Micro to Macro…

These two words are replete with meaning even though one deals in the very large scale and the other in the very small scale.  One might be thought of when we consider North Korea and the implications of that whole situation.  The other might be thought of when we consider our own hometown or our city block for that matter.

We know, for example, that the situation involving North Korea can cause virtually worldwide issues including issues in our own backyards.  At the macro level, this could ultimately change the world as we’ve known it in our lifetimes.  The ripples by the time they get to our own backyards are usually significantly reduced in magnitude unless we or a neighbor have a loved one in the military who could be directly impacted.

Our experiences with local issues can be significantly impacted or slightly impacted depending on the issue.  If the local school board makes a decision that has a financial impact on us, that can be significant.  If we have children or grandchildren in that school system, we tend to see the impact through a different lens that reduces the magnitude of the issue from macro to micro, if that big.  Our individual stakes in those matters determine how we see those decisions.  If we have kids in school, that influences the feelings about decisions made.  If we have grandkids in school, we are still interested but at a bit of a different level.  If our families are all grown and there are no school attendees, we feel a little differently about these kinds of things even though we know we still have a stake (albeit impersonal) in those institutions.

We are impacted by things over which we have little or no control every day.  Pricing at the local grocery store, or at the gas pump, or at the local restaurants we patronize can be either a bigger or a smaller thing depending on our circumstances.  We can choose to change our habits if we think there is a more economical way to accomplish the same or similar thing in terms of personal consumption, but we are impacted by decisions at the local and higher governmental unit levels.

Other things over which we have only indirect control can also impact us.  Taxing units of government can impact us without us having been aware if we’re not accustomed to following those things relatively closely.  Those entities are units such as school systems, local villages and cities, counties, and states.  Beyond this level, we have, or could have, voted for the people who will represent us but our personal level of impact is significantly reduced.  At least we have a vote in such matters, even though still removed from the point-of-decision unless we are regular attendees at the public meetings.  And, even then, we can be disappointed with the result, but we can remember who it was that caused us to be disappointed when we get to the voting booth the next time.

This reminds us that every vote counts.  The vote we made or are to make counts.  The vote our elected representative made or is to make counts.  Our presence (physical or otherwise) can and does make a difference.  Our opinions need to be presented to the person representing us so that he or she knows what we want and why we want it.  It is then up to that person to cast the vote they believe is best for their overall constituency.  Too many ‘wrong’ decisions will likely cost that official his or her position sometime in the future depending on how many chances we give them before changing our minds.

In the interest of full disclosure, I sit on a Village Board as the result of appointment to a vacant seat.  I will run in the next election for that seat to learn if the majority of those voting think I ought to continue to represent them or not.  This is my first time on this end of a vote other than when the Village Board selected me to fill this unexpired term from the group that indicated a desire to be considered.  It has been a great learning experience; I’d love for it to continue, but that is up to the voters as it should be.  This is about as micro as it gets.

Frankly, it is too bad that the higher the office, the less our individual impact, but that is the nature of the beast of representation.  Remember to vote no matter at what level the decision is to be made.  The smaller the total number of votes, the greater your impact.

Okay – His Time Is Up

North Korea’s pudgy dictator has been trying earnestly to get our attention, as well as the attention of the rest of the world.  In my book, he has succeeded with his latest test-firing of a self-claimed ICBM (InterContinental Ballistic Missile) which he claims can strike anywhere in the continental U.S.  I assume he includes Hawaii and Alaska even though not contiguous to the bulk of the U.S. states.  He can hit us.

It is, as I said, time for us to demonstrate what we think of him and his continuing belligerent behavior, his neighborhood bully approach to global relations.  I know that he has placed millions of North Korean citizens at risk with his behavior.  And I understand they have little means of removing him from office and getting a new person in that office who is sane and who does not endanger their lives.  Theirs is not a democracy.  It is at the opposite end of the scale, a dictatorship.

We are uncomfortable with leaders who act out like a mischievous 5-year old since they have their finger on the trigger and can pull that trigger at any time of any day they decide to pull that trigger.  This guy is plain and simple, a nut case!  That is a rather ugly thing to say about another person, but I believe this man is most deserving of that descriptive.

