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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Racism and private conversation

Racism and private conversation
a letter to the editor re: the comments made by a professional basketball team owner

I know this letter will be misconstrued by a lot of people who read it, but some things need to be said. 
There is a major uproar over some private comments that a man made to his girlfriend, such that there is pressure to make this person give up the business that he owns.  There have been no complaints apparently of any unfair or unkind treatment to any of his employees, and no employee has charged him with racist behavior. 
I think it is dangerous for a free society to try to control what people say or can say even in private conversations.  It doesn’t matter if somebody finds it offensive, because there is no end to the things that people can find offensive. 
I think it is wrong to try to punish people for things spoken in private, particularly when a person is not encouraging or planning illegal acts.
When we start monitoring people’s private speech and try to punish them for things we don’t like, it is called tyranny.  It doesn’t matter that the issue here is race.  Once the principle is established, the list of forbidden topics and responses will grow exponentially.  What will happen is that valid criticism and discussion of certain societal matters can be framed in terms of violations of social protocol, and all discussion is ended under threat of punishment.

I don’t want to live in a country where you have to watch everything you say very carefully, even in private conversations, because somebody is looking to do you in if your speech is not proper in their minds.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Voting Laws

Voting Laws
Letter to the Editor

Greetings!
You recently had an editorial that I thought I should write you and express my appreciation and support for the ideas you presented.  But I hesitated, thinking that you probably get too much mail as it is.  But then it seems a shame to only hear from people when they disagree.    Well, I forgot what that other editorial was about, but I have to respond to this one.
If our state senators think our state needs a constitutional amendment to prevent citizens from being denied the right to vote or register due to some long list of things, then I am very disappointed in my state senators.  What the bleep were they thinking? 
There is nothing going on anywhere that would in any way deny anyone the right to vote.  The wording of this proposed amendment as you frame it uses the word ‘citizens’ which I still take to mean what it has always meant, and that is the only place where challenges are being made. 
But you showed concern because of certain other measures being proposed around the country.
You believe voter ID laws are a hurdle to voting.  You say that 11% of eligible voters don’t have a government issued photo ID, and so we shouldn’t require one.  So how do these people even function in society without them?  Heck, we would be doing them a favor by requiring a photo ID if they really wanted to vote in the first place.  Don’t they drive?  Don’t they have bank accounts?  How do they cash checks? 
You say most of these people without IDs are “those with low incomes, the disabled and the elderly.” 
People with low income need help.  In more ways than one.  I am sure the government is trying very hard to help them with all kinds of assistance, as in money.  Well, how can they cash these checks without a government issued ID? 
As for the disabled, there are two kinds of disabled people: there are those who are pretty well self-sufficient and those who are not.  I have no doubt that those who are self-sufficient would already have IDs, because they know how important they are. 
Those who are dependent on others either are being cared for by those who love them or those who don’t.  If those who are being cared for by those who love them wanted a photo ID so they could vote, I have no doubt that this would be worked out.  If those other disabled people who have no way to get a photo ID, because their caretakers won’t let them or help them, how will they ever vote in the first place? 
As for the elderly, how have they survived this long in this country without a photo ID?  They know better than not to have one.
I would dispute your contention that “no evidence that IDs are needed to prevent voter fraud,” but you seem quite willing to wait until there is evidence of voter fraud before doing anything about it.  Do you really think an election would be held over if fraud was uncovered?  It would be held up in court for years while the wrong person could be serving in office. 
You mention voter drives as well.  Anybody who is interested enough in what is going on and who wants to vote can have no problem registering anytime they want.  Frankly, voter drives only increase the number of registered voters, which to me only makes voter fraud easier, because there are more names on the register of people who are unlikely to vote in the first place. 
Making registering to vote easier will not raise voter turnout and certainly won’t increase the likelihood that the voter knows what’s going on in the first place. 

The banner on your editorial called voting a sacred right.  Sacredness generally implies a certain worthiness on the part of the partaker.  Nobody is asking for anything unusual or burdensome for any potential voter.  But the potential for mischief is great.  Being in Chicago, I am surprised you aren’t questioning more the integrity of the voting process.   Wasn’t it a famous Chicago motto: Don’t forget to vote early and vote often?

