Thanksgiving dinner is always a big event at the Knecht home, but it will be delayed this year. Ron will be in the hospital recovering from major back surgery.
When folks have heard about this, they have given the normal and appreciated expressions of concern and support. Ron’s response has been to thank them and say that, really, it’s a great event, a source of joy and real thanksgiving.
For, if anyone had the conditions that require this surgery 100 years ago, it was not then available. So, by this point in life or fairly soon the person would have been in a wheel chair or bed for the rest of his life.
Instead, while it is a major event today, it is something that can be scheduled for minimum time away from the job and when it’s convenient in a person’s life. Soon, Ron expects to be free of pain he has experienced for years, then fully recovered and restored to what he was able to do before the back problems began to seriously crimp his life.
We can all be thankful for the doctors, physical therapists and other medical professionals who do the remarkable things to provide such services and otherwise restore us to good health and function. And, of course, to the incredible people and businesses that developed and commercialized these near miracles.
In the words of the Founding Fathers, we also thank Divine Providence.
But we also see something else that’s essential and for which we are thankful. None of this would be possible without rapid economic growth and the limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom that foster such growth.
What’s the connection between those three factors, rapid economic growth and modern medical wonders?
For almost all human history, people did not have limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom. So, for thousands of years, economic growth was glacially slow. Thus, it could truly be said that one’s lot in life for almost everyone was that of their parents. From this fact, philosophy, religion and people’s approach to life tended to be quite fatalistic. The modern American ideas of opportunity, self determination and Horatio Alger tales was unknown and would have seemed strange, or even heretical, to most people.
But about 350 years ago, Britain began to develop the political and economic institutions, practices and policies that flowered even further in its colonies and became the framework for American government and society, as well as that of Britain. So, in the 19th Century, the US and Britain came to dominate the world economically and otherwise. Other countries followed, and to the extent they adopted those institutions, etc. that economists have identified, they also prospered.
Economic growth means people’s lives are not wholly consumed with providing the basics of food, shelter, warm clothing, etc. Instead, they have time and extra resources remaining after taking care of those needs to devote to other matters.
For example, they can gain education and indulge music and the arts. They can build the big businesses that make cities possible. And they can create institutions that take care of the poor, conduct research and ultimately create the medical, communications, transportation, industrial and other wonders that make modern life so rich.
Thus, today’s poor people enjoy goods and services that would have been unthinkable even for the richest nobles a century ago.
This is how rapid economic growth, fed by limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom produced the remarkable services and goods that will give Ron and millions of others a new lease on life instead of ending their productive times and joy of life. Without the rapid economic growth we have enjoyed the last 200 years, those things would not be possible for people even a millennium from now.
So, we invite you to join us this year in giving thanks for the limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom that produced rapid economic growth and these tangible blessings.
We’ve noted before that rapid growth has disintegrated in the last decade because those three factors have eroded over many decades and especially recently. Let’s work to restore all parts of this equation to yield even greater miracles for our children.
Multiple states have mobilized their #LocktheClock forces to put an end to biannual time changes. Last year California passed Proposition 7, making Daylight Saving Time year-round and permanent. Other states who have proposed legislation include the following:
Some states had put forth legislation to be on Atlantic Standard Time, a time zone one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time that essentially puts them on year-round Daylight Saving Time. These include Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Multiple health risks have been cited in scientific literature during the “Spring Forward” and are cited below, including car accidents, heart attacks and workplace injuries.
Dr. Paul Kalekas, an Internal Medicine and Attending Physician at Valley Hospital Medical Center who has practiced in Nevada for years, states, “It’s time this gets done.”
Nevada’s original bill failed to pass in Congress a few years back so he and other physicians are working to resubmit legislation.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to make daylight savings time the new, permanent standard time. States with areas exempt from daylight savings time may choose the standard time for those areas.
However, critics worry that states choosing their own time may disrupt the time zone uniformity.
So how did we end up here in the first place?
This ritual began in ancient civilizations, when daily schedules would be adjusted to the change in daylight. Later Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay for Parisians entitled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” in 1784 explaining how less candles could be used if people woke up earlier, making more use of natures early light.
Hurricane Dorian has been upgraded to a Category 3 and expected to hit the Florida coast on Monday. Upon landfall it will probably pick up enough additional wind force to upgrade to a Category 4.
Florida is currently under a state of emergency and residents are preparing for the worst. These hurricanes keep coming and they seem to be more destructive and more costly. And why is that? Well, last year my co-worker wrote a strongly worded story titled “Hurricanes should blow climate deniers’ eyes, minds open.” In it he writes:
“While I wish the best to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I also hope climate change deniers affected by the hurricanes realize their denial of climate change contributed to their current situation and will contribute to worse situations in the future.
