My Fellow Americans…

I decided to listen the the President’s address on jobs, though I don’t normally tune into this sort of thing.  I was impressed with the plan he laid out and was hopeful that some progress might be made.

Of course, I knew what the reaction would be.  The republicans are so very predicable.  Rather than come up with a plan, they want to whine about how all the poor rich people will get hurt if this plan goes forward.  Poor hedge fund managers would have to pay their fair share of taxes instead of the incredibly low capital gains tax.

I understand the rich already pay more under our graduated system.  I also know they have plenty of money to purchase people to shelter much of that money to avoid pay those taxes.  Rich people, and certainly rich banks, do not create jobs. They don’t build schools.  They don’t build hospitals, or roads or pay off the unusually high debt it takes to go to school.  They buy opulent things or stash their money in banks (that got bail out money) to make loans to the plebeians that worship the rich and try to act like them by buy junk they don’t need.

The nation needs to work and updating our aging infrastructure is a good way to do that.  I encourage you to write to your Congress Critters and tell them to pass the plan or present a better one.  Not sure who your representatives are?  Here you go:

The least of these…

The weather is getting bad again and I am again reminded of those poor souls left on the streets to get through this without a roof over their head.  I was looking for a quote about the measure of a society is not how we treat the rich, but how we treat the poor.  That precise quote does not exist, but there are others that are very close. 
Mathew 25:35-40 is a goo example:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’
I also found one attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
In either case, you get the point that it is important for the haves to help the have-nots.  In looking for the quote though I found some ignorant thinking.  One person pointed out the the poor here would be considered rich in other countries.  Fair enough, but a burn victim with burns over 50% of their body is better off than one with 90% burns.  It does not make the 50% any less painful.  So to say to our poor “at least you have good garbage to eat” does not reflex well on us as a society.  In fact, it should shame us that we have stores devoted to useless plastic crap and so much food we throw away about 35-50% of it. 
“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” ~ Confucius
The other ignorant statement I hear is that the poor will game the system and just live off the kindness of others.  They will be users and leeches.  First of all, this already happens, not just with the poor, but from every level of society.  The rich are especially adept at getting stuff for little or nothing.  The last few years has shown the very wealthy can commit terrible crimes that ruin the lives of thousands and still get a handout from the government (Thank you Pres. Bush and Obama).  They have taken so much in comparison to the pittance that might be taken by those few who just want to live off handouts instead of being productive. 
It is much like our ideal justice system.  It was created to put bad people away and keep innocent people out.  There are controls put into place to help make sure that happens.  It is unfortunate, but a consequence of trying to keep innocents out also allows guilty to go free.  I’m sure if you found yourself wrongly accused, you would be hoping we made some good decisions as a society to make sure you are set free.  The same can be said of social programs.  The rich and wanna be rich bitch about how the “others” are taking their “stuff” but if the time every came, I am quite sure they would be grateful for programs to help get them back on their feet or a house of worship opening its doors to give them a place to sleep.  
Think I’m a socialist?  That’s fine, but carefully consider why you think that is a bad thing.  Unfettered capitalism is bad for democracy and it is bad for society as a whole.  Think of those less fortunate.

Texas and Education

Public Education

  • Texas is #49 in verbal SAT scores in the nation (493) and #46 in average math SAT scores (502).
  • Texas is #36 in the nation in high school graduation rates (68%).
  • Texas is #33 in the nation in teacher salaries. Teacher salaries in Texas are not keeping pace with the national average. The gains realized from the last state-funded across-the-board pay raise authorized in 1999, which moved the ranking from 33 to as high as 26th in the nation, have disappeared over the last five years.
  • Texas was the only state in the nation to cut average per pupil expenditures in fiscal year 2005, resulting in a ranking of #40 nationally; down from #25 in fiscal year 1999.
  • Texas is #6 in the nation in student growth. The general student population in Texas public schools grew by 11.1% between school years 1999 and 2005, with the largest percent of growth seen among low income and minority children.
  • Between school years 1999 and 2005, the number of central administrators employed by Texas public schools grew by 32.5%, overall staffing in public schools grew by 15.6%, while the number of teachers grew only 13.3%.
Higher Education

  • From fiscal years 2002 to 2006, average tuition and fees at public universities increased 61.4%. Average tuition and fees at community colleges increased 51.3%.
  • From fiscal years 2002 to 2007, the Texas state budget was cut in terms of real dollar, per-student funding for universities by 19.92%; for community colleges the per-student cut was 35.29%.
  • California has nine nationally recognized research institutions; New York has seven; Pennsylvania has four; while Texas, the second most populous state in the nation, has only three.
  • Out of Texas’ 145 public and private higher education institutions, only one private institution, Rice University, ranked among the nation’s top 50.
  • The number of students attending Texas colleges and universities increased by 23.6% from Fall 1999 to Fall 2005 with the highest growth in community and technical colleges.

Oh my goodness Texas.  We cannot afford more Rick Perry.  We are getting dumber and education is getting more expensive.  Vote for change.

Businesses as people

I think of myself as a Libertarian.  Both of the political parties have gone off the deep end and no real change will happen until we have a viable third party in place.  That said, one of the worst things to happen is treating businesses as people.  Corporation have one motive, to make money.  That’s fine, but it leads to acting against the welfare of human beings.  The people who run the company need to be held responsible for bad decisions.  Corporations also get to contribute to the political system with few restrictions.  The corporation has its bottom line as its only consideration.   That needs to end.

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Republican “Values”

I read this an thought it was ironic:
In one paragraph they state:
“Ensuring Equal Treatment for All
Individual rights – and the responsibilities that go with them – are the foundation of a free society.”
Then we read a little further down speaking from the other side of their mouth:
“Preserving Traditional Marriage
Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it.”
Lol. Why am I not a republican again?

