Saturday, November 25, 2006

I have never been a fan of the U. S. being global cop. I tend to believe that we should aid those on the right side with supplies, training, inspiration, and weapons and only be involved militarily where our vital interests are at risk. Otherwise we will be involved in perpetual war like Great Britain of centuries ago. We will spend our blood and treasury on foreign adventure after foreign adventure while impoverishing the American worker and blooding the American psyche.

The problem with this war is that we have to win it. Maybe we should have let the inspectors have more time and targeted Sadaam and company for assignation. The truth is this war was likely inevitable except by a miracle. We could no longer allow in a post 9-11 world this base for terror and attacks on the U.S. military. (Iraq attacked coalition forces 450 times over the past 15 years and was involved with talks with Bin Laden's lackeys.) We now have proof that he had weapons of mass destruction programs and had just about everything for a nuke but the enriched uranium.

The same David Kaye report that could not find the mass stockpiles of weapons said in some ways Iraq was more dangerous than we thought.

The terrorists have made Iraq their cause celeb. They are on the run around the world thanks to us. This is their big chance to see if we will cut and run if the going gets tough. If we do they will take these tactics everywhere, including American malls and schools. They will burn our churches, bomb our schools, and shoot up our theaters. The specter of Islamofacism will haunt us until we exorcise fear and tolerance of failure from the American psyche.


A Doctrine Worth Saving
Stomping Bush may impose a steep price.

Friday, November 24, 2006 12:01 a.m.

Thanksgiving is unavoidably bound up with the political life of this country. Each year the day before Thanksgiving this page publishes as its lead editorial a segment from the Plymouth Colony records of Nathaniel Morton based on the account of Governor William Bradford. The diary entry makes plain the world that spread before the Pilgrims in 1620--woods and thickets with a "wild and savage hew." My eye this year is drawn to its final line, describing a look backward that day across an ocean, "a gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world."
Over the next three centuries, the Pilgrims' ancestors and others fought and bled to improve the "civil" world they fled. The Revolutionary War took nearly 4,500 lives. The Civil War, a half-million lives. The combined dead in World War I was more than 116,000, and World War II's U.S. battle deaths to defeat Germany and Japan were close to 300,000. After all that, the United States became the foremost part of "the civil part of the world."
In the mid-1990s, I was talking to a politically sophisticated European lady about Europe's lack of military response to Milosevic's ethnic cleansing of the non-Serbs in Yugoslavia. She said, persuasively I thought, "You must understand how much bloody death has happened across our continent the past century. We have simply been worn out by it." In the event, the U.S. went in to stop another 20th-century genocide on the soil of that civil part of the world.
Her remark has come back to me in recent weeks, watching the paroxysm of antipathy toward the Iraq war and its progenitors. It would be one thing to say it is simply opposition to and dissent from an unpopular war and an unpopular president. But this has gone beyond that. The rhetoric is emotional and vituperative. I have seen audiences greet speakers denouncing Iraq as a "disaster" and "failure" with bursts of applause.
It is getting harder to distinguish between animosity toward George Bush and animosity toward the entire American enterprise beyond the nation's borders. As Norman Podhoretz delineated in the September issue of Commentary, columns and articles in journals of foreign policy are equating the tsunami of negativity rolling over Iraq with repudiation of the Bush Doctrine in toto.
One might have expected most of the disagreement to center on the doctrine's assertion of a right to pre-emptive attack. Instead, Iraq's troubles have been conflated with a general repudiation of the U.S.'s ability to abet democratic aspiration elsewhere in the world.
It is certainly possible that the Iraq effort will, in some obvious sense, "fail." Henry Kissinger now says "victory," defined as an Iraqi government gaining political control over the entire country, is not possible. But we might want to think some before we toss out the infant Bush Doctrine with the Iraqi bathwater.
As stated, the doctrine's strategy is "to help make the world not just safer but better." Some conservatives have denounced the "better world" part as utopian overstretch. Beyond that, the document lists as its goals the aspirations of human dignity, strengthening alliances to "defeat" terrorism, working with others to defuse regional conflicts, promoting global growth through free markets and trade and "opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy."
It is mainly the latter--the notion of the U.S. building the "infrastructure of democracy" that now, because of the "failure" in Iraq, attracts opposition across the political spectrum--from John Kerry to George Will and on out to neoconservatives confessing loss of faith in the Bush team to the unforgiving ear of Vanity Fair.
No doubt each of these has declared unfealty to the Bush effort for more or less honorable reasons. But someone ought to step back and consider the cumulative political effect of what of late has turned into an unrestrained gang-stomping of the sort normally seen at Miami-Florida International football games. We are ensuring that no future president, of either party, will project military power anytime soon short of retaliation for a nuclear attack. Every potential presidential candidate, including John McCain, has to be looking at the Bush administration's experience and concluding there is simply no political upside in doing so. We are backing the country's political mind into the long-term parking lot of isolationism, something fervently wished for at opposite ends of the U.S. political spectrum.
The specialists in the foreign-policy community will argue that a new administration can "adjust" policy to changed events and new challenges. That sells short the power of the anti-Bush wave (itself underestimated for three years by the Bushies). This is a new force. Powerful technologies--the Web, TV and (still) newspaper front pages--combine to amplify ancient human barbarities every day from the Sunni Triangle. The opinions of mere pundits acquire exponential authority, a scary thought. Baghdad has become the blood-soaked, psychological equal of the Somme or Gettysburg. The sense grows daily among the American public that helping "them" is hopeless and "we" should pull back to our shores.
Like the Europeans, we may talk ourselves into a weariness with the world and its various, unremitting violences. No genocide will occur on American soil, but the same information tide that bathes us in Baghdad's horrors ensure that Darfur's genocide will come too near not to notice. Too bad for them, or any aspiring democrats under the thumb of Russia, China, Nigeria, Venezuela or Islam's highly mobile anti-democrats. We've got ours. Let them get theirs.
Does this overstate the buildup of anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment? Will U.S. policy, in the hands of ideologically frictionless bureaucracies, slide forward? Maybe. But even the realists and cynics might concede there has been some benefit, perhaps going back as far as Plymouth Rock, in having one nation standing for the conceit, or even the ideal, that men elsewhere with democratic aspirations could at least count on us for active support. This is the core idea in the Bush Doctrine. If its critics don't start making some distinctions, they may discover that profligacy of opinion in our time carries a very steep price.
Mr. Henninger is deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His column appears Fridays in the Journal and on
Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Iron triangle of despair

