Valuable lessons on land and rent
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fairness and justice should guide the direction our society takes. Land ownership involves more than a question of who owns how much land.
All wealth is manufactured by labor and capital on land using natural resources. When vast amounts of West Virginia is allowed to be owned as a future commodity, and held out of use, labor and capital is denied access to earn their living.
Editor Jim Haught asked us to name our favorite books. "Who Owns Appalachia?" published in 1983, by the University Press of Kentucky, a research study by the Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force, which cost $130,000, paid for by the Appalachian Regional Commission, began in 1978 through 1980, covered six states, 80 counties, 55,000 parcels, 20 million acres. This book pointed out the problem.
"Progress and Poverty," by Henry George, published in 1879, pointed out the solution to land oligopoly, which is an unfair system which ensures that labor and capital will always find making a living a tough problem.
Any land of value has an annual rental value, brought about by the community's bargaining for its use. Rent is a social product that in fairness must be publicly shared. When all the land rent gets shared, no net income will be left to create a sale price. Free land then could be available for labor and capital to earn their living. If all West Virginia's land was so taxed, no one, in or out of state would buy an acre they were not planning to use.
The present low taxed land system ensures that land will be a commodity, that wages produced on marginal land will be minimal, that unemployment, boom and bust, out-migration, and local government always short of necessary operating funds, will be the social system of the 49th State.
Both books mentioned above should be the Bibles of people who write and execute our property tax laws.
Land economics is truly a moral science.
Carl F. Shaw
Bible has had a great impact on West
The Bible is my favorite book. Western culture has been shaped by God's book. Israel's family gave us the treasure of the Old Testament -- full of promise anticipating the Messiah. The New Testament fulfills these noble promises in Jesus Christ. Before the Great Books courses were curtailed at major universities, the Bible always made their final cut.
A first-century follower of Jesus named Paul the Apostle unpacked the value of the Bible in 2 Timothy 3:15: "From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
He spoke of wisdom brought to the Bible reader. It was Jewish wisdom to him; that skill in living. As a culture we have stumbled upon a time in which we have lost a knack for living. The wisdom of family, forgiveness, self-control, responsibility, faithfulness, kindness, grace, joy, peace, generosity, patience, perseverance; such wisdom has been substantially lost on us. Could that loss at all be traced to our decreasing engagement of God's great classic? Maybe Mark Twain was right: the Bible is now a classic -- referred to but never read.
The Bible is a book about God. It asserts that He is and invites the reader to believe. It tells God's big story of Creation (He made everything and made us to relate to Him), Fall (Something is wrong and we brought it on as a consequence of our sin), Redemption (He lovingly reached in Jesus to restore us to Himself) and Consummation (He is taking all who will come with Jesus back to paradise). John Milton's great poems trace the arc of God's story: paradise lost and then, by the grace of God in Christ, paradise regained.
There is wisdom in God's book, a wisdom that leads to salvation through belief in Jesus Christ. We need to be saved from our indulgences which are destroying us. The good news still brings great joy for all people is that saving is still possible and it makes the book so valuable. The 18th century Christian preacher John Wesley's answer to why he preached is a credit to what happens when God's book is embraced: "I would make them virtuous and happy, easy in themselves, and useful to others. I would lead them to heaven, to God the judge, the lover of all, and to Jesus, the mediator of the new promise."
Bible Center Church
So many books, so many memories
I can truly wax loquacious about books. No other subject quite stirs the same sentimental feelings in my heart as expounding to others why they should read any number of my favorite books. Books are awesome! You can go anywhere, be anything, hear what it's like to taste and try new things, see and explore numerous places, foods and worlds galore all from the comfort of your favorite chair. I would like to give credit and praise to Mother for instilling a love of reading in all her children. I also must praise my favorite school librarian Mrs. Hoffman, who did her best to introduce me to new genres. She tried to keep me well supplied with books, as I was and still am a voracious reader. I have read far too many books in my 50-plus years to truly narrow it down to just a few favorites, but I will try:
* The Bible -- God's Holy Word to the world, enough said.
* "I Sing The Body Electric" by Ray Bradbury -- This short story was my first introduction to science fiction. It is a play on a Walt Whitman poem and deals with a family who loses their mother and hesitatingly adopts an amazing electrical grandmother. She takes care of them in their childish years and, of course, never leaves them even when they grow old. To their delight she replays their taped childhood memories to them as their minds again become childish in their old age.
* O' Henry also makes my list. I would read his entire collection, which I purchased at a library book sale, using a flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. He was a master short story writer who wrote delightful tales of ordinary people and places with ironic surprise endings. One of my favorites is "The Ransom Of Red Chief" about a boy so awful, "the terror of the plains," that when he was held for ransom by kidnappers his father counter-offered that they pay him to agree to take the boy off their hands.
* Edgar Allen Poe -- His short stories were my first introduction to the macabre. "The Tell Tale Heart," "The Pit And The Pendulum," and "The Raven" kept me coming back for more.
"Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality," Poe said.
* "Grapes Of Wrath" by John Steinbeck -- A powerful writer with a story set in the Great Depression, Dust Bowl area. This novel vividly introduced me to the horrors and economic hardships my parents and grandparents suffered in those desperate times as represented by a family who makes an arduous journey from Oklahoma to the promised land of California looking for work and food, only to meet with hatred and contempt as they move from one over-crowded, starving migrant camp to the next.
One of my favorite qoutes is "You're bound to get idears if you go thinkin' about stuff."
* "The Foundation" and the other seven volumes in the series by Isaac Asimov -- books about psychohistory produced using mathematics to predict statistics using psychological principles of economics. It might sound boring but is really a quite fascinating tale full of robots and adventure.
* "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand -- The thinking man and who truly owns the rights to his thoughts. When does altruism go to far? If the mythological Atlas refused to hold up the sky what would happen? If you withdraw the productive thinking people of the world what happens to society without them, especially if all the creative, productive minds go on strike. Capitalism at it's best.
* "Heidi" by Johanna Spyri -- An old fashioned, heart warming story of a young girl who visits her grandfather in the Swiss Alps and has a transforming effect on him and all who come in contact with her.
There are too many other tales and novels that should be listed and writers new and old that I love. I just hope the children of today get assigned the old masterful classics as they still have much to offer that is relevant to today.
Reading nostalgia brings back memories
Like a beautiful painting or a musical composition, a well-written book is also an art. It stirs the senses. It draws out a feeling. It's emotion. Being middle aged, I read books that will move me back in time to when life was more care-free and less worrisome. I know. That's an old cliché. But when I can, if only for a little while, I step into the past and feel those senses again. I like reading nostalgia.
Having an athletic side, I enjoy "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton, an ex-Yankee pitcher from the 1960s. It's a truly pleasurable and hilarious read that is more of a behind-the-scenes look at professional athletes than it is about the game itself. It takes me back in time to when pranks, hooligan teammates and wearing my football jersey to my high school pep rally were a big part of my day.
Starting at a very young age in the music world and still considering myself a musician, I really like revisiting that excitement of glamorous rock and roll shows coming to our area. One book I like to read from time to time is "Billion Dollar Baby" by Chicago newspaper writer Bob Greene. It's the true story of what it's like to be on the road as part of the act of a famous rock band, in this case the legendary Alice Cooper. Anybody that has dabbled in bands or even just attended a concert can truly identify with the exhilaration of a major production. Greene brings these talented people and their unique personalities down to a level I can recognize. When reading it, I feel 16 again and can almost smell the frying of our stage lights or the aroma of my tiny cheap smoking amplifier.
And being an old television and movie fan, I enjoy reading anything from the magnificent Wizard of Oz such as Gerald Clarke's biography "Get Happy, the Life of Judy Garland" to Russell Johnson's "Here On Gilligan's Isle." I can almost sense the mystique of what it must have been like to be around the making of these small bits of history. These books are tailor-made for trivia buffs.
So thanks for reading this and if you ever desire to get away to another interesting time in your life, pick up some nostalgia and get that feeling again.