Friday, April 17, 2009

we or me

the faux news inspired tax day protests were an interesting phenomenon. i find it odd that apparently none of these people had a problem with the george w bush administration standing down as terrorists attacked, lying us into a war, torturing prisoners detained without charges at secret prisons around the globe, tripling the national debt, allowing the financial barons to bankrupt the country and then handing them a get out of debt free card courtesy of the american taxpayer... all this over an eight year period and nary a self-righteous peep. but, put a democrat in the whitehouse with a democratic congress and let them actually try to do something to get us out of the republican designed mess [which of course belongs to all us now] and suddenly we are all in danger of losing our freedom. get real.

one of the sore losers, who objected to being called out, made the following statement on another website: 'some of us believe in a flat tax, privatizing [sic] schools, eliminating the i.r.s., etc. some of us believe in the individual, not the government.' which i guess is the basic difference. the protesters are 'me first' people who are unhappy about having 'we first' people in control.

we could save billions in tax dollars nationally if we did away with public schools, which are available to all students regardless of race, economic status or disability, offer free transportation to and from school, and subsidised lunch [and breakfast] programs which offer each student nutritionally balanced meals at reduced or no cost if necessary. we could save tons of money if we only make education available to those who can afford it. besides, they're the only ones who will actually benefit from it anyway.

the flat tax... now there's an idea. let's shift the tax burden from those who have benefited most in our economy to those who struggle to get by from day to day and call that 'fair.' oh, i forgot, they'll get to keep all of their check. of course they'll need it. based on the tax calculator widget at, every family with an income of less than 100k will see a net tax increase. that's real fairness. let's have the poor pay more taxes. after all, there are more poor people than rich people.

it all comes down to what type of country we want for our children. a country that seeks to extend opportunities to all or only to those who can afford them. a country whose financial needs are met by those who have the most money or by those who have the least. do we really want our children to grow up wearing 'me first' blinders?

the most ironic sight on wednesday was that of a teabagger holding a picture of benjamin franklin's 'join or die' cartoon, which was drawn to encourage colonial [national] unity, at an event whose sole purpose was to divide our nation. for the love of god, mccain/palin lost the election by over 8.5 million votes, the biggest margin since mondale/ferraro's loss in 1984. accept it, teabaggers, the voters rejected your ideas by a resounding margin. your cry-baby antics will only set the stage for greater losses in the years to come. [on second thought, keep up the good work... we liberals love you.]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

tea party, smee party

ok, let the cry babies have their little tantrum. i haven't heard a single proposal from any of the ersatz movements 'leaders' that would provide a better way out of the mess in which we find ourselves. these brilliant 'patriots' certainly have an odd way of showing they love their country.

paying taxes is patriotic. it is a privilege to live in this country. i am more than happy to do my part to pay for the things that make our country a place where people want to live. i am happy to pay to make this great country even better. i really feel sorry for the selfish people out shouting in the streets that they are taxed enough. i doubt any of the protesters have ever paid an excessive tax when measured against the benefits they have at their fingertips.

our taxes pay for police protection, fire protection, paved roads and safe bridges. not just public schools, but free transportation to those schools so that even our poorest children can receive and education. my tax dollars go to provide a better quality of life for people with disabilities and guarantee income and medical care for the elderly.

every penny that i pay in taxes ends up in someone else's paycheck. in big ways and small, i get more value from the paltry taxes i pay than any of the other money i spend. do i pay too much? nope. not at all. i really feel sorry for those who feel otherwise.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

what's in a name?

'what's in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.' [william shakespeare, romeo and juliet].

while that is true, a person's name, and how one feels about that name, has a lot to do with how that one feels about oneself.

personally, i never really liked my first name [robert]. when i was small, before i started school, i was called robbie. i liked the name and everyone liked robbie. when it came time for me to start school, my parents declared that i would no longer be called robbie, but i would be 'robert' instead. i threw tantrums and resisted as much as i could, but eventually surrendered to their wishes and begrudgingly accepted being called 'robert,' but i never liked it. as a result, i can't say that i ever really liked myself very much. i don't know that it's fair or accurate to assign all of my poor self image to not liking my name, there's much more to it than that, but it did play a part. to make matters worse, i had a friend in elementary school and junior high, whose name was robby. how i envied that he had gotten to keep his name when i had to surrender mine.

disliking my name also made my stuttering [or palilalia] worse. when introducing myself, i would frequently repeat the first syllable several times. whether anyone else took notice of this or not, it was quite distressing to me.

