“A person with options is a person with power!”

“A person with the option to take ownership of something is much richer when they decide to invest in that option of their own free will. – Mr. Erickson

What is politics in America basically about?

Politics in America is basically about people fighting to decide who will have the power to decide what we spend our money on, among other things, of course, but primarily that.

What if we took some of that power out of the equation for our politicians?

What if they were only charged with supplying the options, not the actual funding in a lot of cases?

What if we gave some of that power back to the people who are footing the bill?

You might say that could never work because how could you formulate a budget operating that way?

Well, my answer would be that the politicians have not operated within a budget for a long time anyway.  And I would be right.  The last time the Congress even passed a budget was in 2006.

Some types of basic levels of funding would have to exist for the military, government operations, etc., but the lion’s share of the spending could be deemed discretionary, and those levels determined by the desires of the taxpayers.

For example, in my state, when filling out my tax return form, I can select an amount to go towards any of the following causes: Endangered resources, Military family relief, Cancer research, Second Harvest/Feeding Americans, Veterans trust fund, Red Cross Disaster Relief, Multiple sclerosis, of the Special Olympics.

Why can’t the federal government help to fund different projects or causes the same way?

If people really want something they’ll kick-in money for it, and if they don’t, they won’t.

Why couldn’t we have the option to give additional money to a “Border wall building fund?”

Or to NASA?

Or to a “School Security” fund?

Or to a “Climate change protection fund?”

Or to a “Help the homeless fund?”

Or to an “Education improvement fund?

Think about all of the possibilities and all of the opportunities.

I feel like this would be a more productive way of spending our money.

Instead of these lobbyists wasting money on politicians, they could just directly fund their own cause.

Instead of private citizens wasting their money on supporting politicians, they could just directly fund their own favorite causes.

If you are worried about climate change, then put your money where your mouth is.

If you want a border wall built on our southern border, open up your wallet and chip in.

Having choices is good.

Being forced to pay for programs you don’t support is not good.

Let’s try doing what’s good.

 

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income tax before 1913

WINNING!  President Trump does it again!

President Trump, with Dr. Martin Luther King’s niece, Alveda King, by his side, and surrounded by a diverse and bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives, signed a BIPARTISAN criminal justice overhaul bill in the Oval Office on Friday, December 21, 2018.

Did I just say “bipartisan?”

Yes I did, and President Trump just continues to WIN for the Black community and some of the less fortunate communities and citizens in our country.

First it, in the recent tax cut bill, which supposedly “helped only our billionaire friends,” money was set aside for an extensive community development program which established “opportunity zones” where investment is encouraged and rewarded in these economically distressed areas.  (Please see my prior blog on President Trump’s executive order regarding these “opportunity zones.”)

And now an overhauling of the criminal justice system, called “The First Step Act.”

Can you imagine what President Trump could accomplish if he wasn’t such a “racist and a culturally insensitive monster” according to the “biased, liberal, fake news media?”

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill Thursday night, 358 to 36.  Two days earlier, The Senate voted in favor of the Bill 87-12.

Those votes represent a level of bipartisanship that isn’t seen very often, especially these days.

President Trump and his son-in-law, senior adviser Jared Kushner, along with his daughter Ivanka, lobbied hard for the bill, named the “First Step Act.”

“America is the greatest Country in the world and my job is to fight for ALL citizens, even those who have made mistakes,” The President tweeted moments after the vote.

“This will keep our communities safer, and provide hope and a second chance, to those who earn it.  In addition to everything else, billions of dollars will be saved.  I look forward to signing this into law!” President Trump added.

CNN reported that, “The legislation is aimed at easing sentences for nonviolent offenders, reducing the number of repeat offenders and increasing prisoner rehabilitation efforts.”

President Trump called the passage of the bill “an incredible success for our country.”

“Criminal justice reform; everybody said it couldn’t be done,” President Trump said. “They said the conservatives won’t approve it. They said the liberals won’t approve it. They said, ‘Nobody’s going to approve it. Everybody’s going to be against it.’”

And they were “all” against it [the bill] to begin with.  At least each other’s version of it.  But President Trump isn’t your average “cookie cutter” conservative.  He isn’t your average “republican” either.  He’s an American first, and he wants what’s best for Americans, and he doesn’t care which party gets behind and supports his efforts, as long as they are supported and acted on.

