POSTED ON MARCH 3, 2010:
Love Letters/ Hate Mail
(In response to "My Country 'Tis of We" in the Feb. 18-24 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
The City of Tulsa's budget crisis and the resulting skirmishes between the Mayor's office and the public employee unions that represent the police and firefighters is just a microcosm of similar events happening all over our country, even worldwide, as city, state and national treasuries empty. Crisis caused by profligate government spending and excessive compensation for public employees is causing problems everywhere.
The majority of workers in America work in private sector, non-unionized jobs without cushy pension plans. It's not that we dislike public employees -- especially our police and firefighters -- but we in the private sector don't have access to the kind of pensions and benefits you can get as a member of a public (or any other) union. And it's the overall lack of performance of government at all levels we're objecting to.
We're tired of soul-stealing taxes that do little or nothing to benefit us, that jeopardize our retirement and our children's future. We're out of trust and we're out of patience. The natural result of this ire is activist groups like the Tenthers and Tea Partiers.
According to Arnold Hamilton, who regularly writes "The Capitolist" column for UTW, our state budget is in crisis because we haven't collected enough in taxes. In (the Feb. 18-24 issue's) column he scolded the "Tenthers" and latter-day secessionists as misguided and deluded. He dismisses the Tenthers as right-wing nuts, with an oblique aside as to how these kinds of folks might like to refresh the tree of liberty with a bit of blood.
I'd like to point out to Mr. Hamilton that the Lincoln government's refusal to allow the southern states their desire for orderly secession from the Union resulted in the spilling of blood of some 620,000 men, in addition to those maimed and disfigured for life. Also, Mr. Hamilton should be quite thankful that groups such as the Tenthers and Tea Partiers arise. It's because of these dissenting voices things can be changed and abuses checked, so that the tree of liberty can get refreshed without actually spilling any blood. That's the benefit of living in a representative democracy that allows free speech and freedom of the press, and it's the very essence of "peaceful redress of grievances".
How to solve the current budget crisis in Tulsa? The answer from the in-state liberal intelligentsia is--wait for it--more taxes, of course! Let's punish those who had nothing to do with creating the problem by forcing them to help fix it! That is what Tom Adelson-one suggested in that week's UTW--a payroll tax levied on anyone who works within the Tulsa city limits.
Mr. Hamilton would obviously support raising taxes on everyone domicile in the state of Oklahoma. More taxes at a time when everyone is feeling the burn of stagnant wages or unemployment is something none of us need.
Even Ted Rall had a suggestion that's not entirely stupid: tax people more when the economy is booming, tax them less when it's in stagnation, proving even a Marxist knows more about economics than both Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Adelson. Yikes.
Sadly, we'll likely just keep taxing and spending at all levels the same way we've always done it because we're bound and determined to prove doing everything the same way will eventually yield different results.
Sound familiar? That's Einstein's definition of insanity.
- Todd Kreigh, Skiatook
God and Mammon
(In response to "Oh Jupiter!" in the Feb. 18-24 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
As an Atheist just wanted to make a couple comments. First, on the article itself, growing up in Oklahoma I learned to just deal with things like this happening. Yes, it made me feel awkward while everyone prayed before football games or whatever public event but instead of inciting a riot I chose to keep quiet. It really was not that big of a deal.
On the other hand, as a student at Cornell University dividing my studies between Government (constitutional law being one subject of particular interest) and comparative religious studies on the other, I am deeply bothered by the assertion that prayer was something our forefathers wanted.
If one were to actually read documents written by James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, etc., these men were utterly opposed to the inclusion of religion in state functions. Even further it is dangerous to even label them as Christians as a large portion were actually Deists (one who believes in a creator but does not believe that he plays an active role beyond the universe's initial conception). An interesting case in point would be the Thomas Jefferson "Bible" in which he removed anything supernatural from Jesus leaving him solely as a philosopher.
Another, from James Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments," (a list of 15 reasons to strike down Patrick Henry's "Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion" in the Virginian State Senate of 1778) Madison wrote, "It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties... the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects." Further into the document Madison asks, "What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society?" Eventually forming the conclusion "In no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people."
So in the game of equal rights, and under the first amendment, the government is not supposed to setup an official religion nor are they to stop anyone from practicing the faith of their choosing.
Therefore in government settings, calling upon a God officially during a meeting (as in not just in arguing someone's opinion but as a physical step in the process of the meeting) is embracing an ideology of preference therefore violating the establishment clause within the first amendment. To rephrase the argument from a theistic point of view one could make the example of a Catholic (well more old school Catholic) priest forcing the Baptist councilmen to pray to the God who literally transforms the cracker into human flesh as opposed to the metaphorical assumption that the cracker simply symbolizes being one with Christ.
From your definition of God you technically do not believe in the same God as the other and you would feel uncomfortable having this person speak for you on a topic in which you sincerely disagree. At least I would have a problem with someone saying I was a cannibal! (Sorry, had to sneak in one joke). Anyway, there is a problem, albeit not a horrible pressing issue (as long as it does not escalate from this), but it is something worthwhile of legitimate debate.
As an atheist who attends city council meetings, the prayer is a waste of my time. Personally, I think it's a waste of the council's time also, so I agree with (comment writer) BDug. Let them come early and get the prayer out of the way before the meeting. Time is a precious commodity and I don't want mine wasted by someone else's religion.
Here's a New Testament quote for you: Jesus said,
"I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household." MATTHEW 10:35-36 & LUKE 12:52-53
So much for family values.
Old testament has a lot of goofy stuff! Here's both sex, sexism, and violence:
"If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show her no pity."
And one of my personal favorites: God picks soldiers for Gideon, JUDGES 7:5
"The Lord said unto Gideon,'Everyone that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself'..."
It's a very silly book to be such a big deal, and it's caused an awful lot of trouble in the world too.
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