Archive for November, 2011

Flying Unfriendly Skies?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

As thousands took flight this weekend for Thanksgiving, turkey, and family, I was shocked to learn of an impending alliance.  No, not the longstanding alliance between me and the mashed potatoes, but an alliance of much greater significance – that of Delta and Saudi Arabian Airlines.  This possible alliance would have Delta selling tickets through Saudi Arabian Airlines, and I believe it could threaten our religious freedom and potentially the well-being of women flying out of this country.  Click here to see the letter I wrote urging Delta to reconsider.

 

 

Europe’s Poor Little PIIGS

Monday, November 21st, 2011

The Roman philosopher and orator, Cicero, once said, “The first bond of society is marriage.”  He believed that an intact family structure — a married mom and dad — was essential to the well-being of a strong society.  Indeed, the institution of marriage has been the bedrock of civilization for thousands of years; yet today, marriage and family as we have known them are under attack.  While the social science research clearly and unequivocally shows that marriage is central to the welfare of individuals and the entire social order, unwarranted changes in family structure are profoundly reshaping our post-modern society and even our global economies.

The PIIGS, an ugly acronym coined to represent Europe’s most financially troubled countries, including Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, are experiencing grave breakdowns in their economies paralleled with declines in marriage.  Over 70 percent of Portuguese and Italians, and 68 percent of Spaniards, say marriage is irrelevant today — and of those who make it to the church altar, only one in three Portuguese and Spaniards believe that marriage is for life!  In Italy, where the Catholic church still maintains a strong cultural presence and where divorce rates are the lowest in Europe, only half (48 percent) believe that marriage today will last a lifetime.  In Greece, a startling 74 percent of consumers say marriage is not a lifetime goal for them.

The PIIGS’ economies aren’t the only things shrinking; unfortunately, their populations are also on the decline.  The future looks bleak for these countries that are undoubtedly facing demographic time bombs, with dismal fertility rates and an increase in the so-called old-age dependency ratio (OADR), which means, “fewer working-age people to pay for the health and pension benefits of a growing older population.”  Of the PIIGS, Ireland has the brightest fertility outlook, with total fertility measured at 2.1 (children per woman) and Greece, following at 1.5.  Italy, Portugal, and Spain all have fertility rates of 1.4 children per woman, which is a growing concern in terms of exasperating the old-age dependency ratio.

Throughout the years, what we have learned, to our sorrow, is that the consequences of the decline in marriage and breakdown of the family have not only negatively affected generations of individuals on a personal level, the decline of marriage has undermined social institutions and shaken the stability and economic viability of nations.

Thankful for Work

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

A petition to shut down Target on Thanksgiving.

Here are a few of the jobs I have had in my life: Cracker Barrel waitress, K-Mart stock girl and blue light special promoter, banquet hostess (complete with busing tables and washing dishes), sales clerk at The Limited, and other sundry minimum wage paying jobs.  The really coveted shifts back then were holidays, when we got paid time and a half.  Some folks don’t like holiday shifts, but I used to trade to get to do them.

That’s why the petition drive by Change.org — the left-leaning petition site specializing in “social change” (“Top Causes: Animals … Economic Justice … Environment … Gay Rights,” etc.) —  is so comical.  Many retailers are announcing they will be open (or open late) on Thanksgiving, in hopes of getting early Black Friday shoppers.  Change.org is particularly cranky because the decision to open at 11 p.m. diminishes Thanksgiving.  Really?  Did they bother to talk to the workers before pulling such a blatant PR stunt?  Many workers are just “thankful” to have a job and extra money in their paychecks.

I get that working on holidays is not fun.  I’ve done that.  And if it’s possible for you to take the time off to be with your family for a time of focusing on God and the many blessings He’s given you, well, that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.  But in this time in the life of our nation, one of the biggest things most of us can thank God for is our jobs, and anyone working retail — or hospitality service for that matter — knows that working nights, weekends, and holidays is part of the deal.

And while I understand the line of thinking that says, “Thanksgiving is a national holiday and everyone should be off,” that’s not what the leftists are getting at.  “A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation,” the petition reads.  Busted!  “The elite of this nation” = “We’re not really championing the workers or their right to thank God; we’re just another bunch of whiny, anti-corporate thugs who want to ‘Occupy Thanksgiving.’”

The fact of the matter is, our nation is in the middle of a deep, dark recession, retailers are struggling, and, whether we like it or not, Black Friday is so named because it’s the one shopping day that keeps many retailers profitable.

Folks, I sympathize with the struggling family who knows that, while it may be hard to lose dad in the evening, the time and a half pay he’s going to get will put meat on the table next week.  So I commend the stores for opening their doors, stimulating sales, and putting a little extra cash in their employees’ wallets.

Congress could take a page from their playbook.  Concerned Women for America (CWA) recently commissioned a poll of voters in early primary or caucus states.  Ninety-four percent of Republican Iowa voters believe that our national debt is holding back economic growth.  While they supported a range of measures to go after the $15 trillion debt, they were nearly unanimous in their ire.  Our national leaders must buck up and cut spending, and our workers have to buck up and go to work if they want to get paid.  As a nation, we must do the hard things.

