Thursday, April 29, 2010

more What I Read Today - Thursday April 29, 2010

From: The New York Times - April 28, 2010

Op-Ed ColumnistFailure Is Not an Option

China is having a good week in America. Yes it is. I’d even suggest that there is some high-fiving going on in Beijing. I mean, wouldn’t you if you saw America’s Democratic and Republican leaders conspiring to ensure that America cedes the next great global industry — E.T., energy technology — to China?

But, before I get to that, here’s a little news item to chew on: Applied Materials, a U.S. Silicon Valley company that makes the machines that make sophisticated solar panels, opened the world’s largest commercial solar research and development center in Xian, China, in October. It initially sought applicants for 260 scientist/technologist jobs. Howard Clabo, a company spokesman, told me that the Xian center received 26,000 Chinese applications and hired 330 people — 31 percent with master’s or Ph.D. degrees. “Roughly 50 percent of the solar panels in the world were made in China last year,” explained Clabo. “We need to be where the customers are.”

And what kind of week is America having? After months of heroic negotiations, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman had forged a bipartisan climate/energy/jobs bill that, while far from perfect, would have, for the first time, put a long-term fixed price on carbon — precisely the kind of price signal U.S. industry and consumers need to start really shifting the economy to clean-power innovations. The bill was supposed to be unveiled on Monday, but it was suddenly postponed because of Graham’s justified fury that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, had decided to push immigration reform first — even though no such bill is ready — in a bid to attract Hispanic voters to revive his re-election campaign in Nevada.

After all the work that has gone into knitting together this bipartisan bill, which has the support of key industry players, it would be insane to let this effort fail. Fortunately, on Tuesday, Reid was hinting about a compromise. But, ultimately, the issue isn’t just about introducing a bill. It’s about getting it passed. And there we are going to need the president’s sustained leadership.

President Obama has done a superb job in securing stimulus money for green-technology and in using his regulatory powers to compel the auto industry to improve mileage standards to a whole new level. But he has always been rather coy when it comes to when and how much he will personally push an energy/climate bill that would fix a price on carbon-emitting fuels. Without that price signal, you will never get sustained consumer demand for, or sustained private investment in, clean-power technologies. All you will get are hobbies.

The president clearly wants this energy bill to pass, but his advisers are worried that because the bill will likely result in higher electricity or gasoline charges, Republicans will run around screaming “carbon tax” and hurt Democrats in the midterm elections. I appreciate the president’s dilemma. But I don’t think hanging back and letting the Senate take the lead is the right answer. This is a big leadership moment. He needs to confront it head-on, because — call me crazy — I think doing the right and hard thing here will actually be good politics, too.

I’d love to see the president come out, guns blazing with this message:

“Yes, if we pass this energy legislation, a small price on carbon will likely show up on your gasoline or electricity bill. I’m not going to lie. But it is an investment that will pay off in so many ways. It will spur innovation in energy efficiency that will actually lower the total amount you pay for driving, heating or cooling. It will reduce carbon pollution in the air we breathe and make us healthier as a country. It will reduce the money we are sending to nations that crush democracy and promote intolerance. It will strengthen the dollar. It will make us more energy secure, environmentally secure and strategically secure. Sure, our opponents will scream ‘carbon tax!’ Well, what do you think you’re paying now to OPEC? The only difference between me and my opponents is that I want to keep any revenue we generate here to build American schools, American highways, American high-speed rail, American research labs and American economic strength. It’s just a little tick I have: I like to see our spending build our country. They don’t care. They are perfectly happy to see all the money you spend to fill your tank or heat your home go overseas, so we end up funding both sides in the war on terrorism — our military and their extremists.”

Much of our politics today is designed to make people stupid, confused and afraid of change. The G.O.P. has been particularly egregious on energy and climate. I believe if you talk straight to the American people on energy and climate, they will give you the right answers, and, ultimately, the support needed to trump the vested interests and lobbyists who have kept us addicted to oil. Obama has all the right instincts on this issue. He just needs to trust them. If he brings his A-game to energy legislation, Americans will follow — and then maybe we can have a good century.

What I Read Today - Thursday April 29, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Our Demanding Schedules

READ: Mark 1:32-39

The whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many. —Mark 1:33-34Is your life too busy? Business deadlines, productivity quotas, and shuttling children to lessons and sporting events can really fill up your schedule. It’s easy to think, If only I didn’t have so many responsibilities, then I could walk in vital union with God.

Yet C. S. Lewis wisely points out that no one was busier than Christ. “Our model is the Jesus . . . of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this . . . is the Divine life operating under human conditions.”

We read of Jesus in Capernaum: “At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Then He healed many” (Mark 1:32-34). The next day Christ sought out a solitary place and prayed. There He received direction from His Father to pursue a demanding ministry in another place. Our Lord communed with His Father and depended on the Spirit to minister through Him.

Is your schedule demanding? Follow the example of Jesus and set aside a specific time for prayer. Then depend upon God’s power to help you meet each day’s demands. — Dennis Fisher

The many tasks we face each day
Can burden and oppress,
But spending time with God each day
Can bring relief from stress. —Sper

To keep your life in balance, lean on the Lord.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

more What I Read Today - Tuesday April 27, 2010

'Hi. My Name Is America, and I'm a Deficit Addict.'


The giant federal deficit and debt—the subjects everybody loves to talk about but nobody likes to do anything about—move back to center stage in Washington this week as a new debt commission gets rolling and a high-profile conference is convened.

Don't expect much to actually happen this year, an election year in which political leaders will grow increasingly allergic to making hard decisions. But here's a humble suggestion on how to make a nice start in addressing the nation's yawning deficit problems: The two parties could confess their original sins and acknowledge what needs to be done.

Congress needs to step up and tackle a broken income tax and retirement-aid system if it wants to deal with the nation's deficit, WSJ's Jerry Seib argues.

This suggestion arises in large measure because President Barack Obama's newly appointed, bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform—let's just call it the debt commission—is to hold its first meeting on Tuesday.

Then, on Wednesday, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the nation's leading scold on deficit and debt, holds an all-star conference in Washington. Former President Bill Clinton, current budget director Peter Orszag, the chairmen of the new debt commission—Republican Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles—and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan all will be on hand. If earnest talk is enough to solve the debt problem, it will be fixed by 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Alas, earnest talk isn't enough. Political will and a modicum of bipartisanship are required. Most political will in Washington is devoted right now to prevailing in this fall's midterm election, and bipartisanship is rare as an empty New York cab in the rain.

