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Archive for November, 2011

Modern Parable of Talents

November 29th, 2011 No comments

Mike Adams is always worth a read. In this three-parter he rather poignantly discusses God’s gifts and how we choose to use them.

  1. The Dance
  2. In My Life
  3. Tangled up in Blue
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Christmas Consumerism vs Charity

November 28th, 2011 No comments

Today I was given a quick poll asking how much Americans spend each year on Christmas: $10B, $450B, or $620B. Mathematician that I am, I had to figure out what the numbers worked out to per person.

With a population of about 309 million, $10B would average $30 each, which is clearly low. But the next higher choice pushes the average up to $1450—double the $715 Gallup published for 2010 average spending. Even that last figure would put a family of 4 at nearly $3000 for Christmas spending. Really? I make a pretty good living, but even adding up decorations, parties, extra baking, gifts, etc., we don’t reach that. I don’t see how a typical American household—with significantly less income—could. So, without seeing exactly what is meant by “Christmas spending” I must admit to some skepticism regarding the numeric choices. Does that include all meals eaten out, or just the “extra” ones that we might have eaten at home during a different season? Does it include travel expenses? Does it include all consumer spending, some of which would have taken place during any other time of the year? And so on.

The real point of the poll, however, was that Americans simply spend too much on Christmas and should, instead, redirect our money to charities that benefit the third world. So what would happen if we spent significantly less? I’m not advocating rampantly selfish consumerism, but there’s a flip side to this coin. Every dollar taken out of the economy has a ripple effect. Stay home instead of flying to spend the holidays with relatives? Lay off a flight attendant. Stick with last year’s Christmas dress? Put a garment worker in Mexico or Central America out of work. Skip the new MP3 player? Cut the pay of a factory employee in Asia. It’s a complicated global market. Shifting money out of it—even for well-run, legitimate charities—certainly benefits some, but inevitably harms others.

The sad truth is that the very real problems in most third world areas can’t be solved by simple charity. We’ve spent billions on foreign aid (private and governmental) to Africa alone, with relatively little improvement in the horrid plight of its people. Each year I hear the same heartbreaking stories of rampant hunger and disease that were told by missionaries when I was a kid. Contrast that to Asia where, over the last few decades, economic development has raised the standard of living and increased individual freedom even in places like Vietnam and China. Perfect? No, but greatly improved. The situation on the dark continent isn’t likely to get better until they reform or replace their incredibly corrupt governments, which are far too often propped up or enabled by…our aid and charity. That’s not my own analysis. It came straight from the director of a Christian African business organization—born in central Africa—who spoke at Central Christian Church (Mesa, AZ) a couple years ago making the case that Americans should actually reduce our charitable contributions to the continent and replace them with economic activity and increased direct pressure on governments to reform. That runs against our sense of Christian charitable responsibility, but he made some very good points. In many ways our charity perpetuates their poverty.

All that said, my wife & I support Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army/Angel Tree, and World Vision—and encourage others to give generously. Do your homework and choose well-run charities that have a record of real impact. We like these because the first two have the dual benefit of boosting the consumer market while the last lets us help provide sustainable long-term economic assistance in the form of livestock. (Bunnies ain’t just cute. They’re incredibly tasty and reproduce like, well, rabbits.) Most importantly, all three work hard to share Christ with a desperately lost world—the change they really need most.

Consumption isn’t all bad; charity isn’t all good. It may seem counterintuitive, but as in all things, balance and wisdom are required. Keep Christ in the center of your Christmas and the question will become moot.

[Thanks to Kurtis Strunk, Youth Pastor at Mesa (AZ) First Church of the Nazarene for posting the poll via Excess for Africa. Have a teen in the area? Check out ROC Student Ministries.]

Non-daily Digest

November 27th, 2011 No comments

Jeff Jacoby, Townhall — Making Americans

Doug Giles, Townhall — From a Global Perspective, the 99 Percent Are Actually the 1 Percent

James Delingpole, WSJ — Climategate 2.0

Judy Keen, USA Today — Tax breaks could determine fate of Sears’ headquarters

IL seems determined to follow the anti-business tactics of CA.

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Non-daily Digest

November 26th, 2011 No comments

Ann Coulter, Townhall — I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday For a Tax Increase Today

WSJ — The New Tammany Hall

Politico — Why the U.S. government should fund more Solyndras

A near-perfect example of one of the reasons it’s so hard to talk seriously with liberals.

Forbes — Dear Barack: It’s Time To Give Up On The Stimulus

NY Times — Border Fence Upends a Valley Farmer’s Life

It really comes as no surprise that the federal government is making a mess of the fence. Common sense would have dictated that we put the fence up first along the largely uninhabited swaths of AZ and NM, using increased Border Patrol presence in areas like this. But we really can’t expect common sense from the feds.

LA Times — Waving California goodbye

But will that prompt cuts to the state’s massive spending, punitive taxes, and ridiculous overregulation of business? Not likely. Some lessons are simply lost on the Left Coast.

American Thinker — 157 Air Force Majors terminated without retirement benefits

The Commander-in-Chief shows what he really thinks about our servicemen. But we knew that already, didn’t we?

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Non-daily Digest

November 25th, 2011 No comments

Mark Steyn, IBD — Bailing Out The Titanic With A Thimble

Charles Krauthammer, IBD — The Norquist Myth

Yuval Levin, National Review — What Is Constitutional Conservatism?

Ed Morrissey, Fiscal Times — Gingrich on Immigration: A Strategy Not Amnesty

Hot Air — Obamateurism of the Day

Michael Medved, Townhall — Will Demography Defeat Democrats?

