Fools and Schools

My local newspaper, The Racine Journal Times, ran a front page headline recently that declared, “Voucher enrollment increases”. The article went on to bemoan the loss of money to the public school system that the Choice Program takes from them. It even said that these students are attending private school, “…on the public’s dime.”

Here is what happens – when a student chooses to join a participating Choice program school, $7754 follows him. That is money taken away from the local public system. Here is the interesting thing though, if that student were to stay in the local Unified public school, that system would spend $11,377 on his or her education.  Each and every student enrolled in a Choice school saves the taxpayer $3623.

I guess the local paper and the taxpayers should all be applauding the money that the Choice Program saves the taxpayer. But the news media manipulates what the public thinks through the words they use. In fact aren’t all students attending a public or Choice school, “…on the public’s dime”? But those students enrolled in a Choice school are taking fewer public dimes. Isn’t that good?

Wording is everything. Why didn’t the headline declare, “More parents dissatisfied with public schools”? Why not, “Choice Schools saving taxpayers millions of dollars”?

As far as I am concerned in this internet age, public school systems are an anachronism, a hold out from long ago, and needed about as much as an operating manual. If you want to end bullying, violence, and racism in the public schools, eliminate the schools. We could easily educate our students at 1/10th the current cost. All that is needed is the will to breakup the bureaucracy. And anyone who wants their children in a private school can then pay for it themselves!

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Loony Laws

To paraphrase Plato, he said that good men do not need laws. And bad men don’t obey them. So why oh why, year after year, are thousands of new laws passed?

In the 112th Congress there were 561 new laws passed out of 6,845 introduced. Off the top of my head I cannot recite one of them. There are at least 20,000 laws just governing the use and ownership of guns. From 2000 to 2007 there were 452 new Federal crimes created. The number of Federal crimes then exceeded 4,450. Many more now. You can hardly walk across the street safely without getting busted.

Add to these all the laws passed at the state, municipal, and county levels and you can understand why Harvey Silvergate in his book, Three Felonies A Day, estimates that the average American violates 3 Federal crimes each and every day. It becomes clear why our prison population is so overcrowded.

On top of all these laws there and thousands more federal, state and local regulations which might as well be considered law. If you do not think so just violate one. You will see how fast you are fined or your property is confiscated. All in the name of the law!

James Madison once said, “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow.”

I seems to me that we are at that point right now. Too many laws. Too many law makers.

My question for today is how did the Israelites survive for 40 years in the wilderness with only 10 written laws on 2 stone tablets? If they did it, so can we!

Know anyone with a blank stone tablet and a sharp mason chisel?

Truly Terrorist?

My wife and I took a color ride through the Upper Pennisula of Michigan a couple weeks ago and I ran across a billboard declaring, “The NRA Is A Terrorist Organization”. It was sponsored by a group called MADDOGPAC. So being a lifetime member of the NRA, I looked up some info regarding this group when we got home.

On their website they declare, “With over 50 billboards and counting, Mad Dog PAC is building public opposition to Trump, Republicans in Congress, and the NRA.” They might as well have said, “We are pitting one half of the country against the other.”

They listed some of their other billboards such as, “Impeachment Now – Make America America Again”, “Ban Assualt Weapons”, “End The NRA”, and lots of specific attack ad billboards against current candidates they disagree with. (RE: Republican)

Politics has become extremely polarized so much so that I have family members who will not talk to me. And I am not a democrat or republican. I am an anarcho/libertarian leaning independent. I am sure my situation is duplicated all over the country.

The sad thing is this vitriolic hate should not be directed at Democrats or Republicans but at the philosophy within the party structure which says the other side can have no good ideas, the philosophy that if the democrats are for something, the republicans have to be against it.

I go farther than this. The philosophy that there are only two sides to the questions and problems that plague America and the world today is wrong. But the party structure only allows for 2 sides as currently set up. If it allowed for 3 parties or 4 parties or 5 parties, then the power and the money that follows election politics would be less for everyone.  Also if there were members of 5 parties in Congress, even less would get done than gets done currently. If two parties cannot agree, how can five? Now there is an idea whose time has come!

