Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The "People" are both angry and private

Progressive Liberal Democrats are depressed.  I can understand that; they have been spoiled by having things pretty much their own way for almost a decade now. Their President has used Executive Orders to create a country that he devoutly wishes he could have brought into being with laws, but made do with his pen.  The good news for the PLD folks was that they got the country they wanted.  The bad news is that is wasn't and isn't permanent.

But that is just the ideological view.  What is much more important is that this election revealed the depth of the voters' anger at the entire political establishment...all sides...is tremendous.  It showed in the Republican primaries.  It showed in the Democrat primaries.

The fact is that the political establishment deluded itself, talking itself into a presumption of control and power based in part on a disrespect for the independence of the American voter.  That presumption was ill conceived, presumptuous and just wrong.  And our politicians have earned the anger.  You can be sure it will not be easily assuaged.

The other factor that makes this election a surprise to so many is that the American public can be really private about what they think, especially if revealing their true feelings might cause their friends and business associates to disrespect them.  Clearly, this flumixed the pollsters.  I personally know two individuals who were polled and told the pollster they were voting for the Democrat candidate, yet told me that they were voting for Mr. Trump because of Mrs. Clinton's lying, inabilities, and what they see as her treating Classified information as unimportant when it collided with her desire for secrecy and control of her private affairs.  The view her as inherently corrupt.

Politicians, Washington (D.C) and the power structure in this country had better adjust quickly and treat the citizenry with the respect that they have not granted for several decades.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Has the United States become "Balcanized?"

After much effort and planning, my father emigrated from Norway to the United States in the early 1920s.  He first had to arrange a sponsor, then get a written guarantee of a job, save money so that he would not be a burden on the government, show that he had a place to live when he arrived and finally, upon entry, go through a physical exam to show that he was not bringing with him any communicative disease(s).  He told me he never thought that these requirements were burdensome, wrong or illegal; they were good, common sense requirements to protect both the United States and him.

He spoke little English, but those he lived with and worked with immediately began teaching him English and he enrolled in Citizenship Classes to prepare him for the Citizenship Exam.  He...and all who attended those classes with him...came to America to become "Americans."  He honored his birth country, Norway, and taught me to do the same...but he emphasized that he hadn't come to America to make America into a "little Norway,"...he had come to become a true "American."  He wanted to, and believed in, assimilation.  He and all the other immigrants that he came to know were anxious to become a part of the the miracle that was the United States of America...a country where one found the freedom to try to succeed in ways not available to him in Europe...and understood that that freedom came with the possibility of consequences of failure, too.  That was the trade-off: freedom to strive came with no guarantees other than the right to "try."  And he found that if you failed, you had the opportunity to try again.  And he did.

Dad loved visiting Norway in later years, and being with old friends and acquaintances...but he never failed to exhibit a sigh of relief when he came home again to America and say, "it's so good to be home again"...he was an "American."  Not a "Norwegian-American."  And he was both proud and thankful for that.

As I was going through school I was surrounded by kids also born to immigrants...from many different countries.  We got to know and appreciate each other and each other's national backgrounds...but always there was the attitude that those backgrounds were nice, they were part of "us"...but they were incidental; we were Americans.  We appreciated and we abided by the rules and the laws of America...and expected everyone to do the same.  Those who broke the laws and the rules were outcasts...not by any command or written edict, but automatically by their disregard and disrespect for the essence of "America."

Sadly, my observations reveal that this "America" has largely disappeared and is well on its way to extinction.  First, I see multitudes (particularly in the Southwest) who have not come here "by the rules" or legally.  Second, I see many groups refusing to assimilate, keeping to groups from their country of origin continuing to speak the language of their country of origin and refusing to even make believe they are trying to learn English.  Third, a majority of today's immigrants still hold allegiance to their country of origin and not to the United States of America...and attempt to make America into a "mini" version of their country of origin, even to the point of disrespecting the American Flag and flying the flag of their birth country.

