Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Photo

It has become something of a tradition to take a photograph of the kids on Thanksgiving Day. The only changes appear to be in the size of the grandchildren as they grow.

The house looks great; we cleaned up after everyone left, I didn’t want the drips of soda on the kitchen floor to get every where so that was first. Lucy put up all the food, and there was plenty left over. I vacuumed all the crumbs up from the rugs and so everything is in order; let’s see how long that lasts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Chance to Sing in a Choir

This past week during our shift meeting at the Houston Temple we were invited to sign up to be members of a choir that will supply the music for our Christmas devotional meeting. I chuckled to myself, very quietly; but a chuckle none the less, as I thought back to when I was asked to be a part of the dedicatory choir for the Houston North Stake building in 1978. I looked through my files knowing I’d written about this once before; but it wasn’t to be found; this will have to do.

I’d just become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in September when a week later I got a call from the Elder’s Quorum President, Steve Nielson. His cheerful invitation to rub shoulders and jump into the deep end of the pool was a reminder that I’d made a commitment to improve and to grow. Steve’s friendly approach to fellowshipping a brand new member made it impossible to turn down the request. I did explain that I wasn’t much into singing. “Never mind that, you’ll do fine!” I don't think Steve ever heard me sing.

I showed up the following Saturday for choir practice at the nearly completed building and stood around waiting for someone with a key to open the door. A few others waited outside as we got to know one another. Joseph Larkin, the Choirmaster arrived and greeted us warmly, opened the door and we followed.

Temporary signs had been taped to the first two doors in the hallway, Humble Bishop and Humble Clerk. I thought their sense of humor was going a bit far. I was unaware that the sign was for the geographical area off to our east, Humble, pronounced without the “H”, and the rooms were to be for the Humble Bishop, not that he wasn’t a man of quiet demeanor or anything.

Brother Larkin, who I learned was something of a perfectionist when it came to music, had us sit in the choir seats to get an idea of what he had to work with. He had us warm up our voices with some exercises, a chance to hear what kind of range we had. He then had us sing from the hymn book; at least for a few short moments.

I noticed Brother Larkin was looking at me with something of a scowl, not an angry scowl; more like a wince. He pointed in my direction and asked, “What are you singing?” I replied, “The same thing everyone else is.” He knew right away that I couldn’t read music.

“Try moving over there…”, pointing to an empty seat at the end of the row where the basses were grouped together, “…maybe you won’t do so much damage.” Had I been easily offended that might have caused feathers to get ruffled; but I knew I wasn’t much on singing so I smiled and learned how to fit in as best I could. I was happy to be sitting with these fine folks and they didn’t mind having a total amateur in their midst.

All the songs were new to me and I practiced each hymn during the week while alone in my car, even while in my police unit driving on duty. I grew in confidence and the day of the dedication went off just fine, nobody complained about my voice, at least that I’m aware of.

My singing skills haven’t improved over these thirty years. I’ll pass on the open invitation to become a part of the Christmas choir; but thanks for including me all the same.

Thankful to Know God

I was reading Thanksgiving Day quotes posted by Tony on Red Mind in a Blue State and found a couple that hit home runs.

““Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck”

That one made me laugh, something about the humor of Erma Bombeck hits home with suburban America. She had a book out years ago, “The grass grows greener over the septic tank”; hope I got the title right, funny stuff.

Tony had several other quotes worth reading but one got me thinking about the spirit of gratitude expressed by those in dire circumstances, those who might otherwise curse God for having abandoned them to die.

“The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. ~H.U. Westermayer”

I remember reading a talk given by Elder Robert L. Backman, “Faith in Every Footset” , as part of the 150th celebration of the Mormon pioneers trek to the Salt Lake valley. I should note that when I first began my own conversion process to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I knew next to nothing other than my less than perfect image of pioneers crossing the great wilderness in wagons.

Over the years I have come to appreciate the enormous tests and trials which the Mormon pioneers faced; both physical and spiritual. I first learned about the Martin Handcart group, poor immigrants unable to afford a wagon who crossed the entire distance pulling what could easily be compared to a wheel barrow. The Martin Handcart folks got trapped in a terrible winter storm; many of them froze to death, suffered loss of limb to frostbite, starvation and crushing blows that today would seem impossible to overcome.

We need to be stronger people this Thanksgiving, we need to be grateful, not only for the bounties provided; but for the challenges we face as well. The pilgrims faced death and had to dig graves at night so the natives wouldn’t know how many folks they were up against; “…nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” That reminded me of what Elder Backman had quoted from David O. McKay:

“In a Sunday School class there was sharp criticism of the ill-fated Martin and Willie Handcart Companies, which met with tragedy because of their late start on the trek to the Salt Lake Valley.

An elderly man arose and said: “I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts … give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife … too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but … we became acquainted with [God] in our extrem[i]ties.

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company” (as quoted in David O. McKay, “Pioneer Women,” The Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, 8).”

So, don’t tell me how bad it is; be thankful for what you’ve been given. If things get really tough; your health fails, you have to bury a family member or they come to take your house and car, remember; these are opportunities to get to know God. We don’t grow in character when times are easy; no, growth comes from being tested. That is how we come to appreciate God and the mortality which He has provided for us. Maybe this is why hearing folks call it Turkey Day rubs me the wrong way.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Basket

Each year my folks send us a box of fresh citrus; oranges and grapefruit, to enjoy at the beginning of the holiday season. There’s some new rule prohibiting them from sending us Florida citrus from the Hale Indian River Grove which is just around the corner from them; so this year we got Texas citrus delivered to our door.

The mailman rang the door bell, holding a huge box from Harlingen and I shared a ruby red grapefruit for his efforts. I didn’t know there was a colorful basket in the box, seeing only the individually wrapped pieces which I started to enjoy right away. Lucy wanted the box for something and “wa-la”, a bushel basket to place in the center of our dinning room table as a center piece.

