China or Not China?

I’ve been trying to keep this to myself–to paraphrase Muhammad Ali–I don’t have anything against people from China.  It’s just that I don’t like China’s oppressive government.

Yesterday the Nobel Peace Prize was given to an empty chair, the chair representing Liu Xiaobo who is in prison in China for advocating human rights and democracy.  According to The Guardian, “China is still furious” at the committee in Norway for giving the prize to someone they regard a criminal.  NPR reported yesterday that China bullied 18 other countries into boycotting the award.

I don’t have anything against anyone from China, but it does bother me that we, US consumers, are making China rich and financing the buildup of their military.

Does anyone ever look at country of origin labels?

For over twenty years I have been buying New Balance running shoes because they have the “Made in the USA” label.  My wife recently bought me two new pair.  One said, “Made in the USA with domestic and imported parts” (I thought, at least that’s more than Nike can say) and the other pair simply says, “Made in China.”

Facebook led me to an add for a cycling clothing company.  The kids in the photo above are a likable looking bunch, and there cycling apparel appears to be of high quality.  I would be willing to give it a try.  As their web page says (in typical translated Chinese):

As you know , many big companies (NIKE , Adidas , etc..) usually build some factories in China , Thailand to product the clothings for them , because the labor costs is very low.We are the one of these factories.

All the clothings which producted by our factory , once they are delivered to US , UK ,  these price will grow up , but its real price is low.

Because we sell them to you directly , so the price is lower than official price!!

There is also a company that makes high quality cycling clothing, and sells them at a reasonable price, within the US, Voler.

The above photo shows the solar panels on Voler’s factory, accompanied by a statement on their policy of being environmentally responsible.

I’m not in favor of trade wars or boycotts.  I wish the kids at MUPi cycling well.  But this year I am going to try to help out some of my neighbors who are trying to hold on to their jobs.  As far as I can, I am going to buy products made in the United States, or at least somewhere beside China.

Advertisements

Pro-Life/Pro-Gun/Anti-Immigrant Primary

So, who should I vote for in this Tuesday’s primary?

The candidate who’s going to “stick it to Pelosi and Obama”? Or the one who is endorsed by Sara Palin.  Or the doctor who is going to repeal health care reform?  Or the one who accuses his opponent of wanting to abolish the constitution by taking away the constitutional right of “our children under the age of 17 to own certain firearms”?

Or the one who is going to balance the budget by cutting taxes and laying off teachers and fire fighters?

Or the one who accuses his opponent of wanting to educate the children of illegal immigrants?

Or the one who is going to eliminate all taxes, all regulations, social security, and medicare?

The one who’s not one of those “weak-kneed Republicans, but a real conservative”?  Or the one who is going to protect us from voter fraud by requiring us all to carry photo ID at all times?

So many interesting choices.

More Illogical Nastiness

I still want to remind everyone to visit the Iwig web site and do what they can to save the farm.  In the meantime, I’m still discouraged by the meanness I am seeing in primary race for senate in my state.

One candidate is now accusing the other of wanting to grant lower in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants.

That sounds reasonable until you apply a little logic.

Who are these “illegal immigrants” who want to take advantage of our educational opportunities?

They are graduates of our state’s high schools who were brought here as children by their parents who came here without permission, seeking jobs they were told “Americans won’t do.”

What law did the children break?

They were brought here by their parents.  Did they have a moral obligation to turn back and cross the border alone in the other direction.  The parents broke the law and were aware of the risks and the possible consequences.

The children went to school, did their homework, obeyed the rules they understood, and now want to go to college.  The only home they now know is the state where they graduated from school.  How is it to anyone’s advantage to deny them an education?

Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have a chance if he were running in the current political climate.  After all, he granted amnesty in 1986 to undocumented workers and their families.

The Nasty Campaign

I live in a one-party state; at least when it comes to the race for the senate, and the primary campaign has really gotten nasty.  One of the candidates accused his adversary of wanting to give constitutional rights to terrorists.

The first casualty of politics is logic.

I see two problems with the underlying premise that terrorists should not be given constitutional rights.

1.  Who decides who is a terrorist?

Unless there is some sort of due process or oversight, there are only two options–the civilian branch of government or the military: either the president or the commanders on the ground.  I can’t believe that conservatives, given the fears they have of the president, would want to give him the power to declare someone a president and make him disappear without any kind of public notice.  And it has been proven that in the heat of battle, and lacking a knowledge of the language, the military has made mistakes.

2.  Who gives us our rights?

It is un-American to believe that congress gives us our rights.  According to the Declaration of Independence, we are granted inalienable rights by our creator.  Those who live under a monarch may believe their rights are granted by the king; those who live under organized atheism may believe they are granted by the state; but our heritage tells us human rights are granted by the creator and the role of government is to protect these rights.

But now some politicians want us to believe that there is a class of people who are entitled to no rights at all, neither the rules of war nor the laws of our land.  Once defined by the undefined authority as terrorists, they have no right to a trial or protection from torture.

Whatever happened to the idea that if we let terrorists make us abandon our own ideals, they win?

Why Haiti Suffers

This week’s earthquake was a natural disaster, totally unexpected by everyone except for professional seismologists.  Of all the causes of Haiti’s suffering, only the earthquake itself does not have human fingerprints on it.

Colonial Exploitation

Haiti was once a fertile island paradise (well, half an island: it shares the land mass with Dominica).  The French colonized the western half of the island of Hispaniola. The indigenous population was quickly destroyed by exposure to influenza and other infections brought by the Europeans.  They were soon replaced by slaves kidnapped from Africa.  The French fed their country with food grown on Haiti’s rich soil.

