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Sunday, March 28, 2010

New York's Sugar Tax

New York state, the state I like to call the "Fiscally Challenged State,"--and yes, I know that California is a worthy contender--is contemplating a tax on soda and sugared drinks. The idea is that government can alter the behavior of people, dissuading them from purchasing an unhealthy product. The real reason behind this is of course to bring money into the coffers of the state--New York is facing a 9 to 13 billion dollar deficit (and that's only what they are telling us).

The Times Union newspaper has come out in favor of the tax, saying that the state needs the money and the people need to be told what not to ingest. "Yes, it would be easy to say, just cut spending" posits their recent editorial. Right. But they left one word out: drastically. Just cut spending...drastically.

The problem with New York is not that they don't have enough money coming in. They have plenty. The problem is that they have too much going out. And yes, that means that a lot of people are going to be upset with their particular projects being cut. Too bad. Welfare needs cutting (45 billion dollars!) and education needs cutting.

Did I just say that education needs cutting? How can anyone say that? Because it is true, that's why. New York is #4 in spending per pupil, and #36 in SAT ranking. Iowa, spending at the national average leads the SAT pack. What I propose is to lower spending per pupil to the national average. Spending more money does not help education; it may just hinder it.

More money coming into the state is just more money to be spent, and where will this end? Even the Times Unions writes: "Still, it would be easy to say, isn't this a slippery slope? What's next? Pizza? The all-American hamburger and milkshake?
To that argument, we say, let's take this one battle at a time. As for this one, proponents of the soda tax clearly win on the merits."

One battle at a time. Fine. Let's win this battle and put an end to the war. Stop the soda tax.

And stop re-electing representatives, OK?

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lou, the Proctor & Gamble Guy

I thought I would answer Mr. Lou Pritchett, who wrote A LETTER FROM A Proctor & Gamble Executive TO THE PRESIDENT. For those not familiar with this letter please see my previous post.

You are a former soap salesman, which seems at first glance to be a real nice, clean sort of a job, but you scare me more than WWF Smackdown star "Lethal Weapon" Steve Blackman. Why?
You scare me because after just fifteen minutes of Internet fame, hundreds of thousands of people have read your letter. And apparently you really did write this. Most people would have said, Heck no, that must have been some other me.
You scare me because after a day of trying to figure you out I still can't. And I don't know where you went to school.
You scare me because I don't know who paid for you to put that, um, um, stuff out there.
You scare me because I don't know how a simple salesman--and I do mean simple--of soap could rise to become a vice president of Proctor & Gamble...and then write this, um, stuff.
You scare me because you haven't let everyone know how much you made as vice president, who are your friends, what political affiliations you have, and who you give money to. You are really scary.
You scare me because I don't know if you've ever been in the military. Only military men are worth anything.
You scare me because you've never been on Medicaid. Only those on Medicaid really know what is going on in the real world. Vice presidents know squat.
You scare me because you lack humility and class...and you don't know when to use quotes.
You scare me because you don't seem to be the kind of guy who will stand by your friends and pastor even when you disagree with seem pretty extreme.
You scare me because you are a cheerleader for Rush Limbaugh's America, which by the way, isn't the real America.
You scare me because you want to say, No, to a European style government controlled healthcare system which would save 40,000 lives a year. Really scared.
You scare me because you want to convince people that it's better to Drill, baby, drill, than to put OPEC out of business and make America great again.
You scare me because you seem to love banks. Who loves banks????
You scare me because even your own Republican friends won't tell you the truth that it was them who revved up the ol' deficit wagon.
You scare me because you probably won't realize that you are not one of those "intelligent friends."
You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient---see? Only people who really think that of themselves say that about others. Scary.
You scare me because you like and want to encourage the Limbaugh's, Hannitys, O'Reillys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative-and wrong--points of view.
You scare me because you seem to prefer idiotic letter writing to actually learning about something.
Finally, you scare me because I have a feeling I'm going to have to read another of your letters spammed to me in four more years when Obama is re-elected and it isn't likely to make any more sense than this one.

