Locally owned businesses can help communities thrive | Grist

Cities where small businesses account for a relatively large share of the economy have stronger social networks and more engaged citizens.

Source: Locally owned businesses can help communities thrive — and survive climate change | Grist

Let’s bracket out the “climate change” part of this, not because the climate isn’t changing – it is – but because intelligent people of good will can disagree on the extent to which those changes are anthropogenic (human-caused) and how much is due to natural cycles over which we have limited or no control. Obsessing over climate change can make enemies out of people who might otherwise be allies. Let’s just focus on doing the right thing, thereby generating positive, synergistic effects that will, in the main, benefit all of us, whether global warming is anthropogenic or not.

Case in point: I first ran across this article back in the dim and distant past (2013…), but the message is no less important, four years later! When I posted it on my Facebook account, I wrote, quoting the article,

“That there’s a connection between the ownership structure of our economy and the vitality of our democracy may sound a bit odd to modern ears. But this was an article of faith among 18th- and 19th-century Americans, who strictly limited the lifespan of corporations and enacted antitrust laws whose express aim was to protect democracy by maintaining an economy of small businesses.” Unfortunately, the bigger-is-better mindset of the 20th century blew this traditional American concept out of the water…

Indeed it did. And sadly so!

Our Founders – preeminently Thomas Jefferson, but others as well – were clear that the United States was intended to be a nation of smallholders: yeoman farmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen. They were staunch defenders of both private property and free enterprise, but having had to deal with the effects of oppression not only by the British Crown but by the East India Company, among others, they were understandably chary of giving corporations too much power. The kind of crony capitalism, corporatism, plutocracy and oligarchy we see today would, I am quite sure, have been anathema to them. Continue reading “Locally owned businesses can help communities thrive | Grist”

Why Did Patrick Henry Oppose the Constitution? – The Imaginative Conservative

To Americans familiar only with Henry’s blazing “Liberty or Death” oration of 1775, it may come as a shock to learn that Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution.

Source: Why Did Patrick Henry Oppose the Constitution? – The Imaginative Conservative

To Americans familiar only with Henry’s blazing “Liberty or Death” oration of 1775, it may come as a shock to learn that Henry opposed the adoption of the Constitution. Henry always had a flair for the dramatic, but on this occasion, Mother Nature offered him an improbable assist: As he thundered against the dangers of the new centralized government, a howling storm rose outside the Richmond hall. Frightened delegates scurried to take cover.

A memorable scene, to be sure, but how could the man who cried “give me liberty or give me death,” this patriot who penned Virginia’s resolves against the Stamp Act in 1765, not support the Constitution? The answer was pretty simple: Henry thought that the American Revolution was, at root, a rebellion against the coercive power of the British government. In particular, it was a rebellion against unjust British taxes. Henry, therefore, thought it was madness for Americans to place that same kind of consolidated political authority over themselves again…

A most interesting treatment of an era and an episode in American history of which most Americans know little or nothing! I myself knew only parts of this. Of special note is his discussion of the successes, as well as failures, of the American government under the Articles of Confederation – a part of our history which is almost complete terra incognita to many (most) contemporary Americans. Well worth a read!

Nota Bene: I should note that I do not entirely agree with the assertion that “In particular, [the American Revolution] was a rebellion against unjust British taxes.” It was a rebellion against many things, of which taxes were one important one – but only one. Continue reading “Why Did Patrick Henry Oppose the Constitution? – The Imaginative Conservative”

The Plight of the Overworked Nonprofit Employee – The Atlantic

Do mission-driven organizations with tight budgets have any choice but to demand long, unpaid hours of their staffs?

Source: The Plight of the Overworked Nonprofit Employee – The Atlantic

“It is time to revisit the idea that working for the public good should somehow mean requiring the lowest-paid among us to support these efforts by working long hours, many of which are unpaid.”

Amen!!! Why am I doing what I’m doing, instead of historical and/or cultural history interpretation, or sustainable agriculture education? Because I can’t make a living doing those. 😦 People in general tend to value living history sites, parks and nature centers, and educational farms, often highly; but somehow that appreciation doesn’t seem to translate into enough dollars – grant-wise or otherwise – to support them.

