Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an ongoing series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously make positive differences in their own lives and consequently in the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes live among us and that their service is quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward  – and ours, too. You can read all of the Grace Under Pressure series by going to the blog search box and typing in the word “grace.” 

Rachel Kohnen was afraid her baby would be born in the car.

Rachel Kohnen was afraid her baby would be born in the car.

The contractions were coming fast and furious when eight and a half-months-pregnant, Rachel Kohnen, summoned her husband to get the SUV started at around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  No novice to child-birth or false labor – Rachel has three kids already — she told him the pain was very different. It felt like the baby was coming and now was “go time.” True to his uxorious duties, husband Ben revved up the engine and the couple sped along an Iowa highway towards a hospital always too far away when you need one.  As speeds approached 85 miles per hour, the vehicle attracted the attention of the  Ft. Dodge (IA)  highway patrol. Rachel tried to call 911 to explain her situation as her husband managed to keep the SUV between the white lines but the dispatcher couldn’t understand the frantic words because of the incessant shouts from waves of pain.

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Freundel-e1413317892667The Washington Jewish community has been rocked by allegations against leading Rabbi Barry Freundel of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown. Freundel is accused of using a secret camera to film Jewish woman engaged in the ritual bath known as a Mikva.

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220px-Modern_British_LED_Traffic_LightHaving just been in Chicago, one of the most prevalent subject of conversation (despite the football season of course) is the ever-rising number of tickets being given to drivers. The Daley administration first made Chicago the most expensive parking city in the country with a corrupt deal that bordered on the criminal. The city was also accused of corrupt dealings with the company handling red-light ticking. However, none of this has curtailed the city contractors and officials clipping motorists for revenue in the form of endless ticketing. The latest outrage was the city reducing the time of yellow lights — a small tweak of a second that resulted in nearly $8 million in new tickets. Drivers are being treated as sources for revenue and hit with the equivalent of speed traps and short lights to generate more and more tickets.

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220px-Soda_jerk_NYWTS220px-Evening_jogger_(4488221416)US health experts and scientists are pushing for any interesting change in packaging information — the extent of exercise needed to burn off the calories of a product. If you buy a bottle of coke, for example, the table would show that the soft drink would require a 4.2 mile run or a 42 minute walk to break even. Research shows that teenagers better understand that measurement than just a calorie count

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305px-USA_PFC_BoweBergdahl_ACU_CroppedWe previously discussed how the White House opened admitted that it was delayed the increasingly unpopular immigration plan until after the election. Now it appears that another radioactive issue is being slow marched until after the election. The Army has completed its investigation into Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance from his base in Afghanistan five years ago. However, Pentagon sources have said that any release will have to come after the election and there is no guarantee that the findings will be made public.

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300px-Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peupleWe have often discussed tax policy on this blog. I am in the minority here on tax policies, particularly the high rate imposed in various countries for top earners. I am admittedly more inclined to a Chicago-school view of such high tax rates than many on this blog. This story caught my eye for obvious reasons. The French government is reporting a 20 percent increase in one year of high earners in leaving the country. We have previously discussed how such taxes produce emigration by rational actors from markets. French President Francois Hollande ran on a pledge to soak the rich in tax increases, a popular political platform but a disastrous economic plan. The result has been predictable. The French economy is in terrible condition and thousands of French families are leaving the country for England, the United States, and other countries. Now, Hollande’s government has announced that it will rescind the tax increase. Hollande and his socialist allies refused to accept the obvious impact of such a tax and now, a few years later, it will remove the tax after losing a huge amount of high earner tax dollars.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Blogger

Can religious beliefs actually retard our intuitions for justice and fairness? Research seems to suggest it might well. The Christian religion has imbued Western thought with the fundamental belief that God presides over a just world – one where sin is punished and rightly-held beliefs and actions are rewarded. We see this attitude in every aspect of human interaction. Today, in some sparkling sports stadium an earnest athlete is bound to thank his deity of choice for the good fortunes that befell his team or his game changing performance. By extension, the loser ( a value loaded word if ever there was one) will decry his lack of luck. From the Book of Job to Pinocchio and Cinderella, this belief in what some psychologists call “immanent justice” or “The Just Word Hypothesis” seeks to explain our plight and our success. It also hardens our attitudes about the poor, victims of crimes and those folks either buoyed or sunk by pure chance.

The Book of Job gets us into the mindset. A saintly man if ever there was one as the Bible itself acknowledges, God allows Satan to test Job with all manner of suffering to determine his worthiness. Stripped of his wealth, prestige and power, Job then loses his children and ultimately his health and vigor. Still, Job endures and never ever curses his fate – or his God. He does consult his friends for some inkling as to the cause of his travails. Their answer, which comes like a thunderclap is: “Behold,” one of them declares, “God will not cast away an innocent man, neither will he uphold evildoers” (Job 8:20). Classic “Blame the Victim” mentality from this coterie of advisers.

Puzzled but resolute, Job however concludes that despite his worldly righteousness, he can never know divine justice and according to the story prostrates himself silent before his Master’s “Just World.’ For that, he is rewarded with the resumption of his wealth and status. He even replaces his children with seven new ones. The clear message to the world however is the same: God handles the world’s justice and we are powerless to exact our own except on only the most superficial level.

Jesus himself gets in on the act in the New Testament. Addressing the multitude in the Sermon on the Mount, he has two distinct things to say about justice and our expectations of it: Blessed are…..those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled. (Matt. 5:6) and Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:10). In modern speak, “Don’t worry God will handle it in his own way and, if you let him do so, you’ll get the whole enchilada. The pearly gates, the mansions, those singing and harp-playing cherubim … you, my faithful believer, get it all.”

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