Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why The Notion of "Choice" Is Important

Everyone keeps telling them that homosexuality is not a choice. Most doctors, scientists and psychologists who have dedicate their lives to studying these types of things have mostly concluded that homosexuality is not a choice. More importantly, millions of homosexuals themselves have said over and over that they did not choose. Who would know better than them?! Still those who find homosexuality objectionable continue to claim that we made a choice to be homosexual. Why cling to the notion of choice? There is only one important answer - it justifies their hatred.

Take away the notion of choice and one is left with simple bigotry - hatred of those that are different than themselves. Most people don't like to think of themselves as bigots so they use some sort of justification to support their point of view. Some use "Holy Books" as their justification, some use the fact that a lot of people agree with them and others just discount the first hand confessions of those that supposedly made the choice as deviants. The problem is that all books on earth - including holy books - were written by humans with natural human bias. And having a lot of people who think alike doesn't make their judgements correct. History has shown this to be true many times.

Recently, religious elitists have started using the phrase "Love the sinner - Hate the sin". Presumably the "sin" is sodomy. But a homosexual who has never had sex with anyone in their entire lives is still a homosexual. If their is no sin - how can you justify your hatred? Only by claiming that their homosexual life is a choice. See how important it is to cling to that notion?

I can't say with any certainty that there is a "gay gene" - it hasn't been proven yet. I can't say that anything in my early childhood caused my sexual identity - it is very unlikely but I just don't know. What I can say - with 100% accuracy - is that I didn't choose this life. There was never a point in my life where I was the slightest bit attracted to the opposite sex. I knew I was attracted to males at 5 years old - even though that attraction wasn't sexual at that early age. My opinion is that I was created this way by God or whoever or whatever created all of us. It does not feel like a mistake to me. It is the most natural thing in the world.

It should also be noted that those who feel we made a "choice" to be homosexual imply that they themselves had that choice to make. That would imply that they have some homosexual tendency themselves. It does seem that a lot of people that protest the most eventually get caught in some homosexual act. It is always so comically ironic! But I feel most sorry for those who cling to their bigotry by religious justification. How will they answer God when asked why they feel God made a mistake? I doubt God would be pleased by such an accusation.

Frankly, I don't really care if you hate me because I'm a homosexual - you certainly have that right. But I must insist that you own your hatred as something you chose - not something I chose. You choose to ignore the facts. I didn't have a choice at all.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Federal Government - Empowering Private Business

The Federal Government employs quite a few people directly to accomplish the many needed programs and services of this country. However, the government is not really in the business of building or making anything. The government spends a lot of money on infrastructure and military equipment - but they don't make those things. Instead they contract with private business to accomplish those goals. If a road needs to be built, a contract is made with a private construction company who employ their own workers and use their own machinery to accomplish the task. The government does not build tanks, planes, guns or any other defense machinery. Those items are manufactured by private enterprise through government contracts. These are just a few examples of how our government works with the private sector to accomplish it's goals. So it's important to realize that when the government spends money on these types of projects it is not tax money that is spent on federal employees - it is tax money that is being paid back to the tax payers.

Problems occur, of course, if there are unethical back room deals made that grant these contracts to political supports who in turn over charge the government. Or worse, contracts are granted with no bidding that allows the contractor to easily over charge. We have all heard stories of the $500.00 hammer. These types of bad deals are likely a huge contributor to our national debt problem.

The point of this article is that government spending - done correctly- actually does support private business. That's why improving our infrastructure and encouraging innovation is a good investment strategy and will help get people back to work. Sadly, it may also be a reason why we haven't ended a couple of wars yet because those trillions of dollars are actually employing a lot of people. Ending the war will cause more job losses at a very critical time.

When the GOP - especially the Tea Party extremists say they want to cut all federal spending, they show they are ignorant about how spending affects private sector jobs. Their "solutions" are simplistic and short sighted. We can't just hash away at the budget without giving it some careful thought. What really needs to happen is that we take a look at all government contracts and cut those that are no longer needed and possibly re-negotiate those that we do need. We need to be very smart about the way the government spends money. Someone needs to take a close look at companies like Halliburton who were granted no-bid contracts under suspicious circumstances. We should be doing this first - before we lay off teachers or end critical programs like the EPA.

