Daily Archives: November 15, 2012

USA Today Editorial: Cut entitlements to control debt

Of the two programs, Social Security is by far the easier to fix. In 1983, a bipartisan agreement shored up the program for decades. It can be rescued again, much as it was then, by gradually raising the retirement age for able-bodied workers and bumping up the payroll tax. Other options include slowly reducing the rate of benefit growth, raising the wage cap and tightening eligibility requirements for disability

The more urgent and difficult issue is the surge in spending on Medicare, Medicaid and related programs. The numbers tell the story. In 1990, Washington spent $180 billion on health care, accounting for 14% of federal spending. In 2017, the expected tab is $1.4 trillion, or 30% of federal spending. As President Obama said at his news conference Wednesday, “Health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits.”

One obvious place to start is bringing the Medicare eligibility age in line with that of Social Security. In their failed budget negotiations in 2011, Obama and House Speaker John Boehner tentatively agreed to raise it from 65 to 67. Such a rise would cut the government’s bill while increasing the share of the population in market-based health care.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Medicare, Politics in General, Social Security, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Tim Keller–The Signs of Political Idolatry

One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life. When we center our lives on the idol, we become dependent on it. If our counterfeit god is threatened in any way, our response is complete panic. We do not say, ”˜What a shame, how difficult,’ but rather ”˜This is the end! There’s no hope!’

This may be a reason why so many people now respond to U.S. political trends in such an extreme way. When either party wins an election, a certain percentage of the losing side talks openly about leaving the country. They become agitated and fearful for the future. They have put the kind of hope in their political leaders and policies that once was reserved for God and the work of the gospel. When their political leaders are out of power, they experience a death. They believe that if their policies and people are not in power, everything will fall apart. They refuse to admit how much agreement they actually have with the other party, and instead focus on the points of disagreement. The points of contention overshadow everything else, and a poisonous environment is created.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, US Presidential Election 2012

A Message from Bishop Mark Lawrence to the Diocese of South Carolina

On Thursday, November 15, 2012, the following message to the people of the Diocese of South Carolina from Bishop Mark Lawrence was placed in the Charleston Post and Courier. The Bishop’s message reminds us that we are still here, where we always have been: a historic diocese remaining faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ and recognized as such by the vast majority of the Anglican Communion in spite of recent attempts to assume our identity by the new TEC Steering Committee.

(Along with the bishop’s message a list of some of the many Rectors who endorse his message and stand with him appeared. Originally only rectors were being listed, but as additional clergy have asked that their names be added to the list, the diocese is updating the page.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Elizabeth Harmon taken out last night for her Birthday

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Harmon Family

Statement from the Communion Partner Bishops on the South Carolina Situation

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

In New Zealand, High Court halts ChristChurch Cathedral demolition

Christ Church Cathedral has been granted a stay of execution.

A High Court ruling today ordered the planned demolition of the earthquake-damaged landmark be stopped until further notice.

The legal challenge was brought by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust against building owner, the Church Property Trust (CPT).

The trust, co-chaired by former MPs Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon, sought a binding court ruling on whether the Anglican church’s deconstruction plans breached an act of Parliament protecting church buildings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry

(CS Monitor Editorial) 'Petraeus scandal' as a mirror on marriage

Before Washington goes off on too many tangents of the “Petraeus scandal” ”“ we shouldn’t forget that this high-level affair is only the latest public example of the state of marriage in America.

Marriage rates have fallen in the past decade even as one public figure after another ”“ John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer, Mark Sanford, to name a few ”“ have had their infidelities revealed. More than 40 percent of people between ages 18 and 29 now see marriage as obsolete.

The extramarital affair of Gen. David Petraeus with his official biographer, Paula Broadwell, stands out even more because of the trust that he earned in the military and national security fields. Yet now trust in his marital fidelity has failed. So his resignation as CIA director was necessary. Why? Because his willingness to privately harm his family could result in his harming others in his official duties….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

(NY Times) Attacks Resume After Israeli Assault Kills Hamas Leader

Israeli warplanes struck dozens of militant sites in Gaza early on Thursday, the second day of Israel’s deadly offensive against Hamas and other militant groups, and rockets fired from the enclave reached far into Israel, killing three civilians when one struck an apartment block in this small southern town.

