Interest

I hate paying interest.  Think of what paying interest means.  First, it means you have spent money that you did not have.  Second, it means that you borrowed someone else’s money to spend.  Third, it means that you are now obligated to repay the lender not only the money that you borrowed from him, but also to pay him a fee for the loan.  And it often means you have pledged something of value as collateral of the loan.  Debt is sometimes necessary.  But when it is, it is a necessary evil and should be extinguished as soon as possible.  Debt when it is unnecessary is destructive.  Debt disguised as “investment” or “leverage” is particularly so.

The three great monotheistic religions of the world–Judaism, Christianity and Islam–all forbid the charging of interest on loans. Practioners of those faiths have tried to find ways to wiggle around the prohibition.   Judaism allowed the charging of interest to non-Jews.  The Christian world eventually chose to pretend that the prohibition doesn’t exist, so as not to impede the growth of capitalism–our new god.  Taken more seriously in the Islamic world, the prohibition is still often cleverly ignored and circumvented.  Can we conclude, however, that God doesn’t like interest either?

We are a culture addicted to debt and the payment of interest.  Not long ago in our country, being in debt was considered disgraceful.  Now it is a fact of life, promoted and incented by business and even our government.

Our national debt is now $11.3 trillion.  That is a shocking $2 trillion greater than just one year ago.  Additionally we are obligated to pay between $60 and $100 trillion in future unfunded liabilities (mainly Social Security and Medicare).  Of course that is a debt that is impossible to repay.

Eventually our country will collapse under the weight of this debt.  That meltdown will make our current economic problems seem trivial by comparison.

In the meantime we suck production out of our country to pay interest on the national debt.  The amount of interest we pay (largely to foreign central banks) is astonishing.  In December 2008 we paid almost $98 billion in interest.  In April 2009 we paid nearly $25 billion in interest.  In FYE 2008 our government paid over $450 billion in interest, and we are going to shatter than record this year.

This is criminal.  Imagine for a moment all the good that could be done if that money stayed in the pockets of the Americans who earned it, instead of being sent to our foreign creditors.  If forced to spend hundreds of billions of dollars, think of all the great things we could spend it on, rather than pay it in interest.

If you have a calculator that will allow you to do this, take the amount of income tax you paid last year and divide it into 451 billion.  The result is the number of Americans like you whose income tax payments were devoted entirely to payment of interest on the national debt.

Here are the details regarding interest payments on the federal debt:  http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm

As Mr. Jefferson wrote: 

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they must become happy.

Love Wins.

 

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Egyptian pigs

Seizing upon the opportunity presented by the hype over “swine flu,” the Egyptian government ordered the extermination of all 300,000 pigs in that country.  The pigs were owned by Coptic Christians.  Although 90% of Egyptians are Muslim, the remaining 10% are Christians, whose roots in Egypt go back over 2,000 years. 

Muslims do not eat pork, and generally consider pigs unhealthy.  It is illegal to own pigs in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the U.A.E.  Jordan has ordered that the few pig farms in existence there be shut down.  Half the pigs will be killed and the others relocated to government approved facilities.  The only pigs in Afghanistan and Iraq were in the zoos in Baghdad and Kabul.  But in the last few weeks those animals have been killed. 

None of these animals were a threat to spread “swine flu.”  There has not been a single reported case of swine flu in Egypt, and of course the disease is not transmitted from pigs to humans in any event. 

There is an object lesson in all this.  Taking advantage of a perceived emergency (in this case “swine flu”) a government can take acts ostensibly designed to address the crisis, but in fact designed to advance a pre-existing agenda (the Patriot Act and the Stimulus Bill come to mind).

In Egypt the “Muslim Brotherhood” has long been campaigning to eliminate pigs from “Islamic land.”  The “swine flu” scare gave Hosni Mubarak’s government the cover it needed to accomplish that.  Because the vast majority of Egyptians consider pigs disgusting, they weren’t about to oppose the move, which would only negatively affect a small minority of Egyptians, and a religious minority at that.

The manner in which the pigs in Egypt are being slaughtered is inhumane beyond description.  If you have the stomach for it, and are prepared to be outraged, follow this link and watch the video:  http://en.afrik.com/article15703.html

The U.S. government appropriates over $500 million from American taxpayers every year, to send to Egypt as “aid.”

Love Wins.

Starbucks

In this photo, on the left is the ancient gate to Canterbury Cathedral.  On the right is a Starbucks franchise.

There are now thousands upon thousands of Starbucks stores, all over the planet.  They seem to be on nearly every street corner of every American city.  With its slick hip image, this mega corporation has persuaded Americans that $4 is a reasonable price to pay for a cup of coffee, and has crushed out of existence little coffee shops everywhere.