So in practical terms the most one can hope for in coming months is a modest start. The presidential commission delivers its report to the White House in December, provided its Democratic and Republican members can agree on something. That's after the midterms, and nobody's required to do anything with the report even then.

But first steps can be valuable. We're dealing here with an addiction: The American government and—yes, let's be honest—the American people are addicted to deficit spending. Nearly everybody in America expects more from government than taxpayers will pay for.

And the first step in dealing with an addiction is to acknowledge your problem. So maybe both parties could start by being honest about what they've done recently to make this problem worse.

Republicans could acknowledge that they sinned in recent years by launching a giant new entitlement program during the George W. Bush administration—a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare recipients—without really paying for it. They prosecuted two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, without asking for either tax payments or spending discipline to pay for them.

For their part, Democrats should acknowledge that they have sinned in two big ways during the Obama administration. First, they set out to trim billions of dollars in prospective Medicare spending but used the money to expand health care for others rather than to extend the life of Medicare itself. And second, the president's pledge not to raise taxes on any family making under $250,000 is a straitjacket that creates the impression you can solve a problem of this magnitude while leaving about 95% of taxpayers off the hook.

If we want, we can also give the two parties credit where credit is due. President Bush at least tried to deal with Social Security's rising cost, at great political peril. The Obama administration insisted that its big health plan didn't add—at least directly—to the deficit; it also set up the debt commission by executive order when Congress balked.

With that as the backdrop, it would amount to progress if both parties, via the debt commission, agreed that two big steps can't be avoided:

• The tax system has to be changed. The U.S. doesn't have a system that can fund the government the country wants. The Tax Foundation says the levies paid by the top 1% of taxpayers now exceed those paid by all of those in the bottom 95%. And the Tax Policy Institute says almost half of all filers will pay no 2009 income taxes at all, because of various exclusions and credits—up, by some estimates, from a quarter in 1990.

This may be great for those who like soak-the-rich rhetoric, but it's no way to finance a country. More than that, it's a bit of a hoax on middle- and lower-middle-class Americans. They certainly pay payroll taxes, and the more they are excused from the income tax-system, the more likely it is that they will be hit with sneakier and less-progressive taxes. Tax reform—a flatter tax system, a value-added tax, something—is needed.

• Americans have to change how they think about retirement. When the economy recovers and costs for recession-related bailouts, stimulus spending and unemployment benefits are resolved, we'll still be left unable to really afford our Social Security, Medicare and long-term-care commitments. When the easier stuff is done, this is the hard reality, requiring a new and nonpoliticized national discussion.

Write to Gerald F. Seib at

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What I Read Today - Tuesday April 27, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

For The Sake Of His Name

READ: 1 Samuel 12:19-25

I will never leave you nor forsake you. —Hebrews 13:5The ancient Israelites gathered at Gilgal for the coronation of Saul as their first king (1 Sam. 11:15). The Lord was not pleased that His people had asked for a king, yet on this occasion Samuel uttered these words: “The Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people” (12:22).

We too are God’s “own special people” if we have trusted Jesus as Savior (1 Peter 2:9). He will not forsake us even though He knows we will fail Him. He knows what we are like—sinful, weak, and frail. He knew it before He called us and drew us to Himself. The certainty of our salvation rests not in ourselves but on the character of God (1 John 5:20). He will keep us to the end.

This does not give us an excuse to continue in sin. Paul said, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:2). Our choices do reflect on God’s reputation, our witness in the world, and our fellowship with Him. But God will never reject His people, those who are truly His. The Lord cannot and will not forsake His own (Heb. 13:5).

We can rest assured. What God saves, He keeps—for the sake of His great name! — David H. Roper

“Able to keep!” how sure is the word!
He is my Keeper, Savior, and Lord.
“Never shall perish,” one of His sheep,
Glory to God! He is able to keep. —Anon.

Lives rooted in God’s unchanging grace can never be uprooted.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What I Read Today - Monday April 26, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

A Universe Of Humanity

READ: Acts 28:16-31

Paul . . . received all who came to him. —Acts 28:30During the 1920s and 30s, photographer August Sander set out to portray a cross-section of German society. Through his lens he saw factory workers and financiers, actresses and housewives, Nazis and Jews. Even though his published collection contains only people in and around his hometown of Cologne, he captured what David Propson, writing in The Wall Street Journal, called “a universe of humanity in his restricted sphere.”

That phrase strikes me as an apt description of our lives and the people we meet day by day. Wherever we live, we cross paths with people from many backgrounds and beliefs.

For years, the apostle Paul traveled and preached before being imprisoned in Rome. There he continued to touch people with the gospel because he cared about them and wanted them to know Jesus Christ. The book of Acts concludes with Paul confined in Rome, living under guard in a rented house, where he “received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 28:30-31).

Instead of focusing on his restrictions, Paul saw opportunities. That’s the key for us as well. There is a universe of humanity within our reach today. — David C. McCasland

You are called with a holy calling
The light of the world to be,
To lift up the lamp of the gospel
That others the light may see. —Anon.

The gospel is a priceless gift that’s offered free to everyone.

What I Read Today - Monday April 26, 2010

From: The New York Times - Sunday April 25, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

Tea Party With a Difference

I’ve been trying to understand the Tea Party Movement. Sounds like a lot of angry people who want to get the government out of their lives and cut both taxes and the deficit. Nothing wrong with that — although one does wonder where they were in the Bush years. Never mind. I’m sure like all such protest movements the Tea Partiers will get their 10 to 20 percent of the vote. But should the Tea Partiers actually aspire to break out of that range, attract lots of young people and become something more than just entertainment for Fox News, I have a suggestion:

Become the Green Tea Party.

I’d be happy to design the T-shirt logo and write the manifesto. The logo is easy. It would show young Americans throwing barrels of oil imported from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia into Boston Harbor.

The manifesto is easy, too: “We, the Green Tea Party, believe that the most effective way to advance America’s national security and economic vitality would be to impose a $10 “Patriot Fee” on every barrel of imported oil, with all proceeds going to pay down our national debt.”