We’ve been cleaning and fixing things up for Thanksgiving Day, a bunch of work which is starting to show results. Lucy scrubbed the front entry way with Clorox and a brush until it sparkles; how about that, all this time we’ve had a WHITE terrazzo entry way. I replaced the light fixture in the alcove, another “round to it” which I finally got around to doing.

I got out an emery board and took each of the light bulbs from the chandelier, a little buff job on the contact solved the mystery of the “chandelier ghost”; that tricky little guy who we never could catch twisting one light bulb at a time so that one moment the lights were all working and then the next minute two, three or even four of them magically had gone off. We’d turn them a bit and they’d work okay; that is until the ghost returned and made them go off again. I think I’ve fixed that issue; they’ve been on for an hour or so now with all of the lights working steadily.

I did spend a couple of hours trying to figure out why one of our stereo speakers wasn’t working. I checked the wired connections at the back of the speaker; I’d had to move them when we put the polymer finish on the wood flooring, they looked fine so I wanted to look at the connections back behind the stereo unit. There was a mess of wires from all the components and it was impossible to tell what went where. I decided it was time to unplug everything and start from scratch; a risky option.

I never did find a loose wire; but with everything taken apart I had a chance to clean and dust, something that needed to be done. I got lucky and everything still worked; all except that one speaker. I re-checked the connections and this time looked at the fuse, which was in working order. It was then I noticed the snap in connection for the fuse was broken so the fuse wasn’t making good contact.

The fuse holder looked like it would come off with one small Phillips head screw; however, the bracket would not come off. I probably could have figured a way to install a new fuse bracket; but it was easier to simply connect the wires and bypass the fuse completely.

The rest of the evening we listened to Harry Chapin, Vaughn Williams, Samuel Barber and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet ( on now ) to test the sound. Surround sound with a center speaker in our den is like going to a music hall, totally awesome! I may have to review all our collection of music again to make sure they still sound as good, wow!

The San Francisco Herb order is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Rather than put it in the living room it will go into the garage until after Thanksgiving. Lucy had put up several hundred pounds of wheat, Pinto and Black Beans along with several sacks of rice. Then once the Mylar pouches had shrunk down, the oxygen having been reduced, Lucy boxed them up to be hauled upstairs. William and a couple of his buddies stopped by this evening so we tapped them into hauling it upstairs; great timing, and thanks for helping out guys!

We take the turkey from the outside freezer tomorrow so it will thaw and the rest of the kitchen duties I’ll leave to Lucy. With any luck we’ll do some locksmith work, enough to make it look like we’re serious about paying our bills; but historically the week of Thanksgiving has been brutal to the budget so I wouldn’t count on too much.

In case I forgot to mention it, Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the basket of oranges and grapefruit. We’re planning on dinner around three in the afternoon on Thursday if you decide to jump on a plane I’m sure we could figure out a way to pick you up at the airport.

Great Moves

I got this from my sister; gave me a chance to kick back for a few minutes while we’re getting the house cleaned up for this Thursday. (Note: I hope the video is still available; just after viewing it a while ago it wouldn’t reload)

Challenge - Gregory Hines & Sammy Davis

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Gospel in a Nutshell

I’ve mentioned before how I enjoy finding passages in the scriptures which encapsulate the basic principles of the Gospel in such a way as to hold most everything you need to know in a very condensed form. I refer to them as the Gospel in a Nutshell and they are everywhere; but for today I’ll use one found in the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:3-11. I used an older copy on the scanner because of the way it all fit on one page.

Perhaps with the Christmas season just around the corner, the introduction in verse 3 sparked my interest, “I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.” I think I’ll go back and read Isaiah and listen to Handle’s Messiah, “For unto us a child is born, a Son is given…” Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Black Hole

Never Yet Melted posted this video , worth a couple of minutes of your time after having spent too many hours at the office.

Music to Choose From

There are two YouTube video clips below; hope you enjoy the selections of the day; but which of them inspires the soul toward heavenly thoughts and which toward more prurient interests? Don’t get me wrong, I take pleasure in a variety of music, these are both included on my iPod. Adjust your volume knobs accordingly.

Yesterday’s posting included a quote, one which should be on our minds as we start each day, goal oriented with an eye toward the eternities.

“The images to which our minds are exposed are held in store, seemingly forgotten, even for years. But at the crucial moment they re-present themselves to influence our thoughts and lives. And so it is with the music, literature, art, media, and other images to which we are exposed.” Douglas Callister, as quoted from his talk,
Your Refined Heavenly Home .

Pilar Lorengar "Dove sono" Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - I Love Rock N' Roll

I need to take a break, give Shakespeare a rest; pick up an old copy of Mad Magazine and chill.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two and two are four

There’s a children’s vocal in an old movie about Hans Christian Anderson, sweetly reminding us of the lessons life teaches. I included it when writing my book, Pecaw’s Gift , mostly because I’d always enjoyed how the children’s voices improved the lesson; but also because it helped move my story along a particular sequence with the numbers acting as an anchor.

Two and two are four,
Four and four are eight,
Eight and eight are sixteen,
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty two…

Added to the original verse; but mirrored behind the children’s part and sung solo by the lead character, Danny Kaye played Hans Christian Anderson.

Inchworm, Inchworm,
Measuring the marigolds
You and your arithmetic
Will probably go far. . .

Two and two are four,
Four and four are eight,

Inchworm, Inchworm,
Measuring the marigolds,

Eight and eight are sixteen,
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty two

Don’t you think you’d stop and see,
How beautiful they are…

All I could find was a salute to that particular scene as done on the Muppet Show; it will have to do. ( Note: I did find the original version and have linked to it via the title bar )

Simple lessons about the importance of learning coupled with the thought of adding a measure of gratitude for the beauty which surrounds us; sure beats most of the garbage being passed off as entertainment by today’s standards, or more accurately, lack of standards.

Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, “I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

Britain’s Ben Jonson said: “Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see thee.”

“The images to which our minds are exposed are held in store, seemingly forgotten, even for years. But at the crucial moment they re-present themselves to influence our thoughts and lives. And so it is with the music, literature, art, media, and other images to which we are exposed.” Douglas Callister, as quoted from his talk, Your Refined Heavenly Home .

I was going to include a video, something which made me wonder what our generation had to show for all our efforts to improve, to be knowledgeable and informed; it was too depressing so I’ll just include a link.

Stomping (time waster)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Houston Police Department’s Mixed Message

I posted my original impressions regarding an unfortunate event which ended in a police shooting back in April of this year, something right out of a Mission Impossible script. The fatal incident was naturally followed by considerable press along with the grieving widow’s wrongful death law suit; all this has been on the back burner since then.

I read in this morning’s Houston Chronicle, an article by Dale Lezon , where the two officers involved have been disciplined for, “…not trying to talk to the man before they approached his car after a high-speed chase…”. Almost in the same breath, “However, the investigation concluded that the officers were justified in shooting Roland Carnaby last April 29.”

I want that to sink in for a few moments; do any red flags pop up in your mind? What kind of message does this send to the public and to those who work for the Houston Police Department?

On the one hand it says, “You guys did what you had to do, under the circumstances, any reasonable person would agree that you were justified in the use of deadly force.” Then on the other hand the Department is saying, “There has to be some way of sawing off the limb you guys are standing on, a means of separating the City and Department from litigation so we had to find some nitpicking thing to show you were not following policy.”

Way back, sounds like a line from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, that little dog talking to Sherman, “Come Sherman, step into the Way Back Machine”, where was I; way back when I was working night shift I’d have the opportunity to train rookie police officers. I had a list of things each young police officer should understand; one was to recognize the fact that the spineless organization for which they wanted to work for would leave them hanging in the breeze if and when something ugly happened which might end up with a possible lawsuit. In other words, “You’re on your own, kid.”

Prior to my retirement I was riding as a one man unit and got an alarm call on a tire warehouse. I was so close that upon arrival the bad guys were just leaving, the stolen truck they were in was loaded with boxes of chrome rims they’d just stolen. I let the dispatcher know about the beginning of the chase and to have a unit stand by at the warehouse just in case anyone else was left inside and to secure the area.

We had been reminded of changes in the “chase policy”, changes which placed ALL liability on the police officer for loss of property or loss of life during participation in a chase. If it appeared that the circumstances were getting out of control and loss of property and/or life was eminent, the officer was to notify the dispatcher that the chase was being broken off rather than subject the suspects and the rest of the population to such danger.

My burglary suspects, the ones driving the stolen truck, were increasing speed as they ran stop signs and red lights; all the while two of the suspects were throwing boxes of stolen chrome rims out the back of the truck bed hoping to land a direct hit on my police unit following close behind. Even at such a late hour the possibility of having a really bad wreck while driving through red light after red light existed. The chase speeds had increased considerably and the likelihood of a really bad wreck had also increased.

Instead of staying focused on catching the bad guys, something I’d trained for my entire career; instead I saw a jury panel being seated with the intent of taking away every penny I’d saved because I was too foolish and believed the citizenry wanted law and order. I picked up the mike and advised the dispatcher that I was breaking off the chase. I turned off my emergency equipment and dropped back a bit.

The most interesting thing happened; the bad guys must have forgotten to look forward, wondering what the heck that cop behind them was doing as I faded from view. They had their wreck, colliding with a tree and totaling out the stolen truck. They did manage to disappear into the night and left the stolen chrome rims which all got returned to the original burglary scene.

I was no longer on the hook, officially, for the wreck which happened moments after I’d followed a rule written by chicken shit gutless department heads afraid of having to face reality, too concerned with avoiding litigation instead of doing the job the public expects of a police department; am I allowed to say chicken shit, I’ll repent later. The public and the Department suffer when spineless cowards initiate chicken shit policies, policies which serve only to destroy faith in a system intended to protect and serve the public.

Police officers are more like self employed vendors if you think about it. They all have to wear the same uniform; but let’s face facts, these men and women are out on the limb all alone if and when things go badly. Standard Operating Procedures were written, not so much to help the officer get the job done; no, they were written to protect the City and the Department from litigation. I felt like my badge or name tag should have had, “T. F. Stern & Company” printed on it somewhere instead of “City of Houston Police Department”. I made it to retirement and now they pay me not to show up; and some of you don’t believe in miracles!

The officers who recently received disciplinary insults, what else could you call a one day suspension or a written reprimand after all the “other stuff” involved in a high speed chase and shooting the suspect to death on the side of a freeway? These officers should have known the City would never stand behind them a hundred percent. They forgot that important lesson I used to teach, “You’re on your own, kid.”

Monday, November 17, 2008

Liberalism Diagnosed as Medical Disorder

I read an article posted in World Net Daily where Dr. Lyle Rossiter, a board-certified clinical psychiatrist, “says the kind of liberalism being displayed by both Barack Obama
and his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton can only be understood as a psychological disorder.” Wow, that’s an interesting statement coming from someone with his credentials.

“Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded,” says Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book,
“The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness.” “Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave.”

This makes me feel so much more secure knowing the future of our nation is in the hands of folks diagnosed as being irrational and emotionally unstable. I’d suspected as much; but having just fallen off the turnip truck my opinions didn’t hold much sway. Here we have a man with the letters MD verifying my observations with clinical terms.

