Friday Follies for August 29, 2014

It has been a long week. It shouldn’t have seemed that way but it did. I’ve been beating the bushes trying to get conservatives involved in politics. I’ve not been very successful.

Case in point. I’m a member of several conservative political organizations. In every one, there is a small group that is active. Each group has an occasional drop-in who may visit for a meeting or two but their attendance is irregular at best. Most, pleading a busy schedule, drift off.

There is a distinct age gulf in the membership. All the active members are older—in their 50s and up. The younger crowd is too busy to bother—and that is a problem. Not for us, but for them.

We want to get younger members to join, whole families if possible. But we are rarely successful—“We’re too busy! The kids have too many activities. I have to take Junior to baseball/softball/soccer/football/basketball/swimming practice.” It is just the same for the girls. Then, during school session, add voice/band/music practice, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts/4-H, plus the kids come home with a 30lb backpack full of homework (do the kids ever do work at school anymore?).

Oh, we can still get a turnout for an isolated meeting for a cause such as Common Core or Agenda 21. But when it come to electing officials who will represent us in government, people claim they don’t have time.

It’s a cop-out. People can and will act if their private ox is being gored but politics? Heavens, no! In reality, it is a matter of priorities. What is more important. Being a helicopter parent who is determined their kids are under constant scrutiny or insuring those same children have any freedom when they become adults.

I constantly hear, “I’m not interested in politics!” and every time I remember the remainder of that quote—“but politics is interested in you.”


Homeschoolers! Lissen-up! a project for your kids? Take them to the upcoming Missouri Legislature Veto Override session. There are a number of interesting issues that will be voted upon to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto.

Meet the legislators; visit your state Representative and Senator, watch the bills being discussed and voted upon from the visitor’s gallery. See your state government in action. Coordinate your activity with another group (WMSA pitch here.) Find other homeschoolers, combine resources and perhaps share costs.

When I was in grade school and later in high school, I was required to pass a test of the US and state constitutions. One test was required to graduate into high school. The other was a state requirement for a high school diploma. In my high school, we spent a complete semester being taught the mechanics of government. Anyone who failed had a second chance in summer school. There was a third chance to pass the test for a high school diploma in a night class with adults, an early form of G.E.D.

That requirement no longer exists. It should, but it doesn’t. I suppose it’s more important to be taught diversity and other social engineering agendas than for students to understand how government works.

Homeschoolers take note of this opportunity. Every year I see a number of Jeff City public and private school kids touring the Capitol. I’ve seen other homeschoolers there as well with their kids. Witnessing government in action is too good an educational opportunity to miss. Perhaps you, too, will learn something as well.


ISIS is back in the news and Obama is, as usual, ignoring that crises. “We’re not at war with ISIS,” he claims. Obama ignores the statements from ISIS that they are at war with us and the rest of the world.

Islamic State’s ‘Laptop of Doom’
By Rick Moran, August 29, 2014

We don’t have a strategy yet to attack Islamic State. But they are developing a strategy to attack us.

A laptop found by Syrian rebels last January in an ISIS hideout proved to be a goldmine of information. Foreign Policy’s Harald Doornbos and Jenan Moussa got their hands on the machine, downloaded 146 gigabytes of material, and were shocked at what they found:

The laptop’s contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations — and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State’s deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another.

But after hours upon hours of scrolling through the documents, it became clear that the ISIS laptop contains more than the typical propaganda and instruction manuals used by jihadists. The documents also suggest that the laptop’s owner was teaching himself about the use of biological weaponry, in preparation for a potential attack that would have shocked the world.

The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia’s northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education:
The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals.

“The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge,” the document states.

The document includes instructions for how to test the weaponized disease safely, before it is used in a terrorist attack. “When the microbe is injected in small mice, the symptoms of the disease should start to appear within 24 hours,” the document says.

