Sunday, March 6, 2016

Why I’m a Democrat

It is sometimes said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That is certainly true in a physical science meaning, and metaphorically is said to be true as well. So if our goal as a society is to have a stronger chain, the question becomes, “What do we do with the weakest link?”

            There are those who say that the weakest link should be removed from the chain in order to strengthen the chain. That philosophy is akin to the law of the wild, where the weakest of the herd are removed by predators or through natural selection or from disease. In the natural world, weakness is well-defined, and can be quickly identified and cast off. As humans, however, what happens when some humans begin to decide that other humans are weaker? How is weakness defined?

            One political ideology has evolved around defining weakness. In this view, “weakness” is any difference, no matter its origin, and no matter whether the difference results in “weakness” at all. According to this ideology, those of a different color, or who speak a different language, or worship in a different way, or have a different sexual orientation, or live on another side of town, are weak links in the chain, and must be cast aside. “Only the strong survive, and we get to decide who the strong are.” This political ideology claims the name of “Christian” to describe its philosophy.

            But what exactly does Christ have to say about the chain imagery? When a lawyer asked him to name the greatest commandment of his faith, Christ is said to have answered, “The greatest is love…., and the second is love.” Another leader of the faith, the Apostle Paul, said that we should “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Loving and bearing one another’s burdens suggest that among those who are images of the Creator, there is no weak link. We don’t live by the law of nature. We should know better, because we have been taught better.

            I’m not so na├»ve as to believe that God takes sides in these human political battles. But I believe that God calls us to love and to take care of each other, to bear one another’s burdens, to look at every human being as the image of the Creator.

            And that’s why I’m a Democrat.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

My Car's in the Shop

My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid is in the shop today for the annual safety/emissions inspection and routine oil change and servicing.

Like many North Carolinians, I will pay a bit more for these services as the labor for the service is now subject to state and local sales taxes, thanks to the General Assembly.

Also, my tax information is at the accountant this week, hopefully to get my income tax returns filed soon. When the General Assembly added services to things subject to the sales tax, they were very selective. My mechanic's labor, or the labor for the appliance repair technician, or the chimney sweep, will now have sales tax added. But when I pay the bill to my accountant, guess what! No sales tax.

There will be no sales tax on legal fees, or accountant fees, or brokerage fees. There will be no sales tax on greens fees at the country club or membership fees at the health club. But if you get tires installed and balanced, or have a watch repaired, or have cable or satellite TV installed, you now have to pay sales tax on that labor.

You have to give the General Assembly credit for coming up with creative ways to shift the tax burden off the wealthy and onto working class North Carolinians.