Wednesday, April 02, 2014

All I've ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work.

The Tax System Explained in Beer 
by Dan Mitchell (HT Chia)

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this…

  • The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. 
  • The fifth would pay $1. 
  • The sixth would pay $3. 
  • The seventh would pay $7. 
  • The eighth would pay $12. 
  • The ninth would pay $18. 
  • The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59. 

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.″

Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

The bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using, and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

  • And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving). 
  • The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving). 
  • The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving). 
  • The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving). 
  • The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving). 
  • The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving). 

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.

  • “I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving,” declared the sixth man. 
  • He pointed to the tenth man, ”but he got $10!” 
  • “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar too. It’s unfair that he got ten times (10x) more benefit than me!” 
  • “That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 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. This new tax system exploits the poor!” 

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Nice to have a family. A man should take care, see that nothing happens to them.

You're probably at least somewhat familiar with Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act (sic). Like other ponzi schemes, it relies on those who don't really need and it won't use it to carry the financial burden of those who will need and use it.

Because Obamamacre is not a product good enough to sell itself, there have been millions of taxpayer dollars and many hours of celebrity and presidential time spent to sell it, especially to young people.
But, it's much wiser, particularly finanically, for the young person to just pay the fine than to sign up for "affordable" health coverage that is not needed.

President Obaama recently tweeted in an attempt to persuade young Americans that they aren't "invincible," and should, therefore, get covered. However, that which is most appealing about Obamacare may indeed be the greatest obstacle to young people signing up and funding it. That is, thanks to the ACA, a person cannot now be denied coverage based on a preexisting condition.

So, should a young person unfortunately find out, the hard way, that he or she indeed is not invincible through injury or diagnosis of some malady, that person just signs up after the fact, knowing coverage is guaranteed.

I could be wrong, but it would seem this scare tactic is predicated upon ignorance of Obamacare in order to be effective.  Nancy et al have passed it and we now know what's in it. At least, some of us do, and we are scared, but not of lacking coverage, but of what this albatross will further do to the economy, to losses of coverage, and to the already overly burdened taxpayer.


If you like your healthcare plan ...

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mrs. Robinson, if you don't mind my saying so, this conversation is getting a little strange.

You may or may not be aware of the recent revelations of sexual harassment/abuse perpetrated by Bill Gothard, head of the Institute in Basic Life Principles.In response to such, Bill Gothard has resigned from the presidency of IBLP.

To be fair, accusations of impropriety and divergence from Scripture is nothing new, as can be seen in the 2002 book, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard & the Christian Life.

A recurring question I've seen is, "How could this have happened?!" 

The answer seems obvious to me. The organization is a cult.

As is typical with a cult, it has a charismatic leader with a loyal following that is rather unhealthy. The IBLP is awash with legalistic practices, as opposed to Scriptural dictates, and there's no accountability for said leader. For many, sadly, the organization replaces the role of the local church in the life of the participants and/or the people are more loyal to the organization than they are to a local church. 

That's not to say something along these lines couldn't happen in a legitimate church, but it's less likely in a properly structured church, especially one that understands the biblical admonition to put no confidence in the flesh, but to have a healthy self-distrust and reliance upon the Spirit of God to sanctify.
* See how the experiences RuthAnnetteCharlotteRachelMegLizzie, and Grace had with Bill Gothard fit together chronologically here, and behaviorally here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

There's a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up.

Chaplain Galyon posted his All-Time Favorite Military Movies.

He's a better man than I in various and sundry ways.  His discipline to limit his list to 10 is just another example of that reality.

My Top 20 Favorite Military* Movies:
  • Forrest Gump ... "We was always taking long walks and we was always looking for a guy named Charlie."
  • Stripes ... "Lighten up, Francis."
  • Taps ... "They want us to be good little boys now so we can fight some war for them in the future. Some war they'll decide on. We'd rather fight our own war right now."
  • Dances with Wolves ... "My place is with you. I go where you go."
  • Top Gun ... "Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full."
  • Heartbreak Ridge ... "This is the AK-47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of your enemy; and it makes a distinctive sound when fired at you, so remember it.
  • The Final Countdown ... "I'm talking about the classic paradox of time."
  • Rambo ... "I want, what they want, and every other guy who came over here and spilled his guts and gave everything he had, wants! For our country to love us as much as we love it!"
  • An Officer and a Gentleman ... "I want your D.O.R!"
  • Taking Chance ... "You are his witness now. Without a witness, they just disappear."
  • Platoon ... "New meat! You dudes gonna love the Nam."
  • We Were Soldiers ... "We who have seen war, will never stop seeing it."
  • Braveheart ... "Every man dies, not every man really lives."
  • Saving Private Ryan ... "Well, from my way of thinking, sir, this entire mission is a serious misallocation of valuable military resources."
  • Apocalypse Now ... "I love the smell of napalm in the morning."
  • Patton ... "All real Americans love the sting of battle."
  • Full Metal Jacket ... "A jelly donut?!"
  • A Few Good Men ... "You can't handle the truth!"
  • Outlaw Josey Wales ... "Dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy."
  • Sergeant York ... "Folks back home used to say I could shoot a rifle before I was weaned, but they was exaggeratin' some."

