Thursday, January 30, 2014

Republicans Could Win Senate in 2014

What will November 2014 hold? From this far away, no one can really say. But things seem to favor the GOP.

Several states have competitive Senate races where long time Democratic seats may be lost; Montana and our own Michigan come to mind. With an effective 55-45 majority, as the two 'independents' caucus with the Democrats, the Republican opportunity to take the Senate will be an uphill battle. But it is a battle which can be won.

To begin with, Obamacare has been a disaster and Republican candidates will harp on that. They will make their races against the President as much as against their opponent. They will also attack Mr. Obama's obvious attempt to start class warfare as he fans the jealousies brought on by talk such as the income gap. Especially as the President heads into increasingly lame duck status, Republicans will see him as weak. Unless things change dramatically, Obama will be easy to run against.

Then, too, midterm elections historically tend towards the minority party; this is presumably because there is not national elections to offer a coattail effect, or a drag effect, for that matter, where a weak national candidate hurts those farther down the ballot. But it is also because the more serious voters turn out for them, and these gravitate towards the conservative. Right wingers of course tend towards Republicans themselves because of this.

It will be an interesting election year any way you slice it. As a precursor to 2016 when the Presidency is up for grabs, it will be very interesting indeed.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Income Gap Tinkering not Useful

Income equality. Or income gap, if you prefer, the gap between rich and poor, yadda, yadda. Under whatever form you like the term, they all mean basically the same thing: some Americans want incomes more level among the citizenry. But is such a thing even possible?

Why should incomes be within a certain range? Is a plumber actually worth the same money we pay a cancer specialist? A truck driver equal to a secretary? Indeed, is there any true equality among jobs? No? Then why should there be income equity?

Well, we don't mean that, say the supporters of bridging the income gap. We mean raising wages so that people can live better off of lower wage jobs. But why are there lower wage jobs? Why are the people who only want them, or can only work them? Aren't those questions beyond the actual scope of whatever job is in question?

Further, don't we want the natural incentives which the chance of higher earnings might offer? That woman who several months ago famously called out the McDonald's CEO; has any asked her why she's been at a Mickey D's 9 years and not advanced? Why haven't her two children been a factor in her wanting to improve herself rather than demanding that society acquiesce to her terms? Is she saying that advancement is impossible with a family, even a snigle mother household? We suspect that even many single mothers would take offense at that.

The bottom line is twofold: is closing the income even remotely possible (without a tyrannical state), and that there are really too many questions involved to determine exactly who's worth what even within industries and professions. Only where a pair of or a small group of workers are involved, all of whom have almost identical qualifications and seniority, could we seriously discuss equal pay for equal work. Yet how often will that be the case?

It is foolish to talk about income equality. We will only waste our time, money, and effort. Oh, we'll surely make people jealous and resentful. That certainly is not a decent use of our human resources.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Raising Michigan's Minimum Wage

There is an attempt here in Michigan to put a the question of raising the minimum wage on the November ballot. Many of the proposal's supporters have concluded that people can't live on minimum wage.

Shocked? You shouldn't be. Yet what is so often forgotten is that no one generally has to live on it. The overwhelming majority of minimum wage earners are exactly those who don't need to live off of it. They are teenagers and others on the first step of the employment ladder, or the second wage earner in a traditional household. In short, they are, generally speaking, those just getting their feet wet economically. They're getting job experience; what ought they expect when just starting out?

But that is not a concern behind a recent study of minimum wage workers using the Basic Economic Security Tables for Michigan. One of the people it focused on was a 23 year old unmarried mother of two, trying to support herself and her kids working two jobs which paid between $9.50 and $13 bucks an hour. Another is a single mother of three who makes $7.54 an hour as a telemarketer. Single mothers... is anyone willing to stand up and point out that these are not traditional families?

How did they become single mothers? It doesn't matter, because we will be told that that's none of our business as a society. Yet when these single moms want sympathy, and a liberal organizations such as Wider Opportunities for Women and the Michigan League for Human Services, who created the report using public data, want attention to their views on how the government ought to run the economy, then their lot in life is supposed to be our concern.

To call that effrontery is to understate the point. Simple common sense says that if these single moms had waited to have kids until they were in a more stable and traditional home environment, or at least until they had gained the skills themselves to qualify for better jobs, then their current wages wouldn't be such an issue.

