Archive for November, 2009

Christmas Explosion

November 30, 2009

We are in a time of transition at my house.  It is that time of year when the fall decorations are taken down and the Christmas decorations go up.  This is a wonderful thing because I enjoy the Christmas season and Gloria does a fantastic  job of decorating the house. 

My primary contribution to this process is to bring the boxes up from the basement, filled with Christmas stuff, and then to return them to the basement, filled with the things that have been taken down, to make room for the Christmas decorations.  My other contributions are to put up the lights in the front porch,  put up the nativity scene outside, and help decorate the tree.

The problem is that this process takes a while, a few days, to a week, or more.  There are a lot of boxes and we are both busy people.  After the boxes are brought up, and until the process is complete. it looks like there has been a Christmas explosion at our house.  (I prefer this expression to the one Gloria sometimes uses, when she is not- so- happy with the process;  that Christmas threw up in our home… that just sounds nasty.)

Every year we talk about reducing the amount of stuff we put up.

Every year we add more.

I am hopeful that we will be able to send some things with our boys, who each now have their own places.  In fact, we delivered a small (very small) amount to them over the Thanksgiving weekend. 

The dust is starting to settle, the bulk of the boxes have been returned to the basement.  Thanksgiving is done, let the Christmas season begin!!

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The Burden of Unemployment

November 24, 2009

The burden of unemployment could be considered from multiple views, society, the family, the individual and the workplace.  This post addresses the burden placed upon the employer.  You see, when congress decided to extend the unemployment benefits, they did not talk very much about the price tag.  The fees that each business must pay to the state for every employee is calculated by the cost of the program.  Extending the benefits meant higher costs.  Higher costs are then passed on to the business.  This year those costs have skyrocketed. 

I thought the goal was to create jobs, not destroy them.

The current unemployment policies are creating a tougher climate in which to survive in business.  How many small businesses will not survive?  How many jobs will be cut to pay for the higher cost? 

Higher minimum wage, higher taxes, higher unemployment costs, tougher, more expensive, environmental guidelines; and soon, if Democrats have their way, forced health insurance or penalties are all combining together to make it very difficult on businesses.  We are creating a very bad climate for the small business. 

What will the future bring?  What are the repercussions of the decisions of our government on the economy?  Where will we be in a few years?  Did America really want this kind of change?

Health Care Bill Concerns

November 23, 2009

It looks like we are going to get a health care bill, whether we want it or not.

It not that I don’t think that something should be done, it’s just that I don’t think that this bill (either the house or the senate version) is the way to go.

Here are my concerns.

COST

1.  Government:  it is going to cost the government way too much.  We need to be looking for ways to reduce our spending, not increase it.

2.  Companies 

    A.  Companies that are unable, or unwilling to provide health insurance will be forced to either provide insurance, or pay a penalty.  Either way companies will see a significant increase to their operating costs.  How many companies will be unable to continue doing business?

    B.  The extra tax on medical supplies will be passed on to the consumer, raising the cost that is paid for health care, not lowering it. 

    C.  Forcing insurance companies to accept all applicants will cause an increase in expenditures by those companies.  Premiums are established from year to year based on the rate of claims paid out.  If everyone is included, the costs will go up.

3.  Individuals:  individuals who do not have health insurance will be forced to buy insurance or pay a fine.   Many of these individuals are having a difficult time making ends meet now.  The extra cost will only make things worse.  For those people who have health insurance, there will be extra taxes, and higher premiums. 

4.  Economic impact: the health industry is an enormous business that is interwoven into our economy.  By forcing these changes, there will be an economic upheaval that is unpredictable, and possibly catastrophic.

AUTONOMY

I don’t like the government taking away the freedom of companies and individuals to make these decisions for themselves.  If the government wants to provide a public option at a sliding fee cost, that is optional, that would be great, but to force individuals and companies into compliance is a reduction of our basic freedoms.

QUALITY OF CARE

As the government moves more and more towards a socialized health care system, the rate of return will probably go down.  There will not be as much profit in the industry.  The lure of economic gain is a powerful stimulus for innovation.  I would like to say that everyone who has contributed to health care advance has done so for humanitarian concerns, but I am reasonably certain that profitability has played an important role.  How many of the advances in medicine in the past fifty years have come about as a result of government facilities anywhere in the world compared to companies that are pursuing profit?

BUREAUCRACY

The mess involved with filing claims for Medicare and Medicaid is legendary.  Sometimes it works well, but there are frequent problems that are very difficult to resolve. 

Here are a few of my concerns.  I have not heard, or read where these concerns are being addressed to my satisfaction. 

 

Idealists

November 19, 2009

Carrie Feldman and Scott DeMuth are in jail this morning.  Their crime is refusing to testify before a grand jury that is investigating  an Animal Liberation Front action at the University of Iowa in 2004 that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a research facility.

They are both involved in animal activism.  They are both from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  They were both promised a form of immunity that provides an exemption from claiming the 5th amendment.  They both may know something about the events of 2004.

They both refused to speak, as a matter of principle.

