where religion and politics meet

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is what one believes about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Countries also have a worldview, a way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Ours used to be Christianity. Now it is secularism, which is practical atheism.

Some of us are trying to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

A religion is not a culture, though it creates one. It is not what you prefer, like your taste in music or your favorite movie. It is what you believe to be true. Because it deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, but the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation and critical thinking.

Every human being has the duty to search for and learn the truth about life. Education and science used to be valuable tools in this search, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues,

For now I want to focus my writing now articles specifically addressed to Christians. So most of my new posts will be on my other website listed below. I will continue to write and post short responses to newspaper columns and letters and even other articles as the inspiration hits me.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb-RztuRKdCEQzgbhp52dCw

If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Quickest, Easiest Way to Fix Our Economy

The Quickest, Easiest Way to Fix Our Economy

Politics are constant word games.  If you propose a bill, it is almost required to include at least one of the following words: equal, fair, discrimination, freedom.  Anyone who opposes a bill with any of these words is obviously an extremist if not also sexist, racist, or any of a number of –ist words.
This same game was played several decades ago when trade agreements were proposed in Congress.  Charging a company for importing goods to our country was considered protectionist and unfair to developing nations.  So we stopped charging imports from different nations as they agreed not to charge us for shipping goods to their country. 
This was called free trade.  That should have been your first clue that something was wrong.  Nothing is free but the air you breathe. 
We tax our companies at one of if not the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  But then companies that we cannot tax, because they are foreign, can sell their stuff here at no cost to them? 
So what happened?  Millions of our jobs went overseas.
This was called inevitable.  Globalization. 
But did anybody ever ask why?  Why was this inevitable? 
But, no, it is not nor ever has been inevitable.
Countries have always traded with each other.  And for most of our nation’s history, imports were taxed.  Every nation taxed imports.  In fact, the taxes on imports almost paid our entire federal government’s expenses except in wartime until probably early in the 1900s when the 16th Amendment was passed, allowing Congress to tax incomes. 
So what some people are calling free trade is really only free for other countries. 
Most of these imports are not from indigenous foreign companies in developing nations trying to get a seat at the table,  but these are mostly American jobs that went overseas because the cost of doing business here was too high.  And taxes are a big part of it.
This hype about helping developing countries is overplayed and just plain wrong.  For example, Bangladesh has a population of about 155,000,000 people, yet they make much of the clothes that we wear.  Do you mean to tell me that a clothing manufacturer in that country doesn’t have enough of a market in that 155M people to build a business?  These clothes are being made specifically for sale in the American market, because we have made things easier for companies to do everything over there than over here. 
If a nation does not have an internal market strong enough to build a thriving economy, then they have inherent structural deficiencies that our creating certain export industries over there is not going to be able to overcome.  This is a false guilt put on Western nations for being prosperous.  We are not prosperous just because we live over here and they live over there.  We have done things over here that they have not done over there. 
Wealth is not a limited pie that the world has to divide up.  Wealth is created, but like crops needing soil, air, water, seed, fertilizer, a country needs to provide the environment for economic growth.
Our political leaders are responsible for the lack of jobs in our country because of their greed, shortsightedness, and the belief that helping other countries was more important than helping our own.
Our country has gone from being the financially strongest nation in the world to the nation with the largest debt of any country in the world. True, some workers in other countries now have jobs they would not have had otherwise, but we have only traded our unemployed for their unemployed.  And why is that a good thing?
Is this supposed to help our economy that we can buy an appliance for a hundred dollars cheaper while our taxes and borrowing keep increasing, because we don’t have enough jobs over here? 
To call ourselves a rich nation is a misnomer.  There are a lot of wealthy people here, and most of the people here are better off than in any other nation of the world, including our poor people, yet our nation as a whole is broke, living off borrowed money, having sent millions of our jobs overseas so that now more people depend on other people supporting them in some way than are actually working fulltime.
So what is the simplest, easiest way to fix our economy? 
We need good paying, fulltime jobs for millions of people.  We used to have them.  They were called manufacturing jobs.  We lost them, because we tax our companies too high, and then we stopped taxing foreign companies (imports).
So what to do?  We want to make the United States the best place for a company to do business.  Why do people start companies in the first place?  Why do businesses exist?  They do not exist to make jobs.  They exist to make money.  The more companies there are here, and the more they can grow, the more jobs there will be.
Politicians want to tax corporations, because they are constantly looking for things to tax, because they need money to buy people’s votes.  But higher taxes on companies only raise the price of the goods and services they sell, which again makes products from other countries look cheaper, because we don’t tax them.
But if they were to, say, eliminate business taxes (wow, did I say that?) or at least cut them way down, this would all translate into companies flocking here and companies starting up, and millions of jobs being created.  And those workers would pay all those taxes we thought we were losing, plus we wouldn’t be paying for all their government assistance.

