Archive for February, 2008

Education News

February 29, 2008

These poor parents! When does a high school diploma begin to mean something?

How about cutting fringes?

What a great idea! If there was someone minding the store!

Don’t we all want to have all stresses removed? This how we got to where we are!

College Freshmen in Washington are deficient in Math!

Are kids dumber?

WASL challenges never stop!

What is a “Civics” education?

IB Program

February 29, 2008

All of you IB doubters take a look.

Lobbying: How to Get Rid of it, Once and For All

February 29, 2008

Two articles:

One: Redress Petitioners (Lobbying is a right under the first amendment.)

Two: House Demo’s priorities: union bosses before kindergartners (WA dem house takes money from kindergarten and gives it to teachers.)

The first article is full of wisdom. If you want to have people stop doing something, you have to remove the incentive for doing it. Why would any corporation send lobbyists to get a special regulation or tax code that favors them? Why would they want to get earmarks and favorable officials? Because, of course, they can. If we had a federal government that reflected the 19th century, then there wouldn’t be any power or favors in Washington DC to dole out. There would be no lobbyists since there would be no money to be made lobbying.

The second is right along with it, except it has to do with state government. Why does the teacher’s union have so much influence over the state legislature? Because they have an incentive to do so. As long as the state legislature determines what the teacher salary is in Washington State, the teacher’s union is going to be a fixture in Olympia, sucking money out of the taxpayer’s pockets and putting it into the teacher’s pockets.

The way to get rid of lobbying, once and for all, is to reduce the size of government so that there is no reason to lobby.

If the federal government simply focused on national defense and regulating interstate trade (rather than limiting that trade), if the federal powers ended when the constitution said they ended, then there would be a tiny budget that was a fraction of what it is today, even if we kept the same level of defense spending. Defense spending is, after all, a fraction of our overall federal budget compared to all of the social welfare and entitlement programs.

More importantly, if we had a tax code that didn’t allow for loopholes or exemptions or special favors, if we treated all industries the same, there would be no need for special tax laws that favor one industry or one sector of an industry.

And if we didn’t have so many officials, there wouldn’t be so many officials that could be influenced by lobbyists.

And we can end lobbying and the interference of private industry, such as the teacher’s union, in our state politics and government if the state simply stayed out of the education industry and all the other industries. If it simply took up a role as a provider of the infrastructure, such as roads, and a keeper of the law, then there would be no reason to see representatives from Boeing, Microsoft, and the teacher’s union in Olympia.

It seems Ronald Reagan was right. Smaller government is the answer, because government is the problem.

Do you like money?

February 28, 2008

Do you like money?

As a resident in Washington State, you had better get your good-byes in order. It seems the democratic-controlled legislature and governor have already promised that money to someone else.

Spending has increased 33% over the last 4 years that Gregoire was in office.  Imagine what would happen if spending increased 33% in your household. Something has got to give, eventually. You can’t continue to spend more than you earn without eventually paying your debts. And paying debts means you have to spend less than you earn. Which means you either earn more, or you figure out a way to get by with a lot less.

Of course, if you’re government, it’s really easy to get more money. You just write down on a piece of paper your latest hare-brained scheme to take money from the people and put it into government coffers. You put that paper before the house and the senate, and if it passes, all the governor has to do is sign it. Voila! More money.

So, here’s my predictions, based on observations of history and other countries.

  1. If Dino Rossi loses his bid, and if Gregoire and company don’t see the light, or more precisely, if government spending doesn’t decrease by more than 33% over the next few years, we are going to be in a financial crisis.
  2. In that crisis, either we break promises we made or we raise tax revenues. Neither is a good choice.
  3. If we try to raise tax revenues by raising tax rates, we see businesses flee—literally run out of—Washington State. The economy in our neck of the woods suffers, badly. Unemployment, falling housing prices, business going out of businesses, bad news everywhere. The poor are hardest hit since they can’t simply up and move. Of course, the blame will be on Bush or Reagan or some other person, but we know who was in control of Washington State.
  4. If we try to raise tax revenues by lowering tax rates (which has been proven to be the only way to raise tax revenues—see Laffer Curve), then perhaps we will find the money to pay the bills. Or not. Mostly likely, not enough in time. See, you should never spend money you don’t have. Don’t buy that couch expecting you’ll get a raise. Wait a few months, get the raise, and then buy the couch.
  5. Either way, the state goes through some serious problems as their bond rating drops. That means, if you want to do anything that requires borrowing money, such as building a bridge or repairing a viaduct or somesuch—you, the taxpayer, will have to pay more.
  6. Washington State, unable to do critical things to keep the economy moving, soon becomes the West Virginia of the Northwest. See, without any businesses to tax, without any tax revenues, and without the ability to attract business, we are all in trouble.

Of course, I am talking about basic economics and simple financing. But don’t let that keep you from voting for the democrats. After all, aren’t they the only ones who care about the poor?

Sorry, Judge, but Public Schools aren’t Necessary

February 27, 2008

Catching the tail end of Dave Larson’s resignation speech (he’s leaving the school board for a city judge position, don’t you know), I was struck with a simple statement, one that may seem harmless enough.

