Big Government? Really?

"If the government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have."
-"If Elected, I Promise…": Stories and Gems of Wisdom by and About Politicians (1960) p. 193

I'm not sure who said this- Gerald Ford or Barry Goldwater, but I found it on Wikiquote under both their names (saying that it was often misattributed to Goldwater, so I guess Google was wrong when they put it up as their quote of the day by Goldwater and not Ford). Regardless of who said it, I think it is genius. Socialism is a dangerous philosophy for this country. I don't care how happy Denmark is, thinking that their Socialist government must be great and we should follow suit is comparing apples to oranges.

On the surface (i.e. In the 60-minutes piece), it is easy to look at the way they run their country and ask ourselves, "Now what is so bad about that? They're not doing any harm to anyone else." This is true- they are not doing any harm to anyone else. But what are they contributing?

Denmark is not known for contributing much to the global economy. They give nothing to the military needs of fighting terrorism or providing aid for anyone besides its own. I'd be curious to know how often charities are supported by the Danes. They are a homogenous society. They are taxed at 50%- HALF!- of their income. There is equal distribution of wealth, mandated by the government. The church is not supported by the people, but by the state. They get paid to go to school, and they also get paid not to go to school. They work less hard than we do, because their work ethic is in direct conflict with the rest of their values- thanks to the government. They have no national conflict. They get free healthcare and education. They scoff at the "American Dream."

This form of government works for them (as it also does in Iceland, no. 4 on the list of happiest countries, and the country of origin of my mom and her entire family), and it is detrimental in some ways that they could never know because they know nothing of living the alternative (democracy); but for them, it is also beneficial in many ways. Because of this socialist form of government, they have not only a homogenous population, but across-the-board values, and do not object to the choices that the government makes for them regarding their education, health care, and international policies. I do not disagree with the importance they place on time spent with family as a top priority in their lives- I believe most Americans would agree. I don't think they are bad people. I think that they live in a little bubble... and that works for them.

In the U.S., we do not live in a little bubble of idealism. Converting to this type of government will have disastrous consequences because we are a diverse population, given freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press, and by essence of these constitutional rights, we are a melting pot of value systems required to live in harmony with one another. Even if it is a gradual change, the choice to live our lives according to our own values will be robbed of us by a government deciding what is right and wrong, and whose lives are valuable or invaluable.

For example, yesterday I received an e-mail from my husband sent to him by a woman he leads worship with at a Worldwide Perspectives class. Her daughter and son-in-law had just found out that their unborn daughter, Hope, has no amniotic fluid supporting her in the womb, and she has no kidneys, a condition known as "Potter's Syndrome." This little girl will not survive outside the womb, in spite of the fact that the rest of her organs, including her brain and heart, are well-developed. The doctors offered this couple the option to terminate the pregnancy, but they refused, saying that they will let the Lord take Hope home in His timing. This is the second time that this couple has had this happen to them, and the third unsuccessful pregnancy overall. I don't even want to think about the pain they must be experiencing.

As our health care system stands today (as imperfect as it is), this couple had the right to say no when the doctor recommended abortion. Under a socialist health care system, that right would be robbed from them. Because the funding for such a system is limited to what they tax the population- not to mention the taxes we would pay to support the plethora of other government-run programs promised to us to support our 300,000,000+ population, along with the additional debt necessary to uphold the system (P.S. Denmark's population is 5,364,000. Iceland stands at about 301,000.)- the government will not pay for any expenses as this couple waits for the baby to be born, such as further testing, any future complications arising from the pregnancy, the birth itself. The government will see this precious life as "not worth" following its natural progression because it will die anyway, in spite of the fact that as long as it remains in the safety of the womb, it will remain alive. In spite of the horror of abortion and the parents' conviction that it is, in fact, murder (thank you ruling judges of Roe v. Wade for defining for the rest of us misguided souls the definition of murder. I thought that you commit murder when you stop a life from continuing? No?), they will be left with two choices: terminate the pregnancy and go against everything they believe in (as a fundamental constitutional right), or pay the exorbitant health care costs out-of-pocket, and find some way to go through a still-born birth in a system that refuses to respect their choices (notice I did not say "support them").

