Do you believe prayers are answered? 1

By Tom Quiner

I participated in an event called 40 Days for Life as recounted in my blog posts on October 7th and 8th.

I stood with others in front of the Planned Parenthood facility where abortions are performed. We quietly prayed for the unborn in Des Moines and throughout America.

I’m a small cog in a huge movement of the faithful who are praying consistently, fervently, and passionately for the pre-born children.

Does it do any good you may ask?

Most of the time we’ll never know how our loving prayers for the pre-born move their mothers and fathers, how they soften their hearts, how they change minds.

I got an e-mail this morning from the national director of 40 Days for Life with exciting, quantifiable results:

• 82,000 people participated in these prayerful gatherings
• 238 cities across 46 states, Canada, Australia Denmark, Northern Ireland and England were involved.
• 788 lives were spared from abortion (imagine how the world can be changed by these lives!).
• 8 abortion workers quit their jobs.
• 1 more abortion facility went out of business
on day 2 of this fall’s campaign.

Here in Iowa, we need prayers more than ever. Planned Parenthood is on the verge of expanding tele-abortions beyond Iowa’s borders with the tacit approval of our state’s Attorney General.

A late-term abortion doctor is attempting to move his practice into Council Bluffs.

Do you believe prayers are answered? I do. I ask for your continuing prayers for the pre-born. Pray that their parents and our politicians realize that these tiny human beings aren’t expendable. Prayers change hearts more than any old blog ever will.

Three ways to reduce federal spending 2

By Tom Quiner

Why the huge deficits?

Liberals blame the Bush tax cuts. That notion can be quickly discounted. The Federal Government has pretty consistently collected taxes in the amount of 20% of gross domestic product for the past fifty years. It’s the spending that has changed.

The reason for our huge deficits is the increase in federal spending to an unprecedented level of 25 percent of GDP.

We’ve got a spending problem, not a tax problem. So what are the solutions?

It seems to me that three quick ones come to mind:

SOLUTION #1: Congress constrains spending starting now. Perhaps it will happen. This is a unique political climate with a Tea Party movement with a great deal of influence. I suspect the next two years may be frugal ones. But do you trust Congress long term regardless of which party is in control? I don’t.

SOLUTION #2: Implement the Fair Tax. The fair tax is a national sales tax on all consumption. The idea is to eliminate all other taxes and replace it with one tax on every item you purchase.  The rate that has been bandied about is 18 percent.  So, if you purchased a hundred dollars of groceries, you’d pay an $18 national sales tax on top of the local sales tax. In Iowa, that rate is six percent, so your net tax payment would be $24 in this example.

There are significant pros and cons to this approach. The biggest pro in my mind is this: taxpayers would feel the pain of taxation with every single purchase, which is an excellent way to deter excessive taxation by elected officials. As it stands now, the government takes money from your paycheck before you ever get it, so you’re not as aware of the pain of taxation.

The problem is that Congress could implement some other new tax down the road on top of the Fair Tax and we’re back to square one. And although the Fair Tax would make it tougher for Congress to increase taxes, that may not slow down their spending habits.

SOLUTION #3: Amend the Constitution to limit spending to 20 percent of GDP. In a case of emergency, such as a war, Congress could exceed that limit with a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress, an act that would have to be repeated each year they wanted to exceed their Constitutional limits.

This approach would force Congress to make the tough spending choices they refuse to make now. We’ve got a spending crisis. Our interest payments on the national debt alone will soon bury us. It may be time to amend the Constitution to force our elected officials to spend our tax dollars responsibly.

The perils of politically-correct capitalism 1

By Tom Quiner

A couple of weeks ago, Washington Redskin Quarterback, Donovan McNabb, was benched with two minutes left in the game.

If you’re not a football fan, stick with me. There’s a connection to this event and a larger American issue.

There were rumblings that Redskin coach, Mike Shanahan, was racist for benching the African-American McNabb.  I think not.

The National Football League (NFL) cares about one thing:  money.  The teams themselves, their coaches, their players, and their front offices care about two things: winning and money. I think winning even trumps money at the individual level in a professional sport like football where most of the players are already earning in excess of a million dollars a year.

The NFL believes in capitalism. They will pay more money to athletes who are the best to help them win more games.  It doesn’t matter if they’re white, black, purple, straight, or communists, they will pay you a ton of money if you can help them win more games and make the playoffs.

In other words, the NFL believes in equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome (redistribution).

Ultimately, it comes to this: the NFL makes economic decisions based on merit.

I refer to the NFL in light of the sharp economic downturn that has afflicted America for a couple of years now.  There are many causes for the downturn. One of the causes is surely the impact of “politically-correct capitalism” on the mortgage industry, that is, the impact of economic decisions based on politics, not merit.

Community activist groups like ACORN successfully pressured Washington to relax “discriminatory” lending practices in the 1990s.  Our local paper, The Des Moines Register, ran dozens of stories in the 1980s about the practice of “redlining” where mortgage lenders would not lend money to people who lived in certain sections of town.

