Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Sunday, March 31, 2013

I'm Going to Be in Denver

Looks like I'm flying into Denver on Sunday morning the 31st for a meeting Monday morning, and then I'm on my own until my flight out at almost 10:00PM.

So, any readers in the Denver area want to get together Sunday or Monday?  I'll be staying in the Tech Center area of Greenwood.

UPDATE:  Landed on time at 10AM.  Got the rental car.  Did a little driving around.  Been in a traffic accident.  Checked into the hotel.  Now going for something to eat.

See everybody at 6PM.

Quote of the Day - Easter Sunday Edition

...from the atheist perspective:
Its one thing to say it isn't so, that there really is no God, that Jesus was just a man (if he existed at all), that there is no such thing as a soul, no heaven, no afterlife. It's quite another to say that belief even in these false things is valueless.-- John Pryce
Happy Easter, everyone.  May your faith bring you and yours much peace and joy.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Virtual Townhall

Bill Whittle on immigration:

Obamacare Predictions

Those of us in the "government is a necessary evil, but still evil" demographic made many predictions about the result of Obamacare while it was being debated, after it passed, and even after the Supreme Court upheld it.

We did so based on past experience with sweeping "feel good" legislation, with our understanding of President Obama's personal philosophy and agenda and the agenda of those in power in the Democrat party, on our understanding of basic economics and our grasp of human nature when faced with economic choices, just to name a few.

Let's review a few of those predictions:
  • Medicare would be cut to help fund it.
  • Doctors would retire early to avoid it.
  • Health insurance costs would not, as promised, drop.  Instead, they would increase.  Significantly.
  • Many if not most people would not, in fact, get to keep their existing plans because of the increases in premium costs.
  • New hiring would be detrimentally affected because businesses would not have any idea what new employees would cost, much less their existing ones.
  • Some full-time employees would lose their full-time status so their employers could avoid having to pay for their insurance.
  • Despite the law's aims of "universal coverage," many people would remain uninsured, perhaps as many as were uninsured before the law passed.
  • Taxes on the middle class would, necessarily, rise to support the ballooning costs of the law - in opposition to Obama's promise that he would not raise taxes on the middle class.
Boiled down into a single graphic:

 photo Obamacare_Ramirez.jpg
So, here we are a quarter of the way into 2013, three years after Obama signed the Act and a year before its full implementation, and where are we?
National Center for Policy Analysis, March 12, 2013:
Though Republicans are usually responsible for calls to modify or end Medicare, the Obama administration has made the first move in cutting benefits. The administration's cuts will impact the poor the most, says Joseph Antos, the Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.
  • Low-income seniors will see an estimated 7 percent to 8 percent reduction in their Medicare Advantage benefits in 2014.
  • As opposed to traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA) is provided by private providers and is attractive to lower-income individuals because it is less expensive.
  • The reduction will occur because of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), which is reducing Medicare benefits and raising taxes to pay for the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies in the health insurance exchanges.
  • The cuts are larger than originally expected because the administration believes that Medicare spending will abruptly drop for no reason.
Private plans, averse to such a large spending cut, will likely leave markets or reduce their benefits as plans become less profitable.

More than 14 million Medicare beneficiaries will be affected by the cuts, which will disproportionately affect low-income individuals.
Forbes August 12, 2012:
A recent survey by the Doctor Patient Medical Association Foundation reveals that 83 percent of physicians surveyed are thinking of quitting because of Obamacare, and 90 percent feel that the U.S. health care system is now heading in the wrong direction.

This result is not a surprise; patients everywhere need to be concerned that Obamacare is putting an enormous new weight on the back of doctors who were already over-burdened.

This survey is not alone. Previous surveys by Athena, Sermo, Deloitte, the Doctors Company Survey, the Physicians Foundation, and IBD/TIPP have clearly shown that most doctors are unhappy with the direction of things, and a clear majority are opposed to the health care law. The Physicians Foundation survey in 2010 found that physicians view Obamacare "as a further erosion of the unfavorable conditions with which they must contend."
Christian Science Monitor, March 27, 2013:
From the perspective of insurance companies, implementation of Obamacare will mean an average increase of 32 percent in the cost of medical claims per person by 2017, according to a study released Tuesday by the Society of Actuaries (SOA). But that figure will vary dramatically state by state, depending on how states handle their high-risk pools, which are then folded into the individual market under the reform. The cost of claims drives the price of health-care premiums.

"The projections in this study suggest that when the dust settles by 2017, we can expect mixed results on the reform bill's goals of expanding coverage and reducing costs," says Kristi Bohn, consulting health staff fellow at SOA, in the report.

In the SOA model, what are currently considered "low-cost states," such as Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana, will see a large increase in the cost of medical claims – 80.9 percent for Ohio, 80 percent for Wisconsin, and 67.6 percent for Indiana. But the current "high-cost states" will see the average cost of medical claims go down. The biggest decrease, 13.9 percent, is projected for New York, followed by Massachusetts, with a 12.8 percent decrease.
Still too early to tell with that one, but I'm not holding my breath
Congressional Budget Office report, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023 (PDF, p. 61):
In 2022, by CBO and JCT's estimate, 7 million fewer people will have employment-based health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act; in August, that figure was estimated to be about 4 million people. The revision is the net effect of several considerations, with the largest factor being the reduction in marginal tax rates, which reduces the tax benefits associated with health insurance provided by employers. The increased movement out of employment-based coverage also reflects revisions to CBO’s projections of income over time and higher projections of employment-based coverage in the absence of the Affordable Care Act.

Reductions in employment-based health insurance coverage boost federal tax revenues because they increase the proportion of compensation received by workers that is taxable.


CBO and JCT have raised their estimate of revenues that will come from penalties paid by employers, by $13 billion for the 2013–2022 period, because fewer businesses are now expected to offer insurance coverage than had been estimated in August.
Seven million, eh? Anybody want to place a bet?
The Staffing Stream (trade journal) Feb. 6, 2013:
Staffing firm with 50 or more full-time W-2 employees will be caught by the employer mandate and will have to provide coverage for its employees or face penalties.

If they do provide coverage, they will face increased costs and ugly administrative headaches. Take for example the look-back period, which was instituted to help companies (particularly staffing firms) that have employees working variable hours determine if those employees must be covered. They are allowed to use a look-back period ranging from three to 12 months. If the employee averages 130 hours during the look-back period, they must be offered coverage during a subsequent “stability period” that must be as long as the look-back period and can’t be shorter than six months. If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. Firms who do not have a dedicated benefits person on staff may have to get one.

Your clients are facing the same challenges and are trying to find ways around the employer mandate. And they have to act now. Even though the employer mandate doesn't go into effect until 2014, it will be based on a company's 2013 payroll. So employers are already instituting hiring freezes, laying employees off, or cutting their hours below 30 hours per week. In fact, a Mercer study cited in a recent USAToday article stated that half of the companies surveyed that are not currently offering health insurance would make changes to their full-time headcount to avoid complying with the PPACA.
Credit Union Times, August 9, 2012:
Employers with large part-time and low-wage populations — especially retailers — are more likely to take measures in order to avoid triggering a costly requirement to provide health care coverage to employees that used to be ineligible.

