California shut down again.

July 21, 2020, 8:46 am

Economic performance, health outcomes, and educational achievements in California after a second round of shutdown. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

We are a week into our second shutdown here in California.

Restaurants may only provide food to-go or for outdoor dining. The outdoor dining option only helps restaurants stay in business if they have enough outdoor patio space to have enough tables to provide enough customers to stay in business and then only if the temperature (during July and August) is tolerable.

Churches are prohibited from having worship services inside. Churches who are rich enough to have lots of outdoor space to sit in and well off enough to afford two sets of audio equipment can worship live. The first amendment has been partially suspended again.

Gyms, salons, and bars are closed.

On 7/14/20, the Wall Street Journal also explained the issue in a short editorial: California’s Second Shutdown.

The core issue:

A lockdown will cause more harm (economically, socially, psychologically, educationally, and emotionally) than the pandemic will cause.

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Settled matters outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

July 8, 2020, 8:39 am

John Trumbull: The Declaration of Independence painted by John Trumbull. Photograph by Thomas Cizauskas is in the public domain (Public Domain Mark 1.0)

 

Several statements in the opening of the Declaration of Independence are settled matters. The issues are resolved. They are final.

If those key issues are not final but are instead malleable or alterable or subject to revocation the consequences will be horrible.

A speech by Pres. Calvin Coolidge explained this idea back in the 1920s. Let’s expand the concept of those ideas being resolved issues.

Please consider President Calvin Coolidge’s Speech on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence on July 5, 1926.

He lists the three resolved issues:

“Three very definite propositions were set out in its (the Declaration of Independence) preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that

all men are created equal,

that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that

 therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.” (emphasis added)

He explained these issues are settled, resolved, final.

We can expand on those ideas. We need to bring them into further fruition. We can dive deeper into their meaning.

Setting them aside or replacing them means we go backwards. Declaring they are no longer true is regression to the ancient past.

More eloquently than I could ever describe, the president said:

“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”

Expanding those foundational concepts

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In spite of some preliminary signs of restoration of the First Amendment, there is resistance to the idea.

May 30, 2020, 7:29 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

California and Minnesota may be taking tiny baby steps to reinstate the First Amendment to the bill of rights, but there are indications here and there of opposition to any such efforts.

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

Excessive focus on the First Amendment is a “suicide pact”

5/23/20 – CNN – Federal appeals court upholds California’s ban on in-person Church services – A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban on in-person worship does not violate the First Amendment.

The ruling can be found here.

Astoundingly the ruling stated:

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Religious freedom partially reinstated in California and Minnesota.

May 26, 2020, 6:00 am

The state governments of California and Minnesota have given their permission for people of faith to partially engage in the free exercise of their religious beliefs.

5/25/20 – Daily Bulletin –Newsom: California places of worship can reopen with limited capacity and San Francisco Chronicle – Newsom issues plans for places of worship in California to reopen at limited capacity – Places of worship in the state can begin having in-person worship.

At least that’s what all the headlines say.

Look at the detail for more than 15 seconds and you realize there’s only a fractional restoration of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, along with the fractional restoration of the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Remaining restrictions include:

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It is more important this year to remember that we are the land of the free because of the brave.

May 25, 2020, 7:52 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With our freedom under assault by many state and local politicians across the United States, it is more important than ever before that on this Memorial Day we remember those who shed all their blood so that we may be free.

A ‘thank you’ from me is so trivial.  I will demonstrate my appreciation for freedom purchased by others by exercising my freedom of speech today. Yesterday I exercised my freedom of religion. Today and tomorrow I will exercise my economic freedom, also called pursuit of happiness, by running my business the way I choose to do.

Following post was first published on May 29, 2017. It reprints an earlier post of May 30, 2011. I will update the discussion slightly. Deletions are struck through, new comments are in italics. This feeble tribute to those who have gone before will be posted across several of my blogs.

 

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

From May 29, 2017:

Those of us living in the United States are blessed with religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom because those who went before us fought for freedom.

Many of those fighting offered up their life for freedom and the offer was accepted.

I am humbled and grateful to God that some of my ancestors are included in the long list of those who fought. I am especially humbled that a great, great grand-uncle is in the list of those who died in the defense of freedom and the effort to crush slavery.

Because of their sacrifice, I get to enjoy this kind of freedom:

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Looks like the First Amendment is going to be restored to the U.S. Constitution.

May 23, 2020, 9:28 am

Um, that’s not how this freedom thing works. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

It’s about time.

As of this morning (update Saturday 5/23), places of worship in California will be allowed to resume full operations in Phase 4, which will be at some distant point in the future, likely the end of the year or sometime in 2021. Vague comments by state authorities hint the opening date may be after a vaccine is in use.

In Illinois, full worship services will not be allowed until after a vaccine is in use, with the governor acknowledging that will be 12 or 18 months from now.