The laptop also includes a 26-page fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the usage of weapons of mass destruction. “If Muslims cannot defeat the kafir [unbelievers] in a different way, it is permissible to use weapons of mass destruction,” states the fatwa by Saudi jihadi cleric Nasir al-Fahd, who is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. “Even if it kills all of them and wipes them and their descendants off the face of the Earth.”

When contacted by phone, a staff member at a Tunisian university listed on Muhammed’s exam papers confirmed that he indeed studied chemistry and physics there. She said the university lost track of him after 2011, however.

It is very difficult to weaponize any biological agent. You need a modern lab and a trained team of scientists to build a usuable weapon. But that doesn’t mean that the terrorists aren’t trying very hard to build one:

Nothing on the ISIS laptop, of course, suggests that the jihadists already possess these dangerous weapons. And any jihadi organization contemplating a bioterrorist attack will face many difficulties: Al Qaeda tried unsuccessfully for years to get its hands on such weapons, and the United States has devoted massive resources to preventing terrorists from making just this sort of breakthrough. The material on this laptop, however, is a reminder that jihadists are also hard at work at acquiring the weapons that could allow them to kill thousands of people with one blow.

“The real difficulty in all of these weapons … [is] to actually have a workable distribution system that will kill a lot of people,” said Magnus Ranstorp, research director of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College. “But to produce quite scary weapons is certainly within [the Islamic State’s] capabilities.”

As you can see, ISIS is not a bunch of sheepherders hiding in caves. Educated professionals are also flocking to their banner and you have to think they can accomplish just about anything any modern army does – including building weapons of mass destruction.

Islamists call us “Crusaders.” There have been many Crusades over the last millennium. Perhaps it is time for another one. It is already being fought from the Islamist’ side. If we are to survive as a people and culture, it is time to recognize that fact for what it is.


Money laundering. Says it all.



Time’s up!

Yesterday, July 14th, was the deadline for Governor Nixon to veto, sign or ignore the pile of bills on his desk. One, SB 656, was one of those waiting for Nixon’s action. Late yesterday—at the very last minute, he vetoed SB 656.

What was SB 656? It was a bill that among other things, allowed teachers to protect their students after extensive training and certification by law enforcement, similar training, in fact, that LEOs undergo.

Nixon vetoed it saying it endangered the children. He prefers School Resource officers. So he said. Some school districts cannot afford hiring police to patrol their schools every day nor does every police department have extra officers to station them at every school.

Regardless of his motives, what Nixon has done was to leave schools open for more shootings. Our students must continue to be taught in free-fire zones.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 4:49 Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed legislation Monday that would have allowed vetted and trained teachers and school administrators to carry firearms on campus. The measure had passed the Republican-dominated state house by a strong 111-28 vote and the state senate in a 21-7 vote.

“I cannot condone putting firearms in the hands of educators,” Nixon said. “Arming teachers will not make our schools safer.”

Nixon said he supports the use of duly authorized law enforcement officers employed as school resource officers.

The bill, SB 656, was designed to allow school districts to cross-train faculty to a new “school protection officer” standard. These volunteer teachers and administrators would need a valid Missouri concealed-carry permit and complete a Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission certification course. Following these steps, they would be allowed to carry on school grounds if the district opted to allow armed personnel on campus.

Over the summer, no fewer than 10 school districts have sent selected teachers and staff through up to 75 hours of training in anticipation of the bill being signed by the governor. This required training ran at a cost of $17,500 for every two staff members.

Bloomberg surrogates, Moms Demand Action, are ecstatic that student remain endangered.


In another firearm related issue, Jackson County quietly passed an ordinance earlier this year prohibiting firing a firearm within the county. The way the law is written, if you have to shoot to protect yourself, you will be arrested, regardless of the merits of the act, for shooting within the county.

Kevin Jamison, one of the creator’s of Missouri’s CCW law and President of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance, had this to say.