Tea baggers

So I was watching the tea baggers (snicker) that attended the rallies that Glenn Beck and Rush L said they should attend. The obvious questions for me were:
1) What are you protesting?
2) Are you really affected at all?
3) Why is this more important than wars and torture?
#’s 1 and 3 go hand in hand. I suppose many of them are objecting to the massive amounts of spending that our government is undertaking. I agree with that part. I think digging a deeper whole is not the way to get out. I understand the theory of what they are trying to do, generate growth so that growth can fuel the new welfare programs. I don’ think it will work, but time will tell.
So, in reality, most of us are not being taxed and thus these “tea parties” don’t make sense. If the government said all people making between 40k and 90k were going to see an increase in taxes, I would understand since that would cover about 70% of the population. But that is not what has happened. Those people are seeing decreases in tax. You have to make over $250,000 to see an increase and even then it is a modest one. So…what’s the problem?
Let’s not forget who started this mess. The head in the sand admin of the past 8 years. The rubber stamp and ineffective congress. The bailing out of failed business (W’s idea) a huge cluster fudge in the middle east that is draining our resources, these are what got us in the mess we are in today.
Finally, where were these peoples’ outrage when it was discovered we were sent to war under false pretenses? Why weren’t these same people marching on Washington when it was discovered we were torturing other human beings and getting *NO* usable information? Do you think it’s because their TV and radio opinion generators thought those things were ok?
I watched these “protests” with a little humor and a bit of sadness. At some point, hopefully, people will realize what is truly important and we cans start making a difference in the world. But I won’t hold my breath.

Why I disagree with Prop. 8 – Monday, November 10, 2008

I think prop. 8 was a huge mistake. This country was based on the principle that all [people] are created equal. As a law abiding citizen, I should be allowed to be treated equally under the law regardless of my religious beliefs (or lack there of), skin tone, or who I want as spouse. Marriage is a social contract between consenting adults, and as such should be left as a right of every free citizen.

What I find most ironic about the passage of prop. 8 is that is was due in large part because of he African American’s and Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. These two groups more than many others have suffered persecution by being labeled “the other” and not being allowed the same basic rights we all deserve. If you change prop. 8 to exclude any religious or ethnic group, the whole thing never would have made it to the ballot. And yet, two people who want to make commitment to one another are cast aside since they do not conform to some religious standard. Specifically, the LdS church already has a separate marriage different than the rest of the world. By their doctrine, all other marriages are less than the LdS marriage since they end at death anyway. A marriage by any non-Mormon, in a civil marriage, is a secular ceremony that unites people only on this earth. Should a “time and all eternity” marriage be outlawed since it conflicts with the US majorities view of what constitutes a marriage?

What about the procreation of the species? There is no question evolution would not work if only partners of the same sex cam together. However, less than 1% of any population is actually found to be homosexual. It is also not confined to homo-sapiens. Other groups have small populations of same sex coupling. As humans, we can have children out of wedlock, yet no one would ever conceive of banning a person’s right to procreate outside the bounds of marriage. Many hetero couples get together and never have children by choice. Should they have their rights revoked since they do not share in some religious prerogative? Certainly not. Human procreation will never be affected by allowed homosexual couples to marry.

What about the children? Won’t someone please think about the children? In order to have a better society, people need to grow up in a loving environment. Even if they don’t, most people make it into society ok despite how they grew up. It is also true that a child needs positive role models from both sexes to understand how they interact and their roles in society. So, should we outlaw single parenthood? If a mother or father is trying to raise a child on their own, they are not living up to some preconceived notion of how things “ought to be”. In the situations, children find role models in their other family members, neighborhoods, churches, civic organizations, etc. What about all those kids in foster care because there hetero sexual parents did not want them? There are so many waiting for a loving home and now, at least in one state (Arkansas) single parents are not allowed to adopt. So, the kids are left to an abusive system that causes more harm than good instead of getting them to a loving family, whether single or a gay couple. Those left to the foster system will become “screwed up”.

If homosexual couples are allowed to marry, it will justify homosexual relations as an alternative lifestyle. The funny thing, it already is. People already live their lives together in same sex relationships; they just do so without the same rights as hetero couples. There is simply no proof that a child raised by a same sex couple will choose to be in a same sex relationship at a higher rate than those raised by heteros. The simple fact is we are attracted to whom we are attracted to. We have as much choice with whom we fall in love with or find attractive as we do our hair color. You can force a change, but your roots will eventually show through.

I am grateful to live in a free country that protects the rights of individuals regardless of their religion, color or nationality. I am thankful to have a loving father than made sure his sons understood life is short and this is all you get, so make the best of it and help others do the same. Finally, I am grateful to be in a congregation of people where differences are celebrated and welcomes people no matter who they are or what their particular path through this life is. I know there are surely homosexuals among them, but I could not tell you who they are, only that they are part of my extend human family. 

Industrial Decalogue

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
  10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Rev. William John Henry Boetcker 1916

John Adams / letter to Thomas Jefferson

“Hope springs eternal. Eight millions of Jews hope for a Messiah more powerful and glorious than Moses, David, or Solomon; who is to make them as powerful as he pleases. Some hundreds of millions of Mussulmans expect another prophet more powerful than Mahomet, who is to spread Islamism over the whole earth. Hundreds of millions of Christians expect and hope for a millennium in which Jesus is to reign for a thousand years over the whole world before it is burnt up. The Hindoos expect another and final incarnation of Vishnu, who is to do great and wonderful things, I know not what. You and I hope for splendid improvements in human society, and vast amelioration in the condition of mankind. Our faith may be supposed by more rational arguments than any of the former.”

John Adams / letter to Thomas Jefferson
September 24, 1821