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Monday, December 19, 2005

"But the nature of Christianity—the creed of Christmas—is about unpleasant realities like human deficiency and humbling ones like redemption: all in accordance with divine directives. To be wished a Merry Christmas is to be wished a closer walk, a nearer relationship, with the God whose only begotten Son...came to earth at this season. The manger thing, you know—angels, shepherds, wise men. Oh, so entangling! As it was meant to be. Oh, and, by the way, Merry Christmas." —William Murchison

"[A] father asked the principal, 'What is that tree down the hall?' The principal beamed proudly. 'That is our friendship tree.' 'Why don't you call it what it is: a Christmas Tree?' the father asked. 'Oh, we're trying to make sure we don't offend people. It's better to call it a 'friendship tree,' the principal replied. Thinking back on the incident a few months later, the father took a grim satisfaction that he had changed the outlook of the principal of this expensive private school in the New York City suburbs. But not by argument or persuasion. 'I told him if that tree wasn't a Christmas tree tomorrow, I would be taking my son out of the school, and I would be making certain the other parents I know, who also pay tens of thousands of dollars to the school, would learn how their children were being taught incorrectly. We all know what a Christmas tree is, and I want my son to know what a Christmas tree is. I have no idea what a friendship tree is and I'm [quite] certain that principal didn't either." —John Gibson

"Our coins bear the words 'In God We Trust.' We take the oath of office asking his help in keeping that oath. And we proclaim that we are a Nation under God when we pledge allegiance to the flag. But we can't mention his name in a public school or even sing religious hymns that are non-denominational. Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeers but there must be no mention of the Man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas." —Ronald Reagan

"Republicans have learned that shoveling out dollars is a lot more fun than pinching pennies. In the 1995-96 session of Congress, for every bill introduced to reduce outlays, there were two bills to increase outlays. By 2003-04, the imbalance had become positively grotesque—with 24 spending bills for every one bill to cut spending. Republicans deserved a lot of the credit for the surpluses of the 1990s, which came about because they forced President Clinton to agree to balance the budget. Regrettably, that achievement turned out to be as fleeting as a Florida snowfall. In real terms, the deficit is bigger now than it was when they started. Rhetoric aside, most Republicans in Washington secretly share the sentiment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay...who said in September that there was nothing left in the budget to cut because 'after 11 years of Republican majority, we've pared it down pretty good.'... [There are] more than 100 programs that could be reduced or eliminated, from farm subsides to the National Endowment for the Arts to Social Security, saving $380 billion a year. Those cuts would not be politically easy. They might be politically possible, though, if Americans understood that they are the only way to put the nation on a sound fiscal footing, avoid huge future tax increases and spare our children an immense burden of debt. Republicans may no longer worry about such matters, but someone should." —Steve Chapman

"With all the recent hype and demagoguery about gasoline price-gouging, maybe it's time to talk about the basics of exchange. First, what is exchange? Exchange occurs when an owner transfers property rights or title to that which is his. Here's the essence of what transpires when I purchase a gallon of gasoline. In effect, I tell the retailer that I hold title to $3. He tells me that he holds title to a gallon of gas. I offer to transfer my title to $3 to him if he'll transfer his title to a gallon of gas to me. If this exchange occurs voluntarily, what can be said about the transaction? One thing we know for sure is that the retailer was free to retain his ownership of the gallon of gas and I my ownership of $3. That being the case, why would we exchange? The only answer is that I perceived myself as better off giving up my $3 for the gallon of gas and likewise the retailer perceived himself as better off giving up his gas for the $3... Game theorists recognize this as a positive-sum game—a transaction where both parties are better off as a result. Of course there's another type of exchange not typically sought, namely good-bad exchange. An example of that kind of exchange would be where I approached the retailer with a pistol telling him that if he didn't do something good for me, give me that gallon of gas, I'd do something bad to him, blow his brains out. Clearly, I'd be better off, but he would be worse off. Game theorists call that a zero-sum game—a transaction where in order for one person to be better off, the other must be worse off. Zero-sum games are transactions mostly initiated by thieves and governments." —Walter Williams

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