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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zeros and Soakers

Steve gave me a copy of Laffer, Moore and Willliams book, Rich States, Poor States.  Bombshell conclusions!  Laffer is the economist who first studied Sweden and concluded that there was a relative maximum at which the state can tax.  Tax more than that and revenues actually fall because people are hiding their incomes and avoiding taxes.  He then applied this to USA and found that during the Eisenhower Administration, taxes reached this max and that by cutting taxes, Kennedy actually achieved higher revenues.  This Supply Side Theory then became the hallmark of Reagan’s revival of Carterville, Thatcher’s revival of the British Disease and the Pacific Tigers’ (Japan to Australia) fabulous success .  Steve Moore is the well-known guest on FOX business channel and senior economist for Wall Street Journal.  Jonathan Williams worked for the non-partisan Tax Foundation for years and is now director for Center for State Fiscal Reform.

These guys researched the matter of ‘what makes a state prosper’ and considered many things.  For example, they looked at right-to-work states.  Turns out that right-to-work states are slightly more prosperous than Union shop states but not significantly.  This either overturns older research in the 70’s or maybe it is simply because only about 10% of people are still unionized today, down from 42% in the fifties. State indebtedness also somewhat correlates, but not strongly.  They began looking at taxation because tax incentives matter to people.  People don’t just work for the purpose of giving it all to the government.  They found there was no clear link between sales tax rates and economic performance.  Similar results were found for property taxes. But when they studied personal income and corporate taxes, the explosions of correlation began. 

Now just because you have correlation between two things, doesn’t mean you have cause.  Just because you have poor students in school that are malnourished, doesn’t mean that food makes brainpower or that all the skinny girls are dumb.  It may mean that the true cause of poor school performance is uncaring parents sending kids to school without breakfast and not caring if the kid gets an education either.  So when you deal with economics, which can’t do double-blind testing, you rely on duration and broad scope for proof.  If it has been going on for a long time in a variety of circumstances, then correlation is likely causal proof.

So here’s what they found.  9 states with no personal income taxes were compared with the 9 states with highest income taxes and highest overall taxes.  In every category of growth, the 9 Zeros outperformed the 9 Soakers—Gross State Product growth, employment growth, population growth and tax revenue growth.  Moreover virtually ALL the Zeros did better than the Soakers.  Two stunning statistics:  In employment growth, all nine Zero Taxers outdid the 9 high tax states. (Performance of each Zero was better than best performance of ANY high tax state.) If this upcoming election is going to be about jobs, put that in your pipe and smoke it! Tax revenue growth to the state was better in 8 of 9 Zero taxers than in the average of high-tax states.  Think of that.  If you are a liberal, progressive, love-big-government leftist, why wouldn’t you go for revenue growth for your state that comes with zero personal income tax policy?  You would only oppose it if you are more concerned with government control over people’s lives via high tax rates, than with actual government largess. 

The zero taxers come from all around the country—Alaska, Texas, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Nevada, Tennesee—and so do the high taxers—California, Oregon, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Maryland.   The only regional skew is that high tax states do not have any representatives from the deep South.  Hence some liberals have cried foul saying that climate, not low taxes, is the reason for all the growth of the Zeros.  That’s amusing.  So people are fleeing the paradise states of California and Hawaii and moving to Texas, Florida, and Arizona which have a summer fit only for mad dogs and Englishmen?  Or Alaska? Give me a break! 

And this growth result has been going on since at least 1971.  Among the Zero states, personal incomes have grown about 45% per decade vs. 25% in Soaker States.  11 states have initiated an income tax since 1961.  ALL eleven have shrunk as a percentage of the US economy since.  ALL eleven have shrunk in population as a % of US.

The relationship between corporate taxation and economic growth behaves in much the same way though less pronounced.  The 8 lowest vs. 8 highest corporate tax states has 52% vs. 43% GSP
 growth.  (Pers. Inc. Tax comparison of 9 Zeros vs. Soakers is 59% vs. 42% for example.) And the authors run possible groups excluding heavy mineral-rich states like WY and AK through all these calculations to see if reliance on severance taxes makes an effect.  It is not much.

The upshot is that personal income taxes is the most likely target to reform.  This might surprise some pro-business Republicans who would prefer to lower corporate tax rates.  It might surprise some Democrats who would like nothing better than to tax the rich more.  And it probably surprises the conventional wisdom that since taxes are miserable, states should spread the misery around by taxing everything possible.  Texas and Florida really do know what they are doing.  California, Hawaii and New York are great states with many advantages but taxwise they are fools.  We will have to watch what happens to Wisconsin and New Jersey under new management.  But most of all it tells Kansas and Oklahoma  to press forward with Zero Tax reforms.  To create a corridor of states from South Dakota to Texas where taxes are low would not just transform these states individually.  It would make a free enterprise zone where incoming businesses could choose their state of preference based on other factors while staying in the tax-free zone.  That is, the “French Quarter Effect”—people go to the French Quarter of New Orleans to dine, not because of a single restaurant, but because there is an entire zone of fine dining.

So then, could our state use a better economy, more jobs and greater revenue?  

