Declaration of Independence

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.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gun Control and Waco Siege

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that United States troops fire on American citizens when ordered to do by the politicians in Washington, D.C.  There have been several instances when the soldiers, etc. have fired on Americans; some of those examples took place at Wounded Knee Creek (South Dakota), Waco (Texas), Ruby Ridge (Idaho), and outside Washington, D.C.  Today we will discuss the siege/massacre at Waco.

                The siege at Waco began on February 28, 1993, when agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) tried to execute a search warrant at the Mount Carmel Center ranch.  A religious group known as the Branch Davidians owned the ranch, which was located in the community of Elk, Texas, about nine miles east-northeast of Waco.  The siege ended violently 50 days later on April 19.

                An intense gun battle erupted when the ATF agents attempted to serve the warrant on February 28, and four agents and six Branch Davidians were killed.  Upon the failure of the ATF agents to execute the search warrant, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the FBI to lay a siege of the compound.  After 50 days, a second assault was launched, and the siege ended in a fire that destroyed the compound.  Sect leader David Koresh and seventy-six men, women and children died in the fire.  Numerous government agents were also killed.  This event took place while Bill Clinton was President and Janet Reno was Attorney General.

                No one knows which side fired the first shots.  I do not even know why the ATF wanted to serve the warrants in the first place.  I remember hearing charges of child abuse and drug use, but I did not see either of these charges listed in the court cases of the surviving members of the sect.  Trials, jail sentences, and reports took place, but I agree with Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, who represented several Branch Davidian survivors and relatives in a civil lawsuit.  He said the Danforth Report “failed to address the obvious.  History will clearly record, I believe, that these assaults on the Mt. Carmel church center remain the greatest domestic law enforcement tragedy in the history of the United States.”

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crises Management

                The current leaders in Washington, D.C., are using crises management to distract us from the real problems.  We have been told for at least four years that we must do this or we must do that in order to keep from going over the cliff.  All the talk about sequestration – automatic cuts – scheduled to go into effect tomorrow is just the latest crises.  The running around and waving of arms in attempt to get our attention is just the present tactic to distract us.  The biggest problem in all these crises is that each one moves our nation a little closer to the cliff.

                Doug Hagmann explained our serious situation in his article “America Over a Barrel – Benghazi, Gun Control, US Dollar, Gold Standard, Oil”:  “America finds itself `over a barrel’ (perhaps literally), and at the precipice of financial Armageddon due to the coming collapse of the U.S. dollar.  It is most important for people to understand that our financial destruction has been orchestrated for a generation or more, and has been intentionally accelerated over the last two decades to complete a specific agenda.

                “In order to survive what is coming, it is imperative to understand that agenda, who and what is behind it, and the motive.  The bigger picture will connect some very important dots.

                “America is in serious financial trouble, and events on the immediate horizon will forever change our lifestyle.  However, if you are like me, trying to convince your friends at work, your neighbors, or perhaps even your spouse that this is true is a formidable (if not impossible) task.  They might counter your warnings by pointing to the people walking out of retail stores with big ticket items, or if they are trying to appear more astute, cite the positive gains in the stock market while snickering at you for buying silver at nearly $50 per ounce, while it now hovers at $30 per ounce.  You might have even been called a doomsayer or conspiracy nut for buying storable food or extra items for your pantry.  However (if their ego permits it), these will be the same people who will turn to you for answers and practical advice when the financial house of cards falls to the floor.”

                Hagmann explains that people are not seeing reality but “their perception of reality as a result of the conditioning and brainwashing by our elected leaders and the complicit corporate media.  The American public has been conditioned and brainwashed en masse into believing a lie.”

                The author continues with what he considers to be “the truth.”  “The truth is that America is a `captured operation.’  It has been captured from within.  The Democrat-Republican, right-left paradigm is nothing more than an erroneous perception that permits the illusion of dueling agendas, when, in fact, there is only one….” 

                Hagmann believes that America has been captured by the Saudis:  “As Americans, we are over a barrel.  If you look closely at the fine print on that barrel, you will see that the barrel is fully owned by the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  We are the puppets of the Saudis, lock, stock and barrel.  But there is more.”

                This is a very interesting article that clears some of the smoke and mirrors from what we are seeing in our nation.  The author explains why he believes the Saudis are pulling the puppet strings and what globalists are doing to destroy our nation.  The article concludes:  “A financial collapse would certainly result in a societal collapse, at which point we would see violence across the country within days.  Our food supply would be interrupted, and stores would be emptied in hours.  Before stability can be restored, many will die.  Those who have not been fooled by the agenda of the globalists will personally experience the reason why our domestic security force (known as the Department of Homeland Security) has been buying ammunition and weapons, and hardening their assets.

