Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, 2010

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Sitting around the dinner table to eat, uh, dinner, our high school senior confessed, "I think I'm the only senior who's still a virgin."

Our 7th grader erupted, "Whoa, dude! Ain't no way that's goin' to happen to me! What's wrong with you, bro?"

Their mother who also happens to be my wife scolded, "That's terrible! You should be proud of your brother! I was a virgin throughout high school, college, and graduate school!"

Me: "That's because I didn't go to your high school."

The boys thought it was funny.

Uh, she did not.



Speaking of freezes, BBPBHO used the Monday (11/29/10) after Thanksgiving to announce no pay raises for most federal employees.

The two-year freeze will exclude military personnel but include grunts in the Department of Defense among the 2 million who will be affected.

Though it's gotta be approved by Congress, the political weather report is for clear sailing.

BBPBHO: "The hard truth is that getting this deficit under control is going to require some broad sacrifice, and that sacrifice must be shared by the employees of the federal government."

Rarely quotable New House Majority Leader Pachyderm John Boehner applauded the gesture while saying the freeze on federal wages should be followed by a freeze on federal hiring: "I welcome BBPBHO's announcement, and hope..."


Echoing the new political reality in DC since 11/2/10, BBPBHO sycophant Robert Gibbs admitted, "The American people want us to work together."

California Representative Darrell Issa, the top pachyderm on the House Oversight Committee, said the freeze was "long overdue" and echoed - that word again - the Majority Leader of the House.

House Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), who must have attended Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University, said, "I am encouraged...With so many Americans tightening their belts, Washington must do the same...We have to work together if we want to transform the culture of spending in Washington into one of savings."

Not everyone was ebullient about BBPBHO's latest oratorical eloquence about his devolving vision of hope and change.

American Federation of Government Employees President John Gage: "It seems like a PR stunt...a slap at working people...Cutting federal employees pay is really going to do nothing for the deficit...a panic gesture...hurts retention and recruitment...To symbolically hit at federal employees is just wrong...using federal workers as scapegoats..."

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: "Bad for the middle class, bad for the economy and bad for business...We need to invest in creating jobs, not undermining the ones we have. BBPBHO talked about the need for shared sacrifice, but there's nothing shared about Wall Street and CEOs making record profits and bonuses while working people bear the brunt."


BBPBHO says the freeze will save $5 billion over two years, $28 billion over five years, and more than $60 billion over ten years.

Cool, gulp, unless, uh, you're the one who's pocket is being...


That looks like lots of savings to start new wars or finish off old ones.



It's still a teeny tiny % of BBPBHO's hoped and changed total federal deficit now spied at almost $14 trillion.

A pathetic refrain comes to mind: "Let's save pennies while wasting..."



I asked some pewsitters, pulpiteers, and pagans what they think of such freezes - federal, corporate, ecclesiastical, personal, or, uh, whatever.

The responses were halting.

Businesswoman in Kansas: "The campaign for 2012 has begun. That's BBPBHO's motivation...As for me, our income is a 6 decades old family business. Employment has grown over the last 30 years from 15 to over 120...The value of our business has increased, but the cash has decreased while we have repaid the debt of growth...When they talk about taxing the rich, they assume I am pocketing income. Not true. A large portion goes to fund capital needed to employ people and grow the business. Raise my taxes and I have to let people go. Make it impossible for me to predict the cost of doing business because of ObamaCare, cap and trade, and every other program that he comes up with to redistribute wealth and I will stop hiring. I am convinced our country is now run by someone who never created a job, made a payroll, or made a dime apart from the public dole. We are in serious trouble...My prediction is we are in for many years of going sideways at best."

Pentecostal pastor of a megachurch in Illinois: "It should have been a cut not a freeze. Federal employees are paid far more than the average of their counterparts in the private sector. My income has dropped significantly. Unions have driven our labor costs of expansion so high that we are priced out of the market. As long as an uneducated person makes $51.33 per hour, we can't compete with foreign labor making $3.00 an hour."

Baptist pastor in Illinois: "Why not put Congress and BBPBHO under the same health and retirement plan as the rest of the country? That might save more than this freeze!...My wages have been frozen for two years...I was cut 10% in 2009...Fortunately, my wife works full-time."

