As followers of Jesus Christ we believe that we are on this earth to make a difference. That we are here to influence and impact our culture and community in a positive way. This blog will focus on issues and challenges and how we can bring about a change.
We Need Overcomers
Posted on Friday, November 08th 2013 at 09:53 am
I had an opportunity this week to speak to the students at PPEP. Dr. John Arnold started PPEP when he was a young Baptist Pastor. His church began ministering to migrant workers bringing a school bus called La Tortuga to the fields to educate the children and adults. In 45 years the program has grown to include a high school, virtual on line education, adult education and micro business lending to help bring opportunity to the poor.
I knew the kids would have difficulty relating to me and their body language as I began showed me they were ready to tune out. After all what does a white guy in a suit know about being the son or daughter of poor immigrants? I talked about our radio stations and what we do and then I ventured into sensitive territory. I told them that I grew up poor and was ridiculed by the rich kids. My patched up thrift store clothes, taped up glasses and homemade haircut was something to laugh about. Today it would be popular, but back then I stood out like a sore thumb. So I detested those kids and grew to be a bitter young man with a chip on my shoulder.
When I got hired as a radio sales guy I felt elated when I "beat" the "rich" guys by selling them. I had become a Christian during this time and God convicted me and showed me that my attitude was one of covetousness (jealousy and greed) and that my bitter heart needed to be mended. I shared with the young people that God wants us to see all people the same whether they are rich or poor or no matter what their racial or social background is and to love them. I began to see my clients this way and to love them. They would share with me their problems and I realized that their problems were bigger than mine. Through this God also blessed me and I succeeded in sales and went on to manage the radio station. I could see in their eyes that they knew what I was talking about.
We can either let our life experiences make us bitter or better. There are some adults who because of their experiences make a bitter pill and they poison the next generation. There are others that choose to be overcomers and help the next generation succeed. There are thousands of young people in our community that are growing up in difficult circumstances. They will need mentors who will not poison them, but instead help them succeed. We need more overcomers.
Posted on Tuesday, October 15th 2013 at 09:08 am
David Fitzsimmons had a post where he linked "fundamentalist Christians" with the Tea Party. Whether this is true or not I don't think followers of Jesus Christ should link their faith with either party. This will tarnish our faith when hypocrisy is exposed in the party or a candidate has a moral failure. The Democratic Party will not perform social justice like Christ. The failure of the great society is a prime example. Not only has poverty increased since LBJ launched it to end poverty and bring social justice, but drug abuse, incarceration and kids being raised in single parent homes have increased. Nor will the Republican Party represent moral issues as Jesus would. The party may have it right on abortion and marriage, but they have also been the party of corporate cronyism and corruption. This led to the mortgage crisis and our current health care debacle. It is good to be politically active, but don't declare your party to be the chosen people or your candidate to be our salvation. Only through faith in Christ are you chosen and remember Jesus is our salvation.
Time For Reformation
Posted on Thursday, October 10th 2013 at 09:56 am
We dodged a bullet on Tuesday night. You may have read about the traffic stop that turned in to a major confrontation with immigration activists. It was a routine stop precipitated by a broken tail light. The driver and occupant of the vehicle didn't have driver's licenses and didn't speak English so the border patrol was called as required by the law. Within minutes nearly 100 protestors showed up at the site. Disgusting epithets were hurled at the officers and some of the protestors were very provocative even physically accosting the officers. The officers to their credit held their cool and acted extremely professionally. There restrained response kept this incident from being the conflagration that the organizers expected and wanted.
This manufactured incident and protest was a desperate attempt to bring attention to immigration reform. I believe comprehensive immigration reform needs to happen for 3 reasons:
1. We can't ignore 11 million people who are here illegally and we can't deport them. The status quo means that these folks will live in the shadows to be taken advantage of by ruthless handlers and unscrupulous employers. Tax revenues are lost and public safety is threatened by this shadow world.
2. We can't completely secure the border without Mexico being a partner. The fence is mainly symbolic and will not solve the problem. It symbolizes to us that we have done something about illegal immigration, it symbolizes to Mexico that they are treated like a plague or our enemy instead of our friend. We need Mexico to be a friend and a partner like Canada is.
3. Mexico is key to America's prosperity. Mexico has incredible natural resources like oil, agriculture, mineral wealth and their people. There is incredible opportunity for trade, tourism and manufacturing with Mexico.
SB 1070 was a clumsy response to the federal government not dealing with our immigration problem. The activists played a dangerous game trying to draw attention again to immigration reform. The answer is we need to have comprehensive immigration reform that humanely deals with the 11 million people living here illegally, (many of them children), and strengthens our relationship with Mexico as a partner in our security and economy.
Take the lead Tucson
Posted on Wednesday, September 18th 2013 at 08:55 am
This is an email I sent to the Mayor and Council. It is not just up to them to take the lead, we must, as the book says, raise up tribal leaders who care more about the community than their own businesses or interests.
Mayor and Council,
My wife has been reading this book. She keeps telling me I need to commend this to you. And one thing I have learned is my wife is usually right! Here is a link to the book:
The essence of the book is about the changing economy and how that will affect jobs. It also addresses how communities should position themselves to gain the good jobs and prosper.
I know that you all care about our community. And all of you have said that you are pro-business and for jobs. The problem I think we have had is that we haven't defined what that means and who we are. The scripture says that "without a vision the people perish". Imagine Greater Tucson was supposed to come up with the vision for our city. After years I haven't seen anything and now the staff has been laid off. What we have seen in other communities is that the leaders have established the vision. Mayor Chavez did this in Albuquerque and we have seen similar leadership in El Paso recently. We need to be ahead of the curve instead of behind it.
I remember a few years ago when I was doing business round tables for Rodney Glassman. We had Ernie Duarte and another council person at the luncheon and they were talking about changes in Developmental Services. The council person said that we had cut the permit process on new construction from over a year to 120 days. George Larsen then told the person that Albuquerque had cut their process to 90 days and 60 if you hire an expediter. The look on the council persons face betrayed that they didn't have a clue. In the past we haven't seemed to know what our competition was doing. Just like in sports we need to not only know what they are doing, but have a plan to beat them.
I like the idea about incubating businesses in Tucson. We have the U of A and that should be a great brain pipeline. But, this will take years to develop. We need to have a short term plan to attract good paying employers to Tucson. This will involve streamlining processes and giving incentives. We need to give our people a chance to fly instead of building a bigger safety net. We support the Community Food Bank, Gospel Rescue Mission, Primavera and other non-profits serving the poor, but if they continue to expand that means we are losing the battle.
We often say here that we "don't want to be like Phoenix". What does that mean? I understand that we don't want to grow as big as them, but are there things that we can learn from them? They have recovered and are steaming ahead while we are lagging behind. Why can't we attract corporate headquarters, high tech businesses and manufacturing like they do?
We must encourage the businesses we have to stay here and grow their businesses. We had Chuck Huckleberry on John C. Scott yesterday. I called in and asked him about property taxes. They announced that taxes would be going down, but that was just for residential. Our commercial tax went up 20% ($4,000) on our properties. I told him that many small businesses may have to cut employees or reduce their hours. So the people get a lower tax bill, but then lose their jobs. He said the answer was growing our businesses. Of course that answer is right, but how can we grow our businesses if the economy doesn't grow in Tucson? Our business has been flat for 3 years. Mainly because our clients (local small businesses) are either hurting financially and can't pay their bills or going bankrupt. The property tax is something beyond your control, but you could make the process easier to open businesses and not punish those that are here. What Texas Roadhouse went through was ridiculous. The fact that it cost them nearly double what it does anywhere else to go through the permitting is message to other businesses to stay away from Tucson. And I have had clients, like Chad's Steakhouse, that were harassed by inspectors and forced to put in needless changes to their operation. The end result was that they went out of business. That ends the sales tax stream and employment opportunity.
I am not a half empty kind of guy. I love Tucson and believe we can have a great future. But we need a vision and leadership. Visit Tucson has done that. They have a new vision and are aggressively going after a new market (young people). We need to have dramatic new vision for Tucson and it needs to be trumpeted far and wide to let people know that Tucson is open for business. It is time for Tucson to take the lead and let others eat our dust.
Protecting little eyes and ears
Posted on Monday, August 26th 2013 at 09:40 am
The news channels and the social media are abuzz with the story about Miley Cyrus' coming out party on the MTV music awards last night. This was her attempt to make the cross over from Hannah Montana (children's show) to an "adult" star. Her salacious performance was troubling even to the entertainment reporter and CNN anchor that covered the story this morning. While she was doing her "adult" routine the camera panned to Will Smith and his children. The look of shock and disappointment on the kids' faces spoke volumes. The reporter made a comment that MTV likes to push the envelope, but, she questioned whether this fit the TV 14 (appropriate for 14 year olds or over) rating. Carol Costello (the anchor woman) said we are used to seeing adults do this sort of thing but the image of Hannah Montana was too much. That defines the problem.
Why are we used to adults doing this sort of thing? And whether it is a child star desperate to rekindle her career or Lady Gaga we should realize that kids are being affected by what they see and hear. We are allowing the entertainment industry to steal the innocence of our children and poison their minds with what they see and hear unfiltered through the TV, radio and movies.
Tipper Gore formed the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985 to try to reign in the entertainment industry and give parents the tools to protect their children. They were effective in getting "parental advisory" stickers on music labels. It is a shame that when her husband Al was running for President she left the group probably because the entertainment industries support is critical for a democrat to win.
Perhaps this Miley Cyrus moment will give pause to parents that we need to stand up against Entertainment Industrial Complex and protect our children and grandchildren from their mind pollution. Beyond our families we also have a responsibility to change the culture and to protect those children who are fatherless or without parental protection (James 1 tells us to watch after the widows and orphans).
There used to be a song we sang when we were kids "Be careful little eyes what you see". The song admonishes children to be careful of what they see, hear or what their hands do. That song illustrates how what kids see and hear influences what their hands do. It is time for adults to stand up and protect the little eyes and ears of little ones and guard their hearts and minds.
City of Tolerance
Posted on Wednesday, August 07th 2013 at 09:16 am
I wrote this letter to Mayor and Council after last nights vote to fine retail businesses for abandoned shopping carts.
I know you voted last night to fine stores for shopping carts that are abandoned. There is no question that they are an eye sore. But, how did those shopping carts get there? I have often seen people pushing carts down the road without a care. We don't hold those that steal the carts accountable, but instead we punish the victim since they are an easy target. I have experienced this as well regarding people dumping trash on our tower sites (see picture below). It happens so often that I now am friends with the city inspector and he calls me instead of sending a letter letting me know I need to clean up our property.
I believe our high tolerance for nuisance crimes in our city like stealing carts, litter, and other "minor" vandalism is breeding general disrespect for the law and those that enforce it. I am on the Tucson Police Foundation board and recently we received a report from a senior commander about the increase of violent crime against officers. She said she was looking forward to retirement in a couple of years because 'the criminals are getting more bold in their violent attacks on officer's".
When New York City was the most dangerous city in America the Mayor and Police Commissioner instituted their "broken glass" policy. The theory was that if you break a window you would be arrested. The policy produced miraculous results. It turned out that those that would "break glass" would also steal your car or assault you. Crime dropped dramatically and NYC is one of the safest cities in America. I would ask you to consider policies that hold criminals accountable and not punish tax paying business owners. Continuing to burden business owners will eventually make them scream like Peter Finch in the movie "Network" "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore". And continuing to give criminals a "pass" encourages greater crime.
A friend of mine who was a drug addict told me that if one more person had "loved" him, they would have killed him. Every time he needed a fix he would plead with his family or friends that he needed money for food for his kids or some other excuse. They gave him money and he got high, until they finally showed him real love. It was tough, but now he is clean and sober. We don't love people by enabling them.
