Saturday, July 30, 2011

Doing the Math with the 2-Earner Family

The 2-income family gives a shocking amount of the extra money they scramble to earn to the government. I'm no tax expert, but my suspicion is that this happens because liberals like more taxes and conservatives like subsidizing the traditional family with a stay-at-home parent. Put those 2 forces together and we get the (perverse?) burdening of the 2-earner family.

Why don't more couples do the math and figure out that they should not do all that extra work for the government? Life is so much simpler with the 1-earner family, and the spouse who doesn't bring in the dollars can provide great economic benefits by directly performing work that would otherwise have to be paid for, most notably child care. Since this economic benefit isn't taxed, it's a double benefit. Instead of buying inferior childcare (or other services) with after-tax dollars, you perform the work that is worth that much money, and you're not paid, so you don't pay taxes on the value it represents.

Ann Althouse in a recent post, to which Glenn Reynolds links with approval.

Right-to-Work States Do Better Than the Other Kind

[W]hen we compare and contrast the economic performance in these 22 [right-to-work] states against the others, we find interesting things. For example, from 1999 to 2009 (the last such year for which data are available), the aggregate real all-industry GDP of the 22 right-to-work states grew by 24.2 percent, nearly 40 percent more than the gain registered by the other 28 states as a group.

Even more dramatic is the contrast if we look at personal income growth. From 2000 to 2010, real personal incomes grew by an average of 24.3 percent in the 22 right-to-work states, more than double the rate for the other 28 as a group. But the strongest indicator is the migration of young adults. In 2009, there were 20 percent more 25- to 34-year-olds in right-to-work states than in 1999. In the compulsory union states, the increase was only 3.3 percent—barely one-sixth as much.

-From "The Right to Work: A Fundamental Freedom" by Mark Mix, President, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in Imprimis: a Publication of Hillsdale College.

(Right-to-Work states protect a worker's right not to join a union, except for employees who work in the railway or airline industries and who work in certain federal related situations.)

A map identifying the right-to-work states and the forced-unionism states is here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

LuLu Lemon & Karhu

So, it has been awhile since I posted anything. I decided that it was time, both because it has been so long and because I have some new things that I have enjoyed SO much and which have had a significant impact on me in the past several months.

Anyone out there ever hear of LuLuLemon? This is an athletic clothing line that makes very expensive and high quality gear. In the past year and a half, I have treated myself to several of their items. I don't usually spend so much on myself. I rarely ever buy myself anything really. Since I am having to replace my children's entire wardrobes twice a year as they grow and as the seasons change, I get to the point where I hate to spend any more money on clothes at all. However, I have discovered that I am more likely to run when I am comfortable in my gear and when I don't have to think about it once I am running. I originally switched from shorts to skirts because of those two things. (And, since I switched to skirts I have not ever run in shorts again...not even once--and it has been about 3 years on that particular front).

Anyway, I have discovered when running that cotton shirts get heavy and hot and chafe. I have also discovered that shirts that are tighter through the body tend to ride up when I run (an extremely annoying event which requires my attention and energy to fix several times throughout my run when I feel like I do not have that extra energy to spare). The easiest fix for this would be to switch to running in merely a sports bra (which more than half of the women at the Trail do), but I am simply NOT into baring my midriff for all the world to see. Enter LuLuLemon and some of their tops designed for dance and yoga: they may not have been intended for running, but it doesn't matter. They are the perfect option for me. Their power dance tank top is tight through the bust offering extra support where it counts, and it is loose and blousy and extremely light beneath the empire waistline offering coverage which stays in place and yet feels almost non-existent. In the picture I am wearing their "Let It Loose" tank, which looks quite different, but serves the same purposes.

I have also found that my one running skirt from them is my favorite. It has a back pocket large enough to hold my phone. It also has two places in the waistband that I often use to hold an energy gel and a key to my car. Also, the way they have designed the under-shorts is great. The legs actually stay in place and don't slide up my legs as I run. The name of this skirt is their "Speed Skirt" (I think).

I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to run and just enjoy the run-- to run and not be distracted by your clothes because they are too hot, too heavy, or simply won't stay in place. Plus, I must admit that it is so fun to run in clothes that are also lovely and feminine.

For some inexplicable reason, when I was younger I associated being feminine with being weak. I wanted to be a tomboy so that I would not be tainted by this weakness. Now that I am older and maybe a tiny bit wiser, I have realized that feminine does not equal weak. It is a different strength. It is a supple strength, a graceful strength. And, as silly as this may sound, when I run in my LuLuLemon gear, I feel unapologetically feminine AND strong.

Now, onto Karhu shoes (as if this post isn't long enough already!) My sister-in-law, Mary, and I recently both went to Luke's Locker here in Austin. We both walked out with the exact same new running shoes by a company in Finland called Karhu (the Finnish word for "bear"). These shoes are designed with a fulcrum or lever-type function in mind. The hope is that when you put your foot down the shoe will quickly take that downward action and transition it forward into horizontal motion. It is supposed to help reduce the up and down motions and make your running more efficient. I LOVE these shoes. When I finally get into that zone where I am running and relaxed, I can literally feel the difference this makes in my stride. I can feel my feet moving in a more horizontal motion forward. I also find that my legs have been less tired running in these shoes. When I do begin to get tired, I find that if I can just pick my foot up and step through to put it down again that the shoe feels like it does much of the work to roll my foot from heel to midfoot to forefoot and on again. So, I concentrate on just putting my foot down again and the shoe rolls me on through to the next step. I do not know if Mary's experience has been the same. Her running form is significantly different from mine. She already tends to land on the middle or the fore part of her feet when she runs, so I do not know if she experiences the levering action at all. I don't land hard on my heels when I run, but just enough that I do experience the fulcrum at work. So, if you land on your heel at all, check these out. You may find that they help keep you moving forward.

