Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Real Recipient of the Economic Stimulus?

$787 billion is a lot of money to spend. Most of us, given that amount of cash, would probably find it hard to spend the entire amount. To illustrate - I like Corvettes. They retail for about an average of $55,000 each. There are only about 27,000 made each year, though. So, if I bought every single one made this model year, I would spend about $1.485 billion (not including any discount that Chevy may give me for such a super-sized order). That would be a little less than 0.2% of the whole economic stimulus package passed by Congress last February. I could do that for 528 more years before I ran out of money. Put simply, I could buy every Corvette ever made (starting in 1953) – and still not come close to running out of stimulus money (but, boy, would I be happy!)

How big is $787 billion? Well, if someone paid you $1 million a day every day for the rest of your life, it would take until April 4165 before you collected all of the money (yes, more than 2000 years from now). Never fear, though, as I think the federal government will find a way to spend it.

Near my house, there has been some road construction going on lately. Well, that’s a little optimistic – I’ve rarely seen anyone actually working there, but there are some signs of occasional activity. There are concrete barriers and orange barrels blocking off some lanes of traffic. It’s as if they are going to do something to improve the road. But I can’t figure out what it is. Months have gone by, and my roads (what lanes have been left open) just stay the same.

Before approaching the area, from both directions, the workers installed a sign some months ago. The sign lets us know that funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are being used to implement this construction. I guess the sign is supposed to make me proud…but it doesn’t. From what I can tell, the only thing that the government is using my tax money for is to provide orange barrels, and erect a sign telling me about it.

I suppose this could be considered to be “stimulating” the economy if one were to evaluate how plastic barrel rental shops and aluminum signmakers are weathering the downturn. Hey, if you want to make a good investment, those look like two market segments whose stock should be on the rise.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the best way the government can stimulate the economy is to take less money from me at tax time, and give me the decision about where that money should be spent – rather than deciding for me. People are much more likely to consume or invest wisely on their own. We don’t need the government deciding where that should happen.

Because all I have for my tax money today is an obstacle course and some roadside reading material.


Want to see some more government “song and dance”? Visit their website to see exactly where your money is going. There is a state-by-state accounting of where the stimulus money is being spent. I must say, I tend to disbelieve much of what I see here. For example, if you hover over the state of Michigan, they will tell you that they have created (or saved!) 10,073 jobs. Um…my parents live in Michigan, and I’m pretty sure the government is stretching a truth here…..

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Communion Meditation

This is an unusual time of year to bring to memory the death of our Lord Jesus Christ – a time of year when we also celebrate his birth. Indeed, this week we glory both in his birth and in his death. How should we approach our weekly remembrance at this time of year?

It is estimated that Jesus Christ fulfilled over 3000 Messianic prophecies – predictions about him that came true through his birth, his life, and his death. No other period in history contained so much fulfilled prophecy, and no man’s life was ever more predicted by others. That is because the life and death of Jesus Christ are the most important things which have ever happened in history.

I sincerely want to study all 3000 prophecies, and I hope to do so in time. I’m funny that way, but to me, seeing these predictions fulfilled over and over makes Jesus even more real to me. But, instead of doing a study of all 3000 prophecies for this week’s meditation time (you may breathe a collective sigh), I decided to look at one of the earliest ones.

In Deuteronomy 18:15-18, the Bible says:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your
God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die."

The LORD said to me: "What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”

God tells us that he will raise up a future prophet, one who will be like Moses. If you look at all of the prophets in the Bible, you will find that no other life comes as close to the similarities of Jesus as the life of Moses. Both were delivered from death as babies, both performed miracles, both were leaders, both mediated between God and man, and both offered to die in order to forgive the sins of the people.

Recall that when Moses was born, the king of Egypt had ordered all of the midwives to kill any boys born to Hebrew women. But the midwives disobeyed, and his mother put in motion a plan to rescue him and deliver him to none other than the royal court of Egypt. Twelve-hundred years later, in a fury over being outwitted by the Magi, King Herod condemned to death all of the baby boys born in Bethlehem. Jesus managed to escape. Both little babies were saved from evil kings.

Just as striking, both Moses and Jesus made an offer to die for the atonement of other’s sins. In Exodus 32:30-33, after Moses discovers that the people had built a golden calf to worship, we are told this:

‘The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin."

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."’

However, God chose not to accept Moses’ offer. He had other plans to save the people from their sins.

