Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christians:Will You Give To A Cause Where Santa is the One Giving Out the Gifts

It is that time of year where I examine the celebration of Christmas with my understanding of biblical principles.  Some may feel it is hummbugness, but I assure you it is not.  It is simply a reflection of my own journey with Christ and is not meant to be a judgment on those that disagree.  So, with that disclaimer out of the way, here is what I am currently pondering.   As you may know from one of my first blogs in December of 2007, I discuss my general disagreement for the celebration of Santa.  Here are a few highlights.

“if Santa is to represent the birth of God's son, look at how he is depicted. I saw him selling cars this morning, he is often portrayed as the drunk ringing a bell with a bottle in his bucket,”

“Thou shalt not worship false idols. What on earth do we think we are doing when we push Santa. Santa centuries ago was a man, St Nicklaus. He has now become a godlike being. We teach children that Santa is omniscient and omnipresent. He sees you when you are sleeping and knows if you have been bad or good so be good for goodness sakes. Santa Claus is an idol in this, we teach our children that he has special powers, FALSE. He can be in all places at all times, FALSE. We should send our letters (prayers) to him so that he can answer them, FALSE. He is now and has always been, FALSE.”

Based on the premise that Santa is a false idol that overshadows Christ in this holiday, would you as a believer in Christ give money or gifts to a charity or church that would use a “Santa” to deliver such gifts, as innocent and fun as it may be.   Truly, if we are honest with ourselves, we celebrate Christmas to mark Christ’s birth.  We give gifts as a “symbol” of the gift that God gave us, and in commemoration of the gifts the wise men bestowed upon Jesus, albeit two years later.   My goal is to celebrate Christmas in a way that gives glory to God.  How am I spreading God’s glory by allowing a false idol to steal the message.  Aside from maybe saying merry Christmas, does Santa offer a blessing to God before giving the gifts.  Does he offer the message of the good news to the little children?  I would say more often than not, the answer is no. 

What we do on this world is about accepting Christ and living a life that honors him and brings us closer to him, for eternity is what it is all about.  One of the charges Christ gave was to go and make disciples.  We do that by witnessing to non-believers.   Is a false idol the best opportunity to witness to non-believers.  What if it were any other day of the year?  What if some guy told you, “Hey, I know you believe in Christ and you want to love your neighbor.  How about you give me the money and I will buy them food and everything else, and I will tell them it came from some imaginary figure so that they have no idea it was a reflection of the love of Christ.”  My thought is that you would find another way to give.    How is Santa any different?  Is Santa the only choice?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lessons From California’s Oil Legacy: Why it is safe to Drill baby Drill

My favorite movie is There Will Be Blood about an early 20th century oil man’s quest to beat out his competition at the cost of everything most people would find meaningful.    One of the characters of the movie is the oil industry itself.  I am constantly fascinated by the recreation of early drilling techniques, from manually scooping it out of a hole with a bucket to more efficient steam pumps that would just dump the oil into a field.  All of this work would be extremely controversial due to its environmental impact by today’s standards. 
The United States was once the world leader in oil production, with fields primarily in California and Texas.  I remember seeing the pictures of field upon field with massive oil derricks erected, such as the one pictured.  Yet, not even 100 years later, the legacy of the oil industry is dwindling.  More importantly, the environmental impact is unnoticed.  I mean, if you think about all the precautions that yesterday’s oil business did not have to take compared to today’s, you would have thought California and Texas would have become gigantic Chernobyl’s.  Quite the contrary, as they are amongst the most desirable places to live in the country. 
What lesson can we learn from our early oil days.  The lesson is that the impact of such endeavors is actually minimal.  And when you factor in today’s efficiencies and standards, it makes little sense as to why we make drilling so difficult in the United States.  Places like Anwar and our Gulf coast are ripe for oil production.   Instead, we push oil companies deep out into the ocean where drilling is risky, as we have seen this past year with the Gulf oil spill.  But that is often how the law of unintended consequences goes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Liberal Values Revealed in Tax Debate

Who doesn’t have a memory of going to the swimming pool and standing on the side with your friends daring one another to dive in first?  The fear, of course, is that the water is unbelievably cold.  So, since misery loves company, you all agree to do it together.  On the count of three, you take the plunge, or at least the most trusting of the group do.  Meanwhile, the most shady of the group stands on the side laughing at his own cunning.    Well, I heard an interesting question posed to Claire McCaskill regarding the tax issue.   She is holding the usual liberal line on saying that we need to raise taxes on the rich.   She admitted that her and her husbands combined income make them wealthy.  So the radio host asked her if she would go ahead and pay, voluntarily, the tax rates she is proposing.   Well, like the kid that wants everyone else to jump in the cold water while they watch, she does not.   She then went on to say that she uses her wealth for charity, so it is all good, for her.
This is possibly the most telling exchange with a liberal that I have ever heard.  The liberal believes that the government knows how best to use everyone’s money.   McCaskill is a liberal.  So, if she believes that the government knows how best to use the wealth of the nation, why shouldn’t she voluntarily give up her income to the federal treasury.    Claire is liberal, but not dumb.  She actually admitted that she can do more with her money through the decisions she individually makes, such as charitable giving.   If she is capable of making such decisions, aren’t the rest of us.  Of course, the same goes for the healthcare bill.  Congress and staffers are exempt.  If this is the best thing for the country, why would they be exempt, and more importantly, why do we tolerate this “More equal than others” attitude.
What I propose that will totally change the way laws are made is simple.   Any law that is passed must be applied to members of congress for one year before it applies to anyone else.  After that year, Congress is then given a chance to repeal that law.   

