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The Quilt

Sewing a quilt, more than just stitching, it delivers a message.

Sewing a quilt, more than just stitching, it delivers a message.

It was a rainy late September evening when the ladies gathered in the community room of the Congregational church, woman of different faiths and traditions.  A collection of mostly older woman, it appeared to be a gathering of grandmothers.  They had come together with the idea of making a community quilt to sell for charity.

Agnes, a woman of eighty, tried to run the meeting as best she could but everyone had an opinion and many were intransigent.  Coming together with a meeting of the minds on a single quilt was soon tossed aside and it was decided they would meet through the winter and each would work on their own quilt.  The idea soon morphed into a spring quilt show.  Mabel was the oldest and sat quietly off to the side.

Each week through the winter the group would gather share stories and hand sew another patch or two to their quilts.  Mabel watched, said little and only sewed on small patches each week.  As the other quilts grew in size the others realized Mabel was doing things a little different.

Mildred soon reached out to Mabel and asked if she needed helpMabel simply explained, “My hands are frail and I sew a little slower now, so each week I come to enjoy the company, and work only on parts for my quilt.  During the week I sew each of the pieces slowly together at home when I can think about the meaning of each new patch and how it fits, into the total picture, it would be hard for me to haul the quilt here each week.’

The cold New England winter nights were warmed by the chatter and laughter as the women stitched.  Olga was proud of the progress with her Scandinavian design, she had learned to quilt at her grandma’s table.  Anne was creating a tribute to her granddaughter and her love of flowers.   Holly thought her town historical theme would surely win grand prize.   Nobody paid much attention to the little squares of cloth Mabel slowly sewed, they were more consumed by their own quilts and the appearance of their neighbor’s quilt.

On the last Saturday of May just before Memorial Day the woman all arrived early at the community room, each to hang their quilt for the afternoon show.  There was a buzz in the air, as each lady hung her finished quilt, the judging would be at noon.  At 11:00 Rachael noticed Mabel’s spot was empty and word quickly passed as thoughts of concern spread from mouth to ears.

At 11:20 a tall young man with a big box opened the door.  There coming slowly up the steps was Mabel, “I hope I am not too late, I just could not carry my quilt”.  She showed her grandson where to put the quilt and asked if he could be the one to hang it.  “I want the next generation to understand, who we are” she said.

He opened the box and ever so gently with reflection of reverence he lifted the quilt sewn by his grandmother’s frail hands and hung it up for all to see.  The room fell silent, as the others gathered around, before them was more than a quilt, before them was a work of art, a treasure of perfection.  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind the Grand Champion Blue Ribbon quilt would be Mabel’s.

What hung before them looked like a tribute to America.  A quilt large enough for a king-sized bed, with an American Flag in the four corners, along the borders were the faces of people from different cultures, and ethnicity.  The patches were filled with outlines of each State and patches depicting professionals like firemen, teachers, doctors and barbers.  There were famous American’s like Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Reagan.

The women swelled with pride on being an American, a country so diverse and tolerant, a country more tolerant than the group had been when it first got together.  The display was not complete, for each entry had to be finished and had to have a title card.  It was nearly noon, Mabel’s card was not hung and one square in the middle was covered with a tissue.  Rose asked, “Why it was hung without being finished?”

Mabel smiled and said, “I wanted all of you to see my work without preconceptions, to think about it with an open mind, to understand what a big tent we have in this nation, that we are a sum of our parts, working together to accomplish great things for our great nation”. Voices rang out, we get it, you are so right, and some began to chant USA, USA.

Mabel raised her hands to quiet the crowd, she had only 30 seconds to finish her display.  As her grandson took out a card and pinned it to the top, Mildred tore away the tissue, and with that she yelled, “It is time to come together”.  The card read, “The Republican Party” and the center patch was the face of Donald J. Trump.

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You Can Bury The Man But Not The Memory

Today our nation stands poised on a fiscal cliff.  Today we are faced with extreme economic challenges and yet our leaders on both sides of the aisle in Washington are blinded by political ambition and self-preservation.

Economics is not an easy subject to master; there are many opinions on the philosophy of any economic planning.  The prognosticators analyzing any budget priorities or economic plan have a history of reflecting personal bias supported by twisted statistics to render their own position valid.

So it is on this day that I turn back the hands of time and apply some of the teachings of another man to look forward as we face economic peril fostered on us from our elected leaders in Washington.  I also remember that the study of economics comes from a family tree with the roots of basic mathematics.  In other words the numbers have to add up to make sense.