*Previously, I'd offered a list of 10 Favorite WAR Movies.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

I always like to say a prayer and drink to world peace.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi 


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Not "Show YOU the money"; "Show ME the money!"

What would you think of a family with following financial situation?
  • Annual Income: $24,500
  • Annual Spending: $35,370
  • NEW Credit Card Debt: $10,870
  • Existing Credit Card Balance: $167,600

You might think such people fiscally foolish at best.  And you'd be right.  Sadly, some in America are just like that when it comes to money.

What's worse? They are fiscally foolish with YOUR money.

Just add eight (8) zeros and you'll see.

US GOVERNMENT BUDGET
  • Revenue: $2,450,000,000,000
  • Spending: $3,537,000,000,000
  • Deficit: $1,087,000,000,000
  • Debt: $16,760,000,000,000

"But make no mistake: As people my age retire and demand Medicare, America will eventually go broke."
~John Stossel
Source: "The Austerity Myth"

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I'd never want another.

How to be more like Jesus in the new year, 3 simple steps:

1. Join the church within driving distance most faithful to the Scriptures. If there isn't one that qualifies, move closer to one that does.

2. Ask the leadership for tasks/chores/duties nobody else wants to do.

3. Serve faithfully even though the following be true:
  • You are un(der)appreciated.
  • Your value isn't recognized by those you serve.

Related Scriptures:
  • Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

  • Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

  • Philippians 2:3-11 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

You have to ask yourself one question, "Do I feel lucky?"

The following are diagnostic questions* I came up with to help us take precautions regarding the destructive nature of our communication within the body of Christ.
  • Q1: Have I been involved in gossip at Providence Church, teller or hearer?
  • Q2: Have I lied about a brother or sister?
  • Q3: Have I said things that were true, but not with love? (Eph 4:15)
  • Q4: Has my anger revealed my unrighteous heart? (James 1:19-20)
  • Q5: Have my words injured someone, tearing down rather than building up? (Eph 4:29)
  • Q6: If I answered, “Yes,” to any of those 5 questions, what should my repentance look like? (e.g., confession, restitution, asking forgiveness, etc.)
*I shared these diagnostic questions at Providence Church during Sunday's sermon, "Sticks and Stones." 

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Saturday, January 05, 2013

I say that big talk's worth doodly-squat.

I have no idea how this was omitted from my "pet peeves" list, but after mentioning this in last week's sermon at Providence Church, I felt inclined to immortalize this via the miracle of the Internet.

Quick Communication/Rhetoric Lesson ...

There is a difference between "vocal" and "verbal" as descriptors. In fact, 93% of the time (at least) I heard "verbal" when the person intends to communicate the concept of "vocal." In other words, this is a common faux pas.

Working Definitions:
  • Verbal - of or pertaining to [the use of] words [or symbolic language]; note the Latin verbum for "word"
  • Vocal - of, pertaining to, or uttered with the voice [i.e., audible]
Think back to the SAT. Remember the “Quantitative” and “Verbal” sections? Remember how quiet it was in the room, even during the "Verbal" part of the test? Of course, the subject matter was dealing with words, non-vocal words.

N.B. Verbal and vocal are not mutually exclusive categories.  For opposites, we'd have verbal vs. non-verbal and vocal vs. non-vocal. Thus, some communication can be verbal & vocal or verbal & non-vocal.

Verbal communication includes the use of words to convey a message. Non-Verbal communication includes all the ways we communicate apart from words (e.g., gestures, body language, moviment, or posture, facial expressions, eye contact, voice tone, voice volume, rate, clothing, hairstyles, architecture, etc.)

Some Examples:
  • Verbal & Vocal - Someone speaking the words, "I'm happy."
  • Verbal & Non-Vocal - Someone sending a text, "I'm happy."
  • Non-Verbal & Non-Vocal - Someone smiling when opening gift, communicating happiness.
  • Non-Verbal & Vocal - Someone loudly squealing with delight when opening the perfect gift, which even someone in the other room would recognize as a happy person.
Verbal communication is perceived through either sight or sound.  However, non-verbal communication can occur through any sensory channel, through sight, sound, smell, touch or even taste.

