Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A sign of the times?

In a recent Time magazine

Ready for Your Biometric Social Security Card?

We see the most recent effort to adopt a marker that the Bible seemingly predicts as a sign of the end times and a takeover of the anti Christ. 

Revelation 13:16He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

So basically the idea is there is this mark, 666 which promotes the system of man over the system of God.  We need to get the mark to continue functioning in the marketplace.  Which obviously is the focus of this effort.  The plan would be your fingerpring (hand) or retinal scan (forehead?) would serve as a bio identity marker so that we don't have any illegal immigrants sneaking in. 

While I"m not saying this is the end or this is the actual mark I am saying this is scary, and this is something that we should be very wary of.  Any effort like this should be roundly criticized, not only for it's cost, but also for it's stance that people need to buy into the nation state system in order to be treated like human beings.  This is one area that I widely disagree with the republican party and America in general.  I like free trade and outsourcing. I think opportunity for those in countries with less wealth and opportunity than America is a good thing.  I think spreading the wealth around via the extended free market makes a lot more sense than protectionism for America's poor when the foreign poor are willing to work a lot harder.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform

In all things concerning the state I try to think about them theologically.  I basically want to look at things beginning with a human nature that is corrupt and sinful.  So in that regard I believe that this reform in the short term can be a very good thing.

1)  The current system is broken, competition is no longer working in the favor of the people rather insurers are finding more and better ways to rescind and deny coverage to individuals.  Health expenses are way too hi, litigation out of control, there are lots of problems and while there are lots of good fixes many of these options haven't been put forward.

2) Republican options for tort reform and increasing competition across state lines were the better fiscal options due primarily to the fact that it would direct people's greed (and sinfulness) toward better pricing, but the trade off is it does not insentivize better care.  Republicans corrupt and greedy in their own right, did not bring about these ideas when they had a chance to because they were more focused on pocketing the lobbyist money that has them fighting so hard right now.

3) The current system will help end some of the abuses and make health care more affordable for everyone, at the same time it will likely cost people more. To say that we are going to provide more care seems logically connected to the fact that more care= more money.  I do think there will be some administrative, lobbying and marketing salaries that will be cut and will have an immediate impact and lower prices in the short term.

The Bad thing is that every system by scientific law, becomes more disorganized. Every institution by human nature becomes more corrupt more abused.  In this light I'm a huge fan of reform, major drastic reform like this as long as we can do it again in about 15-20 years.  Because in 10 years all of the loopholes and ways to manipulate the current law will be exposed and those in power will be abusing a new set of regulations to their gain, thereby negating the effectiveness and efficiency of this bill. 

I also believe that  the abortion language is loose enough that if later generations want to alter it and fund it they will be able to.  I do appreciate Obama's signing of the executive order, I think Stupak has been brave facing heat and criticism from both sides.  I think he's probably right in saying that the republicans just want to politicize the bill further and that if he is confident in the presidential order than I am ok with his position.

The last thing I want to talk about is why does America want to be like Europe?  Europe seems ahead of us in that it is a post Christian region and a place where the State has taken the place of the church providing social services, and care in the name of equality to everyone.  However, Europe is in deep financial trouble.  Much more so than the US.  Iceland went completely bankrupt last year.  Greece would be if it hadn't become part of the Eu and adopted the Euro. Spain, Portugal Italy Ireland are in the same place.  England is on the verge of plunging back into recession.  Europe is a mess, and the answers we come up with are...let's be more like Europe.  People in the states are worried, and with the passage of this bill we likely should be more worried.  So lets all enjoy the shake up in health care, the immediate savings and the way that entrenched power brokers have to release their tyrannical hold on the American people.  But let's also prepare for another long protracted health care debate in 20 years as new public servants find new ways to get their hands on money that is supposed to be by the people and for the people.

Praise God that sin has been conquered in the resurrection of his Son and that we won't need to worry about this forever.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St Patty's Day

Ok figured I'd stop in and give you this.  10 things you didn't know about your favorite Holiday imported from Ireland.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Farewell Vancouver Olympics

The  Olympics are over. The winter Olympics are over and I'm actually kind of sad.  I miss it, and I don't even like winter sports.   But as always the Olympics are about more than the competition, they are about national pride and the global community coming together. 
One thing I've been thinking about is why these Olympics are doing so much better than in 06, in terms of viewers?   I think it has something to do with the recession.   Not the people are saving money,  staying home and watching TV reasons either.  No I think it  has more to do with our national psyche.  Let me explain,

When I was young there was nothing as important as the Olympics, primarily the Summer Olympics as it was a showdown between the USA and the USSR.  It was a civilized sporting event intent on showing global superiority. In 1980 and 84 these tensions led to boycotts of the Olympic games, but in 1988 every victory validated the democratic system over the oppressive communist state, the investment of every American was real. As a kid I'd stay up late and watch hoping in our country, in our best, in our country and in our way of life. 

Since these tension and drama filled competitions the games have lost some luster, there isn't nearly as much on the line, the sports aren't all that mainstream and national pride isn't as important since we don't have as many competitors on the global stage.  Or at least we didn't in 2006.  

Now, in 2010, we have a little bit more of a need to see the US do well. In the middle of this recession we are reeling as a nation, unsure about our future.  We know things are bad and nations like China and India are gaining on us in prosperity and production.  We realize that the system we were once champions and advocates of has let us down and we are now wondering, "Is the USA still the land of dreams?"  I think this question is one reason we tuned in, in such larger numbers.  Even though we could find results on the internet before the events aired, we waited.  We watched, we hoped, we invested.  There were even people who were comparing the Hockey Final to the 1980 Hockey Final when the college kids from the USA beat the best team in the world from Russia.  That event not only had way more political drama, (Canada isn't quite the evil empire that Russia was, eh?) it also featured a much greater disparity in the talent level of the teams.  But here is the key.  America loves an underdog story and in both situations America was the underdog, and so we cheered, we tuned in we hoped in the promise of America.  Basically that promise is if you commit to something you can accomplish anything.  No matter where you come from you can get ahead.
Sadly, that story has come into doubt here in the US.  People see the way the deck is stacked in favor of the rich, people are noticing that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and wonder if America will ever be the same, if the promise really exists.  People want to hope and they want real change.  But they don't want to change.  We keep wanting things to get easier, to be handed to us, and we forget that what made America great was our Protestant work ethic.  The fact that we as Christians work not for a paycheck (primarily) instead we work to the best of our ability to please God who has given us gifts and abilities to benefit others and his kingdom.  So let's continue to hope in America, to watch the Olympics, (in 2012) to believe in  the promise of America, but also remember that that promise only works if Christ is working in us.  If his goodness is permeating how we live and act and think.  Let's  keep Christ and not ourselves as central and America will once again be the nation that stood up and shown the light as a city on the hill.

It seems like so long ago that a dark cloud hung over these Olympics as the life of a young Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili was taken due to neglecting on an insanely fast course that had people complaining before the tragedy about it's safety.  But just as life often teaches us from even the darkest times, light and hope break through.  There are numerous stories of individuals within and from outside of the luging community joining together to support the family and memory of Nodar.