Lenders maintained they wouldn’t lend to people who were bad loan risks; activists claimed it was pure discrimination at work because so many of the folks not getting loans were bunched in the same neighborhoods.

So in 1992, new laws were passed directing new “affordable housing mandates” on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

When I purchased my first house in 1979, I had to have around 20 percent to put down on the house. According to the former Chief Credit Officer for Fannie Mae, Edward Pinto, HUD made it clear that more liberal lending policies were now required:

“Lending institutions, secondary market investors, mortgage insurers…..should work collaboratively to reduce homebuyer downpayment requirements.”

According to Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, by 2008 …

“almost 50% of loans…were subprime…and two thirds of them were held by government agencies or firms required to buy them by government regulations.”

By 2006, 30 percent of homebuyers were putting no money down.

These lax lending standards were specifically targeted to assist the African-American community in purchasing homes.  I believe the intent was honorable. Easier access to mortgages would increase the percentage of home ownership in America, and there is pride in ownership.

In my own marketing business, we began developing more marketing materials for mortgage companies throughout the country who touted nothing-down mortgages. Many mortgage brokers told me they didn’t need any marketing, because they had a backlog of clients standing in line waiting to borrow money with little down and low interest rates.

Of course you know what happened. The industry collapsed like a house of cards. And the very people we tried to help, the African-American community, suffered the most.

As columnist Star Parker said in her column today:

“Black’s, whose home ownership rates skyrocketed during the government stoked boom, now have foreclosure rates twice that of whites. And, of course, black unemployment in this economic slowdown following the collapse is double that of whites.”

The desire to cheat the laws of supply and demand are irresistible. You know the mantra:

Let’s ratchet up the minimum wage and pay people what they need rather than what they’re worth.

Let’s liberalize lending laws and lend to people on the basis on what they desire rather than what they can afford.

It never works. As this blog has stated on more than one occasion, you end up hurting most the very people you’re trying to help the most.

What the politicians are really doing is making themselves feel good as they hurt good people through the mock benevolence of politically-correct capitalism.

The record speaks for itself. It’s time to take a lesson from the NFL. Let’s pay people what they’re worth. Let’s let people borrow money on their ability to repay.

Politically-correct capitalism has taken a deadly toll on America.

Why God allows war Reply

By Tom Quiner

On this Veteran’s Day, I pay tribute to all the men and women who have served this nation in the armed forces. Thousands and thousands have given their lives in the name of freedom.

We thank-you for your service to America.

A letter writer in the Des Moines Register gave voice to us all in her lament this morning:

” … I wish I could think as I did as a child that the human race is too civilized, too knowledgeable, too humane to solve its problems with war.”

The war to end all wars has never come.  Why?

Why does God allow war?

War’s very existence is proof to some that God doesn’t exist. And yet C.S. Lewis suggests that God allows war for a reason. Here is an excerpt from his story, The Screwtape Letters, where the demon, Screwtape, explains God’s logic:

“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s [God’s] motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”

In a world where forces are at work to redefine society’s virtues, courage remains an indisputable virtue. Our soldiers have gone into battle absolutely terrified at the thought of dying. Their legs shook. They vomited. Their heads pounded. And yet they stormed the beach in the face of enemy fire, in the face of probable death.

Mr. Lewis suggests that these examples of courage, that these examples of spilled blood, bear fruit by nourishing something absolutely essential to our humanity: courage.

We’re all tested in life. It takes courage at the “testing point” to do the right thing. You may be tested before this day is done. Remember the examples of our veterans who faced physical danger that most of us will never face.

We salute you. You gave your best to America.

You have made us better.


Norah Jones wrote a song, American Anthem, in tribute to our veterans, which you can hear above. Here are the lyrics:

American Anthem

All we’ve been given
By those who came before
The dream of a nation
Where freedom would endure
The work and prayers
Of centuries
Have brought us to this day

What shall be our legacy?
What will our children say?
Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you

Each generation from the plains
To distant shore with the gifts
What they were given
Were determined
To leave more
Valiant battles fought together
acts of conscience fought alone
these are the seeds
From which America has grown

Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you

For those who think
They have nothing to share
Who fear in their hearts
There is no hero there
Know each quiet act
Of dignity is
That which fortifies
The soul of a nation
That never dies

Let them say of me
I was one who believed
In sharing the blessings
I received
Let me know in my heart
When my days are through
I gave my best to you

Who is the greatest American composer? Reply

By Tom Quiner

Three of my favorite American composers are George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Duke Ellington.

Today on the classical radio, I listened to Aaron Copland’s great Rodeo Ballet. The Hoe Down movement is so utterly American, so exquisitely compelling, so deliciously seductive that I felt compelled to share it with Quiner’s Diners readers.

My wife and I attend a convention in Las Vegas every year. We frequently walk past the Bellagio to take in the fountains. Then we walk across the street to Paris and have dinner at Mon Ami Gabi’s on the patio so we can keep watching. Copland’s Hoe Down is my second favorite water ballet. Enjoy.

Who is the greatest composer? I vote for Gershwin, but Copland is in the top three.