Presbyterian pastor in Maryland: "It was a necessary gesture and will save some money. As the old maid who peed in the sea put it, 'Every little bit helps.' Personally, my compensation was frozen for 2010. I got a 10% increase in 2009. This church is generous: a plane ticket for my wife and 2K for spending money when I went to Cameroon...Gift cards are regular and I was treated very well this year on Pastor Appreciation Sunday in October."

Musician in New York: "You should be rewarded for good work but not poor or mediocre efforts. Pay freeze? Last time seen in the Carter administration only to be immediately suspended by Reagan. Nuff said."

A very influential renewalist in the mainline: "When you have to raise support for a ministry that serves a literally dying denomination, the prospect of increases is minimal. As the head honcho of such an organization, I determined to give everyone else a raise in 2011 since they haven't had any since 2009. However, we all took Thanksgiving week off...No, I don't expect an increase in 2011. Good news is, like Paul, I feel amply supplied."

Rainmakers MC (original): "Federal workers? I really feel sorry for them. Not! It would be nice to see some of that money that BBPBHO keeps tossing around go to people in need."

Photo-journalist in Pennsylvania: "Here's the deal! If anybody thinks we are not living in the end times, then they have their heads up their...Short term, freezes will affect us. Long term, only the anti-Christ will really care. The longer I live, the less I care about 'stuff.' Material things cost money. Spreading the Gospel and showing love to others costs nothing. Enjoy every day! Our earthly lives are short. Sure, my income is down. That just means I don't buy discretionary stuff. I buy what we need, not want. I'm tired of wanting. If you have a home, food, and can pay the bills, you are blessed. As far as Obama goes, he's a joke. That's what happens when you put a flunky community organizer in charge of what used to be the greatest nation in the world, at least, until he moved in."

Elder in New Jersey: "My husband and I have 'pay freezes' from Social Security. Our governor favors reducing my teachers pension and healthy care; if not totally eliminating them. I can live with reductions for about 13 more years on my savings. Then I will lose my home. Knowing I will be 75 in January, maybe the Lord will take me before this is a problem. As far as I can see, freezes and reductions only affect service workers and municipal employees. Where is the fairness in having one class of people being responsible for solving the whole financial crisis? I think we all need to give some back! Don't ask me how to do it!!!???"

Pastor in Illinois: "My wife and I have lived with compensation freezes for the last four years; as have the people we have served. I feel fortunate that my experience has been a freeze rather than reduction!...I don't see things getting better...I fear for the next two years that people will lose all hope. There will be a lot more pain before our nation gets its financial house in order. It would be nice if I could retire right now while I can still stand in a river and fish."

Recently relocated pastor in Colorado: "I did not receive a 'raise' at ___ my last two years. I did not receive one at my new church this year either; however, my change did increase my income substantially."

Recently relocated pastor in California: "The only way for a pastor to get a raise these days is to move! Churches take their pastors for granted even if they're sucking them dry. So, move or lose more financial ground!"

Pastor in Ohio: "I always negotiate the highest terms of call possible when going to a new call. I discovered that churches put on a very happy face when wooing a pastor; but then comes the truth after the seduction is complete - or at least they all seem to poor mouth a lot...In 20+ years of ministry, while serving 4 congregations, I have had a grand total of 3 pay raises...I have not had a cash raise in 8 years...I figure I am now making 85% or less of what I was when I arrived...So...I know that whenever I change calls again, I will again go for the highest possible package I can get; because I know that reality is I can't expect much of a change once I am on the scene."

Pastor in Delaware: "Wake up! A freeze is a decrease! Food, transportation, books, housing, and everything else goes up while we stay the same! A freeze is a decrease!"

Popular newswoman in Georgia: "As Sam Ervin used to say, 'A million here, a million there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.' It's all doom and gloom. I'm studying Isaiah."

My favorite musician in New Jersey: "What's the forecast? Increase in faith and more time on our knees! Nothing new. Cutting back. Canceling."

