What Matters?

Question Mark

Some number of years ago my father passed away from a brain tumor – like the one Senator Kennedy had.  The type of tumor is called glioma.  During his treatment and for awhile after his passing I was involved in raising money for glioma specific research.  In fact, I even entered, trained and <strike>ran</strike> finished the Twin Cities Marathon under the banner bearing the brain tumor research colors.

During these years when I was most active in the cause I was often approached by other such organizations – by the dozen.  We all are.  Diabetes, breast cancer, HIV, cardiovascular and the list goes on and on.  All noble and valid causes in their own right.

AND.

And, when scrutinized closer, may have a greater claim to my resources than glioma research.  Maybe the death rate was higher than is for glioma.  Perhaps more people are claimed than are by glioma.  Perhaps research is making massive strides in this area but not in glioma and every cent could be the one that pushes the ball across the line.

But my passion was glioma.  And that didn’t mean I disregarded the importance and nobility and tragedy that came contained in all the other equally noble causes.

For me – glioma mattered.

I suspect that how I embraced my passion then is how some people have come to embrace Black Lives Matter today.  Right now, there is a segment of our population, my friends and my neighbors and my brothers who feel that the system is keeping them down.

They may be wrong!

But they may be right – and so now, their sense of feeling is valid.

It might be, after careful analysis, that our nation’s police are not seeing color – it might be that they are.  It might be that our education system doesn’t serve our communities of color – it might be that such communities don’t prioritize such education.  It might be that jobs are and are not given to people based on the tint of our skin.  It might be that government policy has served our population – or it might be that such policies are destructive to that population.

But for now – there are people who have this feeling and we are obligated to at least listen to their grievance.  And their solution.

I’ve thought a lot about those three words – Black Lives Matter.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are most likely two, possibly three, messages being given AND heard when read internally.  As below.

The first is the least likely interpretation :

black *lives* matter – this as opposed to liberty and say, property.  To me, this interpretation makes it sound as if the LIFE of someone who is black matters, but nothing else.  This reading of the phrase doesn’t ring true nor have I ever heard anyone speak as if this is the way they take it.

The second is how the right, for lack of a better word, takes it:

*black* lives matter – this as opposed to white lives or brown lives.  Or red or yellow.  This interpretation makes it sound as if ONLY black lives matter.  All other lives matter, well, less.

The third is how I think the sincere Black Lives Matter advocate means it to sound:

black lives *matter* – this as opposed to NOT mattering.  This reading makes the implicit case that right now, in our society, it feels like the lives of our black neighbors don’t matter.  That’s how I hear it.

Now – that’s a lot to unpack.  And if you’re with me so far, hold on.

This is NOT to say that the valid reading of the third example is grounds for the lawless behavior being demonstrated by the folks in the streets, and focused on in the media, that stoke and encourage violence and division.  Far from it.  Such behavior is not part of our culture and every effort should be made to eradicate it.  But my point is –

My point is this.  Just because someone has decided that they wanna “run the Twin Cities Marathon under the colors of BLM” doesn’t mean that they can’t simultaneously acknowledge other, perhaps more valid, ills that face our society.  For some reason, most likely highly personal, this individual has, in this moment, decided to pick up the flag and take his turn carrying it forward.

Maybe tomorrow, when the pain has passed, he’ll turn to his left and hand the banner to someone else to dedicate his resources somewhere else.  But not right now.  Because right now, RIGHT NOW, glioma lives matter.

But what I really wrote this post about is not so much what matters – not because it’s not important, it is – but because I wanna point out what is destructive:

Roughly 20 people showed up on Sunday, some with the red flag and assault rifles, others holding up a “White Lives Matter” banner, in a protest against the NAACP, according to local media reports.

White Lives Matter has formed as a directed response to the Black Lives Matter movement, a civil rights campaign stemming from 2012 that advocates against anti-black racism and is known for its involvement in protests against police killings of black men across the country. Some counter-protesters, using the phrase “White Lives Matter,” argue that the Black Lives Matter movement is anti-white …

Look, I have issues with many individuals inside BLM, but the idea, or my reading of it, of the movement is noble.  I am not so far gone that I can’t agree that agents of the state given permission to stop, search, frisk, arrest and use force can’t be corrupt at some point.  Such is the nature of The State.  I frown on the many examples of destruction carried out in the name of BLM in the same way that I frowned on the Occupy Wall Street jokers that carried on the way they did.

