Shalom

Shalom is a beautiful and versatile Hebrew word.  It means Peace.  But it is also used as a greeting, and as a way to say goodbye.

Billsblog is using it to mean “peace” and “goodbye.” 

It’s been fun, but I’ve decided to stop blogging–at least for a while.  While there are plenty of more things I’d planned to write about, I’m just going to hang it up instead.  I sincerely believe in the principles that have been touched upon here, and I advocate them because I genuinely believe that adherence to them would make the world a better place.  But the web doesn’t need yet another place to start arguments.   And I’ve become afraid that that’s where I was leading this site.

Do check out our News From White Flint page from time to time.  And remember that we always welcome visitors.

“Whoever would love life and see good days…must seek peace and pursue it.”  I’m still trying to figure out how to do that.   And I’ll keep on trying to figure it out, sans blog.

Hoping that y’all all see many good days….

Shalom

Grace and Peace

 

 

 

Imagine…

Imagine if tomorrow morning, when all the fast food vendors in America opened for business, no one came in.  Imagine they sold no breakfast burritos, no sausage biscuits, nothing.  Then when they switched to the lunch menu, no one came in.  They sold no Big Mac’s, no Whoppers, no Chicken Nuggets, no Happy Meals, no super-sized french fries, no Cokes, no Pepsi’s, nothing.  And imagine this continued all day, day after day, until they began closing their stores.  No more golden arches, no more Burger Kings or Taco Bell or KFC.  They just closed down.  All their misleading advertising disappeared.   All the mountains of trash they produced just stopped being generated. 

No more would one out of every four Americans eat their so-called food on a daily basis.  No more would the most eaten vegetable in America be french fries.  No more would 60% of American children be obese.  No more would we live in a country in which one of every three children born is expected to develop diabetes.

Imagine that.

You may say that I’m a dreamer.  But I’m not the only one.

Grace and Peace

 

The Demise of the American Honeybee

Honeybees got a lot of media attention recently, due to the advent of a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  Beekeepers across America discovered that their colonies were vanishing, and no one could identify the reason.  Over the last two years over 1/3 of the honeybee hives in America were lost to CCD.

I’m often asked whether we’ve been affected by this.  So far, we have not.  As long as our bees stay healthy, and the skunks and bears leave them alone, we’ll continue to share their honey with them, and in turn offer it to the patrons of our farm.  But I decided to write a little today about honeybees in this country, and some of the threats to them, some of which may be responsible for CCD.

Feral honeybees have all but vanished in America, due primarily to urban sprawl and agricultural pesticides.  Those bees that remain are therefore almost entirely in the care of America’s beekeepers.  Despite the fact that beekeeping is a simple, wonderfully rewarding pasttime, beekeeping is dying out as well.  The average age of American beekeepers is now over 60.   Since the late 1940s the number of managed bee colonies in America has dropped by approximately 60%.  Just over the last 20 years the number of hives have fallen from approximately 3.5 million, to approximately 2.3 million.  Historically beehives were important parts of diversified small family farms.  Of course diversified small family farms are nearly a thing of the past in America, and beekeeping is one of many once-common activities that are disappearing along with those farms.

Like seemingly everything else associated with agriculture in this country, the beekeeping that remains is largely corporate, unnatural, unsustainable and industrial.   Large scale beekeeping operations transport their hives around the country to pollinate huge corporate crops.  The California almond industry, for example, requires 1.2 million bee colonies to pollinate its orchards–over half the hives in the entire country.  Since 2005 hives have actually been imported from Australia to assist in pollinating crops on American corporate industrial-scale “farms.”

Trucking beehives around the country is an obviously unnatural practice, and many bees die during the process.  Once in place for the pollination, the bees subsist on an unnatural nectar/pollen monoculture–for example, exclusively almonds, or apples, or citrus–rather than on a natural diet of a mixture of blooms.  During the winter and during their cross-country transits, the bees are fed water mixed with high fructose corn syrup–an unhealthy byproduct of taxpayer-subsidized corn monoculture.

Meanwhile, clothianidin, a poison manufactured by Bayer and sold as an insecticide under the trade name Poncho 600, has been responsible for the annihilation of millions of honeybees in the US.  Germany and France just recently banned the pesticide after discovering that its use on rapeseed, sweetcorn and sunflowers there, had destroyed between one-third and two-thirds of their bee population.  In the US, clothianidin and imidacloprid, Bayer’s best selling poison, also highly toxic to bees, are still both legal and lethal.

As American bees vanish, and because Americans pay so little attention to where their food comes from, much of the honey commercially available in this country is now imported from China.  This so-called honey is derived from bees being fed sugar water, and has none of the health benefits of raw, natural, local wildflower honey.  Nevertheless it is what fills the shelves of American supermarkets.  Recently I was in a Whole Foods store, something I try to avoid, and I looked at the honey that were selling.  It was imported from Argentina.  Go figure.

