January 30, 2008

Did you hear what he said?

Probably not! Because it never really made the mainstream news!

Ed Rendell was a phone guest last week on KDKA’s talk radio with Marty Griffin. Griffin asked Rendell about removing the “Drink Tax” in Allegheny County. Rendell said there would be no guarantee repealing Act 44 will eliminate some of the other taxes like that. It depends upon the amount of revenue generated from other alternatives, like leasing the turnpike, tolling I-80, etc.

The “Drink Tax” is a tax in Allegheny County where poured drinks are taxed. There has been some concern about loss of business for bars and other places where alcoholic beverages are consumed.

Rendell basically said not to worry about it because the county can do what Philadelphia did when they enacted a poured drink tax. That concept was called “selective enforcement.”

Griffin asks, “What do you mean?”

Rendell replies, “We don't quite enforce in the neighborhood taverns as well as we do in the big hotels and restaurants.”

Griffin responds, “You look the other way, sir?”

Rendell replies, “You can say that.”

After that, Rendell did mention the uniformity clause in the Constitution that says taxes must be applied to everyone in the group equally. So he does know what the law says, he simply chooses not to obey it. Listen to it for yourself here.

Similar to when his drivers were allowed to speed on the PA Turnpike. The laws don’t apply to him.

Yep, that is our governor! Wait till you see what he does in Washington D.C.

January 29, 2008

Evangelism Explosion

I finished reading “Evangelism Explosion” by D. James Kennedy this weekend. This book reads more like a textbook or instruction manual than a helpful guide.

My first impression of the book was that of some type of brainwashing cult membership propaganda. However, the message of the book is true to the Word, so I’ll equate the book with a door-to-door type salesman approach instead.

While I believe the methods of this book can work, it is NOT the only way to evangelize to others and this style of evangelism is not for all people.

I do like the two main questions the book tells you to ask the people you are evangelizing too.

  1. If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure where you will go?
  2. If God were to ask you “Why should I let you in to Heaven?” what would you say?

I think the second question can really speak volumes about what the person knows about salvation.

The “sales” approach presented in the book then says something like, “Coming here today, I thought I had some good news for you, now after hearing your answers, I know I have some great news!”

In my opinion, this book is not worth purchasing, however, if you find it in a library or garage sale it is worth at least a skim through to provide some ideas or ways for you to help with your evangelism.

January 28, 2008

Equal Opportunity Employer

I saw an ad for an interesting job opportunity the other day. But before I tell you about it, you need to know that this place claims it “does not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, gender or veteran status.”

The job title is Director of Campus Ministry.

“Responsibilities include coordination of volunteer service programs, pastoral counseling and spiritual direction, coordinating liturgical celebrations, leadership development, budgeting, staff development and evaluation, collaboration with other College departments, and networking with local civic and religious groups.” Great, I can do (most of) that.

“Masters degree… preferred” Great, I have that (not in the subject areas listed though).

“The successful candidate will be of Catholic faith” What? So, since I am not Catholic I will not be able to get the job? Doesn’t that sound like discrimination?

I am tempted to inquire of the human resources department about how that requirement is not discriminatory. I won’t though, because it is a place I might like to work at someday. So, no need to cause trouble. It is just interesting to see.

I guess when it is a religious organization, they can discriminate and hire only those people of that faith. It does make sense when you think about it. Having a Satan worshiper to direct Campus Ministry would present a problem.

January 25, 2008

Christianity in America

I just finished looking at a map that shows each county in the United States and the leading church bodies of that area. You can check out the map for yourself here.

The map looks really impressive, Catholic and Baptist being the two major church establishments. (Except of course for the west (Latter-Day-Saints) and north-central (Lutheran). After looking at the map someone could say, “Wow! America must really be a Christian nation.”

The statistics from a religious survey seem to concur. It shows that about 76% of American’s identify with some form of Christianity. You can check out the survey for yourself at Trinity College.

