Tag Archives: New York

Big Brother Knows Best

The true solution is revealed in the nice lady who says that some bakeries have noted some demand for this healthier fare.
So then why do we not simply allow the market to work? If there is demand for healthier fare, bakeries will take advantage of that demand and work to supply product to meet the demand.

No fines or fees or arm-twisting needed.

No, it is just so obvious that the real reason the city of New York has made this a legal issue is that there are people who believe they know best how we ought to live. And they view themselves are caretakers of the general populace, protecting the idiot rest of us from our own carnal desires. These kinds of people tend to congregate in government, and they find each other.

For their own good, we should outlaw them.

Our Story, From Matthew’s Eyes

She was smart, beautiful and funny, and most of all, she loved God.

February 11, 2007: Sunday morning I walked into Sunday School with the other Young Adults at Brainard Avenue Baptist Church. It was my second week back after being gone just over two years in California.

I had met the church and felt at home and accepted and appreciated back in 2003, and with that knew that I was to relocate at least for a while to Chicago after spending a few more years at home. After spending just over 2 years back in California, I returned to Chicago at the end of January 2007 and thanks to the generosity of friends church family in the area I was putting down roots.

Little did I know where those roots would grow and how my life was to change. Soon.

Back to that Sunday, February 11th. In my visits back to Chicago while living in California, I’d met some new members of the Sunday School class, students at Moody Bible Institute who were able to drive out to the suburbs for Sunday services at Brainard. It was good to see these people again in addition to the regulars and long-timers.

The Moody students had brought friends this Sunday. One young lady, in her first semester at Moody, had been searching for a church she could feel at home at while attending school, had taken advantage of her friend’s extra car seats, and was visiting the church for the first time.

The quiet, beautiful girl did not return for a few weeks.

When she did visit Brainard again, I made a point of talking with her for a few minutes. Making her feel welcome, I told myself.

It began as a friendship, nothing special. But I quickly moved beyond an average interest in her.

This was a Godly woman, beautiful, caring, very loving. All that attracted me very intensely. I had to get to know her better.

And so I did. Grace visited family in Washington for spring break. I missed her those weeks she did not come to Brainard.

I had offered to drive students to church from Moody when they needed extra seats, and one beautiful spring day they took me up on the offer. Three students needed a ride and so I went out early Sunday morning to pick them up. Due to the beautiful weather, the two others decided they were going to ride a motorcycle out to church that day, leaving Grace to ride with me by herself. She was not exactly comfortable with this situation at the outset, being alone in a car with some guy she hardly knew. But it was that or miss church, and I’d already driven out, so to not make a scene, she got in the car.

We began talking and found we had similar standards and backgrounds, and we both liked country music.

That afternoon several of us spent the afternoon at my apartment eating lunch, playing games, listening to music, relaxing. Grace and I continued to talk and get to know each other. I drove her back to school too, and said goodbye.

Over that spring the associate pastor and his wife invited several college students over for extended times of fun and fellowship, watching movies and entertaining their young boys. Grace was able to take some time off studying to attend one of these, so I volunteered to pick her up from school and bring her out to the suburbs so she could spend time with us.

The other Moody students had come out earlier in the day and so again I was able to spend time just with Grace, getting to know her better.

We also spent a Saturday helping some other students move to an apartment off campus. While there were others around, I sought out Grace and helped her and asked her to help me in specific tasks. I was twitterpated. And I believe she knew I was possibly interested in more than friendship.

Our friendship continued to grow and as the semester drew to a close I was trying to decide if I should ask her if we could move into a potentially romantic relationship or talk to her dad first. Various things led me to decide to speak with her dad first, but as I drove her and a mutual friend to the airport that morning in early May I bit my tongue.

Our parting was awkward as our relationship was possibly changing and yet neither of us had mentioned it to each other. We parted with an awkward side hug and I drove to work while she winged her way home to Dallas.

Earlier in the semester she had given me her cell phone number but had informed me her phone was broken and so I had not called her. As she left for the summer, she left a few boxes of things which would not fit in the summer storage at Moody which I was to take to the associate pastor’s house for storage. The boxes had her home address.

I spent the weekend visiting friends in Louisville, Kentucky and trying to work up the courage to call her or her dad. I still wasn’t very sure of her interest in me and I feared rejection. So I decided to try and talk with her one more time, just to gauge her possible interest.

