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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Freedom of Speech is NOT a "nice to have"

  Studies have been done of companies that are failing and many times an underlying problem pervades them.   That problem is a lack of communication where lower company workers do not feel safe expressing their concerns to upper level management.  Contrast that to companies who are excelling in their business fields just the opposite is true and people can alert others to issues so they can be addressed before they become full out problems costing the company millions of dollars.  The reason this is so vitally important is that instead of having only a handful of eyes (managers) scanning the company for problems you have thousands of eyes all being alert and vigilant. 

   The same also goes for countries as well as companies.  Where countries allow their citizens to voice their opinions, problems seen can be addressed early and the country saved.  But like the issue with corporations, those at the top must be willing to hear from those at the bottom.  And there is the rub.  Many times leaders don't want to hear what is going wrong or how their policies are hurting those on the bottom. It becomes easier for them to shut down those who oppose them than it is to admit their mistake and change course.

   This can have disastrous effects. 

   For example, in 1986 the space shuttle Discovery blew up shortly after liftoff.  After many months of investigation it came to our attention that a O-ring crack caused by ice buildup was to blame.  But upon further study they found that engineers at the company that made the O-rings knew about the possibility that freezing water would be harmful.  They were not allowed to voice their concerns to people up the chain at NASA for fear it would cause a delay in the next launch.  In hind-sight that was the wrong thing to be worried about.

  That is why the Freedom of Speech is not a "nice to have" but instead is a integral part of our country which is why its put at the top of our founding fathers "Top 10 List".  Because we have this amendment, every citizen has not only the right , but also the DUTY to alert its fellow members about what they see as wrongs being committed by its leaders, so we as a country are not taken down a dangerous path of destruction. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Freedom to Offend

    Back in 1988, a movie called "The Last Temptation of Christ" was released.  The movie, directed by Martin Scorsese, was scandalous and showed Jesus:

  1) Having doubts about his divinity and his purpose
  2) Not dying on the cross or resurrecting from the dead
  3) Having a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene .

     When the Christian community protested the making of the movie, Hollywood screamed that it was protected by the Freedom of Speech and we obliged.  Though it was a clearly made to take down our faith and mock us:

    No one died.
    No theater was blown up. 
    No one was arrested and thrown into jail.
    No flags were burned.
     And yet, when a ridiculous 4th rate movie (you can barely call it a movie) is shown on YouTube saying scandalous things about the "prophet" Mohammad, you see the Islamic world "enraged" and people being killed in the streets.  I personally do not agree with the movie, but I also DO NOT believe Mohammad was a prophet. Instead, to me, he was a very intelligent military leader who saw that people who would not fight to protect a city, would fight to the death to protect a religious temple or holy sight.    As a US citizen I have the RIGHT to say that no matter what others believe and I cannot be held responsible for how any one person of the 6 billion that inhabit this small world reacts to that belief. 

    We as Americans must understand there is a reason why the Freedom of Speech and the Freedom of Religion are put together under the same 1st Amendment and not as separate amendments (1 & 2 or 1a and 1b).  You cannot have one without the other.  You cannot have the freedom to say what you want without also having the freedom to believe what you want.  The two are linked at the hip like a pair of Siamese Twins, never to be split apart no matter how hard they pull away from each other and dislike each other.   The Freedom of Speech is there to protect INFLAMMATORY SPEECH rather than NICE speech.  For there is no need for the 1st Amendment to say things like:

  - The sky is blue
  - I like puppies
  - I like to draw butterflies

No one looks at any of those statements and then says "WOW! We have to stop that!".  For speech that invokes no heated disagreement does not need protection.  Instead speech that DOES need protection is speech that stirs up our emotions and our desire to stifle it or limit it in some way.

Instead the 1st Amendment is there to protect things like:

   - Atheists are evil
   - Christians are hypocrites.
   - Jews are dishonest.
   - Muslims are terrorists

   Do any of those statements offend you?      They should!!! 

While I don't agree with ANY of those statements, if someone does make statements like those above, that is their right as citizens and they should be protected under our 1st Amendment.

   Maybe we should relabel the 1st Amendment as:
         The Freedom to Offend and Be Offended Amendment.

