Create Your “Better” Federal Budget

Do you ever wonder how federal government spending impacts you? Does the current federal spending reflect your values? Does the federal spending impact you?  Do you ever wish that you could sit down and create a federal budget that would reflect your spending and revenue priorities? For a majority of my adult life I have never understood the federal budget because I did not take the time to understand it and believed it didn’t impact me or anyone else.  As a result, I have come to realize that it does impact me, and many other people. Additionally, I have come to realize; the current budget does not reflect my values. Budgets are moral documents, they reflect priorities, they are indicators of what we truly value. Whether a personal, family, small business, publicly traded company or faith community; we can all learn a great deal by looking at budgets. This is true for government budgets too: federal, state and local. So many of my friends express their frustration about what is happening in Washington.  I knew there had to be a better way to engage people, a better way to help them understand how federal budgets work.  And I was fairly certain there had to be a tool out there, so I began to search.  As a matter of fact, there...

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Your Redistribution is Showing! Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (and you?) get in on the growing practice of promoting the well-being of others

Selling their possessions and goods, they gave… Acts 2:45 Look who’s practicing distribution, or probably a better word, redistribution. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Case, Larry Ellison, T. Boone Pickens, & Walter Scott, Jr. just to name a few. For a good part of my life I have sought to spark imagination and discussion that there is another (and I argue, better) way to live.  Over the past decade I have specifically focused on bringing light to the reality that there truly is enough for all of our needs and suggested practical ways to start living accordingly.  Often I wonder what it would take to really live into that reality. There are certainly moments I question if it is even possible, if we are willing, if we are ready. Like any good work, it is rarely easy.  It is certainly a path scattered with discouraging moments.  But, when I am honest I realize that this journey of awakening, this journey of discovery, this journey of open-handedness, this journey of seeing ourselves in others and others in ourself, this journey of sacrifice to help our neighbor, is mostly filled with moments of sheer excitement. The ups and downs are intertwined in the mystery of “it’s happening” and “it’s not yet”. We have come far, too far to not keep going on what will be the...

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Charity and Taxation; The Economist: Sweetened Charity

There’s a very engaging article in the June 9 issue of the economist that deals with charities and their tax-exempt status. here are  two small paragraphs that I thought were very interesting for consideration. America has the most generous tax incentives for charity, and has the highest giving as a proportion of GDP, at 1.67%, according to a rare comparative study by Britain’s Charities Aid Foundation. Britain’s tax breaks for charity are the next-most-generous, and it had the second-highest share of charity to GDP, 0.73%, followed by Australia, 0.69%, which also has significant tax breaks. By contrast, the relatively weakly incentivised Germans give only 0.22% of GDP. The correlation is not perfect, though; despite their generous tax breaks, the French give just 0.14% of GDP. Overall, American donors give more than half of their charitable donations to religious organisations, according to a study by Mr Reich of Stanford University. Only a small part of total American giving was in any sense redistributive from rich to poorer people, the study concluded. The churches, synagogues and so on that received most of the money were typically attended by the donor, and thus could be interpreted more as a membership fee than an act of charity (the study did not include religiously linked charities engaged in good works under the heading of...

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Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?

“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”  Thomas Merton “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” Albert Einstein “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who writes its laws” Maier Amschel Rothschild I’m looking to have a conversation. In my article “Stealing: Legalized By The Silence of Contemporary Christianity?” I haven’t prescribed (at least not at this point) how we should understand usury and greed, but instead created a space for conversation. I encourage you to read the full article by downloading it, but if you prefer, here are few thoughts to consider. I have borrowed money, I have lent, and I have seen the beauty and the pain that can be associated with both. Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system.  Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, methane, or carbon dioxide in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they would stop singing prior to succumbing to the gas; therefore, their sudden silence would alert the miners to danger. If you have watched any of the...

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