Leaving Louisville late Sunday afternoon for the long drive back to Chicago, I called her. I’d used the address on her boxes to look up her home phone number in the phone book online. And now the phone was ringing.

Her mother answered.

“Can I speak with Grace, please? This is Matthew, a friend from Chicago.”

The phone call and the trip went quickly, all 4 hours of both. And I had my answer. We still had not talked specifically of our relationship, but I knew that if it was that easy for both of us to spend 4 hours talking and with similarities between us in standards and beliefs, I knew I wanted to pursue this lady.

The next day I called her dad. I spoke to him on Tuesday and asked if I could begin courting his daughter.

Over the next few weeks he asked me questions regarding my views and opinions on various matters and eventually told me he and his wife would allow me to court Grace.

I was planning a trip down to Missouri by then to see her for a weekend. She was working at Child Evangelism Fellowship’s headquarters outside St. Louis.

June 15th, 2007: The Friday before I drove down to see her, when we were having what by then was a regular evening phone call, I told her I’d been talking to her parents about courting her (she knew that already) and I asked her if she was willing to court me.

She said yes.

Over the summer she traveled to New York to work with children in the projects and other parts of the city, returning to Missouri and then Dallas in August, where I spent a week meeting her family and friends and having fun together.

We flew back to Chicago together: her to begin classes and me to get back to work.

Through the semester and now these months together I grew to appreciate more and more her strength, her tenacious love, her sense of direction and purpose, and her Godliness. Not to mention her beauty and her spirit, her consistency and organization. I knew rather quickly that she was definitely the one I wanted to marry.

Apparently she knew too.

After a winter trip to California meeting my family and friends and receiving further counsel from my parents, I began seriously considering marriage to this wonderful woman God had brought into my life.

After an intense period of counsel, thought, and prayer we were still unsure when the best time would be for our wedding to occur and our marriage to commence: Whether to marry this year or after she graduates in 2010.

Grace and I decided to have a period of time where we were to not contact each other but to spend that time seeking the Lord’s will and answers in our lives.

Ending Valentine’s Day, 2008, these 7 days were painful but rich, and we both, individually, felt God leading us to marry this year.

In the church parking lot, on February 25, 2008, 1 year and 2 weeks after we’d first met in the Sunday School classroom not too far away, I got down on one knee and asked Grace if she would marry me, be my wife and the mother of our children.

She said yes!

American Texan and I will be married August 2nd, 2008, in Dallas TX.

See our website at MattLovesGrace.com

For The Love Of Power

Peanuts Comic: April 5th 1961

Political Power, unlike money, is a zero sum game.

In order for one to gain and consolidate more of it, another must lose it through neglect and carelessness or bitter struggle.

At the same time, power is not necessarily directly correlated with size. A large organization can run fluidly and freely given good leadership and skilled and involved members. A power-grabbing entity does tend to bloat with those drawn to power and the ease of corruption.

It is not size that corrupts, but immoral people.

The presidential race should give us each an opportunity to see honestly and completely the morals, ethics, and skills of those who would lead us but which instead tends to show us carefully scripted appearances controlled by any number of variously corrupt entities.

The candidates themselves try to control their images. None of them have nothing to hide, and therefore, they dodge and obfuscate.

The media, with it’s control over what is shown in living rooms across the world, has a powerful ability to shape the discourse. If it doesn’t show up on the nightly news, it didn’t happen.

Charles Kessler, in a speech before Hillsdale College summarized in In Primis, speaks to the difference between size and power, and how size and corruption are not necessarily related.

Juan Gonzalez, in the New York Daily News, tells the sordid tale of pork and corruption which has birthed an amazingly idiotic tax hike in downtown New York:

No one could recall such a naked combination of arm-twisting and pork-barrel handouts to pressure City Council members to approve the huge tax increase known as congestion pricing.

The real problem is always complex and deep, but a significant part of the root is that we, the people, don’t really care.

Like Charlie Brown’s baseball team, we don’t want to be held accountable for our government. We pass the buck to the elected officials, who pass the buck on and on.

If we and a larger percentage of the population of America took responsibility for our government, there would not be a problem of usurpation of power and conglomeration of authority.

An aware and concerned citizenry is a powerful citizenry and the bane of corrupt politics everywhere.

The “Tanking” Economy, the Housing Bubble, and What Happened

         The New York Stock Exchange has been down a lot over the past couple of months.  It’s down about fifteen percent from its high of just over 14,000.  Many people are wondering why and how far it is going to fall.  This is my attempt to explain why it has been falling.

