Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Cautionary Tale: Detroit on the Verge of Bankruptcy

If you've got 5 minutes and 41 seconds I'll scare the heck out of you.

I realize it's Easter and Passover, not Halloween, but NPR put this horror story on the air Thursday anyway. Click it if you dare.

>>>> Bad Bets, Costly Promises Put Detroit On The Brink Of Bankruptcy <<<<

Of course this story is a tragedy.  A great city has fallen onto despair and large portions of the city are in ruin.  

But what's really frightening how many times the city leaders, mayor, city council and city fathers were warned of this apocalypse and how they always turned a deaf ear.  They steadfastly ignored the crisis and did absolutely nothing to prevent it.


HULETT: ...Joe Harris spent a decade as Detroit's auditor general. Shortly before he quit in 2005, he asked an outside consultant to look at the city's pension and retiree costs. 

 JOE HARRIS: This is his presentation to the council. 

 HULETT: The consultant's report was a shocker. It said the city was looking at more than $7 billion in retiree health care and fringe benefit costs it had not projected, let alone budgeted for. Seven billion dollars, seven times the city's annual operating budget. So, what was the response to this bombshell of a report? 

HARRIS: There was no response. There was no follow-up. There was no concern. There was no - not only by the council, there was no response by the administration either.

That's the trouble with government.  They always put off the tough decisions.  They don't listen. They never react. They deny there is a disaster and always proclaim that even IF a disaster is coming it's always dozens of years away.  They'll be plenty of time to fix the problem..... tomorrow.

This is, of course, what President Obama and the Democrats are doing today in Washington.  President Obama is kinda, sorta, maybe confident that the oncoming debt disaster won't happen until after he is out of office.  So he's ginning up the denial machine of loyal party legislators and pundits to echo his "do absolutely nothing" position. 

His position is all the more curious because only a few short years ago (before he was President) he and his fellow Democrats saw the disaster clearly and DEMANDED President Bush take instantaneous action!  In fact, Senator Obama and every single Democrat VOTED AGAINST RAISING THE DEBT CEILING.  

Of course Republicans all voted to raise the debt ceiling when George Bush was President but now that Barack Obama is President, they're all against it.

Politics rule, reality takes a back seat.  But the downfall is coming and all America is about to face a crisis that makes the current Detroit disaster look like.... an old fashioned Halloween horror story.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Addressing the Single Parent Epidemic

I've discussed my fellow Liberals desire to avoid the assignment of personal responsibility in several blog posts, most notably last December 29th in my post titled "Solving Gun Violence."  Here's what I had to say then: 
".....we avoid any assignment of personal responsibility.  We do not, under any circumstances blame personal lifestyles, personal choices or personal decisions. We never allow any blame that would insult or hurt an individual or the choices they have made or failed to make.

[For example] ....if a person drops out of school, that's the school's fault....  ...we never blame the teachers, or even dare to measure a teacher's ability or success.  That's personal and we don't do personal......"
One of the recent heroes today's liberals (in part because of his bizarre desire to ban large sugary sodas), Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, has dared to take on the single largest and most important issue in our society today, single parent families.  And he's dared to break the cardinal rule of liberals I outlined in the December 29th essay, he's daring to actually place some of the blame on today's youth!

The liberal communities response against Bloomberg has been overwhelmingly negative and very vitriolic.  According to nearly all my fellow liberals, young people who become pregnant outside of a stable family environment are totally blameless!  And they must never be shamed, slandered or made to feel the least bit bad!  Instead they are to be supported, nurtured, even praised for their bravery.

The New York Times' Michael Powell, writing a highly critical essay in the New York Times this week states categorically "Teenage pregnancy is a problem of poverty."

This level of stupidity from today's liberals and progressives is disastrous and is destroying lives and the very fabric of our society!

What Bloomberg is trying to do is to educate young people into making better, more reasoned decisions.  He is not advocating abstinence.  He is not eliminating sex education from public schools. Far from it! But he is trying to actually show young people the seriously negative outcome that arises from single parent child rearing.

In addition to teaching youth the mechanics if sex and methods of birth control Bloomberg is daring to teach them the dangers of failing to use that knowledge in their personal lives.

Wouldn't we have a problem is the teachers in wood shop taught students how to use a circular saw but then failed to teach them that they might lose a limb is they don't use the saw carefully?

Once again I am forced to turn to someone really brilliant to outline what ought to be obvious, the incomparable Ann Coulter who addresses this issue in this week's column, "In Fighting Teen Pregnancy, The Folly of Shame and Blame."  Read her whole essay, it's funny and insightful, as usual.

Coulter points out that the popular liberal causes from banning soda's to restricting guns will have virtually no impact of the health or welfare of children compared to the horrific damage inflicted by single family child rearing:
Liberals seem to believe that drinking soda is voluntary, but getting pregnant is more like catching the flu.
It would be hard to make the case that fast food, plastic bags and cigarettes do more damage than single motherhood. 
-- Controlling for socioeconomic status, race and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single mother. 
-- At least 70 percent of juvenile murderers, pregnant teenagers, high school dropouts, teen suicides, runaways and juvenile delinquents were raised by single mothers. 
-- A study back in 1990 by the Progressive Policy Institute showed that, absent single motherhood, there would be no difference in black and white crime rates. 

It is critical to point out no one, not even Coulter, is advocating forcing unwed mother's to wed or to abort their children.  Instead both Bloomberg, and his unexpected defender Coulter, recommend education, something liberals would normally favor, except, I guess, if that education teaches personal responsibility.

