A President Who Can Learn From A Governor

The media is abuzz over the politically motivated lane blockades that came from a staffer in Governor Chris Christie’s office. This feeding frenzy is not unexpected as they have spent a lot of time defending the President’s ignorance of various crises and now we have a conservative politician who didn’t know it was happening – payback time.

So how did Chris Christie deal with this?

1. He publicly apologized and took ownership of the issue which means that he believes the actions of his team are his own.
2. He swiftly and decidedly held the aide accountable and fired her.
3. He faced the press squarely, took hard questions, and didn’t try to shift the blame.

Obviously, Christie’s textbook response to a political crisis invited comparison to President Obama. So how does Obama typically respond to crises?

1. He denies knowledge and therefore takes no responsibility and blames his opponents.
2. He does not hold his people accountable. In some cases, he promotes them.
3. He stays away from difficult press questions, leaving that to Jay Carney, White House spokesperson.

But Governor Christie understands something that many liberal politicians do not – your public trust is far more important than your political trust. This is how you lead a country that is split down the middle politically and get things done in a bipartisan way.

While some may accuse him of lying, it is only an accusation and won’t stick. Christie’s actions are not consistent with someone who is lying because you don’t fire the person who could spill the beans on you; you shield them and spend political capital to protect them to protect yourself.

He also understands that if you don’t deal directly with a crisis, it will never go away and will likely come back to bite you. This crisis will quickly drop off the news cycle in the absence of any facts. He took ownership and dealt with the fury of an unrelenting press, intentionally leaving himself with no place to hide so that the public knows that the issue is resolved.

But spying on press, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, Fast and Furious and Obamacare are all crises that aren’t going to go away when the website gets fixed or whatever band-aid is applied. There are far too many unanswered questions and too many things that have gone wrong that no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility. And with the lying about Obamacare, the public won’t trust anything now but the truth and facts. Presidential assurances will no longer be enough.


If Marriage Is Everything Then It Is Nothing


When the gay marriage debate recently erupted a lot of religious people made arguments that extending the definition of marriage to gay people would devalue the institution of marriage as well. Even Chief Justice Scalia weighed in suggesting that the institution of marriage is not a government construct, it preceded the establishment of the government and it is not something that the government really has the authority to define.

So now here is a psychologist who is weighing in. I have heard him on different issues and disagreed with him. But, he raises some interesting points – one of them being that historically the state has had an interest in the greater society providing children in households with a mother and father.

Read at your own risk.

Marriage Died in 2013


Building Cobwebs in Our Work Ethic

This research, as highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, demonstrates why getting people back to work is so important.

The link between earned success and life satisfaction is well established by researchers. The University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, for example, reveals that people who say they feel “very successful” or “completely successful” in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy than people who feel “somewhat successful.” It doesn’t matter if they earn more or less income; the differences persist.

The opposite of earned success is “learned helplessness,” a term coined by Martin Seligman, the eminent psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. It refers to what happens if rewards and punishments are not tied to merit: People simply give up and stop trying to succeed.

Getty Images

During experiments, Mr. Seligman observed that when people realized they were powerless to influence their circumstances, they would become depressed and had difficulty performing even ordinary tasks. In an interview in the New York Times, Mr. Seligman said: “We found that even when good things occurred that weren’t earned, like nickels coming out of slot machines, it did not increase people’s well-being. It produced helplessness. People gave up and became passive.”

Learned helplessness was what my wife and I observed then, and still do today, in social-democratic Spain. The recession, rigid labor markets, and excessive welfare spending have pushed unemployment to 24.4%, with youth joblessness over 50%. Nearly half of adults under 35 live with their parents. Unable to earn their success, Spaniards fight to keep unearned government benefits.

Read on here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304749904577385650652966894

Jerry Walls lectures on objections to Calvinism

I watched this presentation and the presenter honed in on the underlying problems with the Calvinistic viewpoint and how scholars who really understand what it all entails have had to respond.


WARNING: This lecture is a very sharp and pointed critique of Calvinist theology. Viewer discretion is advised. 

In Protestant Christianity, there is a division between people who accept Calvinist doctrines and those who don’t. Both groups think that the other group are genuine Christians, but the debate has more to do with the human free will, human responsibility and who God loves.

About Dr. Jerry Walls:

  • BA in Religion and Philosophy, Houghton College
  • MDiv, Princeton Seminary
  • STM, Yale Divinity School
  • PhD in Philosophy, Notre Dame

He is a professor at Houston Baptist University. You can find a more detailed profile here.

Dr. Walls is Protestant (like me). He is a substance dualist (like me). And he believes in a real eternal Hell (like me). And he is very, very assertive. Definitely no confidence problems here. And you’re not going to have a problem keeping your attention on this lecture!

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Are You Feeling Richer?

