Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shameful Police Action

Late March 18 a man was rushing his wife, another family member to a Dallas hospital. They had received word that his mother-in-law was dying. A block from the hospital the roads were somewhat disserted as the man approached an intersection, the light was red but with little traffic. With the flashers on the driver slowed and moved through the intersection once it was clear and proceeded into the hospital entrance.

Dallas police officer, Robert Powell, rushed up behind him with is lights flashing. The driver kept going down the drive and into the parking lot with his flashers still on. As the family got out of the car the officer drew his car and ordered the occupants back into the car. The video clearly indicates that the driver was trying to explain that they needed to get inside to see his wife’s dying mother before she passes. The police officer told him to he could care less what the family needed to do, he wanted them back in the car.

The driver’s wife and her sister ignored the police officer and walked off. The officer demanded the license and insurance. The driver said he was not certain he had the insurance card but he had the registration card. The officer threatened to tow the car and to put the driver in prison. The driver kept trying to explain what was happening but the officer remained cold and unmoved even after a nurse came out to confirm that the mother-in-law as within minutes of dying. Another police officer had not only arrived but suggested to Officer Powell to not issue the ticket and let the driver get inside. Powell who later stated to his department that “I handled everything appropriately” remained unmoved and held the man thirteen minutes as he slowly wrote the ticket, and then lectured the driver on his attitude.

When the driver arrived at his mother-in-law’s bedside he was too late. She had passed away just a few minutes before.

While Powell feels he was justified in his actions, I do not. The context clearly showed that the man was headed for an emergency. His story made sense. If Powell had any doubts, at the very least he could have followed the man inside. I recognize police officers have a tough and stressful job, but that said we need police officers who have enforce the laws with common sense and compassion. Powell’s actions last night serves as an example of what we do not need to see from our law enforcement officers. If anything Powell’s actions and attitude ostracizes the officers from the public by decreasing the respect given to them.

The Dallas Police Department initially put Powell on dispatch duty. The Dallas Chief of Police Kunkel upon hearing about the matter and after it was published in the press appeared before the press earlier today to say that after reviewing the tapes he has suspended his officer. The Chief issued an apology to the family and community as a whole. Chief Kunkel says that Powell will remain suspended without pay until the review is complete and the review could recommend that Powell be dismissed.

Given that the department’s initial reaction was mild and no suspension took place for a week I am left wondering if Chief Kunkel would have taken this action if the driver of the vehicle was not NFL running back Ryan Moats and the matter had not come to the attention of the press.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Three Humorous Signs

This place either has a different type of clock or they have a strange way to do their math to claim being open "24 hours".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Has Arrived

Click and view the card. As you watch the trees and flowers bloom may you have a wonderful spring.

Send this eCard !

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG - New Meaning

Once again AIG, American International Group, has come under criticism, and justly so, for awarding hefty bonuses to executives when the firm is in such dire financial conditions, including to those who made decisions that has brought AIG to the doorstep of bankruptcy. If the bonuses must be paid, let them be paid in AIG stock.

AIG and its executives are appropriate symbols of the horrendous shortcomings of a poorly regulated American financial system. Its initials are taking on new meaning. “A” could readily stand for any of these…appalling, aristocratic, atrocious or arrogant.

“I” could readily stand for any of these terms….impassive, immoral, ignoble, imperial, impenitent, indifferent, or insufferable

“G” could stand for…. gamblers, greed, or gluttony.

In my view, AIG now stands for Arrogant Ignoble Greed. What does AIG represent for you?

Arrogant Ignoble Greed is a company in disrepute and though there are those who argue that it is too big to fail, no company should be too big to fail. AIG should be pushed into bankruptcy, with its salvageable parts sold off. The firm’s ignoble leadership should be dismissed in disgrace and left to defending themselves in the law courts against those who will sue them for various their misrepresentations and actions.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trickle-down Economics A Bust?

The “trickle-down” economic theory holds that as the wealthy and top income earners flourish that those at the bottom end of income scale will also become more economically stronger. The assumption holds that if those at the top succeed that they will create opportunities for others to do well. Often coupled with this assumption is the argument that if government and regulations were diminished or eliminated that the entrepreneurs will make bundles of money and so will everyone else if they but work hard.

I agree that hard work should be rewarded I have never agreed with the liaise-faire roll of government and that regulations are a hindrance to capitalism. The current states of the American financial and housing industries are testaments that the rosy theory of deregulation is found wanting.

Trickle-down does happen but is more limited that we would recognize. In Scripture there are laws against usury. Usury is a means to help the wealthy to increase their stores at the expense of those with little income and the vulnerable. Farmers were to not pick-up fruit and reaping that had fallen to the ground. Nor were they to go into every corner of the field during harvest. It was a means of providing for the poor…a primitive welfare system. Those with wealth are frequently reminded to care and assist the poor. If the trickle-down theory works, then why would the Bible have these teachings?

History has shown that if the wealthy have unfettered power, that they will maximize their profit and keep their employees in a form of endured servitude. In the middle ages the Lords were fat while the serfs starved. For those who will point out that was not America, I would remind them of the robber barons who paid pittance, kept their employees in high priced poor quality company housing, and threatened physical harm to break-up efforts when employees tried to band together to improve their living conditions and wages as there was nothing trickling down to them. If the trickle-down theory held they would not have had to organize and there would not need to have been a slew of employment laws to protect the workers. These American serfs demonstrate that unfettered capitalism as the trickle-down advocates proclaim has serious flaws.

