Friday, February 20, 2009

SoJournours Wants to Take on the Sheriff

I get activist updates from various leftist organizations. SoJo has to be my hands-down favorite (although Americans United is often funnier). I like to take their "suggested letters" and make my own unique voice heard. Here's a link to their latest efforts decrying the sheriff of Maricopa County AZ for his enforcement of our border laws. Now...here's my letter:

Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder,

As a person of faith, I am very impressed by the law
enforcement tactics used on a regular basis by Sheriff Joe
Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. In his search for
undocumented immigrants, he has honored the rights of legal U.S.
residents. Numerous accounts from eyewitnesses and media reports
show an unfailing diligence on the part of Sheriff Arpaio and
his deputies in keeping our border secure, thus protecting the
legal citizenry's (both natural born and legal immigrant) civil rights.

Arpaio calls himself "America's toughest sheriff"; however, his
practices of actually enforcing the law make him one of the
kindest and most compassionate law-officers to those who are
law-abiding citizens. As a result of his rigorous enforcement of
our legal code, his county has more than 40,000 outstanding
felony warrants. These are people that might slip back and forth
over our borders were he not diligent in tracking them down.

I believe that the 287(g) partnership between Maricopa County
and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should be emulated
in all border areas, and any federal funding for Arpaio's
operations increased across the board. I also believe the
Department of Justice should launch an initiative to make his
successful border security programs available to all
law-enforcement entities across the border with Mexico.


Sincerely,

Chris Larimer
XXX Xxxxxx Ave
Xxxxxxx, XX XXXXX

Bar-room Economics

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

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

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers", he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

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

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

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

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

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

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why I'm not in the PCUSA


Some people still don't understand why I set aside over a decade of preparation for ministry and official status in the high-paying PCUSA. It is fundamentally this: the PCUSA refuses to provide basic care to the people in the pew, especially when it comes to giving pulpits to false-shepherds who actively undermine the confidence God's people should have in God's Word. While I should have seen it long before I did, it took the flagrant scorn towards the Scriptures evidenced by an ordained clergyman in my (now former) presbytery of care to show me that even the best presbyteries were unwilling to do anything about the spreading cancer.

I am so sick and tired of these people pretending to have some sort of humility while also standing up, shaking their fists at the heavens and saying: "My God wouldn't do X or Y or Z like the God of the Old Testament does, so obviously the Bible is wrong!!!"

The best part is when these pretenders to the pastorate claim that an orthodox view of Scriptures is - at best - juvenile and naive. Of course, it doesn't take long for them to jump on the "okay...it's just a white male heterosexualist power trip in disguise, you meanie!"


To them, I'll say this: I've been deeply wounded by the words of Scripture. But those wounds were for my good. My pride has been pommeled. My lust has been lambasted. My sloth has been slapped. My avarice assailed and my gluttony gored. My wrath routed and my envy immolated.

Yes...Scripture hurts us. Scripture wounds people.

If it didn't, we couldn't be healed.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

iMonk on aspects of our traditions

Internet Monk has a great new segment called Liturgical Gangstas (featuring pastors from different traditions, including Eastern Orthodox, Southern Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.) and has them dialogue on a common question. This week's post is about strengths in the tradition that people miss, and weaknesses in the tradition that are easy to overlook.

It's a good read. And if you don't read it, Dr. Stephen Colbert may put you on notice.