Archive for the 'Conservatism' Category

Pro-life proliferation in Texas

In January 1984, President Reagan declared the 3rd Sunday in January as “Sanctity of Human Life Day.” The 3rd Sunday falls closest to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973. 

Since Reagan’s first declaration, every pro-life president has made similar annual declarations. Each pro-choice president has not. In years without a presidential decree (e.g., 2015), pro-life groups still commemorate the occasion. Henceforth, January 18th was Pro-Life Sunday.

It’s a good time to review the landscape of a controversial topic. Some call abortion the great issue of our time, not unlike William Wilberforce’s quest to end the slave trade in England in the early 1800s or Abraham Lincoln’s acts to abolish slavery in America half a century later.

Others, of course, say the issue is an ultimate test of civil liberty: what one can or cannot do with his or her body.

Let’s start with a recap of the numbers. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of abortions. It receives $550 million per year from the United States government.

Guttmacher Institute, a government-funded “reproductive health” research group formerly associated with Planned Parenthood, reports that more than one million abortions occur in the United States each year.

If abortion were listed among the leading causes of death in the U.S., it would rank at the top above heart disease (595,000 deaths per year) and cancer (550,000 deaths per year).

According to Guttmacher and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:

> Roughly 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by age 45.

> About half (49%) of abortions happen in women and teens under the age of 25.

> Eighty-four per cent of women who have abortions are unmarried.

> African-American women make up 13% of the female population but 35% of the abortions.

The National Down Syndrome Society estimates 92% of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. I thought the world was missing some joy.

Pollsters are showing the country more or less divided on the issue. Technology is clearly driving increased opposition. Higher definition and three dimensional sonograms are showing parents just how lifelike fetuses can be despite their in utero status.

Policy decisions are also supporting pro-life efforts. Conservative legislatures like Texas’ have required parental permission, waiting periods, counseling sessions and sonogram viewing, all aimed at reducing the procedure’s prevalence.

In 2013, Texas passed a law requiring abortion clinics to be overseen by a doctor who can quickly get a patient admitted to a nearby hospital should something go wrong. Roughly half of the state’s forty abortion clinics lacked such an overseer and were forced to close.

The 2013 Texas law also required clinics to be outfitted like surgical centers. This part of the law is presently under further review by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans as it would likely cause another 12 Texas clinics to close.

Pro-life proponents advocate for reform in light of the cruelty of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted in 2013 of multiple counts of first degree murder. The travesty is recounted in vivid detail in the documentary “3801 Lancaster: American Tragedy” (www.3801Lancaster.com).

The Gosnell clinic was surely a worst case scenario. However, its gruesomeness makes me want not to even get close to the possibility again. The more safeguards we can put around the lives impacted by abortion, the better.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

Late Night with Ted Cruz

“People describe you as arrogant, aggressive and abrasive.”

That’s how Jay Leno began his Tonight Show interview recently with Texas’ junior U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

I looked back at how Leno opened his last late-night interview with President Obama on August 7 of this year.

“Happy birthday, Mr. President!”

The president described his party with long-time friends, the golf and basketball they played. Keeping the sports theme, Leno lofted softball questions on embassy safety and international travel warnings.

By contrast, Cruz had to dig himself out of a hole he hadn’t dug. “I’m just trying to do my job,” Cruz began. “To have a chance to stand up and fight to try to turn this country around, I feel incredibly privileged.”

In backhanded fashion, Leno complimented Cruz on having principle only to question whether it keeps him from compromising.

Cruz quoted Reagan: ‘What do you do if they offer you half a loaf? You take it and go back and ask for more.’”

Predicting Reagan would join the conversation, Leno was ready: “I don’t think Reagan could get in the Tea Party today.”

Cruz was ready, too. He offered the amateur political commentator a history of Reagan’s rise.

“Reagan challenged an incumbent Republican president in the 1976 primary. He led a grassroots revolution during a time of economic stagnation when the policies of Jimmy Carter weren’t working. We face similar circumstances today.”

Citing low Congressional approval, Leno suggested Americans are sick of political brinkmanship. Cruz didn’t disagree but called the real divide between entrenched politicians and the American people, not between Democrats and Republicans.

Leno: “You’re set in your ways. Are you not an entrenched politician, Senator?”

Cruz: “What I’m entrenched about is fighting for 26 million Texans who tell me what they care about is jobs and economic growth. What we have in Washington is career politicians who want more spending and taxes and regulation.”

Cruz continued, “The rich do great with big government. Big business does great with big government. The people who get hurt are the small businesses and workers.”

Leno claimed to “get that” and tried another hot box. “If your priority is jobs, why so much focus on social issues?”

Cruz didn’t take the bait. He said his focus has stayed on jobs and economic growth, particularly Obamacare, “the #1 job killer.”

When Cruz brought up people’s cancelled insurance policies, Leno tried to balance the scales: “You don’t want Obamacare but 25% of your state doesn’t have health insurance so Obamacare would help them, wouldn’t it?”

Cruz answered, cleverly, not pompously, “Not if it costs them their jobs.”

When Leno pushed on gay marriage, Cruz said marriage should be between a man and a woman but supported each state’s right to decide.

Throughout, Cruz calmly turned Leno’s biases into bases for sound argument. Even under bright Hollywood lights, Cruz seemed like the same guy I dined with in a Texas hill country vistro a few years ago.

Texans are fortunate to have an intelligent, articulate and passionate politician representing them on the east – and left – coasts.

Kevin Thompson is an opinion columnist in the Texas hill country. Follow him at http://www.kwt.info.

