Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Frankincense & Myrrh and Biblical Lore Surrounding the Birth of Jesus

Today I'm going to republish this post, which I originally wrote in 2005. I'll write again on Friday. Merry Christmas to all!

In the Christian tradition of Christmas, we often see nativities that display Mary, Joseph (if you're lucky), some shepherds, baby Jesus in a manger (of course), angels, assorted barn animals and... wise men and the camels they rode in on. What's wrong with this picture?

The wise men didn't show up until Jesus was living in a house (see Matthew 2:11). Of course, Mary and Joseph were only staying in the stable temporarily. It's to be assumed they'd want to move out and get back home as soon as possible. (IMHO there's something else wrong with this picture, but I'll discuss it at another time).

Why were they in the stable?

Because there was a census taking place (see Luke 2) and all citizens were required to return to their birthplace during that census. Bethlehem was where Joseph was from and so naturally he took his pregnant fiance with him for the census because once you were engaged, you were seen to be as good as married. Since all the houses and inns were full, they ended up staying in the stables.

This was probably very common (though not much fun) for many of the travellers at that time. And because homes and inns were often structured around the animals, there wasn't much privacy. The animals were kept below, and some households lived in a level up from the animals, but exposed to the animals at all times.

Excavations have shown an arrangement where the house was made entirely out of mud and stone with a large pit in the middle of the house where the animals were kept. Then another level (up and out from the animal level) was where the family slept and cooked their meals. Picture it as shaped almost like a bowler hat, upside-down. It was often a convenient way to live because animals are warm in the winter and warm air rises. Often families slept on the rooftops in the summer.

So, Mary and Joseph were probably sleeping downstairs, but within sight of others who were staying upstairs. Not a lot of seclusion for an expecting mother.

There are four gospels in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and each was written for a slightly different audience and by different authors, so each touches upon only what he thinks is important. Mark and John don't even feel that Jesus' childhood is significant, so there is no discussion of his birth.

The only mention of the wise men is in Matthew 2. Why is that?

The Book of Matthew was specifically targeted toward the Jews. The aim of the author was to tell the Jews that it was OK to believe that Christ was the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. Since the Old Testament prophesies pointed to Jesus as being King of the Jews, it was very important to establish his lineage. How do you do that, if you're Matthew?

You discuss Joseph's ancestors, since the right to kingship is passed through the father's side. Mary also seemingly had a royal lineage, and it's possibly detailed in Luke (although there's debate about that).

You also discuss how important his birth was to everyone, and how it was heralded and even indicated by signs: "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him." (Matt. 2:1-2)

So who were these magi, where did they come from, and why did they bring " of gold and frankincense and myrrh"? Matthew doesn't give us a lot of details.

We know they came from the east but we don't know how long they travelled to get to Jerusalem. So, they probably would have been of middle eastern or asian descent.

Frankincense and myrrh are both resins (dried tree sap) that come from trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrhh), which are common to Somalia. But that doesn't necessarily indicate that any of them were from Africa (which was west of Jerusalem) since traders went everywhere. It also doesn't exclude any nationality, since people were known to travel far away from their birthplaces.

They all were considered to be very wise and possibly practiced some form of magic (the word magi is the root for the word magician). There's no indication that they were kings, and so I would definately question the hymn "We Three Kings" (although I still love it).

They probably would have studied together, and they must have taken their beliefs very seriously if they travelled so far to worship Jesus so it might even indicate a buddhist monastery. We simply don't know.

We know that some of their beliefs probably included astrology, since they took the star seriously. However, perhaps the star would have been taken seriously by anyone at the time but most people didn't guess what it indicated. We have no knowlege about it's appearance, so we can only surmise.

Additionally, we have no idea how many magi there were. They probably represented a community, and there may have been as little as 2 or they could have numbered in the hundreds. They certainly impressed Herod when they approached him, and it wasn't always easy to get an audience with him! In fact, Herod was impressed enough to kill every male (age 2 and under) in Bethlehem in order to eliminate the competition (Mary and Joseph had already whisked Jesus away to Egypt for a while).