Friday, April 27, 2012


Now you tell me, what is so gutsy about Obama giving the okay to go after Osama?  If I walked down the block and asked the first 10 guys, "If  you had been in that position and the military came to you one day and said, 'We've located him; can we go after him?' would you have approved it?"  At least 9 would say, "Sure!"  In fact it would be hard to find someone who would say, "I dunno.  I'd really have a hard time giving any kind of approval.  I really don't like to make decisions.  Maybe we could just all sit down and talk instead."  Well, no wait, there are a few liberals who would say that. But most people would say Go For It. 

Nor, as Bill Clinton alleged in that ad, would anything have come of it if the mission had failed.  We would never have heard of it.  Nobody would have admitted a thing. ( Tell me, what happened last week in CIA news. )But even if somehow a story would have come out, most Americans would have said, "Darn.  Missed. Time to reload."  There was no danger of losing thousands of men.  This is not in the same league as Caesar building a bridge across the Rhine and marching his men and then burning the bridge. Or Crockett and his Tenneseeans staying at the Alamo.  Or to pick a modern example, Ike writing two letters before D-day, one to celebrate triumph and one to take all blame for the loss of thousands of lives and tender his resignation.  Then calling the orders.  That's guts.

The only way you say Obama had guts was if you would postulate him in the midst of a bunch of cowardly anti-war leftists who would want his resignation the way they wanted LBJ's if something went wrong.  Umm, well, maybe that is the answer.  

Ponca Wonka Politics

Ponca Politics was today.  Our city has a forum for questions from citizens for our state senator and representative.  I swear that the questions are all from cranky retired teachers.  Typically half the questions will have to do with education.  That's a good topic, but there are rarely any questions about energy or petoleum. Isn't that the main industry of our city?  Isn't that the largest refinery in the midcontinent, outside the window?  Isn't there a drilling boom sweeping across the northern OK area?  Nor are there questions about agriculture.  One of the hottest issues this year is about the Obama administration's war on family farms and the oil and gas guys.  EPA wants to crucify the oil industry and doesn't want to let the farmer's wife and kids help the family business.  These issues are so intense because they threaten the economies of Kay and Osage counties.  No questions at Ponca Politics, however.  There are rarely any questions about roads and bridges although this was a major emphasis in the state because two years ago, 1600 of 6800 bridges were condemned or judged insufficient and dangerous.  And interestingly, one of our major employers is the largest contractor on roads of the state.  No tourism questions, no law enforcement questions, no military questions, no wildlife questions, no small business questions.  Two lakes, 5 museums, cross border meth lab problems, and a secretive anti-terrorist sensory facility in the town.  The town has had good economic growth despite the doldrums around the country are found here. Weird,hunh?

Good thing I'm not a politician having to answer these questions.  The School Super stood up (the guy who makes $205,000 a year and has an underling who makes 185) and decried "the disastrous cuts" that came in 2011.  Wait.  I seem to remember our Governor limiting cuts to 3% in education before further cuts would be made in other state functions.  And he made a rambling rant that was really rather like a speech than a question.  Finally he asked something about threshold levels of cuts and how distasteful they were.  I would have shot off at the guy.  What, with 53% of state budget going to elementary and secondary education, and colleges and Human services taking up another 35%, is the rest of the state supposed to live on?  53% of budget goes to 4% of the state's workers.  And we possess #30 in ACT test scores, civics, economics and business is hardly taught, and why are you griping about 3% cuts when I used to often have 30% cuts in my former small business?  And still some classes don't have textbooks.  Where does the money go?

Some of the questions were unanswerable--asking the guys to predict natural gas prices, for example.  Another old guy who I know to be a retired teacher stood up and scolded Fields and Vaughan over constant cuts in budget and taunting them with "When is the benefit from tax cuts coming."  That finally drew a Chris Christie remark from Vaughan and plea from Fields that no one can predict the timing of the economy.  I would have held up three fingers at the guy.  3 years.  That's how much time it took for the state to swell sales tax revenues to exceed the cuts in income taxes they did in 2005.  Those cuts doubled the state's growth from the prior decade and have been much talked about.  Sorry if that runs counter to your mindset.

So I don't know what to make of this forum sometimes.  Maybe that is why it has only 30-50 people in attendance.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crucify or tax

I'm holding my breath waiting to hear from my Italian friends.  The news is full of some EPA administrator urging his folks to do to the oil industry like the Romans, go into a Turkish village and crucify the first 5 guys you run into.  Of course the commentators are making hay about how lawless that is and not according to ethics of government regulators at all.  Fair enough.
     I'm choking on the history.  Rarely did Romans do such things.  They were famous for Roman Law, which is the basis for our own law down to the present day.  It was particularly well-defined, attempted to be fair and was considered a step up to what the Romans called 'civilization'--and conquered peoples often grudgingly admitted they at least loved Roman Law. 
     What the Romans did was tax.  They taxed the bejabbers out of their conquered territory--about 25%.  In the case of many lands, residents simply changed the names of their gods to some Roman diety with a wink and a nod, kept paying their 25% temple tax and made it a problem for the priests.  Life went on as before.  Universal Greek and official Latin replaced native tongues.  Everyone aspired to Roman citizenship.  Roman rule was fairly popular everywhere except for one place, Palestine.  Jews had a system of paying civil authorities and also paying three tithes to the priesthood.  Two were annual 10% tithes and one was triannual. So the religious tax was 23.3%.  Atop this came the Roman tax of 25%.  Living on a subsistence, the Jews couldn't pay and during the reign of Herod the Great, he took their lands in lieu of their tax payments.  By the time of his death, he owned half the land of Palestine and landless Jews such as Joseph, father of Jesus, had to abandon his family home at Bethlehem and work as a builder ('tekton', Greek) where he could find work.  The Jews couldn't take it and rebelled. And beginning in 66 AD the Romans had had enough and started a genocide campaign against the Jews that ended with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
     What Obama does is tax.  And Taxmaggedon is on the way January 2013 when he will have more "flexibility".  Tax is what will happen if we have a credit crisis.  Inflation is just another word for a hidden tax that robs people of the value of their life savings.  Tax is coming, unless we vote.  194 days.
    Oh, by the way, this EPA ding dong said the Romans went  into a Turkish village.  Turks were still in central Asia when Rome ruled.  Seljuk Turks didn't invade "Turkey" until 1000 years after Christ.  You think that EPA guy was educated in one of our government-run schools?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hype and Chains

