Saturday, May 31, 2014

Greedy Nonprofits? The Campaign to get "Big Charity"

Of course, big is always bad in Rainbow Unicorn Land where the folk who fancy themselves the non-one percenters dwell. The chart above is circulating the Internet and it's absolutely full of crap. It targets charity powerhouses like the Red Cross, Goodwill and March of Dimes.

It seems there is a concerted effort going on to take down some of the bigger charities like the Red Cross and United Way and especially Goodwill. Notice they don't mention the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace or Harvard University - notable lefty favorites whose directors aren't exactly struggling to make ends meet. It's all a huge scam designed to distort the record and "take down" what the people who go around spouting about Big Oil and Big Pharma and Big Ag think is another "Big" conspiracy against the little guys. And it's another load of BS. Truth is that these guys they are attacking are essential help for the little guys and without them a lot of little guys would be in a very bad way.

Take MARCH of Dimes, which they claim doesn't give the money to "the needy". March of Dimes has never given money to the needy. They never pretended to. March of Dimes donations go to research to prevent birth defects and premature births. And yes, Virginia, the physicians and scientist who are paid to do this research do get paid more than $13,0000.

These clowns that are trying to take down "Big Charity" are largely progressive socialists and, of course, they would rather you abort the "fetus" and simply try again later. They certainly would object to wasting money on trying to actually save babies and prevent birth defects and stillbirths. 

United Way helps primarily small local charities which address local issues. United Way provides valuable fund-raising support for charities who can't afford a big development department and would rather do the work than spend half their time throwing golf tournaments and garage sales. I've worked with United Way and they really do provide essential support for small charities. Without UW, many smaller targeted charities simply couldn't exist. AND They can do this BECAUSE THEY ARE SO DAMNED BIG. 

Goodwill helps people with developmental disabilities to have a job and earn their own money so they are not totally dependent on an allowance from their moms or from state programs. The do VERY good work. It's true their "employees" don't make a living wage. That's because most are on disability and can't afford to make even a tiny bit too much or they lose their government support. Most have serious developmental problems and could hold no other job in a competitive business. If they work hard they make better pay depending on their ability in many Goodwill run workshops and industries. This allows them to pay for recreation, personal things and other "extras" beyond the subsistence level income and support they get from Uncle Sam and the state. And their so-called "facts" about Goodwill are very badly distorted.

The fact that a nonprofit CEO doesn't take a salary or that 100% of your donations go to this or that "program doesn't mean some donor isn't paying someone a salary to manage the program. Even six figure CEOs of nonprofits are very likely to receive a salary rather lower than what a CEO in the private sector would get to manage a company of the same side. And most receive WAY below what a government bureaucrat gets paid by taxpayers for the same job or one with far less responsibility - that is if anyone in government civil service ever is held responsible for anything they do.

Scripture says, "The laborer is worthy of his hire." Not every nonprofit CEO is a trust fund baby and can write off a salary or take some ridiculously low paycheck. The Red Cross president is managing a company with an annual budget in the hundreds of millions. She makes that happen year after year and the Red Cross gets a lot more bang for the buck out of her salary than some of the "good charities" listed below do, though all of them might be quite good charities themselves and do lots of good..

And some of the ones with ridiculously low CEO salaries or guarantees that 100% of your donation goes to programs simply set up the books so that admin costs are covered by an endowment or a generous donor. Their people get paid.

St. Jude's staff, for instance, do get paid, don't kid yourself and paid well. They live off an endowment for admin costs that Danny Thomas raised for them years ago.  AND the docs' and nurses' paychecks are actually, part of what your donations go toward. So they can say with all honest that 100% of YOUR donations go to "fight childhood cancer". They don't say 100% of everyone's donation does. There's nothing wrong with that. They are simply creating a donation path where you can pay what you want to and screw those nasty old administrators.

Many CEOs that receive $0 paychecks are figureheads only (so they can say they don't get paid and the real work gets done by underlings). Some CEOs are paid by other entities and serve as head of a charity as well. Many have relatively little to do, but it looks good that they don't get paid. Some CEOs are retired rich guys (one percenters - the kind the president wants to take all their money from to make things "equitable").

This list is really deceptive and should not be trusted. The only way to find out if a charity is a good one is to get involved with it and find out if they do good work or not.

