Friday, April 30, 2010

Last week, an explosion at a British Petroleum (BP) exploratory drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 120 miles south of New Orleans, killed 11 workers and initiated what could become the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history.

As the rig sank to the ocean floor and the oil slick began to spread, the Coast Guard discovered that oil was actually gushing from the ocean floor, one mile beneath the surface. Officials currently estimate that up to 5,000 barrels -- 210,000 gallons -- of oil are leaking per day.

The technology used at the BP operation has been touted as themost advanced in the world, yet a safety valve that was supposed to shut off the flow of oil at the seabed in case of such an accident utterly failed to work. There is, in fact, no immediate way to stop the leaks or to clean up the oil slick -- which is larger than the state of Rhode Island and already washing up on the coastal wetlands of the Mississippi Delta region.

Hundreds of imperiled species in the Gulf will be harmed by the toxic oil, from loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles to the Alabama beach mouse, Gulf sturgeon, Atlantic bluefin tuna, wood stork, and piping plover. The full extent of the damage won't be known for some time, as the oil continues to gush and the response from industry and federal and state agencies appears largely ineffective to contain the spill.

As difficult as it is to deal with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it is indescribably more difficult in the Arctic -- yet President Obama has authorized Shell Oil to conduct exploration drilling this summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska, with the same technology that was used at the BP disaster site.There's still simply no way to clean up oil in the broken-ice conditions that prevail in these Arctic areas for much of the year. In fact, the drilling season is so short in the Arctic -- July to early October -- that leaking oil from a similar accident there could continue to gush for an entire winter.

The Gulf of Mexico disaster has shown with tragic clarity the absurdity of the administration's claims that offshore oil and gas development is safe. The Obama administration is still taking comments before giving the final go-ahead to Shell to drill through the heart of polar bear critical habitat in the Chukchi Sea this summer. Please, click here to tell the administration that offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic and elsewhere off our coasts should be taken off the table permanently.

Thanks for taking action,

P.S. If you have trouble following the link above, go to http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2167/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=3646.

Center for Biological Diversity


Dear Brooks,

Help prevent future oil spills.
Last week, an explosion at a British Petroleum (BP) exploratory drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 120 miles south of New Orleans, killed 11 workers and initiated what could become the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history.

As the rig sank to the ocean floor and the oil slick began to spread, the Coast Guard discovered that oil was actually gushing from the ocean floor, one mile beneath the surface. Officials currently estimate that up to 5,000 barrels -- 210,000 gallons -- of oil are leaking per day.

The technology used at the BP operation has been touted as themost advanced in the world, yet a safety valve that was supposed to shut off the flow of oil at the seabed in case of such an accident utterly failed to work. There is, in fact, no immediate way to stop the leaks or to clean up the oil slick -- which is larger than the state of Rhode Island and already washing up on the coastal wetlands of the Mississippi Delta region.

Hundreds of imperiled species in the Gulf will be harmed by the toxic oil, from loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles to the Alabama beach mouse, Gulf sturgeon, Atlantic bluefin tuna, wood stork, and piping plover. The full extent of the damage won't be known for some time, as the oil continues to gush and the response from industry and federal and state agencies appears largely ineffective to contain the spill.

As difficult as it is to deal with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it is indescribably more difficult in the Arctic -- yet President Obama has authorized Shell Oil to conduct exploration drilling this summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off Alaska, with the same technology that was used at the BP disaster site.There's still simply no way to clean up oil in the broken-ice conditions that prevail in these Arctic areas for much of the year. In fact, the drilling season is so short in the Arctic -- July to early October -- that leaking oil from a similar accident there could continue to gush for an entire winter.

The Gulf of Mexico disaster has shown with tragic clarity the absurdity of the administration's claims that offshore oil and gas development is safe. The Obama administration is still taking comments before giving the final go-ahead to Shell to drill through the heart of polar bear critical habitat in the Chukchi Sea this summer. Please, click here to tell the administration that offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic and elsewhere off our coasts should be taken off the table permanently.

