s what happened, in part, to Robert and Connie Cabana of Tampa, who are both in their 60s. Robert built up a sizable 401(k) working as a financial executive at Verizon. Connie was a business assistant for a local irrigation supply company. Connie was laid off four years ago; Robert was let go three years ago.

But the serious hit to their retirement, which wiped out half their 401(k) savings, resulted from the stock market and an overexposure to risky stocks, they say. Now, 75% of their 401(k) is gone, and they have “very little” left, Robert says

I can remember in the early 1990s wondering if I would have enough to retire on. Fortunately for me the 1990s Clinton era was a prosperous one. My savings more than doubled during those years. I was never one to take a lot of risk so I was pretty much unaffected by the dot.com melt down that occurred in 2000 as I got most of my savings out of the markets before that happened. But I did have a friend that insisted that the “good times” would go on forever. He, like the people in this article, lost a good portion his 401(k).  I haven’t heard from him in years. I wonder how he and his wife are making out in their retirement?

I can remember the stories from the pundits about how people are not prepared for retirement throughout all my adult life.  First there were the oil embargos of the 1970s then there was the savings & loan fiasco of the 1980s followed by the melt down of the dot.com era and now due to deregulation the near meltdown of our entire financial structure. But this is the first time I have seen times remain as dreary as they have for more than ten years now. I can see the “malaise” has grown exponentially since President Carter’s famous speech.  Maybe if we had actually listened to President Carter and freed ourselves of dependence on foreign oil back in the 1970s we would be in much better shape today. Who knows what that alternative history might have been if one of our past presidents had been brave enough to make that happen! Who know how many young lives would have been spared if we didn’t need so much middle eastern oil?

Will any future generations ever be prepared for a secure retirement? It’s hard to say.  About the only thing you can do is keep putting a little of each paycheck back and hope for things to get better. There is not much else an average guy can do.

Book Review – If God Is Love…

The book review post I want to bring over from my other blog at RedLetterLiving.net  is one that had a profound effect on me during my three year search into current Christian organizations. In fact this book review spanned over five posts. (I haven’t decided yet whether to bring all five here or not). Phillip Gulley was one of my first encounters with the Society of Friends, otherwise know as Quakers. It would definitely spur much more reading about this group of Christians.

Here is a slightly edited version of the March 2009 post

Today I am going to talk a little about a book entitled “If God is Love – Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World” by Phillip Gulley and James Mulholland. I must admit up front that I am somewhat fascinated by the Quaker religion of which both of the authors are ministers. Although one of them came through Baptist and Methodists to get there. I greatly respect the position the Quakers have taken on non-violence going all the way back to the Revolutionary war. This is a very readable book on a very important topic.

There has been an ongoing debate throughout Christianity’s history on the correct balance between the all powerful and sometime vengeful God and the God of agape Love. Just what the correct balance of this is somewhat attuned to the corresponding debate between law and gospel. Both are needed but how much of each is appropriate for a well rounded Christian? I must admit that this book is full of God’s love and has little of God’s power in it. I must also admit that I lean in that direction also but not to the extent of the authors.

The following is, in my opinion, one of the most striking quotes from the book:

The theology of love begins with the assumption that all people are God’s cherished children and deserving of love. “We love because he first loved us. Those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers and sisters, are liars, for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” 1 John 4:19-20. Jesus demonstrated his love for the outcasts, those many considered unloveable. Regrettably, many Christians have been unwilling to adopt the ethic of Jesus — a theology of inclusion, acceptance, and love. We’ve been unwilling to love and accept our enemies. We haven’t even been excited about loving our neighbor.

This quote I believe sums up the Quaker stand on non-violence. They have taken quite a bit of abuse during all our wars because of this stand. Another memorable quote is as below:

God has no grandchildren. My children cannot inherit my faith. I can’t save them. Each of us is on a journey. My role as a parent is not to convert my children, but to live a life consistent with my experience of God’s radical love and trust that such a life will attract them.

I don’t know that I have ever seen such a powerful pronouncement of Christian parenting before. The old saying that parents have been spouting for eons is “don’t do what I do, do what I say”. I know I got my dose of that as a child. It didn’t work on me and probably didn’t work for most of you. Our parents, like all Christians must show the love of the Lord in their actions as well as their words. One does not work without the other.  Finally the last quote I want to present is:

Share everything with your brother. Do not say, ‘It is private property.’” This isn’t the rhetoric of the Communist Manifesto or the Mother Earth Catalog. This is a line from the Didache, an early Christian document used to prepare novices for baptism. The Didache was such a respected teaching that it was nearly included in the biblical canon. This line may have been its undoing. Religion has long resisted the command to be universally concerned, especially when this concern comes with a price tag.

