Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, December 8, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 17



 Mountain Views News Saturday, December 8, 2012 

HAIL Hamilton My Turn

STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE




Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 


Joan Schmidt


LaQuetta Shamblee


Pat Birdsall


Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Ron Carter

Rev. James Snyder

Bobby Eldridge

Mary Carney

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Greg Wellborn

Dr. John Talevich

Ben Show

Sean Kayden

Jasmine Kelsey Williams



 What sad times we live in. My pension as a teacher has 
been funded largely by me. I put in my money, year after 
year. It is true my school district matched these funds, but at 
a cost to me of a lower salary. These funds were supposedly 
wisely invested by the California Teachers Retirement System 
(CalSTRS) and are now waiting to pay me when I retire. Other public employees 
pay into California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS).

 Private sector employees mostly chose to stick their money into Individual 
Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Often, but not always, a private sector employee’s 
contribution to these IRAs is matched by the employer. 

 Same deal. Right? Well, not exactly. IRA income results are not guaranteed, 
pensions are. This means private sector workers are being forced to “bet” their 
retirement on the performance of the stock market, since IRAs are bundled and 
traded like any other security. This is like a crap shoot. If the IRA’s manager picks 
a bad mutual fund, you get to eat dog food the rest of your life. 

 Cutting pensions is corrupt; it is outright theft. These funds look like public 
money. Not so. Pensions are a contractual promise to many people who worked 
many years while saving their money for their retirement. Isn’t that the responsible 
thing to do? 

 Although pension funds are also invested in the stock market, cutting public 
pensions is illegal, since public pension levels are guaranteed by contractual 
agreements made through the collective bargaining process.

 So why then, would you think these “public pension” funds are up for grabs by 
politicians trying to offset their spending binge this last decade? 

 The simple answer is that they can, and that they have ample precedent to do 
so. The government has been spending your social security money (I say yours, 
because teachers see very little of “their” Social Security because of a statutory off-
set for receiving CalSTRS benefits) ever since LBJ did it first in 1965 to help pay 
for the Vietnam War. This fiscal sleight of hand has been used by every president 
since then. 

 Currently the federal government owes the Social Security Fund $2.6 trillion. 
All of you who complain that you paid into the system need to face up to the 
fact that while you were enjoying your inflated salaries and bragging about your 
expensive homes and cars, you forgot your duty, your responsibility to protest this 
ongoing theft over the last 40 years. 

 Don’t think you can protest now -- you long-ago lost that right, and the current 
police state, which has been created as a result of the Patriot Act and supported 
with its corporate media lackeys, is armed to the teeth and ready. You will simply 
be labeled in the press as a bunch disgruntled gray-haired domestic terrorists.

 Now, getting your checks will not be a problem, but when this third financial 
bubble bursts and inflation kicks in, your “money” is not going to buy much. After 
awhile, it might not even feed you. There’s no point in blaming the grocery store 
or “those damn foreigners”. For some unknown reason, people do not understand 
that rising prices are a result of, a symptom of - not the cause of - inflation. The 
government is certainly not going to admit any wrongdoing, and sadly, most of the 
public will continue to believe them.

 Our financial system is broken, and the troubles we are having, like a few bankrupt 
cities and these beginning pension cuts, are only the first falling bricks and shingles. 
In most cases, the cost of shoring up underfunded or poorly managed retirement 
funds is going slowly. In many states, like California, benefits are guaranteed and 
difficult to modify. Because of the guaranteed nature of benefits, there is no quick 

 But the answer isn’t demonizing government pensioners. Steven Kreisberg, 
collective bargaining director at the American Federation of State, County and 
Municipal Employees, the nation’s biggest public-sector union, says pension 
problems were caused by investment losses that can be gradually recovered, rather 
than due to overly rich benefits. “When you lose 20% of your assets in a single year 
that’s what caused the problem.”

 No matter what the cause - corporate theft, poor funds management or stock 
market fluctuations - the coming loss of “guaranteed retirement income” is going to 
hit all government pensioners. Be aware, and be prepared … 


 I really want this 
article to be positive 
and under present 
circumstances this 
is not an easy thing 
to accomplish. No, 
it’s not because the 
Lakers blew a huge fourth quarter lead, 
but perhaps it is a bit connected. I 
watched the game with my son, Aaron 
and acted as if I was a radio announcer 
trying to engage him in the game as 
much as possible. Perhaps some of 
you invisible and unknown, but I hope 
devoted, readers will remember a couple 
of years ago when Aaron, an adult 
disabled person, suffered almost the 
entire loss of vision in one eye. I started 
one article with the words “Information, 
information” which is what I thought the 
Chinese born and heavily accented eye 
surgeon was saying to me as he examined 
the eye. “What information; what else 
do you need to know?” was the best I 
could do. Of course it turned out that 
the doctor was not saying “information” 
but was saying “INFLAMATION, 
INFLAMATION” as he examined my 
son’s eye. Eventually, after the three 
operations surgery saved most of Aaron’s 
vision in his right eye but left him only 
with pin-point vision in his left eye.