Here is my billboard, “GRIDLOCK IS GREAT!” What they can’t do can’t hurt me!

The Fed’s Foolish Foulup

In a recent story in the San Francisco Chronicle it was reported that Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, said Tuesday he sees no need to drop the central bank’s current gradual approach to raising interest rates. He further said that the combination of steady, low inflation and very low unemployment shows the country is going through “extraordinary times.”

I have a question for Mr. Powell, “If indeed these are extraordinary times with unemployment and inflation near record lows, why don’t you just leave the economy the hell alone?” After all it was the monetary policies of the Fed that caused the massive unemployment and inflation of the 70’s. Have they rally gotten any better at this? I don’t think so. The current thriving economy is not thriving because of the Fed. It is thriving in spite of the Fed.

Let’s get rid of the Federal Reserve system. Let’s get rid of the Treasury Department. Let’s get rid of the politicians that screwed with the housing market in the recent past allowing housing purchases with nothing down causing a crisis which damn near crippled our economy through record foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, bank closings and consolidations. Let’s get rid of Washington. They don’t know what is good for Wisconsin or Nebraska or Kansas. Let’s get rid of a 50% or higher tax rate. If you think I am exaggerating just add up all the taxes you pay – Federal and State income taxes , sales taxes, inheritance, gasoline, and real estate taxes, etc., etc., etc. Let’s get rid of every government bureaucracy that says we cannot use a plastic straw or grocery bag. Let’s get rid of a court system that puts people in jail for smoking pot but lets murderers out early because of jail crowding. Let’s get rid of the constant state of war with nations half way around the world.

So what is left? Free people, that’s what – living together and working together to solve the problems that they currently look to Washington to solve. There might be some bumps and hurdles. There are bumps and hurdles now. Who cares? The bureaucracy would be gone. Justice would be pure. War would not be used to protect special interests. You know – “…entangling alliances with none” (from Jefferson’s first inaugural address).

So what is left? The American spirit of inventiveness and innovation is left – that spirit which fueled the greatest leap in the standard of living for the little man, the forgotten man, that the world has ever known.

So what is left? I am left, a nation of one, an individual whose rights are guaranteed not by Washington or even the Constitution but by the Creator of all, a man who by nature is allowed to protect himself, his family, his neighbors, his property, by whatever means is necessary, and a man whose Lockean property can be taken by no one for any reason.

Government is an anachronism made unnecessary by the abuse of power free people have granted them. Let those bureaucrats earn an honest living for once.

Hero or Herod

The news this week has been monopolized by coverage of the death of John McCain. Many have called him a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam after 23 bomber missions and spent 5 years in the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous prisoner of war camp for captured American prisoners.

When McCain returned home to jubilation and a handshake from President Richard Nixon, he found out his first wife, Carol, who had been a famous beauty and swimsuit model, had had a terrible car accident leaving her disfigured, about 5 inches shorter, and much heavier. For a while she needed a wheelchair and a catheter. Almost immediately McCain began running around with other women eventually dating his current wife, Cindy. Cindy was a wealthy heiress and 18 years younger than McCain.

McCain and Cindy got a marriage license 4 weeks before his divorce with Carol was final. They married a couple weeks later.

H Ross Perot, who paid for all of Carol’s healthcare while MCain was in the Hanoi Hilton, has said of John McCain, “McCain is the classic opportunist. He’s always reaching for attention and glory.”

At no time should we ever put our trust and hopes in a politician. They have always disappointed. They always will. They have no right to hold themselves up as a model of family values, like McCain did during his run for the presidency. They also have no right to rule everyday citizens who struggle, while raising their families, to pay the taxes politicians like McCain impose.

McCain and his fellow Senator, Russ Feingold of my home state, Wisconsin, supposed big accomplishment was campaign finance reform. I am from Wisconsin. Look at where Feingold got his money. Much of it came from California. Is that campaign finance reform – financing your campaign with outside money? It was a sham. And so is McCain.

Hero or Herod? Worthy of respect and admiration or merely contempt much like Herod the Great who ordered the massacre of the boy babies at the time of Jesus birth? You be the judge!