I understand this tendency. Whenever someone asks me to respond to a need, I have to overcome a long litany of mental excuses. I don’t know enough about the persons’ situation to give wisely. He or she might not use the money appropriately. I’m already giving to other causes. These may all be legitimate considerations, but I sense my deeper motivation — I want a rationale for keeping my money. I don’t’ like Jesus’ command to “Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you (Matthew 5:42)

I was struck by so many of these types of dialogs in the book. They definitely made me think about how I am living out my life.  According to what I have read elsewhere the main reason that the Didache document as quoted above was not included was that the emperor Constantine, who oversaw the compilation of our first Bible, did not consider it supportive enough of the State so he vetoed its inclusion in the final version.

I highly recommend this book to any who is willing to struggle with these types of issues. No one ever said (or should have said) living your life by the words of Jesus Christ is easy! Indeed, it should be and is quite difficult.

Made in the USA….

There ought to be a law against anybody going to Europe till they had seen the things we have in this country. – August 14, 1930  Will Rogers

Although Will traveled around the world he was a homeboy at heart. I have been to all fifty State but still haven’t seen  what we have in this country yet.

Note in the photo here Will is twirling a lasso while writing for his blog of the day otherwise known as a newspaper column. He certainly was a showman :)

Connections….

Source: A Genuine Willingness – QuakerQuaker.

We long for connections to others. We want to belong to something greater than ourselves. At the same time, we demand autonomy and freedom from constraints imposed by virtue of belonging to a group. These opposing pulls cause stress on both institutions and individuals as we try to meet the requirements of our outer and inner worlds. How do we genuinely balance our need to be self-determining persons and, at the same time, contributing members of society?

The answer depends on our definitions. If my interpretation of self-determination is how much I can gain for myself in terms of power, prestige and wealth, then the possibilities for balance between a person and community are negligible. On the other hand, if I characterize myself primarily by my role in a given social unit, then I risk losing my true identity.

These are some pretty heavy words from my Quaker friend David Madden over at the QuakerQuaker blog site. As usual he has given me a lot to think about in this area. The first thing that came to mind was a blog post I made months ago about how if stoplights were invented today Republicans would be against them. :)  After all isn’t the purpose of stoplights to get you to do something you don’t really want to do. It definitely impeded our autonomy in getting someplace as fast as possible.

It does seem that my Republican friends, and much of the world for that matter, view almost everything from a very self-centered viewpoint. If something does not benefit them directly they are pretty much against it. They are tuned in to the “survival of the fittest” worldview.  Where is the balance point between self and community? That seems to be a big question especially in today’s political sphere. I think this very question gets down to the basic difference between our two political parties. One is focused almost entirely on autonomy and the other toward community.

All of us, especially in the U.S. treasure our autonomy to one degree or another; we believe that is one of the defining differences between us in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Like most things in life that fact has a good side and a bad side.  In that regard I want to also include a quote here from my hero Will Rogers:

All we hear is “What’s the matter with the country?” “What’s the matter with the world?” There ain’t but one thing wrong with every one of us in the world, and that’s selfishness. — Will Rogers

We like to think of ourselves as being compassionate. Even George W. Bush wanted people to think of him, rightly or wrongly, as a “compassionate conservative”. (I’m not at all sure there can actually be such a thing :) )  In order to be compassionate we must be attuned to others in our society. We must also take to heart the words brought to us by Jesus Christ with his new covenant.  We must at least put our brother’s welfare equal to our own. Selfishness is counterproductive when in comes to community. We no longer seem to understand that fact.  And that is a very sad thing.

But what do I know….

They Have Learned Their Lessons Well…..

Source: Possible U.S., China trade dispute looms – USATODAY.com.

In September, the Department of Energy said that only about 6% of the solar cells and modules sold around the world were made in the U.S., compared with more than 40% in 1995. In the last six years, China’s global market share has ballooned to 54% from 6%. The average price of solar modules has plummeted more than 40% to $1.25 per watt in the past two years.

The U.S. prides itself on being the leader of high technology. We depend on it to keep jobs here in the country. So when I see numbers like the above I am somewhat concerned. It is not that I don’t want to see the Chinese people’s quality of life advance. Lord knows they have a long way to go to catch up with us. Instead I lament the fact that we let these types of forward-looking jobs leave our shores without much concern.