If these surveys are correct or at least close to being accurate, then you should be able to enter a church on Sunday and would have trouble finding a seat, right? That is very rarely the case at most Churches, I’m sure.

American’s like to claim the Christian heritage without all the "hassle" of actually having to act like a Christian! It seems to me there are going to be about 200 million American’s that are in for a big surprise when their day comes! Don’t be one of those people.

January 24, 2008

Mismanagement All Around

I have said it before and am saying it again. People often times cause their own problems. In the case of a city or organization it is usually the leaders that create problems.

Pittsburgh has been in some bad shape financially for some time. The Penguins owed a bunch of money to their star player, so they just gave him the team. He ran it further into the ground, now the city and state are building a new arena for them! Amazing.

The Steelers and Pirates shared a stadium for 30 years, then it was decided they each needed their own stadium. Of course the old stadium still wasn’t completely paid for!

What has been the major problem? Of course mismanagement, but also labor unions. They have had and continue to have quite an influence in western Pennsylvania.

Here is an article from a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review about the troubles of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is in some bad shape and getting worse. I have not seen or heard of any plans that are even remotely close to addressing the issues. The Chief Executive and Mayor are teamed up and working hard to continue the wasteful spending and abuse of power. Par for the course, I guess.

The people of Pittsburgh and Allegheny county need to wake up and realize what has happened and what continues to happen. Of course, the likely hood of that happening are slim to none. I suspect the situation will get so bad the state will need to step in and provide massive financial assistance and oversight. Of course, this will be at a cost to all tax payers of the commonwealth!


January 23, 2008

“The Ethanol Fallacy”

There was an interesting op-ed piece in the February 08 edition of Popular Mechanics that deals with using corn for fuel.

Remember this is not a political magazine, it is a magazine that simply looks at stuff from a practical standpoint.

The article simply states the facts of what is happening. The politicians in Washington have jumped on the ethanol bandwagon, due in part because of the corporate farmers and “farm states”.

The best part is the “running the numbers” section. Some estimates show that is takes 1.3 gallons of oil to produce 1 gallon of ethanol! Even the more conservative estimates say it takes about 1 btu of fossil fuel energy to produce 1.3 btu of corn ethanol.

There are many other types of alternative fuel’s being researched. There are also proven, working designs for more fuel efficient engines. So why all the fuss for corn ethanol? Money, the corporate farmers have bought enough politicians in Washington to get what they want.

I like the ending line though, “Perhaps someday corn ethanol will prove itself a viable part of our energy mix. But corn liquor is powerful stuff, and it can make people do strange things. Let’s keep it out of Washington’s hands.” Well said!

January 22, 2008

Election 2008!

Not sure who to vote for in the 2008 election? Not sure which candidate matches your ideology? Then check out www.votehelp.org!

It asks 20 some questions about the major political topics and then ranks your answers with that of the candidates.

My analysis is as follows:

Fred Thompson – 91% match.
Mike Huckabee – 90% match
Mitt Romney – 90% match
Ron Paul – 88% match

In my mind Ron Paul was the leading candidate for me, but I am not 100% sold on him either. Maybe those other guys deserve a closer look. Honestly, I haven’t been paying that much attention.

Check out the website for yourself and see what you come up with.

January 21, 2008

Amish Miracle Heater!

The ads have been going around about an Amish Miracle Heater. It claims it will save you tons of money. It claims to use less electricity than a coffee pot. Today, I will be looking at those claims.

First of all it is a 1500watt heater. Therefore, it uses 1500 watts of electricity. 1 kw of electricity is about $.08. So, 1.5kw x .08kwh = $0.12 an hour to operate.

$0.12 x 24 hours x 30 days = $86.40 per month to heat one room. The heater costs anywhere from $250 to $550. My house has 9 rooms (not including the garage/basement) so that would be $86.40 x 9 = $777.60 per month (plus the initial cost of the heater).

Currently, I use an average of 3.5 gallons of fuel oil a day at about $3 a gallon. So, 3.5 x 30 x 3 = $315 a month to heat my entire house. This is still a lot of money and I plan on looking into a Pellet stove this summer.