“Our present tax system … exerts too heavy a drag on growth … It reduces the financial incentives for personal effort, investment, and risk-taking … The present tax load … distorts economic judgments and channels an undue amount of energy into efforts to avoid tax liabilities.”1 There is no doubt we have seen investments and jobs driven overseas by our own tax policies.

“Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”2 More taxes on your neighbor while politically popular are not the answer.

“In short, it is a paradoxical truth that … the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now. And the reason is that only full employment can balance the budget, and tax reduction can pave the way to that employment. The purpose of cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”3Taxing the rich as an economic solution to our federal deficit is mathematically folly; there simple are not enough rich people to accomplish the goal.

We need more people working and paying taxes to enable our economy to pay off our debt. “The largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower and resources and to a higher rate of economic growth is the unrealistically heavy drag of federal income taxes on private purchasing power, initiative and incentive.”4There is a solution, “Expansion and modernization of the nation’s productive plant is essential to accelerate economic growth and to improve the international competitive position of American industry … An early stimulus to business investment will promote recovery and increase employment.”5

On this date in history November 25, 1963 we laid to rest President John F. Kennedy.   His memory is recalled in the above words on economic policy.  They were words of wisdom and a proper solution for our economic woes.

It is time for the Republicans in Congress to embrace the words and economic philosophy of an icon Democrat and it is time for the Democrats to abandon political rhetoric and join together to solve our economic woes.  It is time our leaders set aside personal political posturing and pandering to “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”6.

Our nation buried the man but let us not fail to honor his memory.  It is time to enact his message.

 

  1. John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, press conference
  2. John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, message to Congress on tax reduction and reform, House Doc. 43, 88th Congress, 1st Session.
  3. John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962, news conference
  4. John F. Kennedy, Jan. 24, 1963, special message to Congress on tax reduction and reform
  5. John F. Kennedy, Feb. 2, 1961, message on economic recovery
  6. John F. Kennedy, Jan. 20, 1961, Inaugural Address

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HALT! Stop The Madness

This country is in trouble and it doesn’t matter if you support Democrats or Republicans what matters is that you look at what is happening.  Reflect on how our government attempts to solve a problem.

Can we all at the outset agree that our economy is weak and that employment is a significant problem?  Can we now look at one example without political rhetoric and finger pointing to see how “our government” looks toward a solution?

Can we have a consensus of opinion that the American auto industry is not what it once was?  Now we can differ as to what role the government could, should or will take to support that industry but we have to accept the fact that “our government” has taken some action.  The question today is this, has “our government” served this nation well doing what is smart and efficient with the taxpayers trust and money?

In 2010 a new hybrid battery manufacturing facility was opened in Michigan and our government was a large contributor giving the owners 150 million dollars (half their cost of construction) in a grant plus $50 million in property taxes over 15 years and another $2.5 million annually in business taxes.  That totals to 202.5 million dollars but the question is, was it a good investment for the taxpayers and the nation?

Here we are two years later and we can now begin to measure the results, we have created 200 jobs with workers each being furloughed one week a month to collect unemployment.  That’s right, you and I the American taxpayers put up $1,000,000 per job and what have we got, people working part-time and collecting unemployment.  But, wait there’s more to the story.

The company we gave the money to is not an American company like General Motors or Ford, no the company is LG Chem from South Korea.  When the ground breaking took place in 2010 “our government” told the workers, “You are leading the way in showing how manufacturing jobs are coming right back here to the United States of America,”

“Our President”, told workers at the ground-breaking ceremony. “Our goal has never been to create a government program, but rather to unleash private-sector growth. And we’re seeing results.”  He did not mention the cost or the fact we are using borrowed money to invest in these jobs.

This investment on behalf of the American people was done by “our government” and not by the private-sector banking industry and perhaps that was required because the banks reviewed the project first and considered it too risky as an investment.  Why you ask are the workers still collecting unemployment after taxpayers have spent so much to create a job for them?

It seems they have not yet produced and sold a single battery and the market for their proposed product is very limited.  Electric cars may be part of the change “our government” wants to make and they may hope this works out but the economic numbers just don’t look promising for the future.

Spending a ton of taxpayer dollars hoping to change the American automobile industry into increased demand for our electric industry does not mean the taxpayers will invest their own money into the purchase of such a car. You see taxpayers look at spending with an eye to value and return on their investment and that is something “our government” should do.

Borrowing $1,000,000 to create a single part-time job is lunacy. It’s time to stop the madness.

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