A Dose of Reality on Obama's Student Loan Forgiveness

The President's latest Socialist plan to gain votes has hit the scene:  Student Loan Debt Relief aka Obama's Student Loan Bailout.  It's an irresponsible plan that is devoid of personal responsibility that, by the way, is going to cost a whole lot of money.  There are so many questions to ask about it, so let's dive in.

First and foremost, it's pure entitlement mentality.  Let's talk about what a loan is, student or otherwise.  A loan is a bank giving an individual money to purchase something, like an education, for example.  The bank then is paid back with interest for that loan.  You see, the bank doesn't give loans to be nice or to help you out. If they give you a loan without charging interest, they have no reason to be in business, plus no revenue stream to pay their employees, pay interest on their depositors money and still make a significant enough profit to make the risk of giving you a loan worthwhile.

So you have people who have taken out loans to purchase a college education, have then proceeded to purchase that college education, and are now protesting saying "DON'T MAKE ME PAY YOU!  DON'T MAKE ME PAY YOU!"  I'm sorry, but that mentality is as preposterous as going out to dinner, ordering a meal, having the meal you ordered served to you correctly with fresh ingredients and finding the meal delicious, then protesting the manager for asking you to pay the bill.  In short, you're seeking to rationalize and legalizing YOU breeching your end of contract after the other party in the contract, the bank, has fulfilled their end of the contract.

Secondly, with Obama's proposal to forgive all unpaid loans after 20 years.  So why pay it back?  Rework your student loan payments to pay minimal amounts, set it on a 30-40 year term, pay $50 or $100 per month instead of what you genuinely should owe on a standard 10 year repayment plan, and then see a huge part of it forgiven because it's outstanding after 20 years.  I don't need to break out my Delorean Time Machine to figure out how THAT is going to end. It's going to end with either a) Banks only allowing an absolute maximum of 20 years to pay back loans to protect themselves and not allowing defferments, etc for any reason, thus meaning failure to pay will crush your credit score OR b) A massive crash from banks and government departments giving student loans in 20 years when people don't pay them back (and not giving new capital to give loans to the next generation).

Thirdly, and I cannot stress this enough:  WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT?  I can guarantee you Obama's answer, at least as it pertains to government loans, is raise taxes.  Are you with me in the 53% of Americans who pay taxes?  We're going to get the bill so Obama can make life "fair" or in reality so he can get the college vote strong for him in 2012.  Obama is going to tell you the wealthiest amongst us must "pay their fair share."  It's a lie, of course, again the top 1% pays 38% of the taxes already.  The reality of the claim is that Obama is telling you you're entitled to someone else's money, this time for college.

Look, I have a student loan.  I'm paying for it too...you know why?  Because I legitimately owe that money back.  The fine folks at Direct Loans gave me a loan to go to college.  I used that money to go to college.  Now I am paying for that education I received.  I am fulfilling my end of the contract, Direct Loans finished fulfilling theirs back in 2005 when I received my degree.  Now it was up to me to complete my end of the bargain.

I also can tell you that I know very few people with socially useful college degrees who can't find a job and owe thousands upon thousands of dollars.  The people who have degrees in Business, or Communications, or Computers, or Accounting, or Engineering all have jobs in their field.  The ones who don't are the ones who have degrees in Art or Philosophy or some other such thing.  Those of us who made the decision to get a marketable degree are now dealing with the positive consequences of our decision, those who made the decision to get a degree in their hobby are experiencing the negative consequences of their decision.  That's the reality.

But this generation doesn't WANT to take responsibility.  It's somebody else's fault.  Somebody is supposed to make their problems go away.  They don't want to deal with the consequences of their decision to take out a loan and to get a degree that isn't marketable.  And now President Obama is coddling this to get votes.  Shame on you, Mr. Obama.  Shame on you.

Keria's intro to the world (video)

i thought i would take a minute to introduce my brand new beautiful daughter to the world...

i hope you enjoyed that. she is not even 2 weeks old. the tiniest thing i have ever seen. amazingly beautiful.
and i love her more than i ever thought i could.

Understanding Rick Perry's Cut, Balance and Grow Plan

Earlier this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry released his Cut, Balance and Grow Plan.  It includes two major conservative dreams:  a Flat Tax and a Balanced Budget Amendment. 

I'm sure many of you are unsure specifically what the 20% flat tax would mean to you as an individual, especially if you're one of the people who are currently in a tax bracket below 20%, like I am. Yet this plan claims it would actually cut your tax burden...how can this be?

For starters, it increases the personal standard deduction. As of 2010, the standard deduction for a single adult was $5700, $11,700 for a married couple filing jointly, and $11,400 for a Head of Household. (1)  Under the Perry plan, you would receive a tax exemption of $12,500 per person in your household.  $12,500 for you, for you spouse, for each of your children (up to 4 children).

So let's compare the current tax system for the Median Income family to Rick Perry's Flat Tax Plan.  Earlier this week we actually broke down the Flat Tax, basing it on Perry advisor Steve Forbes plan from 1996 and 2000. (2)  Now that we know the specifics of Perry's plan, lets examine what an American family making the median income of about $44,389 per year (2), lets examine what that family consisting of two parents and two children would be paying in taxes:

Under Perry's system, there would be only five types of exemptions and deductions: A $12,500 exemption per person in the family up to two parents and four children; mortgage interest deduction, charitable giving deduction, state and local tax deduction, and capital gains deduction (this is part of eliminating all Capital Gains taxes).  So that means that family can deduct $50,000 in exemptions ($12,500 x 4).  So before we even deduct anything else, that family is down to 0% taxes.  But let's continue:  Let's again say that the same American family can deduct an average of $1,227 per year in mortage interest (3) and say another 5% of their income in other, assorted deductions (charitable donations, etc) which would equal $3466.45 in additional deductions for a total of in total deductions.  So now this family has $53,466.45 in total deductions against it's taxable income of $44,389.  Translation: Zero taxes actually paid.  As a matter of fact, a family of four that owns it's own home would have to have a household income of AT LEAST $53,466.65 to pay ONE PENNY in taxes (actually, with that income, they'd pay PRECISELY one penny in taxes).  Their effective rate is 0% in taxes. 

Now under the current system, that same American family would be in the 15% tax bracket. They would receive a total of $2000 tax credit because of the two children in that family. Let's again say that the same American family can deduct an average of $1,227 per year in mortage interest (3) and say another 5% of their income in other, assorted deductions (charitable donations, etc) which would equal $2219.45 in additional deductions for a total of $5446.45 in total deductions. So that means their taxable income on that income is $38,942.55 in taxable income That means that family would pay $5841.39 in taxes. That's an effective tax rate of 13.16% for an American family making the median income. 

So that median income family with two parents and two children would have $5841.39 each year MORE in taxes.  That is absolutely HUGE. That's $486 each month more money.  That's two car payments for two good quality used cars with less than 50,000 miles.

What about a single adult who doesn't own his own home and makes a recent college graduate's salary of $30,000 per year?  How about that person?  Well, under the current system that individual wouldn't have enough deductions to itemize his taxes, so he'll take the Standard Deduction of $5700 on his taxes.  That same person is in the 15% tax bracket, just like the above family, and lets say that person lives in New York state like I do, in the 7.85% tax bracket.  So he takes a standard deduction of $5700 and also deduct another $500 in student loan interest giving him a taxable income of $23,800.  At the 15% rate, he's paying $3570 in taxes each year. That's an effective tax rate of 11.9%.

