Sunday, August 23, 2009

And Who Is My Neighbor?

How many are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan? In the passage, An expert of the Jewish law (lawyer) asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded by asking the lawyer what the law says, and the lawyer responded with "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, Love you neighbor as yourself". Jesus agreed. Then the lawyer tried to justify himself by asking "And who is my neighbor?", to which Jesus gave the story of the Good Samaritan.

Why did the lawyer try to justify himself? Did he try to qualify who his neighbor was? I was convicted by this because I would call those people that are easy to be around as my neighbors. But then would I would NOT call neighbors as those that require alot of my effort, or money, or time, or energy. I would justify myself by saying "That person lives too far away", " That person has nothing in common with me", "That person might sue me or hurt me", or "That person gives nothing back in this relationship".

Jesus gives an example of how to be neighbor by telling the story of the Good Samaritan (the Jewish people hated the Samaritans and had nothing to do with them). The Samaritan risked his life, used his hard earned money (two denarii = two days wages), and gave a whole day to serve the victim. Jesus showed this example of being a neighbor by showing that no matter what the cost and no matter who the other person is, we a called to be a neighbor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Moral Imperitive

President Obama said at a town meeting:

"We must also provide Americans who can't afford health insurance with more affordable options. This is both a moral imperative and an economic imperative, because we know that when someone without health insurance is forced to get treatment at the ER, all of us end up paying for it."

Why is it that whenever a bill must be passed quickly, that the term moral imperative or moral obligation is tagged to the bill? When does having health insurance become a moral right?

I have come up with some messages of my own:

"It is a moral imperative to work for you own living, instead of having the govenment pay your bill"

"It is a moral imperative that the US pay back government loans and not burden our future generations with a massive debt."

"It is a moral imperative that I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a nice cool Pepsi."

Just recently President Obama spoke to a gathering Jewish Rabbis and said,

"we are God's partners in matters of life and death."

I can't judge, but it is difficult for me to believe that God is partnering up with President Obama. It makes me think of Joshua 5:13-14 when Joshua was confronted by a man and Joshua says "Are you for us or for our enemies?". The man (who is believed to be Jesus) said "Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have come."

If President Obama is really partnering with God, then awesome, but it is difficult for me to believe President Obama is a man set after God's heart when we hear nothing from him about God until a bill needs to be passed.

I am just tired of all the rhetoric that is used with terms like "moral imperative" and "God's partners" to guilt us into agreeing with a bill that (I believe) will not work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Rachael and I have a 1997 Eagle Vision and thought that this car would qualify as a clunker. This would gives us a $4500 incentive to buy a new car. I checked and found that there was only one version of the 1997 Eagle Vision that qualifies. This has the VMODE option. What the heck is VMODE? I checked every website to find that most think that VMODE has to do with the autostick option, which our Eagle Vision has.

So, we thought we would go to some dealerships and see if there is anything we like. We checked out a few dealerships and found that most of the dealers did not want to hassle with the cars for clunkers customers. It felt as if the 5-star service went down to 2-stars if there was any mention of a clunker. Most dealers would not offer any incentives if a customer was turning in a clunker, with the explanation that the $4500 was a good-enough incentive, even though the incentive was from the government.

Anways, we narrowed our search down to a Honda Civic LX-S and used the USAA car program (well recommended) to pre-negotiate rates. There were two nearby Honda dealers that were informed of my interest. A Honda dealer in Round Rock, TX emailed us a offer that was almost $2000 below MSRP. Rachael then called two other Honda dealers to see if they could beat that offer, but they first asked if we were doing the clunkers program and that they would not lower the price for customers with clunkers. Ridiculous! So, Rachael called the Round Rock, TX dealer and said we would take the offer and also added that we had a clunker. The dealer was a little irritated because they tried to make it a policy to hold back incentives for clunker customers, but the deal was already offered and he would honor the price.

So, we were ready to buy that Wednesday night, but before we could, we found we did not have the receipt for Eagle's registration to qualify as a clunker. So, we waited a day and Rachael picked up a duplicate at the county clerk on Thursday. The next day, Friday, we were ready to buy and were in the process of buying the car, but found that the dealer would not take the Eagle Vision as a clunker because they were not sure it qualified. They did not know what VMODE meant. So, we had to drop the offer and we are still stuck with the Eagle Vision. An even more interesting thing occurred the following Monday when the Round Rock dealer called me and told me the salesman that we were working with passed away that weekend. Poor guy.