Jackson County has an ordinance which prohibits shooting in the “urban tier” of the country. There is a map of this urban tier but it takes some effort to get. It does not exempt self-defense. The ordinance was slipped through last December without public notice. It does allow for ranges but does not define them and no county permit for ranges exists. This complicates some of the CCW instructors who have a home range. There was a hearing on a repeal sponsored by County Legislator Greg Grounds. The hearing was continued to 28 July, 2014 at 2:30 in the Jackson County Independence courthouse, in the basement. There were a great number of people there today. That always gets a politician’s attention.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s office says that they did not request this ordinance.

Spread the word.


SJR 36, also known as Amendment 5 on the August 5th ballot continues to be under fire from gun control activists. An appellate hearing occurred yesterday before the Missouri Supreme Court. Ron Calzone, a gun-rights activist was present and made this report.

What do you think “unalienable right” means?

Today I went to the MO Supreme Court hearing over the ballot title for Amendment 5, the super strong gun rights amendment sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer.

The lawyer for the anti-gun side said, (beginning at about 2:50 of the audio link): “The effect of the word ‘unalienable’ has no legal meaning, as we argued in our brief. Three states have, that I have found, have the phrase “inalienable right’ in their constitution. In all three of those states their Supreme Courts have said, specially, that the use of the word ‘inalienable’ does not trigger strict scrutiny standards and that they will review those under rational basis.$FILE/SC94293.mp3

This type of thinking is exactly why, in SJR 36, we advocated for the addition of a specific requirement that gun rights be protected by “strict scrutiny” standards in court.

For a 4 minute primer on Strict Scrutiny vs. the Rational Basis Test, see:

You’ll see that the rational basis test the anti-gun lawyer argued allows government restriction on gun rights for about any reason. You can also see why it’s so important to pass Amendment 5!

Mommas, don’t let your children grow up to be…


You mean owing the national debt? No, it’s more immediate, it’s Sallie Mae, the most insidious instrument of personal debt in the country—courtesy of Barack Obama’s nationalization of the Student Loan Program in 2010. Obama announced his intention to do so in a White House presser in 2009. The dems expected strong opposition to the move. Instead, the ‘Pubs ignored the takeover, addressing the nationalization of healthcare instead.

If any of you listen to Dave Ramsey’s radio program, it won’t take you long to realize the most common personal debt today is…student loans—tens of thousands of dollars of student loans. Just this morning, one woman called in with over $100,000 of student loans for a Master’s in Education. She is having difficulty finding a job and those available have entry salaries less than $35,000 in her area. But now she’s finished and is required to start repaying her loans immediately, employed, or not.

Sallie Mae logo 2009.jpgThe original student loan program was created in 1965 as a part of Johnson’s Great Society initiatives. As originally conceived, it provided for personal education loans guaranteed by the government, a semi-public corporation known as Sallie Mae, if the student met certain fiscal guidelines. The program was market driven with low rates. Students still had to qualify, but for those who did, the government guaranteed the loan.

I entered College in 1964 at a time when the student loan program didn’t exist. In my family, borrowing money was the last resort. I was able to acquire a scholarship that paid most of my tuition. In 1964, college tuition was much, much lower. Less than $300, for in-state residence, per quarter. My college, Southern Illinois University, was on the quarter system, four-quarters per year, at that time. In fact, the cost of room and board, was higher than tuition for many, including me.

How did I pay for those expenses not covered by my scholarship? I got a job and paid for it. I took a full course of classes and worked 40+ hours a week. The going wage was $0.75/hr. By the time I graduated, I was up to $1.15/hr. There was no minimum wage.

Over time, the Student Loan program expanded. Everytime it did, tuition costs went up as well. There is an old maxim in business—Costs expands to the limit of available funds. The more funding that is available, costs of programs and projects will expand as well. The same is true in financing education.

The increase of tuition and college cost was gradual over the years. The student loan program was market driven meaning that the lending institutions still qualified applicants while applying pressure on educational institutions to limit costs. Someone with little ability to pay, may not get a loan to a high-priced private institution. That limitation outraged liberals. In each revision of the loan program, the ‘qualifications’ of the applicants was lowered, until, with the passage of Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, the entire student loan program was nationalized.