You Scare Me

Had to report this, as it surprised me to no end. I recently received from a friend (yes, I have those), a letter circulated the Web by a certain ex-vice president of Proctor Gamble, a Mr. Lou Pritchett (author of Stop Paddling and Start Rocking the Boat).

After reading the letter I was sure it was fake. These sorts of letters are easy to spot and they are constantly flooding everyone's in-boxes. The style is normally a bit high school, their logic jejune, and they are more than a bit combative.

The letter I speak of exhibits all those traits, but incredibly, at least according to, it is confirmed by the author to be, in fact, from his own hand.

The letter is printed as follows, and I am preparing a persnickety answer and I will post it hence.


By Lou Pritchett

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America' crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett

Note: Lou Pritchett is a former vice president of Procter & Gamble whose career at that company spanned 36 years before his retirement in 1989, and he is the author of the 1995 business book, Stop Paddling & Start Rocking the Boat.

Separation of Church, Politics

Though the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, the Church is having a tough time.
Although most Americans view themselves as spiritual, they seem less inclined to stand by religion’s banner. In December, a PEW poll showed an increasing likelihood that people identify themselves with New Age beliefs. A recent Newsweek poll showed that nearly 9 of 10 people identify as believing in a higher power. So people still see themselves as spiritual, just not as inclined to join a church.
Something is happening for people to invoke a sense of spiritual need. God still calls to us somehow, but where to?
The Church has one job, given it by Jesus Christ with these words from the Book of Matthew: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Note the two parts of this injunction: 1. Make disciples 2. He is with us.
How has the Church made disciples throughout Aemrican history? By means of force (the Puritans with their brand of Taliban-ish Christ-by-fiat Christianity), and by means of emotion (the Great Awakening revivals) and inculcation (passing the torch down through generations in a kind of spiritual DNA).
The results have been mixed. New England began as the bedrock of Pilgrim influence, but is now the least religious part of the country. Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, was driven off the colony for being too tolerant of other’s beliefs. He felt government wasn’t the best place to find “the Church.” Coercion of faith was anathema to Roger Williams.
Did appealing to emotion work better? The Great Awakening of the 1730s changed the course of America, influencing the founding fathers. The Awakenings of 1800 and 1850 (the Salvation Army) and 1903 (Pentecostalism) created the American Protestant church as we know it today. But with every high tide of passion came a low tide of disinterest. The Church now calls for another revival, in hope that the Holy Spirit will baptize people into their congregations where the Church itself has failed to in the Great Commission to “go and make disciples.”
What of the method whereby discipleship is transferred by example, those “points of light” of President George H.W. Bush. Many work tirelessly out of love and respect for mankind — and God. World Vision, for example, does Christian work without being a church. It lays the groundwork with honest hard work and devotion, but does not attempt conversion. Many Godly charities are being drowned out by more dramatic, political speech.
To ride the political train, looking to get the best seats on the railway to heaven, risks losing touch with those who need to hear Christ’s message. When politics becomes dirty (when isn’t it?) people in association with power appear dirty too. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the young see the Church as part of the problem. What great cause has galvanized it in this age of seemingly insurmountable problems — looming financial panic, a health care system that forgets the uninsured? Neither. What seems to unite the Church has been the fight against gay marriage, the so-called Sin of Sodom. And did you know that the real sin of Sodom wasn’t so much the sex? No, it was the sin of arrogance (look it up: Ezekiel 16:49).
So instead of reaping the harvest of the Great Commission, we risk pushing people away from Christ’s message of love. The Church is perceived by many to be a political player, alongside corporations and lobbyists, another secular tile in a game of dominoes.
There will always be Christians who stand out by presenting their burning candles, offering shelter, giving succor to the poor and sick. This is the real Church, unconcerned with political gamesmanship. And the people of the Church will be easy to spot: “by their fruit ye shall recognize them.” Remember, Christ said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” My guess is that some have forgotten it is Christ’s will that we should seek, not that of some political party.
He is with us always. The gates of Hell shall not prevail. I assume that means Washington, D.C.