My Thoughts by Rick Stephens

Common Ground

Posted in Personal Opinion by Rick on the September 25th, 2013

Most of my friends know that I am a conservative. And to my liberal friends, this sometimes confuses them as to what I really stand for. If you listen to the media, I don’t care about the homeless, poor, or the elderly, because I want to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, health care reform, and a host of other entitlements that support this demographic.Common Ground - What I believe as a conservativeAccording to
the media, I want to strap my gun on my hip for the entire world to see looking for an opportunity to shoot someone. I want to close down government, cut taxes for the rich, prevent immigrants from receiving citizenship, cut the pay for our teachers and other educators, and pad the ballot box by making people show an ID card before they vote. I am a right wing Whack-O because I oppose homosexuality and freedom of choice for women. But if we could just step out of the fray of partisanship for a moment, I’d like to tell you what I as a conservative really believe.

I actually do care about the homeless, the poor, and the elderly. I support, and encourage, freely giving to food banks and other charitable organizations that help the poor and needy. I support a child living in Honduras who may not have food, water, or the opportunity to have a good education if it were not for my donations. I give generously to my church which in turn supports Nursing homes for the elderly, food drives for the hungry, missionaries that devote their lives to helping others in sometimes very dangerous places. But the media will tell you that none of that matters if I support shutting down Social Security or Medicare. But I don’t support those things. What I support is removing the waste and fraud from the system and improving the support structure that will insure that the benefits of these programs can continue without disrupting those who need it the most. I might differ with some liberals as to how to best make that happen, but it is grossly misleading to say that I don’t care.

It is true that I support smaller government. I just believe that the bigger government gets the more waste that occurs and the more difficult it is to get anything accomplished that can benefit those who need it the most. If you are a liberal, do you really think that there is no waste or fraud going on within our government? If you think we have none of that then I think you are being unrealistic. But if you do think there is some fraud and waste, don’t you agree that our needy would actually benefit from identifying and removing it where possible? Again, we simply disagree on how it should be done, not that it needs to be done. Is that called common ground?

I believe the constitution is the highest law of the land. I believe that all other law must fall within the frame work of the constitution. I think we need to distinguish between a law that “is constitutional” and a constitutional law. I have heard many liberal pundits tell me that the Supreme Court has upheld that the Affordable Care Act is Constitutional, and that we need to just let it go. I agree that the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care) has been deemed to fall within the framework of the constitution, but that does not put it on the same level as a constitutional law, such as the first or second amendments. Laws that are constitutional can be amended or even repealed by congress if they deem it necessary. But it takes a higher level of scrutiny with all of the states involved to amend or repeal a constitutional law.

And while we are discussing health care, I am not against improving our national health care system. It certainly needs help. But as a conservative, I don’t just want to toss mud against the wall and see what sticks. If the intended outcome of a law is not accomplishing the objective, perhaps it should be revisited and modified so that the intended consequences can be met. Most would agree that there are some provisions in the law that make sense, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, and no upper limits on catastrophic illnesses. But why can’t we recognize that interstate competition of health insurance companies would help reduce the ever escalating cost estimates of this program. Why can’t we recognize that lots of companies, especially some of those that provide work to the low, middle class, and young people, are causing full time workers to go to part time. Yes, a liberal would say it is because of those greedy, money hungry, businesses trying to squeeze every dime out of the consumer at the detriment of its employees. But this country was founded on capitalism. And capitalism is not a bad word. Corporations must make a profit to stay in business. And believe it or not, the average citizen in this country needs for that to happen. How many lives would be negatively affected if all of a sudden those businesses stopped making a profit? Do you have a 401k, an IRA, or even an annuity or life insurance policy? Do you think those values would continue to rise and help make your retirement comfortable if profits went away. Do you think companies would even offer retirement programs if there were no profits in the company? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, there is greed and fraud going on within big business also, and I am all for weeding that out as well. But to say companies should not try to improve their bottom line to improve their stock value is not the answer. So when we pass laws we should be mindful of the way corporations and other small to medium businesses will respond. Rather than condemn them for trying to maintain profitability, let’s make the law compatible with the mindset of business owners.