Higher education has become a fraud. High school graduates assume that getting a degree guarantees a job. They are not taught that nothing in life is guaranteed. I was amazed that some school districts actually promote careers as social workers and other ‘soft’ career paths, when the actual employment forecasts are practically nil.

Social work, nationally, is one of the lowest paying jobs in the market—if you can find one. Day after day, I listen to callers to Ramsey’s program. At least several times a week, a caller will call about exorbitant student loans, usually $50,000 or more for a degree in social work and no job. If those callers are employed, it is in some other field.

The result is that a college education, for all too many, is worthless. The abundance of college degrees in areas with no employment, dilutes the successes of those who did work to achieve a degree in hard sciences, medicine, or engineering where the employment prospects are, if not more plentiful, pay a starting salary that is enough to live upon and pay off any student debts.

Liberals now claim that higher education is a ‘right.’ At one time, acquiring a degree took years of hard work. When I went to college, the SAT and other national tests did not exist. Each college had their own, devised to meet that institution’s needs and goals. Institutions like MIT, Stanford, and the ‘Ivy League’ colleges had entrance exams tailored to eliminate all but the most qualified applicants.

I applied at a number of Universities, MIT, Stanford, CalTech, and Southern Illinois University. My mother and sister were graduates of SIU. It was viewed at the family school. I was accepted at all of the universities. The only one I could afford was SIU. I had a state scholarship to SIU, not to the other universities. Guess where I went…SIU. For me, that was affordable education.

My wife attended the same university. She worked, had a scholarship as well. She also had some student loans…personal loans to cover costs not covered by the scholarship. After we were married, that debt was the first we paid off. Compared to student loans today, it was minuscule. Today, students are encouraged to borrow, to acquire massive debt to pay outrageous levels of tuition, for an education that, in many aspects, is worthless.

The real fraud in higher education today is that student loans are not necessary. There are still colleges and universities student can attend and cash-flow the costs. You will have to work. You may not take a full load of classes. You may not be able to attend that ‘Ivy League’ university. You can, however, acquire a degree that will be accepted by any employer.

What Obama’s nationalization of the student load program has done is to remove any constraints by universities to control their costs. When there is no restraint on costs, when education is subsidized by taxpayers, when colleges cannot turn down applicants because of affirmative action programs, education becomes…less valued. When the value of a product is less, that product is on the road to worth-less-ness. Instead of a mark of achievement, a college degree becomes the equivalent of a GED.

We are enraged at the nationalization of healthcare, recognizing, rightly, the inevitable rationing of care and reduction of the quality of that care. The same results will occur in education, less actual education with the concomitant devaluation of college degrees and achievement.

We must end the nationalization of education from Common Core to Sallie Mae. Make education a valued and valuable product again.

Poverty in America

I was listening to the opening segment of Dave Ramsey’s radio program this morning when I heard him describe some criticism he has been receiving. These critics claim Ramsey is a fraud, hates poor people and is a tool of the “moneyed” people, whatever that is.

Their position is that capitalism is the root of the country’s ills, that capitalism purposely keeps people in poverty so that “moneyed” people can control everything. It was reminiscent of the union and socialist talking points that I’ve seen over the years.

My observations over the last forty plus years as an adult is contrary to those talking points. The Poverty Line didn’t exist when I was growing up. That was a creation of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Since that time, the government has spent trillions, yes that’s right, trillions with a T, on poverty and it still exists in higher levels than before.

Why is this so?

To a very large extent, in my opinion, it is cultural. The history of this country, until the middle of the 20th Century, was based on entrepreneurship. People worked to acquire assets and capital that was, in turn, used to bootstrap a business, an enterprise, a homestead, a dream that lead to prosperity and increased wealth. Many, many were successful. Just look at the winners of the 19th and 20th centuries. They were, are numerous.

