I came across this graphic on Facebook today. It struck me, as the concept has struck me for decades, that this should be part of any truly progressive agenda. I have been an “ordained minister” since the late sixties. I have performed approximately 50 weddings, which was the main reason I became “ordained.” It wasn’t to lead a congregation or even to claim tax breaks, and I claim no special relationship with the universe. In fact, I am an atheist.
One thing I learned early on, though, is the State considers a church a business, an organization, with the lone exception (that I can think of) of taxation. By not taxing religious organizations the State is giving them an unfair advantage over any other type of business and is, in my less-than-humble opinion, violating the 1st Amendment to the Constitution by—in fact—making a law respecting an establishment of religion.
Even more egregious is the situation depicted here. Mega churches are nothing more than income sources for their “leaders.” I believe this is Joel Osteen’s “flock,” as well as his home. Why does a follower of Jesus, a poor itinerant, and one who purports to be a spiritual leader, need a house that could probably accommodate the entire village of ancient Bethlehem? If nothing else, these huge and “Osteen”tacious abominations should pay their fair share of taxes on the revenue they get from their “flock.”
Leave a comment | tags: 1st Amendment, Church, fairness, Joel Osteen, megachurch, Religion, spirituality, taxation, taxes, worship | posted in Economics, Government & Civics, Leadership, News & Politics, Politics, Spiritual
The Republican Party has essentially dropped all pretenses of being representatives of the people. They are, with this execrable tax bill, thumbing their long and growing noses at us, all while opening up the nation’s coffers to serve as a feeding trough for themselves and their sponsors/lobbyists/donors.
Let’s be perfectly clear. They are always in favor of privatization, which nowadays serves nobody’s interests save the few (the 1%) who own everything. Every move they make is designed to increase our dependence, while simultaneously removing the few social safety nets that exist. Their God is Mammon and they envision themselves as divinely situated and eminently deserving of their wealth and power. We are here merely to run their businesses, purchase their products, and keep our mouths shut and our bodies where they can use them as they see fit.
Our liberty (what little we actually had) is being slowly eroded, our safety is not paramount, and our economic security is of little or no consequence. Although they all took an oath prior to being installed in their office, I doubt many of them actually believed in what they were swearing to. Here’s the text of the oath Senators and members of the House take upon being sworn in:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
And here’s the most salient part of the Constitution of the United States I believe they are neither supporting nor defending:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
How does raising taxes on the middle class, taking away healthcare for millions of people, ignoring science, exalting one religion over all others, failing to help victims of disasters, and raising the national debt over $1.5 trillion promote the general welfare?
Leave a comment | tags: house, inequality, injustice, Party, Republicans, Senate, Tax Bill, taxes, The 1%, treason | posted in News & Politics, Parking Lot Thoughts, Personal, Politics
A little while back I received an email from a woman who had come across this blog and, specifically, had perused posts tagged with the word “retirement.” She wrote me that “a combination of my father being downsized in his 60s and my mother falling ill have combined to seriously affect their financial planning for retirement and has exacerbated their health problems. They have inspired me to write a guide for seniors and their families about the most common causes of financial stress, how it affects the person, and provide some coping strategies.” She provided a link to the guide she wrote and asked if I would consider posting it, along with an intro she wrote for it.
I said I would be glad to consider it and she wrote back with the following introduction, which I’m just pasting in, below. I’ve gone over the Guide she wrote and am providing her info here as a service to anyone considering or preparing for retirement, or for anyone who just might be interested in what to expect and, perhaps, how best to plan for one’s eventual exit from the workforce. What follows come from Ms. Jenny Holt.
PS – I will offer one observation. The site her link points to is called “Reverse Mortgage Alert”, which I have to admit raised a red flag for me. I’m not a fan of the concept, at least not as I’ve learned it is frequently practiced. However, after reading some of the info provided there, I do believe what they have to offer is useful information. They are not “pushing” reverse mortgages. Rather, they seem to be intent on providing useful information that anyone seeking to make a major investment move, especially with the home they’re living in, should take into account. If you have info that proves this wrong, I’d really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks.