The vote, in fact, was also hailed by Democrats.  Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said, “The nation’s prisons are full of Americans who are struggling with mental illness and addiction, and who are overwhelmingly poor.  “The nation’s criminal justice system feeds on certain communities and not on others,” and said “the bill represents a step toward healing for those communities.”

“Let’s make no mistake, this legislation, which is one small step, will affect thousands and thousands of lives,” Senator Booker said.

The bill makes the process of getting a job and re-entering society again fairer and easier, for people who have done their time.

CNN added that, “The passage of the bill culminates years of negotiations and gives President Trump a signature policy victory, with the outcome hailed by scores of conservative and liberal advocacy groups alike.”

During the signing ceremony, President Trump actually thanked Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, as well, for their support.  I think this goes to show that President Trump doesn’t take a lot of these things that are thrown at him personally.  It’s just business to him, and getting results is all that matters.

 

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trump winning and cant believe

 

When money talks, media bias walks!

Yes, when it comes to the stock market, investing and business in general, money still rules over political agendas and media bias.

Greed may not be a virtue, and in fact it’s one of the “7 deadly sins,” but at least it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

“Money” will always react in its own best interest, regardless of who or what is responsible.

“Business is business…, it’s nothing personal.”

The “biased, liberal, fake news media” and the democrats can try and spin words, events and policies any which way want, and millions of gullible Americans may buy what they’re selling, but money cuts through all of that and focuses on reality, not propaganda.

market prediction if trump wins

On the eve of the presidential election, in November of 2016, when all of the “biased, liberal, fake news media” pundits, experts and talking heads predicted a stock market collapse, and basically the end of the world should Donald Trump win the election, “money” was prepared with the appropriate reaction.

krugman-economist-nyt-stock-market-willneverrecover-from-trump-ty-stock-30222340

Even Matt Egan, of CNN Business News had to admit that, “Wall Street welcomes Trump with a bang” the day after the election.

“That didn’t take long,” Egan declared.  “An overnight panic in global markets evaporated as Wall Street gave an emphatic welcome to President-elect Donald Trump.”

Huh?  So what happened to all of that “end of the world” propaganda talk from these so called “experts” that we were hearing less than 24 hours earlier?  Well, these “experts” had moved on from that “hit job,” and they were already doing their “swampy” best to downplay The Market’s reaction to Trump’s election, putting the whole thing in the proper perspective for all of the rest of us, and attempting to dampen any and all positive reactions to it.

The facts are that, The Dow soared 257 points and brushed up against lifetime highs already on Wednesday, the day after the election, defying those who predicted Trump’s election would bring about a plunge in the stock market.

Peter Kenny, an independent market strategist, admitted that the market, “Greeted Trump with a far more positive footing than I expected.  He’s receiving a very warm welcome.”

So, if you ever want to get an honest reaction to any events or policies, just watch how “money” reacts to it.

It’s a safe bet every time.

“For the love of money is the root of all evil…” – 1 Timothy 6:10

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” – Mark Twain

“We live by the Golden Rule.  Those who have the gold make the rules.” – Buzzy Bavasi, Major League baseball executive

 

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stock market crash

 

 

Up and up The Fed’s interest rate goes, where it’ll stop nobody knows!

The Federal Reserve raised the nation’s borrowing rate by 0.25% for the fourth time this year, despite months of objections from President Trump.

According to Lucy Bayly, the business editor for NBC News, “President Trump fears higher interest rates will take the steam out of the nation’s booming economy.”

She continues by saying, “As head of the Federal Reserve, [Jay] Powell has found himself uncharacteristically singled out for criticism over the central bank’s handling of interest rates, with Trump saying he ‘maybe regretted nominating Powell to the position.’”

“I have a hot economy going,” President Trump said in October, and “every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates.”

Ms. Bayly feel sthat, “Powell’s challenge at this juncture has been to make it clear that the Fed’s decision was data driven and not due to any deference to the political establishment, which would have risked the central bank’s credibility as an independent agency.”

That’s kind of funny.  Why does it seem that “The Fed,” the central bank, only seems concerned about its credibility when there is a Republican president?

