Assertion: Every American adult should pay Federal Income Taxes.

(1) At present we have a severe disconnection between what we demand from the Federal Government, and any sense that such demands will cost us anything. Paying Federal income tax reminds us that nothing is free.

(2) At present, it is too easy for the majority of Americans, who pay little or no Federal taxes, to demand increased services because someone else will be paying for them. This places politicians in the position of promising more and more to the masses in order to gain votes ("Promising to rob Peter to pay Paul usually will gain the vote of Paul") while threatening to destroy the producers of wealth (see "The Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg"). Such practice could eventually mean the end of Democracy through demagoguery (see Plato, The Republic).

(3) The present system described above works against virtues such as industry and prudence, and encourages vices such as imprudence and sloth (turning "The Ant and the Grasshopper" upside down).

(4) At present too few people pay attention to decisions made by the Federal government. Most adult Americans know more about their favorite sports team, than about their Congressional delegation. Paying Federal income taxes would give every American adult a vested interest in knowing what the Federal government is doing.

Assertion: Except during declared emergencies such as war, Federal spending and Federal taxes should be yoked together such that the percentage increase, or decrease, in Federal spending is matched by the same percentage increase or decrease in the amount of Federal taxes paid by each individual.

(1) Such a linkage would reinforce Reasons (1) and (2) above.
(2) Americans would be motivated to demand less spending by the Federal government in order that taxes would decrease.

Assertion: this plan still would work with a progressive system of income taxation.

(1) An increase in spending leading to a corresponding increase in taxes, for example 3%, is noticable whether that means the individual's tax increases $30,000 per year, or $30.
Category: Thinking Out Loud
Posted by: an okie gardener
For centuries Euopeans were captured and enslaved by Muslim corsairs operating from North Africa. The author of the book Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast, and Italy, 1500-1800 estimates that over a million Europeans suffered this fate in the time period he examined. Book summary.

In history, the impact of a story depends in large part on when the story begins. For example, if the story of the bombing of Hiroshima starts with the Manhattan Project, then the U.S. looks like the bad guy. If the story begins with Pearl Harbor and includes the Bataan Death March plus atrocities committed by the Japanese in their conquests (ask the Chinese), and also relates how the defenders of Iwo Jima and Okinawa fought to the death against hopeless odds, then the decision to drop the Bomb appears more reasonable.

I am not defending colonial empire building in all its forms and in all places. But, the French, Italian, and Spanish conquest in North Africa does not seem as depraved if the story begins with centuries of pillage and enslavement suffered by Europeans at the hands of the Muslim corsairs.
As I write, Texans are being rescued from the high waters caused by Hurricane Ike.

Every one of these people chose to remain behind in spite of orders to evacuate. They made a bad choice.

So, who will pay for their rescue? I suspect you and I and all taxpayers will through Federal disaster relief money.

But, is there not some personal responsibility to cover at least some of the cost on the part of those adults who freely chose to ignore the evacuation order, remained behind, and needed plucked from rooftops?

I think the same thing about people who deliberately build in flood plains and on the coast of Hurricane country. Why should I help pay for people in New Orleans to live below sea level? For people to live in condos on the ocean in Texas or Florida?
Just watched the first segment of the Palin-Gibson ABC News interview.

An Aside: I predict it will be the highest rated network news show in ten years.

Quick reaction:

Not very good. Palin struck me as too strident, breathless, and unsteady. She was talking way too fast, which I took as a sign of nervousness. Gibson was smug and patronizing (but understated enough that he will probably get by without too much grief). But all the "are you sure you are ready" questions seemed a bit gratuitous. Asked and answered. Move on counselor.

She was a bit too scattered (sort of a like a shotgun). And a bit too staccato (like an M-16).

Sometimes she was non-responsive and visibly rattled.

However, for a first time out, I am not sure she gave any mortal answers. She was a bit too anxious to give Israel unqualified support (which will not go over well with the MSM--but pro-Israel positions always make sense to the heartland). She was also a bit too ready to court war with Russia over Georgia and/or the Ukraine. Again, this will draw some snickers and gasps from the striped-pants crowd, but potentially okay with hardhats, farmers, and hunters.

She didn't remember the "Bush Doctrine of 2002" (which, honestly, I couldn't quite get my mind around either on the spur of the moment). It was preemption. I am not sure if Gibson made her look bad on that one--or if he just looked like a pompous know-it-all, pulling out obscure questions to trip up the candidate.

But, as I say, if there is nothing there that plays as a lethal YouTube soundbite, she is probably okay. Even if it was highly watched (relative to the normal viewing audience for the evening news), the vast majority of voters did not tune in--and will not really care.

Not good--but, hopefully, not devastating.

But this probably signals the end of our glorious thirteen-day run and the beginning of a rough patch. This campaign is going to be nip and tuck, up and down, and down to the wire.
From the Washington Post:

Federal officials said today that bioweapons researcher Bruce E. Ivins was solely responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks that terrorized the nation and expressed confidence that he would have been proved guilty in court if he had not committed suicide last week.

Is it just me? Or does this story stink?

For six years we don't hear a peep from the FBI. All this time they are investigating and building a case. Now the guy commits suicide, which may or may not have been the result of the dogged Feds on his heels, and now the G-men are arrogantly assured that they had this guy dead to rights and were moments away from indicting, presenting, and convicting.

Maybe so--but I wonder.

All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose
An economic downturn like we are experiencing currently is not all negative. Here are three positives

(1)Housing Prices are down and housing sales have slowed. This is bad news if you are a seller, and perhaps devastating news if you are a speculator (unless more tax-payer bailouts* occur); it is not bad news for every one. If you are a first-time buyer, perhaps a young newly married couple, then that house just got more affordable.
*Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a "government bailout." The government has no money. A "government bailout" means the government has decided to use our money to bailout someone.