We Americans tend to believe in giving people another chance, another opportunity to demonstrate that they were not what we originally thought.  In this case, we give him another chance to show us he is over his belligerent snit-fit, and he seizes the opportunity to drop another ICBM into the ocean.  We tend to think of such threats as something to take the floor of the U.N., but the U.N. has shown us it has virtually no power and seldom chooses to use what little power it does have unless it has found another way to embarrass the U.S.

We Americans are a genuinely humane sort of people.  We help people the world over in famine situations, after crushing storms wipe out infrastructures, when those people are attacked by an aggressor opposed to freedom and a live-and-let-live approach to others.  We have become the ‘world’s policeman’ because we are built that way and we have the power to act in that capacity.

I have to believe that we have a very healthy, pinpoint grid of targets of opportunity in North Korea that have been selected to produce the greatest destructive power where it avoids the greatest loss of innocent life.  Unfortunately, dictators do not think about the lives of anyone other than themselves and, possibly, their family members.  Those people are simply pieces to be taken advantage of as one might give up a Pawn in chess to gain the advantage of sweeping a Knight off the board.

I have to believe that we are quite certain of the targets that will put North Korean out of the ‘war’ business for decades to come; and, I have to believe the rest of the free world would rise up immediately to thank President Trump for taking this dangerous and uncontrollable player off the chessboard of life.  Ultimately, his own people would do the very same thing although it might take two or three generations to complete the clean-up.  That process will never occur without us starting it, and it will never occur as the result of some other entity taking the bold and very necessary step of a first strike at every strategic point in that country.

I have to believe that this has been “gamed” in every possible combination of scenarios in the Pentagon and every major military educational and command institution in America.  “Gamed” is an offensive term to many because we’re talking about human life, and we actually do create training exercises that are very “game-like” for just that reason.  We want the best combination of destroying what needs to be destroyed at the very smallest cost to human life and that country’s infrastructure.

Why do we do that?  We do that to assure that we destroy what needs to be destroyed and that we protect what needs to be protected.  Unfortunately, there is almost always a loss greater than the military gaming has suggested because things go wrong when the first bomb is dropped and the first artillery round is lofted toward its target.  That having been said, there is nothing good to come from the North Korean situation.  We have to take the initiative and we have to take it very soon.  In these situations, the first strike advantage will usually provide that side the ultimate victory if it doesn’t lose its will to win.

This makes battle sound like a ‘game’.  It isn’t a game, but it provides those who plan and lead in such cases the backdrop of the exercises to draw upon as things change which they inevitably do in any battle.

The only thing certain in delaying our response to Kim’s belligerence is that he will continue to escalate until we do respond; and, his escalation is the most dangerous part of this entire process because it gives him that sense that he can actually defeat us if he simply perseveres.  It is time to put an end to his folly and we’re the only country capable of doing so, even if we have to do it alone which I doubt will be the case.

It is, unfortunately, time to end his folly…or we’ll certainly pay a much more significant price for having continued to delay the inevitable.

 

We Make The Decisions…

You and I make decisions virtually every day that impact us only somewhat, or almost not-at-all, or significantly and in some cases for a long, long time.  We pay various prices for some of our decisions and benefit from other decisions we’ve made over the course of a lifetime.  I wish I could be proud of each and every decision I have ever made, but I cannot in retrospect.

It’s not that I’m a criminal.  I’ve stolen once and that taught me that lesson.  Fortunately, I was about 3 or 4 at the time and some candy at the local ‘dime store’ found its way into my pocket.  Needless to say, when my Mother found I had candy upon our arriving at home, she marched me straight back to that store, made me apologize and denied me the opportunity to buy it with my meager allowance at the time…which might’ve been an occasional nickel if Dad had change in his pocket and thought to give some of it to me.

That was a life lesson and obviously, I remember it to this day.  I have been on the straight and narrow to this day…and I couldn’t run fast enough or far enough to even hope to get away…so I am simply honest, to a fault some would say but a lesson is a lesson.

Our own Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has attracted another opposing candidate in the coming race for the House seat he has occupied for several terms.  I have extolled Ryan’s virtues as a House member often, so I’ll not engage in that, much, today.  I did note in a news article by Dan Bice in my morning e-version of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Ryan has another challenger for the first time in so long as I can remember…which is shorter and shorter, it seems, every year…if I recall correctly.

One of Ryan’s challengers is a fellow by the name of Randy Bryce who has decided it was time to square away a couple of old debts given he was going to be subjected to a lot of public interest in his challenger’s role.  His mother did not grab him by the ear, it would seem, but to his ultimate credit, he has retired an old debt involving delinquent child support payments.

