Predictions 2012

Each year on my blog I like to predict what will happen in the coming year.  I’m breaking my predictions into categories, just so I don’t overload on one type.I Invite my readers to make predictions in the comments.  Next year I'll check how we did.

Sports: UK basketball wins their 8th NCAA championship The UK football team will be no better than 7-5 and Joker Phillips will be fired

World News: Even though this is 2012, the world will still be here to make predictions about late next December I will go on a date this year (It is a rare enough occurrence that if it happens it will be headline news)

Technology: A passive 3-D TV comes out from a major brand (i.e. one with cheap glasses). Even so, nobody cares about a 3-D TV and they sell only because you can’t buy non-3-D TVs Google+ remains irrelevant but doesn't get shut down

Entertainment: The Hobbit will be the number one movie next year.  Battleship (Yes, a movie about a board game), The Bourne Legacy, The Hunger Games, Spiderman (Again?) will all be in the top 10.

Politics: Republicans will make gains everywhere, but... Barack Obama is reelected president

My Personal life: By year’s end I will derive more than 20% of my income from speaking. (Invite me to speak in your church please.) I will weigh less when writing 2013 predictions than I do today

Your turn. Predict the future in the comments.


When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve political bands...they should declare the causes...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...That to secure these rights, governments are instituted...deriving their powers from the consent of the governed whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government... governments...should not be changed for light and transient causes...But when a long train of abuses...evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world...do, in the name... of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare... these united colonies are...free and independent states [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUgiRxs3aqo]

Why Does President Obama want to Shut Down My Blog? (And put me in jail)*

I’d be willing to bet you didn’t see this news story in the past week.  And further I’d be willing to bet that you didn’t really think about all the ramifications.  So allow me to educate you.  Then, go write a letter to your U.S. Senator. Last week the Commercial Felony Streaming Act passed the House and is headed to the Senate.  It is endorsed by all of the recording industry and film and television spokespeople.  It is also supported by nearly every senator I can find a quote from as well as the Obama administration.

I believe that piracy of copyrighted works is a bad thing, but this law is much worse.  So why do I oppose it?  Because it says that even embedded video is eligible for prosecution.  So let’s think this through.  Say for example I embed a You Tube clip on this blog from a movie that I enjoy, or maybe I put something I find amusing in “Best Web Junk” for some particular week, and it is copyrighted.  If only 10 people watch that video over a 180 day period I could go to prison for up to 5 years.  Now let’s face it, my blog is not that popular, but every post gets substantially more than 10 views on the day it is posted.  So, even if I was not aware that the video was copyrighted, I could be headed to prison.  I didn’t intentionally steal anything, I didn’t promote, “come watch an illegal video for free at my site,” I didn’t profit in any way from the video and I didn’t prevent anyone from watching the clip in the full movie or TV show.  I am, however, legally liable and eligible to go to prison for 5 years.

I hope that is clear enough.  I wish I believed that any politician could understand this, but I don’t.  I am certain that even if they understood, the graft lobbying efforts from the recording and movie industries would outweigh opinions of constituents.

I am writing a letter to Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, but have almost nothing but cynicism as I do it.  In the mean time enjoy this classic, but copyrighted clip from Monty Python.  I probably won't go to jail for a few months. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_eYSuPKP3Y]


*I know. This title is kinda link-baitey, but I haven't posted in a few weeks and I could use the eyeballs.

Should I Celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden?

More than anything else, I am a Christian. And although I do not usually go by the title, I am also a pastor. One of the functions of a pastor is to answer questions. The question at hand, “Should Christians celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden?” is one that is laden (laden, not Laden) with emotion. The emotions that go along with an event like this make it much harder to dig out the answer. I am not even slightly qualified to speak about all the political ramifications of this announcement, so I am not taking that into consideration. With that as a preface, I offer my thoughts. First, I will say this. The execution of Bin Laden is the morally right thing to do. Have no fear the by killing him we have sinned as a nation or by getting vengeance we are somehow all tainted by immorality as Americans. The state has the God-granted right to kill and it was the right thing to do. He was, after all, a self-admitted killer of thousands.

