Economy

February 24, 2018

I’ll Believe It When I See It

Last week, I wrote about one of the challenges that I have as a lawyer, which is the failure of many of my clients to understand the nature and extent of the work I do for them. Much of what I do as an attorney is hidden from my clients.

When I represent a client on a personal injury case, if I’m able to get the case settled without having to file a lawsuit, it customarily takes from 18 to 22 months to conclude the case. If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit, it can take up to five years from the date of the injury to get the case resolved.

During the time that I work on a client’s case, there is not much that I do that my client can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. At the end of the case when I collect my fee, which can at times be substantial, I want my clients to understand the breadth and scope of the work that I performed for them. So what is it that I can do to help them understand the extent of the work that I do on their behalf?

From the beginning of time, man has been a visual creature. The serpent seduced Eve to bite into the apple in part because it was so visibly appealing. I suppose you could call the serpent the first advertising and marketing expert that ever existed. He crafted a compelling and irresistible message that enticed Eve to defy God.

After he described the apple as being beautiful, delicious, and life changing, he appealed to her pride by saying, “All you have to do is bite into it to be like God.” There is no doubt that the tree and its apples were beautiful and inviting to the eye. But it was her ability to actually see in her imagination the future that the serpent painted for her — a future that promised that she and Adam would have the same powers as their God — that convinced her to act.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s what Saint Thomas said after our Lord’s apostles reported to him that Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord later reprimanded him for his lack of faith and said, “Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” John 20:29

February 17, 2018

The Challenge of Being in a Service Business

Last month, on January 21, 2018, I celebrated the 35th anniversary of the opening my law practice. I graduated from law school in May 1982, and received my license to practice law in November 1982. Two months later, on January 21, 1983, I rented an office from an established Peoria attorney.

Nine years later (1992), I hired my first associate attorney. At that time, I was 35 years old. The attorney that I hired was 10 years younger than me, and had just graduated from law school.

At the time that I hired the attorney, I had an office manager, two full-time secretaries, a full-time receptionist, and a part-time secretary. Hiring an attorney was a big step for me, and I didn’t feel as though I knew enough about running a business to continue to move forward without some assistance.

The same year that I hired the attorney, I signed a contract with Gerber Business Development Corporation to provide me with coaching on how to properly run and grow my business. I had committed to paying the attorney a large salary and I didn’t want to make any catastrophic mistakes in managing and growing my law firm.

I found out about the Gerber company when I read a book that was written by its founder, Michael Gerber. The title of the book was, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. What Gerber said in his book about small businesses in America hit a raw nerve with me.

I had previously represented several business clients who had done well for a while and then, for one reason or another, had made mistakes that caused their businesses to fail. I had also handled several bankruptcies for individuals who had failed in their own businesses. Many of the businessmen that Gerber wrote about in his book reminded me of my own clients and their failure to succeed in their businesses.

February 10, 2018

The Death of a Special Christ-Like Priest

Georgette and I met on August 4, 1978, when we were both 21 years old. We were married in June 1980, while I was on break from law school. Ten months later, in March 1981, we had our first child, Harry. I graduated from law school in May of the following year.

We moved back to Peoria during the summer of 1982. At that time, Georgette was pregnant with our second child, Anna. I started my law practice in January 1983, and Anna was born the following month. We had our third child, Maria, 13 months later, in March 1984. When Maria was born, I was 26 years old.

It was during this period of time that my mom and my sister Colleen started commenting about how I had become too serious and I needed to lighten up. Colleen is a year and a half younger than me, and of my eight sisters, she was the one I was closest to while we were growing up.

When my mom and sister told me that I had become too serious, I hadn’t realized that my behavior had changed from the young, carefree guy who liked to have a good time and tease other people to an older guy who felt overwhelmed by the burdens of life.

But I wasn’t bothered by their comments about my being too serious. To me, that was what responsible adults did — they grew up and did their best to care for and support their families. In some respects, my mom and my sister were correct. My newfound responsibilities made me feel overwhelmed. At times, I felt as though I was doing well just to keep my head above water. Georgette and I had three babies in three years — Maria was born on Harry’s third birthday — and I was doing my best to support my family while managing my law practice.