As I pointed out in that December 29th essay, "We liberals don't do personal...."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You Can Have My 32 Ounce Drink When You Pry It from My Cold, Dead Hands

I've already posted, over and often, that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is an ivory tower idiot. His bizarre, unjustified and Orwellian edict to prevent all restaurants, movie theaters and ball parks from serving any sugar sweetened soft drink in containers over 16 ounces was thankfully overturned by the courts.

However, my home state of Mississippi, in a genuine effort to not be outdone in the  unnecessary laws department, has passed "The Anti-Bloomberg Bill" which specifically prohibits any local governmental authority from creating any law or regulation which limits portion size OR requires the posting of calories.

The governor has promised to sign the legislation into law.

Of course it must be noted that Mississippi is the most obese state in the nation.

To paraphrase Charlton Heston, "You can have my 32 ounce soda when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."  And if we don't lose some weight here in Mississippi, that just might be sooner rather than later.

SOURCE: THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Mississippi passes 'anti-Bloomberg bill,' banning local limits on portion sizes and requirements to post calorie counts

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Restless Gun

Here's one little news story from this week I find more than a little disturbing:

7 Year Old Maryland Boy Suspended for Nibbling His Pop-Tart into the Shape of A Gun

A 7-year-old Baltimore boy was suspended Friday for two days after he shaped his breakfast pastry into what appeared to be a gun, his dad said. Josh Welch, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, told Fox Baltimore that he was trying to shape the tart into a mountain. “It was already a rectangle, and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn’t,” Josh told the station.
“All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain.” 
Josh said his teacher was “pretty mad.”
Josh’s dad, who was not identified, said he received a phone call from the school, notifying him of the suspension. “I would almost call it insanity,” he said. “I mean with all the potential issues that could be dealt with at school, real threats, bullies, whatever the real issue is, it’s a pastry. … Ya know?” 
A letter was sent home with Park Elementary School students Friday explaining that “a student used food to make an inappropriate gesture,” the station reported.
I wish this was some sort of weird isolated instance, but it's not.  It's happening again and again, all over the country.
- Feb. 8, 2013 - Yep - That's just yesterday, A student had his Birthday Party Cupcakes confiscated because they were decorated with small toy soldiers.

- Feb. 1, 2013 - A 9-year-old student was suspended for bringing a 2-inch toy gun on a key fob to school.

- Jan. 29, 2013 - A 5-year-old student could be suspended for crafting a Lego gun during an after-school program. We're told by school officials he is a repeat offender.

- Jan. 22, 2013 - Yet another 5-year-old is suspended because, well, those damned 5 year old's are so dangerous.  And there is certainly no sex discrimination in suspensions because this one's a girl. Her crime was talking about her Hello Kitty bubble gun.

- Jan. 2, 2013 - A 6-year-old in a Washington D.C. school was suspended for making a gun gesture with his hands.  Fingers and six year old's don't mix.

- August 28, 2012 - A deaf 3-year-old preschooler has been asked to change the American Sign Language hand gesture used to signify his name, Hunter, which he signs by forming a gun with his hands. Apparently, "saying" his name violates the school's weapon policy.

Part of what bothers me here is that our society in caught in a double think mentality that makes George Orwell's most nightmarish scenarios seem tame.  One minute we heap unparalleled praise on Director Quentin Tarantino for his bloodbath movies that glorify gratuitous violence and make heroes out of murderers and terrorists.  

The next minute we praise Kevin Bacon's new television series "The Following" whose hero, Dr. Joe Carroll, is a psychopathic mass murderer with a cult following of hundreds of like groupies who murder upon command.  Each week this new hit series has multiple graphic murders with maximum blood and gore in every episode.  Some murders are actually so graphic they are sickening.

Even shows and movies aimed at children like the Transformer Movies, are filled to overflowing with gratuitous violence.

Ahhhh, but the very next minute next we suspend 7 year olds from school for chewing their breakfast into a gun shaped biscuit.

When I was eight years old there was a hit television series called "The Restless Gun" that starred John Payne.  In this western Payne played a retired law officer, Vint Bonner, with great patience and restraint who always sought a non-violent path out of any confrontation.  Sadly, at least once each week, Payne was forced to use his signature gun, a pistol that could be transformed into a rifle.  it was the original assault weapon."

Since Payne's character, Vint Bonner, was a hero and the gun was so fantastic, I wanted the toy cap gun version!  And my parents bought me one!! It was the neatest toy ever, at least for an eight year old in 1957.

Sadly I no longer have this toy.  Sadly because these incredibly rare toys sell for many hundreds of dollars at auction, often as much as a thousand dollars for what was, no doubt, a ten dollar toy.  There are none available on ebay today or I'd post a link for you.

My point is that children always imitate their heroes from televison and movies.  It's called "playing,"  Doing so is called "using your imagination," a skill once highly prized and cultivated in children.  In fact, John Payne's most famous acting roll was playing the young lawyer, Fred Gailey, in the classic movie "Miracle on 34th Street."  In that movie Payne and the wonderful Edwin Gwenn, who plays Kris Kringle, try to teach a very young Natalie Wood to use her imagination. 

Back in the day I watched an old black and white television.  Today's 8 year olds sit before large screen, 3-D color televisions, especially good at portraying blood red.  Why do we think children won't imitate what they see in TV, good or bad?  

One last note, in 1958, when Vint Bonner always stood for up for what is right and always tried to avoid violence and every child had a toy cap gun, the murder rate in the United States was only about 4.3 murders per 100,000 people.  Since that year the murder rate in the United States has never been that low.

One last, last note, on April 23, 2013 all 78 original episodes of The Restless Gun: The Complete Serieswill be released on DVD.