During an interview with “Yahoo Finance,” Edward Stringham, an economist, Professor of Economic Innovation at Trinity College and the president of the American Institute of Economic Research, said, “We’ve had artificially low interest rates for years.”  The Fed has apparently admitted to this because Mr. Stringham goes on to say that, “The Fed has said that they want to get away from that [artificially low interest rates].”

What does “artificially low interest rates” mean?  Why would The Fed be dealing with anything that is “artificial?” I take it to mean that The Fed had lowered the rates, or kept them low, for reasons other than financial and/or economic merit.

In other words, it sounds kind of “swampy” and politically motivated to me.

Well, let’s take a look at the recent history of The Federal Reserve Bank, how they’ve handled the rates, and you decide.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the interest rate was at 6%.

By June of 2003 the rate was down to 1% due to a recession, the 9/11 attacks, and a war in The Middle East.

The rate was then back up to 5.25% by June of 2006.

It then was down to 1% again by the end of Bush’s term, mostly due to another recession, the housing crisis, bank failures and the bank bailout.

On December 11, 2007, the rate dropped from 4.5% to 4.25%

January 22, 2008, the rate then plummeted to 3.5%

Only eight day later, on January 30, 2008, the rate went down to 3%

On March 18, 2008, the rate dropped to 2.25%

On April 30, 2008, the rate fell to 2%

On October 8, 2008, it fell to 1.5%

Twenty-one days later, on October 29, 2008, the rate dropped to 1%

After Barack Obama was elected president, on December 16, 2008, the rate went to .25%

Note: .25% is the lowest funds rate possible.

Then, for the following 7 YEARS, or basically most of the “Obama years,” the federal interest rate sat there at .25%!  For 7 YEARS!!!

It wasn’t until December of 2015 that they managed to raise the rate to .5%.

The rate stayed at .5% all of 2016 until Donald Trump won the election, at which time the rate immediately went up to .75%.

So, even though all of the “biased, liberal, fake news media” financial “experts” were predicting a stock market crash if Donald Trump won, and all kinds of other economic misfortune, The Federal Reserve felt it was a good time to raise the federal interest rate.

Interesting.  Ponder that for a moment.

Then over the next two years of the Trump Presidency, The Fed chooses to raise the rate 6 more times, all the way back to 2.25%!

On March 16, 2017, the rate goes to 1%

On June 15, 2017, we’re up to 1.25%

On December 14, 2017, the rate goes up to 1.5%

On March 22, 2018, it climbs to 1.75

On Jun 14, 2018, 2%

On September 27, 2018, 2.25%

And on December 19, 2018, The Fed raised it another .25 to 2.5%

 

“The economy continues to punch well above its weight,” said Steve Rick, chief economist at CUNA Mutual Group. “Although trade tensions and tariffs continue to present uncertainty, the economy has been running red-hot for a long time…”

Is that what you call “a long time” Mr. Rick, a little over a year?

It seems these economists and know-it-all eggheads are in quite a hurry to slow our economy down.

Why?

Why was it OK for Americans to sit through all of these down times for close to two decades, but then when we finally turn it around they want to throw down all of these speed bumps?

What do you think?  Is it a case of “the swamp’s” willingness to sabotage the country for the sake of their own survival and desire for power?

I’m thinking that is the case, but then again, I’m becoming more and more cynical by the day.

 

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federal interest rates

 

A Blessed and a Merry Christmas from Mr. Erickson! 

From The Bible, Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (This was the first census that took place while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and placed him in a manger, because there was no room available for them at an inn.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 And the angel said unto them, do not be afraid: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born unto you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

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jesus2

 

Christmas 101: Christmas!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Christmas IS the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s wonderful in many different ways for many different cultures and many different people.

Let’s take a look at the history, the traditions and the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas (“Christ’s Mass”) is a Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus, although it has evolved into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many different traditions.

For over two thousand years, people around the world have been observing Christmas with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature.

Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of our Savior, Jesus of Nazareth.  The actual date of Jesus’ birth is not known.

Popular Christmas customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.

December 25th, Christmas Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870, but winter and “Christmas” celebrations go back hundreds and thousands of years.

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter.  Many people rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated “Yule” from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days.

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday.  The birth of Jesus was not even celebrated.  It wasn’t until the fourth century (the 300s), that church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday.