Thanks for taking action,

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director
Center for Biological Diversity

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Republicans still protecting the banksters

Goldman Sachs is not the only one, maybe even not the worst, but they have been nailed. They sold what they themselves called s****ty investments and then bet they would fail. It's like a doctor prescribing arsenic for a patient and then taking out an insurance policy on his life. Although the are taking some well deserved verbal shots and are feigning embarrassment, they are laughing at and looking down at Congress...and the American people. Remarkably the Party of No, in total unity, has stopped the legislative procedure. Hard to believe but they will not be voted out of office. The banksters will be buying them votes. In the epitome of irony, corporations are people on the ballot but they can't be put in jail because they don't have bodies.

What a country!


Thom's blog
The Real Conflict Behind Refried Beans & Swastikas...
The conflict over the all encompassing crackdown on illegal immigration in Arizona heated up Monday as vandals smeared refried beans in the shape of swastikas on the state Capitol's windows. People are upset in America because 30 years of Reaganomics has destroyed the American Middle Class, most of the problem being with Romney-style Private Equity firms buying American businesses, saddling them with debt, stripping them down, moving their manufacturing to China, and then selling them off. A small percentage of the problem is that our labor markets have been diluted by illegal immigrants, but while they're only a very small percentage of the problem, the right-wingers like Lou Dobbs point them them and say, "See? It's those brown people!" They're much more visible than the workers in China and Vietnam, who are never covered in the media, or the big corporations that have moved our jobs there. Some recent studies conducted by the Pew Research Center reveal the scope of the economic crisis in the US and the resulting high level of hostility the majority of the American population has for the US government which has allowed this corporate misbehavior to wipe out average Americans economically. One from March shows, 92 percent of Americans give the national economy a negative rating. 70 percent of the respondents report having suffered job-related and financial problems in the past year, an increase from 59 percent the year before. Fifty-four percent report someone in their home has been without a job and looking for work in the past year, up from 39 percent in 2009. Another Pew research study from April 18 named "The People and Their Government," finds that "by almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days." It's time for our government to govern on behalf of the people rather than the transnational corporations and the banksters.
--Thom

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bush tax cut led to budget disaster

This analysis offers a comprehensive review of the Bush Administration’s tax cuts. It assesses their costs, benefits to different income groups, and economic effects to date, as well as down the road. It both synthesizes previous findings about the individual tax measures and includes new findings about their combined effects, using new distributional analyses by the UrbanI nstitute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center and fresh cost estimates by the Center onBudget and Policy Priorities. The early returns on the effects of the tax cuts have not been good.

  • The Bush tax cuts have contributed to revenues dropping in 2004 to the lowest level as a share of the economy since 1950, and have been a major contributor to the dramatic shift from large projected budget surpluses to projected deficits as far as the eye can see.
  • The tax cuts have conferred the most benefits, by far, on the highest-income households — those least in need of additional resources — at a time when income already is exceptionally concentrated at the top of the income spectrum.
  • The design of these tax cuts was ill-conceived, resulting in significantly less economic stimulus than could have been accomplished for the same budgetary cost. In part because the tax cuts were not as effective as alternative measures would have been, job creation during this recovery has been notably worse than in any other recovery since the end of World War II.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Arizona is going after the wrong illegals.

Arrest and deport the employers...to jail. Pretty soon no illegal immigrants.

Anti-immigration forces have been hammering into our heads the dangerous link between illegal immigration and increases in violent crime. Their only problem: the facts don't support their alarmist contentions.

Friday, April 23, 2010

wealth distribution

Reply of one Christian to another regarding wealth distribution.