The apple does not fall far from the tree.  Barack Obama’s “Hype and Chains” looks like the Old Oklahoma Single Party System on steroids.  The Democrats controlled the OK legislature for almost a century and it looks a lot like Obamanation, just not so boldly socialist.  Consider these comparisons.

            Obama, who decried the deficit under the Republican Congress, began to spend like a—no, I won’t use the term ‘drunken sailor’ because he knows exactly what he is doing.  We will approach the 2012 election with $16 trillion of federal debt and nearing a debt crisis.  In OK the Democrat Governor spent like that too.  In 2011 the Republican legislature had to clean up a $600 million shortfall, 10% of the $6 billion budget.  Got ‘r done.  Obama hypes class warfare and constantly wants to raise taxes on the rich.  OK Dems did as well.  It still wasn’t enough.  We had 7.25% income taxes and still the rich didn’t pay their fair share. So the R’s lowered taxes to 5.25% and managed to make the economy grow at double the prior decade’s rate.  90 years of  single party rule blessed OK with so many loopholes, that the OK Tax Commission issued a report begging the legislature to simply void 90% of the tax dodges which could lower the income tax to about 3%.  This week the legislature votes on this proposal which ultimately could lead to no income tax whatsoever. So is “zero for everyone” fair?

            Obama hyped the chains of Obamacare and all our local leftists loved it.  The previous Gov accepted a $54million grant to immediately set up an Obamacare Exchange.  New Republican Governor Mary Fallin sent the money back since it would encumber the state to nearly double Medicaid recipients and start dictating health insurance policies.  Then our state joined in suing the Feds for 10th Amendment violation. Likewise Obama won’t advance a proposal to fix Social Security or Medicare, and even cooks the books by double counting Medicare funding. Yeah, we have seen stuff like this. OK had a $16 billion unfunded teacher’s pension plan.  Evidently the previous guys either didn’t really care about the teachers or planned to soak the taxpayers when the bills came due.  New Republicans in the legislature are on the way to fixing that gap having shrunk $6 billion of the non-funding in the first year.  Fire fighters and police were also put on a permanent, reliable, maintained funding of pensions.

            Obama blames the lack of jobs on Bush even though the recession of 07 was over by June 09 and we have had an unprecedented jobless recovery for 3 years. One out of five people who want a job have none.  Bureau of Labor Statistics: 2009, 134.5 million employed;  2012, 131.6 million employed.  90% of college grads got jobs in the year Obama got elected and now it is 56%. We’ve seen it. In the 90’s Oklahoma had a recession despite the boom in the rest of America.  Kay County had 13% unemployment at one point, highest in the nation.  Oil bust, high taxes, poor farming, and everyone was leaving the state.  But beginning about 2005, the R’s promoted our natural gas resources, lowered taxes, led a spirited defense for agriculture and passed the Quality Jobs Act.  6.7% unemployment.  That ain’t no hype. 

            And then there are the chains of regulation.  Obama keeps trying to re-introduce gun control issues.  Fast and Furious was a blunder designed to hoodwink the voters into this.  In OK old gun control laws are crazy—the sort of thing you would see designed by people who want to skirt a distasteful issue, like eating your lutefisk.  You can defend yourself in a car with a gun.  You just can’t carry a gun in a car.  You can defend your property with a gun.  You just can’t carry a gun for that purpose.  “Hey, just shootin’ gophers when that guy attacked me.”  The R’s are getting this changed as well.  And just like Fast and Furious, Solyndra, et. al., and the GSA in Wonderland plus countless other federal idiocies, OK Dems owned the Education Dept. for 90 years and staffed it with highly paid educrats.  Hmm.  Audits now uncover a secret liquor-buying bank account.  Charges should soon be filed.

            Union buddies like SEIU have been noted having joint rallies with the American Communist Party.  The UAW got bailed out and indeed were made owners of two auto companies, against all known contract laws.   Here in OK the Dems are in bed with the teacher’s union and thus the state budget is 70% education.  That is, the entire rest of the state functions on just 30% of its budget.  (We have had 1600 bridges condemned out of 6800 total for over a decade.  The R fixed 900 of 'em last year alone.)  We have small town superintendents who make about as much as our US Senators at $250,000 a year.  Yet we rank roughly 30th in ACT scores.  But that was before Janet Baressi, new Republican State Superintendent.  Now schools are given letter grades and an explanation of various areas needing improvement.  That has caused the educrats to scramble to make improvements. She got OK exempted from No Child Left Behind to the applause of both teachers and parents.