Secondly, does it use less electricity than a coffee pot? An average coffee pot uses about 900watts for the few minutes it is brewing. If the miracle heater is on the low setting then only 750 watts of electricity are being used. Therefore, they are correct, the heater uses less electricity than a coffee for the same time period.

This electric heater is really no different than any other electric heater. I have a $70 Vornado heater that seems to heat a room very well. If you are looking to simply provide heat for a room you are in, almost any electric heater will work.

Don’t be fooled by the ads, run the numbers for yourself.

January 18, 2008

Political Poll

The Franklin & Marshall College Poll was released the other day and I wanted to update my readers with the latest.

As most of you are probably aware, I don’t usually pay much attention to the polls, in fact I find them more amusing than anything.

For example, one of the questions was:
“Regardless of the political party and candidate you support, do you think that a Republican or a Democrat will win the presidential election in November?”

Well, yes, I do think either a Republican or a Democrat will win the presidential election in November! The response they got (and were looking for) was 63% Dem and 22% Rep.

The question I found interesting was the people’s perception of the candidates.

“Which presidential candidate can best be described as…

Representing change – Obama
Most Experienced – Clinton
Traditional Values – Huckabee
Honest & Trustworthy – Clinton
Best Chance to Win – Clinton”

I can see why Obama represents change and Huckabee represents traditional values and maybe it would be a toss-up between Clinton and McCain on most experienced, but honest and trustworthy! Clinton would be dead last in my book! Although, she did only get 16%, 30% went to None or Don’t know!

It is amazing how the perception of each candidate has already played out in people’s minds.

I for one am not impressed with any of the leading candidates. Let’s hope something changes before November.

January 15, 2008

Watch out Johnstown

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an editorial about "The Pork King” John Murtha.

It is amazing the extent of his ability to get money for the Johnstown area. He keeps piling it on, creating new organizations to funnel money through. His goal is to bring money to the area and he does a good job of it, unfortunately it is at the cost of all taxpayers.

No doubt the money has (temporarily) helped Johnstown and the people of the area. But, what happens when Murtha is gone and the money runs out? There will be massive closings and lay-offs in the Johnstown area and it will be worse than before.

The people of CTC and other organizations are used to making good money, say an administrative assistant making $27,000 whereas in “normal” jobs for the area an administrative assistant might make $18,000 to $20,000 or less.

What is going to happen? It will be like when the mines or steel mills shut down. Those laborers were making good money and didn’t want to work for less money at another job.

Wake up and be prepared for the future Johnstown!

January 14, 2008

Price Matching!

We are all familiar with the “Price Matching” guarantees of today. All of the big stores will match competitors ads for the same product. However, often times the ad will be for a television that is essentially the same, except the manufacture has changed the model number slightly. This gets the stores out of the price match.

Most stores also honor their online prices in the store as well. Tractor Supply Co, however, does not.

I needed a hitch pin for my snowplow and researched it online, because sometimes when I am in the tractor store I get side tracked. I took the printout in and got the part I needed. Online the part was $8.95 and in the store it was $9.40. I took the printout to the cash register and asked if they honor their online advertised price, she said no. I figured it wasn’t worth arguing about, especially since the cashier didn’t seem like she even wanted to be there.

People like to complain about Wal*Mart, but there is currently no place that has a better model of business.

January 11, 2008

New Ways to Save!

So with the New Year, and of course higher gas prices, we’ve decided to try yet another way to say money.

Many of the “home-economic” guru’s recommend having a “restocking” shopping trip every 2 or 3 weeks as opposed to shopping every week.

Usually we go shopping every week. Last night we decided to do our shopping for two weeks. It is supposed to save you some money.

Last night we spent about 63% of what we would normally spend for two weeks. I am not sure if that is a fluke or if we can expect to see savings like that more often. Plus it takes about a gallon of gas, so that is another $3.19 in savings! The big thing will be my time. Instead of rushing home, eating, and heading out shopping 4 times a month, now I will only need to do it twice a month.

