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November 19, 2017
Sinful I Confess
By Serge Mihaly, Jr
Sinful I Confess
It seems as I get older, I am more and more aware of my sinfulness. Perhaps, it is a function of my age and a growing recognition that I am no longer a child or even a young adult. My sons are all in or near their 30’s and like many my age, I find myself asking ‘where did the time go?’ It seems it was only yesterday that my son, Zach, was learning to ride a bike. Now, he has two jobs, a girlfriend and drives a truck.
For some, 57 isn’t ‘old’, but it’s not young either. Maybe, this newfound concern about my age is a function of having more time to think, living by myself undistracted by a busy family life. Maybe it’s the recent passing of both family and friends that has suddenly focused my mind on my own mortality and what that means. We are, after all, just as human, just as frail and just as strong. Of course, our own passing is not something we want to think about. Like Benjamin Franklin once said, the only things that are guaranteed in life are death and taxes. In Connecticut that goes double for taxes.
Having been stuck in the hospital and then a rehab facility healing from the effects of a replaced hip, I’ve had a lot of time to think. As a child and young adult, I saw and experienced life as an exciting adventure without any discernable rhythm except for the mostly happy wanderings of a blessed young man. My perception of God, of good and evil, of eternity, of my relationships with my friends, family, strangers and my future was not usually something I questioned. My view of life was dependent on the tenets of my upbringing. All seemed well, so why question it?
Today, as an adult, I’ve seen and learned more. Where I took life for granted before, I now realize how precious it is. I’ve been married, raised 3 good young men, have a beautiful extended family, graduated college, met great friends and experienced things I could never have previously imagined. I understand more now, both good and bad and have a more realistic view of myself and life. Yet, with all this new knowledge I actually understand less about a lot of things which motivates me to ask questions. I now see behind the ‘curtain.’ I look deeper and find hidden and not so hidden meanings in things. This applies especially to my Orthodox Christian faith. As much as I believe, I too am human. I cannot take my salvation through Christ for granted and necessarily suddenly finding myself asking how can I strengthen my faith. The answer is to struggle, to keep struggling, keep my mind on Christ and seek to strengthen my faith in the midst of life’s distractions and there are many. There are answers, but there are no easy answers.
The devil may not appear to us as a red horned creature with a curved, pointy tail and long pitchfork, but he is here and only our faith in Christ and Christ Himself can defeat him. If there is anything I truly believe, this is certainly one of them. I see now why my parents did what they did pouring themselves into their Orthodox faith more and more as they got older. Their experiences, too, taught them what I am only learning now.
Government must be on the side of business, large and small. Government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector does. A government’s responsibility is to nurture an economic environment which is supportive to business. Taxes, fees and regulations must be reduced. Many regulations are killing business and are designed to only increase government’s power. Authority lies not in government, but in the hands and votes of the voters. Far too often legislators send bills to the Governor that only makes starting, owning or managing a business more difficult.
Who knows best about what a business needs more than the owner? Government is far removed from ‘Main Street’ and often led by men and women who have never owned or managed a business. Theoretical ideas about business can never take the place of experience.
Many businesses have to file monthly tax returns which makes them hire an accountant which costs them even more. Someone struggling to make a living doesn’t need to have the added cost of employing an accountant more than once a year. This must stop. Why is this so difficult for the Democrats in Hartford to understand? They have held control of State government blocking Republican common sense far too long. Their theories of tax and spend and control have failed. The new ‘old’ ideas of free markets and smaller and less intrusive government has succeeded where it has been tried. It is why this nation has grown so much and employed so many for years. ‘We know better than you’, Socialistic big government has always failed despite what we are continually told today by the press and Liberal and Progressive Democrats. They claim compassion, but deliver failure and economic suffering while fiddling with the facts both historical and present.
We must give the public as many economic choices as possible. My faith is in them, not government.
Government cannot create jobs, but it can create an environment that nurtures job creation. Lowering corporate and personal income taxes, the gift tax, property and car taxes are all a part of the answer. High taxes discourages all types of economic growth including business expansion and entrepreneurial initiative. We must make it easy to start a business in Connecticut and therefore create jobs. Too many regulations hinder this too.
