Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The song is sang by two of my very favorite country artists, Brad Paisley and Sara Evans, and as is typical, they do a superb job.
The video is primarily excerpts from Mel Gibbson's Passion of the Christ. If you have not seen the movie, be mindful that some of the scenes in the movie and this video are very realistic of the crucifixion and may not be something that everyone may want to watch, although I personally think everyone should watch Mr. Gibbson's movie.
I heard it said that when the Pope was given a private screening of the movie, he reportedly said, "It is as it was." And indeed, it does follow the Word of the Lord as recorded in the Gospels.
May God bless all people this Holy Week!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Thursday this week is the celebration of Christ's last supper with his disciples and from where the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is given to us.
(From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2o.)
"19 Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'
20 He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.' "
This Friday is Good Friday and commemorates the day of the crucifixion of our Lord on the cross at Calvary so that all of mankind's' sins may be expiated, even my own many many sins.
This Saturday is the Easter Vigil and on this day we will welcome 43 new people that have spent the better part of the past year going through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) with classes every Tuesday, rites and retreats, in order that they could learn the Christian Catholic faith and partake of the sacraments of baptism (if not already baptised), confirmation, and first communion. It is a very beautiful and wonderful Mass that these people have journeyed towards for a long time now. Their faith journey this far in their lives has taught me much about my own journey.
And of course on Sunday is Easter when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; the Holiest day of the year and the culminating and apex event of the Christian world.
I did not want this week to be just like any other week, because it absolutely is not. So for this week, I will not direct my attentions away towards politics or other comparably frivolous matters, but rather will direct my heart, soul, and the prayers that come forth from them towards God during this holiest of weeks. I pray that all that read this will have a blessed week also during Holy Week.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The President of the United States
Takes Pleasure in Presenting
The Navy Cross
Brian R. Chontosh
First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps
For Services as Set Forth in the Following
For extraordinary heroism as Combined Anti-Armor Platoon Commander, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 25 March 2003. While leading his platoon north on Highway I toward Ad Diwaniyah, First Lieutenant Chontosh's platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades, and automatic weapons fire. With coalition tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone. He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, First Lieutenant Chontosh ordered the driver to advance directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy. He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, First Lieutenant Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack. When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, First Lieutenant Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers. When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Now doesn't such a hero warrant the media attention that has been wasted on Tiger Woods and Jesse James' sexual exploits as of late? Or have we as a nation truly lost touch of what is important and what constitutes a hero?
The salesman sat in the back seat describing the car and all its wonderful options.
The seats were of particular interest. He explained that the seats directed warm air to your butt in the winter and directed cool air to your butt in the summer heat.
I stated the car must be a Conservative car.
Looking a bit angry, he asked why I thought it was a Conservative car. I explained that if it were a liberal car, the seats would blow smoke up your ass year-round.
We had to walk back to the dealership...
We let congress do THIS instead of fix the actual problems with our health care system. Now we will all suffer the costs of this unless there is enough ground-swell of public support to repeal this monstrous law and replace it with something that actually addresses the problems we have with health care and its insurance.
1. You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)
2. You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).
3. You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).
4. Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).
5. You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).
6. You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).
7. Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d) (1) (A))
8. You are an employer in the small-group insurance market and you’d like to offer policies with deductibles higher than $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families? Tough. (Section 1302 (c) (2) (A).
9. If you are a large employer (defined as at least 101 employees) and you do not want to provide health insurance to your employee, then you will pay a $750 fine per employee (It could be $2,000 to $3,000 under the reconciliation changes). Think you know how to better spend that money? Tough. (Section 1513).
10. You are an employer who offers health flexible spending arrangements and your employees want to deduct more than $2,500 from their salaries for it? Sorry, can’t do that. (Section 9005 (i)).
11. If you are a physician and you don’t want the government looking over your shoulder? Tough. The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to use your claims data to issue you reports that measure the resources you use, provide information on the quality of care you provide, and compare the resources you use to those used by other physicians. Of course, this will all be just for informational purposes. It’s not like the government will ever use it to intervene in your practice and patients’ care. Of course not. (Section 3003 (i))
12. If you are a physician and you want to own your own hospital, you must be an owner and have a “Medicare provider agreement” by Feb. 1, 2010. (Dec. 31, 2010 in the reconciliation changes.) If you didn’t have those by then, you are out of luck. (Section 6001 (i) (1) (A))
13. If you are a physician owner and you want to expand your hospital? Well, you can’t (Section 6001 (i) (1) (B). Unless, it is located in a country where, over the last five years, population growth has been 150% of what it has been in the state (Section 6601 (i) (3) ( E)). And then you cannot increase your capacity by more than 200% (Section 6001 (i) (3) (C)).
