Friday, February 26, 2010

On Contemporary Lutheranism

In terms of contemporary Lutheranism there is nothing new out there to speak too. I am still working on my installment on Worship. It is taking longer because I am researching more on it all. As to the Ichabodians and various crusaders I have not seen anything new. Pretty much the same slander, same doctrinal errors, same blather. I’m sure if I kept a good cut and paste library of responses it could suffice for anything “new” from that crowd. So unless the confessional "kittehs" cough up a hairball they do tend to bore me.

On Politics

Politically I have been following many things. Oh the cheer that went up when Scott Brown was elected. Although I think there are so many dangers out on the table, I’m willing to settle for stalemates and government inaction if it prevents the introduction of the numerous disasters under consideration. There is much to unravel in the issues of Health Care, the environment, the economy, and foreign affairs. It is also clear why I am disgusted with government. I believe in the Constitution and the original intent of the form of government it intended to create. It is sad to see the US abandon those principles for those of Europe. To lose our ambition, our freedom, our faith in God, our self-reliance and personal responsibility. America is making the government their god and they want this god to provide them blessings and benefits by selflessly sacrificing the money of other people. We have invented a lot of new things we “deserve” or that we have a “right” to. Somehow wealthy people have an “obligation” to provide a lot of the cash for this and I don’t believe the obligations being discussed are derived from Christian love in appreciation and gratitude for the grace afforded us by Christ’s forgiveness of our sins.

I definitely have refined my positions a lot lately. I am definitely conservative. Until Republicans will stand up and repudiate their past deviations from what it means to be conservative I will have a hard time identifying with them. Certainly there are some good conservative ones out there. Perhaps I will change my mind when the republicans stand up confess their sins of spinelessness, spending almost as much as their progressive cousins across the aisle, and will have the guts to unwaveringly promote a true constitutional and conservative agenda.

Having said all that regarding the wonderland of idealism, when it gets to matters of practical politics I have been examining Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America. I hope he can bring that plan up over and over again. The fact that there are so many Republican and Democrat professional politicians that don’t like it means it must be a great start. I think I can see why. There are enough privatizations and market based solutions in there to drive progressives nutty. Yet it still considers and acknowledges that the progressive items that have been introduced in the last 97 years are here to stay so we will need to make them work. That is probably what angers some conservatives. I urge you to read it even if you’re a stinkin’ progressive. You may be surprised at how far this plan reaches across political boundaries.

However we don’t have time for idealism. We need to do something because we are going broke. You can be idealistic as you want but if we can’t afford it we can’t afford it and you had better bring your plan for actually paying for it and it had better work because there is no more room for failure. That plan can’t actually be mythological as almost all “payment plans” touted out there have been. I mean idealistically I think it would be cool if in addition to healthcare we had pet healthcare provided by the government because it was a tragedy that I had to pay $1300 for my cat’s operation last fall. No family should have to be hurt financially because their cute fuzzy little kitty needed emergency medical care. (queue the “Awwwww’s) We should do this for the kitty’s…and the babies, and old people I mean c’mon don’t you have a heart? What do you mean there is no money for Pet healthcare? But he is so cute and carries beanie babies in his mouth like a mother cat and likes to sit on my head, and how can you resist when he rolls over so you can pet his belly? There is no money for this? You heartless bastards. Just print more money and tax rich people. (for ichabodians…this was sarcasm….yeah I didn’t think you’d get it)

I am in a project at the moment where my deliverables account for $1,000,000 of budget. Clients always want to add things in that will increase cost. I have to go to them and say two things. Either give me more money or tell me what else we can cut out to fit this in (Any good software person will know that testing is the first to go ;-) ) So show me the politicians that will actually do this. Show me the ones who will say in hard times, “Screw the 1,000,000 let’s take that back to 600,000 and suck it up.” I’m willing to take the pain. Are you? I’m pretty sure they could trim a good 750,000 union jobs from the government and operate at the same level just by the remaining 1.2 million workers working to the same capacity that normal people have to work at in their private sector jobs. I apologize to my union worker and my union/government worker readers but as a life member Teamster (yes I throw up a little in my mouth every time I say that) and former teacher and municipal worker, It is hard to see anything different.

There might be a little firestorm this year particularly as middle class America prepares their taxes. My list of people with tax surprises this year is growing. People who have never paid in or some that have never had to fork over quite so much. Funny how none of us make over $250K either. I fear that may not be enough. I think a good ol’ crisis like a default on our debt or a lowering of the US credit rating will do the trick though for the wake-up call this country needs. Not sure if I should actually hope for that though.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Road Trip Adventure

This weekend I had a little road trip adventure. I did a round trip drive to North Carolina to drop off Zach and Ricky’s girlfriends for their long-planned Valentine’s day weekend. I got a call from Delta Airlines at 5:45pm or so notifying me that their flights had been cancelled for early Friday morning and rescheduled for a very late flight on Saturday with 3 legs to the trip. As this shortened the weekend severely and would cost a fortune in lost deposits this was not a good solution. When I went online to find other flights it was bizarre because there were no flights to Atlanta to be found. The issue with the cancellations was that a big storm was coming through the south and Atlanta was shutting down in preparation. Without getting tickets on another airline there was no way to get a Delta flight to anywhere close to NC using a different hub.