There is a quiet cry of desperation in this county. A wave of homelessness is building like a tsunami traveling almost unnoticed by most until it reaches the crisis point. It is a complicated problem, some people are homeless by choice, some are victims of a cascade of unfortunate events, some are crime victims— i.e. domestic violence, arson, theft of money, and others are victims of their own self destructive habits. The complex nature of these problems discourages many from discussing it. There is no one solution. In our county, this complacency is putting us on verge of a human crisis. Kent County has only two shelters with long waiting lists and an emergency one for frigid nights. This puts us far behind Sussex. State and federal grants are being cut. Programs, which saved people from going over edge, are dying a slow death of financial starvation.

I am seeing more working homeless and homeless families. Regulations designed to encourage better housing are discouraging affordable housing. Rising energy costs and increased housing costs are combing with stagnant wages to form an iron triangle of despair for some of our fellow citizens.

I agree with Mr. Cecil Wilson’s call for a county homeless summit. I have been calling various people in the community to do a needs assessment and even with several more to go; I am getting a disturbing picture which is as bad as or worse than my personal observations from church work and community involvement. I am convinced that we need to develop a comprehensive plan which will detail the resources needed to head off a humanitarian crisis.

The price we will pay for not addressing this issue will be increased crime, decreased tourism, and suffering fellow citizens. Let’s not let another winter pass without a commitment to see that as many families as possible face it without dread.

David Anderson

This week those of us who love freedom lost an hero. Uncle Milty passed to the other side. My prayers are with Rose.
Here is a sample of his legacy--His clarion call to liberty.

