Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quote for the Week

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.

John C. Maxwell

Friday, March 26, 2010

Just Thinking...

If British gun laws during the American Colonial Era would have been what they are now, there likely could not have been an American revolution.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

An Enduring Legacy?

Her hands trembled as she held the crumpled tissue. Slow tears rolled down her cheeks, following valleys in the wrinkles of her face. Well past 80 years old, she would have never imagined herself sitting across a table from me. Even worse, she was not prepared to accept what I had just told her.

“I'm sorry, there’s nothing else I can do. On Monday morning, the bank will foreclose on your home... Have you been able to secure another place to stay?”

This journey actually began several years earlier. She had come to my office with a story that is too common. Prior to the death of her husband, the house had been paid off, and they were settling in to spend the sunset of their life enjoying the results of their labor.

Then, the husband died, grandchildren needed help, charity causes came calling, and eventually, the money dried up and the house was mortgaged. Unfortunately, money continued to run out and mortgage payments were missed. By that time, children and grandchildren were nowhere to be found. We tried several means to save her house, but in reality, we were only postponing the inevitable. Eventually, the day came when the bell rang and time ran out. The house would be sold on the courthouse steps, and the deed handed to someone else. Decades of fond memories would be in the hands of someone who would only see a dated structure.

Watching her struggle to contain her emotions, I felt driven by compassion. This whole scenario came about only because she had the best of intentions. It wasn't fair.  I wanted to gather some money and pay off the balance of the mortgage so her tired and lifeless eyes could smile again.

But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I had my own obligations to meet. Meeting her obligations, no matter how noble the actions, would have meant that my family would have ended out on the street.

You see, good intentions will bankrupt us if we do not have the means to carry them through.

But really, this homeowner is not my focus today, and that conversation took place about five years ago.

Today, I talk about health care.  Forgetting the ugliness of the lawmaking process, health care for all is a noble and high calling. It is an admirable goal to be able to ensure that no one is turned away because they cannot access affordable healthcare.  But like any act of benevolence, it is wise only if we can do so without sacrificing our future.

There are predictions of armageddon and projections from every angle.  I'm not smart enough to have all of this figured out.  I definitely have my opinions, and my wife and close friends have had to hear me rant and vent about it long enough now (sorry!).  I unequivocally oppose this bill.  Those in favor are painted with the broad brush of benevolence, while those who oppose are lumped together as incompassionate, heartless racists.  I think neither characterization is accurate.

I also think they are beside the point.  At least for the most part.

We are no longer the economic powerhouse we were before.  We are so intertwined with global economies that a hiccup can be heard around the world.  We are not only in the red every year, but we continue to go deeper in debt.  Our existing social benevolence programs are in deep trouble.  Medicare and Social Security may not be around for my children.

But this debt will.

Right after I learned about the passage of the bill, my thoughts went to the first half of Proberbs 13:22:

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children

We are to leave an inheritance, not debt.  We are to hand down value, not empty promises and unpaid burdens.  Yes, health care for all is a great goal.  But if we don't have the money to do it, we cannot.  To place this burden on the backs of my children is not just wrong, it's immoral.

Someday soon, our children and grandchildren will reach the cash register of life and the cashier, speaking with a Chinese accent, will extend his hand and say, “How would you like to pay for this?”

Is this the legacy for which we want to be remembered?

Safe China

China has incredibly strict gun control laws.

That means, of course, that mass murder is impossible.  After all, the gun is dangerous; humans are not.  Once guns are all banned, humans will miraculously morph into peaceful beings.

Man Stabs and Kills 8, Injures 5 in China

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote for the Week

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.

Samuel Adams

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Already?!

Last night, I tell my 8 year old, ”No more stalling, get to bed!” So she says, "Daddy, have you been working out? You look great!"

Nice try.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

America Rising

I ran accross this video at Old NFO's blog.



I do have some issues with the video.  At the very least, it ignores the role of the Republican party in some of this mess.  As I've said before, I'm for equal opportunity.  I'm upset with both parties.

All that aside, it's a timely and appropriate message for Congress.

America Rising, indeed.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quote for the Week

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Friday, March 12, 2010

Choices

About 20 years ago I was working at a grocery store and had just graduated from high school.  The store was right next to the school, so many of my co-workers were also classmates.  This particular day was slow, so some of us got to talking, discussing life after high school.

A few of us were headed to college, while others had different plans for their careers.  There was one who stood out, though.  She excitedly mentioned that she had just received a $5,000 graduation gift from her grandmother.  All of us were happy for her and I (silly me) asked if she was going to use that money to pay for college.

"Nah, I'm not going to college.  I don't have time for that. I'll just work here for a while and then see what happens.  I used the money to buy new tires for my car and a great stereo system."