Mother Earth is doing her best to convince climate denying Americans that global warming is no hoax and that people are responsible for the increasing instances and intensity of weather disasters. She started by flooding the Gulf Coast with category-three hurricane, Harvey, which AccuWeather predicts will cost America more than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined.”
His story makes compelling arguments and he links to more than a dozen reputable sources and studies. He wrote that more than one year ago and he was correct in predicting that this year the hurricanes would be much, much worse.
And they are. And now all we can do is rebuild and assist those that are in need. And we’ll probably have to do it again. And again. And again.
If you can, donate to the Red Cross.
This is a developing story and will continue to be updated.
Weird but awesome news! I am totally onboard with this idea! The petition, which was started by the nonprofit Halloween & Costume Association, has received more than ninety five thousand signatures as of Sunday afternoon (the 28th.) Technically, the petition is addressed to President Trump but since it’s not a federal holiday, the President can’t officially change the date. We the people of the United States could simply decide to change the date and celebrate on the last Saturday of October, but that would require Herculean amounts of communication to retail stores, schools and people all over the country. Which means, while I am one hundred percent onboard with changing the date - it might be easier said then done.
Regardless, it kind of seems like common sense to me. Permanently moving Halloween to a Saturday would mean that it would be easier and probably safer for kids to celebrate. It would certainly be much easier for parents to organize a weekend Halloween celebration instead of taking them out on a school night on Tuesday evening or whenever the 31st happens to fall on that particular year.
The fine folks over at Autoinsurance.org analyzed 24 years of fatal traffic accidents involving pedestrians and children occurring after 4pm when Halloween falls on a weekend vs a weeknight. Their recent study, which can be found here, clearly finds that weekdays are more dangers for trick or treaters than weekends. Their study supports moving Halloween to the last Saturday in October, too!
But maybe that’s just us! The petition in full reads:
“It's time for a Safer, Longer, Stress-Free Celebration! Let's move Halloween to the last Saturday of October!
“The issue of Illegal immigrants in America or in any other country can easily be resolved - Enforce the Law.”
Within America, it is clear that when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration, the laws are simply not being enforced, which encourages and breeds crime, and at the end of the day, anarchy and the loss of your country (Psalm 9:17).
That’s it. It’s just that simple. Immigration laws are not being enforced. The Government, on both sides of the un-constitutional aisles (Party affiliations), are not enforcing the immigration laws. Rather, they are encouraging illegals to then break the laws by entering into America and further endangering the American people.
This is exactly what is happening today, and all of this by design.
The purpose of government is to “restrain men from sin,” which is breaking God’s moral law (1 John 3:4) and “maintaining order,” which in contrast you are seeing criminal politicians alluring illegal immigrants into America on tax-payer dollars (Deuteronomy 28:43).
The second purpose of government is to condemn the wicked, and justify the righteous (Deuteronomy 25:1). Again, you are seeing today’s criminal politicians doing just the opposite by attempting to justify the wicked, transgressors of the law, by browbeating into submission the righteous, those citizens of America who are on the side of the law.
Those that play the fool in allying themselves with the mainstream media’s narrative by browbeating American citizens should first consider that they are advertently handing their country over to them that are firstly breaking the law. They are breeding crime.
Do you know what happens to illegal immigrants in Mexico?
Their law states:
“• Foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may be imprisoned:
– Foreigners with fake immigration papers may be fined or imprisoned. (Article 116)
– Foreigners who sign government documents “with a signature that is false or different from that which he normally uses” are subject to fine and imprisonment. (Article 116)
– Foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be punished. (Article 117)
– Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be – imprisoned for up to 10 years. (Article 118)
– Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced to up to six years in prison (Articles 119, 120 and 121). Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico — such as working without a permit — can also be imprisoned.
– “A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally.” (Article 123)
– Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. (Article 125)
– Foreigners who “attempt against national sovereignty or security” will be deported. (Article 126)
– A Mexican who marries a foreigner with the sole objective of helping the foreigner live in the country is subject to up to five years in prison. (Article 127)”
On the other hand, we had President Dwight Eisenhower and his answer to illegal immigrants that were here in America, which was dubbed “Operation Wetback.”