And we then need to tax imports to our country.  The simplest reason is that it is fair.  Our companies have financial obligations to our country that increases their cost of doing business.  A foreign company should bear some of that burden to do business here.

How to Pick a President – Really

How to Pick a President – Really

Can you think of any problems with the way we currently elect a President?  Do we really think we are getting the best people to run, yet alone be elected?  Is anybody bothered by the need for a candidate to raise millions of dollars to mount a campaign?  Isn’t the very idea of a campaign fraught with cunning, manipulation, deception, backroom deals, slander, owing contributors and favors, potential for outride fraud, stolen elections?
Do we really think we are getting enough options?  Under our current system, third party or independent candidates have little chance of success in that under our present system, they only reduce the number of votes needed for somebody to win, meaning that a candidate can win a state without even getting a majority of the votes, which is just wrong.  Do you really think our politicians want to change this? 
Does a President really need to be photogenic or a good debater?  Doesn’t the very idea of running for this office attract people who might seek personal power and glory rather than what is really best for the country?  Should an incumbent spend half his term running for a second term?
Did you know that our Constitution wanted none of this?  Political parties were considered “mischievous if not downright evil” in those days, and it was “felt that gentlemen should not campaign for public office (The saying was "The office should seek the man, the man should not seek the office.").”[1]
A direct popular vote was rejected also, because larger states would have too much weight in the decision. 
The Founders decided to have an electoral college.  And like a lot of good things, if you don’t take care of it and remember why it was set up in the first place, it deteriorates and changes, and shrewd people can distort it.
The Founders didn’t want a campaign where people bashed each other and had fund raisers where you had to pay $5000 to have dinner with the person.  And who and how many people can take two or more years out of their lives to campaign and travel around the country?  Don’t these people have jobs and families?  So it’s usually (career) politicians and the very rich who run.  We say we don’t like either, but all the other people don’t want to be away from their families or can’t afford to be away from their jobs.
Each state is supposed to choose people to be electors.  They couldn’t be federal office holders or profit from the government.  I would take that to mean for our day that they would not be recipients of any kind of government assistance or benefitting from a government program, besides not already holding office.  I would understand that also to mean Social Security, but that’s another article.
The electors could vote for anybody they thought would be the best President.  It could be somebody already in government, but it could also be a writer, a business person, a professor, why even a talk show host.  And, of course, at that time, there were no political parties. 
Originally they voted for two people, at least one of which had to be out of state.  A list of all the nominated candidates with their vote tallies was then sent to the Senate to be counted.  If someone had a majority, they became President.  If no one had a majority, the names of the five people with the highest number of votes was sent to the House where they would vote state by state (one vote for each), the one with the majority would win.  The 12th Amendment reduced this number of potential candidates to the top three. The person with the second highest number of votes would be Vice-President, not somebody that a candidate picked out by himself, but actually the second most desired person for the job.  The 12th Amendment changed this also, so that they would vote separately for each position.