Which brings us to one major difference between these two prophets - Moses and Jesus Christ. When Jesus made the offer to be an atoning sacrifice, God allowed it to happen – because it was His plan to do so all along. Why Jesus instead of Moses? Because of one other distinctive difference between the two – the sacrifice is so much more meaningful when the offering is the Son of God himself.

And so, while we study the story of Moses on occasion and recall his life – we meet every week to think of Jesus and remember his death.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time.... (Romans 3:21-26)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

“King” of Healthcare?

Some form of healthcare will likely pass in the Senate this Thursday.

Every single poll I have been able to research (Rasmussen, Pew, CNN, YouGov, NBC/WSJ, AP, Harris, USAToday/Gallup, ABC/Post, FOX) shows that more Americans DON'T want government-dictated healthcare than the number who want it - some by as much as 15%.

So, what happened to representative government?

Instead of executing the wishes of those who elected them to office, our senators and congressmen appear to be giving in to someone else. Is it their own pocketbooks? The healthcare companies? President Obama? Or all three?

When people get together to pass a law that the people don't want, but which a government leader does – that is called a monarchy. I guess we now live in a country where we should call our leader "King Obama". Oh, by the way, that's what the Pilgrims fled from when they came over on the Mayflower.

A lady asked Dr. Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got - a republic or a monarchy?”"A republic," replied the Doctor, "if you can keep it."

Anonymous, from Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Will Cultural Brainwashing Now Be Mandated To Get A Teaching Degree?

“Whoever controls the schools controls the world.” – Voddie Baucham
I promise that I am not making this up. Okay, I did photoshop the picture, but really - that’s all. I apologize in advance to the University of Minnesota graduates, but I’m pretty sure Mao would have been proud of what is happening at your school.

A task force at the University of Minnesota is recommending a training plan for future educators that is so Orwellian, you would think that Karl Marx had written it. This group – called the Race, Culture, Class and Gender Task Group – is recommending a multi-step plan of cultural “re-education” for those wishing to get a teaching degree at “the U”.

Under this plan, students wishing to obtain a degree in education must admit - and be willing to go forth and teach - that America’s roots are racist, sexist, and homophobic, and that such attitudes have been the cause of poor minority academic performance in state schools. Put simply, teachers would need to confess their inherent bias, and then pass on to their students that white students have had an unfair educational advantage due to a history of racism in our nation.

The task force’s recommendation comes in two parts. First, a prospective teacher must confess their own history of prejudice. Extra points are given for being self-critical. A sample “confession” is included in the report - "As an Anglo teacher, I struggle to quiet voices from my own farm family, echoing as always from some unstated standard. ... How can we untangle our own deeply entrenched assumptions?" Again – I promise – I did not make that up.

Second, teachers must be able to point out to students the history of racism and how it has led to an unfair bias against non-whites in the educational system. They must be able to teach about “the myth of meritocracy” in the United States – which is a fancy way to say that the people who have been successful in our nation’s history did not earn their position through hard work, but because of racial privilege.

What if a student resists this program at the University? The task force recommendation deals with this specifically. If someone is unwilling to conform to the cultural re-education process, the University must "develop clear steps and procedures for working with non-performing students, including a remediation plan."

The overall direction of this plan is not so different from the reeducation camps used by Mao Zedong during China’s Cultural Revolution. Hitler used similar tactics to brainwash the youth of Nazi Germany. Even if there is a grain of truth in American racism (and there have certainly been isolated examples), promoting this philosophy has nothing to do with becoming a better teacher! It simply arms teachers with an excuse to give their students for underperforming. If you were paying the University of Minnesota a large tuition to turn your child into a quality teacher, would you be happy with this program? Would you like it if a teacher graduating from this program was assigned to your first-grader – to influence their formative years with racial bias and untruths?

We need educators to stand up for what is right and true, and not fall victim to the recommendations of those who wish to corrupt our children. Home educators – Mom and Dad – need to be willing to teach the truth to their children, regardless of social pressures. Public educators need to rise up and stand against the tactics used by “task forces” which aim to offer up our children on the altar of political correctness. Parents of children, whether home-educated or state-educated, should understand the forces which arise to steal our children’s hearts, minds, and souls. They should not be afraid to take a vocal or public stand against the dumbing-down of the American school system. Write an opinion piece for your local paper, get involved with your school’s leadership, contact a Congressman and let them know your wishes for education, or take personal charge of your children’s education by considering homeschooling.