Yes, give them the blank check and a pen so they can solve the economic issues; let them fill the vacancies on the Supreme Court as they will certainly put people of sound judgment into those positions. You don’t suppose I could repose on your couch for a half hour or so, let my mind wander and talk about things which trouble me? Never mind, I probably couldn’t afford it anyway.

Property Ownership and Debt

The news is filled with stories about government bail outs for the mortgage industry, the insurance industry and now even the automobile industry. I won’t bother to link to any of these stories as they are too numerous and too easily found. These bail outs are supposed to help the country; but will it help the country, really? ( If you listen to Paul Harvey’s show imagine his voice on that last line, “…but will it help the country, really?”)

How will absolving debt owed from one individual to another, the debt of one company or group of individuals owed to another individual or group of individuals; how will that be helpful? It would seem to undermine the foundations of society; that of being responsible for debts incurred.

I make keys for folks when their keys get lost, misplaced, stolen or for what ever reason the rightful owner of the property needs to have a key. Here in the State of Texas the law requires that I am provided with proof of ownership along with proper identification in the form of a driver’s license or other suitable identification. The rightful owner is the one I work for; crooks and bad guys need to try something else.

My work is in the automotive end of the locksmith industry. Once rightful ownership has been established, my job is to get a working key made, at which point the customer and I complete the transaction; I get paid and the customer gets the key. There are several ways to get the key made; the easiest would be to obtain a key code, either from the owner, who might have the information on a bill of sale, in the owner’s manual stored in the glove box or, if I’d worked on the vehicle previously, the information might be in my computer’s data base. I’ll not go into other ways to make the key as it is not my intent to train apprentice locksmiths in this article.

The folks who work at the car dealerships have known me for years. The companies they work for are my customers and have a copy of my locksmith license, insurance, bonding information along with my federal and state tax number for reporting purposes. I can go up to a parts counter and request a key code and they know I have the authority, by extension, for that information. They know I’m working as an agent for the rightful owner of the property.

I noticed something disturbing several years ago while working with GM; but I should explain more before getting into that. At one time registered locksmiths, such as myself, were listed with GM; if you were on their list you would be given key codes for any vehicle they had information on, if you were not on their list they wouldn’t give you the time of day because they only worked with established and trusted locksmiths. They understood the principle of ownership and the extension of agency given to locksmiths in working with the rightful owner of GM vehicles.

Something happened to change the policy of giving key code information to locksmiths. Key codes were given, either accidentally or intentionally, to someone other than an honest person which resulted in a lawsuit. GM had to change to protect itself. I’ve no idea who abused the open policy; but locksmiths were no longer given key codes in the same manner; they had to obtain them in person at a local GM dealership rather than calling the national convenience phone number.

One of the questions asked of the locksmith got my attention, a slight change regarding the nature or reason for requesting the key code. “Is this a repossession?” I caught a glimpse into the mindset of GM’s defensive posture, a result of litigation and GM’s attempt to avoid future legal entanglements. GM had determined a safer strategy for giving out information which would only benefit the “end user” rather than going into a deeper or more thorough set of requirements to define “rightful ownership”.

The vehicle got sold to a customer who couldn’t pay cash for the entire amount and the balance owed was picked up by a bank or other lending institution with the title of the car being used as collateral. This shouldn’t sound like a foreign language; however, this is how our society has worked for hundreds of years. The lending institution is the rightful owner of the vehicle until such time as the balance owed is paid in full. The “end user” gets to drive and maintain the vehicle; but the actual owner is the one holding the title.

If the “end user” stops paying off the debt then the title holder has every right to recover the vehicle and do with it as seems fit. If the rightful owner, individual or lending institution, finds the “end user” is unwilling to voluntarily surrender the vehicle then other means are used such as contacting a repossession outfit with either a wrecker or other means of collecting the vehicle. The obvious comes to mine; obtain a copy of a working key and drive the vehicle to a safe location where the title holder, the rightful owner of the vehicle may take possession.

Going back a few paragraphs, GM didn’t want to get into a legal battle over the concept of “rightful ownership” and decided to limit litigation liability when giving out sensitive information, key codes being included as sensitive information. “Is this a repossession?”, became a stumbling block in obtaining key codes for banks attempting to recover lost investments along with repossession companies working for such lending institutions. This also became awkward for locksmiths working for the “rightful owner”, or by extension, agents of the rightful owner.

My skills in originating keys go beyond obtaining a key code and, one way or another, the rightful owner will get the necessary key; this isn’t why I’ve gone to these lengths to explain today’s message.

Our society has shifted away from a clear definition of ownership in order to avoid litigation and in so doing have accepted a much broader and dangerous philosophy which ignores rightful ownership and the inclusion of current user as an equal substitute. You can now add to the list of avoiding un-pleasantries, mortgage foreclosures, since it would be cruel to expect folks to give up “their” houses even though they can’t afford to pay the rightful owners of those houses.

Our leaders in Washington are expanding the dangerous philosophy further with alarming long term consequences. The recent emergency bailout of the mortgage industry, more specifically Fannie and Freddie, point to a relaxation of the concept of responsibility for debts incurred and toward forgiveness of such debts based on a false concept of extending kindness and hope for those with smaller incomes.

Our government has no authority to cancel privately incurred debt through the use of taxpayer money or through legislative means which deny the rightful owner of that debt from being paid. To do so puts our society into chaos by claiming that it’s okay to steal as long as you steal from someone who can afford the loss or, on the other hand, that it’s okay to steal from those who are powerless to stop the thief.

It would be easy to take a pot shot at the President Elect, Barack Obama as he stood before the nation and said he would do “whatever it takes” to stabilize the economy and restore consumer confidence. The current congress and administration are the ones responsible for this mess and I would hope for a correction of some of those mistakes; if the sun comes up in the west tomorrow then you can expect such changes, until then get used to more of the same.