Friedman's SamplerA selection of writings from The Wall Street Journal.BY MILTON FRIEDMANSaturday, November 18, 2006 12:01 a.m.(Editor's note: Emily Parker and Joseph Rago compiled this collection of Milton Friedman's writings from The Wall Street Journal. Friedman died Thursday at 94.)
On Freedom
It is important to emphasize that economic arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, "freedom" in economic arrangements itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so "economic freedom" is an end in itself to a believer in freedom.
In the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom. . . .
A citizen of the United States who under the laws of various states is not free to follow the occupation of his own choosing, unless he can get a license for it, is likewise being deprived of an essential part of his freedom. So economic freedom, in and of itself, is an extremely important part of total freedom.
The reason it is important to emphasize this point is because intellectuals in particular have a strong bias against regarding this aspect of freedom as important. They tend to express contempt for what they regard as material aspects of life and to regard their own pursuit of allegedly higher values as on a different plane of significance and as deserving special attention. But for the ordinary citizen of the country, for the great masses of the people, the direct importance of economic freedom is in many cases of at least comparable importance to the indirect importance of economic freedom as a means of political freedom.
Viewed as a means to the end of political freedom, economic arrangements are essential because of the effect which they have on the concentration of power. A major thesis of the new liberal is that the kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, organization of economic activities through a largely free market and private enterprises, in short, through competitive capitalism, is also a necessary though not a sufficient condition for political freedom.
The central reason why this is true is because such a form of economic organization separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to be an offset to the other. I cannot think of a single example at any time or any place where there was a large measure of political freedom without there also being something comparable to a private enterprise market form of economic organization for the bulk of economic activity.
--from "Capitalism and Freedom: Why and How the Two Ideas Are Mutually Dependent," May 17, 1961

On the Free Market
What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will. The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself.
The essence of political freedom is the absence of coercion of one man by his fellow men. The fundamental danger to political freedom is the concentration of power. The existence of a large measure of power in the hands of a relatively few individuals enables them to use it to coerce their fellow men. Preservation of freedom requires either the elimination of power where that is possible, or its dispersal where it cannot be eliminated.
It essentially requires a system of checks and balances, like that explicitly incorporated in our Constitution. . . .
The person who buys bread doesn't know whether the wheat from which it was made was grown by a pleader of the Fifth Amendment or a McCarthyite, by person whose skin is black or whose skin is white. The market is an impersonal mechanism that separates economic activities of individual from their personal characteristics. It enables people to cooperate in the economic realm regardless of any differences of opinion or views or attitudes they may have in other areas.
--from "The New Liberal's Creed: Individual Freedom, Preserving Dissent Are Ultimate Goals," May 18, 1961

On Free Trade
What we ought to do is practice what we preach. We have been going around preaching the virtues of free enterprise, of free competition in a free market. What have we been doing? We've been practicing the opposite, not only through our foreign aid program, but also at home. We tell other countries, use the market: we tell our farmers, look to Washington. We tell other countries, don't try to be self-sustained; try to develop valuable industries that can compete on the international market, and then what do we do? We impose import quotas on oil, we impose tariffs on goods that come in, we dump agricultural products abroad, and impose quota on their import at home. The rest of the world listens to what we say and they think, "now there is a fine bunch of hypocrites," and they are right.
--from "An Alternative to Aid: An Economist Urges U.S. to Free Trade, End Grants of Money," April 30, 1962

On Inflation
If the Fed does not explain to the public the nature of our problem and the costs involved in ending inflation, if it does not take the lead in imposing the temporarily unpopular measure required, who will?
--From "Why Curbing Inflation Is the Fed's Job, March 6, 1974

On Taxes
To summarize, deficits are bad--but not because they necessarily raise interest rates. They are bad because they encourage political irresponsibility. They enable our representatives in Washington to buy votes at our expense without having to vote explicitly for taxes to finance the largesse. The result is a bigger government and a poorer nation. That is why I favor a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the budget and limit taxation.
--from "The Taxes Called Deficits," April 24, 1984

On the Economy
The Wall Street Journal has been a firm and dedicated supporter of free markets at home and free trade abroad. It has repeatedly stressed its view that the invisible hand of Adam Smith is a far more effective and equitable means of organizing economic activity than the visible hand of government. Yet when it comes to foreign economic policy, a recent editorial, "Beyond Venice" (June 8), relies upon a wholly different and thoroughly incompatible set of ideas.
According to that editorial, "The economic summits of leading free-market nations are a sound recognition that the world economy defies sovereign borders, and can be run only through international cooperation."
Would the Journal describe the American economy as being "run," whether through international cooperation or by the powers that be in Washington or through cooperation among the individual states? Or would it rather, in accordance with its general philosophy, describe it as a system that is coordinated by the voluntary activities of millions of individuals, a system that runs but is not run?
--from "Please Reread Your Adam Smith," June 24, 1987