Second, Osama Bin Laden was a man committed to violence and evil. His actions and his ideology were evil and he got no less than what he deserved. In fact, the judgment he will now face, will offer substantially more penalty.

I believe that relief that he is dead is a proper reaction.

I believe that pride in our country that we were able to exact earthly justice is a proper reaction.

I believe it is right to credit our military, our intelligence organizations, and our president for a job well-done

I believe it is right to be hopeful that the reaction to his death will be fear by the rest of the terrorists. Fear that if Bin Laden could not get away with his strategy, they should not attempt the same.

I believe that celebration is the wrong reaction. The Bible makes it clear that God does not take pleasure in the death of a wicked person. If Osama Bin Laden had announced that he read the Bible, was convinced of his sin and need of a savior, and was putting his faith in Jesus, that would be something to celebrate. (Though he would still deserve death for his actions.)

So despite my pride in my country, you will not see me celebrating in the streets.  Though I might just watch Navy Seals in the next few days

My opinion about something everybody has an opinion about

By now everybody is familiar with the Supreme Court ruling about the Westboro “Baptist” “church” and you all have an opinion.  I write a blog, so I thought I would share mine. A few months back I wrote a post regarding the religion portion of the first amendment in which I said “Politically speaking, I do not want to be involved in anything that tells other people how they can or cannot worship. Nor do I want someone telling me how I can or cannot worship.”

1st ammendmentI feel pretty much the same about the WBC.  What they are doing is reprehensible on a number of levels.  Their whole act is made worse by the fact that they have the audacity to call themselves a church.  Morally speaking, I could not be opposed more strongly.   However, what they are doing is guaranteed as a right by the first amendment.

Politically speaking , I do not want to be involved in telling any group what they can or cannot say, nor do I want to any group telling my church what it can or cannot say.

Ultimately this is my fear.  If the words of one group can be silenced then the words of another can be.  There are many who would equate a conservative Christian view toward homosexual behavior with those of Phelps’ group, even though that is not only unfair it is false. The Bible teaches that god loves everyone.  The Bible also teaches that God is holy and that He cannot tolerate sin.  The message of WBC is that God hates those involved in a particular sin.  That message is vastly different but there are some who see no difference.

I want the Westboro “Baptist” “church” to stop with their hatefulness. I certainly want them to stop picketing funerals of our soldiers and to just have some decency.  I believe that the message they teach is destructive and that it is designed to call attention to their group rather than to any issue or cause.  Even with all that, I believe that the Supreme Court ruled properly.

I know that a supreme court decision on this issue is news so it has to be covered.  I have a suggestion.  The news organizations of the world should vow not to cover this group again.  That would be the most deserved punishment and it would be most crushing to them.

An extra thought

I really want to write a whole post about the name Westboro Baptist Church.  They are certainly not a church; not by any definition.  They are also not Baptist in any way. I strongly suspect that the people of Westboro don’t want to be associated with this group either.  My suggestion is that the world adopt a new name for the group.  My suggestion is GHF.  That is what they are most associated with.  I’ll take your suggestions for a new name for this group in the comments.

Predictions for 2011

Each year on my blog I like to make predictions for the coming year.  I invite you to do the same in the comments.  It's always fun to see the results.

  • The number 1 movie will be Pirates of the CaribbeanGreen Hornet in the top 5. The usual suspects like Harry Potter, Transformers, and Twilight will all be in the top 10.
  • Facebook will go crazy with 11:11:11 11/11/11 stuff
  • Some tablet computer running Android will be a genuine alternative to the iPad
  • The iPhone will move to an additional carrier but Andriod will have greater market share at year’s end
  • The ratings for American Idol will be off by at least 25%.  It won’t be canceled but will not return with the same judges in 2012.
  • There will be at least 10 announced Republican candidates for president.  No democrat will run against Obama
  • Kentucky will not be in the Final 4
  • Bret Favre will actually retire...probably…maybe…maybe not…yeah he will.
  • The world will not end on May 21 no matter what the billboards say
  • I will catch a 7 lb. bass
  • I will not still be working at the Wood Shed at the end of 2011
  • I will weigh less at the end of 2011 than at the beginning

A Letter to My Representatives

I just sent the following letter to Jim Bunning, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul (But I could only find a campaign address), Ed Whitfield, and Barrack Obama.  They are my United States representatives.  I thought I would share it with you. I am writing you today regarding the new TSA screening policies.