                “Meanwhile, there is an aggressive push to shred the Constitution and disarm law-abiding American citizens.  The obedient, lapdog media is complicit in this as well, redefining the purpose of the Second Amendment to a mind-numbed public.

                “The confluence of events we are witnessing (from gun control to our foreign policies) is not by accident, but is the result of much planning.  To those with discernment, the collapse of the dollar is one part of a larger plan of global governance.  The lives lost within America will be collateral damage welcomed by the evil and insidious.
                “It’s not if, but when.”

                Our leaders in Washington have already proven that we cannot trust them to do the right thing for America.  This author connects the dots between all the events that have been rushing one after another, often so frequent that they overlap one another; the events keep coming so fast that we do not even have time to catch our breath before the next catastrophe is upon us. Slowly but surely, our liberties and freedoms are being destroyed and our God-given rights denied.  I hope Americans wake up soon!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


                Another financial crisis is the big news of the day.  The Obama Administration appears to prefer governing by crises rather than leadership; they seem to like crises in order to push their agenda and can never “let a crisis go to waste.”  The federal budget cuts known as “sequestration” will go into effect on March 1, 2013, and will bring cuts to federal programs – other than the entitlement programs.  Sequestration brings automatic budget cuts of $1.2 trillion over a ten-year period, with half of the cuts coming from domestic (discretionary) programs and half from defense.  The plan was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed into law by President Obama.

                The idea for sequestration came from the Obama Administration – the White House - during the July 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations.  In fact, President Obama went so far as to say that he would veto any bills that tried to change the sequester.  He obviously hoped that the Republicans would not hold him to it because he is now out “campaigning” against and telling everyone that the Republicans are the bad guys.  He wants Congress to offset the sequestration budget cuts with more tax increases.  I hope the Republicans do not cave on this one.  I believe Congress must follow through on the cuts in order to prove to us that they are serious about balancing our budget in ten years.

                The sequestration is not a perfect plan; a better plan would be more deliberative and thought out, one that would set priorities, trim entitlements, and cut spending in other ways.  We would be so much better off if the administration would put forth a budget that the Senate would pass and that the House would approve.  We need to cut federal spending now, have real program reforms, and have a balanced budget.  The sequestration is a not a perfect way to cut spending, but it will cut spending.  It will not, however, cause the problems that Obama is prophesying.  If American citizens can trim their household budgets to pay the additional taxes put on us last month, the federal government can trim its budget also.

                Patrick Louis Knudsen, the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann, Senior Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs, said that more tax increases are “simply unacceptable” and added “President Obama has already pocketed a $618 billion tax increase, so simply holding the line against taxes is a given.”  He further explained, “Government spending and debt are both too high, and this threatens all Americans with a weaker economy and a lower standard of living.  Every opportunity to reduce spending and put the government on the path to a balanced budget must be taken.  Anything less is a path to defeat.”

                The fact is that we need the cuts to come from programs that need to be reformed:  the entitlement programs are the biggest reason why our deficit continues to grow.  Sequestration does nothing to programs like Social Security, welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid, but it lops off a big chunk for national security.  According to Heritage, “Trying to use defense cuts to balance the out-of control entitlement spending while we still face growing threats (Russia, China, Iran, and al-Qaeda affiliates) is a fool’s errand that will create a hollow military and do nothing to fix economic troubles.

                “But if Congress does not replace the sequestration cuts with smarter cuts – like eliminating Obamacare funding or other ineffective programs – then the sequestration cuts will be our first step toward getting serious about federal spending.”

                Charles Krauthammer, conservative political pundit, says that Obama is on the defensive now and Republicans should call his bluff.  He believes that Obama and the Democrats calculated that the Republicans would not stand for such “draconian defense cuts” and would make further concessions.  Their plan apparently “backfired” because the Republicans are offering “no concessions.  Obama’s bluff is being called and he’s the desperate party.  He abhors the domestic cuts.  And as commander in chief he must worry about indiscriminate Pentagon cuts that his own defense secretary calls catastrophic.

                “So Tuesday, Obama urgently called on Congress to head off the sequester with a short-term fix.  But instead of offering an alternative $1.2 trillion in cuts, Obama demanded a `balanced approach,’ coupling any cuts with new tax increases.
                “What should the Republicans do?  Nothing.”

                Krauthammer then proceeded to suggest three messages that the Republicans should give to the President.  Message #1: “Republicans should explain that in the fiscal-cliff deal the president already got major tax hikes with no corresponding spending cuts.  Now it is time for a nation $16 trillion in debt to cut spending.  That’s balance.”