But under Perry's plan, this same young adult is going to receive a $12,500 exemption, plus he can deduct any charitable donations.  So let's figure that same man gives 5% of his annual income to charity.  So now he's up to $13,900 in exemptions and deductions.  Now let's also subtract his New York state taxes of $2198.  Now he has $16,098 in total deductions. So his taxable income is $13,902.  That means that single adult is paying $2780 in taxes.  That's an effective tax rate of 9.27% in taxes.

That single adult is paying $790 less each year in taxes under the Rick Perry Flat Tax than he would be under the current system.  It's not a ton of money, but it is a tax cut, both in dollars and effective tax rate.

Perhaps more importantly, the Perry Flat Tax is OPTIONAL.  An individual can keep his current tax rate if he so chooses! It's kind of an alternative maximum tax option. Based on the huge increases in exemptions from the current deductions, it's ultimately going to be a choice most people make who take the time to do the math.

Of course, there are some people who are asking the question: How are you going to pay for this?  It's a good question.  There will be some increased revenue based on the new money in the economy being spent on new products and services which means more employees which means more taxpayers.  However, the other cornerstone of the plan will take care of the rest:  A Balanced Budget Amendment and a cap on spending of 18% of GDP.  Our current spending is at 24% of GDP, so cutting spending back to 18% of GDP would cut $875 billion from last year (4) en route to a Balanced Budget by 2020.  Don't believe it can work?  It worked in Texas!

Rick Perry has my attention.  As a conservative seeing a candidate who is presenting a Balanced Budget Amendment and a Flat Tax is exciting. He's got a few more things to do before I can really decide that he's "my candidate."  I'll be honest...I really want to get on board with Perry. There's still a few things missing. 

#1 - He has to explain where he's cutting government spending.  That's HUGE.  I for one believe $875 Billion in cuts is not only possible but reasonable.  It's going to take a lot though.  It's going to have to start with major reforms to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  It's going to require dealing with ad homonym attacks from liberals. 

#2 - He needs to prove he can effectively communicate conservatism to a national audience.  Once again, this is HUGE.  Real conservatism wins whenever it is effectively communicated.  We need someone who will effectively communicate it...and right now I'm just not sure if Perry can do that.  Time will tell, and he's got plenty of chances to do it...now let's see if he does.

Perry's got a shot to make a comeback.  He has my attention...what he doesn't have yet is my support.  Yet being the operative word.

* Overall Source: Cut-Balance-Grow Plan from RickPerry.org

(1) Standard tax deduction amounts

(2) Rick Perry Set to Propose Flat Tax

(3) Scrap the mortgage deduction? Americans weigh in

(4) Perry Joins Flat-Tax Camp

Romney is Better than Obama, but GOP Can Do Better than Mitt

The Drive-By Media and the Republican establishment has gone out of their way to once again try to select our nominee for us. This time the official "establishment candidate" for the GOP is former Massachusetts Governor Mitt* Romney. Yet the conservative base of the Republican party clearly does not want Romney. He's not my first choice either. That said, I think it's fair to clear up a few things about Mitt.

Mitt's Not a RINO: I know, I know, I can just see the slams coming in now. He's not as conservative as someone like Herman Cain or Michelle Bachmann, this is true. However, you can be both a non-RINO and not a dyed in the wool conservative. Mitt Romney is one of these. He's a Rockefeller Republican. He's a genuine fiscal conservative who won't be as focused on the social issues. I want someone better than that, but Mitt's not Olympia Snowe or John McCain either.

Politically Speaking, Mitt's Mormonism will align with mainline Christian beliefs: I know this is a big issue for a lot of Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. For the record, no, Mormonism is not a Christian denomination. It fails three of the eight Essential Doctrines of Christianity, because Mormons deny the monotheism of the Godhead, the person of Jesus, and the saving work of Jesus on the Cross. (1) That being said, Romney is strongly pro-life and pro-marriage. While Romney arrives at his faith-based reasons for standing on our side, he does concur with our beliefs.

Romneycare is not Obamacare: There are significant differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. I don't like either one, but Obamacare is, as Romney has said, a one-size-fits-all solution, Romneycare legitimately dealt with only the people who were uninsured. Most imporantly, however, Romneycare has an option that Obamacare does not: Self-Insure. The mandate in Romneycare was about personal responsibility. It said "either buy insurance or agree to pay your own way." That's a huge difference. Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare, and I do believe him.

Now that I've defend Romney a bit, time to say the rest: We can do better than Mitt. A lot better. Friends, in 2010, we in the Tea Party swept the GOP to a historic victory. We didn't do it with moderates and we didn't do it with Rockefeller Republicans. We did it with conservatism. True, no-nonsense, dyed in the wool conservatism. Now the Drive-By Media and teh Republican establishment will tell you that you can't win with no-nonsense conservatism. I'm telling you they are wrong. History proves that they are wrong. In 1980 the same type of Republicans said Reagan couldn't win. And they were proven right when Jimmy Carter won a second term right...wait a minute....that's not what happened at all! Reagan ran on genuine conservatism then put it into practice and BINGO! we had one of the most prosperous decades in history!

The reason Reagan won is because real conservatism wins every time it's effectively communicated and it works every time it's tried. The reason we won in 2010 is because real conservatism wins every time it's effectively communicated. We have the kind of once in a generation opportunity in 2012 that we had in 1980 to elect a history changing conservative. The question is will we take it? If we nominate Mitt Romney, the answer is likely no.

Would Mitt Romney be a better President that Obama? Absolutely. He'd be a better President than John McCain would be either. But my friends, we can do a whole lot better than Mitt Romney. We have an opportunity to get a real conservative. Let’s use it.

* Actually, Mitt's real name is Willard. Just in case you were wondering.

(1) Is Mormonism Christian?

what will our baby BECOME? (repost)

(This was originally written and posted to renown on August 25, 2011. Now that Keira is born we're starting to put the plan into action.)

crazy stoked our 1st child will be here REALLY soon. in just a couple months.

one of the things i'm probably MOST excited about in the next couple months before it gets here is that Crystal and i are gonna write what we want our child to BECOME and always focus our parenting for the next 18 years on those things.
Just 5-8 simple words like "Generous" or "Revolutionary" and focus our parenting and the experiences we provide on helping our child become that type of person.

this was an awesome suggestion from a tool we give new parents at Ridge Church in an attempt to partner with them. really thankful for that.

so, here's our rough draft. it's just an initial brainstorm list. a lot of them probably bleed over into each other. really wanna narrow these to 5-8 or even less. and would like for them to all be summed up in 1 word. would LOVE any of your thoughts!

LOVE - start with knowing he/she is LOVED by me, by Crystal. then be overwhelmed with the amazing love of God. then pour out love to ALL. no matter who it is = friend, family, all ethnicities, all lifestyles, the OUTCAST, an ENEMY. live their life with the belief that LOVE WINS.

REVOLUTIONARY - radical. never satisfied with the status quo or the normal way that everyone else lives. a world changer. never worry about trying to "fit in" to an apathetic culture, but not be afraid to shake it up.

GENEROUS - i would really love our child to be a person who will GIVE, GIVE, GIVE all their lives. and if they give away too much [oxymoron]... oh well.

STORIES - i would love for our child to - from the very beginning - live a life worth telling stories about. to just GO FOR IT. go for the adventure. go have the experience. don't be timid. don't be SAFE. take RISKS. have some stories to tell.

POSITIVE - this will be a really fun challenge with the balance of power in our house with 1 eternal optimist & 1 "realist" [spelled "p-e-s-s-i-m-i-s-t"] :) haha, this will be fun. we'll see if it makes the final list. i would love our child to always believe the best... about every situation, every person, etc...

TRUST GOD - trust God no matter what. unwavering faith in a God who loves them more than they can imagine. live a life based on that radical trust.