They are unacceptable.

First, let me be clear about something.  I want to be safe when I fly.  I do not want to share a plane with terrorists.

Second, I do not believe that the new screening practices make anyone safer.

Third, the new screening practices are unconstitutional. (As far as I know, the 4th amendment is still in effect.)  They are invasive at best, and immoral at their worst.

Airlines are a major economic factor in this country.  The new TSA requirements make me not want to fly for a host of reasons.  I do not want multiple x-rays per year.  I do not want anyone to see me naked. (I’m not worried about the pictures getting out because nobody else wants to see me naked either.  However, not everyone can say that.) And I certainly do not want to be groped.  The new pat-down procedure is tantamount to being groped.  No one can deny that.  If many people feel, as I do, that being subjected to such humiliation is not worth it, there will be disastrous economic consequences for the airlines.

I believe the security bottleneck makes flying more dangerous.  Simply put, where there is a backup and a long crowd, there is an opportunity.  Bombing 200 people standing in line at a security checkpoint is just as effective as blowing up a plane.

It makes me feel like the government is not really concerned about my safety, but rather with putting on a show.  These procedures will not make flying any safer. They will only make it more humiliating and less enjoyable.  However, we will continue to be subjected to this treatment because it looks like we are doing something.

Please do whatever is in your power to overturn these screening procedures and to implement a system that would actually make us safer.

- Concerned voter

This post mentions politicians by name so read the * in the right-hand column.

Tomorrow is Election Day…So What?

Before you read any further, go to the * in the right side column and read my disclaimer. voetI am not a fan of cynicism.  I am, however, downright cynical when it comes to politics.  Sometimes I feel that there are no good choices when it comes time to vote.  (Tomorrow’s US Senate election in KY is a perfect example of that as far as I’m concerned)  I feel like it is a huge distraction from the gospel whenever preachers get onto the subject of politics.  I nearly cringe whenever I hear statements about politics or politicians from the pulpit.  I believe, and I have said this before, that there is ultimately no hope in the world that can be found through politics.  I don’t believe that better laws will make better people and I don’t believe that worse laws make worse people.  I believe that if there is going to be a change in our country, or in our culture, or in our government it will come, not because we pass the right laws, but because of a move of God in the hearts of individuals.

Now having said all of that –

I will be voting tomorrow

It is absolutely our duty as Christians to vote.  It is our responsibility as American citizens to vote.  Just because better laws won’t solve the problems in our nation, or in our local school district, doesn’t mean that better laws aren’t better.

I don’t believe that we will solve the problems this country has through politics; only through evangelism.  This is a “both and” situation.  However, we need to make our voices heard, most importantly through evangelism, but also in the political arena.  If we are silent then we cannot act or be confused by lawmakers who don’t listen.

Pearls Before Swine

To Burn or Not to Burn?...

That's not even the question.  Obviously there's no good reason for a Christian minster to consider burning the Qur'an (or Koran?) so my question really is; why would he be considering doing this?  I have not heard any person from either end of the political or theological spectrum be supportive of the idea.  So I cannot believe that he has the actual conviction that God is telling him to do so. My belief is that it’s for attention.  Nobody has ever heard of Terry Jones (Not the waitress in this skit) before his plan to burn the Qur’an.  He had about 30 people in his church last Sunday, but he will have hundreds there (mostly media) for his book burning.

So I’ll just toss the question to you in the comments.  Why do you think he is burning the Qur’an?

My thoughts on the Ground-Zero Mosque

I think all bloggers are required by the law of the internet to comment on the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” so this is my attempt.  You are welcome to comment but I will be moderating.  Please keep it civil.

