Saturday, June 21, 2008

Win Or Lose

This morning over coffee at the local donut shoppe I got into a discussion with an atheist. After listening to his rhetoric about religion being a heathen rite, and that no sane, intelligent person would believe in God, I just had to speak up.

I first told him that, as a rule, believing in a greater power was a sign of intellect, and I proceeded to explain why. But the real blow to him came when I made one final statement:

"If there is no God, neither of us loses anything because of our beliefs. But if there is a God, I win, and you lose. There is no possible way an atheist can win - the best he can hope for is to not lose. And there is no possible way a believer can lose - the worst that could happen is that he does not win. Given a choice between a 50% chance of winning or a 100% chance of not winning, most intelligent, sane people would opt for the chance of winning."

Poor fellow choked on his donut and left without saying another word.

It is such a great feeling to know you simply cannot lose. And I feel pity for that fellow who simply cannot win, because he lives in a world that has no hope.

I turned to the man next to me, and showed him my thumb - how complex it was, and what it helps us to accomplish. I said, "Billions of independent cells act together to make me what I am, and work together flawlessly. Toss in instincts, emotions, intelligence and everything that makes us who we are and I cannot fathom that such a thing could happen by accident."

It rained in the afternoon, and one of the brightest rainbows I have ever seen hung in the sky. And I felt comfortable in my beliefs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Simple Solution to Major Concern

For several years there has been a growing controversy over "gay marriage." I do not understand why, because there is such a simple solution.

The controversy arises when the needs of some people are diametrically opposed to the moral values of others. Gays need the same protections and rights as heterosexuals, but heterosexuals often do not want to accept the gay lifestyle because of religious, moral reasons.

The problem was created because the government broke the law - violated the First Amendment. Marriage always has been a religious rite. The state and federal governments, in violation of the First Amendment, co-opted and took over control of marriage, making it something that had to be sanctioned by the state, rather than God. "Separation of church and state" was ignored. This resulted in a religious rite, meant for followers of the church, to become a state institution.

The solution, then, is to separate the two in a just and fair manner - to allow gays to fulfill their needs without infringing on the personal moral values of others.

Currently, marriage is not just a state-sanctioned ceremony - it is also a religious rite. One that is often abused, even by heterosexuals.

PROPOSAL: All couples, regardless of gender, would have the right to enter into a civil union, sanctioned and regognized by state and federal government, with all the same rights currently attributable to marriage. These would be CIVIL UNIONS, regardless of gender, and would be the state-sponsored "norm" for all couples - even heterosexual couples.

Marriage, on the other hand, would be a separate RELIGIOUS rite, as it was designed to be, to be entered into as an option by religious people, to be performed only in a church, and only by an ordained person of the cloth. At least one member of the couple must actually belong to the church in which they are to be married, to maintain the sanctity of the marriage rite. Marriage would not create any new rights or priviledges not already given in Civil Unions.

Therefore, any couple who can pass muster with their church may be married in that church, regardless of sex. Church tenets that do not allow gay marriage would not perform any. Those religions that do not have a problem with gay marriage would perform gay ceremonies.

The end result: gay couples will have the same rights, responsibilities and protections as heterosexuals, granted equally to all by the state and federal governments. Those whose religion objects to the gay lifestyle would not be sanctioning or supporting gay unions - their church makes that call.

In this way, marriage would retain its religious sanctity and those with moral objections need not be concerned. And gays would have the same status as heterosexuals, from a legal standpoint.

If we remove the state from marriage (which should never have co-opted it in the first place, as that is a breach of separation of church and state), the problem is no longer real.

All couples wishing to unite would enter a civil union, for legal standing as a couple. Those whose religion and moral structure requires union in the eyes of God would ALSO marry, in a church, by an ordained person of the cloth (both rites can be performed simultaneously).

If gays believe themselves to be otherwise moral and have a need to unite in the eyes of God, they need only find a religion that agrees with them that the gay lifestyle is not an abomination in the eyes of God.

And, if no such church can be found, perhaps it is time for them to create one.