            Our story actually begins in the housing and sub-prime loan markets.  As many of you know, mortgage companies don’t actually have the millions and millions of dollars they loan to homebuyers.  What they do instead is make a loan, say for $250,000, and try to find some investor (generally a bank or some other financial entity) to buy the mortgage.  The company serves as a middle man between the homebuyer and large financial institutions. 

            What has begun happening recently is firms have been buying large numbers of mortgages of all different sizes and interest rates and rolling them into one package, kind of like a mutual fund.  They then began to sell shares of this “fund” to investors and investment banks.  This has never been done before.  People on Wall Street have never been able to buy shares in a mortgage security because mortgage securities didn’t exist.

            Now investments are rated based upon their safety as an investment.  For example, a triple AAA rating means that the stock or mutual fund you are buying is pretty safe and unlikely to fall far in value – wiping out your investment.  It also means the return will probably not be as high as other investments.  A single A rating means that the stock isn’t as safe as the triple AAA, but could potentially have a higher return. 

            Well the various companies that have created the rating system needed to rate these mortgage securities.  In some cases they gave triple A ratings, in others double and single A ratings.  Then the mortgage securities were marketed based on these ratings.

            So like any bubble, there was far too much exuberance in the market for these funds and they were overpriced and overrated.  That was one problem.  The deeper problem, however, is that mortgage companies began making lots of bad loans (e.g. requiring no down payments from the people they were lending to, not checking credit history, proof of income, etc.)  This was not a big problem until the housing market started to slump. 

When the values of houses started falling, those people who had taken a $400,000 mortgage out on a $400,000 house found themselves with a $400,000 mortgage on a house that was now worth $350,000.  Not a good place to be.  So they just walked away (that means the bank foreclosed on their house.)  But no one is in a good situation here.  The bank is left with a house worth less than the loan it made and these people are down a home.  There were a couple of other issues about variable interest rates that I won’t go into here.  The point is that there was a huge increase in the number of people defaulting on their mortgage loans.

            So big picture, these mortgage based securities that were being doled out like mutual funds, started collapsing.  All of a sudden people began to realize that these securities were not as valuable as they had initially thought.  So the price began to plummet.  And to make things worse, no one really knows how to evaluate the worth of these securities.  The fact that they are so new and the rates of defaults on loans are variable makes people afraid to purchase the securities; even after they have fallen substantially in price. 

            Here’s where it affects the credit market.  Some of the chief buyers of these securities were giant investment banks, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, etc.  The investment bankers at these firms made varying degrees of stupid decisions.  At Bear Stearns, for example, the investment bankers bought the securities on margin, which means they were borrowing money against their current assets to buy more shares of the securities.  Though always a risky idea, if your investments are good it’s not a problem.  Once these securities started crashing though, the market froze.  No one was willing to buy but everyone wanted to sell.  So Bear Sterns went from having 800 billion dollars worth of securities in its investment branch to 300 billion dollars worth in a week or two (Note, these are not the literal numbers but they are characteristic of the idea).  And, because they had bought on margin, they still owed the hundreds of billions of dollars they had borrowed.

           This is why the market is unhappy.  Hundreds of billions of dollars have just disappeared.  These are not literal paper dollars, but electronic dollars in the credit market.  This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to take out new loans.  The Federal Reserve has stepped in to try and fix the problem, but that is a completely different story.

            What does this mean?  Well, credit markets are in turmoil.  No one knows how to value these securities.  A number of lending companies have gone bankrupt.  These financial problems affect the economy by limiting business’s and individual’s ability to borrow money for various projects.  Don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world.  Give the market time to sort itself out.  We tend to overly concerned about the immediate present rather than the future.  So what if one quarter has slow growth, or even negative growth?  There will be hardship for some people, but the market will come back if left unhindered by government intervention.  Also, it will come back quicker if consumer’s had more confidence.  Consumer confidence tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as to the performance of the market, at least in the short run.  So be patient, things will get better. 

Here Stands Victory

The New York Times profiles the hero of the Superbowl, David Tyree. Here is a man who needs our prayers and who knows God is the reason for true victory:

“I’m a successful player in the N.F.L., having what most people would desire for their lives,” Tyree said. “I’m at the pinnacle of sports. But I had no joy. I had no peace. My life was obviously in disarray.”

Referring to his role in the Giants win over heavily favored Patriots, he says:

“It’s imperative for me not to act like this was all me.”

Read it all.