Get government out of the way of your employer, of your business and it will be amazing what we can do. Does anyone really believe government can run your business better and more efficiently than you? Why so many taxes? Why is government so big?
I believe we do a much better job ourselves.
The Second Amendment is the guarantor of the rest of the Amendments which is why Big government attacks it so viciously. It is also lied about time and time again. The Governor said we need background checks. We already have them. This has been a part of Federal law since 1968. Why is this lied about? It is an overt attempt to portray those who appreciate firearms as radicals and irrational.
If anyone doesn’t want criminals to have firearms it is the law-abiding gun-owner of which the number grows every day. Why? We have a fundamental right to defend and protect ourselves, our families and friends.
What is being ignored are the issues of poverty and mental illness. Both are difficult to solve, so anti-gun groups focus emotionally on an ‘object’ used by many sound and responsible people. They portray a gun as a creature with its own will and intent. The media only portrays the negative views of firearms brain-washing much of the public to believe this is the only ‘reality.’ It is not.
Like stealing a car, guns can be obtained the same way instead of legally. Guns are usually bought from a store and buyers must undergo background checks, even at gun shows, one of the greatest firearms lies of all. Fear mongering at its best.
We must stick to the facts, a common sense approach the media and emotional ‘safety’ groups do not usually deal in.
After being a teacher for ten years education must be focused around three key ingredients: Parent, students and teachers, not a Board of Education or Teacher’s Union. Teachers must be allowed more leeway in presenting curriculum. I’d extend the school year two weeks, yet still maintain a ‘summer’ for kids and teachers a like. Everyone needs a break and a transition period.
We must treat teachers like professionals, not hourly wage earners because they are professionals. They must be hired individually based on their ability and experience, tenure must be eliminated, teacher certification reformed to include a one time permanent Professional certification administered by either a Education Department or a national ‘Educational Foundation’ similar to those who approve of new textbooks. Once certified, teachers must be able to work in any State. This would provide a much more competitive education market holding schools accountable for their performance as parents and School systems would demand the best in teaching talent.
Without tenure and a Union to defend them, poor teachers could not hide and good teachers would be evaluated based on performance. Hiring the best teachers would be like filling a college with the best professors. Teachers would take summer courses in their subject to keep them ‘updated’ in the latest in their subject matter which could include trips to subject relevant activities.
We must teach subject matter and not to a test. No Common Core.
March 25, 2016
Op Ed Editor
The Record Journal
11 Crown Street
Meriden, CT 06450
Recently the Record-Journal reported on a bill proposed by Rep. Mary Mushinsky that would eliminate an admissions tax on Wallingford’s Oakdale theatre and requested a $1.2 million bond to sound-proof the facility. While I agree with the elimination of the admissions tax, Connecticut simply cannot take on any more debt. It is precisely this type of thinking that has led Connecticut into a financial hole. While it is a Representative’s responsibility to act in their constituent’s best interests, they must also look at the ‘big picture.’ Right now the ‘big picture’ includes stopping Connecticut from declaring bankruptcy. Spending $1.2 million we don’t have only makes our State budget crisis worse. It is scary to even think anyone would propose such a bill.
Why government needs to interfere with business especially when that business is fully capable of tending to its own needs is astonishing. Last year, the entertainment company Live Nation, which owns the Oakdale theatre, sold $9.2 billion dollars in tickets, a sum that should have spoken for itself. Government often has difficulty managing their own affairs, never mind someone else’s. To step in and waste precious tax dollars is misguided. It is Live Nation’s responsibility to fix the Oakdale, not the State of Connecticut or Wallingford.
I believe Government’s role in business is to create and nurture a positive economic environment that encourages businesses to make their own decisions, invest where they believe is best and compete in a strong economy. Bonding anything at this time is inappropriate and dangerous. Right now Connecticut’s economy is struggling. If anything, we need to take a hard look at what State programs and Departments we really need in Hartford, cut personal and business taxes to free up capital so businesses can reinvest and create more jobs, end unfunded mandates for municipalities and reduce burdensome regulations on businesses both large and small. Businesses can’t grow and create jobs if they are over regulated and over taxed, which in Connecticut, they are. They will also leave if the State they call home continues to be fiscally irresponsible. We only need to look at General Electric, Aetna, and, reportedly now Duracell. I believe there are more than a few ‘Oakdale bonds’ or ‘programs’ that have bloated our State government damaging what was once a well-functioning and efficient institution. It is this bloat that we need to eliminate.
