Living beyond your means

Here in America we complain that the prices of food, gas, and now utilities are rising. It is getting harder to make ends meet. We may have to give up some of our luxuries. I just spent $350 for a full cart of basic groceries this morning that would have cost at least $100 less last year so I’m in this too. Still, I can’t wonder at people who fill their carts with mostly junk food and complain about being poor.

America is one of the richest countries in the world. Our idea of poverty is rather wealthy overall. Very few in this country have any idea what true poverty is. True poverty is living on $1 a day. True poverty is eating only one meager meal a day. True poverty is having to choose between food or housing. I don’t mean eating out or having chips and candy but choosing between basic food like rice and beans or a roof over your head. True poverty is having 5 people in a one room hut.

Yet we have become accustomed to a high standard of living that is in danger of crumbling. This standard is being shored up by government programs that allow people to live beyond their means. If our current recessions becomes a true depression and these programs disappear, people will really be hurting. Here are a few reasons I don’t support government welfare and social security programs as they stand today.

We have several tenants who are on some sort of government assistance program and for the most part these programs only allow people to live beyond their means rather than being truly needed. Food programs designed to keep hunger away are greatly abused. For instance, I found a receipt left behind in an apartment that had about 20 items paid with a food assistance voucher. Of them, more than half were for junk food like chips, tv dinners and other quick foods. There was also frozen shrimp and some expensive steaks. Why should my taxes pay for them to eat this way? I wouldn’t mind if the vouchers were used for wholesome foods, but not junk food or expensive cuts of meat. It seems they aren’t allowed things like alcohol (and for some strange reason sliced cheese) but just about all other foods or drinks are fine. This is wrong. They need to be limited to wholesome foods and basic staples. If they want junk foods or expensive meats, they should have to spend their own money.

There is also a housing program for low income that pays all or almost all of their rent. This allows families to live in larger apartments and homes than they can afford by themselves. They are nice large apartments with newer carpets, paint and appliances. Again, why should my tax dollars pay for them to live in a nice apartment they can’t afford? Why should the government pay them to live in a 3 or even 4 bedroom place because they can only afford a 2 bedroom? If they can only afford a small 2 bedroom, that’s what they should live in or make sacrifices in other areas to afford better housing.

Living beyond your means is what caused this current recession. People were lulled into borrowing now and paying later. Sacrifice later to live better today was the theme of the country. Well that later is now here and people didn’t plan for it so they are in trouble. I don’t think the government should help out someone who didn’t plan.

Add to this, credit companies massive advertising and marketing campaigns designed to keep Americans in debt so they can increase their profits. Personal savings are almost non-existent. Unless you pay your balance in full every month now is not the time to rely on credit for day to day purchases. Worse yet, impulse purchases on credit make it hard to plan for paying the balances off. Here’s a recent article about consumer credit crisis.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of buying habits our credit obsessed society encourages. There is a simple solution. We need to start encouraging self reliance instead of government assistance or credit which allows us to live beyond our means. This means making some tough choices, but if we don’t make them now, it will only be worse in the future. So unless and until we start living within our means, we shall continue to have major financial problems.

We all want something better than what we have, but it isn’t the government’s responsibility to help you pay for it. This is leaning toward socialism. Food programs, housing assistance, credit and mortgage bailouts will only make the problem worse by allowing people to continue living beyond their means and increasing our already ridiculously large national debt.

People need to make sacrifices or adjust their standard of living to their current situation. I don’t mind short term emergency assistance or one-time rent payments but not long-term social welfare programs. We need to return to a theme of sacrifice today for a better tomorrow by living within our means. If this means giving up chips and sweets, eating out, movies, or even downsizing your living space, then do what needs to be done and stop asking the government to help you live beyond your means. I have.

My husband did the math a few weeks ago and it worked out that we earned $0.65 per hour last year for all the work we did. That’s right, just 65 cents! So for everyone who thinks landlords make lots of money because rents are high, think again. It also shows with careful planning and living within your means, you can be comfortable on a (very) low income without government assistance if you don’t covet (want) what others have.

“Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s” Exodus 21:17 KJV “He that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days” Proverbs 28:16.

Obama and Dobson

Ok, I’m going to give more ink to this silly thing. I sometimes listen to Dr. Dobson’s radio program Focus on the Family in the mornings when driving. I don’t always agree with everything he says. In fact, sometimes he is very prejudiced, but it still is interesting.

Today was the exception. He interrupted his regular radio schedule to go on the attack against Barak Obama for a speech given 2 years ago. For those of you who are curious or have too much time on your hands, here is a link to side by side contrast of what Obama’s speech says and what Dobson said about it. Read Obama’s speech transcript for yourself.