Operation Wetback, U.S. immigration law enforcement campaign during the summer of 1954 that resulted in the mass deportation of Mexican nationals (1.1 million persons according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS], though most estimates put the figure closer to 300,000). Drafted by U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Jr., and vetted by Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Operation Wetback arose at least partly in response to a portion of the American public that had become angry at the widespread corruption among employers of sharecroppers and growers along the Mexican border and at the Border Patrol’s inability to stem the influx of illegal workers.
In 1954, Attorney General Brownell forwarded the initiative that would eventually become known as Operation Wetback. Its name was derived from wetback, the offensive term for the multitude of Mexican immigrants who traversed the Rio Grande to illegally cross the border between Mexico and the United States. (In 1953 alone, some 886,000 persons were seized by the U.S. federal government for illegally entering the United States from Mexico.) The initiative focused on two primary objectives: (1) stemming the flow of illegal and undocumented Mexican workers into the United States and (2) discouraging the employers who harboured such workers. The plan met with resistance from some legislators as well as from agricultural and farming groups that lobbied Congress. Many legislators objected to one of the initiative’s central tenets—that employers of illegal workers should be punished— because proving the employers’ awareness of the workers’ illegal status would be difficult. Moreover, some lawmakers were hesitant about Brownell’s militaristic approach, which involved carrying out the plan like an invasion. Ultimately, Congress failed to pass legislation authorizing punishment for those who hired illegal workers, but it did allocate increased funding for the Border Patrol.
Robert Mueller made his first (and probably only) public statement about his special investigation into the Russian interference of the 16’ election. He reiterated that his report does not exonerate President Trump but also, and very clearly says, charging the President with a crime was not an option due to the constitutional restriction against charging an active President.
His full statement:
Two years ago, the Acting Attorney General asked me to serve as Special Counsel, and he created the Special Counsel's Office.
The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.
I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking today because our investigation is complete. The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. And we are formally closing the Special Counsel's Office. As well, I am resigning from the Department of Justice and returning to private life.
I'll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office's written work speak for itself.
Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.
As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.
The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information, and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks. The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.
And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to interfere in the election.
These indictments contain allegations. And we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. That is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office.
That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.
Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate.
The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign's response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.
And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the President.
The order appointing me Special Counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation and we kept the office of the Acting Attorney General apprised of the progress of our work.
As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.
We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime. The introduction to volume two of our report explains that decision.
It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited.
The Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.
The Department's written opinion explaining the policy against charging a President makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report. And I will describe two of them:
First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged.
And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.
And beyond Department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge.
So that was the Justice Department policy and those were the principles under which we operated. From them we concluded that we would not reach a determination -- one way or the other -- about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office's final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.
We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the Attorney General—as required by Department regulations.
The Attorney General then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and the American people.
At one point in time I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The Attorney General preferred to make the entire report public all at once. We appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public. I do not question the Attorney General's good faith in that decision.
I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak about this matter. I am making that decision myself—no one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter.
There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.
The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.
So beyond what I have said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress.
It is for that reason that I will not take questions here today.
Before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI agents, the analysts, and the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals, who spent nearly two years with the Special Counsel's Office, were of the highest integrity.
I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.
That allegation deserves the attention of every American.
American Progressives today like to talk about their Green New Deal, free higher education for all and slavery reparations. But recently the eminent economist Dr. Thomas Cargill addressed Reno’s Hayek Group about Progressives’ original cause: eugenics.
Eugenics is a dark and troubling part of US history – one not accurately reflected in standard accounts and teaching today of that history. The “scientific” racism of eugenics ideology flowered in the second half of the 19th Century through the 1930s.
It classified persons as “fit” or “unfit” based on traits assumed to be hereditary, including race and ethnicity, mental and physical characteristics, and country of origin. Because “fitness” was assumed to be genetic, it was hereditary and thus immutable: not subject to alteration via environment, nurture or other conditioning methods.
Eugenics gained wide acceptance, even being reflected in decisions of the Supreme Court of The United States. “Three generations of imbeciles are enough,” said Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the case of Buck v. Bell, a 1927 decision upholding a Virginia law that authorized the state to surgically sterilize certain “mental defectives” without their consent.
Eugenics doctrine had a broad reach from justifying slavery to the alleged superiority of Nordic peoples (“Aryans”) to other races. It was fostered in the US by the mushrooming of the administrative state during the progressive period, and it also provided some ostensible intellectual foundation for that mushrooming.
German Nazism also drew greatly on the developing American eugenics tradition. As much as anything, the fall of the Third Reich undid eugenics.
After the Civil War, it was used first to justify low military compensation for blacks and then to support barriers to non-Nordic immigration. Implementation of eugenics was helped by the rise of progressivism’s administrative and interventionist government over-riding the outcomes of free markets. By 1905, 32 states had sterilization laws fostered by eugenics, and thousands of people were sterilized.