Just sayin' (and I have 4 decades' experience in the nonprofit sector).

© 2014 by Tom King

Monday, May 26, 2014

Everybody's After the Tea Party

What started out as an American tax revolt by conservatives has, through the good graces of the mainstream media, Democrat, Republican, far right and far left propagandists, become the whipping boy of every political power and would-be power out there. As a self-identified member of the Tea Party, I feel rather like the folk at the Alamo - surrounded and outnumbered.

  • On the one hand the Democrats and the loony left-wing piled on with a boost wherever possible from their allies in the mainstream media calling us right-wing kooks.
  • Next came the radical, Ron Paul right complete with conspiracy theories and a holier-than-thou attitude to complain we weren't real conservatives and make us look like right-wing kooks.
  • Then came the Republican establishment who were terrified that a resurgence of conservatism might endanger their long and largely unsuccessful attempt to win elections and accumulate power by staking out the middle.
I've always like the avuncular, country sort of folk who showed up for Tea Party rallies. They don't mind pushing back when outsiders try to co-opt what has proven to be the most resilient grassroots movement in recent political history.

The Tea Party gets accused of being beholden to some mythical corporate fat cats who are duping us all into supporting crony capitalism. Meanwhile the corporate fat cats are disturbed because they don't seem to be able to find a way to co-opt the Tea Party for their own purposes. With a movement like the Tea Party which has a few self-proclaimed organizations, no political structure to speak of, you can hardly blame either fat-cat corporations or fat-cat political organizations for being frustrated. Unlike most political machines, one has a great deal of difficulty finding out where to insert the money with this bunch.

I've been accused of being in the pay of some guys called the Koch brothers because I belong to the Tea Party. I don't know the Koch brothers and if I'm getting paid to write conservative weblogs for them, I need to figure out where to go to pick up my check.

Now if I wanted to work for the hard left, I could go to Craigslist or a couple of nonprofit jobs sites I know and there are hundreds of paid "grassroots" organizing jobs I could get working for the left. If I didn't mind living in a ratty, commune somewhere I could work for the scary libertarian or scary liberal faction and get some of my bills paid. But so far, I've never been paid for going to any rallies, writing blogs or passing out handbills in support of Tea Party events or activities.

It's that quality of being unorganized, self-identified and not-beholden-to-anyone-with-money quality that troubles the powers-that-wannabe. They don't like loose cannons like the Tea Party.

I love being a loose cannon.
In the days of fighting sailing ships, if you were a loose cannon, people on board the ship had to pay attention to you, lest you crash through the deck and knock a whole in the bottom of the boat or roll over someone important in the crew.

Personally, I think the Tea Party is doing a valuable service to the political process, rolling around all out of control, if only to rattle the folk who are sailing this ship of ours off into the rather nasty-looking storm over there on the horizon.

Just sayin'

© 2014 by Tom King

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's Sin Not Skin

Who Is to Blame for History's Atrocities?

I ran across this statement the other day and I'd like to respond to it. 

"Anglo men have murdered and enslaved almost everything they put their hands on in the development of western civilization because of their greed."

The statement was in response to a documentary the author had seen about how America treated the Hawaiians during the late 1800s. He then came to the conclusion, based on the record of Hawaii's annexation and eventual rise to statehood that Anglo men were responsible for most of the murder and enslavement that created Western Civilization. The idea is not his alone. It's a growing meme promoted by those who wish to enlist people of color in the march toward progressive socialism which is supposed to heal the damage done by Anglo Men.

The gentleman is wrong, however in his assumption. In all the history of the world, it's not just Anglo Men who have sinned against their fellow man in the march to power. Men of all races, who have lusted to who hold power over their fellow beings, have proven quite capable of the most unimaginable atrocities. Asian men, African men, Indian, Celtic, Native American, Hispanic, Scandinavian, Caucasian and even Polynesian and aboriginal men have inflicted horrific things on their fellow humans simply because they had the power to do so.

It's not about the skin color, it's about the condition of the soul beneath the skin. One wonders what might have happened had Ghengis Khan or Shaka Zulu or one of the Chinese Emperors managed to gain as much power and technological superiority over surrounding nations as did the British or even the Americans of the 1800s. We are already beginning to get an inkling of what Muslim nations are capable of when they get hold of power and weapons with which to murder their enemies.

