Goodbye, For Now

Well, we’ve finally made it to the last year of 2016 and that means that I’ve reach the end of a journey here at this blog.  On January 1st of this year I began posting regularly on the blog and made it a goal to post something everyday.  I had different reasons for that and I spelled those out in the initial post for 2016.

Did I reach any of those goals?  I’ve made some progress with some and not so much with others.  And as the year swung into full force, I didn’t have as much time to write as I would have liked and, therefore, I didn’t get to go as deep into certain areas as I would have liked.  But such is life.

If my tally is correct, I wound up posting on 364 of 366 days.  I made the daily  posting goal up until December and then missed two days.  But that’s OK.  The planet is still spinning and that leaves that goal intact for another year.

I’m not sure when or if I’ll ever post again on this blog.  Something could be posted tomorrow or there may never be anything else.

I appreciate all of those who have paused to read some of the things here.  I hope something has been beneficial.

 

 

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The Day After Christmas

Well, our family successfully navigated through the Christmas holiday. of 2016. We stepped through a very busy Christmas Eve and continued a good pace through a Christmas day that included family time, church and a trip to see Sweet Wife’s family.  All in all it was a very good couple of days and we consider ourselves very blessed.

Now comes the day after Christmas.

This day will hopefully include the repackaging of all of the Christmas ornaments and decorations back into their respective boxes and the placing of those boxes back into the attic.  I’m very much looking forward to this!

But the day after Christmas also brings something else for me: a burst of renewal as I sense the arrival of a new year.  I’m not sure why this happens with me, but it tends to happen every year.  As the flipping of the calendar approaches, I just sort of get revived.  It’s a new beginning, a new start.  It’s a time to start new things and to end others.  It’s a defining moment in time that sort of naturally allows for new patterns and beginnings.

This year, for example, I decided to try to post something to this blog every day.  In years past, I’ve done things like started a project to journal every day or to read through the Bible in a year.  It just makes sense to start something like this on January 1.

This year, I don’t plan any regular activities like these.  Instead, for 2017 I just feel a general renewal type feeling.  I have complained regularly that 2016 has been hard, but what I’m ready to do in 2017 is to start again with renewed energy and apply the lessons that I’ve learned this year.  What are these lessons?  Well, that’s something that I’ll hopefully comment on in a day or two, but I am happy to have learned these lessons and I’m ready to apply them.

11 Months In, 31 Days Left

Here at the blog, my goal for this year has been to post something every day.  As best I can tell, I’ve done so for 11 months and there are 31 precious days left.

Believe it or not, in blog terms, this is a decent-sized goal.  When you’re sitting at the beginning of the year, you’re looking at 366 posts (this is a leap year).  That’s a lot of stuff and lot’s of things can happen during the year to knock you off course.  There’s the process of getting a habit of posting started, there are days you don’t feel well, days (or weeks) when work is bad, there are (hopefully) vacation times…plus a whole lot of other streak-stopping things that can happen.

What I usually do to help this, if I can, is to try to write several posts at one sitting.  This let’s me keep a pipeline of posts ahead of me so that I can work from ahead and not behind.  This isn’t always possible, though (see the list above) and there have been a couple of late evening posts to check the box and keep things going.

So, we need 31 more of these…let’s see what happens.

10 Months Down

Wow.  It’s already November.  In a lot of ways, this year is really flying by [and in some others it’s not].

Counting today, there are 61 days left in the year, and because this is a leap year, that means 305 days of 2016 have elapsed.  That also means that this is the 306th day of consecutive posts on this blog as I try to work through the plan of posting something everyday this year.

To be candid, I’m surprised I’ve made it this far.  Life can be sort of herky-jerky and busy and I’m prone to giving up and tossing in the towel when things go rough.  To be further candid, on one or two occasions this year, I thought about hitting the kill switch.

But, nevertheless, here we are.  These blog posts aren’t must-read and they aren’t life changing for anyone, but I enjoy writing and I do enjoy this process and if I one day make it to the old folk’s home, I’m sure I will bore everyone to tears talking about the year I blogged everyday.