One scholar recently noted, “Eugenics and progressivism were made for each other.” The doctrine was an excuse for the exercise of extreme coercive collectivism, the fundamental means employed by progressivism.
Minimum wage legislation was also originally related to eugenics, as it proposed to let the market pay low or no wages to the unfit persons (mainly races) so they would over time die off. Even the famous Yale economist Irving Fischer bought into such dogma.
Perhaps the most (in)famous proponent and activist in favor of eugenics and its abuses of human beings was Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, who was an outright racist. Her 1933 article in the journal Birth Control Review was also a strong argument against immigration to America. And sterilization of the mentally ill was a popular birth control idea from the start.
The notable surprise beyond the flourishing of eugenics in America is that it has been almost completely omitted from modern history and government texts. Since almost all high school students must take a US history course, this omission has given them a completely false account of very important US history, politics and government. Eugenics and its disastrous history as a key part of progressivism are at best mentioned in passing, and mostly minimized and treated as not a significant part of our history.
Why? The writers of the books don’t themselves seem to know much about this central subject. Some authors are aware, but seem to consider it unimportant; eugenics is viewed by many progressives as the crazy uncle in the family. Also, eugenics’ relationship to abortion makes it a taboo subject for many advocates of that practice. And almost all these writers are progressives with a bias in support of the over-reaching administrative state, and discussing eugenics undermines that key advocacy.
What do students lose due to these biases and omissions? First, balanced and reasonably complete perspective on US history, politics and government and the roles of various factions then and now. Second, a necessary skepticism of the ideology of catastrophe supported allegedly by science. (See also climate change deniers.) Third, the perils of small groups, especially of self-selected elitists, controlling social power; this often leads to bad decisions and social disasters. (See also China’s one-child policy.) Finally, a profound understanding of the power of even a bad idea.
Earlier this week, news erupted about the Boy Scout’s “Perversion Files.” The Perversion Files (which the Scouts call, “ineligible volunteer files,”) detail as many as 12,000 boys that, while participating in scout programs - were sexually abused by Scout leaders.
Now, portions of the Perversion Files have leaked before, so the general information is nothing new. What has recently come forward is that the number of abused boys and abusers is much, much higher than previously reported.
The way I understand it is that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) hired someone to do a five year internal investigation and that investigation concluded the number leaders who sexually assaulted boys in the program is not the 3,000 as had been previously reported, but is actually closer to 8000.
Let that sink in for a moment. That’s eight thousand men - volunteer leaders in the BSA, that have been accused of molesting more than 12,000 boys. So the “Ineligible Volunteer Files” is a detailed list of all the men who have “had their registration with the Boy Scouts revoked - because of reasonable allegations of child sex abuse.”
This all came to light when attorney Jeff Anderson released sworn testimony from Janet Warren, a psychiatry professor at the University of Virginia. Warren had been hired by the Boy Scouts to conduct the above mentioned study of the sex abuse files. Warren found that the evidence in the files was actually much worse than what the BSA imagined. She found the number of abused boys and abusers was thousands more than initially thought. Warren also made it clear that she found no evidence of a cover up by the BSA to hide this information and that she will present a more detailed report sometime during the summer.
Unlike the Catholic church, who just shuffles abusers around to new parishes and/or different cities - at least the Boy Scouts fired the abuser and didn’t allow them to work with youth ever again. I mean, it’s not much, but at least it’s that.
With something like two and a half million children participating in the Boy Scouts, if there are thousands of victims who come forward (and hundreds and hundreds of them are coming forward - some as young as 15, and one as old as 75) - this could be a financial disaster the BSA. As a non profit organization, they would not be able to financially handle thousands of lawsuits and would probably declare bankruptcy, which would shield them from lawsuits but allow them to continue operations.
Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts said this at a lengthy press conference:
"I want to reiterate our steadfast support for victims of abuse. We are outraged that there have been times when individuals took advantage of our programs to abuse innocent children … We care deeply about all victims of child abuse and sincerely apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in scouting. We believe victims, and we pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward. At no time have we ever knowingly allowed a perpetrator to work with youth, and we mandate that all leaders, volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegations to law enforcement. Throughout our history, we have enacted strong youth protection policies to prevent future abuse, including mandatory youth protection trainings and a formal leader-selection process that includes criminal background checks. Since the 1920's, we have maintained a Volunteer Screening Database to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or re-entering our programs, a practice recommended in 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control for all youth-serving organizations."
