Putting the FUN Back in Fund-Raising

July 19, 2010

My first efforts at fund raising were designed to put money in my own pocket. Mom helped me make some sort of pot holders that I then tried to sell door-to-door. Since I’m no longer in that business, I assume the money I made did not seem worth the effort.

Eventually I learned that the best way to raise personal funds came through employment… although the entrepreneur in me still yearns to try my hand at something. If the government doesn’t stop spending my social security on things like buying Pakistan’s friendship, I may be left with no choice.

In high school I belonged to the Key Club – a group of teens sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club – and we raised money for underprivileged children by delivering free neighborhood phone directories and asking for donations. I have no idea where the money we collected went, but we did a pretty decent job of laying guilt on people to get them to drop paper – not coins – in our boxes.

As an adult, I belonged to the Lions Club and became very adept at selling over-priced brooms, light bulbs, and fruitcakes. I’ve also sold more than my share of raffle tickets.

As a member of our church’s Out Reach committee, I’ve sold tickets to Irish Dinners, Gourmet Dinners, and various dances. (In our church, most forms of dancing are permitted.)

And then we discover SCRIP!

Gift Cards - Just as good as Cash!

My bride and I attended a church service in Akron, Ohio and saw that they were selling gift cards after each service. We investigated and convinced our church in Cumming, Georgia to give it a try.

We’ve been selling scrip for about eleven months and have earned a little over $11,000 for our efforts. It’s taken us a while to convince all our members to participate, but as more and more people take the time to buy some cards, our profits are beginning to increase.

So, what’s so great about this type of fund-raising? Simple. A person pays $100 for a grocery store gift card and receive $100 with which to buy groceries. The only thing it costs that person is a few minutes to trade a check for a piece of plastic.

So, how are the funds raised? Again, simple. The grocery store sells the cards to us at a discount. The merchant can then write off the discount as a cost of doing business or a charitable contribution.

There are literally hundreds of retailers who participate in this program. We can get gift cards for restaurants, clothing stores, home improvement and hardware stores, on-line shopping sites, and just about anything else you can think of.

Currently we are looking for other churches in the area to pick up the same project. If we can combine our purchasing power we may be able to get bigger discounts. We’re also trying to contact local merchants who are not yet participating in the program. We recently added a local Greek restaurant that has become one our members’ favorite places.

Any one who has ever sold a fifty-cent candy bar for a buck and a half should take notice of this entry on my blog. There are much better ways to raise money than selling magazine subscriptions to grandparents.

The economy is tough. Why ask people to overpay for anything – no matter how worthy the cause? For every card shown in the photo, I paid face value and the church received a donation. When I take those cards into those merchants, I’ll get exactly what I paid for.

What a deal!

Extortion Made Easy

July 14, 2010

Our politicians turned professional many decades ago. They did it for one reason. It was the same reason that caused George Washington to choose to be called President (rather than King) and convinced him to retire after serving two terms in office. POWER. While George Washington wanted no parts of it, the professional politicians of today want all they can get.

I recently read that there are portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that need to be renewed periodically.

By the way, most African Americans credit Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats for all the Civil Rights Legislation of the 60’s. They are correct in regards to Lyndon Johnson. They are incorrect in regards to the Democrats. The vast majority of the Democrats not only voted against the bills, they tried to filibuster them into submission. Two senators who were very instrumental in the fight against Civil Rights were Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd.  They were both Democrats at the time.

In later years, Thurmond saw the error in his ways, switched to the Republican party and was the first senator to hire a black lawyer for his staff. Robert Byrd claimed to have had a change of heart, but some of his later actions put that claim into question.

Had not the vast majority of Republicans voted in favor of the Civil Rights legislation (that had originally been introduced by President Eisenhower) blacks might still be riding in the back of the bus.

Now, why am I bringing the 1965 Voting Rights Act into this discussion? First, it is a totally unnecessary law. The 15th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1870 as part of the “Reconstruction” of our nation following the Civil War, guarantees the right to vote to ALL citizens.

The more important reason for discussing the law is that the Republicans have tried on numerous occasions to make all parts of it permanent so it won’t need to be renewed periodically.

And who stops the Republicans from doing this? If you don’t already know, you might not be able to guess. You may be shocked, but the truth is… The Congressional BLACK Caucus.

Why in the world would a group of African Americans not want the 1965 Voting Rights Act made permanent?