With projected State deficits in the 100’s of millions of dollars, and very soon 2-4 billion dollars, it is absurd to consider that any new bond or any new program, including this one, is acceptable. The continued call for more and more taxes is financially suicidal. There is only so much money to be taxed and much of that, I believe, ought to stay in the hands of the voters. Excessive taxation is a sign of failed government led by failed policies. It is clear that Hartford is broken. If we want to return Connecticut to fiscal solvency, State spending must stabilize, then intelligently decrease over time. Simply put we cannot and should not afford everything. This state is hemorrhaging and everyone knows it.
We need to get our fiscal priorities in order, but we will never do this if we keep mindlessly adding to our list of ‘wants.’ There is no more room for pet projects or ‘one time’ exceptions. These ‘exceptions’ may look harmless, but they add up leading us to where we are now, in debt and in trouble.
Serge G. Mihaly, Jr
70 Southwind Drive
Wallingford, CT 06492
By Serge G. Mihaly Jr.
Posted: 01/19/16, 3:26 PM EST | Updated: 3 weeks, 5 days ago in The New Haven Register
When I was in my teens, I remember reading a passage in my middle school history book. In it was described the actions of President Theodore Roosevelt who promoted what he called the “strenuous life.” Roosevelt believed that constant physical exertion was the basis for a sound character. His love of the outdoors was a large part of this lifestyle as he conducted seemingly endless marches in and through the woods with international dignitaries following close behind tired and flustered. This world view would lead to his precedent setting actions regarding America’s natural wonders. Roosevelt understood the responsibility man had within nature. It was a serious and practical responsibility he believed must be passed from generation to generation.
During his presidency, Roosevelt established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks, and 18 national monuments. In total, he protected approximately 230 million acres of public land. Roosevelt was a conservationist, a term that means “wise use” — a philosophy practiced all across the nation at both state and federal levels.
Today, some people may interchange the term “preservation” with conservation, but it has a significant different meaning. Preservation is like a photograph that “freezes” life. There is no movement, no process, no action just an unchanging pretty image. Nature, though, is something that is always changing, always moving and always in flux. Everything in it, even the soil in which trees take their nutrients, is in a constant state of evolution. Fallen and rotting leaves decompose to infuse nutrients into the soil. Even in death, the decomposition of carrion becomes food for crows, coyotes, hawks and even mice. Nature is the greatest system of “wise use.”
Even with the establishment of nature preserves, we are doing nothing more than protecting prime habitat where creatures, large and small and of all species, can continue to participate in the circle of conservation. We may, in our “civilized” worlds, want to believe every creature lives forever in peace and mutual harmony, but the cruel reality is that they do not. Conservation also includes consumption, especially the consumption of one species of another such as a hawk and a rabbit or a lion and an antelope. There is no justice in nature, just survival.
One thing we can do is protect nature from over use, something that Roosevelt was very concerned with. He was, in fact, so respectful of the great outdoors that he decried the sight of roadside billboards which he believed spoiled the virgin essence of the outdoors. Roosevelt was a realist and understood that man could responsibly use many of the resources that nature held. Because man was just as much a participant in nature as any creature, Roosevelt believed we needed to profoundly understand our responsibilities especially against unchecked commercial interests. For Roosevelt, the razing of forests by timber companies, over-fishing by commercial fisheries and late 19th century commercial hunting all posed serious challenges.
Always active, Roosevelt would go on to establish the United States Forestry Service and the Boone and Crockett Club, an organization dedicated to promoting conservation and the management of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The Boone and Crockett Club was instrumental in pioneering far-reaching wildlife management legislation that has saved many species of wildlife and millions of acres of land. Soon, other similar groups like Ducks Unlimited, the Ruffed Grouse Society, the Izaak Walton League, the National Wildlife Federation and the Wildlife Management Institute were formed making similar significant contributions.
