South Georgia Mar. 23, 2005 edition
Sales Tax - Good or Bad
by John R. Taylor
A good friend was in my office the other day and he, for not the first
time, began preaching on one of his favorite pet projects - a federal
sales tax. His idea is to replace the federal income tax with a sales
tax. There are some good things this would do and he articulated
several of them.
But there is much about a federal sales tax we must think long and
hard about. It is true that such a tax would be an automatic incentive
to save, and we as a nation really do need to save more. There could
be some exemptions such as unprepared food or medicine that could make
it at least somewhat progressive. However, there is no escaping the
fact that the less you have the less you have to save and the more you
have the more you can save.
For example, a family of four earning $30,000
annually, spend pretty much all of it. Not by choice, but by
necessity; it takes it all to live. But let's say this family is very
frugal and they some how manage to save 10%. Their $3000 in savings
would not be taxed, but the rest of their $27,000 of income would be
taxed. So 90% of their income is taxed.
Now lets take a family of four earning $300,000
annually. Now these folks live a little higher on the hog than their
poorer countryman, so let's say they spend three times the $27,000.
That's $81,000 for living expense. That leaves $219,000 they can save,
and thus avoid paying any tax on that money.
A Federal Sales Tax would only make the rich
richer and the poor poorer. The one good thing it might do is cause a
taxpayer revolt. If we had to pay 20-30% additional sales tax on our
purchase, (and it would take at least that,) we might get quickly feed
up with the over taxation. As it is now the payroll withholdings get
if before we ever see it and we don’t realize just how much we are
For those of you who don't think it would take
that high of a rate: remember that under the current federal income
tax laws the top marginal tax bracket is near 50%. The government is
collecting billions from these top earners and that would be gone with
a sales tax.
The main thing wrong with our current income tax
is that the rate is too high across the board. We have an appallingly
inefficient federal government that waste billions on pork-barrel
projects to get congressman reelected and by throwing money at
problems which can not be solved by money.
The greatest injustice of the current system is that a person earning
$50,000 annually pays and effective tax rate fifty times that of a
person earning $25,000 per year, yet his marginal tax rate is the same
as someone earning $50,000,000 per year. How is this fair? It would
seem that the system was designed to keep the status quo. The very
rich can pay the higher rate because they have an abundance, but as
the poor try to move up the increased rates start so soon and max out
at a relatively low income that the tax can itself keep someone from
becoming rich. The rich get richer; the poor poorer, and moving
between income levels is difficult.
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The usual suspects
We have received reports this week that David Darby has allegedly been
a good neighbor. Investigators suspect that he has been conducting
these activities for decades. While he has successfully avoided
detection for much of the good he has done, there are still numerous
reports of him fleeing the scene, after leaving fruit or vegetables at
the door on one of his neighbors. An unsuspecting neighbor will open
their door to find a sack full of fresh tomatoes, and there will be
Mr. Darby's back slipping out of sight around the corner, or, after
finding a fruit basket you notice that everyone has a fruit basket at
their door - everyone but Mr. Darby, how suspicious.
While there is little hard evidence to connect him to these random
acts of kindness, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.
And this is not all. We have found dozens of witness, (and we could
have found hundreds,) who testified that Mr. Darby always has a smile
and kind word for everyone he sees. Now you might think this is a
small thing, but though a smile cost nothing to the giver, it can be
invaluable to the recipient. How important is feeling good? All the
wealth which is spent in the world on material things is spent in
hopes of making the buyer feel good. These material things seldom work
at making one feel good, but a smile can often do it.
I didn't live on this world when the Savior of mankind walked it, but
if I had, and I met Him, I think He would have had a kind and loving
smile as Mr. Darby does. When I was a small boy I was afraid of the
men who went to my church. Were they bad men? I am sure they were not,
but they nonetheless frighten a young boy. They were scary because
their faces were always a serous, and to me, a mean frown. I am sure
these were important men. Jesus is the most important of all, but I
bet He would not treat you like He was important. He would treat you
like you were important. That's what our good neighbor, Mr. Darby
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Brownies With a Difference
Many parents are hard put to explain to their
youth why some music, movies, books, and magazines are not acceptable
material for them to bring into the home, for their youth to see, or
One parent came up with an original idea that
was hard to refute. He listened to all the reasons his children gave
for wanting to see a particular PG-13 movie. It had their favorite
actors. Everyone else was seeing it. Even church members said it was
great. It was only rated PG-13 because of the suggestion of sex. They
never really showed it. The language was pretty good. They only used
the Lord's name in vain three times in the whole movie. The video
effects were fabulous and the plot was action packed. Yes, there was
the scene where a building and a bunch of people got blown up, but the
violence was just the normal stuff. It wasn't very bad.