JOY - unashamed and unbridled JOY in God. a radical pursuit of JOY in God's glory with a reckless abandon. + just a straight up enjoyment of life. it's just too short to not enjoy it. that would be silly. why do you think we're here? All about FUN all the time!

LIVE IT - authentic. just be. live. live what you believe because what you live IS what you believe. don't just talk about it, because talk is cheap. anybody can do that. live it.

THANKFUL - it's a destructive thing to not be thankful even for 1 minute. this child will have so much to be thankful for from its 1st minute on earth on... it will never catch up. it can spend a lifetime being thankful and never be thankful enough.

DREAMER - Dream BIG. not small. big vision. big goals. have a freedom to dream big and not listen to "naysayers".

RESPECTFUL - to us as parents starting out... to everyone though really.

UNIQUE - you be you. be who you are. whoever that is. i don't care. be the way God made you. Find your IDENTITY only ever and always in who God says you are in HIM.

WELCOMING - of all people all the time.

HUMBLE - this is a biggie and a toughie. i would love to help my child eradicate pride from its life. maybe it can help me. i want them to be Open Minded and never so arrogant that they think they have it figured out. i hope they never one time in life think they are "better than" anyone.

CORAGEOUS - do the right thing even if no one else is. don't back down on what you believe in. Risk! don't be afraid to FAIL. it's ok, just try it again.

SELFLESS - it's a great big world out there. lots of countries. lots of people. lots of needs. you are just one person. life is obviously NOT about you. how could we ever think that for even 1 second?

WISE - if they could somehow learn to make wise choices early on... wow.

PASSIONATE - i can't figure out another reason to wake up in the morning unless i'm passionate about something. i guess i really don't care what they end up being into - what the pursue, what activities they're involved in, what career they choose, etc.... just do whatever it is with PASSION!

RENOWN SPREADER - grow up to be a supporting cast member to the 1 renown that matters. have a desperate desire to be used by God. whatever that might look like for him/her individually.

BLESSING - we are BLESSED to be a blessing! we are so blessed & it is for no other reason than the grace of God that we are not a family living under a bridge with no food. only grace and the fact that we are blessed. so, if the reason we've been blessed so much is clearly to BE a blessing to others... why would we ever go through a day without being a BLESSING?

well, it's just a start, but we obviously have some trimming of the list to do.

"Jobs Bill" Subsidies Won't Work Longterm

The President's "Jobs Bill" (which, as a reminder, I will continue to refer to in quotation marks because it's not a Jobs Bill, it's a Stimulus Bill) died in the Senate a couple weeks ago, thanks to Senate Democrats (not Republicans, as Obama would like you to believe.) (1) Now the President wants the Bill passed in pieces. First and foremost, I can tell you that pretty much the only part that has a snowball's chance in July of passing is the Payroll Tax Holiday extension, because it's the only part of the bill that can't hurt the economy. (It won't help, by the way, but it can't hurt...temporary cuts won't cause hiring.)

Now there's the other parts of the "Jobs Bill" (the ones that don't have a snowball's chance in July of passing), the tax credits and hiring subsidies. These policies won't create jobs, and here's why: Businesses don't hire employees for one year. It's that simple, friends. Unless you're hiring a part time fast food employee for the night shift, at which point if that employee lasts one year then you're tickled pink, employers are looking to hire and train an employee who ends up working for them for five years or more.

Now that goal is not always achieved. However, an employee who works for a company for five years is going to bring at least 3 years of highly productive work where they require minimal additional training (although you'll always be training in a good company) and they reach a point where, even on their "bad days" they're still performing at a high level. I can say that from my current personal experience. I'm coming up on my two year anniversary with my current company in my current position. About a year ago, I hit my stride. Everything clicked. I got really good at my job and, even when I'm not at 100%, I still can put up respectable work on a daily basis. In my experience, this is pretty typical for most people. If you're qualified and a good match for your job, in 1-2 years you get to a point where the job clicks and you're good at it.

Now hiring for one year, on the other hand, is setting the economy up for disaster. Let's assume for a second that business owners really do hire an employee based on the subsidies. They perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) and learn that, with the tax credits and other subsidies, there is a positive CBA for one year, and that the subsidies and tax credits eat up the new expenses created by the Obama Administration like Obamacare and other unnecessary regulations and push the CBA for the hire into the positive, at least from a purely fiscal perspective. (For those of you from Palm Beach County, FL, that's "decide that hiring will make money based on the money we have and how much money we can make.")

What does that business do the next year? The subsidies and credits have now expired, and the Cost Benefit Analysis for the next year is back to negative. So fast forward one year and all those employees who were hired are now back out of work, because it's no longer a profitable investment to retain that employee. And consider that it takes at least a year for an employee to become really, truly good at most jobs and require minimal supervision and additional training. So guess what? The Cost Benefit Analysis is once again is negative based on a long term outlook.

This is the problem with liberal quick-stimulus ideas. They simply do not work. Unfortunately, President Obama has never run a business nor made a payroll. He's never had to perform a Cost-Benefit Analysis. He's enacting ideas he and the other college professors came up with in a faculty lounge. I've said it before, I'll say it again: The "Jobs Bill" won't create jobs.

(1) Dear AP: Senate Republicans Didn't Block the Jobs Bill...Democrats Did

Lybia WAS NOT a Democracy Movement

And the President has egg on his face again. We were told last week when Mohammar Quadaffi was killed by NATO actions, once again, that this was a great victory for Obama and that Barack had made the world safer and that other nations would love us, all hail the Anointed One (dripping with sarcasm).

Of course, it did not take a Harvard degree to figure out what was going on...or at least to be skeptical.   I did not speak on Lybia but I did write on Egypt, and here's an excerpt from my article on February 2, 2011:

 Liberals want us to believe that this is absolutely, without a doubt, a Democracy movement. I hope they're right. But hoping and expecting are two different things. I know my history far too well to assume that this will go in the correct direction (see Iran). As I've said above, I do recognize that Egypt is not required to use an American-style Representative Republic.

HOWEVER, the fundamental Human Rights of all individuals must be respected. Therefore, even free people do not have the right to vote other people's rights away. It was wrong when Americans voted to keep blacks in slavery. It was wrong when Americans voted to keep blacks segregated. That's why the Constitution can be and has been amended and the Judicial Branch has the ability to strike down laws which take away other people's fundamental rights. (For example, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education struck down Plessey v. Ferguson – a ruling which legalized segregation). (1)

Now here we are, and Lybia's  chairman of the Lybian National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdul-Jalil stating that the basis of the new law of Lybia will be Sharia Law, including reinstituting the right of men to have up to four wives at once and also removing all laws on the books that go against Sharia. (2)  It is reasonable to suspect that this would include beefing up penalties that aren't in line with the Sharia requirements, including using penalties like amputation of hands for theft, the death penalty for adultery and the death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam). (3) 

Included in these penalties are fundamental breeches of a person's fundamental human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Adultery is, by modern standards and in a legal sense, a breech of the marriage contract and not a crime.  (As a Christian I cannot say it is acceptable, however, there is a difference between legal penalties on Earth and answering to God for one's sin on the Last Day.)  Amputation of a limb for theft is a punishment that I believe most would consider Cruel and Unsual Punishment and banned by the Eight Amendment to our Constitution and similarly banned by other civilized nations.  Killing people for leaving Islam is both breeching the right to Religious Freedom as laid out by the First Amendment to the Constitution and, in a more general sense, is a breech of each individual's right to Liberty..

