Against Corruption

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This is an interesting book to read, because of the differences among the authors.  They were able to discuss corruption from different cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds/viewpoints.

Here are a few of the main points:

  • Corruption hurts life outcomes in a variety of ways.  Economically, it diverts resources away from their most productive uses and acts like a regressive tax that supports the lifestyles of the elites at the expense of everyone else.
  • Corruption incentives the best and brightest to spend their time gaming the system, rather than innovating or creating new wealth.
  • As the difficulties and risk of corrupt behavior rise, fewer people will behave corruptly.
  • While auditing doesn’t sound like a glamorous nation-building activity, it is a critical part of ensuring that governments are spending public money responsibly and effectively.
  • Corruption is a cancer.  At first, it can look small and harmless.  Before you know it, it has taken over your entire body.  Likewise, the losses from corruption can start small, but in the end the damage is enormous.

Happy – A Documentary

“The constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.”  Benjamin Franklin

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This documentary is available on Netflix.  It takes an in depth look at what makes people happy and how we can improve our own happiness.

Here are a few things from the documentary that I found to be interesting:

  • Dopamine is a chemical in the brain and it is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy.  Physical activity releases dopamine, so engaging in exercise is a natural mood booster.
  • Events have a limited impact on our happiness.  When something good happens, we may feel ecstatic.  However, those feelings will dissipate quickly.  When something bad happens, we may feel devastation, but those feelings will also dissipate.
  • A key ingredient to happiness is being able to recover from adversity quickly.
  • Once our basic needs are meet, an increase in income has a limited affect on our level of happiness.
  • You will always be able to find somebody that has more money than you or that has something you don’t have.  A constant desire for more will have a negative impact on our happiness.
  • The more people focus on money and image the less happy they feel.
  • The more people focus on relationships, personal development, and community service the happier they feel.
  • Changing your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have that you can share, will promote happiness.
  • The building blocks of happiness are play, new experiences, and relationships.

Take time to do something that makes you happy today.

 

How to Resist Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

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Jesus went into the wilderness to spend forty days fasting.  The devil waited until Jesus was at the end of his fast before trying to tempt Jesus. The devil wanted to take advantage of the weakened and weary state of Jesus.

By studying the temptation of Jesus, we can learn how to resist temptation in our own lives.

The first temptation:

The devil told Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” (ESV)

Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (ESV)

The devil appealed to the fleshly desires of Jesus and tried to get him to break the fast by turning stones into bread.  The devil also tried to illicit a prideful spirit within Jesus, by saying, “If you are the Son of God.”

Jesus was able to resist temptation and used scripture as his strength and reasoning.

The second temptation:

For the second temptation, “the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”” (ESV)

The devil continued to question Jesus about his divinity.  He also used scripture to tempt Jesus.  However, Jesus combated the temptation by quoting scripture back to the devil, “it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (ESV)

If we are to resist temptation and stand firm in our faith, then studying the bible is essential.  How can we proclaim to believe something if we don’t know what it teaches?  How can we stand up against false teachings, if we don’t know the truth within the scriptures?

The third temptation:

The devil tried to tempt Jesus one more time, “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'” (ESV)

Jesus refused and told the devil, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” (ESV)

For the finial temptation, the devil promised to give Jesus earthly power and wealth.  Once again, Jesus resisted temptation and rejected the offer.

The temptation of riches, fame, and power is a hard one for most people.  All through out history, mankind (as individuals and as nations) have committed horrible acts to claim power over others or take riches from them.

We also have a tendency to place power and wealth as the priority of our lives.  People will ignore family obligations to make more money, only to find their family is gone when they finally reach their goals.

Money is used to justify treating employees badly or cheating customers.  The love of money can lead us into disastrous situations.

To resist such a powerful temptation, we need to have our priorities right.  We should seek to worship and serve God, and not power or wealth.

Murphy’s Law Decided to Visit

Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post about our washing machine breaking and about our shopping experience.

Our new washing machine was delivered Monday afternoon and our dryer died Monday night.  Tuesday I went to Lowe’s and purchased a new dryer.

This morning we wake up and the house feels like a sauna.  The air conditioning unit is turned on, but it isn’t doing anything.  I am not sure if the unit is completely dead or if the repair man can revive it.  We are still waiting on the verdict.

In one week our washing machine died, our dryer died, and our AC unit is in critical condition.

Murphy decided to visit my family and smack us in the head with a giant bat.

Teach Children the Dangers of Debt

I think it is imperative that we teach our children the dangers of debt.  During the acclamation phase of debt, the person feels like they have an endless supply of money.  It also allows for immediate gratification.

However, you eventually reach a place when there is no more available credit and all that debt, plus the interest, must be paid back to the leader.

Once debt has taken hold of a person’s finances, it can suck them dry.  Debt starts pulling money from things the person needs today to pay for the wants of yesterday.

I believe it is extremely important to teach children the dangers of debt.