Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As GM Goes, So Goes the Nation

Decades ago, the corporate heads of Detroit's auto makers signed lucrative union contracts they knew they could not honor, promising to pay health care and pension benefits for workers from future proceeds. Those unfunded obligations have now come due -- and have sunk the once-great auto giants General Motors and Chrysler.

Decades ago, America's political leaders made equally grandiose (and vain) promises to provide health care and retirement benefits to hundreds of millions of the rising generation -- in return for political votes and modest tax increases. Since 1913, the federal income tax rates -- beginning at 1% for those making at least $250,000 per year and topping out at 7% for multi-millionaires (with the promise that those rates would never increase) have steadily grown to swallow 40% of America's income. Not even those who pay no direct income tax pass unscathed. Inasmuch as corporations don't really pay taxes, but pass them on to those who benefit from their services, we all labor under a mountain of vexatious personal and/or corporate taxation.

In the 1930's, Social Security -- America's greatest ponzi scheme -- was created. And in the 1960's, Medicare and Medicaid joined the mix, further transfering the wealth of productive America to idle consumers.

Now we are enslaved. Our wealth, rather than be garnered in vaults or employed in industry, has been squandered in pointless consumption of vacuous entertainments and cheaply made products or else has been used to prop up corrupt, even tyranical bureacracies. Our fortunes past, present and future have been handed over to previous politicians and their adoring sycophants as well as to a menacing current Congress bent on enslaving us further by selling our children into the indentured servitude of mounting trillions through deficit borrowing and spending, sums we ourselves cannot hope to repay.

GM is bankrupt. 

What of the United States?

GM will be partioned and sold to her creditors -- and to the highest bidder.

Who will be America's new "masters"?

EDIT: I failed to mention GM's latest offer: Buy a new GM car...and if you lose your job, GM will pay your car payment (up to $500/month) for the next 9 months!
That's not GM's money they're throwing around. That's OUR money! GM has received BILLIONS of dollars in subsidies. We're ALL paying for those cars and the ridiculously high union wages and benefits that built them!

Who gave GM free access to my wallet?


Neither Congress nor the Executive branch has the constitutional authority to take from the rich to give to the poor. They do not have the authority to tell GM president Rick Wagoner to step down. They do not have the authority to do ANY NUMBER of things they're doing! Virtually EVERYTHING they do now is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

They are ROBBING U.S. blind! Just because we elected them doesn't give them the RIGHT break the law! The Constitution is the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND! Violate it and you become a  criminal.

They are BANKRUPTING America. They are TRAITORS to our republic and our way of life. We must hold them accountable and put a stop to it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Wrong with Education...and How to Fix It

Robert Weissberg wrote about education reform:

Like a patient undergoing brain surgery, today's student lies passively while experts labor to insert knowledge, and to continue this metaphor, surgeons only disagree on how to put it in. For some, knowledge is best inserted by hiring superior teachers; or the route might be holding school administrators accountable; or curriculum experts should concocting exciting new ways to stimulate appetites; or social service professions must be commanded to assist youngsters overcome their personal and home-life crises impeding learning, to mention only a few possibilities to fix the patient's brain.
Regardless of ideology, every contemporary putative solution has this "somebody else will do it" element.
He looks back to when things worked and why they don't now:
Why do we refuse to hold students responsible if they fail tests? Why has no one stood up and said, "Test scores will improve when students become diligent, pay attention to teachers, and put as much effort into learning as they put into sports and socializing?"....
Contemporary American pedagogues are clueless about being a hard ass, and those gray beards who do remember yesterday's sure-fire recipe of humiliation, ridicule, dunce caps and other self-esteem undermining tactics, recognize that they are totally impermissible in today's help-students feel-good-about-themselves environmentCracking the whip on Mr. Lazybones (in the classroom though not in sports) invites trouble from parents, even litigation. Today's expert-certified motivation approach can best be depicted as "Spare the Rod, Help the Child." 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Watching You

So members of Congress want to enshrine (with tax-exempt status) the very oracles that have vaulted them to unassailable power? So now we ALL must pay for the opinions and advertisements of the liberal media (the newspapers), even if we don't want to read them?! What will Congress do when we stop watching ABCNBCCBSPBSMSNBCCNN? Subsidize them too? Of course! How else will they get their propaganda out? It's BIG BROTHER, baby!

EDIT: Curious that the government is trying to subsidize one form of speech (because it works so well for them!) while it's trying to ban another.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is It Warm In Here...Or Just Me?

Ask the typical Harvard grad: "Where do trees get the stuff they're made of?" Nine out of ten will tell you "From the ground!" But you can say "Nope, from the air. From carbon dioxide!"

You can ask the typical American: "How much of the air is carbon dioxide?" And you'll hear answers of anywhere from 2% to 50%. But that's wrong, too.

It's less than that. MUCH less. CO2 makes up only 0.0385% of Earth's atmosphere. And it has risen from 0.0290% in the past hundred years. That's a total change to the atmosphere of less than 1/10th of 1%. Whoop-de-doo!

Let's put that in perspective: Suppose the atmosphere were a $100 bill. CO2 would make up just 3 cents of that amount. If I told you that at the beginning of the 20th century you had $100 and 3 cents in your bank account and 100 years later you had $100 and 4 cents, would you say "OMG, my account balance is rising dramatically!"? I don't think so.

