In an open letter similar to Warren Buffet’s a group of wealthy French executives said said: “We, the presidents and leaders of industry, businessmen and women, bankers and wealthy citizens would like the richest people to have to pay a ‘special contribution’.”
The French government has acted on this idea as part of a package to cut the deficit, and introduced a new tax of 3% on anual income of 500,000 euros ($721,000).
In a strong article in the NY Times, billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet writes that he and his friends “have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” Therefore he says, increase taxes for rich, and even more for the mega-rich!
The article was inspired by the upcoming work of twelve members of congress, who are to decide how to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Buffet says the place to start is taxing the wealthy. The article is clean, crisp, and shows an easy way to approach a problem that is anything but simple. The full article can be read here: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
Hillerman introduces his Catholicism early in his book; it was an important part of his life from childhood to when he wrote the book. His primary early learning of Christianity came from Father Bernard, the Priest of the one church in the tiny town of Sacred Heart, Oklahoma. These days there has been lots of press about Creationism, and the loud movement that supports it. As a Christian myself, I have at times been asked questions such as: “So you think the Earth was built in seven days?” or “Isn’t the Bible just a big lie since it starts out with such an obviously wrong account of creation?” I have always felt that my answers were a hastily put together hodge podge of not all that coherent claptrap. Hillerman’s Father Bernard however provides a coherent answer (to the inquisitive sixth grader Hillerman was) on the question:
“Darwin’s theories, said he, didn’t conflict with our biblical Genesis stories because we understood that in these God taught in poetic metaphor. The biblical “days” of creation represented eons of time. Humanity separated us from the other primates when God touched the first of us with self-knowledge of Him and of life, death, good, and evil. The evolution theory was simply a brilliant scientist’s attempt to help us understand the dazzling complexity of God’s creation – from the amazing strength of a grasshopper’s legs to the way our brains translated the signals delivered by our optic nerves.”
Father Bernard continues with a primer on the Gospels and the foundation of Christianity:
“He made the Gospels equally simple. Christ tried to teach us that happiness lay in helping others, selfishness was the road to damnation. His bottom line always boiled down to God loves us. He gave us free will, permission to go to hell if we wanted, rules to follow if we preferred both a happy life and heaven, and a conscience to advise us along the way.”
Nothing as complex as Christianity, or a persons faith, can be encompassed by so short a passage, but I find it helpful to try on sentences like these. They help me see the foundations of my beliefs, and they help me in casual conversations with people who don’t know anything about my faith.
A Toast to the Shuttle Program, to the men and women who flew to humankind’s farthest reaches, to the men and women who gave up their lives pushing the boundaries of human experience.
A Vote for more space exploration! The human spirit is fed by exploration of the unknown, and a deeper delving into the mysteries of creation. Space is the next horizon for us – the place we can see, but can’t explore yet. A place where imagination, perseverance, sacrifice, will open new understandings of the universe and ourselves – if we dare to look.
The biggest objections tend to be around budget: how can we spend money on that when our schools are in disarray and poverty is rampant and, and, and… If we were to stop spending money on space today, none of those problems would be fixed. People try every trick in the book to pay as little tax as possible, then complain about the lack of services. People don’t vote – or don’t educate themselves about candidates before they vote – and then complain about how money is being spent. Giving up space exploration means giving up a part of the human spirit, but it also means giving up a direct means for technological innovation. All sorts of technology has come from space: Cordless power tools came from the Apollo Program , the winglets on the wingtips of airplanes , suits for firefighters , and many more .
I have been watching the shuttles my entire life; I watched the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster from my living room in San Jose when I was six; I spent hours with NASA TV’s shuttle mission coverage streaming in a corner of my computer screen; I watched the Space Shuttle Atlantis land earlier today and I was surprised at how sad I felt.
Fortunately the private sector is off and running. Virgin Galactic spawned from Burt Rutan and Scaled Composite’s brilliance continues to move forward . There are a wealth of new conventional craft as well.
I still dream of looking out of a window onto the earth floating below…
At a Men’s Breakfast recently we discussed the role of the Provider. The most important part for me revolved around the realization that when I take on this role too strongly – trying to eliminate any worry, hurt, fear, from another persons life – I have a tendency of becoming lost from myself: I lose track of what I care about, what I need, what is going on in my life. To live as if the sacrifice of so much of myself is necessary for someone else is condescending towards that person, encouraging of unhealthy dependence, and can harm myself to the point I’m no longer able to even be of any support. For everyone, love and support are important, but no one needs my constant intervention; by so over giving myself I am behaving as if they are lost without me; by losing myself I lose the power and safety of my support, and my ability to sustain it.
One of the members of the group likened it to not seeing the forest for the trees. If I look at a single tree it seems fragile: a heavy wind blows and it sways and bends and I fear it might topple. I forget that the tree is part of a forest where each tree provides a wind break for its neighbors; each is a part of a vast system, and even if one falls the forest remains.
The man shared a helpful image with me. The picture of a bald eagle: strong in flight, leaping from its perch on a tree and soaring to great heights, looking down and see the forest stretching on and on. A person is more than the hurt they are sharing; each thought and feeling is a tree in a vast forest.