14. You are a health insurer and you want to raise premiums to meet costs? Well, if that increase is deemed “unreasonable” by the Secretary of Health and Human Services it will be subject to review and can be denied. (Section 1003)
15. The government will extract a fee of $2.3 billion annually from the pharmaceutical industry. If you are a pharmaceutical company what you will pay depends on the ratio of the number of brand-name drugs you sell to the total number of brand-name drugs sold in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the brand-name drugs in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2.3 billion, or $230,000,000. (Under reconciliation, it starts at $2.55 billion, jumps to $3 billion in 2012, then to $3.5 billion in 2017 and $4.2 billion in 2018, before settling at $2.8 billion in 2019 (Section 1404)). Think you, as a pharmaceutical executive, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 9008 (b)).
16. The government will extract a fee of $2 billion annually from medical device makers. If you are a medical device maker what you will pay depends on your share of medical device sales in the U.S. So, if you sell 10% of the medical devices in the U.S., what you pay will be 10% multiplied by $2 billion, or $200,000,000. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for R&D? Tough. (Section 9009 (b)).
The reconciliation package turns that into a 2.9% excise tax for medical device makers. Think you, as a medical device maker, know how to better use that money, say for research and development? Tough. (Section 1405).
17. The government will extract a fee of $6.7 billion annually from insurance companies. If you are an insurer, what you will pay depends on your share of net premiums plus 200% of your administrative costs. So, if your net premiums and administrative costs are equal to 10% of the total, you will pay 10% of $6.7 billion, or $670,000,000. In the reconciliation bill, the fee will start at $8 billion in 2014, $11.3 billion in 2015, $1.9 billion in 2017, and $14.3 billion in 2018 (Section 1406).Think you, as an insurance executive, know how to better spend that money? Tough.(Section 9010 (b) (1) (A and B).)
18. If an insurance company board or its stockholders think the CEO is worth more than $500,000 in deferred compensation? Tough.(Section 9014).
19. You will have to pay an additional 0.5% payroll tax on any dollar you make over $250,000 if you file a joint return and $200,000 if you file an individual return. What? You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9015).
That amount will rise to a 3.8% tax if reconciliation passes. It will also apply to investment income, estates, and trusts. You think you know how to spend the money you earned better than the government? Like you need to ask. (Section 1402).
20. If you go for cosmetic surgery, you will pay an additional 5% tax on the cost of the procedure. Think you know how to spend that money you earned better than the government? Tough. (Section 9017).
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Many of those good people that naively voted for the man are now waking up to see exactly what President Obama meant by that. His idea of transformation was not to work in a bipartisan atmosphere and to salve the bitter wounds inflicted during the course of partisan law-making. He would only do that IF the conservative elements in congress would compromise by moving towards Obama's position on all things socialistic.
Obama did not lie when he said he wanted universal health care. This weekend's passage in the House of the illegal and liberty-usurping senate health care bill is the first step in that process. You see, this bill is not what Obama and the far left factions of the Democrat party truly wanted. This bill does not go far enough for many of them in achieving a completely government-run single payer universal health care system. Obama, as he candidly admitted years ago, would be patient though and work towards this end through incremental means.
Pelosi, Reid, and Obama know that this health care plan, if it miraculously passes Constitutional muster, (and there is NO legal way it can) will eventually bankrupt private insurance companies. In the end, the federal government will be the last insurer standing, since they do not have to make a profit, nor do they care about expenses. After all they can always raise taxes, borrow money from China, or simply just print more money. Being patient will pay off for these Marxists and the next step in their incremental takeover of our medical system will be at hand.
This bill was never about health care. It is about expanding government control over a huge part of the economy and the ability to dictate from a federal post how we are to run our lives. Make no mistake; as the rationing of services begins (as it inevitably must) the government will dictate to we the people which of our behaviours are unacceptable as being excessive burdens on the health care system.
Those that partake of tobacco, transfats, red meat, or any other politically incorrect item or behaviour will be taxed additionally or have their benefits further curtailed. Don't believe me?
It is already happening in some of the most liberal states in the union such as in New York City where transfats are now recently outlawed. Talks abound about a enacting a junk food or "Twinkie tax" in some jurisdictions back east.
