Monday, June 30, 2014
There is some pro-life celebration today over the perceived "victory" in the Supreme Court case concerning the conscience exemption Hobby Lobby claimed they had which prevents them from paying for insurance coverage of contraception and other "women's services" for their employees.
In a bizarre opinion, the judges basically agreed that Hobby Lobby was exempt but almost nobody else is. This flies in the face of the "equal protection under the law" tenet. Also, it is a farce. Let us assume that Hobby Lobby is able to design a health insurance program through their carrier which specifically does not provide contraception or abortion for their women employees. Do they really believe that their money will not support such evils at the other companies that the carrier covers? Do they really believe that the federal government will not craft a backdoor avenue for their employees to get these "services" through taxes?
Furthermore, the rest of us are still trapped in this evil. We must all drop our health insurance now! We must all kill the beast with non-participation. Our monies will continue to flow into this human atrocity as long as we pay premiums. Our Lord will ask us on the last day if we loved Him. How will our actions answer that question?
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
A friend of mine recently found himself with a $1,200.00 car repair bill. He was unhappy for the obvious reason that nobody likes an unexpected and budget busting car repair. "How can that part cost $1,200.00?", he asked me in frustration. To answer that question simply, it doesn't. To go into a deeper understanding of how things get value, we need to talk about all of the people who through the creation, delivery and installation of that part, worked and had a hand in the fact that that part is now on his vehicle and his vehicle is now completely functional to him as he goes about on essential errands. Just to name a few of the folks who brought that part into being we would have to consider the miner who dug up the ore from which the metal came, the team of workers at the foundry where the metal was refined, the factory in which the metal was turned into the important automotive part. Consider that even those front line occupations in this chain of production were dependent on a million other occupations that created the machines they used and factories where they worked. Each little bit of human labor, of which it would be impossible to completely list, which includes the mechanic at the shop who installed it and is the last worker in this long chain, is where that part derived it's value. I am amazed that it only cost $1,200.00.
Our common problem is that we consider each trade we make in the context of a gain or a loss to ourselves. Formerly, my car was running fine; now it isn't and I must pay a lot of money to get back what I once had, a functional car. To me, this is a loss and I am unhappy. In truth, it is neither a gain or a loss. It is a physical fact that the parts on our cars wear out with much use. While I was enjoying the benefits of driving that car for over 100,000 miles I was "spending" the human value of the original part. Once it inevitably broke, after doing me much service, I should have no complaint in buying more usefulness in a second part, which was brought to me by more human labor. Thus, everything comes out even. If I fret and fume at my bad luck then I am truly an ingrate and our Lord will not be happy with me. This is the amazing reality of the world God has created. What we do when we work and spend is to live out the second greatest commandment; To love each other as ourselves. We must understand that we are a part of a much bigger human world than just ourselves.
Every transaction comes out even, exactly even. There is a spiritual aspect of a trade as well as the physical one. Our good God is the God of perfect justice. He insures that in every human action fairness is accomplished. If we are unknowingly cheated, God gives us spiritual "credit". This is why Paul wrote that charity covers a multitude of sins. If we knowingly come out ahead of another on a trade, we have just done ourselves spiritual damage because God knows exactly whom you cheated, all of them and loves them all. Remember the beatitudes, with Christ advising us to carry the load an extra mile, or to give away our shirt as well when our coat is demanded? This is what He is talking about. When we trade with another, we should strive to give exactly as much value as we receive and if there is any error, we should error in the other's favor. To do that would be to love. If we learn that we have been cheated, do not demand correction but rather pray for the soul of the offender. This accords with our petition in the Lord's prayer to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us. If you receive lousy service in a restaurant, do not complain but simply pay what you owe and find another restaurant next time. You would certainly do well to politely let the manager know your complaints, but do not demand recompense.