Unfortunately, the Bible does not mention the date of Jesus’ birth.  Pope Julius chose December 25 as the day The Church would celebrate Jesus’ birth.  It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.  First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century.  By the end of the eighth century (the 700’s), the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.  By the Middle Ages, Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion.  On “Christmas,” believers attended church, then celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere similar to today’s Mardi Gras.  Each year, a beggar or student would be crowned the “lord of misrule” and eager celebrants played the part of his subjects. The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink.  If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief.  Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

In the early 17th century (the early 1600’s), a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas.  By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

Christmas was not a holiday in early America, due to the Puritan nature of the Pilgrims.  From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston.  Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.

After the American Revolution (The American Revolution took place between 1765 and 1783), English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas.

It wasn’t until the 19th century (the 1800’s) that Americans began to embrace Christmas.  Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil.  During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season.  In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot.  This was the catalyst for certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.”  It was a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly.  In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.  Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule.  Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended, in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

Also around this time, English author Charles Dickens created the classic holiday tale, “A Christmas Carol.”  The story’s message of the importance of charity and good will towards all humankind struck a powerful chord in the United States and England and showed members of Victorian society the benefits of celebrating the holiday.

In my estimation, Charles Dickens was the one who set the tone and established the spirit of Christmas that we know and love today.

The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early 1800s. Christmas provided families with a day when they could lavish attention, and gifts, on their children without appearing to “spoil” them.

As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed.  People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated.  In the next 100 years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.

Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation.

The “American” Christmas nowadays does not really align with the “Church’s” Christmas season anymore.

Americans typically switch into “Christmas mode” right after, or even during the Thanksgiving celebration, a month before Christmas Day.

This really aligns with the season of “Advent” on the Church’s liturgical calendar.

Advent (from the Latin word adventus, which means “arrival” or “coming”) is the first season of the liturgical year.  It begins four Sundays before Christmas, the Sunday falling on or nearest to November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve. Traditionally observed as a “fast”, it focuses on preparation for the coming of Christ.  Advent “a period for devout and joyful expectation”.

This season is often marked by the Advent Wreath, a garland of evergreens with four candles. Although the main symbolism of the advent wreath is simply marking the progression of time, many churches attach themes to each candle, most often ‘hope’, ‘faith’, ‘joy’, and ‘love’. Other popular devotions during Advent include the use of the Advent Calendar or the Tree of Jesse to count down the days to Christmas.

The “Christmas” season immediately follows Advent. The traditional Twelve Days of Christmas begin with Christmas Eve on the evening of December 24 and continue until the feast of Epiphany. The actual Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, which in the present form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6, or the following Monday if that Sunday is Epiphany.

So in the Church, “Christmas,” and the Christmas season does not actually begin until Christmas Day.

 

Here are some great Christmas traditions my family has, along with some interesting ones I’ve heard of:

  1. Make a list of your favorite Christmas songs, find a great version of these songs and download them. You can play them over and over again and sing along. Here are my favorites:

“Mary did you know?” – CeeLo Green

“The Little Drummer Boy” by Harry Simeone Chorale

“The Christmas Song” sung by Nat King Cole. (Chestnuts…)

“All I Want For Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams

“I’ll be home for Christmas” by Elvis Presley

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives

“Merry Christmas Darling” by The Carpenters

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra

“Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” by Dean Martin

“Baby it’s cold outside” by Dean Martin

“Mistletoe and Holly” by Frank Sinatra

“It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” by Perry Como And The Fontane Sisters

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Judy Garland

“Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano

“Silent Night” by Dinah Washington

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Nat King Cole

“Do You Hear What I Hear?” by Bing Crosby

“O Come, All Ye Faithful”

“Angels We Have Heard On High”

“Away in a Manger”

“The First Noel”

“Jingle Bells”

“Ave Maria” by Mario Lanza

“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” by The Beverly Sisters

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas”

“O Little Town of Bethlehem”

“O Christmas Tree”

“Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus” by The London Philharmonic

“Home For The Holidays” by Perry Como

“Carol Of The Bells/Deck The Halls” by Robert Shaw Chorale

“Joy To The World” by Julie Andrews

“O Holy Night” by Luciano Pavarotti

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry

“Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee

 

As Buddy from the 2003 movie “Elf” explains, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear!”

