Thursday, January 31, 2008

Des Moines radio sucks

I used to think KAZR 103.3 was a cool station. That was probably in 1998. Now it's like a three band rotation - Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots. A 103 minute Rock Block isn't complete without playing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" 23 times, "Jeremy" 14 times, and "Vasoline" a few dozen times. Maybe throw in a little Linkin Park or Korn and you've got your rock block.

Oh yeah, separate said "rock blocks" with ads for strip bars. Classic, dude.

I'm beginning to believe that KAZR appeals to 15 year old boys and meth heads.

KGGO 94.9 is about as old and moldy as you can get. At least they don't pretend to be hip and cool. They realize that some segment of the audience likes the Steve Miller Band and Journey, so they play it. Occasionally they try to be coy by having a "Blue Ball Golf Tournament", just to remind you that you're still dealing with dirty old men with mikes in their faces.

Let's face it - Terrestrial music-based radio is on it's death bed, at least in central Iowa. Talk radio is doing just fine, as it is fresh and responsive every day. But music based radio is old, stinky, and crappy. XM and/or Sirius are the way to go for the best music selection in your vehicle. At least you don't have to listen through ads for the Lumber Yard ("Where real men go to get wood...").

We have our Reagan Coalition...kinda

With Rush Limbaugh bemoaning the fact that we don't have a candidate on the right for president that fully represents conservative values, it's very well likely that what made the Republicans a winning team, the Reagan Coalition of Social, Fiscal, and Defense Conservatives, are now fractured.

But, we have representatives still in the race that represent each faction:

Huckabee: Social Conservatives
Romney (and some Ron Paul): Fiscal Conservatives
McCain: Defense Conservatives

The elements are there, but not together. Give Huckabee the nomination and it will spurn fiscal and defense. Send up Romney, and social (and some defense) will go away). McCain tends to spurn almost everyone, except blue-blooders.

Too bad we can't morph them together.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who said it?

I found this over on a comment at The Real Sporer.

1) “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
A. Karl Marx
B. Adolph Hitler
C. Joseph Stalin
D. None of the above

2) “It’s time for a new beginning, for an end to government of the few, by the few, and for the few...and to replace it with shared responsibility for shared prosperity.”
A. Lenin
B. Mussolini
C. Idi Amin
D. None of the Above

3) “(We)...can’t just let business as usual go on, and that means something has to be taken away from some people.”
A. Nikita Khrushev
B. Josef Goebbels
C. Boris Yeltsin
D. None of the above

4) “We have to build a political consensus and that requires people to give up a little bit of their order to create this common ground.”
A. Mao Tse Dung
B. Hugo Chavez
C. Kim Jong Il
D. None of the above

5) “I certainly think the free-market has failed.”
A. Karl Marx
B. Lenin
C. Molotov
D. None of the above

6) “I think it’s time to send a clear message to what has become the most profitable sector in (the) entire economy that they are being watched.”
A. Pinochet
B. Milosevic
C. Saddam Hussein
D. None of the above

(1) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/29/2004
(2) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 5/29/2007
(3) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(4) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(5) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 6/4/2007
(6) D. None of the above. Statement was made by Hillary Clinton 9/2/2005

Sunday, January 27, 2008

DM Register hit job on distillers grains

NOTE: I sell distillers' grains from ethanol plants, so I might be a bit biased.

So, Phil Brasher of the Des Moines RedStar's Washington Bureau writes a nice little hit piece on a potential link between E. Coli and feeding distillers grain.

Yawn. We've known about this for a few months, Phil. Get up to speed, will ya? K State found some potential correlation, while Nebraska's tests were inconclusive. More research is needed before we can start saying that distillers is the problem. There are many other factors that cause E Coli, so let's not get everyone upset over something that hasn't been proven yet.

Do I want to sell something to my customers that will give their cows/calves E Coli? Heck no, so I am watching this closely. But Brasher comes off like another drive-by-media type, throwing a hand grenade into a crowd and driving off.

OK, so maybe I'm a bit bitter about when Brasher featured me in an article a couple of years ago. I spoke to him about farm payments, and when what I told him didn't fit his pre-conceived agenda, he picked apart my words and made it appear I supported his line of thinking.

Eh, what can you expect from the RedStar.

Tax rebate nonesense

So, it appears we're going to get some guvment handouts, uh, tax rebates this year to help "stimulate" the economy. Bushy and the Donkeys are falling over themselves trying to look more helpful to the American populace.

