Monday, June 26, 2017

An Open Letter to President Trump

   According to Reuters in 2012, “The U.S. current account deficit shrank to its narrowest in nearly two years in the third quarter…”  Efforts were made and results reaped, however today we have a new dilemma, how to save on Medicare without hurting anybody. 

   How about we think outside the box and apply a global solution to a local problem.  If big corporations can outsource jobs to China to conserve capital why can’t the US outsource the medical expense to help the economy?

   Hospitals and medical practitioners in the Philippines are just as good as their American counterpart. but would cost Medicare 40 times less.  Dialysis cost less than $100 per treatment in the Philippines.  

   "Hemodialysis treatment costs an average of $89,000 per patient annually in the United States. This amounts to a total annual hemodialysis cost in the United States of $42 billion; $34 billion of this is absorbed through the Medicare budget. The remainder is either covered by Medicaid, private insurance, or paid out of pocket."

   Seniors living on disability benefits can hardly keep the heat on in the winter while their rich counterparts are enjoying Florida and Hawaii.  The Philippines has beaches and climate like Florida and Hawaii but the Philippine currency makes every dollar worth 40 times. 

   Fresh food does not cost as it does in the US.  The ‘fresh markets’ are selling freshly butchered meat, just harvested fruits and vegetables and sea food right off the fisherman’s dock.  This as well as the sea air would help improve the health of the seniors.
   An English speaking live-in maid in uniform, a privilege reserved for the very wealthy in the US cost about $70 a month.

   The cheap rent the seniors on disability benefit can afford places them in the high crime rate areas where they are at risk of break-ins and at worst brutal crimes.  Presents statistics about crimes against seniors involve weapons, serious violence— murder, rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and kidnapping.  A $400 rent in the Philippines could get these seniors a high rise condo with the security and amenities they could not enjoy in America for that amount. 
   The one way flight to the Philippines (from $800 to $1300) could be covered by flight credits from participating airlines to be paid in interest free installments.  This might inadvertently help the airline industry.

   With the US Embassy already in place, processing this may not cost the US government a dime.  If the Medicare spending were to be reduced 40 times less previous numbers would it impact the US economy?  What do I know?  I’m just an immigrant  looking at the best of both worlds. 

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Racial Divide

   During the Spanish Colonial time, non-Christian Chinese were prohibited to reside and put up business inside the walled city of Manila known now as Intramuros.  While Jesus taught a doctrine of inclusion, commanding his disciples to preach, “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations,”(Matthew 24:14), the Spanish Catholic priests/colonizers discriminated against the Chinese.
   The Chinese were forced to set up residence in Binondo which later became identified as the Philippine’s China town.  In a twist by divine providence, Divisoria, the Chinese business center in China town became a thriving commercial district sustained by the Tutuban Central Station built in 1892, the main railway station of the Philippine National Railways.  It became a major drop-off center for goods coming to and from various provinces.  Divisoria’s close proximity to Manila harbors made it the source of low-priced goods smuggled from the US, China and neighboring countries.  Undocumented trading was conducted to give the buyers discount from the evaded tax and other costs.  That trade practice wasn’t a crime back then and even now to some extent.  It is called underground economy.             
   What happened to Intramuros?   It became a relic of a dead city.

   In the United States, tribal land was set aside by the government as Indian Reservations.  Indians can’t own the reservation land.  The property is held “in trust” for Indians by the federal government.  The policy was designed to keep Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as a semblance of a sovereign nations.  “Almost no one on the reservation can afford to build a home, because no one can get a mortgage. And no one can get a mortgage because the property on the reservation is held in trust by the federal government; most of it also is “owned” communally by the tribe.” -

   The Bureau of Indian Affairs, or BIA, and the Bureau of Indian Education, or BIE, both part of the Department of the Interior are agencies overseeing the activities of Indian residents of reservations, virtually, free roaming, centuries old, political prisoners.

   In a twist by divine providence, it was later found that Native American reservations may contain about a fifth of the nation's oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves.  "In 1923 alone, the Osage earned $30 million in royalties. The Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs called them "the richest people in the nation."

   Now, greedy politicians want to free those lands from a treaty with the Native Americans that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands in trust.  The politicians want to put the lands into private ownership, something the Native Americans have been deprived of for more than a century.  In the Philippines that's called land grabbing.  This one, I’m afraid, has no vindication happy ending.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Abraham Lincoln's Prophesy and the 2nd Amendment

   The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.  The Second Amendment says “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  

   In 1838, Abraham Lincoln said in his Lyceum Address: “All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.  At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?  I answer.  If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad.”  Was Lincoln referring to the now controversial second amendment?  That we will never know.  Lincoln was assassinated 27 years after he uttered those words.

   Fast forward to this week’s news, Republican congressmen were shot by a disgruntled American, not by a terrorist from the Middle East, not by a Muslim in America, but by a white middle-aged American living out of a white cargo van.  The same Republicans who have fought gun control laws found themselves at the wrong end of an assault rifle.

   “both the United States and Yemen were distinct from the other countries surveyed in viewing firearm ownership as a basic right of civilians and in having more permissive regimes of civilian gun ownership.  In the remaining countries included in the sample, civilian firearm ownership is considered a privilege and the legislation governing possession of firearms is correspondingly more restrictive.” (Gun Control)

   What is it saying when America is ranked beside Yemen?  Here are some states and their corresponding gun control law:

Open Carry?
May carry openly without permit/license.
May carry openly without permit/license.
No laws against open carrying long guns.
May carry openly without a permit in a vehicle or on foot.
May carry open or concealed without permit as long as you are a citizen of the U.S. or a lawfully admitted alien,
New Hampshire
Handgun open carry without license
May carry openly without permit/license.
May open carry without a permit if 18 years or older.