So, my friends, the very concerns that I had about the so-called Arab Spring are coming to fruition.  Is the world "safer" without Quadaffi?  Maybe not.  It seems we may well have traded the Devil We Know and who is not a threat to us for the Devil We Don't Know and may well become a threat.  For the people of Libya, I'd say the oppression of Sharia will be just as bad as the opression of Quadaffi. 

To those of you who believe this is just a matter of Lybian self-determination, I'd like to remind you what I said back in February regarding Egypt:

You see, the framers simply ASSUMED the fundamental human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING has those rights. They were given to them by nature's God. People do not have the right to abridge other individual’s rights, EVEN IN A FREE ELECTION! (1)

People do not have the right to vote away other people's rights.  Period.  Has our nation been perfect to this standard from the beginning?  Heck no we haven't.  But our Constitution provides for the correction of those mistakes, like the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery and Brown v. Board of Education which overturned segregation.  Sharia has no such protections.

So now, Mr. President, at best you've spent our military might and treasure to trade out the Devil We Know for the Devil We Don't Know.  Congratulations.  At best you've left America, and Lybia, no less safe. At worst...well, you figure it out.


(1) Egyptian Unrest: Sign of Democracy in Middle East?

(2) Libya's liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law

(3) Wikipedia: Sharia - Penalties

the birth story

1:37 AM = "my water just broke!"

NOT the words you want to hear in the middle of the night on a Monday morning.

you see, Keira was due on 11/8 (but she was born on 10/17). i had big plans for last week - beginning on Monday (a few hours after 1:37) i was going to get so many things out of the way so i would be good to go when she decided to come. haha... nope.

and i had only gone to sleep around midnight... i knew it was a long day ahead on an hour and a half of sleep. 

oh yeah - and i was on crutches. i had a jacked up ankle that until that moment i couldn't walk on. got over that really fast and started hopping around because it was GO time. even manned up and drove Crystal to the hospital! (i put the car in park at each stop light, but i definitely didn't wanna be the husband whose wife had to drive her own self to the hospital!)

the water breaking itself was pretty nasty. totally covered our huge bed... dripped all on the carpet and then i heard it when she got to the bathroom floor - sounded like somebody dumped out a 5 gallon bucket of water on the floor! crazy.

it was pretty cool that we had just packed our "GO" bag for the hospital, walked through a list of what else we needed, hooked up the car seat, etc...
+ i had just been to "Daddy Boot Camp" on Saturday. good timing.

we got to the hospital around 3AM and were greeted by some amazing nurses! they were all Crystal's friends that she works with and they were awesome. cheering with big smiles on their faces as we walked in.
[and throughout the whole experience, our nurses were AMAZING! they went overboard and i seriously felt at home instead of in a hospital. EXTREMELY impressed.]

we got hooked up with the VIP room. cool view. decent bed for me.

about 5AM we were finally trying to get some sleep when a Doctor & 2 Nurses came busting into our room... turned on all the lights flipped Crystal over and slapped an oxygen mask on her face while pushing all kinds of buttons and talking amongst themselves.
when i sat up sleepily and tried to ask what was wrong nobody answered me... not a cool moment.

turns out our baby's heartbeat was simply really low for a little bit. they all came sprinting down the hallway. it turned out to be all good of course.

after lunch it all started happening so fast. we went for a walk. Crystal's contractions started getting pretty bad. then all the sudden around 3pm she was pushing.

i donned my "Baby Daddy" shirt, our Doctor came over from the office just to deliver Keira (very cool), and i think i counted about 12 nurses in the room and asked if we were having a party? they were all so excited. 12 women shouting "C'mon Crystal! good job Crystal!" with every push.

Crystal is a hero and pushed for 15 minutes and Keira Brielle Mitchell was born! it was the craziest thing ever watching it all go down. i know now why they call it a miracle.

of course, we never found out the gender ahead of time so i got to make the call as she was born.
"It's a...
it was awesome to be the 1st to announce Keira's gender to the world.
everybody was cheering. i cut the cord which was very cool. (way more spongy and harder to cut than i was expecting.)

Crystal and i just got to hold her for a while right after. I was just so amazed. She was so beautiful (even with the weird white vernix stuff all over her). she was so real finally.
i fell in love at 1st sight.

it was really cool that Crystal's parents and my parents got to come to the hospital and hang out with Keira that 1st night. both grandparents for the 1st time. (so, Keira probably won't be spoiled, right?)

it was really a perfect day. it was an amazing experience. i'm thankful that we have tons of pictures and video from the experience to save those memories. 

i would be up for doing it again... some day.
but of course this one was our 1st. very special. Crystal was amazing. i was so proud of her and thankful for her. PROUD that she is my wife.
our daughter is amazing. we are just soaking in every single second with her.

Rick Perry Set to Propose Flat Tax

Governor Rick Perry has officially stepped up to the plate and proposed a conservative dream as part of his economic plan: the Flat Tax.  In a time where 9-9-9 is gaining traction in the marketplace, Perry's Flat Tax could also take off just as fast.

I've been a longtime proponent of the Flat Tax.  I believe it is not only the fairest possible tax but also the most Biblical tax available. When I published my Treatise on Biblical Conservatism in August, I noted that, in the original government God set up for Israel, there were two taxes.  A one amount for all Temple Tax and the Tithe, a 10% tax on all people.

Now Governor Perry is proposing the Flat Tax.  You have my attention, sir. The plan has not been officially presented, however, we can get some insight on what the plan would based largely on Steve Forbes' Flat Tax proposal from his two Presidential runs in the 1996 and 2000.

So what would this Flat Tax be, assuming Perry sticks to Forbes' plan?  I'm glad you asked.  A Flat Tax Rate of 17%, across the board, for all Americans, with every penny up to $36,000  being completely tax exempt.  You read that right.  Not one penny in Federal tax would be paid up to $36,000 for an American family. (1)  So starting from that base, an American family making the median income of about  $44,389 per year (2), lets examine what that family consisting of two parents and two children would be paying in taxes:

First and foremost, the first $36,000 in income would be tax free.  So let's remove that amount, giving you a taxable income of only $8389.  Yep, just over eight grand in taxable income. That American family would pay only $1426.13 in total income tax that year.  That makes for an effective tax rate of 3.21% for an American family making the median income. 

Now under the current system, that same American family would be in the 15% tax bracket.  They would receive a total of $2000 tax credit because of the two children in that family. Let's again say that the same American family can deduct an average of $1,227 per year in mortage interest (3) and say another 5% of their income in other, assorted deductions (charitable donations, etc) which would equal $2219.45 in additional deductions for a total of $5446.45 in total deductions.   So that means their taxable income on that income is $38,942.55 in taxable income  That means that family would pay $5841.39 in taxes.  That's an effective tax rate of 13.16% for an American family making the median income.

The difference is $4415.26 MORE MONEY under the Flat Tax in the pockets annually of the average American family.  In terms of total dollars, that family would be paying just over 1/4 of the taxes they are currently paying.  It's an extra $367 each month for that family.  Over five years, that money could buy that family a brand new car.  It's a huge amount more money in each American family's pockets each year.

Governor Perry, you were losing ground in my mind.  Go this direction, you have my attention.  The Flat Tax is the dream of conservatives. 

(1) Summary of Steve Forbes' Flat Tax Plan

(2) Wikipedia: Household Income in the United States - Median Income

(3) Scrap the mortgage deduction? Americans weigh in

right before Keira's 1st night out (video blog)

OK, so i was slacking just a little on the Keira video blogs the last couple days. i've been a little busy just staring at her, holding her, kissing her, etc...

here's a quick vid i shot right before we took her out for the 1st time the day we got home from the hospital.
(and i guess i was a little more tired than i thought because i said Keira was almost "48 years old" instead of 48 hours...)

still got a vid coming soon to intro Keira herself to the world. probably tomorrow. stay tuned.