What happened along the way was that the states ended up letting voters decide who the electors were, and political parties chose who the possible electors would be, based partly on their commitment to a predetermined candidate.  It’s a bit like a gerrymandered representative district.  You can vote how you like, but the politicians have essentially already decided who is going to win.  You do get two choices, but the plan was to have a totally open field of candidates based entirely on merit and not on looks, debating skills, or political clout.
It sounds so democratic to have the voter choose the electors, but what it has done is to limit our choices in many cases to the lesser of two evils.  It has limited our choices essentially to the two major parties whose candidates were chosen in primaries where, depending on the number of candidates, it could have taken at little as 20% of the vote to win in a state. 
And, again, we are limited to those people who can take several years out of their lives to campaign, travel around the country, raise funds, and owe a lot of people favors for their help and money.
Now we are at a point in our country where, while politicians have always tried to buy people’s votes through government goodies, this has been taken to a whole new level where our country is drowning in debt, and the people continue to vote for the one party determined to give as much as they can to as many people as they can to ensure their continued success at the polls, regardless of how this affects the country as a whole.
Now this may sound like a problem so large that talking about solving it is meaningless.  But it’s not.  It starts with the states, even one state.  It’s the state legislators who decide how a state chooses its electors.  They would need to explain to their people what the Constitution says about how a President is to be elected and why they chose to do it that way.   They would need to explain how the current system fails the intention of the Constitution and them by severely and adversely limiting the number of possible candidates and probably excluding many better candidates. 
The legislature would need to establish rules for choosing electors and be very transparent about the whole process.  This whole change in procedure will be portrayed by the media as a way to further rather than impede backroom political maneuvering and dealing.  It’s a political axiom that you can’t take something (away) after you have given it. 
There will be loud critics who will believe that this will undermine democracy by supplanting voter participation.  They would rather you felt empowered by voting for either of two candidates of their liking rather than having the possibility of having better people through an unfamiliar, long forgotten process that was originally conceived by the very people who created our Constitution in the first place.
In a close Presidential election, this state’s action, or states’, might be enough to leave the election undecided after election night until the Senate counts the votes at a later date and maybe even has to send the matter to the House for the final decision.  The public would then learn of the possibilities offered to them by doing this the way it was originally intended.
The office of President is too important not to ensure that the very best person is elected to this position.  Our current system has too many problems and limitations: only two parties to really choose from, a pool of candidates pretty much limited to career politicians and the very rich, a process based on campaigns requiring huge amounts of money that ends up rewarding the large donors, a route that attracts people who seek power more than service.
As states gradually try to follow more the parameters of the Constitution, it will lead other states to do the same.  Many times when I have seen the Presidential candidates, I have thought to myself, “Is this really the best that we have?”  The only way we will have the best candidates is that we choose them out of everybody and not just from those who are willing and able to mount a two year, extensive, expensive campaign where their lives are examined back to their earliest childhood.  The Constitution tells us how we do that.