Retired ecclesiastical officer in Florida: "I don't understand the term 'pay raise.' It is not part of my vocabulary. I was always under the impression that by always receiving the same money, I was personally stabilizing the economy...An elder told me, 'I have learned that when somebody on the staff starts asking for money, it's time to just let them go!'"

A maverick in the mainline: "I am starting my 8th budget year with ___ and have received only 2 raises in those years...frozen for the past 2 years...They can't afford to pay me what I should be making anyway. If, given my starting salary when I arrived, and adding a modest 3% COLA raise for each year, I should be making $8-9 thousand more next year than I will be."

Really smart guy in Washington (state): "My pay increases are merit-based and not guaranteed...I am skeptical of the argument that freezes are actually cuts. This is heard frequently by those in government who howl at allegedly draconian cuts in this or that program, which turn out not to be cuts at inflation is beyond an employer's control, and unless otherwise contractually mandated, not an employer's responsibility to compensate for...I'm not skeptical of this move [by BBPBHO]. True, it isn't much given the girth of the deficit and debt; but little things add up. It's taken governments a while to subject themselves to the same sort of austerity many in the private sector have needed to undertake. I'll be interested to see if high-level officials' compensation packages will also be frozen. Congress votes their own raises and that of the chief executive, correct?"

A gem amid the fiberglass in Oklahoma: "Regarding the freezes, we've got to start somewhere! Whether BBPBHO is authentic or just politically motivated, we should start with the higher ups in the federal government and not with the lower workers! And perhaps someone should take a look to see if we really need some of those top positions or redundant programs...Let's focus on what's really important...people...seniors...vets...the little ones who are struggling!...While I'm at it, jobs for Americans first in America! Let's start buying American products again using American laborers! Downsize Big Brother and upgrade American workers!...Working for a ministry has great rewards, but also challenges. One of the first things people do during economic hardships is to cut down giving to the church...It's hard to raise money if it isn't there...God is faithful and He will make up the difference! I am in a covenant relationship with Him because I tithe and give offerings. He has promised to supply all my needs...Favor with Him is better than the riches of men! Favor brings what money cannot buy!...To those who are in covenant, God will supply! To those who are not, times will get tougher!"

Lawyer in Kansas City: "Obama's plan? Symbolic but also mindless! Some fine employees should be paid double, while others should be fired...I am bullish on America! What difference does it make if I am bullish and the entire economy collapses worldwide with total chaos? It is kind of like the atheist's gamble who says God does not exist and loses whether God does or does not vs. the believer who wins if He does and we all lose if He does not. But He does so why even play such a gamble!

Political consultant and PR genius in California: "My compensation has not just been frozen. It has declined...The lowest unemployment rate can be found in federal employees. They are insulated from the recession...Obama's plan has PR gimmickry built into it. It sounds plausible but it is fiscal tokenism. Having created the largest peace-time debt in the history of the nation, Obama now tries to tack toward the middle fiscally? Does anyone think he will undercut his shock troops in the SEIU who just saved Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer?...Obama claims the freeze would save $28 billion over five years. This represents a sixth-tenths of 1% reduction in the projected $4.52 trillion deficit over that same period (2011 through 2015). This is the equivalent of a person who expects to rack up $10,000 of credit card debt over the next five years touting the fact that he's found a way to reduce his expenses by $60 over that time period!...Obama's plan is a joke...The unemployment rate hovers near 10%...This means there are 7.9 million fewer working Americans today then there were in December 2007. Not so for government employees! For them, the unemployment rate is only 4.4%, or about 1/2 the national private sector rate. While the private sector has lost nearly 8 million jobs, the federal work force is expanding. Thanks to Obama, between December 2008 and December 2009, the federal government added nearly 100,000 new positions. In 2008, federal employees received $408,000 in BONUSES at a time when the stock market was tanking and unemployment was starting to rage...Clearly, he has rewarded the SEIU for its bare knuckle political assault on America, so Obama now proposes to close the barnyard gate by freezing compensation at today's levels? Why not return federal employment totals to 2007 levels AND freeze compensation? If he did that, I might believe he is sincere about fighting the deficit."