                Message #2:   The Republicans should reject any tax increases “and plainly explain:  We are quite prepared to cut elsewhere.  But we already raised taxes last month.  If the president wants to avoid the sequester – as we do – he must offer a substitute set of cuts. 
                “Otherwise, Mr. President, there is nothing to discuss.  Your sequester – Republicans need to reiterate that the sequester was the president’s idea in the first place – will go ahead.”

                Message #3:  The sequester is one thing, real tax reform quite another.  The sequester is for cutting.  The only question is whether it will be done automatically and indiscriminately – or whether the president will offer an alternative set of cuts.
                “Then we can take up real tax reform….
                “The country needs tax reform.  But first it needs to rein in out-of-control spending.  To succeed in doing that, Republicans must remain united under one demand:  cuts with no taxes – or we will let the sequester go into effect.”

                The federal government must cut spending or the nation will go bankrupt.  I prefer a more disciplined way of cutting, but I can support the sequester if a better plan is not adopted first.  I hope my fellow Americans will not fall for the most recent cries of our President “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.”  Chicken Little was mistaken, and so is Obama – whether ignorantly or on purpose.  When our nation is spending $4 trillion each year, $1.2 trillion over a period of ten years will not be disastrous.  It may cause our federal government to cut some positions and trim some “fat,” but it will not destroy us.  The constantly increasing debt will lead to destruction, just as ancient Rome and modern Greece were destroyed.  We cannot continue down the path we are currently taking and must do something about it.  I hope and pray the Republicans stay strong on this one and call Obama’s bluff!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

William Livingston

                William Livingston, the babe who grew up to became a signer of the United States Constitution, was born on November 30, 1723, in Albany, New York; he was the son of Philip Livingston, signer of the Declaration of Independence.   William attended local schools and was further educated by tutors.  When he was 14 years old, William spent a year with an Anglican missionary among the Iroquois Indians in the Mohawk Valley.  When he returned in 1738, he enrolled at Yale College where he graduated in 1741.  From there he went to New York City to study law and became a law clerk for James Alexander and William Smith. 

                 William married Susannah French in New Jersey in 1747, and the couple became parents of thirteen children.  This site listed only seven children:  Henry Brockholst Livingston (married Catharine Kettletas), Susannah Livingston (married John Cleves Symmes), Sarah Van Brugh Livingston (married John Jay), William Livingston (married Jane ?), Judith “Kitty” Livingston (married John W. Watkins), Mary Livingston (married James Linn), and Catharine Livingston (married Matthew Ridley).

                William was admitted to the bar in 1748 and started practicing law in New York City.  Along with William Smith and John Morin Scott, William founded a weekly journal in 1752 and titled it the Independent Reflector.  “The Reflector was New York’s first serial non-newspaper publication and the only one being published in British North America at the time….  Publication of the Reflector ceased with the fifty-second issue after political pressure was brought to bear upon its printer, James Parker.”  William served one term in the New York Assembly but stayed politically active in New York until 1769. 

                In 1770 William moved to Elizabethtown – now Elizabeth, New Jersey; there he built a “large country home” – Liberty Hall - for his growing family.  The home, also known as the William Livingston House, still stands today and is a National Historic Landmark and museum located on the Liberty Hall Campus of Kean University. 

William attained “considerable influence” among the “local patriots” and was elected to represent New Jersey at the Continental Congress.  There he served as a delegate from July 1774 until June 1776.  During the same period of time, he was commissioned by the New Jersey Militia as a brigadier general in October 1775.

                William was elected Governor of New Jersey in August 1776 and was re-elected as governor each year until his death in 1790.  His family was located in Parsippany for most of the time between 1776 and 1779 for their safety.  There was a “substantial reward” offered for the capture of Livingston, and British troops or naval forces frequently visited Liberty Hall looking for him.  The Livingston family returned to their looted home in 1779 and began their restoration efforts.

                Governor Livingston led the delegation from New Jersey to the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787.  There he took part in the deliberations and became one of the signers of the Constitution.  He died on July 25, 1790, in Elizabeth, New Jersey; he was originally buried in Trinity Church, New York, but was later reinterred at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, on May 7, 1844.  (The Livingston family burial crypt was established in 1727 at Livingston Memorial Church and Burial Ground.)

                William Livingston’s legacy includes having the township of Livingston, New Jersey, Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and the Livingston campus of Rutgers University New Brunswick named in his honor.

                Livingston “played a key role” in the founding of the New York Society Library in 1754, and the library is still in existence.  His daughter Susannah married John Cleves Symmes in 1780 and became the stepmother-in-law of President William Henry Harrison.  Another of his descendants was Julia Kean, whose husband Hamilton Fish became Governor of New York and United States Secretary of State.