On Social Security
I have long been a critic of Social Security, basically because I believe that it is not the business of government to tell people what fraction of their incomes they should devote to providing for their own or someone else's old age. On a more pragmatic level, Social Security is another example of the generalization that government programs typically have effects that are the opposite of those intended by their well-meaning sponsors (what Rep. Richard Armey calls the "invisible foot of government").
The well-meaning sponsors intended Social Security to ensure a minimum income to the poor in their old age. It has largely done that, but at the cost of what they would have regarded as a perverse redistribution of income from the young to the old, from black to white, from the relatively poor to the relatively well-to-do.
From its inception, Social Security has been an unholy combination of two items: a flat-rate tax on earnings up to a maximum with no exemption and a benefit program that awards subsidies that have essentially no relation to need but are based on such criteria as marital status, longevity and recent earnings. As I wrote many years ago, "hardly anyone approves of either part separately. Yet the two combined have become a sacred cow. What a triumph of imaginative packaging and Madison Avenue advertising!"
--from "Social Security: The General And the Personal," March 15, 1988

On the Future
Let us put aside the scarecrows of the twin deficits and face up to the real problems that threaten U.S. growth and prosperity: excessive and wasteful government spending and taxing, including in particular the real time bomb in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs; concealed taxes in the form of mandated expenditures on private business; excessive and misguided regulation of individuals as well as businesses; the changes in tort legislation that are discouraging innovation; and not least, the recent increase in protectionism and the threat of a further major increase. We should and can do something about these problems, not allow ourselves to be diverted by politically convenient scarecrows.
--from "Why the Twin Deficits are a Blessing," Dec. 14, 1988

On Health Care Prices
Toward the end of World War II, I served as an instructor in a quality-control course for Navy procurement officers. It was held in Hershey, Pa. As I recall, we stayed at the Hershey Hotel, on the corner of Cocoa Avenue and Chocolate Boulevard, across the street from the Hershey Junior College, where the actual instruction took place, a block or so from the Hershey Department Store, and so on. You get the idea. The stench--or perfume--of paternalism was heavy in the air.
Early in the century such company towns, most far less benevolently paternalistic than Hershey, were common. Workers who were employed at mines or factories located far from large cities, in towns that typically had only a single major employer, were often required, or induced, to live in company housing and buy their food and other supplies at company stores. In effect, they were paid in kind rather than in cash--the so-called truck system. . . .
The company town has been revived in one major area: medical care. It is taken for granted that workers should receive their pay partly in kind, in the form of medical care provided by the employer. How come? Why single out medical care? Surely food is no less essential to life than medical care. Why is it not at least as logical for workers to be required to buy their food at the company store as to be required to buy their medical care at the company store?
--from "Pricing Health Care: The Folly of Buying Health Care at the Company Store," Feb. 13, 1993

On Jobs
Proposed economic policies tend to be judged in terms of jobs "created." That is the wrong criterion. The economic problem is not creating jobs. That is easy: Hire people at minimum wages (or lower) to dig holes and fill them. True, raising taxes to finance that project would destroy jobs, but the jobs destroyed would be high-wage jobs, the jobs created low-wage jobs, so for each job destroyed more than one job would be created--a net gain of jobs.
The real problem is to establish an economic environment in which there is a demand for workers at wages that those workers not only regard as satisfactory, but are qualified to earn: Better qualified workers and better wages--not simply more jobs--is the real problem.
--from "Better Workers, Better Wages: The Real Issue," June 1, 1993

On the Federal Reserve
My favorite "moderate" proposal for the Fed (my "extreme" proposal is to abolish it) is that (1) at the beginning of each quarter, have it estimate how much it will have to add net to its holdings during that quarter to achieve its target monetary growth; (2) divide that number by 12; and (3) announce that every Monday morning at 11 a.m. it will buy that amount of securities from the lowest bidder, and then close up shop until the next Monday, except for replacing maturing securities.
What harm would that do? It would mean day-to-day and week-to-week fluctuation in the federal-funds rate. However, the sophisticated financial markets have surely demonstrated their capacity to handle wide daily fluctuations in all kinds of securities prices. Dealing with the fluctuations in the federal-funds rate would be child's play.
--from "End the Fed's Fine-Tuning," Sept. 15, 1993

On the Flat Tax
The only way we are ever likely to get it is if there is a drive for a constitutional convention to repeal the 16th Amendment (which gives Congress the power to tax income) and replace it with one mandating a flat-rate tax.
However, I regret that that is not an immediate prospect.
--from "Why a Flat Tax Is Not Politically Feasible," March 30, 1995

