Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bad Trend

The article I linked yesterday is a truly accurate analysis of the state of Christian churches in our time; especially Christian Churches in California. I don’t think the rest of America is as bad as California yet, but the trend is not promising for traditional Christian men or women.

I was in a Church on Easter where a husband and wife talked about their divorce and reconciliation. Neither spouse ever took responsibility for what led to divorce or even mentioned what caused the divorce. All they talked about was how they had grown apart and how they sensed God leading them back together. The husband ended by saying how he is now an Elder in the church.

Orthodox Christianity is right or wrong/good or bad behavior and knowledge, not right or wrong/good or bad feelings. This trend toward feelings will not change as long as head count is a determinate of a successful church.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Feminization of the Church

Hat Tip: A Team

Why Its Music, Messages and Ministries Are Driving Men Away:

"Men’s absence is especially noteworthy, they said, given that men were a strong force in the early church."

"In America, among evangelical churches, 57 percent of members are women and, among mainline Protestant churches, 66 percent are women, according to a 1998 book American Evangelicalism (University of Chicago Press).

About 23 percent of married women attend without their husbands, according to Murrow.

The men who do attend show less commitment, including less participation in Sunday School, small groups and service activities, according to Barna. Men also report less practice of spiritual disciplines like tithing, Bible reading, evangelism and prayer."

"Yet, because churches have more women, Murrow believes their stereotypical strengths are more valued — and are even seen as more godly. Masculine strengths are often seen as unneeded or as threats to the peaceful status quo, he said.

Johnstone believes the feminization of the church reflects a feminization of the larger culture.

“Our whole society has tended to deprive men of their biblical and creational strengths and empower women,” Johnstone said.

As a result, many people think of church only as a nurturing place that addresses personal needs, Pearcey said. Think: sitting in circles, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, comforting members."

Strange Monkey Doll on the Snow Job

Strange Monkey Doll has the best take on the appointment of Tony Snow as the new White House Press Secretary.

Chess or Checkers?

Anyone who claims that high gas prices hurt the economy probably plays more checkers than chess. Economics is not very difficult to understand, but economics does require a little more than one dimensional thinking and it does require understanding more than one cause and effect at a time.

Gas prices have risen because demand for gas has risen. Demand for gas has risen because more people throughout the world are working, needing energy to produce products, needing gas to drive to work, and buying cars and homes that require more energy.

As long as gas producers are making a higher than average profit, more producers will enter the gas producing business, more jobs will be created, and more money will be spent, creating a tremendously positive ripple affect throughout the economy.

High gas prices may hurt some consumers on a fixed income with a high dependence on their automobile, but only the one dimensional thinkers believe the economy is being hurt.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Californians want: to drive SUV’s with stadium seating; a coastline without oil wells; reduced carbon emissions; to bring the troops home from Iraq; no new refineries; and lower gas prices at the pump.

Life 101 seems too complicated for most Californians.

Monday, April 24, 2006

What About the Senate?

2006 politics must read by Jay Cost.

Solution to Gas and Other Problems

Shell, Exxon-Mobil, and every other gas producing company have every right to manage their inventories of oil and gas using a just in time (JIT) methodology similar to how General Motors and other automobile manufacturers manage their inventories of parts and manufactured vehicles. These gas producing companies also have every right to manage their business in a way that produces the greatest return on investment for investors by turning capital into profits. The profits from gas are just as beneficial to the economy as profits from any other product.

Profits mean that an enterprise has developed an improved or more efficient way to produce and deliver a product. Profits are capital that can be reinvested in a way that will create more profits for the company or profits can be spent in ways that will generate profits for other companies and investors. High profits by gas producing companies are an indicator that other companies have an opportunity to profit by moving investment capital into the gas producing industry which in the long run will help to lower the price of gas as more companies compete with each other.

In recent years the gas producing companies have also benefited from an almost monopolistic competitive environment. New companies and new investors are reluctant to invest the amount of capital necessary to be competitive in the gas producing industry because of the risk involved with government threats and regulatory restrictions. Republicans get most of the blame for this problem because of the tax breaks to the gas producing companies, but Democrats are just as responsible for the problem because of the way they constantly threaten gas producers. When it comes to the price of gas, just like everything else, anyone expecting help from the government better hold on tightly to their wallet.

The answer to the problem of high gas prices is for companies that are adversely affected by the price of gas to begin the process of vertical integration into refining their own gas. Companies like General Motors, United Airlines, and others need to step up and start investing in refineries. Both of these companies as well as many others are being hurt by high gas prices and both of these companies have the ability to deal with all of the government red tape and regulations in building new refineries. Both of these companies have labor problems that could be reduced by putting employees to work building and operating refineries. Both of these companies would profit from lower gas prices even if their refineries were not that profitable. Both of these companies could do a lot for their own profits and help to reduce the price of gas if they would be more proactive in creating a better market environment for their products and services by becoming gas producers as well as automobile manufactures and airline carriers.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Compared to what?