The economy will not stabilize and there can be no restoration of consumer confidence when at the same time those who sell products or services are not reasonably certain of being paid in full for those products and services or that those who enter into debt will not be expected to either pay for such goods and services or surrender to the seller the value with the full backing of the courts, the congress and society in general. We have fallen into a dreamlike state which temporarily permits us to believe in the false notion that we can have something for nothing, that the lottery winning number is about to be ours if only we wait just a little longer and that Santa will leave it under the tree.

Lending institutions must be supported thorough the long held principles which we call the “rule of law” .

“For much of human history, rulers and law were synonymous -- law was simply the will of the ruler. A first step away from such tyranny was the notion of rule by law, including the notion that even a ruler is under the law and should rule by virtue of legal means. Democracies went further by establishing the rule of law. Although no society or government system is problem-free, rule of law protects fundamental political, social, and economic rights and reminds us that tyranny and lawlessness are not the only alternatives.”

Society as a whole must ascribe to the rule of law and support these basic concepts; by the courts, by congress and the president in their long standing assumption that debts are to be paid in full by those who incur such debts or the property bargained for is to be forfeit as per the terms of the agreements entered into. Without the most basic understanding of this principle our society, our nation and our way of life will vanish “as dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly…and to all a good-night!"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ronald Reagan Reminds Us From the Grave

I found this over at Stop the ACLU , and wanted to share it. I’ve often heard the term “slippery slope” used to explain the difficulties of getting back to level ground once you’ve entered into dangerous territory. Well America, how much further down that slope are we going before we put on the brakes and hope we can recover from the fall?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cell Phone Probe

The Texas Department of Corrections found several inmates had been making calls within the walls of maximum security prisons, over 2,800 from one death row inmate’s phone alone. Who would have guessed, really, just because they’re called “cell” phones; so what should we call those phones out on parole?

The most recent find explains why some cell phone service providers suffer from crappy connections. Peggy Fikac, writing for the Houston Chronicle explained some of the problems .

“Prison staff conducting a shakedown of the row Friday found a cell phone secreted in the rectum of convicted murderer Henry Skinner at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.”

“They first found two SIM cards, or memory chips, in Skinner's Bible, she said. Because they suspected he also had a cell phone, they took him to the infirmary, did an X-ray and found the cell phone.”

I guess it begs the question, what kind of ring tone did the phone have? I know, something from Blink 182. Aw, come on, use your imagination; there are an endless supply of jokes hidden in there. ( * go read the comments to the original Houston Chronicle article for curb level humor )

The scary part came a little further down in the article, “…Before the latest discoveries, the lockdown had yielded on death row alone 12 cell phones, nine chargers, three cell phone batteries, seven SIM cards and two weapons…”. You might say the problem with contraband is out the kazoo; no mention was made about what was found in the other areas of the prison system where there would have been “less security”.

Lucy posted an article recently, Is Your Cell Phone Safe ; I don’t think this “aspect” of safety was brought up. Lucy’s sister accidentally dropped a flashlight into the park facility out house in the middle of the night while they were on vacation in the mountains of Colorado. The idea of retrieving the flashlight, still turned on by the way, never entered their minds. You might wonder, just as a passing thought, what the next camper thought about the improvements made by the forestry service, “lighted out houses?”; never mind.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Getting the House Granny Ready

Each year we do our level best to have the house ready for Thanksgiving; we used to call it “Granny ready” for when my grandmother would visit. We dust in places that collect dust, polish furniture, clean windows and mirrors, get the bathrooms disinfected and spotless and what ever else we can think of to make the house look nice.

This year we decided to do something with the wood flooring in the den, flooring we had installed back in 1992 just after we bought the house. Originally the house had an off white carpet throughout; something which almost turned us away from buying the house. I promised Lucy that when it came time, we’d replace the most heavily used area, the den, with oak flooring. We have enjoyed them all these years without having to do much other than sweep or clean up after a spill when the grandkids are over.

I wrote about putting hard wood flooring into the living room and dining room a couple of years ago; they still look brand new so they don’t need anything other than a dust mop for now. If you visit that article I included links at the bottom to show the progress from start to finish.

It was time to “Rejuvenate” the finish; that’s a free plug for the makers of the product that goes by that very same name. Rather than move all the furniture out of the room it was decided to do a third of the room at a time, moving the sofa, love seat, coffee table across the room until each section dried. That has worked well and the den is nearly finished; the last section being the pass through to our bedroom which I will get this evening.

The next project will be cleaning the crystals on the chandelier, an all day job. The mirrored wall in the dining room along with cleaning the windows will happen soon thereafter.

Granny would be happy to see our house; what I’d do to have her here, to be able to call her on the phone and give her a hard time. I should mention how Granny had watched the technological changes march across time from the advent of telephones, television and all the other gadgets we take for granted. Granny thought it nothing short of a miracle for me to call her on my cell phone while driving down the road.

I would honk my horn and pretend to yell at folks to get off the sidewalk while talking and wait for Granny to get her breath back as she worried for the safety of her grandson. With Thanksgiving around the corner, Granny would be the perfect example of someone with gratitude in her heart for any and all blessings directed toward her family.

I’m glad to have the floor’s glossy again; the beautiful wood finish is part of the warmth that invites me and any who enter to enjoy my home. Two weeks to go, hope there’s a pumpkin pie at the end of the rainbow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baptism by Proxy for Holocaust Victims

Every now and again I read an article containing an inflamed rebuke of the Mormon’s; lately it would seem to be more often, gosh and oh by golly we Mormons are a popular target these days .

This morning there was a lengthy hissy fit on the Fox News website from the AP where Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, had his undies in a bind because, as he claims, the Church of Jesus Christ hasn’t shown the millions of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust respect and continues to baptize these individuals vicariously. He claims that such a practice helps to validate “Holocaust deniers” by making Holocaust victims something other than Jews.