I will also agree that a gun in the hands of criminals or irresponsible people is a bad thing. Most conservatives would agree with me. But if we are truly trying to curb this type of gun violence, then why are we just chasing red herrings here. Not one of the laws that I have seen passed during the previous 10 years does anything to curb this type of violence. They are in my opinion, simply designed to make those who are not comfortable with guns feel good. What we need to do is consider better and more comprehensive screening (Read background checks) for those wanting to purchase guns, address the mental health issues that drive most of these individuals to violence, and then enforce our existing gun laws with a more severe punishment when the law is violated. We will never see the day in this country where guns are outlawed completely, so instead of making everyone upset, let’s just address the real issue and actually have an impact on violent acts, with or without guns. And By the way, I do not wake up every morning asking, “I wonder if I will get a chance to shoot someone today”, and I’ll bet that 99+% of gun owners don’t either.

I’m not against immigration. This country was built on it. I am against using my country’s resources to suck up entitlements that illegal immigrants don’t deserve because they don’t want to go through the process that every other immigrate went through to gain citizenship. I want my country to give deserving CITIZENS of the US the entitlements they need to make it on their own. Shouldn’t we be focusing on our own needy instead of trying to find ways to save the whole world? We have a legal process that is offered to all who apply. Why should we not follow that process simply because 11 million people or so have violated our law? Unless. Of course, the motive is not humanitarian, but rather political.

When it comes to education, no one thinks we need better educated children more than I do. We have fallen disgracefully behind the rest of the world in our levels of education, especially in areas like science and math. But I do not believe that simply throwing money at the problem will fix it. I believe we could build the grandest schools, pay our educators the highest wages of any other profession, provide the best equipment and books, but unless the parents take a serious interest in the educational process of their kids it will all be for naught. In my opinion, the real problem with our educational system is the parents, not the school system. They do not pay attention to what their kids are doing in school, what they are being taught, or follow through with homework, in fact, they get upset when their children have any homework at all, which might keep them from going to their soccer game, or karate class. Parents have relegated their kids to school as a babysitter, not to be educated. You ask me why some school districts are better than others? It’s not the school system; it is the level of involvement that the parents have in the educational process. The less involvement the parents have, the less educated our kids become. It is that simple to me. We should be punishing parents for having children and then leaving them to the “System” to be educated. Fix the parents, we fix the schools.

My liberal friends want to condemn me for wanting citizens to show proof of eligibility to vote before voting. They say that requiring everyone to have an ID card is discriminatory to the poor. Now, come on, isn’t that a little hypocritical? Consider this; The Affordable Care Act is going to require all citizens to prove they have Insurance coverage. They will be doing this via an identification card. Isn’t that Interesting? It is OK to require a citizen to have an ID to prove Insurance Coverage, but discriminatory to require such an ID to exercise the right to vote. How about we do this? Let’s say that in order to vote you have to show your proof of insurance. Perhaps that could be called common ground.

Now here comes the part that will really rattle my liberal friends. I am a Bible-believing Christian. I believe that God has a plan for me and everyone else on this planet. I believe that he has established his will for mankind and in most cases has made it very clear as to what is right and what is wrong. I believe that homosexuality and gay marriage is a violation of God’s will. I also believe that those who endorse such acts are also violating God’s will. I have heard the liberal left say things like, “the Bible also endorses incest, multiple wives, sleeping with your brother’s wife, and they even bring up the high divorce rate among Christians as an argument against the Christian belief. With regard to all of that, let me just say, that those are discussions of theology that need to be studied in depth before making an outright condemnation of what Christians believe. Taking those topics and references in the Bible and not putting them into context with the rest of the Bible is a mistake and will cause people to reach errant conclusions as to what we believe. But in the arena of homosexuality, there is no room for doubt. As a Christian, the Bible is my source of faith; in the same way that a Muslim might claim that the Koran is his source of faith. I don’t care how you interpret your faith or belief, and if you are OK with homosexuality then that is fine with me, I won’t try to impose my belief system on you. But just don’t ask me to endorse your faith by violating mine. I feel the Bible is very clear on this subject. Homosexuality is not new. It has been around since the early days of mankind. In my Bible, God clearly defines it as a sin. So to ask me to support laws like Gay Marriage is asking me to violate my belief. I could identify many areas in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible that clearly define homosexuality as a sin, but if you want just one clear passage here is one from Romans 1: 18-32. Verses 18-23 sets the stage for what is coming. Verses 24-32 cannot be any clearer. Verse 26-28 says, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a mind to do what ought not to be done.” And finally in verse 32, Paul addresses those who support the actions by saying, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Like I said earlier, if you want to have a softer position on this subject or if you practice this type of action, it will not bother me, well it will, but I won’t try to prevent you from doing what it is you think is right. But do not ask me to give you permission, I can’t.