I think about that conversation a lot.  I don't remember her name, and this many years later, who she was is a distant, blurry memory.  That conversation, however, has stayed with me. 

By now, I imagine the car is long gone, along with its tires and radio.  I wonder how she made out.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

Verum Serum

The beauty of the election system is that our representatives WILL have to listen to us.  At some point or another.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Free Advice

A lawyer's time and advice are his stock in trade. Abraham Lincoln

My commodity is knowledge. I get paid to prevent or solve legal problems.   In fact, the majority of my time is spent sharing and using the knowledge I have and applying it to the facts on hand.  That's how we pay the mortgage, buy the groceries, and keep the lights on, etc.  In order to best use this knowledge, I need to take the time to understand your situation, ask relevant questions, and work my way through various contingencies.

Sometimes, people find this hard to understand.  They get offended because I don't like getting stopped in church or at Wally World to answer a "simple" question.  They consider it an insult when I reply that they should schedule an appointment with me.  I guess their problem is not important enough to discuss in the privacy of my office.  Apparently, though, it's ok to discuss (in public, no less) in the aisle while my ice cream is melting or the family is waiting out in the car.

-o-o-o-

“Mr Lawyer, I’ve got John Jones on the phone with a question. He says he is a client but I can’t find him in the system.”

(The name doesn't sound familiar...) “Hmm... ok, I’ll take the call.”

“This is Lawyer.”

“Good morning.  I have a quick question to ask you. Way back in 1987, my partner and I had a business and I signed…”

“Give me just a sec. What did you say your name was? I want to pull up your file so that I can take notes while you talk.”

“Oh, umm…well…I’m not actually a client, see, I, … I just have a quick question.”

“Well I can’t really give you any legal advice until you retain and I have a chance to review everything. A quick answer to a quick question is a great way to get us both in trouble. Can I have my receptionist set you up with an appointment so we have plenty of time to talk?”

“Umm…no…I don’t really need legal advice, I just got served some documents and need to know the next step. I’m not really asking for legal advice.”

“Ok…so you don’t need legal advice. You just need me to tell you what to do with a legal issue you have.”

“That’s it!”

“So you need me to advise you on a legal dilemma. Legal advice.”

(Pause) … It’s just a quick question!”

(This is getting nowhere.)  “You said you have a business, right? What kind of business do you have?”

“I paint boats.”

“Really! Maybe you can help me! I have a 28-foot cuddy cabin that needs painting.”  (I don't but he doesn't need to know that.)

“Sure, I’ll just have to see it to get you an estimate. “

“Wait, you mean you won’t paint it for free?”

“He** no, man! I don’t work for free, dude!”

“Neither do I.”

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Quote for the Week

No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.


Peter Drucker

Friday, March 5, 2010

Utopia Denied

Ok. Another nut comes unglued and tries to take people with him on his descent into hell. Let the finger pointing begin.

As a society, it’s becoming more and more difficult to deal with the idea that utopia will never be possible. We hold out high hope for a more perfect world. We switch political parties, switch allegiances, and choose new leaders. Perhaps we believe that if we just control one more aspect of people’s lives, the world will be perfect. Condemn smoking. Ban guns. Require seat belts. Cut transfats. Just one more law or one more rule and we will force people to behave.

When our best attempts at controlling others’ lives fail, we look for theories that can explain away the evil. After all, these crazies must be blamed on something. There’s no way that some people are just psychopathic. There must be something we can blame. Maybe their upbringing? Maybe political beliefs?

Since we are civilized and modernized, we think, these things should not be happening. When a crazy man flies a plane into an IRS office, we look for reasons to demonize him. When an idiot chooses to fire upon federal officers, we desperately describe him in ways that justifies our prejudices. Crazies become right wing tea party racist terrorists. Why? Not because we have definite proof, but maybe because by projecting their evils onto some other group, we do not have to address the idea that there will always be evil people and that evil will always live among us.

You see, it’s easier to blame inanimate objects, religious beliefs, or political leanings. People are not inherently evil, we rationalize, guns are. He’s not mentally unstable, he’s a right-winger.

And yet, all our attempts to control the uncontrollable fail. Gun control doesn’t stop violent crime. Hate legislation doesn’t stop hate crime. Traffic laws do not prevent speeding or driving under the influence. And on and on and on.

Utopia is unreachable on this earth. There will always be evil people doing evil things. No amount of laws will ever, ever, change that. Therefore, when a maniac becomes unplugged, it makes no use to ask for new legislation. It will do no good to scream to a legislature asking them to pass laws to make people behave.

It won’t work. It never has, it never will.