Thursday, September 29, 2011

McDonalds Joins America's Downed Economy

Things must be bad. McDonalds just ended their $1 all sizes fountain drink. To their credit, it seemed like a very long promotion spanning several months and helped my own skimpy "blow money" budget. But with the ecomony limping along, I knew it was a matter of time before the Golden Arches hiked the price.

I frequent McDonald's to access the internet and my recent purchase of a cola ended up with the miniscule "small" 16 ounce cup. The kind and knowledgeable associate informed the person ahead of me that the Monopoly promotion bumped the large drink for $1. It was now $1.69. This advanced let-down helped me to at least be able to speak again when it was my turn. The clerk repeated verbatim her mantage when I stepped up to order a drink.

I guess the McD empire is reasoning that we cheapsakes can't have both an additional 20 ounces of soda AND a free monopoly piece. If we want those, we'll have to shell out another $0.69. But since I'm a "dine-in" customer, this only means that I have to make more trips to the fountain drink counter. And at 150 calories a chug (I don't drink Diet) I need to be more active anyway.

Now, of course, I'm going to grab Monopoly's "official rules" the next time I'm in. I'm sure there's a "no purchase necessary" clause in there somewhere--allowing me to get my soda (albeit a reduced size) and monopoly piece...all for $1.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

President Obama's Stimulus (Jobs Incentive)

I wish I had a few more economists as friends. This is not meant to disparage the intelligence of those who are my friends, nor to deny that they have some cerebral grasp of capitalistic economic theories, but I just don’t understand the President’s JOBS bill that he recently presented to Congress, the American people and is now stumping for throughout the land.

I have to admit I smiled when a read an article with an acrostic JOBS (Just Obama Blowing Smoke) which probably reveals my rather extreme bias against Stimulus IV (or is it V?). If the proposal is truly about getting the American economy moving again, I propose the following (and I’m serious):

First, cut the proposed $447 billion spending in half—just on the principle of the matter that an economy in peril doesn’t warrant that kind of spending. America’s GNP is around $15 trillion but since I’m not an economist and have no economist friends who would patiently endure my thick-headedness to explain whether that’s excessive or not, I maintain that it is. Being rather intelligent in my own right apart from much exposure to economic theories, I reason that taxes generated on a GNP of $15 trillion would be about 25%, so I’m guessing about $3.8 trillion.

But even as I write this, I thought surely our federal budget would be a better measure and sure enough, with the help of my internet search engine, Wikipedia reports that last year the federal government collected $2.16 trillion in taxes. So it’s worse than I thought. President Obama’s proposal is about 25% of what we collected last year. So, if a family making $60,000 a year is struggling economically, and the husband suggests INCREASING their spending by $15,000, you’d understand why his wife ripped his hair out. Sure, they may need to pay for more education for a better career to start making more money, but if they’re barely surviving now, how will they make it by increasing spending by 25%? So, my redaction of the President’s plan stands at $223.5 billion.

Second, I’d assess a 50% penalty for a track record of government waste. Spend an hour here reading and you’ll agree. It’s so much easier to track $20 than $200. When I go out on a Friday night with $200 in my pocket and come home with $20, I don’t always know where the dollars went (was it the appetizer, the Venti or the sporting goods store?). But with only a 20 in my pocket, I guard it like a pit bull. Now the President’s plan stands at $111.75 billion.

Third, give about half of that ($506 million) to the two major parties (sorry Tea Party, Constitution, Libertarian, etc. They must split that between themselves ($253 million each) and they can invest it however they choose. If they wish to put it all on one project or a handful of projects or spread it out over the states. But it would be a competition of sorts, to see how they use taxpayer dollars and whether they are successful.

Fourth, the remaining $506 million should be equally divided among the American people. With a population of about 312,000,000, this means every breathing American would get a bit over $1.5 million—none of the Bush tax rebate nonsense (remember the $600 in 2008?). There should be no lobbying for those who are already millionaires to do their patriotic duty and forego the stimulus. They can use it to pay the maid at their castle in Sicily. And no doubling up for poor mothers with 17 children either. Remember, the 17 children will each get a check, so she’ll be more than compensated.

Now, I really am serious about this. President Bush’s idea of a tax rebate was a good one, but the amount was ludicrous. My $600 caught me up on bills. My under my editing of the President’s plan, a family of 3 persons would receive about $4.5 million. I think we’d see some major economic stimulus going on.

Personally, with that kind of rebate, I’d purchase a new or nearly new automobile. I’d take a major vacation (probably more than one), eat out weekly, buy some small farm equipment, small office equipment , go to a Chiefs game, and invest. I'd also seriously consider starting my own business. And I don’t think I’d be the only one doing these things.

I know this seems ridiculous, but I am serious. Why wouldn’t giving the American people some serious cash stimulate our economy?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spurgeon: On Keeping the Sabbath

This thought about today from Spurgeon's catechism #51

Q. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Bloomberg's 9/11 Memorial Excludes Many

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided not to invite clergy and first responders to the upcoming 10th anniversary memorial of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The mayor's office is citing space issues, saying they are inviting only family members of those who died in the attacks.

Most American's will remember the first recorded death of the Trade Center attack
was that of a Catholic priest, New York Fire Department Chaplain Mychal Judge (pictured here).

Rudy Washington, a former official in the Guiliani adminstration, makes a profound point. "This is America, and to have a memorial service where there's no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me. I feel like America has lost its way."

While laypersons can pray to God (I am not certain any prayers will be offered), clergy are visibile representatives of an invisible God. Their physical presence is symbolic of God's presence. Hence, their exclusion is His exclusion.

The trouble, no doubt, is that once one member is invited, the dominoe effect of "exclusion" gets tipped. If a Catholic priest, then a Protestant minister. If a liberal, then a conservative. If a male, then a female. If Christians, then Muslims...and now the great offense is on. Families of victims of Muslim terrorists exposed to a Muslim imam praying to Allah--who commanded the deaths of the American infidels. That gets messy.

Of course, the Mayor has allowed the governors of New York (Andrew Cuomo) and New Jersey (Chris Christie) to participate. And yes, the President will be there too. All of these politicians will bring sizable staff and security details (so much for the space limitation excuse).

We'll accept the presence of politicians, but accept the exclusion of Christ's ministers. We've come a long way from the days of the founders who decided early on to have ministers pray to God. America has indeed lost its way.