The story of St. Francis is the story of a cleric who determined that it was more important to lead the laity by example, rather than through admonition. You may know this through the idea that it is more important to practise what you preach.
Attributed to Gersham Bulkeley in 1692 are the words that actions "speak louder than words."
But what is the true source for this admonition? There has to be credit for Plato's criticism of the Sophists, who lived hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.
In the last Presidential election, we heard very little about the actions of the President before he was President. We were told that his associations with radical Leftists was an attempt to smear the President. Guilt by association.
Few of us know the Bible. Few of us ever turn to the Bible to read the words of the men and women who were the examples of right and wrong upon which our major world religions were built. That is, there are prescriptive remedies given to the reader. Rules of behaviour that, if practised, tend toward allowing the practitioner to lead a better life.
You've, perhaps, read or heard the words, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." They will practise what they preach. Their actions speak louder than words. Or, the words of a former President, "A man is known by the company he keeps, and also by the company from which he is kept out."
If you have a copy of the Bible, or of the New Testament, take it out and look up Matthew, Chapter 7.
What fruit does a man bring when that fruit is taken from another? "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"
By what right does any man claim that what is yours must be given to another?
What is property? What are the rights of property?
An interesting example of property comes up in Genesis, and the twin sons of Isaac. The number of stories that have been generated in the first 36 chapters of the Bible is amazing. Where else would we go for understanding of Hemingway's "A Sun Also Rises," John Barth's "End of the Road, " or Melville's "Moby Dick"?
In each of these examples are stark moral questions. And I'll share with you my dilemma; I could never become ensnared by the moral questions, to me it was a matter of ethics. There were plenty of Sunday Schools were I was the lone protestor, arguing that decisions made freely among free men were to be respected as determinates of specific outcomes, even if those outcomes may not have been known at the time.
This is, for me, the story of Jacob wrestling with his conscience. Which allows us to re-read the first line of Matthew 7, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
We will judge. And we will hold others accountable. And yet, are we willing to be held accountable as well? We may find some moral grounds for attempting to ellude the consequences of our actions, but can we elude the ethical consequences?
And how do we judge?
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit."
Or, in the parlance of my pop, you never find the fruit far from the tree.
When you Google--or in my case, use AltaVista--the words "Andy Stern" "SEIU" and "Obama", what comes up?
When you search "SEIU" and "Honduras" what comes up? Why the animus against Honduras? Honduras was an ally against the Communists in Nicaragua during the Reagan years. Imagine, an Adminstration that fought against the foresworn ideals of the Worker. (Worker, with a capital "w" is shorthand for those who wish to end capitalism, err, and individual liberty and freedom. See, for the Workers, the fact that an individual can, through his own hard work, luck or effort, amass a great deal of money is a mockery of teh Rights of the Worker. The Rights of the Worker is to have everything that a guy who worked hard, through luck, or with effort, earned. The Worker takes because those with stuff only have stuff because the Worker doesn't have stuff. End of the Marxist/Leninism lesson for the day. There's more written, but it all really boils down to the Worker taking what he wants, instead of earning it.)
Communists and Socialists are very big on taking from those with stuff and telling you that they're giving it to those without that same stuff in order that those without stuff, get stuff.
It's nearly inconceivable that anyone would believe that taking stuff from people with stuff, in order to give it to people without that stuff, would be a sustainable system. If you're the bully on the block, beating up the weaker kids will last, only to a point. In the least sense, that bully will wake up one morning and find out that all of his neighbors have moved away. And wonder why?
That's what markets do.
There comes a point of capitulation. The barriers that have been set before private action becomes too great to surmount. The players pick up the ball and leave the field. You only invest so much money into a losing team before you look for a buyer. And if there are no buyers, the team folds. If there aren't enough teams, the league folds. It doesn't matter how good a player you are if you can't make money playing the game.
If you're a player, you'll look for a team that will pay you to play.
Very few of you have an understanding of Russian history from 1917 to 1925. Some of you have some idea of the Russia of 1925 to 1945 or '46. What's sad is, that very few of you have an idea of that same country and its role in the world from 1946 to 1993. The Socialists and the Communists have an idea of its role. Its role--Russia's role--was to liberate the Worker in oppressed societies. And which societies were oppressed? (Can you guess? Was Cuba oppressed?)
There are those of us who have studied the progression of civilizations and have come to the conclusion that Socialism and Communism are flawed systems. But not to the New Age Pharisees. Somehow, the new Pharisees, this new Elite, is guiding us into an age that their predecessors failed at in guiding their societies toward.
And who are these New Age Pharisees?
I'm not a Christian. For simple reasons. But that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the teaching that lives in works like the Bible. The distance that separates me from the Christian is small, but important. I don't believe that Jesus was the Immaculate Conception or that Mary was a virgin. I don't believe that He was the Son of God.