On Government Spending
The typical rhetoric, Republican as well as Democratic, about the current battle to balance the budget is that cutting government spending imposes short-term pain more than compensated by long-term gain. That is utter nonsense. Cutting government spending and government intrusion in the economy will almost surely involve immediate gain for the many, short-term pain for the few, and long-term gain for all.
--from "Budget Cutting: A Lot of Gain, Little Pain," June 15, 1995

On Hong Kong
By some accident of officialdom, the colonial office assigned John Cowperthwaite, a Scotsman and a disciple of Adam Smith, to serve as financial secretary of Hong Kong. Cowperthwaite's free market policies are widely credited with producing the subsequent economic miracle that led to a phenomenal rise in the average level of living despite a nearly 10-fold rise in population.
It is hard to conceive of a more severe test of free market policies. Hong Kong is an island devoid of any significant natural resources other than a great harbor. When the Communists took over China, refugees came streaming over the borders with only the possessions they could carry. They and their successors produced a rapid rise in population. Hong Kong received negligible if any foreign aid to assist the assimilation of the refugees.
Under these adverse circumstances, the salvation of Hong Kong has been its complete free trade and free market policy. No tariffs on imports, no subsidies or other privileges to exports. (The only restrictions are those that Hong Kong has been forced to impose by pressure from other countries, including the U.S., as under the multifiber agreement.) There is no fixing of prices or wages; few if any restrictions on entry into business or trade; and government spending and taxes have been kept low. The top tax rate on personal income is 25%, with a maximum average rate of 15%. . . .
What a contrast to the experience of most of the colonies to which Britain gave their freedom after the war. And what a striking demonstration of how much better free trade and free markets are for the ordinary citizen than the protectionism of Mr. Buchanan and the "fair trade" of President Clinton. "Fair" is in the eye of the beholder; free is the verdict of the market. (The word "free" is used three times in the Declaration of Independence and once in the First Amendment to the Constitution, along with "freedom." The word "fair" is not used in either of our founding documents.)
--From "Hong Kong vs. Buchanan," March 7, 1996

On Health Care
The best way to restore freedom of choice to both patient and physician and to control costs would be to eliminate the tax exemption of employer-provided medical care. However, that is clearly not feasible politically. The best alternative available is to extend the tax exemption to all expenditures on medical care, whether made by the patient directly or by employers, to establish a level playing field, in terms of the currently popular cliche.
Many individuals would then find it attractive to negotiate with their employer for a higher cash wage in place of employer-financed medical care. With part or all of the higher cash wage, they could purchase an insurance policy with a very high deductible, i.e., a policy for medical catastrophes, which would be decidedly cheaper than the low-deductible policy their employer had been providing to them, and deposit all or part of the difference in a special "medical savings account" that could be drawn on only for medical purposes. Any amounts unused in a particular year could be allowed to accumulate without being subject to tax, or could be withdrawn with a tax penalty or for special purposes, as with current Individual Retirement Accounts--in effect, a medical IRA. Many employers would find it attractive to offer such an arrangement to their employees as an option.
--from "A Way Out of Soviet-Style Health Care," April 17, 1996

On 'Reform'
The present crisis is not the result of market failure. Rather, it is the result of governments intervening in or seeking to supersede the market, both internally via loans, subsidies, or taxes and other handicaps, and externally via the IMF, the World Bank and other international agencies. We do not need more powerful government agencies spending still more of the taxpayers' money, with limited or nonexistent accountability. That would simply be throwing good money after bad. We need government, both within the nations and internationally, to get out of the way and let the market work. The more that people spend or lend their own money, and the less they spend or lend taxpayer money, the better.
--from "Markets to the Rescue," Oct. 13, 1998

On Ronald Reagan
To Mr. Reagan, of course, holding down government spending was a means to an end, not an end in itself. That end was freedom, human freedom, the right of every individual to pursue his own objectives and values so long as he does not interfere with the corresponding right of others. That was his end in every phase of his remarkable career.
We still have a long way to go to achieve the optimum degree of freedom. But few people in human history have contributed more to the achievement of human freedom than Ronald Wilson Reagan.
--from "Freedom's Friend," June 11, 2004