Now, more than 30 years later, Georgette and I have 13 grandchildren, with three more on the way. I’m still serious, but I’m having more fun now than I’ve had in years. I’ve given myself permission to lighten up and revert to my childhood when I’m around my grandchildren. Their parents sometimes get irritated with me because they think I get their children riled up too much. But that’s OK with me, because I’m finally able to do what my mom and my sister wanted me to do all those years ago.

February 3, 2018

A Dream & The Greatest Showman

I recently joined my wife and some of our children at a local theater to see the movie, The Greatest Showman. The movie is a musical about the life of P.T. Barnum. It begins when Barnum is a boy. He is the son of a poor tailor who does work for a wealthy man. The man looks down on Barnum and his father, because of their lower-class status.

Barnum is a fun-loving boy who is infatuated with the wealthy man’s daughter. The man knows that Barnum likes his daughter and makes it clear to Barnum that he’ll never be good enough for her. After that, the daughter is sent to finishing school for several years. While she is away at school, she and Barnum continue to keep in contact by writing letters to each other.

Years later, when the daughter returns home from school, she is reunited with Barnum. They end up getting married and starting a family. After borrowing money from a local bank, Barnum buys an old museum building in downtown Manhattan. He then sets up Barnum’s American Museum, which showcases wax figures.

After struggling to make his new business work, Barnum’s children tell him that instead of featuring wax figures, he needs to have characters who are “alive.” Barnum likes the idea and begins searching for and hiring “freaks” to serve as performers. As he is rounding up his new cast of characters, Barnum sings the unique and mesmerizing song, Come Alive.

As Barnum’s new show gains popularity in New York, a reporter for the New York Herald is highly critical of Barnum and his “freak show.” The reporter’s columns about Barnum and his show stir up trouble among certain people in the community, including the upper-class members of the community.

To enhance his reputation with the upper-class, Barnum convinces Philip Carlisle, a local playwright from a wealthy family, to join him in his business. To raise Barnum’s status, Carlisle arranges a trip to Europe for Barnum and his cast of characters to meet Queen Victoria.

January 27, 2018

Why is That Church in a Music Video?

I’ve written before about how I was involved in music during my high school and college years. When I was a senior in high school, I formed a barbershop quartet with three of my friends. I did the same thing in college. While my high school quartet had a limited number of performances, my college quartet performed at several community functions and events.

I’ve always been a big fan of quartets and other a cappella groups. One of the groups that I currently pay attention to is Home Free, an American a cappella singing group that consists of five young men. Home Free got its big break in 2013, when it won a competition on the NBC television show, The Sing-Off. The grand prize that year was $100,000, plus a recording contract with Sony.

Last month, Home Free performed at the Peoria Civic Center. Georgette and I attended the show with some friends. My favorite Home Free song is How Great Thou Art. The music video of the song is posted on YouTube. The video has generated more than 13 million views.

In the video, the group is standing on a hill that is surrounded by several hundred acres of land. The scenery in the background includes cascading slopes and mountains. The beautiful harmony of the group is matched by the gorgeous land that surrounds them. The only building in the video is a small country church, which shows up in a field near the end of the video.

I have the video saved on an iPad that sits on a stand on my bathroom counter. Ordinarily, when I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready for work, I use the iPad to play educational, self-improvement, or religious recordings. In the evening while I’m getting ready for bed, I usually use the iPad to listen to music.

My son, Harry, and his wife Kathryn live about five minutes away from where my wife and I live. Because they live so close to us, they’re able to stop by our house to visit on a regular basis. Whenever they stop by for a visit, their two oldest sons, Harry and Liam, immediately start looking around the house for me. Harry is 5 years old and Liam is 3 years old.

January 20, 2018

Why Is It So Hard To Practice Patience?

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I complain directly to God about something that’s bothering me. Last week, my frustration with an ongoing issue finally got to the point that one of my thoughts went up to God in the form of a question: Why can’t you just have an angel appear to me in a dream and tell me what to do? I’m tired of playing these cat and mouse games where I’m always struggling to try to figure out what I should do.

Of course, I immediately felt guilty about addressing God in this manner. Who did I think I was? A prophet? King Solomon? Saint Joseph?

But I get extremely frustrated at times, because while I want to do the right thing, I often feel as though I need specific direction from God. Although I’ve always been good at solving problems, I don’t like it when I have to wait on God to reveal pieces of the puzzle that are needed to solve the problem I’m struggling with.

