Archive for October, 2012

Half Penny for a Dime

Posted: October 25, 2012 in Life

Is a penny worth it’s production? Yes and no. It does cost more to produce a penny than it’s face value. In 2005 it cost 0.97 cents (just under it’s cent face value). In 2006 the cost per penny went up to 1.23 cents. The last estimate I found for 2011 was 2.41 cents per penny. So basically it costs more than twice as much to produce a penny than it’s worth in a store. In 2011 the U.S. Mint put 4.9 billion pennies into circulation. If I did my math right, it cost the U.S. roughly $118 million to produce $49 million worth of pennies.

Now let’s look at the nickel. In 2011 a nickel cost 11.18 cents to produce.

That would seem to indicate that making pennies and nickels is pretty foolish. Some argue, however, that we must also keep in mind that pennies and nickels aren’t just used one and thrown away. Each coin changes hands hundreds, maybe thousands of times before it falls out of circulation. It doesn’t cost 2.41 cents each time we use a penny. Rather we get at least 100 cents worth of use out of each 2.41 cent penny. That seems like a fairly good return.

I’m not an economist so here’s how I’m seeing it. Let’s say I buy a hammer from Hammer’s R Us. Let’s say further that they produce the hammer for $10 but I buy it for $5. It doesn’t matter how many times I use the hammer, or how many times the hammer changes hands (I give it to a friend who gives it to a friend who gives it to a friend…) the manufacturer still lost money on the deal. Unless they start charging more for the product than it costs to produce they’ll go bankrupt. And the money the government is losing on the deal isn’t the government’s money – it’s my money. As a citizen I’m a shareholder in Gov Inc.

Personally I’m thinking it’s time to either find a cheaper way to manufacture our product or else cut the product. Before we do anything rash, however, let’s take a look at history. Has the U.S. ever had to discontinue coinage? Yep. The half cent piece was discontinued in 1857 and the economy didn’t collapse. “Well that’s a half cent,” you may say. “That’s hardly comparable.”

“Au contraire,” I reply. When the half cent was discontinued its day to day buying power was about equal to today’s dime.

What about other countries. Yes, an increasing number of countries are discontinuing low value coins due to their declining purchasing power. Canada, Sweden, Norway, Brazil, and Israel are but a few countries which have already discontinued their lowest value coins.

My opinion is the U.S. should discontinue producing both 1 and 5 cent pieces (i.e. pennies and nickels) and round everything to the nearest ten cents. Of course doing this would also require us to include sales tax in the sticker price of products, a practice also already in use in most countries around the world. What a shock it would be to look at the price of an item on the shelf and actually know how much it was going to cost you at the checkout stand. I don’t know if we could handle it.

Church as Family

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Church

Church is family. Scripture refers to believers several times and in several ways as being at of God’s family. I don’t know of any human family that is without drama of some kind. As a minister I’ve seen families which are completely dysfunctional and in some cases dangerous while others are much healthier and joyful. Even these joyful families experience times of struggle and trial. In even the healthiest families feelings can get hurt and people get angry. Every family has drama.

The church as family is no exception. We don’t always get along with our parents and siblings, much less our extended family. We won’t always get along with our brothers and sisters in Christ either. We shouldn’t expect that just because most people present claim to be followers of Christ that all strife and tension will magically be gone. We shouldn’t be surprised when misunderstandings happen. We should be quick to listen, slow to speak and always ready to forgive. That is perhaps something different between the church and our human families – or at least ought to be something different. The cool thing is that we have a Father who, though He is just and will discipline, is full of mercy and always forgives us when we play the fool.

I know me. God knows me better even than I do myself. Only He knows truly how foolish, prideful and judgmental I can be. And yet he forgives me. Every time. He is patient and puts up with more than’ll know of this side of the grave. And He forgives.

“Father, give me a heart filled with the Gospel of Your grace. Teach me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. May I be always ready to forgive and humble enough to always ask forgiveness from those I wrong.”

The Poor Orphaned Thumb Drive

Posted: October 23, 2012 in Technology

Times do change. It wasn’t many years ago when I went everywhere with at least one USB thumb drive in my pocket. I usually had several because I was forever losing the blasted things. They’d fall out of my pocket when I pulled my keys out and I wouldn’t realize this till I much later. Occasionally I found the things. If I did, however, they were usually smashed. Now, thanks to cloud services like iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Evernote (my favorite), the only time I’ve used a thumb drive in two years has been to take a file or two down the hall from my office to the sanctuary A/V computer. It’s the only time when it’s still faster and easier to use the little boogers.

Just this morning I found one in my car. I know it’s mine. I vaguely recognize it. But I have no idea what’s on it. I’ve only had my car a year and a half, so I must have used it sometime in the past eighteen months – but I can’t remember what for.

The Prize!

Posted: October 22, 2012 in Family

My 10-month-old found a cracker at the bottom of a bucket of toys. She was very excited.  It’s sort of like finding the the prize in the CrackerJack box.

First Night of Community Groups

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Church

We had our first community group meeting of the season last night. There were twelve adults plus children – all told, twenty-three (I think) heartbeats in this house. It was chaotic. It was a zoo. Personally, I loved it.

My favorite aspect of the evening was getting to know people better. Our group is a mix of long time members/attenders and brand new faces. I had a chance to hear people’s stories, or new parts of people’s stories. There  some great conversations with folk on my front steps too.

Every community group has its own DNA. We billed our group as “Family”. I think the only time houses see that many bodies anymore is during holidays and funerals. We’re going to do it weekly, welcoming people in, sharing life and out of the swirling chaos of family, studying the Word of God.

 

I really wish churches would stop singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was not written by a Christian and is not about the Second Coming of Christ.

The writer of the lyrics, Julia Ward Howe, was a not a Christian, but a Universalist. The song is not about the second coming of Christ but was about the Union army (the army of the Republic of the United States – thus the name) getting ready to crush the Confederacy. It is a Civil War song. Mrs. How was a raging abolitionist (something which I can applaud) and saw the conflict between north and south as the great Battle of Armageddon.

Verse three is blatantly non-Christian:

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel:
As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal

Gospel means good news, not death by bayonet. Grace is unmerited favor or receiving what we don’t deserve, not reciprocity. This is a very unchristian song.

I can understand why (though still disagree), at the time, Christian people concerned about abolition of slavery would take up this hymn, but why have we forgotten the source and nature of the hymn?  Why do we insist on singing this “hymn” which came from no Christian source and, despite the biblical allusions, neither edifies the believer nor makes much of God?

I really do wish we’d stop singing this song.

I Just Dropped In…

Posted: October 9, 2012 in Life

I woke up this mornin’ with the sundown shinin’ in
I found my mind in a brown paper bag, but then…
I tripped on a cloud and fell-a eight miles high
I tore my mind on a jagged sky
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

This is the first verse to the Mickey Newbury song “I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” as recorded by Kenny Rogers and First Edition. That describes how I feel when I wake up with a migraine headache. Thank God for the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals.