By David Tulis / Noogaradio 1240 AM 101.1 FM
Some Friday mornings at Panera Posse the company is scarce, though the conversation never is.
Today Chris Davis, a traffic engineer at Volkert, and I launch out of the town square in pursuit of the stolen booty. I arrive first, and in tidying up my briefcase I find — voila! — a tearsheet from the Times Free Press about the EPB “smart grid.”
I show the clip to Mr. Davis and we laugh. Had I gotten out the story first? I have four items in my stack, but will be able to get to only two today.
EPB has 34 high-speed Internet customers
The taxpayer-subsidized city power company, EPB, was exposed by the Times Free Press’ Ellis Smith in an offhand way in the Aug. 18 editions of the hometown paper. Mr. Smith, a smart free market-oriented journalist who writes very well but has kept up a line of gush over high-speed Internet, confirms points we made here.
EPB created its high-speed Internet system with free money from Washington and a load of debt without there being warrant to build it. The gigabit network has 34 customers who subscribe to the F$350 a month service. “For $50 more, they could buy an iPad every month,” Mr. Smith notes in his second paragraph. Clay Hales, CEO of rival InfoSystems, declares, “It’s not a good use of anybody’s money for EPB to engineer this stuff that nobody’s going to use.”
“Without subscribers, there’s not an economic reason for developers to create applications. Without applications, there’s little reason for subscribers to sign up. That’s the vicious cycle that city leaders are working to untangle as they build on Chattanooga’s GigTank event which offers incentives for developers to create *** apps for the city’s *** Internet speeds.” (I omit Mr Smith’s words killer and blazing, because that sort of hype obscures the plain facts he’s reporting.)
Twenty-five businesses and eight residentials subscribe. One angle of the story is that this subsidized price is too high, suggesting EPB could do better if it slashed the price to F$100. The story was occasioned by the refreshing breath of competition. As the TFP reports, Google plans to offer a high-speed system in Kansas City and to charge F$280 less a month than does EPB. Harold DePriest, EPB president, says the cost of EPB to provide 1 gigabit is as high as F$2,500. I suspect that this estimate is a lowball estimate based on not on the free millions EPB got from Uncle Sam, but from its mortgage on the property. Not even Sheldon Grizzle, a staffer at Company Lab that is helping fill a giant electronic flea market of empty gigabit stalls, uses EPB at home, unable to financially justify it. A quick lesson: Easy credit and government handouts make reading any marketplace difficult, and often cause irrational and ultimately disastrous financial decisions.
When confidence is really fear; peddling services to churches
Michael Chitwood is a local accountant who has for years held tax compliance conferences around the country for churches and religious organizations. On Wednesday he began a four-day conference in Chattanooga for an organization he’s started, International Congress of Churches and Ministers. It’s about corporate charters for churches, 501(c)3, compliance with federal law, an insurance scheme and licensure for ministers. Here’s a quote from Mr. Chitwood’s website.
We offer you the opportunity to obtain 501(c)(3) status under ICCM’s group exemption approved by the Internal Revenue Service. The incorporation and tax-exempt status is required and is crucial to your ministry’s success. IRS regulations are complex and mistakes can easily end up costing your organization a year or more in delays. ICCM believes firmly that God can and will use any faithful individual to preach or teach the Gospel. ICCM believes that ministerial credentials should always be granted with the highest level and standard of qualification. ICCM is certified to issue ordination credentials and licenses to Pastors, Evangelists, Missionaries, Chaplains, Christian Workers, Minister Of Music and Praise & Worship Leaders.
And I wonder: How can an accounting firm offer licenses and credentials? Only faithful Christian ministers properly ordained should be considered licensed, and then by their proper denominations after examination for correct theology and morals. How can Chitwood & Chitwood license anybody in biblical terms? The apostles chose the first elders.
[Please read here of an important development — the dissolution of corporate charter by a Chattanooga-area church, Brainerd Hills Presbyterian. — DJT ] The nearby image is from Mr. Chitwood’s church tax and legal conference which has sold so well that his company has 7,000 clients. “Chitwood helps churches keep books, develop staff” is the headline in the TFP today. His quotes are intended to terrify the Christian minister out of operating a church and shifting it into operation as a religious organization.
That may not seem very dangerous, or even very interesting. But legally a church is different from a religious organization. The latter operates under authority of a state corporate charter and perhaps a 501(c)3 IRS exemption. Mr. Chitwood’s business model relies on scaring the godly into compliance in the corporate national economy overseen by the federal tax agency. Scripturally, any given church is an emissary of God in a given locale, and in American law is immune from contact with the federal government. The church is outside the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam, and the law recognizes it. In a nutshell the case for liberty of the church is this: the Christian church in local economy is free, but the church in the corporate national economy is enslaved. That slavery is by application and petition. To see how deep and rigorous that servitude is, just look at Mr. Chitwood’s come-ons for his conferences.
For many years, a friend of mine, Peter Kershaw, a paralegal from whom I sought assistance in a legal battle on the plains of Midian, has been working to counter a false impression that Mr. Chitwood uses to sell his conferences and “the best compliance system in the world” to Christian ministers. His main argument is that the church is not under federal jurisdiction in any way and that as the Bride of Christ she should never consent to be. Mr. Kershaw’s website is hushmoney.org. His book In Caesar’s Grip is worth reading carefully, which I have done and which just now I have taken down from my shelf for a scan. The 2000 edition sells for F$30 on Amazon and is important reading for any Christian.
I hope to write about church disincorporation. While I may frame it partly as an element of local economy, it’s more accurate to describe the proper framework as the sovereignty of God and His claim to total jurisdiction over the church. Both state and federal involvements are a form of voluntary submission and subjection, an obtaining of a license. They muzzle the church. They open the church to litigation, regulation and coercion as they make her a creature of the state.