According to a survey released Wednesday from consulting firm Mercer, 67% of retail/wholesale employers expect they’ll be making changes to their workforce structure so they can dodge a coverage eligibility requirement that's part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Also, CNBC, Feb. 12, 2013:
For large retail and restaurant chains the big unknown in the year ahead is how much more they'll pay for health coverage. Employers with 50 or more workers who put in 30 hours a week will be required to provide health care coverage or pay a fine, under the Affordable Care Act, also called the ACA or Obamacare. But the details haven't been settled.

"We can't really calculate what it's going to be like," said John Mackey, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods, an outspoken critic of the Obama health reform law.

His grocery chain already offers health care to workers at the 30-hour threshold. But he said the company may be forced to reconsider its full-time staffing levels, if the final employer mandate rules still being crafted by the Obama administration require companies to offer costly benefit options.

"Say we're paying $3,200 a year for insurance for somebody, and the new regulations cost us $5,000 to insure somebody. If they work fewer hours, we just saved $5,000 per person," because there is no mandate to provide coverage for part-time workers, he explained.
Batchbook has been offering health benefits from day one, even when the firm had no profits. "It was a big decision, but it was really important for us, that we build the company that we wanted," O'Hara said.

Now, she and her HR manager are spending a lot of time trying to figure out how the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will impact the firm's benefit plan. This year, they chose a high deductible plan to keeps costs down. Their insurance broker said that plan may not comply with new limits on out-of-pockets costs for health plans beginning in 2014, so their rates are likely to rise. That could impact hiring plans.

"My policy is you don't hire somebody unless you can afford them," O'Hara explained. "The question is what we can afford to pay someone, when you don't have a really good understanding of what that benefits package is going to cost."

Many of the new mandated coverage details are still being finalized in Washington, including the so-called employer mandate.
"Still being finalized." That would be this stack of regulations:

 photo Obamacare_regulations.png
July 2012 Congressional Budget Office Report, Estimates for the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act Updated for the Recent Supreme Court Decision (PDF, p.13):
CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA, in comparison with prior law before the enactment of the ACA, will reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 14 million in 2014 and by 29 million or 30 million in the latter part of the coming decade, leaving 30 million nonelderly residents uninsured by the end of the period. Before the Supreme Court's decision, the latter number had been 27 million.
Thirty million is certainly less than the 48.6 million reported by NPR on Sept. 12, 2012, but only about a third less, and we all know how accurate government projections tend to be.

On that last one? Increasing taxes on the middle class to pay for Obamacare? A cursory search of the web shows a lot of conflict on that one, much of it centered on that "penalty" vs. "tax" language that the Supreme Court decision rested on, but in addition to the bolded bit in that first CBO report excerpt above, I did find this little tidbit:
Chicago Sun Times Letter to the Editor, Jan. 1, 2013:
Here is a little-known fact about the Affordable Care Act: As of Jan. 1, the threshold for deducting medical expenses on your income tax return increased from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of adjusted gross income for nearly everyone. Seniors 65 and older get a reprieve for three years. It's interesting that almost every article I've read on ObamaCare fails to mention this tax increase that will hit the "middle class" the hardest. Then again, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was then speaker of the House, did say, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."
Of course, that only matters to those of us who itemize, but still...

Feel free to add your own links in the comments!

UPDATE:  from the blog The Virginian:
It turns out that an upscale women’s fashion store that sells expensive women’s clothing and accessories has told its full time employee’s(sic) that they can’t work more than 21 hours per week and are hiring more people to take up the slack. As a result, they don’t have to provide health insurance to its part-timers.
But hey! "Hiring more people"! Unemployment's coming down!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why War Should Always be the Politics of Last Resort

Someone you should know, Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret):
In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial.

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 37 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia , Laos , and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

*The smell of Nuc Mam.
*The heat, dust, and humidity.
*The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
*Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
*Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
*Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
*A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
*The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
*My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina , Virginia , and Maryland.

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk , rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9″, I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.”

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied “18 months this time.” Jolly breathed, “Jesus, you must be a slow learner Colonel.” I smiled.

Jolly said, “Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.”  Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this G*dd@mn job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office. The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.” I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?” Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable.  Finally, I said, “Walt, what’s the h-ll’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here.. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.


My third or fourth day in Norfolk , I was notified of the death of a 19 year old Marine. This notification came by telephone from Headquarters Marine Corps. The information detailed:

*Name, rank, and serial number.
*Name, address, and phone number of next of kin.
*Date of and limited details about the Marine’s death.
*Approximate date the body would arrive at the Norfolk Naval Air Station.
*A strong recommendation on whether the casket should be opened or closed.

The boy’s family lived over the border in North Carolina , about 60 miles away. I drove there in a Marine Corps staff car. Crossing the state line into North Carolina , I stopped at a small country store / service station / Post Office. I went in to ask directions.

Three people were in the store. A man and woman approached the small Post Office window. The man held a package. The Storeowner walked up and addressed them by name, “Hello John. Good morning, Mrs. Cooper.”

I was stunned. My casualty’s next-of-kin’s name was John Cooper!

I hesitated, then stepped forward and said, “I beg your pardon. Are you Mr. and Mrs. John Copper of (address.)

The father looked at me - I was in uniform – and then, shaking, bent at the waist, he vomited. His wife looked horrified at him and then at me. Understanding came into her eyes and she collapsed in slow motion. I think I caught her before she hit the floor.

The owner took a bottle of whiskey out of a drawer and handed it to Mr. Cooper who drank. I answered their questions for a few minutes. Then I drove them home in my staff car. The storeowner locked the store and followed in their truck. We stayed an hour or so until the family began arriving.

I returned the storeowner to his business. He thanked me and said, “Mister, I wouldn’t have your job for a million dollars.” I shook his hand and said; “Neither would I.”

I vaguely remember the drive back to Norfolk . Violating about five Marine Corps regulations, I drove the staff car straight to my house. I sat with my family while they ate dinner, went into the den, closed the door, and sat there all night, alone.

My Marines steered clear of me for days. I had made my first death notification.


Weeks passed with more notifications and more funerals.. I borrowed Marines from the local Marine Corps Reserve and taught them to conduct a military funeral: how to carry a casket, how to fire the volleys and how to fold the flag.

When I presented the flag to the mother, wife, or father, I always said, “All Marines share in your grief.” I had been instructed to say, “On behalf of a grateful nation.” I didn’t think the nation was grateful, so I didn’t say that.

Sometimes, my emotions got the best of me and I couldn’t speak. When that happened, I just handed them the flag and touched a shoulder. They would look at me and nod. Once a mother said to me, “I’m so sorry you have this terrible job.” My eyes filled with tears and I leaned over and kissed her.


Six weeks after my first notification, I had another. This was a young PFC. I drove to his mother’s house. As always, I was in uniform and driving a Marine Corps staff car. I parked in front of the house, took a deep breath, and walked towards the house. Suddenlythe door flew open, a middle-aged woman rushed out. She looked at me and ran across the yard, screaming “NO! NO! NO! NO!”

I hesitated. Neighbors came out. I ran to her, grabbed her, and whispered stupid things to reassure her. She collapsed. I picked her up and carried her into the house. Eight or nine neighbors followed. Ten or fifteen later, the father came in followed by ambulance personnel. I have no recollection of leaving.

The funeral took place about two weeks later. We went through the drill. The mother never looked at me. The father looked at me once and shook his head sadly.


One morning, as I walked in the office, the phone was ringing. Sergeant Jolly held the phone up and said, “You’ve got another one, Colonel.” I nodded, walked into my office, picked up the phone, took notes, thanked the officer making the call, I have no idea why, and hung up. Jolly, who had listened, came in with a special Telephone Directory that translates telephone numbers into the person’s address and place of employment.