Another state, I lost track of which one, put worship in the last category to reopen, along with concerts and stadium-filled athletic events.

Other states and counties, too numerous to bother gather articles for specific citation, have placed worship services low on the list of places to open.

It now looks like the First Amendment may be put back in the Constitution after having been removed by a wide variety of governors.

Several recent events for you to consider:

  • Catholic and some Lutheran churches in Minnesota will resume worship on May 24.
  • Around 500 California churches (primarily Protestant) are reopening May 31, with or without permission.
  • Roman Catholics in Orange County will resume Mass on June 14.
  • CDC issued guidance for worship services.
  • California governor is thinking about maybe allowing worship again. Will let us know Monday, May 25.

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

Why fuss over something like gathering to worship?

If you think I’m being too harsh on the long list of governors and bumbling public health officials who won’t allow in-person worship, be advised that too many of my relatives and ancestors fought for our freedom to let American freedoms be trampled upon.

Three of my relatives I personally knew came home from war with life-long physical or emotional injuries. Each suffered until he died.

One of my ancestors died in the effort to crush slavery and rebellion. His blood is in the ground at Champion Hills, east of Vicksburg.

The price paid for our freedom is measured in blood.

 

Reclaiming the First Amendment

5/20/20 – Tyler Bursch, attorney representing four named advocacy groups and over 1,200 pastors in the state of California – A Letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom from Churches / Declaration of Essentiality / Reopening May 31, 2020 – Letter indicates it is been signed by more than 1,200 pastors.

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The United States is in a mass casualty incident because of the lockdown. Damage to public health will get worse. Part 1 of 2.

May 21, 2020, 10:25 am

Disaster exercise In Tel Aviv on November 11, 2010. Allegory to where the US public health will be in near term. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The continuing lockdown is directly leading to a decline in public health. Large volume of articles for many weeks now have been pointing this out.

This is first of two posts describing just a sampling of recent articles. This will be posted on several of my blogs.

5/19/20 – A Doctor a Day letter-signed; letter to Pres. Trump signed by over 500 doctors – You can read the letter yourself at the link.

A mass casualty incident is currently underway in the United States.

Letter explains the assessment protocol in a catastrophe:

“During a mass casualty incident, victims are immediately triaged to black, red, yellow, or green. The first group, triage level black, includes those who require too many resources to save during a mass crisis. The red group has severe injuries that are survivable with treatment, the yellow group has serious injuries that are not immediately life threatening, and the green group has minor injuries.”

Goal of medical providers during such a catastrophe is to focus treatment on the red group while making sure the yellow and green groups do not deteriorate a level.

Assessment by the doctors of where we are in the United States?

Red – millions of Americans are currently at triage level red. There are normally 150,000 Americans who are given a cancer assessment each month.

We now have two months of no testing which means there are over 300,000 Americans who have detectable cancer, don’t know it, and have not started any treatment. An unknown but calculable number of those will die because of the lack of testing during the shutdown.

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Remember that good ol’ “consent of the governed” thingie? It is evaporating.

May 19, 2020, 7:00 am

Our very form of existence as the United States of America is based on the idea that the power of government is based on having consent of the governed. In other words we, free citizens, give government the power it has.

Phrased more eloquently, the Declaration of Independence declares:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

We are beginning to see damage to trust in public policy and confidence in government. Governors who continue to keep their economies locked up when there is no consent to do so and no justification for doing so are whittling away at that “consent of the governed” concept.

Politicians urgently need to pay attention to this. There is danger of long-term damage which nobody is going to like. More on the risks at the end of this post.

The growing resistance to the harshness of state policies is becoming more visible with each day that passes.

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

Many churches planning to open in California on May 31

I just came across this issue in the news. It has been brewing for a couple of weeks.

5/7/20 – San Bernardino Sun – Evangelical church leaders vow to reopen sanctuary doors early in Southern California – A number of churches in Southern California will be resuming worship services on May 31. I recognize several of the quoted pastors as being from churches in my local area.

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The shutdown will be relaxed, one way or another.

April 27, 2020, 10:30 am

Time to use the other side of those signs. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If the politicians don’t start relaxing the lockdown and letting people pay their rapidly accumulating bills, bunches of people are going to take the initiative and do so on their own.

I sense there is a limited time for those in power to start loosening the extreme restrictions or people are going to start ignoring parts of the rules.

At a deeper level, the concern I have is what’s referred to as the “social contract.” Government gets its authority from consent of the governed.

If a large number of people get to the point of concluding the rules in places like California and Virginia are unnecessarily severe and are causing more health, mental, social, and economic damage than they prevent, people will conclude our leaders have broken the contract.

If we get to that point, respect for law and respect for public officials will decline. That is not a good place to go.