It was only back in 1993 that we assumed federal health care would never be implemented as Hillary-care was sent packing. Fast forward 17 years and our worst Marxist nightmares are about to be possibly realized. Hopefully the Supreme Court of the United States and its lower courts will stick to the clear principles enumerated in the Constitution. The federal government nowhere within the Constitution is permitted to levy fines against people for failing to follow a law to purchase something against their will simply for the fact of being alive.
One of the other overlooked items to this monstrous health care bill is the fact that all student loans will be handled by the federal government only. Private loans for the purpose of college education are no more. This should scare the heck out of any freedom and truth loving person.
The federal government basically can now dictate to any university what and how it can teach history, science, sociology etc to fit with the government's agenda. If a university fails to do so, the government can restrict the amount of loans granted to students wishing to attend that university. What better way to indoctrinate our young so that the chances of throwing off this yoke on our freedoms is greatly reduced.
If you think this couldn't possibly come to fruition, just remember that many in this country as recently as a year ago couldn't fathom that they would be FORCED under the penalty of law to have to purchase health care insurance. Wake up my fellow citizens so that we can stop this evil transformation and begin to undo the excesses of our liberty-stealing socialistic friends.
Monday, March 22, 2010
The first most vital party that was essential to having passed this bill was the American people when they voted in President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid. Even though the public woke up late in the battle and strongly denounced the direction in which this socialist cabal was leading us, it was already too late. This is why elections are so important and the consequences of such can be quite dire, as we have just seen. Regardless now, I share my letter:
Dear Madam Speaker,
I congratulate you on your victory in passing the health care bill last night. I hope it is one you will savor as the price of this victory will be very costly indeed, and not just for you and your out-of-touch party but for the American people most of all. Let me assure you that your complete lack of morals and your willingness to bribe, intimidate, and threaten members of your own party to vote according to your will shall not go unanswered. I would recommend you move with alacrity for the remainder of this legislative year, because come this November the stain you have placed upon the title of Speaker of the House of Representatives will be removed. You cannot thwart the will of the majority of the American populace and expect no repercussions, even if you mistakenly think you are doing this for “our own good”. Needless to say, your attempts to “drain the swamp of congress” have been a farce.
I note with great dismay your statement from your victory speech last night claiming that this is something that our founding fathers would have wanted and of which they would be proud. Nothing could be further from the truth and any objective reading of historical documentation and actual letters from the founders support my argument. But then, this is something of which I suspect you also are quite well aware.
The great Frenchman that commented so eloquently after traveling and observing the expanses of our early nation, Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” You, Madam Speaker, have contributed to the expanse of the latter rather than the former with the passage of this bill.
I don’t for a minute believe that you are not intelligent enough to realize the ramifications of what you and your Democrat conspirators have accomplished here. You intentionally partook in accounting gimmicks and games, such as double-counting the half trillion dollar cut from Medicare to shore up spending elsewhere. Your provisions were so pernicious towards insurance companies competing in the free market system that eventually, they will go broke and become as insolvent as your own state of California. All the while, the costs to the middle class will absolutely be impacted quite negatively. The end game, of course, will be that the government will be the only remaining provider of health care insurance, as per your plan.
Having not ever been elected to congress myself, I am not a wealthy man, but this I promise you, ma’am. I will work via writing, supporting, and contributing to any candidate that has the integrity to run against you while actually promising to support the Constitution you so cavalierly dismissed with this heinous bill. Yours and your party’s desire to create entitlements with which to further enslave the citizens of this nation through dependency upon the federal government is egregious in the extreme. Such measures only serve to weaken our liberties and sap the very dignity of the human spirit as many Americans fall into this trap you have set to rob them of their own rugged individualism and self reliance.
The great economist F.A. Hayek said it far better than I could when he said, “Independence of mind or strength of character is rarely found among those who cannot be confident that they will make their way by their own effort.” You have essentially robbed many Americans for future generations of the honor and dignity that comes from being self-reliant. And all of this while exempting your own self from the very laws you have deemed vital to pass for us, not unlike a Soviet era politburo.
So again, in closing, I offer you my congratulations to you for your victory in this hard-fought battle. You have triumphed over the will of the American people in this first round clash. Let me assure you that the real battle is about to be enjoined and the outcome of the war of Marxism versus Liberty will be found in a victory for Americans and their liberties, while you and the remnants of your party will sit irrelevantly on the sidelines for the next generation due to your audacity in your complete disregard for the Constitution, States Rights, and the will of the American People!