“"Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable," said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.”

I should point out rather quickly, I am not speaking on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I am not in a position of authority and my opinions are mine and probably should be kept to myself; but that’s not my style, so if you don’t like what I have to say go cry in the corner and get on with your life.

“Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that "the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion."”

I once saw a blog article written a few years ago where a hand drawn picture showed Mormon missionaries going through a graveyard digging up decomposed corpses with a short explanation of how that individual thought baptisms for the dead were done. I suppose the image was intended to be shocking and a rallying for anti-Mormon sentiment. I took the time to comment, giving a brief account of the purpose and practice of baptism for the dead and hoped it clarified some of the misunderstandings.

I started with a simple analogy which I will use here. “Just suppose…”, don’t you just love the way that starts, …you wanted to do something nice for a friend. You knew their budget was running thin and at the same time the friend wanted to visit his/her father, something which would require transit beyond their means. Wouldn’t it be a nice gesture to leave a pre-paid ticket at the airport with their name on it? There would be no obligation for them to show up, no strings attached. If they decided not to go the ticket wouldn’t be used and that would be the end of it. If, on the other hand, the ticket was used and your friend got to visit his/her father, a reunion of extraordinary emotional highs made possible because someone had the foresight to include a pre-paid travel ticket; wouldn’t that be counted as a wonderful expression of human kindness?

In the simplest terms I’ve explained the practice of baptisms for the dead. Those who have gone to their mortal rest without having been baptized are limited in their progression in the eternities, they may not return to the presence of the Father without the ordinance of baptism . I could go on at some length regarding the various Christian doctrines concerning the different beliefs espoused; but that is not the purpose of my thoughts today.

I performed the ordinance of baptism for my grandfather, a man I loved beyond my ability to express all those emotions. He died without having received the ordinance of baptism by one in authority and it was my responsibility to provide my grandfather with the “ticket” to get back to our Father in Heaven. What kind of ungrateful grandchild would I be to ignore the eternal destiny of one I love? On the other hand, my grandfather was a hard head, it runs in the family, and he might not wish to return to our Father in Heaven.

Remember when Curly died in the movie, City Slickers? They had a simple funeral out in the middle of nowhere and said a few words as they put his body in the ground. Someone said, “Dear Lord, we give you Curly; try not to piss him off.” It was a comic line intended to draw a laugh; but with my grandfather, that line might just fit.

My grandfather was something of a character during his short time on earth. I know he was raised a Christian and baptized in his youth; not sure what denomination since I never knew him to be a church going kind of guy. He wasn’t a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and to assure his baptism was performed by someone with authority I had it done for him after he died. I went to the temple and stood in for my grandfather, was buried in the water while his name was recorded. I then had other ordinances performed which would provide passage back to our Father in Heaven; none of which are binding as they must be accepted by my grandfather to have any effect.

Those who do not recognize the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as the authorized agent of the Lord, Jesus Christ, must flip coins regularly to determine what they believe or don’t believe. I say this with a huge grin on my face knowing how some are tearing the edges of their clothing and covering themselves in ashes.

Think about it; if the Mormons are not the authorized agents of the Lord, Jesus Christ, then we have no powers and no authority, either here in mortality and certainly not in the eternities. Why bother to give us the time of day much less get your undies in a bunch over an ordinance you claim has no bearing on anything? We can’t make you a Mormon, we can’t make your ancestors Mormons either; there’s this thing called “agency” and it’s strictly an individual’s choice on anything, to include membership in God’s kingdom .

If, on the other hand ( I love The Fiddler on the Roof ), “on the other hand”, the LDS Church does have the authority to act in God’s name , then maybe it would be wise to go along with our foolish practices and humor us in our taking care of those who cannot do for themselves.

If you’d like to have the “authorized” explanation of the ordinances performed in the temple, by those more capable than myself, I recommend visiting the link provided here .

A Different Sort of Veteran’s Day Story

We watched a wonderful children’s movie last night set in WWII Scotland near Loch Ness. It’s a fanciful tale from a young boy’s view as his father’s away in the military, a way of coping with the loneliness and fear.

The young boy found an odd looking item along the edge of the loch and, according to the tale, as told by the grown up version of that boy, the legend of the Loch Ness Monster is told as the Water Horse developed from nearly a tad pole sized creature into a full blown wonder to behold. The story is of the relationships garnered with all around him; but mostly between the boy and his Water Horse friend.

Instead of growing up with a father, the young boy grew up with the help of the Water Horse more commonly known as the Loch Ness Monster; taking him past his fears and into an acceptance of how things are with the war going on. Near the end of the movie the young boy accepts the likely hood that his father might not return, all those thoughts being tied with the escape of the Water Horse from the loch and out to sea while the shore guns fired on thinking it to be a German submarine. “He might not come back” and if you’re not paying attention you might think he was simply referring to the Water Horse making it to the open sea.

There was a talk given in General Conference a couple of years back, which I cannot find, having exhausted the search engines at for hours, where at the end of WWII the father of the house returns home. The older children all shout with joy, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” and the youngest boy who had never known his father since the war separated them soon after being born was shouting along with his older brothers and sisters, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home! What’s a Daddy?” I hope my memory of those lines is close enough, not having the talk in front of me.

I had to wonder in my own heart as the words came to my ears, how it must have been growing up without the constant care and love of a father, one who was serving his country in time of war. I was lucky, my dad served and came home, then I was born. I still get to talk with him on the telephone; that is, when he’s not out bowling with his buddies. “Bowl a hundred!”; that’s my way of saying, “I love you”.