We all know we have a serious critical debt problem in this country right now. But wise business people also know that you need to spend money to make money. It's not too late to get this fixed but we need to do it wisely. It will take careful cuts, careful spending, and yes, careful revenue adjustments.

The Tea Party solution to a dying tree is to cut it down. A better solution is to understand why it's dying, correct the problem and watch it recover and flourish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Federal Regulations Require

I had the most excellent day. Me and 6 friends went to John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo and went on a 2 hour snorkeling tour. The weather was perfect during our water excursion and we enjoyed a fantastic voyage - despite the insane amount of jelly fish in the area. Before departure the two man crew of the vessel that would take us 5 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean gave a short orientation including the safety equipment on board. At one point I was interested to hear them say "Federal Regulations require a life vest for each person on board. You can be assured we have complied with that regulation". I didn't count them but clearly there were enough vests in the overhead compartment. Another Federal Regulation I learned is that there were two inflatable life boats on top of the vessel that could automatically float off the boat if it were to be submerged. The Captain joked that if we saw him get into that life boat - it might be a good idea to follow.

Thankfully we had a very nice and safe journey and didn't need the required safety equipment - although a sever storm did develop on our way home. I couldn't help but imagine that requiring those safety devices must have added to the overall cost of the voyage slightly cutting into the profits of the private company that runs these tours - yet they seem to be doing well. I was very grateful that those devices were there - after all, I'm a good swimmer and didn't even think that it might be a good idea to bring a life vest of my own on the tour. Plus the weather was nice - what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully Federal Regulators know that things do often go wrong. Thank you!

It should also be noted that our destination was known as Grecian Rocks - an amazing National Marine Sanctuary just off the Florida coast. Would it have been there in it's beautiful (almost) pristine condition if shipping vessels were allowed to traverse over this shallow water zone without regulation? Would it have survived without laws that keep people from dropping anchor on the fragile reef? Not likely.

I am very thankful that we have a Federal Government - paid by our tax dollars that not only protect these national treasures, but also keep us safe when visiting them. This is only one of many such Federal programs that will be in jeopardy if we allow the Tea Party mentality of "no government interference" into our society. The Federal Government does more than any of us realize to help us and protect us as a society. Certainly there are some programs that have run their course and may no longer be needed - and those programs should be cut. But we must use extreme caution on what programs are cut in the process. Our very lives are at stake.

Now, you may have noticed that I used the phrase "(almost) pristine" above. That part of this story is a little sad. I moved to Florida 20 years ago and visited the reef shortly after. It was simply AMAZING. But we were told that the reef was in danger and was dying at a rate of 10% per year. I thought that sounded extreme - but as it turns out it was true. The reef - while still beautiful, is nothing like it was then. The cause of the death of the reef is certainly debatable. However, I just wanted to point out that scientists who were observing the situation accurately predicted it's decline. It's very important to listen to environmental scientists and work to protect not only fragile national sanctuaries - but our own fragile environment as well. This is the function of another extremely important Federal program called the Environmental Protection Agency. It is a program the Tea Party is dead set on destroying. Please don't let them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Business of Cheating

I've admitted before that I am not a sports fan - at all - at least not professional sports. I can't think of anything more boring than sitting on a couch watching other people exercise. I'd much rather be out on my bicycle, kayak, roller blades or even just walking the dog. But, I do understand almost everyone else does enjoy watching professional sports and it is a multi-billion dollar industry. While I find it odd how much money people are willing to spend watching organized sports on TV or in the stadium, I'm not really against the business part of the industry. What I do have a problem with is how the "sport" is removed from sports.

Someone comes up with challenging game that involves skill, agility, and teamwork. Then lots of folks go to work finding ways to make the game less and less challenging. Massive technology goes into designing balls with better grips, that fly further and/or straighter. We have expensive golf clubs and precision golf balls that make getting to the tiny hole much easier. There are constant expensive developments in shoes and clothing that give a tiny advantage to those who can afford them. Some people resort to performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage. Even if the only point of the game is to put a ball in a hoop that is mounted really high - we find 7 foot people to play that game. How hard can that be?