On Communism
In the almost six decades since the end of World War II, intellectual opinion in the United States about the desirable role of government has undergone a major shift. At the end of the war, opinion was predominantly collectivist. Socialism--defined as government ownership and operation of the means of production--was seen as both feasible and desirable. Those few of us who favored free markets and limited government were a beleaguered minority.
In subsequent decades opinion moved away from collectivism and toward a belief in free markets and limited government. By 1980 opinion had moved enough to enable Ronald Reagan to win the presidency on a quasi-libertarian agenda.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 delivered the final blow to the belief in socialism. Hardly anyone today, from the far left to the far right, regards socialism in the traditional sense of government ownership and operation of the means of production as either feasible or desirable. Those who profess socialism today mean by it a welfare state.
--from "The Battle's Half Won," Dec. 9, 2004

On School Choice
One result has been experimentation with such alternatives as vouchers, tax credits, and charter schools. Government voucher programs are in effect in a few places (Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, the District of Columbia); private voucher programs are widespread; tax credits for educational expenses have been adopted in at least three states and tax credit vouchers (tax credits for gifts to scholarship-granting organizations) in three states. In addition, a major legal obstacle to the adoption of vouchers was removed when the Supreme Court affirmed the legality of the Cleveland voucher in 2002. However, all of these programs are limited; taken together they cover only a small fraction of all children in the country.
Throughout this long period, we have been repeatedly frustrated by the gulf between the clear and present need, the burning desire of parents to have more control over the schooling of their children, on the one hand, and the adamant and effective opposition of trade union leaders and educational administrators to any change that would in any way reduce their control of the educational system.
--from "Free to Choose," June 9, 2005
Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Here is a redux in light of the new utility rate increases.
Dear editor:

The choice is clear in the city election. If you choose the incumbents’ way, your budget will be squeezed this summer. City Council went up on your bills already (when it wasn’t needed) and now the worst is yet to come. Milford electric went up around 50% over the course of the last year. Delmarva Power will be 59% this May. Dover is still negotiating, even though the bids have already been submitted. The city manager has already signaled an increase is assured.

We, the challengers have given you a better choice; we can blunt some of the increase. There will still likely be increases. Energy costs are up. Power costs in this multi-state power grid are among the highest in the nation.

We need to return all of the profit sharing money in the electric rate stabilization fund. That is approximately $4,800,000. We are the stockholders in Dover, and it is time we had our dividend. According to the shopper, April 7, 2006 in an article by Drew Volturo, there has been no decision on how to spend it. They will likely put part of it will go to electric rates. We say no way. All of it needs to go back to the electric customer.

Not only should it all go back, any savings we achieve should be after rolling back the tax/fee increases need to be added to the fund. I would like to see millions from the carry forward be applied to the fund. The electric consumer has been subsidizing city operations for years; it is only fair to give a break during the adjustment.

Next we need to establish a Capital Projects Sunset committee. There are over 50 projects worth over 8 million dollars, which have been pending for years. We need to review them and decide which are priorities and which need to be retired.

We need to give up on the 13.4 million dollar city hall under one roof plan. There is nothing wrong with two locations. Would you rather have seniors choose between medicine or electricity this summer? Mr. Sadusky and Ms. Williams apparently would.
I respect both of these people. They are friends, but they are wrong.

My opponent, Ms. Russell, admitted after numerous questions in a candidate’s forum on April 11, 2006 that she favored the property tax hike, saying ,”you have to do what you need to do”. She incrediblely claimed that legal advice told her not to answer whether or not she favored any plan to deal with utility rate increases.

The naysayer’s and doom purveyors put out the outrageous lie that the city will go bankrupt (Mr. Sandusky). One person rightly noted that we will have to get rid of a project. Ms. Mitchell obviously does not read what her staff sent to council. April 10, 2006. I was a bookkeeper for a major retail operation with local revenues $100,000 to $300,000 a day. I have taken accounting and upper division economics courses. I promise that leaving the city with excess of $45,000,000 plus in reserves would be far from bankrupt. Jim Webster has a Master’s Degree in public administration and ran a great restaurant downtown. Dr. Bill McGlumphy was the former chair of the council budget writing committee (legislative and finance committee). Mr. Fred Tolbert was a planning commission member for 5 years and has an impressive professional background. This is a team which will bring serious oversight to the budget process.

Look at projected income for FY 2007. It is 109M. Look at income from this year. It is 109M. If we increase spending, over last budget by inflation, we still will be 5 million dollars plus in surplus plus 3.2 million in carryover this will keep the 8% contingency policy (not law). This is why we have each mentioned our preference for zero based line budgeting. That way an increase is not a cut.

