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Posts published in “Day: February 20, 2013”

The desire to simplify

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

What is it about human nature that leads intelligent, usually sensible folks to fall into the trap of the “either/or?” Why do we have a horrible tendency to want to simplify the complex matters we face as individuals and a society? Will we ever learn that the false promises of simple solutions always ignore the law of unintended consequences?

These questions emerge as we witness the latest folly of Congress abdicating its responsibility to produce a preferably balanced budget which does not mortgage our children and grandchildren’s futures.

Unable to come to grips with our potentially crippling trillion -dollar debt by adopting a sensible program of reform, as advocated by the Simpson/Bowles Commission, Congress set a date in which mandatory, across-the-board spending cuts would be imposed if no agreement for fiscal responsibility was reached.

In effect, it is akin to placing a pistol to one’s head and saying if I haven’t quit drinking the toxic Kool-Aid of unbalanced spending by March 1,, I’m going to pull the trigger. It is fiscal insanity, but then so is the penchant to spend what we don’t have by continued borrowing.

The March 1 deadline is nearly here, yet Congress and the White House appear paralyzed, each pointing the finger at the other. Truth is, each share the blame, and each is playing high- stakes poker with the economy.

An $85 billion cut in a trillion dollar budget doesn’t seem catastrophic. Entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) are sacrosanct so the $85 billion comes from the Defense Department budget and from the rest of domestic spending. It equates to an 8 percent cut in the already existing Defense budget and a 5 percent reduction in the budgets of existing domestic spending. And it is across the board.

Its impact will be felt across Idaho, especially because we are one of the “net gainer” states. We receive $1.23 in federal spending for every $1 we hand over to Uncle Sam in fees and taxes. Just a few of the national impacts will be: 77,000 already enrolled children living in homes below the poverty line will be dropped from the valuable Head Start program that helps improve their educational opportunities; commodity food purchases for Aid for Dependent Children and hot lunch programs will be curtailed; and, contract employees of the Defense Department, half of whom are veterans, will be furloughed. (more…)

First take: Oracle, Washington’s sequester

news

ORACLE AT HILLSBORO Oracle Corporation has been at Hillsboro, Oregon, for several years, but also for some time its future there has been uncertain. Now it appears to be off the fence, with the announcement of 130 new server-building jobs and more besides that, as well as retention of the scattered current facilities. Taken together with the recent Intel expansions, it's an indicator that high tech in the Hillsboro area is growing again rapidly.

SEQUESTER CUTS If the budget-cutting sequester happens, who gets hurt? Apparently, Washington state for one, because of the large amount of (usually exempt) military activity there. The Tacoma News Tribune estimates "About 9,500 Army civilian employees would be compelled to take furloughs if the budget cuts take place. Another 2,000 contractors would lose work because of decreased construction or reduced operations on Army sites."

Pope’s retirement or confinement?

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

Like most of us, I was surprised when Benedict XVI decided to give up the big chair at the head of the Catholic table for – when compared to most others who’ve held the job – “early” retirement. Over the centuries, many Popes held on long past their abilities to fulfill the demanding duties.
Benedict said factors of deteriorating physical and mental health helped make his decision at this time. I believe that was part of it – especially since I’m a fellow senior – a few years younger – who’s already noted slower reaction times, aching joints and bouts of forgetfulness.

Beneath the cloak of secrecy that surrounds top officialdom of the Catholic Church, much of what goes on there is hidden from the rest of us mortals. When elected, Benedict said he wanted more transparency in Vatican affairs. Based on how little public access to Vatican affairs has changed in eight years, my guess is he found that goal more difficult to achieve than he’d imagined. Though a long-time participant in top-level matters of the Church – certainly experienced in its operation – he likely had a similar reaction American politicians have after being elected President. To really know the job, you have to be one.

But now it seems there may be more to the retirement of Cardinal Ratzinger than the infirmities of old age. Serving in many offices of Catholic leadership, he achieved some things. But he’ll fade into retirement and into the history of Catholicism a flawed personality. For him, the afterglow will be tainted because of something he didn’t do. When he should have.

The job he held when elected Pope was head of the Office of Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. Since the Inquisition centuries ago, that office has existed solely to be the doctrinal watchdog of the Catholic Church. As the name implies, all matters of doctrinal enforcement reside there. And the word “enforcement” is not too strong when referring to centuries of presiding over – and enforcing – the laws of Catholicism.

When Cardinal Ratzinger had the job, he faced many difficult situations – most of which were handled with authority. Most. Not all. During his tenure, the Church faced the outbreak of hundreds and hundreds of cases of sexual abuse within the priesthood. It had been rumored for years. Many, many years. But Ratzinger was appointed to the post at a time when the desk was stacked high with evidence. Proof abounded from America, Ireland, England, France, Germany and elsewhere. Even his own home diocese in Bavaria. Sexual abuse was no longer just “talk” – it was widespread, proven, horrible – and fact.

Also well-documented fact: Ratzinger not only personally knew of such cases, he actually participated in moving guilty priests from one church – or one diocese – or even one county – to another. And he signed off on transfers made by other Cardinals dealing with pedophile priests. He had the files. He had testimony. He had court findings. He knew. He could’ve undertaken major investigations to root out perpetrators and punish. But acting on sexual abuse issues to any extent? There’s no evidence he did. In fact, evidence exists that he knew and did not act forcefully. (more…)