            Obama won’t drill.  He won’t even mine coal. Energy must be scarce and expensive. The EPA and Labor Dept. conduct a war on farmers trying to make family helpers illegal and treating spilled milk like an oil spill.  Regulation philosophy: "Crucify the first 5 people you see."  How’s that Hype and Chains working out for you? When OK filed an atmospheric haze abatement program with the feds they disregarded it.  Our Attorney General sued their kiester for violating their own haze regulations.

             Over and over we see the Obama /OK left at work.  War on Christianity, especially Catholics and Lutherans and evangelicals has been declared. Why who would listen to those bitter clingers?  But the OK conservatives passed a Personhood for the Unborn resolution last week with broad support, 73-14.  Oh, we must be racists who just wanted Trayvon “hunted down like an animal”.  Don’t tell that to incoming Republican  Speaker of the House,T.W. Shannon, who has African ancestry.  Pelosi’s Congress set student loan rates to double in July 2012 so they could demagogue it in an election year.  Oklahoma Republicans passed a measure to pilot a University Center in Ponca City.  Cheap. Rural access to over a dozen universities online but with tutorial help.  So you don’t need Obama’s loans.  No border fence with Mexico.  We just got voter ID here.  Occupy movement raising hell all over.  Hey, we got the Tea Party movement around here. Oh, did I mention that the head of the State Democrat Party accused the Grand Old Party of the Adults of the OKC bombing and venomously said that “Timothy McVeigh would be a Tea Partier if he were alive today.”

            Hype and chains.  Here, let me give you a Republican hacksaw to work on those chains.  

Monday, April 23, 2012


Was listening to Beck:

“So here’s Media Matters in their strategy when they actually applied for the IRS application, here’s what they said. They said that it is going to counter what it views as ‘pro Christian bias’ in the news reporting and analysis by the American media. It is common for news and commentary by the press to present viewpoints that tend to be overly and promoting a conservative Christian‑influenced ideology.”

            Perhaps such things make you yawn.  Let me tell you a very close story.  At age 19 I was a single parent, trying to work my way through school.  At that time nothing meant more to me than my faith and my daughter.  Ran across a Latvian-American student who had only a couple of finger nails on each hand.  I wondered why.  Here's what he said. “We are Christians. In Latvia, you dare not go to church since the priest is really a KGB agent.  So my parents were holding secret prayer and bible meetings in our home.  The KGB got wind of this and took my father in for interrogation and torture.  When he didn’t ‘break’, they brought me in.  I was 8.  And they began to pull the fingernails out of my fingers.  My father couldn’t take it and confessed all the names of people coming to the meetings.”  I was greatly and emotionally moved and said something idiotic about how cruel people could be, and he responded, “No, you don’t understand.  In order to join the International Communist Party you have to swear to the eradication of Christianity.  Otherwise they won’t accept you.” I guess the ICP aren’t live-and-let-live atheists, but vitriolically anti-Christian.

I'm still strong on faith and family.  Through the years I always told myself that R’s and D’s were just two viewpoints about how much government should there be.  And I didn't have time for politics.  But if any party began to enlist true, hardened communists, it was time for me to get active politically. With the ‘appointment’ of folks like Van Jones, Anita Dunn and half a dozen other communist party members among Obama’s czars, with his association with Ayers and Frank Davis, the time has arrived.  For these are not Alger Hiss style guys who manage to slip into the administration.  These are friends of Barack who make him what he is. 

But, you wince, isn’t Obama a Christian?  That’s rather debatable, considering that he only misquotes passages from the bible which support his leftist agenda.  And he makes statements like “America is not a Christian nation,”  Some have therefore called him a Muslim but that definition breaks down as well since Muslims are required to submit to the 5 Pillars of Islam and he hardly takes such things seriously.  I would classify him as a Nothing. But even if he were a Christian in some notional way, he is playing with fire by hiring the communists.

And by snagging the trip-wire of my faith’s eradication, I suddenly find myself dedicating a large part of my time to politics.  It is that simple. It's that serious. I guess I'm one of those "clingers" Obama talked about.  Not "bitter", just determined to bring back our country.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gone to the dogs

Ho! Barack
Obama pointed out ever so reluctantly that Mitt Romney once put the family dog
in a carrier and exposed the hapless critter outside the car. Oh, the horrors! To do such things is not at all what the
refined PETA people of Chicago would do. And it turns out, this is an enormous campaign
issue, but only most shyly offered by the magnanimous President. Moreover, the
evil, vile Romney is not alone in this practice. Why just today I followed a bitter clinger
who had exiled not one but two dogs to the back of his pickup truck. With no compassion for the poochie-woochies
whatsoever, he not only let the canines ride in the open back of his rattletrap
truck, but didn’t even bother to afix the tailgate. Where is OSHA when such things occur? No
doubt he was sadistically hoping the dogs would fall out as they staggered
helplessly trying to keep their balance while rushing from one side of the
truck to the other. Evidently
asphyxiated by the exhaust fumes, these two dogs of rural extraction, had begun
to pant and had their tongues hanging out of their mouths as they attempted to
look into the wind in order to garner a fresh breath of air. Indeed Hank the cowdog and his Henrietta
began to wildly bark at a deer in the pasture, no doubt warning of the cruel
behavior of their master. But no matter
how excited they became the deer was unable to rescue them from the horrid fate
of traveling al fresco. Hay and straw
began to blow over their hair. Can you
imagine! No one would want them to curl
up on a lap in the evening. Why I would
even bet that Hank the Cowdog and Henrietta will have nothing to eat this
evening except CO-OP dog food and a bath will be a dip in the stocktank plus a
good shake. Nonetheless, I am extremely
hesitant to bring this repulsive situation to the attention of the Obama
campaign—only because Romney does it.
Oh, the appalling cruelty!