America now imports about 11 million barrels a day, about 57 percent of our total oil needs — mostly from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. As T. Boone Pickens told Congress the other day: “In January 2010, our trade deficit for the month was $37.3 billion — $27.5 billion of that was money we sent overseas to import oil.”

If we put a Patriot Fee on all of those imported barrels, we would use less, cease enriching bad regimes, strengthen our own dollar, make the air cleaner and the climate more stable, foster the exploitation of domestic and renewable energy sources, promote electric vehicles, help bring down the global price of oil (which hurts Iran and helps poor Africa), and we could use the revenue to shrink the deficit. It’s win, win, win, win, win, win ...

Indeed, the Green Tea Party could say, “We’ve got our own health care plan — a plan to make America healthy by simultaneously promoting energy security, deficit security and environmental security.”

“Think about it,” said Carl Pope, the chairman of the Sierra Club. “Green tea is full of antioxidants,” which some believe help reduce cancer and heart disease. “It’s really good for your health.” And a Green Tea Party, he added, could be good for the country’s health “by harnessing all of its energy and unconventional politics” to end our addiction to oil.

Yes, I know, dream on. The Tea Party is heading to the hard libertarian right and would never support an energy bill that puts a fee on carbon.

So if there is going to be a Green Tea Party, it will have to emerge from a different place — the radical center, a center committed to a radical departure from business as usual. Acting on that impulse, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joseph Lieberman had forged a bipartisan climate/energy/jobs bill that deserves an energetic centrist Green Tea Party to support it.

This critical piece of energy legislation was supposed to be unveiled by the three senators on Monday, but it was suddenly postponed late Saturday because of Senator Graham’s fury that the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, and the White House were planning to take up a highly controversial immigration measure before the energy bill.

If this is what the Obama administration is doing — to score a few cheap political points with Hispanics — it is a travesty. The bipartisan energy bill is ready to go. It is far from perfect. Indeed, it is a shame the fossil fuel industries still have such a stranglehold on Congress. But it’s the best we’re going to get, and we have got to get started. However, without a centrist Green Tea Party movement — one that brings the same passion to cutting emissions that the Tea Party brings to cutting deficits — even this effort will never pass.

This bill introduces a carbon price and other means to control the CO2 emissions of various sectors of the economy, without an economywide cap-and-trade system. The bill’s goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. But to garner broad support, it will also expand domestic production of oil, natural gas and nuclear power and offer tax breaks to manufacturers who make their facilities more energy efficient and create green jobs.

“No bill that could pass Congress right now or in the immediate future would be sufficient to produce enough clean power to mitigate climate change at the rate we need,” remarked the physicist Joe Romm, who writes the blog and is author of an insightful new book on this subject, “Straight Up.” “We simply aren’t sufficiently desperate to do what is needed, which is nonstop deployment of a staggering amount of low-carbon energy, including energy efficiency, for the rest of the century.”

The reason a Green Tea Party should coalesce to support this bill, argued Romm, is because it will set a price on carbon pollution and help foster commercialization of clean technologies — like hybrids, batteries and solar — at sufficient scale to enable the U.S. to rapidly ramp up when the seriousness of climate change becomes inescapably obvious to all.

In short, the bill is a step in the right direction toward reducing greenhouse gases and expanding our base of clean power technologies so we can compete with China in this newest global industry. It ain’t perfect, but it ain’t beanbag. And if we don’t start now, every solar panel, electric car and wind turbine we’ll have to buy when climate change really hits will come with instructions in Chinese. Go Green Tea Party.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What I Read Today - Friday April 23, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Longing For Spring

READ: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

Nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives. —Ecclesiastes 3:12It’s been a long, cold winter, and I am eager for warm weather. I’m tired of seeing bare trees and lifeless brown leaves covering the ground. I long to see wildflowers poke through the dead leaves and to watch the woods turn green once more.

Yet even as I anticipate my favorite season, I hear my mother’s voice saying, “Don’t wish your life away.”

If you’re like me, you sometimes hear yourself saying, “When such and such happens, then I will . . . or, If only so and so would do this, then I would do that . . . or, I would be happy if . . . or, I will be satisfied when . . .”

In longing for some future good, we forget that every day—regardless of the weather or our circumstances—is a gift from God to be used for His glory.

According to author Ron Ash, “We are where we need to be and learning what we need to learn. Stay the course because the things we experience today will lead us to where He needs us to be tomorrow.”

In every season, there is a reason to rejoice and an opportunity to do good (Eccl. 3:12). The challenge for each of us every day is to find something to rejoice about and some good to do—and then to do both. — Julie Ackerman Link

Just as the winter turns to spring,
Our lives have changing seasons too;
So when a gloomy forecast comes,
Remember—God has plans for you. —Sper

Every season brings a reason to rejoice.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I Read Today - Thursday April 22, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

The Rescue Business

READ: Romans 3:10-22

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. —Luke 15:10Living in Colorado, I climb mountains. On summer weekends, I see casual hikers who have no idea what they are doing. In sandals, shorts, and T-shirts, carrying a single container of water, they start up a trail at mid-morning. They have no map, no compass, and no rain gear.

My neighbor, who volunteers for Alpine Rescue, has told me stories of tourists rescued from certain death after wandering off a trail. Regardless of the circumstances, Alpine Rescue always responds to a call for help. Not once have they lectured a hapless tourist, “Well, since you ignored the rules of the wilderness, you’ll just have to bear the consequences.” Their mission is rescue. They pursue every needy hiker, no matter how undeserving.

The central message of the Bible is one of rescue. Paul points out that none of us “deserve” God’s mercy and none of us can save ourselves. Like a stranded hiker, all we can do is call for help. Quoting the psalmist, he says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:10-11; Ps. 14:1-3).

The good news of the gospel is that in spite of our state, God seeks after us and responds to every plea for help. You might say that God is in the rescue business. — Philip Yancey

Thinking It Over

What keeps you from calling out to God for spiritual rescue? Your pride? Do you fear that you are too bad for God’s grace? What does Romans 3:23-26 say?

The heart of repentance is turning from sin and toward God.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I Read Today - Wednesday April 21, 2010

From: The New York Times - April 21, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

Everybody Loves a Winner

I’ve been thinking about President Obama’s foreign policy lately, but first, a golf tip: I went to Dave Pelz’s famous short-game school this winter to improve my putting and chipping, and a funny thing happened — my long game got better. It brings to mind something that happened to Obama. The president got health care reform passed, and it may turn out to be his single most important foreign policy achievement.