Okay. Well, I do believe him. I doubt BSA leadership “knowingly allowed” predators to work with youth. Again, the Perversion Files clearly state that abusers were fired after “reasonable evidence.” Which suggests that the BSA knew about the allegations, believed the victim and fired the alleged abuser. But, and here’s the sticky point - didn’t contact authorities. Which might have been a problem.
Interestingly enough, I just read that the Boy Scouts filed suit against several of their insurers for “refusing to cover its sex abuse legal liabilities.” But, like insurance companies everywhere, said insurance agents found a way not to pay a cent of coverage for the BSA by claiming, “the Boy Scouts neglected to take meaningful precautionary action.”
Hrmmm. Okay. Maybe. The Boy Scouts claim they have a screening process and a “protection system” in place. Which makes sense. Clearly, their process doesn’t work as well as they thought, but it certainly suggests they are “taking meaningful precautionary action,” so I don’t know what the F those insurance companies are talking about. I even found a part of their screening process / protection system listed in a CNN story:
Sounds like meaningful precautionary action to me. Anyway, - the courts will work all that out. Until then, more and more victims continue to come forward.
Before I get to the teacher in question, I want to talk education for a minute. It's been written many times that U.S. students are, well - not number one. They are not number one in math, not number one in science and not number one in reading/writing. In fact, they are far from number one. The World Education Ranking system ranks, as you can guess - education in the world. The U.S. has never been number one. Ever. In 2016 U.S. kids had their best showing since the 70’s and placed 7th, but in 2017 dropped to 20th and last year (2018) - the U.S. dropped off the list entirely.
But you know what U.S. kids are number one in - thinking they are number one. No, seriously. If you ask U.S. kids how they expect to perform on a test when up against kids from other countries, American children universally believe they will perform much, much, much better than they actually do. And many U.S. kids honestly believe they will be number one in math, science, literacy and pretty much everything else under the sun. Number. One.
Well, let’s take a look. There is a test called the PISA (Program for International Students Assessment) and it’s a worldwide exam administered approx. every three years to 15 year old's in 72 countries. About half a million students take the exam. The test results are compiled by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). Their most recent test was in 2015.
Out of 72 countries tested:
U.S. kids ranked 40th in math with a score that puts U.S. teens 11 spots lower than the average score.
U.S. kids ranked 24th in reading comprehension with a score that puts U.S. teens 4 spots higher than the average score.
U.S. kids ranked 25th in science with a score that puts U.S. teens 4 spots higher than the average score.
Not exactly “‘We’re number one!” And, sadly, according to those 17'-18'World Education Ranking numbers I posted above, it looks like U.S. kids are dropping further down the list.
So, what’s going on? Who’s to blame?
Well, I don’t really know and I’m not going to speculate much; however, I find it interesting to hear how much self confidence U.S. kids seem to have vs. how they actually perform. Keep in mind, just because I’m not going to speculate doesn’t mean that other folks won’t speculate. Hell, everyone seems to have all the answers these days, you know? Just check social media where everyone is certain their all caps FB post is clearly the one and only way you MUST think or they’ll unfriend you.
It seems as if parents blame teachers. Teachers blame parents. Republicans blame teachers. Democrats blame the system. Education administrators don’t seem to blame teachers, but they certainly bail out on protecting teachers when irate parents come screaming or, God forbid - someone on a sports team is failing! “You can’t fail our basketball/baseball/football star!”
Yes, yes teachers can and should be able to fail students up to and including athletes. It is the teacher's exact job to evaluate if a child has done the work to pass, or not. If kids are terrible s#!t heads and parents are ignoring email, after phone call after text message saying, “Hey - your kid is a bully, hasn’t turned in 10 of his assignments this year and I might have to fail him! Please respond!” Well, if parents don’t take a vested interest in their own child’s education and their kid acts a damn fool and never does his/her school work - that kid deserves consequences. Just sayin.
And that’s exactly how Julie Marburger felt. Marburger is a sixth grade teacher at Cedar Creek Intermediate School in Texas. She was worn down by the chaotic destructive students and the irate road raging parents. And so, just before she quit, she wrote an epic FB post blasting them all. The rant went viral and within two weeks had millions of hits. (Editor’s note: It doesn’t appear as if she quit. She expected to receive hatred for her post and thought she would have to quit as a result but instead of recieving negative press she has received overwhelming support and it sounds as if the support has stayed her hand from quitting, as of yet).