Our Greatest Resource
Posted on Wednesday, July 24th 2013 at 02:44 pm
What is Tucson's greatest resource? We know that Arizona was known for the 5 C's (cattle, copper, cotton, climate and citrus) in the 1950's. Phoenix has developed into a major metropolitan community with corporate headquarters and high tech manufacturing companies. Tucson has remained a government supported city. We grew because of Davis Monthan AFB and benefitted from Hughes Aircraft moving to Tucson and we have the U of A. All of these are government supported. The major economic private sector growth has happened north of us in Phoenix. Our greatest resource in Tucson is the retired people that choose to live in Tucson because we aren't Phoenix. They like the culture, climate and community that make Tucson special. Tens of thousands of highly educated and accomplished people live here 8 or more months of the year, but most of them don't consider this their home. They are connected back where they came from and disconnect when they come to Tucson. Serving on many non-profit boards I have come to realize that the resources in Tucson are limited. We don't have the big companies and corporate headquarters that dominate Phoenix. The successful business people in Tucson are overtaxed and some, like Jim Click, seem to be giving to everything. So our non-profit organizations are stretched and the need for volunteers and support is critical. Living in Oro Valley where most of my neighbors are retired I realized that they have much to give but aren't connected. So we developed "Our Greatest Resource" campaign to get them connected and serving in the many non-profit organizations that are transforming our community. We are partnering with the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona to direct our seniors to the non-profits; Coach Lute Olson did the PSA that starts off "since I retired I realize I can only play so much golf" and then encourages retired people like him to "get back in the game". Most of the radio, TV and print publications are participating in this campaign that will begin in August. My hope is that we will see thousands of seniors who are sitting on the bench get back in the game and help to make Tucson a more prosperous, educated, healthy and wholesome place. For more information on how you can get in the game go to http://www.Volunteersoaz.org.
Going to the Dogs
Posted on Tuesday, July 16th 2013 at 10:17 am
Are you ashamed when you're naked? I heard RC Sproul teach about nakedness. He said that human beings are the only primates that aren't fully clothed with hair. Don't you think that it is interesting that we are the only creature that makes clothing to cover our nakedness? We also go to great lengths designing colorful and attractive clothing to cover ourselves. RC was talking about Noah getting drunk and in his drunken stupor lying in his tent passed out and naked. His son Ham saw his father and made fun of his nakedness. His other sons Shem and Japheth walked backwards (so they wouldn't see their father's nakedness) with a cloth and covered their father. You see since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden being naked and exposed to others was shameful. Conquered armies were paraded naked to humiliate them. And the Romans would crucify criminals naked as a further way of shaming them. We live in a time when human nudity is paraded and there is little shame in it. There has never been a time in history when pornography has been more available and accepted. From the beginning being naked was reserved for the marital bed and was sacred. Now texting naked pictures is applauded and we even see members of congress participate. Where is our shame? Some would say this is progress, but I think it demonstrates the further devolution of mankind in becoming more like the rest of the animal kingdom. So the expression that "we are going to the dogs" is beginning to have a new meaning.
Posted on Monday, June 24th 2013 at 03:45 pm
A friend of mine prayed for a wife for many years. He was in his forties and had never been married. He met his future wife at church. She shared his values and they fell in love. They began talking about marriage and planning their future. A few months later he was diagnosed with cancer. He began treatment and they prayed for healing. His future wife is a nurse and loved him and cared for him as he fought the disease.
Their wedding was joyous. Her children had already embraced him as their dad and his daughter spoke at the wedding about him being the dad she never had. The disease continued to progress unabated through treatment and prayer. In the last few weeks it became apparent to my friend that God wasn't going to heal him and he began to plan the future for his wife and children. We saw him last week for the last time on this earth. He shared with us how the Lord had blessed him with a wonderful wife and family and his hope to see them again in heaven. This was inspirational to all of us. He was able to wrap up his affairs and is now in the arms of God.
Scripture tells us not to let the sun go down on our wrath. My friend had time to make sure things were in order, but we may not have that chance. The statistics on death are pretty amazing; they are 1 out of 1. So it isn't a question of if, but when we will die. So before that day it is best to make sure we are right with God and to be reconciled with those around us.
Jesus told his disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven. Then one of his disciples Thomas (the same Thomas that after Jesus rose from the dead said that unless he touched Jesus' pierced hands and feet he wouldn't believe) said "Lord we don't know where you are going so how can we know the way?" Jesus replied "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me". Bud Potter has found the way.
Your word is your bond
Posted on Friday, June 07th 2013 at 11:13 am
When I was a kid my grandfather owned a gasoline trucking business. He would do business with a handshake and would talk about how your "word is your bond". That was the prevailing sentiment 50 years ago. You kept your word. We have seen that eroded as moral relativism has taken over. So today you keep your word if it doesn't inconvenience you. For those of us that are married we need to keep our vows and not succumb to the moral ambiguity of our culture. Here is a story that you may have seen before that I think is a good illustration.
There was a man who had grown tired of his wife. He fell in "love" with a younger girl at work. So one night he told his wife that he was divorcing her. She told him that she would give him the divorce and whatever he wanted if he would do one thing. He asked her what it was and she said that she wanted him to carry her up the stairs of their home like he did when they were married every day for 30 days. He thought that reasonable so he agreed. The first day he thought that she seemed lighter than he remembered and each day she grew ligher still. He found himself looking in her eyes and remembering. On the last day he carried her she said "lay me in the bed and give me a kiss". He did so and realized he still loved her and left her and went to work. Later that day she died and went to be with the Lord. She knew she was dying and just wanted to keep the promise "till death do us part".
Posted on Tuesday, May 21st 2013 at 09:13 am
The controversy concerning whether the city of Tucson should sell El Rio Golf Course to Grand Canyon University (GCU) has crossed the line into dangerous territory. There can be an honest disagreement about the options for the property:
1. Should the city continue to subsidize El Rio $500,000 or more per year when they don't have funds to do the basics; fire, police, potholes etc.?
2. Is there historical significance to the property and should it be preserved? This would involve further subsidies.
3. Should it be sold to GCU and recoup some of their losses and bring in hundreds of jobs and 5,000 students and the economic benefit of that? Keep in mind the city has 5 years left on the First Tee contract that they would have to mitigate.
During this often heated discussion an issue has been put forth that is of grave concern to those of us that value our religious freedom. There are some that oppose GCU that have said that the city should not be dealing with them because of their religious beliefs concerning human sexuality. GCU believes, (gasp), that God created men and women distinctly unique and designed sex (and a baby carriage) for marriage. So any form of sex outside of marriage is not what God designed. This may be a shocking concept to many, but I assure you that our grandparents considered this "normal". Regardless of what you think about this, our religious freedom (including what we believe) is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
There is great confusion about what this means, but there shouldn't be, all you have to do is read it. So if the government prohibits the free exercise of religion, or our freedom of speech (in context this includes religious expression) it violates the First Amendment. If religious organizations are told what they can believe, you are establishing religion. This is no different than in China where they have officially recognized churches and all the other churches are underground, or in Islamist countries where they impose Sharia Law. Those that value freedom and liberty should be outraged if our local, state or federal government begins to screen religious organizations before they are allowed to purchase property or otherwise function as a church.
Pastor Martin Niemoller captured this in his poem about his imprisonment in Nazi Germany:
First they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
If you won't defend the first amendment rights of a religious organization that you don't agree with, maybe there won't be anyone left to defend the freedoms you hold dear.
Posted on Wednesday, May 01st 2013 at 10:39 am
There is a lot of history here in Tucson. I am involved in a project researching the Christian history in our community and it is a lot richer than you might think. Most of us know about Father Kino, but you may not know about Nathaniel Plumer who was a banker who founded the YMCA or Oliver Comstock and Harold Bell Wright who ministered to tuberculosis patients. There is other history in Tucson including our bawdy, brawling, brothel filled Wild West past. And did you know that Margaret Sanger, (the founder of Planned Parenthood), started Planned Parenthood (PP) in Tucson and died here? I thought of Margaret this week when the FDA approved the use of "Plan B" (the morning after pill), for girls as young as 15. These girls couldn't get an aspirin from the school nurse without a parent's permission, but they can now get the morning after pill. The debate concerning abortion is often positioned as those that are pro-choice and pro-life. This masks the origin and intent of Margaret Sanger and PP. Margaret was a proponent of Eugenics, the theory of Francis Galton. His ideas spawned from his cousins (Charles Darwin) theory of evolution. Eugenics in a nutshell involves sifting humanity and separating the wheat from the chaff. Those viewed as superior would be preferred and those viewed as inferior (people of color, promiscuous women, homosexuals, physically or mentally flawed) would be eliminated through birth control and abortion. Eugenics was adopted by the Nazi's and justified the killing of Jews, disabled, homosexuals and mentally unfit. These extreme measures were rejected and replaced with a "kinder and gentler" approach and the racist criteria for elimination was replaced by generic "population control". But, the true purpose of PP is still alive, (even if millions of babies are dead), and that is to eliminate those that are a drag on society. Frankly single mothers having babies don't have much of a future and their progeny are more likely to be drug addicts or in prison. If it is all about survival of the fittest why should we care about the stragglers that are holding us back? Even though this makes practical sense to unburden society with these unwanted children what has it done to our soul? We have been having a conversation about the violence in our culture (focused on gun control) I think that part of the problem is that we no longer value life and are no better than Adolph Eichmann. If life is not valued then killing and violence is justified. Jesus said "I have come to give you life and that more abundantly". This is Plan A and should be preferred to Plan B.
We don't want to be like Phoenix!
Posted on Wednesday, April 03rd 2013 at 09:12 am
"We don't want to be like Phoenix. " I can't tell you how many times I have heard that statement since moving to Tucson in 1985. At first it seemed to resonate with me because Tucson seemed to be "better" in many ways. I still believe that Tucson has more natural beauty surrounding us and our close proximity to Mexico offers a unique cultural experience. But, I believe our dismissive attitude blindsided us and has put us in a precarious position. It is clear when you examine the history of Tucson that those in power hitched their wagons to tourism and retirees and rejected manufacturing, mining and commerce. They didn't want to grow like Phoenix. This focus didn't stop the growth and led us to be the 4th most impoverished city in the nation because the job growth was in servicing the tourists and retirees that flocked here. So now what you hear is that it's "those folks in Phoenix's fault" that our roads are like mine fields and our city is crumbling like Beirut. My grave concern is that Tucson will become surrounded by prospering communities like Marana, Oro Valley, Sahaurita, and Vail and that we will continue to decay. The solution is accepting responsibility for where we are today and correct the course. The good news is that we have a Mayor and some councilmembers that understand this but, changing course is a slow process. And there are other councilmembers that are bent on continuing the old course regardless of the consequences. I believe there are three things that need to happen to change our course:
1. Incorporation. With nearly 1/3 of our community unincorporated we do not get our share of the revenue from the state. This is certainly tens of millions of dollars and could be closer to 100 million. We also have some of our brightest and influential citizens that aren't engaged nor represented.
2. Don't fund neighborhood associations. The pendulum swung too far when Mayor Tom Volgy instituted policy that gave too much power to these associations. This has included funding their newsletters and block parties. This gave him and his ilk a voting block eager to reelect them. These associations have held sway over building projects and companies moving to Tucson because they were also given the power to deny projects and extort concessions.
3. Become like Phoenix. There has been progress in the development process in our city, but few outside of Tucson know that. TREO has had a tough job trying to sell companies to move here because of that perception and because we weren't in the game with our competition. Phoenix and other communities like Albuquerque and Salt Lake City offer incentives for businesses to move there. We need to compete with them.