Reactions to the Iraqi Troop Withdrawl

The news came down today:  Complete troop withdraw from Iraq will be complete by December 31, 2011.  Obama is trying to claim credit, and say that he has fulfilled a promise.  Unfortunately, the truth is far less flattering to the President.  The reality is the Iraqis told us "we'll take it from here," and we obliged.

We know this is not what the Generals on the ground recommend...you know, those guys who have ever served a day in uniform...recommended troop levels not be dropped any lower than 10,000 at this time when Obama pushed a plan in September to reduce troop strength to 3,000. (1)  Now he wants to cut to zero and is claiming he's "fulfilling a promise," rather than admitting what's really going on:  the free and soveriegn nation of Iraq feels they are ready to take command of their own security.

Again, we can have a discussion about whether or not it's time to bring our troops home, and frankly those of you who say yes, the time is right have some good arguments.  Today, I agree with you for one reason: The Iraqi Government says they are ready to take over their own security. 

That said, an American President does not go from "drop down to 3,000" as he was a little over a month ago to "complete troop withdrawl" two months later with no warning, no expectation, just out of the blue.  Furthermore, and fare more importantly, American Generals don't go from "no less than 10,000" to "go ahead and let's withdraw all troops" in two months.  It just doesn't work that way.  It is my best guess that Obama was caught by surprise by this stated desire by the Iraqi government, since once again another nation isn't treating Obama as the annointed one but like the man-child President that he is in reality, and is now trying to spin the egg on his face into a positive.  What's really happened is precisely what I said above: Iraq is ready to protect itself.  Mission accomplished.

You may not think we should have gone to Iraq, but I believe we made the right decision. I believe that was a good decision for so very many reasons, and no, the fact that we did not find WMD does not faze me for one reason: Dictators want to stay in power above all else.  If Saddam didn't have WMD, why didn't he just open the doors and let UN Inspectors see that fact?  But I digress.  Iraq believes it is ready to defend Iraq, and as a fellow soveriegn nation, it is not our place to argue that point.

Obama wants credit for ending the Iraq War.  The truth is we are completing our mission, as planned in 2008 in the waning days of the Bush Administration. (2)  Obama gets about as much credit for the completion of the Iraq War as the last relief pitcher who comes in when his team is up 10-0 in the 9th inning gets credit for the win. Obama has been the proverbial mop up man for a victory already in hand.

Yes, I said victory. We won.  We set out with a specific goal in mind:  Remove Saddam Hussein, the dictator who had defied the international community for years, fight Al Qaeda in Iraq (which we did, I hate to break it to you who decided it was the cool thing to do to be skeptical about that fact...whether or not they were there when we started they were our primary enemy in Iraq...no matter how many times liberals called them "insurgents") and we have left that nation at a point where they feel they can defend themselves.

This is a victory for the United States Military.  They got the job done, and now our "exit strategy" of victory has been achieved.  We did precisely what we set out to do.  Thank you to our soldiers, and nobody else.


(1) Fox News: Sources - Obama Administration to Drop Troop Levels in Iraq to 3,000

(2) U.S. OUT OF IRAQ BY 2011

Joe Biden Breaks Out the Usual Baseless Attacks on Jobs Bill

Don't look now, friends, but the Obama Administration has gone and let Joe Biden talk again, with typical results. This time, the Vice President wants you to believe that, if the President's Jobs Bill isn't passed, rapes and murders will increase.  You read that right:  the Jobs Bill will prevent rape and murder.  Said the Vice President:

“In 2008, when Flint (MI) had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city,” Biden said, standing alongside city officials. “In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes — just to pick two categories — climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don’t rectify it.” (1)

There are just so very many holes in the Vice President's logic.  For example, how many murders and rapists stop so their victim can call the police?  How many rape and murder victims have warning so they CAN call the police?  Seriously, simple logic tells you that "call the police" is really not something that practically can be done to prevent a rape or murder in progress.  If and only if a police officer is nearby can that officer do pretty much anything.  Aside from that, it's pretty much up to the victim to either avoid such situations and/or be prepared for self defense by carrying mace or exercising your constitutional right to bear arms and carrying a gun.  For the record, I'm not blaming victims at all, I'm just saying that calling the police and waiting for them to arrive is just not a wise contingency plan.  What the police do in such situations is pretty much in the area of prosecuting justice after the crime.

Yet Vice President Biden wants you to think; think about this for a second; that Obama's Jobs Bill will prevent rape and murder.  (I for one can only believe Biden would be so brazen because I'm used to it.)  Of course the inherent assumption of the claim is "Republicans don't want to pass this bill, ergo Republicans don't want to prevent rape and murder."  It's a preposterous claim, of course.  It's preposterous to assume that more police officers would mean that a calling the police in the process of being raped is going to get an officer on the scene immediately, or that it's even reasonable to consider calling the police a defense when being attacked, and then expect the police to arrive in a minute or two before the actual crime is perpetrated.

But hey, maybe Biden was just being foolish (it is Joe Biden after all) and speaking rashly.  Surely he's retracted his statement by now, right?  Nope, he's doubling down on his ridiculous claim!  When he was pressed by a reporter, who, out of the blue, decided to actually be a journalist, to clarify his claim, Biden said,

"Murder will continue to rise. Rape will continue to rise. All crime will continue to rise." (2)

So not only is the Vice President making ridiculous claims, he's doubling down it it?  Wow, just wow.  If Biden genuinely believes this, he's even less intelligent than I thought.  Having never been a rapist or a murder, I can't say with certainty, but I do not think the simple presence of additional police offers adds to the deterrent value against crime, because ultimately where police serve as a deterrent it is in the realm of expected punishment, not in actually stopping such crimes as they are happening, and certainly not by being called to the scene of the crime WHILE THE CRIME IS IN PROGRESS to stop it. 

Biden's claim is preposterous.  It's also exactly what I've learned to expect from liberals.  Fortunately, I think the American public have smartened up on this baloney, and I believe these ad homonym attacks will simply end up hurting the Democratic Party cause.  Good thing, too, because America can't take any more of Obama's "fix it some more, it's not broken enough" mentality!

(1) Daily Caller:  Biden: Pass this bill, prevent murders and rapes

(2) Joe Biden Warns Again: Rape, Murder Will Rise Without Jobs Bill

New Poll Shows Who the Occupy Wall Street Protesters are Really

Brace yourself, friends, I'm about to say I told you so...

This week, Douglas Schoen, a former Democratic pollster for Bill Clinton, conducted a polling sample of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, in person at New York city's Zuccotti Park.  What he found was not, as White House has recently claimed, a cross section of the American public in line with the current frustrations against government.  It also was not a group that was compiled of people of different political values, as the Drive-By Media has claimed, and it certainly was not a protest of government corporatism, as a libertarian friend claimed early in the protests. Rather, as Schoen stated in his article in the Wall Street Journal:

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence.

The realities of this poll flies in the face of the presentation of the protests by the Left.  Some specific details are quite stark.  For example:

  • The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).
  • 65% say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost.
  • By a large margin (77% support to 22% oppose), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
  • Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before.
  • Virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals. 
  • Nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
Wait a minute...85% of the Occupy Wall Street protesters HAVE JOBS?  I thought these were people frustrated that they couldn't find employment?  How can it be that this protest movement's membership has only 6% higher unemployment than the current national rate, if these are disaffected unemployed? 