With more limited access to financial services and often post-retirement, a money problem for seniors can be magnified more than for other age groups. While many have saved or invested in property and pensions, there are common causes of financial issues for the over 55s. These include:
Job Loss/Reduction – 51%
Healthcare – 29.5%
Other – 21.6%
Unpaid Taxes – 12.7%
Divorce/separation – 8.2%
Bankruptcy – 6.7%
Foreclosure notices – 5.7%
The onset of stress can cause a range of emotional and physical problems which may exacerbate any health-related financial issues. These include insomnia, headaches, chest pains, anxiety, and depression.
However, it is more than possible to mitigate these issues. Of course, finding a solution to the financial problem in the first place is preferable. That being said, clearer and more focused decisions can be made with the right approach. Many seniors find stressful situations easier to cope with by combining a better diet with more exercise and meditation.
There is more to learn about this issue and more information can be found in the full Senior Financial Stress Coping Guide.
1 Comment | tags: bankruptcy, Divorce, Finance, Foreclosure, Health, Healthcare, Mortgage, Pensions, Property, retirement, Reverse Morgage, savings, taxes | posted in Family, Health, Retirement
Atlantis Powers to Orbit
As long as I worked at what is now called Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne we referred to NASA and the Air Force as our “customers”. For nearly twenty years I worked on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program and we always called NASA our “customer”. In the last few years of my employment there, when my awareness of – and interest in – social media brought me to learn as much as I could about what was available and how it might be of benefit to my company, I began arguing for a different approach. I believed, still do, that the real customers of companies involved in space exploration are the American people, those who pay the taxes that were used to pay our salaries. I still believe this is the case, and I still await the evidence of an enlightened approach to engaging them.
In the meantime, I just received an email request to take action and I want to pass it on in the hope some of you who read this will consider taking action; very simple, virtual action. I believe it is imperative for the human race to establish not merely a technological presence in space, but a strong cultural presence as well. I don’t believe it has to be dominated by the United States. In fact, I would prefer it be an international, world-wide effort to ensure the long-term survival of our species. Nevertheless, what is currently happening here is the gradual wasting away of our talent and our industrial base to continue leading the effort. I will no doubt write more about this as it is near and dear to my heart.
What follows is the text of the email, which comes from the website I’m asking you to visit and consider using to send a letter of support to the President, your U.S. Senators, and your Congressional Representative. I’m also including the link below the text so you might take action if you’re so inclined.
I’m concerned about the future of the United States’ role in space. Investments in our nation’s space programs will have a direct impact on our future economic strength and ability to remain a space-faring nation on the cutting edge of technology. I urge you to make a strong commitment to maintaining the U.S. as the unsurpassed leader in space.
For decades, U.S. leadership in space has been recognized across the globe. However, that position is perishable, and continued national leadership will be vital for our future. Therefore:
- It is important to establish a long-term national space strategy that factors in civil, national security and commercial interests in space. Our national strategy must also cut across all agencies that have a stake in space. Without a national strategy, America risks a future where the workforce and industrial capacity needed to maintain U.S. leadership and competitiveness in space is seriously – and in some cases irreversibly – degraded.
- It is important for our future global competitiveness, leadership and innovation in space that budgets and funding remain stable and robust. Appropriate funding must accompany strategic goals to meet established objectives and sustain a strong and progressive space industry.
- It is important to support policies that maintain a healthy and vibrant space industrial base that employs technically-skilled American workers. Modernizing our nation’s export control policies – so that U.S. industry can compete on a level playing field – is one step in the right direction.
- It is important to recognize that the space industrial base drives technological development important to our economy and national security. Our national strategy must identify and seek to preserve the space capabilities critical to meeting our national goals.
The United States stands at a critical juncture between past accomplishments and future ambitions in space. The rest of the world is not waiting. Yet there is uncertainty about the future of U.S. leadership in space; our workforce is facing upheaval and layoffs and the U.S. space industrial base is at the brink of losing our competitive and innovative edge.It is absolutely critical that our nation’s decision-makers work together to show the leadership needed to keep our space efforts robust. I urge you to make addressing these issues a national priority.
Here is the link to send this letter. Thanks for considering it – http://www.spaceleadership.org/
2 Comments | tags: Air Force, cultural, economy, exploration, funding, international, Leadership, NASA, national, postaweek2011, Pratt & Whitney, presence, Rocketdyne, science, scientific, space, Space Shuttle, spending, SSME, strategy, taxes, taxpayers, technological, Technology | posted in Business, Economics, Marketing/Branding, Science, Systems Thinking