Why Obamacare is bad for our country

Why Obamacare is bad for our country

and what we should do about it

In response to a recent letter:
Those who like Obamacare point out certain benefits to the public and challenge opponents to offer something better.  Part of the problem here is that our government has been creating problems for a long time on the one hand and then offering to address the results of those problems with the other hand but without solving the original problems.  So the solutions they offer wouldn’t have been needed if they hadn’t meddled with things in the first place.  Meanwhile, the solutions they offer add other problems which they will later offer to address, and the cycle is repeated. 
The goal of the whole process is to win elections, and the means to doing so is to identify a group of people in our country and do something for them that will gain their vote.  It doesn’t matter what it costs, how or if they can pay for it, or how it affects anything else.  This group will want this thing enough that they will overlook the bigger picture to support the people who promise them the thing that benefits them in this one particular way. 
With Obamacare, the targeted groups are those with pre-existing conditions, certain people who cannot afford medical insurance, and poor women.  In order to win these groups over, the government is willing to let most people pay substantially more for their insurance, let millions more work fewer hours while still not having insurance, and facilitate employers dropping their health insurance plans thus perpetuating the need for more people to have government assistance to pay for their insurance.
There would seem to be more people adversely affected by Obamacare than those who would gain by it, but this is portrayed as a moral issue that only greedy, selfish people would refuse, and the government hopes to win the others by other programs or mandates to win their support.  Other attempts to win votes without regard for the larger ramifications have included higher minimum wages, equal pay for women, immigration reform, government takeover of the mortgage and student loan industries, unemployment compensation extensions, and calls for early childhood education.
The roots of the problem that prompted the perceived need for Obamacare goes back several decades when our country sent millions of our jobs overseas.  They did this by dropping the tax on imports for more and more countries while taxing our homeland companies through the roof.  So many of them closed their factories here and moved them to foreign countries.
With the loss of so many middle class jobs went also the group medical insurance plans that went with them.  Now any insurance plan is concerned about people who only buy insurance when they are sick, so they generally would have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, but this is also generally waived when people had continuous insurance coverage prior to enrollment in this new plan. 
Employer-based insurance plans also offer the best rates, because they offer group plans.  There are moves today to disassociate insurance from employment, but I think that is a mistake, because you won’t be able to get individual insurance plans cheaper than a group plan.
So a reader asked four questions to those who oppose Obamacare and expected deafening silence in response:
1)  What is going to happen to all those people who have a pre-existing condition?
Short answer, get a group insurance plan.  You can’t get a group insurance plan?  Then ask your Congressperson and your President why the blank they sent all those jobs overseas.  They called it free trade, but the price for free trade has cost our country trillions of dollars.
2)  What will happen to all those people under 26 who are on Mom or Dad’s policy?
This is not an intrinsic part of Obamacare.  This could be voted on separately if people really want this.  One of the problems with our current lawmaking process is that they combine dozens or hundreds of provisions into one law, and there is no way every point can be debated or discussed. 
But then this was never a serious problem before, because kids either got insurance through their schools or their jobs.  But government has been destroying the job market for a long time. 
3)  What will happen when policy limits are reinstated? 
I think the question refers to the lifetime limits on most insurance policies.  I don’t know how many people ever reach that limit.  If that is a concern for the people, the government could easily offer to subsidize anyone who exceeds their lifetime limit, if necessary.  It would certainly be cheaper than subsidizing millions of policies as Obamacare does now. 
Again, this is another separate issue that Congress could debate that wouldn’t have required an overhaul of our entire health insurance industry to address.
4)  What will happen to people who cannot afford their health insurance?
The first thing to note here is that Obamacare is forcing the costs of health insurance to rise dramatically for everybody, contrary to their promises.  The government is mandating that policies cover things that people don’t want or need.  The only people who are finding their insurance cheap(er) are those for whom the government is paying for most of it.  That means, the government is taking money from other people to pay for it.  Actually what it means is that the government is borrowing money they never expect to pay back to pay for it. 
The government keeps coming up with more and more things that everybody should feel entitled to have and which they are deemed responsible for seeing that they get them.  The reality is there is never enough money to do all that.   Countries can and do go bankrupt, and we are trying real hard to get there.  