Even with all these explanations for the
rating, the father wouldn't give in. He didn't even give them a
satisfying explanation for saying "No". He just said, "No".
It was a little bit later that evening, that
this same father asked his teens if they would like some brownies he
had prepared. He explained that he had taken the families favorite
recipe and added something new. They asked what it was. He calmly
replied that he had added dog poop. He stated that it was only a
little bit. All the ingredients were gourmet quality. He had taken
great care to bake it at the precise temperature for the exact time.
He was sure the brownies would be superb. Even with all the
explanations of the perfect attributes of the brownies, the teens
would not take one.
The father acted surprised. There was only
one little element that would have caused them to act so stubbornly.
He assured them that they would hardly notice it if at all. They all
held firm and would not try the brownies.
He then explained that the movie they wanted
to see was just like the brownies. Satan tries to enter our minds and
our homes by deceiving us into believing that just a little bit of
evil won't matter. With the brownies, just a little bit makes all the
difference between a great brownie and a totally unacceptable product.
He explained that even though the movie
people would have us believe the movies which are coming out are
acceptable for adults and youth's to see they are not. Test your movie
and see. Would you be comfortable taking Christ with you to see the
movie? Now when this father's youth want to do something or see
something they should not, the father merely asks them if they would
like some of his special dog poop brownies and they never ask about
that item again.
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by John R. Taylor
This past week I spoke to some of my cousins who happen to have the
same names as some of the ones in Names column from the last issue of
Views & News and they said that they thought the story was very funny
and they genuinely enjoyed it, but they had no recollection of any of
those things happening. I then just explained that I have a much
superior power of memory. I can remember many things that others
cannot. Heck, I can even remember the day I was born; it was so cold
and wet and bright… no, wait a minute; that was the day I floated down
the Ichetucknee river, not the day I was born. But anyway, I have a
really good memory. They said it might have something to do with that
other thing, but I don't see how that is possible.
It is true, that as a twelve year old I
spent several days in never-never-land after butting out the
windshield of a Chevy pick-up, as said pick-up scored a 9.2 for a 2 ½
cartwheel with a ½ twist in the freestyle of auto wrecking event. I
never lost consciousness, that night anyway, that was reserved for the
next day and a few days there after. As I walked to the ambulance/hurst,
(they were the same in those days, which was efficient, no matter
where you were going, you could ride in the same vehicle,) I leaned
down and something gross fell from the wound in my head to the ground.
The ambulance driver/undertaker guy, we didn't have paramedics then
either, kicked some dirt over the gross part of me that had fallen on
the ground and said, "Ah, you don't need that." Some folks have
asserted since that time that I did indeed need it. But I don't think
they have a point. The doctors did tell Daddy that I would probably
die before I woke up, or that if I did wake up, I would have severe
brain damage. … What? I didn't die.
Well from those cavernous recesses of
my mind, I have these new stories for you. This is how I remember it.
There is a thing that folks I grew up
around called grit. Now I have sense heard Yankees call it sand. What
ever rough silica you want to call it, I had a cousin that had more
than his share. Now cousin James, uncle Ellie's youngest boy, was not
too big; matter of fact he was kinda skinny and wiry. But compared to
him a badger was just a little dossal kitten. He was tough as nails
and loved to fight more than he liked to eat, and he was none too
choosey as to whom or even what he fought. He figured that if he
couldn't get into at least three fights at school, it was a waste of
time to get on the bus. Of course it was a long bus ride; they lived
so far back in the sticks they had to get on the bus Saturday night to
make it to school Monday morning. Na, I'm just pulling your leg, the
bus ride was only about an hour and a half.
