Thursday, October 4, 2012

Economics 101 on Corporate Jet Ownership

The President has on more than one occasion, thrown the, "tax the 'Fat Cats' who fly the corporate jet" card into his economic strategies. We can only speculate on why he does this. Most likely to win a few votes from the people who don't understand Economics 101, and those who think being wealthy is a bad thing.

In the first Presidential debate, the President once again tossed the "corporate jet is bad" card out there. Here is what he said, "Why wouldn't we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it." Here is a guy that gets to fly around in the world's ultimate corporate jet on the dime of the taxpayers, "calling the kettle black." Seems a little hypocritical there.

If you increase the cost of ownership on anything, there are those that are going to bail out of owning those items.For the most part, individuals and companies that can afford jets, yachts and the like, got to that point because they are smart and know how to manage their assets. A great example is the luxury tax put on the yachting industry in the early 90's.  When the luxury tax was implemented on the purchase of yachts, buyers went elsewhere to buy their yachts. Who gets hurt the most when this happens? The workers that build the yachts. Many lost their jobs.

I am obviously biased when it comes to the corporate aviation, because that is how I make my living. However, let me give a little lesson in Economics 101. I work for a company that manages corporate jets. We also charter these aircraft. If you have the money, we can take you to just about anywhere in the world. We employ pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, line service technicians, and office personnel.  On many occasions we contract out our maintenance. We use catering companies that provide meals for our customers. These companies hire food preparers, drivers to deliver the catering and the support personnel. We employ a computer tech company. The list could go on and on to the other peripheral industries we support in operation of our aircraft. None of us are getting rich doing what we do, however, we make livable wages and enjoy what we do. 

To illustrate how this engine of the economy works, I give you this real life example. On a recent charter we flew to New Orleans from Houston, to pick up a customer to take them to NY. Two pilots and one flight attendant employed by my company flew the trip. We ordered catering from a company to provide meals for our passengers enroute to NY. Our flight attendant had also bought beverages and other special items for the passengers at different businesses in Houston before we left.

On landing in New Orleans, we bought fuel at the FBO (Fixed Base Operator). They employ line service techs, who fuel and provide service to the crews who fly there. The FBO employs CSR's (Customer Service Representatives) who handle fuel payments, make hotel reservations, arrange catering and transportation for customers and crews. The list goes on.

When the passengers arrive, the line service techs assist the passengers in unloading and loading baggage. In this case the passengers tipped the line service techs for their help. As we took off from the swamps of south Louisiana, the company that owns the aircraft that we were flying, and pays our salaries, was responsible for leaving thousands of dollars in the New Orleans economy.

Once arriving at the general aviation airport in the NY area and taxing to one of the FBO's, a transportation company met our passenger, and took them to their destination in NY. The line service personnel were also tipped nicely by the passengers. After securing the aircraft, a driver took us, to our hotel. The driver was tipped by us. More money inserted into the local economy.

Three rooms were waiting for us at the hotel for our three night stay. Money into the economy. While in the NY area, we, patronized several restaurants, who employ quite a few people. We spent money at local stores. We spent money on transportation to the city.

I will give one example how of people don't understand basic Economics 101. While we were walking the streets of NY City, I stopped to look at some t-shirts being sold by a sidewalk vendor. I bought a shirt for one of my kids for $10. Not a whole lot of money, but cash into the economy. We started chatting with the vendor. He asked us where we were from and ultimately, asked us what we did.  We told him we were a flight crew on a private jet. He wrinkled up his nose and asked how much that costs. I don't know the exact cost of the charter, but I do know it was several, several thousands of dollars.

When I told him this, I could see the scorn in his face for the rich customer, who was able to pay the money to charter our jet. I told the vendor, "If it wasn't for the rich guy that chartered our airplane, I wouldn't be here buying a t-shirt from you." He looked at me with a blank stare, without responding. We then continued our walk through the city spending more of our money, provided by rich guys and successful corporations who employ us.