It is impossible to understand any issue without a having an accurate point of reference. This is why children who are capable of learning facts quickly and remembering facts at rates much higher than adults are not able to apply facts as wisdom as well as adults. Some children will draw the right conclusion from the facts occasionally, but most children, most of the time, and all children, some of the time, do not turn knowledge into wise decisions. Children lack experiences that help provide an accurate point of reference to make wise decisions.

Adults form a point of reference through personal experiences, education (both formal and informal), assumptions, and social norms. All four of these components are weighted and blended in different ways by different people in developing a point of reference. Confident people will rely more on personal experience and personal assumptions while humble people will rely more on education and social norms in developing a point of reference. Confidence, in the extreme, becomes arrogance when education and social norms are not considered and humility, in the extreme, becomes meekness when personal experiences and personal assumptions are ignored. Confidence can also become arrogance when the confidence is derived from the opinions of others based on the social status of the other person expressing the opinion.

In Science, when the compare group is defined and the experiment is conducted with a double blind study, there is always a precise point of reference for comparison, but in most of life, the point of reference is a little more difficult to determine. Therefore, “Compared to what?” is always a great question to ask oneself when being sold a product or being convinced of an idea or concept. The point of reference along with a fair comparison is what leads to a wise decision or position.

When I hear others expressing an opinion about the disaster in Iraq, I know they are basing their opinion on a faulty point of reference or a poorly reasoned comparison because I have been able to ask myself “Compared to what?”, in analyzing the situation in Iraq. Compared to Viet Nam? Well no, Viet Nam was a disaster where 50,000 Americans and over 2,000,000 innocent Asians were murdered by the Communists. Iraq is a tremendous success so far compared to Viet Nam. Compared to Korea? Well no, Korea was a disaster where the Communists were allowed to retain power and untold millions of people have suffered and died as a result. Compared to World War II? Give me a break, more Americans died on most days in WWII than the total number of Americans lost in Iraq since the invasion. Compared to California? Yes, this is probably the fairest comparison. A few people in California die every day from gang murders just like in Iraq, a country about the same size and population as California.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Climate of Fear

Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence.

Key Excerpt:

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigrant Economics

I keep reading and hearing about how big business benefits from illegal immigration and is therefore against any type of immigration reform. The assumption seems to be that lower labor costs equal higher profit margins. As usual, the assumption is simplistic and wrong.

Obviously, there are many business people who oppose immigration reform and who pay lobbyists to represent this anti-reform position to congress and who support politicians who will maintain the status quo. Some of these business people may even believe they are profiting from a low cost of labor, but most businesses are always in favor of the status quo when a change to the status quo involves considerable risk.

Business people are only in favor of changing the status quo when changing the status quo involves reducing risk. Immigration reform would create more risk to individual businesses because of the market turmoil that would result from modifying labor and pricing strategies. This turmoil would create a situation where some businesses would gain market share and some businesses would lose market share, but overall, the profits for all business would remain the same. The fear of losing market share is what motivates some businesses to oppose immigration reform.

The Fortune 500 companies that are most often villanized by the left are probably the least affected by current immigration policy or any change to the current immigration policy. Most Fortune 500 companies pay most of their employees in America way beyond minimum wage. At the same time, these big companies are moving manufacturing and other operations outside of America to reduce the cost of labor and avoid American regulation. Hilton Hotels at number 438 on the Fortune 500 list may be a slight exception because they do rely on illegal immigrant labor in the United States, but Hilton Hotels is still international enough to shift new development outside of the United States in the event of reform.

In America labor is a commodity that is sold on the open market. The more specialized the labor, and the more demand for the specialized labor, the higher the price for the labor. The less specialized the labor, and the less demand for the labor, the lower the price for the labor. If all of a sudden all of the illegal immigrants were removed from the available labor pool in America, the price for labor would rise and unskilled Americans at the low end of the salary scale would see an increase in pay. But guess what else would happen? The price of goods and services produced in the United States would also rise and the buying power of the increased wages would be reduced. Profits for individual companies might change, but overall profits for business would remain unchanged. Buying power should also remain unchanged, but buying power could be reduced if prices rise faster than wages.