But the words of Christ and of his followers are important, game-changing rules. Both ethically and morally. And even if I find myself disagreeing morally with my fellows who are Christian, I find myself more often than not agreeing with their ethics. (In part because I believe there are universal ethics.)
I believe in Christ. I'm not a Christian. I don't feel a need to call the ACLU and complain.
Why should you be shocked to find yourself listening to a politician like Sarah Palin and find yourself agreeing with her views and beliefs when she is self-avowedly a Christian? Being a Christian isn't anathema to being either literate or intelligent. Regardless of what the Socialists and Communists may say.
And I know far too many literate and intelligent Christians to ever posit the belief that because of their commitment to their religious views, that somehow their views on right and wrong are suspect.
You will know them by their works. You will know them by their friends. You will know them by their fruit.
What Socialist or Communist, friend or supporter of Obama, his cronies in the federal or state legislatures, has born fruit that was worthy? What wealth have they created? What problems have they solved?
I look at the list of our President's friends, from Andy Sterns to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, from Van Jones to Kevin Jennings, from Eric Holder to Harry Reid, and ask you, what are the fruits of these men? Have you even heard of them? Do you know what they believe?
What is the "Leaven of the Pharisees"? This is an article by a Christian by the name of Robert Dick.
Before you hit the link, I think it's important for you to understand that this article is not an anti-Semitic rant. Criticising Muslims, Jews or Christians doesn't make one anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish or anti-Christian. As my dad used to say, if the shoe fits, wear it. (That is, if you believe otherwise, make a sound argument that displays reasonably why my beliefs shouldn't be "shoe-horned" onto yours. But, unless you're willing to stand up for yourself, why should I pull any punches?)
The author of this article, Reverend Dick, makes some conclusory remarks that may sting some readers. "It may look that way, Rabbi Horowitz said. But appearances can deceive."
So, before you take this link as anti-Semitic, remember, all of us, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, agnostic and atheist, all are deserving of criticism. The question becomes one of ethics; if you say a thing is so, shouldn't it be so?
If you say that Socialists and Communists are necessary in order to save the world, wouldn't it be best if it were true?
Remember this every time you hear some say something about protecting the trees, or the river, or the ocean or the air. It isn't that they don't believe their own words, it just that when you examine the words you find that there is plenty of intensity, but really no meaning.
Talking with staff at the companies I work with, there is a total lack of awareness about the upcoming election on Measures 66 and 67.
The same is not true when talking to member of AFSCME or OEA.
Over at Onward Oregon, Governor Kitzhaber's shadow campaign, their latest presser announces (no link):
"Measures 66 and 67 are where our most needed basic services meet our most basic values: A “YES” vote would preserve and protect nearly $1 billion in funding for critical services, in an economic climate when they’re needed most. Budgets for vital services like education, health care and public safety that can’t be stretched any thinner are on the line, while tax fairness and our fiscal future are at stake."
Well, of course. We wouldn't be able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Pixie Dust without the revenue. Yet, I don't see any mentioned cuts for the Cultural Trust or Green Technology. Public safety getting cut? Sure. It wasn't that long ago that funding for the State Police was returned to that agency. Leftists mean it when they say they'll cut public safety funding.
Another nugget from Onward Oregon:
"More than 90 percent of the state’s budget pays for education, public safety, and health care."
So, any targets identified yet?
While Kulongoski has promoted the Green Tech side of the Pixie Dust Industry, Governor Kitzhaber has pushed for further socialization of the medical industry in Oregon. And that system not only doesn't work, but when it does work, the results are both laughable and horrifying. What any of these guys don't get is, there is only so much cash. And neither of these boys contributes a dime.
What happened in the last session was an increase in State spending of $4.7 billion dollars. Needed to do good things for Oregon.
But how to pay?
Same thing, just pass a bill. Raise taxes. Problem solved.
Just one thing; have you even looked at this tax bill? It's a permanent tax retroactive to January, 2009.
It's a tax on the gross revenue of a firm.
So, if your business, like most businesses in Oregon, lost money during 2009, they will still pay up to $100,000.00 in taxes on zero profit.
So, if you own an S-Corp, just so you know, you are totally screwed, buddy. There goes your Beacon score. Try borrowing money when you're upside down. Even if you could find a bank willing to lend.
I was shocked to find that "nobody" out there knows how horrible the economy is going to be if these taxes aren't repealed. Sure, Oregon is only ranked 44th of 51 in our employment rate. Sure, we're ranked 47th in job creation.
Or, let's flip those numbers. We're Number 8 when it comes to unemployment, Number 4 when it comes to job destruction. And we have this massive state-run medical program that doesn't work. And a massive education industry that is guilty of massive fail.