 

  1. Pick out the perfect tree at a local lot or tree farm.
  2. Decorate your tree.
  3. Once your tree is all decked out, turn off the light and sit on the couch, to just admire your tree.
  4. Put together a decorative Christmas village, a manger scene, or a Christmas display of some type.
  5. Hang lights and decorations outside.
  6. Pile into the car at night and drive around looking at all of the Holiday lights and decorations.
  7. Hang a wreath on your door to welcome in the Holiday, as well as visitors.
  8. Hang up the Mistletoe in your house.
  9. Hang up Christmas Stockings.
  10. Make a Gingerbread House.
  11. Bake some Christmas Cookies.
  12. Get an advent calendar to help you countdown to Christmas.
  13. Watch your favorite Holiday movies. Here are some of my favorite Christmas movies:

“It’s a Wonderful Life”

“A Christmas Carol” (Scrooge) (The 1951 version starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge is my favorite version.)

“How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

“Home Alone”

“A Christmas Story”

“Miracle on 34th Street”

  1. Watch your favorite Holiday TV specials. Here are some of my favorite Christmas TV specials:

“The Little Drummer Boy”

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”

“Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”

  1. Send out Christmas cards.
  2. Christmas Eve usually entails an endless selection of favorite hors d’oeuvres, and drinks, while visiting with family and friends.
  3. Leave out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. Don’t forget the reindeer though! Leave some carrots for them.
  4. Have someone dress up as Santa and bring some presents and treats for the little ones.
  5. Go to a midnight mass or church service to “ring in” Christmas Day and Jesus being born.
  6. I especially like finding an old Christmas movie on TV and watching it alone after everyone has gone to sleep on Christmas Eve.
  7. Christmas Day is usually a casual day with a dinner, much like Thanksgiving, except you may open some presents in the morning.
  8. Read the Christmas Story from the Bible at Christmas dinner (Luke 2:1-20). You can take turns and have each person sitting around the dinner table read a small part.

There are literally hundreds of other Christmas traditions around the US and around the world.  If you have any you’d like to share, please click on “Contact” at the top of my blog and leave me a message.

 

Here are some fun facts about Christmas:

Each year, 30-35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.

The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith’s 1607 Jamestown settlement.

Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red-and-green plant from Mexico to America in 1828.

The Salvation Army has been sending Santa Claus-clad donation collectors into the streets since the 1890s.

Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was the product of Robert L. May’s imagination in 1939.  The copywriter wrote a poem about the reindeer to help lure customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

Construction workers started the Rockefeller Center “lighting of the Christmas tree” tradition in 1931.

“Santa Claus” originated in a newspaper ad.  Far from being a quaint medieval legend, Santa Claus first appeared as a recognizable entity was in a newspaper ad for toys and “gift books” in the mid 1800’s.

Scrooge does not celebrate with the Cratchits. While most cinema versions of “A Christmas Carol” show the reformed miser celebrating with his lower-class employee, in the book, Scrooge celebrates instead with his middle-class nephew.

It’s a tradition in Japan to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas.  Orders must be placed over two months in advance to guarantee you’ll be “doing your chicken right!”

Paul McCartney earns over $400,000 a year from his “Wonderful Christmastime” song, which he regards as the worst song he ever recorded.

It only took Charles Dickens six weeks to write “A Christmas Carol.”

 

My Christmas 101 class is now dismissed!

Please have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!!

 

Thank you to the editors at History.com for their contributions to this article.

 

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merry christmas

I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I do know the name of our next president won’t be “Beto!”

According to Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News, “An early straw poll of members of the progressive group MoveOn.org shows a wide-open competition for liberal voters in the 2020 Democratic presidential contest, with Rep. Beto O’Rourke narrowly beating out former Vice President Joe Biden.”

First of all, calling the group MoveOn.org “progressive” is like calling the Flat Earth Society “progressive.”

MoveOn.org is a group of liberals who haven’t had a politically “progressive” thought in their lives.

Second of all, the number one vote getter was actually Mr./Mrs./Ms./Mx./M?. “I don’t know yet” or Mr./Mrs./Ms./Mx./M?. “Someone not listed here as an option.”  This was represented by 28.8% of their vote.