In politics and diplomacy, success breeds authority and authority breeds more success. No one ever said it better than Osama bin Laden: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.”

Have no illusions, the rest of the world was watching our health care debate very closely, waiting to see who would be the strong horse — Obama or his Democratic and Republican health care opponents? At every turn in the debate, America’s enemies and rivals were gauging what the outcome might mean for their own ability to push around an untested U.S. president.

It remains to be seen whether, in the long run, America will be made physically healthier by the bill’s passage. But, in the short run, Obama definitely was made geopolitically healthier.

“When others see the president as a winner or as somebody who has real authority in his own house, it absolutely makes a difference,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said to me in an interview. “All you have to do is look at how many minority or weak coalition governments there are around the world who can’t deliver something big in their own country, but basically just teeter on the edge, because they can’t put together the votes to do anything consequential, because of the divided electorate.” President Obama has had “a divided electorate and was still able to muscle the thing through.”

When President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia spoke by phone with Obama the morning after the health care vote — to finalize the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty — he began by saying that before discussing nukes, “I want to congratulate you, Mr. President, on the health care vote,” an administration official said. That was not just rank flattery. According to an American negotiator, all throughout the arms talks, which paralleled the health care debate, the Russians kept asking: “Can you actually get this ratified by the Senate” if an arms deal is cut? Winning passage of the health care bill demonstrated to the Russians that Obama could get something hard passed.

Our enemies surely noticed, too. You don’t have to be Machiavelli to believe that the leaders of Iran and Venezuela shared the barely disguised Republican hope that health care would fail and, therefore, Obama’s whole political agenda would be stalled and, therefore, his presidency enfeebled. He would then be a lame duck for the next three years and America would be a lame power.

Given the time and energy and political capital that was spent on health care, “failure would have been unilateral disarmament,” added Gates. “Failure would have badly weakened the president in terms of dealing with others — his ability to do various kinds of national security things. ... You know, people made fun of Madeleine [Albright] for saying it, but I think she was dead on: most of the rest of the world does see us as the ‘indispensable nation.’ ”

Indeed, our allies often complain about a world of too much American power, but they are not stupid. They know that a world of too little American power is one they would enjoy even less. They know that a weak America is like a world with no health insurance — and a lot of pre-existing conditions.

Gen. James Jones, the president’s national security adviser, told me that he recently met with a key NATO counterpart, who concluded a breakfast by congratulating him on the health care vote and pronouncing: “America is back.”

But is it? While Obama’s health care victory prevented a power outage for him, it does not guarantee a power surge. Ultimately, what makes a strong president is a strong country — a country whose underlying economic prowess, balance sheet and innovative capacity enable it to generate and project both military power and what the political scientist Joe Nye calls “soft power” — being an example that others want to emulate.

What matters most now is how Obama uses the political capital that health care’s passage has earned him. I continue to believe that the most important foreign policy issue America faces today is its ability to successfully engage in nation building — nation building at home.

Obama’s success in passing health care and the bounce it has put in his step will be nothing but a sugar high if we can’t get our deficit under control, inspire a new generation of start-ups, upgrade our railroads and Internet and continue to attract the world’s smartest and most energetic immigrants.

An effective, self-confident president with a weak country is nothing more than a bluffer. An effective, self-confident president, though, at least increases the odds of us building a stronger country.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What I Read Today - Tuesday April 20, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Poor Examples

READ: Matthew 23:1-13

Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. —Matthew 23:3A woman in Oregon was caught driving 103 miles per hour with her 10-year-old grandson in the car. When she was stopped by the police, she told them that she was only trying to teach him never to drive that fast. I suppose she wanted him to do as she said, not as she did.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law seemed to have a similar problem. Jesus had a scathing assessment of them: They were spiritually bankrupt. He held these two groups directly responsible for this sad spiritual condition. As the successors of the lawgiver Moses, they were responsible for expounding the law so that people would walk in God’s ways and have a genuine and vibrant relationship with the Lord (Deut. 10:12-13). But their personal interpretation and application of the law became more important than God’s law. They did not practice what they preached. What they did observe was done not to bring glory to God but to honor themselves. Jesus exposed who they were—image managers, posers, and hypocrites.

The test of the effectiveness of following Jesus is not just in what we say but in how we live. Are we telling others God’s Word and doing what it says? Let’s model by words and actions what it means to follow Him. — Marvin Williams

Christians, remember you bear His dear name,
Your lives are for others to view;
You are living examples—men praise you or blame,
And measure your Savior by you. —Anon.

A good example preaches a powerful sermon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What I Read Today - Monday April 19, 2010

From: The New York Times - Sunday April 18, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

Just Doing It


St. Louis

You’ve heard that saying: As General Motors goes, so goes America. Thank goodness that is no longer true. I mean, I wish the new G.M. well, but our economic future is no longer tied to its fate. No, my new motto is: As EndoStim goes, so goes America.

EndoStim is a little start-up I was introduced to on a recent visit to St. Louis. The company is developing a proprietary implantable medical device to treat acid reflux. I have no idea if the product will succeed in the marketplace. It’s still in testing. What really interests me about EndoStim is how the company was formed and is being run today. It is the epitome of the new kind of start-ups we need to propel our economy: a mix of new immigrants, using old money to innovate in a flat world.

Here’s the short version: EndoStim was inspired by Cuban and Indian immigrants to America and funded by St. Louis venture capitalists. Its prototype is being manufactured in Uruguay, with the help of Israeli engineers and constant feedback from doctors in India and Chile. Oh, and the C.E.O. is a South African, who was educated at the Sorbonne, but lives in Missouri and California, and his head office is basically a BlackBerry. While rescuing General Motors will save some old jobs, only by spawning thousands of EndoStims — thousands — will we generate the kind of good new jobs to keep raising our standard of living.

It all started by accident. Dr. Raul Perez, an obstetrician and gynecologist, immigrated to America from Cuba in the 1960s and came to St. Louis, where he met Dan Burkhardt, a local investor. “Raul was unique among doctors,” recalled Burkhardt. “He had a real nose for medical investing and what could be profitable in a clinical environment. So we started investing together.” In 1997, they created a medical venture fund, Oakwood Medical Investors.

