Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Judge Derails New York State Tax Law

New York State Supreme Court Judge Rose Sconiers handed Governor Paterson, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature a "Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect Tax Dollars" card on Tuesday morning. In a foolish attempt to stack another bad law on a law this judge already flagged as incomplete and unenforceable, the State earned another injunction from Judge Sconiers. The injunction blocks the State's latest attempt to either force Native cigarette retailers into collecting tax for the State or shut off the access to product. The order is a preliminary injunction only that addresses flaws in the law and failure of the State's tax department to develop the mechanisms laid out in the statute. The ruling did not address issues of the State's authority or the sovereignty of our people and territories. The injunction can be lifted if the court determines that the State has met the burdens placed on its tax department. There is no question that the ruling is a set back for the State, but caution in declaring this a major victory must be taken. The time granted in this reprieve should be used to ween Native retailer from dependency on State licensed wholesalers. The best long-term strategy to protecting our right to conduct trade and commerce is to interact with the State as little as possible and concentrate on Native products produced on Native land and distributed to and from Native communities. Governor Paterson has proven to be an extremely ineffective executive and does not deserve the time of day from our people let alone the right to sit at a negotiating table with us. We owe it to those that will come after us to maintain a strong posture and refuse to yield any ground to the State on this issue or any other attempt by the State to disturb us or our activities. We need to be vigilant and make sure that the weak links in our midst are not lured into deal making or concessions.

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