Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - see you in 2013!

I just want to wish a very Merry Christmas, and happy holidays in general, to all of you. Thanks, as always, for reading "The Right Track" and for your feedback. It means a lot to me that we can share our thoughts and ideas with one another, and I look forward to continuing that in 2013 (for now, I'm taking a little Christmas break: - so will be back soon-)

Going forward, I wish you all a blessed, peaceful and happy New Year. May it bring all good things to you and your families.

God bless and see you in 2013!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

CT shooting: Valuing human life - not more gun laws - is the real issue

My heart is in shreds over the shootings in Connecticut yesterday. I cannot begin to wrap my mind around this and cannot even fathom the misery every single parent and every loved one of the victims is experiencing. I am praying non-stop for all of them. I don't know what else to do. I don't know what else I can do.

We'll probably never have a concrete answer as to why this happened, but yet we cannot help but ask why. Even so, we can only offer our own thoughts and theories as to why. Maybe Adam Lanza, the shooter, was simply insane. After all, do sane people go on such murderous rampages, especially ones that target children?

So what do we do about it? It's understandable in the wake of yesterday's horror that some people are calling for tougher gun laws. But murder is already on the books as being against the law. That law didn't dissuade Adam Lanza from his horrifying actions. I suspect having other gun laws on the books wouldn't have dissuaded him either, regardless of how he obtained his weapons. In fact we've had an increasing number of new anti-gun laws put on the books over the past few decades, with no effect. What's more is that not every crime is even carried out with guns. Over 3,000 lives were lost in 2001 in a crime spree that originated with box cutters, and just yesterday, a man in China stabbed 22 children. We could outlaw every single gun in existence, and yet they would continue to be made and still have a huge demand on the black market. Those with criminal intentions would not care that guns are against the law. Criminals, by definition, don't obey the law.

Instead, law abiding citizens would be left defenseless against those whose intentions are dangerous. We might as well all put a sign in our front yards alerting criminals we have no way to defend ourselves and plead for their mercy. I doubt we'd receive it, just like the helpless victims in yesterday's shootings didn't receive the killer's mercy. But as long as criminals know there's a chance that a law-abiding citizen has the right to own a gun, he is more likely to think twice about invading their home and that benefits all of us, whether we own a gun or not (read John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime" for some very revealing statistics).

But one place criminals know guns are not likely to be found is in schools. Perhaps if the staff at the school had license-to-carry clearance, they could have stopped the shooter in his tracks with their own gun. I know that may sound to some as though I'm advocating more violence. On the contrary. I wonder, would someone who wants to see all gun rights abolished, but who had a loved one in Sandy Hook Elementary school yesterday, have objected to a teacher opening her desk drawer and pulling out the only defense weapon that could have taken this demon down?

My concern is that this tragedy is going to be used to further strip the rights of law-abiding citizens, while failing to look at the real and serious issues that are behind this. I believe this violence - and all the violence we're seeing lately, like Oregon earlier this week, and Aurora, CO, in July - has to do with moral decay and a systematic devaluation of human life itself in our society.

Maybe it's time we take a psychological look at things like abortion. How can a society that says it's okay to terminate human life in the womb then turn around and teach that human life is sacred? I don't see that lesson being taught. How could it be? Add to this things like euthanasia and assisted suicide, the glorification of death in movies and video games, and what message is anyone getting that life really, truly matters? Instead, the messages I see being put forth are ones of self-importance and self-gratification. "If it's right for you, then it's right." There is no longer an objective measure of right and wrong independent of how we feel about something, and that is a dangerous track we're on. 

In many ways, society is advancing the notion that the pursuit of happiness has more to do with instant gratification than ethical behavior, hard work and sacrifice. It seems in too many cases that the only sacrifice some people are willing to make is to sacrifice their dignity in return for their fleeting 15 minutes of fame. Take a look at any random television reality show for some examples.

In line with this, a 2010 UK survey found that the top three career aspirations for five- to 11-year-olds were sports star, pop star and actor, compared with teacher, banker and doctor 25 years ago. I see similar fame-oriented aspirations right here in America. And in tragedies like yesterday's nightmare in Connecticut, maybe it's a different 15 minutes of fame altogether that some people are seeking. But where and when did these criminals lose sight of the value of human life? Were they ever taught it in the first place?

It's interesting to note that, besides legal guns, another thing schools lack is God. For all intents and purposes, He has been removed from our schools and, by extension, from large parts of our society. He gives us free will, and in that freedom, we can choose good, or we can choose evil. It seems that because God's Ten Commandments have become little more than the ten suggestions, that more and more people are choosing evil.

Of course I don't have the answers as to what drove the gunman to do what he did yesterday. I feel helpless in taking away the suffering of the parents of the children who died, or of the children of the adults who died. But I can't help but think if we are going to turn this violent, morally devoid trend around, we need to start by teaching from the beginning that right and wrong do exist independent of our own whims, that personal dignity should be cherished above vain attention, and that all human life is sacred.

May God bless the souls of all those who lost their earthly lives yesterday, may He comfort those in unimaginable grief, and may He help our country turn back to Him for the guidance we so desperately need.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Freedom of choice passes in Michigan: So why the violent protests?