It's a soul problem, not a skin problem. No race has yet managed to totally escape it. On the whole Western Civilization has managed to corral it's lust for mass murder as well as any civilization thus far. We have at least proven willing to sacrifice our own lives to stop mass murderers from doing what they do. Our record is spotty, sure, but not many other great nations have even tried to do the right thing.

Even the Crusaders did some decent things and many of them meant well and actually attempted to act in a Christian manner toward the natives of the Holy Land, despite the hatchet job the revisionist historians have done on them and the puffery extended by the liberal historians of the past hundred years toward their Muslim foes.

Western Civilization has only been capable of over-powering its enemies and forcing its will on others, because we have managed to accumulate more power. I don't think it's a race thing at all, unless you suppose that white people are smarter and better organized than other races. I personally, think that's a racist attitude. I believe that, ironically enough, it was because Christianity brought long periods of peace and prosperity to the Western world, that the Western World had the time and surplus energy to trade, innovate and develop the technical and financial strength to build great military strength ostensibly for peace.

As in all human civilizations, evil men among us have unfortunately used power for evil purposes as evil men will. In spite of that, Anglo nations like Britain, The United States, Canada and Australia are far from an axis of evil. Even South Africa, which was at one point a stain on Anglo-Saxon civilization, eventually gave up its evil ways to a large extent. This happened, not because people of color conducted communist guerrilla operations, but because the nation's white leadership came under an overwhelming barrage of international shaming, most particularly from their fellow white people. Eventually, their Christian upbringing kicked in and overcame their lust for power and apartheid ended, not with a bang but a whimper.

Arguably, one of the most devastating blows to South African apartheid was a concert tour by a white folk singer, Paul Simon, who demonstrated that whites and blacks could work together for a beautiful purpose and who showed the human side of apartheid's oppressed people to everyone in the world. The government got more grief after Simon's tour than it could bear from outraged fellow Anglos. Ironically, Simon took a lot of criticism from leaders of the black rebellion too. Why? Because he had not paid proper obeisance to them before he had the temerity to sing with African black musicians – a peek at the dangers coming with the change of leadership.

The damnation of Anglo Men, neglects to discuss nations such as China, the Muslim Nations and Russia whose human rights records are abysmal.

It's true that nobody has the same level of power as the Western Anglo Nations, but, the idea that white people are just naturally more evil than everyone else is rather racist if you ask me. We white Anglo men can't jump either – except for my friend Mike Maloney who, as my opponent on the basketball court seemed to have wings. For one to ascribe the propensity for evil to white men alone or even mostly, passes de facto judgement on an entire people strictly by the color of their skin. Does the "white men cause all the trouble in the world" faction really believe what they are saying is not racist?

And, given that the Anglo nations are also, by and large, predominantly Christian nations, that damns Christianity by association. Really, what are you trying to say? I mean white people are already wallowing in guilt now for things somebody else did a hundred years ago. I see precious few Chinese being taken to task for their nations history of human rights abuse or for that matter, Russia, Germany, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Chad, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Spain, Italy (the Romans were a pretty rough bunch) or any other nation, tribe or culture on the planet.

If other nations are so peace-loving, tell you what. Let's give all our guns, nukes, planes and warships to any nation of any color you care to - any nation in Africa for instance. Anybody want to do that? (Insert chirping of crickets here)

The only reason that Caucasian (not just Anglo) men ran so many big empires was the accident of technology. Nobody in the "white men are all bad" camp has yet suggested that it is because Anglos are smarter and make better weapons, grow more food to feed their troops and come up with better tactics to kick the butts of their enemies. That would be to acknowledge white superiority. What they are saying smacks of whining by the losing side because their opponents were smarter and stronger. 

Even I am not suggesting that white men are smarter, and I am one, so that idea would make me feel quite superior and like anyone else, I rather enjoy feeling superior. If you do support the notion that there's something about white genes that make us more willing to dominate and abuse other races, however, you might also have to entertain the notion that there is also something in our genes that makes us smarter, more organized and tech savvy than some other races.  

