New Directions

I have been thinking a lot about my goals and how they tie into the writing that I do. The first thing is that I do not write nearly as often as I should. This is true from a marketing standpoint, as any book about blogging or marketing will tell you. It is also true from an intellectual standpoint. I should be practicing expressing my ideas much oftener than I have up to now.

I guess if you are setting out to be a writer, the proof of the pudding is in actually having written material available to people on a regular basis. My habit of writing something once a month, or every other month, is not doing me any favors. I have to do something about that.

I am giving up on the blog How to Get There. I started it because I am interested in strategy, wisdom…

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Christianity and Tax Policy

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Isaiah 58: 7-8

I am a catholic. My worldview is greatly affected by the fact that I am a christian. The above quote was part of the first reading at church this morning. I was greatly touched by this reading.

I think that most people would start looking at their own actions upon hearing this reading. I did. But I am also a trained public administrator. I also thought about tax policy.

We all pay taxes in one way or another, regardless of what Republican politicians would like us to think. And yes, taxes pay for benefits to the poor. I don’t necessarily enjoy paying taxes, but I don’t begrudge what they do either.

When I was thinking about it, I think of the Republican position on taxes. Low taxes are fine, but the net effect of Republican tax policy has been to concentrate wealth in the hands of the wealthy. I am not just using this as an excuse to beat up on Republicans. Don’t get the idea that I am a fan of Democrats; they have been complicit the entire time.

There is evidence that transfer payments work in fighting poverty. However, we are more apt to think about “welfare queens” when we think about welfare programs then we are likely to think about poverty alleviation. Then conservative politicians attack government efforts to fight poverty on the basis that government is ineffective at everything it does. Yet, these same politicians have nothing to say about transfer payments to corporations. Their problem seems to be with transfer payments to poor people.

My guess is that politicians would rather see money go to the wealthy because the wealthy are more likely to give campaign donations to politicians. Besides, the politicians are likely to be wealthy themselves. They are taking care of themselves.

When transfer payment money goes to a major corporation your taxes are subsidizing shareholders and corporate profits. I cannot guarantee that a poor person will use a transfer payment to buy food above beer, but I know a corporation will use transfer payments to enrich itself and its shareholders. The accumulation of wealth does not increase economic opportunity. It concentrates wealth in the hands of people who already have more money than they could ever spend.

I can admit, there are problems with welfare programs for the poor. I don’t think we should scrap welfare programs because some people are abusing the system. I do think those problems can be solved. But morally, are we a better nation for allowing our tax monies to accumulate in the hands of the rich rather than trickle down to the poor?

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Should life be easy?

One of the local radio stations I listen to, KPFK, has a health and spirituality hour in the afternoon that I often listen to while I eat my lunch. The hosts of the individual shows (there are four different hosts, each with their own show  (one comes on two days in a row)) seem to know what they are talking about, though occasionally I think the guests are full of shit, but most of it is pretty interesting. Each show approaches its subject matter from a different perspective, but all of the shows generally discuss how to change your life for the better. Transformation is a recurrent theme on all of them.

Every once in a while there is a guest who says that life is meant to be easy. I am not thinking of any one of these shows in particular, all of the shows have had someone say this. We are not supposed to worry or work too hard or stress about anything, if only we live our life for its true purpose than all will be made clear, and through the grace of God our lives will be made easy. Or something to that effect.

I think that it is a fascinating concept. It reminds me of the stories of Jesus, how all he had to do was say the word and suddenly there was enough wine for the wedding guests, or enough fishes and loaves to feed the multitudes. Wherever Jesus walked, the way was made easy for him, at least if you forget about the whole crucifixion thing.

I have been giving this idea some thought. If you take what these people are telling you to heart, then it makes you wonder what you are doing to bring discomfort and pain and suffering and difficulty into your life. It lays the blame for anything bad that happens to you at your feet. The more I thought about this, the more it sounded like bullshit to me.

There are times when we are responsible for the troubles we have, times when we can be our own worst enemy. And though I am all for the idea of taking responsibility for what and who I am, I do not have control over everything that happens in my life. I do not control other people, or the economy, or what is happening in the world. There are some things I can only react to.

That, I believe, is where we find our grace. How we react to things that are beyond our control. Our grace, or our lack thereof, shows itself in the choices we make. The choices we make, however large or small, stupid or profound, will affect us for the rest of our lives.

I have read that a tree, if protected from the winds while it grows, will be blown down by the first strong gust it encounters. I believe we are the same. We are the people we are because of the trials and travails we have endured and overcome, and failed to overcome. We have to keep in mind that Jesus is not the savior without the crucifixion.

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