For here is a little understood fact: religious tenets are not meant to be molded to people. It is people who are supposed to be molded by religious tenets. Therefore, if a church uses a Bible that includes the belief that homosexuality is a sin, then that church should never be allowed to support the gay lifestyle. God's word is not for us to change.

So if gays need a church of their own, they need to found one that is based on a Bible that states something to the effect that while God may see the lifestyle as an abomination, he also sees gays as His children, and does not love them any less, and can bless their unions in spite of their faults.

After all, NONE of us are without sin, are we? So when you come right down to it, and using the "logic" that gays cannot marry because they are sinners, none of us should be allowed to marry, for we all come up short in the eyes of God.

While separating marriage from the state is the best solution considering the nature of Mankind, in a perfect world the simplest and best solution would be to let all adult couples marry, and let God decide who He will condemn, if anyone.

If you are not a moral person, you should not care who marries whom. And if you are a moral person, you would do well to remember "Judge not, lest ye be judged".

'Nuff said!

More "Stuck On Stupid"

The longer I live, the more it amazes me that some people can be so incredibly naive.

You know about the increasing foreclosure rate - people losing their homes in greater numbers. And there are people who believe that the government should step in and, using tax money, help bail those "poor people" out of the mess they are in.

On the surface, that almost sounds commendable. Until you realize the truth.

1) Most of the increase in foreclosures is due to greedy people wanting more home than they could afford, so they jumped into the sub-prime mess with both feet. Greedy lenders took advantage of greedy buyers. Remember this - you can't con and honest person. The lenders conned those buyers, but were only able to do so because the buyers, themselves, were greedy.

2) It is unconstitutional for the government to do bail-outs of this sort. The Constitution specifically states that the feds can tax ONLY for the GENERAL welfare and the national defense. Bailing out stupid, greedy people is not general welfare - it is individual welfare.

3) The taxes that would be used would come from people who lived more modestly, and own modest homes they can afford.

Now, to bail out those people would open the door to massive abuses. Greedy people could then buy Rolls Royces and Mercedes and, when they cannot meet the payments, ask Chevy and Ford owners to pay off their auto loans for them. Or send their spoiled kids to private schools, and when they fall behind on tuition, they make you pay the tuition for them, while YOUR kids are stuck in public schools.

Why should a person who drives a Chevy have to pay the payments for some greedy jerk's Mercedes, tuition or home?

Why should someone renting an apartment or living in a mobile home have to pay the mortgage payments of people who bought million dollar homes they could not afford?

One woman on AOL complained that she bought a $400,000 home 24 years ago, and is now losing it to foreclosure. I say, "Too bad!" First, no one forced her to buy a $400k home at a time when the average home only cost $150k. Second, if she has had it 24 years, it's almost paid for, and she can easily sell and walk away with enough $$$ to pay cash for a modest home. And if she kept borrowing against her home so she has no equity, that was her choice - she already spent the money of the high life. Third, she lived in a $400k home for 24 years, while 95% of all other Americans will never even get to see the inside of such a home. So, I cannot feel sorry for her.

Why should the little guys pay to keep her in her home? She overbought, on purpose. She tapped the equity and probably spent the money on fancy cars and European vacations. She lived the high life for a quarter century, and never planned for tougher times. She drove a Mercedes while you drove a Ford. She ate steak while you ate hot dogs. She lived in luxury while you struggled. And now she wants you to bail her out.

I say, NO WAY! As I pointed out in an earlier post, every action we take has consequences, and we need to be responsible for the actions we take, and accept the consequences.

People who think they deserve to have their cake and eat it, too, should get a good, swift kick in the butt! And people who believe it is "compassionate" to bail them out are naive, foolish and should stand in line for that kick in the butt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stuck on Stupid

Ever notice that for some politicians, their first and only "solution" to any problem is to increase taxes? And after 100 years of that, they still have not learned that higher taxes is never a good, permanent solution to anything. Government can never use our money as wisely as we can, and when they take it from us, we have less to invest in the future, in business, and in our families.