This is not my opinion. I want to make that clear. But such a notion could be extrapolated from the very same argument that white man's greed is the source of most of the human rights outrages in the world – which, in fact, they are not. The idea that most power has been in the hands of white folk is hardly accurate.

Look at the great empires.

·         Babylon - Semitic, not Anglo or Caucasian
·         Han Dynasty (China) - Asian not Caucasian
·         Persian Empire – Semitic and Caucasian
·         Greek Empire - Caucasian, not strictly Anglo
·         Roman Empire - Caucasian/African (the curly hair came from considerable mixing with Africans and other races of color along the Mediterranean.
·         Holy Roman Empire - Now those guys were mostly Saxon rather than Anglo
·         Charlemagne - Celtic/Gallic, not Anglo
·         Mayan Empire – Amerind (built channels to carry off the rivers of blood that ran from the altars of their pyramids during sacrificing season).
·         Aztec Empire – Amerind (ditto the Mayan rivers of blood plus a little)
·         Peruvian Empire – Amerind (no slouches at oppressing neighbours and human sacrifice – children were favorite subjects)
·         Spanish Empire - Hispanic, not Anglo with a good deal of African gene stock
·         British Empire - Anglo/Briton/Celtic/Saxon/Nordic
·         Napoleonic Empire - Gallic not Anglo
·         German attempts at empire – Saxon/Prussian Caucasians
·         Japanese Empire – Asian (they even considered the Chinese to be inferiors)
·         Soviet Union – Caucasian mostly not Anglo
·         Maoist China - Asian
·         American Hegemony – hardly an empire Anglo/Saxon/Celtic/Pictish/Italian/Irish/Greek/African/Asian/Amerind and whatever else you can think of.

Anglos are a decided historical minority in the world of big, abusive empire builders. America was, in point of fact, guilty of some atrocities like in Hawaii and among the Native American tribes. We ran arguably unjust wars against both Mexico and Spain who, in the case of Mexico, we left with their independence when it was over, got rid of an arguably awful dictator and paid them for the land we took at a time when they really needed the cash more than the land. Nobody, who lives in the lands the progressive left claims that we stole from Mexico, wants to be given back to Mexico. The Spanish American war left us with the Philippines and Cuba and the odd island, but we gave those back to their people for better (in the case of the Philippines) or for worse (in the case of Cuba). We also rescued the Philippines when the Japanese overran them in WWII at great cost, then gave them their independence and piled on the financial aid that helped them achieve it. We only kept Puerta Rico and some Pacific Islands as protectorates, because they didn't want to go and they still don't. They like being Americans

And while we're talking atrocities, the Japanese committed some doozies in WWII. We managed not to hold that against them, to rebuild their nation and to make them a major trading partner. Same with the Germans. The African nations have taken slaughter to a particularly hideous level lately. The Muslim nations have pretty much proclaimed jihad against everybody. The Sri Lankans are at each other's throats all the time. Hindus in India used to keep special villages where they fed everyone right up until they went in and harvested a few to use in particularly barbaric sacrificial rituals. Mao starved millions of his own people, not counting the millions murdered in political prisons. The Russians really whacked off a lot of folks in Stalin's day. The Cambodians had the killing fields. Oh, there's plenty of responsibility for atrocity to go around.

Yes, some Americans committed atrocities against native Americans (who were not entirely blameless in the conflict) and Hawaiians (no strangers to violence against one another when they happened to be the stronger of the two opposing sides). We feel so bad about what a few Americans did more than a century ago, that Congress still cannot pass a Congressional appropriation without adding some special money in it for native Americans. 

While it was American white males, who have been responsible for most of the atrocities committed in our name, it must also be remembered that it was white American males who provided most of the manpower to put a stop to it - often at shattering costs. The sacrifices made by white American soldiers during the Civil War in fighting and dying to end slavery should count for something toward expunging their forefathers' guilt. White soldiers also fought hard to stop Hitler and Tojo and to liberate Iraq and Afghanistan and to try and prevent Communist aggressors from over-running South Vietnam. However badly their commanders mishandled those conflicts or race relations within our forces, Anglo males did do their part to try and protect people who were being persecuted, murdered and exploited. 