In light of these things y’all might want to consider stocking up on some local honey and putting it away in the basement, or the back of your cupboard.  If kept dry, honey will keep virtually forever.   And in some future day you can break it out for the grandchildren, let them enjoy the wonderful taste of natural honey, and tell them that once upon a time honeybees actually lived and thrived in America. 

Grace and Peace

 

Another voice for community freedom

Bob Kidwell is a farmer in Montgomery, Michigan.  He wrote a piece in the last issue of Farming magazine titled “Rethinking Rural Economic Development” that I liked so much that I decided to just share with y’all an extended quote from it:

What would it take to make this change in direction?  It’s not something the government will do.  Government is too tied up in knots trying to figure out which corporation to please next.  In fact, government needs to do less.

First, the federal and state governments need to eliminate all the unnecessary rules and regulations that restrict free enterprise at the local and farm level.  Regulations on milk sales, cheese production, meat processing and flour milling, to name just a few, are not necessary when the products are sold locally.  The only inspectors needed are the people buying the food.  If you can walk down the road and watch the cows being milked where you buy your milk, the government doesn’t need to enter the picture.  All these rules and regulations are intented for large-scale, centralized facilities that the public is not even allowed to enter.  Cynics might claim the regulations are written to discourage competition from small processors.  The semi-self-sufficient county shouldn’t have to work around laws that don’t deserve to exist in the first place.

Well said Mr. Kidwell.

Grace and Peace

Cooking the unemployment numbers

That fact the the BLS methodology significantly understates the true rate of inflation seems fairly well accepted lately.  As recently as six months ago, only a few, like John Williams and Bill Gross, were making the argument.  But in face of runaway inflation in the US and worldwide, while our government insists that it isn’t happening, many (if not most) commentators have now ackowledged that the CPI numbers are bogus.

Now attention is focusing on the unemployment numbers reported by the BLS.  According to the BLS, unemployment stands at 5.5%, and the US suffered a loss of 62,000 jobs in June.  Bleak numbers, to be sure.  Unfortunately, it significantly understates the true unemployment picture.   Before we look at the flawed and biased methodology, however, its worth noting that BLS reported a loss of 91,000 jobs in the private sector in June, and a gain of 29,000 government jobs, to create the net loss of 62,000.  But 29,000 more folks sucking on the taxpayer teat isn’t exactly great news in my book.  Nevertheless, let it not be said that the government isn’t acting to stop unemployment.

One way the BLS cooks the books is through use of a bogus formula called the “birth/death ratio of estimated new jobs.”  Without this little slice of fantasy, which posits some 177,000 “estimated new jobs”, notwithstanding a recession, private employment would have declined by almost 270,000 jobs in June.

But that’s not the only way the number is manipulated.  As a matter of common sense, how should someone who is working part-time due to an inability to obtain a full-time job be counted?  How about someone who wants a job, but has become so discouraged that they have stopped looking?  Well, according to the BLS, folks in these categories are not unemployed!  If these categories were included in the “unemployed” column, rather than the “employed” column, then unemployment in June would have been a rather alarming 10.3%. 

Lets put that in perspective–more than one out of every ten job-desiring Americans is either without a job, or working part-time due to an inability to find a full-time job.  In BLS-speak, that equals 5.5% unemployment. 

So, to paraphrase Phil Gramm, quit your whining America.  Its all in your head.

Grace and Peace

 

Living on a Chinese Rock

I’m living on a Chinese rock.  All my best things are in hock.

Dee Dee Ramone wrote those words about heroin addiction, incorporating them into one of the greatest punk rock anthems.  But it might well be said that all of America is today living on Chinese rocks, and putting our best things in hock.

The astonishing truth is that China owns over $500 billion in US Treasury notes, and over $500 billion in GSE (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) bonds.   China is therefore one of the principal beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded bailout of those GSEs.  In fact, approximately 1/5 of all outstanding GSE debt is owned by foreign central banks, principally those of China and Russia.  The mindblowing truth is that to assure that these foreign governments, who we until recently recognized as ideological enemies, suffer no loss or credit risk, our government has granted the GSEs an unlimited line of credit on the US treasury.  The ultimate cost to the taxpayer will likely be astronomical.

Proverbs 22:7 tells us that “the borrower is slave to the lender.”  The lender to whom our spendthrift government is slave, is the goverment of China.  We have become a debtor nation, at the mercy of our Chinese lenders, seemingly unable to function without the ability to borrow back from the Chinese some of the mountains of money our citizens ship them for the crap on Walmart shelves.

Shame on us.

We should’ve been rich.  But we’re just digging a Chinese ditch.