the remedy, for me, came when i finally left home to live on my own. i began introducing myself as 'rob'. as a practical matter, this interrupted the repetition process. because i had no reason to go beyond the first syllable, i could stop speaking before the repetitions began. this minor change helped me feel better about myself.

people who 'knew me when' still call me 'robert'. i don't especially like it, but i don't get overly upset about it. i didn't tell mom and dad how i felt about my name for a very long time. mom now calls me 'rob' some of the time, though dad rarely does so. my brothers call me 'robert' but most of my aunts, uncles and cousins call me 'robbie'. and i still get a pleasant, warm felling when i hear 'robbie'.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

false expectations

at the bottom of the bulletin at church this morning was a quote attributed to jimmy carter. 'we should live our lives as though christ was coming this afternoon.'

my immediate thought upon reading that was 'how long can we [as the church] maintain expectancy without a hint of the fulfilment of that expectation.' a couple of weeks ago, a comment was made in the sermon that many of today's ills are the result of 'the church not being the church.' as dangerous as it may be to try to connect these two thoughts, i think they need to be connected. expectation creates action, and if the expectation is unrealistic, any action will be ineffective.

if we look back to the first generation church, the church of the associates of jesus and the disciples who followed him, the church before the conversion of saul and his transformation into saint paul, we see a very different church from what we see anywhere today. this was a church that, for the most part, was still connected to the worship of the temple.

and all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. and they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. [acts 2:44-46]

the preceding passage and those leading to it, not only lay the foundation for christian socialism, but paint a picture of a church very different from what we know today. the earliest church was an expectant church, a church that waited expectantly for the imminent return of it's founder. it is this expectation that led the earliest christians to disavow their possessions, possessions they would soon no longer need anyway, and share with each other as each had need.

as months turned into years and the expectancy waned, the developing doctrinal foundation of the church shifted to accommodate the modified expectations. the interpretation of who jesus was and what his teaching meant was revised and expanded to fit the emerging reality that the jesus who had been taken from them would not be returning to take them to be with him in the skies.

the fact that the message of the new testament is steeped in the three tiered cosmology of the pre-copernican ancient world presents a significant challenge to the modern believer. while some within the church have attempted to adjust to fit the modern mind, there is a considerable popular movement which embraces biblical literalism at the expense of any rational world-view.

to live 'as though christ was coming this afternoon' actually means to suspend any rational understanding of the universe in favour of a completely irrational expectation. which leads us back to the whole 'church failing to be the church' thread. the reality is, the church has not been 'the church' since the maturation of the first generation. currently the church is engaged in a struggle. either the church will represent the best of what we can be, embracing science and rationalism as part of god's continuing revelation and living as a community that embodies unity, peace, compassion, generosity and humility or the church will cling to doctrines that are anti-rational, stubbornly faithful to a closed, static view of revelation being wholly complete; doctrines which encourage division, strife, hatred, greed and pridefulness.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

what if big government really can...

the popular view for many years has been that big government is inherently bad. there are many reasons for this, and i'm sure that this view is not without some justification. but for a moment, let's try to consider that government involvement could be beneficial and desirable.

let's consider, first of all, what the founding fathers had in mind when they set up the framework for our republic. the constitution begins with the words 'we the people of the united states.' government was not intended to be some adversarial entity, it was to be all of us, in it together. why were they setting up this framework? they give us the answer, first and foremost, 'in order to form a more perfect union.' the founding fathers were alluding to the best of eighteenth century utopianism. they believed that all of us, together, could accomplish more than any one of us could dream. it is this belief that has built and sustained our nation through the trials of the past and it is this belief which must unite us if we are to solve our current problems.

the constitution sets forth the following objectives: 'establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity'

establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquillity, providing for a common defence, and promoting the general welfare of the people are the means by which we secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

does our current president's plans for economic stimulus mesh with the constitutional objectives? yes. does the providing universal health care for our citizens mesh with the constitutional objective of promoting the general welfare? again, the answer is yes, but one would be hard pressed to gather that from the flatulent orations of those who have directed the ship of state toward the icebergs.

the admission that where we are now is precisely where the principles of the reagan revolution led us is no doubt difficult for the 'true believers,' but the fact remains that we are where we are because we took that path. maybe it's time for us to adopt the outlook of our founding fathers. maybe all of us together really can accomplish more than any one of us could dream.