Recommended Reading

Are you concerned about global poverty? overpopulation? genetically modified foods? environmental exploitation? Are you serious about understanding causes and solutions? Then read this:

The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.

 

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

There are people today who think life was better in the past. They argue that there was not only a simplicity, tranquillity, sociability and spirituality about life in the distant past Continue reading

The Doers and the Do-nots.

Consider two types of people:

When hit with a devastating hurricane, some find a reporter with a camera and demand “We need help, now”! Others shed tears over their loss, thank God for their life, and get to work picking through what’s left. Some shout angrily “I’ve been waiting in line for gas for three hours! What’s wrong with this country?” Others filled their tanks before the storm.

When laid off from a job, some look for someone to blame. Chinese people! Greedy bosses! Illegal aliens! They protest in the streets if told that their unemployment benefits can’t be extended forever. Others are thankful for unemployment compensation and use it to survive while they shift gears. They re-evaluate, re-educate, and work until they find a way to support themselves.

Upon slipping on a wet floor, some people call a lawyer. Others grab a mop.

After their candidate loses an election, some people shout UNFAIR! They whine, make excuses, and demand endless recounts. Others sigh, pray, get up, and go to work.

Which one do you want to be?

Middleman as Bogeyman

During last night’s presidential debate with Mitt Romney, President Obama explained his theory of economics in two nutshells: student loans and healthcare. Let’s look first at student loans. The problem with private lending institutions, you see, is that they must make a profit to survive. This profit is paid for by the students in the form of higher rates. He explains his solution:

“And we said, ‘Why not cut out the middleman?’ And as a consequence, what we’ve been able to do is to provide millions more students assistance, lower or keep low interest rates on student loans.”

Do you see what he did there? Continue reading

Labor Day Thoughts

“Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” — Abraham Lincoln

These words, taken from the final paragraphs of Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 State of the Union Address, are often cited on Labor Day to demonstrate that Lincoln elevated the interests of organized labor above those of capitalists. When a friend posted the quote on Facebook this week, I asked him for his take on the quote. His answer was: “…labor came first. People were made to labor. It does our body and soul good. Capitalism came later and now abuses human labor to make huge profits which begat slave labor and now chinese labor. “

Wow.  Is that what Abe was telling us? Continue reading

He’s No Ronald Reagan

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”   –Ronald Reagan

“My promise…is to help you and your family”   –Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech last night was not about liberty. But then, neither is his concept of the role of government. Rather than promising to get out of our way, he promised to meddle in our affairs more capably than Obama. Experience shows us that he is certainly more capable, and conservatives are betting that his brand of tinkering will take us in a better direction than that of the current fiddler-in-chief. Continue reading

My Long-Winded Movie Review and Commentary: 2016 – Obama’s America

In creating this movie, author Dinesh D’Souza teamed with Hollywood producer Gerald Molen, who brought us a number of significant films, including Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, and – one my favorites – Rain Man. I doing so, he has accomplished something that many conservatives have unsuccessfully attempted: the creation of a polished, compelling, and beautifully filmed documentary. Since most people in the film industry lean heavily to the left of the political spectrum, conservatives have historically been at a disadvantage when it comes to persuading people on an emotional level.

For this reason, it’s tempting to categorize this movie as a conservative version of a Michael Moore movie. Since I’ve never Continue reading

Wipe that smile off your face, Mitt.

My advice for Mitt Romney:  Stop with the smiling.
This is not a game. The fate of our nation is at stake, and trading debate one-liners with a wink and a grin is not the way to convince conservatives that you are serious about it.

Apparently Mitt’s marketing experts think that the way to overcome his plasticman rich white guy image is to have him wear some blue jeans and remove his tie. Continue reading

Taking Up Space

I’ve been trying to figure out what the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors are trying to accomplish.  I’m not sure they know.  My search of the website www.occupywallstreet.org didn’t yield much in the way of specifics, although the excessive use of the word “solidarity” coupled with the raised fist graphic on the masthead gives me a pretty good idea.  They rail against the usual suspects: corporate greed, climate change, genetically modified food, corporate greed, social inequality, police trying to keep the Brooklyn Bridge open for traffic, corporate greed, poverty, etc.
A good protest is never without a healthy dose of irony, and this one doesn’t fail to deliver.  A few examples: According to Forbes, Continue reading

Please Don’t Feed The Bullies

It seems that an epidemic of bullying has suddenly descended on our children the likes of which the world has never seen. Not a day passes that we don’t hear multiple news reports about the latest bully attack. Kids are committing suicide. Mental health professionals camp on cots outside network news offices, waiting their turn in the never-ending commentary cue. From Oprah to O’Reilly, everyone wants to solve the problem of bullying, but it seems to be getting worse instead of better.  Why?  Because we’re going at it backwards.

Bluto

We’re doing it wrong!

Here’s my approach.  Let’s start teaching our kids to deal with it.  Instead of proudly bestowing victim status on our children, we should teach them to stand up for themselves.

Oprah would have us teach our kids that the first response to bullying is to go tell the school officials. While this may be appropriate in some cases, the approach is symptomatic of our larger attitude toward self-reliance. Even as adults, we are becoming a nation of helpless weaklings whose first response to any problem is to go to find an authority figure to take care of us. If we think a top-down approach can protect our children from bullies, we are fooling ourselves. Programs and policies can play a role, but until our kids learn to fend for themselves, the problem will only get worse.

Obligatory disclaimer: Of course, students should know that they can ask teachers for help when needed, just as we know we can call the police when needed. But calling the authorities should not be our first response to most interpersonal disputes. Why would we teach our kids anything different?

 

Raising victims enables bullies.

I’m no Dr. Phil, but it seems to me that bullies compensate for their own insecurity by dominating and putting down others. They feed on this power like an addictive drug and will continue the behavior as long as their victims enable them. Adults may be able to use the power of authority to temporarily stop a bully, but the resulting feeling of powerlessness only serves to intensify the bully’s need to seek power over others. Because the driving force behind bullying is the helplessness of the victim, the best way to stop a bully is to empower the victim. When the bully realizes he (or she) has no victim, he no longer gets the kick from the drug. Sure, he may still need counseling and/or punishment to resolve their larger inner problems, but this can work only after the initial detox of removing the source of their power.

 

Sticks and stones… (well, you know)

As a third grader, I was physically bullied by another boy. I told my dad.  Did he come to the school and have a conference with the principal?  No.  He taught me to stand up for myself, and fight back if necessary.  My dad taught me to fight, literally.  I did fight back, and after one punch, the other kid quickly backed down.  Not only did I gain the respect of the bully, I gained respect for myself that has given me confidence all my life. As an added bonus, I believe that the bully benefited from the experience as well (although I don’t think he realized it at the time). Some say that violence is never the answer, but I beg to differ.  Had my dad treated me as a helpless victim, the bully would have been empowered and my resulting insecurity might well have created another bully in me.  My third grade tormentor and I both learned a powerful lesson that day, a lesson too many of our children will never learn.

Of course it’s a complex subject, and there are many problems in our society that contribute to the problem of bullying.  The coarseness of the culture, our glorification of violence, absent fathers, the removal of God as a guiding force in our lives, all these are factors.  But certainly a major contributor is our fundamental shift from raising confident, self-reliant individuals to raising helpless wimps.  

In a society in which “the community” has supplanted the individual, self-reliance is now frowned upon. Therein lies the real problem. When we fail to teach our children to take care of themselves, we teach them to be losers.  And we feed them to the bullies.