Rainmakers MC (original): "I am never a fan of wage cuts! Let's face it! A freeze is a cut! There is nothing out there that is costing less that I know of. It is a mystery to me how the economy will recover if people have LESS money on their side of the scale!"

Funeral director and Rainmakers MC (original): "I have had a wage freeze for the last 3 years. With the cost of health insurance, unemployment insurance, work comp insurance and other business-related costs (taxes, taxes, taxes) increasing faster than income, the small business owner earns less while taking more responsibility to maintain obligations to their business."

Professor in Pennsylvania: "This is a PR stunt. The administration vastly increased the size of an already bloated federal government...The federal bureaucracy is like a malignant cancer that cannot be contained...Everything is frozen in my life. But I don't care. I have always lived on 50% of my income. Since the early 80s, we have been taxed at 30%, invested or saved 10% and tithed (10%) to charity...Secrets: use credit cards only when necessary (i.e., procuring a hotel room or airline ticket on line or buying books on line), pay off credit cards immediately (and if they raise your rates, call and threaten to cancel), never go out to eat or buy on impulse with a credit card, never buy a new car, buy in late January or February when car dealers are desperate, no vacations to exotic places, and link pleasure trips to business...I can tell you that federal salaries in the mid-range are high; however, you have to consider the cost of living in DC and other major cities where federal workers concentrate. If you can pull in a good federal job in a smaller town, you're in hog heaven."

Pastor in Illinois: "Just ask the unemployed if they would rather have their previous job at a 10% cut or be receiving unemployment checks."

Former pastor in Pennsylvania: "I get tired of people whining about their incomes being frozen when they're making 2-3 times more than I ever made! Reduce your standard of living! Get rid of the junk that's cluttering your life and diminishing your spiritual health! "



Personally, I'm part of a church staff that's had compensations frozen for two years.

I keep getting calls from churches that would provide immediate increases (read some of the comments above).


My call is compelling and conclusive.

I was called here to clean up a mess - bigger than expected five years ago but hardly noticeable anymore - and then join other authentics in town/county to build His church on earth as it is in heaven in that part of the earth entrusted to us.

I think it'll take another ten years to finish the job; assuming I'm not assassinated by apostates before...

As far as the rest of the staff goes, we'll lose one or two still marketable staff members in the next few years if compensations don't increase sooner than later; and because all of our employees have been under-compensated for years already, it's only the staff members with young families that will have to relocate if they expect to meet increasing costs with their decreasing - the euphemism is frozen - income.

I pray that doesn't happen.

We've got a great while thoroughly under-appreciated as well as under-compensated staff.

Money's down but we're happier in Jesus than ever before.

Psalm 46 comes to mind.



Blessings and Love!


John Wimberly said...

Robert: Thanks for sticking with it. I have served this congregation for 27 years. It has made me a big believer in long-term pastorates (research also shows that congregations with long term pastorates are more likely to grow). I think it takes about 5-10 years to figure out a congregational system and the community in which it is placed. By that point, many of our colleagues have moved on to a different call. And of course, the Methodists clearly think moving clergy regularly is a positive. To stay in a place for decades, one has to constantly dig deeper into what ministry could look like in that particular place. But isn't that what we should be doing--digging deeper rather than staying on the surface? So stay the course, you're just getting started.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Dear John,

Thanks for your counsel and encouragement. While every day is not a hot fudge sundae for you and me, we, you more than me, have learned the truth of the mystics call to vocational stability. Unless I am assassinated for trying to grow into the truth of the Gospel, I'm here for better or worse, richer or...

Blessings and Love!

Reformed Catholic said...

I see no problem with a US Civil Service pay freeze. For the last two years military retirees (I am one), and Social Security recipients have not had a Cost of Living Increase (COLA).

Having worked with many civilians when I was in the military, there are many hard working civilians that take pride in what they do. However, getting rid of the ones that give the rest a bad name is harder than getting a Republican to vote for a tax increase.

The only way many pastors see an increase is if their Sessions actually take their Presbytery's COLA raise advice seriously. Unfortunately, maintaining the building is often more important than maintaining the Pastor.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Thanks, friend, for chiming in; and let's pray a renewed passion for Matthew 25 ministries!