Now to my actual commentary -

There is no such thing as an unbiased opinion, so I will lay my bias out there at the beginning.  First, I am a Christian.  I don’t mean that merely as a title.  I mean that I have chosen to place my faith in Christ, and it is the most important thing that I have ever done.  Further, I consider myself a Christian apologist.  (Although I am still a bit shy of making this list) I have a strong desire to defend Christianity and the Christian worldview from all opposition in whatever form.

Secondly, I am a conservative Christian; meaning that I believe the Bible to be true in all that it declares.

Thirdly, I am a proud, patriotic American.  I am crushed with sadness when I think about the events of September 11 2001, and I know with certainty that the perpetrators of those events are opposed to what America stands for.

Those are my biases, so know that before you read any further.

I truly wish there were no mosques anywhere.  I believe that Islam is a false religion that involves worshipping a false god.  I believe that in many cases Islam is not merely a false, empty religion but that it encourages violence.  If not encouraging, at the very least it condones violence in a way that other world religions don’t.  (Though, if I were in India, I may feel the same about Hinduism.)

However, we live in a country where the freedom to practice religion is guaranteed by the constitution.  It is one of the beautiful things about our country; that people with such opposing convictions can come together and make a mostly peaceful nation.

In part, the first amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."  The way I read this it means that as a country we will not have an official religion, nor will we prevent anyone from worshipping in a way that their religion requires.  (I know there are exceptions, e.g. human sacrifice, but for argument’s sake let’s leave them out.)

Politically speaking, I do not want to be involved in anything that tells other people how they can or cannot worship. Nor do I want someone telling me how I can or cannot worship.

I would definitely question the wisdom of those who want to build this prayer center when so much controversy has arisen.  It definitely does not seem like a good PR move for Islam in America.  And I clearly understand the irony that religious freedom is utterly incompatible with Islam yet religious freedom  is what will allow an Islamic center to be built there.

The most important part of this issue from my standpoint is not the political, but the spiritual.  I believe that God has given mankind moral free-agency.  In other words, humans make actual moral choices.  This fact means that we are free to choose wrongly.  There are consequences for all choices, and there will be a judgment that gives those consequences, but we are free to make them.

I believe that Islam is a false religion.  I would expect any Muslim would say the same about my religion.  The wonderful thing about the USA is that we are both free to say so, and I hope it stays that way.

BP & Me

Last week on this blog I asked a question.  Are you willing to buy gas at a BP station?  If you didn’t vote, now’s your chance.  If you did, you can click to see the results.[polldaddy poll=3300204] For me to decide whether or not to buy BP branded gas means asking a question. Is BP evil? My answer in short is - Probably not. I think it is fair to say they are negligent, because they did not take precautions that could have avoided the massive spill which followed the explosion. Negligence is a major problem, and they are [mostly] responsible for the disaster, but negligence is not willful and it is not evil.

For me the main reason why I’m not boycotting BP is that it hurts the local gas station more than it hurts BP. I won’t go out of my way to purchase BP gas. I simply won’t avoid it. Why? Because by avoiding BP gas I do great damage to the person who owns or works at my local station and have almost no affect whatsoever on BP corporate.

I completely understand why people would feel the need to boycott BP. People are angry, and rightfully so. To go with the anger there is the fact that we are all helpless to do anything. Unless somebody figures out a way to sell or refine tar balls, many, many people in resort jobs and locations will face disastrous financial situations. Even though this is horrible, the fact is that there is nobody in America who actually knows how to fix the problem. If we are all helpless what do we do? Boycott.

There are probably more effective forms of protest. You can maybe design a funny t-shirt, and give the proceeds to help scrub the beaches. Better yet, maybe go to Grand Isle, support their economy and while you are there, clean up a pelican.

If you can think about the oil leak and not be angry at someone, maybe you should watch this possible projection of where the oil will go.

[youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5ImaiKuGuw]

This is pretty great

I for one am proud of the influence Martin Luther King Jr. on this country.  Enjoy this video of his final speech autotuned.  This autotune is not for comedy, but for tribute, and it is great. Also for my Southern Baptist readers, I recommend this article


An Open Letter to the TSA

Dear Transportation Security Administration Must we learn everything the hard way?

I don’t want to stand in a security line for 2 hours.

Also, I don’t particularly want to explode.

Fortunately these things do not have to be mutually exclusive.  There is a solution to this problem.  There are probably multiple solutions.

Steve Breen

So far, however, the solution to our safety issue has not been a solution at all.  So far what we have done is reactionary overreaction.  (That is a phrase that just rolls off the tongue.)  I suppose it is a problem inherent within the democratic process.  All of our people in charge depend on being elected, which is good.  However, it motivates them to make a show.  What is important to politicians is that, even if nothing is actually accomplished, it looks like something important has changed so those depending on votes can be lauded for their efforts.  Even in the face of very good evidence that what has been done is ineffective, politicians laud themselves because perception is much more important than reality when you need votes from a largely uninformed public.

In the case of airport security, however I think the show has actually made us less safe.

Borrowing from a recent conversation and this article by Cathal Kelly in the Toronto Star I would like to make three suggestions.

First, share information. No need to rehash all the mistakes from the underwear bomber.  The fact is, if there was intergovernmental communication this wouldn’t have happened.  There are probably 1000 programmers who could develop a sharing system that is both simple and effective.  Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, could have been stopped by a FBI/CIA/DHS version of Digg.

Second, look at people. I don’t mean through the body scanner, I mean look at their behavior.  Right now there is only one real point of contact in an airport, the person who looks at your boarding pass and driver’s license.  And that’s not a very careful look because of the long line of people behind you. The other people in the security clearance are focused on the bags, facilitating shoe removal, and patting down Granny.  One thing I know is this.  If I was gifted at card counting, every casino in Las Vegas would know who I was as soon as I walked in the door.  They would certainly keep track of me.  And although all those casinos are in competition (allegedly, our government agencies are not) they would all know me.  I understand that casinos are better funded than the DHS, but safe flights are much more important.

I’m not too overly worried about the body scanner because I know that nobody really wants to see me naked.  In fact, having been to the beach, I know that we really don’t want to see almost anybody naked.

Third, crowds are inherently dangerous. Here is a quote from the above article “Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.”  Bombing 200 people standing in line at a security checkpoint is just as effective as blowing up the plane.

There needs to be some sort of speed pass system for frequent flyers.  That alone would help alleviate much of the congestion at the lines.  I ahve flown 6 times in the last 5 years so this suggestion will only help me by clearing out those people who really pile up the miles.  But it only makes sense for there to be a system in place for those people.

I’ll end with a slightly more upbeat note.  I actually believe that there is almost no danger of a hijacking on board an airplane today because of the events of 9/11.  A plane full of passengers realizes that you cannot stab them all into submission.  So the box cutters used in those attacks will not work.  The cockpits are safer than before, and the presence of air marshals has helped.

2010 Predictions

These are my predictions for 2010.  Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments

  • Toy Story 3 will be the top movie of the year, Iron Man 2, the A-Team, and Harry Potter will also be in the top 15
  • The Dow will be higher at the end of 2010 than at the beginning
  • There will be 15 e-book readers on the market by the end of 2010 but still no major publisher will release DRM-free books.  So I will not buy one
  • The health care bill will not become final before May and by the time I write this post next year there will still be millions of uninsured Americans.
  • The Twitter stream will have ads in it (not just spam)
  • USA will be no better than 3rd in the medal count at the winter Olympics
  • Kentucky will be in the Final 4
  • The finale of Lost will be mostly satisfying
  • I will not live in Kentucky at the end of 2010
  • I will weigh less at the end of 2010 than I do at the beginning

This Blog's Presidential Address: This One's For the Children

I was originally planning to post about how we seem to want to fight over everything in this country.  The President* wants to make a speech to schoolchildren and 2 weeks before anyone knows what He is going to say, there is national uproar. Well, I've seen the speech now.  Here's what it says, "Work hard, life is not fair and can be hard, don't drop out."  That's pretty controversial stuff, and how dare our president (a known politician) try to indoctrinate our children in such a way.

In light of this stupid controversy, here is my very tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to President Obama's speech:

Kids, school is boring.  You should never be expected to do anything you don't want to do.  How dare your teachers expect you do do things like reports, math, grammar and spelling.  And your parents, they are just trying to keep you from having fun.