                The Livingston family of New York is a prominent family that descended from William, 4th Lord Livingston and migrated from Scotland to the Dutch Republic to the Province of New York in the 17th century.  Besides having members sign the Declaration of Independence (Philip Livingston) and the United States Constitution (William Livingston), the family also includes United States Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, First Lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt, Congressman Bob Livingston of Louisiana, much of the wealthy Astor family, New York Governor Hamilton Fish, actor Montgomery Clift, and actress Jane Wyatt.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Federal Courts

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article III, Section 1:  “The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”  This provision established the right for the people to have a system where their problems could be adjudicated.

                “It will be noted that the size of the Supreme Court is not indicated, and down through the years the number of Justices has gone up and down like a political yo-yo. The first Congress passed an act designating a Chief Justice and five Associate Justices as the `Supreme Court.’  In 1801 the number of Associate Justices was reduced to four.  In 1802 the number of Associates was boosted to six, then increased to eight in 1837.  In 1861 the Chief Justice and nine Associates were designated, but in 1866 the Associate Justices were reduced to six in number.  In 1869 the number was increased again to eight, where it remains today.

                In 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to increase the number of Justices to fifteen so that he could get a court which would be sympathetic to many of his New Deal programs.  This was rejected, but a bill was passed which allowed the Attorney General to appeal directly to the Supreme Court whenever the constitutionality of an act of Congress was involved.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – the Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, 584.)

                “The Constitution’s first three Articles contain symmetrical introductory language.  Each provides that a basic type of governmental `power’ - `legislative’ (making laws), `executive’ administering the laws), and `judicial’ (expounding laws to decide particular cases) - `shall be vested’ in a corresponding institution:  `Congress,’ the `President,’ and `Courts,’ respectively.  As originally conceived, the Constitution embodied the sovereign will of `We the People,’ who delegated power to three independent yet coordinate branches of government.

                “This separation-of-powers structure incorporated two novel Federalist ideas.  First, `judicial Power’ became a distinct part of government, whereas in England it had been treated as an aspect of executive authority (although the English recognized adjudication as a discrete function).  Second, like Congress and the President, federal judges ultimately derived their power from `the people,’ even though they were unelected and given tenure and salary guarantees to ensure their impartiality and prestige.  This separate and independent judiciary consisted of a Supreme Court and any lower federal tribunals Congress chose to create.  The powers of federal courts can most usefully be divided into three components:  judicial review, justiciability, and equitable authority.

                “Since 1787, the central meaning of `judicial Power’ has remained remarkably consistent:  neutrally deciding a case by interpreting the law and applying it to the facts, then rendering a final and binding judgment….

                “Judicial review can be exercised only over cases that are `justiciable’ (i.e., presented in a form suitable for judicial resolution).  The Supreme Court has developed many justiciability doctrines, which reflect both Article III requirements and self-imposed prudential limitations.”  (See Robert J. Pushaw, Jr. in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 231-232.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sacred Music

                Sacred music is essential in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and has played a historical role in gospel settings.  Before the Savior and His Apostles left the upper room where they held the Last Supper, they sang a hymn.  When the hymn was over, the Savior led them to the Mount of Olives where He made preparations to complete His mission.  (See Matthew 26:30.)

                In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lord, through His prophet Joseph Smith, instructed Joseph’s wife Emma to “make a selection of sacred hymns” to be used in the Church meetings.  The Lord continued, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads” (Doctrine and Covenants 25:11-12).

                The First Presidency prefaced our newest edition of Hymns with this counsel, “Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings.  The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.

                “Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns.  Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end…

“We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations.  We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns.  We hope leaders, teachers, and members who are called upon to speak will turn often to the hymnbook to find sermons presented powerfully and beautifully in verse.

“Latter-day Saints have a long tradition of choir singing.  Every ward and branch in the Church should have a choir that performs regularly.  We encourage choirs to use the hymnbook as their basic resource.

                “Music has boundless powers for moving families toward greater spirituality and devotion to the gospel.  Latter-day Saints should fill their homes with the sound of worthy music.

                “Ours is a hymnbook for the home as well as for the meetinghouse.  We hope the hymnbook will take a prominent place among the scriptures and other religious books in our homes.  The hymns can bring families a spirit of beauty and peace and can inspire love and unity among family members.

                “Teach your children to love the hymns.  Sing them on the Sabbath, in home evening, during scripture study, at prayer time.  Sing as you work, as you play, and as you travel together.  Sing as lullabies to build faith and testimony in your young ones.

                “In addition to blessing us as Church and family members, the hymns can greatly benefit us as individuals.  Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action.  They can fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace.