Other than that, out of the 30 potential candidates listed, the results were:

Beto O’Rourke: 15.6 percent

Joe Biden: 14.9 percent

Bernie Sanders: 13.1 percent

Kamala Harris: 10 percent

Elizabeth Warren: 6.4 percent

Sherrod Brown: 2.9 percent

Amy Klobuchar: 2.8 percent

Michael Bloomberg: 2.7 percent

Cory Booker: 2.6 percent

Didn’t understand the question: .2 percent

It’s another sign of O’Rourke’s surprising popularity among national Democrats.

It makes perfect “liberal sense.”  The person can’t even beat Ted Cruz in Texas for a Senate seat, but he’d be a good choice for the democrat candidate for president though.

It’s still early yet, but MoveOn endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. That year, 78 percent of MoveOn members voted to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

I have to give MoveOn credit for not supporting Mrs. Clinton (Satan’s grandmother), but on the other hand, I have to question their support for Bernie’s overtly socialist agenda.

“While the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president remains wide open and MoveOn’s endorsement is up for grabs, MoveOn members and progressives across the country are clear: They’re looking for candidates who will rally voters around a progressive vision of building a country where every American can thrive, whether we’re white, black, or brown, rich or poor,” said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn Political Action.

Translation: They’re looking for candidates who can get enough votes to win.  They would prefer a candidate with a socialist agenda, who will punish those who are successful, while redistributing the wealth so that everyone can enjoy a standard of living barely above the poverty level.

“We’ll be challenging prospective candidates to inspire us with big ideas in the months to come, including at a series of events in early voting states in early 2019,” Sheyman added.

Translation: They’ll be challenging prospective candidates to inspire them with outrageously stupid ideas that Kool-Aide drinking liberals across the country will happily gulp down.

Alex Seitz-Wald adds that, “MoveOn, which was founded back during Bill Clinton’s presidency, is one of the largest progressive online organizing groups with millions of members across the country, so its endorsement has been coveted in the past.”

Let the race begin to see who can be the wackiest lefty liberal who could still get elected.

 

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moveon 2

 

 

President Trump is providing positive action, not just more “hot air.”

If you weren’t watching Fox News at some point this last week, you probably missed it when President Trump announced a bold and historic plan to change the lives in America of some of our poorest citizens, those who live in the most distressed, and sometimes the most dangerous, neighborhoods.

With South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Bob Johnson flanking him, and CNN host Van Jones looking on, The President signed an executive order creating something called the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council along with additional directives for that council.

So what, you may ask?  We’ve all seen this kind of thing before, right?

All show, no go.

Well, this may be different.

Led by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, it will coordinate efforts across the entire federal government to deliver jobs, investment, and growth in underprivileged areas.  This includes rural areas, too.  This means more private-sector money will flow into some of these high-risk or low development areas.

And what will this do?

It’s kind of like affirmative action, but on a larger socio-economic and community level, and for some reason I don’t have a problem with this at all.  I actually think this a great way to spread the wealth and lift people and communities up.

I believe a program like this is right up Secretary Carson’s alley.  I would expect him to do a great job with this.

Oddly enough, there were only a few reporters at the announcement, and they weren’t even interested in the announcement.  All they were interested in was shouting questions at The President about Michael Cohen.  That’s because Michael Cohen and the Mueller witch hunt fits the “biased, liberal, fake news media’s” narrative and President Trump delivering results to low income Americans doesn’t.

This White House event wasn’t broadcast on cable or on C-SPAN or any of the networks.  Why was that?

It’s called commission by omission.  If we don’t report it, then it didn’t really happen.  The “biased, liberal, fake news media” just refuses to give President Trump credit for anything that could be perceived as positive.

Also, it’s because President Trump is delivering some actual results for those people who the Democrats thought that they had in their back pocket, politically.  It all goes against the “biased, liberal, fake news media’s” never ending narrative about how the president is racist and how he just doesn’t care about minority citizens or low income citizens.

Bob Johnson, one of the most prominent and most successful African-Americans on the planet, would disagree with that sentiment.  He was on hand at Wednesday’s event to recognize the Trump administration’s drive and commitment to help low income Americans.