 Most importantly, I see the Federal Government of the United States of America actually supporting these activities, aiding and abetting this lack of assimilation.  And the result is that the United States of America has become increasingly "Balcanized."  As Europe originally did in areas of the Caribbean and South America, areas of the United States now seem less like America and more like small versions of other foreign countries...America has disappeared.

The Federal Government no longer truly protects our borders or control who comes to America...and then takes action against border states that attempt to fill the need for that protection and control, leaving the citizens of those states unprotected and at risk.  Add to that the actions of some major cities that put the welfare of those who surreptitiously and illegally cross into this country above that of lawful citizens.  Arguably, those elected officials in those cities are in abdication of their oaths of Office...but neither the citizens of those cities or the Federal Government seems to care...at least not enough to demand that that be stopped.

America is losing its identity...and amazingly a great number of our citizens do not seem to mind or care.  Thankfully, my father has passed away...otherwise these actions would insure his dying of embarrassment for the country he adopted as his own and loved more than where he was born.  And I am embarrassed for my country's abdication of its character.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why do we have Racial Unrest today? (#3 of 3)

There is a valid assertion that by providing government assistance that assures survivability and is available for virtually an unlimited period we cause the receiving group to not only become dependent on such support, but to train them to ignore all other potential efforts to be self-sufficient.

But given that such dependence now exists, to discuss whether or not it should have been done is a useless exercise.

To be "given" support over an extended period of time with no requirement or expectation of moving from that support to self-support creates a sense of shame (usually deeply buried) and compensatory attitudes to bolster a sense of self-worth.  For kids without fathers present in their daily lives, they substitute gangs and gang membership.  To support their self-worth, they develop their own sense of right and wrong that supports their own actions, regardless of what those actions are, as "right."  And they totally ignore efforts from "others" to change that view, because to change would necessitate that they acknowledge that their previous actions were not "good" or "right."  Oh, there are some that see the bigger picture, but not many.

It is this unwillingness to change, and the underlying anger that supports it, that creates the real problem for those kids, their neighborhoods, and ultimately for America as a nation.  What can or should be done?

I freely admit that I don't know.

But there are some ideas that might be worthy of at least talking about.

Supposing an organized effort was made to take every single child that did not have a father present and employed out of the neighborhood and put them in a proven, approved foster home that had access to a good school district with support to encourage achievement?

What if the rules on schooling provided not only for school choice, but for schools to be able to bar  disruptive kids from the campus, thus allowing students who wanted to learn the teacher time to enable that desire?

What if disruptive kids were required to be put in a military type, government organization where they were supervised and required to work each day for a menial wage until they came to recognize the advantages of learning?

How about city officials discussing with gangs the possibility of them becoming screening groups for calling in regular Police forces, making them officially responsible for the safety of their community?  That would give them status but also make them responsible...a good pairing for learning to live a useful life.

Are these answers?  Probably not...but it is time we all recognized the very real and difficult problems that our citizens who live in the inner cities have and work to provide good and beneficial options for those there who want improvement.

Unfortunately I don't see our government, at any level, having any real interest in solving the situation.  They just want it to be quiet: quiet summers, quiet desperation, quiet unhappiness.  And that is just an abdication of their respective oath's of office.  Until we demand and see that that attitude changes, we will have to look to private organizations to move forward.  And I hope that all of them, both civic and religious groups, step up...and soon.  Each of us, as citizens of a great nation, should have available to us a path to success.  That path isn't free, and it isn't easy, but it should exist so that every citizen with purpose and motivation can travel forward...and upward.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Why do we have Racial Unrest today? (#2 of 3)

It is essential to understand three things, before looking at the root cause of today's challenges:

First, having a reason...even a valid reason...for doing something does NOT eliminate the consequences for what is done.  When civil disobedience was first used, the actions taken were against the law.  Those who broke the law fully expected to be arrested and jailed; they understood (unlike so many today) that in order to bring attention to their position that the laws were unjust, they would be put into jail.  They accepted that that would happen but were convinced that by so doing they would bring more publicity and more support to change laws they were convinced were unjust, unfair and just wrong.  They understood and accepted the concept of "consequences."