What’s more American than eating a meal with family and friends, thanking the Lord above for blessings, and then going to work?  If workers want to give up the opportunity to be paid time and a half on a holiday, then God bless them.  However, there’s always going to be someone who is willing — and grateful — to work the holiday.  Hey, I know some D.C. Occupiers that could use a job (and a shower, but that’s another blog post).

The bottom line is that the real way to grow us out of this mess is through our entrepreneurial spirit.  I look forward to the day when someone figures out there is a profit to be made selling coffee to the shoppers as they stand in line.  Not sure if OSHA would shut them down if, God forbid, they don’t have an industrial kitchen, but that’s another conversation about over-regulation.

This Thanksgiving, lots of people will sit down around a table and enjoy time with family and friends.  Once the tryptophan wears off, however, we are off to our favorite stores, whether to shop or work.  If you’re shopping, be kind to others, but especially to the workers.  Let’s show them that we’re thankful they chose to work.

Personally, I plan to “save money” and “live better” at Walmart!  Where will you be on Black Friday?

Enough Already of the Occupiers

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

A recent New York Post editorial called for an end of the so-called “Occupy” movement; it also contains a two-page feature, “Other 99 percent Fires Back.”  The feature includes stories about an Occupier being raped by another protester and demands from local storekeepers who want the protesters gone.  Since the office where I work is next door to the Occupy D.C., crowd at McPherson Square, I echo the New York Post‘s criticism.

I am deeply offended by the fact that our taxpayer money paid for extensive restoration of McPherson Square last spring and summer — new sod, new benches, complete renewal of a formerly run-down area dominated and occupied by the homeless in downtown D.C.  Now, after all that work and all that expense, the lush new grass and other renovations are being trashed by the Occupiers.  Further, this week a slew of portapotties were set up (at our expense, I’m sure) for the convenience and sanitation of the Occupiers and the occupied territory.

Ironically, these supposedly disadvantaged protesters who are demanding the redistribution of wealth, own expensive tents and have the luxury of just lounging around during working hours.  When I drive by in the late morning coming back to the office from a meeting, there are few signs of life, and the tents are closed up.  Numerous people have questioned whether there really are people occupying the tents at night.  If there are protesters in the tents, they are not early risers.

There are stacks of donated food and water in a central area of the park.  The homeless are still in and around the area in the daytime — mostly on the park benches, but some lay or sit out in the open on the grass.  Reportedly, there is tension, even conflict, between the homeless who want some of the food and the Occupiers who aren’t willing to redistribute the donated goods.

Reports of abuse, crime, and disorderly conduct abound.  In Oakland, California, the Occupy movement sought to expand their political and economic influence by marching and demonstrating through the downtown area.  They ended up breaking into buildings, spraying areas of graffiti, and committing acts of arson.  Police in riot gear had to quell the mayhem.

And I am not the only American who is tired of the Occupy movement.  A new Quinnipiac poll reports that only 30 percent of voters have a positive reaction to the movement, 39 percent react negatively, and 30 percent don’t have an opinion.  Sadly, the president and the Democrats have been successful in linking the Occupy movement to the Tea Party movement, with the end result being higher negatives for Tea Partiers than for the Occupiers.  But, as they continue trashing public areas and creating unsafe environments, more and more Americans will lose patience and tell the Occupiers to “just get a job, already!”

 

 

FCC Makes it Harder to Bring the Good News

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

In a world full of sleazy reality TV shows, like The Jersey Shore and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it is refreshing to have religious broadcasters providing wholesome programming as an alternative.  And while encouraging programming that promotes honesty, honor, respect, restraint, and charity seems like a no-brainer, if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has its way, religious broadcasters will find it very hard – and, in some cases, perhaps impossible – to continue these ministries.

For years, the FCC has granted churches and small faith-based organizations an exemption from closed captioning requirements, because the additional financial burden would cripple their ability to produce these programs.  Now the FCC is rescinding all exemptions and allowing only 90 days for programmers to meet these costly requirements.

As special advisor for the FCC, I was there when these waivers were first introduced, and I know that without those exemptions, many churches can’t afford to continue broadcasting.

As President Obama goes around the nation talking about his jobs bill, the FCC, under his direction, is making it harder for businesses and organizations to continue their work.  Or are they forgetting that religious broadcasters employ people?  Anyone can see that in order to make the adjustment to comply with these regulations, organizations will need to make some cuts – deep ones if they want to survive.

Remember that many of these ministries already depend on the contribution of their supporters.  And with the current economic climate, those contributions are getting smaller and smaller; everyone is hurting.  The timing of this couldn’t have been worse.

According to Politico, the decision came after deaf advocacy groups sent complaints to the FCC.  If that is the case, their complaints are understandable.  These churches would love nothing more than to share the Good News with everyone, including the deaf.

But the FCC could have taken any number of measures to encourage and, in fact, make it easier for broadcasters to provide that service.  If they really wanted to help those advocacy groups, they could have at least provided religious broadcasters a lot more time to make these adjustments.

The FCC’s “iron fist” suggests a darker motive.  Why such animosity towards religious groups?

The erratic implementation of these high hurdles creates an undue hardship for these small Christian broadcasters that will be very hard to overcome.  Clearly, the cure is worse than the disease in this case.

I hope the FCC reconsiders this unnecessary move and allows religious broadcasters to continue doing their marvelous work, which contributes much needed aid to our moral and cultural decay.

Truthfully, we should be begging them to continue their work for our country’s sake.