Being stupid pays!

   Watching the videos from Chicago of the teachers strike I have to say I feel completely and utterly depressed over the future of our country.  These are our children's teachers and they are about as moronic as they come.  You want to see why the state of education is so bad in our country then look no further than the level of quality that passes for a teacher today.  Teaching used to be an honored profession in our country but the unions have since drained it of all that used to make it honorable.  Teachers no longer teach because they love it for if they did they would not be destroying their kids lives by their petty union disagreement.

   The Chicago Teacher's Union is emblematic of what is wrong in education all across our country.  If you look at what these teacher's receive in pay and benefits it would make your head explode.   Take for example that the AVERAGE teacher in Chicago gets paid $76,000 per year and on top of that the average retired teacher is paid $77,000 per year with no contribution made by the employee at all (state must pay out 46% more for this) and full health benefits until Medicare kicks in (cost is 5% more).   This means that while the employee is paid on average $76,000, the state actually pays  $114,000 ($76,000 x (1 + 0.46 + 0.05) ) to cover the pay and benefits.  All this for 9 months of work!  In fact the average teacher works 180 days a year while the average non-teacher works 250 days per year (50 wks * 5).  Therefore  if you pro-rate the cost, the teacher is actually getting paid $158,000 per year.

   Not bad for a group that pulls students from the lower end of the SAT scale to its profession. As the old saying goes: "Those who CAN ... DO!  Those who CAN'T ... TEACH".   A 2005 study of students graduating from college in the teaching profession had an average SAT score of 965 while the overall average for all college bound students was 1026.  A NY Times article put it this way
 BELOW-AVERAGE STUDENTS Teaching attracts a "disproportionately high number of candidates from the lower end of the distribution of academic ability," says a report last year from the National Council on Teacher Quality. In 2004, the average combined SAT score for college-bound seniors was 1,026; the average for those who intended to major in education was 965. (Only home economics, public affairs and technical and vocational scores were lower.))
 NOTE: remember this is an average... so half of the group most likely had SAT scores well below
              the 965 level so they only got about HALF of the answers right on their test.

So unlike the rest of the world, being stupid pays!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Political Restaurants

  As many people do, I have friends who are Democrats. We do things together all the time.  We fish. We hunt. We camp. We watch football.  We talk about the weather, food, sports, friends, family, kids, school and work.  But what we don't talk about is.... politics.  Like many, politics has become the "third-rail" of social conversation. (For those who don't know, subways used to have a third-rail in the center that was electrified that power the train.  It was something you just did not touch!)

   I was thinking about this the other day and pondering why this was so?  Is it impossible to have a casual, intellectual discussion of a topic that affects all of us and our children?  I remember growing up in Illinois, my mom's side of the family got together on all the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter and Fourth of July) and we as kids were privy to hearing our uncles argue the latest in political issues.  We saw that you can disagree and still be nice to each other and love each other.   These discussions still ring in my ears.  For example, I can still hear my Uncle Charles argue against the 55 mph speed limit change saying "If I drive 65 I will get there faster and use less gas!".   I think we are hurting our kids by not showing them how to debate and yet embrace each other. 

   So how can we reach across the aisle and engage our Democratic friends in a manor that enlightens but does not threaten?   I think the answer is to look at political parties as "franchises".   We often have a false impression that all parties are static and do not change.  But that is just not the case.  Parties and people BOTH change over time.  I use the restaurant example to get my point across.  Ask the person you are talking to to tell you what their favor restaurant is.   Then ask them what they like about it.  Now tell them, "What if you went there every week and over time you saw small changes occurring. First it was the decorations.  Gone was the quaint paintings of farm scenes and replacing them was more modern art forms. Then later the simple china was replaced with more sophisticated dishes and glasses.  Then the menu changed from simple American fare to a more European cuisine.  Then one night you go in and the person at the front informs you that you are required to wear a tie to enter.  You would finally say, 'No Thanks! I won't be dining here anymore'.   Why?  Because that place no longer represents your values and tastes.  No one would reprimand you for leaving.  That's your choice!  You would never feel bad like you wasted your time going to the restaurant because for many years it WAS a nice restaurant and you had many good meals there over the years".