The father of this casualty was a Longshoreman. He lived a mile from my office. I called the Longshoreman’s Union Office and asked for the Business Manager. He answered the phone, I told him who I was, and asked for the father’s schedule.

The Business Manager asked, “Is it his son?” I said nothing. After a moment, he said, in a low voice, “Tom is at home today.” I said, “Don’t call him. I’ll take care of that.” The Business Manager said, “Aye, Aye Sir,” and then explained, “Tom and I were Marines in WWII.”

I got in my staff car and drove to the house. I was in uniform. I knocked and a woman in her early forties answered the door. I saw instantly that she was clueless. I asked, “Is Mr. Smith home?” She smiled pleasantly and responded, “Yes, but he’s eating breakfast now. Can you come back later?” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s important, I need to see him now.”

She nodded, stepped back into the beach house and said, “Tom, it’s for you.”

A moment later, a ruddy man in his late forties, appeared at the door. He looked at me, turned absolutely pale, steadied himself, and said, “Jesus Christ man, he’s only been there three weeks!”

Months passed. More notifications and more funerals. Then one day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth…. I never could do that… and held an imaginary phone to his ear.

Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.

Jolly, “Where?”

Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland. The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam.”

Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”

He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?”

I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.

He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”

My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to break my ass trying.”

I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said, "George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you."

I was and the Admiral did.. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.

The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed.”

He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my ass.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the h-ll out of his office.

I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are air tight. How do we keep it from floating?”

All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”

They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worst for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12″ holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.”

The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.

The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplin spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.

The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever.

The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me the f*ck out of here. I can’t take this sh_t anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.

I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.

Vacating the house, my family and I drove to the office in a two-car convoy. I said my goodbyes. Sergeant Jolly walked out with me. He waved at my family, looked at me with tears in his eyes, came to attention, saluted, and said, “Well Done, Colonel. Well Done.”

I felt as if I had received the Medal of Honor!

That is all

Well, Damn

I'm guilty of this myself:
Comparing England (or UK) murder rates with the US: More complex than you thought

I have frequently in this series referred to the English murder rates as historically low and currently very low compared to US murder rates. I blandly accepted the murder statistics published by the UK Home Office as definitive. I overlooked the details of what and how the English counted "murders." It turns out that was a big mistake. (I was first turned onto my error by this post at Extrano's Alley.)

I fell into a definitions trap you may not be aware of. The shortest version is this. We count and report crimes based on initial data. The Brits count and report crimes based on the outcome of the investigation and trial. Yep, that says what I meant it to say.
RTWT. The kicker is this, though:

The murder rate in the UK is either equal to or higher than the murder rate in the US.  (Sources not available. See reduced conclusion instead.) 

The murder rate in the UK according to US standards is double or higher than their reported rate. It may be impossible to produce an actual apples to apples comparison number from official sources.  It is not 15% of the US rate. 

As he says, comparing the Home Office "homicide" statistics against the FBI UCR statistics isn't comparing apples to apples, it's "comparing apples to meatloaf."

And be sure to read this link, too.

I won't make this mistake again.

UPDATED to reflect revision of the original post.

Your Moment of ... Zen?

 photo supercell.gif

Beautiful to watch, but DAMN!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Joe Wilson Was Right

...when he said "YOU LIE!" to President Obama, just not (necessarily) on the right subject.

Of course, all politicians lie, but Wilson was objecting to Obama's claim that the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" wouldn't cover illegal aliens.

I want to talk about this lie:
"First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.  Nobody is talking about taking that away from you."
In actuality, a lot of people were "talking about" it.  But Obama promised that wasn't going to happen.

He lied.

Case in point, Say Uncle, and thousands like him and his family. 
The Mrs. has a part time job at a local health care concern and, basically, she goes there to work, get away from kids, and for the benefits. She was told today that, effective 1/1, she could no longer purchase insurance on their plan. Now, it’s a good plan but it’s not cheap. Us and the two rug rats runs just north of $1,000 a month. But even that rate won’t be affordable under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Especially since, now we've passed it and are finding out what's in it, we discover that
Millions of Americans will be priced out of health insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul because of a glitch in the law that adversely affects people with modest incomes who cannot afford family coverage offered by their employers, a leading healthcare advocacy group said on Tuesday.
A "glitch"! Oh, my! But one that means thousands of dollars in expenses to millions of Americans who right now have coverage.

Says Uncle:
And the funny thing is, I talk to my insurance guys, lawyers and financial guys and not a one of them knows what to do. Seems all this nonsense is still up in the air among professionals until the .gov provides additional guidance or unfucks itself.
Which will happens some time around... never.

This is what government does. Either deliberately or through unintended consequences, when it sticks its nose where it doesn't belong it fucks things up. 

This is why the powers of the Federal government are supposed to be "few and defined."

And they are anything but, these days.

At some point the difference between incompetence and malice becomes indistinguishable and irrelevant.

Social Engineering

For once I had a kid listening to me. Cool! Then came my second proclamation "If you know math. I mean really know it. You can pin an employer on the ground and pull money out of their hands. And they'll thank you for it." The kid nodded. "You can do this when half of your peers are washing dishes and aspiring to become a Wal-Mart greeter." The kid was drifting but I yammered on like the old fart that I am. She dozed the next few seconds and came to as I was finishing my monologue "…drive your enemies before you. That is what is good."

The kid, sensing an opportunity, shoved another homework assignment my way. What’s this? It wasn’t algebra at all. I glanced around for an escape. There was none. I skimmed the paper.

"This," I began, "is not math. It is social engineering."

"Um…" The kid looked uncertain. "I don't think they call it that."

"Of course they don't!" I groused. "They don't call it bullshit either. Yet that's what it is."

"Er… What's 'social engineering'?" The kid asked.

"Social engineering is when an unqualified worker in the employment of the State takes it upon themselves to manipulate children as they see fit." I sipped more coffee. "An activity formerly reserved for people deemed more appropriate, such as clergy or respected elders." I reflected further "or sometimes cult leaders and gangs. Maybe Mafia leaders. You know what I’m saying?"

The kid looked at the paper. She did not know what I was saying.

"But I'll help you. It's time to see if your teacher has a sense of humor."
From The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog.

Read Part I and Part II.

I want him to teach my grandkids algebra.

This is My Shocked Face

So I was noodling around over on Facebook the other day, and posted a picture I thought was amusing.  It drew some commentary from one of my FB friends from high school, one of which was this:
Like the equality thing you got going, but don't like it when the mentally disturbed get 4 assault rifles and shoot up the town... From today's news...
Breaking News: Mentally Ill Gunman on Shooting Spree in Tacoma Washington

Tacoma police say they received about a dozen 911 calls Tuesday afternoon from people living in a residential neighborhood in northeast Tacoma reporting that a gunman was walking through the neighborhood firing indiscriminately. The identity of the suspect is not yet known, although local news stations are reporting that neighbors tell them he has mental health issues. He may have been drinking and is carrying four high power assault weapons.
My response:
I'll wait until we have better information. I would not be surprised to find out that "four high power assault weapons" turns out to be nothing of the kind. I don't care for the mentally disturbed shooting up the town either, but I don't see how disarming me is going to prevent it.
So I kept an eye on the story. The shooter was eventually talked into surrendering. 65 year-old Michael McBee has been arraigned and bail has been set at $5 million. Here's the most current version of what actually happened:
Fistfight led to Fife Heights shooting, investigators say

About 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, court records show, McBee’s temper boiled over, and he allegedly grabbed a 9mm pistol and went next door to settle the score.