Perez had a problem with acid reflux and went for treatment to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where he was helped by an Indian-American doctor, V. K. Sharma. During his follow-ups, Dr. Sharma mentioned those four words every venture capitalist loves to hear: “I have an idea” — use a pacemaker-like device to control the muscle that would choke off acid reflux.

Burkhardt, Perez and Sharma were joined by Bevil Hogg — a South African and one of the early founders of the Trek Bicycle Corporation — who became C.E.O. Together, they raised the initial funds to develop the technology. Two Israelis, Shai Pollicker, a medical engineer, and Dr. Edy Soffer, a prominent gastroenterologist, joined a Seattle-based engineering team (led by an Australian) to help with the design. A company in Uruguay specializing in pacemakers is building the prototype.

This kind of very lean start-up, where the principals are rarely in the same office at the same time, and which takes advantage of all the tools of the flat world — teleconferencing, e-mail, the Internet and faxes — to access the best expertise and low-cost, high-quality manufacturing anywhere, is the latest in venture investing. You’ve heard of cloud computing. I call this “cloud manufacturing.”

“In the aftermath of the banking crisis, access to public markets is off-limits to start-ups,” explained Hogg, so start-ups now have to be “much leaner, much more capital-efficient, much smarter in accessing worldwide talent and quicker to market in order to do more with less.” He added, “$20 million is the new $100 million.”

And technology is making this all possible. Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine pointed this out in a smart essay in February’s issue, entitled “Atoms Are the New Bits.”

“ ‘Three guys with laptops’ used to describe a Web startup,’ ” he wrote. “Now it describes a hardware company, too” thanks to “the availability of common platforms, easy-to-use tools, Web-based collaboration, and Internet distribution. ... Global supply chains have become scale-free, able to serve the small as well as the large, the garage inventor and Sony.”

The clinical trials for EndoStim are being conducted in India and Chile. “What they have in common,” said Hogg, “is superb surgeons with high levels of skill, enthusiasm for the project, an interest in research and reasonable costs.” This is also part of the new model, said Hogg: Invented and financed in the West, further developed and tested in the East and rolled out in both markets.

What’s in it for America? As long as the venture money, core innovation and the key management comes from here — a lot. If EndoStim works out, its tiny headquarters in St. Louis will grow much larger. St. Louis is where the best jobs — top management, marketing, design — and shareholders will be, said Hogg. Where innovation is sparked and capital is raised still matters.

You don’t hear much about companies like this. Our national debate today is dominated by the ignorant ramblings of Sarah Palin, talk-show lunatics, tea parties and politics as sports — not ESPN but PSPN. Fortunately, though, we still have risk-takers who are not paying attention to any of this nonsense, who know what world they’re living in — and are just doing it. Thank goodness!

Friday, April 16, 2010

What I Read Today - Friday April 16, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

The Treasure And The Pots

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. —2 Corinthians 4:7It has been said that the Roman Empire ran on olive oil. It was used in cooking, bathing, medicine, ceremonies, lamps, and cosmetics. For decades, olive oil from southern Spain was shipped to Rome in large clay jugs called amphorae. Those jugs, not worth sending back, were discarded in a growing heap of broken shards known as Monte Testaccio. The fragments of an estimated 25 million amphorae created that man-made hill, which stands today on the bank of the Tiber River in Rome. In the ancient world, the value of those pots was not their beauty but their contents.

Because of this, the first-century followers of Christ would have clearly understood Paul’s illustration of the life of Jesus in every believer. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

Our bodies, like amphorae, are temporary, fragile, and expendable. In our modern world that highly values outward beauty, we would be wise to remember that our greatest treasure is the life of Jesus within us. By God’s grace and power, may we live so that others can see Christ in us.

We are just the clay pots. Jesus is the true treasure within us. — David C. McCasland

Although my outward shell decays,
I’m inwardly renewed each day,
Because the life and power of Christ
Indwells this fragile jar of clay. —Sper

Christ is seen most clearly when we remain in the background.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What I Read Today - Thursday April 15, 2010

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me".

Erma Bombeck
American, Journalist Quotes
more famous quotes

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What I Read Today - Tuesday April 13, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

He Never Sleeps

READ: Psalm 121

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. —Psalm 121:3Giraffes have the shortest sleep cycle of any mammal. They sleep only between 10 minutes and 2 hours in a 24-hour period and average just 1.9 hours of sleep per day. Seemingly always awake, the giraffe has nothing much in common with most humans in that regard. If we had so little sleep, it would probably mean we had some form of insomnia. But for giraffes, it’s not a sleep disorder that keeps them awake. It’s just the way God has made them.

If you think 1.9 hours a day is not much sleep, consider this fact about the Creator of our tall animal friends: Our heavenly Father never sleeps.

Describing God’s continual concern for us, the psalmist declares, “He who keeps you will not slumber” (Ps. 121:3). In the context of this psalm, the writer makes it clear that God’s sleepless vigilance is for our good. Verse 5 says, “The Lord is your keeper.” God keeps us, protects us, and cares for us—with no need for refreshing. Our Protector is constantly seeking our good. As one song puts it: “He never sleeps, He never slumbers. He watches me both night and day.”

Are you facing difficulties? Turn to the One who never sleeps. Each second of each day, let Him “preserve your going out and your coming in” (v.8). — Bill Crowder

The Rock of Ages stands secure,
He always will be there;
He watches over all His own
To calm their anxious care. —Keith

The One who upholds the universe will never let you down.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What I Read Today - Saturday April 10, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Gloating At The Enemy

READ: Obadiah 1:1-14

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls. —Proverbs 24:17Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament. Yet hidden away in its brief record is a vital question that affects us all: How should we respond when we see an enemy experience misfortune?

The prophet Obadiah ministered during the time that the city of Jerusalem was under fierce attack by the armies of Babylon. The neighbors of Jerusalem, the Edomites, were actually cheering on the enemy armies to destroy and kill (Ps. 137:7-9). Ironically, these hurtful jeers were spoken by blood relatives of the Jews. They were descendants of Jacob, and the Edomites were descendants of Esau.

Obadiah condemned the Edomites for gloating: “You should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction” (Obad. 1:12).