So after fours days and three nights, we departed from NY to drop some passengers back in New Orleans and take some to Houston. We bought more fuel, more catering, spent more money and helped each local economy we were in. I don't know how many people were on the receiving end of the money we spent, but it had to be dozens. We spent tens of thousands of dollars, all because some rich guy that owns a company wanted to visit his daughter.

No one knows how many companies or individuals in general aviation would be hurt if the President goes through with his increase in taxes on corporate aircraft. However, we do know that people would lose jobs if this does happen. How many lost jobs would be worth his increase? The fact is, the general aviation industry generates $150 billion in revenue a year and employs 1.2 million people. If companies don't buy airplanes, then aircraft manufactures don't build as many airplanes and then those who build the airplanes are laid off, and the irony of it all is this. Many, if not most of those who build aircraft, are union workers who support the policies of a President who wants to implement policies that will put them out of work.

Economics 101 folks. It not rocket science. Don't mess with the rich people.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What is Community?

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1Cor 1:10

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Acts 2:44

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. Acts 2:46-47

What is community? The first Christians apparently understood the community life of believers. It was ingrained in their lives. Being Jews, they had a strong-group world view. Joseph Hellerman in his book When the Church was a Family, defines strong-group perspective this way: "In a strong-group society the person perceives himself of herself to be a member of a group and responsible to the group for his or her actions, destiny, career, development and life in general." In the typical Jewish home fathers were the heads of the homes. Wives were the caretakers of the home, and children were to hearken to the words of the fathers. Family ties were strong. The family took precedence over individual desires. It was normal for siblings to make decisions not based on what they wanted to do with their lives, but what was best for the family.

This commitment to family was taken one step further to the community. Families helped other families. They supported one another. So when we read in Acts that the first believers were "with one accord", "were together", "had all things in common", it was not something that was uncommon for their culture. They had simply stepped out of one "family" and into the "Family of God". They understood the strong-group family perspective.

Jesus illustrates this clearly in the account from Matthew below:

"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Mt. 12:46-48

Here Jesus broke with the blood family and established God's family. Since people of that time already understood strong-group family culture, it was not a difficult shift for them to embrace their new family of believers. Now, the blood of Jesus was what tied the family together not their earthly family blood. For those of us in the west, this is not our culture nor is it our lifestyle. We are very independently minded and individual focused; not community focused. So for the most part you do not see much community life in Christianity. We attend our buildings on Sunday mornings and sit in our pews. Then we go back and do whatever we do. There is very little interaction outside of the building.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with a building. When believers gather, unless you meet under a tree, in a cave or under the stars, there is going to be a building or structure involved. However, what most of us do is have very little interaction with one another outside of the meeting place. Does the church recognize this need for community? How important then is community? The apostle Paul seems to make it clear that the main purpose for the saints to gather together was for mutual edification. See Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Cor 14:26, Col 3:16. Each one of these verses speaks to the saints teaching, admonishing, considering, loving, encouraging, and edifying one another. None of this generally happens while sitting in a pew. There has to be more.

Our lives as believers need to be intertwined with one another. If we look at your standard church corner First Church USA, ask yourself what is important to these churches. Examine what they do and you will find the answer easy. Nice buildings are very important. Having a preacher or pastor is very important. Singing songs and preaching sermons are very important. But, if you eliminate even one of these things, First Church USA will struggle. It's like a three-legged stool. It will tip over if you remove one leg.

Church life is so much more than having a meeting on Sunday morning, or even Sunday and Wednesday evening. If your family is not intimately involved with other saints on a regular basis you are missing out on one of the greatest blessings God has for us as believers. Ask yourself the following questions:

Define or what is a healthy family?

Define or what is healthy community?

Can you have healthy family without healthy community?

Can you have healthy community without healthy families?

Why do believers need community?