United States citizens do not live in a bubble. We live in a blessed, privileged society unfit for even the most subtle Socialism- the forcing of one group's beliefs and values on the entire population- in ANY way, shape or form. Those who live in America who believe that socialism works, that it's the way to go, that it's the ONLY way to happiness, need to simply up and move to a country that already functions that way. The rest of us who believe in the soveriegnty of this country will have no objection to that- I guess we will all be happy and get what we think is best, right? But trying to alter the very foundation of this country to fit some idealistic utopia where we are all happy and taken care of by our all-powerful, superhero government is among the most foolish and destructive things a leader of this country can do.

This sense of entitlement that seems to have overtaken our society makes no sense to me. I believe in working hard, I believe in charity, and I believe in choice. I believe that we are all created equal and I believe that some people make better decisions than others, and that whatever those choices look like, the good and the bad consequences have the potential to be carried through generations. Those in power in the public and the private spheres who made choices based on greed have caused destruction that reaches far beyond their pocketbooks and robbed many of the resources to get ahead in life. I also believe that no one can choose where and into what circumstances they are born, nor can they do anything about choices made by others that affect them; but they have the power to choose how to overcome those circumstances instead of extending out their palms saying, "You owe me a good life, America." People have the power to extend their hands to those in need. I believe that the "American Dream" looks different to each and every one of our citizens- be it reaching the million- (or billion-) dollar goal or merely putting food on the table for our families or living a simple life with little possessions and lots of charity or going into our voluntary armed forces to protect and preserve this great nation- and we are all entitled to pursuing those goals within the bounds of our society's law system. Whatever your "American Dream" looks like, be thankful that you have the freedom to pursue it.

I believe that taking steps in the direction of big government, in the name of "giving the people what they want," will destroy this country. Those of you who think otherwise can go ahead and take the infuriatingly-stupid-on-so-many-levels advice of this expert from Denmark (as quoted in the CBS News article):

"Asked what he would advise Americans to do, the man said, 'Well, okay. I have an advice. Don't depend too much on the American dream. Yeah. I think you might get disappointed.'"


For the curious nerd in all of us.

Being the biggest book nerds either of us know, Cody and I have decided to start frequenting the library now that we are working to become debt-free. Frequent trips to the bookstore and the impulsive purchases that result from them will be a thing of the past, with the exception that the library tends to close much earlier than the bookstore, in which case you may find us in a Borders or B&N from time to time.

Anyway, I went on the Scottsdale Public Library Web site to find out what their hours were- and found a plethora of nerdy resources that just made my day. Hands down, the coolest part of their site was the Opposing Viewpoints link under the research tab, perfect for someone who's trying to decipher where he stands on the major issues of the day. You have to sign up to be a member, but what an awesome resource! I personally don't want to start arguing for or against something until I have at least a minor grasp on the other side's view. Check it out here.

Speaking of books, we will be selling a bunch of ours, among other things. If you have seen our office, you would know that we have quite the impressive library of our own. Stay tuned for a list of titles, prices and links to the publisher's or descriptions.


Bubble Pirate: Revisited.

An old blog post from September about a trip Katie and I took to see our fave band, Stampead (see link for Milk and Honey under "Currently Rockin'") written on 9/26/07. We may have different opinions on lots of things, but we do agree on one thing: we love each other! :)

So there aren't many things that happen in my life that are all that blogworthy these days. Not that I live a completely boring existence… or maybe I do… it's just that the time isn't all there to sit down and partake in the blog antics of days of yore. However, I do want to take this opportunity to confess that I am a complete and total Band Aid, a la Almost Famous except without the sex and without traveling with the band, along with my trusty sidekick Katie, who has been there for some of the best memories of my life to date, i.e my 24th birthday, trips to Mexico and Flagstaff, and the subject of this particular blog, Sedona. Thanks, Katie.

from: Katie C.

to: Andrea E.

date: Sep 4, 2007 11:14 AM

subject: where are you???

did you get my retarded message about our boyfriend?!!!!!

i'm slightly excited. should i make the band a lasagna?