Of all the armies in the world, it is American armies that have long stood up to the truly evil guys in the world. When we defeat even the most evil of enemies, we make peace, then rebuild their country, and give it back to them. No other nation in the whole of history has done that as consistently as the nations of Anglo men. Considering where our civilization came from, I don't think we've done too badly with this one. And we pretty much constantly beat ourselves up for not doing a better job of it. 

If one looks at the past history of the Hawaiian Kings, themselves – the ones who inspired the harsh judgment of Anglo men in general that this article led with – the Polynesian kings can be shown to have committed plenty of atrocities themselves quite without the help of any white men at all. History notations pass over systematized extermination of your enemies and ritual human sacrifice as though it was a mere aberration and not the horror and perversion that such practice entailed. 

Delve into the history of any country you care to think of and you will find powerful men of every race and culture imaginable committing the most horrific atrocities. They may cloak it with the excuse of religion, humanity, social justice, Marxism. You name it and some human with power has done it, merely in the name of gaining and preserving his power. 

It is sin, not skin, my friend. Who is most to blame by virtue of their skin color is a political game played by those who would use our physical differences to divide us and conquer us for their own purposes. In reality, the color of the individual ordering atrocities is more a matter of who happens by chance, by theft or by dint of hard work to own the biggest guns, than it is the fault of their genes.

© 2014 by Tom King

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Libertarian/Liberal Alliance and the Mistreatment of History

Got another email from a friend of mine today. It was a link to a Lew Rockwell post that was supposed to show me I was a neocon and wrong about Ron Paul and libertarian isolationism. Apparently Robert McNamara was wrong about Vietnam.

Well, duh! 

And that's supposed to convince me that withdrawing from the world militarily and sitting behind our borders, legalizing pot and abolishing the world bank is a good idea? First, I take Lew Rockwell's correspondents with a grain of salt (and a small grain - I have high blood pressure) The Lew Rockwell gang are every bit as adept at twisting history to suit a narrative (isolationism) as McNamara and his ilk ever were. The libertarian/liberal alliance of today is beating the drum for the US to pull out of the world as a miracle cure for national aggression and they never tire of calling you a neocon for not supporting them.

Vietnam was a mistake, not because we were trying to save South Vietnam from North Vietnamese conquest, but because we weren't, no matter what MacNamara said. Vietnam was about ginning up paranoia in order to prolong what was essentially a massive weapons testing spree by the military/industrial complex. There was no thought of winning the war, just keeping it going so they could work out the kinks in all those expensive new weapons they wanted taxpayers to buy. And no article about how China was too poor to overrun Southeast Asia anyway is going to convince me they wouldn't have done it if we'd taken our troops home and not made it too costly for them to extend their "Sphere of Influence". Vietnam was badly handled. We could have ended that war in six weeks if we hadn't handcuffed ourselves before we went into it. 

My foreign policy would be this instead. 

  • Rule 1: The United States never fights a holding war. If we go to war it's in, win and gone. We'll even help the people of the miscreant nation clean up and rebuild. We're nice people like that. Ask Japan and Germany.
  •  Rule 2: No nation may henceforth march into another nation and conquer it. Period!

George Bush was right in liberating Kuwait and returning its government to its original state. George W was right in going to Afghanistan to root out state-sponsored terrorism. He was right in taking down Saddam for violating the original Gulf War cease fire which saved his fuzzy butt to continue mass murdering his own people. No fly zones were a poor substitute for taking out that madman in the first place.

And we should have got nose to nose with Putin over the Crimea. If the populace wanted to go back to Mother Russia as Putin said, let the UN go in and conduct elections and make it a peaceful transfer. Other than by the will of the people no outside nation should be allowed to change the national borders of another (and yes, even borders in Africa). By acting on principle to stifle aggressor nations we can avoid a whole lot of the kind of bloodshed the libertarian/liberal alliance never seems to get upset over - mass murder by conquerors.

I think both parties have it wrong because both are cowardly. They fear losing power so much that they are afraid to wield it properly when the time comes. I also think the libertarian/liberal alliance is wrong-headed on many levels in its naive belief that the US can bring about peace simply by withdrawing from the world stage and that our trading vessels and commerce will be able to go unmolested about the world.