How about the fact that over 50% of the group have participated in political movements before?  I mean, isn't the Occupy Wall Street Protest supposed to be the liberal Tea Party? I mean the Tea Party is made up mostly of people who have never participated in political movements, and certainly not half made up of conservative political activist types.  The Tea Party has some, of course (you're reading one of them right now) but it's largely made up of people just now joining the political fray.

What about the fact that 31% would support violence to advance their agenda?  It's like this group has Communists, Anarchists, and Nazis in it...oh wait it does.

Or my favorite, 65% think government has a responsibility to "guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost."  Because most conservatives and moderates believe that money grows on trees if you explain that a particular expenditure is really, super duper important, right?  Oh, wait...that's pretty much a uniquely liberal mentality.

My friends, Occupy Wall Street is precisely what everyone from major conservative commentators to lowly conservative internet bloggers: A group of leftists and Causeheads with a healthy dose of communist and anarchist revolutionaries who would support violent revolt to gain their goals.  This is not a mainline protest.  At all.  Mark my words, President Obama and the Democrats are going to regret supporting this movement when election day comes.  I guarantee it.

Overall Source:  Polling the Occupy Wall Street Crowd

Keira's birth morning - video blog

some people have been saying i need to do some video blogs tracking these early days of parenting, etc... so, here's a few cracks at it.

i will introduce Keira Brielle (our new daughter) to the world via video blog one day soon, but for now... here are a few videos from the day of her birth! (Monday, October 17)

This 1st video is the moment we walked into the hospital early on Monday - around 3AM.

This 2nd video is us coming off the elevator up to our room. Crystal wanted to make sure she got my crutches in the video. unfortunately i was still walking on crutches when Crystal's water broke! adrenaline carried me through the whole day hopping around. by the end of the day it was killing me :)

it was pretty awesome to be greeted at 3AM by all those excited nurses above. and for 3 days it was a straight up party with about 30 nurses constantly loving on Crystal and Keira. it was amazing. Crystal works at an awesome place with some great friends.

This next video is when Crystal was starting to push (don't worry, it's G-rated). i was showing one of our nurses how to use the video camera so she could video the birth. i just shot this quickie...

...and about 15 minutes after that video Keira was born!

we got home from the hospital just a few hours ago and are taking Keira out for the 1st time! headed to Fox & Hound first... but if it's crazy tonight we'll go over to Bravo! just across the street.

Reactions to the CNN Western Debate

Last night, the Republican Candidates met in Las Vegas, NV. First and foremost, as an overview, I must say this was quite probably the most entertaining debate yet. Even Anderson Cooper failed to drive me crazy during the debate and Ron Paul forgot to sound crazy 15% of the time (limited it 5%). Oh and Jon Huntsman stayed home, which was nice, because it meant I wasn’t having my time wasted during this debate listening to him drone.  So now it's time for everyone's favorite stock market analogy, "Buy, Hold, Sell, Sell All or Sold," with my last debate reaction in italics:

Michelle Bachmann – Hold (Sell):

Congresswoman Bachmann was articulate and said some good things in this debate. Unfortunately she didn’t really have any great moments that really made her stand out. I think she’s dropped off the radar in this race, thus far. That can change. I’m not selling all yet, because I know that we are still a full three months away from casting any vote. For now, however, I’m selling off Michelle Bachmann stock.

Congresswoman Bachmann came out swinging last night. She really had some great moments. I honestly do not know if this response will build any support for her. She had some great moments. My favorite was when she brought up that Barrack Obama’s relatives are still in this country illegally. Honestly I don’t know if she’s going to pick up any support, but I thought her debate performance was solid.

Herman Cain – Buy (Buy):

Cain really knocked this debate out of the park. He explained and articulated his 9-9-9 Plan wonderfully. The explanation that the new sales tax is not just offset but actually overcome by the repeal of the Payroll Tax and the Federal Income tax and lead to a smaller tax burden. The other thing he explained well is that the 9-9-9 Plan is the only plan where EVERYONE is paying their real “fair share,” which means that EVERYONE is paying taxes, not just 52% of us paying 100% of the taxes while the 48% pay 0% of the tax burden and receive the majority of the tax benefits. He really nailed it.

He took it hard on the 9% sales tax in the debate from the other candidates. I think he did a good job of responding and explaining that the plan is replacing the current pipeline, not giving a new tax pipeline.

In the last month I’ve done a 180 on Herman Cain. He’s become a viable candidate and is the current contender to Mitt Romney at the top of the race. I thought he did a very good job of explaining his 9-9-9 Plan and continuing to invite people to go to his website and view the plan in full. He did a great job to explain that his plan is replacing significant taxes that go into the price of every product we buy. He’s going to have to do a lot of explaining to get that fact into people’s heads. Yes, there would need to be significant and potentially Constitutional safeguards for a plan like 9-9-9 to work. But he did a good job I think of shaking off the attacks and staying firm on his plan.

Newt Gingrich – Buy (Sell):

Newt really took it to the moderators. He’s the reason I didn’t hop in my car and drive to NH to smack Charlie Rose. (That and my desire to not spend money to drive to NH and smack someone and then go to jail for assault. That was in there too.) Newt has started to rise in the polls a bit. I’m holding on to Newt’s Stock because he’s just so good in these debates. He’d crush Obama in a debate. I’d love to see Newt as the Vice President, or for that matter as the White House Press Secretary if he’d take the job. Let’s see if he can get back into this thing…because he could really take it to Obama.

Newt joins Herman Cain in the category of making me look bad, and I’m glad of it. I really like Newt. If he can show himself to be a viable option and not a throw away vote in my state’s primary, I’d strongly consider voting for him. He’s got great ideas and he would absolutely cream Obama in a debate. He had great moments in the debate. I’d like to see Newt really take the next step. Let’s see what happens.

Jon Huntsman – Not In Attendance (Sold):

I think the kids in those Peter G. Peterson Foundation commercials explaining how economics work would make better candidates than Jon Huntsman. Also, who names their kid Peter Peterson? Moving on.

I’m glad Huntsman wasn’t here. I’ve run out of funny statements for him. I’ll work on it before the next debate. Any suggestions, send me a tweet @UpstateMetFan.

Gary Johnson – Not in Attendance (Sold):

Kermit stayed home this time. Miss Piggy wouldn’t let him come out and play I guess. Too bad. (Not really.)

See Jon Huntsman note.

Ron Paul - Sold (Sold):

No change in my opinion from Paul. Unlike the last two candidates listed, I respect Ron Paul. So I’ll just leave it at that.

Ron Paul forgot to sound crazy tonight for the majority of the debate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I agree with him on 85% of his policies. Unfortunately the other 15%, which only came up minimally last night, scare me about him, like his isolationist policies that do not make sense in our modern world. I stay where I’ve stood, he won’t be the President. But I’m glad he’s in my party. Also, I’d like to give kudos to Paul on one statement, “We have rights, and they come from God.”

Rick Perry – Buy (Hold):

Rick Perry is losing people fast. He needs to have specific plans. Right now it still feels like he’s obfuscating (that’s “being confusing without saying anything” for those of you from Palm Beach County, FL). He really has lost a lot of potential in my mind. When a Republican can’t respond effectively to a Ronald Reagan question, there’s a problem.

I felt Perry rebounded pretty well. His plans to use the energy resources we have to power this country makes far too much sense to ignore. I can’t tell you what a boon to my budget it would be to see my energy costs go down. I’m fortunate enough to live in a town with local, municipal electricity, but even so, if gas prices were cut in half and energy prices were cut in half due to increased supply, that’d be a 10% increase in my monthly available budget, and that would be absolutely huge to me. For the rest of American that would be so as well. I felt he did a decent job on immigration as well.