Killing the American Dream

I sort of have an idea of what the “American dream” is, but I stuck the phrase in Google to see what would pop out.  Here’s what did:

“[T]he ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.”

I was sort of thinking along the lines of “owning a home” or “owning a business,” but I don’t think this is a bad summation of the dream.  And based on this definition, we are seeing this American dream being systematically killed.  Here’s some evidence from a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal:

The progressive explanation for the slowest economic recovery in nearly 70 years is that expansions after financial crises are always like this. There appears to be no statute of limitations on this excuse, which is especially convenient every four years. But those who want more than a political rationalization might look to the all-time presidential record of costly regulation set by the Obama Administration.

That’s the news from a report to be released soon showing that President Obama’s regulators have completed their 600th major rule. A major rule imposes costs of more than $100 million. For those keeping score, that’s an average of 81 big ones a year, or roughly one every three days the government is open. Who says our bureaucracies are inefficient?

Remember all of that talk about a “do-nothing Washington” and “gridlock?”  Well, all that has gone the way of the Dodo.  And it didn’t just start under the current administration:

The two George W. Bush terms were no deregulatory prize, contrary to progressive myth, having pushed out 496 major rules. These included such charms as rules to implement Sarbanes-Oxley and the expansion of Medicare.

The cost of all of this regulation, in terms of real dollars and cents, is staggering:

Sam Batkins of the American Action Forum, who did the study, calculates that the economic cost of all this adds up to $743 billion, based on data provided by federal agencies. Mr. Batkins doesn’t say this, but that estimate is almost surely an understatement because agencies routinely low-ball the costs and overestimate the benefits of the rules they propose.

Mr. Batkins offers some comparative cost perspective: $743 billion is larger than the GDP of Norway and Israel combined, and it amounts to a regulatory tax of $2,294 on every American. This eventually shows up in higher prices, or fewer jobs created, or reduced profits and wages.

The cost in terms of our freedom is also staggering.  How so?  Well, let’s take another look at that definition again:

“[T]he ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.”

Governmental rule making and regulation creation cost real dollars, but these things also create a legal maze that, over the long haul, can only be navigated by those with the resources to do so.  Many businesses, especially those that aren’t well capitalized, will choose to leave the market place rather than pay the cost of regulation.  (The short analysis of this is that their return doesn’t out weigh the risk involved.)  Similarly, people that want to start a business that may be involved in a highly regulated industry will often lack the capital or resources to overcome the red tape.

The inability of people and businesses to move easily into and out of markets leads these markets to be filled with only the biggest players.  These entities with much larger resources have the ability to deal with onerous regulations — and may even encourage these — and in many cases wind up functioning as a quasi-governmental unit.

Yes, regulation is needed in certain areas.  But overall, regulations usurp the authority and power of the free market.  Overall, regulations sap your freedom.  Consider for a moment how the free market, or capitalism, is supposed to work.  A need is identified, someone moves to fill that need, and then the market reacts.  If the product or service is good, more demand is created and those who fill that demand are rewarded.  If the product or service isn’t good, the market reacts and those who have made a move to fill this demand are rewarded in a negative way.

For this, capitalism, to work in the best way, I think two things are key:

  1. Education – Ignorance is not bliss in a free market.  Those without at least a basic education level aren’t able to address risks in a way to protect themselves and, ultimately, some will feel compelled to provide this for them (e.g. the government).
  2. Christianity – Whether you agree with Christianity or not, you would have to agree that the tenets of Christianity — if followed — help the market to work best.  Consider the passage of Scripture found in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  This is incredible!  Who does this on their own without something to prompt them?  When this works, this serves as a way to self-regulate the market.

Without these two things, capitalism tends to veer off towards the courses of greed and corporatism.  When things are ALL ABOUT THE MARKET, things usually turn into ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.  Money is important and receiving a return on an investment is not immoral or against the precepts of following Jesus Christ.  But when things are all about the money and when they aren’t balanced with education and the common grace that flows out of a country that chooses to honor Christ, well…  Well, we get what we’re getting now.  We are regulating ourselves to death and killing the American dream.