No matter what Country Joe and the Fish might have to say about it, you can't put down your guns and pick up your hookah and make everything magically okay in the world. There is good and evil. We may have failed in a big way in the past, but that's no excuse to wallow in our guilt and curl up in the fetal position behind our leaky borders with bong to comfort us.

Our guiding principle should be the Arthurian one - "Not Might is right, but Might FOR right." Who decides what is right? Well all we've got is electable and fallable human leaders. I'm not saying trust them without question. I'm saying that as a people we should be telling them what is right and expecting them to do that.

Unfortunately we have a press that's busy trying to convince us that we're on our way to a socialist utopia and a political class that only cares about maintaining its power.
Without an unbiased, open and fearless press, we're pretty much screwed. You have ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN singing the liberal anthem. You've got Lew Rockwell and Alex Jones marching the unstable conservatives off the cliff and the country club Republicans trying to beat Democrats at their own political games. Center moderates and mainstream conservatives are left with little more sanity than Fox News and the exhausting struggle to sift through the crap to find the truth.

As Ronald Reagan showed, the American people recognize the truth when they hear it and will get behind it. Unfortunately, we only had 8 years of that kind of principled leadership, then the politicians took it back. They're bad enough. I see no advantage to giving it to the nuts.

And don't ask me about the revisionist history lesson I got last night about the evilness of Israel from a liberal university history professor. History is such a messy business, especially when libs (of both stripes) get hold of it.

© 2014 by Tom King

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shaking Hands with the Devil - The New Far Left/Far Right Alliance

I've been saying that the far right and far left have been merging for a long time. Now folk as politically diverse as Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader are saying it. Liberals and libertarians are seeking to forge an alliance on the issues they share: pro-isolationism, pro-drugs and a curious sort of anti-corporate anti-capitalism that promises to leave us isolated, stoned and economically fractured; a useful state and easy pickings for that big "world government with teeth" the pope, trade unions, eco-activists, progressive socialists, the international communist party and the newly invigorated high church/ecumenical/charismatic "Christian" coalition have been calling for of late.

Such a world government has long been seen as necessary by the Old World, if only to keep the uppity Americans in line and to at last bring them back into submission. Better to end the 2 century long American experiment in human liberty that has for so long impaired the rights and privileges of the world's natural noble classes, than to endure the continued existence of such a place as America. The very existence of a land of liberty and opportunity in the world disturbs the masses and makes them discontented, restless and unwilling to submit to their natural lords and masters. It's little wonder that the "rest of the world" hates us. We make it so hard for the nobles to govern. I am certain they would be very happy for this new liberal/libertarian coalition to succeed.

All they need is for the United States to reject its warlike ways, disarm and isolate itself. Then America can sit on our hands, quietly behind our leaky border fences, till the envious world can build its alliances and military strength, infiltrate, undermine us and finally force us to surrender to the "inevitable". Then they'll loot us and make the world fair (i.e. all the same) - the masses all equally poor and compliant save for the dictators and elitist royalty.

If anybody thinks the far left is going to hold hands and march happily off into the utopian sunset with the far right and forget all about disarming the American populace, reducing them to a contented stupor with sex, drugs and rock n' roll and then ringing down the curtain on our American experiment with liberty, I've got a couple of bridge investments I can sell you. One day the political stoners that make up this bunch is going to wake up in an Orwellian 1984/Brave New World with Big Brother watching, medicating and finally euthanizing us when we aren't "useful" anymore.

The devil has been setting us up for this for centuries, but in the last 150 years, he's been ramping his deceptions up to a fever pitch; sending us Darwin, Marx, Progressivism, Socialism, Communism, Nazism, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam and the Ayatollahs. And he's not done yet. He knows he's running out of time. It's just a matter of watching for the next big thing that calls us to collective sacrifice for the so-called "greater good".

I have little doubt that this exciting new left-right coalition will succeed. It includes all the people I've feared the most and while most of them probably mean well, so do the folks who will use them for their own purposes. After all, they truly believe they are special and should shoulder the terrible burden of deciding what the rest of us should do, how we should live and what we should believe.

The Second Coming is neither a conquest nor an occupation. It's a rescue mission - in, out and gone before the world destroys itself in flames. Before you libs (libertarian/liberals) start gloating about how many are "coming around" to your version of "truth", you probably should take a hard look at what your new partners really want before you sit down at the campfire with them for a chorus of Kum-Ba-Yah and a pull at the hookah!