                “Hymns can also help us withstand the temptations of the adversary.  We encourage you to memorize your favorite hymns and study the scriptures that relate to them.  Then, if unworthy thoughts enter your mind, sing a hymn to yourself, crowding out the evil with the good.

                “Brothers and sisters, let us use the hymns to invite the Spirit of the Lord into our congregations, our homes, and our personal lives.  Let us memorize and ponder them, recite and sing them, and partake of their spiritual nourishment.  Know that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven, `and it shall be answered with a blessing upon [your] heads.”

                Sacred music transcends language barriers.  I remember attending Church meetings in Mexico many years ago.  I did not understand a single word that was spoken, but I could sing along with the hymns because the music was familiar to me.

                I remember my father singing hymns in my childhood and youth as he worked around the farm.  My siblings and I enjoyed working with him much more when we heard him singing or whistling. I remember as a young mother using Primary songs to calm my babies and little children.  I also remember learning basic but important gospel principles through singing Primary songs, both as a child and as an adult.

I had a truly sacred experience because of a hymn.  After Mom’s death, Dad had the feeling that he would not live much longer and he divided all of the family heirlooms, etc. among his children.  He was very concerned about dealing with us with love and compassion and fairness.  I returned from my mother’s funeral and was sitting in sacrament meeting when I learned an unforgettable lesson about Heavenly Father.  We were singing “Sweet Hour of Prayer”.  I sang with the congregation, “Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!  That calls me from a world of care and bids me at my Father’s throne make all my wants and wishes known.”  I could not sing the rest of the hymn because of my tears.  Those words made me realize that my earthly father was very much a type for my Heavenly Father:  I had a better idea about how much Heavenly Father loves me because I had witnessed the love my earthly father has for me. 

                When my children were arguing or simply not getting along, I adopted the practice of singing a hymn to them.  The hymn I always sang is entitled, “Love at Home” (Hymns, 294; words and music by John Hugh McNaughton, 1829-1891).  I did not have to sing many phrases before my children were either laughing or begging me to stop singing.  One of my daughters recently told me that her children had been behaving so badly that she had resorted to singing “Love at Home.”  I suppose that this hymn will be chosen for my funeral service because I used it so very often.

                There is beauty all around when there’s love at home;
                There is joy in ev’ry sound when there’s love at home.
                Peace and plenty here abide, Smiling sweet on ev’ry side.
                Time doth softly, sweetly glide when there’s love at home.

                In the cottage there is joy when there’s love at home;
                Hate and envy ne’er annoy when there’s love at home.
                Roses bloom beneath our feet; all the earth’s a garden sweet,
                Making life a bliss complete when there’s love at home.

                Kindly heaven smiles above when there’s love at home;
                All the world is filled with love when there’s love at home.
                Sweeter sings the brooklet by; brighter beam the azure sky.
                Oh, there’s One who smiles on high when there’s love at home.
                Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “The singing of hymns is one of the best ways to put ourselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord.”  He then shared his experience of visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.  “Before the evening show of dancing and music from various island cultures, I went backstage to thank the performers.  I arrived during those frantic moments before the show began.  Scores of performers were hurrying through the last-minute tasks required to coordinate their efforts in a fast-moving performance.  I wondered how the director would bring this turmoil to order in preparation for my brief remarks.

                “It happened as if by miracle.  On signal, one strong voice began, and the strains of `We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet’ quickly swelled into a beautiful chorus as the uniquely talented young people brought their thoughts into harmony with the Lord….

                “Our sacred music prepares us to be taught the truths of the gospel.  This is why we are selective in the kinds of music and the kinds of instruments we use in our worship services.  This is why we encourage our choirs to use the hymnbook as their basic resource….

                “Our hymns can work their miraculous effect even when the chorus of voices is few and even when hardly a sound can be heard.  I felt this a few months ago as I participated in a musical performance that was unique in my church experience.  I had been invited to speak at the Great Basin LDS Deaf Conference, hosted by the Salt Lake Valley (Deaf) Ward of the Salt Lake Park Stake.  Over three hundred deaf brothers and sisters were in attendance.  The members of the stake presidency and I were almost the only adults in the congregation who could hear and who attempted to sing audibly.  The rest of that large assembly sang with their hands.  Hardly a lip moved, and hardly a sound was heard except for the organ and four faint voices from the stand.  In the audience, all hands moved in unison with the leader as the audience signed `The Spirit of God like a fire is burning’!  (Hymns, 1985, no. 2).  As we sang together, the Spirit of the Lord descended upon us, and we were made ready for prayer.  Our sacred music is a powerful preparation for prayer and gospel teaching” (Ensign, Nov. 1994).