Dr. Dobson’s organization Focus on the Family has done a lot of good supporting basic family values. My kids enjoy their radio drama Adventures in Odyssey. I enjoy their associated show Family News In Focus about family issues in the news. However, lately Focus on the Family has been out of focus. Especially today. I don’t see how today’s ranting broadcast did any good or served any point. (Truly it was. Normally he is calm and rational even when disagreeing with a guest or viewpoint, but today he was defensive and aggressive.) It made him sound silly. Some of the comments by Obama were meant to be sarcastic and Dobson took them as literal.

If this broadcast was meant to cast Mr. Obama is a bad light, it backfired. It showed me that Obama has a good grasp on reality and will consider others values along with his own when making decisions. Since this speech was 2 years ago, it shows me that he isn’t saying things now that don’t match what he has said in the past. He is consistent in his views of morality. He has an understanding of how culturally diverse America is even within the Christians. Nor is he afraid to quote scripture when appropriate and in proper context. I think his comments were right on if you stop to think about what he said.

Hence the mention of Dr. Dobson and Rev. Sharpton. Obama said, “Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” Obama said both “if” (twice) and “or”. He didn’t say when or and. He was being hypothetical to prove a point about Christian diversity. He was contrasting Sharpton’s liberal views to Dobson’s conservative ones. I would expect Dobson to be pleased to have been shown as a role model for conservative Christians. Although Obama could have made this distinction a bit more clear. If Dobson wasn’t mentioned at all or someone else was mentioned for either name, would Dobson still be upset at this speech?

The Obamas are Christians. He even encouraged people to read the Bible on their own. “So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bible now,” Obama said, to cheers. “Folks haven’t been reading their Bible.” (Excerpt from 2006 Call to Renewal speech courtesy CNN.com) In other words, don’t take his word for what it says but read for yourself. Combine this with leaving the church he was long associated with when remarks were out of line with Christian values and he has shown the strength to make his own decisions.

Really, Dr. Dobson, what were you thinking? Why wait 2 years to come up with this? I find it interesting that the last time Dobson interrupted the broadcast schedule (California homeschool rights) it was all over their website before and after. It shows the regularly scheduled program for today. I could find no mention of today’s actual broadcast or recent reference to Obama.

Moral degeneration

“Hi! How are you and how do you do? My name is _____, who the hell are you!?” BEEP…

That was the answering machine message that greeted me when I was returning a call about an apartment this morning. The young lady was probably trying to be cute, but I found it slightly offensive. That message was rather mild compared to some of them I’ve had to listen to.

Being an apartment manager, I return numerous calls with only a phone number and perhaps a name or some other basic information about who’s calling. Most of the answering messages are generic, polite, or truely funny. However, there are others that are anything but polite. Loud vulgar music recordings, S..x offers, lots of cursing, insults, and even vague threats are just some of the things I’ve heard. Mostly it is young people who have these messages.

First impressions over the phone are everything in my business. I don’t mind leaving messages if someone has a polite message but I have been known to just hang up on the more offensive messages. I’m a pretty good judge of character. If you have a loud, offensive message, you probably won’t make a good tenant. This is speaking from experience, not just to be judgmental.

I can understand how like the girl this morning she was trying to be cute. Yet I wonder if she understands what kind of image this message portrays about her to strangers calling her. I doubt if I was the only apartment manager who will be returning calls to her.

This kind of moral downward creeping is slowly eroding societal values. Already foul language has become the norm. No longer is it considered offensive to most of our nation’s youth. However, it is a reversible trend if we are willing to stand up and let them know it is wrong and will not be tolerated. It isn’t funny or cute. It is crude and rude.

Unfortunately, this will be difficult considering how popular culture is now saturated with violence, casual s..x, and other behaviors that would have been censored even just 20 years ago. In some ways offensive language seems almost mild. Our young people are being trained to emulate these behaviors by having them under constant view in fictional media, music, and even the news. If a star does something good they get a few minutes of fame but if they do something wrong it is in the news for days or even weeks. We need to reverse what should be considered newsworthy in cases like that to downplay their bad behavior. We need to have more positive role models rather than negative.

The stars who do these behaviors should be held to a higher standard because they are in the public eye and have such an influence over our youth today. Our youth need to see that bad behavior has negative consequences. Instead they see the stars getting a slap on the wrist just to repeat the behavior again in the near future, usually getting lots of attention and media coverage in the process. Is this a double standard? Yes. However, if they are going to be role models they need to start acting like it rather than spoiled brats with no care to the consequences of their actions.

Parents, we need to take a stand and let our children and their friends know this kind of language and behavior won’t be tolerated. Take an active role in your child’s lives. Don’t try to be their best friend. You’re not! You’re their parent and therefore responsible for their conduct. Be firm and consistent. They won’t know it is wrong unless you tell them. Don’t assume they know.

