Friday, November 05, 2004

Fiscal Stewardship

Another fact that doesn't sit well with me in terms of Bush's presidency is a considerable lack of fiscal stewardship. God calls us to be good financial stewards. "In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy." 1 Corinthians 4:2. This includes not oweing more than we can pay off. (Supported by Romans 13:6-8.) For all his talk of "fiscal responsibility" (Bush speech on 9/13/02), the budget deficit has grown by $300 billion in this past year alone and his future plans to add more tax cuts do not bode well for our deficits. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Treasurer has announced that federal borrowing will reach "$147 billion in the first three months of 2005 - a new quarterly record." And according to the NY Times, President Bush plans to make his tax cuts permanent, which will increase the budget deficit by $1 trillion by 2014. When budget deficits grow to too large an amount, it's just like when you add on tons of debt to your credit. Banks will demand a higher interest rate to loan you more money if your credit rating is low (or if you have other loans outstanding). For the U.S., foreign investors will demand higher interest rates to keep loaning more money to the US. Higher interest rates mean higher taxes later for you and me and also higher interest rates when we want to borrow money from banks (for mortgages/small business loans, etc.). Ultimately, Bush's fiscal irresponsibility is not godly and I'm afraid many believers have completely ignored this issue.

Still more to come (I had previously thought to make this a 3-post reflection but it's turning into a 10+ post reflection...)...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

This election has been a difficult election for me. I am one of the few believers who voted for John Kerry. It was deeply frustrating because when I asked many believers why they were voting for Bush, I heard this basically:

"I'm against gay marriage. I'm against embryonic stem cell research. I'm voting for Bush."

Many also said that Bush was the more moral of the two candidates and many believe that Bush's faith motivates him to do the things he does. So many believers took Bush's words and the Republican Party's rhetoric at face value that that I wondered whether any took the time to look up the actions behind the words. You see, I've always thought that you measure a man's faith by both his words and his actions (or inaction). My dad used to say to me that a man's words are worth the paper that they are written on. And so, for me, voting isn't just a process of measuring words, but it's also a process of measuring actions.

"But just as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us, see that you also excel in this grace of giving." 2 Corinthians 8:7. While this is certainly not a command, it is a test for "the sincerity of your love." 2 Corinthians 8:8. In looking at George Bush's giving, one must look at tithing which can only be found on his tax return. Fortunately, his tax returns are available online at If you look at his 2003 tax return, you will see that he made about $822,000 last year. You will also see on his Schedule A (Itemized Deductions form) that he donated approximately $69,925 to charity. Assuming that all of that went to tithing (with none going to missions sponsoring or other charity), he gave approximately 8.5% to charity. You should also remember that the President doesn't have to pay for anything (food, shelter, travel are all accomodated, perks for being President) so it makes you wonder why he didn't tithe the benchmark 10%, especially since he claims to be a man who is principally guided by his faith. John Kerry, to contrast, made $395,000 last year and gave $43,735 to charity (more than 10%).

More to come...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Eyes stared at me and offers to sell drugs to me came from all directions as I pushed a shopping cart along McAllister Street here in San Francisco one Wednesday night. I had just finished serving food to the homeless at Cityteam Ministries on 6th Street when I spotted a homeless couple struggling to push their shopping carts on the street. I had met them earlier that evening at Cityteam. Tim was a laid off construction worker and Kelly was two months pregnant with her sixth child. They were both on their way to another homeless shelter about 2 miles away to spend the evening there. The shopping carts were filled with blankets, clothes, and other miscellaneous items that the couple had picked up along their travels. On top of one cart lay an old Samsonite suitcase. On the other, sleeping bags were piled up on top of one another. Kelly’s pregnancy prevented her from being able to push her shopping cart so Tim was valiantly trying to push both carts to the homeless shelter. The Samsonite suitcase kept falling off the shopping cart because Tim only had so many hands. When I spotted them, I knew immediately that my girlfriend and I could help out so we offered to take them as far as we could. My girlfriend helped to carry the Samsonite suitcase and I helped push one of the shopping carts. The four of us walked together past the drug-dealers with their offers of drugs, the stares from ordinary people, and the smirks of other homeless people. That night, I learned what it meant to be homeless.

After a night like that, it makes you wonder the type of future the baby in Kelly's belly has. Do you think he (assuming a boy) will be going to be the best private schools? Or do you think he'll be hopping from foster home to foster home or from homeless shelter to homeless shelter?

Ultimately, this is the reason why I'm for affirmative action and why, in general, I vote Democrat. Many Republicans who are against affirmative action believe that affirmative action is all about favoritism given to black kids and hispanic kids. Kids who grow up in upper middle class families can never understand this because they went to a school that had predominantly kids of the same background or of the same income-level as they did. They believe they "earned" good grades and are entitled to go to a good school. The truth is, the playing field is never level when you compare kids across the nation. Affirmative action is about levelling the playing field so that kids who grow up in lower income families living in one room shacks, or kids who have no home at all, have a shot at a future, a shot at their dreams, if they work hard enough.

Anyhow, I'll post more about the election later... I guess you can call this a prelude...

Monday, November 01, 2004

For all you Halo fans out there... (i know it's all the guys that read this blog...)

HALO 2 comes out in 8 days and man, it looks good!

See here for more details...

So yay, I got a job offer from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (not to be confused with the South East Conference) in their Washington, D.C. office. The SEC is an administrative agency under the umbrella of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. So yeah, that means my overall boss will be the President... so I guess you could say that my experience next summer could hinge on who wins the election tomorrow.... Of course, because it's a government job, the pay sucks (well, not that sucky but it's nowhere near what I would make as an attorney at a law firm, or even as a CPA)... but that's ok because I'm doing something pretty darn cool. In deciding to work for the SEC, you have to decide what division you want to work in. Most people want to work in the Enforcement Divison, where you (along with the Department of Justice) get to go after the bad guys: Enron, Martha Stewart, MCI Worldcomm, etc... but I think I will try to get into the Rule-making body of the Corporate Finance Division. The Rule-making body gets to make rules and laws that corporations must abide by when they issue stock (or disclose information on their financial statements) or broker-dealers must abide by when they deal in stocks. So literally, I get to "make my own rules." Sweet huh?