                I know for myself that sacred music brings us closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to our Heavenly Father.  I am grateful for the many talented people who write and perform the beautiful music that I so enjoy.  I encourage all of us to use the sacred hymns to bring more peace into our lives, our homes, and our world.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Value of Women

                Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when women can choose how to spend their own lives.  Whether we are housewives or career women, we are sisters with more things in common than where we choose to spend our time and energy.  There was a time when women did not work outside their homes after marriage; then World War II took the men to war and required the women to do the work ordinarily performed by men.  Many women enjoyed the opportunity while many preferred to be home.  Not many years later women who chose to stay home were looked down upon by those who had “careers.”  Now the stay-at-home wives are being blamed for problems in the lives of career women.  Can we stop the war on other women and pursue peace among ourselves?

I personally belief that every family needs someone to be at home, someone to “keep the home fires burning” and to keep the wheels of the family greased and turning.  It is usually men who go to work to provide for the family and women who stay at home; those who are at home are called “housewives,” “house husbands” or “homemakers.”  I prefer the term “homemaker” to “housewife” to “domestic engineer” but my favorite is “domestic goddess.”  Some people believe that the stay-at-home wife lives a boring and unfulfilling life, but I do not agree with them.  I have never had a dull or boring day - especially when my children were at home.  I always had more tasks to perform that I could possibly get done – necessary tasks that were neither boring nor exciting – both inside the home and in the community.  The only thing I missed as a stay-at-home wife was the pat on the back or the congratulations for a job well done because little children, self-centered teens, and tired husbands seldom think to say or do such things.  The work of a stay-at-home wife is usually taken for granted – but missed greatly when it does not get done.

I always enjoy reading about how much my work as a homemaker is worth and thought I would share one such article.   Porcshe Moran posted an article in answer to her own question “How much is a homemaker worth?”   “The life of a homemaker is one that includes an endless amount of demands and to-dos.  Depending on the size of the home and family, the position of homemaker can go well beyond the usual nine to five.  We examined some of the tasks that a homemaker might do to find out how much his or her services would net as individual professional careers.  We only take into consideration tasks which have monetary values and use the lowest value for each calculation.”

                Moran then listed the following tasks performed by homemakers and the beginning salary of a career performing the same task:  Private Chef: meal planning and cooking - $200-$500 per day; grocery delivery service fees:  $5-$10.  “Total cost for services:  $1,005 per five day work week x 52 weeks = $52,260 per year.”

House Cleaner:  Since “professional maids or house cleaning service providers will charge by the hour, number of rooms or square footage of the home,” there are different prices for different sizes of homes twice each week:  900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment with five rooms - $59-$124; 1300 square-foot, single-story home with seven rooms - $79-$150; 2,200 two-story, three-bedroom home with nine rooms - $104-$180.  There would be additional costs of $20-$25 to clean the oven or refrigerator or to dust the mini-blinds.  “Total cost for services:  $118 per week x 52 weeks = $6,136 per year.”

Child Care:  “Homemakers provide full-time, live-in child care.  This type of service from a professional provider would usually come with a host of perks including health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, federal holidays off, dental and vision coverage, and bonuses.  The International Nanny Association’s 2011 survey found that nannies make $600 to $950 per week in gross wages, on average.  Total cost for services:  $600 a week plus perks/benefits x 52 weeks = $31,200 per year.”

Driver:  An “elite membership” with a company “like Red Cap” would provide a “personal driver” to drive the client’s own car.  This service would be provided “365 days of unlimited, round-trip service” for “$1,000 a year plus 33 cents - $2.03 per minute.  Total cost for services:  $1,000 per year + [(estimated miles driven 8,000 miles/50 MPH) x 60 min/hr x $0.33 per minute] = $4,168 total per year.”

Laundry Service:  “Professional laundry services charge by the pound.”  Example was given of a company “in Texas that charges 90 cents to $1.00 a pound to wash, dry, fold, hang and steam your clothes.  Items that take longer to dry such as comforters, blankets, rugs and winter clothes are assessed at a price of $12-$15 each.  Total cost for services:  $0.90 per pound x 4 pounds of clothes per day x 5 days per week x 52 weeks = $936 total per year.”

Lawn Maintenance:  Basic lawn and yard maintenance “cost about $30 a week on average.  Total cost for services:  $30 per week x 52 weeks = $1,560 total per year.”  I assume that this cost is for those areas that require lawn mowing, watering, etc. all year.  For those areas, like Alaska, it could also include snow removal.

                When all these “salaries” are added together, the average homemaker is worth approximately $96,261 – just for these services.  There are many other services performed by homemakers – such as nursing sick children, teaching or helping with homework, handling the family finances, coaching sports teams, serving in PTA, etc. - that were not factored into this price.  