And just
for the record, we should point out that the Republicans have found that Barack
ate dog while in Indonesia. Well, so what!
I have actually eaten a hot dog too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hillary and Ann

Who dat Hillary Rosen? Never heard of her before she shot off on Ann Romney.
Of course all the Dems are defending her and re-explaining her potshot that Ann Romney
never held a job. And all the Reps are saying that Ann has had breast cancer, MS, and 5 boys (hopefully that is in the order of difficulty).

But what I find fascinating is that no one takes on the premise that a stay-at-home doesn’t
know about economic difficulties. Preposterous! Have you not read “The
Millionaire Next Door”, Hillary? The researchers who wrote that best-seller of 2000, noted that there were 3 million millionaires in USA at the time. Well
over 90% of them got rich slowly, by accumulating. Very few get rich quickly via lottery winning
or professional athletics or inheritance. Most millionaires got rich by continually increasing their pot of gold and giving very little of it to the government (smart tax strategies). They are unassuming and most people are surprised at their wealth. They look like ordinary
people next door. The authors looked for correlation between jobs and ethnicity and other things and found very little. Then they noted that 80% of wealthy couples had wives at home. That
compares with 33% stay-at-home moms among the general population. Well, they thought, that’s just because these people are wealthy and wives didn’t have to work outside the home. Not true! Over 50% of the spouses chose not to work from the get-go. When they were
still poor and living on peanut butter, the women chose to stay at home. Why?

The researchers started interviewing the women and realized that they were an
integral part of the plan. As one woman explained, “Say you have a group of people and they all make $40,000 ayear. And all spend $40,000 a year. They all look somewhat the same, living
similar lifestyles. But suppose there is one couple in which the homemaker is astute and knows how to have champagne living on a beer budget. She manages to provide a $40,000 life on $30,000 expenses each year. They can salt away $10,000 every year for
retirement. Her adventurous and fun frugality are key to providing long term security. And her husband and children learn to catch onto her fun frugality.” Thus
accumulation happens.

Such women are the enablers of success. And keeping the home economics efficient and productive is a first step in launching husbands into a successful business. Lucy and
Mrs. Cleaver and Edith Bunker are not the dingbats of the world but are the among
the geniuses. The MND authors also found these women oftimes have dual careers with their husbands, lending a skill where it is needed in a family business.
And thus Ann Romney is not unlearned on economics of the real world,
Hillary, she is the consultant you would want as a candidate.

Now of course, not all the MND couples were like this. And every person should have the opportunity to succeed at what they love. Also circumstances like health or
divorce dictate that wives work. But to say that a stay-at-home mom is a dummy is about as dumb as it gets.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mormon supression

Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC had an absolute hatchet job on Mormonism, explaining the
religion as nothing more than the founder getting caught in an affair with the
maid. Then Jake Tapper of ABC played up
a big interview question with Rick Warren in which Warren pointed out an obvious
thing. Some Christians have a concern
about Mormonism because it is not strictly Trinitarian. Of course, it’s not that O’Donnell or Tapper are pietistic systematic theologians. I’d bet you never heard either of them
give any kind of testimony of their faith --on or off the air. But by raising big warning flags about
Mormonism, they can attack Romney quite cleverly and obliquely. Chris Matthews of MSNBC was absolutely gleeful. No, that’s too weak a
word. Matthews was Ecstatic about the
possibility that Evangelical turnout might be reduced this fall. He even chortled that Evangelicals “would all
stay home.” Matthews is no dummy. He has been in many campaigns for Democrats
and he understands that turnout is a far larger effect than the often-repeated
foolishness of appealing to the independents.
Suppressing conservative turnout is the name of the game among

Here’s why. In any given general election 58-69% of registered
voters do. And you have probably heard
that R’s and D’s have something like 40 and 42% of those registered. Lets make it 40-40 just for discussion
purposes. That means 20% are
Independents. (Fewer I’s in
midcontinent—about 10%-- and larger on the coasts—about 30%) But Independents
as a group are only half as likely to vote as partisans who vote 75% of the
time. So in our election we would have
30 % R’s + 30% D’s + 7% I’s = 67% turnout.