So I made a snap decision to drive the girls down based on the money the boys would lose if the girls didn’t arrive, and the emotional factor of this long-awaited weekend that is exceedingly romantic for the young. We decided to make this a road trip at 7:00pm and by 10:00pm we were on the road. The girls had to rush their packing jobs because of the accelerated timeline of leaving. They did manage to limit their baggage to the 90lb per bag limit…good lord the amount of stuff girls can pack for a weekend.

I had decided on a route that took me down to Nashville and straight over to NC. I thought avoiding the route through West Virginia would be safe because of the storms in the Mid-Atlantic night have made WV hard to get through, so I chose this southern route. I should have checked to see that this route was 112 miles longer than the Indiana, Ohio, WV to NC route. Then we encountered a 75 mile detour around the Smoky mountains. So it took us 19.75 hours to get there and you could feel those last extra 2 hours too. It was a pretty uneventful drive and satellite XM radio was a big success for travelling. Kt was my co-pilot and she drove the nasty night hours and covered half the driving both ways. I couldn’t have done it without her.

We got there at 5:45pm Central time. I took the group to Flounder’s Steak and Seafood in New Bern, NC for dinner and we had a good dinner. After re-fueling and saying goodbyes after our quick 2 hour visit Kt and I hit the road at 8:00pm this time to take the shorter more northerly route. Just as we got in the car some snowflakes began to fall. It was so quaint that we had just driven 1288 miles from WI to the south and there was snow beginning to fall. It did start falling harder and I drove very very fast to get north of the storm. By the time I got to Raleigh it was starting to slush up on the roads. We saw several cars spinning out around us….some of them very very close to us. It would appear that North Carolinians do not have a great grasp of the power of slush lines and their ability to turn your car around. Although we were slowed down for quite a ways until we got in that skinny part of Virginia before the roads were clear, we also were able to go a good Wisconsin speed on the bad roads.

Kt took over driving just after Winston-Salem and drove the nice “rolling hills” all the way through northern NC, the Virginia Panhandle, and West Virgina up to Zainesville, OH. I slept very soundly. I finished up the last 7-8 hours and it was smooth sailing all the way home. We got back to WI on the short route at 2:15pm which was only 1100 miles in 18.25 hours including our 200 miles of slow snow going. I’m very thankful Kt came along as I definitely don’t have the same endurance for these kinds of excursions. Well I can handle one way but returning 2 hours later is the tough part. I really wanted to be back in WI a bit earlier on Saturday so I could’ve made Karen’s father and brother’s birthday party. However I did learn the best route now for future travels to North Carolina.

I would have to say that the western part of North Carolina is very beautiful. As we got to the flat lands leading up to New Bern it did get very white trashy and cliché southern stereotypish. I can see why Zach does not appreciate his surroundings as much as he might if he were out by Asheville or Winston-Salem.

That was my exciting road trip weekend. 40 hours of travel, 2400 miles, 4 happy kids, priceless.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Quick Zach Update

Zach got his orders today.  His Permanent Duty Station (PDS) will be MCAS New River, NC.  This is just outside of Jacksonville, NC.  NC was not his first choice...I think due to the climate and hickishness of the area.  However it seems to be a decent command to work under.  He will be in the:

Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26

Marine Aircraft Group 26
2d Marine Aircraft Wing

Website for his command

Website for the base

The best part of it though is that he gets to be in the same unit as his best friend Ricky who he joined the Marines with in the first place.  I'm sure they will be happy to be together as well as their girlfriends can travel together from Muskego to visit them there.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tax Shelter Recommendations Accepted

Last night my wife did our taxes. It was not a good night to be around the house. When she got to the final number we were both quite shocked. Last year we received about a $200 refund. That’s pretty darn close to perfect planning as you can get. So needless to say when we figured out that we would need to pay $4000 this year, it was a bit of a shock. Even accounting for changes in the fact that dependents are leaving the house and their tax credits with them that only accounts for a part of that tax increase. The interesting thing of course is that we take zero exemptions and that is still short by 20% of the total tax money needed. Also as a big "F@(% you very much from the government" we will probably have a penalty for being more than 10% off on our tax withholding. If we itemize we get screwed by the AMT. Now I know there are things I can and will need to do more of. We will up our 401K contributions and probably have additional money withheld for taxes.

Here is the point America. It’s our bad we got caught on taxes this year. Obama and Congress haven’t done anything last year that changed the tax code (except that $800 less that was withheld from our paychecks as a stimulus to us…except married filing jointly you can only allow $600…so there is $200 of that $4000….thank you ever so much for that stimulus Mr. Obama) However if you can in any way think that the government can continue to spend as it is trying to do without this scenario happening to more and more of middle class America, you are a naïve, incompetent fool. Or at a minimum if you feel like paying it, go ahead and pay my share too. If you believed that those under $250,000 weren’t going to pay more taxes? Tell that to my 22% tax increase.

As if I wasn’t inspired enough to protest, campaign and crusade against our ever decreasing freedoms, I now have the perfect example of how the middle class will be the people most screwed by the socialist agenda being pushed. Keep a watchful eye this year my good friends. Watch the anger boil up when those who had good jobs last year but are laid off now and get their tax bill. See the new level of activism when those who took emergency measures to survive a rough economy and they reduced 401K contributions and cashed in IRA’s and they get screwed this tax season. I hope to high heaven the anger boils over this year at election time. You can count on me to remind you every so often as well.