The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."
-- Author Unknown
Sunday, March 21, 2010
We're trying to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it;
passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it;
to be signed by a president that also is exempt from it and hasn't read it and who smokes;
with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes;
all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese;
financed by a country that's broke!
What the hell could possibly go wrong?
Friday, March 19, 2010
It is funny how one's perspective changes. When I was young and single, I would have laughed at some of these lines. Now as I get older and see what truly is important in my life, I find these lines to be quite true. Perhaps I am getting maybe just a little bit wiser as I age. :)
The strength of a man isn't seen in the width of his shoulders.
It's seen in the width of his arms that circle you.
The strength of a man isn't in how many buddies he has.
It's how good of a buddy he is with his kids.
The strength of a man isn't in how respected he is at work.
It's how respected he is at home.
The strength of a man isn't in how hard he hits.
It's is how tender he touches.
The strength of a man isn't in the hair on his chest.
It's in his heart that lies within his chest.
The strength of a man isn't in how many women he's loved.
It's in how he can be true to one woman.
I find it absolutely amazing that the Democrats plan to vote, likely through pernicious means, to pass this illegal and liberty-stealing health care bill on a Sunday during lent before they adjourn congress and let the representatives return home. You see, Nancy is afraid that some of the Democrats that are uncertain about this bill will wobble and vote against this if they go back to their home districts and get an ear full from their constituents prior to the actual vote.
Heck, even President Obama cancelled his trip to Indonesia and Australia in order that he could be on hand to sign this bill, should Pelosi be able to bribe or intimidate two more members of the House on the Democratic side of the aisle to see the immense illogic of her side of the debate.
That's right. As of this morning, the Democrats are two votes away from fundamentally changing America for the worse, assuming everyone else stays the course with their stated voting intentions.
Should this bill become law, it will doom America from a fiscal standpoint within a decade. The accounting tricks within the bill that claim it will "save" us money is a lie. There are multiple incidents such as the 1/2 trillion dollar cut in Medicare payments being counted twice in the bill to try and make this thing show a positive net impact on the deficit when the Congressional Budget Office scored the bill.
This bill is monumental in its scope. It passing will be along the lines of other history changing events in this nation such as the firing on Fort Sumter, the passing of the New Deal, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the terrorist attacks of September 11th. This bill will fundamentally change our health care system in America for the worse. It will ultimately bankrupt private insurance companies, decrease the amount of doctors in America, and by default put our nation's health care (1/6 of our entire economy) under the eventual control of the federal government.
Think about that for a minute.
All of the points and counter-points have been argued ad nauseum. The truth is known by a majority of the American people, hence the public support for killing this bill. Pelosi, Reid, and Obama insist on ignoring the will of the people though.
This may be your last chance to tell your congressman and senators to NOT allow this bill to become law.
I strongly urge you to call the congressional switch board and ask to speak to your congressman today before it is too late. (202) 224-3121
You can find your congressman and senators information below:
United States House of Representatives
United States Senators
I fervently pray to God that two more votes are not to be had in support of this liberty stealing bill. We should know on the Sabbath.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
1.) First and perhaps most importantly, their plan is UN-CONSTITUTIONAL! The federal government has no legal authority to require that citizens purchase health insurance or be faced with fines or possible prison. If this bill becomes law, I guarantee that this will be the first court challenge brought up against this travesty of a plan.
2.) Second, the plan WILL add to the debt. The "savings" the Democrats tout in their bill is nothing more than a dishonest accounting scheme. They show taxation for the first 14 years to pay for the first ten years of coverage. What about the other remaining four years of coverage that the people will not receive right away?
3.) With the government determining what doctors can charge etc. the net effect will be to add so many disincentives that fewer people will become doctors and existing doctors will retire from the profession. If they are unable to repay medical school bills and make a comfortable living that most doctors currently can, the net result will be less doctors.
4.) The supposed reasoning for this plan is to add the currently un-insured 31 million Americans to health care insurance. (That 31 million seems to be an ever-changing number, by the way). The problem is that many of those 31 million people don't have insurance because they choose not to have it. Young kids in college etc would rather spend their money on beer or ipod downloads then on health insurance. I know that was my mindset at that age.