“Just recently, your Department of Labor signed a historic document that created something called “auto portability.”  Auto portability is designed to reduce retirement leakage among low income 401(k) account holders who tend to cash out,” he said. “And Mr. President, you should know this, 60 percent of African-American and Hispanic-Americans cash out of their 401(k) accounts.  This program will put close to $800 billion back in the retirement pockets of minority Americans.  So I just want to applaud you for that.”

Former President Barack Obama was good at offering up words that made it seem like he cared.  He was good at offering up words that made the intended audiences feel good and hopeful.  He, nor the democrats, were good at doing anything that actually helped the situation.

Laura Ingraham of Fox News commented, “Who cares more about America, particularly the working poor? The guy who delivers results, record low unemployment, opportunity zones and a decent chance for criminal justice reform?  Or a party that is all talk and no action?  I will take the former any day.”

“…talking about hope is beautiful, but it won’t bring business into your community.  People who can get jobs tend to have more hope.  Despair and crime in places like Chicago and Baltimore spiraled out of control during much of Obama’s eight years.”

With all of the potential positive outcomes as a result of the Opportunity and Revitalization Council and The President’s executive order, the “biased, liberal, fake news media” did manage to find one aspect they thought was worth mentioning.  They reported that President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are only pushing these inner-city investment incentives because they will make money off their own real estate holdings.

President Trump is completely correct and justified when he calls out the “fake news.”

It’s sad that there isn’t even an inkling of an effort by the “fake news” to report the news fairly and honestly anymore.  It has become an all-out propaganda war now, and fair minded people just have to be aware of it and treat it as such.

 

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opp and revitalize council signing

I’m calling out some of these business “experts” and their “trumped-up” (no pun intended) predictions of “doom and gloom” for 2019. 

I’ve been seeing more and more of these “doom and gloom” business “experts,” financial “experts,” and economic “experts” calling for an economic slowdown in 2019, and even a recession in some cases!

The backgrounds of these “doom and gloomers” is across the board, so their motivations for these predictions are all different as well.

“Experts” from the “biased, liberal, fake news media” are of course trying to set-up a self-fulfilling prophecy for their own political benefit; the country be damned.

Some “experts” are just trying to be contrarian in order to stand out.

Some “experts” are just plain confused, and they are over-analyzing the economy in general.

And some “experts” really aren’t experts at all, and they’re just wrong.

Just to name a few, we’ve got Henry Fernandez of Fox Business News claiming, “The US economy will likely fall into a recession next year.”

We’ve got, Charles Schwab’s, Liz Ann Sonders, claiming, “The U.S. economy will likely fall into a recession next year.”

Kevin Kelleher of FORTUNE reminds us that, “2018 has been a banner year for economic growth,” (thank you for stating the obvious Kevin) but that “according to many economists,” “2019 will bring an economic slowdown with a recession possible in 2020.”

Benjamin Fearnow (aptly named) of Newsweek (“Weak News”) says, “CFOs predict 2019 recession, majority expect pre-2020 market crash!”  Mr. Fearnow goes on to say that, “An overwhelming majority of U.S. chief financial officers say the economy will sink into a recession by the end of President Donald Trump’s first term in 2020, and about half say it will happen next year.”

Wow!  So in this case, we’ve doubled down and are going “all in” on an actual “market collapse!” I’d like to see a list of these CFOs that gave their input on this.  I’m not so sure that CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) are the right ones to be getting this information from in the first place.  CFOs typically don’t make company policy, they bookkeep it.

“The end is near for the near-decade-long burst of global economic growth,” said John Graham, a finance professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and director of the survey, in a statement. “The U.S. outlook has declined; moreover, the outlook is even worse in many other parts of the world, which will lead to softer demand for U.S. goods.”

The “decade-long burst of global economic growth” referred to here was at the expense of The United States I’m afraid, Mr. Graham, and we weren’t an economic recipient of “that” growth, we subsidized it.

Economist Peter Schiff said that “We won’t be able to call it a recession, it’s going to be worse than the Great Depression…, the U.S. economy is in so much worse shape than it was a decade ago.”

“Worse than the Great Depression?!”  Really Mr. Schiff?  You aren’t any relation to democrat congressman Adam Schiff are you?  Because if you were, that would explain your propensity for the absurd.