If Bush was a real conservative, he'd just send a note saying "You're on you own, folks."

Even though, as it appears, our family will receive about $1800 ($1200 for the adults, $600 for the two chitlins), I'd rather the government keep it and not create a bigger black hole of debt.

We'll take the $1800, of course, but will it go to buying a new 60" HD TV? No, it'll probably go to paying down the debt on the mini van. You know, so we can reduce the amount of interest paid to the bank. So much for stimulating the economy.

How soon will Moody's reduce our bond rating from AAA? When this happens, we'll be nothing but a junk bond dealer in a cheap suit. When will our dollar be worth less than a yen? Will it take a stack of greenbacks to buy a loaf of bread?

So, my children will inherit a larger national debt because we had some short sided vision in 2008. Brilliant. Gotta love these nimrods we've got in power.

Friday, January 25, 2008

An important task

Today, I did one of the most important things I can do as a citizen of Iowa, next to participating in the caucus and paying homage to the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair:

I renewed my carry-conceal weapon permit at the Wayne Co Sheriff's Office.

I figured it might be the last time I will be able to do so if certain people occupy the White House next year.

What do you need a carry-conceal permit for anyway, Gunzy? You think a deer is going to jump out and steal your wallet?

Of course not. But, it is a freedom that I have, being not only a citizen of Iowa but also of Wayne County, and I am taking advantage of it.

I might be packing, I might not. My neighbors might be in the same position. If a criminal knows this, they are less likely to mess with us folks in Wayne. And, if I feel like buying another Glock, I can go into any gun store in the state and walk out with it the same day. No background checks, as I've had mine done to get the permit.

The point of this is not to brag or show off, but to remind us that free and armed citizens are what keep us from sliding totally off into a totalitarian nightmare.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A passing of a local

This has been on my mind for a week or so.

Last week I was filling the feed truck with DDGS, ready to go deliver some to a customer. I get a call from his number, but I missed it, and it went to voice mail. Instead of checking the message, I called back. He didn't come on the line, but a person who had been staying with him. I asked if Lee was there.

She replied that Lee had killed himself Saturday.

I was stunned. I had left voice messages for him on Friday and Saturday with the current prices of DDGS for him, so when the message came in on Monday morning, I thought it would be him, telling me to bring a load up.

But, instead I learn that he shot and killed himself with a .22 pistol Saturday afternoon. When the friend arrive back to the farm, she found him still barely alive (I guess a .22 will not do the job completely), but he soon passed on.

He had mentioned to a friend a few days before that he just didn't know if life was worth living.

Lee lived on a dead-end road outside of Lucas. He was in his 70's, and other than the female friend that stayed with him, he had no other family around. His wife had run off with a low-life years ago, and his children had nothing to do with him. He bought "junk" calves at area sale barns, calves that were partially blind, limps, or other problems that made them not suitable for the feedlots. He'd buy a few at a time, load them up in his old Ford truck, and bring them home.

On a few occasions, when I'd bring him feed, I'd either see turkey buzzards circling the place, or a half-dead calf laying nearby the feed wagon, waiting to die.

He had worn out equipment, hauled corn from the elevator is an old truck,and would hand scoop the corn and DDGS into an old grinder mixer to make feed for the calves. That's a lot of work for a 70+ year old to be doing, but he did it.

The last time I talked to him, I brought up some mineral in my pickup truck. I unloaded them into his truck, and we talked for a while outside. The cold winds were blowing, so we got in my truck and talked. We discussed what he got for his fed calves at Denison, the possibility of putting some of his ground into soybeans for next year, and his possible need of some cornstalk bales that I had for sale. It was the most we'd talked for a long time.

While he wasn't what you'd consider a shining star in the community or a model farmer, he was a fellow human. I grew to enjoy listening to his contrarian viewpoints; it helped keep me grounded. He paid his bills, so I have no complaints in that department.

I suppose he got tired of the higher feed and purchase calf costs, cold and frozen winter, calves dying on him, and the lower prices he was getting at market. Maybe he figured that he had no other way out, that he didn't have any savings or retirement to fall back on. Maybe he was too proud.