He has also been shown to have driven with a revoked driver’s license…twice.  You can find this in today’s Milwaukee Journal.  The problem with all this is simply the question of whether or not the old debt would’ve been paid had he not decided to run against Ryan.  I can’t be sure, but there is a timeline involved that would suggest this resulted from him understanding he was about to stand under a very bright light.

We know virtually everything about Paul Ryan given his years in a heavy duty public office.  We’ve seen him in a deer stand, with his wife of many years patiently waiting at home, debating on the floor of Congress, etc., etc.  As I said before, I have had the distinct privilege to be involved in personal meetings with Rep. Ryan and I couldn’t find a fault with him or his logic if I were paid to do so.  Sure, there are those things that were beyond his control but that is the way of our House of Representatives.

The very idea that we would seriously think of trading this man with a breadth of knowledge earned on-the-job in what likely is the single toughest job in Congress for a never-before-tested guy with something of a checkered personal past points to one thing for me:  that this is the only person the Democrats could find who is willing to risk his reputation, such as that is, to try to defeat what I believe to be one of the top 10 members of the House of Representatives; that simply shows how bereft of talent the Dems find themselves in that District.

You can certainly make up your own mind if you choose by ‘Googling’ “Daniel Bice Milwaukee Journal 11/28/2017”.

I find myself sometimes, actually oftimes, perturbed that Republicans cannot get things passed but then I see the wrangling of cats that has to happen to make that possible and I know that is simply sometimes an impossibility given the competing factions in the Republican House today.  Remember that we have a faction within the Republican House membership that loves to make Ryan’s life as close to impossible as they can, even to the detriment of their party.  They are known as the Freedom Caucus.

Unfortunately, there are only a handful of people with the grit to ‘make their bones’ given the range of competing self-interest that all but the LEADER have at their beck and call.  That person needs the wisdom of Soloman and the fortitude of Goliath…and there just aren’t very many of those minted regularly.  Ryan is, in my opinion, singular in that quality and with those qualifications and is needed back in the House as never before.  It is tough enough to go one-on-one with the Dems day-in and day-out let alone having to fight as hard or harder with members of your own caucus.

The country needs Ryan, not just this state.

Liberal vs. Conservative…Part Two

The issues as seen from both a liberal and a conservative point-of-view:

Death Penalty

Liberal – We should abolish the death penalty.  The death penalty is inhumane and is ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment.  It does not prevent crime.  Imprisonment is the appropriate Punishment.  Every execution risks killing an innocent person.

Conservative – The death penalty is a punishment that fits the crime; it is neither ‘cruel’ or ‘unusual’.  Executing a murderer is the appropriate punishment for taking an innocent life.

Economy

Liberal – Favor a market system in which government regulates the economy.  We need government to protect us against big business.  Unlike the private sector, the government is motivated by public interest.  We need government regulation to level the playing field.

Conservative – The free market system, competitive capitalism, and private enterprise afford the widest opportunity and the highest standard of living for all.  Free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs and higher standards of living than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.

Environment

Liberal – Liberals sometimes believe that conservatives don’t care as much about protecting the environment.  Liberals will argue that Industrial growth can harm the environment.  They argue global warming is caused by an increased production of carbon dioxide.  The U.S. is a major contributor to global warming because it produces 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide.  The U.S. should enact laws to significantly reduce that amount and if it reduces some economic growth then so be it.

Conservative – Conservatives want clean water, clean air, and a clean planet, just like everyone else.  However, extreme environmental policies destroy jobs and damage the economy.  Changes in global temperatures are natural over long periods of time.  So far, science has not shown that humans can affect permanent change to the earth’s temperature.

Gun Control

Liberal – The Second Amendment gives no individual the right to own a gun but allows the state to keep a militia (National Guard/Armed Forces).  Guns kill people.  Guns kill children.

Conservative – The Second Amendment gives the individual the right to keep and bear arms.  Gun control laws do not thwart criminals.  You have a right to defend yourself against criminals.  More guns mean less crime.

Health Care

Liberal – Support universal government-supervised health care.  There are millions of Americans who can’t afford health insurance.  They are being deprived of a basic right to healthcare.

Conservative – Free healthcare provided by the government (socialized medicine) means that everyone will get the same poor-quality healthcare.  The rich will continue to pay for superior healthcare, while all others will receive poor-quality free healthcare from the government.  Health care should remain privatized.  Support Healthcare Spending Accounts.