Maybe it comes back to the fact that so many in this country have put all their eggs in the “oil” basket. They think that all this wind and solar stuff is just a flash in the pan. As what seems to be usual lately the rest of the world is embracing renewable energy much more seriously than we do.  It just might be too late now to get our share of the solar energy manufacturing here in the U.S.  if we don’t embrace this technology soon.

But what do I know….

Proposal would keep calendar same every year

Proposal would keep calendar same every year – USATODAY.com.

Each year, Jan. 1 falls on a different day of the week, and the entire following year shifts accordingly. Schools, sports teams, businesses and banks spend many hours and millions of dollars calculating on what day of the week certain dates will fall, to schedule holidays and set interest rates.

Yesterday was the day to adjust our calendar to be aligned with the sun. We do that every four years on the 29th of February.  Our current calendar was invented about 1582 and is called the Gregorian calendar. It was named after Pope Gregory III.  Popes were pretty much the world leaders back in those days. They controlled much of what was going on.

The Gregorian calendar seems pretty screwed up to me so I don’t understand how it has lasted as long as it has. Most of us have memorized the rhyme “30 days has September, April, June, and November. Thirty one has all the rest except February…..”  Anyway according to the source article above a guy named  Richard Conn Henry who is a professor of applied physics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has figured out how to make the calendar day the same day of each week year after year. Currently the day of the year advances one day each year except during leap year when it does I don’t know what. :)  The author says that this new calendar will save millions of dollars that we now spend to remaking signs and such due to the constant day of the week change for calendar dates. It also affects interest somehow but that bean counting is beyond my interests.

I guess with the old calendar we are currently using we are using a 365.25 day year when in reality we have a 365.242 (and some more decimal points) year. Back in the days  before computers (yeah that includes 1582) it didn’t matter much but I guess it does now. How likely will it be that we will switch to an improved calendar? Given that we can’t seem to agree to anything now days it probably won’t occur anytime soon.

There are all kinds of calendars around today: solar calendars, lunar calendar, Hindu calendars, Chinese calendars, and fiscal calendars. I have never understood why most businesses start their year in October instead of January?

All this stuff is pretty complicated for us common folks. So, lets just skip the whole thing…..

But what do I know…

Don’t Get Consumed….

Today is a weird day. It only comes once every four years. So, I thought I would put out a totally weird post that I have been holding on to for some time. It starts with a quote from a not-so-well known person.

Don’t get consumed by all the negativity in the world. Lighten up once in a while  — January 11,2012  RJ Walters

Now I’m not getting a big head here (at least not too much) by quoting myself. I just thought this should be said by someone. It just seems so easy to get totally down with all the negativity that is around us lately. If we only concentrate on that this life wouldn’t have much joy. I pride myself in thinking that Will Rogers would have said this if he were around today. Do whatever it takes to lighten up once in a while. For me that means going off the wall, like with this post, once in a while.  Other times I accomplish it by simply sticking my head in the sand. Whatever is your thing to lighten up remember to do it on a regular basis.

While I am in this weird mood I thought I would also do a self-portrait.  The long slender thing to the left of my head is a pen. Of course that is a reference to the old quote that “the pen is mightier than the sword” and it costs less than a buck; you can’t begin to buy a sword, yet alone a million dollar bomb, for that amount today :)

Have an off-the-wall day today  because it will be another four years before you get this day again.

The Politics of the 5%…

It seems popular now days to rally against the one-percent of the population in the U.S. that controls so much of our country’s wealth. I am one of the many who think the distribution of wealth has been skewed too far the last thirty years or so.  We need to bring back a more moralistic ratio of wealth. We need to re-establish the quickly shrinking middle class in this country and do away with the recent lopsided subsidies for the rich.

But if we take a more worldly view of our circumstance we in the U.S.  make up about 5% of the world’s population but we consume a much higher percentage of the world’s resources.

  • We use about ten time more of the world’s resources per citizen than most other countries.
  • In order to maintain our lifestyle we borrow more than any other in the world; we are spending way beyond our means.
  • We pollute the atmosphere more than any other country, although China is quickly approaching polluting more than we do.
  • We account for more than 50% of its war making machinery and sell more weapons than anyone else in the world.

So in a way when looking at it from a world standpoint all of us in the United States are like the 1% we rally so much against. For this reason there are many in the rest of the world that hold us in contempt. But, at the same time covet our lavish lifestyles. Some see us as bullies who come into their country to strip out what we need and then either leave or worse yet force some kind of “regime change” to get more.  Should the rest of the world be rallying against the 5% who are gobbling up the world’s resources for their own pleasure?