Marburger’s view is that parents and children have become awful, abusive, entitled pricks. The kids don’t seem to care about consequences and parents lose their minds if their Precious Angel doesn’t get an A. It doesn’t matter if Precious Angel destroys school property, turns in zero work assignments and verbally abuses teachers and/or students because parents will still demand that Precious Angel recieve an A! After two years of, as Marburger describes it - abuse, she finally had enough and called parents and students out for their behavior.
Her full FB post:
“I left work early today after an incident with a parent left me unable emotionally to continue for the day. I have already made the decision to leave teaching at the end of this year, and today, I don’t know if I will make it even that long. Parents have become far too disrespectful, and their children are even worse. Administration always seems to err on the side of keeping the parent happy, which leaves me with no way to do the job I was hired to do ... teach kids.
I am including photos that I took in my classroom over the past two days. This is how my classroom regularly looks after my students spend all day there. Keep in mind that many of the items damaged or destroyed by my students are my personal possessions or I purchased myself, because I have NO classroom budget. I have finally had enough of the disregard for personal and school property and am drawing a line in the sand on a myriad of behaviors that I am through tolerating. Unfortunately, one parent today thought it was wrong of me to hold her son accountable for his behavior and decided to very rudely tell me so, in front of her son.
Report cards come out later this week, and I have nearly half of my students failing due to multiple (8-10) missing assignments. Most of these students and their parents haven’t seemed to care about this over the past three months, though weekly reports go out, emails have been sent and phone calls have been attempted.
But now I’m probably going to spend my entire week next week fielding calls and emails from irate parents, wanting to know why I failed their kid. My administrator will demand an explanation of why I let so many fail without giving them support, even though I’ve done practically everything short of doing the work for them. And behavior in my class will deteriorate even more. I am expecting this, because it is what has happened at the end of every other term thus far.
I have never heard of a profession where people put so much of their heart and soul into their job, taking time and resources from their home and family, and getting paid such an insultingly measly amount. Teachers are some of the most kind and giving people I have ever met, yet they get treated so disrespectfully from all sides. Most parents can’t stand to spend more than a couple hours a day with their kid, but we spend 8 with yours and 140 others just like him. Is it too much to ask for a little common courtesy and civil conversation.
It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to have a classroom of my own, and now my heart is broken to have become so disillusioned in these short two years. This is almost all i hear from other teachers as well, and they are leaving the profession in droves. There is going to be a teacher crisis in this country before too many more years has passed unless they abuse of teachers stops.
People absolutely HAVE to stop coddling and enabling their children. It’s a problem that’s going to spread through our society like wildfire. It’s not fair to society, and more importantly, is not fair to the children to teach them this is okay. It will not serve them towards a successful and happy life.
Many will say I shouldn’t be posting such things on social media ... that I should promote education and be positive. But I don’t care anymore. Any passion for this work I once had has been wrung completely out of me. Maybe I can be the voice of reason. THIS HAS TO STOP”
President Trump has signed a spending bill to avert another government shutdown. House Democrats agreed to some provisional border security money (to build 55 miles of new fencing) but did not fund The Wall the President wanted.
Anyway, the President signed the bill, passed by both House and Senate and that, as they say - is that.
Only … the President didn’t get his wall. Which is a problem for him and so, Friday afternoon, he declared the border a “national emergency” and will fund the wall via executive privilege. It doesn't seem to matter that, via any legitimate newsite and paper, you will find evidence to suggest that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans (which Trumps own administration admits).
That being said, there is a very real opioid crisis in the country. And the drugs are coming from somewhere. Of course, every intelligence agency worth its weight in salt will tell you that the drugs are coming into the country via mules and carriers in legal ports of entry.
It also doesn’t matter that border security personal, custom personal and leadership involved with both groups want “more technology and additional personnel.” That’s it. That’s what they want. Notice how there was no mention of a wall.
But that’s okay. Because this is a known phenomenon called, “Security Theater.” Security Theater is very specifically designed to create the illusion of offering security, even though everyone involved knows Security Theater does not actually make anything safer, it just makes the average person feel safer. And as long as folks feel safer, they come out and spend money.
The above linked Security Theater video is all about the TSA and how ineffective it is, but the same general principles apply to the border wall. A wall will not actually make the country safer, it will; however, make you feel safer. The border wall is the exact definition of Security Theater.
And by the way, wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for it?
The Great Wall of Trump: A timeline of “who is paying.”
June 2015: Trump will “build a great wall” says, ”Mexico will pay for it.”
Aug 2015: Trump says “the wall will be 30-50 ft. high,” Mexico will pay.
Dec 2015: "I'll tell you what it's going to be made of. It's going to be made of hardened concrete, and it's going to be made out of rebar and steel." Mexico will pay.