U no, u can rlly just talk how you want to.

Chances are, you won't have to pay any bills when you grow up.  And if you do, you probably won't need math.  Checkbooks practically balance themselves these days.  And learning whether to use their, there, or they're only matters in writing.  Nobody can tell you are illiterate in a text message or on the phone.

One day you'll finish school, or just quit if you want to.  Then you'll probably get married and have children.  You still shouldn't have to do anything you don't want to do.  I mean your kids will probably want to eat, but your parents took care of you, they can take care of your kids too.

And your boss, all he will want is to keep you from having fun.  If your job involves doing stuff you don't want to do, just quit.  There's more jobs.

The important thing to understand is that life is totally fair.  When things seem unfair, you should complain.  Quit whenever things get difficult.  There will always be somebody to take care of you.  (Unless that seems unfair to them :-)

In all seriousness, I would be happy for my hypothetical children to hear this speech.  Will it make any difference to a kid about to drop out of school?  Probably not, but it definitely cannot hurt.

*See the political disclaimer -->

My Thoughts on the Healthcare Debate

I promised to post about my thoughts on universal healthcare. My first thought is that there is absolutely nothing specific out there.  If someone can point me to an outline of the proposed Obama* plan I would appreciate it.  The best I can find is this and it is a list of principles with nothing specific suggesting how it might work.

My second thought is that I’m not sure that it is the government’s duty to provide healthcare for its citizens.  I understand that the U.S. will benefit from having a healthy citizenry.  This country already takes great pains to have healthy people.  That is why we have the USDA, the FDA, and the CDC.  I'm not trying to be insensitive here, there are members of my family who are among the millions of uninsured.

My third thought is that I believe the government will do a terrible job of providing medicine for everyone.  I know what you are thinking; healthcare is already in terrible condition, so what is the difference?  The difference is who is paying for it.

There are 2 great problems with the medical establishment today – greed and bureaucracy.  Greed means that doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies need to make as much money as possible.  This causes prices to rise and the bill to be a concern for any sick person.  Bureaucracy makes companies impersonal.  By establishing standards of treatment and rules for procedures, companies can deny your grandma the treatment that she needs because of a policy.

What are the two biggest problems with the U.S. government? Greed and bureaucracy. Politicians are motivated by the same things as CEOs.  However, they are also less directly responsible to those who got them their job.

The irony is that bureaucracy and greed are also what make healthcare work.  How does greed help?  Drug companies do R&D not for altruism but because they know that discovering a pill to stop the growth of cancer will be worth billions to them, and if they accidentally discover Viagra in the process, that is pure bonus money.  Hospitals buy new equipment and pioneer new techniques because they know these things will bring them more patients and more income.  Bureaucracy makes companies more efficient, which keeps costs down and speeds their functioning.

This does not translate when we transfer this concept to the private sector.  I have a fear that a single-payer system, or overly harsh regulation will kill ambition.  Causing the money that healthcare organizations spend improving to be added to the bottom line because the rewards for R&D are so limited.

Fourth, who is going to pay for it?  I am yet to even hear the beginning of an answer to this question.

My final thought is one of ethics.  I will never support my tax dollars paying for abortions or embryonic stem-cell research.  So far the administration has been very cagey about whether these things would be covered, but based on track record it seems extremely unlikely that this administration would accept a health care proposal missing these things.

Those are my thoughts, my mind is not made up on this issue, but it will take a lot of convincing to think we need a complete overhaul.  As always, feel free to try and change my mind in the comments

[polldaddy poll=1897009]

* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church.  They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church.  They are my views as an individual.

What Should the Government Do pt. 2

Yesterday I asked a question - What should the government be doing [at all]? Today the question is different - What does the government do well?

I am asking this question again as I think about healthcare.*  I am generally opposed to expanding the government for any purpose, but I obviously see the need for reform in healthcare.  So although it is a cynical question, I wonder what is the government truly good at?

There are many things that the government does adequately.  And there are many things that I do not think can be done by a non-government entity, so whether they are good at it or not they are still tasked with it.