Then they
poll asking if someone is liberal, moderate, or conservative. Among registered
voters, they are 20% liberal, 30% moderate and 40% conservative (last 10% are
“none-of-the-above”). Republicans are
80% conservative and about 15% moderate (plus 5% ‘none-of-the-above’). That means that of the 40 percentage points
that R’s comprise, 32 are conservative and 6% moderate. But 40% of the registered say they are
conservative, so the other 8 points of conservatives are about 4% in the
independent column and 4% in the Dems.
In an election, if the R’s run a conservative, almost all their base
will vote for the conservative. This is
not the case with Dems and liberals.
Remember D’s comprise 40% but liberals only account for 20% of voters. So the 40% D’s break down as about 18%
liberal (2% goes to Independents) and 18% moderate and 4% conservative. (Leaving Independents at 4% conservative, 2%
liberal, 6% moderate and 8% none of the above) Thus Dems must play a game of
pretending to be centrist and moderate while being liberal in order to attract
base votes, or they must be indeed be somewhat centrist like Bill Clinton and
rely on libs having nowhere else to go—which is not a good turnout situation. Instead of ideology, Dems often play group
politics demonizing R’s as anti-black or anti-hispanic or anti-women or
whatever group they are trying to target.
Thus they get the base to turn out based on an emotional group-think
rather than a political philosophy. And
that is why media pundits—who are shown to vote 89% Democrat—always talk about
being centrist, appealing to moderates and independents, and homophobia and
racism. From their perspective, that is
how to win. And usually with a media barrage, this occurs every October when
polls show a phenomena of “Democrats coming home”.

The great
fear of Dems is when R’s go conservative and not only get their own conservs to
vote but win the independents and even steal the conservative D’s (“Reagan
Democrats”). Work the math to see how
this happens. You only need about 35% of
registered voters to get a majority of the 67% who actually vote. So if you turn out ¾ of 32 Republican
Conservative points (24) plus 3/8 of 4 points conservative independents (almost
2) plus ¾ of 4 points of crossover Dem conservatives (3) plus the remaining ¾
of 8 points of moderate and other R’s, then that candidate has won with a
substantial margin. And that is why Rush Limbaugh points out that whenever a
conservative is running they almost always win.
And that is why Jimmy Carter won with 51% and Obama won with 53%, a
paltry “best” of Democrats since LBJ. Furthermore,
if the conservative R candidate merely splits the independent moderate vote
(3/8 of 6) and gets a couple more points from crossover Dem moderate voters,
he/she has won by a landslide.

Where does
that leave the 20% Independent voters? Independents
are not a very pure philosophy group. 1/5 of them are closet partisans who vote
always for a particular party but want to keep their identity secret. 1/5 are careful-consideration moderates. 1/5 are turned off at politics in general and
tend to vote by lashing out. 1/5 are not
into politics at all and likely to vote for some sideline issue. 1/5 are out-of-sync with the parties—perhaps
a guy with Playboy Philosophy but fiscally conservative. They are hard to lump into a particular
scheme and you can see why they vote less often. Hence swing (partisan) voters are often
considered more important and targetable than independents. Pundits who say
that Indies are the key to the election, are either not being truthful or
clueless. Turnout of base is far more important.

A big part
of Democrat strategy has to be to suppress the conservative Republicans lest
they vote. And my guess is that they are
going to try to do that with attacks on Mormonism. Look for more Lawrence O’Donnell pulpit
talk. Like Greg Gutfield noted
sarcastically, “Isn’t not voting for a guy because his Mormon founder had questionable
sins like not voting for an Episcopalian because of the sins of Henry VIII?”

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sator squares

learning that one of the interesting learnings about the early Christian church
is the new stuff about the spread of the gospel by the Roman military. Of course, we have known for a long time that
the Romans strictly would not tolerate a Christian in their army. And that 2nd century Christians
would not allow a soldier to convert while on active duty since soldiers
pledged absolute loyalty to the Roman gods and fought for “the greater glory of

Not so fast. The appeal of Christianity which believed in the resurrection and a triumphal life after death was enormous for a guy who laid his life on the line day after day. And then there is that little passage in Phillipians 1:13 “so that my imprisonment I the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,” The praetorian guard was Caesar’s crack and loyal division who surrounded him with protection. What business was the gospel with such SS men? Was there some sort of secret bunch of followers?

Apparently archeologists have discovered what at first appeared as a game in Roman
camps. Almost solely in Roman military camps is found a 5X5 inscription at odd places—on walls, pillars, scratched into pavement, etc.
The inscription is


They call
it the Sator Square. You’ll notice that
it spells "sator" either forwards or backwards all around the edges and arepo is
just opera spelled backwards. Apparently
Romans loved angiograms and often scratched random letter arrangements with the
challenge to find words in the mélange.
But this particular 5X5 has meaning and every line is a word. Sator means ‘sower’. Arepo is evidently a name. Tenet means ‘holds’. Opera means ‘working’. Rotas means ‘wheel’ So “Sower Arepo (or Arepo the sower) holds the working wheels.” Well, so what? Is this like ‘the quick brown fox…”

Experts in
Roman games say that this 5X5 is different in that it is completely symmetric and
doesn’t hide words. So it seems not so much a game as an inscription meant to
look like a game.

wherever it is found and dated, a Christian community seems to magically appear
in the locale within 20 or 30 years. Sator squares followed by Christian churches is found in places as far removed as Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland to barracks in Spain to Egyptian training facilities.

someone thought, hey, you know after the time of Augustus, the empire grew so
large that the Italian Roman army had to recruit all over the empire with the incentive
of gaining Roman citizenship if you served a full term of 20 years. (true Romans
had to serve 8 years). And these foreign guys knew Greek as the universal language and Latin but as second languages. Their spelling and grammar wasn’t too good. Who was the mysterious Arepo? There is no known Roman name like that.
But the Greek has a word, “alepo” which means “almighty” and
pronunciation is almost the same with ‘r’ and ‘l’ being quite similar as said
by ancient Greeks and Romans. Maybe
someone just substituted arepo for alepo since they needed an ‘r’ for symmetry. And so the phrase would be more meaningful, “The almighty sower holds the working of the wheels”. That is to say, God in heaven holds all within His plan.