Many also failed.

Some, who chose to be homesteader, failed due to disease and weather. The drought and subsequent dust storms of the 1930s is one example. The blizzards covering the northern prairie states in the late 19th century ruined ranches large and small.

Some of those who failed, tried again and succeeded. The farmers who lost their farms in the Dust Bowl, migrated to California and other states and were known as “Okies,” migrant workers moving from one agricultural job to another.

Others, quit. With FDR’s New Deal, some realized they didn’t have to support themselves, others, the government, would do that and that realization was the beginning of America’s welfare state, a  shift in American Culture which fed today’s welfare state.

But, even today, those in poverty need not remain there. The tools exist to allow anyone, with sufficient motivation, to rise out of poverty and to succeed. The obvious tool is education. When I was young and in school, we were taught basics: reading and comprehension, writing and grammar including composition—writing clearly, arithmetic and math, history, geography and natural sciences. But most of all, we were taught how to teach ourselves.

As bad as our current education policies are, it is still possible for an individual to rise above their economic level and succeed—but now without work and personal investment. That is where our dependency culture is failing us.

When I was in school, we had a number of students whose parents were on “relief.” I personally knew some of them. I played with their children, visited them at their home, rode the same bus to school, I knew them and their entire family intimately. The differences between their families and mine were unbelievable to one who had not known both of us.

My family was average for that time and place. My father worked as a coal miner and part-time farmer (I did more farm work when in school than did he), my mother was an elementary school teach as was my older married sister. We also owned a small farm and raised most of our food. We weren’t rich, nor had a lot of money, but we did have something else—a desire to succeed. I was raised in that culture.

The other family was raised in a different culture. My school friends never took school work home. Their parents, outside of a small garden, had no income other than relief payments from the government. When their allotment of relief ended, they would find some job and keep it long enough to qualify for relief once again. It was a cyclic existence. If their children brought school work home, it was destroyed or if the parent found any school textbooks, those text books were sold for whatever value could be received. Their culture determined that education was a hindrance to life—on relief…welfare as we call it now.

That dependency culture has grown over the decades. It need not continue. The tools to fight it still exists—education, learning how to learn, teaching oneself new skills, skills that can lead to a job, the basis of economic freedom. The path is there.

How does this work? Basically, get a job. Acquire, through education, self-education, work, skills that youj will be paid a wage or salary for exercising those skills. Learn more skills, gain expertise, and find a better paying job, or create a new business with those skills. Then, as your business grows, with your hard work and enterprise, you hire employees who have skills you need. The cycle continues.

The critics scoff at this idea. “All the wealth is controlled by a few! No one new can join them.” That is the basis of Keynesian Economics: wealth cannot be created nor destroyed.” Wealth must be controlled for the betterment of all. Wealth must be taken from those who have it, and given to those who do not.

Later versions of Keynesian Theory were based on the Zero-sum game theory. Nothing, wealth, can be added nor removed from a system, just manipulated internally. Poverty is created because the wealthy have acquired all the wealth—a view of economics is easily refuted.

In the 19th and early 20th Century, our currency was based on gold and silver standards. Gold backed the currency. On the face of each bill was the statement, “Redeemable in gold/silver.” Our currency was not Federal Reserve notes, backed by the federal government, but Silver and Gold Certificates redeemable by the appropriate metal. If you didn’t have sufficient gold, or silver, you mined more. Wealth, actual wealth in silver and gold in this case, grew. The economy grew, people gained jobs, saved, and created new jobs. Poverty was diminished.

We no longer have a currency based on gold or silver. Our economy has outgrown the available quantities of gold and silver. We do have a currency based on work. We have the tools available to anyone with the will to use them. Poverty will not cease in America due to the dependency culture. But, we need not feed that culture. Poverty is not a lack of money, wealth, it is a cultural affliction.

