A great speech by a real entrepreneur
And all in a delightful Irish accent
Whose Country Is It Anyway?
Half a century ago, American children were schooled in Aesop's fables. Among the more famous of these were "The Fox and the Grapes" and "The Tortoise and the Hare."
Particularly appropriate this Christmas season, and every Christmas lately, is Aesop's fable of "The Dog in the Manger." The tale is about a dog who decides to take a nap in the manger. When the ox, who has worked all day, comes back to eat some straw, the dog barks loudly, threatens to bite him and drives him from his manger. The lesson the fable teaches is that it is malicious and wicked to deny a fellow creature what you yourself do not want and cannot even enjoy.
What brings the fable to mind is this year's crop of Christmas-haters, whose numbers have grown since the days when it was only the village atheist or the ACLU pest who sought to kill Christmas. The problem with these folks is not simply that they detest Christmas and what it represents, but that they must do their best, or worst, to ensure Christians do not enjoy the season and holy day they love.
As a Washington Times editorial relates, the number of anti-Christian bigots is growing, and their malevolence is out of the closet: "In Leesburg, Va., a Santa-suit-clad skeleton was nailed to a cross. ... In Santa Monica, atheists were granted 18 of 21 plots in a public park allotted for holiday displays and ... erected signs mocking religion. In the Wisconsin statehouse, a sign informs visitors, 'Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.' A video that has gone viral on YouTube shows denizens of Occupy D.C. spewing gratuitous hatred of a couple who dared to appropriate a small patch of McPherson Square to set up a living Nativity scene."
People who indulge in such conduct invariably claim to be champions of the First Amendment, exercising their right of free speech to maintain a separation of church and state. They are partly right. The First Amendment does protect what they are doing. But what they are doing is engaging in hate speech and anti-Christian bigotry. For what is the purpose of what they are about, if not to wound, offend, insult and mock fellow Americans celebrating the happiest day of their calendar year?
Consider what this day means to a believing Christian. It is a time and a day set aside to celebrate the nativity, the birth of Christ, whom Christians believe to be the Son of God and their Savior who gave his life on the cross to redeem mankind and open the gates of heaven.
Even if a man disbelieves this, why would he interfere with or deny his fellow countrymen, three in four of whom still profess to be Christians, their right to celebrate in public this joyous occasion?
This mockery and hatred of Christmas testifies not only to the character of those who engage in it, it says something as well about who is winning the culture war for the soul of America.
Not long ago, the Supreme Court (1892) and three U.S. presidents -- Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter -- all declared America to be a "Christian nation." They did not mean that any particular denomination had been declared America's national religion -- indeed, that was ruled out in the Constitution -- but that we were predominantly a Christian people.
And so we were born. Around 1790, America was 99 percent Protestant, 1 percent Catholic, with a few thousands Jews. The Irish immigration from 1845 to 1850 brought hundreds of thousands more Catholics to America. The Great Wave of immigration from 1890 to 1920 brought millions of Southern and Eastern Europeans, mostly Catholic and Jews. As late as 1990, 85 percent of all Americans described themselves as Christians.
And here one must pose a question. How did America's Christians allow themselves to be dispossessed of a country their fathers had built for them?
How did America come to be a nation where not only have all Christian prayers, pageants, holidays and holy days been purged from all government schools and public institutions, but secularism has taken over those schools, while Christians are mocked at Christmas in ways that would be declared hate crimes were it done to other religious faiths or ethnic minorities?
Was it a manifestation of tolerance and maturity, or pusillanimity, that Christians allowed themselves to be robbed of their inheritance to a point where Barack Obama could assert without contradiction that we Americans "do not consider ourselves to be a Christian nation"?
What are these Christmas-bashers, though still a nominal minority, saying to Christians with their mockery and ridicule of the celebration of the birth of Christ? "This isn't your country anymore. It is our country now." The question for Christians is a simple one: Do they have what it takes to take America back?
Feds' War on Religion
I am very disappointed by the dissolution of religious liberties in the U.S. military. Times have sadly and radically changed since my father served in World War II, since I served four years in the Air Force and since my two brothers, Wieland and Aaron, served in the Army in Vietnam. (My brother Wieland paid the ultimate price there in the line of duty.)
I thank God that I served in the Air Force during a time in which moral absolutes and a deep reverence for God pervaded culture, especially the military. No service member was ashamed or afraid to express his faith in God or his Christian beliefs. In fact, the very thought that service members would somehow have to protect or defend their Christian faith would have seemed ludicrous.
Remember that it was only a few short decades ago when a commander in chief spoke passionately about his Christian faith. President Ronald Reagan said this before the lighting of the national Christmas tree Dec. 16, 1982: "In this holiday season, we celebrate the birthday of one who, for almost 2,000 years, has been a greater influence on humankind than all the rulers, all the scholars, all the armies and all the navies that ever marched or sailed, all put together. ... It's also a holy day, the birthday of the Prince of Peace, a day when 'God so loved the world' that he sent us his only begotten son to assure forgiveness of our sins."
The First Amendment secures our total religious rights and liberties: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The American Civil Liberties Union and like-minded groups, such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are not preserving First Amendment rights; they are perverting the meaning of the establishment clause (which was to prevent the creation of a national church like the Church of England) and denying the free exercise clause (which preserves our right to worship as we want, privately and publicly). Both clauses were intended to safeguard religious liberty, not to circumscribe the practicing of religion. The Framers were seeking to guarantee a freedom of religion, not a freedom from it.
I respect all religions but adhere to one. I believe what Benjamin Rush -- a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the presidential administrations of Adams, Jefferson and Madison -- wrote: "Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is that of the New Testament."
Friends, now is not the time in the history of our republic to be sheepish about our patriotism or religious convictions, as so many of our leaders are. Now is the time to demonstrate with boldness in what and whom we believe. That is the type of leader and president that we need in America's future.