The riots, looting, injuring and killing people in response to perceived injustice are wrong.  While in varying degrees the response is understood, it is NOT excusable and those who so act should be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for their crimes...and they ARE crimes.

Second, those in the minority community who talk about hating whites are NOT racists.  They have had experiences that have taught them that most whites with whom they have interacted are not nice people, that they disrespect and mistreat...and cheat...them.  Their attitudes are the result of experience, not of un-supported assumptions.

Third, the majority community (usually white) that interact with the minority (usually black) community are NOT racists either.  Their experience has been that they are disrespected, called names and have things thrown at them and are lied to by the minority community.  Their attitude is experience-based, not the result of un-supported assumptions.

So...could we all stop with the accusations of Racism or being Racist?  It is wrong and it is not productive.

With all that in mind, what is at the root of today's challenges?

I would suggest that there are two main causes: Failure of Education, and Failure of Government.

Education in this country is based on the Prussian model, designed to create good citizens.  "Good" citizens was defined as those with sufficient educational skills (writing, math, spelling, ability to read, and an appreciation for a nation's "rightness" in history) and the training to obey basic laws and orders from the "powers that be."  It was, as best I can estimate, about 50% education and 50% indoctrination.  When established in America, initially the indoctrination part of the equation did not work; students went home to a family life that required hard work, independent thinking to survive, and parents that had no problem at all in dismissing anything they deemed "faulty" in the teaching...and in dismissing any teacher that didn't teach as the "families" (making up the school) wanted.  So that period of education worked for as long as the family unit remained the prime trainer of children.

This all changed after the Great Depression and World War II.  "Modern" parenting became permissive (and parents wanted to avoid their children suffering from the depredations that they suffered during the depression) and absent as the march to acquire "stuff" and the movement toward "women's equality" saw many mothers now working outside the family home.  Children no longer experienced their parents checking not only their homework, but what they were being taught each day.  Teachers' Unions came into existence and parents no longer controlled what their children were taught...of even if the were being taught.  Today's parents who care about such things often find themselves banned from even entering their children's' schools, much less determining what they are taught.Today's schools seem to be 90% indoctrination, with failure to pass in the remaining teaching elements no obstacle to being given a High School Diploma.

This failure is clear throughout the United States, but is particularly disabling to young, poor, minority youth in our inner cities.  Even those with a H.S.Diploma find it hard to find a job.  And most are the product of broken homes where there is often only one parent, and that parent has to work multiple jobs to survive, even as they get some benefit from so-called "safety-net" social programs.

The first generation to suffer this kind of existence is embarrassed by it and want desperately to get out of the dependency.  The second generation is less embarrassed and less motivated.  By the advent of the third generation, the dependent life-style has become the norm and they know nothing else.  However...all people who are "given" stuff, eventually come to hate and despise the givers because the very dependency on "unearned" anything is disrespectful.  So they grow angry and simmer...until some action becomes the "hair that brakes the camel's back" and all of that resentment explodes in violence...violence that hurts themselves, their neighbors and friends more than it moves toward a correction or solution to the underlying causes.

Government, of course, serves those who contribute the money.  That means that government want the peace kept.  Instead of identifying the educational needs of the poor and the minority citizenry, the government simply works to wall-up the poor.  Then, they give enough money to keep the poor from starving in an effort to keep them quiet.  Even those who claim to want to improve the plight of the poor only do enough to secure the votes of the poor so those elected officials can stay in office, often speaking disrespectfully of those of their own race in the privacy of their offices.