They oppose the concept of the grand jury investigation. Grand juries do not utilize a judge, or allow defense attorneys to accompany them.  The prosecuting attorney asks questions and they are required to answer.

They do not believe that, under these conditions,  they should be forced to divulge what they have heard, seen, or know.

They are guilty of idealism. 

Since when did that become criminal? 

 Perhaps it is time that we take a closer look at the justice of our grand jury system.

Anarchy

November 18, 2009

Recently I read about a young person claiming to be an anarchist.  Anarchy is a concept that suggests that we should be free from all forms of governmental restraint.   

There are two types of people to which this appeals.  The first is a person who is an idealist.  They think that humanity is basically good and that restraint is unnecessary.  The second type is the person who just doesn’t want anyone telling them what they can or cannot do.  Freedom is above all.

However, not all people are good.  This is evident from a casual glimpse at the daily news.  If left to ourselves, it would be a very dangerous world, not a utopia.  Freedom is a wonderful thing, but if my freedom allows me to hurt or destroy others, then it becomes not-so-wonderful.  Governmental restraint may at times be chafing, but it certainly beats the chaotic alternative.

 

Focus

November 17, 2009

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things.”  Philippians 4:8 NKJ

There is a lot wrong with this world. For many of us, there are a lot of problems and challenges that we face each day.  The simple message of this mornings post is to remind us all to look for, and focus on, the positive things in life.  There are always bad things, wrong things, etc.  but there are also always good things.

Look for the good and  focus on that.  Especially at the end of the day, when you are lying in bed, before sleep; instead of wrestling again with the problems of the day, thank God for the blessings.

Peace Lily

November 16, 2009

I have a peace lily at my church office.  It is a very large one that was a memorial at my father’s funeral.  It is doing very well, which is unusual for me, because I have not had the best luck with houseplants over the years.  This plant has been the exception.  It had so many blossoms this past spring and summer that I stopped counting. 

It sits in a south window and needs lots of water.  This past Sunday, I opened my office door and it was seriously drooping.  I had not watered it for two days.  That was all it took for it to go from looking great, to looking sad. 

A few cups of water, and by that evening, it was looking much better.

How often do our lives resemble my peace lily?  Flourishing for a while, but wilted and close to death in short order? 

I recommend plenty of water; living water that is.

Our daily devotional time is very important if we expect our lives to flourish.  The time that we spend in the Word and in prayer, will sustain us through the heat of the day.  Without we will quickly wilt.

In The Beginning

November 12, 2009

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1

How important is it that Christians believe in creation?  I believe that, although it is not necessary for salvation, that it profoundly impacts the way that we perceive scripture, and can eventually destroy our faith in Jesus as the Christ.  

If we believe that the creation story is a myth, rather than a historical event, then we are more prone to discard other Biblical stories that contain supernatural occurences.  For example: the flood in Noah’s  day, was only local, it was only perceived as world-wide; the burning bush was some bright reflection within the bush; the plagues of Egypt were exaggerated and coincidental; and so forth.  Soon the virgin birth, miracles of Jesus, and the resurrection are removed, or interpreted as myth, or legend as well.  You end up with Jesus the carpenter, who was an extraordinary man, prophet and teacher: not the only begotten Son of God.  The Bible becomes the word of men, rather than the Word of God. We simply accept the parts with which we agree, and discard those portions that we do not want to believe.

Beginnings are very important.  Our direction in the beginning  can determine our final destination.

20/20 Hindsight

November 11, 2009

I read something about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan yesterday in the newspaper that concerned me.   “Hasan communicated 10 to 20 times with a radical imam overseas who in the past came under scrutiny for possible links to terror groups…”  and “U.S. officials were aware of the communications since last year, but no formal investigation was ever opened based on them”

I do not know what those communications entailed, but it would seem, in hindsight, that it would have been a good idea to investigate further.

There are many Muslims who simply want to live, and practice their faith in peace.  It would be wrong to condemn an entire group based on the actions of a few.  However there seems to have been enough evidence that Hasan should have been watched more closely, at the very least.

So what happened?  It seems to me, that someone dropped the ball. 

By the way, have you noticed that the mainstream media are not calling this an act of terrorism?  Hasan was scheduled for deployment to Afghanistan with the army.  It appears he was conflicted about whose side he was on. 

Apparantly he decided.

Hasan may not have been a radical at first, but he certainly has become one; unless shooting a large number of military personnel is considered the act of a moderate.

Indian Summer

November 10, 2009

Here in Iowa we are enjoying a wonderful stretch of Indian Summer.  (I wonder where that term came from, and how Native Americans feel about it?)  Indian Summer is when the temperatures warm up in the fall, after frost has arrived.  It is a wonderful time of year when we get to enjoy a few last days of warmth before winter settles in.  People do all kinds of outdoor activities.  They do yard work, go for walks, barbecue, go to the park,  it is like summer’s  last hurrah.  It is not too hot, nor too cold, the bugs have all but disappeared.  (Except, of course, the Asian Beetle!!)  The only drawback is that it gets dark so early.

Enjoy it while it lasts.  

You-know-what  is coming!!!

I think I’ll barbecue some chicken tonight:)