We have gone beyond being a sleepy tourist town where the Hollywood elites and the rich and famous came to play and be served. Our population has grown in spite of the "road blocks" that were put up. So now we have to deal with sustaining a community of a million people and offering meaningful employment opportunities for our children and grandchildren that graduate from the U of A. If we don't change course now then our beloved ship will be lost in the storm.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste
Posted on Tuesday, February 12th 2013 at 10:41 am
There is little doubt that we have an education problem in America. Fingers are pointing and wagging while our children suffer and our nation loses ground. As China and India rapidly overtake America in equipping the next generation with the education and skills to accede the world throne we are quibbling instead of rationally addressing the problem. I see 3 things we need to do to regain our place in the world:
1. Parents need to be engaged. Dropping our kids off to school and expecting the school to turn them into educated and equipped young adults is akin to dropping your kids off to Sunday school and expecting your kids to become committed Christians. Values are better caught than taught. You may be familiar with Dr. Benjamin Carson who recently spoke at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. Dr. Carson is African-American born into abject poverty. His mother had a 3rd grade education and worked as a house keeper to provide for her 2 boys. Even though she didn't know how to read she insisted that her boys read 2 books a week and limited their TV viewing. Dr. Carson became a world renowned neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins and his brother is an engineer. Parents must be engaged in order for kids to succeed.
2. We must reform our school system. The movie "Waiting for Superman" made this point clearly. Michelle Rhee (featured in the movie) took on the education establishment when she was the Chancellor of the Washington D.C. school system. D.C. "invests" the third highest per student in America yet has one of the worst records for student performance. She instituted "radical" reforms including firing administrators, workers and teachers (some had hit children, had sex with kids or missed 78 days of school). This upset the educational establishment even though test scores began to rise and graduation rates improved. Michelle believes we must put the students before the teachers, administrators and unions and encourage school competition (charter schools), vouchers for private school and reform in our public schools.
3. We need a 2 track education system. Nearly half of the kids that start college don't finish and most kids are majoring in things that don't matter. Unless you are majoring in the hard sciences, math or engineering you're probably wasting time and money. In Europe, Japan China and India children are assessed at a young age and then put on either a college track or a technical track. My son recently got out of the Marines and has been going to Pima on the GI Bill. He has decided he doesn't want to finish college instead he wants to be an Electrician. Did you know the average age of Electricians and other skilled workers is 53? We have held up a college degree and demeaned mechanics, electricians, carpenters and plumbers so now we will have a shortage. We also have short changed a generation of young people that could be gainfully and happily employed and are sitting on the sidelines.
We live in a society that encourages blaming others rather than accepting personal responsibility. That's how lawyers make their living. We need to encourage parents to take responsibility for their kids' education and hold them accountable. We also need to embrace reforms in our public schools. And college isn't for every kid and not every degree is equal. We need skilled workers and should applaud kids with the aptitude to pursue these honorable professions. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but not all minds are the same. Celebrating this kind of diversity is a good thing for our nation's future.
Losing our vision for the future
Posted on Tuesday, February 05th 2013 at 09:55 am
Immigration reform is finally on the table. Frankly we should have dealt with this years ago when President Bush tried to push a solution with the help of Senators McCain and Feingold. They couldn't get bi-partisan traction because the unions oppose regularization (most people forget that Cesar Chavez and the farm workers union opposed migrant workers) and those on the right fearful about open borders. You could also throw in those that benefit from the status quo; employers taking advantage of cheap labor and the handlers of the illegals who benefit financially. The underlying issue behind illegal immigration is the lack of opportunity in Mexico; most immigrants primarily are here is for work. We have not done a good job working with Mexico to develop a strong trading partner and economic opportunities. Instead of manufacturing our products in China where often they steal our patents and manufacture knock offs, we should be manufacturing those products in Mexico. We currently import 75% of our fruits and vegetables that we consume during the winter from Mexico. Mexico is extraordinarily blessed with natural resources like oil, mineral and agricultural wealth. And as Mark Steyn put forth in "America Alone" unlike Europe whose immigrants don't share their historic faith and values, Mexican immigrants do share our historic faith and values. These are good reasons for us to step up our efforts with Mexico. There have been two things that have thwarted our partnership with Mexico:
1. We have not treated Mexico with respect and dignity. Our government often lectures Mexico about propriety while we weather one political scandal or another. We build a fence on the Mexican border and treat their citizens as criminals while we have a nearly open border with Canada. We encouraged President Calderon to go hard on the Cartel's and then legalized Marijuana in 18 states. The list could go on and on. When people are disrespected they often behave badly.
2. Mexico has been an oligarchy. The same people have been in control in Mexico for hundreds of years. They have a hierarchical system and have valued personal wealth accumulation and immediate family as more important than the community and country. This is changing. The younger generation (under 40) grasps the importance of putting the country ahead of personal gain. We have a golden opportunity to reach out to this generation.
The security of our nation and our economic future rests not on the building of a fence, but on building our relationship with Mexico. If Mexico becomes a trusted partner in trade, manufacturing, tourism and our national security we will both prosper. Tucson is in a unique position to prosper in this relationship. We are not going to attract businesses (like Phoenix) that are looking to relocate due to our historically anti-business attitude. We do have a great opportunity to prosper as goods and services transfer through our portal and as the standard of living rises in Mexico and more come here to shop. Turning a blind eye to this opportunity will cause us to lose our vision in the future.
Fear or Faith?
Posted on Tuesday, January 08th 2013 at 10:27 am
We continue to debate what can be done about gun violence in our national debate. I was at a dinner party the other night. One of my friends commented how it freaked him out when he first came to Tucson and saw men with guns strapped to their sides "like the old west", then he came to accept it as a part of Arizona culture. I looked into the eyes of another lady from Manhattan and saw fear and revulsion. From her perspective her second home in Tucson is like visiting a primitive culture. We then began a conversation that I will continue in this blog. Fear is a very powerful emotion. It has been said that it is the opposite of faith. Faith is part of the big three including hope and love that the apostle Paul wrote about. Fear fuels cowardice and violence.
There is fear on the part of people that don't own guns. They believe that if we had no guns we would have no violence. Pierce Morgan on CNN advocated for confiscation because he believes it made his native Britain a safer place. But, did you know that Britain has the most violent crime of any rich nation except Australia? They just use knives and clubs instead of guns.
There is fear on the part of gun owners that they will lose their right to own a gun and to defend themselves from criminals and tyranny (as the 2nd amendment allows). America is not Britain, (just as Tucson is not Manhattan), we will not tolerate the loss of our 2nd amendment rights. If we wouldn't have had an armed militia we would still be a colony of Britain. We also know that the confiscation of guns enabled Adolph Hitler to send 6 million Jews to their deaths without much of a fight. But, we need to examine reasonably what should be done to curb gun violence. I believe there are 3 things:
1. Address our culture of violence. Violent entertainment (movies, TV and video games) does contribute to the desensitization of people towards committing violent acts. Those in the industry that deny this must explain why a :30 commercial network television costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. If there is no influence then there would be no advertising value.
2. Address mental health issues. Since the movie "One flew over the Cuckoo's nest" it has become increasingly difficult to commit people to mental health facilities that are a danger to themselves and others.
3. Address gun access. It is reasonable to require a path to gun ownership including background checks and proper training on handling and safety. It would also be helpful for gun rights organization to become involved in the training and advocacy for gun safety.
It is time for reasonable people to come together to find a reasonable solution to gun violence. This must include people being able to defend themselves against the rapists and murderers who will obtain guns illegally no matter what we do. If we move forward with sound solutions then our national fear will be replaced by faith. And faith in the right thing is truly divine.
Time to stand
Posted on Tuesday, December 18th 2012 at 04:13 pm
This terrible tragedy in Connecticut has sparked a debate. Most of the debate centers on gun violence. I think it is reasonable to examine our gun laws in relationship to the 2nd amendment. Obviously our founders couldn't have imagined the violent acts we have witnessed from Columbine to Connecticut. The 2nd amendment was (is) intended to ensure that we are not defenseless against criminals or enemies foreign or domestic. I think where we can find common ground is that those that are mentally ill or felons should not be able to buy or possess guns.
But, I think we need to move beyond that and go deeper. Someone that would take a gun and kill others indiscriminately would also do other violent acts without a gun. This speaks to their mental (and spiritual) condition. Pavlov demonstrated that you can condition a dog (or a person) to get a prescribed response. Combat video games are used to condition our troops for battle. Since I was a kid we have seen steady moral erosion in the entertainment industry (movies, TV, music and video games). Sex and gratuitous violence dominates the entertainment industry often with no clear distinction between good and evil. The Lone Ranger has given way to Kill Bill.
Family also plays a role. We no longer have Ozzie and Harriet, many kids are growing up in single parent homes or their parents are otherwise absorbed and distracted. Kids that don't have supervision and good role models are more likely to go off the rail.
The entertainment industry and the condition of the family are symptoms of the real problem; our spiritual condition. People talk about praying and God a lot in our country. At the Grammy's it seems like everyone thanks God. But, do we know Him? When you ask people about what the Bible teaches about God and His standard they get squishy. Sex before marriage is now normal, living together as common as test driving a car, where once we wondered what the definition of "is" is, now we wonder what the definition of marriage is. We abort babies for convenience, our relationship experts are celebrities, and we learn our moral values from the Kardashians. Is it any wonder we are in trouble? Jesus said to Pontius Pilate "everyone on the side of truth listens to me", Pilate replied "what is truth?" That seems to be the question of the day. The old axiom has never ringed truer "if you don't stand for something you will fall for anything". We are falling; it is time to take a stand for the truth.
Posted on Wednesday, December 12th 2012 at 10:40 am
Jesus told the story of a rich, young ruler (business man) who asked him "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus asked him if he had kept commandments like not stealing, lying, committing adultery, murder and honoring his father and mother. He said he had, so Jesus looked at him with love and told him he lacked one thing: to sell all he had and give to the poor. Reminds me of Curly in City Slickers, it often comes down to one thing! This man kept the law and from all outward appearances was righteous. But, the one thing that he lacked was that he coveted (that was also the commandment Jesus left out of his inquiry). This was not an indictment of his wealth; this was a problem with his heart. The young man went away sad. I have often wondered what happened to him. Some believe he could be Joseph who was a wealthy man that helped fund the early church (he was nicknamed Barnabas which means "son of encouragement"). That would fit since Jesus came to draw sinners to repentance.
This is the unique balance that we see in scripture. We know that the "love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). So it isn't money that is the problem, it is the love of money that is the root. How could you have the gift of giving (Romans 12: 6-8) unless you have something to give? So for those that have been blessed with wealth I believe it is for 3 reasons:
1. So that you can exercise the gift of giving. This also involves stewardship and discernment. How you give and who you give to is critical. You can actually hurt people by giving to them.
2. To circulate what he has given you by creating jobs (through your business) or opportunity through investment. I never got a job from someone that was poor. Gifted business people give the gift that keeps on giving; a job.
3. To enjoy what God has given you. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 "Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil-this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart." The wealthy people I have known have the most difficulty with this. They often feel guilty enjoying the gift of God.
The Bible has a lot to say about money. Money itself isn't evil it is the love of money that is sin. Covetousness tripped up the rich young business leader. Coveting is craving what others have. I am very concerned this sin is growing in our nation as we see the movement to "tax the rich" and "redistribute wealth". We shouldn't covet what others have, we should be thankful for what God has given us. If God hasn't given you wealth maybe it is because He knows you can't handle it. Those that have been given wealth have the responsibility of a steward to give, create opportunity for others and to enjoy what God has given them.
Dependence or independence?