This is not to disparage all single moms. Some are in that position through no fault of their own, to be sure. But as to the ones who are in such circumstances as the direct result of free will actions of their own, it is fair to wonder exactly how much society ought to change for their benefit. Simple Christian charity indeed calls on us to help...but more for the sake of the children involved. They are the innocents. Their mothers are all too often merely insisting that they be allowed to act any way they want, then demanding society help hold the bag.

It is a point which should not be lost on the larger society when considering wealth and poverty issues.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

There Should Be no War between Science and Religion

There is a war going on, a war for the collective mind which is society. Some term it a war on science; others, a war on religion. But must there be a war between then?

Huffpost Politics offers today an interesting piece featuring a man both seriously scientific and seriously religious. You may find it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/25/francis-collins-davos_n_4635338.html?ir=Politics&ref=topbar The article is centered on one Dr. Francis Collins, a devout Christian and, believe it or not, geneticist. His science is so respected that no less than Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Collins in Huffpost this morning says simply, "...you know, if you are a believer in God, it's hard to imagine that God would somehow put this incontrovertible evidence in front of us about our relationship to other living organisms and expect us to disbelieve it." We may argue about exactly how incontrovertible the evidence might be, as much of it appears mere conjecture. Still, if the Almighty deigned to create through an evolutionary process, who are we to argue? Are we special because of our physical appearances or due to our sentience?

We believe the latter. If we are made in the image of God, then surely that image is more like retrospection than rock. It is thought which makes us more real than any given liquid, solid, or gas. If God is Spirit, them form and matter are not, or are, at least, less so. We are more like God because we can think and consider and not because we might have the tensile strength to hold a suspension bridge up. True, knowing tensile strength is important, especially if we want the bridge to be safe for others like us. We should want that knowledge.

Science and religion do not contradict one another. Or, if we are truly interested in all which God commands, we must accept knowledge in all its forms, facts, and minutiae. This means that science must respect religion. It means as well that any serious religion must accept good science too.

An old military maxim states that you should not fight battles you cannot win. Religion should not fight science because it cannot win. Neither, then, shall science defeat religion. Why should it be expected to? It was created by the same God.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Things Change, and It's Scary

We ask you, what is not to love about the global warming (we're so sorry, climate change) partisans and their most astute allies in the media? Nuclear winters, ozone depletion, and frets about, yes, global warming, simply zoom right onto the sweet spots of their bats. It's a hit every time!

Now those weather experts who swing at every pitch are saying - just sayin', ya know - that a recent lull in solar activity might mean we're heading into a Little Ice Age. Just ask the folks at Huffpost Science: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/24/solar-lull-little-ice-age-sun-scientists_n_4645248.html?utm_hp_ref=science#305888150icid=maing-grid7main5dl10sec1_lnk2pLid=434634

erhaps that article ought to be filed under, if you'll pardon a somewhat obscure reference to comedian (and accordionist, which shows Weird Al isn't alone) Judy Tenuta, "Shut up! It could happen." Because this stuff happens all the time: both the media and the scare mongers of climate warming or global change or whomever latch onto a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature and run head on into full Chicken Little mode.

This and things similar are designed to grab headlines and get people to look. Yes, we fully realize this means that it made us look too. But if your definition of success is to attract those who'll ridicule you and your point, well, wow. You're not aiming very high.

What do the liberals say so much, when they're trying to get us to alter our conservative ways and attitudes? Oh yes; things change. Yet it seems that things change in science too. Then they change back, in a somewhat natural and predictable rhythm as well.

No wonder science confuses the left. They're busy marching forward so blindly and so certainly that they don't have the time to see the clarity of scientific truth. It's a wonder they see anything at all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

End Abortion Now

On this, the anniversary of one of the most heinous Supreme Court decisions in our history (it's right up there with if not more awful than Dred Scott) we must take a moment and consider what our nation has become since then. Do we really support life when we give of our money and time to soup kitchens and homeless shelters yet will not protect people at their most defenseless?

We do not. What the liberals who have approached me over the abortion question always seem to fall back on is that I need to put all 'life' issues on the same plain. I need to find a balance, of which, they assert, abortion is only one issue.