Now, I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. I like Dave a lot, as a person, and as a political leader. I also trust that as far as judges go, we will have to look far and wide to find any better candidate. However, my respect for him doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to nitpick from time to time. (At least, I hope it doesn’t.)

Dave Larson said something about how import duty, honor, and country are. I agree with that. Without this, our country would long ago have fallen into chaos and tyranny.

But then he said that the only way we can get said duty, honor, and country implanted in the rising generation was through public education.

I disagree, wholeheartedly. In fact, after fighting for years to try and get the schools to teach duty, honor, country, I would expect Dave Larson learned the lesson: The last place we can expect those things to be taught is in a government school.

Instead, we should turn to our families, our churches, our heroes, and our statesmen to educate us in these matters.

Our families are by far the best place to actually implant these virtues in the minds of our young ones. Who better to teach duty, honor, and country than mothers and fathers who give all, and then some, to see that their children start on the right path.

Churches should teach that duty, honor, and country aren’t simply worldly attributes that help in survival. These are things that a kind and loving God demands in his children who intend to worship him properly. If we fail in our duty, fail to keep our honor, or fail to preserve our country, we have failed our God, and we have failed in our quest for whatever happiness lies in this life and the next.

But let’s look at our heroes. Someone tried to make the case that we don’t have heroes anymore. I disagree. I believe we have more heroes than anyone realizes. It is unfortunate that when we find a true hero—someone who willingly sacrificed themselves for someone else—we either refuse to recognize them or pretend to think there was nothing heroic. But let me assure you, a true hero is one who, upon committing extraordinary acts of heroicism, turn not to their pride but to duty, honor and country. They say things like, “Anyone would’ve done it if they were in my position” even though we know it is not true. They say things like, “I was simply doing my duty” when they were going above and beyond duty. These are the heroes that we should look up to and point our children towards, not the heroes we see on TV and in our entertainment industry.

Finally, let’s look toward our statesmen. Some people have commented that there is a distinct lack of these as well. Well, just because a statesman dies doesn’t mean their words won’t live on. Let’s keep their words and their deeds alive in the hearts of our children. Let’s show them the common attribute of true statesmen. Perhaps we will learn to identify true statesmen, both within and without politics.

In short, I don’t believe public education is the only way, or even an effective way to teach duty, honor, and country. Let’s look to our families, churches, heroes and statesmen for that.

Interestingly enough, the Bible is full of these kinds of examples. It’s also interesting that those people who best show those virtues of duty, honor, and country also tend to have a love for the sacred scripture. When’s the last time a single verse of scripture was read in our schools?

Regulations Hurt—Badly

February 27, 2008

Remember that school construction bond you passed recently? Yes, that one. The one that promises to build plenty of elementary schools, replacing ancient structures.

I attended part of the school board meeting tonight. One thing caught me—the effects of regulation don’t just hurt businesses, but it hurts our schools and ultimately our children. If the Department of Health moves forward with a new set of regulations on school construction, we won’t be able to build one of the schools we promised to build.

Now, I don’t think that the Department of Health officials, as a group or individually, would hurt a fly. They are trying their best to make sure the people are as healthy as possible, using the latest information. They are doing their jobs as best they can. It’s not the officials or the politicians that make this whole thing go sour. It’s the system.

See, regulations, even seemingly innocent ones, even ones motivated by pure charity towards others, do hurt. They hurt because they limit our options. They take decisions that should be made by those who have the most interest in the result, and put it into the hands of those who have very little interest in the result. Regulations can change the game, such that schools and businesses no longer do what is most productive, and even change it so much that they, in an effort to do something worthwhile, end up doing the least productive activities. In our schools, that means regulations can turn our schools from centers of learning to centers of disinformation.

It doesn’t take bad regulations to do this. After all, I could challenge anyone to dig through the proposed changes that the Department of Health is asking and say, “Which one of these is inspired by greed or antipathy towards school children?” I could even ask, “Which one of these seems like government is overstepping its bounds?” Taken individually, they seem harmless. But grains of sand pile together into deserts.

What is most fascinating is that at a time when we are talking about making buildings more environmentally friendly, and rather than relying on social pressure to do so, we are relying on the force of government, we have ended up in a certain contradiction.

It appears that an environmentally friendly school would use windows that open and shut to help ventilate and cool the building.

But the Department of Health wants the windows shut in the name of health.

Contradictions like there aren’t uncommon, but they are odd.

It just outlines that in the end, someone has to weigh all the costs and benefits of every decision. That someone should be the owner, not some distant regulator.

Education News

February 26, 2008

Could it be a “more tolerant” environment?

Good idea!

When school boards don’t……..

More support for K-8’s

So much for accountability in Oregon

This could be Federal Way

February 26, 2008

This could be Federal Way if we don’t do something about it.

A Judge with Judgement, what a concept!

February 26, 2008

The city of Federal Way recently appointed Dave Larson as Municiple Judge.  He is a man of great skill, intellect and talent.  Several years ago, while running for a judicial office, he spoke to a local conservative group along with several other candidates. 

