Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Column for Sept. 30, 2010

I recently sent a letter to the largest toy centered business in the world. I am not going to mention the name of the company, but I will share the letter with you.

"Just when I was about to continue my practice of getting my Christmas shopping done early for two boys and a bunch of nephews and nieces, I read that your company has unfortunately decided to disallow concealed carrying of firearms in your stores by law abiding customers like myself. It is not the law abiding citizen who has at his own expense taken classes on firearms law and handling, not to mention gone through an extensive background check by state law enforcement and local sheriffs that you have to worry about. You have to worry about the lawless, which steal weapons and use them to suit their own illegal practices. If there is ever a deranged or criminal shooter in one of your stores, it is people like me who you want to have as patrons in your stores to protect your customers and your employees.

"I make it a practice to not patronize businesses that wish to abridge the freedoms of honest Americans but still want our money. In America I not only have the right to carry a firearm to defend myself and those around me, I have the freedom to spend my money where I so choose. As long as your "no concealed weapons" policy is in effect, I shall choose to spend my money with your competitors."

Do you know why there are a lot of carjackings perpetrated near airports? It is because criminals know that anyone who just stepped off an airplane and is renting an automobile is unarmed because of security restrictions for air travel. That makes them an easy target.

Do you know what tells me that a business is an easy target for armed robbery? It is a sign on the front door that says something like, "All weapons prohibited", or "Concealed weapons prohibited". It announces that there is a good likelihood that there is nobody inside the business that is armed and can fight back. Then again, a house in an affluent neighborhood with a car in the driveway displaying a pro-Obama bumper sticker serves the same purpose to a burglar.

If schools allowed safe, concealed carry of firearms by trained, mature individuals, perhaps the shootings in Paducah, Columbine, and at Virginia Tech would not have been so deadly. Just maybe someone could have taken out the shooters before they killed more people. Police can not be everywhere all the time.

The State of New York proposed an amendment to the US Constitution for the Bill of Rights that explained the role of an armed populace. Their proposal included "That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, including the body of the People capable of bearing Arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State". The responsibility was that of the citizenry to serve as the militia as well as to act as a constabulary force. The idea of a standing army was anathema to them, so it was expected that every able bodied man who could bear arms would be a participant in the putting down of insurrections, helping to repel invasion, and keeping order in their towns.

When I was asked why I would want to carry a gun, my answer was, "Because a cop is too heavy to carry around." I am a concealed carry permit holder. That means that I have demonstrated proficiency with a handgun, I have taken a class to learn the legal responsibilities of carrying a firearm, and have undergone a full background check by the State Bureau of Investigations. My fingerprints are on file with the state. In my own case, I have also undergone a background check by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives because I also hold a Curio and Relics federal firearms license.

There are millions of people like myself who are law abiding, honest citizens. These are not the people you have to worry about. They are not criminals. They are the ones who have jumped through hoops of unconstitutional red tape in order to exercise their rights. Constitutionally, nobody should be required to get a permit to carry a firearm.

Business owners have every right to restrict what people should be allowed to carry into their establishments. At the same time, they are exercising their right to alienate their customer base and advertise themselves as easy targets for armed robbery.

Now compare the above to this business in the video below. I would do business with them in a minute.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Column for Sept. 23, 2010

“It is my understanding that today, students will be required to watch a televised speech by President Barack Obama. Since I do not want my child to be subjected to political propaganda, I find it entirely inappropriate to force grade school children to endure such a speech. Therefore, I request that my son, John, be excused from viewing said speech and instead participate in whatever alternatively planned activity is being provided.”

That is the text of a note I sent last week with my son to school. It was that time of year again, the Second Annual Back to School Barack Obama Propaganda Message. Last year we sent a similar note. There were two things very different this year. First was that the upcoming speech got very little media attention like it did last year. All over the nation, people were upset at the President using the opportunity to peddle his propaganda, myself included. This year it was kept relatively quiet so as not to inflame opposition.

