Today Minnesota’s Electoral College gathered in the State Capitol Rotunda to formally cast Minnesota’s votes for president. I have been asked to do the opening prayer on behalf of all of Minnesota(not easy to do or even possi I have been asked before but I am honored to have again been asked especially now. It seems like a particularly important time to pray. Our country is in need to prayer, think. So I want it share my prayer with you here. Perhaps it can help encourage a wave of prayer.
Creator God, in a single moment you hurled the worlds into being, countless suns yet one universe. You called forth life on our plant, diverse in its essential nature, yet of one linage and one future. You give us one another with a great diversity of gifts and the whisper of a uniting vision. And you invite us to join you in the ever-unfolding work of manifesting the interrelatedness of your creation community.
Today we join the millions who pray for Newtown CT and mourn the loss of the twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook School. May our democracy help us to find ways to protect our children as the president has asked.
Today we also thank you:
for the gifts of wisdom and conviction in those who have gone before us,
for the untold workers in the service of democracy
for deep commitment of the people of Minnesota’s to the voting process.
for the ways this national election season may have opened up the path toward more common good.
And we confess the ways in which we also let our election season trap us in accusatory posturing, disrespect, and fear. Give us a new commitment to your gift of democracy, honoring it in all we do, and in the decisions that are made on our behalf.
We call on you, Most Holy One, to be a witness to our hope this day.
And we ask that You would give hope to our days to come.
We know you are the God of blessing and power and we ask that you bless the efforts of this day and of the days to come, that they may bear fruit in our nation.
Bless this gathering and those whose efforts bring it about. May what we do here today increase our ability to be a blessing to democracy and may our democracy to the worldwide common good.
With longing hearts we pray for the fullness of peace, justice, and wellbeing for all.
For peace, for shalom, salaam, shanty; may it all be so, amen
When some Minnesotans said, “No new taxes.” What did they mean?
“Take us into un-payable debt."
“Borrow from education in a way that we can never pay back.”
“Take action which will downgrade the state’s credit rating.
I don’t think so.
And when Minnesotans elected a governor who said, “I will increase taxes on those who make more than $2 million every year.” What did we mean?
“We really don’t want you to raise taxes on the wealthiest.”
“We really like the tax system in Minnesota where the higher your income the lower percentage of tax you pay.”
“We think that the tax cuts that Jesse Ventura gave to the richest Minnesotans should continue even though they are unfair to the rest of us and plunging us into debt.”
I don’t think so.
And yet the partisan politicians who vowed to keep the “no new taxes” pledge at any cost have kept this state from being the best we can be. Even worse, they are quicly tumbling us, at best, toward being a mediocre Minnesota.
Taxes themselves may be a subject that doesn’t often move the faith community but the way we tax as a state is certainly a moral concern. Is our tax policy fair?
It is not. We are not taxing fairly. Middle class households pay a little over 12 percent in state and local taxes. The wealthiest five percent of households pay 10.1 percent. The poorest families pay the highest rates of all.
We are not taxing fairly and because we do not, we are pushing off onto our children our unpaid bills.
I do not wish to leave a legacy of debt to our children, and I do not believe that a legacy of poverty and underinvestment is the Minnesota we want to be.
As the dust settles and the budget deal is signed we are still being asked to answer a central question about who will we be as a state. Let your legislative representative know how disappointed you are. Let them know that tax increases aren’t always bad. That taxes increases done to rebalance fairness is a good idea. Let them know that a tax system built on fairness and justice is a good Minnesota ideal.
Let them know that a few extreme politicians who have been hoodwinked by an invalid “no new taxes” ploy aimed at protecting the wealthiest - let them know- that those representatives do not represent the Minnesota we want to be.
Then go out and ask all your friends to join you. A message must be sent and must be sent now. And the people of Minnesota are the only ones who can turn this around. As a people, we have only pushed off our moment of crisis into our children’s future. Join me today in a belief that good stewardship is essential to the health of our communities and our state. It is time for people of faith to step up and say we as Minnesotans can do better.
Well, here we go (again) a new congressional year. Let’s talk about the values of public life in this settings. What are the highest values you hold for our life together and how do those values get played out in the decisions of Congress? Where do they come from and why do you hold them? I have a list: safe infrastructure and environment, education, community health, concern for neighbor, jobs for everyone who can work - at a fair wage, support for those down on their luck, providing a hope for all children’s future, public safety and protection, international safety. Those are some of mine but not necessarily in the order of importance. Mine come from my faith. How about you? Where do your elected officials fall on these questions?
There are components of our community that might answer very similarly but with significant differences. Safe infrastructure and environment (but not if it means holding corporations accountable), education (for some), community health (of the highest degree, for those who can afford it), concern for neighbor (just the ones on either side of me), jobs for everyone who can work - at a fair wage (a job force that can produce for the owners), support for those down on their luck (if we mean the top 1 % because for them the issue is luck, for everyone else it is their own fault), providing a hope for all children’s future (well, some children), public safety and protection (against those who are different), international safety (through fighting, not in diplomacy). Well, you get my drift. We all need to know which values we want lifted up and why and then let’s talk about our differences and see what compromises we can some up with.