Through all of this, it just proves to me more and more that government programs are just a hassle and sometimes can be lethal.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Free Health Care For All?!? (Part 2)

There is an interesting article from a generally leftist writer that is a bit critical of the Democratic party's handling of health care reform. It is worth the read...

Also, my dad decided to get involved in the political process and wrote to U.S. Senator Ben Nelson from Nebraska. Here is his letter:

Senator Nelson: August 8, 2009

I have never written or called a congressman or senator in my life (I'm 63 years old), but this health care legislation is a huge concern. My concerns are the resulting care (speed and the care decision process), and of course the cost.

I base my concern on (1) the expected deficit for Medicare that has been discussed in Washington over the past years...with no proposed solution; (2)my 20 years experience with the Air Force's health care (it was good) but I cannot begin to tell you the long, long hours we waited in the emergency room for health care (we had 4 children so we had plenty of experience) and (3) our travel to Europe on short-term Christian mission trip. They wait months and sometimes years for an important surgery.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? I do not want our (yours and mine) grandchildren to have poor health care when they become adults. One recent comment was that the USA is 37th in health care. My response, they can pick and receive health care from any of the top 36 nations, I will pick USA for my care (and I would guess that they would choose to have their surgery here as well).

If we want to do something, let’s:

(1) Limit litigation dollar amounts, (2) require everyone to posses catastrophic private health insurance (like our required liability car insurance), and (3) take very small steps that have been tested and proven at the state level. The path we are headed down will NOT WORK.

I worked in the military bureaucracy (headquarters) for 10 of my 20 years and having this type of a system for health care scares me.

One final comment: If we estimated the cash for clunkers program ($1 B vs. $3B) which is a quantified program that requires only a few upfront assumptions; how far off will we be on a $1.3T program? I know the government does not guess on the high side!

Thanks for your listening ear.

Bob Becker

Monday, August 10, 2009

Finally Done!

Last summer 2008, Rachael and I wanted to get a patio table, but Rachael wanted to make a mosaic patio table. Sounds cool! Rachael talks about it in her blog:

I did not realize the amount of effort that is required. So we found a wrought iron patio table base on Craigslist (which is a whole other story) and I made 4 ft diameter table top out of 3/4 plywood and sealed it with oil based paint.

Rachael had some great ideas for the table. She used a piece of pottery she saw in Seattle as inspiration. We use standard brown and eggshell white glossy tiles from Home Depot and mixed in some white tiles with a matte finish.

Then the fun began. Having an idea and executing it to the end are two very different animals. Rachael and I started off well but found the job to be a little demanding. Fall came and went, then Winter, Spring, and now Summer. While Rachael was in Italy, I finished laying down the brown leafy parts. With that done, the rest of the process was easier, though slow-going. Imagine putting a puzzle together when you have pieces from many different puzzles, and you'll have a good idea of the challenge. We had one small hic-up when we ran out of our matted white tiles, so Rachael went searching. Luckily, she was directed to a tile company in Austin called Travis Tile, where they had great salespeople who were very helpful and generous. We got the rest of the tile and worked on it intermittently for the next four weeks. Rachael was never more relieved to lay that last piece of tile!

We still hadn't exactly figured out how to treat the edge, but since Rachael really wanted a metal border, we looked around at a few home hardware stores. We found and painted black two aluminum strips to use as the side border, which turned out great. Lastly, we grouted and sealed. Tonight, we enjoyed our first meal on our new table!

Overall, this project took much longer than I expected, but I am pleased with the results. I am not sure if Rachael and I will attempt another project of that scale, but who knows. I have posted some pictures of the work in progress and the finished results. What do you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big Brother

Just ran across this website

that asks the faithful Americans to submit a email to if there is any disinformation or anything "fishy" being spread about the immaculate health care plan. Sounds like any opposing argument to the irreproachable health care plan must end. Apparently, freedom of speech has been qualified. You are free to argue against anything except the stimulus plan, the federal deficit, the federal bailouts, man-made global warming, and health care reform. Is this clear?

As a good American citizen, I felt inclined to turn myself in. I wrote a blog a two weeks ago that argued against health care reform. It seemed "fishy". So I emailed with the following:

To Whom it My Concern,

I am not sure if I am spreading disinformation, but I would like to submit my own blog as a candidate because it opposes health care reform.

Please respond with any feedback as to whether this is disinformation or "fishy".

Matthew Becker

I have not received a response yet, but I will give an update as soon as I receive one. Who knows what will come of this? I might be "red flagged" as an "enemy of the state" or I may just happen to disappear for no apparent reason.