Ironically, in 2014, the value of volunteer hours — generally in support of non-profit organizations — reached $23.70/hour. Yet it’s hard to find a paying position at such a site for even half that! Can someone explain to me, please, how we can value our volunteers (wonderful people, all, and absolutely vital to the organizations they support, don’t get me wrong!) more than twice as much as the people who actually work there for their livings? Or to put it another way, why do we value paid staff only half as much as volunteers?

Of course, it’s easy to say “you’re worth such-and-such” when you don’t actually have to pay the person that, and that’s the crux of the matter. If we as a culture really do value natural and cultural history interpretation, and related fields, then we need to figure out how to pay a living wage to those who provide it.

Commentary: Dovetailing agendas – reflections on sexuality, immigration, families, and economics

The recent massacre, by a (perhaps repressed-homosexual) Islamic terrorist of 49 people in an Orlando nightclub catering to the LGBT population of the area has served as, in the words of one commentator, a “Rorschach test” for some of the issues dividing Americans today, including homosexuality, immigration (although American-born, he was the son of Afghan immigrants), and Jihadism (Islamic extremism, militant Islam, etc.).

As is always the case with tragic events, this has brought out some of the best, and some of the worst, in the people of this country. It has also sparked, or helped to coalesce, a number of thoughts for me, personally.

Let me start by saying that I have quite a number of LGBT friends, many of whom I love dearly, regardless of what they might do in the bedroom. And furthermore, as Christians, we are called a) to remember that we all are sinners, and b) to love one another as we love ourselves, and as Christ loved us. So I have zero tolerance when it comes to bashing people, verbally or (especially) otherwise, for their sexual proclivities.

That said, from a political perspective, it occurs to me that supporting and promoting homosexuality is useful to those who want to “transform society”: not only for its own sake, by making what used to be seen as deviant behavior appear normal, but also because it serves as a form of social birth control, helping to bring down the population, and providing still more openings for the importation of third-world “migrants” to achieve the liberal ideal of a fully “blended” society. (We have also been taught for years that reducing population is an ecological necessity, but that’s a subject for another post.) In fact, the non-procreative nature of homosexual behavior is probably one of the reasons why it has been frowned upon by most societies throughout the world, and throughout history.

And of course the “sexual revolution” as a whole — which decoupled (no pun intended) sex from procreation, and turned it into a solely elective, recreational activity — had, and continues to to have, the same effect. A sentiment I hear expressed time and again on the net, and sometimes in person, is that “sex is just sex”: something to do with your spare time, a recreational activity, not a sacred duty and trust, intended for the strengthening of the bond between two intimate partners – namely, the husband and wife in a marriage relationship – and the procreation of children within that marriage.

While it’s not generally thought of as a “liberal” contribution, the loss of a living wage has also had a deleterious effect on families and child-bearing. It used to be that a single wage-earner could reasonably be expected to support his (usually) or her family, but that is no longer the case. With both parents working, there is less incentive to have children, and less opportunity for any children one does have to be formed in and by traditional family and societal values. As I say, this isn’t a strictly “liberal” policy, but it’s surely an effect of “neoliberal” economics!

Meanwhile, the “ideal” of the “career woman” has been praised to the heavens, while “stay at home moms” get sneered at. To cap that, we are informed that “well-behaved women rarely make history.” Well, that may (or may not) be true, but they certainly do make for stable, loving, and committed relationships, families, and homes, which in turn are the foundation of a stable society — and that is perhaps rather more important, in the overall scheme of things!

Anybody besides me starting to see a pattern, here…?

And of course, on a different but still related subject, the fewer guns that are in the hands of ordinary, law-abiding citizens who still believe in the Constitution and American values, customs, and traditions, the less meaningful will be any resistance to these policies. If governmental and non-governmental forces seem aggressive in their social-transformation policies now, imagine what they would be like if they were not at least somewhat restrained by the knowledge that there are up to 77 million armed American citizens!

I am becoming increasingly aware of, and appalled by, the way so many of these allegedly “liberal” ideas and policies dovetail together. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for what to do about it. But I will say that recognizing and facing up to the problem is an important first step!