   I lived in Kentucky for 7 years.  I went to a pawnshop for real but affordable jewelry.  I found the jewelry on the left side of the room, on the right were guns with prices on them.  An automatic pistol cost $200, cheaper than a cellphone, an AK47 cost $700.  One can wage war for a thousand bucks!  As Lincoln said “the approach of danger… spring up amongst us.”

   Isaiah 2:4 "He will render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.  Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore."


   Stephen Paddock, another middle aged white man with no terrorist connections and no apparent motive, fired semi-automatic weapons into a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas, on October 1, 2017.  Fifty nine were killed and 514 were injured.  

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Statistics from the Heart

   Preaching the Bible has many forms.  There’s the cart witnessing, the door to door, return visits, Bible study, mall witnessing and street witnessing.  The mall witnessing and street witnessing are different from cart witnessing.  Cart service does not approach strangers, the cart itself does the offering.  The mall and street witnessing is where Jehovah’s Witnesses approach strangers in the mall, parks, bus stops and any spot in the curb where people pass.  In the 90’s, before busses in the Philippines had television, I used to ride standing and walk along the aisle handing out Bible tracts to passengers who actually read them until they reached their destination.

   Jehovah’s Witnesses report the number of hours, the number of homes they visited outside of door to door preaching, the number of publication distributed and the number of Bible study conducted.  No money change hands during preaching.  Everything is free.  Monthly reporting is done only for statistical purposes.  It tells the organization the worldwide progress of the preaching work.  As Jesus said, “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations,” (Matthew 24:14)

  When the computer happened, Jehovah’s Witnesses used it to translate the Bible in 120 languages so all nations can read and understand it.  More than 200 million copies of the Bible have been distributed.  When the Internet happened, Jehovah’s Witnesses used it to bring the Bible and publications to places that are difficult to reach by foot through  As Hebrews 13:20-21 says, “Our Lord Jesus…equip you with every good thing to do his will.”

   As we have seen, computer and the internet are speeding up the preaching work.  “The little one will become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, will speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:22)  

   The blog is an instrument for preaching that is not reported.  The statistics are not valid as the stats are counted as pageviews.  There is no way of knowing if a pageview came from a new viewer or a returning viewer and which one led to reading the entire article.  I have no idea how many Jehovah’s Witnesses have a blog.  Mine has several Bible based articles.  Below are the stats of how many pageviews each article got.  Again, the pageviews don’t represent the actual interest of the reader or the completion and effect of reading the article.  Still, for whatever it's worth, it's well-intentioned. 
   Only Jehovah can read the heart of the reader. He has the accurate statistics of the above articles.  Ultimately He alone judges the merit of the blogger’s efforts.  “For Jehovah searches through all hearts, and he discerns every inclination of the thoughts” (1Chronicles 28:9)

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Carmichael Show

   Most of the television shows I routinely watch like Homeland and Billions are on hiatus.  I went to Hulu to find something good that I might have missed.  I stumbled onto The Carmichael Show.  I have seen the first few episodes of Blackish but it wasn’t my cup of tea.  I thought The Carmichael Show wouldn’t be too.  I decided to see the pilot episode.  I was hooked!  

   I love the characters, the politically conscientious Maxine, the childish mama’s boy Bobby, the street smart Nekeisha, the religious mother Cynthia and their down to earth father Joe.  In the middle of them all is the independent son Jerrod.  Each one has an opinion to defend about controversial issues.  Some arguments are so unique I marvel at the talent of the writers.  Here are some of the social issues they discuss.

    1. Feminism;
    2. Their pastor admitted to watching porn;
    3. Cheating spouses – there’s an income bracket for cheaters, those earning $50K or less are definitely not cheating, those earning $50K to $100K are thinking of cheating but wouldn’t do it, $100K to $500K are definitely cheating and for $500K to 1 million the wife knows the mistress by name.  
    4. The Muslim family who just moved in next door;
    5. Maxine’s rich Dad buying her independence and integrity with $10K;
    6. Joe’s down to earth opinion about slavery, a touchy subject in any show.  He basically said if the slavery hadn’t happened they’d be in Africa now waiting for the advertised “a few cents a day” donations to feed Africa.
    7. Gentrification of black communities is an issue I have not heard much about from the media.  In Austin, Texas, the black population is concentrated on the city's east side from the segregation of 1928.  
In Louisville, Kentucky, it’s called West End.  In Portland, Ore., 53% of black neighborhoods have been gentrified, in Washington, D.C. 51%, in Minneapolis, Minn. 50%, in Seattle, WA. 50%, etc.

   The episode entitled Guns, tackled gun ownership and the American culture that finds security in keeping a gun at home.  Police have their gun holsters on their side.  Civilians tuck it in the back so it’s not bulging obvious.  In this episode, Jerrod’s comfortably tucking his gun in and out of his belt behind him reminded me of Reb who used to do the exact same thing.

   I must admit there’s something very wrong with me watching Jerrod and fondly remembering a man wearing a gun like an accessory.

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