Each candidate was asked; “Do you believe that the constitution is a living document?”

Each candidate was at a loss as how to best answer this question.  If the truth be known, the question was really, “Are you a liberal?”  A “living constitution” is liberal speak for “the constitution means what ever I want it to mean.”  Liberals use this term when questioned about their blatant disregard for the constitution.  Some how the SCOTUS got “Ya can’t pray in school” out of “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  If Congress had prohibited prayer in school would it have violated forgoing quote from the first amendment?  Of course it would!  Alas, I digress…

Dave Larson got up to speak and said; “The first two principles of the State Constitution are: 1) All legitimate governments govern with the concent of the governed.  2) The purpose the government is to protect the rights of the people.  If those two principles do not burn in your soul the rest of the constitution is meaningless.

Not one soul dared to ask the question.  His opening statement said it all.  The constitution means something to Judge Larson.  It is more than just words to bent and shaped until it suites your fancy.

 I can not think of anyone better to serve in the capacity of Judge

The Rock!

Barack Obama and Liberation Theology

February 26, 2008

Once again, the faith of a Presidential candidate has been called into question. This time it’s Barack Obama. Under question is the political doctrine of the teachings of the Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ (UCC) which Obama and his family have attended for years. Two articles at American Thinker raise concerns about the Liberation Theology preached within the walls of the UCC.

One article by Lee Cary states Obama’s spiritual mentor was Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright who in turn was heavily influenced by Dr. James H. Cone, a strong proponent of Africentric theology and radical Black Power. Cary wants the public to understand that “while Barack is the softer, social justice side of black liberation theology, Michelle is the harder anti-white-supremacy side.” Cary thus associates Mrs. Obama with black hardliners who fundamentally distrust and devalue whites and anything they may have accomplished. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain and the liberation of Kuwait are allegedly dismissed as the victories of (white) racist capitalist America over other equally corrupt systems. The evidence cited for Mrs. Obama’s views is a recent public comment that “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

Another article by Kyle-Anne Shiver quotes The Audacity of Hope, in which Obama states,

…whatever preconceived notions white Americans may continue to hold, the overwhelming majority of them these days are able – if given the time – to look beyond race in making their judgments of people.

Shiver then states, “The question now… [is] whether Obama can measure up to the same standard he sets for white people.” Shiver shares her impressions of a personal visit to Trinity UCC in Chicago. Shiver found (as did Cary) that the sermons and bookstore were exclusively Afro-Centric. Shiver not only questions why a candidate for President does not worship in a congregation that includes all races, she implicitly questions whether Trinity UCC is too overtly politicized to be considered a religious organization at all. (I also heard comments to this effect in a radio interview with her this afternoon in Seattle.) Shriver notes:

Now, I have worshipped hand-in-hand with my black brothers and sisters in my own Catholic Church, as well as in predominantly black congregations of protestant denominations. It is our one faith in our one Lord that holds sway in our hearts and minds.

I would like to respond to the idea that there is something alarming about a political candidate who attends a church that relegates God to the back of the bus in favor of radical, social activism. (Let me disclose that I’m white, Mormon, and tend to vote Republican. That shouldn’t matter, but there are a few people who would label me a bigot simply on those grounds. There is no point trying to reason with such folks, and that’s not the issue I want to address here anyhow.)

It it right to judge a political candidate by his or her faith?

I agree it is reasonable to ask whether a candidate adopts the political teachings of an organization such as the UCC. For example, does Obama see the world through the lens of class-warfare such that whites are the source of all evil? How should the government address racism? What responsibilities do all races have for combating the problem? Those are legitimate questions that I hope Obama answers. In the meantime, I acknowledge that his remark about whites looking beyond race strikes me as positive, not negative. Acknowledging prejudice to be a human problem (not just a white problem) is being realistic. And acknowledging racism as an issue for a black Presidential candidate is not the same as pinning all the world’s problems on white oppression.

But some people are raising another question which I think is wrong. That is: Can a candidate who belongs to a political-activist-centered church really have God in his or her heart? I assert that this question is politically irrelevant. Isn’t weighing a candidate’s faith just another way of judging the candidate’s religion against the yardstick of our own? “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) I take that to mean humans are not good judges of religious purity. Our founding fathers wisely provided Constitutional stipulations against religious correctness for office holders.

Mitt Romney’s candidacy was at times driven to distraction by comments and questions about his faith. On the political left were some of the very people who claimed Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affairs had no bearing on his performance in office, and yet they suddenly insisted on discussing irrelevant details of Mormonism. And on the political right were some people who worry about surrendering US sovereignty to a one-world-government, and yet they seem to expect other Americans to surrender their relationship to God to some kind of majority rule.

Let’s not repeat such irrelevant, foolish and un-American behavior.

When looking at a candidate’s religious background, it is important to consider qualities such as honesty, fidelity, sense of justice, and guiding principles of political ideology. I would be alarmed about Obama’s religion if he encouraged voters to think he was God’s chosen candidate. Thankfully, he doesn’t. I simply don’t care whether he believes in God in exactly the same way as I do. What matters is how the teachings of his faith would most likely influence his actions in government.