 Now, about two years later it is 
November 28th and it is my son and 
daughter’s birthday. They are not twins 
but are born two years apart which 
always seems like some joke awaiting a 
punch line. This year, on her birthday 
my daughter was suffering from pink 
eye and my wife, son, and I were careful 
to keep our distance. Aaron, however, 
began to complain about some sort of 
shadow in the corner of his right eye—
his good eye. At first I thought it was all 
psychosomatic, as frankly my own eye 
was sort of itching. Luckily that night 
Aaron decided to stay overnight because 
he didn’t want to drive home in the dark.

 At about 9:30 he began to complain 
again about the shadow and I became 
concerned. Something told me I had to 
do something right now and I told my 
wife we had to do contact somebody. 
Who you gonna call - the eye clinic 
is closed until tomorrow morning. I 
recalled that one of the first doctors who 
examined my son at Kaiser, a doctor 
who also had a disabled son, had given 
us his home number and told us it was 
all right for us to call in an emergency. 
This was two years before, but through 
some heroic searching my wife was able 
to find the home number and we called. 
The doctor was very considerate and 
told us to come into the eye clinic art 
7:30 a.m. and that he would personally 
examine my son. We brought him in, 
the doctor examined him and said “If 
you waited another 24 hours he would 
have lost all sight.

 This condition, retinal detachment, 
required another kind of specialist 
who could perform the necessary 
procedure. Sometime later a retinal 
surgeon appeared and examined Aaron 
while asking him to position his eyes 
in certain ways. The doctor explained 
that because Aaron could not comply 
with these difficult directions it would 
not be possible to use a laser technique 
or a freezing technique and a different 
procedure would have to be followed. 
The procedure to be used was to remove 
the liquid from the eye and insert a gas 
bubble. After the operation the patient, 
Aaron, would be required to keep his 
head down for two weeks which would 
allow gravity to assist the retina in 
reattaching properly and the scaring 
process would seal the hole.

 The operation took place on the very 
same day. It is now three days later and 
Aaron is sleeping on his stomach and 
keeping his head down as best as he can. 
His eye is presently not functioning but 
the Doctor told us that the operation 
went well and vision would return in a 
couple of weeks. Aaron has asked me 
one time if he would be able to see and I 
told him he would. He believed me and I 
believed me and that is a very good sign.

 Now for the positive part of the 
column. I am uncomfortable in saying 
I feel blessed, as if I am defaming my 
life-long atheism. Let’s just say that I 
feel incredibly fortunate that I live in 
a Country that makes medical care 
available in such a rapid and expert 
fashion. I feel so lucky that the Doctor 
had given us his home number. Most 
amazingly, I am constantly awed by the 
loving presence and ability of my wife, 
who acts as a round the clock nursemaid 
and eye drop applicator. Let us be 
truthful. I COULD NOT DO IT.

 Finally, I am proud of my son’s courage 
and strength. What my son and my wife 
have given to me and to each other is of 
a value beyond money. I am optimistic 
that the operation will be successful 
but I have already learned something 
important about values and wealth. I 
am a very rich man.

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A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder

RICH Johnson



Well, here we are knee deep in December again. It seems 
like it wasn’t but a year ago that we were in December. 
Does time travel faster the older you get? It seems like it 
to me. 

This could be my second to last column for the newspaper. No, I’m not unhappy 
with anybody. But, if the world ends Friday, December 21st that’s it. 
I’m not doing any more columns.

 It seems this is believed to be the end date of a 5,125 year cycle known as 
the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. The Mayans (Is that anything like 
Presbyterian?) were one of the many Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures 
that used this calendar. I guess the Mayans had a better PR firm then 
those other cultures so they get the credit for this coming armageddon. 

So what is going to happen? Some suggest there will be a combined gravitational 
effect between our Sun and the super massive black hole at the center 
of our galaxy (known affectionately as Sagittarius A*) Apparently this already 
happened once in 1998 but I guess it didn’t take. At least I didn’t notice 
the world ending in 1998. Some say it happens every 26 million years. I 
guess it’s just our bad luck.

 Just maybe the end will come because hundreds of thousands of websites 
have been posted on the subject of the end of the world. Maybe the internet 
will explode and for most of us in 2012 that would be cataclysmic. Maybe 
all the iPhones and Android phones are programmed to melt down on December 
21st. If the world doesn’t end on that day, but if I have to live without 
my iPhone it will seem like the end of the world. 

 I asked my son about the Mayan end of the world prediction and he said he 
it was too bad the Ancient Mayans could predict the end of the world but 
couldn’t foresee the coming Spanish invasion. 

Could an event that took place on December 21st be triggering the upcoming 

1620 The Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock on this day

1913 The first Crossword Puzzle is printed in the New York World

1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves premiers in Hollywood

Or could the coming cataclysm be the result of the birth of someone on 
December 21?