A weekend for God

Saturday was summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. That may not be much of a big deal in other parts of the country, but here in Fairbanks, Alaska it is reason to celebrate. Sunrise 2:58 AM, sunset 48 minutes past midnight, sunshine total 21 hours 50 minutes which means a full 24 hours of daylight! Winter Solstice on December 21 sunrise will be 1059 AM and sunset will be 2:20 PM for possible sunlight of just 3 hours 41 minutes. Even less if it is snowing or cloudy, which it often is. Saturday’s high was 78. The average high for December 21 is 2 with a low of -16. The record low for that day is -49 in 1961.

To many that means a weekend of concerts, parties, drinking alcohol, and some mild forms of sun worship. For sports fans, the Yukon 800 riverboat race started Saturday morning. The Midnight Sun baseball game in Fairbanks is the only game that starts at 1030 PM and is played entirely without any artificial lights, usually getting finished around midnight. There is also a 10K fun run around town. For my family though, it was a weekend for God.

Last week was VBS at our church. 12 kids came forward for the Lord! Friday was the final day barbecue. That was a lot of fun. The camp was a science theme this year, Power Lab: Discovering Jesus’ Miraculous Power. There was a tub with a mixture of corn starch, water and food coloring. The kids used it for walking on water. If you walk fast and don’t hesitate you won’t sink, but if you hesitate or go slow you will sink in the ooze. The kids had me take off my shoes and walk through it. Weirdest thing I ever stepped on/in. I guess it takes a lot of cornstarch though.

Saturday was the Midnight Sun Festival downtown. There was also Dragonfly Day at Creamer’s Field. My friend Sarah and her kids took us to the Dragonfly Day guided walk. They had nets to borrow for catching damsel flies and dragonflies at a seasonal pond. We caught a newly hatched dragonfly. It was shinny yellow. Richard caught some damsel flies. I got caught in suck mud (quicksand) up to my knee and had to have help extracting my shoe while I balanced on one foot. Still it was great being outside and learning about God’s creatures. Then later in the afternoon we went downtown to hand out gospel tracts. Richard did better than anyone. He’s too cute to say no to 😆

Today we planned to go to the 9am service but I slept in so we went to the 11am service. It was an unusual service. They had a slide show of the VBS and the kids did the worship singing from songs they learned. We had a farewell send off for a family who are moving to Wyoming. Our new pastor Bill and his wife Cindy were there and together gave a talk about families. They ended singing “The Family of God”.

After church we drove out to Chena Lakes for the annual baptisimal picnic. The kids played in the shallows before lunch. It was roast pig and pot luck. Karen got to see the pig whole on the big grill before they carved it. She thought that was neat and went around telling people we were “eating a dead pig”. After lunch several young people and a few adults were baptized then everyone sang “The Family of God” as they walked up from the lake. A storm was coming up with wind, lightning and thunder so we had to keep all of the kids out of the water after that. Richard got cold so I got out a dry long sleeved shirt for him to put on (reluctantly). It didn’t look like the storm was going to pass us by so we left soon after since we parked a ways away from the picnic shelter and I didn’t want to be caught out in the rain. I drove out to the dam and we took a nice walk and learned a bit about the 1972 and 1992 floods before driving home.

It never did really rain hard where we were. We got sprinkled on as we drove home and the roads were wet where storms had already passed. I weeded the garden while the kids had dinner. The carrots and lettuce are starting to come up but were getting badly shaded by grass and choked with other weeds. I also need to plant the radishes this week. Its been real warm (upper 70’s to low 80’s) the last couple of days. If we get rain tonight, the plants will be doing great, otherwise things are going to start drying up. There’s only so much a watering can will do.

So now that a wonderful, mostly sunny solstice weekend is over and the garden is weeded, I’m praying for a nice, gentle, soaking rain tonight and tomorrow.

My political 2 cents

It really makes me upset to see how low voter turnout has been in this country lately, both in local and national elections. In some ways I like the idea of compulsory voting. Lots of people complain of how bad our country’s leaders are doing but few actually are willing to do something about it. Voting is an easy way to do something about change. If you don’t vote, you shouldn’t complain. Be part of the solution rather than the problem and VOTE this November!

Go to Obama for President website

I have considered myself more of an unaffiliated Republican although I like to vote based on individual candidates instead of along party lines. It seemed the Republicans have held my interests in the past compared to the Democrats. I was waiting to see how to primaries went with Clinton or Obama to decide. I’d rather have McCain than Clinton but Obama over McCain.

