I disagree with Hightower.

What you will find here is: a centrist's view of current events;
a collection of thoughts, arguments, and observations
that I have found appealing and/or amusing over the years;
and, if you choose, your civil contributions which will make it into a conversation.

He not busy bein' born, is busy dyin'. - Bob Dylan

Please refer to participants only by their designated identities.

suggestion for US citizens: When a form asks for your race, write in: -- American

Friday, January 31, 2014

State of the Union

I thought Obama did fairly well, but I would still like to see a discussion by some of the biggies about the "government by executive order" that he seems more and more willing to use.

The most distressing thing I saw that night was the Mayor Cornett of Oklahoma City a graduate of the New York  University Stern School of Business demonstrating that he doesn't know the difference between the debt and the deficit.
If you don't know the difference, that is OK because you didn't get on National TV and talk about it.

What he said was that Obama promised to cut the deficit in half, but instead it has grown from 10 trillion to 17 trillion.  It just makes you want to weep

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Retirement of Tom Coburn

I am saddened by the retirement of Tom Coburn from the Senate.  He seems to me to be one of the "good guys".  I have little hope that his replacement will be.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Snitch Mentality

This has been smoldering for some time.

The Snitch Mentality

We learn it early in life.  As children on the playground we quickly learn that playmates will be sharply critical of those who say “I’m going to tell”.  So we, being the children we were, acquiesce to peer pressure and accept that being a snitch is a bad thing, or, if not a bad thing, something that we simply do not want to be.

It happens so easily.  A child with a good moral compass that sees a wrong and says “I’m going to tell” is often easily persuaded to overlook the “wrong” to avoid being labeled a snitch.  After all, friends don’t tell on friends.  Do they?  Well, do they!

I should mention that being a tattletale and reporting everything a sibling does that irritates you is not being a snitch, that is simply being a tattletale.  When a “wrong” committed by a friend, relative or associate is noted and reported that is being a snitch.  Sounds reasonable that being a snitch is a bad thing, doesn’t it?

Well, let me reconstruct that sentence without the distracting information about relatives and friends. “When a wrong is noted and reported that is being a snitch”.  Now it sounds like being a snitch is the right thing to do, and it is.

Minor incidents of wrongs on the playground such as a small lie, finding a lost article and not turning it in, taking a coin that you saw someone drop, or knowing and not reporting the crib notes on a classmate’s hand may seem trivial in an adult world, but here’s the problem.  Once you break the rules and characterize not doing the right thing as not being a snitch you have given yourself mental permission to behave poorly.  The permission does not disappear when you become an adult.

The “snitch mentality” is alive and well in our culture.  Not by all of our citizens, but surely by many.  If your brother does contract work and brags that he does no report income when paid in cash are you really going to report him to the IRS?  If your sister falsely exaggerates losses on an insurance claim do you simply shrug?  Easy enough, in both cases, to excuse their behavior by saying the family needs to stick together.   And, even thought you might experience a mental twinge of moral wrong you don’t want to be a snitch.

At this point let me introduce a requirement associated with being a snitch.  It requires a social attachment.  Reporting a wrong committed by a complete stranger with whom we have no social attachment is, considered by most, as simply being a good citizen.  Reporting a wrong doer that is a friend, a relative, of the same race, a work colleague, belongs to the same clique, or is a member of the same gang - that is being a snitch.

So, if a social connection exists, is not reporting a wrong doer the right thing to do?  In the black and white most would say no and even strongly support reporting the wrong doer.  But that is not necessarily what happens in a world with shades of gray.

Loyalty to family can cause the most moral of persons to hesitate where they might not otherwise.  Gang peer pressure can do the same, as can a simple friendship.

Guilt can also play a large part.  Your friend pleads with you not to say anything because it will “get them in trouble”.  Truly a request to cover-up by omission, which, should be an insult to your integrity, but because of the social relationship not only are you not insulted you are persuaded to “go along”.  You don’t want to be a snitch.

This narrative and others like it are not likely to change the behavior of a large number of individuals, but it might influence a few.  Our lives and thought processes are too cluttered to always do the right thing.  Still, most people have a good moral compass and know, in their heart, when a wrong has been committed.

So, use that knowledge, do the right thing, and leave the “snitch mentality” on the elementary school playground - where it belongs.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Helping Hand

I am in favor of unemployment benefits.  I am not in favor of unemployment for too long and there is the problem.  How long is too long?

I am comfortable with the standard 26 weeks as a buffer to allow individuals to regain their footing after losing their job.  Beyond 26 weeks I begin to feel uneasy and have a sense that the system maybe being abused.

Still in a poor economy there are many valid instances where an individual cannot find a job and truly needs help beyond 26 weeks and I would like for them to have it.  Here is my suggestion for extending a helping hand without increasing the sense of entitlement.

1.       If you lose your job through no fault of your own (the current qualifications are good enough for me) you can draw unemployment up to 26 weeks.

2.       At 26 weeks an individual may elect to continue to draw unemployment with the following conditions
a.       Eligibility to continue to receive unemployment benefits would be subject to means testing.
b.      A percentage of the amount paid as unemployment would be a loan from the taxpayer at current bank rates that must be repaid when the individual reestablishes an income.
c.       The amount of an unemployment payment that becomes a loan would be progressive starting at 1% on week 27 and increasing by 1% each week thereafter.  Ex. On week 27 the payment is $100 then $1 would be a loan.
d.      Personal assets in the amount of the loans to an individual would become collateral with repayment requirements binding against the individual and their estate.

3.       When the loan amount of an unemployment payment reaches 50% of the payment (week 76) the individual is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

George Will's move to Fox

I really was sad at this move.  It is just one more step in the movement toward opposing media camps that reflect the parties and cannot be relied on for a public debate about the issues.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is this lawless?

I have heard Krauthammer complain when Obama's agents change the ACA to suit their wishes.  Is that what they are doing, just changing it as they like?  But sometimes legislation inlcludes options for revision by regulators and other administration officials.  Is that true here?  If  that were the case then it would seem like administration supporters would say that and make K back off.

I give this credibility only because we do know that Obama asked Congress to pass the dream act and they refused.  He then implemented it anyway!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Culture and Success

Here is an article from the New York Post http://nypost.com/2014/01/04/tiger-mom-some-groups-are-just-better-than-others/ excoriating a new book by Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld http://www.upi.com/blog/2014/01/06/Tiger-Mom-Amy-Chua-returns-New-book-claims-certain-cultural-groups-do-better/4711389058019/   in which they claim that individuals from certain identifiable groups in the US have a better financial success rate due in large part to the influence of their group’s inherent culture.

The book has not yet been released and the Post may in fact be correct.  Still, a connection between culture and success seems (to me) to be self evident.  Unfortunately the concept of culture is so closely tied to race that I fear the wrath of the PC police for giving the concept any merit.  How sad.