Thursday, November 30, 2006

a little bit o' politics

I have steered clear of politics lately in public for a number of reasons. First of all, I have been too busy with 60 hour work weeks and trying to spend as much quality time as possible with my family. Also, I have not wanted to gloat in light of the Democratic take-over of Congress. Although I am not a Democrat, I am looking forward to something called oversight. I am also looking forward to someone impeding the Bush Administration's march towards Pax Americana and our eventual downfall as a society (yes, I feel that strongly about it).

Lastly, I have steered clear of politics because it seems to me that many Americans have shown themselves to be very different than what the media tells us. Instead of a polarized country of Hannitys, Limbaughs and O'Reilleys on 1 side and Moores, Mahers and Moveons on the other, I have seen a vast middle group of independently minded Moderates that feel things have gone too far right and gotten too corrupt. They want fiscal responsibility, civility and common sense in a foreign policy.

If I am suddenly in the mainstream, there is little to say.

Of course, I would still like to point my Ostrich friends (those that still support the Fiasco in the Desert*) to this article by Republican Senator (Nebraska) Chuck Hagel on leaving Iraq honorably (Hagel is a Veteran, unlike much of the Administration). Among my favorite lines is this:
Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation- regardless of our noble purpose.
We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government.
I would also like to point those that still believe that the Rich pay the lion's share of the tax burden while the Poor do not to this from Crunchy Con Rod Dreher, quoting an interview by Ben Stien (noted conservative who believes we need to raise taxes to promote fiscal stability) of Warren Buffett (who believes the rich should have the burden but don't). This is not Liberal bias, but true conservatives that understand the reality of the situation. The Rich get off easy (and Right Wing Radio lies). Also, read the links. They give context to the superiority of this argument.
Read here

*as I have stated before I am in a sticky situation as a Pacifist that did not agree with America fighting this War of Choice. I believe we must stay in Iraq until we have helped them stabilizee. I believe we have a responsibility to help clean up the mess we created.


Anonymous said...

I was very impressed with Senator Hagel's op-ed.

Christian said...

I was wondering if you saw the piece thursday ABC News just ran called "Are Americans Cheap? Or Charitable?"??

There was extended discussion with Arthur Brooks, a professor of public administration at Syracuse University. Brooks struck me as a very reasonable man. He has just published a book called "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism."

Some of his findings:

1. Working poor conservatives, on a percentage basis, give more than the average middle class American and far more than those of liberal persuasion (who are more likely to think it's the government's job to redistribute wealth).

2. The most likely indicator of a person's generosity is the degree to which they are religious.

3. No other country comes close to the private giving by Americans on a whole. The fact that most of America's charitable gifts come from volunteers, not government, demonstrates that Americans are different from people in every other country.

"The fact is that Americans give more than the citizens of any other country. … They also volunteer more," Brooks said. "Americans per capita individually give about three and a half times more money per year, than the French per capita. … Seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians."

You're unreasonable dislike of John Stossle aside i was wondering if you watched it?!

I think the America could give more percentage wise and should and the Rich should step up more, even though they do pay 80% of the taxes collected on a whole, but where does that stop?
when does responsibility turn into punishment?

Do you really think the democrats are the oversight? sure they will be looking but they are after power too and they have already started breaking promises...this year I stopped voting for republicans and then realized I could not go to the poles at all because as an alternative the democrats made killing ceaser and replacing him with the next corrupt bastard a dilema. Of course my christianity is the stronger motive but that's my american reasons.

Chris Kirk said...

I agree that the election was good news, but I still find myself skeptical that it will mean any real change in the short term. As Christian indicated, Democrats appear to be the lesser evil, but this does not make them any less evil.

I am very pleased to see intelligent people abandoning their ideology to discuss real issues. You are correct. Most Americans are neither red of blue, but purple. If there is any hope in the current political system, it is that the voice of the moderate is beginning to be heard at last.

Chris Kirk

JLPE said...