                I also enjoy hearing or reading statements about the value of my work, and I was pleasantly surprised to see an article posted by Selwyn Duke entitled “The Most Interesting Career:  Housewife.”  His article consisted mainly of the following quote from G.K. Chesterton’s book What’s Wrong with the World, but I found it to be very profound and true.

                “Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad.  The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs.  It was only by partly limiting and protecting the woman that she was enabled to play at five or six professions and so come almost as near to God as the child when he plays at a hundred trades.

                “[…] When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word.  If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar.  But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give … up; I do not know what the words mean.  To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it.  How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe?  How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone?  No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.  I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

                I searched for other information about stay-at-home wives and found a site where “Miss Crabcakes” asked men to answer the following question:  “Do you prefer a stay-at-home wife?”  The comments on the site illustrate the fact that the background of the commenter influenced their choice.  I got the idea that some people consider housewives to be “ladies of leisure,” but others recognize the value of homemakers in the neighborhood during the work day.   I was touched deeply by this comment:  “I definitely prefer a stay at home spouse.  My mom was a single mother who worked too much to ever watch over us.  I was raised by a baby sitter which kind of sucks.  To have a stay-at- home dad or mom would be ideal; however, this is only if you can afford it.”

                This comment reminded me of a statement made by one of my own daughters when she was a sophomore in high school.  I have been a stay-at-home wife and mother for most of the past forty years, but I did work outside my home for a couple of years after my youngest child started school full time.  I took her to school, went to work, and was home again about the time the younger children got home from school; my teenage daughter came home to an empty house.  One week I decided to take a couple of days off to clean my cabinets.  My daughter told me that she was excited all day about coming home because she knew I would be there.  Her comment made me stop and think about what I was doing to my children.  If my working outside the home affected my teenager like that, what was it doing to my younger children?  My job was eliminated a few weeks later, and I was home full time again.

                Every career person could concentrate more on their jobs if they had a “wife” at home taking care of the home front and doing such things as buying groceries, cooking dinner, running errands, etc.  In fact, there are people who claim that housewives are to blame for the plight of career women.   “But new research from Harvard, NYU and the University of Utah, adds another layer to the debate over gender discrimination at work, and another (possibly just as important) person to blame:  your boss’s stay-at-home wife. 

                “In the paper “Marriage Structure And The Gender Revolution In The Workplace,” researchers illustrate how employed men with stay-at-home wives tend to `exhibit attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that undermine the role of women in the workplace.’  Among other things, they have a negative view of the very presence of women in the office, large percentages of female employees and female leaders.  But the most troubling finding was that men whose wives don’t work `deny, more frequently, qualified female employees opportunities for promotions.”

                A successful businessman once told me that he preferred to hire men whose wives were not working outside the home.  He said that such employees performed better on the job and were more dependable.  Because their wives  at home managing the family, the men could concentrate on the job of earning money.

                Apparently, it is now a status symbol to have a stay-at-home wife.  This site posted the following thoughts on the subject.  “Add this to the list of decisions that women are now criticized for with regards to their life decisions.  If it isn’t the Mommy Wars between the stay at home and working moms, then before that it was the women who chose to get an education and work for a living instead of choosing to settle down and get married with children.  Today we have Stay At Home Wives.  Ahhh, let the games begin….

                “Why knock something that works for someone else?  This isn’t 5 steps back for the feminist women movement as some have said outright; this is a choice, and we should be happy that more women have the choice to work, not work, work inside the home, work outside the home or … sit at home eating Bon Bons all day while curled up on the couch.

                “Stay At Home Wives can get involved in volunteer projects, pursue hobbies, go on vacation, pursue interests they may not have been able to in the past all while running their homes like well-oiled machines….”

                All women have value and perform essential tasks whether in the home or outside the home.  We are sisters who should be supportive of each other in our life choices.  We should understand that whatever we choose to do, we will do it to the best of our ability.  As we take our places as responsible members of our families, communities, and nations, we will bring added strength to everyone around us.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Washington's Birthday

                We celebrated “Presidents Day” on Monday, February 18, but many Americans do not realize that the day is legally and officially known as “Washington’s Birthday.”   The celebration of Washington’s birthday was moved from his real birthday on February 22 to the third Monday in February.  In the “olden days” as I was growing up, we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 and then celebrated Washington’s birthday on February 22.  One day someone had the brainy (?) idea to lump the two holidays together on the third Monday in February – occurring right between the two birthdays, and the unified celebration became commonly known as “Presidents Day.”   For many years I truly believed that the name of the holiday had been changed to “Presidents Day” and have learned differently only in recent years.  I could never understand why we were given only one day to honor Washington, Lincoln, and other great Presidents when Martin Luther King, Jr. was given a holiday all to himself.  Now I know that both President Washington and King have their own day to be honored.