I can't agree with what he did, however. Of course, we'd all say "Why didn't he reach out? I would have helped him!", but you know a guy like that isn't going to take a handout. I once gave him a plastic tarp to cover his wagon that held the DDGS in. He didn't want it, but I insisted. That tarp remained laying to the side of the wagon from then on. Lee didn't want to be seen as a charity case.

So closes the chapter on the life of a local farmer.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My predictions if Hillary is elected president

It's still a long ways from November, but I'm going out on a limb here and predicting what would happen during a Hillary presidency.
  1. We will be attacked again by Islamist jihadists. This is about a 100% guarantee, IMHO. The question is, how big/bad will it be? And even more important, what will Hillary's response be? Bomb every aspirin factory in Sudan? Send the French to do our diplomatic duties? Surrender to the French just in case?
  2. Taxes will go up. Duh!
  3. Money will be spent like Ted Kennedy at a _______ (fill in the blank).
  4. Portraits of Stalin and Marx will hang from the walls of the White House.
  5. Saul Alinsky will have his own holiday.
  6. The elections of 2012 will be suspended so that the workers of the glorious revolution need not be removed from their work.
  7. I'll be sent to a re-education camp in New Jersey run by my former residence hall directors.

Sunday morning realizations

Just like waking up from a night of too much fun, I'm starting to see the sober truth about our presidential election.

As it stands, Romney has the most delegates to the Republican National Convention, followed by Huckabee and McCain. These caucuses and primaries thus far have been warmups in comparison to Super Tuesday (February 5). There are a number of winner-takes-all primaries on that day, as well as Florida in the interim.

On the Democrat side, The Ice Queen is leading Obama in delegates. Not all of the upcoming primaries are winner-takes-all, like the Republicans.

I am not jumping Huckabee's boat at this point, but I am going to be a realist, and I'm going to say this holding my nose: Romney, Guiliani, and Thompson, along with Huckabee, would all be better presidents than Hillary or Obama. McCain? I'm not so sure.

I hope we go into the RNC with a spread of delegates between the top 4-5 candidates, and they can be used to broker a deal. I think it would be interesting to see what this comes up with.

If we have a McCain/Clinton race, we might as well pack it up and head for the Yukon. The ending results will probably be the same, except instead of McCain talking about his days in a prisoner of war "re-education camp", Hillary will be setting them up send us conservatives to.

If Romney or Rudy comes out as the front runner, I'll buck it up and support either man with as much vigor as I did Bob Dole in 1996. The lesser of two evils. Of course, I'd support Huckabee's run as far as he can go, but then again, I'm being a realist this morning.

If we could morph candidates together, I'd put Thompson's conservative, Federalist standpoint with Huckabee's communication skills. I think you'd have to agree we'd have a winner there.

But, FEC rules says we can't do this, so you run with the candidates you have. So be it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Huckabee's Fair Deal

Today, the Huckabee campaign release the Fair Deal For All Americans plan. Here's my analysis by taking his key points and commenting on them. As you may see, I am not all "rah-rah" about this plan; it needs more fleshing out, and some things I don't really care for.

#1 Family: Focus on Middle Class Families: More Income, Better Jobs, More Secure Homeownership.

- Our economy is weakening and families are hurting; Jobs are being lost, many to offshore companies.

Yes, manufacturing jobs are being lost. This is partially due to our stricter labor laws and due to our labor unions demanding large benefit packages. Our dollar is weakening, and confidence is worsening, both here at home and around the world. So far so good.

- Too many American families face the real prospect of losing their homes as a result of the ongoing subprime mortgage situation. The federal government needs to immediately begin a second round of negotiations with subprime lenders with an eye toward expansion of the "Hope Now" program. We should strive to find ways to preserve American home ownership.

I don't necessarily agree with this. It's called "personal responsibility," and the government does not need to bail out large banks who made bad choices in lending to sub-primers. I know we did this with the savings and loans in the 1980's, but again, it's not the role of the government to step in and do this.

- I will cut burdensome red tape that drives up the cost of products and keeps employers from hiring more workers or raising wages. We want bosses signing pay checks, not filling out government forms.


- In Arkansas, I signed a bill that would reduce frivolous lawsuits which drive up costs of products and medical care. We need more doctors not fewer; we need more new products, not fewer.


- I believe in free trade, but I also believe in fair trade. We will expect our trading partners to live up to their obligations-everyone must play by fair rules. If you want access to the world's largest economy, don't send us your lead toys or your poisoned pet food. We will not outsource our safety.