Posted on Tuesday, October 09th 2012 at 09:55 am
Did you see the riots in Greece upon the arrival of Chancellor Merkel of Germany? There were 50,000 people rioting because Germany and the leaders of the EU are requiring austerity measures in exchange for bailing out Greece. Greece's problem is that the people have become completely dependent on the government from cradle to grave. The government can no longer meet these obligations because they aren't sustainable. What they fail to see (we aren't far behind) is that they are the government and responsible. There aren't enough "rich" people to carry the burden in their own country so they are mad at the Chancellor for requiring financial responsibility. They are like spoiled children without regard to what their parents have to sacrifice to give them the lifestyle they enjoy. This will happen in America if we continue to follow the lead of Europe.
America was built on rugged individualism, personal responsibility and free enterprise. When my ancestors came from Europe they had a dream of freedom and opportunity. They homesteaded 200 acres of land in Minnesota and they prospered according to their abilities. Some of them never grew beyond a small family farm; others expanded their farms by buying up land around them. My grandfather left the farm and started a fuel trucking business supplying the farmers. My Uncle was a teller at the local bank and bought the bank with a loan from my grandfather and other relatives. His business skill and winning personality made him very successful and his investment expertise made him rich. Free enterprise doesn't make us all equal, it gives all equal opportunity. Once we give up our independence for government dependence we will cease to be free.
Lessons from history
Posted on Friday, September 21st 2012 at 10:11 am
I was talking with a friend of mine about Arizona history. It boggles the mind that people would come from east of the Mississippi in horse drawn wagons to hopefully strike it rich mining or ranching. If they broke down along the way there was no AAA to call or cell phones for that matter. When they settled here they had no air conditioning, plumbing, electricity or any modern "conveniences:" If they ran out of provisions or got sick there was no government program or healthcare to provide for them. People relied on their own wits, hard work and the compassion of their neighbors when they hit hard times. That "rugged individualism" is what built America before we slowly allowed the government to take over more of our lives. What scares me is what happens when the government fails us or is no longer able to bail us out? When Mitt Romney brought up the 47% of Americans that don't pay income tax it started a firestorm of controversy. One commentator accused Mitt of degrading retirees and disabled people as "moochers". That inflames people and takes us away from the real issue, have we as Americans become too dependent on government? When Katrina hit New Orleans a large portion of the population that remained after the warnings to evacuate were people that were dependent on the government. They expected the government to rescue them and appeared nearly helpless and incapable of helping their neighbor. What will the future be like if we continue to grow a dependent class of people? And if the government is incapable of meeting the needs of these dependent people chaos will reign. When we examine our history and marvel at the capacity of our ancestors to survive and through their hard work and cooperation with their neighbors build the foundation of this great land, it begs the question could we do what they did? If not we truly have not learned from history.
The Price of Freedom
Posted on Friday, September 14th 2012 at 09:54 am
Have you watched the Hunger Games? The books have been huge best sellers with young adults. The authors premise is that after some unknown apocalyptic event North America comes under the rule of tyrannical elites and the masses are in poverty stricken districts where hunger is the way of life. The yearly "entertainment" consists of 2 people being chosen from each district to fight to the death (with the elites controlling the action and influencing the outcome) with those from other districts until one comes out victorious. These apocalyptic constructs generally allude to some cataclysmic event caused by war. Those of us that are Christians understand that the "end times" unravels quite differently and is precipitated by "birth pangs". But when I watched the Hunger Games I was struck with another notion. The idea of a tyrannical government controlling our lives and choosing winners and losers is not too far fetched. We seem very eager to give up the freedom that our forefathers fought for in exchange for the government taking care of us. Nearly half of Americans are dependant on government entitlements (food stamps, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, social security etc.). Much of what the government does used to be done by families, neighbors or churches. We have given that up for the "security" of government. But, what if our government ceases to be "benevolent" and becomes tyrannical? Being free does involve personal responsibility coupled with compassion and service to those in need around us. That is the price of freedom.
We need a square
Posted on Friday, August 31st 2012 at 10:12 am
It is amazing that the biggest criticism you hear about Mitt Romney is that he is a "stiff" (or what we used to call a "square") because of his straight laced past and being a successful CEO. I remember when I was a teenager in the early seventies. I was a square my sophomore year, then switched to the other side by my senior year because I wanted to be "cool". Those that were cool talked a lot about getting wasted and partying, most of them ended up wasting their lives unless they made a right turn.
At the convention you also got insight into Mitt's charitable side. He gave of his time and treasure to help those in need, never being paid for what he did. We have heard a lot about how the president did community organizing, but not much about his charitable side. This illustrates the difference between the two men. Mitt believes that we should have the opportunity to succeed and then give our time and treasure. The president believes that by taxing us more the government can take care of the needs of the people.
Mitt is probably not the guy you picture having a beer with. That fits the current president. And he wasn't the guy taking bong hits with his buddies in the car that shoe fits the current president. Mitt may remind you of your current boss. But, if you have a job you should be grateful that there are some "squares" out there that chose the right path.
As it says in Ecclesiastes 3 there is a time for everything. The time for partying is over, it's time for the life of the party to take his bow and it's time for the CEO to lead America to work.
Is your boat rising?
Posted on Monday, August 27th 2012 at 02:38 pm
This weekend I was doing some research on companies like ours. There is a web site where you can look up the income statements and balance sheets of organizations. As I looked at some of the statements I had a moment of jealousy. The organizations I looked at had a lot more assets than our company. It is normal to have feelings like that. But, then I remembered how much we have been blessed. And although the other organizations are bigger than us we have all benefitted from having an even playing field and opportunity. This reminded me of our community. In the past the few have benefited from the unequal playing field and confusing codes and regulation in our city. They have gotten rich while others lacked opportunity. If the playing field was even and the codes and regulation fair to all we would see many more business people prosper and many more jobs created from the increased economic opportunity. Yes, if our community continues to become more "business friendly", (which I view as fairness and opportunity) there will be many that get "rich" and the lifestyles of all will be raised. As John Kennedy said "when the tide rises all boats rise". So when you watch someone else's boat rise remember that yours is rising too with the tide.
Posted on Friday, August 24th 2012 at 02:10 pm
As the summer pool season winds down, I'd like to highlight a public/private partnership called Summer Splash that made a huge difference in the lives of families across Tucson.
On May 30, parents, children, local businesspeople and city leaders celebrated Summer Splash. It was more than just the reopening of six city of Tucson public pools; we celebrated the generosity of the community.
In 2009, 17 of Tucson's 27 public pools closed because of a Tucson Parks and Recreation management decision to close them. Only 10 of them remained open, until the Summer Splash program raised nearly $100,000 in donations to help reopen six public pools.
I said then and I maintain that the problems in our cities can't be resolved by just government. We have to have the community involved.
I helped spearhead the fundraising effort and I was humbled by the donors' sense of responsibility.
It's a tough time, but they stepped up even though they didn't have a lot, and they gave. They gave to open public pools all over town in areas where private pools are not an option, where public pools are a necessity, not a luxury.
As we were planning for the Summer Splash, I read in the Arizona Daily Star that taxpayer dollars that could otherwise be used for roads and parks were covering the city's golf debts.
I have since learned that City Golf hasn't been generating sufficient revenues to cover its operating expenses for many years now.
At a time when Tucson's charter-mandated responsibilities such as police, fire, potholes and pools are underfunded, it is unconscionable that taxpayers are subsidizing city golf courses.
It is especially disturbing to me that public pools were closed while golf was and is being subsidized.
I have nothing personal against golf, but I question the management decision to close public pools while continuing to subsidize City Golf.
There are over 50 golf courses in this community - lots of places to play. Only 10 public pools were open when we initiated what would become Summer Splash - not a lot of places to splash.
It is clear to me that City Golf must find a way to pay its own way.
The big question is how does City Golf go about sustaining itself into the future while not taking away from Tucson's charter-mandated responsibilities?
If local businesses are going to do our part and pitch in to help as I think we have and should continue to do, then we want the city to do the same.
It is not fair for the Tucson to have its hand out for pools while golf is being subsidized.
It may require some tough decisions for the Tucson mayor and City Council regarding golf, but tough decisions are what all our local businesses and family households have been forced to make the past few years.
It's time that our city did as well.
Be a good sport
Posted on Monday, August 13th 2012 at 10:11 am
I saw a picture this week of Tanya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan after the 1994 Olympic skating trials (this was before Tanya tried to get a leg up on Nancy by taking her out at the knees). Tanya Harding's face seethed with jealousy as she stared at her rival. Not much of a good sport. We were always taught in athletics to compete with everything we had, but if we lost to congratulate the winners. That is good sportsmanship.
Most of us embrace the concept of good sportsmanship in athletics. Tanya Harding's low blow on her rival nearly 2 decades ago is still remembered in the same way as Michael Vick's dog fighting. Her covetousness brought out the worst in her. Yet in the game of life being a bad sport is trending up. Many of us have competed for the prize but our dreams of victory have not been realized. Shouldn't we still be able to cheer on those that have succeeded? We are able to do that when we watch the Olympics, even though most of us would never have made the team.
I have several friends that have become bitter through the battle of life. Failures in business and financial challenges have caused them to resent those that have been successful. They say that the wealthy should pay their fair share (even though the top 10% of Americans pay 65% of the taxes and the bottom 50% pay only 3%) and that the government should take care of their every need. Frankly, taking more money from rich people and trying to meet every "need" will not solve the problem it will make matters worse.
Just like in sports competition makes us better. The reason America is the shining city on a hill that people are dying in the desert to get to is because of our free enterprise system. The other thing that makes America shine is the way we give. When there was a Tsunami in Indonesia or an earthquake in Haiti America stepped up. That's because we still believe that we personally need to give when someone is in need and not rely solely on the government. If we keep moving to a European styled socialistic system the heart of giving will die. Then we will all be completely reliant on the government. And what if our government shifts as it did in the 1930's in Germany and all of that control rests in the hands of an evil regime?
As it says Romans 12 we should rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those that mourn. In other words when you seem someone succeed be happy for them, and when you see someone in need meet that need yourself.
Posted on Wednesday, August 01st 2012 at 04:15 pm
There is a new PSA campaign that will be airing on most of the TV and radio stations in Tucson starting today. Tucci Creative produced the PSA with the Tucson Police Department. It is about copper theft. Copper thieves have struck most of the TV and radio stations, many businesses and homeowners. They rip the copper out of air conditioning units, water mains, tear copper pipes from the walls in buildings and even steal pool pumps from your back yard. They get pennies on the dollar in relationship to the destruction they create. Neighborhoods and parks are without lights, businesses shut down because their phone lines have been cut, and elderly people suffer without air conditioning because of these thieves. They steal to support drug habits, or because they just feel entitled to steal.
We can learn a lot from Cat Woman. In the new Batman movie she said that she only steals from those that have a lot. Sadly I think that there are many in our culture who feel justified stealing from others because "they" have more than them. This has been exacerbated by those on the left that vilify those that are "rich" and talk about "redistributing wealth". It doesn't take much of a leap for criminals to believe they are helping that process. Unless that changes we can't lock up enough criminals to stem the tide. John Adams said that "our constitution was meant for a moral and religious people. It is totally inadequate to the government of any other". Our founders knew that to enjoy the freedom they proposed in the constitution we the people must be guided by a personal moral compass, otherwise we would be lost.