(2)The Stock Market is down. Bad news if you are retired and depending on investment income, or near anticipated retirement; it is not necessarily bad news if you are younger. The Stock Market decline means that stock is now more affordable. In other words your dollar goes farther on Wall Street. If you are 35 and beginning a savings program, for example, you now can afford more stock each month that may repay you well in the future.

(3)Gas prices are high. This hurts everyone except the wealthy, directly at the pump and indirectly through increases in the price of everything. But, there is a silver lining. Maybe, just maybe, our country will get serious about energy independence, increasing our national security. And, maybe, just maybe, we will improve environmental quality by moving away from internal combustion engines.
Category: Thinking Out Loud
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
1. Am I wrong? Or is this over? For some reason, I have the strong sensation that the Clinton campaign finally died last night. The losing margins keep getting bigger and bigger, and her core supporters keep getting thinner and thinner. The polls in Texas are moving the wrong direction, and Obama seems bigger in Houston than Yao Ming. Are we done here?

The other side of the coin: we are all tired, emotional, and lacking good sense. Let' s see what the next two weeks bring.

2. Perhaps too late to help Hill, but the Obama scrutiny may be beginning. Last night CBS News led with Barack's phrase borrowing and, more importantly, Michelle's untoward remarks about America. More (much more) on that later. Prospective post title: uncovering a nation to be proud of in a sea of genocide, enslavement, and oppression. Michelle's telling admission will not play well in fly-over country where most of us love the good ole USA--no matter who we elect as president.

3. National Security (in addition to unconflicted patriotism) is the great unifier in the Republican Party. The world is a dangerous place. Obama wants to withdraw from Iraq and begin a new era in which we earn the trust and acceptance of the world by loving them unconditionally.

I am reminded of an old riff from some long-forgotten minor league comedian:

I want to be around when the meek inherit the Earth. Because I am going to take it from them. "Give me the world, meek!" What are they going to do about it? They are meek.

My guess is that there are plenty of opportunistic malefactors out there waiting for us to go soft in the head. My prediction: the next hegemonic world power will not be nearly as generous or compassionate as the United States (regardless of what Michelle Obama might think).
Category: Thinking Out Loud
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few more random and half-baked reactions:

1. I ran a Bosque Boys search for "al gore," and I was surprised by the number of entries and the variety of posts. I modestly suggest that the thread offers several essays worth a second look here.

2. The more I think about all this, the harder it becomes to see this award as anything more than "gotcha" politics. Having said that, the Nobel folks can point to a noble tradition of tweaking the powerful and lending support to worthy dissenters. As I mentioned earlier, Lech Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. The Prize committee, undoubtedly, meant to harass and shame the totalitarian, Soviet-controlled Polish government.

In the same vein, the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Martin Luther King in 1964 was clearly directed at embarrassing the various oppressive American governments clinging to a Jim-Crow past.

Were these awards political? Yes. Were they aimed at goring someone's ox? Yes. But were the recipients deserving? Yes. Do the awards stand the test of time? Yes.

On the other hand:

Do all of the Nobel Peace Prize winners stand up to these standards? Yasser Arafat (translation: No).

Has the Prize diminished in stature and power as a result of frivolous and petty politics? Jimmy Carter. Al Gore (translation: unfortunately, YES).
Allow me a few less-than-gracious thoughts on Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize:

1. How can anyone take the Nobel Peace Prize seriously again?

2. Kofi Anan, Jimmy Carter, Mohamad el Baradei, and now Al Gore. The conclusion of the Bush administration will necessitate a paradigm shift for the awards committee, as the number one criterion--stick it in the eye of George Bush--will eventually recede as the primary consideration.
My previous post, musing about referring to God, prompted this response from Loy Mershimer that I think deserves posting. (Any friend of Barth is a friend of mine.)

Great questions.

I believe the discussion distills to this issue: to what degree does one trust divine Revelation over one's personal revelations [and declared self-need in defining the Other]?

Barth framed this issue in the nature of God [unknowable except by self-revelation] and the nature of that divine Revelation as salvific. I've yet to hear a good answer to his objection to renaming God...

Here is Barth’s argument in a nutshell: To arrogate to oneself the ability to subjectively rename the Trinity is to assume that one apprehends the objective essence of the revelation itself, the ‘infinite and spiritual essence’ of the One being named -- a categorical impossibility.

Barth thus reveals the human renaming of divinity [re-imagining, etc.] a failure of human arrogance: mere postmodern idolatry.

All we know of God is what God graciously self-reveals. And that revelation is the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit: relational, integral ontology.

Regarding the pronouns of God and the images of God, James Torrance notes that there are zero feminine metaphors for God in Scripture; there are three similes which are feminine.

Of course, the linguistic value of such distinction is simple: metaphor is used to show something of essence, simile something of function.

Perhaps the whole discussion would be more simple if people understood that God is Spirit -- not male or female -- and that reasoning back onto Him from flawed earthly fathers is faulty 'theology from below,' with self as the arbiter of right [subjective epistemology].

It is deeply regretful that hurtful masculine models have apparently wounded a generation of sensitive sons and daughters from receiving God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit...

George MacDonald, in his sermon "Abba! Father" describes the whole of human misery in the inability of human children to call God Father:

The refusal to look up to God as our Father is the one central wrong in the whole human affair. The inability to do so is our one central misery. Whatever serves to clear any difficulty from the way of the recognition of the Father will more or less undermine every difficulty in life.

He goes on to say that the very key of healing for those wounded by earthly fathers is in the recovery of God as their real Father: Provocative, practical considerations of this whole discussion!

Great thoughts! Thank you...

p.s. Torrance has a little book entitled Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace -- it might be worth a read!

Loy's website is here.