It may well be only one issue, yet if it is it is the issue. It is based on the dignity of human life, which is what drives any respect for humanity in general. Why should the poor be helped? Because of their dignity as human beings. Why should people not be murdered or stolen from or raped or kidnapped? Because of their dignity as human beings. Where does this dignity begin?

It begins in the womb. Simple Reason tell us as much: human beings have human children.

If you won't support life at its beginning, when it can do nothing for itself, how can I trust that you really will support human dignity later? How can I even trust what you call human dignity? If I can't trust you on that, then, quite frankly, your opinion on education and the environment and our role is world affairs must be held suspect as well. If the dignity of the human person isn't first in your thoughts, then I have difficulty believing in your sincerity on lesser causes.

End abortion now. Work for and vote for the repeal of Roe v. Wade. Then we might discuss, with some promise, what to do about ancillary questions.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Richard Sherman

Anyone with an ear towards the upcoming orgy of football excess known as the Super Bowl surely is familiar with the sideline rant of Richard Sherman after Sunday's NFC title game. He has apologized for his antics being a distraction, and he deserves credit for that. But when he and his defenders say not to judge him by his actions on the field and immediately thereafter as he is a passionate player and football is only a part of who he is, well, we're not all that sure that such is a fair defense of him.

It seems to us that how someone reacts in the heat of the moment is a stronger indicator of their overall temperament than when they do when the pressure is not on. Keeping your cool, keeping your wits about you when there is no particular challenge to them, is rather easy. Speaking and acting well when you're in the spotlight can be tough.

Yet the good leaders, the good people, are able to rise to the occasion. If Sherman truly felt slighted by Michael Crabtree, his best reaction was to have walked away and said and done nothing. He didn't; we can't help but feel that such is in fact a reflection of his true character, especially given the in your face attitude which football seems hell bent for leather to instill in its players.

If this proves to be an isolated incident then our criticism of the Seattle corner back is unwarranted. We doubt, however, that such will be the case.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Holiday law insults Martin Luther King

Today is Martin Luther King Day! Of course, today really would have mattered little to him, as it isn't his birthday or anniversary or anything important to him or his life. But thanks to the Monday Holiday Law, most holidays are celebrated on the Monday after a truly important day, if it falls on a Sunday, or on the nearest Monday if it happens to fall at a different time of the week. Why do we do it? So that workers may enjoy an extended weekend several times a year. Perhaps too so that it may make the work week easier to plan if we simply get the day off at the start of the week rather than as an interruption to the flow of things on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

But have we ever considered that such a practice is immeasurably insulting to the people and the events and the causes which we celebrate? We are speaking about people who gave their lives so that we could be here today to grill or watch ballgames or what have you, causes which speak to the soul, and events so important to our history as a nation that without whose remembrance we commit a great affront to our collective memory. And what do we do?

Shove them around the calendar for our convenience.

Wow. That Dr. Martin Luther King was such a great guy, let's make his birthday a holiday. Only let's make it on the nearest Monday if January 15th inconveniently falls on a Tuesday this year, so that we can enjoy a prolonged vacation. Whatever we do, we better remember our heroes in the way which suits us best: by us taking time off to do as we please. That's what matters: our convenience.

That's simply wrong.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Education and Michigan and the AFT

Governor Rick Snyder, that tough old nerd, claimed in State of the State address last night that he has put more money into education. Critics say that he has not. He assets he has added $600 dollars per student. Critics say he's cut education funding $470 dollars per student. But you know?

Both the governor and his detractors are full of hooey, because good education isn't ultimately about money.

Good education is about making students actually achieve good marks in real subject. It isn't about making them feel good about themselves, an inane idea which is all to prevalent in schools and teachers academies.

Good education is about sitting down, shutting up, and listening, asking only questions which help clarify a point or deepen understanding.

Good education is training the mind to think for itself, not spitting back elitist, leftist propaganda.

Good education is about respecting the subject more than the student who, if he really wants to learn, sees that he is not the arbiter of right and wrong and must make himself subservient to the work if he is to master it.

Good education is committed parents more than good teachers, although, of course, a good teacher, one who respects the subject he teaches, is a true gold treasure.

Good education makes a person, not a citizen, because only a person can be a good citizen.