5.) When taking the facts from items three and four above, simple supply and demand economics shows that this creates a huge problem. When you have 31 million more people added to the existing health care rolls and you have significantly less amount of doctors available to treat them, this would logically suggest the following: More patients to be seen by less doctors equals rationing of medical care.
6.) With the rationing of medical care now established as a future fact, who is likely to suffer the most from this rationing? In an attempt to maintain costs with finite resources available, it would seem reasonable that those that are least able to contribute to the tax base will receive less care. In other words, the elderly will suffer the most. President Obama, in a rare moment of candor, even intimated this himself awhile back. Recall when he said that if an elderly patient needed a surgery to alleviate pain or improve mobility, that perhaps pain medication to help deal with the problem would be a better and more cost-reasonable way to deal with the problem.
7.) This leads to the next problem. The federal government will thus have sway over who gets this rationed care. Those that smoke, partake of trans-fats in their food, or intentionally lead a sedentary lifestyle might receive less coverage so as to "incentivize" people to live a healthy lifestyle, thereby reducing costs. In effect the government will have a say in how you live on a day to day basis. You had better live a healthy lifestyle or your health care may be decreased accordingly.
8.) If this health care plan is so good, why is that congress continuously exempts themselves from the dictates of the plan? To date, multiple amendments have been offered by the GOP to ensure that any bill passed would also apply to all members of congress. Each time the amendment has been shot down in committee, typically by a party-line vote.
9.) This plan does nothing to reduce costs. It will add billions to trillions of dollars to the national debt. Even Democrat Senator Dick Durbin has had a momentary lapse and said recently that this is so. I am sure he has since been properly chastised for speaking the truth.
10.) This plan was supposed to be debated in public and on C-Span, as per Obama's statement on eight different occasions. It was supposed to be a transparent debate that the public could watch and thus have input. Instead, we have seen nothing but closed door committee meetings where the senate and house bribe waffling members with billions of dollars in earmarks for their affirmative vote for the plan, thereby further adding to the cost of our health care. Even Speaker of the House Pelosi had the audacity to say this week that "...[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Why the secrecy, if this bill is so danged good?
Friday, March 12, 2010
Hannity nailed it on every issue last night, particularly with Nancy Pelosi's hypocrisy in not taking steps to discipline Congressman Massa when she first learned of his indiscretions back in October of last year. The problem is that she chastised the GOP for having known about Congressman Mark Foley's similar issues when they were in power back in 2006. She was right back then but seems to have forgotten her moral way when she is the Speaker. Go figure...
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Farmer Knows Best
The dark side of going green.
BY Blake Hurst
February 8, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 20
Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture and an organic and sustainable food expert, has announced an initiative entitled “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” Sixty-five million dollars will be spent “to begin a national conversation to help develop local and regional food systems.”
America, it seems, has been operating at a knowledge deficit when it comes to farmers, and farmers lack the social skills to close the gap between eaters and producers of food. Still, one can only imagine what a Know Your Farmer program designed by government will involve. As I survey the farmers living around me, it’s clear we need some sort of sensitivity training, memberships at the local gym, nose hair trimmers, and a new barber. Most of us have been farming for decades (the average American farmer is 58) and are working land that has been owned by family members for generations. Yet any quick perusal of the current literature about agriculture would indicate that our days of farming are numbered. In the current jargon: We are not sustainable.
Local food is seen as a good thing because it travels a short distance from farm to consumer. This cuts the production of greenhouse gases, is presumed to guarantee freshness, and connects consumers with “their” farmer. “Food miles,” the number of miles food travels to your table, has become an important metric, and marketers are trumpeting their allegiance to local producers.
This is mostly harmless, and farmers will benefit if they can capture some slightly larger percentage of the food dollar by selling at the farm gate or through a local USDA-subsidized farmer’s market. I love showing people my farm, will talk with anybody about agriculture, and am more than willing to “know” my consumer. Even so, I imagine the experience will be a letdown for her. I’m sure to disagree with most of the views a typical Whole Foods/farmers’ market customer holds about what they eat. The opportunities for confrontation are legion, and maybe some of that $65 million should be set aside for arbitration as foodies find out what “their” farmers actually believe about food production.
In an important article in PERC Reports, published by the Property and Environment Research Center, Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu demonstrate that the concept of “food miles” ignores the advantages that fertile land and agreeable climate give some producers. If my corn yield is 200 bushels an acre, while farmers in Tennessee achieve half that yield from comparable inputs, then I can afford to ship my crop a greater distance.