If we don’t, our children’s children will be living in a world far different from the one in which we grew up. And pretty soon, our beloved United States will start to look like Communist China…or Nazi Germany.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Happens When Congress Gets In A Hurry

There has been a lot of rushing around in Congress lately, as if there is no time to evaluate what laws are being passed.

The economic stimulus bill was rushed through as an absolute necessity. $787 billion was allocated for spending and agreed to in just a few days. And yet, the results are just the opposite of what was expected – unemployment continues to rise far beyond what we were told it would be if we would support the stimulus package. There have been no firm connections made between the stimulus bill and an economic turnaround. Things have become decidedly worse in our economy.

Now, healthcare is being rushed through Congress, even though such a bill has far-reaching and long-lasting effects. Revamping healthcare could have serious consequences – life and death consequences – if not properly done. And yet, thousands of pages are being written, Congress is voting on it without reading it, and our leaders are breaking their promises to allow it to be posted on-line for 72 hours before taking a vote. We are rushing toward something – but what?

The most recent penalty for a hurried attitude came recently when the Internal Revenue Service announced that they had erred in the release of the tax tables in 2009 – a result of President Obama’s signature tax credit offered as part of the stimulus package. The credits were designed to give individuals as much as $400 in “money back” and couples as much as $800. Because of an oversight, the tax tables for many couples were posted incorrectly, allowing them to claim more credit on their 2008 return than they were allowed. It is estimated that as many as 15 million people will now owe the government $250 or more – some as much as $400. Most of those affected are working couples, but the error also spills over onto single students and Social Security recipients (another error in which the government overlooked the possibility that someone might claim a new Social Security bonus and the above-mentioned tax credit – they are eligible for only one of these credits). Affected people in any category will have to make the correction, either through more tax liability for 2009, or in a reduced return. One thing is for sure – the government will get “its money”, even if they were the ones who made the error.

It feels to me that we are rushing to our own economic destruction. The tax credit was given to Americans with the instructions to “spend the refund in order to stimulate the economy”. How long can that tactic work? Is such a design sustainable? Isn’t there another route we can take – namely, to require the government to spend less, resulting in a lower tax burden, and allowing each individual to keep more of their own money to invest and use as they see fit? Imagine the economic strength of a nation where everyone was free from the worry of debt, and could concentrate on superior products and innovative ideas.

What is lost in nearly every news article that I read is that the tax money started out as ours. We work hard for our paychecks and we make many decisions about how to spend and save. And yet, the assumption made by so many is that the government has a right to take it from us at their whim. True – per the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Congress can collect taxes at will. What may have been forgotten is that before 1913, they did not have the right to collect taxes from our incomes (see a previous article here). They continue to abuse this law, taking more and more of our money to fund their own unread and poorly crafted laws. And we continue to send them cash with every pay stub.

I came across this interesting quote recently, from Herbert Hoover:

“Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of 'emergency'. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. ... And 'emergency' became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains.”
The “emergency” has certainly been declared again, and we are falling for it just as surely as economic ruin awaits us if we continue on this course. What should we do? It’s time to get involved – write a Congressman, elect leaders who understand this principle, or work to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. Without our income tax to spend, Congress just might get downsized. Would that be a bad thing?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What If I Tell Them I Refuse To Pay Abortion Taxes?

During the recent passage of the House healthcare bill, there was a lot of uproar over whether or not public funds would go toward financing abortion on demand (the debate now swings to the Senate). Some more conservative House leaders introduced the Stupak amendment – a measure which limited (but did not completely eliminate) healthcare funds from being used for abortion. As I read the news, a thought occurred to me - what would I have done if the government had placed an abortion free-for-all in the bill, effectively being paid for with my taxes?

Is there a time when we say, “Enough! I refuse to pay for that!” Is there ever a time when we would be justified in NOT paying our taxes?

The Bible tells us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and also that God puts government officials in their place at his bidding. Jesus told us in Matthew 22 that it was right to pay taxes to Caesar. But it makes me wonder - what were taxes used for by the Roman government two thousand years ago? Did they spend tax money on the same things that our government spends it on today?

In ancient Rome, the tax rate varied between 1% and 5%, with a 1% sales tax being the norm (the higher rates up to 5% were levied on one-time events, such as inheritance taxes). And where did this tax money get spent? I can only find reference to the tax money being used to fund the Roman legions – the military used by the emperors to provide national security and preserve order. The Roman government, the one we hear about as being controlling and oppressive, did not use tax money for public healthcare, arts endowment…or to fund abortion.

