Thanks … for the stim-u-lus … Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted

GAO Chart Forecast Debt % to GDP

(To the tune of Bob Hope‘s “Thanks for the Memories” and apologies to him.)  By the way, you can subscribe to this blog in the box to your right.

What are the consequences of federal policies, and what is the message of the 2010 election? Continue reading “Thanks … for the stim-u-lus … Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted”

The Social Network

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase

If you’re a social animal you probably have many social networks.  It may be friends you have breakfast with, a coffee group, organized “500 of your closest friends” events, email lists organized around a common interest, MySpace, Friendster, Friendlee (by HP but I don’t think it ever took off), Twitter or Facebook.  In the online genre of social networking there is even Friendfeed and other services that pull all of your networks together. And now, there’s even the movie “The Social Network.”

Before we talk about the movie, let’s talk about this matter of socializing via the internet. Are we being social there? Or are we hiding? Some people check their social media occasionally and some “live” on and for it. Of course, today the main such network appears to be Facebook and it lends itself to either an occasional check or constant monitoring.

Do you know people who have become Facebook hermits? You know who you are! Is Facebook (I’ll limit my analysis to Facebook now) contributing to a de-socialization process — one where face to face human interaction decreases to an extent such that relationships are damaged or simply disappear from benign neglect?

But, what exactly do we mean by “de-socialization”? It’s more than the border-line anti-social practice of sitting alone on your computers g-chatting with people in the next room, or a group of friends all in the same room talking on their cell phones to different people. Because social media skills are becoming more and more necessary (ironically while, at the same time, social media policies in the work place are banning more and more websites like Facebook, Twitter, and most photo sharing sites), people are being led to develop computer skills, Internet search know-how, and popular social media site profiles.

via The Social Media Trendline: De-socialization | Social Media.

As you ponder these things, also ponder the creation of the place where most of my friends can be seen:  Facebook, as portrayed in “The Social Network” movie. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you but I’ll share a couple of thoughts after Jen and I went to see it today. For both nerds and geeks (and there is a difference) — and for anyone who knows someone fitting either description — you will recognize those types and find humor there. Facebook was originally a college-only system, originating at Harvard where Zuckerberg was a student. Then there is the matter of the additional students who claimed to have originated the basic idea and with whom Zuckerberg has settled. There is a lot of drama — and a not insignificant portrayal of college partying — surrounding the story.

After you see the movie, here is the money question:  do you feel differently about using Facebook?

Sit down, shut up, and be an American

This is the text of a speech used at the Highland Lakes Toastmasters recently. I may put up the audio later, but in the meanwhile I hope you enjoy the text version.  I’ll look forward to the controversy which I’m sure it will provoke! This text is not original although I modified it somewhat to meet my contextual need — source noted at the end — but I concur with the sentiments and believe that the artificial divisions among us that are fostered and perpetuated by the so-called “political correctness” infecting this country are indeed affecting our individual freedoms. Our freedom is affected is because that “PC” process erodes both our individuality and our ability to be one nation.

(Imagine this is delivered by a hypothetical leader of a hypothetical community and school system)

I am your new leader and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to lead people, especially when it includes young people.

I want to inform you of some new changes coming to our community and schools. These changes are because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated our communities, and our public education in particular, throughout America have worked against us, against our citizens, students, teachers, and our country.

First, we will no longer honor race or ethnicity.  I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white.  I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships.

The only identity I care about, the only one we will recognize, is your individual identity:  your character, your industry and scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity our community and schools will care about is American.

This is an American community, with American public schools, and our American public schools were created to make better Americans through education.

If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through this community or its schools, you will have to go elsewhere. As of right now we are ending all ethnicity-, race- and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values – e pluribus unum, “from many, one.”  And we will be guided by America’s values. Not European, nor Asian, nor Mexican.  American.

This includes all community organizations and after-school clubs. We will not authorize organizations that divide people  based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your organizations will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties.

Those divisions just cultivate narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. If the only organizations and activities you can imagine being interesting in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you speak and read English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America’s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us here. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. Our young people will gain excellent English language skills and be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market.  We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you are in school and want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything our schools do will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that students and teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code in our schools.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere in public, or on our school’s property — whether at the mall, in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can’t speak without using the f-word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “Nigger,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend.

It is my intent that by the time our young people leave our school, they will be among the young Americans to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs in school. In our school as in life, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that in high school there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting our school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any young person graduates our schools and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky — to be alive and to be an American.

Now until students learn the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country, the adults will hand them out to you.

So don’t sit down. I didn’t mean that when I said it up front and I don’t mean that now.

This is America.

STAND UP, SPEAK UP, and BE …

an American!