As an aside, the non-verbal and verbal components of communication may be in conflict.  When that occurs, the non-verbal is typically more readily believed than the verbal.  For example, think back to the last time you saw a child who was made to apologize to another child, especially a sibling.  When the words conflict with the eye-rolling or the sigh that precedes the words or the muffled manner in which they are spoken, the real meaning shines through.

In fact, the vast majority of our oral communication is non-verbal (in the categories of vocal and visual). UCLA Professor (emeritus), Dr. Albert Mehrabian's early communication study is often quoted in support of the belief that the actual verbal content of our communication is relatively small compared to the power of the nonverbal. The conclusion of Dr. Mehrabian's classic study looks like this:
  • 7% of meaning is in the actual words spoken (verbal).
  • 38% of meaning is in the way words are spoken, or tone - e.g., volume (vocal NV).
  • 55% of meaning is derived from what we see e.g., facial expressions (visual NV).
  • Ergo, 93% of communication is non-verbal in nature.
From a practical standpoint, this is important to remember because when we talk we tend to put a lot more emphasis on word selection, but when we (or others) listen those other aspects of communication dominate the message.

When I have taught preaching to seminary students I have emphasized this in a lecture dealing with style (word selection and message structure) versus delivery of a message.  How one delivers a sermon, for example, can go a long way to helping or hindering the communication of a message to an audience.

It's been said that one cannot not communicate.  I believe that to be true and I hope we can communicate with precision and with a view toward how our communication (verbal and non-verbal) impacts others, for their good and God's glory.

Okay, I'm done with the soap box.  It's available for anyone else who now needs it.

P.S. I realize that in much of the English speaking world verbal has become synonymous with something spoken as opposed to written down (e.g., "merely a verbal agreement," implying nothing in writing).  I may be the bad Ag, but I have about as much tolerance for that as I do "I could care less" now being synonymous in usage with the correct "I couldn't care less."

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

You have to be prepared for the possibility that God does not like you.

Check out "The Culture Culture", an excellent and convicting post on the prevalent biblical theme of differentiation, or antithesis, between God's people and the world, including contemporary applicability.


An excerpt:
"The difference, the antithesis, between us and the world isn’t that they have sin issues while we do not. The difference is two-fold. First, our sins have already been covered. Jesus died for them, and the Father is not angry with us. Second, we are committed to finding them out, rather than hiding them. Isn’t it gracious of God then to give us the glaring shamelessness of the world to make our own sins more known to us? May He in turn give us eyes to see."  ~R. C. Sproul, Jr.
READ "The Culture Culture"

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Monday, December 03, 2012

I love the smell of commerce in the morning.

I don't usually go to the mall, but when I do I prefer THIS happen.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I don't know where you get your delusions, laser brain.

I've been pondering the election and wondering why people vote the way they do.

It motivated me to delineate how MY political views were formed.  This may be an exercise solely for my benefit, but I'd be surprised if you didn't find it helpful to examine YOUR political leanings and trace back why they are the way they are.

As best I can tell, there are 4 main influences that have shaped my political perspective (and subsequent voting patterns).  I share them in chronological order:

1. Living in England during the Reagan Presidency
  • I developed a deep sense of national loyalty to my country.
  • During this "Cold War," I became keenly aware that there were many places in the world quite unlike the USA, some of which help a deep-seated hatred of the USA.
  • Consequently, I've always been a fan of ensuring our national defense and military were top notch.

2. Reading the Bill of Rights
  • I realized that we needed the first 2 amendments (i.e., freedom from government involvement in religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom to take up arms) as a grass roots form of checks and balances on the government itself.
  • I realized the 10th amendment, contrary to what's transpired post-Civil War, put the vast majority of governing power in the hands of the individual states, not the federal government.

3. Reading Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative
  • I gained an appreciation for smaller government, especially in the face of encroaching Socialism.
  • I also realized that rather than ensure liberty, governments by nature tend to be the chief instrument to thwart it.
  • I also solidified and developed some of the thoughts I'd stumbled upon in the Bill of Rights (e.g., States' Rights).
  • FYI - HERE are some pertinent quotes from the book.

4. Converting to Christianity
  • I became pro-life, and consequently anti-abortion, seeing it as the murder of one made in God's image, with this being my political issue which trumps all others in evaluating candidates/parties.
  • I shifted my confidence to the triune God who controls (Prov 21:1) and raises up and takes down governments (Rom 13:1-7), rather than in government itself.
  • Thus, I added prayer as one of the duties a citizen has toward his/her country.
Admittedly, I am biased, but I recommend each of these 4 to you. Also, I'd love to hear what has shaped your political leanings as well.

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