I understand that the federal holiday officially known as “Washington’s Birthday” was moved to a Monday in order to accommodate the ski associations who desired a three-day weekend in February.  I believe we should officially and unofficially refer to the day as “Washington’s Birthday.”  Apparently, other people think so too!

                In an opinion editorial entitled “Why `President’s Day’ properly belongs to George Washington,” the Washington Examiner stated, “Although popularly known as `Presidents Day,’ February 18 this year is officially the federal celebration of `Washington’s Birthday.’  George Washington, the father of this nation, deserves the recognition that the more popular name fails to convey.

                “Washington is remembered for his military service in the American Revolution and as the nation’s first president.  But neither of these is the chief reason he is honored today.  There have been greater military leaders than Washington and arguably greater presidents as well.  But Washington’s greatest achievement was beyond the emotional scope of most great military and political leaders:  He held the proverbial ring of power, and he gave it up of his own accord.

                “At the end of the Revolutionary War, when the possibility of absolute power presented itself to Washington, he humbly stepped aside.  He resigned his command of the Continental Army, restoring full power to a civilian Congress that had in fact caused him great grief throughout the course of the war he had successfully prosecuted.  This event is commemorated in one of the most famous murals in the Capitol Building.  Washington’s selflessness separates him from lesser men who won much greater military victories but were vanquished by the temptation of power – Julius Caesar before him and Napoleon Bonaparte afterward.

                “Had Washington followed the governing philosophy that reigns in the capital today - `never waste a crisis’ – then there would probably be no Constitution and no United States of America.”

                The editorial continues by explaining that it was Washington’s “example for future generations of Americans, firmly establishing civilian control of the nation’s military” that warrants our honoring him.

                The Heritage Foundation agrees that we are failing to honor President Washington as we should.  A statement in an article entitled “George Washington’s Example on Religious Liberty”  includes the following quote:  “Instead of celebrating George Washington’s birthday, today we’ve lumped him in together with no-names including Millard Fillmore and William Henry Harrison as we celebrate a generic `Presidents Day.

                “But George Washington was not simply a President.  He was the indispensable man of the American Founding.  Washington’s words, thoughts, and deeds as a military commander, a President, and a patriotic leader make him arguably the greatest statesman in our history.

                “All Presidents can learn from Washington’s leadership in foreign policy, in upholding the rule of law, and `especially now’ in the importance of religion and religious liberty….

                “Washington knew that religion and morality are essential to creating the conditions for decent politics.  `Where,’ Washington asked, `is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?’

                “Religion and morality are, Washington wrote, essential to the happiness of mankind:  `A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.’  To match his high praise of religion, Washington had a robust understanding of religious liberty.  Freedom allows religion, in the form of morality and through the teachings of religion, to exercise an unprecedented influence over private and public opinion.  Religious liberty shapes mores, cultivates virtues, and provides an independent source of moral reasoning and authority.  In his letter to the Newport Hebrew congregation – at the time the largest community of Jewish families in America – President Washington grounded America’s religious and civil liberties in natural rights, and not mere toleration.”

                An article at The Blaze continues this line of reasoning in an article entitled “It’s `Washington’s Birthday’:  Here are his 5 most important warnings to Congress”  Becket Adams wrote:  “[George Washington] refused this power because he believed in the cause of the republic.

                “Understanding the pitfalls of organized government, Washington in his 1798 farewell address to Congress urged U.S. lawmakers to guard against unnecessary wars and racking up unsustainable public debt, among other things. 

                “Considering the fact that the nation’s capital has in recent years become a spectacle more deserving of mockery than praise, perhaps it’s worth revisiting some of his warnings to Congress.

On the Constitution:  `This government … has a just claim to your confidence and your support.  Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.  The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.’

On progressive ideas:  `Towards the preservation of your government … resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts.  One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown….’

On political parties:  `Let me now … warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.  This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind.  It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

“`The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

“`But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.  The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.’

On war:  `The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave.  It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest….  The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy….’

                “On public debt:  ‘As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit.  One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.'"

                President George Washington was a truly great man who set an excellent example for his successors.  He, along with many Founders, was concerned about whether or not future generations could keep the liberty and freedoms which were bestowed upon them.  This is the reason why he felt the need to share his counsel as he was leaving office.  As the “indispensable man” of the founding period, President George Washington remains worthy to be honored on his birthday.  I encourage you to join me in referring to the holiday held on the third Monday in February as “Washington’s Birthday.”