Because it would remove a tool used against Republicans during elections. These leaders in the Black community tell their constituents that if the Republicans gain power in Congress they might not vote in favor of renewing the provisions.

So, rather than being truthful with the people they represent they intentionally lie to them… simply so they can stay in POWER!

And who thinks the white politicians are any better?

I’m also beginning to believe they take acting classes. With all the posturing and impassioned speeches they make while arguing over legislation, bills are usually passed or rejected along party lines. However, lately it seems that most bills get passed. It also seems that the bills have an inordinate number of pages.

Could it be that many of those pages have nothing to do with the subject of the bill? There’s no doubt in my mind.

I’d be willing to bet that a large portion of the two or three thousand pages of the Health Care Bill were nothing more than earmarks… from both sides of the aisle.

In this way, the politician can go back to his or her district and say, “Well we might have lost the battle concerning flag burning or prayer in school or whatever, BUT I got funding for the new facade on the Farmers’ Market building and the new motor-cross track is as good as paid for!”

In the meantime, we have an electorate that is very angry and we are all saying, “We have to vote the scoundrels out of office and replace them with good honest people who will truly represent us.” We then re-elect “our” representative because he or she is the only good one in Washington. Suddenly we find ourselves with the exact same Congress and can’t understand how those other folks could re-elect the trash that our representative must deal with.

I believe Congress has our number.They know exactly what they need to do to stay in POWER.

But, are they really in POWER? Or are they merely puppets to the people who provide the money to get them elected. Campaign costs for every office have skyrocketed. No common person could afford to run for office without the help of someone.

So, maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve come to believe that the POWER is sitting in the laps of people who don’t care at all for the American people. All they care about is using the government to increase their personal wealth, which they can convert to even more POWER.

I have come to question everything Congress does. This questioning began many years ago. It is not a Democrat or Republican thing.

For example, a while back Congress passed a bill giving tax credits to businesses when they purchased heavy duty vehicles. Supposedly it was designed to help farmers and construction workers afford new equipment – which would also help the manufacturers of heavy vehicles.

The result – doctors and real estate people driving around in Hummers that were paid for by the tax payers. More recently there was some sort of tax credit that allowed all sorts of people to buy golf carts at taxpayer expense.

Some might shrug it off as “unintended consequences”, but it happens on too regular a basis. Do we have a bunch of dummies representing us who don’t have any foresight to see the problems with the laws they pass?

The biggest shock in the last couple of years is the fact that no one in Washington seems to like reading. They pass bills without reading them and they threaten lawsuits against state laws that they don’t have time to read.

I think George Washington and the other Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.

I just looked back at the title of this piece. I think I got off the subject.

I wrote the title because I was thinking of the relationship between big business and government. A few weeks ago I learned that BP had donated millions of dollars to American political candidates. While the general public believes the Republicans are the ones “in bed with” the oil companies, the largest portion of BP’s  generosity went to the Democrats. It makes me wonder how much of President Obama’s posturing with the leaders of BP is nothing more than an act to make the voters feel good about something.

Yesterday I heard that BP may have had a significant hand in the release of the Pan-Am flight 103 bomber from a Scottish prison. Supposedly, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released for humanitarian reasons. He was suffering from cancer and had mere weeks to live.

That was almost a year ago and a doctor recently reported the man could live for at least another ten years. It seems BP had worked out a deal to begin off-shore drilling off the coast of Libya – the home country of  Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. BP had paid 900 million dollars in 2007 for the rights to drill. But the deal was tied up in administrative paperwork… until the bomber was released.

So, BP not only has a say in what we Americans do, they also meddle with Great Britain.

What was I saying about the real seat of POWER?

Enough rant for today. I hope and pray that I am wrong. I would love to hear from anyone. If you agree with me, I might feel worse. If you disagree, please tell me where I am mistaken. That might make me feel better.

I Beg to Differ

July 13, 2010

I recently forwarded an email to just about everyone on my mailing list – conservatives, liberals, independents, and totally apathetic people. I’ve heard back from very few. Some have called me names; some have challenged the facts presented.

Perhaps the major problem for those who did not care for the message was the use of the term “Death Panels”. I can understand that, but the name seems so apropos.

The one comment that truly stuck in my craw was the one that accused me of being a bigot. I have to wonder if George Bush was black how many Democrats would have been given the same title? It’s a shame that one cannot disagree with a man of color without being accused of racism.