Congratulations to Michigan legislators for refusing to bow to union intimidation and do what's best for Michigan and its citizens. We now have an opportunity to be more competitive and have more jobs.

Right to work does not impede unions in any way. It simply means that a person does not have to be forced to join a union as a condition for employment. If unions are so great, then they have nothing to fear from right to work because employees will want to join a union if it's a good thing for them. The legislation passed today simply means the choice is up to the individual. Of course unions despise right to work because they know most people don't want to join unions if they don't have to, and the fewer who do, the less money and power the unions will have.

If union members are sincerely interested in their own economic bottom line, they should keep in mind a study from the West Michigan Policy Forum that found of the 10 states with the highest rate of personal income growth, eight have right-to-work laws, and economist Richard Vedder found that there is a 23% higher rate of per capita income growth in right-to-work states.

But aside from the economic benefits of right to work legislation, the crux of its worthiness comes in the fact that it offers freedom to the individual to choose what's best - to join a union or not. And isn't "choice" supposed to be a good thing?

What wasn't good, by the way, was the behavior of the union thugs and even some public officials today in Lansing and the threats of "blood" and more civil disobedience. Tearing down privately owned tents with women and children in it, punching reporters, foul language and mayhem are all despicable things. Violence and threats like we saw today is never acceptable and does nothing to give credence to the unions' complaints.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Unemployment rates plunge...for government workers

While today's headlines are celebrating that unemployment rates have hit a four-year low, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 73 percent of the new jobs created in the United States over the last five months are in government. In fact, the unemployment rate for civilian government workers plunged from 4.2 percent in October to 3.8 percent as government added 35,000 people to its taxpayer-funded payrolls during the month. So it seems the 146,000 "new jobs added" cited in today's reports are a little skewed.

The BLS shows that in June, a total of 142,415,000 people were employed in the U.S, including 19,938,000 who were employed by federal, state and local governments. By November, the total number of people employed had climbed to 143, 262,000, an overall increase of 847,000 in the six months since June.
In the same five-month period since June, the number of people employed by government increased by 621,000 to 20,559,000 These 621,000 new government jobs created in the last five months equal 73.3 percent of the 847,000 new jobs created overall.

In October, federal, state and local governments in the United States employed 20,524,000 people. In November, that climbed to 20,559,000. As recently as July, the unemployment rate for government workers was as high as 5.7 percent, according to the BLS.  That month, government employed only 20,015,000. Since July, governments have added 544,000 workers to their payrolls.

Are the fallen unemployment claims for overall employment just more smoke and mirrors from this administration? There is no election to be won, so why the hoax? If we look at the numbers this way -- 146,000 new jobs, most of them in the public sector, 360,000 people whose unemployment benefits have expired and who are still not working, and 122,000 new people who have entered the workforce, the total net job loss is about 336,000.

Under President Obama, the unemployment level had been above 8% for 43 consecutive months. To put that in perspective, in the previous 60 years, the unemployment rate topped 8% in a total of only 39 months. But now suddenly we're supposed to believe things are turning around? Maybe for government workers they are...but not for private sector job seekers.

It seems Obama's "fundamental transformation" of America is carrying on as he planned. Unfortunately, this is not good news for any of us who'd like to see America survive and thrive.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Financial crisis looms while president happily spends our money on his own holiday treats

Now that President Obama has secured an extended lease with the White House for the next four years, his desire to save Americans' tax dollars seems nowhere in sight. As we face an imminent fiscal cliff, rather than set a good example of how to trim spending, Obama's calling for all the "holiday trimmings" he can get.

For instance, Obama recently requested a 50% increase over last year in the number of Christmas trees to be set up in the White House - that translates into 54 trees to decorate the White House with - courtesy of the taxpayer, of course. As reported by Investors Business Daily, "Even allowing for the usual Washington excesses with taxpayer money, that's a whole grove of Christmas trees."

Too bad, however, that the Obamas won't get to spend the entire holiday season at the White House to enjoy all these decorations that we bought for them. They'll miss a good part of the season in D.C. because they'll be embarking on a $4 million Christmas vacation to Hawaii - courtesy of - you guessed it - us.
It doesn't matter that our country is about to fall over that fiscal cliff, that we have record debt thanks to the most outrageously spend-happy president in our nation's history, and that 46 million Americans are living in poverty. Our president sees no need to set a good example about spending, nor merely show respect for those who are unable to afford even one tree this holiday season. After all, it's not his money he's spending, so why should he be concerned?

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Is choosing between faith and law a fair choice? A letter from Hobby Lobby Stores CEO.

I thought this was worth is simply not fair, right or Constitutional what the federal government is doing to American citizens.
A Letter from Hobby Lobby Stores CEO
By David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn't much bigger than most people's living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God's word. From there,Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation's largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We're Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I've always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God's laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that's what we've tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week's biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God's grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We've not only added jobs in a weak economy, we've raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don't cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that's raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It's not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it's the same for everybody. But that's not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won't exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don't like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that's a choice no American and no American business should have to make.

The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.
David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.