Archive for the ‘Morality/Values’ Category

What is a “fair share?”

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes non work.”

~ Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize economist

Was Friedman forecasting today’s reality? In one tax year reported in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, millionaires earned 100 times as much as people earning $30,000, but paid 300 times as much tax. The top 20% of wage earners now pay nearly 70% of all income taxes, leaving 80% of Americans to pay the remaining 30%; 46% pay no income tax at all. Is this a progressive “fair share” income tax or is this a redistributive, punitive income tax? Our politicians are finally nearing their ideal of 49% of the voters paying all taxes and 51% paying none, the perfect re-election guarantee.

The Welfare State

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Shouldn’t those advocating the United States continue its ever-expanding welfare state look more closely at what is happening in Europe under the staggering weight of its “cradle to grave” welfare mentality? Though it sounds charitable and caring, is “cradle to grave” welfare possible? How long can you sustain giving people more than they earn? When you pay people to do less, don’t they do less and continually demand more?

Roe v. Wade – Did we get what we wanted?

Recently, parents successfully sued for “wrongful birth” because their child was born with Down syndrome, claiming if it had been accurately diagnosed early in the pregnancy, they would have chosen abortion.

With Roe v. Wade, did well-meaning people start us down an unintended path to a child being worthy of birth only if the parents find him or her desirable? Are we heading toward designer babies, babies who come with guarantees of perfection? Was this the intent of those supporting Roe v. Wade?

Mediocre and entitled

“There is an infinite difference between a little wrong and just right, between fairly good and the best, between mediocrity and superiority.”

Orison Swett Marden (1850-1924), American writer

 

November 2007, KMGH television Denver Colorado – “To end complaints about the sometimes fierce competition among overachieving high school students, the Boulder (Colorado) Valley School District is getting rid of the practice of crowning a single valedictorian,” ending “unhealthy” class rankings. And in 2010, Boulder graduated its first class without a valedictorian.

Avoiding consequences

“Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”

-William Penn, 1644-1718, founder of Pennsylvania

Recently, I read about a church in Virginia that was newsworthy because it wanted to do something its insurance company directed it not to do. It wanted to tell the truth; but the insurance company disagreed, worried that if the church did so, their legal liability and financial risk would rise.

A state religion?

Understanding the founding fathers’ fears of government offers insight into the meaning of their words in the United States Constitution. Many of their demanded freedoms were born from the British trail of William Penn who challenged the sovereignty of the Church of England, the state religion. On its steps, he dared to gather and preach a different belief, a capital offense.

Following a short trial, the judge instructed the jurors in the law, telling them to “render the proper verdict.” But, a lone juror named Edward Bushell claimed the law was wrong and voted not guilty, with repeated deliberations bringing fellow jurors to his point of view. The infuriated judge put the jurors in jail and demanded they do as the bench instructed.

Going home

For several months, I have been spending some time working in an emergency department in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska; a few weeks ago taking a day off and driving 210 miles to the small town where I was born a little over 60 years ago, Holdrege, Nebraska. It was 52 years ago that we moved from Holdrege, and this was my first visit since that move.

Following my brother’s directions, I found the home where I was born and lived in during the first months of my life. I asked the owner if I could see the home and take a few pictures. It was a yellow painted cinder block house of about 500 square feet, little changed from 1950.

Spoiled, dependent, entitled, indentured, enslaved

Are spoiled children born that way? According to British writer Roald Dahl, “Some children are spoiled and it is not their fault, it is their parents.” Spoiled children have parents who give them everything they want instead of teaching them to earn what they want, instead of teaching them responsibility and independence. Quite simply, parents of spoiled children fail to heed the advice of “The Country Parson,” Frank A. Clark, who said, “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”

“Things”

In the movie “Parenthood,” the family’s grandmother offered advice to her son who was distraught; he quit his job and his wife was pregnant. Of life she said, “You know, it was just so interesting to me that the roller coaster could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.” Steve Martin looked at her like she was nuts, but was she trying to tell him something important, something that more than 90 years of life taught her?

Rape-rape?

Whoopi Goldberg said of producer Roman Polanski and his rape conviction of the 13-year-old girl he drugged and sodomized, “It wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.”

Have our values so deteriorated that we no longer recognize rape? Polanski is a free man, living in Europe where the cultures are more enlightened, progressive, understanding and tolerant than ours, the very words used by our progressives when they demand we accept each new debased definition of right and wrong.

Subject or citizen?

“Oh posterity, you will never know how much it cost us to preserve your freedom. I hope that you will make a good use of it.”
– John Adams, second U.S. president

Gratitude is a burden

“Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.”