[1] http://uselectionatlas.org/INFORMATION/INFORMATION/electcollege_history.php

The Illinois Republican Primary

The Illinois Republican Primary

In a very short time, voters will decide which of 4 Republicans will run for governor in November.  Under current rules, the winner can have as little as 26% of the vote. 
Not only is this wrong, it is also unwise politically.  You wouldn’t know who the strongest candidate really is.  Maybe the 74% would want anybody but that one, and they would vote Democratic rather than to have that one candidate win in the Fall.
Nobody should win an election who does not have more than 50% of the vote.  The Presidential election is an obvious exception in that it is the states that elect the President and not the individual voters.  Yet within each state, whenever there is a third party candidate, a winner need only have 34 % of the vote to win, and this is wrong as well.
There are two options we can do to remedy this.  We can have runoff elections (expensive), or we can allocate points to each candidate on our original ballot. 
With four candidates, give each candidate a number (4,3,2,1).  A number can be used more than once.  If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote on the first counting, then tally all the numbers, and the one with the highest tally wins.
Our country needs more options than the two parties often currently provide us.  Third party candidates now generally split the votes in a way that voters are often very reluctant to vote for them.

We need to do better, and we can show everybody else how to do it right in Illinois.  For a change.

The Single Greatest Danger to our Country

The Single Greatest Danger to our Country

If you had to pick the single greatest danger to our country, what would you pick?  I am sure that if we took a poll, there would be many suggested answers.  My answer would have been different if you had asked me a month ago. 
The reason why this is not obvious to everyone is that there are many issues that are all interrelated.  One affects another, which affects the first one again, causing a spiral effect, leading to the chicken and the egg question: which came first?
Those of you who have read my writings know that I believe our country was founded as a Christian nation and that, when and as Christianity was removed from public life, government expanded to fill the role in people’s lives that their faith and individual responsibility used to fill. 
After several generations of government trying to act as if there is no God (secularism), it has inserted itself into a role not envisioned by our country’s founders: the great Benefactor and Problem Solver.  Every societal problem is now the role of government to fix.  And this is where the slippery slope becomes a cliff, and more and more of our people are jumping over it. 
I say jumping, which suggests that they are doing this on purpose.  It’s true but not exactly accurate.  Spread a table of food, anything, before a group of starving people, and it’s only a matter of time before they all willingly take of the food, even though they know it’s not theirs or food they normally would eat if they had a choice.  So, yes, they ate willingly, but they were played.
So what is the single greatest danger facing our country?
It is a political strategy. 
Now politics is always about strategy.  If you want a law that kills off mothers, you call it the Progeny Empowerment Program, or PEP.  Wording is everything.
In elections, politicians have to sell themselves to their potential constituents as being better for them than their opponent(s).  They make promises, many of which they can’t keep, many of which are beyond their ability to keep, and many of which they may have no intention of keeping.  But this has now been taken to a level that threatens the very foundations of our country. 
This political strategy has been embraced by one of our major political parties.  I will not say that every person in this party embraces this strategy.  I don’t believe most of them are even aware of it.  But I don’t believe that somebody in high places in this party is not aware of it.  I believe, at the highest levels of this party, this is the game plan.  Better to be a ruler in a third world country than an ordinary citizen in a free one.
The strategy is this:  Identify a specific demographic in our country.  It could be the unemployed, seniors, blacks, women, Hispanics, minimum wage workers, gays, parents of preschool children, single mothers, minorities in general.  Then find something that many of those within that group would really like, like a higher minimum wage, gay marriage, free preschool, free contraceptives, years of unemployment benefits.
Make it sound like these are just basic rights, certainly well within the ability of a rich, enlightened, and diverse nation as ours.  It doesn’t matter what it costs, how it will be paid for, or how it affects everything or everybody else.  That segment will become a loyal supporter of that party even though they may disagree with other particular issues, because they really want what is being offered.  And anybody who opposes these benefits is heartless, extremist, rightwing, or bigoted.
It doesn’t matter if the thing is controversial.  Take the issue of gay marriage.  That issue is dear to the gay community, and I can’t imagine there would be too many gays who would not vote for this party at this point.  Now many people are not in favor of gay marriage.  If that was the only issue out there, the opposing votes could cost them the election.  But no worry.  Surely those who oppose gay marriage are members of some other demographic. 
Perhaps they are a minimum wage worker.  Or Hispanic.  Or a preschool parent.  What minimum wage worker doesn’t want to make more money?  This will soon be the issue of the  year as the elections approach, and all the minimum wage workers will vote for this party regardless of their views on, say, gay marriage.  Why?  They want this more, because it affects them directly more.
So piece by piece, demographic by demographic, this party is attracting loyal voters, because they can vote themselves things they want. 
This issue of extending unemployment benefits is now current in Washington.  One side is willing to extend them if all can agree on some other government expenses to cut.  The other side can’t think of a thing to cut, because spending money wins friends, and votes. 
Meanwhile our national debt increases at a rate of a trillion dollars a year.  I don’t know how they think this will all end, but this can and will all come crashing down at some point, and even soon.  And as long as they have someone else to blame, they don’t mind.  And besides, they and all their closest allies are well taken care of.