 

 

Slavery Salt

Salt is a substance that can preserve food. So what is the salt that preserves slavery? We are all slaves, everyone of us, some to religion, some to a military enlistment, some to their jobs, some to bills that never seem to get paid. But each of us, everyone of us is a slave to our government every bit as much as the slaves of the 19th century that 500,000 Americans gave their life to free. They own us. They can get us to do whatever they need us to do. They manipulate us through taxation.

You may think you are free. The Constitution says so as does the Declaration, “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Do you think you are free? Just miss one house payment. Just miss filing your taxes. Refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding. Refuse to sit on a jury. Try to buy a fourth dog when your community only allows three. You will see how free you are. The heavy hand of the law will descend on you like a bowling ball dropped from a skyscraper.

All this is possible through taxation. It doesn’t matter which party is in control. They both tax to stay in power. In fact they increase taxes to get more power. More money equals more power.

Trump wants to start the AFSPC (Air Force Space Command). Obama enacted the ACA (Affordable Care Act which by the way turned out to be not so affordable). Bush enacted the TSA (which did not improve the security at the airport where the airliner was stolen recently) and Clinton enacted the FMLA (who cares – who can afford to take off 12 weeks without pay anyway?).

Each of these alphabet programs decrease our freedom and add another layer of taxation to an already overburdened and overregulated taxpayer. Why do we submit here in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Maybe we should change our motto to:

Our taxation is up. Our bravery is down. Now we are citizens of a brand new Crown!

Government Gadflies

Gadflies are insects that bite livestock. They are very annoying and destructive. Anyone that works in government is a gadfly biting the livestock (citizens) of society, taking excessive taxes to further their continuation in power.

Tolstoy said that one means of keeping governments in power is corruption, consisting “…in plundering the industrious working people of their wealth by means of taxes and distributing it in satisfying the greed of officials, who are bound in return to support and keep up the oppression of the people.”

He was on to something but today he might word it differently saying something more like, “…in plundering the industrious working people of their wealth by means of taxes and distributing it in satisfying the greed of special interest groups, who are bound in return to support the party distributing the taxes.”

The Democrats have accused the Republicans of distributing taxes to support rich businessmen. The Republicans have accused the Democrats of distributing taxes to support liberal social causes. And in so doing this two party political structure has divided the country and consolidated their power. These parties do not exist to hurt each other or to prove the other party wrong. Because no matter which party controls the Presidency or the House or the Senate, they are both in power. They exist to keep third parties out of power.

Does anyone believe that there are really only two political philosophies in America? Hell no! You cannot tell me that everyone you and I know is a Democrat or a Republican! I know lots of Independents. I know Libertarians. I know Constitutionalists and Anarchists too. Yet almost none of them are in office. They get laughed out of ballot access. They get ridiculed in social gatherings. Why? Because everyone is supposed to be either a Democrat or a Republican. That’s the way the Democrats and Republicans have it set up. And that is the way they want to keep it.

May I reiterate – They are both in power!

It does not have to be that way. It is not the law of the land. It is not in the Constitution. Nor has it been passed by any state legislature. Nor is it in any city ordinance.

It can be changed. It must be changed. Taxes are so far out of hand from what is necessary that we can not let this go on. More than 50% of what we earn goes to support this political system. One trillion dollars to Social Security. Another Trillion to Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and ACA. Another trillion to defense and safety net programs. Trillions more to state and local governments. And $14 trillion in debt!

To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, “A trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money.”

People think they have to vote because if they did not, they would not have a right to complain. But when they do vote, nothing changes anyway. No matter who wins we all lose.

I do not have the answers but I do know that the answers are not in maintaining the status quo. Demand change! Demand it now! Demand it in November!

 

 

 

 

 

Chic Chicago

Last weekend there were at least 70 shootings in Chicago, a democratic stronghold, a city with strict gun control laws, a city with practically no gun stores. The Chicago Police Superintendent, Garry McCarthy, blames gangs and illegal guns for the violence. The illegal guns are supposedly coming from bordering states including Wisconsin and Indiana. Chicago politicians including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Congressman Danny Davis, and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (who argues that the problem is that Chicago is surrounded by red states that have completely surrendered to the pro-gun lobby) are calling for new federal regulations to close traffic in interstate gun sales including instituting Federal Universal Background Checks.

