Category Archives: economy

Purple Mountain Travesty

Often, Baby Boomers, like me, are heard lamenting about things that aren’t “like they were when we were growing up.” These complaints can come off as one wishing to relive their childhood. In some instances, that, in fact, may be the case. In this instance, my grief is over losing a foundational quality to the greatness of American culture, a quality that drew our predecessors to this land in the first place. The following brief piece, presented by Bret Baier and Peter Boyer, of Fox News, is a good way to set the stage for what I want to address in this article:

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Filed under Big Government, character, charity, community, Culture, economy, Family, ideals, society, values

Land Where The Fathers Hide

WHERE’S DAD?

missingparentAccording to my Pastor, “…human relationships – particularly when united in fellowship with God – (are) the foundational building blocks … and the backbone of (our) local communities and culture.” I wholly agree with that and I’ve added to it by saying, “Without that foundation, secular goals – e.g. a thriving and stable economy, affordable quality healthcare, affordable quality education, justice for all, etc. – are unattainable. When communities and culture come apart, so do all things relying on the support of that foundation.

In another recent Teaching (from Matthew 19: 13-15), my Pastor touched on the dramatic deterioration our culture continues to experience with one of these “foundational building blocks”. This aspect of cultural devolution has been labeled “Fatherlessness”. Since this reality has significantly impacted my life, from near the beginning to the present day, raising the topic touches me deeply.

Before delving into this matter, first, I must issue a disclaimer. I am not fatherless in terms of not knowing who my father is nor that he had no presence in my life. Although I didn’t grow up in my Dad’s home, I knew him and I love him dearly. When he died, at the age of 56, I was devastated. With that said, when I was only three years old, he left my mother, making her a single-parent … a term that wasn’t even used in those days … and I, along with my older brother and sister, became what were then known as children of a broken home. Looking back over the decades since that event, I’ve recognized that a male role model and mentor has always been lacking in my life and I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if that void had been filled.

My “broken home” experience began over six decades ago, around 1950 to 1951. In those days, I and my siblings were the only “children of a broken home” that I knew. Sadly, since then, this has worsened exponentially. According to an article entitled Father Absence and the Welfare of Children, by Sara McLanahan:

“Increases in divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing have dramatically altered the family life of American children. Whereas in the early 1960s, nearly 90 percent of all children lived with both of their biological parents until they reached adulthood, today less than half of children grow up with both natural parents. Nearly a third are born to unmarried parents, the majority of whom never live together, and another third are born to married parents who divorce before their child reaches adulthood. To further complicate matters, a substantial number of children are exposed to multiple marital disruptions and multiple father figures.”

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Filed under Baby Boomers, commitment, community, Crime, Culture, economy, Education, Family, Fathers, Healthcare, Justice, Marriage, Substance Abuse

The Biggest Casualty, So Far, Of A Nation Divided Against Itself – General Motors

Lunatic Foreign Terrorists Brought Down The WTCTwinTowers

 

– GM’s Collapse Is A Fully-Domestic Self-Inflicted Wound

My first visit to New York City’s World Trade Center was in 1979. The company I worked for, at that time, had a branch office on the ground floor of one of the buildings in the WTC complex so I was there on business. A few years later, in the mid-80s, I was there on business again. The company I was working for then held a fiscal-year-end celebration dinner at Windows on the World (aka Windows), the renowned restaurant that occupied the 106th and 107th floors of the North Tower. And, while on vacation in the early-90s, I got to visit Top of the World, the observation deck at 1,377 feet, atop the South Tower. What a blessing it was to have those experiences! And what magnificent structures they were! Literally and figuratively, they were a high point, symbolizing the great strength of American Capitalism. With their magnificence, it was well beyond my imagination that on a beautiful September day in 2001 a small band of maniacs, who hated everything the Twin Towers stood for, would bring them down, along with nearly 3,000 lives. Those who were responsible for that were identified, though. Many have been brought to justice and we continue to pursue justice for all who were responsible.

When I was born, General Motors was the world’s largest automaker. At that point, it had held that distinction for 17 years and it would continue to do so for the next 60 years. What New York City’s World Trade Center symbolized about the great strength of American Capitalism, Detroit City’s General Motors was, in fact. As I completed my formal education in the 50s and 60s, the optimum target for anyone with a business career in mind was a job with GM. And, as I carried out my business life, starting in the 70s and continuing into the new millennium, GM continued to serve as the standard metaphor of the ideal employer/business-partner. Considering that, in the heyday of my working life, General Motors reached its zenith, employing 349,000 workers in 150 assembly plants; you can understand that it was well beyond my imagination that on the first day in June, nearly 101 years after its founding, the once seemingly all powerful industrial giant known as General Motors would announce its bankruptcy. Unlike the disintegration of the WTC Twin Towers, the colossal collapse of GM wasn’t the result of foreign terrorists; it was the result of domestic ineptitude on the part of our Captains of Industry, our Wizards of Wall Street, our Labor Leaders and Politicians of all stripes. While Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is having his nasal passages regularly hydrated, Osama Bin Laden is living like a mountain goat and their compatriots are ducking real bullets; the dim-wits responsible for GM’s fall are shooting blanks at each other with their pointed fingers.