Is there a difference today? If Roman taxes were being used to fund abortions, would Jesus’ answer have been different when asked about paying taxes? The point that Jesus was making in Matthew seems to be more about the concern of individuals and their love of money. This event was also a simple ploy that the Pharisees were using to try to trap Jesus into being arrested. Would he have given the same answer if the subject was about what the tax money was being spent on? Would Jesus have felt outrage and decry the payment of taxes if the Roman government had been funding abortions?

It angers me to the point of tears that some of my tax money – right now – goes to fund abortions in instances of rape, incest, or “the health of the mother”. Money that I work hard for is collected by a government which legalizes and even promotes the murder of our nation’s children. To this I say, “Enough!”

I wonder what would happen if I sent in my taxes next year with this note:
Dear U.S. Government,

I have calculated my taxes for last year to be $20,000. I have also calculated that $1,200 of this money will be allocated, proportionally, to the funding of abortions. You should be made aware that the practice of abortion is morally reprehensible to me. I cannot in good conscience allow you to spend my tax money on this procedure. I believe it is tantamount to murder. Please accept this short-payment of my tax debt with the understanding of why I am refusing to pay the full amount. To assist you in any budget shortfall, I will be doing everything in my power over the next few years to help reduce the number of abortions taking place – through discussions, volunteer work, or political activism. I hope that this more than makes up for the amount of my money that you would have spent on abortion had I not been working diligently to teach people about the outrage of this practice. I encourage you to get out of the abortion business and look to God for forgiveness and direction.

Well, I would probably be risking some jail time. I’ve probably guaranteed myself an audit just by posting this.

Pray for our nation.
Previous posts on abortion - here, here, and here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – “Climategate” – The Fall of Global Warming? (Part 11)

…continued from a previous post, commenting on the recent discovery of purposefully manipulated climate data – dubbed “Climategate” - designed to falsely promote the concept that the earth is warming…Hey, I’m all for good stewardship. But science shouldn’t lie about statistics in order to promote a dubious agenda.
The exposure of falsehoods, data deletion, and attempted cover-ups recently related to The University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) is having some repercussions in the environmental community. I am reading blogs and posts by people who were formerly convinced of Anthropogenic Global Warming as fact, but who now have their suspicions that the world has been led down “an inconvenient path”.

What changes in attitude or action are being seen as a result of Climategate?

On his way to the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) summit in Copenhagen next week, Saudi Arabia’s lead climate negotiator has said, "It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change… So, whatever the international community does to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have no effect on the climate's natural variability." I think some of us have been hinting at that very point for a while.

In the wake of the Climategate memos, Australia’s Parliament got rid of a pro-Kyoto leader, and then voted down their proposed cap-and-trade energy policy (designed to regulate carbon emissions to be more environment-friendly). It was expected to pass before the Climategate scandal came to light. I continue to “warm” to the idea of moving to Australia if things continue down their current path here in the United States. I certainly hope that our lawmakers have the fortitude to abandon cap-and-trade before they further wreck our economy.

Here’s a good one - Al Gore has suddenly canceled his December trip to Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, though he had already sold 3,000 tickets to his scheduled speaking event, at over $1,200 each (that’s $3.6 million that he’s turning down – why would he do that?). And there are at least two people in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts who are calling for Gore’s Oscar to be investigated or rescinded for his 2006 documentary film An Inconvenient Truth. Here’s a little-known fact - did you know that Gore and his producers have admitted that much of the footage showing majestic icebergs in the movie was not real – but was made using CGI (computer-generated images)? You know – like Toy Story – which, by the way, also isn’t real.

Remember that graph at the beginning of An Inconvenient Truth that showed the sudden temperature rise in recent years? In an article entitled “The Deceit Behind Global Warming”, written by Christopher Booker and Richard North, they note:

One of the greatest problems Gore and his allies faced at this time was the mass of evidence showing that in the past, global temperatures had been higher than in the late 20th century.

In 1998 came the answer they were looking for: a new temperature chart, devised by a young American physicist, Michael Mann. This became known as the "hockey stick" because it showed historic temperatures running in an almost flat line over the past 1,000 years, then suddenly flicking up at the end to record levels.