The second thing that was different was that I was told that my son was the only one in the entire school to have gotten excused from viewing the propaganda speech and ended up hanging out in the school office because the school made no plans for any alternative activity. I was told that the teacher actually laughed when she read the above note. I hope that was not the case, since I don’t take this whole thing lightly.

I would have no real issue if there was a short, pre-recorded message given to encourage students and that was all there was to it. However, knowing how politicians, and liberals especially, like to grandstand and take every media opportunity, it was not going to be the case. I read the text from last year’s speech. I have the text from this year’s speech in front of me right now as I bang away on my aging keyboard.

In case you think it was just an encouraging pep talk, here are a few things I found that are really just a progressive and socialistic agenda with a fresh paint job. “So, you have an obligation to yourselves, and America has an obligation to you to make sure you’re getting the best education possible. And making sure you get that kind of education is going to take all of us working hand-in-hand. It will take all of us in government – from Harrisburg to Washington – doing our part to prepare our students, all of them, for success in the classroom, in college, and in a career...That’s what we have to do for you. That’s our responsibility. That’s our job.”

Do you see the problem in that statement? On the surface, it sounds nice, but it is subtle. It is the “it takes a village” mentality. It is the idea of collectivism rather than individual work and family support to facilitate achievement. This quote embodies the idea that it is government we must look to as our savior and our source. It is especially heinous since the federal government was never meant to be involved in public education whatsoever. Even during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when it was suggested that the nation found a college for the public benefit, the idea was resoundingly shot down.

President Obama’s remarks were wrapped with plenty of encouragement to do your best, pursue your education, and take self improvement seriously. Again, that theme is not bad. It is the little bit of arsenic in the meal that is dangerous, though. A little leaven makes the whole lump of dough rise, as the Biblical example shows us. It is a socialist political agenda couched in a Tony Robbins pep talk.
An example of a good quote is, “But the truth is, an education is about more than getting into a good college or getting a good job when you graduate. It’s about giving each and every one of us the chance to fulfill our promise; to be the best version of ourselves we can be. And part of what that means is treating others the way we want to be treated – with kindness and respect.”

Of course we should treat others with kindness and respect. That reminder is always prudent. It is also true that there is a big difference between attending school and getting an education. I have become far more educated than some people who have schooling in certain topics because I have educated myself on the topics. I have had constitutional law discussions with lawyers who were woefully ignorant and looked foolish. I have met men who never took a computer course yet worked circles around the most certified of employees.

I am all for encouraging people to work hard, study hard, and be successful in life. At the same time I also recognize that there is no place for Utopian political ideas being spewed forth by a nation’s leader to subtly indoctrinate our youth. My son is learning that if he takes a stand for his principles, he may end up standing alone. I am used to it and am passing that value along to my family.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Column for Sept. 16, 2010

I have been observing the climate of both our churches and the world’s system for some time now. In both realms I have seen an awakening. I have been proclaiming that this awakening would be coming for years now. At the same time, I am in a season in my life where I have dropped back from both scenes in various ways. I have known that this season was coming. I am not sure why, but it has been the case during this stage of my life, so I am rolling with it.

I observed some time ago about how people by the hundreds were becoming disenfranchised by organized religion and dropping out of it, seeking something more. I have run across so many people who had just had enough. Some got bitter, some got better through their ordeals. Many people have maintained their faith through it all and even become stronger in their beliefs and relationship with God as a result. Some have not.

I know from experience that many people feel like they have been ripped off, deceived, lied to, and have a great mistrust of churches, church government, and have their senses heightened to such as a result. Often those who turn bitter have an outcry against the establishment. Those who become better often end up being dynamic teachers to help others in the same situation.

Quite honestly, there are many people in the Church overall who are deceived by false doctrines, have ears that are easily tickled, and are just plain lazy about learning solid fundamentals of their faith. They often are zealous but the zeal is often misplaced.