Immigration

Liberal – Support legal immigration and increasing the number of legal immigrants permitted to enter the U.S. each year.  Support blanket amnesty for current illegal immigrants.  Believe that regardless of how they came to the U.S., illegal immigrants deserve: U.S. Government financial aid for college tuition. Visas for spouse and children to come to the U.S.  Families shouldn’t be separated.  Illegal immigrants do the jobs that Americans do not want to do.

Conservative – Support legal immigration at current numbers, but do not support illegal immigration.  Government should enforce immigration laws.  Oppose President Bush’s amnesty plan for illegal immigrants.  Those who break the law by entering the U.S. illegally should not have the same rights as those who obey the law by entering legally.  If there were a decrease in cheap illegal immigrant labor, employers would have to substitute higher-priced domestic employees, legal immigrants, or perhaps increase mechanization.

Religion

Liberal – Support the separation of church and state.  Religious expression has no place in government.  Support the removal of all references to God in public and government spaces.  Religion should not interfere with government.

Conservative – The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution.  the First Amendment to the Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”  This prevents the government from establishing a national church.  However, it does not prevent God from being acknowledged in schools and government buildings.  Oppose the removal of symbols of Christian heritage from public and government spaces.  Government should not interfere with religion and religious freedom.

Same-Sex Marriage

Liberal – Marriage should be legal for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples to ensure equal rights for all.  All individuals, regardless of their sex, have the right to marry.  Believe that prohibiting same-sex citizens from marrying denies them of their civil rights.  Opinions differ on whether this issue is equal to civil rights for African Americans.

Conservative – Marriage is between one man and one woman.  Opinions differ on support for the creation of a constitutional amendment establishing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  Believe that requiring citizens to sanction same-sex relationships violates moral and religious beliefs of millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Taxes

Liberal – Support higher taxes and a larger government.  High taxes allow the government to do good and create jobs.  We need high taxes for social welfare programs, to provide for the poor.  We can’t afford to cut taxes.

Conservative – Support lower taxes and a smaller government.  Lower taxes create more incentive for people to work, save, invest, and engage in entrepreneurial endeavors.  Money is best spent by those who earn it.

Welfare

Liberal – Support welfare.  We need welfare to provide for the poor.  Conservatives oppose welfare because they are not compassionate toward the poor.  We have welfare to bring fairness to American economic life.  Without welfare, life below the poverty line would be intolerable.

Conservative – Oppose long-term welfare.  We need to provide opportunities to make it possible for poor and low-income workers to become self-reliant, rather than keeping them dependent on the government for money.

War on Terror/Terrorism –

Liberal – 9/11 was caused by America’s arrogant foreign policy.  America needs to stop angering other countries.  The threat posed by terrorism has been exaggerated by our government for their own political advantage.

Conservative – The world toward which the Militant Islamists strive cannot peacefully coexist with the Western world.  In the last decade, Militant Islamists have repeatedly attacked Americans and American interests here and abroad.  The terrorists must be stopped and destroyed.

# # # # #

I thought this was probably among the fairest replications of the two sides, Liberal and Conservative, as I’ve encountered of late.  That it was produced by an educational institution made it all the more relevant from my point-of-view given the liberal-leaning of many such institutions.  This is more a “Cliffs Notes” approach to the question touching on the issues with a thumbnail listing of primary points.  And, there was little if any sign of political leaning in the writing.

Liberal vs. Conservative…Part One

I found, at a site that I’d never have expected to have such a discussion, the differences between liberals and conservatives.  It was posted as a worksheet to help one determine where his or her natural leanings might be taking them.  The site is at LPS.org (Lincoln Public Schools) and it generally gives a pretty even-handed picture, as I see it, of the two positions likely to be found in either a person of liberal leanings or a person of conservative leanings.

It begins with a general overview of both people of the liberal persuasion and of the conservative persuasion:

LIBERALS

Generally, believe in governmental action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all, and that it is the duty of government to reduce community issues and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights.  Also, believe the role of the government should be to solve people’s problems.

Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for government to solve people’s problems.

Liberals are often referred to as being on the  LEFT when put into a political spectrum.  Democrats are often viewed as more liberal.

CONSERVATIVES 

Generally, believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense.  Also, believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals.

