Victory Gardens

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Home gardening is now in style.  Seed companies are reporting record sales, with sales increasing by an average of 20-40% over last year.  It is estimated that 43 million Americans will grow home gardens this year, up 19% over last year, and veteran gardeners are increasing the size of their gardens.  Even the first family has announced that there will be a White House vegetable garden this year–the first since the Roosevelt administration.

This may be a perfect example of a silver lining in the economic black cloud.  Most of the new gardening is a product of the economic meltdown, and the need to save on food costs.  For many others, the increasing national interest in healthy food is the cause.   But regardless of the reason, in 2009 millions of Americans will get to experience the frustrations and joys of growing their own food, for the first time.

Of course those of us who advocate community-based economies and sustainable agriculture have been calling for something like this a long time.  Contrary to the popular misconception among urban and suburban Americans, it takes very little room and no sophicated machinery to produce a huge bounty of delicious healthy vegetables.

I’ve often cited the precedent of WWII victory gardens.  During WWII, a full 40% of the nation’s vegetable production was in backyard gardens.  And with sugar and refined flour rationed, the American people were as healthy as they have ever been.

When the war ended, so did most of the victory gardens.  With the advent of the national obsession with modernization, which exploded with the advent of the so-called “Space Age,” came the popularity of breakfast cereals, wonder bread, frozen dinners, and mountains of processed stuff that would have been unrecognizable as food just a few years earlier.  And we never looked back.  Today even the vast majority of rural Americans travel to the supermarket to buy their food–most of which is processed and often imported.  The ingredient labels read like something out of a science fiction story.  And our nation grows ever fatter, and ever sicker.

So let’s cheer the new victory gardens, and hope they survive the recession.

 

Love Wins

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Your tax dollars at work

I’ve seen lots of complaints lately about the Obama administration’s decision to resume using federal funds to promote and pay for abortions.    This practice is indeed horribly abhorrent, and an indefensible affront to the taxpayers who consider abortions immoral, yet are forced to pay for them.

But why is this particular practice being singled out from among all the offensive uses which the government makes of our tax dollars?

Just a few that I can think of off the top of my head that are immoral, yet largely ignored, include use of taxpayer money to:

–buy bunker buster bombs that are dropped on apartment buildings.

–prop up foreign governments that enforce laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.  In fact, Americant taxpayers send billions of dollars, and often the blood of our soldiers, to protect regimes in countries where Chrisitan evangelism is illegal and, in some cases, where practicing Christianity is a capital offense.

–promote and carry out trade and foreign aid policies that destroy indigenous agriculture and lead to misery and death for millions.

–wage undeclared wars all over the globe that claim thousands of lives, including those of innocent children described as “collateral damage.”

–fund corporate welfare for industries that pollute and destroy the environment.

And the list goes on and on.

The sad fact is that our government routinely uses our tax dollars for deadly, immoral purposes. And funding abortions is only a very small part of it.

Love Wins

Magnificent–U2

http://twt.fm/15386

Magnificent
Magnificent
I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven’t had a clue
Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent
Magnificent

 

Love Wins

The inflation tax

This is the time of year when Americans think a lot about the income tax.  But actually the income tax is just the most outrageous and notorious of a long list of taxes, imposed on nearly every activity of a citizen.  But as oppressive as all those taxes are, there is an enormous tax that goes largely unnoticed in this country:  the inflation tax.

Inflation occurs when the government expands the money supply to finance its debts.  The resulting increase in the supply of money devalues the money that is already in circulation.  This process, of course, is called inflation.

Inflation diminishes the value of not only the currency itself, but all assets whose value is denominated in that currency, resulting in increases in prices.  As such, inflation is particularly harmful to the poor and middle classes, those who have savings, and those on fixed incomes. 

Because it is created by the government and takes the property of its citizens, inflation is a tax.  Ben Bernanke, the architect of the current version of the tax, ackowledged this in Congressional testimony last July.  And this tax is not voted on by Congress or authorized in the constitution.  It is hardly more than theft.