Now let me just clarify something: Katie and I are NOT stalkers. But we are polygamists. Or rather, we are obsessed with the show Big Love. Right around the time we were in Flagstaff in January, any guy we saw who we thought was cute became OUR boyfriend. This particular genre of men happens to include a dude in a band with a giant fro who can play the harmonica with all the passion of Beethoven, Hendrix and a rowdy presidential candidate debate rolled into one. You think I'm kidding, fine, you go watch Stampead live and see if you can ever look at a harmonica the same. After this weekend, I sure will never view the fall equinox the same. But, I digress.

It was raining on our way up to Sedona, and I was stoked given that I haven't actually witnessed rain in about six months. Katie, not so much… but she has curly hair that bears a striking resemblance to the above-mentioned fro at even the mere mention of humidity. When we got there, after much deliberation about which hotel with the word "Kokopelli" was actually the one where we were staying, we went off to find Oak Creek Brewery, the place where Stampead was playing, ahead of time. This was a good call because when we went back at night, we never would have found the place. This random little watering hole was tucked back in a dirt alley with NO LIGHTS to mark it until you're basically on top of it. So anyway, I'm expecting this to be a pretty big place, comparable to Four Peaks, because their beers are sold in every grocery store in the state, but… it wasn't. It was TINY. We park the car, walk in the door, pick a table (there were only 5 to choose from), and sit down with a little apprehension because 1. we weren't sure if they would recognize us from their show in Flag and 2. we weren't sure if we WANTED them to recognize us from Flag, mostly due to a particular comment someone made about 10,000 hairballs. The type of comment where your mouth seems to be moving, and sounds are coming out, but without the permission of your brain. So of course as soon as we sat down, a couple of the band members looked right at us and smiled. We weren't sure whether to be flattered or mortified. Our fears were further confirmed when their publicist asked me if I was ae. from MySpace… uhh… yes? But it was all made better when our boyfriend came over and said hi… and that he remembered that Katie was the one who sent a picture with one of the shirts that Sean gave us in Flag. Fortunately he didn't seem to recall anything about hairballs.

So the band played on. We chatted with them on their breaks, learning a few things here and there about their favorite stops along the way, their excitement to go home after 15 months of touring, how stoked they were that Katie has a camera that doesn't suck. Judd must have asked her about her Flickr page 465709824670274378206748102 times throughout the course of the night.

So this blog is about what happened in Sedona, but let me just throw in this shameless plug. GO TO ITUNES NOW AND DOWNLOAD STAMPEAD. All of it. And for goodness' sake, if you have the opportunity to see them play live, do whatever you can to go. Some of their lyrics, the kind of lyrics that make you wonder what the songwriter had been through that would inspire them in the first place, are so profound and heartbreaking you might want to curl up in the fetal position and cry your eyes out if it weren't for the energy and vibe of the music accompanying it. The song "Laid Down"? Um. Amazing. "Bang Our Glasses Again" is another fave. "Sinners, Saints and Accidents" and "Waiting for Tonight" are a knee-slapping good time. When you're watching a band play with the same energy and excitement in front of a room with five people as they would in front of a stadium with 50,000 people in it, you know that if they haven't hit it big yet, they absolutely, positively will. That kind of passion is rare and just can't be ignored for long. Hence the shameless plug.