So...what, if any, are the solutions?  We'll look at that in my next (and last) entry.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why do we have racial unrest today? (#1 of 3)

I watch sports to get away from the concerns I have with the world, country and my life.  For me, sports has always been about performance, not personalities or beliefs.  Yes, that is an artificial and protected view of life, but it provides a certain solace for a period, after which I have to go back to living life.

Suddenly, that solace has been taken from me.  And my reaction has been anger.  All my life I have dealt with people of all races, colors, and creeds on the basis of their performance and character; do they do what they promised, and are they truthful...these are the rules in business.  In my personal life I gravitated to people with the same moral outlook and conversational interests.  In listing business associates and acquaintances, I would have to think twice or three times to even try to identify the race, color or creed of those I know...those considerations are unimportant and unworthy of notice.

But all of a sudden I have strangers accusing me of being a racist and being responsible for someone else's happiness, well-being and/or "feelings."  Hogwash!  No one cares about my feelings either, but that doesn't mean that anyone is doing or intending  me ill.  That is not their responsibility.

So,...fine, I can dismiss the whole thing as being the creation of a group of narcissists who want "someone else" to be responsible.

Except, maybe that is not the intelligent thing to do.

The people demonstrating and rioting, clamoring for "something" while damaging property and hurting people, are clearly motivated.  Yes, some of them are criminals and others are just looking for "free" stuff.  But others clearly perceive themselves to have valid grievances and want something done.  And that kind of emotional response doesn't come overnight or from just one or two incidents.

Certainly I don't know about the quality of life about which they are complaining.  I have been stopped by police over the years for traffic incidents; I have always been conscious of their concerns about my being a potential danger, and have been extremely careful about obeying their instructions exactly, and asking permission for any movement I would like to make.  I have had some interaction with officers who "had an attitude" but simply put it down to their having a bad cay and dealt with the situation by being formally polite.  But some of the more logical lucid observations by some demonstrators indicate that their experiences have been different...even to the point of disrespect (an often overused term, these days).  They want that stopped...particularly in light of their seeing such an attitude leading to unnecessary deaths from civilian/police interactions.

I know that, if all this is true, I am not to blame.  But...then, who IS to blame?

Clearly, the things that the demonstrators complain about didn't just start in the immediate past; it takes time for frustration with a situation to develop to the point that any group will be large enough and angry enough to destroy property of their neighbors and friends, loot stores, attack and kill police.  So...how and why did this situation come about?

Perhaps if we investigate (to solve, not avoid or postpone) we can get insight sufficient to point us toward solutions rather than cover-up.

                                                (To be continued)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

This Fall's election doesn't really matter...

It can be argued that this Fall's election is either the last chance to save America or that it is already too late.  These two possibilities have absolutely nothing to do with ideology.  They are based on simple financial considerations.

Consider that neither candidate likely to be elected in the Fall has spoken much, if at all, about the need to get our budget under control and to reduce the national deficit.  Consider that no party, no campaign group and no significant organized group of citizens have spoken of spending as a problem.  Note that no media outlet of any sort has mentioned anything about a need to get our finances under control.

All that one reads, hears or watches has to do with control and contributing more in the way of funds or benefits to those in our country...legally or otherwise.

One hears nothing about the constant flow of lies coming out of Washington, the clear failure of Justice to apply to those in power, and the lack of accountability of those in the Federal Government.  You can even hear a reporter suggesting, in the form of a question to an elected official, if honesty is overrated in government.

One argument suggests that the last clear chance to save our nation in the form that it holds today was in the 2012 election.  It was clear by then that our finances were out of control, that our government's elected officials were lying to its citizens, that the economy was not recovering at a pace that would provide needed jobs and that the upper echelons of government were failing to fulfill their administrative and oath of office duties.

In 2012 the citizens of the United States chose more "free" stuff over taking for themselves and demanding of their elected officials the taking of responsibility to balance the budget and start down a path of fiscal responsibility.  At that time they saw an out-of-control spending that was most of the way to the present almost 20 Trillion Dollars.  All but several trillion was created in those first 4 years from 2008 to 2012...and much of that first one and a half trillion had been voted for by the person holding the office of President.  Nonetheless, the voters approved another 4 years of more of the same fiscal insanity and lying and inept administration.