I also believe that murder is clearly in violation of God’s will. And again, as a Christian I cannot support abortion. As a purest, I don’t believe any abortion is acceptable but clearly those where the fetus is viable is in my opinion murder. But I do believe in the woman’s right to choose. I believe she can choose to abstain from sexual activity unless she is prepared to have a child. Likewise of course, I believe that in men as well. In addition, I also believe that women have another choice, to rear their child in the best manner they know how or give the child up for adoption. But murder is not a choice, it is a crime. So again do not ask me to violate my beliefs because you do not feel the same. Now don’t try to distort the issue by bringing up the question, “What about Rape or incest?” Those are criminal acts and actually represent less than 1% of the number of women who find themselves pregnant. Let’s stay focused on the 99% of women and men who freely engage in sexual activity rather than those who are victims of a crime.

Finally, I know that my liberal friends and I differ on many topics. Some are moral and many are just political. Our government could reach common ground on most of these subjects and we could have a productive, educational, and meaningful society that disagrees but still tolerates the opinions of others and can seriously compromise on difficult issues. I believe that the reason we can’t is because our government is, once again, too big to work anything out. It is funny how we can create small committees and they can hammer out agreements but when it comes to the main floor it is stomped on. Government is too big. Let’s get the fat out of government, reduce the amount of wasteful spending, and put people back to work. We can do this, I know it. That is what I believe.

To Your Success,

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Food, Shelter, Clothing, and the Internet

Posted in Attitudes,Personal Opinion by Rick on the December 23rd, 2010

Food, Shelter, Clothing and Internet

My oldest son will be 40 in a couple of months, but I still consider him part of the younger generation. Still, we often have some very stimulating and spirited discussions regarding life and the circumstances we live in.

Although he will not admit it directly, my son leans toward the liberal side of thinking, while I am very much a conservative. Therefore, many of our discussions revolve around capitalism vs. entitlements.

Over the years I have come to believe that those who think with a liberal bias must see life through a gloomy set of eyes. For them the glass is always half empty. It seems that the younger generation (at least in this country) fails to understand the importance of free enterprise and how capitalism has been the foundation for what they now consider entitlements.

For instance, on one occasion we were discussing the new health care legislation. I pointed out that the government had no business mandating that I buy health insurance. My son countered with, “They require us to buy car insurance.” Of course, my response was that car insurance is not mandatory unless you want to drive a car on public roads. His response was that a car is a necessity to life and therefore car insurance becomes mandatory.

I just can not seem to explain in a convincing enough way, that a car is not a necessity. A car is simply a product of our choice. He argues that it is impractical to believe that a car is a choice considering the requirement to be so mobile in our society. But the reality is that we can make the choice, though it may not be a very pleasing or convenient choice, to live without a car. We could live on a farm, take a bus, call a cab, let friends drive us or, heaven forbid, walk.

Our most recent discussion revolved around the Internet. In his mind, the Internet has become so pervasive in our lives that it has become a necessity. Again, I believe it is a choice we make to enhance our lives, but far from a necessity.

When the FCC recently began regulating the Internet with its “Net Neutrality” rules, I completely rejected and disapproved of the move. According to my son, we need to prevent the ISP from becoming a conduit to the web just so they can “grab money from our pockets.” This is exactly the type of comment that makes me believe that our younger generation sees life through gloomy eyes. It seems they believe that big corporations exist only to steal or rob us of our hard earned money and prevent us from enjoying the luxuries that we have come to know as necessities.

I believe that The Unites States of America is the greatest and the most benevolent and generous country to have ever existed on this planet. We give more to the under privileged people in this world than any other country, not only as a nation, but as a people. We believe that the individual has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and as such we give so much, that our own people are now beginning to believe that this out pouring of compassion is somehow a necessity and something they are entitled to.