WSJ — The NLRB Putsch

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CNN Shows Its Bias Against Guns

November 25th, 2011 No comments

In yet another poorly written attempt to demonize American gun ownership, CNN published this piece about the first homicide to occur in Windsor, Ontario in just over two years. You know the story isn’t really about the homicide just by reading the first three paragraphs:

In his 60 years, Arnold Blaine has known only two people who’ve owned a gun: one a hunter, the other a nightclub owner.

“We don’t even have gun shops,” said the Windsor, Ontario, business owner.

The paucity of guns is one of three factors police in the city across the river from Detroit cite for its low homicide rate.

Those police are, quite simply, near-sighted fools—as are the authors of the hit piece article. Choosing one crime statistic and a single potential factor and tying them together is not only statistically invalid, it is entirely illogical. Let me demonstrate.

Mesa, Arizona, is a city of just under 440,000—close in size to Windsor at roughly 215,000. I pulled the 2010 crime statistics for both Windsor and Mesa for a direct comparison. When you look at these numbers, keep in mind that while it is very difficult to own a handgun in Canada, Arizona has some of America’s most permissive firearm laws. Having until recently been an Arizona gun owner myself (I now reside in North Carolina—with guns—but my kids were in Mesa schools) I can guarantee there are thousands of legally owned firearms of all types throughout the city of Mesa. Handguns, rifles, shotguns, bullpups, “assault weapons”—you name it, there are a whole bunch of ’em in Mesa. If guns were the primary (or even a significant) problem in and of themselves, you would expect Mesa to be a fearful place to live. So let’s see the numbers in residents per crime:

Crime Windsor Mesa
Sexual Assault 1396.1 3548.39
Assault 172.97 385.96
Robbery 1009.39 861.06
All Personal 76.76 245.67
Arson 5000 7457.63
MV Theft 500 436.08
Theft from MV 95.9 228.1
All Property 22.09 29.57

[Note: MV = motor vehicle.]

That paints a little different picture, now, doesn’t it? You are more likely to be the victim of a property crime in Windsor than in Mesa, and far more likely to be the victim of assault or sexual assault. I don’t know how you read those numbers, but I can tell you with certainty that you would be safer in the city that has all those evil guns. I’ll keep my freedom—and safety—thank you very much.

Non-daily Digest

November 24th, 2011 No comments

CNN — Did the Anglos steal Thanksgiving?

Nice piece of race-baiting. Granting the author’s historical data are true, they are nonetheless irrelevant to any discussion of Thanksgiving. The Spanish were here first. Hispanics have made significant contributions to America. So what? Our nation wasn’t founded by Spaniards nor upon Spanish ideas. Thanksgiving is a celebration of the culture that did create this country. No amount of Anglophobia will change that inarguable fact.

Walter E. Williams, Townhall — Should the Rich Be Condemned?

BBC — Climate sensitivity to CO2 probed

Global temperatures could be less sensitive to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels than previously thought, a study suggests.

Give ’em credit for publishing their results. After all, they know skeptics are going to use this to continue fighting against alarmists who want to undermine our economy in the name of all things green.

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Non-daily Digest

November 23rd, 2011 No comments

Thomas Sowell, Townhall — Failure or Success?

NY Times — Medical Marijuana Industry Is Unnerved by U.S. Crackdown

Here’s what confuses me. The Obama DOJ has sued AZ, AL, etc., because those states enacted laws which enforce federal immigration law, claiming that the states have no Constitutional authority to do so even though there’s an existing federal program to train state law enforcement agencies to do exactly that. States, on the other hand, which have passed medical marijuana laws—in direct violation of federal law—have not been taken to court in order to suppress those laws. Oh, that’s right…smoking pot—like illegal immigration—is a cause liberals support. Throw in a raid occasionally and we can pretend we’re doing something about it. Nothing to see here. Sorry for the confusion.

Fox News — Did $16 Stand in the Way of Climate Science?

Climategate 2.0 should be as entertaining as the first round. You simply are not going to convince the general public that you’re conducting legitimate science—even if you are—when you’re so blatant about having a specific agenda.

Walter E. Williams, IBD — In Free Society, Wealth’s A Sign You’re Doing Something Right

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Non-daily Digest

November 22nd, 2011 No comments

Neal Boortz, Townhall — It’s All The Republican’s Fault

Ed Morrissey, Hot Air — The myth of “renewable” energy

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Non-daily Digest

November 21st, 2011 No comments

Thomas Sowell, IBD — Liberal Land: Where The Thinking Is Illogical And Bizarre

Mike Adams, Townhall — Occupy Wall Street Labor Day Telethon

WSJ — Cali to Business: Get Out!

You know, those of us in saner regions of the U.S. benefit from the madness that is CA. Please keep sending your jobs out of state!

Miami New Times — Florida Principal Reports Two Students Kissing as “Possible Sex Crime”

And the public education establishment wonders why so many of us find it unconscionable to endlessly increase their funding…

NY Times — A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day

A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked…

We used to just call this common sense. Now it requires “research.” Oh, the insular lives of academics.

CNN — U.S., Britain and Canada slap new sanctions on Iran

Yep. That oughtta just about do it. I’m sure Ahmadinewhackjob is just shaking now.

Wired.com — When Whales Walked in Egypt

Hmm. A lot of very definitive conclusions about evolutionary transitional forms based on…a skull and partial spine. In other words, there’s actually no evidence whatsoever that these are transitional fossils. It’s as close to pure speculation as you can get. This comes as no surprise to those of us who are both Christian and scientifically well-educated, as we’ve seen this charade played out repeatedly in the past.

The Telegraph — EU bans claim that water can prevent dehydration

Given the insanity that is Europe, does this surprise anyone? Don’t laugh too hard, though—we’re heading that direction all too quickly.

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