You accused me of favoring wealth redistribution like it was a dirty word. Anyone taking that stance, at that second, demonstrates, first their political bias, and second their ignorance of economics and our system. Every politician, every union exec and every CEO extant favors wealth redistribution. The only thing that differs is how they want to slice the pie. The mega rich want it one way and the starving want it another. In the middle, you have those who want to help the starving and those who, for some insane reason want to help the mega rich. Perhaps it's because they think that one day, they will join the mega rich or maybe because they think it's manly to shit on the poor. More often, it's because they make their political decisions based on bumper stickers and glittering generalities spewing ad naseum from their political heroes like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.

There are many reasons why the Robin Hood approach to wealth redistribution is superior and more functional than the Enron type CEO's approach.

Equitable distribution of purchasing power works for the common good and a healthy economy. If all the purchasing power is concentrated in the hands of just a few, there will be fewer people making purchases. Imagine a simple community where there are ten families who work together in a factory, owned by one of the families, making widgets. If all ten families have enough money to buy a widget, ten widgets will be sold. Everyone has a job and the owning family sells ten widgets. If only one family has enough money to buy a widget, there can only be one widget sold. The factory will shut down and pretty soon, nobody will have enough money to buy a widget.

It really is that simple and it is exactly what happened in 1929. Corporate greed and absolute power over the market place by business forced labor and material costs so low that the largest part of the community had no purchasing power beyond subsistence. Big business and the rich owners flourished and raked in more and more of the pie. Finally, not all at once because there was a lot of warning, sales went down, inventories ballooned and the whole thing came tumbling down; for the rich as well as the poor.

We totally stagnated. Factories had materials and plenty of labor to produce enough goods and services to make everyone happy. The problem is the consumers had nothing with which to buy the products. In California, crops were plentiful and rotted on the ground or in the trees while people starved because they had nothing with which to make the purchases. Everyone lost including the farmers.

Roosevelt tried to get things moving. In the first New Deal, he put money in the hands of the suppliers (early failed supply side economics) by offering tax breaks and other incentives urging the owners to step up. The government even offered and did buy some of their products. No way, business owners refused to open their shops until there was assurance that they had a market. It wasn't possible. Government responded by cutting the budget...the exact wrong thing to do. Things just got worse because government workers were also laid off. The same thing is happening now.

A guy named John Maynard Keynes, a British economist, got an audience with Roosevelt and basically told him that he was operating from the wrong end of the economic spectrum. He told him that to get the economy going, he should make up for the absence of private investment with government investment; not by buying the products but by getting money to the consumers who would buy the products. Keynes made the obvious point that if you give a dollar to a rich guy, he will maybe spend a dime. If you give a dollar to a poor guy, he will out of necessity spend it all. Economists call it the marginal propensity to consume. It’s a critically important concept!

Roosevelt responded with the second New Deal; an attempt to prime the pump by putting money in the hands of the consumer through massive public projects. This is what gave us the PWA, WPA and the CCC. Many public buildings were built by the PWA and WPA. A lot of CCC forest projects are still in existence. I had lots of relatives involved. I had cousins in the CCC. My Dad worked in a PWA coal mine in Utah. Later, my Mom sewed clothing in exchange for groceries at the South Gate Public Market on Tweedy Blvd in South Gate as part of the WPA. People didn't want handouts, even though millions were forced to take them to keep from starving. (I didn’t know all the unemployed people but most of the people I knew didn’t have work…and it wasn’t because they were lazy or incompetent.)

It was slow but we started climbing out of it. My Dad came back to California and started a plastering business. Things were still bad. When the war started in Europe, the government started buying munitions and war items for lend lease. With the additional massive government spending, we finally pulled out of it and thanks to the programs and institutions established by Roosevelt, we've never had another depression since. And because of what we learned in the thirties, at least some of us, the current recession didn’t spiral into another one.