But bringing guns, the stars and bars and marching in front of the NAACP offices?  Pathetic.

Get up, grow up and go back home!

The Most Qualified Person In The World

Hillary

According to Barack Obama, Hillary is the most qualified candidate  to ever run for President.  Near as I can tell, she  has three such qualifications:

  1. First Lady – 8 years
  2. Senator – 4 years
  3. Secretary of State – 4 years

No one else had more experience?

How about H.W. Bush?

  1. U.S. Navy – 4 years
  2. Congressman – 4 years
  3. UN Ambassador – 2 years
  4. Chair of the GOP – 2 years
  5. Envoy too China – 2 years
  6. Director C.I.A. – 2 years
  7. V.P – 8 years

Not even close – Bush by unanimous decision.

Global Warming And Forest Fires

Forest Fire

Back to Philosophy in college.  If thing A causes thing B and we KNOW that thing A is true, then it follows that thing B must be true.

A=Global Warming
B=More Forest Fires

Doesn’t look good for Bambi and friends in our local forests:

<i>Forest experts generally agree that as climate change makes the world warmer and drier, wildfires will break out more often.</i>

But what if I told you that B=False:

Year Fires Acres Burned
2006         56,645.00          3,662,192.00
2007         45,907.00          1,842,596.00
2008         35,820.00          2,109,164.00
2009         47,466.00          1,891,224.00
2010         29,527.00          1,445,846.00
2011         35,722.00          4,728,327.00
2012         27,176.00          1,876,169.00
2013         21,729.00          1,351,576.00
2014         25,978.00              886,021.00
2015         27,590.00          2,048,899.00
2016         25,006.00          2,096,408.00

There is no increase in forest fires in the US.  The numbers above are Year to Date through 6/28.

2016 ranks 9th in the last 11 years in the number of fires and ranks 4th in acres burned – and it’s slowing down.

So, either Global Warming doesn’t cause more forest fires OR there is no Global Warming.

2-Years

books

I’ve bee at this for awhile now – started in January of 2009.

I often am wrong, surely have an over inflated sense of myself.  To be sure.

But I’ve learned a lot; about some important stuff.  And it’s been fun.

This represents a 2-year posting high for me.  Onward!

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings

I’m from Minnesota.  And my heritage is, in some part, Nordic.  And I love the Vikings.

I love watching them play, I love watching my son watching them play.  I love me throwing to Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Ahmad Rashad, Sydney Rice and Dirtball Darrin in my back yard.

I love watching him spike the ball when he gets both feet down in the corner to score 6 as time runs out in Green Bay.  Love it.

And I rarely consider what the image of the Viking means; or even what it means to BE a Viking.  Like, a real Viking back in the day.  I don’t consider how they waged war, or how they treated enemies conquered.  I don’t know if they perished by the sword, the disease or famine.  I don’t know much.

But when I do consider why the team decided to go with the name “Vikings” I suspect it’s because they realized that there was a history of Nordic nature in Minnesota.  Many people originate from Sweden or Norway or Denmark in Minnesota.  And – and this is important – they wanted to celebrate that condition of character that stood out as desirable in combat.  Or competition.

I find it … cool that my football team is named after a nation of gifted warriors who were courageous and feared in battle.

And it would seem as if I am among a 90% majority:

Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

As Dan Snyder pointed out:

The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride

 

 

When the Other is a Hater

Persecuted

Someone can disagree with you and simultaneously not be a hater, a bigot, fearful of anything or anyone or be a racist and love the sound of a baby’s laughter, raise honeybees and dedicate his life to increasing the general goodness around her.

The Social Contract

Social Contract

Last week I posted on the concept of the Social Contract.  Specifically on the fact that a contracts binds folks into reciprocal obligations – a quid pro quo if you will.  But rare is the liberal democrat that will agree with this simple obvious fact.

At its very core, the concept of a give and take is the argument the democrat makes; from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  The idea that someone sits idly by while the rest of society labor for his largess SHOULD offend the liberal.