For those of you who still are not
quite sure what this grit I speak of is, I have a little story;
actually I have two or three stories to clue you in. One day when we
were more than seven or eight but less than twelve, James, his brother
Buie and myself had made a great trek to the trash pile. While
plundering for treasure we came upon a mountain of old shingles. We
had no use for the shingles, but the large pile made a magnificent
site for a king of the mountain challenge. We each in turn would
ascend to the summit only to be knocked or drug to the bottom by one
or both of our fellow combatants. For ten or so minutes we had great
fun, then Buie and I together shoved James hard off the mountain, and
as he lost his balance he made a grand leap backwards, landing on his
feet at the bottom of the pile of shingles. We knew in an instant that
something was amiss. When he landed, James' face made a ghastly cringe
and his color went pale yellow. He made no sound, but stood very still
with his legs apart and his knees bent a slightly. His arms were out
from his sides a little with elbows bent and fists clinched. He looked
like a linebacker readying for the snap of the ball. I looked down at
him and as my gaze went to his bare feet I saw the problem. The skin
on the top of his right foot was poking up two or three inches like a
gruesome Indian tepee. Buie and I scampered down to James. Seeing his
foot close up made me kind of sick. The skin was stretched so tight it
looked like rubber; at the point it pushed up the highest it was no
bigger than a pencil.
Where he had landed it looked like just
a nearly level layer of shingles. Whatever was in his foot must have
been just under the shingles, and his weight had pushed it through the
shingles and his foot, all but the skin on the top. When we got to him
he put his arms around us, one on each side, and strained to pull his
foot up and free. I could see the muscles in his leg flex and strain
and his foot bent up at an awkward angle, but he could not get free.
"Grab my leg and help me pull", he said. Buie and I each got hold of
his leg and pulled with our might. When we did, we picked up James and
the layer of shingles all around him. "There must be a board or
somethin' under there", I said. Buie and I tried to stand on the board
that was under the shingles. Buie was also barefooted, so I didn't
think it a good idea him stomping around on the shingles trying to
locate the board. But I didn't say anything. After a bit, we got our
weight on the board and again yanked on James' leg. It didn't come
free quickly, but this time we slowly pulled his foot up. As the thing
was tearing free of his foot, James made a hissing sound as he sucked
air through his clenched teeth. He also made bruises on my upper arm
as he squeezed it.
When his foot finally popped free, we
all three fell back flat on our backs. Setting up, I saw this ugly red
thing projecting up from the shingles where James had stood. It was as
big as a new pencil and was covered with bright red blood and meat.
When we inspected it closer, we could see that it was a giant rusty,
nail. Parts of it had rusted away so that it was not a uniformed
diameter and the larger parts had acted as nasty, sharp barbs digging
into the meat and bones when we had tried to pull it out.
We asked if he was alright and he said
he was, but when he tried to put his weight on the foot his knee would
Buie and I had a conference and decided
that James would have to wait till we brought back help. James wasn't
included in the conference and he had a conference with himself and
decided that we would have to carry him back. Now back in those days
the two or three mile walk back to their house was nothing, but I
didn't think I wanted to tote my cousin that distance.
After a good bit of discussion and
several words that Aunt Angie Mae would not approve of, Buie and I
decided that we would walk back for help, and James decided we would
carry him. Looking back, I am a little ashamed that we pushed our
wounded comrade off our shoulders. I'm not real ashamed; I've done
some things that make me real ashamed, but that made me a little
I was a little ashamed, and Buie was not a bit ashamed and we both
started walking back home. We did walk a little slow, so James could
hobble along behind us. With every step James made a small round blood
spot on the dirt road.
The further we went the less bad I felt
about making James walk. This might have had something to do with the
vehement assertions James kept making that I had a canine pedigree.
That's not exactly what he said, but I think the meaning is the same.
He also said the same thing about Buie, which was strange since they
were brothers. I never knew he was even interested in genealogy.
In due time, we made it back home.
James didn't die, but he did get blood poison and almost lost his leg.
If you still are unsure of just what
this thing they call grit is, have no fear; I have a couple more
stories about Cousin James, Uncle Ellie's boy, which will sure
enlighten you. But that is for another time.
By Lafcadio Hearn
March 25, 1904
IT HAD BEEN ORDERED that the execution should take place in the garden
of the yashiki. So the man was taken there, and made to kneel down in
a wide sanded space crossed by a line of tobi-ishi, or stepping
stones, such as you may still see in Japanese landscape-gardens. His
arms were bound behind him. Retainers brought water in buckets, and
rice-bags filled with pebbles; and they packed the rice-bags round the
kneeling man--so wedging him in that he could not move. The master
came, and observed the arrangements. He found them satisfactory, and
made no remarks.
Suddenly the condemned man cried out to him:
"Honored sir, the fault for which I
have been doomed I did not wittingly commit. It was only my very great
stupidity which caused the fault. Having been born stupid, by reason
of my karma, I could not always help making mistakes. But to kill a
man for being stupid is wrong--and that wrong will be repaid. So
surely as you kill me, so surely shall I be avenged;--out of the
resentment that you provoke will come the vengeance; and evil will be
rendered for evil."