Of course, we are learning that racism, under Eric Holder, is a one-way street.

Some might ask, “What’s so bad about holding a little stick in front of a polling place?” In years past, it was the white man holding the stick and threatening the black voters. That was also wrong. As my mother always said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Some might still insist the man is harmless. Those are the people who refuse to watch the evil FOX News Network and the even more evil Glen Beck. Of course, getting one’s news only from the major networks means you miss seeing things like this:

I searched for this video on the web sites of ABC, NBC, and CBS. If it was there, it was not easily located.

Hopefully, such things should make you question what else you might be missing by not watching the evil FOX network.

I recall years ago the Catholic Church would frequently ban movies and practically order their parishioners to stay away. For many Roman Catholics, that was a challenge that couldn’t be ignored. They would judge for themselves, thank you!

I’m saddened by the number of people who have made derogatory comments about FOX. I’m saddened, mainly, because they refuse to watch it. Why? What are they afraid of? Who told them it was evil? Have they no courage to see for themselves?

Glen Beck is accused of lying. Yet, most of his claims are backed up by video or audio tapes of the people in question.

On one recent program, Beck pointed out that George Soros has a 900 million dollar stake in Petro-Brazil… a company that showed fifteen billion in profits last year. (I wonder how that compares to BP, EXXON, and our other oil companies.)

To make that part of the story more interesting, Glen told us that Obama recently promised to “lend” Petro-Brazil two billion American tax-payer dollars for offshore drilling in South America. (I’ve read that same information in a number of other sources, but it didn’t make sense at the time.)

Then, when BP has the accident in the Gulf, Obama places a moratorium on offshore drilling in the US – putting thousands of people along the Gulf out of work. (Perhaps he forgot we have an unemployment problem.)

If the drilling platforms sit idle for any length of time, the owners of the rigs will move them elsewhere so they can continue to earn money by renting them to other oil companies. Now, where do you suppose they might go?

Since Glen Beck reported this story and pointed out how much money George Soros (a man who provided significant financial support to the political campaigns of Obama and other key Democrats) stands to make on his investments, I’ve heard nothing from the White House refuting the story. I think maybe they have temporarily given up their attempts to silence FOX.

Besides, they have so many of their followers believing that FOX is evil. No one should pay any attention to their reporting.

These are just a couple of examples why I forwarded the email. People need to start paying attention to what our government is doing to us.

As for the “death panels”, let’s look at some logic behind the claims.

The Health Care Reform bill is supposed to provide health insurance to thirty million people who did not have insurance before. The politicians would have us believe that those thirty million people simply couldn’t afford it. In truth, a large percentage of those simply saw themselves as immortal and didn’t want to spend the money. Another portion of the thirty million are illegal aliens who should not be living off the fat of the land to begin with. (I’m going to get lots of people angry with me. Maybe I am a bigot!)

In the meantime, many doctors have already stopped accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients for two reasons. First, the government refuses to pay them a reasonable fee for their services. Second, the government sees no reason to pay those doctors in a timely fashion.

Many doctors have threatened to retire if they are forced to take on government patients.

Thus, we’re adding thirty million patients and reducing the number of doctors. And we are told we will save money in the long run. Fewer doctors, less money, and more patients: Slice it and dice it as you will, someone will have to step in to control the rationing of health care, and dollar limits will have to be placed on individual cases.

What are those dollar limits? At this point, it is yet to be decided. Perhaps with Donald Berwick in charge we’ll soon get some answers. He seems to love the British model which calls for $100,000 maximum the first year of care and $50,000 per year there after.

I’m sure Dr. Berwick will be too busy to make these decisions on every individual case. Therefore, he’ll most likely set up panels of experts (accountants) to make the decisions. After all, the decisions must be cost effective if we’re going to save money in the long run.

Oh yes, I almost forgot, the NAACP is issuing a condemnation of the racist elements of the Tea Party movement. I wonder how Herman Cain (a very dark complected fellow) feels about that. First they called him a red neck. Now he’s a racist.

I wonder if the things I’ve said qualify as “Hate” speech? That’s another way our government is slowly taking away our freedom of speech.

Please note, I am not simply anti-Obama and the Democrats. I’d really prefer we vote all the scoundrels (both parties) out of office, replace them with true representatives of the people who would immediately set term limits, and see if we can’t get things back to what the Founding Fathers envisioned for the United States.