Next stop: random house party. There is one thing I learned about Sedona and one thing I already knew: that Sedona is PITCH BLACK at night, and that it is New Age central, respectively. So after maneuvering our caravan, which included the band's van and trailer, a Honda Civic, and a Hyundai, around a very unorganized ten-point u-turn down a rocky red-dirt road, we eventually parked where we could safely assume there was a party, the only evidence being a long line of cars parked along a cliff road because we sure couldn't see anything else. We trekked along the road a ways and we look over and the WHOLE SIDE of this cliff is illuminated and we hear music. This house had to have been the coolest place I had ever been. Dancing commenced and didn't really stop until about 3 a.m. It also poured rain pretty much the whole time.

There were three things that were noteworthy about this party. We will do this in outline form:

1. One band member, who shall remain nameless, was, according to Katie:

a. Making out with this chick who was

i. Really blonde

ii. Really 45

b. At some point they went MIA.

c. I must note that

i. There was a lot of alcohol at this party

ii. Who knows, maybe he doesn't discriminate.

2. Somehow, I ended up on Eric's shoulders. It was like:

a.  A game of chicken, only:

i. Without the pool.

ii. Without anyone else playing.

b. Also according to Katie, I was freaking out and Eric was trying to tell me to calm down, but like, what do you do in that situation? If you fall, do you:

i. Grab his face?

ii. Uhh… no, you grab the FRO! That thing really comes in handy for things like

1. Impromptu cheerleading moves, and

2. Getting invited to parties at the grocery store.

c. If the picture Katie took is any indication, by the look on his face he probably regretted that decision.

3. There was a guy there who we all affectionately referred to as the "Bubble Pirate." He was:

a. Dressed like a pirate.

b. Covered in glitter.

c. Carrying around bubbles and a wand.

d. Giving bubble blessings to celebrate the fall equinox.

i. The fall equinox was apparently the whole reason for this party in the first place.

Then I remembered where we were. Oh, Sedona. I heart you for so many more reasons now.

Dog Amore/Puppy Love?

Come late summer or early fall, or a year from now, or maybe two (it's anyone's guess, really), the Alley household will have a new addition in the form of a furry, white-and-apricot, squirmy little turd factory otherwise known as The Cavachon. We decided that THOR couldn't live without a life partner (...not that kind of life partner) after a dog-sitting incident gone awry that left THOR more depressed than either of us ever thought possible. By "incident gone awry" I don't mean imminent household destruction with Cody's sanity hanging by a thread (although there was, apparently, a territory-marking competition that left various yellow streaks on furniture just the right color that all pee evidence disappeared on contact, which left Cody questioning my sanity upon knowledge of said pee). By "incident gone awry" I mean that in the end, we wondered if we had a bipolar puppy on our hands; we have never seen such highs and lows in such a short span of time. 

Stop it. Stop laughing. Dog psychology is serious stuff, people. 

If THOR is anything, he isn't territorial. He's the most social little thing you'll ever meet, althought he is TERRIFIED of loud noises, particularly of the diesel truck variety, or any noise I make while washing the dishes. THOR was high on life with his new BFF Ollie who, from his perspective, had apparently taken up residence in his home. Then, here comes Mom and her friends after an overnighter in Flagstaff, barging in on all the fun, and off goes his new BFF Ollie with Mom's friends when they leave. 

Mom is not an acceptable substitute for the new BFF. Come to think of it, Mom isn't really an acceptable substitute for anything.

Within minutes, THOR sank into such a deep depression we couldn't help but wonder if we left him unattended long enough he would throw himself over the balcony to a grisly, lovesick death. Fortunately, he's a dog; they don't contemplate such things.