Grace and Peace

Reflections on a Revolution

At this point it is clear that our next President will be a mega-government, tax-borrow-and-spend interventionist, who will be complicit in the continued erosion of our liberties and the ultimate bankruptcy of our nation.   But it didn’t have to be…

For the past 30 years Ron Paul has been a consistent and principled defender of liberty and an unshakeable advocate of small government and low taxes.  During his time in Congress he has never voted for a tax increase, never voted for an unbalanced budget, never voted for a Congressional pay raise, never taken a taxpayer-funded junket, never voted to restrict gun owership and never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.  Even when it was unpopular to do so, he voted against the Iraq War and the Patriot Act.  He refuses to participate in the lucrative Congressional pension program and he returns a portion of his Congressional budget to the Treasury every year.  An OB-GYN who has delivered over 4,000 babies, he so frequently votes No on spending bills that his colleagues gave him the nickname “Dr. No.”

I have been an admirer of Dr. Paul for many years.  I remember the evening last February when a friend sent me a message, “Just saw that your man Ron Paul is running for President.”  That was the beginning of a ride that was often exhilarating, frequently frustrating, and ultimately very disappointing.

At the beginning, of course, hardly anyone in America recognized the name Ron Paul, and he registered at or near zero in every poll.  But then something amazing began to happen.  With all those Republican candidates crowded together on the stage in the early debates, Ron Paul stood out.  He opposed the war in Iraq and called it out for the ill-advised unconstitutional federal spending orgy that it is.  While other candidates called for elimination of a few government programs, he called for elimination of entire federal departments.  While others talked about reducing income taxes, he called for eliminating them.  This was true conservatism.  People began to listen.

Ron Paul’s message of freedom and liberty spread across the internet like a wildfire.  Even though the 72 year old congressman had never even heard of myspace, or facebook, or meetup, his supporters soon dominated those sites.  Soon he had more youtube subscriptions that anyone ever before.  He began drawing larger and larger crowds, particularly on college campuses.  And with zero institutional and PAC support, he became a fundraising phenomenon, easily outpacing John McCain and the other cookie-cutter big government candidates.

Those were heady days.  Some volunteer called the movement a “Revolution,” and the name caught on. 

The first battle in the Revolution was to be the Iowa caucuses.   It was hard to be optimistic about our chances in Iowa.  After all, Ron Paul opposes farm subsidies.  And the people of Iowa still largely supported President Bush and his Iraq war.  But the volunteers worked hard, and the prospects of a strong finish began to improve.

And it was then that some of the mistakes and bad breaks that would haunt this campaign began to occur.  The official campaign, that is to say the paid staff that now controlled it, chose to make Dr. Paul’s anti-abortion record the focus in Iowa.   Yet every single Republican candidate, save Rudy Guiliani, who was essentially conceding Iowa, opposed abortion.  That issue simply didn’t set a somewhat obscure Congressman apart from the crowd.  Then on the day of the caucuses a disgruntled worker sabotaged the campaign’s data base, destroying the call lists and ride lists that had been assembled to assure that Ron Paul voters made it to the caucuses.  A charismatic former Arkansas governor won over the pro-life voters and won the caucuses.  Yet, despite all this, Ron Paul won 10% of the vote in Iowa.   It was a very respectable beginning, but I knew (as most of us did) that we would have to win New Hampshire to have a chance.

New Hampshire’s motto is Live Free or Die.  In 1992, conservative non-interventionist Pat Buchanan had won the New Hampshire primary.  It seemed to be the perfect place for the Paul campaign to make a splash. 

But it wasn’t to be.  To this day I still don’t understand that.  There were mistakes, to be sure.  The official campaign made Dr. Paul’s fight against illegal immigration the focus of the campaign, rather than his fight against the Iraq War, or his opposition to the income tax.  But because all the candidates, except John McCain, were opposed to amnesty and illegal immigration, this issue just didn’t separate him from the pack.  And then, the day before the vote, New Republic magazine published a piece essentially accusing Dr. Paul of being a racist homophobe.  The allegations were eventually debunked, but not until the crucial vote had passed.  The independents of New Hampshire chose John McCain, who received election-eve endorsements from the New York Times, the Boston Globe and every major newspaper in New Hampshire.  Senator McCain even got the endorsement of Joe Lieberman,  Al Gore’s liberal running mate, who took to the campaign trail with him.  And despite the fact that Senator McCain announced that another 100 years in Iraq would be just fine with him, he carried the day, and eventually the nomination.

There were big moments after that–such as raising over $4 million on Guy Fawkes Day, then another $6 million on the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, both single day records.  But it was all over after New Hampshire.

And so, maybe the only chance we’ll have in our lifetimes to elect a true conservative president was squandered.  That is disheartening in these days when the economic consquences of our fiscal recklessness are revealing themselves, just as Ron Paul has always said they would.

But there is also hope.  Millions of people, particularly young people, heard the message of liberty and rallied to it.  Many of them will stay active politically, and will refuse to accept the borrow and tax and spend politicians that control both the Democrat and Republican parties.  After all, it took 20 years for the Goldwater revolution to bear fruit.   Sadly, twenty years from now may be too late.   But we can hope that the Ron Paul Revolution may yet prevail.

Grace and Peace