Good education is not found on a political football field or a teacher's union shop. It is found wherever the above and related principles are found, which means it is not in most public schools in the United States today.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Mexico Rules Wrongly on Suicide

A New Mexico court has ruled that doctors in that state may help patients to commit suicide. The judge, Nan Nash said such patients have a fundamental right to seek aid in dying because the New Mexico Constitution prohibits the state from depriving a person from enjoying life and liberty or seeking and obtaining safety and happiness.

Really? Safety and happiness? But presumably those who wish to die believe as well that there is nothing except our earthly life. As such, since going out of existence pretty much eliminates any of the emotions, it is silly to argue that a person would happy after death. He wouldn't be around to experience it. Avtivist judges simple don't care about basic philosophy, though, do they?

Nor can it be 'integral to liberty' as the judge also says, to allow a person to kill themselves. After death, when they do not exist, there is no liberty. How can you be protect a liberty which goes out of existence while being protected? Yet this is not the real question anyway, if, as you should, believe in a life beyond this earth.

Did you have a choice in being born? No? Then why should you think you have a say in when you die?

We are not talking here about people taking actions, soldiers, for example, which might result in their death. They are not willing themselves to die but are rather willing to risk death for a cause greater than themselves. Neither should anyone ever equate human suffering with animal suffering and as such justify euthanasia. We are not mere animals; we are sentient, thinking beings on a much higher level. Our lives are not to be dispensed with simply because they face a horrible trial.

In the end, our lives are not ours; if so, we would have willed our births and not simply have had them foisted upon us. As it is, it is below the dignity of human life, even a willing human life, to kill itself merely to avoid anything, even suffering. Our lives are not so shallow as to be ended as with the dumb animals. Assisted suicide as such is not justice. It is cowardice.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Morality Polls

CNN has released an interesting poll on the morality of certain actions. It seems that, compared to a similar survey in 1987, a majority of Americans now believe certain acts moral which they once found immoral. The results may be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/cnn-poll-morality_n_4568789.html?utm_hp_ref=religion&icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl16|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D429312

Okay, polls are interesting. They may well reflect changes in attitudes within a society. But what that may tell us about that society, well, is certainly open to interpretation. And interpretation will surely be applied with a trowel by anyone of any ilk who studies the figures.

Take, yes, we will go for the most contentious issue on CNN's grid, homosexual relations. A solid majority viewed them as wrong in 1987. The barest majority see them as wrong in 2014. Why? Civil libertarians will see that as a growth in American tolerance of individual rights. More traditional moralists will see it as an erosion of respect for basic right and wrong. What's the difference? To seem rather flippant about it (but we do not say we are wrong to do so) many more Americans want to be able to do wrong in 2014 (so long as it fits that old standard that it does no harm to anyone else). If homosexual sex is okay, then surely party timing it with anyone of the opposite sex at whatever time each, uh, party finds it suitable, must be okay. The homosexual rights argument is thus the most successful slippery slope argument which we see in the modern world. If two folks of the same sex can do who can what two folks of different sexes, when under no contract (for the poll does see extramarital sex as very wrong) can do, then the prurient interests of any two unmarried people can have no moral bounds whatsoever. To put it quite boldly, the acceptance of homosexual rights is a door to general promiscuity. That's why so many people nowadays 'believe' in homosexual rights.

What strikes us as truly odd is the number of folks who believe that cheating on their taxes is wrong, and that that number is reasonably consistent in each poll. The results of that must be the result of people trying to say the 'right' thing, based on the fear of being caught by the omnipresent government. Again, and again quite boldly, folks are lying on that one. There's no way imaginable that 9 out of 10 Yanks think cheating on their taxes all that wrong. We suspect that many people are simply covering their tails.

It is good that solid majorities believe extramarital sex immoral until yet. But as that is a very easy belief (it dovetails nicely into the homosexual rights argument) it cannot be viewed as particularly noteworthy. So get divorced, and you're right back on the old playground. Without deeper insights as to the reasons why such a view is held, we are not impressed.

We could go on, but why? The liberals and libertarians have, through, CNN polling, made their point. Our morals have decreased. Yet we are not a better nation for it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Competitive Eating is Wrong

Molly Schuyler, a competitive eater, has set a record by eating a 72 ounce steak in three minutes. What are we to make of this?

The easy thing to say is that there's something wrong when a society accepts as sport competitive eating. It's the easy thing to say because it's the right thing to say.