As we celebrate Veteran’s Day take a moment to appreciate the sacrifices made which might otherwise slide under the radar, time spent away from young children who miss their Daddy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Garbage as Art

The 22nd item on Cleon Skousen’s list in his book, The Naked Communist , “Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. … “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms” came to mind today. While listening to the Paul Harvey radio show this morning there was a spot announcing the possibility that two pieces of “art” by Mark Rothko may have accidentally been hung upside down at a gallery showing modern “art”.

I had to laugh as I was driving at the time, at the implications. If the experts on “art” couldn’t figure out which side was up, what it was or how to hang it, then what kind of garbage was it? I mean ( insert your best Arlo Guthrie voice at this point ), “I mean…” what the heck kind of “art” permits such a travesty to be pulled off?

I took the time to look up this piece of “art” when I had the chance. Garbage with a frame would be more like it. I’ve seen paint samples that had more expression. Quoting an
article by Alastair Jamieson :

“… Rothko is thought to have wanted the works - which he donated to the Tate before committing suicide in February 1970 - to be hung with the stripes running horizontally and the location of his signature on the back of the paintings is believed to reflect this wish.”

If, after waking up from a night of serious drinking or drugs, I found one of my expensive canvases covered in such a way I might have considered suicide as well; however, rather than give the paintings away, I’d have had the decency to cover them with something which could have at least been classified as artistic impression. Like I said earlier, I’ve seen paint samples that had more expression.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Prop 8 Reporting Diluted

Depending on the sources you read, violence related to the passage of California’s Proposition 8 could go under the radar. I read on the Fox website a short article which summarized the fact that the Mormon Church supported the passage of Prop 8 and how the Gay community had targeted them in marches and protests.

“In Salt Lake City, a crowd of about 2,000 chanted "Separate church and state" and waved rainbow flags outside the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which encouraged its members to work to pass the amendment by volunteering their time and money for the campaign.”

The article made the protest sound fairly tame and civilized mentioning only a marginal amount of unrest and displeasure aimed at Mormons in general. I then read another account in Meridian Magazine containing more information which was slightly more unsettling.

“The LDS Temple in Los Angeles was under siege yesterday by 2,000 protesters angry over the Church's role in passing Proposition 8, forcing the closure of the temple.”

“Signs were hung from the fence around the temple and protesters screamed in anger, snarled afternoon rush-hour traffic and said, “This isn't going to stop us…If we do this we have a chance.” “We're going to fight it until the world changes,” protesters claimed.”

“Shame on you,” chanted the protesters. Outside the temple, graffiti was scrawled on the walls and signs hung, “Go back to Utah,” and “Go to hell Mormons.” Their signs said, “No on H8.”” (emphasis added)

This type of activity went beyond civil protest and into the area of criminal behavior which should have been acted upon by the local police department; but the police simply stood by and watched.

“One LDS member in the area said, “I don't quite understand our police response (even though I'm one of the police). If this was happening at a Jewish synagogue or a Catholic church, we would be arresting people for hate crimes. As it is at the moment, protestors are sitting on the walls of the temple and the police are on the grounds inside. Church members in our area were called last night to come down to the stake center and spend the night protecting the building from vandalism -- it's like 150 years ago.””

Worldnetdaily found some rather disturbing threats on the Internet/Blogoshere directing violence toward members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, threats which need to be investigated and the instigators brought up on charges.

“"Burn their f---ing churches to the ground, and then tax the charred timbers," wrote "World O Jeff" on the JoeMyGod blogspot today within hours of California officials declaring Proposition 8 had been approved by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. Confirmation on voter approval of amendments in Florida and Arizona came earlier.”

A little further down in the article was this gem, “On yet another site, "Americablog," "scottinsf" wrote, "Trust me. I've got a big list of names of mormons and catholics that were big supporters of Prop 8. … As far as mormons and catholics … I warn them to watch their backs."”

“Liberty Counsel's Barber said, "This is not free speech; these are 'hate crimes' under the existing definition. Imagine if Christian websites were advocating such violence against homosexuals. There'd be outrage, and rightfully so. It'd be national front-page news. Federal authorities should immediately investigate these threats and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law."”

I have to ask the question, perhaps it’s already been answered somewhere else in one of the major newspapers, an obscure article on the 24th page tucked in between a story about the elk not coming down from the mountains because there hasn’t been enough early snow and another story warning customers that this years crop of Pecans will have thicker shells and so you won’t be able to shell them as easily as last years crop.

Why haven’t we heard about Muslim Mosques being targeted by these same homosexual miscreants, after all, Islam has provided that homosexuals should be hanged publicly for crimes against Allah. I haven’t heard about marches in the streets against Islam or threats against anyone who practices that particular faith by discontented homosexuals. I guess you don’t get up in the face of any religion which promises to hang you for being a deviant, or am I wrong?

“"If you're planning a heterosexual wedding in California … be prepared for picketers. Designate someone to watch the parking lot … You're going to have lots of unexpected expenses. Add $500 to your budget for security. … Be prepared for the flowers not lasting to the reception or the tuxedos showing up two sizes too small or the music at the reception being a way too loud or the cake tasting a little funny," stated another threat. "Be afraid. Be very afraid. We are everywhere."”

Yes, these are the remarks of a tolerant, civilized American homosexually oriented citizen simply expressing his God given right as covered under the Constitution. Where is the condemnation being expressed for this in the major news outlets? The answer is, there isn’t any!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Department of Energy is an Absolute Joke

Absolutely, and the joke is . . . on us! Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY during the Carter Administration? Anybody? Anything? No? Didn't think so.

Bottom line . . we've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember.

Ready? It was very simple, and at the time everybody thought it very appropriate.

The Department of Energy was instituted 8-04-1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL. HEY, PRETTY EFFICIENT, HUH?