Most importantly, I felt Perry did a good job of taking it to Mitt Romney. In fairness, Perry really should have let Mitt finish his sentences, but the reality of the situation was that I think Mitt sounded like a he was whining while Perry seemed like an attack dog. While Perry’s statement about Romney hiring illegal immigrants may not have only been true in name only (and I’ll look for a fact check on that), if Romney’s response was indeed true, it still did bloody Romney a bit. Perry may have started to rebound last night.

Mitt Romney – Buy (Buy):

Another great debate performance from Mitt Romney. His tough stance on China was impressive, if he lives it out, and I felt he did a good job showing that he is a good candidate on the economy. Now Mitt is not my first choice, and pretty much the only way he’ll get my vote in the primary is if Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum are out of the race (in that order). That said, he’s doing a good job of convincing me that, if Mitt becomes our nominee, it wouldn’t remind me of holding my nose in 2008 and voting for John McCain. (Actually, in 2008, I voted for Sarah Palin and her boss.)

In short, Mitt to me is like a vanilla ice cream cone. By comparison, my current favorite, Herman Cain, would be like eating a big delicious ice cream sundae with all the fixings*. I’d be happy to eat a vanilla ice cream cone. I’d enjoy it. I’d rather eat a sundae with all the fixings. That’s the line with Mitt…we can do better as conservatives. We also can do a whole lot worse. Unfortunately, Romneycare could be a big problem for Mitt.

Mitt stood his ground last night and did as well as he’s continued to do. I want to see a fact check on his claim that his “illegal immigrant hiring” was actually him contracting for landscaping with a company who hired illegals, which is, in fairness, not something I can legitimately blame Mitt for. However, where I think he looked bad was when he was defending himself against the interruptions by Perry. I know, it doesn’t sound right, and in most cases I would think that Perry sounded like a jerk and Mitt like a victim. Yet, in that particular instance, Mitt came off to me as condescending and Perry as someone who was legitimately looking for answers.

That exchange (and the subsequent Twitter reactions during said exchange) showed Mitt’s biggest problem. The conservative Republican base really doesn’t want him. That’s why there’s been a perpetual battle of Mitt vs. Not Mitt. (The role of Not Mitt has been played recently by Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, and now Herman Cain.) Republicans are desperately seeking somebody else, and that will hurt Mitt.

Rick Santorum - Sold (Sold):

Santorum spent a lot of time trying to get back into the spotlight. It didn’t work. Considering he’s from Pennsylvania, he’s got a shot at being the Vice Presidential nominee in an effort to turn that 2008 blue state into a red state in 2012. But he’s not going to be the President, at least not without serving first as Vice President, and not in 2012.

Santorum was swinging away again tonight, and I still don’t think he gained any traction. I like him, but his highest possible realistic goal is Vice President.

Another debate in the books and my decision has gotten muddy again. My current options are, in alphabetical order, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry. I really don’t know where to go, but I’m glad I have so many choices that I would consider good, and even more that I consider acceptable. Thank


wow! this is so crazy!
a little girl!
i am so crazy in love. i didn't know it could feel like this.

Dear Wall Street Protesters: You are Not "the 99%." We Surround You!

The Occupy Wall Street protesters keep saying that they are "The 99%," setting them apart from "The 1%" aka the wealthy people in America (who pay 38% of the taxes). I'm sorry, but you are not the 99%.  We, the 53% of Americans who pay taxes, are not a part of your group.

I am one of those 53%.  I go to work and earn my paycheck.  I have entered into a contract with my employer wherein I sell them 40 hours of my time each week to perform professional business services, in exchange for which I receive a paycheck.  That paycheck is based upon a salary which we agreed upon at the beginning of my employment.  That amount was not based upon some idealistic sense of "fairness."  It was an agreement reached that fit two criteria:  The amount of money my employers were willing to invest in retaining my employment in exchange for a certain expected fiscal benefit above and beyond the cost too keep me employed; and two, an amount for which I was willing to sell 40 hours each week of my time.  This was our agreement.  I keep up my end of the contract, they keep up their end.  Each year, we sit down to discuss whether or not I have exceeded my previous expectations and thus am deserving of a raise.

To be qualified to do my job, I went to college.  I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from the State University of New York's College at Brockport.  That degree gives me skills that are in demand.  If you have a degree in English Literature or Basket Weaving and can't find a job, perhaps this is the reason why you aren't as successful as I am in finding gameful employment in your field?  My ability to find a good paying job is a (positive) consequence of my choice of college major.

I, too, have a college loan from one of those "evil" Wall Street banks. And you know what?  I don't have a problem with paying it back.  You know why?  Because I agreed to take that loan and pay it back!  The bank didn't give me that loan to be nice to me or because they had the money.  It was a contract between us that I am fulfilling.  I got an education for my loan investment and now I'm paying for it.  That's what happens with loans!

I don't have a mortgage, but I hope to someday.  My parents have a mortgage though.  You know why their home ISN'T being repossessed?  They are paying their mortgage payments!  They are fulfilling their contract with the bank on the mortgage.  If you or someone you know is seeing their house repossessed, it's not because the Bank is evil.  It's because you or the homeowner you know breeched the contract with the bank!  See, that's how loans work.  You have to pay for it.  It's not a gift from the bank. It's a contract.  If you've lost your home, that's not the bank's fault.  It's your own fault.  You're the one who failed to pay your mortgage!

Most importantly, my friends, you are not the majority.  You call yourself the 99%, but considering you're primarily liberals, that would mean you're actually at best the 20%.  Remember, Gallup said as of last year that only 20% of Americans are liberals.  Now those of us who are conservatives, we're 42% of Americans (1).  So we've got twice as many in our group than you. 

My friends who Occupy Wall Street, we surround you.  There are 53% of us who pay taxes.  (There's also 42% of us who are conservative.)  It's OUR money you're demanding be spent for things that we can't afford, and we're not going to give our fiscal property to you because you demand it. 

As much as you may ideally like the idea of "free" healthcare and "free" college, neither things are free.  You have to get the money from somewhere, and that would be coming from US, the 53% who pay our taxes.  We don't owe you a darn thing, and we surround you.

We haven't stolen anything from you, wether we make $30,000 per year or have $30 Billion in wealth.  Whatever we have we've earned on our own.  It's not yours.  No matter how much you wish it was yours, it's not.  You are not entitled to my money.  I've earned it, and I will use it how I see fit.  We surround you.

That means giving it to the charities I choose and directing HOW I will fulfill the Christian requirement to provide for the needy.  We in the Church of Jesus Christ will take care of the needy through  our churches and other charitable organizations.  Those of other faiths than mine are willing and able to do the same. Those churches and charities can do a better job of it than government can.  We surround you.

We, the 53% who pay taxes, don't owe you anything.  We are already paying more than our "fair share" because just over half of us pay for 100% of the population.  You who don't pay a cent have absolutely no right to complain that those of us who do pay taxes aren't paying our "fair share."  If you want better for yourself, get up off your rear end and make something of yourself.  Earn it, just like I have.  We surround you.

You, my friends, aren't the 99%.  You're the 20%.  The whiny 20% who wants what doesn't belong to them because you think you're entitled to it and the spoiled 20% who think you're entitled to someone else's property simply because they have a lot of it. I'm hear to tell you that you aren't entitled to a thing I have.  I'm not a wealthy man.  I'm a hardworking middle class man who has earned everything I have.  It belongs to me, not you.  No amount of whining and complaining about how life isn't fair will make my property rightfully yours. I'm sorry I have to be the one to tell you this, considering your parents should have told you a long time ago, but life isn't fair.

You are not the 99%, Occupy Wall Street protesters.  We are the 53% of Americans who pay taxes, and we surround you!