The PERC authors use the example of strawberries grown in California, where the climate is near perfect for the crop, and strawberries grown in Canada in greenhouses that must be heated in winter. In December, strawberries from California can be shipped to market in Canada with less total energy use than the locally grown crop. The food miles are greater, but the carbon footprint is smaller. True believers in the local food movement, of course, simply stop eating strawberries in winter. Their devotion is admirable, but a winter diet of freshly dug turnips and stored potatoes is hardly interesting. If we concentrate production of each crop in the areas best suited for it, we’ll leave more acres for trees, recreation, and other environmental goods. There are perfectly defensible reasons both for shopping locally and for dispersing production, but protecting the environment isn’t one of them.
Local food isn’t always fresher, either. The cooperatives that collect, process, and distribute milk schedule pickups according to the size of the dairy. Driving a truck from the plant to the farm is expensive, so large dairies’ milk is picked up daily, while smaller dairies may only see the milk truck a couple of times a week. Here in Missouri, milk reaches the store more quickly from the large dairies in the Southwestern states than it does from small local dairies. If Missouri consumers want to support local dairies, and I hope they do, their milk won’t always be as fresh as milk that has traveled farther. As Desrochers and Shimizu point out, most food miles are clocked on the trip home from the supermarket. That truck delivering milk holds thousands of gallons. Most consumers buy one gallon at a time. The five-mile trip home from the supermarket is the most carbon-intensive trip your morning’s milk will make.
Our family is enjoying the last of a side of beef we bought from a local farmer. He raised the cow on his small farm, took it to a small meat processing plant, and delivered the meat to our door. We had a nice visit, farmer to farmer, family to family. The beef is tender, cut the way we like it, and we were pleased to support a local grower. The food miles traveled by our beef were minimal. In fact, the carbon footprint of that heifer was about as small as could be, since she was fattened on corn. That’s right, corn-fed cows emit about half the greenhouse gases cattle fattened on grass emit, because corn is a more concentrated feed than grass, the cattle reach market weight faster, and less land is used per pound of food produced. If carbon footprint is your guide, better to buy beef fattened in one of those feedlots in Western Kansas and shipped cross country to your grocery store than to purchase locally raised grass-fed beef. Then again, it’s probably a given that people truly concerned about energy use and environmental costs have already excised beef from their diet. I appreciate their dedication, envy their self-control, and wish them a long life. A life without beef will seem very long, indeed.
Sixty-five million dollars isn’t much these days, a mere drop in the ocean of stimulus bills and health care reform. It’s not even much compared with the subsidies we traditional farmers receive, and it would be hypocritical to begrudge the local and sustainable movement its chance at rent seeking from Washington, a game that farmers have played successfully for years. If the only reason for the program were to encourage small farmers as a bit of social engineering, then few would object. The damage done here, however, is to truth. The program will not reach its environmental goals. It will only help certain consumers feel good about themselves.
Implicit in the argument about local production is the assumption of market failure. People worried about food miles want to control the energy expended to bring them food, but they value not at all the land necessary to produce it or the farmer’s labor to grow it and get it to market. To make food more local is to replace technology with more farmers and more land. Petroleum, it is assumed, will soon run out, but labor and land are cheap and easily increased. Sustainability advocates believe the costs of alleged global warming and other environmental damage from conventional agriculture are greater than the present economic contribution of all the prospective farmers who will leave their occupations and move to small, local, sustainable farms. Not only that, but they fail to account for the additional acres of land needed for the new farms.
Are these assumptions true? It may be that productive land and human capital will become ever more dear, while we continue to find new ways to improve our energy supplies. Organic advocates like Merrigan spend a lot of time asking for more labeling, telling the consumer where food was produced, how it was produced, what it might contain, and even who produced it. But all food already has a label that serves as a pretty good proxy for the resources used in its production. It’s called the price.
Blake Hurst is a farmer in Missouri.
In her typical arrogant fashion, Speaker Pelosi told the people assembled there that "...[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."
Monday, March 8, 2010
Now 5% is not much, but it is a least a good start. With congressional approval ratings now at 14% and their disapproval amongst the American populace being at 80%, it definitely would not hurt things for them to at least go through the motions of showing some solidarity with we the people during this tough fiscal time period.Odds of this passing are realistically not very good, which further will bode ill for congress. To Congresswoman Kirkpatrick's credit, she has stated that regardless of the fate of her bill, she will voluntarily take the 5% pay cut anyway. She further has stated that despite several attempts to enact a congressional pay cut in the past, the last time this was actually done successfully was way back in 1933.