Whatever your religious persuasion, don't be ashamed of it. And don't hesitate to let others know where you stand, respectfully speaking. Freedom of speech and religious liberty are your First Amendment rights. This is America. And that's one of the things that still make us a great nation. In God we trust.
Time For a Healthy Change
It’s an iron law of economics: You can’t get something for nothing. And yet politicians love to promise to hand out benefits, but are often reluctant to pay for them. So something’s got to give.
As proof, look across the pond, to Great Britain’s “free” health care system. There, patients “are facing more pain and longer waits,” the Associated Press reports. “That’s because the National Health Service is being forced to trim 20 billion pounds ($31 billion) from its budget by 2015, as part of the most radical changes made since the system was founded more than 60 years ago.” And “free” health care is only going to get more expensive, for taxpayers and patients.
The British government plans to fire some 20,000 health care workers and close a large number of hospitals. Even so, health care analysts there say hospitals are making patients wait for care, in the hope that some will decide to pay for it themselves or die while waiting.
“At some point, we’ll have to look at what the boundaries are of what governments provide and what people will be paying for themselves,” Mark Pearson, head of health at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, told AP. “At the moment, countries aren’t ready to have that discussion yet, but that breaking point will come one day.”
Maybe it’s time to have exactly that conversation here in the U.S. Medicare would provide the ideal opportunity.
“Before concluding work for the year, Congress must tackle other major issues as well, including figuring out how to avert a scheduled deep cut in reimbursement rates paid to doctors under Medicare,” the Washington Post reported on Dec. 12.
But why? The deep cut is supposed to be a feature, not a bug. In an attempt to rein in Medicare spending, Congress created a payment formula that would supposedly have trimmed reimbursment payments to doctors every year since 2003.
Instead, lawmakers have chosen to override their own price controls. “Congress has voted repeatedly to temporarily extend or increase existing reimbursement rates through deficit spending,” Peter Suderman wrote in Reason magazine. “The temporary patches have substituted for permanent fixes because no one knows how to pay for a long-term fix. But by relying on a series of temporary patches, Congress has made it even more expensive to enact a long-term fix.”
Because lawmakers have voted to cancel the annually-scheduled cuts, physician reimbursement rates are set to plunge by almost 30 percent next year. That’s the cut that the Post notes Congress intends to avoid with the latest version of what’s now called “Doc fix” legislation. But, again: why change the policy every year at the last minute? All year long lawmakers pretend they intend to change Medicare, and they end up not only preserving it, but making it more expensive.
Here’s an idea. Instead of simply passing “Doc fix” year in and year out, let’s actually fix the problem by “bending the cost curve” and holding down Medicare expenses.
Earlier this year, Rep. Paul Ryan introduced a plan that would transform Medicare for anyone under the age of 54. When these people retired, they’d be given a voucher that would be used to buy private insurance.
It’s a solid idea. Retirees could pick and choose what plan would work best for them. They’d have a personal involvement in their health care, and in holding down costs. As for whether these retirees could actually handle the responsibility, remember that they’ve been buying and selling things: houses, cars, food, all their lives. They’ve raised children, held jobs, planned weddings, run businesses. They’re certainly capable of selecting a plan that provides for their health care needs.
These plans don’t exist yet, of course. But they’d spring up if people actually had Medicare vouchers to spend. And the price competition would hold costs down much more efficiently than Congress’ failed spending caps have.
The federal government can’t go on borrowing almost half of what it spends today from tomorrow’s taxpayers. We need to change course, before an iron law of economics crushes us the way it’s already crushing democracies in Europe.
State Legislatures Take on “Judicial Hellholes” that Undermine Business
Some state legislatures are taking a stand against abusive litigation practices that drive up costs for consumers and discourage business, according to a new report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF). Even as it identified “judicial hellholes” where judges apply the law against defendants in a manner that is considered unfair and unbalanced, ATRF called attention to “points of light” throughout the country where state lawmakers are taking a stand against runaway litigation practices.
“State legislatures enacted nearly 50 civil justice reforms in 2011,” the report says. “These included comprehensive tort reform packages in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina, and more targeted reforms in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North and South Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.”
Some of these reforms include new measures that guard against the use of “junk science” in court and limiting liability to landowners in cases where those who are injured were trespassing. ATRF also highlighted encouraging court rulings in jurisdictions that are typically weighted against civil defendants.
Even so, the nation has a long way to go before abusive litigation practices are brought to heal as the report makes clear. The following areas have been identified as the top “judicial hellholes” for 2011: the states of California and West Virginia, along with local jurisdictions, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, South Florida, Madison and St. Claire Counties in Illinois, and New York City and Albany, New York.
Americans for Limited Government president Bill Wilson notes that, “job creation and investment in a state is often dictated by the litigation climate within that state. Simply put, those states which give the trial lawyers free rein to drum up nuisance law suits struggle to compete for business investment with those who have reasonable tort liability rules.”
Beyond the states and localities named as “judicial hellholes,” some other jurisdictions were named as being just on edge of falling off into the abyss.
Louisiana, for example, has been placed on the “hellhole watch list” as result of so-called “legacy lawsuits” that based on contamination allegations against well sites that are highly questionable in many cases.
“This is not the first time Louisiana has been called out on the national stage for its poor legal climate, and whether we like it or not, reputation matters,” Melissa Landry, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) said. “The perception of a state’s legal climate affects how companies do business, and where they decide to invest and create new, well-paying jobs.”
The legal climate also affects each state’s competitive posture, the report notes. Although Louisiana has enormous economic potential, it is at a competitive disadvantage against neighboring states of Mississippi and Texas, which less are burdened by the threats of specious, business killing litigation.
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)