The regional perils of the situation emerged in ever sharper relief, meanwhile, as President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt said in a national address on Thursday that his country stood by the Palestinians against what he termed Israeli aggression, news reports said, echoing similar condemnation on Wednesday.

Thursday’s deaths were the first casualties on the Israeli side since Israel launched its most ferocious assault on Gaza in four years in response to persistent Palestinian rocket fire.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(WSJ) FHA Nears Need for Taxpayer Funds

The Federal Housing Administration is expected to report this week it could exhaust its reserves because of rising mortgage delinquencies, according to people familiar with the agency’s finances, a development that could result in the agency needing to draw on taxpayer funding for the first time in its 78-year history.

Such a report would likely set off a political fight over the government’s role in housing, as it raises the prospect of billions of dollars being added to the U.S. government’s effort to stabilize the hard-hit sector in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, which already includes $137 billion spent to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Together with Fannie and Freddie, federal agencies are backing nearly nine in 10 new mortgages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(LA Times) FHA gives those who defaulted on homes another chance

“After two foreclosures and two bankruptcies, Hermes Maldonado is as surprised as anyone that he’s getting a third shot at homeownership. The 61-year-old machine operator at a plastics factory bought a $170,000 house in Moreno Valley this summer that boasts laminate-wood floors and squeaky clean appliances. He got the four-bedroom, two-story house despite a pockmarked credit history.”

Who would loan to this gentleman? Anyone, anyone?
His reentry into homeownership three years later came courtesy of the Federal Housing Administration. The agency has become a major source of cash for so-called rebound buyers ”” a burgeoning crop of homeowners with past defaults who otherwise would be shut out of the market.

“After everything that happened, thank God I was able to buy another house,” Maldonado said in Spanish. “Now, it’s good because the interest rates are low and there are lots of homes.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government, Theology

The Long Story of U.S. Debt, From 1790 to 2011, in 1 Little Chart

As the high-stakes wrangling over the fiscal cliff gets underway, we though it might be the proper moment to remind everybody just how the United States managed to become the world’s biggest debtor.

So, here’s how….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Census/Census Data, Economy, History, Medicare, Politics in General, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord, increase our faith. Grant us to know in daily life something more of the faith that pleases thee; the faith that removes mountains; the faith that overcomes the world; the faith that works through love; the faith that makes all things possible. So may we prove more fully thine own faithfulness and receive the blessedness which thou hast promised to those who trust in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frank Colquhoun (1909-1997)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

–James 1:2-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Communion Institute) Consumed By Litigation: TEC In South Carolina (Part Two)

Part 1 of the ACI’s analysis can be found here

In the first part of this article we addressed questions of good faith and canonical integrity arising from TEC’s actions in South Carolina. We concluded that those actions raise troubling questions about the good faith of many church leaders in their dealing with Bishop Lawrence, including the Presiding Bishop, the Disciplinary Board, other TEC bishops and some diocesan clergy. We also concluded that TEC’s position is canonically incoherent: either its actions in South Carolina are in open contempt of its own canons or TEC has undermined the legal basis of its position by acknowledging that the Diocese has indeed left.

In Part Two we consider issues of ecclesiology and pastoral care. We are concerned that:

TEC is acting contrary to basic principles of Anglican ecclesiology and ancient norms of the universal church; and
It is sacrificing the genuine pastoral needs of its members to advance doubtful litigation goals.

Read it all.

NOTE: You can read Part 1 and the lively discussion in the comments here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Nearly 50 million Americans in poverty under alternate Census Bureau measure

There were nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty in 2011, under an alternative measure released by the Census Bureau Wednesday.

That’s 16.1% of the nation, higher than the official poverty rate of 15%. The official rate, released in September, showed 46.6 million people living in poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Census/Census Data, Economy, Personal Finance, Poverty, The U.S. Government