Alas, any debate that suggests those receiving ought to contribute as they can is met with labels of ‘hate’ and ‘bigot’.

As it stands, the US government spends north of $1 trillion annual on means tested welfare.  That’s a number even the most ardent Bernie supporter would find unbelievable – a massive transfer of wealth from those that have to those that have not.  In fact, if Bernie had been asked what his goal in such transfer programs were back in the 60’s, he would have been happy enough with that number to retire and call it a success.

Back to the contract.  What if we limited compliance of that contract not to those in need, caring for others and perhaps unable to care for themselves.  What if instead we went after those with no dependents and were fully capable of fending for themselves?

Poster BoyNotice: The poster child of this movement is neither female, a minority or destitute

Well, Maine did it – and it worked:

In response to the growth in food stamp dependence, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, recently established work requirements on recipients who are without dependents and able-bodied. In Maine, all able-bodied adults without dependents in the food stamp program are now required to take a job, participate in training, or perform community service.

Job openings for lower-skill workers are abundant in Maine, and for those ABAWD recipients who cannot find immediate employment, Maine offers both training and community service slots. But despite vigorous outreach efforts by the government to encourage participation, most childless adult recipients in Maine refused to participate in training or even to perform community service for six hours per week. When ABAWD recipients refused to participate, their food stamp benefits ceased.

In the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults without dependents plummeted by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in Dec. 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015.

Now THAT is a win!

Proof

Alison Krauss is not simply proof that God exists – she is proof that He loves us.

California – The Land Where They Hate Poor People

Job Line

It’s simple econ 101:

Put a ceiling on the price of a commodity, you get less supply of the commodity.

Put a floor on the price of the commodity, you get less demand for the commodity.

Rent control – a ceiling – results in fewer rental units.

Minimum wage – a floor – results in reduced demand for workers.

Politicians ignore this:

In December, The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco released a paper examining the current research on the impact of minimum wage increases. It stressed that the “most important” policy consideration was whether there would be “fewer jobs for the least skilled workers” because “they are the ones the minimum wage is intended to help.” It found that the “most credible” research showed minimum wage increases resulting in “job losses” for these workers and “with possibly larger adverse effects than earlier research suggested.”

Or worse, they acknowledge AND ignore:

In January of this year, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed, stating that raising “the minimum wage too much” would put “a lot of poor people out of work.” His conclusion: “There won’t be a lot of jobs.”

I’ll include the math, though it likely won’t help the average minimum wage earner supporting a family [they don’t speak math]:

Take a typical quick service restaurant employing 25 people with annual sales of $1.25 million. The National Restaurant Association’s annual Operations Report states that the average pre-tax profit margin for such a restaurant is 6.3 percent, or $78,750. While more experienced employees typically contribute more to a business’s bottom line, for this example let’s assume that each of these 25 employees contributed an equal amount to the business’s success of $3,150.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, restaurant sector employees work an average of 26 hours per week. Increasing California’s minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 for such an employee results in an annual cost increase of $6,760, or more than double what the employee contributed to the business’ success – resulting in a loss of $3,610 per employee per year.

I recently went to see “Captain America: Civil War” and had the pleasure of waiting in line for concessions.  Agonizing.  Lines forever, employees that couldn’t remember “a beer, medium buttered popcorn, duds and a water” and the idea of making change was foreign.  Not a whiff of customer service much less mastery of task at hand.

Fifteen an hour?  Hardly worth the job.

North Carolina Teacher Pay

Teacher

With all of the news out of North Carolina, it would be understandable if you hadn’t heard of this:

Raleigh, N.C. – New rankings of average teacher pay across all 50 states and the District of Columbia show that North Carolina teacher pay is increasing faster than any other state in the country.

Data from the National Education Association shows that North Carolina has moved up six spots in the rankings of average teacher salaries since the 2013-2014 school year, the single-biggest improvement of any state in the country. North Carolina has also seen the largest average gains in teacher pay in the country over that same time period, according to the data.

During the 2015-2016 school year, North Carolina’s average teacher salary of $47,985 ranked 41st in the nation. When the data is adjusted for cost-of-living, North Carolina ranks 33rd in the nation for teacher pay, according to preliminary analysis by the John Locke Foundation.