I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been a long time. I think Facebook might have done some permanent damage to my ability to be able to read and write for longer than 30 seconds, leading me to consider to suspend my Facebook activities and try focusing more on reading and writing more lengthy material.
I have been looking back through my old blog posts, and see a lot of material that I really wanted to continue, including expanding on my previous article on Ayn Rand, written over two years ago. Where does the time go?
I’m going to commit to writing at least one blog post a week. If you don’t see something from me, please encourage me to write. Even if you don’t care for my writing, just encourage me to do it for the sake of my personal growth. Like I said, my brain is getting fat on the empty calories of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.
I’m writing this article in the midst of a lot of turmoil going on in our church right now.
Many people who grow up in a certain lifestyle have difficulty figuring out whether they hold their beliefs through a conscientious decision, or whether they’ve come to that conclusion by default. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, later Olive Street Presbyterian Church. I don’t remember any time when I didn’t hold Christian beliefs, and more specifically, Christian beliefs that are Reformed, and Presbyterian (definition). My belief in a Presbyterian form of Church government has always had some reservations, and recently those “theoretical” reservations have expressed themselves in the life of our church. Hence, the writing of this article.
I tried to get on loan recently on Prosper.com and found out an interesting piece of information. Pennsylvania actually limits how much interest one person can change another for a personal loan, and it’s a very low 6%. Prosper has created a web page listing all the states and their limits on personal loans.
Well, not being one to passively sit by and live with it, I sent a letter to Pennsylvania State Senator John Rafferty, and to State Representative Tim Hennessey asking them to consider looking into raising the interest rate limits in Pennsylvania, especially since, in the 1980s, Federal laws were passed that made those state laws not apply to banks and credit card companies.
Dear Senator Hennessey,
Recently, I have been participating in peer-to-peer lending via the â€œProsper.comâ€ website. I am finding that loaning money to other people to be a good investment, and is serving to help others at the same time. However, the laws in this state are currently limiting the participation of Pennsylvania state residents in the Prosper program, and other programs like it.
As you may know, different states have set different limits for the maximum rates of personal loans, for the purpose of preventing people from being victimized by predatory lending. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest rates in the U.S., limiting the interest rate of personal loans at 6% annually. However, due to federal laws, banks and credit card are exempt from these limitations. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest limits in interest rates, while states like Idaho, Illinois, New Hampshire, and California allow people to have personal loans at up to 30% interest.
While I appreciate the original intention of the usury laws, it seems that the laws currently only serve to prevent individuals from competing with the large banks and credit card companies. I personally have desired to borrow through the prosper site, but have been unable to do so due to limits of the states laws. I have also found that entities like Prosper have allowed people to help other people out, and keeping capital in the hands of individuals, and not putting more money in the hands of credit card companies.
I am writing to ask that you consider looking into legislation raising the interest limit for personal loans to a rate that would allow people like me and other Pennsylvania residents to borrow at a rate competitive to residents of other states.
Thomas Albrecht III
I’m interested to see what their reply is…
I had a conversation with a friend recently about my propensity towards cynical humor. If there is one thing I tend to be introspective about myself, it’s how my humor expresses itself. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that in every situation I face, I tend to find the funny side of it. I’m the guy who laughs at funerals and giggles at my children’s births. Most of all, I poke fun at people who take themselves and life too seriously.
Now, any personality type can lend itself to sinful extremes. People who are serious all the time can find themselves unable to find a Sabbath rest, while those who are always melancholy over their their sinful state may be unable to find joy in Christ. Those who are angry about the injustices in the world oftentimes can’t enjoy a summer day.
After watching recent events regarding our Federal Government reading the phone records of American citizens, and the acknowledgement by the NSA chief that they’re monitoring the phone calls of Americans, I’ve decided I’m getting a little annoyed with these casual little incursions into our privacy. Since it seems that our Federal Government has show no interest in preserving our privacy rights, I’ve decided that in the little ways that are afforded to a private citizen, I’m going to begin pushing back.
Ron Paul gave the following speech before the House of Representatives on February 15, 2006. It’s amazing that such an honest man could ever be elected to public office.
A hundred years ago it was called “dollar diplomacy.” After World War II, and especially after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, that policy evolved into â€œdollar hegemony.â€ But after all these many years of great success, our dollar dominance is coming to an end.
It has been said, rightly, that he who holds the gold makes the rules. In earlier times it was readily accepted that fair and honest trade required an exchange for something of real value.
First it was simply barter of goods. Then it was discovered that gold held a universal attraction, and was a convenient substitute for more cumbersome barter transactions. Not only did gold facilitate exchange of goods and services, it served as a store of value for those who wanted to save for a rainy day.
Though money developed naturally in the marketplace, as governments grew in power they assumed monopoly control over money. Sometimes governments succeeded in guaranteeing the quality and purity of gold, but in time governments learned to outspend their revenues. New or higher taxes always incurred the disapproval of the people, so it wasnâ€™t long before Kings and Caesars learned how to inflate their currencies by reducing the amount of gold in each coin– always hoping their subjects wouldnâ€™t discover the fraud. But the people always did, and they strenuously objected.
It sometimes amazes me that out of the same pen can come amazing tales and immoral treatises alike. I am sure that many of my readers know and love the book, “Gulliver’s Travels”, by Jonathan Swift. The charming tales of a man shipwrecked in a land of little people has given much laughter over the years. In a way, it is good that Mr. Swift will be remembered for this tale, and not for his lesser known social activitism that the took part in.
by Al Lorentz
Before I begin, let me state that I am a soldier currently deployed in Iraq, I am not an armchair quarterback. Nor am I some politically idealistic and naive young soldier, I am an old and seasoned Non-Commissioned Officer with nearly 20 years under my belt. Additionally, I am not just a soldier with a muds-eye view of the war, I am in Civil Affairs and as such, it is my job to be aware of all the events occurring in this country and specifically in my region.
I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.
I’m reprinting this for my benefit, so I don’t lose it. Farnaz Fassihi, a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Iraq, confirmed that a widely-redistributed letter she emailed to friends about the nightmarish situation in Iraq was indeed written by her. Too bad the WSJ doesn’t allow this reporter to write these kinds of stories for the paper.
Recently, historians have discovered an old letter from Presbyterian Elder Screwtape to a young elder, Wormwood. It’s a short letter, and provides a lot of interesting observations from an experienced elder to the young man.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to discern many of the principles found in scripture. Honest Christians oftentimes look at an issue, or they’ll hear a convincing argument based on ideas like compassion and justice, and are attracted to them. Many of the truths seem to disagree with what we believe to be fair, like spanking children, but in the end, we must hold to the truth that it is scripture that defines what is right and wrong, and not our whimsical tastes.