Ah yes, good ole bureaucracy. And now we are going to turn the Banking system over to them? God Help us, and this is just the beginning; Universal Health Care, “and you thought the HMO management team was out of touch”, Cap and Spend policy on Energy intended to promote a better environment by bankrupting the coal industry, Immigration or what it really is, “open the boarders and let those future voters in”, and let’s not forget how well the national program of education has helped with No Child Left Behind, which translated into reality means, “Throw some more money down the toilet”.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Improbable Progress

Hair is growing on my right leg on the very spot where I’ve had a psoriasis spot for the last fifteen years. I know this information doesn’t rate as high as the first Black man getting elected to the Oval Office; but good news is good news. There hasn’t been hair on that part of my leg for fifteen years or more, only an ugly spot which flakes off skin every other day, appears to heal a bit then itches to the point of unconscious scratching which makes it inflamed and the process repeats.

Think about how marvelous the human body is, its regenerative abilities and the miracle of it all; the idea that dormant hair follicles would spring to life after all these years was more than improbable, down right unimaginable. I went to brush away what I thought were scales of dead skin and found a cushion of new hair instead.

I don’t believe in coincidence, this having taken place at the same time the Great One was elected. I had my doubts about Obama and his promise of Change; well slap me on the knee and shout “Halleluiah”, I’ve got hair on my right leg once again.

Dear President Obama,

I’ve been having my barber clip the hair that grows inside the opening of my ears and nose for some time now, a disgusting burst of unsightly salt and pepper. Would it be too much to ask for a reduction, sort of a cap and spend trade off; more hair on my right leg in exchange for less growth in other areas. I know you plan to bankrupt the coal industry and move our nation towards other energy forms; could you do the same for unsightly hair, a redistribution of follicles, think of them as capitalists in need of governmental help.

Thank you and looking forward to Change oh Great One

TF Stern

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Carefully Orchestrated Election

My dad used to tell a story, more of a joke; something about a couple of base player in an orchestra who got bored in the middle of playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Apparently there’s a section where they had little if anything to do so they decided to quietly exit through the back area of the concert hall, walk across to a tavern on the other side of the street and tilt back a few. They got carried away and forgot how much time had gone by and nearly missed staggering back for the finish. Imagine the dilemma the conductor was in as he looked down, noticed the score was tied in the bottom of the 9th and the bases were loaded…

This morning should have been tougher on my conservative frame than it is. Obama waltzed through the election without the media exposing him for what he is, a Marxist Socialist with holes in his character that would make Swiss Cheese envious. Don’t get me wrong, I was never a supporter of McCain either, McCain being the DNC pick to be an “also ran” candidate for the Republican Party. Neal Boortz got it right when he said that conservatives got left behind when the Republican Party decided to go off on a spending binge after acquiring power back in the 90’s; kind of how the old time Democrats must feel when they realize their party was hijacked by the New Socialist Party.

So the Republicans had a middle of the road Democrat to lead them to defeat while the Socialist Party ran an end around, with the help of the mass media and an adoring mesmerized stampede of sheeple. The handwriting was on the wall months ago and all I could do was sit back and preach to the choir while waiting for the house of cards to cave in on itself.

What do I do now, other than congratulate my liberal left leaning friends for having turned the direction of America from one of self sufficiency toward the chasm of socialistic despair? The first Black President of the United States is a feather in the cap of any Black person, of that they have every right to celebrate and even snicker at their White neighbors; to the victor go the spoils and all that.

Now, my Black American friends, it will be time for you to figure out just what kind of sorry SOB you’ve put in the White House. All the covering up of Obama’s character flaws, of which there are many; but which the drive by media willingly left out of their reports, all the ugly ties to crooks, home grown terrorists, black militants with no intention of unifying Black and White America and the rest of the Middle East ties which sent millions of illegal political donations in small increments so as to fly under the radar; all of these issues just might cause some problems for America in the near future.

What do I do; nothing much different than I did the day before or the year before. I will continue to work each day to provide for the needs of my family; only now “I won’t have to worry about buying gasoline or paying the mortgage”; sorry, couldn’t resist highlighting one of the more ignorant voter responses when she was asked why she was voting for Obama.

I’m afraid the America I learned about, "who more than self their country loved", that country which I learned to love and respect may only be a memory as entitlements replace self sufficiency and my fellow Americans grow more comfortable accepting a mediocre existence rather than fighting for individual achievement.

The lazy and incompetent will find it easier to maintain the appearance of achievement, even though dependence on the government’s dipping into my wallet makes such a travesty possible. We will all become a little less hopeful about achieving personal financial security, something of a punch line to a bad joke since Obama’s campaign was all about hope as government intervention into almost every facet of our lives will pour cold water on most efforts; it will be ever so much easier to just go with the flow.

The Universal Environmental Church will become the State religion with forced contributions collected to cover such things as exhaled CO2, imposed user fees for anyone with an internal combustion engine with extra fees for trips lasting more than four miles, mandated thermostatic controls in the warmer months not to fall below 81 degrees with a similar mandate not to rise above 68 degrees in the colder months.

There is always the chance to stick it to the rich folks, determined by comparing the living space of a single family dwelling with the living space of a standard government subsidized housing project unit; those with excessive waste will be penalized so as to bring about a more fair and equitable community. One way or the other, parity will prevail; I could be wrong but the machinery is already in place and those leading our nation head long into the chasm are more than willing participants.

So, it was the bottom of the 9th, the score was tied and the bases were loaded; all the conductor could do was keep playing and hope for the best. This tune popped into my head and a tear fell down my cheek…

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

Oh, beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.

Oh, beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tax Reductions and the Wealthy Explained

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

· The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
· The fifth would pay $1.
· The sixth would pay $3.
· The seventh would pay $7.
· The eighth would pay $12.
· The ninth would pay $18.
· The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers”, he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20”. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33.

But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so:

· The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
· The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
· The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
· The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
· The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
· The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20”, declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right”, exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.