Really? More laws? Isn’t it already illegal to use a weapon in the commission of a crime? For that matter isn’t crime by definition illegal? What law will stop someone intending to commit a crime, any crime, to not commit it?

Do we really want a politician from Chicago, or Illinois for that matter, telling us how to solve our crime problem anyway? Several politicians from the Illinois delegation to Congress have been convicted of serious crime – Senator Willian Lorimer, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, Rep. Dennis Hastert, Rep. Mel Reynolds, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, and Rep Aaron Schock. Also Governors Len Small, Otto Kerner, Dan Walker, George Ryan, and Rod Blagojevich have all served time in prison. If you can’t do the time – Don’t get elected in Illinois!

No more laws. Less law is what we need – at least when it comes to gun control – at least in Illinois. I think a pink Lady Smith in every purse would make for a very chic Chicago.

Death

I have not written anything in a few months. It has been a very difficult time, the most difficult time of my life up to now. A couple months ago my 3 1/2 year old grandson, Arlo, died of brain cancer. It made me question my faith and my entire belief system when he died. Why? Why such a young and beautiful life is taken before it is even begun.

I have always considered myself a strong Christian, versed in the Bible, faithful in attendance at services. I have been an Elder in my congregation for over 20 years. And yet my faith did nothing to give me peace. The verse that kept going through my mind was from Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” What did that say about my faith? I did not want to move a mountain. Was my faith so small that my prayers for the healing of a little child of God, would go unanswered and unfulfilled?

Arlo had been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer at 14 months. The cancer had already metastasized. They found two tumors on his lungs. After 2 lung surgeries, they did a successful liver transplant at 18 months. At 30 months he relapsed. During another lung surgery, the tumor burst while it was being extracted from his chest and filled his chest cavity with cancer cells. The doctors flushed his chest cavity with chemo and said everything should be fine. It was, at least until age 36 months when the team at Froedert Childrens Hospital found two brain tumors during a routine MRI. They did surgery a couple months later after trying to shrink the tumors. They could not remove the margins because they said it could affect motor functions or speech. They did another MRI a couple weeks after the surgery and said the tumors had already grown back to the size they were before the surgery. They also found a third tumor. They gave him a couple months. He died two weeks later.

Two weeks ago my 92 year old dad died. For the last 2 1/2 years he had lived with my wife and I. He and mom moved in when mom was getting too much to take care of for dad. She had Alzheimer’s and was getting worse each week. Even at 90 years old Dad did everything – cooking, cleaning, taking care of mom, doctors appointments, etc.  Mom died 6 months later and dad, though living with us, was all alone, heartbroken that his soulmate of 68 years was gone.

This last Sunday one of my good friends moms died, also at 92. A day later an old friend and customer at my restaurant died. He was only 82.

My faith still wobbles. I am working through it. It was my dad’s time. He had lived a full life. It was my friend’s moms time. It was my old customer’s time. It should not have been Arlo’s time.

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Bryce Ain’t Nice

The news from SE Wisconsin today is that long time Congressman and current Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, will not seek re-election in January when his term runs out. Ryan has said all along that he never intended to serve so long in the Congress. He wants to spend more time with his family.

Randy Bryce who announced his bid to unseat Ryan a few months ago had this to say, “After 20 years in Congress rewarding billionaires like Charles and David Koch, Paul Ryan took one look at Randy Bryce and this campaign and is throwing in the towel.” Bryce is taking credit for forcing Ryan out of office.

Frankly I don’t really care that Ryan is leaving. He has not been able to enact his agenda of smaller government, lower taxes, and saving Social Security. But for Bryce to take credit for Ryan leaving is absurd. It is also ungentlemanly.

Bryce’s boast is one of the things that makes politics so ugly. Why could he not have just said congratulations on serving 20 years in Congress and ending up being third in line for the US Presidency? Why could he not have said that it would have been an interesting race that he had been looking forward to? He could have said that now he is looking forward to a race of nobody first time candidates. The old saying goes, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

But Bryce ain’t nice. And so he stuck his foot in his mouth. I hope he chokes on it!