Today, we have many more conservation-related organizations all across the country. We, too, can make our mark on the beautiful world of nature. You would make Theodore Roosevelt very happy.
Reach Serge Mihaly at email@example.com.
Start Them Early
Serge G. Mihaly, Jr
Some of my best memories have been my earliest. As a young boy I still remember my father taking my brothers and I to a local park to teach us how to fish. My Dad, a struggling lawyer who regularly ended work late at night, found it important enough to pass his love of the Outdoors to his three young sons. To this day I still tie fishing knots the same way – three times around the main line and then through the loop. I have done it a thousand times in my life and will always remember my father’s smile when we finally mastered the task.
Not all of us have a Dad or relative that hunts, fishes or camps, but this doesn’t prevent an adult from instilling a love of the outdoors in their children, especially here in New Haven. An occasional walk up East or West Rock Park will certainly do.
Both Parks offer great opportunities to experience nature, an often unknown and adventurous change from the paved streets of urban living. A simple walk through a quiet forest filled with singing birds provides a pleasant distraction from just about anything we can dream up.
Two local State Parks, East and West Rock, have several trails that wind throughout the forest leading to a number of breathtaking views of the New Haven area. You also have a chance to see whitetail deer and wild turkeys.
East Rock State Park is located at Cold Springs and Orange Street in New Haven. The Park rises 366 feet above sea level offering a spectacular view of New Haven, the Mill River and Long Island Sound. The 455-acre park is open year round, has both hiking and jogging paths, is located near the Eli Whitney and Peabody Museums and has a Civil War monument at its summit. It is a perfect place to visit not too far from the city where a family can enjoy an afternoon of quiet or a picnic away from the noisy exhaust filled streets below. There is no fee to use the park and it is open from sunup to sunset. Bring a camera and a box lunch and enjoy the day. To get more information you can call the New Haven Parks Department at 203-946-8020.
West Rock State Park is the second largest State Park in Connecticut with 1,722-acres and is located at 40 Main Street, Hamden. Coming from New Haven north on Wilbur Cross Parkway, take a right off Exit 60 and another right onto Benham Street. Follow Benham Street all the way to Main Street and then take a left. Follow Main Street until you can’t go any further and take right on Wintergreen Avenue. The main entrance will be on your right.
West Rock is almost 7 miles long and has approximately 15 trails to choose from. Its cliff rises almost 650 feet above sea level and provides a view of 200 miles that overlooks New Haven and Long Island Sound. Made of basalt rock from ancient volcanic activity, the park’s is home to over 230 species of birds that live in a forest predominantly comprised of Hickory, Red Cedar and Round Leafed Dogwood. Several rare plants also exist there too.
Other recreational options in West Rock State Park include visiting the Three Judges Cave and a Nature Center. You can also camp at the Nature center for the more adventurous. Like East Rock, West Rock closes at sunset and there is no fee. You can go to the State of Connecticut’s website portal.ct.gov/ and click on ‘Recreation’ and then ‘State Parks’ to find more information on both Parks.
Perceiving the Unperceivable
By Serge G. Mihaly, Jr
As Orthodox Christians we are taught to believe in the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is a fundamental part of that which makes us Orthodox Christians and whose full human understanding came about during the New Testament. While all three have existed since time immemorial, it is here that we were and are able to read and learn about all three. What I want to focus on, though, is the significance between the Father and the Son. Not the only significance of course, but one that I’ve thought about lately.
It is not uncommon for some to say they just can’t comprehend God. He seems too fantastic, too impossible to believe in. Some say they can only believe in what they see. They cannot comprehend God, they say, unless He is Hollywood’s nice old bearded man sitting on a golden throne surrounded by beautiful white clouds and even then He is just a figment of our imagination. ‘God’ is an idea made up for the simple minded so they can rationalize things that they can’t explain like gravity or the size of the Universe or the change in the seasons. For some this is ok. It is their choice to believe whatever they choose and far be it for me to force anyone to believe anything. My God doesn’t want anyone to be forced to believe in Him. He respects and loves us enough to give us free will and does so for a reason. He wants us to decide for ourselves to believe in Him or not. On another level many of the same people say they cannot comprehend the idea of God or understand why He does the things He does. For me, the answer is we are not supposed to understand God for if we could, we would be God. Our concept of Him comes down to experience and faith. They are a part of the beauty and wondrous mystery of God.