How does culture affect community and family?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Servanthood to a Child

Alan at The Assembling of the Church has been a great influence on me when it comes to servant hood, especially when it comes to leadership. Over and over he has talked about being a servant and serving one another. We have talked a lot about this in our home with our children. When it comes to ministry it is not about us being recognized, it is about us recognizing others.

Here is a quick story that happened last night in my home. I have seven children ages five to twenty-two. My two oldest sons ages seventeen and twenty had just got home yesterday from a week in Haiti on a building project. Our house had been the drop off point for several of the team members cars.

No sooner had the team members said their goodbyes and my sons had brought in the gear from the trip, did my five year old daughter meet her seventeen year old brother in the hallway with a board game in her hands. Now picture this. My son is at least 6'3" and weighs 210 pounds and his little sister stands just over knee-high to him.

She is looking up at him with her big blue eyes and says, "You want to play a game with me?" I looked at my son and could see the fatigue in his eyes. They had slept outdoors for seven days in the rain and mud. He hesitated a moment, but with a big grin on his face he said, "Sure!"

I can't add much to that. He thrilled his little sisters heart. The younger ones really miss their older siblings when they are gone. The question I have to ask myself is, "Would I have done the same thing as my son?"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where are the Equippers?

Where are the equippers? I started this journey of questioning what was going on in our churches years ago. I had traveled all over the country with popular Word of Faith preachers. We went to small country churches, large metropolitan mega-churches, and every church size in between from the east coast to the west coast.

The one trend I noted was that each church was run by a charismatic, choleric, CEO type pastor. I observed the top down, pyramid style of leadership. The "buck" stopped at the top. There seemed to be ministry going on. The churches in the big cities had outreaches to the inner city and all sorts of programs for everybody to plug into. The music, especially at the big mega churches was performed by worship teams that were made of gifted musicians and singers.

However, when I read my bible, I found a disconnect in what I saw in the churches across North America and what I saw in the bible. Nowhere do I see one man running churches in the NT. Nowhere do I see pyramid type government practiced in the early church. When the saints gathered it was to share a meal for the Lords supper, have fellowship, provoking one another to love and good works and exhorting one another. It was highly participatory gathering. Sure there were leaders present in the meetings as elders. But there was no such thing as a senior pastor, a teaching elder, or youth pastor.

All the bible speaks about, concerning the local church, are elders (Acts 20:28, 1 Pt 5:2), who are overseers (bishop) and feeders (shepherds) of the flock. It was not an office but a function. There is no evidence that churches ever hired a pastor from some other location and paid him a salary. That is the definition of a hireling. Paul (Acts 20:33-35) was very clear in his charge to the Ephesian elders to labor as he did to help the weak.

The distinction I want to make is that elders were local in nature and not brought in from the outside. Their qualifications are clear from Titus and Timothy. Elders should be men who are older and mature, but how many "younger's" have you seen pastoring churches. It does not mean that younger men are not gifted; it just means they are not older. Elders are men who must be apt to teach or instructive, and be able to feed the flock.

We are all familiar with Eph. 4:11-12: And he gave some, apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ… Some call these, the five-fold ministry gifts. Many call them titled offices of the church; but many say there is no such thing as apostles and prophets anymore. I have personally yet to read anywhere in the bible that says the gifts of apostles and prophets have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Regardless of whether these offices, titles, functions, gifts exist partially or in total, let's get to the heart of the matter. Whoever or whatever these men are, they are supposed to equip or perfect the body of Christ.

In the Greek, this word perfect or equip, implies a complete furnishing. It is a strong word. So, what is the best way to equip someone? An example would be my grandfather. He was a farmer. His father was a farmer. My great-grandfather equipped my grandfather to be a farmer. How did he do that? It happened as they went about their daily lives of planting crops, putting meat in the smokehouse, and vegetables in the cellar. My grandfather did not sit in the living room of his farm house and listen to three-point lectures on raising cotton, castrating calves, and smoking bacon. His father equipped him to be a farmer by providing him the practical skills and knowledge to be a farmer. It was one on one mentoring. I believe that was Jesus' technique with his disciples.