If someone has repeatedly been hurtful to us, it is easy to give in to vindictive pleasure when they experience misfortune. But Scripture admonishes us, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles” (Prov. 24:17). Instead, we are to maintain an attitude of compassion and forgiveness, and trust God to bring justice in His time. — Dennis Fisher

For Further Thought How to handle people-problems (Romans 12): Be patient (v.12), bless persecutors (v.14), be humble (v.16), don’t take revenge (v.19), defeat evil with good (v.21).

Love for God can be measured by the love we show for our worst enemy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What I Read Today - Friday April 9, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

The Fear Of Falling

READ: Psalm 46

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. —Deuteronomy 33:27Have you ever dreamed that you were falling out of bed or from some great height, and you awoke in fright? I remember that as a boy I would often be awakened by such a terrifying feeling.

I heard about a man who had this sensation as soon as he slipped into sleep. He was so rudely awakened by his sense of falling that he was afraid to go back to sleep. He feared he would die, and he imagined he was falling into a bottomless pit.

Then one evening as he was strolling through a cemetery, he saw this phrase engraved on a tombstone:

Underneath Are The Everlasting Arms

These words reminded him that when believers die, they are safely carried by the Lord to their home in heaven. He recalled the assurance of the psalmist, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me” (Ps. 23:4).

The once-fearful man realized that in life and in death— and even in sleep—the “everlasting arms” of our loving Lord are there to catch and hold us. That night he was able to sing what he was taught in childhood, “Teach me to live that I may dread the grave as little as my bed!” At last he could fall asleep without fear. — M.R. De Haan

I can trust my loving Savior
When I fear the world’s alarms;
There’s no safer place of resting
Than His everlasting arms. —Hess

You can trust God in the dark as well as in the light.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What I Read Today - Thursday April 8, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Clean Up The Environment

READ: Ephesians 4:17-32

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification. —Ephesians 4:29What a frustrating problem pollution is! Everybody suffers with it, yet everybody contributes to it.

Pollution takes many forms, but one type is often overlooked. Charles Swindoll calls it “verbal pollution,” passed around by grumblers, complainers, and criticizers. “The poison of pessimism,” Swindoll writes, “creates an atmosphere of wholesale negativism where nothing but the bad side of everything is emphasized.”

A group of Christian friends became concerned about this form of pollution and their personal part in it. So they made a pact to avoid critical words for a whole week. They were surprised to find how little they spoke! As they continued the experiment, they actually had to relearn conversation skills.

In Ephesians 4, Paul called believers to that sort of decisive action. He said we are to “put off” the old self and its conduct that grieves the Holy Spirit (vv.22,30) and “put on” the new self that builds up others (v.24). As we rely on the help of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), we can make those changes in our conduct, our thinking, and our speaking.

If we want to be rid of verbal pollution, we must choose to change and ask for God’s help. It’s a great way to start cleaning up our spiritual environment. — Joanie Yoder

What! Never speak one evil word,
Or rash, or idle, or unkind!
O how shall I, most gracious Lord,
This mark of true perfection find? —Wesley

Help stamp out pollution—clean up your speech!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

more What I Read Today - Wednesday April 7, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Our Only Hope

READ: 1 Thess. 4:13-18

We should live . . . godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope. —Titus 2:12-13An anonymous author wrote, “When I was first converted, and for some years afterward, the second coming of Christ was a thrilling idea, a blessed hope, a glorious promise, the theme of some of the most inspiring songs of the church.

“Later it became an accepted tenet of faith, a cardinal doctrine, a kind of invisible trademark of my ministry. It was the favorite arena of my theological discussions, in the pulpit and in print. Now suddenly the second coming means something more to me. Paul called it ‘the blessed hope.’ But today it appears as the only hope of the world.”

From the human standpoint, there is no solution for the struggles of the world. Leaders are naturally frustrated in trying to deal with the increasing problems in society. The only complete and permanent solution is found in the return of Christ to earth. When He comes, He will set up His kingdom. He will rule the nations in righteousness, and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).

As we await our Savior’s return, let us keep on praying, working, and watching, while “looking for the blessed hope”—our only hope for this world. — Richard De Haan

And for the hope of His return,
Dear Lord, Your name we praise;
With longing hearts we watch and wait
For that great day of days! —Sherwood

As this world gets darker, the promised return of God’s Son gets brighter.

What I Read Today - Wednesday April 7, 2010

From: The New York Times - Wed April 7, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

Who’s Up for Building Bridges?


I’m no expert on American politics, but I do know something about holes. And watching the way the Republican Party is reacting to the passage of health care, it seems to me the G.O.P. is violating the first rule of holes: “When you’re in one, stop digging.”

Yes, I know, the polls show that the G.O.P. is not being hurt by its “just-say-no” strategy. But there is no groundswell moving its way either. Republicans will have to come up with more than “just-say-no-to-everything-except-lower-taxes-and-more-drilling” to field a credible 2012 presidential candidate. Here’s why:

If you step back far enough, you could argue that George W. Bush brought the Reagan Revolution — with its emphasis on tax cuts, deregulation and government-as-the-problem-not-the-solution — to its logical conclusion and then some. But with a soaring deficit and a banking crisis caused by an excess of deregulation, Reaganism has met its limit. Meanwhile, President Obama’s passage of health care reform has brought the New Deal-Franklin Roosevelt Revolution to its logical conclusion. There will be no more major entitlements for Americans. The bond market will make sure of that.

In other words, both major parties have now completed their primary 20th- century missions, first laid down by their iconic standard-bearers. The real question is which party is going to build America’s bridge to the 21st century — one that will strengthen our ability to compete in the global economy, while practicing much more fiscal discipline.

Obama is at least trying to push an agenda for pursuing the American dream in these new circumstances. I don’t agree with every policy — I’d like to see a lot more emphasis on innovation and small business start-ups — but he’s clearly trying. I do not get that impression from the Republicans, and especially those being led around by the Tea Partiers.

Obama-ism posits that we are now in a hypercompetitive global economy, where the country that thrives will be the one that brings together the most educated, creative and diverse work force with the best infrastructure — bandwidth, ports, airports, high-speed rail and good governance. And we’re in a world with a warming climate that is growing from 6.8 billion people to 9.2 billion by 2050, so demand for clean energy is going to go through the roof. Therefore, E.T. — energy technology — is going to be the next great global industry.

So, government matters. It needs to be incentivizing businesses to build their next factory in this country — at a time when every other nation is throwing incentives their way; it needs to be recruiting highly skilled immigrants; it needs to be setting the highest national education standards and funding basic research; it needs to be laying down the right energy regulations that will stimulate more clean-tech companies.

