Thursday, December 27, 2007

The World Tries to Escape Natural Consequences

This article from the Wall Street Journal illustrates a symptom of a much broader problem. The writer compares the subprime mortgage problems to the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. The foolish virgins bet tons of money on subprime mortgages, and had huge profits for a time, followed by the current huge losses. Now, the government is coming to bail out these foolish lenders. The article says, in part:
There were five other virgins. They worked hard in industry rather than finance, saved rather than borrowed, paid their taxes, didn't speculate on subprime mortgages and didn't run hedge funds. They didn't get fat bonuses, either, during the bubble or during the crunch. They weren't running risks -- or, at least, that's what they thought. The snag is that, after the Federal Reserve's Ben Bernanke and his French cousin, Jean-Claude Trichet started spraying around cheap cash to bail out Stan, Chuck, Fannie and the like, inflation started seeping into the economy. That eroded the real value of the "wise" virgins' savings.
The real disease is the desire to escape the natural consequences of foolish choices. This disease manifests itself in all aspects of life. People everywhere refuse to take responsibility for their own actions and then expect someone else to come in behind them to rescue them from the law of the harvest.

This echoes another time in history when people thought there was no benefit to wisely following the commandments of God. The wicked were fat and happy:
Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?
And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
The only problem is that "the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin." CEO's artificially inflated stock prices with these subprime loans, took their huge bonuses, and left their businesses in shambles. Lots of innocent people are being hurt because these businesses are in such trouble, and now, all of us that have been wise with our finances are faced with higher inflation and lower value of savings.

Heeding the Prophet's counsel from way back in October of 1998 would have saved many troubles both in the post-Clinton recession and 9/11 recession. That same counsel, if applied today, would have saved many from the risk of foreclosure and the whole US economy would be stronger.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Life in the Chruch

In response to Elder Ballard's challenge, I will tell a little about my experience as a member of the Church. I attended a religious seminary class every morning before school all four years of high school. Since then, I have read the scriptures essentially every day. Daily scripture reading changed my life. Before I started reading, I was a terrible high school student. The spiritual nourishment of seminary and scripture reading gave me purpose. I became a stellar student and that all combined to prepare me to serve a mission for two years preaching the Gospel in Philadelphia. I was never happier.

On my mission I learned to express myself to others. I learned the Gospel by giving all I had to the work. There is no other opportunity to offer all my money, time, and energy to the Lord. That sacrifice has set the path of my life. I then attended BYU, where I took religion classes from the best teachers in all the Church. I took classes on Isaiah, the New Testament, The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and anything else I could fit in my schedule. I was never happier.

A little over a year ago, President Hinckley, the prophet of the Lord, issued a challenge to the men of the Church. He said to obtain all the education we could. I took that challenge seriously. After that challenge, I prepared for and took the GMAT. I have started the MBA program at Texas A&M University. And I have never been happier.

I have learned from all these experiences that the happiest times in life come when I follow the prophet. Nothing has been easy, but it isn't supposed to be. I believe more and more that the greater the challenges, the greater the joy. Jesus certainly experienced that. He endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. In life, we all have our own crosses to carry. The cross I have had to figuratively carry has taught me that God lives and knows me. Not only that, but He is interested in the affairs of my life. I could never have planned the course my life has taken, but I can plainly see that God's hand has directed my path. Whatever price I must pay to become acquainted with God is worth the price. Nephi was highly favored in his afflictions. Really, it is only through affliction that anyone realizes how highly favored they are.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Elder Ballard Spoke at BYU-Hawaii Graduation

I thought this was an important challenge Elder Ballard gave graduates.
We have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves instead of letting others define us. Far too many people have a poor understanding of the Church because most of the information they hear about us is from the news media reports that are often driven by controversies. Too much attention to controversy has a negative impact on peoples’ perceptions of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is.
There has been so much said about the Church by people who know so little about it. News reports focus on the sensational and ignore the nitty gritty of who we are as Saints. Some news coverage is ridiculous. There are a few talking head who have intense hatred for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One thing Mitt Romney's campaign has done is bring these people out of the woodwork. Even a few of his opponents have ventured into anti-Mormon fare.

A Great Speech on Freedom and Religion

I never thought I would want to quote the President of the University of Utah. But, I believe he is a BYU grad and he was speaking at BYU-Idaho, so it is OK. The link is here. This is a very good way to make the point Mitt Romney was trying to make in College Station in his Faith in America speech when he said: "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom."
Protecting one’s freedom of religion necessarily and inescapably presupposes the propriety of allegiance to something higher than that government. Any government that respects freedom of religion must necessarily wrestle with, and accept, its own limitations. If you believe that a government must provide freedom of religion, then you must also believe – and that government must also believe – that there are appropriate limits to government power, that there are parts of our lives into which a government cannot intrude.
There is also a warning for when a country starts limiting religious freedom:
If you see a government trying to suppress and control freedom of religion, then you know trouble is on the way. It is like the canary in the coal mine. It is the first signal that a government is beginning to abuse all the human rights or soon will.

Ahh, School!

I have spent the past five months in the MBA program at Texas A&M University. I love it. It is, of course, my excuse for never posting anything here. Especially early on, a twelve hour day (including class and homework) was short. I park at the LDS Institute of Religion and am usually the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave at night. Various things have combined to make this the happiest time in my life, despite (or is it because of) being overworked. I wish I could be a student forever. Well, there's always a PhD... We'll see about that.

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band

I have a couple of pictures of the band. They are quite the spectacle.
This is the best picture I could get of a formation at the t.u. game since my seats were so dang good.

The precision marches are impressive to watch. The old computer programs that helped bands learn marches have two people in one spot for the Aggie Band. It took a better program for the Aggies.

My First Aggie vs t.u. Football Game

I attended the A&M vs. t.u. football game for the first time this year. I sat at about the 45 yard line on row 28. I have never been to such a loud football game. The 12th Man (that is the student section for non-Aggies out there) was yelling even during time-outs and commercial breaks. The football team was mediocre most of the year, but they showed up to play that day. It was great to BTHO t.u.!
This picture is the 12th Man. He is a walk on who represents all the students on the field.
This was my view of the game from the student section.

My First House

When I started school, I bought a house in Bryan, TX, just a few miles away from Texas A&M University. This picture was my first week in August. The house had been vacant and the lawn was long. Yes, that is three foot grass you see. And yes, that is a rented brush mower. It could barely handle the tall grass. Come to think of it, in the August heat, I could barely handle the tall grass.

Andrew's wedding

This picture is of most of my cousins. With the family scattered between Seattle, Houston, Oregon, Dallas, and Virginia, it is hard to get many more together at once than this. Somehow, we didn't get a picture with all of us and Andrew. It was a beautiful day for an outdoor wedding.

Trip to Washington

I have been immensely busy with school and have not updated anything here in months. More on that later. Here are a few more pictures from my trip to see my cousin's wedding in the shadow of Mount Rainier. On day 3 (June 28) we rode horses with Mom's sister and two of her kids.