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26 May 2011

Helping the Poor

I saw a bumper sticker very much like this today. The one I saw actually added a word, so it said:

When did helping the poor become a sin?

It made me sad, because it speaks to a divide that doesn't need to exist. Obviously, helping the poor, in and of itself, is not sin. Americans, both Liberal and Conservative, are often giving and generous people. Members of both groups often care deeply about those less fortunate than themselves, yet to listen to our political debate one might come to the conclusion that some, particularly Conservatives, don't care at all about the poor. I know that as a constitutional originalist I have been told that I clearly don't care what happens to the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I simply don't think that charitable works fall into the proper role of government, so I oppose governmental "charity" whenever it come up. I believe that charitable work is, in every case, the exclusive domain of the private sector. The reasoning behind this belief is all in the funding. Let me explain.

Government produces nothing. Any funds the government has come from taxation - that is, from taking money from the individual citizens. The money is taken regardless of the condition it leaves the citizen and their family in, regardless of the individual's opinion on the matter. You know the old saying: "Nothing is sure but death and taxes." So, anything we spend tax money on must be clearly justified, in all cases, before we take that money from its rightful owners.

I believe we Americans should use extreme care before lending our support to any proposed government program. We should fully recognize that government is no plaything. As George Washington warned, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!” (The Red Carpet, p.142) It is an instrument of force and unless our conscience is clear that we would not hesitate to put a man to death, put him in jail or forcibly deprive him of his property for failing to obey a given law, we should oppose it.
-Ezra Taft Benson, Proper Role of Government

I like to test the programs by putting myself in the place of the recipient, and my widowed neighbor lady in the position of the taxed "donor." Could I make her pay my children's medical bills, buy my groceries, pay my mortgage or bail out my failing business? Would I be justified in sending her to prison, garnishing her wages, or otherwise penalizing her for refusal? Of course not. If I do that as a private citizen, it's called theft. If I get my government to do it for me, it's called Legalized Plunder. In both cases it's clearly morally wrong.

Legalized Plunder - or governmental "charity" - is also unconstitutional. James Madison, also known as the Father of the Constitution, said this about it:

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

None of this implies that there is not a need to assist those less fortunate; only that the government is not a moral means of doing so. Clearly for Christians there is a religious imperative to assist wherever and whenever we have the ability.

But even were it moral for government to assist with charitable works, I would still oppose it. The inefficiency and corruption of government is legendary. They hardly qualify as a well-run, effective charitable organization! Eliminating governmental "charity" would dramatically reduce the tax burden. With that money, one of the things my husband and I would do is increase our charitable donations - to charities of our choosing. Rather than being forced to contribute to Planned Parenthood, an organization that I despise, I would give to my faith's Perpetual Education Fund, or the Humanitarian Aid Fund. In order to help on a more local level, we would give a larger fast offering. But my family's money is being taken from us to fund other things, not of our choosing. And the sad fact is, by the time I care for my own family's needs, there's just not a lot left over to assist others. It doesn't have to be this way. I fervently believe that if the government did less, individuals and private organizations would do more, and ultimately there would be more work done to help the poor, and that the work done would be more effective.

No, of course it's not a sin to help the poor. But if we are not careful about the way we collect the funds used, we may be guilty anyway.

25 May 2011

Nature at the Park

This photo is in my shop.
We went to the park for a little nature study, and while I was taking pictures of these, Monkey was wandering a bit and discovered that the little bridge we were on had a bottom side. Very interesting. He, of course wanted to explore. Happily, I had the jogging stroller with us so it could handle the terrain to get down there. So we wheeled him down the hill and both boys found things to hold their interest.

After a bit, Monkey was ready to wander away, so we headed over to check on the frogs. In the fall, we've found frogs at this park, but I can never figure out where to look for them in the spring and summer. We see the adults, but never the eggs or tadpoles. Monkey likes to check to see what we can find, and I keep hoping to learn enough to figure out our frog mystery. But we took the scenic route to get there. And, as usual, we didn't find them. Mysterious Disappearing Frogs.

21 May 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: At the Park

The lovely thing about taking a week off of school last week is that this week, it doesn't feel so hard to get the work done. Well, except for that in addition to the regular stuff there's a whole world of yard work that it's finally warm enough to do, and suddenly the garden has to go in right this very minute. And there's been lots of rain the forecast this week. And Daddy has been getting lots of overtime, which significantly reduces the amount of time he has for other things. But we've had some lovely park days, and that helps a lot.


20 May 2011

Juvenile Eagles

We've been watching this bald eagles' nest, and the juveniles were kind enough to pose for me this afternoon. Have a close look at the top picture: the little guy is sticking his tongue out!

16 May 2011

Owl Pellet Winners

Congratulations to Jennifer of Quiverful Family and to Gillian of Explorations in Learning! You both win a pair of owl pellets to take apart! Leave me your address in a comment - I won't publish your personal information. If you blog it, please leave me a link so I can come see how much fun you've had with it. Enjoy!