Why the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? I have been burning frankincense and myrrh daily, and it smells wonderful. But not only were they burned for fragrance, they were used in toiletries and oils. They were products that were very expensive, and they would have been considered a frivolity for anyone less than royalty. These were gifts that were fit for a King. And thus Matthew's case was made.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bush's "Right of Conscience" Rule: Why it's a Mistake

In typically sneaky George Bush fashion, he has issued a last-minute rule, to be published today in the Federal Register, which will take effect the day before he leaves office. It's a rule that guarantees "doctors, hospitals, and even receptionists and volunteers in medical experiments the right to refuse to participate in medical care they find morally objectionable."

This is an obvious attempt to shield those who do not believe in abortions from performing or participating in one. And being an abortion opponent, I empathise. But this ruling has a much wider-sweeping range of possibilities than the short-sighted George Bush has ever considered.

What if an emergency room doctor refuses to treat a potential murderer or other criminal that he finds "morally objectionable"? And what if that doctor turns out to be wrong and an innocent person dies? What if he's right: Does that make it ethically OK to leave someone bleeding to death in your emergency room?

What if a receptionist refuses to announce a patient because she knows he's gay? Or living 'in sin' with someone? Or merely of a different faith than hers?

This will put the medical community in terrible conflict. As we know, you aren't supposed to ask personal questions during an interview. But how else are you to discover if your new receptionist believes that all Catholics are "of the Devil"? Under this new rule, you need to know before you hire her, obviously.

And what will need to be revealed to volunteers in medical studies? Will every study now have to have moral arguments published by opposing analysts, so that the volunteers remain fully informed and can exercise their right to choose? What if halfway through the study they suddenly change their minds due to a change in conscience? Will all their data be destroyed? Will this ultimately invalidate or prolong studies, thus adding to costs?

Will all pharmacists be able to refuse to sell someone condoms if they think that they're using them for the wrong purpose? Will they be able to refuse to dispense medications which can heal or ameliorate sexual diseases because they think that those diseases are a judgement from God?

As usual, George Bush has leaped before he looked. Let's hope that Barack Obama will be able to quickly reverse this rule once he assumes office.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caylee Anthony

By now, I'm betting that everyone's heard of Caylee Anthony's disappearance and her mother's (Casey Anthony) arrest here in Orlando, Florida. However, if you don't know the details, let me sum them up quickly. (If you want a detailed investigation into the case so far, I recommend that you go here).

Casey Anthony was apparently over-indulged and pampered by two very gullible parents. As a result, she led a very self-absorbed lifestyle which included promiscuity that would make Paris Hilton blush, alcohol and drugs (and lots of them), lying, and stealing, among other things. In other words, Casey has the typical sociopathic profile.

Casey's three-year-old daughter, Caylee, got in the way of her chosen lifestyle. As a result, Casey finally decided that motherhood wasn't for her, and she killed Caylee to take care of the problem.

A month after Caylee's disappearance, Casey's mother (Cindy) suddenly realized she hadn't seen her grandchild in a while. She panicked and called the police. During the ensuing investigation, the police were lied to so much by Casey that it almost seemed that she was lying for the simple joy of it. Which is why it is no suprise to hear that Casey's career goal in life was to become a politician.

Just kidding. Casey is even slimier than most politicians. Note that I said most.

Obviously this made the police very suspicious. So, they did some investigating and found rotting corpse fumes and decomposing hair in Casey's trunk.

Although Cindy Anthony had originally called the police to report Caylee's disappearance, and had said hysterically that there was a horrible smell in Casey's trunk, she suddenly changed her mind.

So at this point, Casey's family sprang into action and claimed that the smell in the trunk was probably just a rotting pizza (I don't know who their pizza company is, but I recommend against eating any if it gives off corpse fumes).

During all of this, Casey was in and out of jail on various charges the police kept throwing her way in an attempt to drag a confession out of her or hold her until enough evidence was accumulated. Casey, in an obvious attempt for star billing at the Oscars, gave an award winning performance as The Grieving And Worried Mother until pictures showing her partying after Caylee's disappearance strained everyone's credulity.

Finally the police had enough. Loaded with enough information to sink a luxury liner, they arrested Casey for Caylee's murder. However, Casey could rest somewhat easy, as repeated search attempts had not turned up little Caylee's body.

Until a week ago, when someone stumbled across Caylee's corpse in the woods.