I’m convinced that one of the primary reasons God operates this way is to teach me the virtues of humility and patience. If He sent an angel to tell me how to solve my problems, I wouldn’t need to learn and practice humility and patience. I would simply wait for instructions from the angel and then take credit for being a special child of God.

Most of us fail to realize that in order to really be humble, we must first suffer humiliations. And we must accept whatever humiliations that come our way with love and gratitude. While humility is the most important of all virtues, the virtue of patience has to be among the top five virtues. Why? Because it’s so difficult to put into practice.

Last week, I wrote about the three grades of patience, which are, to bear difficulties without interior complaint, to use hardships to make progress in virtue, and to desire the cross and afflictions out of love for God and accept them with spiritual joy. It would be impossible to put the three grades of patience into practice if we were to try to do it without God’s assistance.

January 13, 2018

The Difficulties That Arise After Years of Marriage

Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.

Instead of being patient and forgiving, they’re extremely frustrated and angry with each other. Why?

When couples get married, there’s always great hope for the future. With that hope comes the expectation that they will be able to work out all their problems. There is also an expectation that they will someday be able to overcome whatever bad habits or deficiencies they have.

Unfortunately, as each year passes, nothing really changes. Husbands and wives stop making the effort that is required to please each other. It’s almost as if they’ve been through too much together. They’re worn out and exhausted. They’ve run out of patience.

I’ve written before about a saying that is common in the business world: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This saying stands for the proposition that the more familiar you are with a person, the more contemptible that person becomes.

Over time, as people in the business world become more familiar with each other, their defects and weaknesses become more evident. They are exposed to and become tired of each other’s excuses, bad habits, broken promises, lack of respect, mood swings, angry outbursts, and lack of appreciation. Before long, their patience wears thin, and the slightest infraction causes them to treat each other with contempt.

January 6, 2018

Something Married Couples Face After Years of Marriage

Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.

Jim and his wife are in their late 30s. He’s a skilled tradesman who has been a member of a trade union for more than 20 years. Jim has never had any problem finding work, primarily because he is willing to travel to other states to work, when necessary. Since the accident, Jim’s financial situation has become progressively worse. He has had to borrow money to support his wife and children, and he also recently cashed in part of his retirement, so he could keep up with his bills.

Prior to the accident, Jim’s wife did not work outside the home. A few months after the accident, she felt that she had no other choice but to get a job, so she applied for and secured a job at a local business.

Each of the times I’ve met with Jim, he’s been upbeat and happy. He’s an intelligent, good-natured person who likes to talk and tell stories. His wife has come to all his appointments and has always been courteous and friendly — until last week.

Last week, when I entered the conference room to meet with them, Jim was the same as he’s always been, but his wife was quiet and had an angry look on her face. Her demeanor indicated to me that she and Jim either argued on the way to my office, or she was fed up with his situation.

I talked to Jim about his condition and he indicated to me that he was still receiving physical therapy three times a week. He said that he probably wasn’t going to be able to return to work for at least another 10 to 12 months. He told me that before the accident, he worked at the same trade for 20 years.

March 11, 2017

Why Is Everyone So Upset With CAT?

Federal Agents Search Caterpillar Locations

There’s something about the Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT) situation that’s been irritating me. If I asked you to guess what it is, you wouldn’t be able to come up with the right answer. I’ll share my thoughts with you in a moment, after I review some details of what’s been going on with CAT.

On January 31, 2017, CAT announced that it was moving its global headquarters from Peoria to Chicago. Everyone in Peoria was shocked by the announcement, which came two years after CAT unveiled plans for construction of a new global headquarters in Peoria. At that time (February 2015), the CEO of the company said, “Caterpillar will stay in Peoria. I repeat, we will stay in Peoria.”

After the January 2017 announcement that CAT was relocating its corporate headquarters to Chicago, there was an avalanche of complaints and criticism leveled against CAT by local politicians, business people, employees, and Peoria-area residents.

The complaints and criticism continued until March 2, 2017, when the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and several other federal agencies executed a search warrant against CAT. The agents walked into the corporate headquarters and two other buildings and seized documents and electronic records that were allegedly related to a scheme by Caterpillar to evade the payment of income taxes.

On the morning of the raid, WMBD radio interrupted its regular programming so that its morning hosts could provide minute-by-minute coverage of the raid. At that time, there really wasn’t anything to cover other than the fact that the agents had moved in on CAT and were inside three of the buildings reviewing and collecting documents. The so-called coverage of the raid quickly turned into a gripe fest, with one person after another calling the radio station to complain about how horrible and evil CAT has become.

February 18, 2017

The Death of a Modern-Day Theologian

Michael Novak and his wife Karen greeting Saint John Paul II

I have a quote that I want you to read and then tell me if you know who wrote it: “Enjoying what we do is not always a feeling of enjoyment; it is sometimes the gritty resolution a man or woman shows in doing what must be done — perhaps with inner dread and yet without whimpering self-pity.”

I like the phrase, “without whimpering self-pity.” It sounds much more dramatic and important than the phrase, “without feeling sorry for yourself.” I also like the phrase, “gritty resolution.” Was there anything that you did last week that you dreaded, but still did with gritty resolution and without whimpering self-pity?

Here’s another quote from the same man in which he articulated his idea of what God is — and is not:

He is not “the Big Guy upstairs,” nor the loud booming voice that Hollywood films affect for God. There are hosts of bogus pictures for God: the Watchmaker beyond the skies, the puppeteer of history. If you wish to find him, watch for him in quiet and humility — perhaps among the poor and broken things of earth. There are people who looked into the eyes of the most abandoned of the poor and saw infinite treasure there, treasure without price, and there found God dwelling.

The man I have been quoting is Michael Novak, a Catholic philosopher and theologian who died from cancer on February 17, 2017, at the age of 83. His wife of 46 years, the former Karen Laub, died in 2009.

Novak was the author of more than 50 books that addressed topics such as religion, economics, policy, politics, and sports. He was best known for his expertise in economics, which was on display in his book The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism.

He described “democratic capitalism” as “neither the kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse. Such hope as we have for alleviating poverty and for removing oppressive tyranny — perhaps our last, best hope — lies in this much despised system.”

January 16, 2016

A Trip Into The Shark Tank

Shark TankI’ve written before about Shark Tank, the television series that premiered on ABC in August, 2009. The show which is currently in its 7th season, features business owners who make presentations to five potential investors. The investors are referred to as “sharks.” Each of the sharks is an experienced entrepreneur who became wealthy by successfully starting and growing multiple businesses.

During each show, business owners make presentations to the sharks in an attempt to persuade one or more of them to invest in the business in exchange for an equity share in the business. After a business owner gives a presentation, each investor has an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. Most of the time, the investors refuse to invest in the business by declaring “I’m out.”

The only time that I’m usually able to set aside time to watch Shark Tank is when I’m exercising or when I take a break at work to have something to eat. I recently watched an episode that originally aired in 2014. The person who made the presentation to the sharks was Talia Goldfarb, the founder and owner of Myself Belts. Talia’s business manufactures and sells colorful, easy-to-use belts for children.

Talia reported to the sharks that she had been in business for ten years. After being questioned by the sharks, she revealed that during the previous three years, there had been a decline in total sales revenue. During the previous year, her total sales were $205,000. When Talia was asked why her sales were declining, she said

During the last three years we’ve had a slight decline because we sell online and also mainly through independent boutiques. When the recession hit, we found a lot of our boutiques were struggling. They really were being more conservative. Even a big catalog we were in went bankrupt. I didn’t want to be wasting my money and spinning my wheels knocking on people’s doors who did not want to take anyone’s call. We decided to kind of put a pause and to focus online, and to weather out the storm.

December 12, 2015

Star Wars and The Age of Entertainment

Star-Wars-the-Force-AwakensOn Saturday, December 5, 2015, people started lining up at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX (“TCL”) in Hollywood, California. Their plan was to camp out until the evening of December 17, when they would be allowed to enter the theater to watch the newest Star Wars movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In response to a question from a couple who was visiting from Ohio, Caroline Ritter, a woman who was planning on camping out for the 12 days, said, “We’re lining up for the new Star Wars movie. Yes, we still have a very long time to wait. No, we’re not crazy.”

I know that my opinion doesn’t matter much, but in the reality-based world that I live in, Ms. Ritter sounds as though she may be a little crazy.

One of the men who joined the group of campers, Erik Murillo, brought with him a lounge chair and two large plastic crates that were packed with food, clothes, a tent, and other supplies. In response to why he had joined the group, Mr. Murillo offered these words of wisdom: “At night, you freeze and in the daytime, you cook, but you come for the camaraderie and the chance to be a part of cinematic history. Besides, there are traditions to be upheld.”

Hmmm. It’s news to me that the 7th installment of the Star Wars franchise would be considered “cinematic history.” What’s going to happen when the 8th movie is released in two years? More cinematic history? Erik Murillo’s empty words are nothing more than an attempt to justify his moronic behavior. What he wants is a story he can post on Facebook to make himself look good to his friends. I wonder where I’d be today if I was raised by a guy like him instead of a real man.

By Friday, December 11, four blocks of the street next to the TCL were closed to traffic to accommodate the crowd that had gathered waiting for opening night. A production manager for the movie told The Hollywood Reporter: “This is definitely bigger than the Oscars.”

November 14, 2015

Contraception, Illegal Immigrants, & Robots

robot_chartLast month, the Chinese government announced that it was changing its one-child policy to a two-child policy. For more than 35 years, the Chinese government has mandated that its citizens refrain from having more than one child. Couples knew that if they violated the one-child policy, they would be punished with fines, job losses, and forced abortions.

Why the change in policy? Two reasons: There are not enough children being born in China to support the rapidly increasing elderly population, and since the one-child policy was established, a majority of the couples have used selective abortions to eliminate their unborn female babies so they could make certain they would have a boy.

The gender imbalance in China is worse than any other country in the world. It has gotten so bad that there are not enough women available for the men who would like to get married.

Also last month, the South Korean government announced the third phase of a long-term program in which the government is offering financial incentives to encourage young couples to get married and have children. Why? Because there are not enough children being born in South Korea to support the country’s aging population.

France and Japan have the same problem as China and South Korea. In fact, most of the countries in Europe have the same problem. That’s why there’s a strong likelihood that Muslims will take over Europe in the future, because Muslims have more children than do the members of each of the seven other major religious groups in the world.

We have a similar problem in the United States. Although we’re not as bad off as the European and Asian countries, we have serious economic problems because of the lack of births in our country. When the Social Security system was started in 1930, there were 16 workers for every Social Security recipient. Today, there are only four workers for every recipient. In the foreseeable future, it is estimated that there will only be two workers for every recipient.

October 10, 2015

Debit Card Nightmare

Debit Card NightmareBoo! Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to discuss a scary situation we’re all facing.

I landed my first job when I was 12 years old, delivering newspapers for the Peoria Journal Star. One of my job duties was to knock on the doors of my customers every Wednesday and collect payment for the newspapers. Each Friday at 6:00 p.m. I met with a representative for the Journal Star to pay him for the previous week’s newspapers.

I initially started out by giving my mom the money I owed to the Journal Star. She deposited the money into her checking account, and every week she wrote a check to the Journal Star. Each Friday when I met with the representative, I gave him the check from my mom.

My mom eventually took me to the bank and opened a checking account for me. After that, I wrote my own checks to the Journal Star.

When my first bank statement arrived in the mail, my mom taught me how to reconcile my checking account. That was over 45 years ago. To this day, whenever a bank statement arrives in the mail for one of my accounts, I take the time to reconcile the account.

Last month, a 19-year-old college-student client of mine told me that she had been charged overdraft fees of $70 by her bank for two separate transactions within the same week. She recently received a debit card from the bank and, like most of my bankruptcy clients, recklessly started paying for all her purchases with the debit card without keeping track of how much money was in her bank account.

When I told her that she needed to start writing down every purchase and keeping track of the balance in her account, she was shocked that I would suggest that she perform such a burdensome task. She responded with a question: “Why would I go to all the trouble of recording all my transactions when I can check my balance on my iPhone at any time of the day or night?”

October 3, 2015

Did Pope Francis Ever Cruise Main Street?

Chevy - 1955One of the greatest technological breakthroughs of the past 100 years was the perfection and mass production of the automobile. Although the initial design of a steam-powered “motorized carriage” dates back to the 18th century, it was the invention of the internal combustion engine that allowed the automobile industry to dramatically change our way of life.

The internal combustion engine was the first engine that was powered by liquid fuel. The engine was designed to generate power by igniting a mixture of fuel and air to produce multiple explosions in chambers that drove pistons to turn a shaft that would make the wheels of a vehicle move.

It is generally acknowledged that the practical use of internal combustion engines in automobiles didn’t start to take place until the late 1800s when several German inventors, working independently of each other, developed automobiles that could travel for long distances.

Prior to the Great Depression which began in 1929, there were more than 1800 American entrepreneurs who were attempting to mass-produce gas-powered automobiles for consumers. By the time the Great Depression was over, only eight American automobile companies remained: General Motors, Ford, Crosley, Packard, Nash-Kelvinator, Studebaker, Chrysler, and Hudson.

The mass production of vehicles created millions of new jobs for American workers, including jobs for designers, assemblers, road construction workers, mechanics, and truck drivers. It also wiped out the horse-and-carriage industry and large segments of the train and boat industries. There were massive job losses among blacksmiths, wainwrights (makers and repairers of wagons), drovers (cattle and sheep drivers), railroad workers, and canalmen.

I’ve written before about the process of creative destruction. It’s a term that was originally used by an Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950). Schumpeter described creative destruction as an essential process that takes place in a free-market economy that wipes out entire industries after new technologies are discovered and put into place.

December 13, 2014

Time To Go Hunting

HuntingDuring the 1990s, one area of my law practice that did very well was collections. At its peak, my law firm was filing several hundred small claims cases per year to collect money that was owed to our clients. Many of our clients included doctors (past due medical bills), grocery stores (bad checks), video rental stores (late charges and failure to return videos), and landlords (past-due rent).

There was a man named Terry who owed one of my clients more than a thousand dollars for services that had been provided to him. Terry was in his mid-30s when I sued him. After we filed the lawsuit, we forwarded the court papers to a “Private Process Server” who then delivered the court papers to Terry at his home.

After being served with the papers, Terry called my office and started yelling and cussing at me. I explained to him that we had the legal right to file a lawsuit to collect the money that he owed to my client. After telling me that I would never see a penny from him, he hung up the phone.

Terry failed to show up for his initial court hearing, so the judge signed a judgment order which stated that Terry owed my client the amount of money that I had sued him for. Shortly thereafter, I filed a Citation to Discover Assets (“citation”). A citation is similar to a subpoena. A person who is served with a citation must show up for the hearing noted on the citation or a Writ of Body Attachment will be issued by the judge for the person’s arrest.

Terry failed to show up for the citation hearing and, as a result, was later arrested and taken to the county jail. He was then required to pay a cash bond before he was released. When he was released from jail, Terry was given a notice to appear in court for a continued hearing on the Citation to Discover Assets.

At the hearing, Terry was combative and refused to answer my questions. The judge ordered him to provide answers to my questions and it was at that time that I found out that he had a good-paying job with the State of Illinois. He refused to agree to make payment arrangements with me and again told me that I would never collect a penny from him.

August 9, 2014

A Final Response

Criticism - AvoidThis is my fifth and final response to an email that I received from Tony, who questioned an article I had written about Amazon.com and its founder, Jeff Bezos.  Tony provided the following reasons why I (and other Catholics) should refuse to buy products from Amazon:

1.    “Amazon.com is basically the distribution arm for the People’s Republic of China, a communist dictatorship.”

2.    “Amazon distributes pornography.”

3.    The concept of “inverted totalitarianism” applies to Bezos and Amazon.

4.    “You cannot serve God and mammon” and “it’s fairly apparent which one Mr. Bezos is serving.”

5.    It appears as though what is supposed to be “The Church Militant” has become “The Church Mesmerized.”

In my first two articles, I discussed the pornography issue and how the “principle of double effect” applies to consumers who purchase goods from Amazon.  Since there was an angry tone to some of Tony’s comments, my third article focused on my own personal experiences in dealing with anger and the foolishness of repeatedly getting angry over the same issue.  In my fourth article, I wrote about how the process of “creative destruction” is causing a lot of anxiety and pain for people who have lost their jobs because of new technologies that have been discovered and put into place.

Here are my thoughts concerning the remaining issues that were raised by Tony:

1.    Distribution Arm of China – If the statement that Amazon.com is basically the distribution arm for the People’s Republic of China is correct, then every retail store in America that sells smart phones, computers, televisions, hardware, garden supplies, and clothing is a distribution arm for the People’s Republic of China.

I stop at Nena’s hardware store in Peoria about once every other month to buy one or more items.  Nena’s sells the same products that I can buy on Amazon.com.  Most of the clothes and products that are available for purchase at Kohl’s, Target, and Wal-Mart can also be purchased on Amazon.  There are thousands of American companies that sell their products on Amazon.  When I get around to publishing my first book, like every other author in America, I will offer the book for sale on Amazon.

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