But we can't cut those.
So let's lose some more jobs.
It's nice to think that my fellow Oregonians will take a look at the State's balance sheet and realize that we are on a path toward a California-styled future. Californians won't destroy this state by moving here. Instead, we'll become Californians.
Freedom, liberty and responsibility is too hard. And there's so much stuff that I want! Free healthcare, free housing, free food. Green technology! Jeeze, the list just goes on and on.
I predict that these taxes will fail to be repealed. There are simply too many people who don't understand how wealth is created. And that wealth creation is good.
First, I need to thank my friend Lumberjack for this magazine cover.
Steve McIntyre is the most important man living.
If you've never heard of him, more is the pity for you. Especially if you consider yourself well-read. But there is a very real chance that if you depend upon your local newspaper for information about the world around you, network television news for information about the issues that affect you, chances are you've never heard his name.
When I first heard of Mr. McIntyre I wanted to find out from another source whether or not the criticisms of Mr. McIntyre had any validity. So, I called Roger Pielke, Sr. See, that's the beauty of real science. You can pick up a phone and ask a guy a question. And I don't believe anyone would put Doctor Pielke's views on climate change in the "skeptics" corner.
Climate is changing. Climate has changed since the beginning of time and will stop changing when the end of the world comes. Which may never happen during your lifetime.
Worse than being a skeptic, Mr. McIntyre is a mathematician. And to add insult to injury, he's a mathematician without portfolio; he doesn't have a list of advanced degrees, nor does he have tenure at one of Canada's major universities. He is the worst possible thing in the view of the elites. He is a common man asking common sense questions.
McIntyre was joined in his common sense quest for common sense answers by Ross McKitrick. Dr. McKitrick does have the kind of credentials that the elite respect. He's a phud, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute.
If any of you has taken upper division courses in statistics, or graduate level courses, one of the insidious frauds that commonly occurs is the result of something called "data mining." I was still studying in preparation for graduate school when that school began requiring incoming candidates to own their own IBM personal computers. Talk about cool beans. Up to that point, with a few exceptions, both the teaching staff and graduate students had to rely upon access to the university's mainframe. And with access to computers it became easy to enter data sets and run a regression.
Once the regression was run, relationships between the variables would be hypothesized. Ta da!
It is my belief, based upon conversations with sociologists and psychiatrists, that most of the body of sociology and psychiatry are based upon this method of data mining. Run the numbers, cook up a theory, run the numbers again and publish.
And now to sociology and psychiatry it seems we can add climatologist.
Critics of McIntyre point out that he is neither a lettered (Ph.D.) mathematician, nor a climatologist. They prefer this ad hominem attack upon McIntyre rather than refutation of his criticisms, or with proof. The beauty of ad hominem attacks is that it deflects the listener or reader from the more important question: Is the criticism of McIntyre valid?
The attempt by the "climate realists" to obscure the criticisms of McIntyre and McKitrick came to a head with the recent release of documents from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, also known as The Met.
Mr. McIintyre and Dr. McKitrick have devoted a great deal of time and effort to providing you with what we all expect from the science community. Objectivity, rather than consensus.
If Time Magazine had any interest in informing it's readers with an objective view of a man's importance to the world around him, this is probably the article that would have been written:
You do not have to have a Ph.D. in order to understand the fundamentals of math or statistics.
You must be aware that there are certain cretins within the academy that uses data mining techniques rather than the scientific method to promulgate "advances" in knowledge. Who will guard the walls of science?
It is guys like you and I. Guys like Stephen McIntyre.
For you youngsters out there, I'm sure your love of Hope™ and Change™ is all you need. Or, in the words of the Beatles, "All You Need Is Love."
I ask you to spend a moment looking at this chart.
Do you remember what event occured on September 11, 2001 that could have had a negative impact on our nation's domestic output? (Domestic output is the combined value of goods and services produced within the United States by all private enterprises. Everything, like medicine, houses built, telephones sold...everything.)
And a lot of folks who used to have businesses in Clatsop county remember. Those businesses are gone now. The terror impact of driving three planes into buildings and one into the ground brought our nation's economic activity to a standstill. The cost to our economy was in the trillions of dollars. In response, to stimulate economic activity, the government cut tax rates.
That is, the government removed dis-incentives from the market place. The government made private expenditures and investment more profitable. This at the same time as increasing our federal expenditures by billions of dollars in order to prosecute a war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We began the period immediately following the attacks on the United States with increases in our federal budget deficit. And yet if we look at the chart we see that those increases in federal spending were being overwhelmed by increases in federal tax receipts. In fact, the federal deficit for 2007 was smaller than the average deficit from the preceding years, going back to 1980.