Imagine if we got rid of a couple of projects and kept spending just about level for just one year. That money could help the working families, retirees, and poor get through this summer by bolstering the rate stabilization fund. My heart would be broken to read about a senior dying in the heat as happened recently in Chicago.

I am tired of the recipients of that tax and spend Kool Aid being served in city hall telling us that it will be a horrible thing if they can’t find new ways to spend our money. We have shown how to make a difference in people’s lives without compromising services, employee retirement, or anything else.

Now I will humbly ask that you give us a chance. We need more people on council who will stand up for you. After all, if we only get half of what we propose through council, we will get more done for the people in a month than they did in the last two years.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dr. Paul J DeanPastor, Counselor, Professor, Columnist and Radio Talk Show Host
Wednesday, November 8, 2006Political Engagement: Responsibility, Government & God

Evangelical political engagement is a topic of concern and discussion among many Christians. As the believer's raison d'etre is the advancement of the gospel for the joy of the nations and the glory of God, that reality is accomplished in obedience to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18f) and the Cultural Mandate (Gen. 1:28). Charles Spurgeon understood that twin directive and preached Christ and the application of His will as it had bearing on the politics of his day and often swayed elections at the local and national levels. Many evangelical pastors of a bygone era did the same without compromising or neglecting the gospel of Christ. Hence, it seems appropriate to offer a few observations along those lines.

First, the government must be engaged by the believer. We live between two worlds as Augustine termed them: the city of God and the city of man. We are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's (Matt. 22:21) but our ultimate citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20) and that citizenship is prioritized over our earthly citizenship. After all, we are strangers in this world (1 Pet. 1:1) and therefore our ultimate allegiance is to Christ. But, our citizenship here demands a certain measure of political involvement when given opportunity. For example, in the aftermath of King Solomon's death, "Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone to Shechem to make him king (1 Kings 12:1)." The people were involved, even if only in a small way, in making Rehoboam king.

The extent of any individual's involvement in the political arena is grounded in calling and giftedness just as the extent of one's involvement in missions, prison ministry, or a myriad of other spheres is so determined. At the same time, just as all believers are to engage in evangelism, all believers are to be involved in the political process in some way.

Of course, our influence as Christians is in the realm of ideas and not exerted by force or coercion. Freedom of conscience, religion, and speech, among other freedoms, are unalienable rights and gifts from the Lord God Himself. Christianity cannot be coerced, mandated, or legislated and our goal, as in any endeavor, is the salvation of souls. The government cannot accomplish that. Only God can.

Now, freedom entails responsibility and the understanding that we are bound by God's will, ways, and sovereignty. Thus, while Christianity cannot be legislated, political engagement is part of the cultural mandate which is inextricably intertwined with the Great Commission. We must not coerce but we must influence.

Recently David Kuo, a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, published his book, Tempting Faith, the result, in part, of his disillusionment over administration staffers calling evangelicals "nuts" and "goofy." He urges the religious right to take a two year fast from politics.

While much of what Kuo says should be heard and heeded, regarding the fast, Chuck Colson has a more biblical proposal. He notes, "Kuo is right about one thing: Christians involved in politics must maintain their independence; without that, we play into the hands of those -- Republicans and Democrats -- who would use us. Both parties are doing and saying things to attract so-called values voters. But Kuo is dead wrong to suggest that that Christians ought to enter into a time of 'fasting' from politics... Christians need to influence politics for justice and righteousness. But we must do so with eyes open, aware of the snares... Today Christians may find themselves suspect -- I have experienced this myself -- to the very people on whose side they are fighting. But that is the price they must pay to preserve their independence and not be beholden to any political ideological alignment... Only by continuing to fight for our beliefs, regardless of the temptations, compromises, or being called 'nuts,' can we achieve the kind of moral reform and protection of human rights that Christians throughout the centuries and in every culture work for." The point is that the government must be engaged by the believer.

Second, the government has great opportunity to do right. Government officials don't live in a vacuum. Some have access to special revelation and grace while others have access to general revelation and common grace. By virtue of providence and such revelation and grace, they are given opportunity to do right by the people. When Rehoboam was made King, "...Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying, 'Your father made our yoke heavy; now therefore, lighten the burdensome service of your father, and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you (2-5).'" Just as Rehoboam was informed of a problem and given the opportunity to do right, so to are our governmental leaders.