   So it is with political parties.  They, like restaurants, think that by changing their platforms and views they will attract a larger audience.  But if for every person they bring in, they lose two they will in the end wake up and realize the mistake they made.  But too often we view politics becomes like our eye color.  It becomes WHO we are and not WHAT we are.   Like pathetic Chicago Cubs fans who should have moved on to other teams a long ago, they stay connecting to a franchise that is not going anywhere and we often follow our parents footsteps and belong to same party without realizing that the party they loved no longer exists.   The party that used to be for the hard-working factory worker, is now the party of the liberal college professor and the Hollywood elite who has nothing in common with guy laying brick or welding an I-beam.  The Big-Tent party is now the Big-Government party.   

   And this is not limited to the Democratic Party either.  The Republican Party that I fell in love with under Reagan is a mere shadow of its former self.  People like the Bush's and the Gingrich's have warped the party into what I call:  Democratic-Lite.  Instead of espousing small government, they talk about a smaller-BIG-Government.  Rather than cutting government programs that waste the taxpayers money, they say we just have to SLOW THEIR GROWTH and those who have Reagan's view on the Constitution and the freedoms its gives are denigrated as "simpletons".  

   I have told my on kids that if Mitt Romney wins and he does not get rid of Obama-care in all of its gory details, I will no longer belong to the Republican Party.  I will become a Libertarian thru and thru.  Because at that point the party no longer will reflect my values and ideals and we will have to part ways.

   So think about this the next time you go out to a restaurant with a family or friend that is a Democrat and you are looking for a way to discuss our countries political troubles.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Human Cows

    Ever wonder when you pass a herd of cows feeding at a farm if the cows only knew what awaited them?  They live from one day to the next waiting for the farmer to poor out some more hay or feed in front them.  Little do they know that the food they are given has a price.  Their meat!  Little do they know that some day the farmer is going to load them up into a truck and take them to be slaughtered.

  So also it is with those human-cows you see lining up in front of the welfare office waiting for their next handout.  They think that the government-farmer is so nice and so well meaning to give them these free handouts, little do they know that those handouts come with a price.  Their FREEDOM! Because of those handouts, they can't move to a different location because they cannot afford a break in their payments  so they must stay in their crappy-drug-and-crime-infested-no-job-neighborhoods.  Because of their handouts, they must tow the government line and vote their masters back into office for FEAR that their handouts will stop.   In fact, that is the ONLY purpose these human-cows serve on this earth.    They are in effect "fenced in" on all sides and are stuck.

  What is sad to me is that unlike cows, which have limited mental capacity to think, these human-cows have fully developed brains capable of thought.  They can, if they try, get themselves to a better place.   They don't have to live in those crappy neighborhoods, because we have cars, trains, buses that can take you anywhere in the country you want to go to find work.  No one is told "You must live here!".  You have a choice!   The fences that keep you there are of your own making and are in your own mind.  You are a free person!  You can live anywhere you want and be anything you want to be!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A new rendezvous with destiny!

Thanks to the invention of YouTube, I and many others can see and hear great speeches like the one below.

I know that when Reagan wrote the speech we were in the midst of the Cold-War with Russia, but today I think this applies to what we see happening in our own country as we look towards our upcoming election.

We are told by media elites and politicians that we need to "accommodate" a certain amount socialism in our country.  We are told we cannot touch certain aspects of our federal government, often called "third-rails", such as Social Security and Medicare.  But accommodation is what got us into the mess we are in today as they are bankrupting us as a nation.  We have for too long retreated and backed down under the pressure of liberalism and progressive-ism and now we must face "the final demand, the ultimatum"  as Reagan mentioned in his speech.   And true to his prophecy, "our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we would have been weakened from within, spiritually (can't mention God in government any more), morally (there are no more absolutes) and economically (our dollar is trashed and we are indebted to our enemies)".

We must stop accommodating socialism and communism in our country.   It's time for us to say to our enemies, "there is a price we will not pay, there is a point at which they must not advance".   I believe that come this November, we as Americans will rise up and tell the socialists with a loud and resounding voice that we will not go quietly into "a thousand years of darkness" and "we will preserve for our children this the best hope yet for mankind on earth".