She is a “star”…

So, I went home a couple weekends ago to see my new nephew, Josef (yes, with an “f” and not a “ph”). He was cute, of course.
An added bonus – I got to see my four year old niece, Ella, in her first dance recital. Let me just say, well, it was the most interesting performance I saw that night.
If you want to see her in all her glory, click here or here. She is the one on the far right (if it does not become obvious).


Bar Stool Economics:
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 pay $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.
David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

Should or shouldn’t

“Laws are not equivalent to ethics. They do not effectively answer questions of whether we should or shouldn’t do things. Laws address whether we can do things…” (Shadow World, Kevin Guilfoile, p. 179)
This quote brings up for me images of the battles fought between the different sides of the Culture Wars – of the argument that we can’t “legislate morality.” Of course, all law is an attempt to “legislate morality,” or at least the end result is that our laws point to a system of ethics. Of course we legislate morality, but does the legislation change the heart of man to the point that the law is made moot? No. What are the ethical arguments for the laws?
Where should the first focus be – legislation or persuasion that results in a change of heart? I believe the latter is a better first focus. Those who cannot effectively make their case in the court of public concern/opinion and who cannot persuade the majority of the correctness of their ethic to the point of personal change-of-heart and behavior often turn to the attempt to force their moral/ethical point-of-view through legislation. They may win the battle, but in they end I think the lose the war.
The problem I think the above quote gets at is that to pass a law doesn’t not mean that we have dealt with the ethical questions of “should or shouldn’t.” To pass a law doesn’t declare us moral or ethical if we haven’t identified and worked through the “why” of it all.


I just came across a two interesting polls over at Christianity Today (CT) – their online site. The e-mail updates and information CT sends out regularly include links to the article and a poll. Source.
The First (most recent poll):
Do you sometimes avoid the label “evangelical?”

Yes, because I want to be simply a Christian. – 17%
Yes, because the word suggests I have political/social beliefs I disagree with. – 31%
Yes (other) – 9%
No, I embrace all the connotations of “evangelical.” – 9%
No, it’s a very useful term that describes my faith well. – 23%
No (other) – 8%
I’m not a born-again Christian. – 2%
Total Votes: 651

So far, over 50% answered “Yes” (readers avoid using the term “Evangelical”). It makes me wonder whether the majority of respondents are younger, since they tend to be more apt to read stuff on the Web and since they tend to be more opposed to the policies and tactics of the Religious Right. Since CT is “A Evangelical Magazine of Conviction,” it seems odd that so far a majority of respondents to the poll “sometimes avoid” using the label.
The Second:
Which candidate do you support?

Hillary Clinton – 5%
John McCain – 46%
Barack Obama – 25%
Ron Paul – 15%
Other – 8%
Total Votes: 2288

The Clinton and McCain numbers do not surprise me, but look at Ron Paul! He received 15% of the vote. Considering he was the Libertarian Party candidate during the last presidential election and a Republican candidate this time around, I wonder what is going on. I’m frankly very surprised by that number. Are Evangelicals becoming more Libertarian? Historically, I think it can make sense, but considering the rise of the Religious Right I’m just surprised.

The Language of God

“Davis had decided his path in the first year of medical school, but he told his mother and father that he planned to be a surgeon. His father was never churched, but he was a devout believer. An engineer, he taught his children that the purpose of life was to discover God from the inside out. The old man loved science, especially physics. The language of God was not Aramaic, or Latin, or Hebrew, or Arabic, he used to say, usually with the dismissive wave at a church or a Bible. The language of God, he’d say, is mathematics. When we reconcile the randomness of the universe with the precision of its rules, when we can see no contradiction in the chaos of nature and the equations of natural law, then we will understand his hows and whys.”
(Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows, p. 139)

Hilliary Clinton

You know, I think she simply can’t help herself. It’s like an addiction to a drug. There needs to be an intervention before she completely destroys her reputation. Her insistence that she will remain in the race even when it seems most people “in the know” have concluded that she will not win the nomination points to the fact that this really is not about what is best for the country or what is best for the Democratic Party, but about her inability to accept that she will not be the first woman to have a real chance at the White House. I feel for her (and that is saying a lot). She can’t let go, but if she doesn’t even her role as a Senator will be irreparably compromised.