Certainly should Ms. Clinton be elected in November, it is unlikely that the nation will survive past 2020.  Why?  Well, interest rates cannot stay close to zero forever.  As the National Debt rises toward 25 Trillion Dollars and interest rates also rise, the cost of the debt will meet or exceed the amount of tax revenue. leaving no money to actually run the government.  Seniors will find their checks either not being honored or just not arriving.  As payments to police, firemen and soldiers are first delayed and then not issued at all, public safety will cease to exist.  If SCOTUS has approved laws allowing the confiscation of firearms in private ownership, there will be few, if any, to attempt to enforce those laws...and with the proof of the government's failure becoming so obvious, there will be actual revolt throughout the country...and those who will be positioned to be in power will be those who possess firearms, have planned for such a disaster and who have little respect for those who for decades have been belittling and insulting them.  It will not be pretty.

But one thing will be for certain:  who is President and who controls Congress or SCOTUS will no longer matter.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Words"...or "actions"

Children aren't taught this anymore, but I grew up to the mantra, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."  And it was a factual comment.  As I grew up, I learned to listen to words for understanding, learning and as an indicator of the the nature of the person speaking the words.  For anyone who wants to learn, words and the manner of speaking reveals a lot.  Words contain promise as well as threat.  Words provide nuance that is available for the listener who wants to hear it.

Actions, however, provide no choice.  They simply "are" and the results cannot be changed.  Actions can hurt as well as provide pleasure.  Of the two, actions are the most immediately dangerous.  Words, if used to deceive or misdirect, are just as dangerous...sometimes more so...as actions because they, unlike actions, can seem to promise even as they deceive.

A person who lies lacks both honor and character and is to be avoided.  Above all, such a person should never be allowed to have power or authority over you.  But such a person, provided that they are aware of their lying, is not the most dangerous.

The most dangerous of people is that individual who not only lies successfully to others, but who also lies so successfully to themselves that they no longer are aware of their own dishonesty.  Why is such a person so dangerous?  Because they actually exude a sense of belief in their lies that can be very effective in convincing or conning the listener...they come across as believing what they say and there is little defense against such a presentation other than research and verification.

Today children and young adults, particularly those who attend College or University, seem to be indoctrinated with the concept that they should never be challenged by words or ideas which they have been taught or either wrong or hurtful.  They have absolutely no emotional callouses; they are ill prepared to evaluate or research ideas, much less challenge them.

But even more concerning is that these young people seem now to consider the "nicety" of words and ideas to be more important that honesty and actions; they are less insulted by those who lie to them and fail to fulfill promises (provided that the lies are phrased nicely and in a complimentary way) than those who speak bluntly and are not "politically correct" (which is clearly an oxymoron).  For those who know the "Music Man" play and movie, they would honor the smooth talking liar for his ability to talk and accept the lack of honesty...and then consider themselves superior for so doing.

How can we, as a nation, accept such perverting of our values?  How can we allow our children to grow to an age when they must become self-reliant while we allow a government that we elect to spend our children and grandchildren into financial ruin?  By what reasoning do we allow our children to be indoctrinated to value "group think" and "avoidance of (or even absence of) consequences" while we fail to teach them that any person or government that is strong or big enough to give them anything is also big and strong enough to take everything away?

One of my own grandchildren has become a victim of this American failure.  I am embarrassed that I was not aware and did nothing to attempt to provide some counter instruction.  I am embarrassed for all of us who assumed a dedication by our educational and political systems on the part of those who educated and who have and continue to rule us.  Our cost of our negligence will be visited upon our descendants and, if justice is served, we will be reviled by those who come after as narcissistic cowards who failed our offspring.  I would apologize, but those would just be words...I have already allowed others to throw the sticks and stones.