What’s needed here is for all of us, including the above-mentioned dim-wits, to draw together and do what President George Bush said he was going to do in the midst of the WTC ruble. Whether or not you were/are a GWB fan, his words from that time serve as a great example for the appropriate response to today’s disaster. The paraphrase I’d use is … “We hear you! And the rest of the world will hear all of us soon!” It was that attitude, not an attitude of Reds just opposing everything Blues are in favor of and vice-versa, that made America and American Capitalism so great in the first place. Some call it synergy … the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. My favorite label for it is the one that goes back to the founding of our country … Yankee Ingenuity.That’s the attitude that made it possible for us to accomplish things like winning a two-front world war. At the center of that successful effort was American Industry and an industrial giant named General Motors. If we truly want to regain the greatness our nation has known, we must rediscover that attitude and fully embrace it. That will require all of us and the leaders we choose, to stop the finger pointing and actually consistently extend our hands “across the aisle” instead of just paying lip service to that need.

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Faith … In The World Economy

As you might expect, over the past couple of weeks, Figgins and I have had several discussions about our nation’s financial crisis, that quickly spread to world markets. Since Figgins is a true Millennial, his experience with this sort of thing is next-to-none. Though I’m older, by an order of magnitude, I’m still just a Baby Boomer. I don’t have the experience of the Great Depression and my business expertise hasn’t been in Finance so I haven’t had solutions to offer, with confidence. However, I have been able to pass along some observations of differing reactions to these circumstances and I think that’s been meaningful to him.

One related occasion involved meeting with the VP of Sales of a $Billion+ firm. This is a man who is at retirement age but he’s considering postponing his retirement due to the current economy. I suspect that his compensation plan is pretty healthy and he mentioned that he’s in the process of having a vacation home built abroad so it didn’t seem that he was in imminent danger of going broke. When he told me of a night he had spent “from 8:00 in the evening until 4:00 in the morning, calling Stock Brokers, with all (his) financial papers spread out around (him)”, it was obvious that he is scared, nearly senseless, of the economy’s uncertainties. In sympathy, I shared with him that these are the sort of times when I’m especially appreciative of the peace I have, as a man of faith. I told him that my slogan is, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know Who holds tomorrow.” And, I went on to say that I like to look at the sun when it comes up in the morning and realize that I had absolutely nothing to do with that happening. My point is that I don’t have any more control over the world economy than I do of the sun coming up in the morning so why should I worry about one more than the other. Sadly, he wasn’t open to what I had to say and his anxiety seemed to remain, as we parted.

On another occasion, we heard from a couple who are friends from our church “back home”. Their first message asked us to join them in praying about a situation that involved a relative who is out of work, who lost his home and who, along with his Wife and dog, is being evicted from his apartment because he’s now out of money even for rent. Now, our friends were being asked to take in the relative, the Wife and the dog. Of course there are many things to consider in a situation like this and we don’t know all the particulars but we do know that our friends both have full-time jobs, they’ve been struggling for the past few years to try to buy a home of their own and one of them has asthma and allergies so having a dog around is not ideal. Today, we heard from our friends, thanking us for our prayers and letting us know of their decision to have the relative move in, along with his Wife and dog. They have committed to covering all the costs, “including dog food”, without any payback to be done so that the relative can “save his money & get a job”.

Finally, I told Figgins that it was these sort of experiences that led me to Luke 9:57 – 10:2 for our time in the Word, at this past Saturday’s Calvary Chapel – Vancouver – Married Couples Fellowship Event. That concludes with, “Then He said”“The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” My added encouragement was that this is a GREAT TIME! Its a time when you can truly bless others by sharing your faith. I don’t know that the words I spoke in sympathy with the VP of Sales will have any impact. I pray that they will. Likewise, I pray that the Lord will use the up-close view our friends’ relatives (and others) are getting of what faith can do. And, for you, my Christian Brothers and Sisters who are reading this, I pray that, in this time of uncertainty in the world, you’ll be especially watchful for opportunities to witness through the way you live. When those around you are shaking like a leaf and they turn to look at you, to see someone who is at peace, they’re certain to wonder, “What do they have that I don’t?” and that will lead to eternal blessing!

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