Why Terms Limits are Needed

Why Terms Limits are Needed

Letter to the Editor 

A reader opposed the push for term limits as just an aid to get Bruce Rauner elected governor and that there is no real need for it, if only voters worked harder to understand the issues and vote the bums out.
I agree that term limits should not be necessary, but our politicians have pretty much rigged the elections by gerrymandering the districts.  Politics is no longer about particular issues but broad political philosophies. 
Half the country believes that government must try to solve all our problems, and the way to do it is to spend more money and make more laws to shape our behavior.  A major result of this philosophy is that more and more people are reliant on the government just to get by.  The government has to borrow trillions of dollars to pay for all these things, and this slowly erodes the life out of the rest of the economy.
The other half believes that the rise of this first view of government has caused a slow, steady decline in our country since then, economically, educationally, and morally. 
And so, because our elections are not set up in a way favorable to more than two parties, and since most people vote these broader party directions, politicians are able to draw voting districts that can generally assure the outcomes of the elections. 

Term limits won’t solve the underlying problems, but it can at least open up the government to more people.  The current system makes it very hard to vote anybody out of office.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The government wants too much of our money.

The government wants too much of our money.
Letter to the Editor
Chicago Sun-Times

You devoted a lot of space recently to a man advocating higher property taxes for Chicago, because the suburbs have it, and this is good for schools.  Then there was the letter from some school official who said that schools need more money, and the state wants to spend another $6+ billion on schools and make that temporary tax hike permanent.  And, of course, the pension issues are always in the news, about how they need billions more to keep up with their obligations. 
Why doesn’t everybody just give Springfield and Washington our whole damn paychecks, and they can just give us all a living allowance?  With cost of living increases, of course.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the people in this country who are getting screwed are so busy working, there would be riots in the street and sit-ins at every government building in the country.  But trust me, they are getting angry, and there is a limit to their acquiescence.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Who is really trying to buy the election?

Who is really trying to buy the election?
Letter to the editor

Rauner has been criticized a lot, because he spent a lot of his own money to pay for campaign ads.  He has been accused of trying to buy the election.  Yet Democrat incumbents, like Quinn, try to buy the election as well.  They just use your money.  They don’t have to ask for it, and they don’t have to report it as a campaign contribution. 
Instead of an ad, they start a government program.  It doesn’t matter that they are $7 billion behind in unpaid bills.  It doesn’t matter that they are $100 billion in debt.  All that matters is that they are seen as the compassionate do-gooders for a society that is increasingly unable to take care of itself.  It doesn’t matter either that all this government dependency is a direct result of their own policies going back for decades. 
As they spend more of your money that they don’t already have, they will keep finding ways to get more of that money, so that you have less and less of your own money and more and more people find the need for government assistance.  The new American dream: a government assisted life from the cradle to the grave.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Quinn's tax swap

Quinn's tax swap

Back in the early 90s when I had been out of work for a while, I got my property tax bill in the mail, and I realized the absurdity of the whole thing.  The value of a person’s property has little or no correlation to one’s ability to pay taxes on it.  About 2/3 of my property taxes were for schools, so I have been advocating since then for funding our schools through income taxes rather than through property taxes.
So I should have been pleased when Governor Quinn announced his plan to reduce property taxes while making the state’s temporary income tax permanent, all in the name of better funding public schools?
So why am I not enthused?  Actually I am angry with his proposal.  So what could be so wrong with it?
It is wrong for three reasons.
You have to ask the question: when this temporary tax hike was first proposed, did Governor Quinn and our other government leaders really believe that this would be temporary, that this temporary tax hike would do all that they were expecting it to do, that they had no real intention or hope of making it permanent?
The state had a backlog of $8.5 billion in unpaid bills when they proposed this tax (2011), and it had a backlog of $7.3 billion at the end of 2013.  So this new tax raised over $18 billion dollars, and they were only able to reduce the backlog of bills by about $1 billion.
I’m sorry, but I believe we were lied to.  We were betrayed by our elected leaders who only see money as a tool to be used by them to further their elected careers.  They spend money they don’ t have to buy political goodwill through all the ‘good’ they are doing, and then when the bills come due, they cry poor and make up baloney reasons to raise taxes.
I have some quotes about what we were told about this temporary tax hike, but I don’t have the original sources, so their value is diminished.  But they all emphasized the temporary nature of this tax hike to “pay our bills,” “pay off our debt,” and definitely “not to expand programs” or “do brand new things.”
So with all this current debt and backlog of bills, what does the Governor do?  He also recently proposed to fund early child education and to subsidize first time home mortgages. 
The state has no intention of paying off its bills.  Its goal is to create as much government dependency as possible, because this is the only way they are able to stay in office.  It is hoped that the voting base of those needing government assistance will permanently be larger than the base of those who don’t, so their political future will be secure.
Now I have actually written a plan about substituting, or swapping, property taxes for income taxes, and in my most recent version of it, I was quite willing to accept this permanent additional 2% income tax, but not this plan.  But I will get to that in reason three.
The second reason I reject this plan is that for everybody who makes over $25,000 a year, this is a permanent tax hike.  Quinn is offering a $500 rebate on property taxes, but this only offsets a person’s income taxes if they make less than this 25K a year. 
He is wording his proposal as a change in “the way Illinois schools are funded,” but in reality nothing is changing.  He is only adding to the backlog of bills he has to pay.  He already has the revenue from the 2% income tax, we still have $7.3 billion in unpaid bills, and now he wants to give every property owner a check for $500 as well?  So where is this money going to come from?  It will just put the state deeper in debt.  But he is hoping that property owners just see the $500, and since they already are paying the 2%, he hopes they figure they are coming out ahead.  It’s like the street hustler who has the three overturned cups, and you have to follow the pea to see which cup it is under.  It’s hard to keep track of the money trail.
The third reason.  In my proposal, which is on my blogsite poligion1.blogspot.com, I noted that the only way the income tax property tax swap will work is if the income tax revenue received for schools would be kept separate from general revenues.  But we learned a long time ago from the social security trust fund that politicians will never leave money lying around.  They will spend it with the promise of paying it back, which they never do.  Quinn’s plan throws all the money in one pot, so the ‘biggest’ bills get paid first, and property taxes will keep rising as the schools continue to get no help from the state.