If you are interested in checking these shirts out, I must tell you that there is good news and bad news. Both the shirts I mention have been sold out online and are no longer listed. However, you may be able to find them on ebay (for twice the price...ouch). Or, you can just wait a while and check again. They rotate through their styles and colors often and usually introduce new things every 45 days. Who knows? Their next line-up may be even better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

PC (USA) Strategies

I believe God has called some people to leave [the PC(USA)]and some people to stay . . . Myself, I have not been released by Christ to go. He's telling me right now, 'You're to stay and be a biblically orthodox witness amidst this chaos.'

-Ronald W. Scates, senior pastor of the 4,800 member Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, as quoted in the July 2011 issue of Christianity Today.

If they throw you out of Highland Park, Ron, there is definitely a place for you at FPC Miami Springs.

"You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives"

Ah, South Florida politics.

(I would like to point out that both these people are from Broward County. Thank you.)

Seriously, the bio of Representative Adam West, who said this about his fellow House Member Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, states that his religion is "Christian." Ouch.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Miami Recycle Bike Shop

What a great business!

Stonger Christians/Weaker Christians

We finished up Chapter 14 in Romans yesterday, and there were a lot of raised eyebrows about the idea of there being Christians who are "strong" and those who are "weak." The particular issue in that chapter is the observance of the food laws that distinguish the Jewish Christians from the Gentile in that church. Paul sees that issue as sort of cultural/ceremonial rather than something more essential. He firmly holds that the Jewish Christians should be treated with deference, even though their observances may evidence an incomplete grasp of grace.

Paul's analysis of the problem in the Roman church begs to be applied to issues that are troubling Christians today. I therefore expected that we would spend a good bit of time discussing what sort of differences were cultural - and thus should be treated with a sort of graceful deference - and what differences dealt with morality and outright evil and should be the subject of discipline, kindly applied.

But we didn't stay long with that discussion. What the class wanted to talk about was the idea that some Christians would be "strong" and others "weak;" and that the "strong" Christian is called to make, understand and then deal with that distinction in a way that advances the mission of the church. Several people in the class didn't seem to like the idea of one Christian judging another and then believing himself or herself "stronger." To many people "stronger" meant superior. And they saw that making such distinctions as contrary to what Jesus said about judging in Matthew 7. Moving quickly to that discussion surprised (and instructed) me. But that's why I enjoy the class so much.

Why is it that people in the class resist the idea that there are stronger and weaker Christians?

By the way, Chapter 15 starts off with this verse:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (NIV)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Needs the Gospel?

If you've been in church for 20 or 30 years, you need the gospel in a different way, but you need the gospel just as much as all the abortionists and homosexuals who are outside the church. They need God's justifying grace via the gospel, you need God's sanctifying grace via the gospel.

-Tullian Tchividjian in an interview published in the July 16, 2011 issue of World Magazine.

Less Acidic Coffee

The ENT who is examining a hoarseness problem I have developed told me to cut down or eliminate acidic drinks, and he mentioned coffee in particular. (I have developed callouses on my vocal chords.)

I found a dicussion of the acidic-coffee issue here.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Assessing Montreat (Revised)

Carol and I returned last Wednesday night from our week long vacation that had, at its center, the Christian Life Conference. Things have changed at the conference after our four summer absence. The PCUSA's decades-long controversy over the authority of scripture (which controversy is at the base of all other controversies there) has resulted in the departure of several of the large churches that supported the conference, resulting in fewer people in attendance, a much smaller budget, and a well-meaning leadership cast that did the best they could.

The conference did not lack substance. Stuart and Jill Briscoe, keynote speaker and plenary Bible study leader, respectively, were very good. (Jill Briscoe had a particularly special impact on all of us, I think.) Jim Singleton, representing Fellowship PC (USA), gave two fine seminars on what is developing in the movement of many of the Evangelical churches away from the world-conforming center of our denomination (and probably out of it).

There was also a Craig Barnes sighting, when he gave about half of his one sermon Sunday morning. He served up that slightly disappointing morsel at the Conference Center's worship service, a service that was notable for a fine, contemporary choir, on the one hand, but, on the other, a final, three stanza hymn that did not mention any member of the Trinity! (The program notes said this particular hymn is among the new, contemporary hymns that will make up nearly half of the new PCUSA hymnbook coming out soon. I can hardly wait.)

The conference center's auditorium was less than half full during the plenary sessions. The dining hall at Anderson was only about one-fifth full during the meals we took there. In past years the dining hall was full of people, a place where our family crowded in for happy meals, where friendships were made and renewed and the ice-cream dipping station was hard to reach for all the adults and kids. The seminar menu itself seemed very lean

Marlene and Gary hosted us at their home. What a wonderful feature of our visit! They had also invited to stay with them a clergy couple from our Presbytery whom we knew. That fellowship made this summer's visit very special. But my heart went out to (and was instructed by) the obvious struggle that the pastor-half of the clergy couple is having with the denominational crisis. I am glad that their church is in our Presbytery, however. Carol and I will be depending on its leadership (as well as that of a few other churches) as we strive to discern what God is calling us to do with our congregation.

Friday, July 08, 2011

African-American Genocide

[In] enlightened New York City . . . three African-American babies are aborted for every two live births.

-from a WSJ opinion piece entitled "The Moral Outrage of 'Missing' Girls."