Fans of the so-called “flat tax” must love the inflation tax.  It is the flatest tax of them all.  Every dollar in circulation is equally affected.  So the more money you have, the more inflation tax you pay, and the less money you have, the more the inflation tax hurts.   By the way, it seems that the inflation tax is the tax of choice for the Obama administration, which has dramatically increased federal spending but chosen to pay for it with the inflation tax, rather than a more traditional tax.

In fact, as I have pointed out before, our fiat money system makes old-fashioned taxation unnecessary.  The government could, if it wished, finance all of its operations through inflation alone.  Instead, it withdraws some money from circulation via taxation, while at the same time inflating what’s left behind through deficit spending.  This administration prefers to pay for only about one-third of its spending with traditional methods of taxation.  The remainder is paid for by the inflation tax.

This form of taxation not only destroys the value of the currency and disproportionately affects the poor and those on fixed incomes, it also destroys savings by inflating the saved dollars away at a rate faster than interest accrues on them.  The Federal Reserve has adopted a policy of not only creating inflation, and in so doing imposing a huge inflation tax,  but it also artificially depresses interest rates to assure that inflation will consume savings, forcing savers to spend their money rather than save it, or to gamble it in the stock markets or other speculative ventures that might have a chance to outpace inflation.

So let’s not be deceived.  When the government spends more than it collects we are being heavily taxed, whether there is an announced tax increase or not.  And when the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates to promote spending, it is simultaneously stealing some of our savings.

Love Wins

Quantitative Easing

I wonder how many Americans even know what QE is, let alone know that its now underway.  

An economist might say that QE is a vehicle whereby a central bank which is unable to further reduce the overnight interest rates (if they’re already at 0% for example) can nevertheless act to supress interest rates thus stimulating borrowing, spending and, ipso facto, a national economy.  Someone who prefers plain English might prefer to call it “printing money.”

Of course “printing money” is a terribly old-fashioned concept.  Our central economic planners are no longer handicapped by such nuisances as having to operate a printing press.  These days they can just make an electronic entry and like magic, “expand the balance sheet.” 

And while I’m tossing out euphemisms, the funny thing about the one called “Quantitative Easing” is that the dismal failure of the Japanese use of it has made it necessary for Mr. Bernanke to coin a new one.  He prefers to call it “credit easing.”  Its all the same thing of course–it just means that the Federal Reserve will create new money out of thin air, and use it buy assets from American banks, in this case mortgage-backed securities and long term bonds.  Ultimately the Fed can use this money creation mechanism to buy up any type of asset, and Mr. Bernanke-san is on record saying that he favors using it to buy corporate stocks and bonds as well.  My prediction (you heard it here first) is that the Fed will eventually be using QE money creation to buy up the oversupply in the housing market too–a little creative expansion of the balance sheet, designed to do us all good.

In the last 30 days the Fed created a trillion dollars out of thin air and injected it into the banking system.  That is more money than the total amount that the Fed has put in circulation in the first 95 years of its wretched existence combined.  It is the thermonuclear option of central bankers, and never before done in the United States of America. 

Yet 99% of Americans aren’t even aware that it happened, even though the effect of it was to instantly diminish the value of all their money and everything they own whose value is denominated in dollars. 

Words like “counterfeiting” and “theft” come to mind. 

This is the new world we live in.  Get used to it.

Love Wins

Todd Agnew–My Jesus

http://www.buzzplant.com/toddagnew/ecard2/

Which Jesus do you follow?
Which Jesus do you serve?
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ
Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land?
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand?

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars
He loved the poor and accosted the rich
So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow?
This picture of the American dream
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet?

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part?
Sometimes I doubt we’d recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and the least of these
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable
So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet
But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud
I think He’d prefer Beale Street to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!
I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a posterchild for American prosperity, but like my Jesus
You see I’m tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus but I’m not sure what that means to be like You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I want to be like my Jesus

Love Wins