Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It takes a village to raise an idiot

One of the most important books I’ve read (third only to the Holy Bible and C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle) is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It continues to have an overwhelming effect on my thought processes and is probably the main reason I have long feared for the future of our country.

Recently, Democratic Presidential Candidate hopeful HRC suggested “It's time to replace an ‘on your own’ society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity.” My recollection is that 19th Century political observer Alexis De Tocqueville opined: “A decline of the American experiment in government would occur when the majority of its peoples learned they could legislate wealth away from its holders, to be distributed among the masses according to the desires of those masses”. Could be that’s why we were founded as a Democratic Republic and not a Democracy. The Founding Fathers were awfully smart and we should pay more attention to that which they gave us and less attention to making their structure “work” by constantly altering it.

I could be confusing De Tocqueville with Ayn Rand somewhat, but the point remains valid. So then, what’s to keep America from becoming Socialist? Nothing, I fear except America’s desires for freedom and towards prosperity. I know that in Atlas Shrugged Rand observed the nation’s “producers” ultimately leaving their homes quietly and independently for another place that valued work and respected the right of one to profit from their labors. And in the country they left behind there remained nothing but waste, for without reward for one’s effort there is no reason to produce other than to provide for basic needs. If one can work productively for eight hours and only receive basic sustenance or they can work only 4 hours for the same, what reason is there to labor longer? And for that matter for two, or for none at all? Does the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard come to mind? Not quite, I believe.

A strong believer in Capitalism and the Free Market System, I would make the case that the only system which lifts up the individual to greater self worth is one such as we experience, though I believe it’s really about freedom and not reward. In any society where wealth is distributed equally, freedom can not long exist. All ultimately become dependent upon the State for fulfillment of their needs, and then the State becomes their god. I don't recall this as how our Father designed His Creation.

So, how does one fit Christian charity into this equation? I suggest it is incumbent upon true Christians to look towards the less fortunate and see that their needs too, are met; for that is Christ’s call to us. “To love one another as we love ourselves.” But for that call to work it must come from the heart and not from legislation. My biggest disappointment with Ayn Rand’s work is her approaching everything selfishly and not from a position of brotherly love. Coming to America from Russia in the heyday of Communism, it appears she didn’t understand or else couldn’t justify the Christian thought process, the main place I feel she “missed the boat”. Otherwise, I find her thoughts most profound, … and scary.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Picked up a copy of Reader's Digest last night. In thumbing through it, I was not really surprised with an article about the U.S. public educational system, which though as recently as 30 years ago being ranked number 1 worldwide, had fallen to something like 19th today. I've long felt we are failing in quality education for today's kids.

Got a real problem with that! Why can't we teach our children what they need to know to achieve? Lack of discipline in the public school system? Yeah, that's probably part of the problem. Breakdown of the family unit and moral fiber of the Country? Most probably a factor also.

But the biggest problem I see, and "hold on to your hats boys and girls", is government mandated equality. I am a product of the Texas Public School System (Class of '65 -thank you) and truly believe I received a first class education. It was a segregated system at that time. Please don't get ahead of me because I support integration 100%. In no way can I argue that any race, color or creed is less or more capable of learning than another. Statistics will bear that out that equal abilities cross all socioeconomic boundaries. Nor does any one have less of a right to the best education available to them. If that means they need to be bussed across town, so be it. Then my point is?

In an attempt to provide an equal learning environment we have reduced the expectation of nearly each and every student by working towards the least common denominator. Instead of seeking excellence among those capable, instead of asking each child to achieve to their individual maximum; we are willing to settle with mediocrity for all, in the name of equality. And that equality, folks, will never happen. Some people are more talented than others. It's always been that way and so forever shall it remain. Different people have different God given talents and no matter how hard one works to change it, little Johnny with the IQ of 95 is never going to be able to learn at a level equal to young Albert of the 130 score. Trying to teach at a level that all can understand got us where we are. Sure, Johnny might max out his abilities but without Albert being challenged too, a large portion of his time and mind goes to waste, strictly because we don't want little Johnny to feel bad about himself or that he's of lesser learning ability than Albert.

Now I'm not suggesting that Johnny doesn't have the right to feel good about himself. Lord knows he is of as much worth as any other in the eyes of the Father. However, that's what he needs to be taught. Help him to understand that though all are equal under the law and the eyes of God, each of us was created with different talents and the way we use those talents to their fullest is what determines the success of a person. There is no less worth in being a top notch plumber than a civil engineer and frankly, I've known several plumbers who cash paychecks in excess of what many civil engineers do.

Friday, June 08, 2007

From the L. A. Hilton

Yesterday's news was that Paris Hilton had been released from jail to serve out her punishment at home due to a medical condition.

Yeah right, she was sick of jail...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

George, you really are a hero

Was watching the boob tube for a few moments last evening before I got a call that the "alarm" had gone off at the office; or maybe when I had just gotten back home, I can't remember which. For lack of anything better I was watching a show with the premise of the "Next Newest Great Invention." It had a billion dollar panel of judges, to include George Foreman, the boxer and pitchman for George Foreman Grills. You know the format, the contestant comes out, makes a pitch for themself, generally getting ridiculed by the panel and then leaving to make room for the next schmuck to come out and look like a fool, too. Great entertainment, no? Occasionally someone has a decent idea, or presentation, or whatever and they go on to the next round. The whole genre was spawned by American Idol.

George is the "nice" judge who likes more than his share of contestants, the kindhearted judge who wants most everyone to enjoy some modicum of success. Anyway, so this young boy (10 or 12 years old) has some goofy idea about dealing with dirty diapers (I missed his presentation) and gets shot down by the panel - only George is supportive of him. The kid appears to be somewhat undone with his failure and George recognizes it. I don't think the judges were particularly hard on him, but that age on national TV you assume he's not able to deal with the rejection like an adult.

Well, George (a father of a bunch of his own kids) recognizes the boy's pain and takes time to get up and walk offstage with him, encouraging him along the way and hugging the boy and his mom outside the stage area. It almost brought me to tears. This big, tough, World Champion Heavyweight Boxer recognizing a child's discomfort and taking time to try and help heal it.

You're a hero, George, not for the millions you've made off your grills, not because you've won Olympic Gold or Heavyweight Titles 14 years apart but simply because you recognized a child's pain and did what you could to ease it.
Way to go!