Conservative policies generally emphsize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

Conservatives are often referred to as being on the RIGHT when put into a political spectrum.  Republicans are often viewed as more conservative.

Political Spectrum

Left———————————————-Moderate———————————Conservative

Tomorrow we begin to look at the major issues identified as: the Death Penalty, the Economy, the Environment, Gun Control, Health care, Immigration, Religion,  Same-sex Marriage, Taxes, Welfare, and the War on Terror/Terrorism.

 

 

Love on Black Friday?

You may be thinking, that guy has slipped a cog or two with this title.  This is BLACK FRIDAY, after all, and anything and everything is fair, to paraphrase, in shopping and war.  This is THE day for sharp elbows and ignorance of others who might’ve been ahead of you in the check-out line.

This is, of course, the day on which retailers are supposedly going to be made whole and returned to profitability.  This is the day when all us consumers are supposed to go nuts and over-spend; thus the day when retailers finally course from red ink to black ink in their electronic ledgers.  The concept of further mark-downs creating the profit for an entire year escapes me, but that is another story.

Our Associate Pastor wrote the following in our daily devotion “Yellow Sheet” for this morning:  I have a challenge for you today.  Today I encourage you to treat others with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”  Will it be easy or hard?  Are you reading this while standing in an early morning Black Friday line?  Are you preparing for a day spent hiding from the shoppers in your home?  Whether you are greeting fellow shoppers, exchanging words with your cashier or simply spending the day with a family member or two, I encourage you to “put on love” especially for those who don’t seem to deserve it.

She certainly hits some tender spots that probably each of us can cringe at while thinking of how we’ve acted on these kinds of days.  This is among those days when many seem to cast courtesy to the four winds and buckle their chin straps to get at some serious shopping and those great Black Friday prices.  Just imagine how you’d stand out in the crowd if you wore one of your brightest smiling faces instead of bearing down on that next item you need in order to scratch it from your shopping list.   Imagine how you’d give someone a spiritual lift by simply giving them genuine smile from the heart.

I have the habit, annoying to some I know, of wearing a smile as often as possible throughout each of the days I have here on this earth.  I do receive some stares by those who don’t know me, and some headshakes from friends who do know me.  It is amazing what a simple smile will do for us and for those who see it on our faces.  In at least 75% of the time, I receive a return smile; it is almost an automatic reflex.  In the other 25%, I imagine people are wondering if I’m “all there” or suffering from some serious emotional issues, or they simply looked right past me and never saw my smile.

Just imagine, if you will, what a smile would do on Black Friday.  Some will try to avoid your look.  Some will try to find a tiny little smile feeling awkward at the same time.  If you notice children, they almost always will smile back unless Mom or Dad have taught them that can be dangerous with strangers.  If you couple the smile with a wave, you’ll probably get both in return.

I believe that each of us has a mission here on this earth and among mine is to try to help others relax and smile more often than they might without my encouragement.  Sometimes it seems that those who appear to have little if anything about which to smile are the quickest to respond to your smile.

Imagine how a smile could help someone on Black Friday.  Imagine how that smile could help you on Black Friday…and every day.  Sure, some will wonder if you’ve finally gone over the edge, but you’ll know better.

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I am seeking additional writing relationships and will welcome your inquiries if you or your business have such a need.  My personal politics get stowed in the closet as your chosen message reaches the readers of your corporate blogs delivering the message you choose when you want it delivered in the tone you desire.  If there is interest in exploring a relationship, please send me an e-mail: alc@stonezephyr.com

 

Thanksgiving Day – 2017

This is the day when we typically stuff ourselves with more than the special guest turkey was stuffed with when we began the process of becoming so full we can’t seem to stay awake very long.  There is a special video that bears watching and that is found at:

www.TheInterviewWithGod.com/Video

Since this is the day for us to give thanks, as if every day isn’t one of those days, this video production seemed quite appropriate.  If we put any real effort into it, we each could have a list at least a full page long of all those to whom we owe a thank-you.

We tend to make Thanksgiving day all about food and while that is part of this special day, it tends to get in the way of the real meaning.  This is the one day of all 365/366 days that each year brings to us when we especially thank God for His blessings.

In case this link isn’t clickable after posting, simply key the website address into your browser for a real treat!

Happy Thanksgiving Day – 2017 Version!

I pray that you are surrounded by loved ones today and that those from whom you’re separated by distance seem to be seated right beside you at the feast table today.