Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This and That

About the worst thing you can hear in a doctor’s office is this advice: “I think it’s time you got your affairs in order.” That’s “doctor speak” for: get your bill taken care of because you aren’t going to be with us much longer. It will also be helpful to your survivors.

As Christians we hear much the same message from the pulpit every Sunday and it’s really good advice. If you are putting off repentance for a later date, the “use by” date on the package might just expire and pass you by. Being prompt to admit error, seek immediate forgiveness, and make restitution is vital to the process of keeping our moral inventory up to date. Why in the world do we procrastinate on these issues? Do we have the notion that God isn’t aware of our wrongdoing and will somehow forget the whole thing? It is we who are careless and forgetful and not Him. Given His level of mercy and His promises in John to forget the sins of the repentant we make a grievous error in not confessing them immediately.

Very interesting

In an amazing coincidence (?) my attention was drawn to the results of the Illinois lottery for November 5, 2008. I realize you are not really interested in the outcome of the “Pick Three” but in this case it may be worth a look. It is real; that is to say, it is their website and has not been doctored up in any way. Check it out and then chew on it for a while.

A taxing situation

I lifted this in whole from IMAO and claim nothing other than being alert to clever analogy.. It may enhance your understanding of some of the projected tax proposals and how they possibly apply to you.

“It’s making the rounds again. The parable that explains the tax system. It’s been credited to several people, mostly professors at UGA or U of South Dakota. But the earliest reference I can find is from 2002, and it credits Moon Griffon:

Suppose every day, 10 men go to dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If it were paid the way we pay our taxes, the first four men would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1; the sixth would pay $3; the seventh $7; the eighth $12; the ninth $18. The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

The 10 men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20.” Now dinner for the 10 only costs $80.

The first four are unaffected. They still eat for free. Can you figure out how to divvy up the $20 savings among the remaining six so that everyone gets his fair share? The men realize that $20 divided by 6 is $3.33, but if they subtract that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being paid to eat their meal.

The restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of $59. Outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man pointing to the tenth, “and he got $7!” “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got seven times more than me!” “That’s true,” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks.” “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor.”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn’t show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They were $52 short!

And that, boys and girls and politicians, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Switzerland and the Caribbean.

There’s a message in there somewhere. I’m sure of it.”

A ruler?

A minion of the Obama staff had a TV interview and indicated that “The One” would be ready to “rule” when he took over. I immediately went to nearby copy of the Constitution and was unable to locate the word “ruler” as part of the job description for President of the United States. When that document was written, that word carried a pejorative connotation as well it should have. We have inaugurations and not coronations. As usual, the interviewer let it slide with no further question.

This careless use of words does little to engender confidence in the coming administration. If ever our leadership needed our prayers it is now.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 63

So soon after the election I must admit to suffering a bit of a let down but not to the point my “ranter’s broke.” Through it all, I still find enough things irritating that I am capable of sustaining some high dudgeon. I concede though that buying gas again for less than a king’s ransom has elevated my spirits quite a bit. I’m surely happy I didn’t make the decision to start selling off our herd of Explorers. What does bother me is that even having a clear notion of the cause of the housing/mortgage/bailout/meltdown mess and not finding any big surprise in any of it, I still can’t seem to fully understand the collapse of the fuel market.

I knew that a change of posture on drilling would lead to reduced prices. What I didn’t anticipate was the drop to near 2003 pricing. I distinctly remember buying gas in Missouri in ’03 for $1.599 and enjoying the thought of living in a place with cheap gas. I haven’t had to buy any since the 2nd but I only paid $1.819 then and that’s only a 22 cent difference. That’s a far cry from the $4.099 I saw in Chicago in January. And they say there is no God! I do feel rather bad for those who watched their stock portfolios take the same plunge.

Who’s the new guy?

The biggest advantage to driving a tour bus is the opportunity to visit America’s greatest shrines on an almost daily basis. When I planned a tour, I made sure that no place of the least significance was overlooked. In the summer of ’96, we made a series of trips which started in Seattle, covered the Olympics, went into Canada, through Banff, down to Glacier Park, Yellowstone and wound up at Mount Rushmore where a fresh coach was waiting and that driver returned the party to Milwaukee and I returned to Sea-Tac to start the identical trip all over again. Each trip was two weeks and exposed the group to some of the finest sights and experiences available in North America.

Soaring mountains, coastal rain forests, the British tinged charm of Victoria, BC, great forests, endless herds of wild animals, great glaciers, volcanoes, geysers, and all that makes the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains so fabulous were on our trip plan. With that background our last touring day was appropriately to Mount Rushmore and the classic work of Gutzom Borgland. Here the heroic visages of four outstanding figures in presidential history gaze in a south easterly direction to meet the eyes of tens of millions of visitors from every state and all the countries of the world.

Additions to the monument have been variously proposed over the years and I encourage you to view this recent video to get a feel for the reactions of the existing figures to the possibility of a new addition. Who knew the presidents were such an exuberant group?

Buyer’s Remorse

As we move closer to the inauguration, we will be exposed to the potential cabinet, and other miscellaneous appointments which the new president will have to make. I really don’t envy him the job. It is an assignment fraught with error and endless opportunity for mis-steps. It is also a duty where “present” doesn’t cut it. If you want to duck a tough vote in the senate, that is an option but not in the oval office. It is the hour of decision. I shall be anxious to see his priorities exposed by the choices he shall have to make.

For all his claims of expertise gained on the campaign trail he will find this a bit more demanding and requiring actual leadership. One of the devices which is stock and trade for the community organizer is the business of stirring the pot and waiting until someone seizes a project and runs with it. You pick your leadership from the most excitable among your group. If you want a rabble-rousing lead man for a project that may work but I’m not certain how that will stack-up for the management of a functioning government agency with a huge budget.

His greatest potential problem may well be the compliant press which has provided cover for every utterance. Now that the election is behind us, the goal accomplished, and news has slowed to a trickle, they may discover that fuller coverage of the “messiah” will be an attractive alternative to fill the gap. You do have to sell newspapers and TV ads you know. Their “white guilt” has been assuaged by his successful election; therefore they may be able to do some actual reporting and investigation. That is of course, if they haven’t forgotten how.

I shall be very interested in following the future careers of those opportunists who waited until the last minute to jump on the bandwagon and support “The One’s” candidacy. Shall they be embraced as true believers or as that part of the “CYA” bunch that always shows up hollering, “me too, me too!” Fortunately for Colin Powell, he has a good (well-earned) pension and, I’m certain, other opportunities and probably doesn’t need yet one more government job. This is a case where “early bird gets the worm” meets “too little too late.”

A More Important Question

The gold finches which were my first visitors to the new bird feeders have absolutely taken over. Although tiny—5” top—they are dominating the feeders. I have grown concerned that their constant presence has supplied them with enough food that they may be unable to fly one of these days if they keep on eating. I assume they migrate somewhere and fear that they may have some difficulties. In any case it is a pleasant problem to contemplate rather than that steady diet of politics we have just endured. It pleases me to know that God has His eye on them as well. I think I shall probably trust Him for the solution.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon