Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tea partiers making their point – with Constitution

A 68-year-old Ohio woman who was targeted by the IRS when she tried to get tax-exempt status for her conservative group was told she'd have to provide a synopsis of the titles her book study had read.

She sent in a copy of the Constitution.

American Patriots against Government Excess (PAGE) got targeted for two reasons: It had the word "patriots" in the title and it was critical of how the feds spend money.

Marion Bower told ABC that her group was made up of volunteers who passed out copies of the Constitution at parades and had informational meetings on subjects such as health care law and disaster preparedness.

Bower's activities got me thinking: A lot of tea partiers are quite content to make their point just by giving out free copies of the U.S. Constitution. They figure if people just read it they'll come to the right conclusion.

They feel no need to hammer their point or cajole anyone with fine-sounding arguments. The document itself is sufficient.

Which makes me wonder a little bit about the points of their opposition.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Run Charities Like a Business, Help More People

I'm a writer. I sometimes get emails from LinkedIn for "Jobs You May Be Interested In."

I'm currently working a great freelance job I got through this process, and today I checked out another batch of offerings. One looked interesting, so I read through the specifics, including the qualifications, which included:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Communications (Journalism, writing, mass media) or related work experience. References and Portfolio must be included.
  • Artistic skill and talent in creative writing.
  • Ability to work on projects independently as well as in a team.
  • Ability to multi-task and follow several stories at one time.
  • Creativity and instinct to communicate and find ideas.
  • Willingness to work very closely with people from foreign cultures.

Sounded good. So I read on down to this line:

Compensation: Volunteer.

Seriously? Up to this point the ad sounded like a full-time job, working with a team of professionals. The qualifications certainly sounded like someone with high talent and experience. But no pay?

Admittedly, the job was for a Christian charity. All compensation, after all, isn't monetary. The successful candidate would likely receive some spiritual compensation in the fact that he/she is helping the impoverished and furthering to cause of God.

I'm all for that. But I have to eat.

The purpose of this job is presumably to tell the successful stories of the ministry to get people to open up their pocketbook, thus enabling the ministry to help even more people.

And, certainly, if all the work is done by volunteers more money goes to the people who need it. But consider this: By bringing up the people who need help, you are bringing down the people who are helping you. If I volunteer for this job, it creates less time for me to do writing that pays my bills. (And believe me, I've already cut every unnecessary expense possible.)

So I'm not going to apply. I'm not saying I'm the best writer they could find, but I'd make the pool of interviewees. And if I'm not going to apply it's a good guess that they won't get many people at my level – and certainly not any above my level.

They're going to get applicants with limited skills. Whoever gets that job will be able to add it to his/her resume, and that is a form of compensation. It also will give him/her the satisfaction of helping the impoverished, and that is a valid form of compensation, too.

But those of us with sought-after writing skills can find someone to actually pay us money for our work. And that will provide medical care and food for our own families, who also have needs. I would love to help the people this ministry helps – and at the same time help my own family. Wouldn't that be a novel idea?

There's a saying in business: You have to spend money to make money. And you know what else? You have to spend money to raise money. If this organization isn't paying its writers, photographers and videographers I can guarantee the result: the articles, photos and videos will be somewhat less than they could be. And you know what? The better those things are, the more people they are likely to reach with their message. And the more people they reach with their message, the more donations they are likely to bring in. And that will allow them to help even more people.

I know of several ideological businesses that are run exactly like that – a business. They make tons of money and still get their messages out. And more people see that message because, without compromising their beliefs or standards, they run their businesses to make money.

Yes, it's noble to sacrifice for a greater good. But it's not noble to do so unnecessarily.

Follow me on Twitter here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Forget Benghazi talking points – Who's idea was it to blame video?

A still shot from "Innocence of Muslims"

So there were at least a dozen iterations of the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used when she went on five Sunday talks shows to blame a D-grade anti-Muslim movie on YouTube.

The troubling thing is, not one of those 12 iterations says anything about a YouTube video.

So who's idea was it to blame the video? Did Susan Rice think it up herself? Then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed the video, too. And so did still-President Barack Obama.

Clinton and Obama told the family members of the four men killed in the attack that the video was responsible. Obama spoke against it at the United Nations two weeks after the fact. And the Obama-Clinton duo were featured in their own video to be shown in Pakistan attacking the anti-Muslim video.

The American who produced the video was put in jail. He's still there as of this writing.

The Obama administration has admitted now that it wasn't the video after all. The CIA talking points must have had it wrong.

We've finally seen the talking points. They were debated back and forth and revised down to the point of meaninglessness. Gen. David Petraus found them as useless as his wedding vows.

But the one thing I noticed when I read the various versions of the talking points that no one ever seems to point out: They never mention the video.

So who decided to?

Read Rush Limbaugh's thoughts.