Let us remember that there are only 3 things in life that we need; Food, Shelter, and Clothing. Everything else is either a luxury or a choice. No one is entitled to a job. No one is entitled to a guaranteed retirement or even health care for that matter. But as a nation, our compassion for the welfare of our human brothers is so great, that we are willing to contribute a portion of our wealth to help those who are less fortunate.

But to all who feel entitled and believe that corporations are a bad thing, please understand that had it not been for capitalism you would not have the luxuries you now enjoy. It is because of big business that this country has become so well off and prosperous compared to any other nation. Yes, some have not benefited as much as others. But still, every person in this country has the opportunity do better by making the right choices, not through entitlements.

And if you are not as well off as I am, please remember that my money is not your money. I worked hard to earn what I have and yet I am willing to pay my fair share of taxes and to contribute to charitable causes to help you when you are down. But I fully expect that you will also work hard to achieve a better place in life, make the right choices, and stop expecting that you are entitled to my money.

When people stop expecting life to be handed to them on a silver platter, and instead begin to appreciate the generosity of those more fortunate then they, this country will begin to pull itself out of the debt we are in, be able to help all of those in need, and once again achieve the respect and stature that we know has been given to us only by the grace of God.

To Your Success,

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The (Right vs Left ) vs the Loons

Posted in Personal Opinion by Rick on the April 1st, 2010

Left vs Right

The passage of the Health Care bill has ignited a nationwide rift between the liberal left and the conservative right, to say the least. Lets get this out right away, so there is no misunderstanding form where I speak. I consider myself a conservative, a Regan conservative to be more precise.

With that said, I believe we have a few things to consider with regard to the media attention, both positive and negative, that is surrounding this debate. Clearly there is great passion on both sides and unfortunately some have gone “Over the Top” in attempting to get their voice heard.

This country has been built on, and is grounded in, the concept of “Peaceful Dissent”. Each of us has a 1st amendment right to freedom of speech as part of our heritage and citizenship. But the operative word here is “Peaceful”.

Unfortunately, there are really 4 distinct groups in this country. Those who believe the Health Care Bill is bad for our country (The conservative right), those who believe it is good for our country (The liberal left), those who don’t believe anything about the bill or are undecided (The apathetic middle), and finally the crazy loons who think spitting, throwing bricks, threatening congressmen/women, and advocating violence is an acceptable way to voice one’s opinion (The criminally insane).

Notice that the crazy loons are, in my opinion, neither liberal, conservative, or apathetic, but in a group by themselves. We need to stop associating the actions of this group as being part of any of the other groups. True Americans in this country believe in the right to peacefully voice opinion and do not retaliate against those with different ideas and beliefs with criminal actions and violence. If you think violence is the only way to get your point across you are weak minded, uneducated, deranged, a citizen of another country, or all of the above.

I support the efforts of the “Tea Party”. Perhaps you don’t. If so, I believe you have that right as a citizen of this country. But the media seems to be focusing its attention on the loons who claim to be on the conservative right when in fact these idiots have no idea of what the conservative right really stands for. Although less attention is being given to the loons who claim to be a part of the liberal left, those idiots also have no idea of what the liberal left is all about. So lets position these violent dissenters in the group they really belong to, neither left, right, or neutral, but the criminally insane.

I think there are a couple of things we can do as a nation to get this country back on track. First, if you support the Health Care bill and want to voice your opinion in a big way, create a liberal movement similar to what the conservatives have done and “peacefully” demonstrate in a way that will rally the folks who support that position to action. No sincere and honest conservative will criticize you for doing that. In fact, they will openly support the opportunity to have constructive debate on any subject you support, including the Health Care bill. But the weapon we have available to us is not a brick, but a vote at the ballot box. And if you choose not to exercise your right to vote, you give up your right to complain (well not really, but you know what I mean).

And Secondly, lets get behind an amendment that will create term limits for Congressmen/women and Senators. It seems that making a career out of politics is causing many of our elected officials to be obligated to too may deals, lobby groups, campaign supporters, etc. resulting in their inability to clearly vote their heart, and most importantly for their constituents, for whom they represent. I’d like to go on explaining why I feel this is important, but this subject is really for a different blog.

We have reached an historic milestone this year. Good or bad, Health Care is now the law. If you want to keep it, get off your behind and vote when the time comes. If you want to get rid of it, get off your behind and vote when the time comes. Stop the nonsense and lets get on with the debate, respectfully and peacefully!!