John McCain represents more of the status quo which obviously isn’t working. He represents the Good Ol’ Boy Club. To me he represents what is going wrong with America. He wants to give more rights to people in this country illegally while at the same time limit the freedoms of this country’s taxpaying citizens. I don’t see any fresh or new ideas from him. I haven’t liked some of the bills and votes in his Senate record. He doesn’t have an exit strategy (either short or long term) for the wars in the Middle East in which we are entangled.

Here’s 2 more reasons not to vote for McCain, especially if you care about your constitutional freedoms. There was an interesting article by Chuck Baldwin (candidate mentioned by a comment below) about McCain posted on I Was Hungry. While I agree in some gun restrictions, the article just sheds more light on why not to vote for McCain. http://iwashungry.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/mccain-is-a-gun-grabber/

Here is another article. Parts of a bill McCain co-sponsored on campaign finance reform (McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional limits on free speech! He wanted different rules for different players in the same political game. This is the second time is 2 yeas parts of this act have been struck down. http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0627/p25s10-usju.html

I have decided to vote for Obama. The more I hear from and about Barak Obama (aside from trying to spell his name) the more I like about him. He’s young. He’s willing to listen to others rather than just keeping on without even considering other options. We’ve got to at least try something different because the current direction is obviously wrong. He may not have all the answers, but even some change is a step in the right direction.

I’m very curious who both candidates will pick for VP. That may change my mind (especially if Mr. Gore or Mrs. Clinton are picked) but I doubt it. So for now you’ll see an Obama ’08 sticker on my website. If you agree (or not) with my candidate choice, you better go and vote this November because I sure will!

It’s here!

My order from Christian Light Education arrived today! It was all in one box. Karen was excited about getting her preschool workbooks. She did 3 pages of tracing lines in one of the Beginners set this morning. Richard’s friend was over so he didn’t get much of a look at the workbooks. I’ll have him look at them tonight. If he likes them, we’ll send the Abeka back tomorrow.

We’re going to have to get Karen her own pencil box and supplies. She has a box for her crayons but not things like pencils and erasers which she’ll need this fall. I also need to clean off a bookshelf for her school stuff. Its hard to believe she is getting ready for school, even if it is just preschool. I need to put away Richard’s first grade books and put out the second grade stuff on his shelves. We need more bookshelves, but what homeschool family doesn’t? 😆

The first 2 lessons from the CLE reading are on following directions. Then they start the first story. It looks like 5 lessons to cover about 2 stories and one quiz a week. Each workbook has 15 lessons and there are 10 workbooks for reading and language arts. There is also a study page for the verse that goes along with each story. It will be good to have these structured reading skills lessons combined with the more unstructured WinterPromise for reading comprehension.

The main drawback is CLE doesn’t have much for handwriting. We’ll keep the Abeka handwriting and use the activities in CLE for review and additional practice. It will be good since CLE has students write penmanship on a separate piece of paper.

We decided to keep the Abeka spelling book. My husband had trouble spelling and believes more the better when it comes to spelling practice. I’m thinking of just having the CLE spelling as practice and using the Abeka for testing. The Abeka is arranged by word families. They sort of correspond with some of the lessons in CLE so it won’t just be random words like the first grade spelling seemed. We’ll wait and see if that really happens or is too much work.

I can’t wait to start. That’s the drawback to ordering in the spring. You need to give the kids a break but the books are starting to arrive so you want to start. I’m going to VA for training from CLE in August instead of July. Too much going on with Ray getting back for me to leave right away. Anyway, when I get back from there in late August, we’ll start school. I’m going to be ordering the rest of Richard’s schoolbooks next month when allotments open up.

Little growing things

There are a lot of little growing things around my house now. First the garden. It is doing great! We’ve had enough rain so we haven’t had to water by hand much. The beets are up. Having them under the plastic really helped shorten the germination time. The carrots still haven’t popped out yet. The peas are up too. We need to get the fence up for them to climb real soon. The pre-plants are doing great. They’ve more than doubled in size since we put them in 2 weeks ago. I’ve been hoeing every few days to keep the grass from taking over in the upper part. It needs to be done again but is too wet this evening. We may get a modest rhubarb harvest this year. The strawberries really like having all the brush and willows cut down. They have a lot of flowers. We should have enough to make a pie (or two with the rhubarb, yum) unless the neighbor steals them again. I need to put back up the edging fence around them.

A robin built a nest on top of a light outside our garage a few years ago. She came back this spring and now has babies up there peeping and cheeping.

I had the kids’ car seats out so I could put the tires in the other day. When I put the seats back in, we were in a hurry so I buckled Karen using the seat as a booster with the regular seat belt instead of using the car seat straps. She fit fine so I guess that’s how it will be. It is faster for me and more comfortable (and modest without the belt fastened between her legs) for her now. I also had to buy her new dresses and shirts. She’s really been in a growth spurt lately.