Then came the "crisis" on Wall Street. The crisis wasn't really on Wall Street. The crisis was actually the monster created by Congress through its creatures, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Community Reinvestment Act. Low interest rates and no capital gains when you sold a home you lived in for two years.
I've posted this video before. The comments by Peter Schiff begin in 2006. Two years before the meltdown that occured at the end of the third quarter in 2008.
What was the effect on housing prices due to government policies?
I remember a comment on this blog from a year ago, asking why we didn't simply give everyone $200-thousand dollars so they could buy a new home. Well, Virginia, we pretty much did.
And what happens to prices when price is no object? People who had no business owning their own home became home owners. Not only that, but prices were skyrocketing since the supply of new or existing homes couldn't keep up with the demand of people with free cash. If you bought in 1997, you could sell your home for twice the price in 2008 and not pay a penny in capital gains! New television shows appeared featuring "flippers". If you weren't getting into the real estate boom, you were a loser.
My little home more than tripled in value. But there was a reason why I didn't get into flipping.
It didn't make any sense.
You need to live somewhere, and if prices are going through the roof, buying a home to live in following a flip would have meant creating a future liability that would need to be serviced by increased cash flow in the future, not less. That is, I sell, I buy and the economy goes into a recession or depression and my cash flow is reduced against greater liabilities. Why would anyone choose to put themselves into that kind of position?
But a lot of folks did. A lot of folks. And while mortgages are going south (going into default) our government is still up to their old tricks--incentivising home sales. Yep, this is how, according to such mavens as Barney Frank and your President, Barack Obama, to get the economy going again. Offer people money to buy houses they can't afford. In order to get the price of homes back up. In order to save something or other. I can't tell. I have no idea what the government is doing, or even if they have an understanding of the words coming out of their mouths.
Let's get back to the deficit chart.
After 9/11, tax receipts went into the dumps. Our economy contracted by trillions of dollars, and as economic activity tanked, the concurrent amount of tax receipts fell, too.
By passing on tax breaks to the private sector, private actors went about the work of allocating scarce resources in order to create the greatest amount of profits. Then the bubble burst, sending financial markets into disarray as a decade of poor investment incentives--free mortgages for folks who couldn't afford them--collapsed. Players within the market realized that the assets that they held weren't worth the paper they were printed on. They were exposed to losses that some didn't hold enough assets to cover. (As in assets equals liabilities plus equity. As in, they didn't have enough equity to cover their positions.)
And some of these firms were big firms. And they had friends. In the Administration and in Congress. We were told that these firms were too big to fail. That their failure would mean the nuclear destruction of the entire economy.
I beg to disagree.
I believe in the orderly winding down of failed business enterprises. Our nation's leaders chose another path. Crony capitalism. They committed a staggering amount of money to the Treasury Department in order to prop up companies "they" deemed presented "systemic risk". The complete and utter destruction of the U.S. economy. Which was--and is--a bunch of hooey.
And that is why the graph shows that big increase in the national debt for 2008. And, to be fair, a lot of that money has come back to the treasury and a lot of it remains unspent. The amount of that deficit could be reduced easily by up to two-thirds.
And then a new disaster hit: Democrat control of the House, the Senate and the Office of the Presidency.
Starting in the first quarter of 2009 Democrats have gone into a frenzy of spending. Hundreds of billions of dollars here and there, in order to create...
No one knows. And the spending isn't over yet. Next year we're going to be committed to spending additional trillions of dollars in order to have government bureaucrats take over our nation's private health care system. Money we don't have. Because jobs have tanked, are tanking and will continue to tank as government expenditures squeeze out private investment. As activity in the private sector continues to slide, federal tax revenues will continue to fall. All of this is understandable. It's not difficult to figure out. And yet, government continues to incentivise bad decisions backed up with fiscal policies that will continue to put negative pressure on private investments.
So far, private businesses still have some room in terms of making their invesment and planning decisions. As taxes, fees and regulation increases, the amount of cash available for inventories and investments will decline. Banks will grow increasingly unwilling to lend. Employers will grow increasingly unwilling to hire. Companies will grow increasingly unwilling to invest.
That's why I love this picture of our President.
I'm reminded of living through the Presidency of one James Earl Carter. Number 39. This was a brilliant man, full of thoughtful ideas and dreams of a better America. He talked a lot about energy policy and the proper role of America in the world. So, when Iranians captured our embassy in Tehran, we followed the thoughtful guidance of our President and sat and watched and worried.
And his energy policy? Buy a sweater.
Hope™ and Change™.
And this is our current "jobs policy" from another thoughtful man, full of dreams and ideas. To create jobs we need to weatherize our homes. That's what the President was doing at the Home Depot, or wherever he was when this picture was taken.