Another example is when I was flight instructing. When I took on a new student I would spend hours with them. This included discussions or "ground" school on techniques, regulations, and navigation. This was followed by a flight lesson and then a debriefing of the flight. What's amazing; is that on each flight, I actually let the student fly the airplane. Now you may say, "Of course, how would you learn to fly an airplane unless you were allowed to touch the controls?" Sure, that is self-evident, but apply that to your typical church life and the typical layperson sitting in a pew listening to a sermon every Sunday morning. Ask yourself, "When does he or she get to touch the controls?"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Jesus Paradigm - Book Review

I had originally intended to do a chapter by chapter review of Dave Black's book, The Jesus Paradigm, however, time has not allowed that. I started with a review of the Preface and Introduction, which was very thought-provoking and challenging. The preface set the stage for the rest of the book, and I believe you will not be disappointed in it. You can read here my first review.

This book will be a challenge to some, a blessing to some, and others might want to throw it against the wall. However, I highly recommend this book. It will take you places you may have never been. For me, it was a book that reinforced many of my thoughts on ecclesiology and challenged me in other areas.

I cheered brother Dave on in his chapters on "The Liberated Church", "The Priestly Kingdom", and "The Community of the Spirit," but struggled through chapters on "The Radical Reformation" and "The Politics of Jesus."

I loved his statement,

"The dysfunction of our institutionalized churches seems all too obvious to me."

If you don't believe the church has problems and has strayed from the original intent set forth by the apostles, you will have a hard time with the rest of the book. But read on. Dave Black is not bloviating here. He has a genuine message that needs to be heard by the church. He has the unique platform of being a seminary professor at a Southern Baptist Seminary.

He says that instead of needing revival and reformation we need restoration to what the original Twelve taught about church life. He introduces the original apostolic herald for "every member ministry" and the concept of highly participatory meetings.

"Never in the New Testament do we see the pastor as the "key man" upon whom rests the burden of speaking for the Body in a way that no other person can."

"...there is very little in the New Testament that would support the thesis that the church is to have a special class of Christians who rule over the church in the place of the Head."

"Jesus' model of leadership has nothing to do with status or office."

Dave Black will challenge your thoughts on age-segregated ministry, clergy titles, and clergy/laity distinctions. He says there is only one "Senior Pastor" and that is Jesus! He makes note of the absence, in Paul's salutations in the epistles to the churches, of addressing leaders, elders or pastors. Philippians is the only epistle in which leaders are mentioned in the salutation: "saints...with the bishops and deacons." So is Dave Black saying that leadership is not important in the church? Absolutely not! He asserts that it is out of balance in today's church. When there is a preeminence of leadership, it takes away from the every member ministry and reciprocal or "one another" ministry that Paul highlights all through his epistles.

"The church has only one class of members: blood-bought, born-again believers. Jesus explicitly forbade honorific titles among his people."

Dave uses plentiful scripture reference to back up his thoughts. These are not just idle opinions. However, he makes a multitude of references to the Anabaptists and their lifestyle during the reformation. I found this a little distracting. The chapter on "The Radical Reformation" was specifically about the Anabaptists. However, at the end of the chapter Dave makes it clear he is not promoting Anabaptist as an alternative to the Word of God. He is a great admirer of the Anabaptist tradition, but does not "sugarcoat" their weaknesses. He points out without apology where he felt their ecclesiology lined up more with scripture than did the reformers. What was distracting to me was that I didn't think he needed to do that. The scripture is evidence enough for me. I did not know much about Anabaptist tradition before I read the book, and there is the potential of losing readers here.