That's all I've got to say about that.  - Forrest Gump

© 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

If the Russians Won't Play Nice, Who Needs Them?

Bigelow/Boeing Space Hotel
Apparently the Russians don't like it that the US has complained about recent Russian imperialism rearing its ugly heat with the annexation of the Crimea and continuing threats to take more territory from the Ukraine. Now they want to ban us from the International Space Station.  I figure, let's just let 'em have it along with the rest of the world who were supposed to love us now that Barak Obama is president, but don't. We should, of course take our junk with us. I figure, since they all keep telling us they don't need us, let's see how they manage on their own. Call it our gift to international development.

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin and suggested we "use trampolines" to get our astronauts to space. So let's do just that for a while. We don't have to be in space all the time. Let's back up and unleash American private industry on the problem. Meanwhile our astronauts can be training for the next "giant leap for mankind" as Neal Armstrong so aptly described it. For instance:

  1. The US pays 67 million dollars per astronaut for transportation to the International Space Station. Elon Musk's Dragon X space capsule could deliver 7 astronauts for that figure. Space X already delivers up to 13,228 pounds (6.5 tons) worth of stuff to the ISS on every trip using it's cargo version of the Dragon X. The spacecraft was designed to also be able to be fitted to carry human passengers. Give him the launch money we'd have used to pay the Russians and we'll wind up saving a lot of money in the long run.
  2. Why are we messing with the Russians anyway? Why don't we just build our own space station and, like I said, leave the old ISS behind as our gift to the "rest of the world". Our way of giving them a little boost. Bigelow Industries and Boeing have already developed inflatable space station modules. Take our budget for launching astronauts and put it toward designing a giant blow-up US Space Station with lots more room and more modern tech on board. We could even give the Air Force it's own wing to do Air Forcey type things. 
  3. Why aren't we going to the moon? Bigelow also has some nifty designs for blow up moon bases. Space X has a Falcon Heavy rocket under development that could get us there. We could always dust off the lunar lander designs from Apollo and update them. We know they work. 
  4. What about mining and salvage operations? NASA already has its eyes on harvesting asteroids for materials.Why not the same on the moon?  There are plenty of minerals there and our astronauts could go around picking up all the metal stuff the Russians and Chinese have left scattered all over the lunar surface and either melt them down for scrap or repair them and charge the Russians and Chi-coms for the repairs. 
  5. Why aren't we preparing to go to Mars while we're at it? Apparently there are some things on the moon we could make oxygen and water out of so let's set up labs to experiment with that stuff on the moon. If we can learn to get along on the moon we can figure out how to get along on Mars. At least Mars has an atmosphere to work with.
  6. Actions speak louder than words. Instead of talking about how much we want to help the world, why don't we just do it. Let's push out toward the final frontier and bring our friends along with us. Countries that want to go along should be welcomed. Our gain is their gain and all you have to do to be a part of the amazing things we will be doing is to quit calling us names and undermining everything we're trying to do. If you want to be part of something big, do like the sign on the recording studio where "We are the World" was taped - "Please check your egos at the door." If we show the rest of the world how to be altruistic in space, others will follow.
  7. Reward innovation and keep the cronyism out of it. You want a successful space race, make it a real race. Rewards go to those who do the best work. Cheating should be massively punished. Crony deals that reward shoddy workmanship, kickbacks and poor return on investment should get the perps banished from space. Let the Earth be their prison.
  8. Get the media in on it in a big way. If you want people excited about space investment, get it on television and in the theaters. How about IMAX on the moon or Survivor Tranquility Base. Admittedly down the road, but you get the idea. Chris Hadfield had the right idea with his ISS music video of "Ground Control to Major Tom". Find media celebs to recruit as space boosters. How about a reporter in space on the brand new space station. Wouldn't you love to see Meghan Kelly floating around on camera trying to interview the guys on the crew?
  9. Get private investors into the business of financing individual for-profit missions. What might an asteroid pulled into lunar orbit be worth?  How about investors putting up a for-profit space hotel. Bigelow's got the modules for it. Space-X has the boosters and soon will have the crew capsules. About 7 other companies aren't far behind.
  10. Make the greenies happy and reduce rich peoples' collective guilt. Start a fund-raising drive to support development of more eco-friendly launch vehicles - balloon launches, space elevators, mag lev "rail gun" launchers and such. Publish efforts to create fuels from things found in space rather than having to lift it off the Earth. Advertise our efforts to reduce the cost and environmental impact of spacecraft launches, to harvest and recycle space junk and improve our knowledge of planetary science as "planet-friendly". Do documentaries showing how what we learn about conservation and recycling of food and water for off-world bases can be used to insure better harvests and cleaner water back on Earth.
NASA Scale Mag/Lev Launch System
We just need some leadership over at NASA that's more concerned with space exploration than with making Muslims feel good about their contribution to science. The politics need to be set aside in favor of getting the job done. Right now, as Ronald Reagan pointed out, we're the last best hope of freedom left on the planet. If we go down to totalitarianism, you'd better hope we've got some way to get off this rock.