This is good as well, but it will be hard to do so and the next statement...

- We will also open new markets for American products.

Yeah, new markets without "free trade"? Tough to do.

- And there is more: I will preserve and expand President Bush's tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2010; I will ensure higher-education becomes attainable for more American families by making all tuition deductible.

Yes, this is good as well. These tax cuts helped to spur the economy, and should be kept in place. Deductability of higher education? Not sure about this one...have to think about it.

#2 Fed: Work with the Federal Reserve for a Pro-Growth, Low Inflation Economy

- The greatest source of short-term stimulus is the Federal Reserve. I believe that it's time for the Federal Reserve to adopt a pro-growth, low-inflation policy.

How so? Lower the interest rates again? Discourage savings? Get people further into debt? More explanation, please.

- But at the same time, we must always be fiscally prudent. I will make sure that unnecessary spending is under control in Washington. Republicans have lost their reputation for fiscal discipline. As Governor, I had to balance the budget by law every year. I will have my veto pen out in Washington.

These are good comments, but I think he'll need to prove it to many. Having a veto pen is good, but you can only pass what the Congress sends you, and if they send you crap, well...

- Monetary policy must be aggressive enough to stave off recession, but always mindful of inflation and its tax on our economy.

Again, how do you intend to do this?

#3 Fight: Create Jobs as We Build Up Our Defenses and Build Up Our Infrastructure

- I have pledged to increase defense spending to six percent of GDP as President. That's roughly a $200 billion increase. That's a lot of money, but we need it because the security threats to America today are enormous. We need this increase so that we can be safe and secure. However, this spending will also create jobs for vital strategic industries and, in addition, provide spinoffs to the civilian sector.

OK, this may prove that you are a pro-defense guy. Make sure that the money being spent is not wasted, and is truely used for "defense", not picking fights with other countries.

- America must always be the Arsenal of Democracy. We will build new planes, new armed vehicles, new robotic land and air vehicles, and new ships all RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA.

- After years of war, our heroic warriors are strained to the limit and our equipment is worn out by repeated deployments. I will recruit and train thousands of new troops and bring our National Guard and Reserves back home. We must quickly expand our Army and Marine Corps to help continue our fight against the agents of terror.

How? Pay them more? Give them more benefits? Details, please.

- We need a national mission to return our critical infrastructure to readiness for the 21st century. We don't need earmarks and bridges to nowhere when we have critical needs. We can't have our interstate highway bridges falling down, our levees breaking, or our water systems collapsing under our streets. As Arkansas Governor, I took our state highways from the worst to the most improved in five years. As your president, I will work with the Congress and we will rebuild our great nation.

So, what's the plan to do this? Tax more? Money is already appropriated to fix/upgrade/build roads, so how do we do this "more"?

- We will build a homeland security fence along the US-Mexico border, and we will build it with American Labor and American Materials.

Good deal.

#4 Fuel: Invest in Energy Independence -- A Great Nation Must Be Able to Fuel Itself, and Defend Itself

- Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman and Marine will earn a Veteran's Bill of Rights. They, along with their families, have sacrificed so much in defense of our Nation. We will not turn our backs on them or their families. One way we can support our servicemen and women in their overseas missions is with implementation of a sound energy policy back here at home.

I'm not sure what this has to with Energy Independence, but yes, I would agree with a Vet's Bill of Rights. We need to honor and support those who have given for their country. If this means we pull out of areas that we currently patrol to make sure oil flows freely, I'd be OK with that if we produced enough on our end to make up the difference.

- With oil prices touching near $100 a barrel and prices at the pump pushing past $3.00 per gallon across the nation, we must remember that these rapidly rising fuel prices put a great strain on the budgets of American families. Every time we fill our cars up, we fill up the pockets of Middle Eastern countries. That is going to end. We will have national energy security policy and we will end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil within ten years of my inauguration.

Sounds good, but how are we going to do this? Biofuels? Offshore drilling? We'll need a LOT of energy replacement to fill in the gap left by overseas energy.

- We are going to unleash the American ingenuity and we are going to conserve, explore and invent our way to independence in energy. Right in Little Rock, Arkansas is the North American headquarters for the largest manufacturer of windmill blades in the world. We will do that all over America and right here in Michigan.

#5 FAIR: Move Toward FAIR TAXation

- My short-term economic policies will move us toward our long-term economic goal: Simply put, America's federal tax system is broken. What we have now is a system that is failing American families and businesses. Our tax system burdens low and middle-income families, robbing them of the chance for upward mobility.