Posted on Monday, July 30th 2012 at 10:54 am
We applied for an FM station in 1987. Our goal was to have a contemporary Christian FM music station to cover Tucson. When we finally signed on KGMS 97.1 FM on September 4th 1991 it was an exciting fulfillment of a dream. We played Christian rock music and our slogan was "KGMS, the only rock you need". Phil Thompson and Al Adelman were the morning guys; Lily Dolan did afternoons and programmed the music. The DJ's ministered the love of Christ between the songs, the only disappointment was our coverage. Our signal was weak in the NW part of Tucson. In fact when we turned on the transmitter at midnight on September 4th I couldn't hear the station from my home in the Casas Adobes area. We moved the tower site a few years later and that helped a little bit, but it was still not that great in the NW side of town. We then pursued a new application for 88.1 FM. It took us 5 years to get the application approved by the FCC. It was a complicated process, but in the end we were able to work out an agreement that gave Family Life Radio 88.5 FM and our organization (Good News Radio Broadcasting) received KLTU 88.1 FM (A KLOVE affiliate). When we signed the station on the air in January of 2005 from Mount Bigelow we still had a weak signal in Northwest Tucson. So when we were finally able to get approval to move to the Tucson Mountain Site (a 3 year process) and turn on the transmitter last week we were excited. Now KLTU (KLOVE) has a strong signal over the entire Tucson community! This has been a 20 year journey fulfilled and I believe God will really use the stronger signal to reach more people. Tucson has had a history of lawlessness. The epicenter of the wild wild west is Tucson. In the 1800's Tucson was the place miners and ranchers came to party. Gambling and prostitution were the major attractions, run by no less than the Sheriff. Lawlessness and corruption ruled, you may say that nothing much has changed. But, there is hope for Tucson. That hope is found in Jesus Christ. I believe that KLOVE will continue to play a role in bringing that hope will increase.
Bring Back The White Hats
Posted on Monday, July 23rd 2012 at 04:28 pm
We had another horrible tragedy in Aurora last week. There is a lot of talk about gun violence and the need for stricter gun control. This is not an unreasonable thing for us to discuss. I am a gun owner and believe in the 2nd amendment. I know this will upset many of my friends, but I wouldn't be opposed to having some criteria for classes and background check before someone buys an assault rifle. We require that to get a driver's license and although cars are meant for transportation, they can also kill or injure people when not handled responsibly. But, what is missing from the discussion is what is fueling this behavior? When I was a kid in Minnesota hunting was a way of life and guns were everywhere, yet senseless brutal acts never occurred. What has changed? Our culture has radically changed and I believe the entertainment industry has much to do with this shift. Much of what we see coming out of Hollywood today involves cartoon violence where the lines are grey between good and evil. The days of the morally resolute heroes fighting decidedly evil adversaries in shows that I grew up with like Bonanza, Big Valley or Wild Wild West are over. The shooter in Aurora had taken on the persona of "The Joker" when he went on the rampage. If you recall in the movie The Joker was a vicious killer with a wicked sense of humor. When the bad guys are funny they are no longer despised. There needs to be a clear delineation between the good guys and the bad guys, maybe we need to bring back white hats?
What playing field do you want to play on?
Posted on Wednesday, July 11th 2012 at 05:09 pm
The president is proposing to retain the "Bush" tax cuts for everyone except the top 2%. The top 2% currently pay 33% of their income in federal taxes. The top 1% pay 35%. 80 percent of Americans pay 15% or less, 45% of Americans pay nothing at all. So when the President says that he wants them to pay their fair share of taxes, what is fair? I was always taught that meant an even playing field so that all of us would have equal opportunity to succeed. Used to be we applauded success, but that has given way to vilifying the successful. Unless of course you are an athlete, actor or artist. Our culture celebrates those that entertain us, but don't create any jobs. It is also important to note that the President is talking about taxing earned income, and doesn't touch the idle rich that live on trust funds, or capital gains (Warren Buffet). Punishing the rich does little to solve our deficit. This tax hike will supposedly raise $85 billion a year; our deficit is growing at more than $1,000 billion per year. What actually will happen is the deficit will grow larger and our debt increase as the "rich" decide it is not worth the reward to earn more and create more jobs. The productive "rich" people create jobs when they expand their businesses, invent new products or services. The realty is most people can't create jobs, (they can't create their own job). It is a gift, (like being able to run fast or play an instrument), to be an entrepreneur or business person. So most of us are dependent on someone to create their job, or they are dependent on the government. When Karl Marx wrote "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" his intention was that the government would assess your ability and needs and distribute accordingly. When the President and other political leaders talk about "redistributing wealth" they are taking a page out of Karl's playbook. That's not the playing field I want to play on.
Your gonna have to serve somebody
Posted on Monday, June 25th 2012 at 01:57 pm
John Shorbe spoke at 4 Tucson's Business Fellowship a week ago. John was the President of Canoa Homes, one of the top builders in Tucson during the "good times". He shared how difficult it was closing the company and liquidating the assets so that they could pay off their suppliers and sub-contractors. Thankfully they were able to do so, but he was left with little after 25 years of hard work. He went on to share what he had learned through being at the pinnacle and then in the valley. He said one of the most difficult things to deal with in life is prosperity. It can make us succumb to the gods of money, power and success.
John Rockefeller (owner of Standard Oil) was one of the richest men in the world. He was asked once what more he wanted, he responded "just one dollar more". Money will not satisfy. It is not evil in itself; the Bible says it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. Being content and thankful for what you have is a blessing. Otherwise the love of money can be like a drug addiction and the cup will never be filled.
Power can also consume us. John told a story about being in a meeting with high level government officials and they were talking about their "reports". He asked them what they meant and they said "so and so is his report". They had reduced the people they worked with to someone that "reported" to them. Recently we have seen the downfall of Jonathan Edwards (his ancestor is Jonathan Edwards the great revival preacher of the "Great Awakening"), a man of great charisma and promise who succumbed to the god of power. He was on trial for misusing campaign funds to fund his mistress, but make no mistake his downfall was because he was intoxicated with power and felt he was exempt from the rules (moral or legal).
The Bible tells us to beware when people speak well of you. We should strive to do our work with excellence, but when we start believing the press clippings, then success has gone to our head. A friend of mine was having problems with her knee and went to see an orthopedic surgeon. The doctor was very curt and dismissive with her and when she asked a question about what he was proposing to do he responded "so you're a doctor now?" I was a waiter in a fine dining restaurant while I was going to college and I learned a lot about people waiting on tables. We had many dignitaries, artists, politicians and other "stars" dine with us. Those that had sipped the elixir of success would snap their fingers, shout "waiter" or wave their napkin like a toreador when I passed by to "get my attention". Then they would ignore you and talk loudly when we would try to take their order. After all, didn't we know who "they" were?
John's message really hit home with me. I believe we are all vulnerable to some degree of succumbing to the gods of money, power and success. In the "good times" we rarely look in the mirror to see how we have aged. It is usually only in those moments when life has collapsed that we get a reality check. Bob Dylan said in a song "you have to serve somebody, it might be the devil it might be the Lord, but your gonna have to serve somebody". Choose you this day whom you will serve.
Like father like son
Posted on Monday, June 18th 2012 at 09:05 am
I read that Hallmark cards gave free cards to prisoners to send to their mother’s on Mother’s day. 95% of the prisoners requested cards. So they decided to do the same thing on Father’s day and only 10% of the prisoners asked for cards to send to their dad’s. This says a lot about our society and the absence of fathers in those that go off the rails. This weekend John Dolan went home to be with the Lord. John was a tremendous inspiration to everyone that knew him and he was a great example of a dad. I first met John when his wife Lily was an intern at KGMS in the early nineties. Lily and John, like many of us, were part of the sixties generation. Somewhere around the time she came to the station they had a life changing experience and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. Lily became our music director at KGMS and was the mid-day personality on the station. You could hear her passion for the Lord as she would introduce the Christian rock songs we played on KGMS “The Only Rock You Need”. John ran Dolan and Sons construction. He was a roofing contractor and then moved into designing and building custom homes. His homes had a unique Santa Fe styling and they were not only outstandingly beautiful but masterfully constructed. He taught his sons carpentry and how to pour their hearts and souls into their work. I remember him telling me that he wanted one of his sons (Billy, Tommy or John) to learn real carpentry so they built a home without power tools. All of the boys became highly skilled craftsman. They were also good athletes and Tommy, after playing college football, just finished a career as a professional rugby player. He was also a great example to his daughters Kim and Crystal who grew up to be very accomplished women. Kim is a champion in women's fitness competitions and featured in national publications. And they are both great mothers and examples to younger women with their faith and family values. The children were brought up in the ways of the Lord and their lives are a testimony. 14 years ago John had a stroke. This left him partially paralyzed and with severe health problems. He has been in and out of the hospital with heart problems and other ailments. John was a very muscular, athletic and handsome man. The stroke left its’ mark on John’s body but it didn’t dampen his spirit. Whenever I would see John I was struck first by his drooping face and the patch over his eye. Then he would smile and say “how are you doing brother”? When you would ask John how he was doing he would say something like “I am a blessed man”. He radiated God’s love and was a testimony of God’s grace to everyone who knew him. When I was young there was a TV commercial showing a father smoking and his son watching him. The caption was "like father like son". Like Tim Tebow said recently when asked how it felt to be a role model. He replied, "we are all role models, some of us are not good ones". John was a great role model. On this Father’s day John is now with his heavenly Father, who is our ultimate role model.
God's Intelligent Design for Sex
Posted on Tuesday, June 05th 2012 at 09:52 am
Thirty years ago the homosexual community pushed for “tolerance”, now thirty years later they want us to embrace homosexual marriage. If you don’t embrace same sex marriage you are labeled a bigot and equated to the KKK. What we have lost in this debate is God’s intelligent design for human sexuality. God established marriage in Genesis 2 saying that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”. This established marriage between a man and a woman. But, it is also the first passage of scripture that prescribes marital sex. A husband and wife literally become one flesh when we have sex. God designed it that way and he made sex pleasurable so that we would “go ye therefore and multiply”. This unique design is meant for a man and a woman; it is mutually exclusive and will not work as designed in same sex relationships. Also God’s design for the ultimate outcome of becoming one flesh (multiplying) cannot happen in a same sex act.
It is often argued that marriage between a man and a woman doesn’t have a great success rate, with nearly half of marriages ending in divorce. The failure of marriage doesn’t discredit the original intent and purpose of God for marriage. I believe the failure is directly tied to the sexual revolution. I was in the first sex education class in our high school in 1970. The wave of the sexual revolution had swept through the colleges in the late sixties and now was drilling down into high schools. The teacher in my sex education class held up a pill on the first day of class and announced that we no longer had to follow the “puritanical values” of our parents. We could now have sex without consequence due to this tiny pill. Most of the boys in the class were excited about this and felt freed from the taboo of premarital sex because we wouldn’t get our girlfriends pregnant. This of course was a direct assault against God’s purpose for sex, that it be between and husband and wife and that we would produce “godly offspring” (as it says in Malachi 2). But it also led to unforeseen consequences including the failure of marriage. I believe this failure is directly tied to the “free love” movement. In 1 Corinthians 6 it says “do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one with her in body. For it is said “that the two shall become one flesh”.
In the early 1900’s the divorce rate was 1 in 1,000. Most people married their childhood sweethearts and experience sex in marriage only. When we have sex outside of marriage we become “one” with the other person. There is something that happens beyond the physical act that goes deep into our souls. Those that have had multiple sexual “partners” before marriage have literally left pieces of themselves with other people and have taken deep into their souls a piece of someone else. These fractured human beings that then embark on marriage fail to fully commit, because they have unfinished partial commitments. The only hope for those of us that have not followed God’s design is to be forgiven and restored by Him. The only reason there is a debate about same sex marriage is that we have lost our way as a culture and drifted from God’s intelligent design.