Source: A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give. At the outset of his column, Prager offers this (with which I totally agree):

If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

via The Dennis Prager Show (with modifications). (Townhall.com Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.  And COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM)

I’m Having an Overreaction to Overreaction … and to “political correctness”

I’m sick of overreaction, especially when I do it! The world is driven by overreactions to problems, whether between spouses, among politicians, between nations, by government against citizens, or just by normal people in their daily lives. The whole culture of “political correctness” is an overreaction, one which is designed to obliterate personal responsibility. Some examples ….

The terrible BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico produced the overreaction by Pres. Obama to shut down all drilling.  Two federal courts now have said that’s an overreaction.

Or this story which demonstrates overreactions to overreactions:

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s opposition to renewing a contract allowing federal immigration authorities full access to city arrest records is infuriating local Tea Party activists and their allies who say the potential move could jeopardize the public safety of residents and visitors to the city.

Supporters of the contract held a news conference Thursday in Philly to express their safety concerns after they said the mayor’s office ignored their requests for a meeting but dispatched city officials to a meeting last month organized by a coalition of pro-immigrant groups where immigrants voiced their mistrust of the police.

via FOXNews.com – Tea Party Activists Push Philly Mayor to Renew City’s Contract With Immigration on Arrest Records.

The mayor REACTS by defying federal law (non-cooperation with immigration officials) because of a perceived fear that illegal immigrants under-report crime. That may be true, but the mayor’s solution is an overreaction. Then he has meetings with the illegal immigrant group because immigrants have voiced a mistrust of the police. That mistrust is likely an overreaction to particular events (the facts of which likely were not fully known to the group) and the mayor’s capitulation to the group is an overreacttion no doubt in part to his own political fears. To which the Tea Party group reacts, and yes it’s an overreaction, by opposing him. By the way, not all overreactions produce bad results.

The most pervasive overreactions are those born out of the “political correctness” notions, such as giving every child in a contest a ribbon, belying the fact that not all of them “won” the event. A misplaced psychological idea, in my opinion, but still within the genre of “political correctness.” The general dumbing down and false equalization of (children in particular) has led to at least two generations filled with people who are not equipped to face the real world, do not recognize the concept of personal responsibility, and who, in increasingly large numbers, have become dependent on government largess — the ultimate source of overreaction in the name of political correctness.

All men are created equal but they don’t necessarily end up equal by every conceivable measure.  And we should not try to deal with everyone equally, just fairly. Sometimes being treated fairly requires being treated equally — such as in the justice system or in the constitutionally protected areas — but such is not always the case, nor should it be.  Yet we can pick up the newspaper (remember those things, with printing on large sheets of crummy paper?) any day and read of someone perceiving that they were not treated equally, yet even when it was a fair treatment although not totally equal to that of another, that person overreacts. And some organization overreacts in their behalf, and sometimes the government steps in as well all with overreactions in the name of “political correctness.”

The real problem with overreaction is that it is usually born out of a reaction to a symptom while an underlying problem goes untouched.  Take for example the child who misbehaves repeatedly and the parent overreacts in the method and measure of punishment — over and over. Unless action is taken to address the underlying cause of the child’s behavior, the level of parental overreaction is sure to escalate against future poor behavior, and the endless cycle continues.

Each of us can think of many more examples but for now, in my own overreaction to overreaction I pledge to try not to overreact in the future. Oh, and to hell with political correctness too!

Great explanation of Arizona’s need & a delineation of the true issues

(edited 5/2/2010) In the midst of the hue and cry over the Arizona immigration enforcement law (and it is simply about enforcement of existing laws), there is much hysterical rhetoric without an appreciation of the legal structure of the law and, I suspect, in many cases without even reading it. I did an analysis of the pertinent portions and below is a snippet from an excellent article giving the factual background (thanks Don Comedy for digging up that piece).

Continue reading “Great explanation of Arizona’s need & a delineation of the true issues”

Study: Drinking, R-rated films linked in middle-schoolers – USATODAY.com

This is big. One more example of where parenting really does make a difference.

Middle-schoolers who are forbidden to watch R-rated movies are less likely to start drinking than peers whose parents are more lenient about such films, new research on 2,406 children shows.

via Study: Drinking, R-rated films linked in middle-schoolers – USATODAY.com.

And, interestingly, that factor stands alone.

The outcome isn’t based on other parenting decisions, such as keeping greater tabs on children’s media use, says pediatrician James Sargent, co-author of the study and a professor at the school in Hanover, N.H.

What that means is that no matter how good the parenting is in other areas, neglecting to supervise the R-rated film viewing still has a devastating effect.  The article makes an additional important point that many PG-13 films really should be R rated … so you still have to be proactive and not simply rely on ratings.

From whence is all this “change we can believe in” coming?

Below you will first find some statements of principles gleaned from history. Then we will discuss some modern examples. I dare you to read these and think about them … whose principles are these?