Until the last year most economists and politicians held that the economic environment was strong. If any environment could give proof of the trickle-down taking place it would be evidenced in the declining poverty rates. In January 2000 the poverty rate stood at 4.6%. Eight years later, in 2008 the poverty rate stood at 7.2% without any significant change in the definition point of the poverty rate.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Congress' God-like Power

For those who are needing a good laugh, following is a letter to the editor that was published in the Arkansas Democrat from April 24, 2007. You really have to wonder about some people's reasoning, particularly when the data goes through one's political bias.

Daylight exacerbates warming

You may have noticed that March of this year was particularly hot. As a matter of fact, I understand that it was the hottest March since the beginning of the last century. All of the trees were fully leafed out and legions of bugs and snakes were crawling around during a time in Arkansas when, on a normal year, we might see a snowflake or two.

This should come as no surprise to any reasonable person. As you know, Daylight Saving Time started almost a month early this year. You would think that members of Congress would have considered the warming effect that an extra hour of daylight would have on our climate. Or did they?

Perhaps this is another plot by a liberal Congress to make us believe that global warming is a real threat. Perhaps next time there should be serious studies performed before Congress passes laws with such far-reaching effects.


Evidently Ms Meskimen thinks that Congress has god-like power in that it can magically increase the amount of daylight and change the weather. LOL

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two Factors in the Demise of the American Automobile Brands

General Motors is such a difficult position financially that their auditors have stated that they cannot see how the company cannot stay out of Chapter 11. Chrysler which is privately held and does not have to publish a financial report is believed to be headed the same way. Some experts speculate that Chrysler may be in a worse position.

The likelihood that one of the American brands will gone in five years is high (I think Chrysler will be gone). If it survives another ten years GM will likely be a shadow of its current self.

In the last three days as I have driven in the Washington DC area I have noticed the name plates on the cars around me. In doing so I have seen evidence as to why the American three automakers are in such dire straits. Excluding trucks I saw far more Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, BMWs, Mercedes, Lexus than all the GM name plates combined. I even saw more Volvos or Porsche Boxers than Chryslers automobiles.

Less than one in six cars were North American name plates. In the mid 90s the American brands would have been about half the vehicles on the road. Sales declines are evidenced around us, but the impact of those declines on the bottom line is not as evident to the general public.

If we go back 25 years ago the automobile workforce was robust and vast. Today, a good part of those workers are retired or nearing retirement. The pool of retired automobile employees is humongous for the American brands whereas the other brands that make cars in North America have few employees. Hence the health care and retire benefits for the American brands are extremely larger than their competitors, and with declining sales of the last decade, those costs represent a growing portion of the vehicle’s sales price. This means that the potential profit margins have become slimmer for the American brands. If the American brands had the same legacy costs of their competitors, their vehicles would be selling below their foreign name plate competitors. Quality differences are not as vast as it was fifteen years ago as several American lines are now being rated amongst best of class.

Foreign name plates do not have the same legacy costs even though they too have a growing retirement pool in their home countries. In Japanese and European brands have lower legacy costs because in those countries have different retirement and health care systems that have enabled their firms to beat the American brands into submission not only by having had a quality advantage for decades but a health care and retirement advantage that allowed them to sell their vehicles more cheaply than the American brands.

In essence, two factors behind the demise of the American automobile industry are the American retirement system and the American healthcare system. The competitive field has not been a level.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Religion in America

Last night on the news it was reported that 15% of Americans do not believe or adhere to in any organized religion. During the discussion I found most three things to be most interesting:
1. That 76% of American adults claim they are Christians.
2. That two religion commentators said that most of those 15% are not atheists or agnostics.
3. That Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an evangelical group, claims that as the economy declines, more people will turn to faith.

Perkin’s statement is most interesting in that by implication he is suggesting that faith has more to do with warm fuzzies and a general sense of security in tough times than it does with true heart-felt convictions. Such a view is different than what I have understood as the evangelical definition of faith.

Church leaders like to grasp onto that 76% as an argument for claiming that America is a Christian nation. Though the Christian faith has influenced the direction of the nation, such a claim is doubtable, particularly more than ever. Church attendance is declining, and for those churches that are growing, the bulk of their growth is coming people who have been attending other churches. In total, fewer and fewer people are attending church each decade.

That 76% of American adults claim they are Christians is a clearly a cultural definition rather than a faith definition. Weekday mornings between 7 and 9:30 the roads are clogged with cars as about 60% the adult population is on the move during that period traveling to work. The one morning a week when the roads are nearly empty is Sunday morning. Less than a quarter of those who claim to be Christians attend church on a regular basis.

I it is interesting that the two religion guests, one evangelical and one Roman Catholic, argued that very few of the 15% who do not have a faith expression are agnostic or atheists. While in a sense they are right, if they were to open their eyes, they could not reasonably hold such a view. They are right in that few have intellectually concluded that God's exisitance can be proved or that there is no God. That said, functionally the vast majority of that 15% by claiming to have not faith or belief in the supernatural (or supranatural as some Christian apologists call it) are living their lives as agnostics/atheists.

Furthermore, a good number of that 76% who claim to be Christian, do so in name only. Many are cultural Christians in that it is their family background/heritage or that they acknowledge that they will be married and burried "in the church", and that Christian values of right and wrong have colored their values. As many of that 76% never darken a Church door even at Christmas, they too are living a life of unbelief. If a person really does not believe and lives out their life part from the church and its values, what does that make them functionally if not at the very least an agnostic.