The last concern I had was his chapter on "The Politics of Jesus." Since I met Dave almost a year ago he has challenged me on this subject. I have thought through and am beginning to see some of his points, but I think he opined more questions than answers in this chapter. He brought up points about the "just war" tradition and pacifism. This will in my opinion be the toughest part of the book for most readers. If you are a red-blooded, flag-waving, Christian American, you WILL be challenged on your thoughts on these subjects. I came away with no clear thoughts and am not sure what the point was. But, it could be as in the rest of the book, Dave is seeing something the rest of us are missing. I have enough respect for his heart to serve the Lord to give it some more thought.

In summary, this book could and should change your life. Put it the top of your reading list. It will do one of three things: reinforce your beliefs, challenge your beliefs, or make you write it off as rubbish. But do read the book.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I haven't posted much on flying lately. At work there just has not been much going on. I was in recurrent training for the G-IV in early June. I flew the sim five times, but haven't flown the airplane since early May. I do get to fly Monday, to take the plane to maintenance. But probably will not get another chance this month to fly it.

Today, Jaron and I went out to the soaring club. We haven't been flying gliders much lately either. We did fly last Saturday however. Jaron did a good job, although he had not flown in over a month. Sometimes young pilots forget a lot if they don't fly a lot. Jaron doesn't seem to have any problems. I was the one that was rusty.

We helped launch a lot of the privately owned airplanes (glider pilots call them ships) before we flew. Jaron went up first. Took a 2000' tow, but found more downdrafts than thermals and didn't stay up very long. The tow pilot dropped him off in what we call "blue sky". There generally isn't much lift away from the clouds. He searched around for a few minutes but the "sink" was too much and he made a wise decision and came back to the glider port to land. His downwind leg was the lowest he had ever flown it. Normally we try to be about 1000' above the ground on downwind, but he was a couple of hundred feet lower. He made the proper adjustments and turned his base leg to final a little earlier and made a good approach and landing.

I went up with an instructor today. I am getting close to taking my glider check ride, and I need three prep flights with an instructor. We stayed up for almost an hour and a half. We could have stayed up much longer. We took a tow up to 3000' and ended up thermaling to 6500'. That was the highest I had ever thermaled to and also the longest glider flight I have had.

My next step is to prepare for the oral exam that we have to take before we flight test. I am going to do a couple of flights tomorrow with the same instructor and then do some ground school to prepare for the oral. Hopefully, I can take my check ride within the next couple of weeks.

Jaron is almost ready for his check ride also, but has not taken his written exam. He has been working real hard on preparation and hopes to take his test next week. Then he will be ready to start his check ride and oral prep!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Who are We?

We had a great time of singing, praying and sharing the Word tonight in our home fellowship. I played a few songs on the guitar and then passed it to one of the ladies and we sang some old praise songs I haven't sang in years. The kids had great fun clapping their hands and dancing. We sang His Banner over me is Love with all of the hand motions. We also sang Father Abraham, and we all stood up and did the motions.

It was a great time of joy and laughter. We ended the singing with one of my kids favorites of Blessed be the Name of the Lord. I play it for them and they just love to dance and jump around to it.

Then we got into the Word answering the question of "Who are We?" I started out with 1 John 3:1. We are called the sons of God. Another brother brought up Rom 6. That was very interesting because I would have never thought it would relate to our discussion. However, if we are dead to sin, then we are alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:11. That's who we are. We are also His righteousness. 2 Cor 5:21.

Truth is only a theory until you act on it and are obedient. We can discuss the Word of God all day, but until we put it into practice it is of no use to us. Do we really understand that we are sons and daughters of the Living God? Do we really understand that we are His righteousness?

Think about the story of twins born to a king. They are separated at birth. One brought up in house of the king, the other in the house of a pauper. Both have the same heritage and rights, but only one knows he is the son of a king. Only one knows his full rights as a son.

Do you know who you are? Do know that you are an over comer? Do you know you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? It makes a difference in your life if you do. You are not a slave to sin. You are a blessing. You have a place in His body. You are needed to edify and build up His body. Decrease so Jesus can increase in your life!