Pierce County prosecutors allege he opened fire on his neighbor as the man stood in his garage with his wife and another man, pursued his target — firing more shots as the man ran — and then shot at the wife when she ran inside her house.

Incredibly, no one was hit.

Prosecutors charged McBee on Wednesday with attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and one count each of first-degree burglary, malicious mischief and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Not-guilty pleas were entered on his behalf in Superior Court. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered McBee, 65, jailed in lieu of $5 million bail at the request of deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen.
One 9mm handgun, not "four high power assault weapons."

Had there been so much as a single "assault weapon," you can rest assured we'd have had a junk-on-the-bunk picture and a full description of McBee's "arsenal."

UPDATE:  Mad Rocket Scientist over at Random Nuclear Strikes has another classic example of media hysteria when it comes to firearms.  I've got to screenshot that paragraph for posterity.  Surely they won't leave it up as-is for long:

 photo Lanza.jpg

I want a picture of that!

Quote of the Day - GeekWithA.45 Edition

From the comments to one of my older pieces on education that I have had reason to link to recently:
I've long held that the darkest truth I know is that men are enslave-able.

It is a detail of this fact that their bodies can be beaten and broken, molded into a twisted parody of their rightful glory. We rightfully hide far from our daily awareness, in a special place of screaming horror the fact that their minds can be warped into a place where gibberish replaces reason.

Humanity celebrates the man whose spirit triumphs over such abuse, who rises above the physical and mental infirmities imposed upon him to know and live his own mind and spirit, and desperately wants to believe that this is the norm, and not the exception.

Surrounded by proof to the contrary, we are thus presented with a painful dichotomy. What is man? Is it the transcendent, triumphant glory of spirit that strives against all adversaries on behalf of its own autonomy? Is our being entirely conditional upon the forces that mold and warp it, some occasional victories being contingent upon some lucky factor? (And what of the adversaries? Are they also not men?) Can we avoid splitting the camp of mankind, into those men who would rule only themselves, those are/will/can not be, and those who would rule others? How shall we regard the many flavors of Failed, who may have never even understood the need to lift a finger in their own defense, or who, having strived, failed of strength or endurance?

I submit that we can hold the Failed in compassion, but that compassion would be misplaced if applied to those who would Rule us.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

High Unemployment? With Our Population?

I ran across an interesting article in the online trade magazine, Educational System Limiting United States Manufacturing. Some excerpts:
Manufacturing automation has been doing the heavy lifting to improve productivity in the United States while the country’s educational systems continue to have disturbingly low productivity. After talking with management of many manufacturing companies, reviewing surveys and statistics, it is obvious to me that this situation is dramatically out of control.

The educational system in the United States is just not getting the job done. And this is a major constraint on finding people suitable for basic manufacturing jobs let alone people to work with the technology required for manufacturing to be competitive on world markets. Further, this is a severe limitation hampering United States companies from designing leadership automation systems and creating machines. Recent information illustrates that the U.S. education system cannot turn money alone into positive results - with billions of dollars pumped into education over 40 years. The "No Child Left Behind" initiatives are a decade old. An investment of over $80 billion in federal stimulus since 2009 that was intended to lift student performance quickly has resulted in no significant gain.


The Manufacturing Institute report, "Boiling point - The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing," says that seventy-four percent of respondents indicated workforce shortages or skills deficiencies are having a significant impact on manufacturers' ability to expand operations or improve productivity. These jobs require the most training, and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to fill with existing talent. Survey respondents punctuated the most serious skills deficiencies with existing employees.
  • Inadequate problem-solving skills - 52%
  • Lack of basic technical training (degree, industry certification or vocational training) - 43%
  • Inadequate basic employability skills (attendance timeliness, work ethic, etc.) - 40%
  • Inadequate technology/computer skills - 36%
  • Inadequate math skills - 30%
  • Inadequate reading/writing/communicating skills - 29%
Frankly, I'm surprised that the inadequate math and reading/writing/communication skills are as low down the totem pole as they are. I guess automation has gone a long way towards eliminating these skills as requirements for the workplace.
Drew Greenblatt, President & Owner, Marlin Steel, USA (
"It is dispiriting what's going on with our system…we have high school graduates that don't know how to read a tape measure, can't do basic math, don't know how to do simple geometry," said Greenblatt. "They don't know what a radius is, what a diameter is…but they have a high school degree. It is unacceptable, we should be furious because we are paying big bucks and not getting the quality."

"I am on the executive board of the National Association of Manufacturers and they are starting a national program called Skills Certification," said Greenblatt. "It is a national certification and if you pass the test it is a portable certificate that shows you have the basic competence to work in a factory. I think that will improve the stock of our employees...right now the diploma from a high school is not worth the paper it's printed on."
I am reminded of the valedictorian's graduation speech I fisked in 2010, wherein she proclaimed that a college degree, not a high-school diploma was the "... paper document that certifies that I am capable of work."

Bearing this in mind, it means that the total output of primary and secondary education in this country is a population unsuited for working in the industrialized world.

I think that may have been the only thing she got right in her whole speech.
The problems with the United States educational system is analogous to a dying business with investors that think throwing money at the problems will fix it. Unfortunately government money seems to mindlessly flow into education programs. I believe there are fundamental structural, process, and management problems with the educational system that need to be sorted out. It is unclear how this can happen with the layers of bureaucracy.
In short, it can't. The layers of bureaucracy aren't interested in fixing the problem.

But they are interested in keeping the money flowing.
It is a sad commentary on the education system when the National Association of Manufacturers resorts to a Skills Certification System since the educational system is ineffective. All we need now is for some educators to get involved and ruin this.

In 1972, the United Negro College Fund coined the phrase, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." This in a nutshell describes the problem for the majority of U.S. citizens due to the ineffective educational system.
Oh, it's effective. Just not at producing educated people. That's not its job.
Reengineering the U.S. educational system may be the most important challenge for manufacturing and the country. Government and bureaucracy continue to be an obstacle to meaningful change. There seems to be too many sacred cows. I was on a school board a number of years ago that was wresting with teacher quality. With my industry background, I suggested using statistical quality control analysis based on student outcomes. When I explained the concept of to them, I became a persona non grata (unwelcome person)!

Somehow we have to fix this problem or the United States will continue to fall behind the rest of the world.
Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

UPDATE:  At PJ Media, Has a Century of Progressive Education Turned Us Into Obedient Sheep? with reference to John Taylor Gatto and Ayn Rand's The Comprachicos.

Canaries in Coal Mines

Bill Whittle:

I Hope Mr. Completely and Keewee are OK

Homes evacuated after major landslide on Whidbey Island
At least 17 homes have been evacuated after a major landslide overnight on Whidbey Island.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said no one was hurt, but one home was destroyed by mud and debris when the slide happened in an area near Alderwood Street and South Fircrest Avenue just after 4 a.m.

"It's a pretty massive slide," he said.

Brown said a relief center for displaced residents has been established at a nearby community center.

It was not clear exactly what caused the slide, as there was no rain overnight in the area.
Check the link for pictures. For once the media didn't exaggerate. It was a major slide.