- Our tax system encourages outsourcing of American production overseas and the dismantling of our industrial base. It wastes hundreds of billions in useless tax preparation, paperwork and confrontation. It pits industry against industry, class against class.

I'll agree that we do waste billions in tax prep and compliance.

- My FairTax proposal allows American workers to keep their entire paycheck, allows American businesses to compete on a level-playing field with their foreign competitors, and brings jobs and investment that are currently parked off-shore back to the United States.

- However, I recognize that passage of the FairTax will not happen overnight. In the meantime, I will eliminate the Death Tax, and seek to reduce counterproductively high personal and corporate marginal tax rates.

Start on the tax rates first, because this is probably all you'll end up with. The Fair Tax is a good idea, but I don't think it will fly. Reform from within.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Separated at birth...?

Fred Thompson and Admiral Akbar of Return of the Jedi....

I wonder if Admiral Akbar represents the fiscal, social, or defense wing of the Galactic Republican Party?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A day at the truck repair shop

Today I took the '99 Intl 4900 feed truck to Des Moines to have some work done on it. It has been having a problem of overheating when unloading feed, even when it's 20 degrees F or colder out. I thought I'd have it PM'ed as well (periodic maintenance) at the same time.

So, I got to O'Halloran's around 10 AM and went to the service desk. I told the fellow what I needed done with it, but I didn't get a strong vibe this guy. I think he was more into trying to sell me on certain "programs" than actually fixing my problem. He suggested a coolant flush, whereupon I told him that the coolant has probably been flushed out in the last 3 weeks due to the overheating I'd been having. We settled on the basic medium duty PM program, plus check into the overheating issue.

So, off I went next door to the Bosselmann's truck stop. I wandered around the chrome/parts area for a while, then found some free reading material and settled down for a 1/2 hour. OK, 'nuff of that. Back to the Intl dealer to check out the new and used trucks. The new ProStars are pretty nice rigs. A used truck dealer came out to greet me, but I told him I was there for service, hopefully not to spend $100K on a new truck.

Went to BK across the street for lunch and watched the trucks roll in and out of Bosselmann's for about a 1/2 hour. It was kinda interesting...

Went back to O'Hallorans and asked when the truck would get in, because I wouldn't mind taking it somewhere to get it washed. Upon realizing that I was hanging around and didn't have anything better to do, the service manager (the guy who knew what the heck was going on) got the truck in immediately. Cool. I retired to the drivers lounge for some TV.

Maury Povich. Jerry Springer. COPS. The Steve "guy-from-Springer's-show" Show. My mind was starting to rot. For some reason they were fixated on pedophiles, underage sex, and lesbians dressed in animal costumes fighting each other today...

Not all that time was wasted, however; I talked to a couple of real truck drivers as well, and learned a few things about container hauling. And, I did get a call from a potential new customer that sounded promising.

So, around 4 PM, they finally had the truck done. They did a recall fix on the ABS brakes that took longer than expected, but now the "Trac Control" like stays on. It shouldn't. The clearance lights aren't working now, either - they noted it on the worksheet, but funny, they were working a few days ago...!

The water temp issue was due to a faulty fan drive thingy. Apparantly it was made out of gold, as it cost about 1/2 the going price of an ounce. I thought Case IH and John Deere had the corner on high priced parts, but I guessed wrong.

I finally get back home around 7 PM after A) trying to track down a water pump for my Toyota forklift (apparantly this lift had two different engine options and three different water pumps for each engine, and the dealer had NONE of them in stock) and B) spending $10 in quarters washing the feed truck. It probably weighs 100 lbs less now.

Let's say this: Truck service shops are quite different than auto repair shops, especially higher end ones like Jordan Motors. When I had a VW Jetta TDI and had it PM'ed at Jordan, I felt like I was, well, at Jordan Creek before it even existed. At this place, I don't think they focused so much on customer service. But, they are probably used to dealing with larger companies with fleets rather than individual owners.

If I need to send a rig up there again, I'm going to have a ride available and we'll go tool around DM in the meantime, and request that the service work get done that day. There's only so much entertainment to be found at a truck stop.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Huckabee's win

So, the mainstream media, including Rush, is trying to pin Huckabee's win, in part, on a large turnout of so-called "evangelical Christians".