To be fair, when I did my cross country bicycle trip, I invested in a bicycle with proper gearing to help me get over those mountains. It also had all the necessary attachments to carry my gear and a seat that would prevent injuries. There was a lot of great technology in my bike. The difference is that my ride wasn't a competition and even with a nicely equipped bicycle there were still many great challenges including weather, food, animals, and unexpected equipment failure (flats!). Plus, nobody was paying me to do that trip and the challenge was for me alone.

If I were a fan of professional sports, I would rather watch a basketball game where everyone was nearly the same size - with that size being closer to 6 foot. Show me the originally designed golf club and golf balls and I might enjoy watching someone try to get it in the tiny hole. Let see some drug free, normal clothed athletes with original game pieces and maybe I'll enjoy watching that. Well, truthfully I'd likely still be out on my bike - but my point is, lets put some challenge back in sports!

NOTE: I do watch some TV. This article was inspired by my yearly "summer of learning" when my silly sitcoms are off the air and I turn to informative shows on Science or Learning channel. I saw a program on "How Do They Do It" about bowling ball technology that helps people roll more strikes and one on designing the perfect golf ball. I was amazed at the technology and the incredibly complicated process!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Guest Editorial

This is reprinted from a diary blog of some new friends from Norway who bicycled across the USA starting right here in S. Florida. They stayed with me on their 1st day of travel and have nearly completed their trip. I hope they don't mind me reprinting this observation.

Metallica on tour? No, it is just two ordinary American RV´s. The first time we saw these enormous buses with a car behind we laughed, but have come to realize that this is what many Americans think of when they say: Let´s go camping! Many times the cars behind (which is often a 4WD and sometimes a pickup truck) have kayaks and bicycles loaded on them too! A equipage like this would probably make the local paper in Norway… It is not hard to see why this country is so energy consuming.

Tea Parties

The modern political Tea Party.

What they think they are:

What they really are:

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Thursday, August 04, 2011

We Didn't Light It But We're Trying To Fight It

Every good "crisis" deserves a reminder of how it came to be. Here is an article I wrote in November of 2005. It's all so eerily familiar.

2005. It should be noted - of course - that the fire started even way before that and it's been burning for a long time. We just need to stop blaming President Obama for all of the countries financial problems. The Obama administration's spending has been spent mostly trying to put the fire out. That's a big difference.

I hope at least one person in the Tea Party reads this - they seem to have a very difficult time understanding history. You can't blame the Fire Fighters for burning your house down when they are only trying to extinguish the flames.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Drug Dealers and Prostitutes Can Save America

The Republican party has put the full weight of the American debt on the backs of the working poor. There will be no help from those that can most afford it. Now we are faced with some tough choices on what gets cut. Education, entitlements, seniors, sick people, environment programs, safety, and security will all be affected by extreme budget cuts without additional revenue. So we will be forced to make some tough choices on cuts. I say it's time to add some tough choices to revenues as well - not with tax increases but with new taxes. Here are a couple ideas we now need to consider:

  • Tax churches. Why are they getting a break when they are nothing more than business entities. More and more they are also influencing elections. If there is no real separation of church and state then they should support each other.
  • Legalize and tax marijuana. I'm not a user, but I know a lot of people who are. This drug seems less harmful than alchoh0l. Plus enormous Federal resources are being used to keep this fairly harmless drug under control - and they are failing miserably. Stop spending and start cashing in.
  • Legalize and tax prostitution. Once again we are spending a lot on prevention that is not working. The so called "oldest profession in the world" is alive and well under the guise of escort services and massage parlors. Many of those in the profession are poor and do not have insurance thus charging the Emergency Room bills to the American tax payer. We can reap even more financial rewards by offering health insurance for this profession thus controlling the spread of STDs.
Those are only 3 examples of new taxes that could greatly improve our hope of driving down the national debt and they are not focused at the rich. I'm sure there are many more. All three issues are clearly religious based morality issues but they are absolutely legitimate sources of revenue. The Tea Party won't like these suggestions but it's time they made a contribution to this mess. If they don't like legalized pot - don't smoke it. If they don't like legalized prostitution - don't go to a prostitute. If they don't like churches paying taxes - don't donate.

Cha-ching! I just saved Social Security.