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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Funding Fathers

Funding Fathers

My good friend, Ron Robinson, is the co-author of a book that came out last year, Funding Fathers (Regnery Publishing).  Nicole Hoplin co-authored this book with Ron and together they did a great job.

It’s been in my stack of “to read” books for quite some time.  Honestly, I had been putting off reading Funding Fathers because I was afraid that it would be less than interesting, a tome solely dedicated to promoting Young America’s Foundation (the organization of which Ron serves as President).  It’s not that I thought Ron and Nicole couldn’t write well, it was my fear that the topic would be boring and the narrative more text book like.  To my great delight none of my fears were justified.

Funding Fathers is a very well written book that keeps you turning the pages to learn more about the interesting people and fascinating backgrounds of those who were instrumental in providing the funds to ensure the intellectual underpinnings of the conservative movement as well as the talent to succeed politically.

Funding Fathers is a great read.  Ron gives the lion’s share of the credit for developing the personalities and the background of the individuals covered to Nicole.  But regardless of who contributed what to this book, it is really worth reading, especially if you are a conservative, and all the more so if you are also a donor to conservative causes.

If you haven’t heard of William Volker of Kansas City, Missouri, you will be surprised (as I was) by his powerful, positive impact on providing the funds and the inspiration for such groups as the Mount Pelerin Society.  You’ll learn about his high personal standards, his compassion, his character, and his commitment to freedom.  I think you’ll also be intrigued, as I was, by his business acumen, his far sightedness, and his willingness to take risks as a philanthropist.  He touched the lives of so many people you have heard of: Friedrich Hayek, Leonard Reed, Milton Friedman, Henry Hazlitt, and even Ronald Reagan.  His scholarships and funding at critical points literally helped to make the modern conservative movement in America, and around the globe, a reality.

In the book you’ll learn about the late Henry Regnery, the Founder of Regnery Publishing, and how William Volker played a role in his development as a conservative leader and a businessman.  In fact, you’ll also learn about Regnery’s extensive philanthropic activities.

Volker and Regnery are just the tip of a lovely iceberg when it comes to learning about the good hearted, patriotic, clear thinking men and women who played essential roles in providing the necessary funds to get the conservative movement off the ground.

It’s well worth taking the time to read about the amazing financial and personal contributions of conservative founders such as Bill Buckley, Jr., Dean Manion, Ronald Reagan’s Kitchen Cabinet, Antony Fisher, Spike Hennessy, Joe Coors, Sr. and John Engalitcheff.  The stories of their lives will amaze you, and their commitment to freedom along with their love of America will inspire you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We Need to Quit Inhaling Our Own Exhaust

We Need to Quit Inhaling Our Own Exhaust

Recently I heard the phrase, “We need to quit inhaling our own exhaust.”  Unfortunately, I don’t remember the originator of this statement, but bless him.  How true this is when we try to innovate or solve problems.  I tend to always go back to what worked in the past.  My response is usually, “Well, that’s not the way we do it here.”  Wrong!

During the course of my studies toward becoming a mechanical engineer at what was then called Missouri School of Mines & Metallurgy, I had the privilege of taking a class led by Professor Emeritus A. Vern Kilpatrick.  The story was told (I can’t vouch for the accuracy) that Professor Kilpatrick had been with Henry Ford when his first Ford came off the greased iron rail.  As you probably know, Ford was the originator of mass production and was known for “putting America on wheels.”

Professor Kilpatrick said one thing that has stuck in my mind.  He said that when facing an engineering challenge, remember that there are seven ways to solve the problem.  Now, are there always seven ways to solve an engineering problem?  I don’t know, perhaps the number is 17 or 27, but for certain, there is always more than one way to solve a problem.

This doesn’t mean that the rules of math or physics or chemistry can be changed.  It just means that you can apply these laws in multiple ways to solve your problem.

Too often we tend to think that there is only one way to write a fund appeal, fix a leak, deliver a sermon, build a house, get in shape, etc.  We get in a rut and we begin reading only our own literature, talking only to each other, and evaluating by our own standards.  We are, in short, “inhaling our own exhaust.”

This doesn’t mean that we should alter our standards or principles, but it means that we should open our mind to look at ways that other people approach similar challenges.  After all, it would be pretty arrogant to think that God gave me and only me the ability to understand and solve a particular problem.