Upon hearing of the discovery of Caylee's body, Casey reportedly went into hysterics. This was only natural, as a corpse is the best murder evidence that there is, and Casey knew her chances of getting away with the murder had just been drastically lessened.

The results are not official yet, but there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this corpse is Caylee. It remains to be seen if Casey's gullible parents are going to continue to try to defend their sociopathic daughter or not. Perhaps their loyalty will falter when we learn why there was duct tape wrapped around the child's skull.

Or perhaps the Anthonys will continue in a deluded state, claiming that somehow someone murdered Caylee, for unbelievable reasons of their own, and then conveniently ditched the child's body in the Anthony's neighborhood.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Homosexuality & The Bible

Today I am co-authoring this with a guest blogger and well-known published author whom I will call "Calliope". Over the weekend, Calliope shot a recent article in Newsweek over to me with some comments that I will be incorporating into this piece.

And... For those of you who merely want an argument, be sure that you really understand what is being said before you wade into the fray. This is something that you will need to examine thoroughly before you weigh in. This is not simply an 'interpretation' issue: The evidence is clear.

You don't have to like what the Bible says - that's OK. But if you claim to believe in the Bible, you must deal with it. Don't like it? Fine - try another faith: Be my guest. I do not believe that the sun will stop shining if you choose another faith (or no faith at all).

NOTE: This is not a discussion of whether gay marriage should be allowed in the USA. That was discussed earlier in another post here. It is only a discussion of the Biblical view on gays and gay marriage.


On December 6, 2008, Lisa Miller wrote an article in Newsweek titled "Our Mutual Joy." It is a pitiful attempt at deliberate misinterpretation and tampering of scriptures in order to fit an agenda. To start out her salvo, Lisa uses examples of polygamy and apparent lukewarm recommendations of marriage:

"Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple—who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love—turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so."

But the truth is drastically different. As Calliope writes:

"Just because the Bible records some cases of polygamy does not mean that it approves of polygamy. The pattern established in the Bible by God (and often repeated) is one man, one woman (Genesis 3:24, Eph. 5:31). Church leaders in the New Testament are to be the husband of one wife (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6)."

In addition, many Jews and Christians over the years have pointed to the spicy heterosexual Song of Solomon (a.k.a. the Song of Songs) as a role model of an ideal, passionate marriage. It is hardly the stuff of prudes, as the bride and groom extol each other's physical attributes in great detail. They also discuss the raptures of the physical side of marriage.

And although the apostle Paul himself said (in the New Testament) that marriage was not the first and best choice, it is important to remember the situation at that time, when people were regularly being persecuted for their faith: Marriage and families complicated matters even further (ask anyone who is currently a missionary). And yet we know that at least one of Jesus' disciples (Peter) was married. So were Paul's compadres, Priscilla and Aquila.

The New Testament also spells out how husbands and wives are to treat each other. This was unique at the time, as women were almost always regarded by most people as a step-up from the slaves and without rights.

So, Lisa is woefully wrong. She is not merely cherrypicking scriptures to fit her agenda - she is ignoring so many facts that she is in danger of being asked to work on O.J. Simpson's legal team.

For instance, Lisa mentions that Jesus condemns divorce, but claims that this was a way to allow men the option to cheat on their wives. Lisa completely neglects The Divorce Clause.

What is The Divorce Clause, you ask?

In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus says “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

At the time of his pronouncement, Jesus was addressing only men. However, this is traditionally interpreted as a rule that applies to both men and women. Additionally, it was a protection for the women at the time, since men were readily divorcing and remarrying women at their own convenience during a time when women could not easily fend for themselves and had to live according to their husbands' whims.

Lisa goes on to state "...while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman." This is an utter falsehood.

I'll grant you that the Bible doesn't start with a dictionary which includes the definitions of every word used in it. That's because it doesn't have to. It uses terms and ideas that were universally accepted then.

If a Jew had walked up to a fellow Jew during Old Testament times and tried to argue that marriage could be between two people of the same sex, the best response he could hope for would be a hearty chuckle. The worst response he might encounter would be a very public death at the hands of an angry mob.


Because the Bible was and is very explicit in it's stand on homosexuality.

Calliope notes:

"Homosexuality is clearly condemned, both in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22, Genesis 19 with Jude 1:7, etc.) and in the New Testament (Rom. 1:21-27; I Cor. 6:9-10, etc.) To teach the contrary is the ultimate in Scripture-twisting.

