Friday, June 22, 2007

What I Would've Bought...

With this month's salary I would have bought a new, fuel efficient vehicle, which would have helped the environment, reduced my fuel consumption, and given the flagging auto industry a boost. Not to mention given me a working air conditioner.

With this month's salary I would have doubled my charitable donations, increasing my local homeless shelter and food bank's ability to assist my community's poor.

With this month's salary I would have invested in my retirement, earning a good rate of return, preparing myself and my family for the future, and helping the economy by increasing overall investment.

But, instead of doing any of those things, my money paid for:

Divorce attorneys, season football tickets, champagne, Girls Gone Wild videos, tropical vacations, and a sex change operation- all purchased through the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina.

Instead of donating to the food bank, my money went to Gus in the form of food stamps, which since he received far more than his family could use, he then turned around and sold the excess to his buddies for 50 cents on the dollar.

Instead of spending, investing, or donating my money how I choose, it will go to pay for...well, I actually won't know for a little while because, according to the House Appropriations Committee Chair, there's so many spending requests there "isn't enough time" to make them public.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The War on Religion

What do the following men have in common?

Jim Quigley, CEO Deloitte and Touche
Kevin Rollins, CEO Dell Computers
Kim Clark, President Harvard Business School
Gary Crittendon, CFO American Express
David Neeleman, CEO JetBlue

All have obviously successful careers. They are leaders.

Admired. Respected. Mormon.

And for that reason alone Jacob Weisberg, the editor of Slate, thinks they exhibit a "basic failure to think for himself."

Last December Weisberg, apparently full of the "holiday" spirit, wrote a column about presidential candidate Mitt Romney in which he argued that no one should vote for a Mormon. In asking the question, "are you a religious bigot if you wouldn't cast a ballot for a believing Mormon?", Weisberg explains that there is nothing inherently wrong with being a woman or being black, but that there is something fundamentally wrong with you if you are a Mormon.

As I recently noted, people taking shots at Mormons is old hat. What makes Weisberg's piece remarkable is the following statement:

"Objecting to someone because of his religious beliefs is not the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage."

For Weisberg, it's ok if you are a Mormon, a Methodist, or a Jew, so long as you don't actually believe in the tenets of your faith. You can claim a "religious heritage" and be alright, just be careful what you have faith in. Weisberg realizes that Mormons are not alone in their requirement of faith, and so explains that, unlike other religions, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints simply hasn't had the time yet to stop believing in Jesus.

To Weisberg, the only good religion is the "liberalized" one. The only good religious person is the "rational" one that has cast aside the fairy tales of scripture- tales like Jesus being born of a virgin, healing the sick, raising the dead, and being resurrected. If you've had time to "splinter, moderate, and turn your myths into metaphor" then you can be forgiven your religious folly. But if you actually believe in Jesus, then you will get no grace from the omniscient Jacob Weisberg.

Unfortunately, he is not alone. This attitude, this disdain, this prejudice towards people of faith is growing. In an interview on msnbc, Bill Maher said that "religion is a neurological disorder." He said that because religions in this country teach that there is a heaven and that there is a devil, that makes them on par with Iran. To this anti-religion movement, simply believing there is a heaven equates you with the country that currently supplies the means to create the roadside bombs that kill Americans and Iraqis every day.

This anti-religion sentiment has largely gone unchecked. Granted, various groups have pushed back- the "War on Christmas" activities being the most noticeable, but most of the time when blatantly prejudicial statements are directed toward those of faith, nothing is done. Conversely, think of what would have happened if Maher, instead of saying religion, had said that homosexuality is a neurological disorder. Therein lies the irony of it all. People like Bill Maher and Jacob Weisberg are often heard preaching the virtues of diversity and acceptance. But if you're religious, those ideals somehow don't apply.