Environmental Desolation

The French and the corrupt rulers who followed them over-exploited the land and destroyed its fertility.  There are few trees left on Haiti–there are a few-oranges, grapefruits, avocados, mangoes–they are sweet but rare.  A few people make a living selling their fruit.  But there are not enough trees left to prevent erosion, which makes flooding and other natural disasters worse.  I visited Haiti 20 years ago, and I don’t recall seeing a bird.  I do remember seeing the local Haitians recycle used motor oil–they poured it on any pools of standing water to kill mosquitoes.

Political Corruption

In 1804 Haiti became the second nation in the Western hemisphere to declare its independence.  In a glorious revolution that should have made the French proud, they killed every white person on the island.  Tragically, since gaining a form of autonomy, Haiti has been ruled by its own dictators and corrupt leaders.  The notorious Duvaliers used the fear of voodoo along with old-fashioned terror and brutality to keep its citizens from enjoying the fruits of freedom.

Who is Helping?

I doubt there is any group of people subject to more negative stereotypes than missionaries.  (Read The Poisonwood Bible, which one of my students who group up as a missionary kid thought was “funny.”)  The people of Haiti know different.  They know that the missionaries are not bigoted, proselyting zealots–they are there to help.  The missionaries run schools, children’s homes, and clinics.  They assist people in farming projects and micro-enterprises.  I will admit, sometimes they tell the people things like–

You are beautiful, you are a child of God.

Hold your head up, God loves you.

There are, of course, many people working with non-governmental aid agencies that are not religiously affiliated.  Usually the missionaries and “secular” aid workers respect each other and work side by side.  They are all there to help the people of Haiti.

One mission trying to help the land of Haiti with long-term recovery is “Eden Reforestation Projects.”  Two missionaries from the Free Methodist Church working with Eden Reforestation are reported in critical condition, and three are missing, after the earthquake, according to our local Eden Vigil representative Lowell Bliss.

What Would Miss Kitty Do?

There’s gambling in Dodge City again. Our state’s leaders have been betting on gambling for nearly thirty years now.  First it was lotteries, then a dog track, then a horse track.  They have all been losing bets.

I grew up not far from the Woodlands dog and horse tracks.  They are almost deserted.  In the meantime, real businesses–restaurants and stores–have grown up in the same neighborhood.  Wyandotte County has experienced real growth in the past ten years with real, family-friendly businesses.  I often enjoy taking my grandchildren to T-Rex or Books-A-Million.

Now our state fathers want to put a casino in the neighborhood.

The state’s first casino opens today in Dodge.  Our legislators imagine that vacationers from both coasts will spurn Las Vegas and flock to the former home of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Miss Kitty herself to donate their money to our state’s economy.

Gambling is a tax on the poor.  The rich and famous may save up and budget for a lavish vacation in Las Vegas–although that city is being hit hard by the recession–but they are not going to come to Kansas to spend their entertainment dollars.

The one political fact that has been constant for the past thirty years is that you can’t raise taxes on the people who can afford to pay taxes.  It is unpatriotic to ask those who benefit most from the nations economy to contribute more.  It is unpatriotic to expect those with the most assets protected by the military to contribute a larger share to the military budget.  It is unpatriotic to ask those who need an educated workforce to contribute their share to the educational budget.  And if we tax the benefits of the bankers who ran the economy into the ground–who will be willing to run our banks anymore?

So politicians won’t raise taxes.  Instead they cut funding to education and programs for the elderly and the disabled.  And they come up with scams that they think will stimulate the economy and bring in revenue.  It’s time we call their bluff.

Poison in Jest

I guess we have to be careful what we say.  Not everyone has the same sense of humor.  One of my good friends, who grew up in Mississippi, said he thought the “Obama Psalms 109” bumper stickers are just a joke.  Nobody means the president harm; Southern Republicans just want one of their own back in office.  I’m still not persuaded; I am afraid there are a few unbalanced individuals who would take the words way too seriously.

On the other hand, I was re-reading an article from a year ago about one of my own students.  The Kansas State Collegian did a feature story about Jessica Long’s passion for all things Egyptian (here).  There was a small piece of the article I had missed when I read it last year:

Long said her friends are aware of her fascination with Egyptian history and even tease her about it. One evening, while playing “Would You Rather …?” – a game in which participants choose which extreme action they would rather take –  Long’s friends decided to test her devotion to Egypt.

They asked if she would rather “push the button” to destroy Egyptian artifacts or cut out her future child’s tongue. Long chose to save the artifacts.

Now, she said, whenever her friends are tired of hearing her talk about Egypt, they say, “Jessie, push the button!” She said they are also passing the inside joke on to new friends and students.

Well, it’s a game, maybe a sick game, but the answers shouldn’t be taken too literally.  I know Jessie, and I know she wouldn’t really cut out her (future) child’s tongue.  But some reader of the Collegian thought she was serious.  He commented that she is not a Christian because “God would never give her a passion like this because he is LOVE, not a materialist. Material things mean nothing to Him.”

Of course, God cares more about people than things.  I wouldn’t say material things mean nothing to God–the creator came up with the idea of material stuff.  But the relics of the past are a little bit more than material things.  They connect us with real people who lived on this same planet.  Our knowledge of ancient civilizations makes us richer.  And by the way, our knowledge of ancient Egypt helps us understand the Bible.  After all, our spiritual ancestors spent four-hundred years as guests in Egypt.

Cyrus Gordon once commented that Ephraim Speiser’s Anchor Bible Commentary volume on Genesis was a fine contribution to the series, especially with the insights from Speiser’s knowledge of ancient Mesopotamia (aka Iraq).  The book only suffered from the neglect of Egyptian sources, because, said Gordon, “Genesis is replete with Egyptian influences.”