I have been observing people in the world’s system who have been going through much the same thing. Men and women by the millions have been feeling disenfranchised and angry at our nation’s government. As a result, we have seen people protesting and public outcry like I have never seen in my lifetime. I am not talking about protests against an unpopular war, I am talking about protests against what people perceive as an unfair government, against being used, and abused, and a loss of the basic precepts of our nation.

In the past several years, I have seen some men rise above the crowd who decided to lead by teaching others, by sharing the foundational principles of our nation. There are some men with whom I am often in agreement, some with whom I am not. One thing I do know is that either way, I am grateful that the fundamentals are being revisited.

Like with the Church, when people learn the truth about the foundations of the country, its history, and its principles, they tend to get angry. Having been burned by both sides of the comparison, I have endeavored to work through things within my own self and then reach out.

I decided several years ago to drop out of my pursuit of broadcasting, though I loved it greatly. I have dropped back my pursuit of ministry, though I loved preaching and teaching greatly. I have dropped back from copious writing, though I enjoyed it greatly. I dropped back from doing talk shows, though I enjoyed it greatly and have even been offered opportunities to do a good amount of it recently.

Even when I saw one of the greatest disasters heading towards our national sovereignty in the form of an avowed socialist as President of the United States and a complicit Congress, I remained fairly silent. I didn’t write much about the elections except in this column. Even then, I have refrained from giving most of my opinions. I have felt a cautious restraint in some ways, and I am not sure why. Yeah, I know that some of you are thinking that I am blunt and opinionated, but believe it or not, I have wrestled with this very thing for the four plus years I have been writing this column.

I have seen in the church world, pockets of men and women have gone underground, so to speak. I have seen patriots in this nation do the same. I have seen teachers arise in the church world, and I have seen the same in the world’s system. I have seen angry people be extremely vocal in the church, and I have seen a lot of it in the world. Quite honestly, I believe that people have just plain had enough in both.

There will be and has been a clash coming internal to the Church. I have seen and experienced a sliver of it myself. I have seen a huge clash arising in the world’s system. I don’t know how peaceful it will be, however. When we have seen spiritual movements and anti-world’s system movements cross paths, we have not typically seen peaceful resolutions in this country.

Troy and Sharon Wedding Book

Click here to view this photo book larger

Friday, September 10, 2010

Column for Sept. 9, 2010

You are not going to find someone who supports the local fire service more than I do. I consider it an essential service to the town and surrounding area. I actually support the levying of a fire tax for people who live outside of the town yet receive fire services from a town or country volunteer department. I have a degree in fire protection and I spent nine years in the fire service. I have a folder full of certifications and certificates and notebooks full of educational materials from classes I have taken over the years. I volunteer my time to serve on the county's Local Emergency Management Planning Committee.

I wrote in favor of the reorganization that the Town of Selma did several years ago when the Town Council decided to hire a full time chief. I believe that Chief McDaniel has done a great job so far. I do not doubt his capable leadership at all.

Yes, you knew that there was a big "but" coming. It has been said that I always have a big "but". But I read with dismay last week's edition of The Selma News. Right on the front page was the story, "Fire Dept. seeks Council approval to charge for auto wrecks".

I realize that every time the fire department is dispatched to a call for service, whether it is the proverbial cat in a tree (not that it really happens), a car wreck, or a full blown house fire, it costs money. There are always going to be costs associated with manpower, equipment, supplies, wear and tear on vehicles, vehicle maintenance, fuel, and the list goes on. I comprehend the concept of wanting to recuperate costs.

However, the fire department, like any other municipal department, has a budget for which they receive tax dollar funding. I expect a municipal government, or any other government for that matter, to spend tax money in order to supply the services they do. To then charge for the services for which we are already taxed amounts to double taxation.

