Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Great article today in the Record, one of North Jersey's largest newspapers. We had a great time doing the interview at IHOP. It was one of those great opportunities to share our faith without sounding like kooks. Special thanks to Virginia Rohan for going the extra mile with this article. The picture above is Paul Castiglia (left) and me looking at MMBH and the printouts of Colossians. That's John-Marc, our publisher, in profile on the right.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
The stock market is a gamble - it's people taking their money, dumping it into large companies (with no say in their operations) and hoping to turn it into a landfall.
The housing issue, which has caused the most damage to the stock market recently, is a direct result of a very poor mindset of greed and entitlement that Americans have. Buy furniture we can't afford, buy a house we can't afford, buy a wide screen plasma TV we can't afford, and figure how how, or IF, to pay for it later on. Banks catered to this greed by providing (IMO) criminal opportunities to borrow including ARM's. Retailers provide a new credit card with a $5000 credit limit at the checkout counter - the CASHIER approves it!!! And when it all goes bad, they turn to bankruptcy as the way out - something that used to rightfully carry shame but has almost become a right of passage.
Should we be surprised about the housing market when waitresses are buying up real estate in order to "flip it" for a profit? That's not the American dream. That's greed. Should we feel bad for a couple who gets evicted from their apartment because they're four months behind in the rent, and we watch them move out two computers, a Wii, a PS3, a monster TV and a stack of DVD's that could choke Godzilla? That's not the American dream, that's irresponsibility. It's a poisonous victem mentality.
The problem is that we as Americans are fat and lazy and live too well. We're told on one hand to live by our means, and the next second we're offered "no money down and no payments until 2010."
That's got to end, in the form of responsibility laws. In my plan, Adjustable Rate Mortgages would be outlawed and credit card interest would be capped at 15%. Each individual or family would be able to have a legal debt-to-income & asset ratio (on a sliding scale based on their income and credit rating) that would not exceed their ability to pay off. Once they have that max reached in credit cards and car payments, they're cut off - no more credit issued. Just like a drunk at a bar. Anyone exceeding their limit would be guilty of bank fraud and subject to penalties and prosecution. Any creditor knowingly issuing credit beyond the ratio is also subject to penalty. And as long as my healthcare plan goes through, there would not be a problem with unpaid medical bills (thus eliminating the unfortunate circumstances that might create a credit issue beyond one's control).
It would mean people would buy less - for a time. Believe it or not this is a good thing - it would drive down prices and put a vast number of Americans on a path to debt recovery. We have too much stuff anyway. But my plan also calls for the elimination of income tax on interest and dividend income for a family earning $125,000 or less - encouraging saving. Ain't that a novel idea?
Tune in next time for "It's Still the Economy Stupid" as we start to transition toward foreign policy. Ain't I a little smarty pants? Oh, if anyone has a request for a sketch I'll try to accomodate and post that too.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Regarding healthcare. I don't believe in universal, government-run general medical insurance (or government-run ANYTHING). Don't agree with me, ask a Canadian family with double our tax rate and a three-week wait to see a doctor.
The reason we buy insurance is that our medical expenses may exceed our premiums - in essence, a gamble. If somehow we manage to get through the year without needing major medical care or surgery, in essence we've "lost" because we paid more into premiums than we really needed to pay for doctors and meds. And for the most part that's true.
It wasn't that long ago that insurance was a rarity and deductibles were huge - it was set aside for the big stuff, not the trip to the local doctor for the sniffles. Insurance became more prevalent and eventually became the main way doctors got paid - so, doctors began to bill based on what a huge corporation could pay, tacking on extra tests "just to be sure", rather than what the local person could pay. Insurance needs to be higher that actual claims to pay its administrative costs (and huge corporate salaries). As both got richer they became the targets of lawsuits - thus malpractice insurance, which made it easier to sue, which drove up costs, etc etc.
In trying to level out medical expenses, we've created an even more expensive middle man.
So, in many ways, the health insurance industry, which was supposed to be a help, became its own problem. And you can't go back, because once you give a person something it's VERY hard to take it back.
No president can fix this - or rather, no president can promise anything other than band-aids and expect to get elected.
The root of the problem is a mentality that we are entitled to health insurance - we are NOT. However, it does seem that we should be entitled to some level of health CARE, and it seems that protection from sudden spikes in our personal health care costs (ie birth of a child, surgery, chemo, etc) can be provided for in the form of high-end insurance, at pennies on the dollar from what it costs now. This would result in the reduction of a massive infrastructure of health insurance administration, and reduce medical costs based on demand, not what a health insurer will pay. The government would continue to protect the elderly and disabled through Medicare, because that is the right thing to do, and offer this high-end protection to the rest of us (insurers would quickly follow suit). To encourage employers to stay involved, businesses would be offered double tax deduction on their employee's health insurance costs. Low-income families with children (based on regional poverty levels) would be eligible for some basic insurance as well, to ensure that Johnny gets to the doctor with the sniffles before it becomes pneumonia.
Incidently - providing universal healthcare for all of America, $150 billion. Compared with the $850 billion Wall Street bailout, one might wonder if we spent our money wisely.
I am strongly considering one VP candidate at the moment, in case anyone is interested.
What will follow are my takes on the problems that face our country and my proposed solutions. I won't be saying what I need to say to get elected. I will, however, propose to offer what I see as the real problems and present some potential solutions. And since I don't want to run a smear campaign, I won't talk about Obama or McCain until election day looms.
I will be looking for a running mate, by the way, and I have a very hot first lady.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Does the Tribulation come before or after the Rapture?
Should Christians allow their kids to Trick-or-Treat?
How should one dress for church on Sunday?
Was Goliath really from a race of giants?
What happened to the dinosaurs?
Did Jesus really turn the water into wine, or was it just grape juice since it didn't have time to ferment?
Did the Wise Men see a star, a comet or an alignment of planets?
If Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, how can we call that three days?
Who did Adam and Eve's sons take as wives?
I'm sure there are more. But these are just some of the many, many absolutely ridiculous arguments Christians get into that mean a bucket of spit, and cause such massive divisiveness in the family that it can only come from the enemy.
Some might argue that some of these mean something. You have fun with that.