Even in England, Starbucks thrives, and the English, particularly the young, forgo tea for Grande Lattes with cardboard sleeves.  Across Europe the Starbucks express has rolled like a steamroller over the traditional coffee shops.

I love a good cup of coffee.  But not if I have to frequent a Starbucks to get it.

Love Wins.

 

No NAIS

I’m probably the only small farmer/small farm advocate in America with a blog, who has not yet blogged about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).  I imagine that anyone who reads this blog already knows about this.  In summary, it is a program designed by federal bureaucrats that will require the registration of every farm animal in America, and detailed reporting about their movements and disposition.  It is constructed in such a way to be minimally burdensome for industrial agriculture, but oppressive and unfair to small farmers.  It is also an unwarranted violation of our liberty.

NAIS has met with lots of resistance.  In response to the outcry, the USDA withdrew its requirement that registration be mandatory, claiming instead that it was merely “voluntary.”  But then it made NAIS registration mandatory for participation in things like 4-H and animal auctions and numerous other ways designed to coerce compliance.  The lobbyists for industrial agriculture, who want some window dressing to enable them to more effectively market their products in places like Japan, and who are only to happy to roll over small sustainable farms, are pressing to make the measure fully mandatory.  Sometimes it seems inevitable that we will all have to surrender to this, or risk federal punishment for the sin of practicing our freedom.

Numerous grassroots organizations have sprung up to oppose Big Brother on NAIS, and a handful of legislators committed to liberty continue their efforts to block it.  

One such organization is the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.  Judith McCreary, a small Texas farmer and executive director of the Alliance has noted:

We need to make sure that everyone understands that NAIS is not an effective animal health or food safety program.  Most animal health problems are the result of the high-density confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) that concentrate thousands of animals in one location, while food safety problems begin at the slaughterhouse where NAIS traceability ends.

By implementing NAIS, which requires small farmers and ranchers to track each animal individually, while allowing CAFOs to track thousands of animals under one group registration, the USDA would be rewarding factory farms whose practices encourage disease while crippling small farms and the local food movement.

Recent attempts in Congress to block federal funding for NAIS (led by Congressman Ron Paul, who is a champion of the rights of small farmers), have failed.  Proceeding under the guise of a “voluntary” program, the USDA has announced its intention to obtain full registration and compliance by 2009. 

NAIS is just part of a larger Govco elimination of small farms, under the cover of “food safety.”  I’ll have a lot more to say about that soon.

The best way to assure that the food your family eats is safe is to stop the government from driving small farmers out of business, not by empowering the USDA to catalog and control all the farm animals in America, for the benefit of industrial agriculture. 

Love Wins.

Good Ole Boys Like Me

When I was a kid Uncle Remus would put me to bed
With a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head
Then daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and a Bible in his hand
He talked about honor and things I should know
Then he’d stagger a little as he went out the door

I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me

Nothing makes a sound in the night like the wind does
But you ain’t afraid if you’re washed in the blood like I was
The smell of cape jasmine thru the window screen
John R. and the Wolfman kept me company
By the light of the radio by my bed
With Thomas Wolfe whispering in my head

I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me

When I was in school I ran with kid down the street
And I watched him burn himself up on bourbon and speed
But I was smarter than most and I could choose
I Learned to talk like the man on the six o’clock news
When I was eighteen, Lord, I hit the road
But it really doesn’t matter how far I go

I can still hear the soft Southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me
Hank and Tennessee
I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzGx_XzxDeM

Love Wins.

Moondrop, R.I.P.

As I often say, we are stewards of the little piece of creation that has been entrusted to us.  We take our husbandry duties very seriously on White Flint.  But sometimes we fail. 

With Moonie, I failed.  I was very fond of that little misfit goat, but she was never happy on our farm. 

Now, because of the negligence of the one to whom her care was entrusted, Moonie is dead.

And for that, I am very sorry.

Love Wins.

 

 

Hope Epidemic

Recently I’ve discovered a church in Tampa that is doing some great work, particularly in reaching the young and 20-something crowd.  They’re called Relevant Church and they meet in the Italian Club in Ybor City.  Here’s the link to their website:  http://www.relevantchurch.com/  Their services are streamed live over the internet on relevantchurch.tv and the recording can be watched any time.  It’s a great way to get some music and a message, whenever your schedule permits.

I love this thing they’re doing called Hope Epidemic.  It is about little ways to spread some love, and maybe give a little hope to someone who could use it.  Check out the website for it.  http://www.hopeepidemic.com/

My hope is that it does become an epidemic.

Love Wins