Cody and I had been thinking about getting a second dog for a while now. We weren't even really close to making the final decision, but this more or less sent us over the edge (is that an indication that we are going to raise narcissistic, selfish, greedy little brats when we have children of our own someday? Dog throws fit, we give in? Dog says jump, we buy another dog? This whole dog thing might not be the great preparation that we thought...). So we put a deposit down with a breeder in the White Mountains on a little girl Cavachon, and we are number six on the list. Immediately thereafter, my debit card was hacked and some idiot ran up more than $700 on three different wireless companies (p.s.- I don't recommend paying for anything through PayPal). Anyway, I digress. After the marking debacle, we decided another boy probably wouldn't be the best thing for our furniture, OR the deposit we put down on our apartment. Besides, if we get a girl dog, I will get to dress her up in cute doggie outfits, which I would never do (excessively) to THOR, because he already has a hard enough time being distinguished as a guy to begin with (see pictures).

All that said, I'll tell you what- if this is any indication of the chaos we can expect, we might need more than a few margaritas on the beach to make us feel normal again. While we don't have the four-year-old voicing her clearly important opinions on everything that goes on, all the time, we do have jobs that require us to leave home, which I think merits a bump up on the insanity factor (dogs don't sleep well at night after they have been sleeping all day while you're at work. We have a chewed-through down comforter and rogue feathers throughout our home to prove it). 

On an ever-so-slightly different note, Cody and I went to Borders last night to feed our unquenchable reading addiction (I suppose there are worse vices in the world). Because of my tendency to instantaneously develop a severe case of ADHD each and every time we visit any book store, we subsequently spend hours there, causing Cody to search high and low for hot pitchforks with which to gouge out his eyes- yes, even he, a fellow book addict, cannot match the time I like to spend surrounded by fafillions of books. In my fit of ADHD rage, I came across this little gem. I didn't even get to the end of the book's description before I crumpled in a corner bawling my eyes out asking God, "WHY!?!?! WHY DO YOU MAKE US LOVE THEM SO MUCH AND THEN LOSE THEM?!?!?! WHHHHYYYYYYY!!!!!" 

OK, so that was a little dramatic. Yeah... It didn't really happen like that. But it sure did make me want to go home and snuggle up with my little man and keep him safe from the big, bad world out there. Anyone who doesn't love dogs should be committed. Or... maybe that's me.


The LOVE of money is the root of all evil...

"As a Christian, I am amazed how certain political and religious groups have decided that wealth is evil. Many of the heroes of biblical faith, of world history, and of our nation were very wealthy, including Kind David, Solomon, Job, and most of our Founding Fathers. There is a negative mind-set justifying money mediocrity that is maddening. Wealth is not evil, and people who possess it aren't evil by virtue of the wealth. There are rich jerks and poor jerks. Dallas Willard, in his book Spirit of the Disciplines, says to use riches is to cause them to be consumed, to trust in riches is to count upon them for things they cannot provide, but to possess riches is to have the right to say how they will or will not be used.

If you are a good person, it is your spiritual duty to possess riches for the good of mankind. If you are a Christian like me, it is your spiritual duty to possess riches so that you can do with them things that bring glory to God. The bottom line is, if you take the stand that managing wealth is evil or carnal, then by default you leave all the wealth to the evil, carnal people. If wealth is spiritually bad, then good people can't have it, so all the bad people get it. It is the duty of the good people to get wealth to keep it from the bad people, because the good people will do good with it. If we all abandon money because some misguided souls view it as evil, then the only ones with money will be the pornographer, the drug dealer, or the pimp. Simple enough?"

Just a thoughtful snippet from Dave Ramsey in Total Money Makeover. Sure gets me thinking about how I'd rather have the opportunity to get on my feet financially so I can give generously, of my own volition, than have my paychecks taxed away to go to government-run programs that exist but do very little to alleviate real problems, or that simply go against my value system by the essence of their existence. More thoughts on that later... maybe. Right now it's bedtime.


I dare you to resist this face. Or his mohawk. THOR at his finest.

Romney Steps Down, and other tangents.

Today was a sad day in the world of fundamental conservatism: Mitt Romney stepped down as Republican presidential candidate.