Those who are mired in it, can escape. All it takes is the will to do so, and by doing so, escape the trap of dependency created by progressive, socialistic economic thought and policies.


Obamacare affects the liberal elite, too.

I had almost given up finding a topic for today when I came across the article below. Now that Obamacare is about to be enforced, in January, supposedly, the real effects are being felt across the country. People are losing their employer sponsored and private healthcare in the hundreds of thousands. Three hundred thousand in Florida alone.

One group that is also being impacted is…university professors. My wife is a professor at a small college, but she has never had healthcare through that institution anyway. Some tenured professors are being affected but the majority of university professors are adjunct professors. They are the temps, the contract workers who teach those classes that no full-time, tenured professor wants to teach.

These adjunct professors are paid based on the credit hours of the courses they teach. The amount varies. Suffice to say, they are not on salary and receive few benefits of tenured professors. They have now lost one of those few benefits—healthcare.

Here’s how Obamacare makes life hell for college profs

11:06 PM 10/27/2013

Universities are cutting back on adjunct professors’ work hours to comply with Obamacare–an unfortunate wake up call for some liberal academics who supported the law.

“I understand that colleges don’t have money to throw around and there’s a larger issue here, but it is frustrating to feel like, that in the face of this legislation designed to help people, that instead it’s hurting people,” said Amy Poff, an adjunct professor who teaches art classes at various Maryland colleges, in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

Under the president’s health care law, employees who work 30 hours each week are eligible for health benefits. Since many adjunct professors teach enough classes to meet that bar, college administrators must choose between paying extra healthcare costs or cutting back adjunct work hours.

For many universities–both public and private–the decision is an easy one: punish the adjuncts.

“Am I saying it’s the right thing to do? No,” said Robert Conlon, senior vice president at Sibson Consulting, a firm that advises colleges on employment decisions, in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “But is it the logical thing to do? Yes.”

Some 48 percent of universities–including 49 percent of public universities–have decided to place limitations on the number of hours adjunct professors can work, according to a survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed.

Adjuncts are not the only academics facing new burdens under Obamacare. Some universities are considering imposing fines on employees who smoke, or fail to get regular checkups.

Pennsylvania State University originally proposed a fine of $100 on employees who refused to submit to a battery of invasive, physical tests or answer questionnaires about their lifestyles and health habits. The policy was changed after faculty revolted; instead, those who take the test will earn a small cash reward.

Still, most university human resources officers believe Penn State’s penalizing approach was the right one, and colleges may increasingly move in that direction as Obamacare is implemented.

Thanks to Obamacare, more and more liberal professors are being kicked out of their Ivory Towers into the real world—and that is a good thing! Tenure has destroyed higher education.

Systemic Failure

The Zimmerman trial in Florida created a new ‘celebrity’ who outlasted her 15 minutes of fame for several hours. An achievement she did not want. She was the main prosecution witness and the defending attorney tore her apart and brought the entire case into question.

But this post isn’t about the trial. It’s about the woman on the stand and why she is a poster-child of modern education. You see, she’s a senior in high school and barely literate. She supposedly wrote a note to the parents of her friend. It was written in cursive. When she was asked to read a copy of that note while on the stand, she couldn’t. She couldn’t read cursive, she admitted.

At first she said she wrote the note. Later, she admitted she had a friend write the note. Why didn’t she write the note in print instead of cursive? She’s barely literate and not only can she not read, she can’t write either.

She was steadily promoted through school—social promotions, up through high school and has not the reading and writing skills to write a short note by herself. That is one of the tragedies exposed during this trial.

I grew up in a teaching environment. My mother was an elementary teacher. She was my teacher for a couple of grades. My older sister was a high school teacher teaching History and Government (Government was a required course in Illinois high schools at that time.) My father, while not a teacher, was on the school board and later the President of the school board.