So I believe this political strategy is the greatest threat to our country at this present time.  Everybody wants something for themselves, and it doesn’t matter who pays for it.  They can print more money, but many of those people who have lent our country money don’t live here, and when they get tired of the incredible shrinking dollar, they will call in their debt, and life here will be changed forever in ways nobody will like.

If not Obamacare, then what?

If not Obamacare, then what?

It’s easy to criticize, and Obamacare has made criticizing even easier.  Yet there are a lot of people who actually like it, believe it is doing some serious good, and who don’t see a better plan out there.  They need to know exactly what is wrong with Obamacare and what is a better way to do insurance.
The first step in improving health insurance/care is not to have a plan.  That is to say, the worse thing we can do is have a 2,800 page bill that we “have to pass it so we can know what’s in it.” 
The general routine in Congress for dealing with an issue is to combine the issue with as many similar and dissimilar issues as possible.  The perceived goal is to make the bill as long as possible.  That way fewer people will read the bill, and many parts of the bill will be voted on without the courtesy of discussing or debating them.  In fact, many of the parts of this bill (and all these long bills) would not pass on their own, but being safely tucked within a much larger all-encompassing bill that is touted as solving the first issue, it may get votes from people who don’t want to vote against a ‘good’ bill just for some ‘smaller’ matters they disagree with.
So in this first step, you don’t want a large all-encompassing bill.  Take the issues one by one, debate them, solicit public input, and then vote on them when you get it right.
Which leads to the second step in improving health insurance/care.  If you recall the passing of Obamacare, Congressmen were given waivers from Obamacare for their states or districts in return for their votes.  So votes were bought from people who would not be affected by the bill.  Then the vote was taken in the middle of the night with great haste, knowing that people might have second thoughts or the public might catch on to what was happening. 
This was a bill that was forced on the American people.  And the only way that this doesn’t happen again is to break down complex issues into simple ones and discuss and vote on them separately rather than on 2,000 pages of rules and regulations that no one knows all that is in there.  Any time you see legislators in a hurry to pass a bill, be sure that this bill contains things that most people won’t like. 
If that’s the case, you might wonder why politicians aren’t afraid of backlash.  That’s because the general political strategy is to buy off segments of the population with legislation that offers some significant benefit to this particular group.  Doesn’t matter what it costs, how it will be paid for, or how it affects everything else.  These segments will vote for their own benefits, and the sum total of these segments gives them the majority they need to win elections.
So the second step in improving health insurance/care is not to rush through so-called ‘needed’ legislation.
Which leads us to the third problem with Obamacare.  The selling point here is supposed to be affordability.  Well, the only people who will find this plan more affordable are those for whom the government will provide subsidies to help pay for it.  So this is the segment that the politicians are trying to buy off.  Those who get cheaper health insurance will vote for these politicians.  Those whose rates will go up may or may not vote for them depending on what other benefits these politicians have given them.
Our country is $17 trillion in debt.  We will be $20 trillion in debt if/when Obama finishes his term in office, and we are creating another large mass of people dependent on the government for their basic necessities of life.  At some point very soon, this entire economy could collapse.
There are two other problems with OC that is making it more unaffordable for everybody.  The government is dictating the terms of the insurance contracts, telling companies and people what coverage they have to have and how much the insurance companies will pay for it.  The government essentially is forcing people to get more coverage than they need, but they are also removing personal incentives that in the past enabled people to get lower rates. 
So older people are paying for maternity coverage, and healthy people, as in non-smokers, are paying the same rates as smokers.
Ok, so now what do we do?  The goal, of course, is the best health care at the cheapest prices and the widest availability. 
There is a move today to separate medical insurance from employment, but I believe that is a mistake.  Group plans are always cheaper than individual plans, and generally there are no restrictions on getting the insurance. 
However, our country has lost millions of good paying fulltime jobs due to government policies sending them all overseas, but this can be reversed.  We tax our own companies with some of the highest corporate taxes in the world, then we allow foreign companies that we can’t tax free access to sell their goods here.  So our companies move overseas where they don’t have to pay these taxes to sell their stuff here.  But if we eliminate the corporate tax here or tax foreign products when they come into our country, this would easily create millions of decent paying jobs that could/would offer group health insurance.

