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Monthly Archives: October, 2013

The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here

October 30th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 3 comments

When did
Harry Truman’s motto, “The buck stops here,” turn into Barack Obama’s pass the
buck, “Nobody’s madder than me that the website isn’t working as it
should”? Does anyone truly believe that Barack Obama is more upset about the
disastrous Obamacare rollout than the woman battling cancer who lost her
insurance because of his legislation? Does anyone truly believe that Barack
Obama is more upset about Obamacare than the family whose insurance premiums
just doubled? What, exactly, do those words mean?

Asking this
question set me thinking of past leaders in history. After the sin of the
Golden Calf, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the Israelites. Moses didn’t
tell the children of Israel that he was working hard for them. Instead, he told
God to erase him from His book if He wouldn’t forgive the people (Exodus
32:32).  This was not flowery rhetoric.  From the time we meet Moses until his final
speech begins in Deuteronomy, Moses’ name appears in every sedra (the
portions into which the Bible is divided according to ancient Jewish wisdom)
except for one – Exodus 27:20-30:10.  His
name is erased from this one section, usually read in the week in which his day
of birth and death fall, in tribute to his willingness to sacrifice himself for
his people.

 Years later, Queen Esther approached King
Achashveirush to save her people, risking her life in the process (Scroll of Esther
4:16). Rather than rhapsodizing about her feelings, she put her life on the
line.

Following this
tradition, our founding fathers put the following into writing: “…we mutually
pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor…” These
were not empty words. They risked, and many of them lost, their wealth and
property, their families’ security and their health.  These men put their signatures on a document
knowing that not only death, but also torture, would greet them if their bid
for freedom from England failed.

Here is an
intriguing question. In recent history, which of our leaders do we believe
would sacrifice himself for the American people? No guesswork is needed for
those presidents, Republicans and Democrats, who were military heroes; Dwight
Eisenhower and George Bush Sr., come to mind. In my own mind, I think that
others, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan fit the profile of
men who felt their office to be an obligation rather than a privilege. This
willingness to give all to one’s country doesn’t mean their policies were
necessarily wise or good, but it does suggest their presidencies were not
centered completely on their own ego.

During World
War II, King George of England did not send his own wife and daughters away
from London, despite the Germans targeting the city for bombing. By this
action, he proclaimed that he and his family would rise or fall with the people
under his rule. If President Obama truly believes in his health care program and
cares about the health of all children, why doesn’t he step forward and have
his own family (and his Congressional supporters), reap the benefits or pay the
price of his legislation, rather than being exempt from it?

Only God
knows whether, in his heart, the president truly believes his policies are good
for America or not. We can’t judge his heart, but we can judge his words and
more so his actions. His words do not even reach the level of Bill Clinton’s,
“I feel your pain.” Instead, they focus on him – he is mad. The implication isn’t
that he is mad at himself, but at others. Are we supposed to send sympathy
cards to the occupant of the White House? He initiated and pushed through the
health care law. He promised it would help the people. The president should not
be mad; he should be apologetic, contrite, humble and mortified. He should acknowledge
his own failure of leadership, vision and ability. With the same passion as he
showed in promoting this legislation he should be urging his super-wealthy
Hollywood and business pals to donate money in order to pay back the American
citizens whose taxes were wasted on building a system that is failing so
drastically. 

It is fair
to ask if President Obama’s actions suggest that he, like leaders before him,
would choose poverty, disgrace and even death rather than harm the American
people.  Saying you are upset is easy. Stepping
forward and changing your behavior, undergoing embarrassment, pain and suffering
to make things right, would make the words ring true.

Can you get help with evaluating campaign promises?
Truly,there is nothing new under the sun.
Meet Nimrod and learn his secrets.
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Union Bashing?

October 16th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

After a business trip to Denver and a month in Israel that
was a wonderful combination of being with family, celebrating the holidays and
more work, it has taken me a while to dig through accumulated mail. Coping with
jet lag and fighting a not-very-successful battle against a bug I picked up on
the plane home has made me process my pile of mail more slowly than usual. For
this reason, I am only now uncovering letters that may be a month old.

One of them is a lengthy hand-written letter from a Musings’
reader, taking me to task about using my column to bash unions. I searched for
the letter today, wanting to reread it more slowly and thoughtfully, so I could
respond appropriately, but I can’t find it. So – I hope the author is still
reading online and knows that I’m not ignoring her, although without the letter
in hand, I can only speak in general terms.