Everyone in our family were readers. My father had less than an eighth-grade education but he was literate and was an avid reader. We subscribed to our local daily paper, had numerous magazine subscriptions, a bookcase full of literary classics and mom and dad belonged to the Reader’s Digest book club and the Book of the Month Club. Dad liked westerns, Mom liked mysteries. My sister was married then and out of the house. I don’t know what she liked. Grandma, who did live with us at that time, read the Bible and subscribed to several commentary magazines.

We were all literate. In fact, everyone in my school was literate, even those on “relief” whose parents weren’t.

How was it possible then when it isn’t now? A number of reasons. First, we were taught to read using phonics. I still remember my teacher when I was in the early grades, to tell a struggling reader to “sound it out.” You see, in our reading classes, we ALL read aloud in turn. Each of us had to read a number of paragraphs, no one was skipped and everyone in turn read their parts in class.

Our school was in the country and included a full eight grades. There was a junior high school (seventh and eighth grades) in town. There was no middle school. When we graduated the eighth grade into high school, everyone read and write at the eighth grade level, could do math up through algebra, name every state and state capital, every nation and capitol, name all the US Presidents and Vice-Presidents and their originating states, and describe the structure of our state and federal government. We could also recite the Declaration of Independence and the Preambles to the U.S. and our state Constitutions.

Now, with social promotions, children are graduating high school who would not be able to graduate from my eighth grade…or sixth grade…or third grade. How could those kids from sixty years ago do so much better than the kids today?

They weren’t allowed to fail. Some just weren’t ready to enter school. I remember one boy, one of many from his family. I think at one time he had four sibling all attending our school at the same time. Donnie McP was…well we called him slow. In retrospect, he may have been autistic. Maybe not. Donnie started school two years before me. He was “retained” or held over, twice. When I was started the first grade, Donnie was there, too. He sat at the desk in front of me.

My school had three teachers for the eight grades. Mrs. Williams was my teacher for the first three grades. She would allow no one to leave her class unless they met her expectations. Reading and writing was one of her requirements.

We were taught to print in our first grade. We were taught cursive beginning in the second grade. We were not allowed to print in class thereafter. We were also taught grammar and sentence structure. That included parsing sentences. Sixty years later, I can understand why we were taught that. Such knowledge enables me to write this blog. We were continually taught grammar until I finished my Freshman year of high school. I got more, when I was in college.

Reading, writing, knowledge of grammar is as essential as math and an understanding of basic science to be called educated. Our current schools fail in all aspects compared to sixty years ago.

Sixty years ago, Mrs. Williams allowed no child to pass to the fourth grade without being able to read, write and understand the basics of grammar. Donnie McP had problems. He lived in an old house a couple of hundred yards from the school. After school, Donnie was in the care of his older sibs until his parents came home hours later, usually.

Mrs. Williams kept Donnie after school. She persisted teaching Donnie to read, write and insured he was able to meet all her requirements for being promoted. After an hour or more, she would take him home. I never knew if Donnie’s parents knew of the extra help he received, nor, if they cared. Many didn’t and still don’t.

That is the situation that young woman in Florida found herself—in the national spotlight that exposed all her failings. No, not her failings, the failings of a school system who is more interested in maintaining statistics—graduation rates, than in actually teaching their students.

When educators drop phonics in favor of ‘sight reading’, stop teaching grammar, stop teaching cursive writing, they fail their students and should be removed from any educational position.

They have created generations of illiterates and semi-illiterates. In a just world, those so-called educators would be held up for ridicule.



I was listening to the radio this morning and the topic was the expectations of new college graduates. In essence, their excessive expectations. The conversation started with a report, a complaint, from a recent graduate. He couldn’t find a job!

No, that’s not right. He had a number of interviews, he couldn’t get hired. There’s a difference.

The grad’s expectation, fed by his school, was that all the grad needed to do was to wave his degree in the face of interviewers and he’d magically get hired.  Surprise! Surprise! Real world intervenes.