Take the bill in the Senate that would have put a Windfall Profits Tax on oil company profits. Sure, to the short-sighted, that sounds great - the oil companies can afford it, and they deserve it. But the thinking man first remembers that every Windfall Profits Tax of the past has failed miserably. We did it in the '70's, under Carter, and it resulted in shorter supplies and higher prices. Is that really a solution? Is that what we really want?

The reason WF Taxes don't work is simple economics. If you place more taxes on business, the business will simply increase the price to the consumer, to cover the tax. And they will not invest as much into research, or refining. The tobacco companies did that sort of thing when they got sued and had to pay out many millions. They simply passed the cost onto you and me (well, not me - I don't smoke). More taxes are not the solution.

It never ceases to amaze me that many good folks simply cannot grasp this simple concept: if you increase the cost of doing business, the cost of products and services must increase. Even a kid running a lemonade stand understands that if the cost of lemons increase, he must increase the cost of his lemonade. And if the local bully extorts 20 percent from him in a "protection racket", the kid must charge 20% more to cover those losses. And since we are all consumers, we are the ones who ultimately pay for higher taxes on businesses.

The solution is four-fold: first, the governments - state and federal - must be made to stop taxing fuel by the dollar, and tax it by the gallon, instead. As it is, every time the cost goes up, the amount we pay in tax also goes up. But if the tax was per gallon, it would not increase just because the price goes up. The ones who are earning a "profit windfall" are the governments.

Second, oil must be removed from the commodities market, and regulated as any other necessary utility. If day traders cannot keep bidding up the futures prices, the cost per barrel will drop like a rock.

Third, the government should pass legislation that would permit us to tap our own natural resources, as a temporary measure, until a new energy source can be found or created. Many people simply do not realize that in the last few years, China and India - both with populations that far exceed our own - have begun using oil in the same quantities (or greater) than America does. This has tripled demand - while supply has remained stagnant. The simple law of "supply and demand" dictates the price increases accordingly. If we cannot decrease demand, then we absolutely must increase supply.

Finally, the government should offer a $100 million dollar reward to any person or company that develops a viable, sustainable source of energy that can replace oil, and is either carbon neutral, or at least greener than fossil fuels. That reward is small compared to what it will cost us if such a source is not developed. The reward would spur ingenuity, and get companies investing in a renewable source. As an example, when a $10 million dollar prize was offered to the first person to put a man into space and land him safely, it spurred many into finding ways to do it, and it was accomplished within 2 years.

But the politicians who see taxation as the only solution are bad for us, bad for our economy, and do not offer any viable answers. It's time to replace them with people who can see beyond their noses. The republicans who shot down that dangerous "band-aid" solution did a fine and courageous thing. Courageous because many people will not see them as visionaries, but as obstructionists. But it's like the Bible says - the righteous will always be persecuted.

Not that those republican Senators are righteous. But in this case, they did manage to do the right thing, for the right reasons. And, since the bill would have forced all businesses to pay a total of an extra trillion a year to buy "carbon credits", they also prevented having businesses pull up stakes and move to China and India, where there are no such restrictions. If you owned a big business and were told to pay a huge amount for credits, and you realized you could save billions by moving to China, you'd be gone in a flash - and take all those American jobs with you. Not good! So, though it looks like obstructionism, in this case the Republicans did a very good and sane thing.

Now if only Congress will do the four things listed above, we could all rest a lot easier.

I really do not care if Republicans or Democrats hold Congress. I only care that whoever we elect, that they actually have some intelligence, common sense, and remember that they work for us, and not vice versa. They need to accomplish the tasks the people want them to deal with - immigration, health, jobs, national security etc. But in the 2 years the Democrats have held BOTH HOUSES of Congress, they have not accomplished anything at all. And the Republicans before them were not that much better (though they did get SOME things done).

It is time we sent politicians a message - do the job, or get replaced. If you are interested in discovering actual solutions, so you can elect people who will pursue them, check out and look over their platform, formulated by asking average Americans what they want our leaders to do. If you agree with more than half of the platform, consider "signing" their petition to have it presented at both national conventions this year.

It's a start.