When you work, work hard, work well and produce something good. While it is true that defrauding a laborer of his just wages is one of the sins crying to heaven for vengeance, the reciprocal relationship is equally serious. We must be diligent in not cheating our employers, for if we do, we also cheat everyone down the line who buys the products of our company. Always do for your employer what you would have them do for you. Do not abuse the equipment you use or use excessive resources. Never call in sick when you are not sick. If you believe yourself to be underpaid, work harder, for God will reward your honor. Warning, if you are under-employed, that is, you truly have little or nothing to do, resign immediately. The money you take for under-employment will be spiritual poison. This is the saddest part of our welfare system and why those who become accustomed to receiving welfare find it so hard to get off. It kills their sense of duty to others and encourages self-pity.
Once you contemplate the element of human labor in everything of human value and strive to fairness in your trades then suddenly "things" don't cost as much as you once thought. If you always offer to God any material loss, then you are storing your treasures in heaven where thief cannot steal, moth eat or rust ruin. What you will receive in the end will be much more than simply a fair trade.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Everyone has the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all know that basic fact. However, basically living in a country and being a citizen of that country are different things. Citizenship requires a reciprocal allegiance, the citizen defends the country and the rights of the people therein and the government reciprocates in the same manner. We already recognize a separate human status within our borders, that of a legal immigrant. Such a person would be here for business or pleasure, would enjoy the ability to travel throughout our country, work, provide shelter for himself, would have the standard protections under the law such as those enumerated by the Bill of Rights, pay taxes, etc. However, such a person would not have the right to vote or serve in responsible positions of government. That is the status that the illegal immigrants should hold once they are granted amnesty, not that of full citizens.
The people of the United States really need to revamp whole parts of our governance and the rights and privileges of citizens should be one of the first areas we focus on. A citizen should be anyone who has attained the age of 18, who has satisfied requirements of education and who has formally taken the Oath of Citizenship. As a citizen he would have certain rights and privileges that a non-citizen would not, such as the right to vote, the right to own real property situated within the United States, the right to own stock in United States corporations valued above $5,000.00, the right to hold political office, the right to serve in the military as an officer, the right to be a judge and the right to serve on juries. A non-citizen would be everyone else who is within our borders and who conducts their affairs in harmony with the civil order. Such a person would enjoy the full protections of the law a citizen would concerning his person and property. He would have the right to work, the right to contract for shelter, the right to private personal property, the right to travel and to hold a driver's license, the right of trade, the right to voice his opinions and concerns in the public arena, the right to operate a business; in short, the right to live.
Our tax laws are a mess. We all know this and we must change this injustice. One of the central arguments against the "undocumented" worker is that they fall through the tax collection cracks and do not pay their share of the taxes. On top of that they collect a disproportionate share of the welfare monies. Our failure to create a just system is not sufficient reason to lock them into destitution and desperation. Our tax system should be changed to a consumption based, anonymous one. A sales tax on end consumer items, split between the state wherein the sale happened and the federal government, would insure that everyone paid their share without anyone needing to file any papers with anyone. The income tax must be abolished. In addition to that, the War on Poverty can be labeled as a complete failure and these welfare programs must be ended. Everyone within a country must pull their weight, to the best of their ability, citizens and immigrants together. The creation of a welfare system has only created the "under privileged" class who remain as such as if being under privileged was a permanent physical birth defect. Our people deserve better, they deserve work and skills. They deserve to keep the rewards of their labors. Such skilled workers facilitate economic action which raises the human condition. Another consequence of ending the welfare handout would be to insure those immigrants who do cross the border into the United States would be the ones who have come to produce and not merely to take. Charity is the greatest of the virtues, however it only works for good when the giver gives of his own heart, never when he gives by taking goods away from another by force. As we have learned the hard way since the administration of Lyndon Johnson, such false, coerced charity only makes things worse and it kills the economic engine.
Every human is created in the image of God. When we help the least of our brethren, we help our Lord Jesus Christ personally. When we recognize our responsibility to those who were forced to leave their native land, seeking a better way of life, we are truly acting as the good stewards of this great country of which we find ourselves responsible and hope to hand to others down the line in a better condition than it was given to us. May we live up to our reputation as being the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.