Now your International corporate heroes are trying to dismantle the very institutions that have kept you financially stable. And they are doing it with your blessing. Again, the wealth is being redistributed upwards by the Reagan to Bush fiscal policies, aided and abetted, I'm ashamed to say, by Clinton. Reagan has brought us the neo-slave labor with his amnesty of the Mexican and SE Asian illegal immigrants. This use of slave labor has busted the unions and changed forever how America looks. We don't know how many illegal workers are in the USA but 20 million is probably conservative. And it is growing. And these people haven't enough money to buy anything except food. In addition to the influx of slave labor, through globalization, we have outsourced jobs to other countries where wages make those of the Mexicans here look generous. All this is eliminating the middle class and eliminating potential buyers. When you buy from Wal-Mart, you are eliminating American jobs and supporting slave labor; actual slave labor. Globalization has produced the illusion of universal prosperity. An illusion promulgated by the corporate owned and controlled news and entertainment media. But it is catching up with us. Soon, if we don’t alter our course, we will see the globalized version of 1929, when the international corporations run out of customers. The ten families I spoke of earlier has become 50 families in different parts of the world but we will reach the point where there are only three or four families who can buy widgets and pretty soon no more widget factories.

That is basic economics. Intelligent wealth redistribution keeps the economy humming. Even the greedy ones who would take everything are better off by giving up some of their wealth. In the end, they will get it all back and more. And they will have a better taste in their mouth too. Strike that, they enjoy seeing others suffer.

Now here's the part you will probably hate even more than the economic reason. It's the Christian thing to do. It is the will of God.

Read Matthew 19:17-23

17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

23 ¶ Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven

Pretty clear isn't it.

Now read Acts 4:31-37

Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He worked some miracles and the authorities, out of fear, released him with the admonition that he better stop preaching. He refused to stop and they released him any way and he continued preaching. His followers were moved by what had happened and jointly prayed.

31 ¶ And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

All the rugged individualist pseudo-Christians who hate socialism, welfare, health insurance and spend all their "Christian" energy fighting for the symbols like the Ten Commandments in the court house, In God We Trust on our coins, under God in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays in the stores (all of which I support but assign virtually no importance to) are going to find out that to live in paradise, they are going to have to live in a regime where there is no profits and no one is any better or richer than anyone else.

Now to the other point you insisted on pulling me into...Social Security. You said you hated it even though you were drawing it, and that you would eliminate it today if you could. Do you really expect anyone to believe this? You know it's not true and you know everyone else knows it's not true. You could prove your point by just tearing up your check each month. I challenge you to do it.

As for being better off if you could have had the option of investing the money yourself. Utter nonsense. You have long ago been paid out more than you have put in. I don't know how much you are pulling down but whatever it is, it's on zero investment. I paid into SS from 1948 until I left being employed by others in 1984. That's 36 years. I started drawing SS the first year I could. I think that was age 62 (not absolutely sure if 62 or 65). Inside five years, I had been paid out everything I had put into it. Today, my wife and I get a total of nearly $1700 a month on zero principal. Show me a private investment that good.

Our liquid investments earn us $25,000 per year or about $2100 per month. We’re making $1700 per month on zero principal with SS. My investments, all safe ones, earn me 4.5%. To earn $1700 a month at 4.5% on a private investment, I would need a principal investment of $453,333. What that means is my SS check is worth $453,333 to me, none of which I have or keep in the bank.

In addition, my SS provides me the best health care coverage in the USA.

Let me know when you tell the SS administration to stop sending your check and, in addition to establishing some philosophical credibility, you will become my hero. A little dumb but a hero.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Folly of freemarkets

I have just completed reading three books that all have an underlying theme that paints a bleak picture of the past thirty years of the USA:

The Shock Doctrine, the Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein

Limits of Power by Andrew Bacevich

The Bush Agenda, Invading One Economy At A Time by Antonia Juhasz

With some overlap, the three books cover the approximate same time period. They cover different but highly related topics. There is no disagreement in the concepts and conclusions they reach. Together they present a rather shameful view of our nation in the last thirty some years. Obviously, I didn’t check all the citations but I checked a lot of them. I have read critical reviews of all three books. There are those who disagree with some of the conclusions but I found none that dispute the facts on which they based the conclusions.

