Tom's Thoughts

Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Today is the day set aside to honor the memory of all those who have died in battle serving in America's armed forces.

I do honor them. They laid their lives on the line and paid the ultimate price. What they did allowed us to have the freedom now to protest sending any more to die in a useless cause.

It bothers me that those in power who never have to risk anything for the greater good of the country make all the noises about our honored dead and how we must strive on so that these latest will not have died in vain. What they are saying now, with the Iraq debacle, is that we have to keep sending more to die in order to make legitimate the useless deaths of those who have already died in an illegitimate cause.

Last time: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, Saddam was a terrible dictator, but not the worst in the world, and the Bush Administration knew there were no WMD's.

Still, I respect those who went to Vietnam and died, those who went into Grenada and died, those who went into Panama and died, and all those who died for other Presidential ego trips. It wasn't their fault. They thought they were doing their duty, and I respect that.

Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Why is "liberal" a dirty word?

In recent years, specifically since the Reagan years, "liberal" has been a word of contempt. Republicans have wielded it as a club and Democrats have shrunk from it.

Well, I'd like to set the record straight on this word and the people whom it describes.

It was the liberals who brought us the minimum wage. As a result, businesses are more prosperous and people have more leisure. More income means more money to spend at local businesses which brings prosperity to every community. Recent studies have shown that small business growth is higher in states whose minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum. And, since I have been in the work force some 40 or so years now, every time--EVERY TIME--the minimum wage has gone up, unemployment has gone down.

It was the liberals who brought us voting rights, first for women, then for African-Americans. This has expanded democracy in our country and set an example for the world. Is our country not better off by far for the diversity of voices in our public life? From J. C. Watts to Barak Obama, from Hillary Clinton to Condoleeza Rice, the diversity of voices makes our public life richer.

It was the liberals, working through labor unions and others, who brought us the eight-hour day and the forty-hour work week. This has meant more than one new industry arising to serve people in their leisure hours and a great boon to the economy.

It was the liberals who ended child labor. Now children are able to go to school, and our economy is stronger for that.

It was the liberals who brought us emancipation of the slaves. It took a bloody civil war to do it, but no thinking person would want to go back to limiting our economy by reinstituting that institution.

And no one mentions it, but it was long-haired liberals who brought us the American Revolution.

The conservatives of the day opposed every single one of these changes. Indeed, the Bush Administration is trying to undo each one of these advances. If anyone ever reads this blog and wants a bill of particulars, I'll provide it.

A character on a TV show once said, "The Republicans want to stop the clock at 1890." His Republican adversary countered, "And the Democrats want to stop it at 1932."

They are both probably right. Although I think the Bush Administration wants to go all the way back to 1770.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Fourth Amendment

In case you've forgotten:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Look at this. Memorize it. It's under attack by the Extreme Court and by General Hayden, who doesn't believe it contains the words, "probable cause." Look for yourself.

If we wanted a despot why did we have a Revolution? If we wanted an unaccountable leader, why did we have the Constitution written the way it was?

Think about it. Then vote.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My new job

After almost 9 1/2 years at Sears, I have taken a job at Home Depot. I am still feeding my body selling appliances while feeding my soul teaching for Gardner-Webb. But now I have a new and better company to work for.

I have learned that Home Depot pioneered corporate involvement with disaster relief. It makes sense, really to have your logo on T-shirts all over an area passing out relief supplies for rebuilding, etc., and to have them visible while building playgrounds and Habitat houses. Good advertising, a lot cheaper than big television ads and newspaper fliers, but doing good at the same time. Makes me feel better about it.

Still, it is the People's Republic of Corporate America, and Home Depot is a big supporter of the Bush Administration--at least it was in the 2004 election. There are policies that don't make sense, but one will find that with any super large company.

Anyway, I like the philosophy they preach about customer service, putting the customer first, and realizing the front line associate plays a vital role in taking care of the customer, whose money finances the company and the salaries of the higher-ups. I felt that Sears had lost sight of that. There, pleasing upper management was far more important than taking care of customers. I'm happy to be in a better environment now.

From here out, we'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

On the Minimum Wage

I have pointed out many times that whenever in my lifetime the minimum wage has gone up, unemployment has gone down.

Now, I have read something to confirm it. "A new report from the Center for American Progress and Policy Matters Ohio finds that the '11 states with a minimum wage above the federal minimum of $5.15 per hour had higher rates of small business growth between 1997 and 2003.'"

Further: "In states with minimum wages above the federal minimum...small business employment grew by 9.4 percent, while states with the federal minimum wage grew by only 6.6 percent. 'Inflation-adjusted small business payroll growth' the report also found, 'was stronger in high minimum wage states (19.0 percent) than in federal minimum wage states (13.6 percent)....'"

I have been proven right. The real world does have a way of debunking ivory tower theories, doesn't it?