Tables, chairs and oaken chests... indeed

From an email to the San Francisco Monthly Meeting list-serve:
Just a reminder that the Young Adult Friends would like to invite you to our next movie night. On September 27, Saturday at 7:00, we're going to talk with Chris Mohr about about how the musical Jesus Christ Superstar was one of his main connections to spirituality for a period of time. The talk will be followed by a viewing of the film, and there will be dessert/snack potluck. I think it can be family friendly, but let me know if that's a need of yours, so that we can plan accordingly.

I hope you can come, I think it will be a really fun time!


I hope he won't mind me quoting him here. :)


Where It Is Easier to Mine Gold

Because it is so apropos today, this is from David Cay Johnston’s Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill), published by Penguin in 2007, pp. 6-8:
Among the father of capitalism’s [Adam Smith’s] lesser known but equally significant insights is what he wrote about the eagerness of business owners to make even more profits by thwarting the invisible hand. He warned that unchecked self-interest, especially when aided by the government, will spoil the benefits of capitalism….

Thoughout his writings Smith warned of the damage done when government interferes in the market by guaranteeing profits or handing out gifts. This damage can exceed that caused when government taxes unwisely or imposes rules that needlessly obstruct commerce.

It is a universal truth that it is easier to mine gold from the government treasury than the side of a mountain.

The harsh reality is that for the past quarter century, policies adopted in the name of Adam Smith, policies that supposedly strengthen the invisible hand guiding the market, have weighed down our economy while simultaneously stuffing the pockets of those among the rich and powerful who solicited them or… were just standing in the right place at a lucrative time. This is our story, not of one free lunch, but of the many banquets at which billions and billions of your dollars are being served to the richest among us.
Of course, with the Wall Street bailout, "billions and billions" is now adding up to a trillion or two. Almost as much as the cost of the Iraq war. Hat tip to big sister Debbie for giving me the book.


Reading roundup

Some items that have been stuck in the "to-read" email basket until now:

Tyranny on Display at the Republican Convention (truthdig): "St. Paul is a window into our future. It is a future where constitutional rights mean nothing and where lawful dissent is branded a form of terrorism."

Co-Producers of Our Own Economies "An independent regional economy calls for new regional economic institutions for land, labor, and capital to embody the scale, purpose, and structure of our endeavors. These new institutions cannot be government-driven, and rightly so. They will be shaped by free associations of consumers and producers, working cooperatively, sharing the risk." (From the e-newsletter and blog of the E.F. Schumacher Society, www.smallisbeautiful.org.)

Tolstoy's anarchistic Christian views: Against the Grain radio show

Bay Area Cities Issuing Fewer Building Permits: "Amid the worst housing downturn since the Depression, fewer units are being built, exacerbating the Bay Area's critical need for places to live, a government group said... Cities in the nine Bay Area counties issued 22,843 permits in 2007, down 24%... Particularly striking was that most of the permits were for housing designed for affluent populations."

And in the Piling-On Department, Frank Rich of the NY Times has this to say about "Palin and McCain’s Shotgun Marriage," via this link at commondreams.org: "His speed-dating of Palin reaffirmed a more dangerous personality tic that has dogged his entire career. His decision-making process is impetuous and, in its Bush-like preference for gut instinct over facts, potentially reckless."


The Grace of a Ten Year Old

Our family usually has mealtime grace at dinner. Each member of the family gets a turn to choose how to pray: silence, sing a song from a prescribed list, or speak a prayer. (Six Year Old sometimes chooses laughter, but that's another story.)

Tonight, we didn't observe grace. Robin left before dinner to go to a committee meeting at Ben Lomond Quaker Center. She is serving her last meeting as clerk of the board of directors tomorrow.

So tonight at bedtime, Ten Year Old said, "Daddy, if we had had grace tonight, it would have been my turn. I would have spoken a prayer. I would have said how lucky I am. I said that another time on my birthday. Another time, I said silence, but then I thought of a prayer, so I just said it in my mind."

There was another time recently -- not his birthday -- when Ten Year Old shared a vocal prayer at dinner. He gave thanks for the food and our family, and for how blessed we are, and he asked for help for those who need it. He went on to say something like, "Take care of Yourself, so you can be okay and help people."

I wish I had written it down at the time! It was really touching for him to be concerned with God's own Well-Being. Beautiful.

God, how blessed I am. Help me remember that in every moment, and to give thanks to You continually!