The principles

  1. the working class must be equipped to defeat and smash the violent state force of the capitalists and replace the dictatorship of the capitalists by the dictatorship of the [people]. (1)
  2. … seeks the elimination of the notion of private property in order to gain control of the economic “means of production” by taking it from the . . . (the wealthy or propertied class) for the benefit of the . . . (working class.) (2)
  3. … goal was to bring about the end of history, by means of an eventual perfect, classless, utopian society (2)
  4. The slave frees himself when, of all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of slavery and thereby becomes a [worker]; the [worker] can free himself only by abolishing private property in general. (3)
  5. … seeks to promote class warfare or, today, at least, class strife, and succeeds best where clear, major delineations exist between classes. (2)
  6. … the exploiters . . .  regard religion as a superb means of keeping the masses under their yoke; firstly, it makes them obedient to their exploiters and, secondly, it prevents the [people] from revolting through promising them a better lot after death. The [people] exploits no one, and so needs no religion. While morality and aesthetics are only subject to change, religion must vanish completely.(4)

Do we have any current examples of the implementation of these principles? These numbers correspond to the numbering above … and whose principles are these, anyway?

Current Examples

  1. That represents basic class warfare. Depict capitalism as bad and those who foster it as bad people, notwithstanding the fact that capitalism has made America the greatest country in the world, a fact which is objectively observable by the extremely high standard of living (relative to the rest of the world) of the so-called “working class.”
  2. A major portion of the auto industry has been nationalized through ownership of General Motors (60% government owned now) and co-opting of union support by outright bribery in attempting to exempt them from the new health care burdens. Starting with Medicare and continuing through the 2010 health care legislation, the medical industry has been simultaneously co-opted and compromised.  The energy sector is essentially being taken over at an increasingly rapid rate via regulation.
  3. It seems that every governmental influence around us has the aim of eliminating any distinction among people. When that is complete — should we sit idly by and allow it — our humanity will be gone. Schools reduce education to the lowest common denominator. Young soccer players all get trophies instead of letting them win or lose. Success is increasingly scorned instead of celebrated.
  4. Private property is taken by confiscatory taxes aimed at the producers of capital (and therefore jobs and economic growth).  Virtual nationalization of industry (examples above) eliminates private property. Projections are that within a decade 63% of all people will work for a government entity. That will not increase private property!
  5. Just read the news for a constant barrage of the drawing of delineations between “classes.”  I object to the entire idea of “classes” because the term in modern usage implies a difference in human worth, not a difference in economic status. There is nothing “evil” in the fact that economic differences result among people or groups of people whom you wish to describe as a member of an economic class. Everyone has a human worth to themselves, their family, and their community regardless of what they do or their economic worth. It is dishonest to create false distinctions between supposed “haves” and “have nots” and if successful, this ploy will finish the march to the point where those with their hand OUT exceed in number those offering a hand UP. We are near that point.
  6. I need give no examples of the constant attack on religion in this country.

Whodunit and Who_doing_it?

Now then … what is the genesis of those six principles that we see are still in play in modern America? What philosophy is set forth in those principles?  I suspect that in spite of my attempts to disguise the obvious you’ve figured it out.

It’s Marxism, pure and simple, and each of those principles have been embraced fully by … YOUR president.  OK, I know, I just called President Obama a Marxist … but I’m far from the first. Here is an excellent piece discussing why his many associations with known Marxists “probably” means that he too is a Marxist.

But, in philosophical terms, the connection claimed to exist between Obama and his Marxist associates is not merely logical, but causal. His life-long, self-selected connections with known Marxists are claimed to have had a causal influence on his own beliefs. And that is a vital distinction when examining one’s resultant behavior patterns.

It is probabilistic, not deductive, reasoning that best deals with causal relationships. While we cannot conclude with certainty from the truth of documented facts concerning his Marxist associations that Barack Obama himself is a Marxist, it is reasonable to conclude that there is a significant probability that he is and doing so commits no logical fallacy. So his associations are not, as his defenders maintain, irrelevant as evidence of his own beliefs. They are, in fact, determinant.

via Obama and Marxism: A Legitimate Question.

What are YOU doing about that today?  Will you continue to be part of the great “silent majority?”  What is your church doing about it?  Starting in the 1950s churches began to opt out of political controversy and the majority thereby became the “silent” majority.  What are your other organizations doing about it?

How about some CHANGE that WE can believe in?  Nobody can ignore the many problems (many created by the Marxists disguised under the label of “Progressives”) in American society that need correction, but we don’t need a fundamental change in the principles of an effective representative republic (the operative word there is “effective”), of capitalism, or of personal responsibility.

Let’s get the government back to protecting us from enemies … foreign or domestic … and away from taking “care” of us!

Notes of sources:

(1) http://www.mltranslations.org/NewZealand/MarxPrinc.htm

(2) http://www.thinking-catholic-strategic-center.com/definition-of-marxism.html

(3) http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm

(4) http://www.radicalacademy.com/philmarx.htm