 

Next two articles point out a small number of people who have already reached that conclusion:

4/20/20 – Daily Wire – “Social Shredding”: Defiant Residents Grab Shovels, Dirt Bikes After Cali Authorities Dump Tons of Sand In Skateparks For ‘Social Distancing’ – Officials in San Clemente California noticed teenagers were committing the grave sin of skating in the city’s skate park. Well, that is patently unacceptable, so the city dumped 37 tons of sand into the skate park in an effort to shut down the skating. Since the park is at the beach, sand was readily available.

Well, the city officials did not take into consideration the incredible level of creativity present in humans, especially Americans.

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Damage from the shutdown is growing day by day.

April 27, 2020, 6:30 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Damage from the shutdown is getting more visible; it is growing, spreading every day.

Hospitals and surgeons have been devastated by stopping what is considered ‘non-essential’ care. Many hospitals may go under. Going under is what farmers are starting to do with their crops. After a panic like we are in, who has liability if anyone gets sick and thinks they caught the bug in a store, restaurant, or business?

Devastation in health care industry

4/23/20 – The Federalist – Instead Of “Flattening The Curve,” We Flattened Hospitals, Doctors, And The US Health Care System – Outside of New York city, hospitals have not been overwhelmed. That means it is time to open up the medical system to allow “non-essential” services.

Example cited include Florida which was projected to have 465,000 hospitalized patients by April 24 only having 2,000 on April 22.

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When will this mess from the pandemic be over? Focus on the idea that it will end, not what that date will be.

March 25, 2020, 11:35 am

We will prevail. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

When will we be done with this stay-at-home restriction?

When will the economy recover?

When will we be back to “normal?”

 

I don’t know the dates for any of those transitions.

I have a suggestion for you.

 

Don’t set a specific date in your mind. Instead firmly set in your mind that this mess will end, we will get through it, we will survive, and we will thrive at the end.

What is the danger of setting a date in your mind and having faith it will be over on that date?

Let me introduce you to the Stockdale paradox.

Admiral James Stockdale was an American pilot shot down during the Vietnam war. He was a prisoner in North Vietnam for 7 1/2 years, routinely subject to brutal torture, legs broken twice during interrogation, and held in solitary confinement during four of those years with his legs locked in a metal stock each night. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor a few years after his release.

I think we should listen to him. His physical courage and moral courage are a role model for all of us.

For one explanation of the phenomenon he described check out article titled The Stockdale Paradox.

 

Who did not come home from captivity?

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A Halloween costume that would make any CPA pass out from fright – an auditor performing one pension plan audit

October 31, 2019, 7:40 am
Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Amid the cute little kids in their funny costumes, this pleasant Halloween night there was a grown man in a suit at the door asking for candy. White shirt, red tie, gray pinstripe.

Not so scary, thought I.

“What are you dressed up as?”

“An auditor,” came the reply.

That’s not frightening, since I’ve been an auditor for a long time. But it did explain the old-style, standard issue uniform.

So, putting on my peer reviewer hat, I asked, “what audit work do you do?”

“Oh, only one pension plan….

.

.

.

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Sad as it is to read about, leaders in the Christian community need to be aware of what happened at Willow Creek Community Church.

July 25, 2019, 9:16 am

What can we learn from this mess? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Anyone who has been an adult a few years or has read news for more than , oh a few weeks, knows there is massive ugliness in the world.

Anyone who has been in leadership of a church or ministry for more than a few months knows the ugliness we see in the world is also present in the community of believers.

Why read about and then study messiness?

There are several disasters in the Christian community at the moment which leaders should pay attention to.

Why?

So we can learn. By observing we can be better prepared for dealing with horrible things if (or rather when) they appear in our area of responsibility.

In my professional role as auditor over the last few decades I have observed moral failure of leaders, embezzlement, fraudulent financial misstatements, tax fraud, and sundry other unpleasantness. (Okay, okay, sin is the correct description of those things.)

Because of confidentiality requirements, I cannot discuss anything about any of those issues.

Current, public issues are a different story. Having no connection to those incidents frees me to discuss them.

Willow Creek Community Church

A major scandal has been in the news at Willow Creek for over a year. Here is a tour of some articles which can fill you in.

What can you learn as a leader from this fiasco?

3/22/18 – Christianity Today – Bill Hybels Accused of Sexual Misconduct by Former Willow Creek Leaders. Article summarizes a range of allegations that had surfaced over the previous five years, including stories of decades old misbehaviors.

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Fifty years ago today….

July 20, 2019, 7:46 am

 

 


Memorial Day: gratitude for those who did not return

May 27, 2019, 9:28 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

 

To family and friends of those who did not return, I humbly say:

My deepest condolences on your loss.

From someone who appreciates the price paid for the freedom I cherish everyday, please accept my thank you on behalf of your loved one who paid the price that my family and I can live free.

“Thank you” is so little, but it is all I have to give you.

 

 

“Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God” Tomb of Unknown Soldier 002 – Arlington National Cemetery – 2012 by Tim Evanson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. Photo by James Ulvog.