Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling!

"The next 24 hours are Armageddon because the health care bill proposed by Democrats will ruin our country!" John Boehner on March 20, 2010

Well, it has been 10 days since health reform passed and we're still here. No Armageddon, no crash of our economy and no end of times. Is this what it is going to be like for now on? Every time a piece of legislation is passed, the other party that is not in control will scream "The Sky Is Falling?"

Aren't we better then this? Demonizing the opposing view instead of having a discussion about the differences. And it is not just Republicans towards Democrats, it goes both ways. Don't believe me? Then just Google "Bush is Hitler" and see what kind of images pop up.

I do think that it is getting worse, this whole Tea Party movement seems way over the top with the images that are on TV from their rallies. Recently, I saw an article about how in a recent poll, 25% of Republicans think that Obama is the Anti-Christ and 57% think that he is secretly a Muslim. The Anti-Christ?? Really???? And we're really going to start the whole Muslim thing back up along with the whole "he's not even an American" rant??

After this health care reform passed, a new poll showed that about 50% of the country was in favor of the bill, about 40% were against it and about 9 or 10% were undecided. But when talked too be about the individual programs that made up the bill, about 70% actually like it.

I guess it shows how bad the Dem's did on explaining what was ACTUALLY in the bill.

Personally, I was in favor of the reform. I will admit, I don't know how effective this will end up being. It is my honest belief, that nobody knows if this is going to be effective or not at driving down health costs. I am not sure if this is going to raise the national debt, or lower it. My guess, is that it will slightly raise it despite the non-partisan Congressional Budget Offices claim that it will lower the national debt $132 billion over the first 10 years.

This is what I do know about the bill though:

It is supposed to create a tax break for small business owners that provide health care coverage to their employees.

It covers children, even with pre-existing conditions-no exceptions. Who doesn't want that?

Dependent children can stay on their parents health care until they are 26. College students should LOVE that!

It is requiring that Fast Food restaurants post the amount of calories per item right on the menu board. It will make you think when ordering that "Double Whopper with Cheese"

And, in 2014, nobody will be excluded from health care-even the pre-existing conditions.

There is WAY more to this bill then that, like over 200 Republican Authored attachments which includes "The Penalty" for not being insured. Funny how the Republicans are against that one now when they came up with the idea.......see the health care system in the state of Massachusetts put forth by Mitt Romney.

This will not be perfect reform, there is no such thing and I like that the far "Right" and far "Left" did not like the bill. To me it shows it is somewhere in the center which is where I normally like to be. And, it is a start that can be tweeked as we go. There was no way this was going to be done "right" the first time! Look at our countries history, we couldn't even get civil rights correct the first 6 or 7 tries! I also give props to my local Congressman Joe Donnelly for standing firm on his pro-life stance by making the President cave by signing an executive order in order to get his vote. That's right, there are pro-life Democrats out there!

It's funny how everybody seems to want change though........until it actually happens.

A couple months ago when Health Care Reform looked to be dead, Sarah Palin said at one of her Tea Party speeches: "How's that Hopey, Changey thing working out for ya?"

Well, it's looking pretty good right now, thanks for asking! But it still has some work to do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Would Your Agenda Be?

Whether it is in the business world, your personal life or your spiritual life, we all hate to have our time wasted. It's frustrating. I remember in a business sense of this, I had a lending institution work really hard in setting up a day and time to go to lunch with me. When the day arrived, I was prepared. I went into the meeting with a plan on how this lender could work into my business plan and how I could work into theirs. I went into the meeting anticipating what questions they may ask...what are my goals etc..

Instead, I sat there in disbelief for an hour while one of the people monopolized the conversation talking about sports. Every time myself or the other person tried to sway the conversation back to real estate, this person that pushed for the meeting just kept talking about sports. It was very frustrating. Don't get me wrong, I love talking about sports, but I have friends that I talk sports with. This was a business meeting, and it was perhaps the biggest waste of time for a meeting that I had ever had. But it did teach me a lesson. When I ask to spend time with someone that normally does not spend time with me on a regular basis, I better have an agenda. I need to build into that person that I am asking to spend time with. That other person needs to come away with value, just as I need to come away with value.