My correspondent asked if I was aware of the good that
unions did and if I knew of the terrible working conditions that used to be. The
answer is yes. I learned about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the
Pullman strike, the terrible conditions in coal mines and I read Upton
Sinclair’s book, The Jungle. The grievances that led to the formation
and strength of the unions were real and needed attention. I have no doubt that
a complete laissez-faire economy would be a sad step backward.

However, in what seems to be a problem inherent in the human
condition, we tend to swing the pendulum too far when trying to right a wrong.
We legislate too broadly and for worst-case scenarios rather than validating
the efforts of those who try to behave well. The result is that rather than
creating a more just society, we simply create a different injustice down the road.

A radio listener sent the following quote to my husband:

The strength or weakness of
a society depends more on the level

of its spiritual life than
on its level of industrialization. Neither

a market economy nor even
general abundance constitutes

the crowning achievement of
human life. If a nation’s spiritual

energies have been
exhausted, it will not be saved from collapse

by the most perfect
government structure or by an industrial

development: a tree with a
rotten core cannot stand. This is so

because of all the possible
freedoms the one that will inevitably

come to the fore will be the
freedom to be unscrupulous; that is the

freedom that can be neither
prevented nor anticipated by any law.

It is an unfortunate fact
that a pure social atmosphere cannot be

legislated into being.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “Our Own Democracy”

 

Just as some
employers without unions and legislation to stop them imposed dangerous and
unethical working conditions, others held themselves to a higher standard. I
have no doubt, as my letter writer contends, that many union workers today hold
themselves to a higher standard. Nevertheless, others deploy the union power
structure, destroying lives and our democracy with their own unscrupulous and
unethical methods. In non-union shops, are some employers shortsighted,
greedily reaching for more than is wise? Certainly.  Are some union advocates shortsighted,
greedily reaching for more than is wise? Certainly. Flawed politicians trade
favors for votes, as they always have, further corrupting our system of
government.   When I write negatively
about unions, I don’t mean it as a blanket negativity covering all unions, in
all times and in all places, and certainly not as an attack on my
correspondent. I am expressing my disappointment and anger towards the unions
that I see condemning children to failure, sending operatives to threaten free
elections, and threatening economic productivity, among other things. If I am
tarring with too broad a brush, I would very much appreciate getting positive
details on current union activity. When it comes down to it, we need to hold both
ourselves and others to a higher authority than human laws or we drunkenly
lurch from one hazard to another in a vain attempt to attain perfection. 

 Missing Thought Tools while it is on a short hiatus?

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Childfree? Not So Quickly

October 16th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

Oh, dear. I just read an article where I agree with almost all
the details of someone’s point of view but I disagree with the underlying
premise. I don’t even approve of the title.

The piece, “23 Things You Should Never Say to a Childfree
Woman,” ran on the Huffington Post. Here is my problem: I agree that the items
listed are incredibly insensitive and offensive in most cases or as stand-alone
statements. I agree that commenting on a woman (or a man’s) childless status is
an intrusion into a supremely personal area of life and, as such, is
inappropriate.

But…that isn’t the whole story. Let’s talk about the title
first. Somewhere along the line, the word, ‘childless,’ has been replaced with
‘childfree.’ There is a huge difference. Less implies a lack, something that is
missing, while free evokes eagles soaring and endless sandy beaches. With all
our political correctness, we don’t speak of being blind as being ‘sightfree’
or of a paraplegic as ‘hand-movement-free.’ Sight and functioning hands are
good things to have.

Before the days of convenient and inexpensive birth control,
a married couple without children was universally acknowledged to be missing a
valuable treasure. They might certainly evoke pity, but not judgment. Those
days are long past. We live under the illusion that we can choose if, when, how
and with whom we want children—and often we can.

Here’s the rub. It may seem eminently reasonable that
individuals should have that choice. However, when too many individuals choose
childlessness, there are family, communal, national and universal implications.
The personal is at war with the group, and paradoxically, we cannot thrive as
individuals when the world around us is falling apart.  Shifting the language we use to subtly applaud
not having children has major implications.