I read the reasoning that the fire department or town could bill the insurance companies of the accident victims. If insurance companies start paying bills associated with emergency response, we all pay for those costs. Insurance companies are not just going to absorb those costs. They are going to pass on those costs to the insured, meaning us taxpaying citizens who already pay for emergency response in the first place. Again, that amounts to double taxation.

It is for this reason that I really despise local government grants and loans from the federal government, since we are taxed on both ends to pay for those, especially loans.

Just this week, my lovely bride and I filled out our passport applications, got our photographs taken, and went to go get them submitted. We are planning a trip or two next year, so we will need passports. We took all of our paperwork to the US Post Office. Would you believe that we were turned away, being told that we had to make an appointment first? At the USPS? I guess I will need an appointment to rent a PO Box or get a money order next.

We already pay taxes to fund the US State Department. On top of that, we just paid $110 a piece for a passport application fee for each of us. Not wanting to have to make an appointment, we went to the Clerk of Court's office the next day to make the application process quicker. There we were charged a $25 fee for each application just for them to process them and send our paperwork to Washington, DC.

On top of that, even if we presented the requisite certified copies of our birth certificates at the time of application at an accepting agency, we still had to send the original certified copies along with the applications. There is a $10 charge each should we need to replace them. The required photographs were $10 per set. All total, we paid $290 for two passports. Now watch me be on some "no travel" list, be stopped at the border by Customs agents, and denied entry into or re-entry from Canada and Mexico.

I view both of these scenarios as double taxation. We pay the government once via our tax dollars to provide services. Then when we utilize the services, we have to pay for them again. The response of fire trucks and emergency response personnel who have dedicated their lives to serving others should not be something for which we pay twice.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Column for Sept. 2, 2010

What has been on my heart for a couple of weeks to share has been prayer. I am a believer in Jesus, the son of God, as my savior and my Lord. I make no apologies for that. I was not always a believer in Christ but I always had a belief in the existence of God. I have always had strong opinions on politics and religion, and those views have been refined over time as my relationship with God and my understanding of history grew.

Since I became a Christian in 1991, I have seen an awful lot in our nation and in our churches; some good, some not so much. One thing that I am reminded of from time to time is that I am supposed to pray for our leaders. I must admit that I have been remiss in my personal prayer life when it comes to praying for our governmental leaders.

Ye Olde King James Bible says in 1Timothy 2:1-4 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Though I do remember from time to time to stop and pray, I am often quick to comment, instead. Believe it or not, I have been endeavoring a lot over the past several months to be more temperate in the expression of my views and have on many occasions withheld my tongue when I thought I would jump on a topic with both feet.

For several years now, I have contemplated organizing a prayer gathering here in Selma. Whether such a gathering would be once a month or once a week, I have often thought about getting together with other believers who would be willing to gather at some place like the gazebo behind Town Hall some evening for the purpose of praying for the leaders of our nation, our state, our county, and our town.

I have not sat down to look at my calendar yet as to dates and times, but I would love to hear from anyone else so inclined to pray for our leaders. My email address is at the end of every column in this newspaper. You can also find me at the web site within that email address and I am also in the phone book. I am sure you can reach me through this newspaper’s normal communication channels, as well.

Well, enough talking about it, I am going to at least start my dedication to public prayer right here.

Father God, in the name of Jesus I come to you now and I ask the readers of this publication to join me in bringing our requests to you. It is in answer to your instruction to pray so I know that you will hear me and the others who come to you. You ordained human government through civil authorities. I personally ask for your forgiveness for not being slow to speak and slow to anger when it comes to your servants, as you call them in Romans 13.

I thank you, God, for your ordained government in our nation. You, in your grace and wisdom, gave us a long lasting and wonderful form of government that transcends all the way down to our local levels of government. I realize that it takes great wisdom, great moral character, and your hand of guidance to rightfully run such governance. Therefore I ask you to bless every elected, appointed, and hired official in governance over your people and over those who are not your children; the just and the unjust alike. I pray first and foremost that the blessing that Peter spoke of in Acts 3:26 “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” Let your Spirit have free course to reprove of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment in the hearts of your servants.