Really? Competitive eating? Doesn't that sort of competition mock those in the world who have little or nothing to eat? Yes, we know that questions of poverty and poor nutrition aren't so easily solved and that there is no direct connection between eating contests and world hunger. Still, how can we in good conscience condone such contests when there are in fact so many in the world with little, if anything? This is before any questions about the harm the eaters may be doing to themselves, but at least in that area they're only hurting themselves. That doesn't make what they do right, however, and is actually just a side issue. No one should overeat just to show that they can.

There are things which shouldn't be done simply because they can be done. Competitive eating is one of them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Washington Will End Poverty This Time!

President Barack Obama is set to create a series of 'promise zones' aimed at ending poverty in certain very poor areas of the United States. How well that will work out remains anyone's guess, but the best guess is that it will not work very well at all.

Government will never solve the poverty issue. Nor, quite frankly will free market economics. But the latter has something on its side which the former lacks: actual, real incentives to work. It's the old teach a man to fish axiom, based on the assumption that he really wants to learn to fish.

Government assumes that all men want to learn to be self sufficient, and, of course, when asked, all men say that that's what they want. The trouble is they don't all actually want that.

Enter a free market, with the very simple incentive that if ya don't work ya don't eat. Government can't have that, because then the accolades for eradicating poverty fall on someone else rather than Big Brother. That just stings too much for any red blooded tax and spender to accept. They need to know that they have the answers. They must hold the solutions, not some amorphous market.

It's an ego trip, really. And Mr. Obama's ego, indeed the egos of all the save the world types, simply must have such stroking.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Michigan Should go Part Time

Michigan needs to go part time. Part time on the legislative front, that is.

Our state lawmakers make $79,000 per year. They meet less than 100 days per year, typically. That's $790 dollars per day. How many people do not make $790.00 per week? Indeed, how many of the people who make less than $790 bucks a week are more productive than state legislators? A good guess is that high schoolers pushing burgers off a grill at McDonald's are more productive than Lansing. They're getting paid for products in demand as well; we can debate whether those products are good for us, but that is certainly a separate question. For well or for ill, they're doing something the general public wants.

Are the products emanating from the State Capitol in demand? Well, they seem to spend a lot of time attempting to name highways. How often has that been a question in your mind? Have you ever had a conversation with a friend, family member, or co-worker about that? Have you ever though that our economy would be very much improved if we could only get a road named after Ronald Reagan or Coleman Young?

We have no quarrel with such honors per se. Yet when they become little more than partisan footballs for which the only obvious purpose is to give a legislator a political soap box (my opponent refused to honor Reagan/Young/insert name here) then what useful purpose is served? Why do we pay people for this sort of unimportant wrangling?

Needless to say, there is more than that. Yet it illustrates our point rather well. If Texas can afford a part time legislature, if the vast majority of the states of our Union can as well (the National Conference on State Legislatures lists only four full time legislatures; see here: http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/legislatures/full-and-part-time-legislatures.aspx ) then surely we can. It might force them to consider more important questions than road signage. It might even help ensure than only those keenly interested in Michigan's welfare run for office.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The World As I Know It

I don't know what to think for 2014. I don't know what to expect. It's all a mystery, really. I don't think I've ever been so uncertain in all my life.

I've committed my sins, and I'm truly sorry for them. Most were really stupid, so stupid in fact that I should have never fallen under their spell, and a moment of real thought would have made me avoid them. I allowed myself to be seduced by the future and fell prey to the unwritten. I would have seen what an idiot I was being, and with the least bit of thought I would have done the right thing in the end. I ignored the moment each time. Now I pay for those moments of nonthought. Quite frankly, that is as it should be. Know thyself, the philosopher says. I did not know myself well enough.

The future is actually quite bright for me. It is in detail unknown to me, but truly quite bright. But until recently it had seemed well written. Until the last year it seemed that I understood it. There is a trepidation about it that makes me uncomfortable even though I feel confident. I do not deserve what I may, by all what is good, merit. Perhaps I do not merit it; that is my fear.

There is fear and their is confidence. There is an irony which I do appreciate, and there is a lesson in that. The lesson is that we reap what we sow, and what we reap plays all ways. I do hope that what I have sown somehow plays for me. Even though I do not deserve that.

New Year 2013

Happy New Year everyone! May it be a good one.