I wish that it was a lesson that I had learned sooner. I remember a couple of years ago, I had asked one of my pastors to meet with me. I thought it would be fun to just "hang out" with the person. I had no agenda and, looking back, I wasted that persons time. He and I are friends and this person is far too kind to ever say that I wasted their time. But that is what happened. It was an opportunity that I had, to be around a person of great influence in my church and community, and I feel that I completely blew it.

The point of all of this, is that I have an opportunity. An opportunity within the next 2-3 weeks to sit down for dinner with someone of influence on a local and national level. That person is United States Congressman Joe Donnelly of Indiana's 2nd District, which I happen to reside in.

Joe sits on the House Finance Committee and on the Subcommittee for Housing and Community Development. So, as a REALTOR, I am extremely excited to sit down with Joe over dinner with 3 other people of my choosing.

I have every intention on making this a very respectful dinner, but that does not mean that I will not go into it without some speaking points. After all, this person knows the President Of The United States and has direct influence on policy that effects the economy, banking and the housing market.

What Would Your Agenda Be? What Questions Would You Ask? How Would You Communicate Your Speaking Points? Would You Be Open Minded?

Feel free to leave your answers, and please have something else to say other then comments about his vote for the health care legislation.

Friday, March 19, 2010

To Fire, Or Not To Fire?

With the National Health Care Debate going on and the start of college basketballs March Madness, it is understandable that certain news stories might get glanced over or be soon forgotten. One of those, was the story of what is going on down in Texas with Rangers manager Ron Washington.

In case you've missed it, it was revealed earlier this week that Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive to a random drug screen last year just before the All-Star break. As the story goes, in a moment of weakness on a road trip, a friend offered Ron some cocaine and he took it and used it....just the one time. At the end of this road trip, Ron was informed that he was chosen to take a random drug screen.

And this is when I find the story gets very interesting.

Instead of denying that he was going to test positive, instead of saying "it must be that additive that made me test positive", Ron called team president Nolan Ryan, told him what happened, apologized for what happened taking full responsibility for it and then offered his resignation. Nolan Ryan and team GM Jon Daniels, admitted they were very angry for what Ron did and they had every right to fire him or accept his resignation and definitely discussed doing just that. I know that would have been my first reaction, "fire him".

But Ryan and Daniels did the unexpected, they sought to get Ron help through MLB's drug counseling program, supported him, let him keep his job and kept the whole thing quiet until a reporter dug up the story and leaked it this past week--9 months after it had happened.

I am not sure what the right answer is to this story, should he have been fired or should he have been able to keep his job--only time will tell on that. But I do like to look at things a little differently. There seems to be a consensus on the side that thought that Ron should be fired that says, "look at the example this sets for kids, it says you can do drugs and get away with it" and those people have a solid point. But I think that firing him would also say to kids "Don't ever screw up, if you do, you'll never be forgiven" and that is not a good message either. A message that says "when you are winning and doing well personally, we like like you a lot, but screw up once and we want nothing to do with you". None of us knows what would have happened if he had been fired. But if he had been, and the firing put Ron into a self destructive path that led to more and more drugs, then that would have been equally as bad a message, wouldn't it?

Let's not forget too, the hypocritical side of this. For years and years MLB has let players get away with Steroids, PED's and illegal drugs. Anybody remember Steve Howe and that sad story? MLB just spent millions of dollars on researching which players have done PED's and which front office personnel knew about players taking PED's, only to turn a blind eye to the results. And don't fool yourselves, there were front office people that knew this was going on (San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox), just read that Mitchel Report and you'll see.

In the 70's, it was common to walk into a clubhouse to find a bowl full of "greenies" sitting in the open for the players to take before heading onto the field. So, it was no great surprise to me when asked this week, Ron admitted to using these "uppers" back in his playing days--most players did back then.

Like I said earlier, my first reaction would have been to fire him as well, but I think it is very cool how grace has been shown by the front office of the Texas Rangers. They are taking a road less traveled by, and I hope that it works out well for all involved. Stories of redemption are always nice to hear about. By the way, Ron has been subjected to 3 random drug tests per week since he tested positive, and has not failed a single test.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Helping Kids With Cancer Smile

This is a photo of some of The Sunshine Kids. The Sunshine Kids is the National Charity for Prudential and is a National non-profit organization that supports positive group activity trips for kids with cancer. Locally, The Sunshine Kids are based out of Memorial Hospital and the kids are from all over this area. From the Illinois state line to the Ohio state line to 1/2 way down Indiana and up into Southern Michigan. The money that we raise locally, stays local to help these brave kids that are in this picture among others.

Some of the kids just got back from a ski trip in Colorado this past week. In total, there were 15 kids at our last event. When you see these kids, you have to admire their courage and strength. They make me realize how the big problems that I feel I have, really are small ones.

This picture was taken Saturday during our annual auction benefit/fundraiser at the Mishawaka FOP. If you could not attend, then you missed out on a GREAT time! From the "piggy raffles" to the silent auction to the live auction, it was just an awesome experience that I am so proud to be a part of for the 2nd year in a row and I am already excited about planning for next years event!

Next year, our event will be on Saturday March 19 at the same location. We are not sure who the band is going to be yet, or the exact times yet. But it is sure to a great time.

Our early numbers show that we sold about 325 tickets and had an attendance of about 293 people and raised somewhere around $20,000 before backing out dinner expense and hall rental. Among the highlights of the auction was the Derek Jeter autographed jersey during the live auction and seeing the look on my wifes face when she found out that I was high bidder on a dinner for myself, 3 guests and Congressman Joe Donnelly at Carrabba's in Mishawaka.

So, put Saturday March 19 in your calendar for next year! It will be casual dress and you will be supporting a great cause.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


It is that time again when my name comes up in the rotation to choose a topic for my Friday morning mens group. Here is this weeks discussion:

The rules of golf are very precise and many good golfers are tempted to bend them. In 1987, Craig Stadler placed a towel on the ground before hitting a shot from beneath a tree. He said it was to keep his slacks clean, but he was declared in violation of Rule 13-2 which prohibits “building a stance.” The penalty cost him $37,000.

One golfer known for his impeccable integrity was Bobby Jones. Years ago, Bobby called a one-stroke penalty on himself, causing him to lose the U.S. Open by a single stroke. When praised for his honesty, Bobby said “There is only one way to play the game. You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank.”

Integrity comes from the Latin word integritas, which means wholeness, entireness or completeness. The root word “integer” is often used in math to represent a whole number, meaning untouched, intact and entire. Literally, integrity means you have a complete soul.

Proverbs 13:6 Righteousness guards the man integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.

Proverbs 29:10 Bloodthirsty men hate a man of integrity and seek to kill the upright.

1. How would you define integrity? Do you think that integrity and character are the same?

2. Why is integrity important?

3. How is integrity demonstrated in the work place?

4. What steps of integrity could you take to protect yourself from temptation?

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character”

5. In what ways (good or bad) have your friends influenced your integrity? How have you influenced theirs?

6. How do you react towards those who live a life of integrity?

7. What examples come to mind, good or bad, when it comes to integrity and sports? Are you finding it easier to come up with the bad examples or the good ones?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tonights News

It is 10:00 on a Monday night and I am flipping through the news channels. CNN, FOX and MSNBC interested to see what the nights headlines are. FOX is complaining about the Dem's.... as usual. MSNBC is complaining about the Repub's..... as usual. CNN is doing a story about a murder caught on tape but for some reason they cannot get prosecuted the person that did it. All of them throwing in something about our health care debate.

And I am wondering.......why are none of them reporting on the 500+ Christians that were brutally murdered today?

That's right, over 500. And, not a single mention of it on the news or on the scroll at the bottom of the screen.

Over 500 were slaughtered today in Nigeria with axes and machetes. Most of them were women, the elderly and children--some as young as 4 days old. Then buried in a mass grave, having been dumped there by the truck load. It is a horrible image for sure. And done in retaliation for what Christians had done to Muslims--something very similar.

How would we react if this happened to white Christians? How would we react if they were Americans?

The facts are though, they were not white and they were not Americans and it took place 1/2 way around the world in a cruel place that we would rather forget about. And, that kind of news does not draw the ratings like the health care debate or a sex scandal that might be going on with one of our favorite athletes or movie stars or a politician.

Somewhere along the way, the news became a ratings war and we have joined in for the ride.

This news in Nigeria really saddened me tonight on several levels. It makes any problems that I may feel I have seem small and unimportant. Don't get me wrong, it also makes me feel thankful to live in a country where these things don't happen. But it is still sad and goes to show that there are some major messed up places in this world and largely, it is not getting reported on.
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