Then they
found a stone with the Sator square on it and somebody had nearby carved into the shape of a cross that said (both ways),

and surrounded by a pair of AO'S
letters as the Sator square, rearranged into a cross and “Pater Nostres” is “Our Father” the
beginning words of the Lord’s prayer.
And the leftover A’s and O’s?
Those in Greek would be the Alpha and Omega, signifying Christ. Clearly a Christian got hold of the Sator

But then
they found the baker in Pompeii. The city
was destroyed in 70AD by the Vesuvius eruption and dumped a sudden toxic gas
cloud onto the city and covered it with many feet of volcanic ash. The funny thing about volcanic ash is that as
rainwater percolates through it, it tends to petrify anything organic,
replacing carbons with silicons in a perfect reducing environment. So the delicate fresco paintings were often
preserved, as were dead bodies. The
baker’s shop was obvious. There was a big oven and loaves of bread petrified on
the counters. And the fresco of the
owner and his wife were still proudly smiling over the shop. The owner was not Italian, but a former
foreign soldier, 25 year active, shown proudly clutching his citizenship papers
and named an Illyrian name. Stunningly
enough, he is a Christian. He had carved
a cross above the oven and at various places around the store. Outside, there were some older base
reliefs of those typical Roman porn which
had been plastered over with Christian symbols.
And then in the storage room was a Sator square, along with some
Christian writings around them, referring to the military.
Elsewhere we have found Sator Squares with Christian fish symbols written nearby.

apparently to some extent we still don’t know, the Roman army had a secret sect
of Christians who spread the faith far and wide. And the Sator Square seems to have been their clandestine symbol.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus as a kid

A good topic for Easter...
My Young Families class has often brought up the topic of “What do we know about Jesus when he was a child?” Standard theological answer is that we know nothing except for his astounding Temple visit when he was 12 found in Luke 2:41ff. But I think we can derive a lot about Jesus from his parables, and the recent knowledge we have of life in the first century. I will warn you however, that I am not of the mind that Jesus simply “knew everything” as if by magic. Many people assume that because he was divine, he was merely omniscient. I am more of the point of view of Phil. 2:5 “he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Surely Jesus didn’t lie in his manger thinking, ‘well, shall I have a dirty diaper? After all, I know all about potty training already.” No, I think he learned just like you and I, as it alludes to in Hebrews.

