Friday, February 6, 2009

Creative Explanation of Today's Economy

A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook about today's economic distress and a creative argument about what it is going to take to fix it.

The unemployment numbers posted today show that national unemployment is at 7.6%, and at 8.7% for North Carolina. Locally, the county I live in and neighboring county are at 9.2 %. While I agree that that is really high, it is slightly exaggerated.

From living here, I can truthfully attest that there are many people who are collecting unemployment, and very happy doing so. Martin and Washington counties' economies are based on agricultural production. There is very little manufacturing here, and those that are in manufacturing probably work in another county but live here. The price of cotton was depressed this year so that affected farmers and the people they employ.

Even those that work at the normally reliable Domtar/Werehauser facility in Plymouth were in for a shock yesterday as 185 people got walking papers.

There are only so many people that fast food joints and wal-mart can employ or hire before they reach capacity. Also, while this area may have a ready workforce, how much of that workforce is actually ready to work?

Let's Work Together by Getting Out of My Way

During the campaign, Obama was the smooth talker, telling every camera and microphone within a country mile that he was going to be a new kind of leader in Washington, and bring Dems and Republicans together. So this is what he does....

"Don't come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis," the president said at the House Democrats' annual retreat in Williamsburg.

Obama rejected calls for more tax cuts and significant slashing of the bill's more than $800 billion price tag, and said complaints the package was a spending bill rather than a stimulus bill were off base.

"They did not send us here to get bogged down with the same old delay, the same old distractions, the same talking points, the same cable chatter," he said. "They did not vote for the false theories of the past, and they didn't vote for phony arguments and petty politics, and they did not vote for the status quo."

I agree with some of his points, like phony arguments and petty politics. But he must understand, this is a HUGE amount of money that is going to be spent, and at least our elected leaders in the Senate are properly debating the bill. I don't want this debt shoved down my children's throat, much less mine.

I don't like the idea of the stimulus, but I understand that something really needs to be done to correct the economy. But building a bunch of dog parks and frisbee golf courses is not the answer.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Subtle Infringement of the Government into Religion

With the formation of faith-based program initiatives under the George W. Bush administration, the roll of the government funding religious non-profits grew. Bush’s faith-based initiative program was under the control of Health and Human Services. Under the program, religious organizations are able to compete equally with other non-profits for federal funding. The government sees this as a way to help the needy through local charitable organizations that can serve their community better than government agencies. While I certainly agree with that assessment, I think religious groups should be very leery of taking money from the feds.

Religious non-profits that take money from the government are putting themselves into a situation where they may be relying on Uncle Sam for a financial lifeline instead of the generosity of their constituents or local funds to stay active. If the group comes upon hard times and has to run to the government for more assistance, they may be out of luck, and consequentially, out of business. Non-profits may have more long-term viability if they rely more on local fund-raising and creating a base than to have the Federal Government write them a check every year. If religious groups feel they are being called to serve their local community, then they should pray about it, and then act.

It is slippery slope for the government to be in the business of funding religious groups. Just like we have seen with the recent banking crisis, the government and paying public can be very nosy when it comes to knowing how their money is being spent. President Obama has already created a Chief Performance Officer who will be in charge of making sure that all agencies are operating at peak efficiency, I suppose. If that person starts to also oversee nonprofit group spending, that puts religious groups in a precarious position of having pseudo government oversight.

I’m not against religious groups helping those in need. I support them readily. I just think they should be careful about taking federal funding.
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