Me, I'm betting on Jesus dropping by in a big space ship and evacuating the good guys before the bad guys blow themselves up and all the rest of us with them. Ah, but then I'm a bit pessimistic about how long we've got left. But I do think the longer we keep them busy the less twitchy their nuclear trigger fingers will be.

It'll be nice when we inherit the New Earth, not to have to deal with all the self-interested, corrupt and evil folk that feel like they must rain on every parade anybody gets up besides themselves. I like the rail gun launch system myself. It make take me and some buddies of mine a thousand or so years to figure it out and build it, but then, we won't have to worry about time so much then.

© 2014 by Tom King

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Is it a Christian's Duty to Help Expand Government Charity?

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Jimmy Carter is probably quite honest in his opinion (left), although he seems frighteningly deficient in his understanding of the American system of government and the Scriptures' advice on the subject.  Scripture does say, "Render unto Caesar, the things that are Caesar's and even did a miracle to help Peter pay his taxes. The moneylenders were the crony capitalists of Jesus' day and He did not approve of their activities at all. Jesus said if the government asks you to carry a burden one mile carry it two. Jesus was talking about a government ruled by kings and emperors. He was not talking about a government of the people, by the people and for the people. If He were He would have very likely had some things to say about our responsibility not to let our government drag people out of their beds and make them carry heavy loads for the Army.

Because our American government derives its power and its mission from the people, we are charged with responsibility for what it does. That is why we vote - to guide our leaders and to tell them what we want them to do.  And in that process, yes, we may have to pay our taxes to support things we do not like, but that enough of our citizens voted to do anyway. Thanks, however, to our constitution, we are not required to shut up and give tacit approval to those things the government does that we think are wrong or even misguided by our silence. It is our responsibility in a democratic republic to provide guidance to our government's representatives as to how we want to run things.

If we see that government doesn't do a thing very well, it ought to be our responsibility to require that our government representatives step aside and stop interfering with those who do perform those tasks well. After all, it is our government. Our congress, senate, judiciary and administration were not seen by our founders as infinite law generating machines. At some point, if you keep adding laws and systems to a government, eventually it collapses of its own weight. I do believe that, unless we can get a few congresses that abolish more laws than they make, we are not far from that collapse now.

Jesus never said we could buy freedom from guilt or our responsibility to the poor at a discount by making our neighbors pay "their share". Charity by taxation is a way for wealthy people to not have to pay as much to fulfill our Christian duty to the poor. That's one powerful reason for some wealthy people to favor charity through government taxation. It costs them less and they don't have to feel guilty because they can tell themselves, "It's the government's responsibility, not mine."

Charity to the poor, the widows and orphans has always been a duty Christians are expected to perform regardless of what "everybody else" does. We are not relieved of that duty simply because the government demands we pay a high tax rate so it can give help to the poor. We can't shuffle off our responsibilities that way. It is not allowed. We are commanded to give real help to the poor, to set them on their feet and help them become strong and independent - to set them free. The type of help the government gives is not help at all, but a subtle enslavement of those it purports to help. It serves the interests of the wealthy and powerful because it creates a large dependent class who will reliably vote for those who pay them their pittance. That is all.

Christian charity as God would have it, sets free the poor, the disabled, the sick and the poor of spirit. True charity will always set people free, not just make them reliable political supporters.

© 20114 by Tom King