In Speaker Boehner's speech Wednesday he promised to use the House's rules in an open, neutral way; to work through the "scar tissue" that had built up between Democrats and Republicans in recent years; to administer the House without gimmicks or shortcuts; "to disagree without being disagreeable." There is certainly a set of values I can get behind.
But a few hours later, as reported in the Washington Post, “Republicans seized control of the House with gusto.....The rules rewrite, which sailed through the House on a strict party-line vote, will also make it easier to increase the national debt by exempting trillions of dollars in GOP priorities from pay-as-you-go rules put in place by Democrats. For example, House Republicans could extend the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthy past their 2012 expiration or create a significant new tax break for businesses without regard for the holes those policies would blow in the nation's finances”.
So much for playing well with others. Well, on with the debate and we have be part of that debate. What are the values we want manifest in this Congress? Speak now, plans are being made.
So the U.S. Senate and House are looking at unemployment compensation and dropping tax cuts for the wealthy. Senate Republican leadership kept the Senate from dropping those tax cuts (which were given to the wealthy in the Bush era). Such taxes cuts, for personal taxes - especially for the most wealthy - need to be dropped to maintain needed programs like unemployment benefits and to help reduce the deficit.
While Congress is having this conversation, Wall Street is figuring out how to do an end-around such cuts, like giving bonuses early. If Congress does drop the Bush-era tax cuts for the highest income levels, a worker who earns a $1 million bonus would pay $40,000 to $50,000 more in taxes next year than this year. Oh my, I am concerned about that. Making a million and then having to pay .0005 of that in taxes. Oh my .(report Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson)
We should be demonstrating our deomcratic gifts in a big, big way right now - in this economy, when so many are out of any kind of job - when somebody makes $1 million in a bonus – a bonus, for goodness sake - one should pay taxes on that bonus. This is not corporate taxes we’re talking about these are individuals’ dollars.
The Senate Republican leadership said Sunday that they expect to get an extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts in exchange for extending unemployment compensation. What about dropping the tax cuts AND extending unemployment.
Ending the tax cuts for those making more than $1 million in bonuses AND extending unemployment - that’s the right thing to do. Whose side are they on? Perhaps too many in the Senate are themselves millionaires and forget what America is really like out here. Ending the tax cuts for the wealthy AND extending unemployment - that’s the right thing to do. Here’s where deomcratic capitalism really needs it’s democratic aspect to weigh in. We need to tell them what to do.
But they won’t do it unless we all call for it. So call you members of the Senate and of the House...today. Message: extend unemployment compensation but not tax cuts for the wealthy!
How are you feeling about your kids today? Your grandkids? The kids on your block? In your neighborhood? Throughout the city? Around the state? What’s the future have in store for all God’s kids? Decisions are being made every day that will affect children for years to come. Where and how do you get your information about such things? Where and how do you step out on behalf of kids in such decisions?
I’m going to marching for kids this Sunday. Me and 10,000 of my closest friends. Come on out and join us. It will be great.
The event is organized by Children’s defense Fund. I have been a fan of CDF for about as long as I can remember. Our state chapter has lots of resources, which includes this reflection from one of the staff, Norma Bourland. I commend it. She writes:
“As adults we to talk around the real issue of ‘How are the children?’ and instead focus on self-interests, such as who pays taxes and how much, who can get a marriage license and who can’t, and many other issues that are secondary when a child’s life and future are at stake.
Common sense, as well as research tells us that investments in the early years of a child’s life pay dividends for the rest of that child’s life. Indeed, when we invest in children, we’re investing in all our futures. What we give a child is never wasted and what we don’t give a child is to our own peril.
I’m waiting for a candidate that puts children at the top of the state budget. Someone who will be bold enough to commit to fully funding Head Start so every low-income child can be ready for school; to create a child care system that benefits children and keeps families working without making them choose between quality care for their child and a job; to make education fit the child’s needs and doing whatever it takes to train quality teachers and pay them well; to invest in after and before school programs that build leadership and character and give children an opportunity to contribute to the community. I want a candidate who will take a hard look at how we criminalize children who are wounded and acting out–trying hard to get the recognition and support they need emotionally or spiritually–and finding a better way to give them the help they need.
I’m waiting for a candidate who will make sure that health care for our children is easy to access and is comprehensive, so that every child is automatically given the medial and mental healthcare they need. Why is this so hard?!
Children are now the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. When a child has to spend even one night in a shelter, the healthy development of that child is impacted. Families with children are now the fastest growing segment of those using food shelves. When even one child has to skip a meal or go without good nutrition, the healthy development of that child is impaired.
Minnesota does a good job taking care of most of our children–just not all of our children and just not good enough. We could do so much better if our leaders asked and answered ‘How are the children?’”