I pray that you would grant wisdom to every government official, that they would take decisions according to your will, and that they would be rulers who would truly not be a terror to good works, but to evil.

In my limited space here Lord, this is my pondering and my heart’s cry. I pray it would also be that of every believer, and that every non-believer would be transformed to be one of your own. I thank you for this privilege and opportunity. I love you, the only father I have. Amen.

Column for August 26, 2010

I was at a loss about what to write this week, but one thing kept hitting me every time I read a newspaper, news web site, or local news report today. That was local spending. Every news source seemed to carry some story about local taxes, local spending, local grants received for more spending, and the list goes on.

During my perusing through my favorite sources for news, I found a report from George Mason University that showed that state and local spending in the United States as a whole has increased nearly ten times since 1950. Private spending has only increased five times in the same time period. What does that tell us? Government spending is out of control. Where does government get its money? From taxpaying citizens, which explains why private spending rose only about half of the government rates.

Guilford County is looking at another sales tax increase. North Carolina is looking at tollbooths on I-95. Cities like Philadelphia are requiring people like myself to pay for a business privilege license fee in order to have an internet blog. The cost of the license is $300, regardless of whether the blog is kept as a hobby or as a business, or even if the fee far exceeds any profits from the web site. That is nothing more than sheer governmental greed to feed an insatiable appetite for local spending.

Locally, I have seen grants and loans from the federal government for local spending on police and fire departments, schools and educational equipment, public library system computers, and local road paving projects. One major source of local money supply seems to be the US Department of Agriculture via loans and grants. I fail to see what local water systems, police department facilities, and road paving projects have to do with agriculture.

Just as frustrating to me is the idea that the federal government is making local towns, counties, and states increasingly dependent upon it as a money supply. Either way, the money is from taxation. Taxation comes from our pockets, not some magical, inexhaustible, deep well of cash in Washington, D.C.

When we get taxation on both ends, I am reminded of the admonition from an opponent to the US Constitution's ratification in an Anti-federalist letter written in October of 1787. The author identified himself only as "Federal Farmer" and was thought to possibly be Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, whose resolution was passed by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776 declaring independence from Great Britain.

In this letter, Federal Farmer (in letter number 3) wrote, "…to lay and collect internal taxes in this extensive country must require a great number of congressional ordinances, immediately operating upon the body of the people; these must continually interfere with the state laws and thereby produce disorder and general dissatisfaction till the one system of laws or the other, operating upon the same subjects, shall be abolished".

Basically he thought that two levels of government attempting to rule on the same topic would clash and cause one or the other to be abolished. Unfortunately, we instead have a huge codependency of one on the other. Both, however, have the same insatiable appetite for tax money. One government is following in the footsteps of the other and taking more and more money from the citizenry to feed itself. Local and state governments following suit have, as I stated, raised local government spending ten fold since 1950 while private spending by contrast has only risen five fold.

As recently as the 1920's local governments did not constantly look to the federal government as a source from which to suckle money. During Calvin Coolidge's administration (a greatly underrated President, in my opinion), there was great flooding along the Mississippi River, far worse than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the federal government was not in the business of feeding the spending of local and state governments, even in the face of widespread disaster. Nowadays, a town can not pave Main Street or renovate a fire station without looking to Uncle Sam for money to do so.

We fell for this insidious plot decades ago and now it has caught up to us. Our federal deficit has grown (according to the Congressional Budget Office) by $4.4 Trillion since Barack Obama took office only a year and a half ago. States are going bankrupt. States are suckling more borrowed cash from the federal nipple. Local towns are raising taxes to keep up with their smaller yet nonetheless insatiable appetites for control and spending.

I have been decrying this for decades. Now we may have gone well past the rubicon of financial destruction. If so, we have done it to ourselves.