And — something neither Democrats nor Republicans have stepped up to yet — we will need to pay for all this by simultaneously raising some taxes, cutting others and by taking away some services to pay for needed new investments in infrastructure and education. We can’t get away anymore with a G.O.P. that wants to cut taxes but never specifies which services it plans to give up, or a Democratic party that wants to add services by taxing only the rich.

“Health care was the final act of the New Deal,” argues Edward Goldberg, who teaches global business at Baruch College and is writing a book on globalization and U.S. politics. “The 21st-century will require a mix of cutting, investing and innovation and entrepreneurialism beyond anything we have dreamed of.” To simply say that government is not the answer, he adds, “when we are essentially fighting four wars — Iraq, Afghanistan, the Great Recession and the retooling of the American economy” — is ludicrous. Smart government needs to be the leader or silent partner in all of these projects.

One reason the G.O.P. has failed to spawn an agenda for the 21st century is that globalization has fragmented the party. Its Wall Street/multinational corporate wing understands we need immigration, free trade, clean-tech and government support for better infrastructure and the scientific research that is the wellspring of innovation. The Tea Party wing opposes virtually all those things. All that unites the two wings is their common desire for lower taxes — period.

Globalization has also weakened the Democrats’ blue-collar/union base, but the Democrats have absorbed a new constituency created by globalization — what Goldberg calls the “ ‘Newocracy’ — which combines the multinational corporate manager, the technology entrepreneur and engineer, and the aspirational members of the meritocracy.”

These “Newocrats” previously would have leaned Republican, but now many lean toward Obama. They don’t agree with everything he’s proposing, but they sense that he is working on that bridge to the 21st century, while today’s G.O.P./Tea Party is just not in the game. Today, we have no real opposition party with its own pathway to the 21st century. We just have opposition.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What I Read Today - Tuesday April 6, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

For This I Have Jesus

READ: Psalm 66:1-15

I will never leave you nor forsake you. —Hebrews 13:5In an evangelistic meeting in Ireland, the speaker was explaining what it means to abide in Christ and to trust Him completely in every trial. Concluding his message, he repeated several times, “It means that in every circumstance you can keep on saying, ‘For this I have Jesus.’ ”

The meeting was then opened for testimonies. One young woman said, “Just a few minutes ago I was handed this telegram. It reads, ‘Mother is very ill; take train home immediately.’ When I saw those words, I knew that tonight’s message was meant just for me. My heart looked up and said, ‘For this I have Jesus.’ Instantly a peace and strength flooded my soul.”

Three or four weeks later the evangelist received a letter from this woman. It read, “Thank you again for the message you gave that day. Life has become an uninterrupted psalm of victory, for I have come to realize that no matter what life brings, for this I have Jesus.”

That believer in Christ had found in her Savior the One who would be with her “through fire and through water,” and who would bring her “out to rich fulfillment” (Ps. 66:12).

If you are enduring a great trial of affliction, remember—for this you have Jesus! — Henry G. Bosch

I’ve found a refuge from life’s care in Jesus,
I am hiding in His love divine;
He fully understands my soul’s deep longing,
And He whispers softly, “Thou art Mine.” —Christiansen

If every circumstance finds us abiding in Christ, we will find Christ abiding with us in every circumstance.

Monday, April 5, 2010

more What I Read Today - Monday April 5, 2010

The Other Individual Mandate: Tax Prep

by Howard Gleckman on Tue 30 Mar 2010 09:00 AM EDT

Where, as they say, is the outrage? For all of the indignation over the new health insurance mandate, I am amazed at the serenity at which we accept another (near) mandate: That we must pay somebody to help us do our taxes.

The government does not specifically require us to hire paid tax preparers or buy commercial software, of course. But it has, in effect, left millions of taxpayers with no real choice. Congress has created a tax code that makes it nearly impossible for many Americans to file returns without paid help. And even those who could (most non-itemizers for instance) are so intimidated by the whole process that they pay people to help them anyway.

Thus, in 2005, 89 percent of individual taxpayers either used commercial software or hired paid preparers to help them do their civic duty. Just 11 percent, according to my colleague Eric Toder, filed returns on their own.

Yet, we just shrug and pay our $59 for commercial software or pony up between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars to paid preparers. No constitutional challenges. No state attorneys general at the barricades. Many of us, in fact, are likely to spend more money hiring a human being to do our taxes than we’ll pay in penalties for refusing to buy insurance ($95 in 2014 increasing to $695 by 2016). Indeed, I’m willing to bet that more of us will pay somebody to prepare a tax return than will purchase medical coverage, despite the insurance mandate.

What’s worse, many of those we trust to do our returns are incompetent or worse. Professor Larry Lokken, a Tax Policy Center affiliated scholar, wrote a couple of nice blog posts last year on this troublesome business. At least the private companies from which we’ll have to purchase insurance are minimally competent.

When you buy insurance, you receive an obvious benefit. What do you get for the dough you put out for tax prep? New IRS data suggest that doing taxes on your own has become so difficult and time-consuming that paying someone actually drives down your compliance costs. A strong case can be made that it is in fact not possible for many of us to file a tax return without paying for help. Don’t believe me? Try to manage the Alternative Minimum Tax on your own.

On April 8, Elaine Maag and Bill Gale of TPC, John Guyton of the Internal Revenue Service, former H&R Block executive Robert Weinberger, and I will be discussing some of the implications of paid tax prep. You’re welcome to register here to join us in person or on the Web (and unlike commercial tax software, it’s free).

There are plenty of ways to fix filing hell. Here are two possible solutions: Simplify the tax code by dumping complex special interest tax breaks (which would also have the benefit of lowering rates); Or, the IRS could make filing a lot easier by automatically filling in the information you get on your 1099s and W2s on an electronic 1040. That could at least help people with very simple returns. I know, Intuit will do everything it can to kill this idea and conservatives will rail about Big Brother—except the government already has all this information.

In the meantime, where is the Tea Party? Where are the whack-a-doodle radio and TV talkers? Where is the mavericky former governor of Alaska? Where is the outcry for a simpler tax system? Where is the outrage?

more What I Read Today - Monday April 5, 2010

The Power Of Praise

READ: Isaiah 61:1-3

The Lord has anointed Me . . . to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning. —Isaiah 61:1,3Praise is powerful! When Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne was troubled with a coldness of heart toward the things of the Lord, he would sing the praises of God until he felt revived in his spirit. Those in his household were often able to tell what hour he awoke because he began the day with a psalm of praise.