Albeit anecdotal evidence, our precinct had a majority of Methodists, with just a couple of us "holier-than-thou" Baptists in attendance. Methodists tend not to be evangelical, but would consider themselves pretty "middle of the road," at least compared to us fire-and-brimestone Baptists.

(Man, I hope I didn't start a cross-town war between the churches with that statement.)

Point is: People voted for Huckabee because they don't want some east coast plastic banana FM type telling us ya-hoos in the sticks how to live our lives. We want someone that we can relate to, that is approachable, and seems to have solutions to our country's needs. Mike Huckabee has the experience and leadership to get the job done.

We didn't have to consult with Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham before making a decision. We didn't refer to Bob Novak because we don't take the New York Times; The Des Moines Register is bad enough to tell us that newspapers are on the decline. We carefully looked over the candidates and picked the one we thought would serve us best.

See, we don't require talking heads to tell us what to think or do. We don't receive marching orders via Fox News.

We Iowans are a surly, independent bunch.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

This is Huckabee Country!

Here are the results from our 2008 Wayne County Republican Caucus:

Mike Huckabee 160
Mitt Romney 31
Fred Thompson 24
John McCain 22
Ron Paul 19
Duncan Hunter 1
Rudy Giuliani 1
Alan Keys 1
Total 259

These are unofficial results, but what I caught at the end of the night.

In our precinct, 18 for Huckabee, 7 for Romney, 5 for Thompson, and 4 for McCain.

Call us what you want, but that's how the political terrain lays here.

Giuliani getting the same votes as Alan Keys? Ha! Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Corn Beltway Boys! :)

Over on the D side, Edwards took first, and close behind was Hillary.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sympathy for others

The reply made by an anonymous poster to the applicator-car accident made me think about a situation: We can be very judgemental people. It doesn't matter if you belong to a church or not, we are all guilty of thinking we can tell others what they should do or not do.

I include myself in that group.

I think about a particular family in the community, the Hs and U's. They all live in an old house (6 or 7 all together) that doesn't (or didn't until recently) have running water. They didn't have the money to fix the leaks, and the city shut them off due to lack of payment. Their health situation isn't the best. The kids, newly graduated from high school, don't have jobs and wander around town most days.

It is very easy to judge these people.

However, Mrs. U has been found to have ovarian cancer. Mr. U is pretty much in a nursing home now. Mr and Mrs H are old and in poor health - they haven't been seen for a while. The U daughter is pregnant, and the U boys have little or no ability to support the family.

It's really easy to tell these folks to get off their butts and get jobs. It's easy to tell them to stop smoking and drinking. It's easy to tell them to get a car so they can drive to Osceola or Chariton and get a job. They've been given opportunities to do so. Community members have helped pay for repairs to the house in the past. Jobs have been offered to the boys, only for them to stay for a few days and leave.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

So, what do you do? Do you turn a blind eye to them, hoping they'll go away? Do you think they are getting what they deserve for years of laziness and welfare pandering? Do you think about helping them, but then decide not to, believing that your gifts will be wasted and squandered? Or, do you do what is right; assist them as you are able to?

You'd think it would be a straight-forward answer - help them. But, that's part of the struggle for many - you know what you should do, but you don't, because you don't want to be made a fool or taken advantage of. You don't want your gift to contribute to their continued path of self-destruction. You want your gift to be held in the highest esteem by those you are helping. Maybe there's a little pride in your ability to give to others "lower" than you?

Do we really have sympathy for those who have have made poor decisions (judged by us) and are now suffering the consequences of those decisions?

Jesus provided to others, but commanded them to go and sin no more. He healed the blind because they believed in Him. He had sympathy for the downtrodden, but requested that they change their lives to become better people.

God doesn't call Christians to be fools, to be easily tricked into giving away their resources to distrustful or slothly people. He wants HIS resources to be used wisely, no matter who He entrusts them with at the time.

So, using the above situation, this could entail assisting the H's and U's with food, bottled water and toiletries, but not cash. It could mean providing the boys with some sort of employment, even if it is at minimum wage and would require extra supervision. It means giving the daughter some unused baby clothes.

Most of all, it means following the lead Jesus provided and give them sympathy, but not assist them in their self-destructive ways.

To be honest, this has been a struggle to write. A lot of self-examination took place. Maybe it will help you to do the same as well.

Happy New Year.