Jan 2017: Donald Trump takes over office of the Presidency. The Wall does not seem to be any kind of priority.
Jan 2017: Inexplicably, U.S. “might” have to pay.
Later Jan, 2017: Mexico is paying (again).
Even later Jan 2017: Mexico says it is NOT paying for wall
Even later than that, Jan 2017: Trump says Mexico is paying.
Even later than that, Jan 2017: Mexico says, “No, we are NOT paying for the wall.”
March 2017: Pence says, “Mexico will pay.”
March 2017: Mexico says, “Nope, wrong again. We will not pay for the wall.”
March 2017: Republicans say, “Mexican drug cartels will pay for the wall.”
Later March 2017: Mexican cartels don’t bother responding (but probably, laugh).
Even later March: U.S. is paying but it "won't be that expensive."
June 2017: Wall is now a “solar powered wall” that will “pay for itself.”
July 2017: Wall is no longer a solar powered wall that will pay for itself. Wall is now a “steel wall with openings” allowing border security to see when “drug dealers throw drugs over the wall.” Wall price skyrockets. U.S. is paying.
Jan 2018: Wall is now a “fence with windows.” U.S. is still paying.
March 2018: Wall is concrete (again) with no openings. Wall price skyrockets. U.S. is still paying but again, wall doesn’t seem to be a priority.
Nov 2018: Two days before the election, Trump warns if you don’t vote Republican the U.S. will be overrun with Mexican invaders.
Nov 2018: Election day. Democrats to retake control of Congress.
Dec 2018: Wall is now a “steel slat barrier.” U.S. - still paying. It’s now a priority. Many begin to report that Russian steel will be involved in building the wall. Russian steel belonging to a Trump/Kushner family friend.
Later Dec: Wall is mostly concrete (again) with some steel areas that will have openings. It’s a priority.
Jan 2019: Democrats take control of Congress.
Later Jan 2019: The wall is coming! (Trump tweets.) US - still paying. Wall price skyrockets. It might even be a national emergency! Will probably use Russian steel.
Feb 2019: Trump declares National Emergency to fund Wall. U.S. taxpayers will pay for it all. It might be concrete, it might use Russian steel. Maybe both.
On Thursday, The Supreme Court blocked a Louisiana law designed to restrict access to abortions. In a 5-4 decision the surprising swing vote came from Chief Justice John R. Roberts Jr., who is generally considered a conservative justice. Instead of siding with fellow conservatives Justice Thomas, Alito & Gorsuch; Chief Justice Roberts sided with liberal appointees Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagen and Breyer.
So, just what is the Louisiana law that was struck down?
Well, it’s called, “Louisiana’s Unsafe Abortion Protection Act.” The premise of the law argues that doctors should have “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of where an abortion is performed, and, if they do not have said privileges they are not allowed to perform an abortion there. If passed, the law would reduce the number of doctors allowed to perform abortions and therefor, possible enforce an “undue” restriction on a woman seeking an abortion.
An “admitting privilege,” means that the doctor has the privilege to admit patients to the hospital for some diagnostic or therapeutic services. “Admitting privilege,” as implied in the Louisiana law, and here is the important part - has nothing whatsoever to do medical competence.
So the law ties to say that a patient might be “unsafe” if they receive an abortion from a doctor that does not have admitting privileges. Hence, the title of the act.
The obvious problem, as has been pointed out many times, and has been the reason this act has been previously struck down in courts is: there are many legitimate reasons why a doctor might not have admitting privileges to a hospital that have nothing to do with medical expertise. Which, obviously means that just because a doctor doesn’t have admitting privileges does not mean he/she is unqualified to perform an abortion. Which means the law is trying to enforce an undue restriction.
In fact there was a Texas law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 in their Whole Woman's Health vs. Hellerstedt decision. The Texas law was very similar to Louisiana’s “Unsafe Abortion Act. In a 5-3 decision (they were one Justice down at the time, as Scalia had just died) court said the Texas law constituted an “undue burden” on a women’s right to seek an abortion, and struck it down. Which is exactly what they did to the Louisiana act.
Now, it’s interesting to note that Justice Roberts did not vote against the Texas law in 2016. He did vote against the similar Louisiana law on Thursday. As to why? Well, we don’t know why, exactly. That being said, I did find an interesting breakdown over at Rolling Stone (.com) in a 2018 interview with veteran Newsweek reporter David Kaplan. Kaplan had just published a book called The Most Dangerous Branch, which was drawn from interviews “with 165 people including sitting justices, retired justices, clerks, lower court judges and federal officials.”