Favorite quote: (regarding big government) "Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is culture-killing. It's like a drug. And we have to fight it like the poison that it is." and "Can you imagine what would happen with the economy when the best opportunities are for bureaucrats?" (LOL.)

On a relatively unrelated note: Although I was a Romney supporter politically, I find it strangely ironic that he sought to lead this country with a solid base on its founding principles (that's the conserv- of conservatism, for anyone who was wondering) when he is a member of a religion whose principles evolve according to whatever the current church president's "revelations" happen to be, i.e. previous revelations become null and void if the current president's contradict them. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can assure you there is plenty of evidence to back that up (check this out for example). Nevertheless, like I love my liberal friends, I am not a Mormon-hater, I don't think they're bad people, etc. etc. I just disagree with their views on Christ's role in mankind's salvation, among other things.

OK, I'm waaaay off on a tangent here. Given that the conservative movement is no doubt up in arms at the loss of our prize candidate, here is an article I found on the National Review that I found interesting. While McCain rubs a lot of us the wrong way on many issues (my biggest problem with him being his views on illegal immigration, and believe me, you DON'T want to get me fired up about that one), for conservatives to say that it "doesn't matter now if a Democrat wins" would be a terrible fallacy. Many are convinced that he is a Democrat in a Republican's nicely-pressed suit- and only time will tell on that one- but there are still a multitude of issues that he backs the same way the rest of the Republican party does.

I intend to be careful in my judgment of this front-runner of our party. No candidate will EVER be perfect, because no MAN is perfect. McCain gets crucified for his civil, and even friendly, relationships with democrats and liberals because they are "they" and we are "us." Since when did it become right to hate other people who disagree with your beliefs? If you truly think you should write someone off because they don't see things your way, then a. you won't be left with many friends, and b. that goes entirely against the Christian faith the conservative movement fights so hard to preserve in our culture of free religion. If we should be fighting against anything, it's hypocrisy. It will be interesting to explore that further as this blog goes on.

I agree with what Laura Ingraham said on her show this morning- that McCain is fully aware of where the conservative movement stands regarding his candidacy, and it should be his responsibility to build bridges to us, instead of expecting an ENTIRE movement of people to change for him (everyone was PISSED because he delivered a speech wherein he told everyone to "calm down."). Just remember that it is hard enough to really get to know the heart of someone close to you. Don't think it's any easier to truly know the heart of a public figure who is scrutinized in every manner possible in every existing media outlet every day of the week.


Reconcile this.

Being that this is a big election year, and we live in a country FULL of conflicting ideas, opinions, political views, and beliefs, I have been putting a lot of thought into my political views and how they relate to my Christian faith. I am a conservative politically, but do not believe that the Christian faith somehow belongs to the far right, i.e. that you can't be a liberal AND a Christian at the same time. It saddens me that there may be people out there who actually think that. It also saddens me when I hear liberals accusing conservatives of being selfish, greedy and evil, because not only is it wrong to generalize, it is also a personal attack on me, and hey, at least I'd like to think that I'm not those things :)

My point is this: I think it's possible for faith and politics to be reconciled (and yes, I do realize that Jim Wallis has long began exploring this subject... I'm just not entirely sure I completely agree with his views, either). I have been doing a lot of reading and putting a lot of thought and prayer into what that exactly looks like, and I am nowhere near reaching a conclusion on this. In the end, maybe this will change me entirely. But right now, I stand behind my political views, and believe that this exploration may only strengthen them.

While this blog is going to be about anything I want it to be about, there will be a post here and there about specific, pressing issues facing our country today, what conservatives and liberals have to say on these issues, what the Word has to say about these issues, and what I personally believe is the correct response, and I invite any readers to respond to these things too.

All I ask is that we keep the name-calling to a minimum. Because believe me, if I can continue to keep the same circle of my closest friends (many of whom have extreme liberal, democratic beliefs) for years- some even decades- while being a highly conservative Republican, I think we can keep things civil in blog-land. Capishe?