Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Meditation on the Divine Will

Washington, D.C. 
September 1862 
The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong.  
God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war, it is quite possible that Gods purpose is something different from the purpose of either party  and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.  
I am almost ready to say that this is probably true  that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest.  
Yet the contest began. And, having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds. 
President Abraham Lincoln wrote this private note to himself after 17 months of a brutal civil war amongst his fellow countrymen. He slipped it into the front drawer of what is now known as Lincolns desk and periodically would pull it out to read and meditate on its meaning and his role as a public servant elected leader of this country. 
Three years later, on March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his sublime Second Inaugural Address to the nation which many experts consider to be the greatest speech ever givenAt roughly 700 words, it was almost three times the length of his Gettysburg Address which the same experts consider to be one of the top five speeches of all time. 
Lincoln amplifies on his same thoughts as in his private Meditations on the Divine Will note to himself. 
Four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came 
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully Yet, if God wills that (this war) continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsmans two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” 
What if the same could be said of todays political polarization in America? What if both sides pray to the same God asking for deliverance and victory in their political fight against the other side  and neither side is deemed righteous to be granted victory? 
What if God continues to allow the contest to proceed? Can we, as a country, survive as a free democratic republic much longer as a house divided,” which is from yet another great Lincoln speech? 
How would Abraham Lincoln navigate todays treacherous polluted political waters if he were leading our country today?  
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nations wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 
We all need personal meditations. Try Lincolns Meditation on the Divine Will for this Thanksgiving season. We could use some malice toward none and charity to all right now. 
(first published in North State Journal 11/26/19)

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Content of Character and Talent Over Race

Syracuse pummeled Duke 49-6 last weekend.  
Eighty-one years ago, they were scheduled to play the seventh game during Dukes magical undefeated, untied and unscored-upon 1938 season. Syracuse almost had to play short-handed without their best player, running back Wilmeth Sidat-Singh. 
He only played because Dukes legendary Coach Wallace Wade did the right thing so his Iron Dukes could play Syracuse at full-strength, not less than their very best. 
Wallace Wade was a very conservative Republican, a man of strong principle and a patriot beyond being one of the great college football coaches of all time. He said his greatest disappointment in life was not being allowed in the first wave of the Normandy invasion on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  
The Army said he was too old. At age 52. 
He was a close friend of Sen. Jesse Helms and brave Republican politicians who dared to run in heavily Democratic North Carolina over the years. 
Wade was born in 1892 in rural Trenton, Tennessee. He went on to become a feisty, 150-lb guard on Brown University’s 1916 Rose Bowl team. 
Coach Wade blocked for Fritz Pollard, who was the first black running back named All-American. Pollard went on to become one of the first two black NFL players and then the first black head coach in 1918.  
They also became close friends. 
In 1938, a gentlemans agreement existed where Northern colleges who had black players would hold them out of the games against all-white Southern college football teams such as Duke or Carolina if requested. 
Several weeks before the Nov12 game, Syracuse officials cabled Coach Wade to inquire as to whether they should bench Sidat-Singh for the upcoming game at Syracuse. 
Sidat-Singh was born to African American parents. When his father died, his mother remarried an Indian physician who gave Wilmeth his last name. Most everyone thought he was Indian, not African American. 
Sidat-Singh was a great back who could throw, presaging todays game where a running quarterback such as Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson can dominate a game. 
Coach Wade wired back that Duke had no objections even though a previous contract states that he will not be allowed to participate against Duke.” 
Before the game, Wade said, If he doesnt play, no matter what the score is, well get no credit for winning. Wade had won three national titles at Alabama in three Rose Bowls in 1925, 1926 and 1930 before coming to Duke in 1931. He demanded the best. Always. 
If you are not good enough to play in the Rose Bowl, you are not good enough to play in any bowl he would tell his team at the beginning of each season. 
Sidat-Singh was allowed to play and there were no incidents or fights reported during the game. Coach Wade had instructed his players to treat Sidat-Singh as they would any other white player: Keep anyone in a non-Duke blue uniform out of the endzone regardless of skin color. 
After the game, which Duke won 21-0, press accounts reported that Sidat-Singh went over to the Duke bench and shook the hands of Duke co-captains Dan Hill Jr. and Eric Tipton, which had to be noticed by everyone in the Syracuse stadium. 
Coach Wade could have declined to play Syracuse had Sidat-Singh played. Duke players could have caused a huge ruckus and media incident by refusing to play or shake his hand after the game.  
Coach Wade would have none of it. He played with and respected Fritz Pollard from his Brown University days. He knew that great football players were great because of their talent, not their skin color. His Duke players knew that to disobey, embarrass or, worse, disappoint Coach Wade would have been the kiss of death for them and the end of their careers at Duke, right at the very end of what was a magical season for them and the university. 
Coach Wades decision exemplified what the essence of America should always be about: a free country where the content of someones character and talent matters far more than the color of their skin. And winning.
(first published in North State Journal 11/20/19)

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Destroying the Fabric of Democracy