 Phil Donahue, Jane Fonda, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Romano, Kiefer Sutherland, 
Josef Stalin.

 AHA! I’ve have discovered what may be the key to the end of the world. 
A simple, ordinary birth (Don’t forget that 2,000 years ago a single birth 
changed the world). 

 Seventy-two years ago a child was born in Baltimore to Italian parents. The 
child, a boy, was sickly as a youngster. In fact, a doctor treated him by inserting 
a pellet of radium into each of his nostrils. And he was never the same. 
It somehow all makes sense now. That child…?


 I guess this explains it all. 

I will confess right 
up front to a certain 
degree of confusion. 
The Gracious Mistress 
of the Parsonage 
will corroborate this confession. So 
many things confuse me; I am not sure 
where to begin, and once I begin, where 
in the world will it stop?

I have been married for over 41 years but 
I must confess, not to the same woman. 
Oh yes, it is the same woman with the 
same name but it is not the same woman 
I married 41 years ago. Where is that 
young woman I married?

When first married, I thought I knew everything 
there was to know about women 
and wives in particular. I do not know 
if it is the ensuing years but I am rather 
confused about this whole matter of being 
married. I suppose that is the mystery 
of romance. If you ever figure it out it loses 
its charm. Romance without charm is 
just an old man and an old woman who 
have lived together for 41 years.

That is just one area of confusion. I harbor 
no aspiration of unconfusing my 
level of confusion in that area. There are 
other areas I could work on that might 
be a little more productive in this regard.

An area particularly that has me greatly 
confused is the Christmas season with all 
the Christmas decorations including the 
ominous Christmas tree. Oh, how I love 
that old Christmas tree and decorating 
it and celebrating the whole Christmas 

What has been confusing me for the last 
several years is this uncertainty about the 
season. Some people do not want to call 
it the Christmas season; rather they refer 
to it as the holiday season. What I want 
to know is, what holiday are we celebrating 
in December?

I know the holiday we celebrate in November, 
and the other holidays sprinkled 
throughout the year.

In July, for example, nobody calls it a 
"holiday parade." It is the Fourth of July 
parade, for Pete's sake! In February, nobody 
calls it a "holiday banquet." It is a 
Valentine's banquet.

Just so everybody knows, nobody will 
catch me singing a "holiday carol."

I suppose with all the holidays in this 
country throughout the year it would be 
simpler just to call everything a "holiday." 
That would simplify things and help 
those who cannot keep up with the calendar. 
I am all for that.

It seems the only squabbling that goes 
on is during the month of December. 
Actually, the squabbling begins before 
our turkey dinner has finished digesting. 
Maybe some people get too much 
turkey in their system and it clouds their 
thinking. All they have to do is squabble 
about something and so the only thing in 
front of them is the Christmas season. I 
get that.

What I do not get is the level of anger 
directed in this direction. It would seem 
that the Christmas season offers a huge 
threat to our society. We cannot call our 
Christmas tree a Christmas tree; it has 
to be called a holiday tree. Everybody 
knows, the word "Christmas tree" is some 
kind of code inviting disaster on our society. 
I have never heard anybody define 
or describe what that disaster would look 

What amazes me is simply that this is 
a huge issue in some people's minds. 
Nothing is more dangerous to society 
than this.

The word "Christmas" carries with it 
more danger to our society than the 
ominous financial cliff we are facing, the 
threat of terrorism in our own country 
and Lindsay Lohan at 4 AM.

What is more confusing to me is that 
these people who are trying to protect 
our society from anything religious 
wants to substitute the word "Christmas" 
for the word "holiday." It just shows the 
level of education in our country has not 
kept up with the times.

I know it has been a long time since I 
have been in school, but I do know that 
certain words have certain definitions. 
Do the people who object to anything religious 
understand that the word holiday 
comes from the phrase "holy day?"

I am not a PhD but I do know that the 
phrase "holy day" has religious roots.

So, I am really confused along this line. 
On the one hand, we are not to use the 
word "Christmas" because of its religious 
connotations. At the same time, we 
are supposed to use the word "holiday" 
which in every dictionary in the land 
means "holy day."

I could be corrected along this line, but 
in my thinking the phrase, "holy day" has 
some very distinct religious roots. When 
I hear somebody complaining along this 
line, and they do it so vehemently, I have 
a question as to their sanity. It does not 
make sense to me.

Christmas is a holy day but we are not 
allowed to think of it as a holy day just 
use the term "holiday." Now I am really 
confused. Is it a holiday or a holy day? 
Is it sacred or is it secular? What holiday 
does a holiday tree really celebrate?

I like what the apostle Paul wrote, "Let no 
man therefore judge you in meat, or in 
drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of 
the new moon, or of the Sabbath days" 
(Colossians 2:16 KJV).

I will not allow any man's objections affect 
my celebration of the Christmas season. 
To quote from a great secular classic, 
"God bless us, everyone."

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family 
of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 
34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver 
Springs Shores. e-mail 
His web site is www.jamessnyderministries.


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