If any person be killed while feeling
strong resentment, the ghost of that person will be able to take
vengeance upon the killer. This the samurai knew. He replied very
"We shall allow you to frighten us as much as you please--after you
are dead. But it is difficult to believe that you mean what you say.
Will you try to give us some sign of your great resentment--after your
head has been cut off?"
"Assuredly I will," answered the man.
"Very well," said the samurai, drawing
his long sword;--"I am now going to cut off your head. Directly in
front of you there is a stepping-stone. After your head has been cut
off, try to bite the stepping-stone. If your angry ghost can help you
to do that, some of us may be frightened. . . . Will you try to bite
"I will bite it!" cried the man, in
great anger--"I will bite it!--I will bite--"
There was a flash, a swish, a crunching
thud: the bound body bowed over the rice sacks--two long blood-jets
pumping from the shorn neck;--and the head rolled upon the sand.
Heavily toward the stepping-stone it rolled: then, suddenly bounding,
it caught the upper edge of the stone between its teeth, clung
desperately for a moment, and dropped inert.
None spoke; but the retainers stared in
horror at their master. He seemed to be quite unconcerned. He merely
held out his sword to the nearest attendant, who, with a wooden
dipper, poured water over the blade from haft to point, and then
carefully wiped the steel several times with sheets of soft paper. ..
. And thus ended the ceremonial part of the incident.
For months thereafter, the retainers
and the domestics lived in ceaseless fear of ghostly visitation. None
of them doubted that the promised vengeance would come; and their
constant terror caused them to hear and to see much that did not
exist. They became afraid of the sound of the wind in the
bamboos--afraid even of the stirring of shadows in the garden. At
last, after taking counsel together, they decided to petition their
master to have a Ségaki-service performed on behalf of the vengeful
"Quite unnecessary," the samurai said,
when his chief retainer had uttered the general wish. . . . "I
understand that the desire of a dying man for revenge may be a cause
for fear. But in this case there is nothing to fear."
The retainer looked at his master
beseechingly, but hesitated to ask the reason of this alarming
"Oh, the reason is simple enough,"
declared the samurai, divining the unspoken doubt. "Only the very last
intention of that fellow could have been dangerous; and when I
challenged him to give me the sign, I diverted his mind from the
desire of revenge. He died with the set purpose of biting the
stepping-stone; and that purpose he was able to accomplish, but
nothing else. All the rest he must have forgotten. . . So you need not
feel any further anxiety about the matter."
And indeed the dead man gave no more trouble. Nothing at all happened.
While many of the humanists and atheists
would have us believe that religion is outdated and irrelevant in
today's world, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of the
world's inhabitants have very strong religious views. Most of the good
actions, and sadly, many of the bad, are done for religious reason. In
this country we as a nation have strayed far from our religious roots.
Views & News will present an essay on a different religion each week.
We will be as subjective, opened minded,
factual, and fair as possible. Nothing in any essay is in anyway
intended as an endorsement of any particular religion. If you would
like to dispute, correct, or add to anything presented, please submit
these to us. Christian and non-Christian religions will both be
covered and we will select their order by what we deem as relevant and
interesting at the present time. Religions that are very well known,
will be presented after those we know little of as a matter of course.
If you have missed any of our past essays on Islam, Jehovah’s
Witnesses, Presbyterians, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, or the Anglican Church, you can read them online at
Our first Know Religion was on Islam but many
of you missed it. For those of you who did we have reprinted it.
At this point in history there is no other religion that is more in
the focus of Americans than Islam. We know little of it, and few of us
are Moslem, yet it impacts our lives in a major way.
Islam is the religion of over 1.1 billion
people. It ranks 2nd to Christianity, which has about 2 billion
followers worldwide. Moslems or Muslims are most heavily concentrated
in the Middle East, North Africa, and Indonesia, but there are Moslems
in almost every country of the world. It is the state religion of many
Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, and Kuwait and until
recently Iraq and Afghanistan, where the practice of other religions
is outlawed or unofficially suppressed.
The name of their religion, Islam, means to
surrender, (to Allah, (God)). Muslim or the Anglicized "Moslem" means
one who surrenders. Islam, founded in 622 AD, is the newest of what is
called the three great monotheistic religions; Judaism, Christianity
and Islam. According to its own declaration, Islam acknowledged the
validity of Judaism and Christianity, believing itself to be the
fulfillment of these earlier religions.