She claims that she does have a fair amount of bi-partisan backing for her bill so far. Now whether our fiscally irresponsible Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will actually schedule this bill for a vote remains to be seen. In times of trillion dollar deficits and $74 trillion dollar national debt, this is little more than window-dressing for sure. But at least one Democratic Congresswoman cares enough to make the attempt. Kudos to you, Congresswoman Kirkpatrick, for this likely futile endeavor!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
What is at stake here is whether private citizens have the right to own and possess handguns when a city passes laws to the contrary. Mr. McDonald is a Chicago resident and lives, shall we say, in the decidedly more dangerous south side of the city. He wants to exercise his second amendment right to keep and bear arms so that he may defend his own personal safety. The City of Chicago says he does not have this right, and unfortunately the 7th Circuit Court wrongly ruled with the City of Chicago on this case. The case has accordingly been appealed and now heard by the Supreme Court.
After oral arguments last Tuesday, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox commented:
“We are optimistic the Court will hold that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment and that handgun bans, like those in the City of Chicago and the Village of Oak Park, are unconstitutional under any standard of judicial review. This view is shared by a bipartisan group of 309 members of Congress from both chambers, 38 state attorneys general and the majority of the American people. We look forward to the decision from the Court later this Term.”
Friday, March 5, 2010
There are two great articles on Blonde Sagacity that do a far better job than I could with the details. See here and here for the specifics of how three of our SEALs are being court martialed for trumped up charges, and also regarding the arrest of Lt. Michael Behenna for shooting a captured al Qaida terrorist that tried to take his weapon away. Evidently evidence on behalf of Lt. Behenna was not allowed to be introduced at this trial. The evidence clearly shows that the killing of this terrorist was in self defense.
Finally, Governor Palin summed up my feelings on the subject with her latest Facebook posting, which I have re-printed below:
Today at 12:50pm
First the Obama Administration opened up the possibility of prosecuting CIA interrogators doing their jobs seeking information from terrorists. Then they tried to go after the Bush Administration lawyers who acted in good faith to protect us in the months after 9/11. Now some of the military brass are court-martialing three brave Navy SEALs for allegedly throwing a single punch at Iraqi terrorist leader Ahmed Hashim Abed. This is wrong. The Washington Times got it right: Save the SEALs.
These brave warriors belong in combat, not in the courthouse. They captured the most wanted terrorist in Iraq. We may never know how many other heroic missions they undertook on behalf of our country. The charges should be dropped, and they should be returned to their unit – with our gratitude for their service.
Stand up for the SEALs who are standing up for us!
- Sarah Palin
Let's hope this current trend of protecting our enemies and prosecuting those sacrificing for us comes to an end with these two travesties of justice!
The funny thing is that if the people espousing this nonsense would actually look at history and the incontrovertible evidence, they would not continue on this ridiculous debate. Heck, if anthropogenic global warming had that much evidence, then Gore would finally be right and the debate would indeed be over.
That aside, I read another interesting quotation from Alexis de Tocqueville acknowledging our Christian founding as a nation. I thought I would share part of the text, including his quote, that comes from the CEO of the Presidential Prayer Team. (Yes, I have been a member for years and pray often for Obama. He seems to need prayers even more than President Bush and Clinton did.)
Anyway, the text:
One of my favorite things to do is read what the Founding Fathers and their contemporaries thought and had to say when our nation was being born.
A French dignitary, Alexis de Tocqueville, is one such figure. His tour of America in 1831-1833 to research our prisons and justice system had a lasting effect on him, causing him to write his hallmark Democracy in America. For a child raised in the politically tumultuous country of revolutionary France, this expansive volume was the result of his fascination with our government and its founding.
His research and observations uncovered many things about our young country, not the least of which was his realization that a belief in God played a very critical role in its birth. "The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds," he wrote, "that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other."
Yet Alexis also had a warning:
"Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity? "
As you read more about Our Nation's Godly Heritage , will you consider what focus should be made as we continue to move through history as a nation?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
I had the rare privilege of seeing this incredibly inspirational man perform for me and a lot of my fellow parishioners at our church last fall. The spirit this man exudes and his talent displayed in his music that he so willingly shares with others is truly amazing and a testament to his faith.