09 May 2011

At the Symphony

A friend of ours plays in the local symphony, and she generously offered us tickets. We took her up on it and had a great date. The Raven didn't love being left at a sitter (it's only his 2nd babysitter), but he survived and we had a lovely time. Just the two of us. This was our favorite piece from the performance we saw. I loved listening to the oboes at the beginning, and the whole orchestra together when they finally join in was majestic. We were sitting way up on the 4th balcony, but it was a beautiful vantage point to watch all those strings from; perhaps some of the best seats in the house. Being up at the top like that certainly didn't hurt the sound for us!

07 May 2011

Does This Mean Something?

I was glancing through my "recipe box" section to see if I'd linked in the instructions for the cool cookie-cutter bread I've been doing. (I hadn't. Gotta do that.) And I noticed this:

Other Yummy Sweet Stuff

Challah - braided bread
Candycane Bread - "braided" sweet bread
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Blackberry Chocolate Scones
Pie Crusts

That Challah's not sweet. The candycane bread under it doesn't have to be sweet; it's all about how you decorate it. I'm highly entertained that my top 2 "sweet" recipes are bread.
I'm off to add the cookie-cutter bread. Somewhere.

06 May 2011

Linking Up

Been wandering around to some of the carnivals I like to frequent. From the Carnival of Homeschooling we have:

John Locke Teaches Narration. Not the philosopher, apparently John Locke is a character from Lost. Dunno; haven't seen it. But the post is about visualization and the difference it makes in the family's homeschool to visualize. Our math book is forever reminding me to tell Monkey, "Close your eyes. Visualize." I've been resisting. Maybe I'm doing him a disservice.

This one is just entertaining - and it's got a fun tone. But it's also got a great point: The Three Most Important Words When Reading Aloud.

The timing on this one, about Terrariums, couldn't be better: I was recently given a book called Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method. Guess where the creepy crawlies live? Yeah, in a Terrarium. Cool. They even included a link to the Terrarium Man. I gotta browse his site at some point.

"Why I Take Care of My  Own Daughter" is pointed - but timely.

The Charlotte Mason Carnival is themed around art appreciation this week. This is perfect for me, since we're just starting to do some of that.

A few words on the benefits of doing art

03 May 2011

Owl Puke Pellets & a Giveaway (Closed)

As you may have noticed, we're studying birds. Well, officially, we're studying animals. But Monkey asked for birds, and I'm inclined to linger as long as he's interested. So we're in our 6th week of learning about birds, with a detour to learn about bugs (because they're eaten by birds). And, after birds eat, they puke. Owls are famous for it, but it would appear that other birds do it too. Just not so dramatically. Nor so conveniently for dissecting.

A friend of mine was kind enough to send us some owl puke. Yeah, the official name of it is owl pellets, but any self-respecting 4 year old can tell what the bird in this clip is doing! We sat and watched that mouse go down the hatch, through the esophagus and proventriculus, and into the gullet, and then made the appropriate sound effects when it came back up. Whereupon Monkey giggles, and we'd watch it again. Isn't it nice the it loops automatically?

You can't just hand an owl pellet to a munchkin and expect that things will be cool, so we did quite a bit of lead-up before we did the dissection. We read about owl pellets. We watched the afore-mentioned clip. And we went through all the other sections on KidWings owl pellet area, including watching a clip of them doing a dissection. Monkey likes to watch these things several times which worked well for me! I emphasized the point the video makes about it takes time and patience to dissect an owl pellet. He said he wanted to go for it. He told me we needed the bone chart they used in the video. Perfect. I also grabbed a sheet on how to tell what sort of critter your owl ate. That was cool.

I wanted rubber gloves, and Daddy insisted on face masks. I thought at first that was overkill, but then after a while I was thinking: owl puke, which consists of dead rodent parts. Maybe it's pretty reasonable after all. Gloves aren't so bad, and even the mask wasn't as uncomfortable as I expected. It worked. And my munchkin was protected.

At this point I set down my camera (don't want to get it gross!) and dug in myself. I never did this dissection in school and this was way too cool to pass up! Monkey worked on it for I'd guess around 30-45 minutes, then took off his stuff and went to play. I kept going, and a few minutes later he was back for a little more.

It ended up working out perfectly: he said, "Mama, I want to be done with everything, and you should be done too," right about the time that Raven woke up from his nap. They played a bit while I finished up the clean-up and disinfecting of my kitchen table.

So, now that you've seen how much fun it was, you're itching to try one, right? I hope so: I have 4 extra pellets with the tweezers and wooden skewers (see the "messy science" picture) and I'm sharing the love! Two winners will each receive two pellets and their gear!

Here's how to enter, up to twice:

1. Leave a comment with a link to your blog post about this giveaway.

2. Follow this blog (bandwagon's on the sidebar) and leave a comment.

You have until Sunday 15 May 2011 at 11:59pm CST to enter!

Please remember to leave a link!


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