One day, while he was trying to prepare his heart for preaching, he wrote in his journal: “Is it the desire of my heart to be made altogether holy? . . . Lord, You know all things . . . . I’ve felt so much deadness and grief that I cannot grieve for this deadness. Toward evening I revived. Got a calm spirit through [singing psalms] and prayer.” McCheyne had been uplifted by praising God.

Perhaps you feel as if you are mired in what John Bunyan called the “slough of despond.” Lift a song of praise to the Lord. The psalmist said, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever” (89:1). When we do that, the praise will flow not only from our lips but also from our heart. The Lord delights to give “the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isa. 61:3).

Yes, “it is good to sing praises to our God”—at all times (Ps. 147:1). — Paul Van Gorder

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
To His feet your tribute bring;
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing. —Lyte

If you find yourself wearing a spirit of heaviness, try on a garment of praise.

What I Read Today - Monday April 5, 2010

From: The New York Times - Sunday April 4, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist

Start-Ups, Not Bailouts

Here’s my fun fact for the day, provided courtesy of Robert Litan, who directs research at the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in promoting innovation in America: “Between 1980 and 2005, virtually all net new jobs created in the U.S. were created by firms that were 5 years old or less,” said Litan. “That is about 40 million jobs. That means the established firms created no new net jobs during that period.”

Message: If we want to bring down unemployment in a sustainable way, neither rescuing General Motors nor funding more road construction will do it. We need to create a big bushel of new companies — fast. We’ve got to get more Americans working again for their own dignity — and to generate the rising incomes and wealth we need to pay for existing entitlements, as well as all the new investments we’ll need to make. It was just reported that Social Security this year will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes — a red line we were not expected to cross until at least 2016.

But you cannot say this often enough: Good-paying jobs don’t come from bailouts. They come from start-ups. And where do start-ups come from? They come from smart, creative, inspired risk-takers. How do we get more of those? There are only two ways: grow more by improving our schools or import more by recruiting talented immigrants. Surely, we need to do both, and we need to start by breaking the deadlock in Congress over immigration, so we can develop a much more strategic approach to attracting more of the world’s creative risk-takers. “Roughly 25 percent of successful high-tech start-ups over the last decade were founded or co-founded by immigrants,” said Litan. Think Sergey Brin, the Russian-born co-founder of Google, or Vinod Khosla, the India-born co-founder of Sun Microsystems.

That is no surprise. After all, Craig Mundie, the chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft, asks: What made America this incredible engine of prosperity? It was immigration, plus free markets. Because we were so open to immigration — and immigrants are by definition high-aspiring risk-takers, ready to leave their native lands in search of greater opportunities — “we as a country accumulated a disproportionate share of the world’s high-I.Q. risk-takers.”

In addition, because of our vibrant and meritocratic university system, the best foreign students who wanted the best education also came here, and many of them also stayed. In its heyday, our unique system also attracted a disproportionate share of high-I.Q. risk-takers to high government service. So when you put all this together, with our free markets and democracy, it made it easy here for creative, high-I.Q. risk-takers to raise capital for their ideas and commercialize them. In short, America had a very powerful, self-reinforcing engine for growing innovative new companies.

“When you get this happy coincidence of high-I.Q. risk-takers in government and a society that is biased toward high-I.Q. risk-takers, you get these above-average returns as a country,” argued Mundie. “What is common to Singapore, Israel and America? They were all built by high-I.Q. risk-takers and all thrived — but only in the U.S. did it happen at a large scale and with global diversity, so you had this really rich cross-section.”

What is worrisome about America today is the combination of cutbacks in higher education, restrictions on immigration and a toxic public space that dissuades talented people from going into government. Together, all of these trends are slowly eating away at our differentiated edge in attracting and enabling the world’s biggest mass of smart, creative risk-takers.

It isn’t drastic, but it is a decline — at a time when technology is allowing other countries to leverage and empower more of their own high-I.Q. risk-takers. If we don’t reverse this trend, over time, “we could lose our most important competitive edge — the only edge from which sustainable advantage accrues” — having the world’s biggest and most diverse pool of high-I.Q. risk-takers, said Mundie. “If we don’t have that competitive edge, our standard of living will eventually revert to the global mean.”

Right now we have thousands of foreign students in America and one million engineers, scientists and other highly skilled workers here on H-1B temporary visas, which require them to return home when the visas expire. That’s nuts. “We ought to have a ‘job-creators visa’ for people already here,” said Litan. “And once you’ve hired, say, 5 or 10 American nonfamily members, you should get a green card.”

We need health care, financial reform and education reform. But we also need to be thinking just as seriously and urgently about what are the ingredients that foster entrepreneurship — how new businesses are catalyzed, inspired and enabled and how we enlist more people to do that — so no one ever says about America what that officer says to Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”: “Son, your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

What I Read Today - Friday April 2, 2010

From: Our Daily Bread

Like A Lamb

READ: John 15:9-17

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. —Isaiah 53:7In 1602, Italian artist Caravaggio produced a painting called The Taking of Christ. This work, an early example of the Baroque style, is compelling. Created in dark hues, it allows the viewer to contemplate Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Two main elements of the scene depicted in the painting demand the observer’s attention. The first is Judas as he delivers the traitor’s kiss. Immediately, however, the viewer’s focus is drawn toward Jesus’ hands, which are passively clasped together to show that He offered no resistance to this injustice. Although He possessed the power to create a universe, Christ gave Himself up voluntarily to His captors and to the waiting cross.

Long before this scene took place, Jesus told His listeners that no one could take His life from Him—He would lay it down willingly (John 10:18). This heart of voluntary surrender was prophesied by Isaiah, who wrote, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

Christ’s lamblike self-sacrifice is a grand indicator of His powerful love. “Greater love has no one than this,” He explained, “than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Think of it. Jesus loved you that much! — Bill Crowder

Love sent the Savior to die in my stead.
Why should He love me so?
Meekly to Calvary’s cross He was led.
Why should He love me so? —Harkness

The nail-pierced hands of Jesus reveal the love-filled heart of God.