We also need incentives for people to choose healthier lifestyles, like lower rates if you exercise, get regular checkups, etc., and people need the option to choose exactly what coverage they want.  These don’t require the government to do anything but to stop micromanaging people’s lives.  

Why President Obama Should be Impeached – Now

Why President Obama Should be Impeached – Now

This isn’t the first time that I thought President Obama should be impeached.  But something has changed.
I don’t expect most people, even elected ones, to understand how government debt hurts the economy, how inflation is caused by government policies (I include the Federal Reserve here.), and how it cheats people out of their money.  There are a lot of other common government practices where most people just don’t understand the bigger picture; they just accept the story they are told at face value.
But something has happened which everybody can understand and which, in spite of all the perceived benefits of an Obama presidency, should cause them to rise up and put an end to it.
It has now been proven that President Obama is a liar.  I don’t mean just the fact that he lied at some point in the past, but that he has been shown to lie regularly.
Now I am the first to admit that not all lies are the same, and everybody at some time or other has been or is less than truthful.
“Do these pants make me look fat?”  “How do you like my new outfit?”  “How was the meal?” 
Many of us know the feeling when a parent, spouse, or boss asked us in an angry tone of voice whether we had done such and such a thing.  The fear of the possible repercussions made us afraid to be totally honest.
But President Obama has been shown to have lied over and over with regard to his health care plan.  The whole story of this bill’s passage is one filled with examples of corruption, bribery, lies, and manipulation.  Obama pledged before his election that every bill would be posted on the internet for three days before voting so everybody would have a chance to read and comment on it.  This was a bill that had to be passed so we would know what was in it.
But I digress.
In trying to sell this bill to America, Obama lied.  And lied.  And lied.  The same ones over and over.
The whole point is that, when a person has been found to be a liar, their credibility is destroyed.  You never know any more when they are telling the truth.
When Obama says that we need to have the NSA spy on us for national security reasons, is he telling the truth?
When he tells us we need to arm the rebels in Syria for our own security, can we believe him?  Should we?
When Obama says that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon under his watch, can we believe him?
When he says that, when Obamacare is fully implemented, we will all be happy, can we trust him?
Once you know somebody is a liar, you never know when he is telling the truth.
The problem here, of course, is that Obama is our President.  If we don’t know when he is telling us the truth, he has forfeited his right to be our President.
At this point, it will be asked if a President can be impeached for being a liar.
The answer is yes.  A president does not need to commit a criminal offense.  He does not need to break any laws per se.  The reasons can “include[e] serious abuses of power and attempts to subvert the Constitution,”  “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”
“ . . . linking impeachable offenses to crime would be bad policy because such a definition would be both too broad and too narrow. It would be too broad because it would include crimes with no functional relationship to malfeasance or abuse of office, such as driving while intoxicated. It would also be too narrow because it would protect many abuses of office that are not crimes – such as the executive’s abuse of the pardon power, or a judge’s refusal to decide any cases.”
“An impeachable high crime or misdemeanor is one in its nature or consequences subversive of some fundamental or essential principle of government or highly prejudicial to the public interest, and this may consist of a violation of the Constitution, of law, of an official oath, or of duty, by an act committed or omitted, or, without violating a positive law, by the abuse of discretionary powers from improper motives or for an improper purpose.”[1]
If you cannot reasonably assume that the President is telling the truth, then how can he lead our country?  You will never know if he is lying until the damage is done.  That is no way to run a country. 
There has been talk in the past about impeachment for President Obama, but this was discouraged, because impeachment was considered pointless, seeing that the Senate has enough Democrats to defeat any attempts to remove Obama from office. 
Well, that’s their choice.  But for the House to overlook these enormous violations of the public trust is itself a violation of the public trust.  The House is the branch of government closest to the people it represents.  If they don’t stand for us against this bold, blatant disregard for common decency, then we are doomed.