"Wait til you see what I did with NC-12!"
When Mrs. Powel asked Benjamin Franklin at the end of the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787 what sort of government they had created, he replied: A republic, if you can keep it.” 
democratic republic he meant. A democratic republic literally means Public Thing of The People from its Latin and Greek derivations.  
It does not mean Public Thing Run By A Few People.” 
America is a representative democracy where free people get to elect representatives who then go to Washington, D.C., and state and local assemblies to vote on our collective behalf. 
The founders wanted to create a connection — a fabric of democracy, if you will — between all voters and all elected representatives. All of them. Not just a few. 
Had the founders wanted to delegate representational redistricting and reapportionment duties to a few select people, they would have put it in Article II or III of the Constitution, not Article I which outlines legislative powers, not executive or judicial powers. 
Voters used to have the assurance that the person they voted for in the first election of each decade to represent them in Washington or Raleigh would be the same person, if repeatedly elected, they could vote for during the next four elections before the next census. 
That went by the wayside in North Carolina in 1981 when new districts were drawn under the Voting Rights Act by Democratic majorities in the NCGA. Congressional maps that would make Picasso proud were drawn to protect Democrat incumbents and allow minorities a better chance to get elected in one of those Democrat districts. 
Gerrymandering in North Carolina did not start with Republicans in 2011. In 1980, Democrats held nine of the 11 Congressional seats in North Carolina. The only reason they didnt have 11 Democrats in Congress was because they packed as many Republicans as possible in the 9th and 10th districts to get them out of the other nine districts to protect Democrat majorities. 
Starting in the 1980sRepublicans litigated to redraw more fair and balanced congressional districts which continued through 2010. North Carolina produced dozens of new congressional maps during that time. 
Since 2011, Democrats have run to the courts to demand multiple congressional map redrawings. If the NCGA does not produce a new map that the three Superior Court judges on the special panel approve by Dec. 15, then there is the possibility that the courts will appoint a special master to draw the districts 
Superior Court judges are not elected statewide. Most need less than 50,000 votes, or about 0.5% of the states population, to get elected. Many are appointed to fill an open seat by the governor. Three people in the state might get to choose what is right and fair in redistricting rather than the legislative body that was elected by the entire state. Appointing a special master reduces the massive responsibility of redistricting into the hands of just one person, not the 170 elected representatives and senators in the NCGA. 
Voters need time to get to know their elected representatives. They might need help on passports and visas or getting their Social Security checks straightened out. They need to see the voting history of their representative over time. They might even get to shake his or her hand along the way. 
Repeated legislative redistricting and map reconfigurations leads to voter disengagement and disenfranchisement from their elected representatives. Many people have no idea who their elected representatives are anyway; repeated redrawing of districts confuses them even further. 
No wonder so many people are disenchanted with politics. Many stay at home as a result and dont vote anymore. 
Court-mandated redistricting in 2019 based on 2010 census data is a peak of absurdity. Do it in 2021 based on 2020 census data. 
It is time for both sides to stop the weaponization in the courts over our political redistricting process. Go back to the days of constitutional integrity: take a decennial census, redraw the lines and be done with it until the next census is taken. 
Our democratic republic, and Ben Franklin, will thank us for it. 
(first published in North State Journal 11.13.19)

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Niagara Falls Economics

Far-left Democrats scoff at the term trickle-down economics.” To them, it is simply incomprehensible that capitalism benefits anyone other than rich people at the top. 

The term comes from humorist Will Rogers, not Ronald Reagan. During the Great Depression in 1932Rogers joked about the failed policies of President Herbert Hoover: The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickled down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot.  

Critics of President Reagans tax cuts in 1981 seized upon the phrase to deride the supply-side economics of his policies which were designed to get the U.S. out of the worst recession since the 1930s, which it did. The phrase has remained a derogatory favorite of liberals ever since. 

If trickle-down economics is not the appropriate way to describe how wealth is distributed in a free market economy, what is? Can wealth trickle up the economic ladder if there is not a lot of individual wealth at the bottom to begin with? 

No one ever goes to a poor person to ask for a loan to start a business or get a job. No money, no economic formation, no growth. 

How about calling it “trickle-around economics?” “Trickle-out economics,” perhaps? 

One friend suggests Niagara Falls economics. He might have a point. 

The waterfall of wealth that cascades from the success of any successful entrepreneur, especially those among the magnitude of Bill Gates starting Microsoft, goes overwhelmingly to employees, shareholders and the consuming public. One hundred percent of the wealth generated does not go solely to the individual with the idea who took the risk to start the business at any level of endeavor. 

Bill Gates is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion according to press reports. However, it is only 10% of the total market value of Microsoft. Microsoft has a stock market value of more than $1 trillion. Of that, $900 billion in Microsoft stock value is owned by millions of shareholders either directly or through mutual funds in their personal IRAs and 401(k) retirement plans.  

It is like a reverse tithe. 90% to others; 10% for me. 

Close to all of Microsoft shareholders had absolutely nothing to do with the success of Microsoft that increased their net worth other than deciding to invest in Microsoft.  

How great is that? Americans can literally get wealthy doing nothing but investing in others who do all the hard work and assume all personal risk. 

Microsofts annual revenues are $125 billion with a net income of around $50 billion. During his role as CEO, Gates may have earned $10 million in salary. Every other dollar earned by Microsoft would have gone to pay employee salary and benefits such as health care and retirement plans; vendors for services rendered, lawyers and accountants, distribute profits as dividends to shareholders, and, yes, pay taxes to state and federal governments to fund programs many people depend on such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. 

99.99992% of all annual revenue flowing into Microsoft would have gone out to tens of thousands of people not named Bill Gates. 

How great is that? Had Bill Gates never been born like George Bailey in Its a Wonderful Life, Microsoft might not have been invented in America but rather in India or Japan, and the wealth generated would have flowed through the economy there, not here. 

Successful businesspeople are better than having Michael Jordan, LeBron James or Zion Williamson on your basketball team. Not only do they help you win in life with better products and services, you get to share in the wealth they create — unlike basketball players, who keep all the big salaries to themselves. 

Niagara Falls economics works for all of us. Anyone who has run a lemonade stand understands the basic concepts of a lot of people benefiting from one persons personal dreams and investment. Dont let the socialists ruin it for everyone. 

(first published in North State Journal 11/6.19)

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