Also: Are we to assume that God has changed His mind about homosexuality? Malachi 3:6 "I am the Lord. I do not change."

This is also said about Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same: yesterday and today and forever."

But Lisa writes "...the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, "possibly because it did not result in true physical 'union' (by male entry).""

This goes back to the 'lack' of a dictionary at the beginning of the Bible. Again, everyone knew what homosexuality meant, and it was used for both sexes.

In Romans chapter 1, the author speaks of God condemning evil people and punishing them. In Romans 1:26, we read "For this reason, God delivered them to degrading passions as their females exchanged their natural sexual function for one that is unnatural." Obviously the Bible doesn't regard homosexuality as a reward, but as something to be ashamed and horrified about.

Lisa also attempts to dismiss the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality by saying that it was only present in the Old Testament, but the book of Romans is in the New Testament and it invalidates her claim.

Lisa furthers her falacious arguments by adding " scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who "were inflamed with lust for one another" (which he calls "a perversion") is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery."

This would only be argued by a 'progressive' scholar who doesn't know what language the Bible is written in, and chooses to disregard it. The word for 'lust' here in the original language means just that - a sexual desire.

Going back to her attack on traditional marriage, Lisa triumphantly declares "Monogamy became the norm in the Christian world in the sixth century; husbands' frequent enjoyment of mistresses and prostitutes became taboo by the beginning of the 20th."

Nice statistics for Lisa, if true. But they're not. Simply because something is practiced does not make it acceptable, and cheating on one's spouse was never acceptable or sanctioned by the Bible. (The problem with the issue of polygamy was dealt with earlier in this post).

Lisa attempts to wind up her article by writing "We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future."

Really? And what selective truths would that include? When do the restrictions against parents marrying their children become passe? When do we decide that it's OK to have sex with a goat because we choose to believe that this is no longer applicable to modern times?

One cannot take what one chooses from a religion and then leave the rest. At that point, it becomes a different religion entirely. So, if Lisa has decided to censor the Bible, cutting out passages at will, then I recommend that she start The Church of Lisa. It certainly will no longer be recognizable as Christianity.

The issue is not as simple as Lisa would like to portray it. This is the reason that churches are battling within their ranks. It is why the Episcopal church now has a major split.

Lisa then tries the worn out "What Would Jesus Do?" card. She writes "In the Christian story, the message of acceptance for all is codified. Jesus reaches out to everyone, especially those on the margins..." Not true. Again.

As Calliope points out, Jesus says he doesn't change. And he also makes it very clear that he does not tolerate all forms of sin because he's just a nice guy who wants everyone to get along. In fact, Jesus was a pretty unpopular guy among many at the time of his arrival on the scene. Crowds don't repeatedly seek to kill someone who is preaching tolerance of everything. Where Jesus showed tolerance was his acceptance of anyone who repented from evil and believed he was the Messiah.

Somehow, I doubt that Lisa believes that.

In her article, Lisa sums up her position in one sentence: "Ozzie and Harriet are nowhere in the New Testament..."

She is, of course, correct. And neither are Adam and Steve.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Process Server

Perhaps you remember Zen, my former friend and tenant who got on drugs (along with her son) and trashed the mobile home I owned and rented to her.

Because Zen wasn't paying rent, I repo'd the home to find quite a mess. The total in past rent and damages was well over what I was given, but I was still given a substantial sum.

After the court ruling, Zen told many people that "you can't get blood out of a stone" and made it very clear that she wasn't going to pay me a dime. Why would she, when you have to pay good money to get totally awesome drugs? Drugs aren't cheap, ya know.

Then she disappeared, so that she couldn't be summonsed to court to enforce the judgement.

It's taken some work, but I found her address, in a town that's several cities away. I need the money now, just as I needed the money then (she somehow is under the false impression that I'm fabulously wealthy). So, I re-opened the case, paying fees to do so and have her served once more. I even drove by her residence to make sure she indeed lived there (she does).

On Monday I got a notice in the mail that the Sheriff's Department couldn't serve her and 'no such person' lived at that address. Knowing that this wasn't true, I contacted the sheriff's process server.