Mann's hockey stick was just what the IPCC wanted. When its 2001 report came out it was given pride of place at the top of page 1. The Mediaeval Warming, the Little Ice Age, the 20th century Little Cooling, when CO2 had already been rising, all had been wiped away.

But then a growing number of academics began to raise doubts about Mann and his graph. This culminated in 2003 with a devastating study by two Canadians showing how Mann had not only ignored most of the evidence before him but had used an algorithm that would produce a hockey stick graph whatever evidence was fed into the computer. When this was removed, the graph re-emerged just as it had looked before, showing the Middle Ages as hotter than today.

Items like this have been known for several years, but they are finally getting some real exposure in the wake of Climategate. Look for more of Michael Mann’s involvement to be revealed as the scandal progresses. Things are beginning to unravel, but will it come apart altogether?

One U.S. climatologist is quoted in the Climategate documents as saying, "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't... Our observing system is inadequate." Do you see his leap to a conclusion, even when the facts don’t support it? Rather than postulate the possibility that global warming is not occurring, the automatic conclusion is that the measurement system must be incorrect. This is a perfect example of the “bad science” I have been pointing out in this series.

And this is precisely what I mean about environmentalism becoming a religion. Because some scientists reach out to global warming on faith – whether the facts support it or not. For them, it is truly "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). This is the very definition of faith in the Bible. And because many of these scientists do not have God in their life, they have replaced the worship of God with a worship of the earth. Now, their environmental faith is in jeopardy. Will they finally replace it with a faith in God?
Next in this series.......
Back to Part 1 of this series...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – “Climategate” – The Fall of Global Warming? (Part 10)

When I started this environmental blog series earlier this year, I had it in mind that the concept of global warming might see its demise during my lifetime (possibly within the next forty years). Now, it appears that that it might happen within the next twelve months. But I am not celebrating yet – people don’t toss out their religion so easily, even the religion of environmentalism.

Enter “Climategate”. On November 19, 2009, memos and e-mails from researchers at The University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were hacked and put on Internet display. These documents reveal a series of lies, fabrications, and fact-twisting efforts put out by the CRU over a number of years. Their intent was to show global warming to be occurring, when in fact the researchers were internally admitting that it was not. The CRU is one of the main contributors of climate data and studies used by political bodies to make decisions about environmental policy.

What exactly did the researchers at CRU do that was so wrong?

First, data was manipulated. In an attempt to prove that Anthropogenic (man-made) Global Warming (AGW) is a truth, scientists went beyond the facts to keep the story alive. The memos detail specific instances where the researchers padded data, added where they shouldn’t have, or simply misled the public with the result. Don’t believe me? The graph above is an example of the earth’s temperature data used by climatologists – a 100-year measurement. The blue lines are the raw data (showing a clear cooling trend over the century). The red lines are “compensated data”, which shows a warming trend. Neat trick, huh?

Manipulation of data isn’t all that happens. Manipulation of perception has also occurred. There is now a report that an important paper previously claiming that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 at the current rate of global warming - contained a typo. The data should have said that the date would be 2350. I’ll bet you haven’t read that retraction in the paper, though.

Second, data was deleted. Raw data sets, which were used to construct the models leading to global economic policy decisions, were simply thrown out. This means that it is impossible to go back and verify or reconstruct a model that uses this data. It calls into question everything about the scientific conclusion, because the original data set is gone. Do you think your high school chemistry professor would have let you get away with that? And it begs the question – why did they delete the data? To save space? Or because the raw data was problematic to the conclusion that they wanted to draw? Hmmmmm…

Third, they tried to cover it up. Memos make it clear that the scientists in question were purposefully trying to evade the U.K.’s Freedom of Information Act. E-mail exchanges show that colleagues were being asked to delete e-mails that might prove troublesome later. That alone calls into question the true objectivity of these scientists. Their purpose clearly wasn’t about getting to the truth. It was about holding up a false premise designed to glorify themselves and others as the saviors of our poor planet. The top director of the CRU is on record as saying, “I would like to see the climate change happen so the science could be proved right.” His goal was not to reverse global warming – it was to be shown that he was right all along. That’s like hoping someone in your family gets a life-threatening disease so you can take full advantage of your health insurance.

To be sure, environmentalism takes the place of religion for many. It is a form of “doing good” and appearing to be concerned, with worship of the earth acting as a substitute for worship of God. Next up – what changes are occurring as a result of Climategate (including “What do Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Pixar’s Toy Story have in common?”)
Next in this series.......
Back to Part 1 of this series...