What I was thinking lately, and what occurred to me significantly, is that God did not just send His Son to die for our sins conquering ‘death by death,’ he gave us something more. He gave us Someone we could ‘touch, see and understand.’ Like Thomas touching Christ’s wounds that settle his doubt, Jesus Chris is the same to us. He is the ‘real’ thing, man, and is not some vague rationalization, a guess or a figment of anyone’s imagination. He is both Man and God, a concept that startles reason, but a real person we can identify with. Because Jesus was also man He looked like us and felt feelings like us and did so while spending His first 33 years amongst us without full recognition. Quite a remarkable feat for a being so different than us, but yet not so different at all.
Until the other day, I really did not understand this. I took it for granted that Jesus is man and God and accepted the understanding that He came down from heaven to die for our sins, but not bridge the gap between God and man’s perception of Him. This was a new thought, a different concept for me and one that opened my eyes toward another significance and wonder of what Jesus is.
Others within the Church also explain God as the Creator of all, being seen in the unlimited complexity of life, the intricate nature of every inanimate object or living creature from sand to cells to neurons to even smaller particles identified by some of the greatest minds of our time. They all come from God. I have a hard time believing the world came about ‘accidentally’ though a series of random mutations. There is no ‘Big Bang’ theory in the Orthodox Church. To me the ‘Big Bang’ theory or the belief that the Universe was created by a ‘large explosion’ is a combination of mankind’s ego and a touch of insecurity that seeks a human centered explanation of the world.
Jesus Christ goes beyond this and brings Himself and God the Father home into our hearts, into our lives and more, into our human family. For me, this is enough.
May 11, 2015
Legislative Office Building
300 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
2016-2017 Connecticut State Budget Proposals
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. My name is Serge Mihaly and I am a Connecticut resident and have been all my life. Currently, I reside in Wallingford, CT.
Before I continue I want to say I love Connecticut. It is filled with great people who work hard and care about each other. I firmly believe the State of Connecticut can have a great future, but we must work together to make this happen.
I am appearing here today to submit my testimony as a citizen of this state as I am very concerned about where this State is headed and have been for quite a while now. Recently, the Governor submitted a preliminary budget for the calendar years 2016 and 2017. In it is proposed a long list of new taxes. Taxes, I and many others believe, will not only negatively impact our state, but can also cripple her. To me, these taxes are a sign that our government, if it has not already failed, is failing.
Our last budget included one of the largest Connecticut tax increases in our State’s history. Despite this our family, friends and neighbors are still suffering. This applies to all groups and all economic classes, not just the middle class. Many have moved out of the state and many others want to.
A 2015 Gallup poll showed that last year Connecticut dropped below every other state in the nation in job creation, yet this government continues on the same path. This unacceptable and must stop.
My father once told me that problems have two parts, the cause and the symptom. Address the symptom and you still have the problem. Address the cause and you will solve the problem. My father was a very wise man. The proposed taxes, Ladies and Gentlemen, are only a symptom to a much larger problem. I submit to you that our problem is not the budget. It is the size and scope of our State government. Eliminating this list of taxes will not eliminate our problem.
I have read both your line by line Budget and the ‘Road to Prosperity.’ There are many good ideas there. Many I hope will be implemented. For me, though, this is only a first step. This party and government must go further. In a day and age where computer chips get smaller, more efficient and less expensive internal combustion engines go from gas guzzling 8 cylinders to more efficient and powerful 4 and 6 cylinders, it is difficult to believe our government cannot do the same. The time for this is long overdue.
In closing, there are many good people around this country who are facing the same problems we face today. I believe we can learn a lot from them. One of these is Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. Governor Kasich was faced with an 8 Billion dollar deficit when he entered office in 2011. Today, the state of Ohio is on solid financial footing, people are going back to work, businesses are expanding, educations needs are being met and taxes, incredibly, have not been raised. I hope you take a moment to look into his administration’s efforts.
Serge G. Mihaly, Jr