We've all heard how China is "investing in green energy," and if we don't do the same and subsidize companies over here, we're going to be left behind and be dependent on foreign technologies.  So $535M goes to Solyndra, and it's down the tubes, not to mention:
Amonix ($5.9M)
Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3M)
Nordic Windpower ($16M)
Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20M)
Evergreen Solar ($25M)
Raser Technologies ($33m)
Beacon Power ($43M)
Range Fuels ($80M)
Ener1 ($118.5M)
A123 Systems ($279M)
Abound Solar ($400M)
This list is not complete, and there are many other "green energy" companies with government-guaranteed loans that are struggling, but I found this fascinating:
China's Suntech in Bankruptcy Proceedings

It came as no surprise today when the photovoltaics manufacturer Suntech, the world market leader in recent years, filed for bankruptcy in China. The company was well known to be in serious financial trouble and has been under investigation for having spent the equivalent of almost US $700 million for bonds that probably are fraudulent, to provide financial collateral for solar projects in Germany. Last week Suntech forfeited on a US $541 million bond, and the company's chairman, Shi Zhengrong (photo), a scientist widely admired the world over as an innovative entrepreneur, had to step down, as speculation centered on whether the Suntech's municipal sponsor, the city of Wuxi, would step in to save it with some kind of bailout package.

The news, however expected, is nonetheless, stunning. In recent years, Suntech led the pack of low-cost Chinese PV makers who laid waste to commodity manufacturers in Europe and the United States, making life impossible for innovative startups like Solyndra in the U.S. and Germany's Q-Cell, the world market leader when Suntech first emerged as a force to be contended with. But then there was sharp push-back from the United States and Europe, which imposed trade sanctions after their manufacturers complained the Chinese were "dumping" PV modules at below production costs. It now appears those complaints were well-founded, as the Chinese have run up huge debts that they cannot pay back, reportedly from selling their product at a loss. As the old joke goes, for only so long can you do that and make it up in volume.

Looked at another way, the Suntech collapse appears to be a case of a technology revolution devouring its own children. According to Keith Bradsher of The New York Times, who made his reputation as a technology and business correspondent covering the troubled U.S. auto industry, "China’s approach to renewable energy has proved ruinous, financially and in terms of trade relations with the United States and the European Union. State-owned banks have provided $18 billion in loans on easy terms to Chinese solar panel manufacturers, financing an increase of more than tenfold in production capacity from 2008 to 2012. This set off a 75 percent drop in panel prices during that period, which resulted in losses to Chinese companies of as much as $1 for every $3 in sales last year."

Suntech itself is believed to owe its Chinese creditors upwards of $2 billion.
Read the whole thing.

Get this through your head: This is not CAPITALISM. This is what happens when governments try to INFLUENCE THE FREE MARKET.

Worst Case of Suicide I've Ever Seen

From Michael Ramirez:

 photo Suicide_by_Media.jpg

On the other hand, he did appear very depressed lately...

Quote of the Day - Robb Wins Edition

The Winnah - from Sharp as a Marble:
Again, here’s a key illustration that these people think we’re too stupid to make the right choices, yet think the government (full of the same people who cannot make good choices) is up to the job after being chosen by the very same people that cannot make good choices.

We are being lorded over by people who cannot properly use Twitter, couldn’t boil water without a 12 page PowerPoint document and a governmentally Licensed Dihydrogen Monoxide Joule Application Specialist, or even have the most cursory comprehension of basic physics much less economics. They are not only stupid, they are dangerously so.
First runner up, however, goes to Tam:
I don't have a problem with the idea that there are certain people who need to be dragged out behind the barn and Ol' Yellered. The guy who shot up the theater in Colorado? Or what's-his-face in Norway? That's The Guy. He admits to being The Guy. Those guys are wasting precious oxygen that paramecia could be using to evolve.

If society wants to get all squeamish in those cases, then hand me the claw hammer and I'll go in there and administer 28 ounces of Estwingazine intracranially and we'll be done after you pass me that Handi-Wipe.
Some days picking just one is hard.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So I Bought Another Rifle

I decided to pull the trigger, so to speak, and purchased another Remington 700 - this time a .300 Winchester Magnum.  This one is also a 5R, but it has a 26" fluted barrel and a Bell & Carlson stock.  All the metal is finished in black Cerakote.  It'll be a couple of weeks before I have it in hand, but it looks a lot like this one:

 photo Rifle.jpg

 photo Stock.jpg

 photo Barrel.jpg

I'm no wimp, but when I go to the range, I like to SHOOT, and .300WM exceeds my shoulder capacity after ten five rounds, so I have to put a muzzle brake on it.  Looks like there's plenty of meat at the end for threading.

What say the Hive?  Any recommendations for "Best Muzzle Brake for a .300 Win Mag"?

Oh, and my original 5R is going up for sale.  I'm only going to keep one .308, and that's going to be the M25.

UPDATE:  Three nibbles on the .308 already!

UPDATE II - 3/29:  I've got a buyer!

Quote of the Day - Inside Higher Ed Edition

These sentences have absorbed and rewarded my attention for days on end. They are a masterpiece of evasion. The paragraph is, in its way, quite impressive. Every word of it is misleading, including “and” and “the.”
This is from a piece discussing a new 2010 book by discredited history professor Michael Bellesiles.  In particular, it refers to a paragraph in the promotional material for that book.

Seems that Bellesiles rubs off on his publishers, too.

The linked piece, "Amazing Disgrace," is a pretty comprehensive review of the Arming America scandal, or as he terms it l'affaire Bellesiles, and worth your time.

Especially the last couple of paragraphs.

(h/t to Irons in the Fire for the link.)

Flying Solo

Somehow I missed this one when Bill posted it:

Glock Perfection

Say Uncle linked to a Brietbart piece, ABC's 'Nightline' Takes Aim at Glock Handguns in which 'Nightline' really hammers on the meme that Glock (the manufacturer) is eeeeeeviiilllll.

Something I noted though - I recently received a complimentary copy of Paul M. Barrett's Glock: The Rise of America's Gun from the publisher for review. I'm way overdue on that review (and honestly, others have done that far better than I), but I noted throughout the Brietbart column that it seemed that whoever did the 'Nightline' hit piece had read Mr. Barrett's book, too. Used it as an outline, almost. When Barrett details how Glock would allow police departments to trade in their old service weapons for a discount on new Glocks, and then would sell those weapons to wholesalers, I could read an undercurrent of anger at how Glock was "putting guns on the streets" - especially when they took older Glock models (with pre-ban "high-capacity" magazines) in trade, thus illustrating the absurdity of the 1994 AWB. The 'Nightline' piece expands on that anger.

I've met Paul Barrett - he attended the Gun Blogger Rendezvous a couple of years ago, trying to gin up enthusiasm for his book. He seems a nice guy and a good investigative reporter, but I thought at the time that his book would be used as ammunition for the anti-gun forces out there, and I believe it has been.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quote of the Day - Education Edition

From Please Do Not Adjust Your Child by Daren Jonescu:
Something has gone terribly wrong with the modern world, and public education is at the heart of the problem.

(h/t to QuadGMoto in a comment to a previous QotD)

Interesting Data Point

My Arizona CCW expired this month, so last month I filled out the renewal form and mailed them a cashier's check.

It's been a few weeks.  No permit.