The observations I make may be from just one of the books or by two or all.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in spite of their global sounding names are both controlled by the United States; many of the most influential policy makers are directly trained in the Chicago School of Economics or are disciples of Freeman’s interpretation of “ Free market” Economics. Both institutions have been a tool in the hands of global minded corporations in forcing undemocratic economies on third world nations in the interest of privatizing all government operated businesses and service and in maintaining a cheap labor pool.

The imposition of Freedman’s Free market capitalism has a been facilitated by natural disasters, financial emergencies and by Chicago School oriented brutal dictators such as Augusto Pinochet in Chile and in the other countries in what is called the Southern Cone – Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. The tsunami in Sri Lanka and Hurricane Katrina are examples of how natural disasters led to imposition of at least some elements of free markets.

The results of these economic makeovers have typically led to immediate and severe financial crises causing hardships on the working class followed by breathtaking recovery but leaving an even more unequal distribution of wealth. When the dispossessed fishing community of Sri Lanka asked when they were going to receive some help from the government. A CEO of a hotel chain, which would eventually build on the sites of their homes, told them to think of an elevator going to the top of the building. It could only hold so many but when it was unloaded it would most certainly return to the bottom floor to pick up more. The Sri Lanka fishermen are still waiting; classic victims of the myth of trickle down economics.

During these years, America has become the epitome of profligacy. To satisfy the lust for consumption, it has had to go global in its search. This is evident in our economic invasions of 3rd world countries in search of pools of cheap labor and commodities. This is particularly true of the invasion of Iraq. We not only were anxious to maintain our supply of oil which we have become addicted to but to find an economy totally stripped of it’s institutions where we could provide a shining example of a totally privatized Free market economy.

Whatever reason the Bush triumvirate of End Timers, Neocons, or oil people chose to use to convince the American people, the Iraq threat to the United States was the least credible. Paul Wolfowitz said it was the only one everyone could agree on. A Free market may not have been on the table per se but most of Bush’s people had been influenced by Freedman’s Chicago School of Economics. A common thread between the Bush brain trust and the architects of the Project for a New American Century was the influence of Free market economics. The Iraq government is merely a façade for total corporatism and privatization.

We all know from history that in every place that Freedmanism as been implemented, even in the financial markets of the USA, it has failed. Many of his collaborators have been put in jail or otherwise disgraced. The Iraq experiment is fast becoming the most prominent failure. But what has been bad for the Iraqis, the world and for the American people has been a money tree for the business of war.

We are in danger of seeing a future of never ending low grade war; under the radar, nearly totally privatized except for the all volunteer military and totally funded by the tax payer for the benefit of the war industry. War has become or is becoming the number one world business. Klein makes a compelling case for Israel no longer being interested in peace with the Palestinians. Her number one export has become homeland security equipment and services. Her economy is humming and she really has no trouble keeping her heel on Palestine.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Deja vu all over again


The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression were the result of unregulated banks and wild speculation in the stock market along with falling consumer demand. Both were caused by the concentration of wealth into the hands of those who invested it and not enough in the hands of consumers whose spending was fueling the economy then as it always has and always will.

Investors were “buying on the margin” which means that they put up part of the cost of the stock and the bank loaned them the rest. With no regulation, the margin could be anything the bank wanted it to be. Fifty percent was the norm. Banks, unregulated operated as commercial banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies. This produced fewer and larger banks. In short, they had become too big to fail…but they did. The rest is history.

The financial disaster resulted in passage of the Glass-Steagall Act. Among other things, it created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and prohibited commercial banking and brokerage banking by the same firm.

It worked well and after the war, with the GI Bill, America finally developed a middle class. Pressure began building up for repeal in the 70’s and intensified under Reagan and the Milton Friedman Chicago School of Economics. It was finally repealed in 1999 by legislation introduced by Phil Gramm and Jim Leach. It was mostly a partisan bill but it was signed into law by President Clinton.