An unfortunate side affect of increased wages will be an increase in tax revenue sent to the Federal government in the form of Income and Social Security taxes. This may help reduce the Federal deficit, but it will also be an incentive for the Federal government to authorize more programs that control our lives and reduce our freedom. Shouldn’t we be advocating more legal immigration and less welfare as a way to fix the immigration problem instead of advocating policies that make government bigger and more intrusive?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Paying Attention

More good news from Iraq.

Global Warming stopped in 1998

Facts keep getting in the way of Global Warming!

Selected Excerpt:

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).

And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Friday, April 07, 2006

How AIDS in Africa Was Overstated

The Washingtom Post has a piece on How AIDS in Africa Was [exagerated] Overstated.

Selected excerpts:

But AIDS deaths on the predicted scale never arrived here, government health officials say. A new national study illustrates why: The rate of HIV infection among Rwandans ages 15 to 49 is 3 percent, according to the study, enough to qualify as a major health problem but not nearly the national catastrophe once predicted. The new data suggest the rate never reached the 30 percent estimated by some early researchers, nor the nearly 13 percent given by the United Nations in 1998.

Taken together, they raise questions about monitoring by the U.N. AIDS agency, which for years overestimated the extent of HIV/AIDS in East and West Africa and, by a smaller margin, in southern Africa, according to independent researchers and U.N. officials. "What we had before, we cannot trust it," said Agnes Binagwaho, a senior Rwandan health official.

Such disparities, independent researchers say, skewed years of policy judgments and decisions on where to spend precious health-care dollars. "From a research point of view, they've done a pathetic job," said Paul Bennell, a British economist whose studies of the impact of AIDS on African school systems have shown mortality far below what UNAIDS had predicted. "They were not predisposed, let's put it that way, to weigh the counterevidence. They were looking to generate big bucks."

On its Web site, UNAIDS describes itself as "the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS." And many researchers say the United Nations' reliance on rigorous science waned after it created the separate AIDS agency in 1995 -- the first time the world body had taken this approach to tackle a single disease.

"It's pure advocacy, really," said Jim Chin, a former U.N. official who made some of the first global HIV prevalence estimates while working for WHO in the late 1980s and early 1990s. "Once you get a high number, it's really hard once the data comes in to say, 'Whoops! It's not 100,000. It's 60,000.' " Chin, speaking from Stockton, Calif., added, "They keep cranking out numbers that, when I look at them, you can't defend them."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Media and Reporting on the Environment

Here is a good piece by David Mastio about The Media and Reporting on the Environment.

Selected excerpts:

"Next time you read a magazine cover story like the one Time just published ("Be Worried. Be VERY Worried. Polar Ice Caps Are Melting ... More And More Land Is Being Devastated ... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame") you should remember one little fact: U.S. media companies, including Time Warner, donate more to the environmental movement than any other industry. Companies like The New York Times, Gannett, Tribune, ABC, CBS and NBC have donated more than a half-billion worth of ad space since the 1990s to raise money for some of the nation's most extreme environmental groups. And yes, that was billion with a B."

"Well, for some reason, no. The Ad Council has given us exactly the opposite: Their messenger is Environmental Defense (formerly known as the Environmental Defense Fund), a group with a reputation for crying wolf. Right now on their web page, ED asks parents to click to find out whether their children are in "danger" from dirty air. Nowhere can parents find the more comforting fact that, no matter where they live, kids today are breathing cleaner air than they did 50 years ago."

"It may be true that every single one of the environmental concerns raised to block hydro-power, wind energy, nuclear plants and natural gas development are all valid. But if global warming is really, really the "most serious environmental issue of our time," shouldn't environmentalists be willing to put their other concerns aside until we deal with the dangers of runaway climate change?

Maybe if our largest television networks, newspapers and magazines weren't the largest fundraisers for these same environmental groups, they'd be in a position to ask."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Steve Forbes on Africa

Steve Fobes starts his opinion piece about the changes that need to be made in Africa in This Money Won't Buy Happiness stating a fact that should be obvious to anyone wanting more African aid:
Alas, this emphasis on giving more money to benighted countries is mis-begotten. Most of it will be wasted, and despite "safeguards" all too much of it will be siphoned off by corrupt politicos and bureaucrats. Africa has received more than $400 billion in aid since 1960, yet per capita income has declined. No other area of the world has suffered such a regression. Blair, Bono et al. should be focusing on measures that would allow sub-Saharan Africa's existing entrepreneurial energies to put their countries on the path of rapid, India-China-Pacific-Rim-like economic growth. There are huge barriers blocking those who could catapult Africa's poor nations onto an economic fast track.

He then lists high taxes, unsound monetary policy, regulatory obstacles, and aids and malaria as factors in African poverty that need to be addressed in order to actually help Africans.