The process server told me that when he had gone up to her apartment complex (which is a hippie enclave of some kind) that the man who answered the door said that Zen didn't live there. The tenant added that HE had lived there for seven years, and he would surely know. So, the process server gave up. (Note to everyone involved in a case in Hillsborough County: Don't use the sheriff's process server - find a private one.)

So I had a long discussion with my best friend, Pov, who felt that he should drive all that way early in the morning to see if she'd moved or if she was just dodging the court (bless Pov for caring enough to do that, when other people slept warm in their beds... including me).

Pov was there before 6 AM, in enough time to see her car and the lights go on in her apartment. I called him to check on what was happening and he told me, asking me to call the process server to see if he could return now that we KNEW she was there.

I called the process server, but he told me that he's only paid to go out and try during that one period of time, and he couldn't do a thing unless we waited for his supervisor to OK it. His supervisor's shift began between 10-12 AM. It was 7:45.

So I did some research, and called a nearby private process server, "Sue", at 7:45 in the morning. And woke her up out of a sound sleep.

"Call me back in half an hour, OK?" she asked sleepily. I agreed, somewhat disgruntled. I wanted Zen served before she disappeared.

I cheated a little: I called at 8:12. And at 8:17.

At 8:25, Sue called back, somewhat understandably irritated but hiding it as well as she could. When I had explained the situation to her, she said she was willing to go out there and serve Zen as soon as she had her coffee and a quick shower. In the meantime, she asked me to fax her the paperwork.

I did. Then I called her to see if she'd received the fax. "Uh, let me get out of the shower, first, OK?" Sue asked patiently.

Meanwhile, I had Pov on the phone, letting him know what was going on. Pov reported that Zen was still there.

Sue called me when she was on her way. I gave her Pov's number so that they could coordinate. In a short while, Pov called me gleefully.

"She went roaring up to Zen's door in a sparkling new Mustang," he reported. "So because she didn't look like a cop, Zen opened the door to her and she handed Zen the paperwork - Zen's been served!"

I danced around and whooped a lot, and then called Sue to tell her she was a goddess.

Then I called Pov back to celebrate a little more. His voice echoed strangely. "Where are you?" I asked.

"In a gas station bathroom, if you don't mind," Pov snapped. "You try sitting in a car for four hours without being able to go to the bathroom. If I'd had a jar in that car, it would be full!"

Now I'll see Zen in court in January. Contrary to what many people think, I can dock her pay - so it's not so easy to dodge what she owes me. Zen's used to landlords who don't care and can afford to write off such large sums. I can't do that.

It's time for Zen to pay up.

Friday, December 05, 2008

One President? Two Presidents? Or None?

In the Washington Post article today, titled One President? Two Presidents? Or None?, Dan Froomkin points out something that many of us have been pondering. It makes interesting reading, and I'd like to recommend it today, instead of writing myself.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Beginning of Martial Law

The moment that the news hit the stands, "the excrement hit the air-conditioning" *. The news of 20,000 troops being assigned to the USA caused a great furor as it "threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement."

Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the Cato Institute began sounding warnings over this.

Immediately a new report was released, inevitably warning of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) attack that is going to come our way. And news organizations picked up the story, linking it to the first story (except the troop number immediately dropped to 15,000).

The government is scrambling to justify a military build-up within its own borders. It's hoping that the American Public will be gullible and frightened enough to agree that this is in our best interest.

But it is not in our best interest. Not at all.

This is the same attempt the government made when it initially justified The Patriot Act. Two years ago, I wrote in my article The Dangerous Encroachment Upon Our Liberties:

"I hear so many people say scornfully, "Oh The Patriot Act is no big deal. I'm willing to sacrifice something to be safe" or "*I* have nothing to hide! Who cares if they're eavesdropping on my telephone and email conversations?"

It isn't a question of what you have to hide, or what sacrifices you are willing to make. Instead, it is a question of what we, as a nation, are willing to pass down to our children and future governments which we know nothing about. That's what the Founding Fathers worried so much about, and that's why they crafted a Constitution which is now being violated repeatedly. They didn't want to leave any loopholes that would allow a despotic government to arise."

The government is frightening us with both real and imagined terrors. But are we chidren to be so manipulated and malleable?

What price freedom?