I don’t want to leave this post on such a negative point.  Yes, compared to much of the rest of the world we are greedy when it comes to our comforts but we are also gracious with it comes to our worldwide relief efforts. As is typical of everything in this world our country has a good side and a bad side. Let’s just pray that we show our good side more often. That will result in a much more peaceful world than all our nuclear bombs and our outrageous military spending can ever provide.

Where Are You John Sherman When We Need You???

 

For those of you who aren’t up on your U.S. history lessons, John Sherman was the Congressman who about one hundred years ago introduced the first major piece of legislation to rein in corporate greed. The legislation was call the Sherman Antitrust Act. Here is some of what Wikipedia says about that:

The Sherman Antitrust Act (Sherman Act,[1] July 2, 1890, ch. 647, 26 Stat. 209, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1–7) is a landmark federal statute on competition law passed by Congress in 1890. It prohibits certain business activities that reduce competition in the marketplace, and requires the United States federal government to investigate and pursue trusts, companies, and organizations suspected of being in violation. It was the first Federal statute to limit cartels and monopolies, and today still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by the United States federal government. However, for the most part, politicians were unwilling to refer to the law until Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency (1901–1909).

As mentioned above most of the politicians of the time were very leery to use this new law against the Robber Barons of the day until ten years later when a Republican president named Theodore Roosevelt came along. It still amazes me how almost all of the anti-big-business leaders of these times were from the Republican party. Of course the Republican party is now widely known as the party of big business! When did this major shift in party allegiance happen?  I guess I will have to study up on that.

Getting back to the matter at hand, President Bush and followed up by President Obama bailed out the financial industry because they “were too big to fail”.  If somehow we could have resurrected John Sherman to break up this monopoly power before it became so big we possibly could have spared ourselves all the grief we have been going through as a country for the last four years. Too bad that there just doesn’t seem to be anyone in congress now with the fortitude to take on the big business interests.

But, in reality I should really be looking for someone to put the laws that were repealed in the last twenty years back in place. That is where we got into all the troubles. Within a decade of deregulating the Savings and Loan industry the 1988 meltdown occurred.  Within a decade of deregulating the banking sector the 2008 meltdown occurred.  Why can’t our representatives in government learn from history and just leave these types of things that John Sherman and those like him put in place alone? This is just an example where the Republican party seem to have the belief in the innate goodness of our corporate institutions.  Yes, with this deregulation they got government out of the way and soon inevitable self-consuming greed took over with the resulting meltdowns happening soon thereafter. When will they ever learn? But maybe the more important question is when will we the voters ever learn when to tell our elected officials it is time for them to leave?

It seems literally impossible for another Republican to take charge of these types of matters. Most of those folks are just too beholding to big business to ever try to rein them in. So, currently that leaves the Democratic party to take up the mantel. I don’t see that as much of a possibility either. Where all this “too big to fail” will end I just don’t know.

Where are you John when we need you??

But what do I know….

God’s Dwelling Place

Source: God’s Dwelling Place – QuakerQuaker.

There is no such thing as a sense of integrity that acknowledges the measure of light I have within me while at the same time ignoring the corresponding light within my neighbor. As that light is as constant within him or her as it is within me, there is no reasonable way or appropriate time to withhold the integrity my neighbor deserves as much as me. Nor are we to be honest and truthful with some and not with others because of such vain differences as race, gender, age, income, and sexual orientation. God dwells in a wide variety of places.

These words from the QuakerQuaker blog site truly inspire me. They are from David Madden who is a regular  blogger there and one I have come to quote quite often. As David says it does me no good to acknowledge God’s light in me if I am ignoring the light within my neighbor. Being what David suggests here is a very difficult thing. We all grow up and for the most part pick up our parents prejudices in life. This practice naturally tends to separate us from those around us. Most of these prejudices are founded on making us more noble (you choose the word) than our neighbor.

We must all understand that as David said, God dwells in a wide variety of places. I must quit thinking that I have the light and ignore the light in my fellow human beings who I encounter on a daily basis. A few posts ago I mentioned that I tend to now see people I don’t know with an eye of skepticism instead of  first looking for the light of God in them. I need to do a better job of rubbing this practice out my life. We are all God’s children, even those “smelly” ones we have to occasionally step over while going from here to there, and we should all treat each other as God intended. Contrary to what some of my Christian friends say, particularly the Calvinists among us, He put his light in each of us, not just a selected few. When we kill or otherwise cause the death of anyone on this earth we are extinguishing a part of God’s light before its time.

Thanks David for your enlightening words..

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers