#236 church pastor paid 500K per year?

Fancy that..I read that New Creation Church pays her leaders — pastor, Joseph Prince — an annual sum of 500K and 2 others for sums of 100K each for work done in the church!

Mind you, when the pastor marries a couple in church, he gets an angpaw; at funeral wakes he is given an offering or gift; as a matter of fact for any occasion, even speaking engagements — a pastor receives extras! On top of that, he is given housing allowances, children’s education and transport allowance. Wow! Half a million dollars of pocket money! Does the pastor have to pay income tax for that he receives? All those gifts he receives — are these accounted for or these go into his own pocket?

Furthermore, the New Creation has to pay the venue used for Sunday services at Suntec City and other overhead costs. Where does this money come from?

I believe the money comes from the sacrificial giving of believers. Do believers know how much their pastor and some staff-workers are paid?

I thought the church ministers receive a stipend!

Is this what the Lord Jesus Christ taught His people to tithe — 10% of the monthly income — for the salaries of the pastor and senior church staff-workers or administrator or accountant?

This is sacrilegious! Is there judgment of God on this at the end of world? Can these ‘servants of God’ be at peace with God?

In the Old Testament book of Leviticus, God gave word on sin offering in chapter 4…

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in the Lord’s command —

If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring…(v.3)

If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty (v.13)…when some become aware of the sin they committed…

When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, he is guilty (v.22)…

If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s command, he is guilty (v.27)…

Is the church pastor not aware this portion of scriptures? Or these are not applicable today?

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#235 hedgefunds & derivatives

I read about hedgefunds and derivatives needing more regulations on US news.

However I do recall in February of 1995, the Barings Bank founded in 1762 in Britain was bankrupted by a rogue trader who was then posted to Singapore to manage its securities arm of the bank. He speculated on some derivatives contracts that left a $1.4 billion hole in Barings balance sheet that brought its demise — the merchant bank that once financed the Napoleonic Wars, Louisiana and Erie Canal and was Queen Elizabeth’s personal bank.

Why were these instruments still in the market since?

Why did those American financial institutions rationalise in support for such instruments that had brought the demise of a 233-year-old merchant bank in 1995?

Is this one reason that created the financial blackhole which cause this global economic meltdown?

#234 thot-provoking

I read this piece on blog ‘a baseline scenario’ written by Sanjiv Gupta for Huffington Post (?) dated on 10 March 2009 under the title — The Change We Need I: A Bank for America — :

 …Rather, I want to use the crisis in our financial system to pose a fundamental question about our political system.

Consider: What is democracy?

We normally think of democracy in terms of some essential, precious rights not available in any other political system, not the least of which are the right to vote that made Obama President, and the right to express ourselves freely on websites like this one.

But now we’re compelled to ask: What does democracy mean when our lives can be so drastically affected by the Market, in which the most powerful players are people we haven’t elected, and institutions in which most of us have little say?

When the Market, an entirely human creation, can ruin us as effectively as a hurricane, sweeping hundreds of thousands of us from our homes, destroying the livelihoods of millions more, and washing away the retirement security of an entire generation?

When the actions of organizations wholly unaccountable to us can imperil our public libraries, parks, fire departments, and schools? When many of our elected representatives have facilitated these actions instead of protecting our interests?

If there is a positive side to the financial crisis, it is this: We can no longer avoid confronting the limits of our democracy when our lives and communities are thrown into such violent disarray by individuals and organizations so completely outside our reckoning. (3)

It is this same crisis, moreover, that points the way toward a more complete democracy, one in which we will have greater control over the financial system. That is because the core of any government strategy to rescue this system will be — and already has been — a massive injection of our money into it.

If we’re going to pay to save the financial system, we have the right to shape its future.

Banking and credit are the economy’s air and water. They’re too important to be left entirely to private operators whose only concern is maximizing short term profits. Yet even the most ardent mainstream proponents of nationalization assume that once this crisis passes, the government should, and will, re-privatize any financial institutions it takes over.

What then? What is to prevent these organizations from continuing to invent ever more destructive “financial weapons of mass destruction?” (4) Will they be any more accountable to us after the next cycle of boom, bubble and bust?

It is time we considered the possibility of permanent public ownership and control of a large part of the nation’s system of savings and lending.

How might this work? One way is the creation of a national public bank along the lines of a credit union. Credit unions are owned not by shareholders but by their depositors, or members. We would own a national credit union in which all of us could be members.

A national credit union would combine our deposits into a huge pool of capital to lend, invest, and do all the other things banks do. Crucially, we would exercise far greater control over such a bank than we ever could over institutions like Bank of America. Credit union members vote for their board of directors. Unlike private banks, in which the greatest influence is exercised by those with the largest number of shares, every member enjoys the same voice in a credit union — one depositor, one vote.

Would a national credit union be competitive with large private banks? Like existing credit unions, it would return profits directly to us in the form of favorable interest rates for loans and deposits. For example the typical yield on certificates of deposit at the largest credit union in my area is about one percent higher than Bank of America’s, and the yield on its best checking account is over 4%, compared to less than 1% for BoA. (5)

A national bank structured along these lines may also be safer than large private banks. Credit union managers are salaried employees who earn wage increases rather than exorbitant bonuses for good performance, which reduces their incentive to take wild risks with members’ money. This would not by itself guarantee the stability of a national credit union, but its managers and directors would at least be accountable to us if things went wrong.

This is just one way the government could use our money to create a national public bank; there are other possibilities. (6) Whatever its specific form, a permanent national bank could compete with private banks and demonstrate the benefits of a financial institution owned by, and accountable to, the people.

At stake here is not solely or even most importantly the stability of our banks; rather, it is the very character of our democracy. A large, public financial sector could be a critical piece of a new democracy in which we cannot be held hostage by organizations over which we have no control. In this new democracy, the heresy would be not the notion of public ownership of financial institutions, but rather the idea that these institutions should exert so much power over our lives without being accountable to us.

Let us use this crisis to move ourselves in the direction of such a democracy. Let us demand that the government use our money not merely to bail out Bank of America but to create a new Bank for America.
NOTES

…3. Simon Johnson, ex-chief economist at the IMF and currently at the MIT Sloan School of Management, has been one of the few mainstream commentators to correctly identify the financial meltdown as not just an economic crisis but a deeply political one. “This is, after all, a critical fight to save American democracy, and it’s good to know what we are up against.”

4. This is the now famous formulation of Warren Buffett in his 2002 letter to investors in his mutual fund (p. 15).

5. One reason this credit union may be able to offer better rates is that membership in it is open only to employees of the local educational institutions. This may be a more stable base of depositors than most private banks like BoA, and translate into better rates. This could be a problem for a large national bank open to all.

6. Gerald Epstein, an economist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, advocates a reversal of the proposal that the government should detoxify bank balance sheets by buying their bad assets. “A much better approach is to turn the formula on its head. Let the taxpayers keep the good banks and leave the bad ones for the bankers…And the bankers will have to deal with their own mess, rather than foisting it off on the rest of us.” With the new good banks, the government could create “a completely different banking environment, one with a completely different mandate and incentives” and considerably greater public accountability.

#233 bonuses for inept executives?

Well, well, well — the management of AIG is using bailout money to give bonuses to executives who almost brought the company to brink of collapse.

The rationale: if the management did not, then the company would have difficulty in hiring talented people in future!

How irrational this can be? Giving bonuses to those executives who could not lift the corporation out of the rut in the US? Should these executives not be sacked in the first place?

Should AIG be made bankrupt, will the US economy come crashing? Are these executives any better than Madoff?

How many of these executives after receiving the bonus can sleep peacefully or eat their food contentedly when those whom they sold the premiums to have actually lost their security for life and living in poverty?

Will this be victory to Osama bin Laden in wanting to see the US economy go bust!

Is there concerted effort to open corruption among the AIG management? 

If the US economy collapsed, then those who invested in the US Treasury Bond comes to nought!?!

UPDATE several days later: Bonuses to be taxed at 90% of that received!?!

#232

This global economic and financial crises foil those who want to retire.

Perhaps the recession is positive phenomenon though harsh and tough this might be.

There was the anxiety that there might not be enough hands to feed the mouths of the elderly baby boomers should this generation retire from the workforce.

Idling with nothing to do makes a person dull…activities enhance the vitality and well-being of a person.

So will the baby boomers come up with innovative ways to keep oneself useful and hopefully to bring in an income yet helping the flailing economy back to its feet?!

#231

Since Barak Obama became the first black president in the US, interestingly the color black and people are featured more in news and magazines in the US and elsewhere.

The blacks seem to hold their heads high and unafraid of the word ‘black’. In the past, this word was derogatory and offensive but today, there was an almost exaltation of the blacks…”I’m glad I’m black” on t-shirts!