I’ll report back on the status of the experiment sometime next month.

In other financial matters, I was informed by a reliable source that Wal*mart was selling Ocean Spray cranberry juice cheaper than the Great Value brand of cranberry juice. Sure enough, the Ocean Spray brand was like $2.33 and Great Value was like $2.50 or something. I couldn’t believe it. Then when I looked at the back of the container I see why. Ocean Spray contains only 15% juice whereas Great Value contains 25% juice.

I then decided to compare the 100% juice and Great Value was indeed cheaper than Ocean Spray.

The point of the story, you need to look at more than price to see what you are really getting.

January 04, 2008

1 Year with Sen. Casey

Here is a list of Sen. Bob Casey’s accomplishments in his first year in office.

(Yes, that is right the blog is blank!)

January 03, 2008

Drawing Near

Drawing Near is a daily devotional book that I just finished for 2007. This book examines scripture more in depth than most simple devotional books. The same scripture might be discussed for several days in a row. Each day there is also a prayer suggestion and also a “for further study” section.

There are 366 practical daily devotions to provide you with spiritual growth. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a daily devotional.

This devotion can also be found online at Grace To You.

For 2008, I am reading the second book in this devotional series titled, “Strength for Today”.

January 02, 2008

Rendell 2008?!?

I am kicking off 2008 with a hard-hitting political story!

The National Association of Women Judges recently held a conference in Philadelphia, PA (November 7-11). One of the panel discussion topics was “Separation of Powers: What Does It Mean?” One of the panelists was none other than Judge Marjorie Rendell, Governor Ed Rendell’s wife.

According to a post on State Representative Daryl Metcalfe’s website, the follow comment was made by Judge Rendell.

“Gee, a benevolent dictator would really be good right about now, to put in health care and to put in some of these policies that we all want, but somehow the gridlock within the legislature makes it impossible.”

What? A benevolent dictator? I am sure she had in mind her husband is perfect for the role! Talk about arrogance. The “rich” liberal people just don’t get it.

The Clinton’s have a similar attitude, upper-class, elitist attitude. According to them, this country would be great if we just did what they said!

If Hillary Clinton is our next President, watch out for the Rendell clan. I am sure they will be part of the package.

Not surprisingly this story did not make the news. Check out Rep. Metcalfe’s web page for the full story.

January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

The New Year came in peacefully here at Doe Valley, except of course for a few of the distant neighbors shooting their guns and lighting some fireworks. It gave me a chance to finish the book I started the other day, so everyone gets another book review today!

The book was “Can God Bless America” by John MacArthur.

This is a short, quick read where Dr. MacArthur attempts to answer the question, “Can God Bless America?”. The simple answer is, “Of Course, God can do what He wants.” The question should really be WILL God continue to bless America? MacArthur believes God will only continue his blessings upon America if the people of America turn back toward Him and repent of their sins, learn His Word and obey it.

God has clearly stated His conditions for blessings throughout the Bible. MacArthur uses James 4:7-10 to give a list of 10 commands that show God’s conditions for divine blessing. The problem is, according to MacArthur, many of the Churches and “Religious Right” are focused on fixing problems in America by changing laws, rather than proclaiming the Word and enabling God to change hearts.

Overall, this was an OK book. It is only about 100 pages and doesn’t have a nice “flow” to it at times. This could probably have been a better article than a book. This is probably not a book I would recommend buying, but it is worth a read from the local library or Bookmooch.

The concluding paragraph really sums up the answer to the question (page 96-97)

“Moralism isn’t the answer to what ails America. The gospel is. Higher moral standards alone won’t earn God’s blessing on this country. Our only hope for that lies in the transforming power of the gospel. And our calling is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, regardless of what unbelievers in our nation do.”

That is what we need to do in 2008! If we are faithful to our mission as individuals, we will be a blessed nation.