Follow the money

As a banker, I’ve handled piles of “money” that could buy life’s finest luxuries. They could also start a small campfire. What’s the difference? The reputation of the printer.

Uncle Sam says stacks of dollar bills are worth more than kindling. So far, we have believed him.

Russian-born novelist Ayn Rand wrote in her 1957 classic, Atlas Shrugged, that “when you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others… Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor- your claim upon the energy of the men who produce.”

At its core, money is nothing more than a tool, a medium of exchange, a signal of value. There is nothing inherently good or inherently evil about it. Like fire, it can be used for good or evil. The difference lies in how we humans care for it.

First, on a personal level, you can tell alot about a person by how she cares for her money. Is she flippant with it or intentional? Does she make it last? Does it do some good? Or does it slip like water through her fingers?

God said your money flows in the direction of your priorities. His observation in Matthew 6 came on the heels of a command to store up treasures in heaven. How does one “store up treasures in heaven?” By using one’s resources, money included, to make eternal impacts on people’s lives.

Second, on a national level, you can tell alot about a country by how it cares for its money. Do politicians and central bankers protect their currency’s value? Do they let wealth grow organically, as the result of the hard work of their constituency? Or do they speak it into being in order to make financial hardships seem less harsh?

Do a nation’s leaders maintain a level playing field so that money flows according to the free decisions of free people? Or is the landscape skewed so that the governors help determine winners and losers?

America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve Bank, has “printed” trillions of dollars since 2008. The purpose has been two-fold: (1) to keep people buying houses (because interest rates are low) and (2) to keep Congress spending money (because the Federal Reserve keeps purchasing US Treasury bonds.) Scarily, inflation has been reduced to an afterthought.

In addition, from green energy initiatives to nationalized health care to talk of wealthy companies’ (e.g., oil & gas) and individuals’ “paying their fair share,” the dark clouds of government intrusion loom overhead like shadows at dusk.

“Sound money” advocates easily reject these “easy money” policies. Ms. Rand, for example. One of her protagonists in Atlas Shrugged was industrialist Francisco d’Anconia. His speech midway through the book delivers as good a defense of capitalism and limited government as ever was offered, including this prescient warning:

“Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. …When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing- when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work… you may know that your society is doomed.”

As an outsider looking in, Mr. d’Anconia reminds his listeners, and us, of the United States’ unique contribution to economic history.

Americans, he says, “created the phrase ‘to make money.’ No other language or nation had ever used these words before. Men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity- to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created.”

Not merely printed.


Kevin Thompson is Senior Vice President at Boerne Market Manager for Centennial Bank. He can be reached at Kevin.Thompson@BankonCB.com.

America, we have issues

An American invention that represents the decline of America: the drive-in restaurant.

My office building backs up to one and I can’t seem to keep my chubby little hands from pushing that bright red button during “happy hour” each day. Drinks are half-price. I’m basically throwing away money if I don’t participate, right?

“Thank you for making my restaurant your restaurant,” the voice rasps through speakers that sound more like Edison’s gramophone than THX surround sound. “Can I interest you in a chili cheese coney dog deluxe this afternoon?”

It’s been nearly a hundred years since that visionary place of man-made miracles, Dallas, brought us the world’s first drive-in eatery. Kirby’s Pig Stand was famous for its pork loin sandwiches. At that time, drive-ins represented the endless innovation possibilities of an advancing industrial economy.

Now, as I await my afternoon tonic at a contemporary iteration, the concept represents the trends of a country on a downhill slide.

1. We’re old. I see as many gray hairs and bald heads driving in as teenagers and twenty-somethings. Their windows may be up and their music may be down, but they’re a force to be provided for in their ever-growing golden years. Send more wage earners.

2. We’re heavy. So heavy, in fact, that the carhops have trouble getting our burger sacks and Route 768s through our car windows. Oh, but it tastes so good, those sodium-enriched tater tots, those chocolate-drenched banana splits.

3. We’re ill. It’s a good thing the always open pharmacy is around the corner. We’re going to need that blood pressure medicine, those diabetes pills. We may be surviving, we may be medicated, but we are still ill. All while health care costs are anything but still.

4. We’re idling. The new economic normal is less than 2% annual GDP growth. Heavy government regulation and taxation discourage the risk-taking required for any greater growth. We’re not dead, but we’re not moving at the pace we once did, even years into a “recovery.”

5. We’re polluting. As we wait for our high-fat, high-cholesterol, high-sugar “sustenance,” our machine motors run, pumping exhaust into the air and dropping oil onto the ground. I’m no greeny, but I know dirty when I see it. Running engines encircling our effective dinner table is not progress.

6. We’re hurried. Too overwhelmed and distracted to prioritize a meal prepared at home, eaten slowly with the most important people in our lives. We’ve consumed our margins, and so our children are being served food by a man with a dragon tattooed on his arm.

7. We’re unpresentable. Tattoos, piercings, dental work courtesy of your friendly local meth lab. An air of desperation marks a generation of humans who can’t see past their next meal, smoke, rent payment or tank of gas. Who will hire them to do more than pass out tater tots?

8. And we’re coarse. From the crude song I hear blasting from the sixteen-year-old’s Jeep to the explicit conversation I overhear from the employees taking a smoke break by the dumpster. We’re a culture on a downward spiral.

All is not lost, of course. There is still a God in the heavens who has made Himself known on the earth. A return to His design is possible. May it start tonight with a laughter-filled, family-friendly, freshly-cooked dinner at home.

 

Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas Hill Country. Follow him at www.kwt.info.


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