I worked for a large telecommunications provider, first as a team leader, then a manager, later as a design engineer and project manager. I was as high as I could go in the company without being an executive. During that time, I interviewed prospective employees, hired some and had to fire some as well. One of the activities I liked was screening college students who recently graduated or would be graduating within months.  Most were bright, knowledgeable and eager to commence their post-school  real-world life.

Then there were the others.

A tactic my employer used was called the “carousel.” Prospective employees would arrive enmass. They were given a stanard benefit package and then sent, in sequence, to managers and engineers for interviews. That allowed each potential employee to be interviewed by a half-dozen managers and engineers. At the end of the day, we interviewers met and discussed the applicants, selecting those for the next round of follow-up interview.

Those meetings were instructive. Some of the applicants would be very surprised with their impression on potential employers.

Case in point: one applicant that I still remember. You could say he did everything to not get hired. We received his resume some days earlier to allow us to be prepared for the interview. From this applicants resume and transcript, I noticed that he attended a number of universities—six as I remember. He had been in school eight years starting at age 19. He had changed majors at least three times.

He arrived in my office wearing jeans, sneakers—no socks, a pullover shirt, and a wrinkled sportcoat. We reviewed his resume and I asked my usual questions to determine what he’d learned in school. “What projects did you complete? What extra-curricular activities were you involved in? What were your priorities in school?”

The job slots open were for entry-level engineers. Instead of answering my questions with engineering examples, he spoke of all his “social awareness” activities.

Apparently, he was anti-war. 9/11 had occurred only months previously. He was against retaliation—“violence never solved anything!” was his response as I remember. I controlled my usual response to such inanities by reminding him of Rome and the Carthaginians. Rome still exists. Carthage doesn’t.

I asked him what he brought to the table that would be an asset to the company. I received a lecture on fairness, the evils of capitalism and the “banker’s cabal.”

At the end of the day when we reviewed the applicants, this character was on the bottom of the pile. We ordered the applicants in order of preference, the best on top. When his name finally appeared, the lead reviewer asked for comments. Silence. No one spoke. Finally, one reviewer ventured, “he has a heightened awareness for politics.” Translation: troublemaker. He wasn’t hired.

Flash forward to the present day. I listen to comments from present day graduates. They are being taught to…fail. Reading comprehension is low. Universities are teaching at a high-school level. The educational curricula has been trimmed to a point of being useless. But applicants are still being told that jobs will miraculously appear by waving a degree before the interviewer.

Nothing could be further from the truth. What graduates should be taught is that the job market is for buyers, not for sellers. Applicants need to impress employers. The first opportunity to impress is the applicant’s initial image. Yes, first impressions are important.

When coming to an interview, be prepared. Get a haircut. Shave. Wear a suit, or at least a sportcoat and tie. Be neat. If you don’t have a suit, there are many thrift stores that have good, well care for suits at a low price. At least do your best with what you have. If you arrive with a scraggly beard, tattoos all over, you will not be hired. Your freedom to acquire tattoos and piercings doesn’t extend to your prospective employer. You can not force him to accept your lifestyle. 

Ladies, don’t come to an interview wearing a top that is open to your navel. Don’t wear shorts or skirts so high that you can’t sit without exposing yourself. The interest you elicit will not get you hired. Not fair? Well, it’s time you learned the world is not fair. Live with it.

Bring copies of your resume and school transcripts. You resume MUST be accurate, clearly written without typos and misspellings. Your history WILL be verified. There are companies out there whose business it is to verify resumes and transcripts. Most importantly, don’t lie on your resume. You will be found out.

If you have a police record, don’t bother applying to any position that requires you to handle or manage cash nor any position that requires a security clearance or a bond. That includes the military as well.

The last point for an applicant to remember is this: your expectations are worthless if you can’t fulfill the expectations of your employer. You must work to meet his expectations. If you don’t fulfill his expectations, he can easily find someone who will, who can fill your vacant slot.

If you have interviews but can’t get hired. Look in the mirror. That’s where you’ll find the problem.