But, aeronautical engineers primarily read aeronautical engineering literature.  Maybe they ought to take a look at the literature in another engineering field or even outside that field.

Here at the Eberle Communications Group, we think we know the best way to write a fund appeal.  We tend to look down our nose at the offerings of other agencies.  But you know what?  Some of those agencies have been around longer than we have.  I like it when I interview a prospective new copywriter and he or she says, “I don’t write fund appeals that look the way yours do.”  That’s good news—I’m going to learn something new from this person.  Or, as the old saying goes, “There’s always more than one way to skin a cat.”

But the religious field is even more adamant about “doing it our way.”  For instance, I’m a Lutheran and we Lutherans think we know everything.  I’m not talking about doctrine (although we are absolutely sure we are right on everything when it comes to doctrine).  I’m referring to how we conduct a worship service, how we reach out to those who don’t know Jesus, how we keep our members, how we activate leaders, etc.  And when we can’t figure something out, we go to other Lutheran churches and read Lutheran literature as if Lutherans are the only Christians to whom God has given an understanding of how to touch the hearts and lives of others.  We think we are totally unique and singularly blessed.

But you know what?  I’ve talked to Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, etc. and they all think the very same thing!  Again, I’m not referring to doctrine as practiced in these churches, but rather to the “way things are done.”  It’s nuts.  We all want to reinvent the wheel so that it will be a Lutheran wheel or a Baptist wheel or a Pentecostal wheel, when in truth the best wheels are those that are round and turn fast and reliably.

No matter what business you and I are in, or what volunteer activities we are involved in, we can reduce wasted time by finding out how others (even with whom we may not agree) made their wheel turn fast.  I’d sure like to know how the Obama campaign executed such an efficient and effective fundraising effort.  It was nothing less than fantastic.

If you are a pastor, I’d think that you would have the same attitude about finding out how other churches reach out so effectively, rather than just dismissing them as “apostate” or some other slur that has absolutely nothing to do with the processes and approaches they use for reaching out.

May I be so bold as to suggest that Lutheran pastors should (gasp!) visit a Pentecostal church or a Baptist church on their vacation?  Or that Baptist pastors should (gasp!) stop by a growing Episcopalian church one Sunday?  Or possibly that Presbyterian pastors should unfreeze at a rocking and rolling independent Christian church?

We need to quit reading our own internal studies, quit talking to each other, and start looking at empirical studies of Christian churches in general to find out what works, and what doesn’t.  Don’t hyperventilate!  You’re not going to be poisoned by visiting another church.  Just open your mind to the possibility of doing things differently.  Try for just a day to push tradition out of your mind and look at methods and processes (consistent with your doctrine) that work.  Then go back and apply what works to reaching those who don’t know Jesus and keeping those who are already members.  You might be surprised to find out what you can learn if you are willing to open your mind.

And by the way, the next time you are on vacation, you might try this when you stop at a new restaurant for lunch.  Let everyone else order their hamburgers and fries, and then when the waitress gets around to you, have Rhubarb pie à la mode for lunch.  It’s less greasy and the calories are about the same.  Thinking outside the box can be fun, and inhaling fresh ideas can invigorate the mind.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Contact Your Senator and Congressman Now!

Contact Your Senator and Congressman Now!

Today you and I don’t have a perfect health care system.  Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect health care system.  The closest thing to a perfect system is one that is fully deregulated and operates in a free market.

There is much we could do to dramatically improve the current system in the USA.  Experts have suggested:

  1. Punitive Damages.  The USA is the only industrialized nation in the world with punitive damages.  Punitive damages are those awarded to a plaintiff in a malpractice suit that are above and beyond actual, measurable damages.  In other words, they are awarded to punish the defendant.  Punitive damages cause your doctor to spend $250,000 or more per year on malpractice insurance.  You pay for this egregious financial burden through your insurance payment or when you directly pay the doctor.  The cost of medical services you pay could be reduced dramatically if we would eliminate punitive damages.
  2. Tax Deductibility.  Right now you probably receive health care insurance from your employer and he is allowed to deduct that expense from his taxable income.  However, someone who works for a company that does not provide medical insurance must pay their own medical insurance on an after-tax basis.  In other words, they are not allowed to deduct the cost of their medical insurance from their taxable income.  This is unfair.  Everyone should be able to deduct their health insurance premiums from their taxable income.
I’m confident that there’s more that can be done to deregulate and free up the medical profession to make services better, more innovative, and cost effective, but by taking at least these two steps, we would make vast improvements in our current medical services.