So when all is said and done, the temporary tax becomes permanent, every property owner gets a bone, and schools are no better off than they were before.   The amount of that 2% tax will grow as your income grows, but that $500 rebate will stay the same for 15 years while the value of the dollar continues to shrink.  The goal is to get more tax money so they can spend it on things that buy them political capital.  And they think this will work.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Democrats and non-Democrats

Democrats and non-Democrats
A letter to a newspaper columnist

You are right in seeing the basic difference between Democrats and Republicans as centering on the issue of government, but then you seem to miss the subtleties of the rest of the distinctions.
I should add too that the divide isn’t really so much about Democrats and Republicans as it is about Democrats and non-Democrats.  Our political system pretty much limits the choices to two parties, so a lot of people are Republicans by default, like me.  This is why in the Presidential Republican primary last time there were Tea Partiers and Libertarians as well.
Democrats believe that government can and should solve every problem of society.  This can be done by making laws and spending money.  It doesn’t matter how much it costs, how or if they will pay for it, or how it affects everything or everybody else.
The stated goal is to help people; but when the doors are closed, I am sure it is acknowledged that they are trying to buy the votes of a particular demographic with government money, which is really taxpayer money.  But then they don’t actually have to have the money.  They can just borrow it, and then when the debt becomes an issue, they say the answer to the problem must be balanced.  Cuts alone won’t solve the problem.  So raise taxes and they will promise to cut spending, which, of course, they never do anyway.  Because they can’t think of one thing to cut or any way to reduce spending. 
But they can promise to reduce the rate of spending increases in the future, because they know they don‘t have to keep those promises.  By then, they can simply state that their promise was unrealistic, things have changed, and the debt is so bad that we need to have more revenuers.  Cuts alone will not solve our problems.  And the cycle is repeated.
The state of Illinois was $7.6 billion behind in paying its bills at the end of last year, and what does Governor Quinn do?  He proposes a new pre-kindergarten program for every child and a state subsidized mortgage program for first time home buyers with a $7500 forgivable loan.  These Democrats are so compassionate with other people’s money.  I only spend what I can afford, but they are not limited by my sense of responsibility.  They are only limited by their imagination and public gullibility, aided by a supportive press. 
But then there is another way they can achieve their goals.  They can make other people do what they want, like employers and insurance companies.  They frame the issue as a matter of rights, or fairness, and so we as a society have to do this thing because it is the only humane thing to do.  Rights used to be things that the government couldn’t stop you from doing or what they couldn’t do to you.  Now rights are things that a person is entitled to, that we as a society have to provide for that person, except when it comes to guns, of course.

Now Republicans have not always been immune from these practices, but Democrats have found their stride in the last ten years or so.  The Tea Party and the Libertarian Party are reactions to the Republican Party’s inability to respond to this mass bribery of the public.  Current election rules discourage third party candidates, because a candidate doesn’t need to have a majority vote to win an election.  If they did, the Republican Party would break apart very quickly.