So I called them today.  "We're currently processing only those applications that came in before February 15," I was told. "At the start of the year, it seems like EVERYBODY wanted to get a permit.  We're buried in applications."

This is in a state where a permit is not required for carrying concealed.  I have one because it gets me out of the instant background check when I purchase a firearm, and it also lets me carry in several other states (but no longer in Nevada).

I was advised to give them "another couple of weeks" before checking back.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kalashnikitty Lives!

Seen on the back of an SUV this evening:

 photo IMG_20130210_181638.jpg

And this is why we're still winning.

Edited to add, also THIS:

 photo Tyrone-20130308-00138.jpg

Quote of the Day - Larry Correia Edition

From a post on his Book of Face:
In my life I've milked cows, moved hay, done construction, worked in a cheese factory, answered phones in a call center, given auto insurance quotes, sold books, wrestled drunks, been an accountant, been an auditor, taught pistol and rifle shooting, opened my own business, lost my own business, got into contracting, been a finance manager, and then a senior finance manager, and now I'm a bestselling novelist... So over my life I've gone from very poor, to poor, to middle class, back to poor, to middle class, then to upper middle class, and now I'm rich. I don't feel rich, but democrats feel that it is okay to take half of my income, so I must be rich. For all I know, I might be poor again tomorrow, but I at least I know how to cook beans and roll tortillas.

So forgive me if I don't buy into your theory that we're all trapped in some sort of friggin' caste system here.


If you are stuck in a minimum wage job for ten years, the problem is you. If you are trying to support a family for any extended period of time on a minimum wage job, the problem is you. If you don't think the problem is you, the problem is you. If you don't have the skills to get promoted or hired somewhere else, the problem is you. If there aren't any jobs in you area, friggin' move, but I'm betting the problem is still you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quote of the Day - John Taylor Gatto (again)

Found via Borepatch:


On second thought, instead of excerpting a snippet, I'm going to repost the whole thing for archival purposes.  It's that damned important.
The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher - By John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, 1991

Call me Mr. Gatto, please. Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do at the time, I tried my hand at schoolteaching. The license I hold certifies that I am an instructor of English language and English literature, but that isn't what I do at all. I don't teach English, I teach school -- and I win awards doing it.

Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood Hills. They constitute a national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what it is. You are at liberty, of course, to regard these lessons any way you like, but believe me when I say I intend no irony in this presentation. These are the things I teach, these are the things you pay me to teach. Make of them what you will.


A lady named Kathy wrote this to me from Dubois, Indiana the other day:

"What big ideas are important to little kids? Well, the biggest idea I think they need is that what they are learning isn't idiosyncratic -- that there is some system to it all and it's not just raining down on them as they helplessly absorb. That's the task, to understand, to make coherent."

Kathy has it wrong. The first lesson I teach is confusion. Everything I teach is out of context. I teach the un-relating of everything. I teach disconnections. I teach too much: the orbiting of planets, the law of large numbers, slavery, adjectives, architectural drawing, dance, gymnasium, choral singing, assemblies, surprise guests, fire drills, computer languages, parents' nights, staff-development days, pull-out programs, guidance with strangers my students may never see again, standardized tests, age-segregation unlike anything seen in the outside world....What do any of these things have to do with each other?

Even in the best schools a close examination of curriculum and its sequences turns up a lack of coherence, full of internal contradictions. Fortunately the children have no words to define the panic and anger they feel at constant violations of natural order and sequence fobbed off on them as quality in education. The logic of the school-mind is that it is better to leave school with a tool kit of superficial jargon derived from economics, sociology, natural science and so on than to leave with one genuine enthusiasm. But quality in education entails learning about something in depth. Confusion is thrust upon kids by too many strange adults, each working alone with only the thinnest relationship with each other, pretending for the most part, to an expertise they do not possess.

Meaning, not disconnected facts, is what sane human beings seek, and education is a set of codes for processing raw facts into meaning. Behind the patchwork quilt of school sequences and the school obsession with facts and theories, the age-old human search lies well concealed. This is harder to see in elementary school where the hierarchy of school experience seems to make better sense because the good-natured simple relationship of "let's do this" and "let's do that" is just assumed to mean something and the clientele has not yet consciously discerned how little substance is behind the play and pretense.

Think of the great natural sequences like learning to walk and learning to talk; following the progression of light from sunrise to sunset; witnessing the ancient procedures of a farmer, a smithy, or a shoemaker; watching your mother prepare a Thanksgiving feast -- all of the parts are in perfect harmony with each other, each action justifies itself and illuminates the past and the future. School sequences aren't like that, not inside a single class and not among the total menu of daily classes. School sequences are crazy. There is no particular reason for any of them, nothing that bears close scrutiny. Few teachers would dare to teach the tools whereby dogmas of a school or a teacher could be criticized since everything must be accepted. School subjects are learned, if they can be learned, like children learn the catechism or memorize the Thirty-nine Articles of Anglicanism.

I teach the un-relating of everything, an infinite fragmentation the opposite of cohesion; what I do is more related to television programming than to making a scheme of order. In a world where home is only a ghost, because both parents work, or because too many moves or too many job changes or too much ambition, or because something else has left everybody too confused to maintain a family relation, I teach you how to accept confusion as your destiny. That's the first lesson I teach.


The second lesson I teach is class position. I teach that students must stay in the class where they belong. I don't know who decides my kids belong there but that's not my business. The children are numbered so that if any get away they can be returned to the right class. Over the years the variety of ways children are numbered by schools has increased dramatically, until it is hard to see the human beings plainly under the weight of numbers they carry. Numbering children is a big and very profitable undertaking, though what the strategy is designed to accomplish is elusive. I don't even know why parents would, without a fight, allow it to be done to their kids.

In any case, again, that's not my business. My job is to make them like it, being locked in together with children who bear numbers like their own. Or at the least to endure it like good sports. If I do my job well, the kids can't even imagine themselves somewhere else, because I've shown them how to envy and fear the better classes and how to have contempt for the dumb classes. Under this efficient discipline the class mostly polices itself into good marching order. That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place.

In spite of the overall class blueprint, which assumes that ninety-nine percent of the kids are in their class to stay, I nevertheless make a public effort to exhort children to higher levels of test success, hinting at eventual transfer from the lower class as a reward. I frequently insinuate that the day will come when an employer will hire them on the basis of test scores and grades, even though my own experience is that employers are rightly indifferent to such things. I never lie outright, but I've come to see that truth and schoolteaching are, at bottom, incompatible just as Socrates said they were thousands of years ago. The lesson of numbered classes is that everyone has a proper place in the pyramid and that there is no way out of your class except by number magic. Failing that, you must stay where you are put.


The third lesson I teach kids is indifference. I teach children not to care about anything too much, even though they want to make it appear that they do. How I do this is very subtle. I do it by demanding that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. It's heartwarming when they do that; it impresses everyone, even me. When I'm at my best I plan lessons very carefully in order to produce this show of enthusiasm. But when the bell rings I insist that they stop whatever it is that we've been working on and proceed quickly to the next work station. They must turn on and off like a light switch. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of. Students never have a complete experience except on the installment plan.

Indeed, the lesson of the bells is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything? Years of bells will condition all but the strongest to a world that can no longer offer important work to do. Bells are the secret logic of schooltime; their logic is inexorable. Bells destroy the past and future, converting every interval into a sameness, as the abstraction of a map renders every living mountain and river the same, even though they are not. Bells inoculate each undertaking with indifference.