Tessa Stuart, from Rolling Stone, asks Kaplan if a new court (w/ Kavanaugh, who had not yet been confirmed) would overturn Roe. v. Wade? Kaplan said about Roberts: “I think Roberts is troubled by seeing the court get put in the maelstrom. And I think he recognizes that Roe v. Wade would put the court in the maelstrom like no other ruling in modern times … My guess would be that Roberts would not vote to explicitly overturn Roe…” (Which then would turn into a 6-3 vote against striking it down, in his opinion).
Fair enough. Maybe this is Robert’s first chance (the Thursday Louisiana vote) to suggest precisely what Kaplan was talking about. I guess, Kaplan is saying that Roberts just doesn’t want to rock the boat, per say. Although Kaplan did, at the time of the interview, seem to feel the Kavanagh would also vote against striking down Roe v. Wade.
Maybe. But maybe not. Kavanagh wrote the dissent against Thursday’s decision and it’s kind of dull but it’s only four pages if you want to check it out (linked above).
I read it. To the extent I understand it, it’s kind of a mess. Kavanagh goes back and forth and says, “Yeah, well, I guess I would be for this. But then again, I can see in some instances this would be undue (therefor illegal). You know I would need more facts about the new law, specifically, in order to make a more informed vote. But since I don’t have those facts - I’ll just vote yes. Yes, the Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Act is fine!”
Um. Okay. But one would assume that, without more facts about something that is going into law - you should vote, no.
Anyway. This will not be last time we see abortion rights front and center at the Supreme Court.
How do you put a dollar value on the worth of a public official? How about this idea.
Shouldn’t receiving any salary increase be based on results?
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will pocket some three and a half million dollars this year, making him one of the highest-paid football coaches in the nation. He received such an enormous salary package based on results. It’s the old adage that you get what you pay for, and with Ed, LSU ended the football season winning 10 games.
Should time and work be the only criteria in paying public employees? Why not pay the governor, the secretary of economic development, the superintendent of education, and a cross section of other public officials that directly affect our lives based on a scale of how well they perform and what results they achieve?
Experimentation with performance pay in the public sector is on the grow. A New York City charter school is promising to pay teachers $125,000 a year, plus bonuses based on classroom and school-wide performance. Sure, this is a lot of money, but those in charge are looking for a significant increase in student performance levels. Bottom line — results.
All of this aside, the heart of our query is about pegging the pay of the governor and his top assistants to performance. I would surmise that most voters in Louisiana would think it’s a good idea, but how do you do it? When you talk about results, it is certainly easier to define in the private sector. Results are measured in the stock price of a publicly traded company or by profit in any other company. The more the company makes, the more its managers can earn.
But can you create an accountability and production index in government? I think you can. This would be a challenge for key economists at Louisiana universities. Develop a formula that would give a “performance index.” Sounds difficult, but why not give it a try? If you take the economic figures below and compare them with other states, Louisiana comes in 48th in the nation.
I suggest starting a Louisiana “misery index.” Go ahead and pay Gov. John Bel Edwards and his brain trust the big bucks. The governor should make $1 million a year. But this amount would be adjusted by the misery index. Right now, the index is high on poor growth and low on performance, so Edwards salary would be close to what he now makes: $125,000. Now this should just be the beginning. As Governor Edwards often tells us, future economic growth in Louisiana is tied to job skills through education. Therefore, we should build into the formula increases in high school math performance, elementary student test results, reduction in the state’s troubling pollution levels, and maybe the number of new movies that are shot in Louisiana each year. Leave out the LSU national football ratings but include the student athlete graduation rates.
Finally, I would factor in consumer confidence. Are the voters getting tangible results? Are they happy with the performance of their top public officials? If you own shares of stock, and have little confidence in your company investment, you simply sell the stock. The average Joe ought to be able to put in his two cents worth as to the value he’s getting out of Louisiana government. Get his opinion through a statewide poll and factor the results in to the performance index.
So to all the statewide officials, I say make your case and ask the salary level you think you are worth. But just like in the private sector, be prepared to defend the bottom line. The proof of course is in the pudding. Be accountable for the results that take place. And if you succeed, reap the benefits.
In ancient Rome, there was a tradition when major projects were built. Whenever a Roman engineer constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible. He stood under the arch.
So pay these pied pipers of change and economic growth the big bucks they say they are worth. But keep them directly under the arch of performance, and let voters know there will be a day of reckoning if this promise of change and results plummet to the ground.
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown is a guest contributor to GCN news. His views and opinions, if expressed, are his own. His column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show, Common Sense, each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Communication Network.