First observation is that Joseph is poor. He is by occupation a ‘Tekton’ Greek for ‘builder’. That gets translated “carpenter” in most earlier translations, including Luther’s Bible. (German word for carpenter is “Zimmerman”, so when the other folks in his hometown said “Er ist nicht der Zimmerman”…) Tekton was probably more like a stonemason than a woodworker, although some have suggested a handyman. The tektons found building work where they could and worked for farmers for food as well. They were landless peasants and least well-off of the society of the time. Mary was said by Polycarp, early Christian Father who was the understudy of John, to have been 16 when she had Jesus and Joseph was 40. Figures. Joe had to save up for years to get a decent dowry. Joe was alive when Jesus was 12 making him about 52. Anybody older than 50 was said by Hebrews to be ‘elderly’. So it is likely that Joseph died soon after the Luke 2 story of Jesus in the Temple. Jesus has extraordinary sympathy for families where breadwinner’s died like when Lazarus died (Luke 10)leaving behind two sisters—and women couldn’t earn a living like a man. See Widow’s mite story during last week of his life. This may also explain why such a promising youth as Jesus wasn’t bat mitzvahed at about age 16—he had to earn a living for his family. Bat Mitzvah would have meant that he would have learned to write and been a scribe. But Jesus warns scribes and Pharisees about their attitude repeatedly (See Matt. 23:1). Jesus could read and write of course because he wrote in the dirt when a woman caught in adultery was brought to him. But he was no scribe trained in stylus and ink.
So Jesus had to earn a living for the family as the oldest son, probably at an early age of about early teens. But he worked with his dad since the earliest age. Could he build? You betcha! He knew some builder secrets. In Matt. 7 and Luke 6 he tells about a wise man who built his house on a rock and a foolish man who built on sand. This might not make sense to someone raised in a temperate climate. In the desert the standard surface is the desert pavement which looks like gravel. It is stone that has fractured into gravel by heat/cold and sun but since there is no rain to make chemical action and soil, it is just gravel. But of course no one lives out there. There are boulders and rock outcroppings and then along dried stream beds there is sand and silt. When it rains in the desert it’s usually flash flood, a disaster that would carry over into a semi-arid climate as well. Do people build on the sandy areas? Foolishly they do. Just take a flight over Las Vegas suburbs and trace the dried stream beds. Once every 30 years they’ll get wiped out. Jesus shows in this story that he knows the idiocy of building on sand deposits in a dry land, whereas even today, some builders don’t. In the Rejected Building Stone, he shows that he understands that a rough-hewn stone vs. a cornerstone is just in the tooling.
Could Jesus farm? You betcha! His parable of the sower occurs in all three synoptic gospels (See Mark 4:3-20) wherein he knows what happens to seed that falls into all types of conditions. Then in Mark 4:26-29 he talks about darnels in wheat. In Mark 13 he talks about how to take care of an old fig tree (figs usually bear like crazy so a barren fig is unusual). In the prodigal son story, he knows how to survive on pig feed fodder, the sort of thing a poor family would do in extreme famine conditions. In the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18), he clearly knows all about tending sheep, in the Weeds (Matt. 13) he knows all about how weeds grow, and in New Wine (Matt. 9, Luke 5) he understands the way poor folks made wine—as compared with Greek vats and barrels to age after fermentation. And he knew all about mustard seeds. And how crucial daily bread was.
Thirdly, most peasant farmers farmed their own subsistence land and had no hired men. But Jesus grew up as a hired man’s son and probably hired himself out as well. His stories show a well traveled guy looking for work and understanding of what managers were looking for. He travels from town to town without fear, walking about 2500 miles in 3 years, it is estimated--physically fit as well. Jesus clearly is well-versed on the hiring and firing for not just agriculture, but also in the trades. And he knows debt as shown in the unforgiving servant story of Matt. 18. In the parable of the Wise Master (Luke 12), he understands business and commerce of the time intimately and in that same chapter he describes a rich fool who tries to store what won’t last. And in the parable of the Talents and the Pearl of Great Value, he shows keen insight into business risk-taking, an understanding that is all too lost on many people outside of the business world.
It is written that Jesus had 4 brothers and according to some early Christian writers Mary had as many as 8 children. Jesus’ insights into the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25) shows he understood well the village weddings and female banter where half the young girls forget to carry enough oil for their lamps. In the Two Sons (Matt. 21) he clearly knows what it is like to interact with an obstinate or devious brother. And in the Banquet (Luke 14) he catches the poignancy of the relief of a life of hard labor by getting invited into the great feast. His love of children and his parable of the kids playing ‘marketplace’ reflects, not a loner, but a child who grew up with many peers, brothers and sisters. As the Wedding at Cana shows, Jesus was well-versed on the responsibility of being the family decision maker, probably from a young age.
So what do we have in Jesus? I think an extraordinarily responsible young man, hard working, and a peasant who understood from life the mysteries of faith. His parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector shows not just his insights into the desperate faith of a tax collector and the pride of a Pharisee, but also his intense heart for the real meaning of Jewish faith. He is the peasant kid who ‘got it’—from God’s judgment in the coming age to His Mercy, from how faith makes your handling of money to the way it affects your prayers. And he was able to transmit his message, not just to other common folks of his day, but right down to us today.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I hate crime and courtroom media. I know a lot of folks love to judge the cases themselves and love to listen. But how could one accurately judge without knowing all the facts, like a jury that sits through hours of testimony? And so I have been trapped by Trayvon this week. That’s all you can listen to on talk radio or TV. Since everyone seems to think they know what happened, I will add my two cents—or if you are in Canada, that rounds down to nothing, zip, nada, free.

If a boy has no father or has no relationship with his father, he is 400 times as likely
to engage in juvenile delinquency and 25 times as likely to join a gang. With 70% of births among Afro-descendant Americans being out of wedlock, this is why they have such a high rate of
delinquency and crime as young men. (49% of incarcerated males are Afro and almost ¾ of reported violent crimes are committed by Afros.) The reason for this is that a
young guy yearns to make his mark, be accepted among other males as having measured
up. When a kid has a father or close father image, he will argue and fight, crab, bitch and bellyache at the old man but nothing makes him happier than when dad tells him in some way that he has measured up. Alternatively a young warrior can get this affirmation from a group of men who have already measured up, like the military or some competitive group. Women cannot give this kind ofaffirmation. Only other guys.

But when there is no father, no army, no coach, the gang of peers becomes the
substitute. Yet the gang members are all members who have not made their own mark either. There is wild, erratic behavior trying to impress the peers—who have only a foggy idea about what they should be impressed over. Gangs lead to violence, sexual exploitation, race-baiting and substance abuse. This kind of thing gives only contempt to a real man, but insecure gang members think it is somehow cool. And the problem in Afro culture is that although you might have had a good father, there are all those other misfit gangsta guys. Thus the great men of fame, like Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas talk about grandparents and mentors who were such strong influences that they were in some sense insulated from the fray.

For thousands of years, fathers have taught sons the skills of professions, the
philosophy of a knight, the ways of a warrior. Once a young man realizes he measures up and is now a warrior, the world begins to look different. He is quietly confident of his abilities, but golly, the world is a really big place. It would be nice to have a partner, a mate, a
companion who is really close. Thus, unless a young guy measures up and finds his place, he won’t be ready to seek out a true love. Gangstas don’t love. They are too insecure. They try to act tough to cover their insecurity, the kind of bravado that would make a Trayvon turn and try to beat up some old guy who was trying to watch what he was doing. The true warrior would have strode on by, confident and happy that somebody was watching and concerned. For he is at the top of his game, a young lion headed for the title of Lion King.

And without being able to love, gangstas leave behind fatherless children, thus perpetuating the problem.

If the leaders were truly a warriors, lovers, and Lion Kings, they would be angry with the gangs, not trying to insinuate racism into the game. The Lion King would be calling for investigative justice, not ‘blood in the streets and mobs if we don’t get our way.’ The Lion King would aim squarely at the problem of absentee dads.