Friday, December 10, 2010

Republican Tax Deal is like Lando's Deal With Darth Vader. It's Bad.

So, we already know that dealing with the Democrats is like dealing with Empire from Star Wars.  This latest tax deal is very much the same.  If you remember from Empire Strikes Back, Lando made a deal with the empire to betray his friend in order to keep the empire out of cloud city.  Lando was making the best deal he thought possible.  He compromised with Darth Vader.  To compromise, Lando could not honor his friend and his commitment as administrator of cloud city.  One of them had to suffer for the other one’s benefit, in order for him to compromise.  After having chosen to dishonor his friend, Lord Vader changed the deal, further dishonoring his friend.  Lando was upset and confront Vader saying that the new conditions were not part of the deal.  Lord Vader’s response was simply, “I’ve altered the deal, pray I don’t alter it any further.”   The moral of the story is that when you compromise with evil, only bad things can happen.   Compromise meant that Lando had to be more like the Empire than the Empire being more like him.  And after he thought he had sufficiently become a measure of the Empire, they said, not quite, and made him become even more like the empire.  Vader got everything he wanted and Lando got nothing.
And so we have the Republicans acting the same way.  They made the sucker’s choice of compromising with Darth Obama, despite the mandate not to.  They thought they could be just a little bit like the Democrats and everyone would be happy, only now they are learning that the lame duck democrats are now saying, thank you for showing that you want to be like us a little bit despite the election, now you need to be even more like us.  To do this, the house democrats blocked the compromise bill.  Now the only bill that will be agreed to will be one with more and more “empire” in it.  The Republicans need to make the choice Lando made in the end and not compromise, despite what may happen.  He honored his friend by trying to save him and the ones he cared about, and he honored cloud city by not allowing any “empire” in himself as administrator. 
The Republicans need to end the compromise and simply block all legislation until the lame duck is over.  Why in the world would they allow the lame duck democrats to push decisive legislation on taxes, immigration, DADT, and health care spending.   There was an election mandate to act counter to the way the congress is currently acting.  If they allow this tax bill to go through as is, let’s see all the way the Republicans lose.

1.       Increase in the estate tax.  Any change in the current tax code accounts for a tax increase.  By voting for this bill, the Republicans are voting for a TAX INCREASE
2.       Extending unemployment.  Is there no end.  By voting for this bill, the Republicans are increasing spending and the debt
3.       Extending the Measure for 2 years.  By voting for this bill, the Republicans are allowing for the continued uncertainty that businesses face in the tax code.
4.       Allowing for 13 months of unemployment.  By allowing a 13 month extension, it allows the Democrats to play the “cut unemployment during Christmas card again”.

What do the Republicans get?  Nothing.  Remember, this battle was just about keeping taxes as they are right now, not lowering or raising them.  This compromise is clearly beneficial to the Democrats regardless of what they cry about on MSNBC.  And to make matters worse, as I have already said, they want to alter the deal further.  Stop Darth Obama, Bobba Reid, and Emperor Pelosi.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Conservative Victory in Tax Cut Debate? I Don't Think So

Right after the election, the media framed the victory in terms of what would compromise look like, effectively setting the trap for the Republicans.  As part of the tide that swept the Dems out of office, the last thing I was hoping for was compromise.  As has been said, how do you compromise between food and poison.  How do you compromise between fiscal responsibility and irresponsibility.  You don't.  Compromising on either means that you were just a little bit irresponsible, but irresponsible never the less.  So when I hear that the Republicans scored a great victory in the tax cut debate, I do not celebrate, but mourn the fact that they have allowed the country to ingest poison.  That poison comes in the form of a 13 month extension to unemployment.  As if that isn't enough to kill growth, they also allowed the estate tax to go up from 0% to 35%.  Now, if you rely on the media for your news, they will have framed it to say that the estate tax went from 55% to 35%, so at least the Republicans got something.  This is crazy talk.
The Republicans stood their ground on the principle that incomes over $250,000 are not actually rich, but also small businesses and that their taxes should not go up.  Why did they not apply this same principle to the estate tax, where the people most affected are farmers and small businesses, where the cost of leaving the farm or businesses to a relative ends up being so high due to taxes, that it closes down.  This is just one layer of why the Estate tax is morally wrong.  The other is that you are literally taxing money that has been taxed over an entire life time.  The government has not right to a person's estate upon passing. 
By yielding on this point, the Republicans will have effectively gone along with a massive tax increase on estates, and increasing the debt through unemployment welfare extension.  I think we have our answer on what kind of Republicans we have.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

America’s Days of Hosting World Sporting Events Is Over. No FIFA for US

I am not going to blame Obama for the fact that we cannot land a world sporting event, from the Olympics to the World Cup.  The only thing he is culpable of is how bad he makes us look when we lose.  His multiple entourages have come up empty every time.  What Obama has failed to realize is that awarding other nations the honor of hosting global sporting events is a way for the international community to slap the United States in the face.  For decades, our infrastructure and economic force made the US the logical choice to host these events.  But as many nations have modernized enough, the need for the United States has ended.   I say this is good.  Look at what happens to Olympic venues after the Olympics have ended.  Do we really need that?  What we really need to do is stop making a big deal about it.  Just submit the bid and end it there.  We either get it or we don’t.  What we don’t want to do is have our President or his posse travel abroad just to get egg on their faces.  Let’s stop giving the anti-US international community the satisfaction.  The fact that Obama has done so horribly, almost makes me think that he is doing it on purpose, to further discredit a nation he doesn’t like.  Who knows?  My hope is that we don’t ever host any of these events again and while we are at it,  let’s stop hosting the UN.