“Bloomberg” economics writer, Jeanna Smialek’s chose to go with the headline, “JPMorgan, Bank of America Detect Hints of a U.S. Recession Looming in 2019,” even though her article points out, “Wall Street’s biggest banks are scouring U.S. data for signals of an impending recession.  On balance, they’ve been finding that a 2019 downturn still isn’t likely…”

Ms. Smialek would seem fall into the “Experts from the “biased, liberal, fake news media,” who are trying to set-up a self-fulfilling prophecy for their own political agenda; the country be damned” group.

The resident “experts” on CNN, CNBC, and MSNBC have all, of course, chimed in with their predictions of demise regarding anything Trump related.

This list could go on, but you get the idea I’m sure.

Now, I, admittedly am no economics expert, but I have two eyes, a relatively functional brain, and some common sense.

Here is my take on the U.S.’s economy for 2019 and into 2020.

But first, a little historical perspective.

The economy started to improve immediately in December of 2016 and into 2017 after President Trump was elected, and that was just based on the expectations of the impact of his actions.

The President’s only real actions in 2017 had to do with the reduction of regulations and the signing into law of The Trump tax cut and tax reform plan.  The new law would not begin to offer any real benefits to people or to companies until 2018.

In 2018 individuals were able to keep a little more of their own money due to tax cuts, and business were more easily able to invest their own money in improvements and expansion with drastically reduced capital gains tax penalties.

So in all reality, the United States economy is really only showing the benefits of the new tax laws and some reworked trade policies for about the last six months.

That bring us to 2019.

MrEricksonRules is predicting that 2019 will be an excellent year, economically, for The United States!

2019 will be the year that people see the real benefit of the new tax cuts law.  Families across the country will pay thousands less in taxes and/or get thousands more back.  This can only help stimulate the economy even more in the second and third quarters of 2019.

Although many of these “experts” see President Trumps “tariff wars” as economic negatives, I can only see them being a positive thing for our economy.  I see businesses across the board beginning to reap the benefits of the new USAMC trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, and the same goes especially for the new agreements with China.

Also, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and a recent directing Executive Order, President Trump is encouraging long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors, which should also help to stimulate the economy in whole new areas.  It also directs government entities to prioritize these zones for expenditures as well.

2019 will also see record revenues for the federal government, due to the booming economy and the increase in the number of taxpayers overall.  These revenues may help us to avoid increasing the federal deficit and possibly even work on bringing the deficit down.  At this point I would settle for just a slowing of the amount we owe.

So, based on my “expertise,” I would tend to disagree with most of these so-called “experts.”

I would go as far to say that 2020 will just build off of 2019, and that President Trump will be running for re-election having orchestrated the most impressive economic turn around and economic run since Ronald Reagan in the early 80’s.

Larry Kudlow, who is serving as president of the National Economic Council under President Trump, seems to agree with me, when he says,  “In my personal view, our administration’s view, recession is so far in the distance I can’t see it,” Kudlow said. “The basic economy has reawakened and it’s gonna stay there…, I mean, I’m reading some of the weirdest stuff, how a recession is around the corner.  It’s nonsense.”

I think The President would second that notion as well.

Regarding the Stock Market, I believe there is still a lot of value to be had there.  I feel the Market remains undervalued at this point.

Paul Dietrich of FOX Business feels the same way I do.  He goes on to say, “There seems to be a new “fear of the day” knocking down the stock market.  Chinese trade talks, Brexit, government shutdowns, Fed rate hikes, inverted yield curves or Trump’s tweets all seem to be culprits in this conspiracy to drive down the stock market.  None of these issues have any significant impact on the underlying U.S. economy.”

Overall, The Market will continue to bounce up and down, but also maintain its positive general momentum.

Remember, however, that what’s good for Wall Street is not necessarily what’s good for Main Street.

In 2019 and 2020, we’ll take a look back and see how I did versus “the experts.”

If any of the media outlets want to contact me at some point regarding business and economic prospectives, you can do so via the “contact” feature on my blog website.

 

NOTE:  If you’re not already “following” me and you liked my blog(s) today, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Follow” button.  That’ll keep you up to date on all of my latest posts.

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mayan calendar

 

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