The Bush tax cuts in 2001 along with banking deregulation beginning with Reagan and highlighted by the Gramm/Leach act created a situation very similar to 1929. As the money flowed upward, the beneficiaries of the tax cuts were looking for a place to put their money to work. The banks were there to help out. Creative financing; adjustable rate mortgages and sub-prime loans heated up the housing industry. People were buying houses they couldn’t afford and in many cases had no intention of paying off.

To protect their selves the investment arms of the banks packaged the mortgages into securities and sold them on the stock market. To make sure they sold, they lied about their actual value. As people began defaulting, housing prices dropped and the banks were about to go under. But, like 1929, they were too large to fail. It would push us into another depression so the government loaned them the money to save the banks and, presumably the economy.

It seems to have worked but the conditions that caused it haven’t changed nor has the greed and dishonesty of those responsible. Today, Congress is working on legislation that would reinstate the Glass/Steagall Act. But in spite of our recent past and the need for reform, the banks and Wall Street are pouring money into their lobbyist and the campaigns of the politicians. The issue is in doubt. It may be that in addition to being too big to fail, they are too powerful to fail.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How has HCR affected me and my family

This is how HCR is affecting, or will affect, me and my family:
My wife and I won’t be affected because we both have Medicare; the most efficient and least invasive health insurance in the USA, but my family will be affected:
Granddaughter A, 23 years old, a college graduate who, because of the recession, had to take a job making sandwiches at Quiznos. Quiznos does not provide her with health insurance. She can now be covered under her father’s program until she is 26. By then, if still not covered at work, she can buy it through an exchange.
  1. Granddaughter B, 27 years old, an unemployed student has no insurance. Two weeks ago, she had a stroke-like attack. She was taken to an urgent care facility. They would not take her. By the time she got to an emergency room, her symptoms had dissipated and they would/could not treat her. Something bad happened to her. We don’t know what. She can’t see a doctor because she is not insured. Now, when the provision kicks in, she can buy insurance through an exchange. She will be subsidized.
  2. Granddaughters C&D are both adults. Both are under 26 and can now be covered under their parent’s coverage. One has a serious condition that precluded her from being covered. Now they will have to accept her.
  3. Grandson A is in Iraq on his 4th deployment including the invasion of Afghanistan. He served his country and was discharged when his hitch was up after his 3rd deployment. He got married before he was discharged. His wife became pregnant and he couldn’t find employment that included health care coverage. He had no real viable alternative except to reenlist.
  4. I have a total of seven grandchildren who are recent entrants to the labor market. None were covered before HCR. Now they all will be.
I have at least a dozen friends who lost their jobs whose families lost health care coverage. Soon, they will be able to be covered again. I know no one who will be adversely effected in anyway except my daughter and her husband who make well over $300,000 a year but they support it because they have children who will be positively affected by it. Included are grandson A and granddaughter B for whom they will soon be relieved from her $500 a month prescription drug bill.
Yeah, I know a lot of people who are against it even though they and their families will be affected in a positive way. This is what they all have in common: none of them have a clue what the bill does, and all of them have an irrational hatred for Obama and, like Jim DeMint and the Party of No, would rather suffer and see their family suffer than see an African American succeed.
Health care is a RIGHT, not a commodity for nameless, faceless corporations to make a profit on by rationing it to only those who will provide the profit. 2600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel blamed the fall of the Kingdom of Judah on the fact that the Jews failed to take care of the poor and sick.
Ezekiel 34: 1-5
1 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?
3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.
4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
Jesus made it clear that Christians were expected to heal the sick, even the least of us in Matthew 25: 36-40.
LDSs get the same direction from King Benjamin in Mosiah 4:26
26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
It seems clear to me that too many Christians are too concerned about school prayer, religious symbols in the courthouse and shallow trappings and symbols of Christianity and have a near total disconnect with what he expects of us.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What's wrong with America?

Excerpt from Jimmy Carter's so called malaise speech on July 15, 1979. By telling the truth, Carter gave the election to Ronald Reagan who said what Americans WANTED to hear:

In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose. (italics added)

The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.

These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.

We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.

All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.