What the Obama Administration is proposing is a path to total socialized medicine.  It doesn’t make any difference what they say; the real goal is now and always has been socialized medicine like that in Europe and in Canada.

What does socialized medicine mean to you?

  1. Rationing.  Socialized medicine always means rationing of medical services.  There are no exceptions.  That’s why medical clinics in Seattle and Buffalo are full of people from Canada who can’t get medical care on a timely basis.  People die waiting for medical care in England and Canada.  Is that what you want?
  2. Comparative Effectiveness Research.  This seemingly harmless term is central to the Obama health care approach, but it means that each patient will not be treated equally.  It means that a younger patient who needs hip replacement will receive priority over someone who is older, regardless of their health.  What it really means is that the government is going to be using statistics to decide which groups of individuals will receive care and which groups won’t.  President Obama even admitted to this when queried by a lady who had an elderly mother with a great “spirit.”  The President said we can’t make decisions on “spirit” but only on hard facts and numbers.  Got it?  If you are older, forget about good, timely health care.
  3. Technology.  Today there are more MRI machines in Fairfax County, Virginia than there are in the entire nation of Canada.  Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother to Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, and a health policy advisor in the Office of Management and Budget, has criticized Americans for “being enamored with technology.”  Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama advisor, blames medical innovations for two-thirds of the rising cost of medical care.  Both advisors seek to limit future medical innovations.  Is this what you want?  A limitation on medical innovations?
  4. Advanced Drugs.  For years the drug companies could not work on the creation of drugs to help those with so-called orphan diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, etc. (there are more than 1,000) because the potential market was so small and because the patent term was so short.  Ronald Reagan extended the patent term for drugs addressing orphan diseases just three years and a miracle happened—all sorts of new drugs came on the market.  I know because my dear wife, Kathi, has had MS for nearly 10 years.  She would most surely be disabled today had it not been for this extension of the patent time by President Reagan.  Sadly, the Obama Administration has already instructed the Federal Drug Administration to not approve any new drug unless it is better than one already on the market.  That one, thoughtless act has already stopped research and development of drugs that could have possibly meant a breakthrough in treating certain orphan diseases.  That order dramatically upped the risk for drug companies.  How can they possibly know in advance if a drug will be better than what is already on the market?  This one new order sentences many hurting and ailing people to continued pain and physical and mental deterioration.  Is this the kind of drug policy you want?
  5. Financially Destructive.  Socialized medicine not only means waiting months for medical care, no care for those who don’t meet the Comparative Analysis Research criteria, no new innovations, no new drugs, but it also means a crippling financial burden on our nation that could put this country into a permanent economic malaise.
  6. Where Will You Go?  Today US citizens live long lives thanks to the best medical care in the world.  The US is where people who can’t get treated under socialized medicine in their country come.  But where will you go for medical care after our medical system is destroyed?
If you are scared of government health care that operates as efficiently and courteously as the US Post Office and the IRS, then please contact your US Senators and Representatives today.  Tell them to vote against any further government control over your health care.

Write to your Senator and your US Representative right now.  All you need to contact them is to include their title and name, sent to Washington, DC  20510.

I urge you to act today!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Patriotism & Independence Day

Patriotism & Independence Day

I was watching “FOX & Friends” this morning as I usually do.  Steve Doocy’s son, Peter, was asking folks questions in a park near the FOX studio about famous Americans.  Everyone correctly answered the question about our first President, George Washington, but no one knew the name of our second President, John Adams.  That’s not too good, but I suppose I’m not surprised.

I was surprised, however, when Peter asked who said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” and no one could answer the question.  In my opinion, that’s scary.

Here is an excerpt from that quote from a speech by Patrick Henry:
        “It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace,
        Peace--but there is no peace. The war “is actually begun! The next gale
        that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding
        “arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?
        What is it that gentlemen wish? What “would they have? Is life so dear,
        or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
        “Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but
        as for me, give me liberty or give “me death!” March 23, 1775

May we all have that same depth of commitment to our nation and to preserving the ideals of freedom that are at so much risk today.

Have a wonderful 4th of July celebrating the courage, determination, and sacrifice of our forefathers and the continued dedication of succeeding generations of patriotic Americans who cherish freedom.

Let freedom ring!