This latest abuse, again initiated by George Bush under the auspices of The Patriot Act, brings us one step closer to Martial Law. It is in direct violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which was put in place to protect us. It is dangerous, and we are fools if we allow it to happen.

*Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

Monday, December 01, 2008

Florida's Natives Left Holding the Tab

I have had a lot of experience in the political arena, and I'm well-read and educated. However, I had absolutely no idea that our Federal government's economic vision was predicated on continual growth (an unrealistic vision at best). And it became another, though lesser, surprise when I found out that Florida's government did, as well.

Florida at one time was an absolutely beautiful state, untouched by many. Over the years in certain areas it has become polluted and overcrowded, with too much unchecked growth raping the land, and dwindling water supplies. The Tampa Bay area now lives under constant watering restrictions when at one time there was always enough for all. We steal water from our northern cousins, who groan and complain but cave to the greater interest.

We environmentalists were unheard, as the almighty dollar drove us forward.

Condos and entire "communities" * were built on the shores, blocking and destroying beach views and even preventing access to beaches that once belonged to us all. We natives began to be charged for access to our own beach in Clearwater, when and if we were ever lucky enough to find parking.

Homes were also built on former farmland and protected wildlife areas which magically became unprotected. Schools were built to house the children of these new interlopers, shopping centers and restaurants were built to cater to them, and the government cheered because there was more money to spend.

Now schools are closing, property values are dropping (thankfully) which alleviates the taxation we natives have been subjected to (as the newbies have driven the costs up). And the government has discovered, much to it's unfettered surprise, that growth in Florida has finally abated.

This is a mixed blessing: I am tempted to jump up and cheer, because this may finally cause the government to re-evaluate its policies toward growth and the environment. But we know that government is generally ineffective and, like the worst doctors, they always treat the symptoms - never the disease.

In the meantime, although we have increasing elbow room, the roads aren't as crowded, and the remaining 2% of the undeveloped land in this area can breathe a (temporary) sigh of relief, the fact remains that we are also seeing job losses and less money, overall, in our economy.

This means that we natives, once elbowed out and ignored, will end up being the ones stuck with the tab as the encroachers move on to new territory to conquer.

The Floridian government must both cut back spending and find some way to increase revenues. There aren't many ways to do that. Taxes and the Florida Lottery are, in fact, the only way.

The Terrifying Tax would be a State Income Tax, followed by increased property taxes dished out to a populace that is barely able to scrape up enough to pay exorbitant yearly bills. Currently, taxes in the Tampa Bay area seem to be averaging around $2,000 a year for a standard, older and smaller home. I have no idea what the Mega Houses are being taxed at, but it must be significantly higher.

And yet for the Floridian government to keep Florida appealing, they will hesitate to raise property taxes in a state where homes are being abandoned left and right. And a State Income Tax would make people think twice before they moved here to become part of the blood-rich system that the parasitic government feeds upon.

So the current thought is to turn to a "Sin Tax". I love the idea, but there is much wrong with it.

Sin Taxes traditionally are taxes levied upon "sinful" items such as alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling.

A tax on cigarettes would be a welcome thing to me, as I'm a chronic asthmatic who is forced to smoke at the hands of total strangers. There are times I'll walk out of a store and be immediately subjected to a cloud of smoke, as the store employees are standing around outside, taking that 'necessary' cigarette break. Walking out of a store and into an asthma attack is something that no one should be subjected to. A cigarette tax would lessen the chances, as it would drive down consumption.

Let me restate that: It would drive down consumption.

You see, Sin Taxes only work if they're applied to lifestyle choices that remain constant. But in tough economic times, people cut back on their indulgences. Additional taxes may only encourage them to cut back further, thus bringing in no additional revenue to the state coffers.

On the other hand, Florida's 34-cent-per-pack cigarette tax was the fifth lowest in the nation last year, according to the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, and hasn't been raised since 1990. It certainly wouldn't hurt to consider this tax before we consider others.

However, thanks to the government's unrealistic expectations, we now must consider something. I only hope that it will be something which will not punish those of us who never asked for all of this.

*Communities are all the rage here, both gated and ungated. What are they? A builder buys up a chunk of land and squeezes as many oversized houses into that area as possible. This results in homes that are sometimes only feet apart, with windows open to each other so that your neighbors' business becomes your own overnight.