Posted on Friday, May 25th 2012 at 10:38 am
Bruce Wilkinson spoke last night at the Great Turnaround Event for Crisis Pregnancy. You may recall that Bruce is the author of the Prayer of Jabez (and many other bestselling books). The Prayer of Jabez was a sermon that he had given many times and that Shirley Dobson asked him to give at the National Day of Prayer. He called his publisher and asked him to print the sermon into a booklet to give to the attendees. After the National Day of Prayer he forgot about the book and was surprised when it became a best seller. In fact the number one best seller of the year (ahead of even Harry Potter!). The essence of the prayer is asking God’s blessing, expanding your territory (influence), so that God could use you more. Bruce commented that this is a prayer God will not say no to because it is about God using you more. God could certainly use more of that today.
He went on to talk about saving the lives of unborn babies and how important that is to God. God breathed life into the first man, Adam. In Malachi 2 we are told that God hates divorce and that the purpose of marriage is to produce “godly” offspring. So God created the first man and made Eve from Adam, then told them to be “fruitful and multiply” because God desires “godly” offspring. In the debate about abortion we mainly focus on a woman’s right to choose, but we lose sight the unborn is already an offspring that God desires to see breathe the breath of life. Recent scientific advances make it clear that we all have a unique signature (DNA). Those convicted of crimes falsely are being freed because of DNA evidence. When the sperm meets the egg at the moment of conception there is a unique DNA signature created by the hand of God. This gives new meaning to Jeremiah 1 where it says “before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you”, yes God did and he left a unique signature.
Since Roe V Wade 54 million babies have been aborted. In ancient times pagan people sacrificed their children to Moloch by heating up the metal “god” whose arms were extended and laying their children on Moloch’s arms to burn alive. Pastors shy away from teaching about abortion and we in the church have turned away from the plight of the unborn. Bruce mentioned that in Eric Metaxas’ new book Bonheoffer that there was a church located near the railroad tracks where Jews were transported 4 times a day (including Sunday). The Jewish people would scream “help us” as the train went by the church. The parishioners couldn’t stand the cries of the people so they sang their hymns louder when the train passed. Are we singing hymns as those that can’t defend themselves are sacrificed?
The Celebrity President
Posted on Friday, May 11th 2012 at 10:38 am
The celebrity President
We are fascinated with the lives of celebrities in our culture. We see them pose at soirée’s wearing outfits that no rational person would wear. We follow their marriages, divorces, bad behavior, substance abuse, arrests, incarceration, probation and rehabilitation. Women ask their hair dressers for the same coiffure of their favorite star, they wear dresses from their clothing lines (unless they are made in China), and purchase their diet and exercise plans. Men eschew shaving to have the 2 day beard look of the star, or wear the ray-bans the star perches on their nose and lusts after the nymphet he has on his arm. Yes the stars have power over our lives. The president just had the largest single fundraising event in history at George Clooney’s home. Robert Downey, Jr., Barbara Streisand, Jack Black and Selma Hayek and all of your favorite stars were there. We weren’t invited. But just like George Clooney said about his magnificent villa in Italy “everyone should have one”, so maybe next time. They raised 15 million dollars at the event and President Obama has displaced the former celebrity president (Bill Clinton) in popularity. He didn’t even need to mention his support for gay marriage (very popular among our stars); all he had to say was “we had a big day yesterday” to thundering applause. Certainly because the majority of the stars support President Obama shouldn’t the rest of us? I believe we are very deceived in our culture. Because these people have extraordinary talent we raise them to a status that is not warranted. They live in a make believe bubble and most cannot manage their own lives nor cope with reality without medication. Their lives are filled with lustful, immoral behavior where no line remains to be crossed. They have multiple marriages, affairs, and shifting sexual identity. Their lives often end in tragedy, suicide, drug overdose or dissipation. They don’t even know who they really are. One of my favorite actors was Cary Grant. He was married 5 times, he tried to find inner peace through yoga, hypnotism and mysticism (which failed) and finally opted for LSD treatments. He was asked once how it felt to be Cary Grant. He replied “everyone wants to be Cary Grant; even I would like to be Cary Grant”. To be fair there aren’t many Jimmy Stewarts, (those that can survive being a star with the fame, wealth and lifestyles). But, following their advice on how we live our lives or who to vote for is unwise. So like the grail knight said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade “choose wisely”.
Stir up the Nest
Posted on Monday, May 07th 2012 at 05:17 pm
Stir Up the Nest
Have you ever seen an eagle fly? I was in Alaska climbing a mountain and was awestruck at the site of a giant bald eagle swooping down from on high scouring the landscape for food for her young. Eagles build very large nests to house their young and regurgitate food to feed them until the day that they “stir up the nest”. The mother eagle enters the nest and then nudges the eaglet out. The eaglet is unprepared and falls helplessly to earth flapping its’ useless wings. Then momma eagle swoops under the eaglet and catches him between her wings. This stirring up of the nest is repeated until finally the eaglet can fly on its’ own and hunt for itself. If the mother eagle didn’t stir up the nest I imagine the eaglets would grow into fat, lazy adult eagles incapable of taking care of themselves. I think this is analogous to what has happened in our culture. A friend was telling me about his son who is nearing 30 years old and has yet to leave home. Why should he? He doesn’t pay any rent, is well fed and cared for all at the expense of his parents. It might be time to nudge this fledgling out of the nest. We are creating a nation of dependency instead of the American value of rugged independence. It is hard to believe that John F. Kennedy said fifty years ago that we should “ask not what our country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. It certainly wouldn’t fly as a campaign slogan today. The only hope for our nation is that we stir up the nest and let our dependent eaglets learn to fly.
“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions” Deuteronomy 32:11
Jesse or Ron?
Posted on Wednesday, April 25th 2012 at 03:57 pm
I can understand the frustration the average American feels about politics. But, the truth is politics is a game, much like football or perhaps more like professional wrestling. You have players, coaches, strategy, marketing all of the elements in sports. The special election for CD 8 was good strategy by the Democrats. If she would have finished her term or resigned a couple of weeks later, there would have been no special election. We would have had a general election for CD 2 (the new district). By having a special election to fill her seat the advantage goes to Ron Barber. Ron is a very nice man and by all accounts sensibly moderate in his views. The problem is our country is out of balance. A good friend of mine, (who is a democrat and an aid to an elected official), told me that he feels Tucson is out of balance because we have too many democrats on the city council (and county government). He went on to say that government works best when there is a balance, and that our city is dysfunctional because it is too lop sided. You may have heard the analogy that the democrat party is the more “feminine” party and the republican more “masculine”. God designed us different so that in marriage we could become one flesh and have the best of both genders (in a good marriage). So would Ron Barber be best for CD 8 or Jesse Kelly? The winner of the special election will most likely win the general election for CD2, (that is why the democrats wanted the special election). So when you sort out all the over the top rhetoric, exaggerated promises and misrepresentations of the campaign who would be the best person to elect to congress? Democrats are comfortable with bigger government and more regulation and oversight of business, much like a mother wanting to protect her children. Republicans want less government, regulation and oversight to open up more opportunity for business and competition, much like a father buying his son a BB gun (“but don’t shoot your sister”). The massive amount of regulation and bureaucratic mazes that await the young entrepreneur trying to get a business off the ground is simply a bar that’s too high. Bernie Marcus (the founder of Home Depot) said that if he tried to start his business today that it would be impossible. We are also facing a movement on the left towards collectivism which will quench free enterprise in America. We will cease to be the land of opportunity as we become more the land of entitlement. We had 4 good candidates in the Republican primary for the Special Election. Some have said that they would run in CD 2 if Jesse Kelly doesn’t win. If he doesn’t win the special election, then these other challengers will not win in the CD 2 election. So, if you believe that America has gotten out of balance, then you need to support the Republican primary winner Jesse Kelly.
Posted on Tuesday, April 17th 2012 at 03:33 pm
I got my start in radio as a DJ. I was working overnights at the top rated FM station in Albuquerque. I remember the rivalry between the DJ’s and the sales staff. I would hear the DJ’s grumble about the sales people (they were prima Donna’s that didn’t do anything but wine and dine clients, and they made way too much money on the backs of the “talent” (DJ’s). My boss and mentor was Al Baker. He did our morning show and had the smoothest, deepest pipes (voice) I ever heard. He had been at the top stations in the country and even worked at the famed station in New York City that hosted the Beatles on their first tour. I asked him one day about my future. He told me “son, keep your U-Haul packed, in this business you are either moving to a bigger market or moving down, and it will happen every time the book (ratings) comes out”. That wasn’t very appealing so I asked him what else I could do. He told me I could be a sales person. So I made the switch and then heard the grousing from the other side (the DJ’s were ingrates that didn’t appreciate the folks that produced the revenue). This kind of sibling rivalry is common in business and in families. I wonder what it would have been like to be Eli and Peyton Manning? Their father was a great professional quarterback and raised two boys that probably vied for his attention and affection. I can imagine Peyton complaining that Archie favored Eli because he was the baby or Eli complaining that Peyton got more attention because he was older and already a star in high school. But, I bet they didn’t do that very much, they were too busy engaged in healthy competition. Competition made them better and folks can argue about who is better Peyton or Eli, but no one can argue about their success. Competition is good for us as well. It makes us work harder and achieve things that we dreamed about. Competitors appreciate their competition and celebrate the success of their rivals. But, where there is jealousy or covetousness it is toxic. This was true at the radio station I worked at. Even though we were the top station in the market as far as ratings, the working environment was toxic. When our hearts are right we have a team mentality that strives for excellence, relishes competition and rejoices at the success of others. When our hearts are wrong we want the destruction of our rivals and rejoice at their failures. Oh that we would have right hearts.
The President is right
Posted on Wednesday, April 11th 2012 at 02:03 pm
The President is right about the “Buffet rule”. I watched him in the press conference this morning surrounded by “secretaries” of “millionaires” with their heads nodding at the appropriate times. The “Buffet rule” will most likely be very good for the President politically. Who can disagree with the rich paying “their fair share”? Even though President Obama made it clear that those wealthy people (making over a million dollars a year) pay less a percentage of income tax than middle class Americans (like the secretaries sitting on the stage), most of the reporters reported that wealthy people pay “less taxes” than middle class Americans. Point scored game over. Politics is all about the magical manipulation of public opinion, whether it is democrats or republicans wielding the wand of deception. The President has conjured up a brilliant illusion; although deceptive it will be effective in wooing economically ignorant Americans. Most people don’t understand that there is a difference between tax on ordinary income (higher rate) and capital gains (lower rate). This makes it difficult to explain that someone like Warren Buffet (capital gains) paid an effective rate less than his secretary (who made between $200,000 and $500,000 per year in ordinary income). Then you have to explain that people are investing money they already paid tax on, putting at risk and then paying taxes on the gain from the investment. It is all very complex. Plus there is a plethora of tax loopholes and creative tax planning (trusts and foundations) that allow the wealthy to defer income or take tax write offs to create vehicles for giving or employment for their children. Even if the “Buffet rule” passed (which it won’t), it wouldn’t do what it intends (tax the rich and reduce the deficit). There will be new loop holes created, or income will be simply diverted using legal tax strategies. The deficit will not be reduced, but the Average American would feel better because those fat cats are now supposedly paying their fair share. The truth is our income tax system needs to be scrapped in favor or a flat and fair tax that average Americans can understand. But, if it were that simple then they couldn’t work their magic on us.
Posted on Friday, April 06th 2012 at 11:13 am
There has always been controversy over "who killed" Christ. Those that hate the Jewish people have often tried to say that the Jews killed Jesus. The Nazi's mislead most of the German people in this way. The "German Church" actually cut out the old testament from the Bible because it was "too Jewish". They also didn't like the suffering Messiah and the crucifixion because it showed weakness. This is false teaching and is not supported by scripture. In John 10:8 Jesus said this:
"No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
The Jewish leadership and the Roman soldiers committed the act of crucifixion, but Jesus was bearing the sin of all humanity when he laid down his life. That is why it is Good Friday. If he wouldn't have died for our sins, then we would have to bear our sins ourselves. What could we do to make up for our sin? Good works? Do we somehow keep a ledger, and what if God's ledger is different than ours? So Jesus death on the cross was to bear our sin. And as it says in John 10:8 He had the authority to take it up again, or rise from the dead.