He could easily have played the victim in his life. Instead he chose to overcome his disabilities and be an inspiration to others because of his perseverance to live a normal life. By doing so, he seems to be living a blessed life in many ways. I know I felt blessed that I was able to see this man perform live. It was indeed an uplifting experience.
You can learn more about Tony Melendez from his web site:
Sometimes Bill O'Reilly annoys me. Sometimes he is rather insightful. I think he nails it just right on this one.
Farrakhan, Wright, etc have a Constitutional right to their freedom of speech, but why don't we hear more people denouncing this racism from them? Racism is an ugly thing regardless of the source and it is sad to see 20,000 people of any color gathering to listen to this vitriol and hate.
Although I vehmently disagree with President Obama on many issues, I do not want anything bad to befall him. Often I do pray for him. (Particularly for a conversion in his heart to our founding principles of freedom and capitalism!)
I have to assume that most people, including those not of color feel the same way.
As O'Reilly stated, this must be so as President Obama won office with 53% of the vote. My not voting for Obama had nothing to do with his skin color and everything to do with his stances on issues and his philosophies of governing. That being said I sincerely hope he is safe and able to do good in his remaining three years in office.
Now this is bad, and yet I couldn't stop laughing. Considering my youngest daughter, who just turned 18, loves scary movies, I wonder if my doing somthing like this would make her switch to a different genre of movie at the top of her favorite list! :)
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
It is bad enough when a family is forced to go into bankruptcy for whatever reason. It will be exceptionally painful for the United States and the entire world if we allow our nation to also continue down this path ultimately leading to this destination. The world will not easily recover from its greatest producer and consumer going into bankruptcy.
We the people must insist that the government refrain from all but the most absolutely necessary Constitutionally-authorized spending for the indefinite future. It will likely take generations to fix the hole we have dug; however, this is only logical considering that it has taken a like amount of generations to have placed us in this desperate spot we currently find ourselves.
We MUST stop growing government and allow private enterprise to grow again and thus to return to the robust engine of our economy. Government does far more to siphon money from productive means and services and often times ends up exacerbating the problems it is presumably trying to fix. I give you the Department of Education and the Department of Energy as two prime examples of government largess that has taken vitally important issues, concocted federalized solutions with untold billions of tax payer dollars, and then ended up with poor educational results and an even greater dependency upon foreign sources of energy respectively.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the growth in state and local government employees since 1946 has increased from 3.3 million then to 19.8 million today. This is a 492 percent increase as the country’s population increased by only 115 percent. Since 1999 the number of state and local government employees has increased by 13 percent, compared to a 9 percent increase in the population.
The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. In 1947, 78 percent of the national income went to the private sector, 16 percent to the federal sector, and 6 percent to the state and local government sector. Now 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments. The trend lines are ominous and absolutely unsustainable. We cannot continue to grow government jobs as our primary source of employment for Americans.
I heard Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas’ 5th district say this morning on the news that as of today it would take a 60% increase in taxes to just balance the current Obama budget so that expenditures equal income. This does NOTHING to pay off the $74 TRILLION in debt we currently hold as a nation right now. This simply means that we are paying for what we are buying with this 60% tax increase. How in the world do we fix this problem?
First, we do NOT continue to spend money we do not have. Second, we make painful and drastic cuts across the board in all government departments and agencies, say anywhere from 10 to 20% cuts. Further, we eliminate those departments that are not necessary and are actually counter-productive to their intended goals, like the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. These are issues that are typically better handled on the state and local level anyway, particularly when it comes to education.
The bottom line is that if we don’t stop this spending now, our children for generations on down the line will suffer for our reluctance to address the problem. Adding socialized health care, cap & spend energy policies, and bailouts & nationalization of private industry will only get us to the edge of that cliff sooner.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I was doing some chores in the garage and happened to notice the beauty of this one the other day. Rather than to try and run inside and find the digital camera and a memory card with space on it, I just used my cell phone camera. What you see is the blurry results.
Hopefully you can still get a sense of the beauty and magnificence of the colors. The picture is taken at the end of my driveway looking west (duh!) down the cul de sac and towards the snow-capped Ochre Mountain range. This one was indeed incredible.
My home state of Oregon always used to have some beautiful sunsets too. As a matter of fact, it used to be called the sunset state until they decided to change it a long time ago to the beaver state. Oh well... I guess it could have been worse and been changed to the "duck" state.
Anyway, forgive my stream of consciousness writing as I just wanted to share this blurry picture and say that I hope all of you have had similarly beautiful endings to your days lately!