The fourth lesson I teach is emotional dependency. By stars and red checks, smiles and frowns, prizes, honors and disgraces I teach kids to surrender their will to the predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld by any authority without appeal, because rights do not exist inside a school -- not even the right of free speech, as the Supreme Court has ruled -- unless school authorities say they do. As a schoolteacher, I intervene in many personal decisions, issuing a pass for those I deem legitimate, or initiating a disciplinary confrontation for behavior that threatens my control. Individuality is constantly trying to assert itself among children and teenagers, so my judgments come thick and fast. Individuality is a contradiction of class theory, a curse to all systems of classification.

Here are some common ways it shows up: children sneak away for a private moment in the toilet on the pretext of moving their bowels, or they steal a private instant in the hallway on the grounds they need water. I know they don't, but I allow them to deceive me because this conditions them to depend on my favors. Sometimes free will appears right in front of me in children angry, depressed or happy about things outside my ken; rights in such matters cannot be recognized by schoolteachers, only privileges that can be withdrawn, hostages to good behavior.


The fifth lesson I teach is intellectual dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them what to do. It is the most important lesson, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives. The expert makes all the important choices; only I, the teacher, can determine what you must study, or rather, only the people who pay me can make those decisions which I then enforce. If I'm told that evolution is a fact instead of a theory, I transmit that as ordered, punishing deviants who resist what I have been told to tell them to think. This power to control what children will think lets me separate successful students from failures very easily.

Successful children do the thinking I appoint them with a minimum of resistance and a decent show of enthusiasm. Of the millions of things of value to study, I decide what few we have time for, or actually it is decided by my faceless employers. The choices are theirs, why should I argue? Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity.

Bad kids fight this, of course, even though they lack the concepts to know what they are fighting, struggling to make decisions for themselves about what they will learn and when they will learn it. How can we allow that and survive as schoolteachers? Fortunately there are procedures to break the will of those who resist; it is more difficult, naturally, if the kid has respectable parents who come to his aid, but that happens less and less in spite of the bad reputation of schools. No middle-class parents I have ever met actually believe that their kid's school is one of the bad ones. Not one single parent in twenty-six years of teaching. That's amazing and probably the best testimony to what happens to families when mother and father have been well-schooled themselves, learning the seven lessons.

Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends upon this lesson being learned. Think of what would fall apart if kids weren't trained to be dependent: the social-service businesses could hardly survive; they would vanish, I think, into the recent historical limbo out of which they arose. Counselors and therapists would look on in horror as the supply of psychic invalids vanished. Commercial entertainment of all sorts, including television, would wither as people learned again how to make their own fun. Restaurants, prepared-food and a whole host of other assorted food services would be drastically down-sized if people returned to making their own meals rather than depending on strangers to plant, pick, chop, and cook for them. Much of modern law, medicine, and engineering would go too, the clothing business and schoolteaching as well, unless a guaranteed supply of helpless people continued to pour out of our schools each year.

Don't be too quick to vote for radical school reform if you want to continue getting a paycheck. We've built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don't know how to tell themselves what to do. It's one of the biggest lessons I teach.


The sixth lesson I teach is provisional self-esteem. If you've ever tried to wrestle a kid into line whose parents have convinced him to believe they'll love him in spite of anything, you know how impossible it is to make self-confident spirits conform. Our world wouldn't survive a flood of confident people very long, so I teach that your self-respect should depend on expert opinion. My kids are constantly evaluated and judged.

A monthly report, impressive in its provision, is sent into students' homes to signal approval or to mark exactly, down to a single percentage point, how dissatisfied with their children parents should be. The ecology of "good" schooling depends upon perpetuating dissatisfaction just as much as the commercial economy depends on the same fertilizer. Although some people might be surprised how little time or reflection goes into making up these mathematical records, the cumulative weight of the objective-seeming documents establishes a profile that compels children to arrive at certain decisions about themselves and their futures based on the casual judgment of strangers. Self-evaluation, the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet, is never considered a factor. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents but should instead rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.


The seventh lesson I teach is that one can't hide. I teach children they are always watched, that each is under constant surveillance by myself and my colleagues. There are no private spaces for children, there is no private time. Class change lasts three hundred seconds to keep promiscuous fraternization at low levels. Students are encouraged to tattle on each other or even to tattle on their own parents. Of course, I encourage parents to file their own child's waywardness too. A family trained to snitch on itself isn't likely to conceal any dangerous secrets.

I assign a type of extended schooling called "homework," so that the effect of surveillance, if not that surveillance itself, travels into private households, where students might otherwise use free time to learn something unauthorized from a father or mother, by exploration, or by apprenticing to some wise person in the neighborhood. Disloyalty to the idea of schooling is a Devil always ready to find work for idle hands.

The meaning of constant surveillance and denial of privacy is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient imperative, espoused by certain influential thinkers, a central prescription set down in The Republic, in The City of God, in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, in New Atlantis, in Leviathan, and in a host of other places. All these childless men who wrote these books discovered the same thing: children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under tight central control. Children will follow a private drummer if you can't get them into a uniformed marching band.


It is the great triumph of compulsory government monopoly mass-schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among the best of my students' parents, only a small number can imagine a different way to do things. "The kids have to know how to read and write, don't they?" "They have to know how to add and subtract, don't they?" "They have to learn to follow orders if they ever expect to keep a job."

Only a few lifetimes ago things were very different in the United States. Originality and variety were common currency; our freedom from regimentation made us the miracle of the world; social-class boundaries were relatively easy to cross; our citizenry was marvelously confident, inventive, and able to do much for themselves independently, and to think for themselves. We were something special, we Americans, all by ourselves, without government sticking its nose into our lives, without institutions and social agencies telling us how to think and feel. We were something special, as individuals, as Americans.

But we've had a society essentially under central control in the United States since just before the Civil War, and such a society requires compulsory schooling, government monopoly schooling, to maintain itself. Before this development schooling wasn't very important anywhere. We had it, but not too much of it, and only as much as an individual wanted. People learned to read, write, and do arithmetic just fine anyway; there are some studies that suggest literacy at the time of the American Revolution, at least for non-slaves on the Eastern seaboard, was close to total. Thomas Paine's Common Sense sold 600,000 copies to a population of 3,000,000, twenty percent of whom were slaves, and fifty percent indentured servants.

Were the colonists geniuses? No, the truth is that reading, writing, and arithmetic only take about one hundred hours to transmit as long as the audience is eager and willing to learn. The trick is to wait until someone asks and then move fast while the mood is on. Millions of people teach themselves these things, it really isn't very hard. Pick up a fifth-grade math or rhetoric textbook from 1850 and you'll see that the texts were pitched then on what would today be considered college level. The continuing cry for "basic skills" practice is a smoke screen behind which schools preempt the time of children for twelve years and teach them the seven lessons I've just described to you.

The society that has become increasingly under central control since just before the Civil War shows itself in the lives we lead, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the green highway signs we drive by from coast to coast, all of which are the products of this control. So, too, I think, are the epidemics of drugs, suicide, divorce, violence, cruelty, and the hardening of class into caste in the United States products of the dehumanization of our lives, the lessening of individual, family, and community importance, a diminishment that proceeds from central control. The character of large compulsory institutions is inevitable; they want more and more until there isn't any more to give. School takes our children away from any possibility of an active role in community life -- in fact it destroys communities by relegating the training of children to the hands of certified experts -- and by doing so it ensures our children cannot grow up fully human. Aristotle taught that without a fully active role in community life one could not hope to become a healthy human being. Surely he was right. Look around you the next time you are near a school or an old people's reservation if you wish a demonstration.