That is where Romans 10:9 comes in:
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Salvation comes through confessing that Jesus is Lord (Master) of our life and believing in the resurrection. If Jesus didn't rise from the grave, we have no hope of eternal life. Simon Greenleaf was a Jewish lawyer that was one of the principle founders of Harvard Law school. His book on evidence is used to this day. He sought to disprove the resurrection, but came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable and that the resurrection did indeed happen. He then gave his life to Jesus Christ. His book "Testimony of the Evangelists" was a foundational work for apologetics (defense of the faith).
From many one
Posted on Monday, April 02nd 2012 at 11:00 am
I think many of us are concerned about the flames of racial division that are being fanned because of the Trayvon Martin story. There are some that want to continue to beat the drum that America is a racist nation. I thought we were getting close to achieving what Martin Luther King yearned for; that our nation would be a place where people were judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin It seems we are further away from becoming a nation of many that become one (as our defacto motto E Pluribus Unum calls for), united as our states are with common values and purpose. We are instead becoming more a nation divided by race, class, education and gender. Those of you that are married know that marriage is not without its' challenges. A couple that says they have never had a fight haven't been together very long. Going through those rough spots make the marriage stronger if we learn and grow through them. But, if every time there is a spat you bring up past sins and fail to see progress, the marriage is destined for failure. That is where I see our nation. Yes, we have had a history of racism, but we have made progress. Ignoring the progress and viewing our current situation through the prism of the past will destine our nation to failure.
It is also significant that we are having a discussion about racial profiling. The issue really isn't about racial profiling it is about profiling in general. Gang members, meth addicts, sexual predators and serial killers can be profiled, and I think should be. Israel leads the way in profiling because they know that those that want to kill them are Islamists. I remember when I was a college student driving by UNM in Albuquerque with some friends. A police officer pulled up beside me and observed me with and 3 other long hairs in a vehicle with smoke billowing out of the windows, he heard Led Zeppelins Mothership (8 track) blaring out of my Jensen 3 way speakers and Craig power amplifier. He profiled us and pulled us over. Thankfully we had nothing left in the car so we weren't arrested. But, I wrote a college paper about how unfair it was that cops assumed that long haired hippie types were dope smoking law breakers.
Our eyes make it possible to observe the different colors, shapes and sizes of the people that we meet. Our hearts determine how what we see is processed. The diversity of race, nationality, and cultural backgrounds is a wonderful thing, so long as we who are many become one.
Posted on Tuesday, March 27th 2012 at 11:17 am
I was skiing in Taos New Mexico last week. I first skied there 35 years ago and met Ernie Blake, the founder and owner, shortly after that. Ernie was an amazing man. Ernie was born in Germany, but grew up in Switzerland and served in the Swiss Air Force. He was an excellent athlete and would have easily qualified for the German Olympic Hockey team in 1936 had he not been Jewish. After the war he came to the United States and managed 2 ski areas, one in Colorado and the other in Santa Fe. He was a pilot and flew back and forth between the 2 ski areas. He would fly different courses searching the rugged mountains for the perfect place to build his own ski resort. On one of those trips he spied Taos. He purchased the land that is now the ski valley and began building Taos Ski valley in 1955. They lived without power until 1963 and did the work themselves with help from friends. Soon friends from Europe joined them as ski instructors, restaurant and shop proprietors and Taos Ski Valley took off. It is now one of the most successful privately owned ski resorts in the world. Ernie was a great example of what our free enterprise system is all about. If you have a dream, work hard you may succeed. In the process Ernie created jobs and business opportunities from hundreds of other people. This is truly what makes America the shining city on a hill.
Inequality of income and assets; true justice?
Posted on Friday, March 16th 2012 at 09:45 am
I have had several friends that have been victims of thievery lately. Most of it was copper theft, but a friend who is in heavy construction had something very unusual happen. They arrived at the job site this week to find that thieves had picked specific parts off of their heavy equipment. Things like gears, and light kits for bull dozers, not your ordinary thievery. Perhaps it was a competitor that needed parts for repairs and thought that since my friend had them he could take them? There has been so much talk about "income inequality" and the need to "redistribute wealth" perhaps this will be the new trend. Your neighbor has something you "need" so you just take it to even things out. Need a part for your car, just take it from someone else's car, after all why should they have it when yours is missing? I can see this used as a defense in the not too distant future:
Prosecutor: "Why did your client take his neighbor's lawn mower?"
Defendant's Attorney:" My client is the real victim here. His so called neighbor makes more money than he does and has more assets."
Prosecutor: "Actually your honor this is not true. We have the defendant's tax returns right here and he makes more than the victim the only reason he has more "stuff" is that he inherited the assets from his grandfather."
Defendants Attorney: "Just what I thought your honor generational transfer of wealth. This is another brick in the wall of income inequality in America".
Coming soon to your area equality of income and assets; true justice?
Posted on Monday, March 05th 2012 at 10:15 am
I was at a memorial service for a friend over the weekend. He had lived a full life and was loved by all who knew him. His grandkids talked about how they will miss their "Tata", his best friend talked about how he became a high ranking official and his mechanical and computer abilities. His sister talked about how much he helped her financially and how she will miss his wise counsel. Then his daughter gave a tearful tribute about her love for her father and how he helped her throughout her life. Then she said something chilling, "you know my father was not a religious man so we don't know where he is". She went on to say that he will always be with her in her heart, but I was struck with her honest confession about her doubts concerning where her father ended up. So often when you attend memorials you will hear about how the person is "in a better place" or "with us in spirit", but it is rare to have someone honestly say that they don't know where he is, or if he is anywhere. It reminded me of what Stephen Hawking, the brilliant physicist, recently said about what happens when we die. You may know that Hawking's suffers from a disease similar to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), and is steadily deteriorating and facing death. He was asked about what happens when we die and he responded that it was like turning off a computer, we are simply turned off and cease to think or exist. Dr. Hawking is one of the smartest people on the planet, and because he is so brilliant he could be right. If he is right, then there is nothing to worry about. We die and our "computer" is shut off and we cease to exist. But, what if he is wrong? What if the computer doesn't shut off and we end up in an afterlife that we haven't planned for? That is what has always troubled me. I used to have dreams where I was falling off a cliff and never hit the bottom, just endless terror. I would wake up in a sweat terrified and that is what caused me to search for God and the meaning of life. We plan for vacations, what we are going to eat for dinner, our retirement, yet many of us have made no plans for what happens after we die. If God does exist and if He has a plan for our life and our afterlife, then it might be wise to find out what that plan is. Otherwise we might end up in an alternative eternity.
Posted on Monday, February 27th 2012 at 05:22 pm
I just heard that my cousin Bruce passed away. When I was a kid he was my hero. When I was little he was the biggest, strongest, and most courageous person I knew. He was only 5 years older than me, but he was light years ahead of me. I think like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" Bruce was just "born older". I remember when I was about 8 watching him train his bull for the 4H contest at the county fair (where we ate Tom Thumb Donuts and won "humdingers" throwing dimes in dishes). The bull took off running and I had my foot inside the coil of rope. As the slack in the rope diminished I had the fleeting impression I should move my foot, but suddenly I was jerked in the air and dragged across the corral. I was hitting rocks and getting pretty beat up when Bruce caught up with the bull and punched him in the head. The bull stopped in its' tracks and my cousin released me from the noose around my foot. I knew I owed him my life. When I was 11 we went to one of his wrestling matches. Bruce handled his opponent with skill and ease and won the match. At the end of the matches he brought my younger sister pom poms from one of the cheerleaders. We were both in awe. Bruce was our hero.
We have the opportunity to be someone's hero, could be someone younger than us or our own children. This poem sums it up:
There are little eyes upon you
and they're watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little boy who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you.
You're the little fellow's idol,
you're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.
He believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way
when he's grown up just like you.
There's a wide eyed little fellow
who believes you're always right;
and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.
You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little boy who's waiting
to grow up to be like you.
The Unfair Advantage
Posted on Friday, February 24th 2012 at 10:35 am
On CNN this morning they were talking about Mitt Romney's new tax proposal. Kyra Phillips and the reporter were bantering about the Romney's proposal to end the death tax. The reporter said "many Americans have a problem with the idea of wealth being passed on to people that haven't earned it. This creates generational wealth." Isn't this the American Dream? That you can work hard and put your kids in a better place so that they could advance in society and carve out a legacy for their kids? My mother's grandparents did that in 1850's when they came from Norway to clear land in Minnesota and farm. The Irish did that during the potato famine during the same time and the Italians around the turn of the century. They all came here with nothing and were dirt farmers, laborers and street sweepers because they had a dream that was uniquely American. That's all well and good until you succeed, then its' not fair.
I remember discovering I wasn't dumb when I was in eighth grade. I was a C student and a "day dreamer" (if I grew up today they probably would have diagnosed me as ADHD). We took an IQ test. I was called into the office after they got the results and grilled about how I cheated on the test. They didn't believe that a poor student like me could score in the top 5% of the school. But, there is a lot of difference between someone in the 95th percentile and the 99th percentile. The distance between me and the top 1 % (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Soros and Warren Buffet etc.) is light years and billions of dollars. Now how is it fair that they have that much brain power and I don't? Certainly this unfair advantage should be mitigated in some way and brain power redistributed more "fairly".
If you invent a product, create and idea or just work hard and succeed you should be applauded and admired. The rest of us benefit from those that create jobs and everyone's standard of living rises, as John F. Kennedy said "when the tide rises, all boats rise". Your boat may not be as big as Bill Gates', but you are floating. And when you die you should be able to pass on your wealth to your heirs. What they do with it is none of our business. Some will build on it and others will squander it. What does it matter? The core issue to this obsession in our culture over the 1% and "fairness" is covetousness. It bears repeating what the 10th commandment says; it is sin to covet our neighbor's wife, home or anything that is our neighbors. That includes coveting what their kids will inherit.
Mistakes that changed history
Posted on Thursday, February 23rd 2012 at 10:33 am
I heard Michael Youssef speak at our national convention. Michael was born in Egypt and has a great understanding of the Middle East. He shared about 3 mistakes the church has historically made:
1. The first is instead of fighting the good fight of faith we fight the bad fight with each other. For example, Mohammad had contact with a Nestorian monk that sparked his curiosity about Christianity. He called the Bishops to meet with him and share with him why he should believe that Jesus was God. The Bishops argued doctrine among themselves and Mohammad said that he would make his own decision about Christianity. Imagine if these Bishops would have put aside their squabbling and shared with Mohammad the truth about Jesus Christ? It could have changed the last 1400 years of history. When we focus on our differences instead of what we have in common, we fight the bad fight.
2. The second mistake is straying from Biblical truth. North Africa had 10,000 churches in 600 AD. But, they had embraced a "liberal" view on the authority of scripture and were ripe for "new" doctrines. When the Muslims invaded in 630 AD those that weren't slain by the sword embraced the new religion of Islam because they thought it was a "new revelation" and the churches became Mosques. When we allow popular culture to shape our theology instead of the Bible we go astray.
3. The third mistake is straying from the prime mission of the church. In the 13th century Kublai Khan was said to have asked Marco Polo to ask Pope Gregory to send 100 missionaries to him and he and all the Mongols would convert to Christianity. Even though the churches mission (The Great Commission) is to go and make disciples of all nations, the church was slow to move on this opportunity taking nearly 30 years to send 3 missionaries. They missed a huge opportunity to fulfill the mission of the church and spread the Gospel throughout Asia. As Michael shared with us when we become more concerned about maintaining our parking lot then doing the great commission we neglect the prime mission of the church.