Both Bush and Obama tried various stimulus programs to jumpstart the economy during their presidencies. The idea behind all this stimulus spending is that if you put money in the hands of consumers, they will spend it and cause the economy to grow.

After the last five years of stimulus spending policies costing trillions, you would think that the economy would be roaring along.

But it isn’t, is it? In fact, we find ourselves trillions more in debt, unemployment still high (particularly if you count the millions who just plain gave up looking for work) and the growth rate is still too low to make us feel like there is any kind of recovery.

You see, the reason why these stimulus policies don’t work is that the government has to take money out of the economy (through taxation and borrowing) to fund programs such as rebate checks, “Cash for Clunkers” and to jump start shovel ready projects.

So if this sounds like taking water out of the deep end of a pool and pouring it into the shallow end, you’re on the right track but it’s actually worse than that. Anytime the government comes up with a program, it creates a bureaucracy to manage and administrate it. So part of the money that the government raises from taxes and borrowing goes to management overhead so what actually gets put back into the economy is less than what was removed.

So it’s more like taking a gallon of water from the deep end, spilling part of it on the pool deck while you walk around to the shallow end and then putting whats left in the shallow end. This actually reduces the amount of water in the pool.

See the fallacy behind stimulus spending (and also behind “making the rich pay their fair share” policies) is the theory that the rich are sitting on trillions of dollars that they aren’t reinvesting in the economy to create jobs. But that isn’t the case. Most of a rich person’s wealth is tied up either in savings in the bank (which the bank uses for loans to the government and to individuals creating economic activity) or more likely they are invested in owning businesses and stocks that drive the economy. Their money isn’t sitting in a mattress somewhere shielded from the larger economy.

This video uploaded in 2008 at the start of Obama’s first term outlined the problems with approaching the economy with the idea that the government needed to spend money to create demand to stimulate the economy.

The narrator might as well have been a prophet.


When The Treatment Is Worse Than The Cure


Long term unemployment benefits have expired which means that many people will lose what little income that they had left. The cure, some say, is to extend these benefits even longer (which means the federal government has to dig itself deeper in debt). Let’s think about this.

If we cut off benefits, it forces many people to take jobs that they wouldn’t normally consider, getting people back to work and experiencing the reward of earning an income. It also provides a stepping stone to the next opportunity while improving the overall economy and creates even more jobs. Extending the benefits delays the incentive for individuals to re-enter the work force for anything less than ideal.

The downside is that there may also be many who can’t find a job because of government policies that have hampered the kind of economic recovery that creates the higher paying jobs that those on unemployment have been holding out for.

If it is the government that is causing the economy to limp along rather than roar back as it has in past recessions, then extending unemployment benefits only treats the symptoms, it does not provide the cure. The longer people are out of work the harder it is for them to get a job. The harder it is to get a job, the longer one needs to stay on unemployment benefits. The longer we pay out unemployment benefits, the more the federal government goes into debt. The more we go into debt, the more we erode confidence in the economy forcing businesses to take defensive measures such as cutting back hours, reducing benefits and using more temporary labor.

It’s exactly the cycle we want to avoid.

If it has been more than six months since I’ve held a job, I would take a job at Starbucks or whatever place that would give me an opportunity to keep my business muscles flexed, an opportunity to learn new skills, and an opportunity to meet people who might be my next step to success.

It sure beats sitting at home sending out blind resumes wondering when something is going to happen.

What do you think?


Single Mother Blues

Without wading into the a discussion of “how did they get there”, one of the serious issues facing our country are single female parent households. Not the Hollywood single moms who can afford a nanny while they get their manicure and pick up their kids after school in their Cadillac Escalade.

I’m talking about the single moms who have the responsibility to raise and support a family but with little education or lack of experience find themselves struggling to make ends meet. You want to be able to help these moms out but you also don’t want to create a dependency mindset that can be passed on to the next generation.

I think that we should have a generous social support for these women while they upgrade their education, job training and experience so they can become self-sufficient with good paying careers.  Depending on the educational program, you can have time limits for the most generous payouts and then reduce it on a sliding scale.

The point is, our social welfare programs should be structured to help people become independent again rather than become a way of life. In ancient days, people migrated to areas where the agriculture, hunting or opportunities were better. You did that for survival or to improve your situation.

But if you’re working three jobs to make ends meet, you have no time to invest in education or job training to improve your situation so you remain stuck at a level below your potential. Or you don’t have the money to move to a place where you can take a better job.

On the other hand, if you reject the opportunity to grow or change, then it should not be the tax payer’s responsibility to pay your way for the rest of your life and you should feel guilty for being on the public dole when you take no responsibility for your own actions.

But if you’re a single mom struggling to make ends meet and working hard to support your family. I salute you and gladly pay my taxes to help you and would like to see more options to help you and your family become self-sufficient.