There are, however, so many things that our system of democracy seems perfectly made to ruin.  I don’t believe Social Security should have ever been created in the first place, but that is irrelevant.  The simple mathematical fact is that in 32 years, when I become eligible, there will be no Social Security money for me to draw.  I will have paid 40+ years and thousands of dollars for nothing.  Our democracy is set up in such a way that privatizing that money or even locking 50% it to my account will never happen.  Young people, who would benefit from that change, don’t vote, and older people, who are afraid to change things, do vote.  That is not ever going to change.

Democracy, at least our system is also set up so that lawmakers regardless of party need to be constantly spending money in order to give the appearance that they are working for their constituency.  That appearance is necessary because they need votes to keep their job.

Having hopefully established that there are many things the government is bad at, I return to the original question?   What does the U.S. government do well?

I believe that they are good at defense.  Only 2 attacks ever on American soil illustrates this.  People argue whether or not we should be involved in the global war on terror, but that does not change that fact that our military is excellent.

I also believe that the government has done a good job of keeping us healthy.  (This is not addressing Ben’s comments from yesterday) What I mean is that the FDA, USDA, & EPA keep our food and water clean and safe.  With few exceptions, there is not a place in America where it is unsafe to drink water from the tap, eat meat from the grocery, or take the drugs you buy in the store.

I think that is the list.  It seems to me that everything else that is in the domain of government responsibility is ruined by bureaucracy or too much involvement.  This is the case for education, much infrastructure and so much more.

So there’s my very cynical list.  Feel free to put your own list in the comments

Tomorrow, my thoughts on universal healthcare (for what that’s worth)

* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church.  They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church.  They are my views as an individual.

What Should the Government Do

I have been considering writing a post about the healthcare debate that's currently raging in this country.  I am not really surprised by the amount of passion on either side, because our government is considering a major overhaul to something that is central to every person.  We all need doctors.  In fact we pretty much need doctors to come into the world. Rather than write that post and add more noise to an already loud argument, I thought we could try a thought experiment. Consider the answer to this question:

If the federal budget disappeared today, and you could decide how to spend all the tax dollars; what should the government be doing? For the purposes of this thought experiment, feel free to confuse federal and state governments.  Education, for example, is typically the domain of state governments, but if you feel it should be included put it on the list.

Here is my list:

National Defense - It seems to me (and the U.S. constitution) that military expenditures are non-negotiable.  Protecting the country is the government's most important function.   I would include homeland security, FBI, CIA, NSA, ATF, and Secret Service in this category.  We must also take care of those who have served in the past.  So we can't get rid of the VA either.

Federal Budget 2009

Infrastructure - Powerlines, roads, airports, sewers, dams, and satellites are the things that make life in a civilized nation civilized.  The government may not need to be directly involved in the building of all these things, but I do think they all need regulation.

Education - is necessary, and although there are probably much better models than what we have, I'm afraid the horse is out of the barn on this one.  We need public education.

NASA - So many things that benefit all of humanity come out of the space program, that I believe it would be foolish to discontinue.  I also cannot envision a private model of space exploration that could function.

FDA/FCC/USDA/EPA/CDC - Each of these agencies could be improved, but each is very important.  It would be great if government regulation were not necessary, but it is.

Lawmakers - we need to pay the people who work at making the laws for this country.  I do not want to abandon democracy and those who are willing to "serve" the country as lawmakers in all three branches deserve to make a living doing so.  I hope many of them get fired, because I believe they do not have the best interest of their constituency in mind, but that is a different post.

Treasury - Somebody has to manage the astronomical amount of money we are talking about here.

IRS - Sadly, this seems like a necessity.  Even if we got a 20% flat tax we would need the IRS.

You may notice some things missing from this list.  It's my list.  Feel free to make your own list in the comments.

Tomorrow, in part 2 of this series I'll ask you what the government is actually good at.

Happy Independence Day

It's the 4th of July.  Take some time to See some fireworks

Read the Declaration of Independence

It is an amazing document.  Read it.  Then write a letter to your Congressperson or representative

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

Also, there's this