These mistakes have had lasting consequences. Are we repeating them?
Good Advice From Your Mother
Posted on Monday, February 13th 2012 at 11:46 am
Getting older has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are we can learn from our mistakes and hopefully not repeat them. We have grown wealthy in relationships and memories. The disadvantages are that we have made mistakes and are now fear repeating them. And some of our relationships are poor and the memories faded. I have to guard my heart from becoming cynical and unwilling to trust. Recently I worked with the city council to come up with a solution to opening the pools that are closed because of budget cuts. I was asked by Councilman Fimbres to come up with an idea to open the pools. The idea was to allow businesses to sponsor pools and individuals to sponsor swimmers. I didn't know that in the eighties the city put a moratorium on businesses being able to sponsor city property. So we needed to get council approval to move forward with this idea. When I was driving to the council meeting I was grousing about our city and the missteps, mismanagement and malignancy that has plagued our community. I was getting more negative by the mile and then I "felt" God say "serve them". You may have experienced this yourself, the "pang of conscience" or that "still small voice". My heart was softened and I told the council that day that we in the business community had been absent from the table, except when it was something we were personally benefited from, and that we needed to be a part of the solution. It didn't matter that the city had essentially told us they didn't want our help 3 decades ago. I believe that we have responsibility for what has happened to our community and that we can help change it. Sir Edmund Burke said that "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing". None of us are good, we are all flawed, but we can do what is right and help good to triumph. Certainly we can be taken advantage of when we extend ourselves to help city officials. And once things turn around they can throw us away like an old shoe. If we are focused on the outcome, in example eradicating drug use and poverty in our community, then we may as well be disappointed. But, we aren't responsible for the outcome, only our actions, or inaction. Mother Theresa was asked why she wasn't overwhelmed with the poverty in the slums of India where she labored. Obviously she wasn't making much of a dent in the deplorable conditions in those rat infested environs. She answered "I minister to the person in front of me and then I move on to the next". Good advice from your mother.
The Cost of Discipleship
Posted on Tuesday, February 07th 2012 at 11:44 am
There was a lot of focus last Friday about the President’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, as there should be. But, you may not have heard or seen the key note speaker Eric Metaxas (the author of Amazing Grace and Bonhoeffer), but it has sparked some controversy. Generally the key note speakers are careful not to step on toes in their remarks. Eric talked about growing up “religious” but not knowing Christ or His power in his life. He shared about William Wilberforce (Amazing Grace) and how his conversion from dead religiosity to an alive faith (propelled by Methodism) sought to end the slave trade in England. His decades of work in public service led to the end of slavery in England and in America. He then talked about the subject of his latest book Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was the son a renowned Neurologist in Germany. It was thought that he would follow in his father’s footsteps, but instead he chose the ministry. The liberal theology (emphasizing personal experience and minimizing scripture) dismayed him and he turned to the writings of Karl Barth (a conservative theologian emphasizing a return to scriptural relevance). This put him in a distinct minority and pitted him against the liberal majority who acquiesced to the Nazification of the German churches. He also was greatly impacted by his trip to America where he visited the churches in Harlem and heard preachers like Adam Clayton Powell delivering powerful Gospel messages encouraging a transformational faith in Christ. Bonhoeffer’s transformed faith, like Wilberforce, compelled him to resist Hitler and lead in the confessing churches opposition to the Nazi’s. He wrote the book “The Cost of Discipleship” during this time and it has inspired many Christian leaders to an active, transformational faith. This led to his imprisonment and execution. Eric then talked about abortion and that the unborn baby is undeniably a human life. He wasn’t condemning in his remarks, but simply spoke the truth in love. His call was for more of us to leave our dead religiosity and have a renewed, vibrant faith in Christ. In John Chapter 3 Nicodemus a member of the religious ruling council came to Jesus at night and said “Rabbi we know you are a teacher who has come from God. No one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing unless God were with him. In reply Jesus said, I tell you the truth no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”. The key to being born again is found in that famous verse often displayed in the end zones during football season John 3:16. This was how Jesus concluded his talk with Nicodemus “for God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. Nicodemus came at night because he didn’t want his religious friends to know that he was seeking Jesus. There is a cost to discipleship. To see Eric’s speech you can go to:
Posted on Wednesday, February 01st 2012 at 11:42 am
There is a lot of talk about the lack of civility in politics. I think we make a mistake when we stoop to character assassination and the assignation of vile labels on those that we oppose. In my experience I have found very few people in politics that have evil intent for our city, state or nation. It is not their intentions that should be questioned it should be their policies and even more important their capacity to lead successfully. The more I am around government officials and bureaucrats I realize it is the capacity to lead coupled with good policy that is sorely needed. My son and his friend came home this weekend on leave. These young Marines have finished two tours in Afghanistan. They told me a story about a young Lieutenant that ordered his Marines to bull rush a Taliban stronghold. He was following orders but lacked the capacity of assessing the situation and changing the attack to maximize the effectiveness of the assault. The result was that several Marines were shot and one killed. The decisions that we make in business or politics rarely are life and death, but they can destroy a company or community and kill jobs. Those that have leadership abilities are rare and gifted. In the Marines good leaders are sought out and proven under fire. We should examine candidate’s leadership ability instead of being so polarized politically and captivated by campaign promises and speech craft. I heard Nancy Young Wright on the Bill Buckmaster show. She is running for a slot on the Pima County Supervisors (Ann Day’s seat). She began the interview by saying her number one goal was job creation (ubiquitous among candidates for any office in our current economic condition). She went on to say that the key is education and that companies don’t come here because of our lack of education focus and funding. I don’t question Nancy’s intentions, or her heart for education (she served 12 years on the Amphitheatre School board). But, education is not the reason we aren’t attracting businesses. Did you know that the U of A is the 8th best research university in America? Yet we don’t even appear on the chart for businesses in Tucson that relate to the research we are doing. That is a huge disconnect. We also have award winning school districts (Flowing Wells) and schools (Basis, CDO, Catalina Foothills) K thru 12. The reason companies don’t locate in Tucson is because we aren’t competitive with other communities and we aren’t viewed as being business friendly. Then you need to examine Nancy’s leadership. I served on the Amphitheatre Board Site Council when Nancy was a board member. She led the charge that delayed the construction of Ironwood Ridge High School because of the fear of displacing the non-existent pygmy owl. This cost the district millions of dollars and delayed the construction several years. I know she cares about education but her “leadership” cost the district millions that could have been used for education. So I know she doesn’t have bad intentions, just bad policies and the lack of leadership skills. In the upcoming election I would hope that voters would get beyond labeling and party affiliation and examine the policies and the leadership abilities of the candidates they will elect, and do so as if it were a life or death decision.
Mind our own business
Posted on Monday, January 23rd 2012 at 11:41 am
David Rubenstein one of the founders of the Carlyle Group (a private equity firm) was on CNN this weekend. He was asked whether the capital gains rate should be raised since it seems unfair that Mitt Romney’ secretary pays a higher tax rate then Mitt does, (since most of his income is from capital gains). The reporter then asked him if he thought the 400 million that he and his 2 partners made on a deal last year was “excessive”. Rubenstein explained that he and his partners receive 20% of what the investors make on a deal and that the way it works is everyone (Management, workers, stakeholders) are incented to turn around the company they buy. He then explained to the reporter how free enterprise works (investors risk capital, management executes the plan; workers contribute the labor and all profit if successful or share in the failure). He defended his humble beginnings (dad was a postal worker) and then said that only in America could someone like him rise like he did. Our free enterprise system is the envy of the world and is the reason rags to riches stories are so common here, and that people are literally dying to come to the land of opportunity. Then he seemed “embarrassed” by his success and said that he was working to give away all of the money he had earned. Whether he keeps his money or gives it away should be none of our business. But, in our covetous (the 10th commandment) culture those that have, need to have not. Our media promotes the lives of the “rich and famous” and everyone is striving to keep up with the Kardashian’s. We lust (covet) for what we see (cars, homes, clothes, jewelry etc.), for ourselves, but if someone else has it they should give it away (preferably to me). In our culture it is ok for someone to come from humble beginnings, become successful, so long as they give it away (or tax it away). Just like in Monopoly you buy properties, accumulate Monopoly money and then put it all back in the box at the end of the game. It shouldn’t matter if someone inherits wealth or earns it, its’ theirs not ours and we need to be grateful for what we have. And as far as giving the scripture teaches us that we should purpose in our own hearts what to give and not to give out of constraint because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). So like my mom used to tell me, maybe we should mind our own business.
Cycle of Freedom
Posted on Monday, January 09th 2012 at 11:38 am
You may have heard about the cycle of freedom. Frases Tytler said that a democracy can’t exist as a permanent form of government. What eventually happens is people discover they can vote for their own largess from the treasury. We then vote in people that give us more and the loose fiscal policy leads to collapse and a dictatorship. The cycle goes from bondage, to spiritual faith, then to great courage, liberty and abundance, then to selfishness, complacency, apathy, dependence and then bondage. Tytler believed a democracy could not last longer than 200 years (we have that beaten by 31 years). Where do you think we are in the cycle? Our forefathers fought so that they could have freedom. We seem too willing to give up our freedom to be taken care of. I found a quote from a slave owner justifying slavery.
“I have also looked into the working conditions of free laborers in the North. You will not be surprised when I say that our Negroes live better than most factory workers. Does anyone lookout for the poor worker whose arm is permanently damaged? No. Does anyone see that workers are properly fed and housed?”
Many of slave owners went so far as to advocate for universal slavery. They believed that the “superior” slave owners would provide a better organized system where everyone would have jobs, be provided food, clothing, housing and cared for if they were sick or infirm. Is this much different than socialism? This has been replicated in the USSR, China, and Cuba. Europe has reached dependence in the Cycle of Freedom and I believe we are not far behind. It’s time to break the cycle.
Posted on Saturday, February 04th 2012 at 11:37 am
As we enter the New Year many of us are looking back on 2011 and wonder what 2012 will bring. This leads many of us to make resolutions for 2012. It could be to lose weight, finish education or projects around the home. Here are the things I would like to do in 2012:
1. Love more. There is evil in the world and what the world needs is the love that comes from God. That love shines the light on evil and draws people away from decption. My mother was married 4 times. Her second husband was evil. I witnessed and experienced things that no child should. But, as the years have gone by it is more like a distant memory. I have become skeptical and cynical when I see screwed up people instead of remembering from whence I came and knowing that they are under a deception. Also, I have been burned by people I have tried to help, and that makes me cynical. Nevertheless, Jesus wants us to love like a child loves.
2. Give more. As I get older I am more frugal. Part of this is because I was not good with my finances when I was young and had to pay the price. But, part of it is fear. When I was young I thought I was indestructible, now that I am older I realize that my body is breaking down. I fear not having enough money if something happens to me physically or if the financial markets crash. The truth is we don’t know if we have tomorrow we only have today. I believe God wants me to give more and not to do it grudgingly, but to trust Him for the future.
3. Create more. We all have talents and gifts. These gifts aren’t ours to begin with, they come from God. I have a creative gift. When I spend the time ideas flow (some good some mediocre and some bad). The problem with ideas is that they have to be implemented and that takes work. As I get older I just don’t have the energy I had when I was younger to push these ideas forward, especially knowing that many of them fell flat. Yet, some don’t and will be fruitful and create opportunity for others.
I would challenge you to look at these things and ask yourself the questions does God want me to love more, give more and use my gifts more? Happy 2012!
Posted on Sunday, January 01st 2012 at 11:34 am
For past posts go to http://dougmartin.goodnewscommunications.com/