We can’t ignore economic and social realities that will face
all of us, and are already affecting other countries, if we become
“elder-heavy.”  As other countries have
discovered to their dismay, a society that doesn’t reproduce confronts
economic, social and cultural hazards. Furthermore, what repercussions will we
face as we become more governmentally liable for each other’s medical costs, if
many of those who trendily choose ‘childfreeness’ in their twenties and early
thirties, change their minds in later years?

I don’t know anyone suggesting that people be forced to have
children. I personally don’t approve of the idea, common in other countries, of
the government providing monetary stipends for children. At the same time,
having children is quite different from acquiring a hamster. In a healthy moral
climate, children are a gift and blessing. They are also part of the social
contract by which adults ‘give back’ to society, and those who choose not to ‘shoulder
their fair share’ should certainly not be exalted.  


Perhaps we can agree that in all spheres of
life, more reticence would be welcome. Prying into people’s personal lives with
unwelcome questions is intrusive.  I’d be
delighted if the Huffington Post advocated increased privacy and discretion in
all areas. Celebrating not having children? That’s another issue entirely.

 

Would you like a Godly view of children as seen through Hebrew?
Check out the chapters “Educated Hands” and “Community Rules” in
Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language


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Merry Christmas, Hobby Lobby

October 9th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

I like
people of principle; in fact, I aspire to be one. David Green, founder of Hobby
Lobby
, is one such person. He is battling the government to uphold my right to freedom of
religion, for which I am grateful. This week, he was accused of anti-Semitism,
which, if true, suggests that he doesn’t like me as much as I like him. Except,
of course, that truth had little to do with the entire kerfuffle. It used to be
that, “the squeaky wheel got the grease.” Today, the lone blogger who uses
certain incendiary words (anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism…) gets the
headlines.

The entire
brouhaha was a tornado in a thimble. Assuming correct reporting, when a blogger
inquired if Green’s chain, Hobby Lobby, carried items for Hanuka, he was
told, “We don’t cater to you people here.” Chalk one up for a low on the totem
pole employee speaking foolishly. The provable reality is that Hobby Lobby,
for whatever reason, doesn’t carry Hanuka items. To their credit, even many
liberal Jewish spokespeople were uncomfortable with the claim that a store
could be forced to carry certain objects under threat of being accused of
bigotry.

Here’s where
I stand. If any of you are aspiring politicians, I have a proposal you might
make that will guarantee that you are never elected. You might even need to go
underground for a while to protect your safety. Nevertheless, I think it would
be a positive step forward for America. The proposal? It is time to retire the
civil rights legislation of the 1960’s. I’ll go further and say that just as
Richard Nixon was able to open relationships with China and Bill Clinton was
able to enact welfare reform, had Barack Obama made that proposal the signature
of his administration, he would have gone down in history as a great president.

There are
many times in our lives when an antidote is needed to solve a problem. None of
us would argue that because antibiotics are useful for clearing up an
infection, we should continue taking them forever. Yet we do the equivalent in
politics all the time. Unions came into being because of serious and real
problems in the labor force. As the pendulum swings, many of them now threaten
the well-being of workers. Similarly, the civil rights legislation of the
1960’s was a necessary and proper response to inequalities and iniquities that
plagued this country. However, the forces destroying the Black community are
completely different today, and arguably are strengthened by falsely
identifying race as the source of the problem. More seriously, the
phrases, “civil rights,” “discrimination,” and “bigotry” are applied with a
liberality that is undermining the Constitutional protections of religious
freedom and freedom of association that allowed this country to be great.

I think it
is time to allow organizations, businesses and private schools to discriminate
as they wish. If they want to put up signs saying that they don’t admit or
serve Jews, or people with an accent, or people carrying Bibles, or blondes,
good luck to them. I have faith that, given free choice, the American people
will overwhelmingly choose to embrace each other. However, the legal and holier-than-thou
moral cudgels that destroy free enterprise and that pit citizens against each
other will largely be silenced.  I
couldn’t care less if Hobby Lobby carries Hanuka items or doesn’t, nor
do I see any reason to jump to negative conclusions. I care greatly about a
government that is replacing freedom of religion with freedom of sexual
expression and the opportunity for creating wealth with the guarantee of
national poverty. To that end, David Green is one of my heroes—and his stores
don’t need to carry a single Hanuka item for me to acknowledge that he is
helping to keep America a blessed haven for all.