Not only is CO2 a puny component of Earth's atmosphere, man's contribution to that sum of CO2 is insignificant compared to "natural" sources of CO2 (volcanoes, plants, animals and even bacteria). We humans -- even with all our cars, factories, and farms -- contribute only about 5% to Earth's store of CO2. That means if we utterly ceased to exist, 19/20th's of all the CO2 in the world would STILL be pumping away into the atmosphere...naturally. (And remember, that's 19/20th of the 0.0385%!)

The world's oceans dwarf all other sources of CO2. There is 50-60 times more CO2 in the oceans than in Earth's atmosphere. And when Earth warms up, that CO2 comes out of solution. (If Al Gore had gotten higher than C's and D's in his college physical science classes, he'd know that the solubility of gas decreases in warmer liquids.)

What Al neglects to tell -- in fact, what he refuses to reveal because it DESTROYS his whole "man-made global warming" argument -- is that the earth ALWAYS gets warmer BEFORE CO2 levels rise. That's because warmer oceans RELEASE CO2 as the SUN warms the earth. It is NEVER the reverse.

Other planets in our solar system (Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, etc.) have likewise warmed during the past 100 years. Did we cause those temperature increases too, Al?

Give me a break!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

There Are Only Two Forms of Government

As we see our government flail around, flinging money hither and yon in its power grab, we must recognize what our nation's Founders understood: There are really only two forms of government. Which one will we have?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A fatwa against "Big Love"

Nothing need be said or written to or about HBO and "Big Love". HBO knows what it's doing. HBO is in the business of peddling pornography (especially of the soft kind) and it has no sensibilities about avoiding obscenities.

If HBO cannot be persuaded to respect the sacredness of the sex act, how might we expect it to honor religious convictions or covenants? 

The truth is, this controversy exposes an interesting paradox: Does the average Mormon recoil in disgust and revulsion at depictions of sex acts on television? I don't think so. (I remember feeling violated and uneasy about seeing any such things as a child.) But I'll wager the "average" American -- and even Mormon -- gets at least a little titillated watching simulated sex on TV...even if it is after the kids go to bed.

As a people, by and large, we are intrigued, captivated and even entertained by sexual depictions. The millions of us still watching such things prove it! 

Perhaps we've lost our sense of decency. By too-frequent exposure to sin, we've become desensitized to the violation of that which is truly sacred.

Are we now more enraged by the desecration of our holy temple ceremony (which is mostly symbolic) than we are by desecrations of that which is truly sacred (our bodies, spirits, etc)?

I think Jesus would have had a comment or two about that.

I wonder if we're starting to sound like the Muslim who is so inflamed by the pictorial portrayal of his prophet that he is willing to kill over it. (Where is the virtue? Where is the sense of proportion?) Such outrage is the substitution of symbolism for spirituality, the elevation of religiosity over true morality.

HBO has been peddling soft-porn for years! Are we only now going to stop watching it? "Oh, you can show all the sex and murder you want -- and I'll still subscribe. But reveal the temple ceremony...that's beyond the pale! I'm canceling my subscription!"

Clearly, the public exposition of the temple ceremony is an obscenity and violation of sacred rites and covenants. It is religious pornography. 

But the truth is...the average Mormon who watches television now probably sees hundreds of equivalent violations (in the form of portrayed sexual acts and mayhem) each year. And yet, are we equally riled up? Do we feel equivalently violated by such depictions? I don't think so.

If we do, then why haven't we turned off our TVs? Why are we still watching?

HBO knows the numbers. They know who their market is. (And, unfortunately, it includes a lot of Mormons.)

Enough said.

UPDATE: Here's what you should have seen, instead of the HBO special.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Say what you will about the Church, its history, its leaders. But I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love the teachings of the Lord and His servants. I loved Gordon B. Hinkley. And I'm grateful for his sermons, like this one.

My favorite movie...'cuz I'm in a hurry!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Tonight my wife -- amazingly! -- pulled off another great dinner, fed the missionaries, sang in ward choir practice, tucked (and lullabied) our four young children to sleep...and baked home-made bread ('cuz we're out, since we're living off our food supply now...currently on a self-imposed "embargo" of all things purchased, just to see how well we'd do if we had to "do without").

What's not to love about this beautiful, talented, virtuous woman? As I sometimes remind her: "You are competent and sexy!" Intelligence, competence and confidence are the sexiest of attributes. My wife is all three!

Suzanne Venker points out that being a mother of youngins is not all it's cracked up to be -- and that should be acknowledged:
I think a lot about the mothers carting babies and toddlers around. I see them everywhere: Target, the grocery store, the gym, the parks, everywhere. When I walk past them I feel an immediate stab of guilt. After all, I know what their lives are like – and it looks nothing like my new life. I know they're happy to be home and have momentary pleasures that defy description but at the same time are emotionally drained. I know this because now that I've passed their stage of motherhood, I see clearly how bad things were for a very long time. Today I sleep; then I didn't. Today I have silence; then I didn't. Today I can shop alone; then I couldn't. Today I eat what I want for lunch; then I ate what my kids were eating. Today I can finish a conversation on the telephone; then I couldn't. Today I can hear what newscasters are saying on the television; then I couldn't. Today when we travel or eat out as a family, it's a pleasure; then it wasn't. Today I like sex; then I didn't. Indeed, the difference between the first stage of motherhood and being a mother of school-age children cannot be overestimated.
When I contemplated Andrea -- long before I imagined marrying her -- I prayed about her. I prayed for her. I poured out my soul. And I asked God to bless her with a long life, a good husband, and a home filled with loving, happy, faithful children. 

I hardly imagined that my blessing for her would become mine as well.