(1) In 2010, Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals

welcome to the world!

you heard it here on renown 1st...
was born at 3:20pm today! our 1st kid!!! a daughter. this is crazy!
she and mom (Crystal) are perfectly healthy! we're crazy thankful to God and so blessed. God is amazing.

Keira was 6lbs & 8oz + 19.5 inches long.
she is the coolest, most awesome person i've ever seen. wow. never new my heart could feel this way.

welcome to the world, Keira... your dad loves you like you will never be able to even imagine.

Understanding Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan

Recently, a friend of mine asked me my thoughts about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan, expressing concern about the addition of a 9% sales tax to he already pays, a total 8% sales tax in Upstate New York between state and local. He was concerned about seeing his sales tax increased to 17%.  I understand the concern, however, when the plan is explained more clearly, basically everybody is looking at a cut in their overall tax burden.

Before we proceed, it is important to understand that Cain does not intend 9-9-9 to be the permanent tax plan.  Rather it is Phase 1 of a two phase plan to institute the Fair Tax as the new tax system of the nation and completely erradicate our current system.  To read the entirety of the plan, visit Herman Cain's Website or Click Here to see the plan in PDF form.

One must remember that if you are paying taxes, you are paying not just your current income taxes but an additional 6.2% in payroll taxes.  So if we use the current Median Household Income of approximately $50,000 per year, let's look at what they would be paying in taxes under the current system vs the 9-9-9 Plan.

Under our current system, the family making $50,000 per year would be paying 25% Federal Income Tax and 6.2% Payroll Tax, for a total of a 31.2% tax burden.  Let's break that down:

$ 4166.66   Income Before Taxes
-  1041.68  Federal Income Tax (25%)
$ 3124.98 After Federal Income Tax

$  3124.98 After Federal Income Tax

$ 3124.98 After Federal Income Tax
-     258.33  Federal Payroll Tax (6.2%)
$    2866.65 After All federal Taxes

So under the current system:

Total Taxes paid: $1300.01 Monthly
Total Spendable Income: 2866.65 Monthly

Now under Cain's 9-9-9 Plan, all that would be replaced with a 9% income tax and a 9% sales tax.
$ 4166.66 Income Before Taxes
-    374.99 Income Tax (9% Rate)
$ 3791.67 After Income Tax   

$ 3261.67 Total Money After Paycheck

$ 3261.67 Total Money After Paycheck
-    327.30 Total Sales Tax (If 100% of Paycheck Spent)
$ 2934.37 Income After Taxes
So under the 9-9-9 Plan the median American family would have:

Total Taxes paid $702.29 Monthly
Total Spendable Income: $ 3498.12 Monthly

$597.72 LESS taxes paid each month.  That's $597.72 MORE MONEY in your pocket, every month! What would an extra nearly $600 per month do for you?  If the Median American family had $600 extra each month to spend, what do you think that would do for the economy?  I'll tell you what it'd do:  A whole lot.  You want to talk stimulus?  How about an extra $600 in the pockets of the average American family. 

You want to talk about fundamentally changing the American tax system to one that's fair?  How about a plan that taxes on what you buy, not on what you earn.  Also, remember that there are no taxes on used items, like a used car or purchasing an existing home.  By the numbers, the 9-9-9 Plan as written is good for America.

Now look,  I recognize the need for some very heavy safeguards in the program.  Requirement of a super-majority within the plan to raise the tax rates is one of them.  Without the safeguards, a lot can go wrong.  However, overall, I think if properly implemented it's a good plan.


this is something we all must do constantly at some level. if we're on mission then contextualization is a non-negotiable.

the godfather of the missional movement (and Newcastle born), Lesslie Newbigin, had this to say as a foundation for contextualization back in the day... [my thoughts in brackets]

“The gospel is addressed to human beings, to their minds and hearts and consciences, and calls for their response.”

[This is KEY!] = “Human beings only exist as members of communities which share a common language, customs, ways of ordering economic and social life, ways of understanding and coping with their world. [literally world view.]
If the gospel is to be understood, if it is to be received as something which communicates truth about the real human situation, if it is, as we say, to ‘make sense’, it has to becommunicated in the language of those to whom it is addressed and has to be clothed in symbols which are meaningful to them. And since the gospel does not come as a disembodied message, but as the message of a community which claims to live by it and which invites others to adhere to it, the community’s life must be so ordered that it ‘makes sense’ to those who are invited. It must, as we say, ‘come alive.’ Those to whom it is addressed must be able to say, ‘Yes, I see. This is true for me, for my situation.’ [this is huge & the foundation of contextualization. this is so key - for both a missionary to China or a student ministry in the Bible Belt.]

[& before you call me and Lesslie both heretics...]
But if the gospel is truly to be communicated, the subject in that sentence is as important as the predicate. What comes home to the heart of the hearer must really be the gospel, and not a product shaped by the mind of the hearer.”

– we need contextualization “whether in one’s own neighborhood or at the ends of the earth.”

that is at the heart of what it means to be missional... literally on mission in whatever culture we find ourselves in. i say, the more we contextualize the gospel, the more effectively we communicate it.
we must... i repeat, MUST become experts not just in the gospel itself, but in contextualizing it!

you were the man, Lesslie. thankful to have you as one of my dead mentors.

20 mile march

when it comes to greatness there are 3 inherent traits that set GREAT leaders apart from the others...
& These are according to Jim Collins' STELLAR talk at Catalyst '11 last week. (and probably from his newest book Greatness is a Choice)

i'll just give you those big 3 traits straight up & then explain what he was talking about as we go:

The story and framework he chose to build this talk around was a study of the 2 teams who were in a race to make it to the South Pole back in the early 1900s. the leader whose team made it exemplified each of these 3 traits. the leader whose team all DIED did not.

each leader and each team faced the SAME environment and the SAME circumstances... one made it and one DIED. these 3 traits made the difference... and the make the difference in a long line of Great vs. Good leaders and Great vs. Good organizations.

Here is a little more context and discussion around these 3:
Jim told a (made up) story as a GREAT example of this trait. Let's say there are 2 guys who are going to walk from the California coast all the way across the country to the East coast of Maine. that's a long walk. they both set out on the same day.

The 1st guy sets a pace for himself of 20 miles per day. he is committed to his 20 mile march. he is fanatically disciplined about it. the 1st day he walks 20 miles. the 2nd day he walks 20 miles. the 3rd day he completes 20 miles and is tempted to keep going... he feels good, the sun is still up, he can probably walk 40. but nope. he sticks to the 20 mile march. he hits Colorado and there is snow all over the ground and he wakes up early and wants to sleep in inside his tent... but he does his 20 mile march. no matter what. fanatic discipline.
he makes it to Maine.

The other guy just gets after it. he walks 40 miles the 1st day. then blazes ahead for 57 miles on the 2nd day! he's dead tired on the 3rd day so he just sleeps in and lays around all day knowing that he can make up the ground later. he hits the snow in Colorado exhausted and takes a 3 week break to let the weather clear up. he hits the trail again and does 60 miles, but can barely walk the next day. he never makes it to Maine.

the team who made it to the South Pole had a 20 mile march and their leader made them stick to it no matter what.

THAT is fanatic discipline.

and that is what i need. 

for those of you familiar with Good to Great, this is a repackaging of the FLYWHEEL principle.
my takeaway = i desperately need to KNOW what my 20 mile march is. i'm going to spend the time and the hard effort to land on the right 20 mile march for every area of my life and then i'm going to freaking hit it every single time... no matter what!

we'll talk about the other 2 traits in the coming days, but for now - anybody know their 20 mile march?