Tacitus, 56 AD – 120 AD, Roman historian

Does this sound a bit too much like today, suggesting we may have progressed little this past 2,000 years? Is gratitude still a burden? Is revenge still a pleasure? Is complimenting difficult? Is complaining easy?

Think of the signs in stores pointing to the customer service department, the successor to the original complaint department. Have you ever seen a sign for a compliment department? I haven’t, and even if they existed I doubt people would stand in line waiting to offer a compliment.

Forgetting the evil

“I ask nothing of the Jews
except that they should disappear.”
– Hans Frank, Nazi governor of Poland

Last week I apologized to a Jewish friend for again forgetting the evil, the third year in a row I promised myself I would not forget. I am exactly what evil wants, what evil needs to succeed; wondering if Edmund Burke might have described me when he said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” By ignoring, by standing on the sidelines, by not remembering, are we not condoning evil?

Well-intentioned missionaries or criminals?

This is the question Haitian courts will answer to determine the fate of the jailed Idaho missionaries who tried to take children out of Haiti illegally. When arrested, the missionaries initially claimed they were trying to “rescue” orphaned children from the disaster caused by the earthquakes.

But, the changing story makes it difficult to decide how truthful they are. First, we heard they were taking orphans to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. When authorities learned most of the children had families, the missionaries quickly claimed the families willingly gave them their children. Then, their attorney in the Dominican Republic fired their Haitian attorney amid rumors he was trying to bribe officials to release the missionaries. Not long after, the Dominican Republic attorney himself faced questions about his possible link to a human trafficking case.

Christmases past

December 26th my wife and I celebrate our 28th anniversary.  The year we married I was a single father with a three-year-old son, whom my wife later adopted.  And, this year is the first Christmas it will be just the two of us.  After cutting down our 28th Christmas tree, we reminisced about some special Christmases past.

Our son’s eighth Christmas was difficult.  He was having doubts about Santa Claus.  He was too young to lose that belief and he desperately wanted his friends to be wrong.

What is public and what is private?

Does the public have a right to know everything?  Does freedom of the press have any limits?  Is anything private?  Is everything fair game?  How might Tiger Woods answer these questions?   “Yes, no, no, yes.”  Moreover, these questions have little to do with any claimed right to privacy, and all to do with the Constitution. 

As it turns out, most anything the media reports is constitutionally protected by “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press.”  You would assume this scrutiny is reserved for a public figure, whatever that is.  But public figure is a legal term used when suing for defamation of character.  Moreover, if the court decides you are a “public figure,” proving defamation is not enough, you must also prove the media acted with “reckless disregard for the truth,” acted with malice.

The entitled generation

Last week I watched a news report on a new type of life crisis.  Well, sort of.  A young reporter discussed the many difficulties facing the 25-year-olds as they finish college.  Wait a minute?  Why are 25-year-olds just finishing college?  Did they take a few years off along the way?  How did they do that?

I thought about what would have happened to my brothers or me if we tried to explain to our father how we needed a few years off to find ourselves, to figure out what we wanted out of life, to see where we fit in this world.  That was a brief thought.

Values and common sense

Do you ever wonder about our lost values, our disappearing common sense?  Where is our foundation, our cornerstone, showing us the values that are America?  Our foundation is crumbling and a cornerstone is hard to find.  And we have fewer anchors to look to for help understanding what we are, and what we should aspire to be.

Nearly 30 years ago, I met such a man, such an anchor, although I did not realize it at the time.  Our first meeting was in the emergency department of Bannock Memorial Hospital.  He was a bit confused when I very kindly, but firmly, asked him to please read, and sign, about 500 pages of consents.  With a boisterous voice, he suggested that might be excessive; I suggested it made a great deal of sense.

Our children, violence, and murder

What is happening to our children? Children with guns murdering children. Does this support the need for gun control, as advanced by the media and the politically correct, both with a fanciful capacity to not allow facts to interfere   with their opinions?

But if the data shows guns are not the cause of violence, and gun control does not work, why then have we witnessed rises in all types of school violence during the last several decades, including bullying, non-gun violence and gun violence.

Claiming racism be racist

Four police officers and two men; one black, a noted Harvard professor, and one Jewish, a famous singer –each with a recent police encounter.

Returning from a trip, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates found his front door jammed.  He tried to force it open and then he and his chauffeur got in through the back door.  According to Officer Figueroa’s police report, a neighbor called the police saying she saw “a man wedging his shoulder into the front door as if to pry the door open.”  And contrary to media reports, she did not identify the men by their race.  Further, Figueroa, the second officer on the scene, is also black.

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