The sad reality is that Rehoboam later made some egregious errors with regard to the people. And yet, most of the time, individuals don't make regime or nation ending decisions at one time. They spiral downward over time in the face of great opportunity to do right. The erosion of freedom may be swift by way of invasion from a foreign power but most often that erosion is a slow process that occurs over time from within as the state arrogates more power to itself. (More on that sad reality below).

Third, the government chooses between good and bad advice. Note the advice given to Rehoboam. He "...consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon while he still lived, and he said, 'How do you advise me to answer these people?' And they spoke to him, saying, 'If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.' But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him... Then the young men...[said], "Thus you should speak to this people... 'My little finger shall be thicker than my father's waist! And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with stinging whips (6-11)!'"

Good advice, biblical advice, has to do with servant leadership. Good government is limited and protects the citizenry from predators. Bad government, unbiblical government, is oppressive and destructive of liberty. Rehoboam received bad advice from his boy-hood friends. It should not escape our notice that the Hebrew word used to describe them as "young" was derisive in context and was meant to describe them as children. His sycophantic friends were mere children in regard to their understanding and gave him corresponding counsel.

Christians must conduct themselves in principled ways. Those who find themselves in leadership must serve and those who are not in leadership must give biblical advice to those who are. Even as advice was given to Rehoboam, so too must Christians be at the table giving biblical advice to those in the public square. That advice may be given by way of seeking office, writing letters, or speaking to issues in different ways and contexts. At the very least, Christians can vote. That vote must be grounded in biblical principle and thus, even if the vote is cast for a losing cause (as the elders advice was rejected by Rehoboam), believers will have stood before God and man and declared "this is the way, walk ye in it." That dynamic is something to be considered when voting for the "lesser of two evils" vs. voting for a principled amendment or candidate even in the face of certain loss. Will we as Christians be "elders" or "children" as we advise with our votes?

At the same time, other contexts provide opportunity for biblical, political advice and instruction. J. Michael Johnson, Chief Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, was a recent guest on our radio broadcast. He talked about the erosion of our rights, the erosion of our religious freedom, and a variety of related court cases. He noted that homeschooling could eventually be outlawed in this country and that Christian schools are being forced to hire homosexual teachers. He cited the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that stated parents have no compelling interest or say in the sexual content of their children's curriculum. These developments may be surprising to many and Johnson admonishes us to be informed. The truth is that if we are informed, our conversations in the coffee shops and around the water coolers will be informed and others will be influenced as we bring a biblical worldview to the issues of our day. Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword.

Fourth, the government is often unwise and chooses wrongly. After receiving conflicting advice, Rehoboam took the advice of the young men and said to the people "...My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with stinging whips (12-14)!" Both history and the Scriptures teach us that the state moves toward oppression. In Romans 13, we are told to submit to the evil Roman state. One of the beasts of Revelation is evil government. When Paul told Timothy to pray for government officials he was not only concerned for their salvation but he was concerned that Christians be enabled to live quiet and peaceable lives (1 Tim. 2:2). He knew all to well that the state does not promote God's righteousness but a righteousness of its own which is more often than not opposed to Christ and His church (Romans 13). The state militates against our leading peaceable lives and thus we pray for said peace and freedom.

We should not be surprised when the state oppresses even as Rehoboam oppressed the people like his father Solomon (despite the fact that he actually loved God). By way of example, the question of whether or not a church has the right to publicly discipline one of its members over an extra-marital affair and its consideration by the Texas Supreme Court is shocking in light of our brief heritage of religious freedom in America. But, it should not be shocking in light of history and Scripture.

Fifth, the government, wise or unwise, is God ordained. Rehoboam was oppressive. But God raised him up for a purpose: "So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the LORD, that He might fulfill His word, which the LORD had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat (15)." That's why we submit. God ordains all governments that come to pass (Romans 13). And that's why we must not be discouraged when things don't go our way.

Christians must learn that the state is not the answer to our problems or the problems that plague our culture. The state cannot save us; only God can do that. Knowing that the Lord raises up kings and removes those same kings as He pleases should be a source of great comfort for us. We are told that "the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (Prov. 21:1)."

So, whether it's election season or any other season, be involved in the political process of the nation. Pray, persuade with the word, vote, and influence. But above all, regardless of what happens in the political arena, trust in the Lord; He is sovereign in the affairs of men.