School as it was built is an essential support system for a vision of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows as it ascends to a terminal of control. School is an artifice which makes such a pyramidical social order seem inevitable, although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution. From colonial days through the period of the Republic we had no schools to speak of -- read Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography for an example of a man who had no time to waste in school -- and yet the promise of Democracy was beginning to be realized. We turned our backs on this promise by bringing to life the ancient pharaonic dream of Egypt: compulsory subordination for all. That was the secret Plato reluctantly transmitted in The Republic when Glaucon and Adeimantus exhorted from Socrates the plan for total state control of human life, a plan necessary to maintain a society where some people take more than their share. "I will show you," says Socrates, "how to bring about such a feverish city, but you will not like what I am going to say." And so the blueprint of the seven-lesson school was first sketched.

The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony. We already have a national curriculum locked up in the seven lessons I have just outlined. Such a curriculum produces physical, moral, and intellectual paralysis, and no curriculum of content will be sufficient to reverse its hideous effects. What is currently under discussion in our national school hysteria about failing academic performance misses the point. Schools teach exactly what they are intended to teach and they do it well: how to be a good Egyptian and remain in your place in the pyramid.


None of this is inevitable. None of it is impossible to overthrow. We do have choices in how we bring up young people; there is no one right way. If we broke through the power of the pyramidical illusion we would see that. There is no life-and-death international competition threatening our national existence, difficult as that idea is even to think about, let alone believe, in the face of a continual media barrage of myth to the contrary. In every important material respect our nation is self-sufficient, including in energy. I realize that idea runs counter to the most fashionable thinking of political economists, but the "profound transformation" of our economy these people talk about is neither inevitable nor irreversible. Global economics does not speak to the public need for meaningful work, affordable housing, fulfilling education, adequate medical care, a clean environment, honest and accountable government, social and cultural renewal, or simple justice. All global ambitions are based on a definition of productivity and the good life so alienated from common human reality I am convinced it is wrong and that most people would agree with me if they could perceive an alternative. We might be able to see that if we regained a hold on a philosophy that locates meaning where meaning is genuinely to be found -- in families, in friends, in the passage of seasons, in nature, in simple ceremonies and rituals, in curiosity, generosity, compassion, and service to others, in a decent independence and privacy, in all the free and inexpensive things out of which real families, real friends and real communities are built -- then we would be so self-sufficient we would not even need the material "sufficiency" which our global "experts" are so insistent we be concerned about.

How did these awful places, these "schools", come about? Well, casual schooling has always been with us in a variety of forms, a mildly useful adjunct to growing up. But "modern schooling" as we know it is a by-product of the two "Red Scares" of 1848 and 1919, when powerful interests feared a revolution among our own industrial poor. Partly, too, total schooling came about because old-line American families were appauled by the native cultures of Celtic, Slavic, and Latin immigrants of the 1840s and felt repugnance towards the Catholic religion they brought with them. Certainly a third contributing factor in creating a jail for children called school must have been the consternation with which these same "Americans" regarded the movement of African-Americans through the society in the wake of the Civil War.

Look again at the seven lessons of schoolteaching: confusion, class position, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem, surveillance -- all of these things are prime training for permanent underclasses, people deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius. And over time this training has shaken loose from its own original logic: to regulate the poor. For since the 1920s the growth of the school bureaucracy, and the less visible growth of a horde of industries that profit from schooling exactly as it is, has enlarged this institution's original grasp to the point that it now seizes the sons and daughters of the middle classes as well.

Is it any wonder Socrates was outraged at the accusation that he took money to teach? Even then, philosophers saw clearly the inevitable direction the professionalization of teaching would take, preempting the teaching function, which belongs to everyone in a healthy community.

With lessons like the ones I teach day after day it should be little wonder we have a real national crisis, the nature of which is very different from that proclaimed by the national media. Young people are indifferent to the adult world and to the future, indifferent to almost everything except the diversion of toys and violence. Rich or poor, schoolchildren who face the twenty-first century cannot concentrate on anything for very long; they have a poor sense of time past and time to come. They are mistrustful of intimacy like the children of divorce they really are (for we have divorced them from significant parental attention); they hate solitude, are cruel, materialistic, dependent, passive, violent, timid in the face of the unexpected, addicted to distraction.

All the peripheral tendencies of childhood are nourished and magnified to a grotesque extent by schooling, which, through its hidden curriculum, prevents effective personality development. Indeed, without exploiting the fearfulness, selfishness, and inexperience of children, our schools could not survive at all, nor could I as a certified schoolteacher. No common school that actually dared to teach the use of critical thinking tools -- like the dialectic, the heuristic, or other devices that free minds should employ -- would last very long before being torn to pieces. School has become the replacement for church in our secular society, and like church it requires that its teachings must be taken on faith.

It is time that we squarely face the fact that institutional schoolteaching is destructive to children. Nobody survives the seven-lesson curriculum completely unscathed, not even the instructors. The method is deeply and profoundly anti-educational. No tinkering will fix it. In one of the great ironies of human affairs, the massive rethinking the schools require would cost so much less than we are spending now that powerful interests cannot afford to let it happen. You must understand that first and foremost the business I am in is a jobs project and an agency for letting contracts. We cannot afford to save money by reducing the scope of our operation or by diversifying the product we offer, even to help children grow up right. That is the iron law of institutional schooling -- it is a business, subject neither to normal accounting procedures nor to the rational scalpel of competition.

Some form of free-market system in public schooling is the likeliest place to look for answers, a free market where family schools and small entrepreneurial schools and religious schools and crafts schools and farm schools exist in profusion to compete with government education. I'm trying to describe a free market in schooling just exactly like the one the country had until the Civil War, one in which students volunteer for the kind of education that suits them, even if that means self-education; it didn't hurt Benjamin Franklin that I can see. These options exist now in miniature, wonderful survivals of a strong and vigorous past, but they are available only to the resourceful, the courageous, the lucky, or the rich. The near impossibility of one of these better roads opening for the shattered families of the poor or for the bewildered host camped on the fringes of the urban middle class suggests that the disaster of seven-lesson schools is going to grow unless we do something bold and decisive with the mess of government monopoly schooling.

After an adult lifetime spent teaching school, I believe the method of mass-schooling is its only real content. Don't be fooled into thinking that good curriculum or good equipment or good teachers are the critical determinants of your son's or daughter's education. All the pathologies we've considered come about in large measure because the lessons of school prevent children from keeping important appointments with themselves and with their families to learn lessons in self-motivation, perseverance, self-reliance, courage, dignity, and love -- and lessons in service to others, too, which are among the key lessons of home and community life.

Thirty years ago [in the early 60s] these things could still be learned in the time left after school. But television has eaten up most of that time, and a combination of television and the stresses peculiar to two-income or single-parent families have swallowed up most of what used to be family time as well. Our kids have no time left to grow up fully human and only thin-soil wastelands to do it in.

A future is rushing down upon our culture which will insist all of us learn the wisdom of non-material experience; a future which will demand as the price of survival that we follow a path of natural life economical in material cost. These lessons cannot be learned in schools as they are. School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.
"I teach school and win awards doing it." The definition of a "primary source."

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