I think that some may have missed Rick’s point here. He is flapping his jaws on a few choice issues, but he is not really voting BLUE with this post. I think he has actually expressed something that I don’t see coming out of him very often, and that is OPTIMISM (Rick may take offense at that. Did you think you were being an angry liberal with this post? Ha ha the joke is on you). I think that conservatives, liberals, Christian and non-Christian alike would agree that we have ALL felt over the past few years a general march toward the darkness that is unmatched in this last quarter of a century at least. I seriously doubt that few would argue against the fact that the overall mood of the country and our overall place in the international community has not been in a downward spiral of late. Having just emerged from my two year election hangover (recovering from the obscene doses of b******t from all parties during the presidential race), I confess that I am for the first time hopeful that we will actually do what our administration only recently gave into, NOT staying the course. WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. It is the unfortunate nature of dual party system that one party can not move too far away from their platform center and remain in power, therefore significant change in direction usually only comes with changes in power. It’s just the way it works. There are exceptions but how often do we see real leaders in either party?
I too tend to avoid too much waxing philosophical about politics because I like to pretend I am a philosopher (degrees prove nothing) and I like many others have found that politics and rational thought/argument/moral justification do not go hand in hand very often, which is why Christian may seem to think that spirituality and voting are contradictory. (We have talked briefly on this topic and as I told him, I completely disagree that spirituality precludes having a voice and a RESPONSIBILITY to guide the direction of the society in which we are trying to make God’s Kingdom real. Where else can you make an impact on such a LARGE scale to move our social values toward Heaven on earth than in being the element of counter-culture in the constituency?)
Also, this argument about the charitable donations of Americans is not really at issue here. What Rick has cited is that the top earners in the country are not sharing their prosperity with the rest of AMERICAN CITIZENS. We have not even touched on sharing with the rest of the world, we’re just talking about sharing with our own. I refer back to Mr. Stein, {Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap… It turned out that Mr. Buffett [an attorney], with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”} I defy anyone to show me that the person making fifteen times minimum wage (a mere @$200,000 A YEAR), to say nothing of those making 35 (@500,000) to 71 (@1,000,000) times minimum wage are being punished, and that a woman on Medicaid working two jobs to remain eligible for Welfare to Work and seeing her children for only five waking hours a day is being rewarded for being poor.
Regarding that argument that Americans are the biggest charitable donors in the world, it’s not that Americans don’t give more than others, it’s that they do not acknowledge that because we are responsible for 86% of resource consumption of the WORLD, 72% of hazardous waste pollution, the top GDP in the world, and have only 5% of the worlds population that we are not even REMOTELY close to where we should be in terms of giving back. The problem here is fiscal stewardship (what are we doing with our prosperity) and social responsibility (when we take so much from other parts of the world, what are we giving back). “Charitable giving” looks good and feels good, but what are we really doing to make sure that our planet is renewed (addressing depletion of MANY resources, to say nothing of the environmental impact), and that our species is not headed toward self-destruction (addressing wars, famine, poverty, lack of health care, etc. etc.). I am not impressed by statistics that purport to pat Americans on the back and say “WE ARE THE BEST AT EVERYTHING!! EVEN GIVING TO OTHERS!!” I respond more to actions that work toward creating a world where no one must want for HIV drugs, where no child must go without clean drinking water, where no mother must choose between feeding herself and her family, where no person must go without meaningful employment or any opportunity at all, where no country facing complete social breakdown will be alone in trying to rebuild itself (and not be subject to INVASION in that process), and where there is no race regarding giving, but only a belief that God’s creation is our responsibility, no matter what the sacrifice to our American lifestyle may be.
Finally, I must take issue with the implication that Mr. Brooks makes that religious+charitable giver=compassionate conservative. I defy anyone to identify me as un-religious, un-charitable, or conservative.

james said...


Not entirely certain where you’re coming from with some of your points, but I think I get the gist of what you are saying. You seem to be a little harsh on Rick which kind of puzzles me. If you keep up with him on his blog regularly, you’ll see that he blasts both Democrats and Republicans alike. And I really don’t see how he’s favoring Democrats in this post as you seem to imply. He states early on that he is not a Democrat, and in addition he announces his disdain for the current administration’s (and their party’s) mishandling of this war. Nothing new if you keep up with his blog. His mention of “gloating” about the Democratic victory in congress is not to say that Rick is happy the Democrats won because he likes Democrats, but more for the accountability of an administration who is running a crash course policy in Iraq. I think conservatives like Buckley and Buchanan (who believe the Republican party has been hijacked) feel similarly about such issues.

You said:
I think the America could give more percentage wise and should and the Rich should step up more, even though they do pay 80% of the taxes collected on a whole, but where does that stop?
when does responsibility turn into punishment?

I’m not sure where you get your numbers on this one, but as far as my understanding of our tax system goes, no one single American pays that much on their personal income tax. I think someone like Bill Gates would pay upwards of 60% on his taxes, but 80% is remarkably high. As far as it being a punishment of sorts, I find it difficult to view someone taking home billions of dollars (even after taxes) as a punishment. I have no trouble asking someone who has achieved the “American Dream” to give a little back to their country. Even if it means asking billionaires to give back 60% on their taxes.

just my two cents.

Christian said...

As far as the percentages goes 83% is what the top 20% earners pay as part of the whole -of the 100% of all federal income taxes -The top 1% of income earners pay about 32% of all income taxes. The top 5% pays 51.4%. The top 10% of high income earners, pay 63.5%. The top 20% of income earners pays 78% of all federal income taxes. That is why when tax cut mostly affect them - if you pay more you get a better break.

HOWEVER, I was actually acknowledging that I think these top earners should pay a higher percentage of their own income and not have as many of the breaks that they do. If your Warren buffet ,and I noticed neither crunchy con or the Ben Stein article I read actually gave the percentage he actually paid just that it was far less, paying a__ % of your income will never really hurt while a guy making $16,000 pays, in the bush tax cut era, 5.7%. I AGREE that that guy feels that percentage and that this is still way to high for that type of income!

I agree with Jen who's comment I would sum up as: "To whom much is given much is required" which is actually from the bible! I guess my punishment comment got her a little riled up! It probably didn’t 't really make sense there so I deserve the heat! Where her and I part ways currently is over the voting issue. I am in total agreement with bringing the kingdom into our culture I am just not sure the government is really the best way or that Christians should really participate that way. It is kind of an Anabaptist position of "we are not part of this citizenship" something I think Rick secretly thinks too! But it is only my personal conviction and current discipline so that I worship Jesus and not my politics. I admire Jen's passion and part in things of change! Jen you may not be un-religious, un-charitable or conservative but you are not un-loved either!!! props!

Christian said...

This was suppose to go at the top of my above comments:

um, maybe I should have been clearer with my comments. I was simply asking if rick had seen the charitable giving stuff by brooks and ABC! Maybe I should not use comments to ask questions!

James, as for being harsh on Rick you might be reading more seriousness into my post than intended. Rick knows it was not meant to be harsh. He did say though that he was trying not to gloat, so therefore I wanted to rib him a bit.

james said...

Thanks for clarifying Christian. Yes, text is often difficult to decipher in carrying tone or intention. Sorry if i misread you. Seems there is much we do agree on. I've had many similar thoughts on kingdom participation in gov't (or lack thereof) and what is best left alone vs. what should be voiced in the voting booth.

peace man,