Evidence shows, however, that Islam went back
to a primitive monotheistic belief of ancient Arabia. Though the early
faith in Allah was not monotheism complete with theological dogma,
there was a continuous tradition among the peoples of the desert, or
among some of them, which maintained a belief in an Originator, a
Supreme Being. This High God was the guardian of their flocks, arbiter
of ends, protector of their lives, sender of the rain, and their
defender against the hazards of fate.
Moslems worship one God, called Allah (Arabic
for "The God"). They believe He sands alone, has absolute will, and
controls all of man's actions. In most other respects, however, He
resembles the Christian and Jewish God.
Moslems believe God gave certain men the
power to communicate with him through angles. The function of these
men was to guide other mortals to Salvation. The greatest of theses
prophets were Adam, Noah, the house of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and
Mohammed. Moslems accept the miracles and virgin birth of Jesus but
deny his divinity, crucifixion and resurrection. The do not attribute
supernatural powers to Mohammed, but consider him the last and hence
the most authoritative of the prophets.
The Koran, now usually spelled with a Q, is the basic source of
Islamic law and ritual. Moslems believe it was dictated to Mohammed by
God, though the angel Gabriel.
Like Christians, Moslems believe in a
Judgment Day, when the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will
be punished. The Koran's description of Judgment Day is generally
similar to the Bible's, although the details differ.
A Moslem has five religious obligations:
Profession of faith. A Moslem's most essential obligation is the
repetition of this creed: "There is no God but Allah; Mohammed is His
Prayers: Prayers must be said five times each
day. They may be said either privately or in a mosque. In public
worship, men and women are usually separated. A worshiper precedes
prayer with a ritual washing. He then faces the holy city of Mecca and
follows a fixed ritual of recitation and prostration. On Fridays, a
worship service at the mosque is required. Besides the ritual prayers,
the service includes a reading from the Koran and a sermon.
Almsgiving: Alms maybe compulsory (zakat) of
voluntary (sadaqat). Only when zakat has been paid, in money or goods,
is the rest of Moslem's property considered purified and legitimate.
In Moslem states, zakat is collected by the government.
Fasting: Moslems cannot eat or drink during
the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of their lunar year.
Pilgrimage: Once in his lifetime, every
Moslem who is financially and physically able must travel to Mecca.
This pilgrimage is called the hajj. A Moslem who has made it is a
Religious War or Jihad: Moslems consider it
an obligation to spread Islam by force. The Koran does not
specifically state this but Mohammed taught, "invitation first, next
The beginnings of Islam go back to Mohammed's
preaching in his native Mecca. However, the faith did not become fully
developed until he moved to Medina, (until then called Yathrib) in 622
AD. His migration to Medina, called the Hegira, begins the Moslem
Mohammed expanded Islam through conquest; he
fought some eighty wars and by his death he had conquered most of the
Arabia peninsula. His early successors continued this practice. The
Moslem warriors believed that if they died for Islam they would
automatically go to heaven. This belief, along with the promise of
land and loot, spurred the Moslem armies on to conquer the Middle
East, North Africa, and Spain. They almost overran southwestern
Europe, but were stopped by the Franks under Charles Martel at the
Battle of Tours.
During the early period of conquest, bitter
theological and political dissension developed among the Moslems. In
the selection of early caliphs, (successors to Mohammed as rulers of
the Moslem world), Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed, was bypassed. The
third caliph, a member of the Omayya family, was murdered by
malcontents in 656, and Ali was elected to succeed him. Muawiyah, the
Omayyad governor of Syria, refused to recognize Ali as caliph.
When Ali was murdered in 661 by a member of a
dissident sect, Muawiyah succeeded him, moved the Moslem capital from
Medina to Damascus, and made the caliphate hereditary in the Omayya
family. Military force was required to establish the new caliph's
political authority. Spiritually, many Moslems never accepted him. The
followers of Ali formed a new branch of Islam - the Shiite, as opposed
to the Sunnite, or orthodox, branch. These two great divisions still
exist today. The Shiites believe that Ali had divine powers and was
the first legitimate caliph and that his heirs, also divinely
inspired, were the rightful rulers of Islam. These rulers are called
The succession of caliphs, called the
caliphate, survived until 1924. At the present time, there is no
universal Moslem leader.
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