To Your Success,

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Do You See What I See?

Posted in Personal Opinion by Rick on the February 10th, 2010

Honda Logo

Toyota Logo

Okay, let’s agree that Toyota, the number 1 car maker in the world, made a few errors in the manufacture of their vehicles. But I think this is now getting a little out of hand. Every day the news is reporting a new story on the latest vehicles from Toyota that are being recalled. Now today, I guess the press has decided that Toyota has had enough brow beating, and its time to move on to Honda, the # 2 car maker.

I believe that this is a plot to destroy the strangle hold that the Japanese auto makers have on the American auto industry and to provide a boost to the American auto makers. And, I for one, think it is atrocious action by our media with, I believe, encouragement from our administration.

It wasn’t enough that GM, Ford, and Chrysler ignored the public for 30 years and continued to make inferior cars, but when the economy crashed, our Government decided that it would not be in the best interest of the country to let them fail. So our Government gave them huge amounts of our money to prop them up. But guess what, sales are still not acceptable. So what do we do now? I know, let’s destroy the reputation of the top 3 auto makers and see if the public will be wooed into returning to the American auto makers. Yeah, yeah that’s the ticket!!

Don’t believe me? Come on, have you seen any of this in the news:

• Ford is recalling 4.5 million vehicles for cruise control malfunctions which could cause a fire
• GM is recalling 950, 000 Chevy Cobalts for Power Steering problems which have caused 11 accidents including 1 death
• Another 857,000 vehicles for short circuits on a printed circuit board that could cause electrical failures
• And still another 277,000 vehicles for shift lever problems
• Cadillac is recalling 27,000 cars for fuel system problems
• Another 12,500 vehicles for failing to conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards regarding crash protection
• Chevrolet is recalling 31,000 Corvettes for roofs that may fly off
• Chrysler is recalling 24,000 vehicles due to defects in the braking system
And this list goes on.

Let’s get off this road and get back to getting our economy back on track. Almost all of the vehicles sold in America by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, are built right here in this country. So destroying these companies do nothing but contribute to more unemployment and trouble for our economy.

Let the American car industry pay for their failure to deliver on what the American public wanted. Let them struggle to regain the leadership role they once had. Let capitalism work. Let them once again compete to win.

The American people are not stupid. They will always put their dollars where the value is. That’s why capitalism works. When American car manufactures begin delivering value, they will rise again. Until then, enough with giving them my money and creating artificial demand for inferior products.

To Your Success,

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Source: LemonAuto.com

Remembering Walter Cronkite

Posted in Attitudes,Leadership,Personal Opinion by Rick on the July 21st, 2009

Walter Cronkite 2004

He never sold a single record. He never performed in concert. He never made the headlines of Entertainment Tonight, and he was never placed in the public spotlight for questionable acts of morality. Yet he truly did bring the people of this world together. He broke the racial barriers like no man or woman has ever done before bringing all races, religions, and nationalities together. He caused people to listen and to respond simply by the words he spoke.

He was respected for his honesty, integrity, willingness to challenge the norm, for his compassion in times of difficulty, and for his pride in country when great achievements were accomplished.

He never moonwalked, but he did proudly walk on the moon with all of America on July 20, 1969. He never wore clothes with flashy military imagery, but he did wear the fatigues of Army green while reporting his findings of the Vietnam war effort. He was never called the “King” of anything, but “Uncle” Walter was a predominate news voice in America and will be remembered for his faithful reporting of such events as the Cuban Missile Crises, the Assignation of President Kennedy, the moon landing of Apollo 11, Watergate, and so much more.

We lost a true American icon this week. Walter Cronkite was like no other celebrity in my life time. There were times when I disagreed with him, there were times when I cried with him, there were times when I cheered with him. And when he spoke, I listened, as did all of America and the world.

I, for one, will miss the integrity, professionalism, honesty, compassion, and moral compass that Walter Cronkite brought to Journalism. His death was not surrounded in pomp and ceremony, national television did not preempt all other broadcast in favor of covering his funeral, and tickets were not sold on Ebay to attend the visitation, but his legacy will endure for many centuries to come. Good bye Walter.

And that’s the way it is, July 21, 2009.

To Your Success,

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